If you brought a copy of Scripture with you this morning, you could find John chapter 14as we continue in our series Theology on Fire! Today we’re talking about the Holy Spirit of God.
The Holy Spirit of God was certainly filling our brother, Curt DeGraaff last week, was he not? In fact, we had somebody come to somebody on staff here recently and ask, “Is Pastor Curt dying?” (congregation laughing) I thought to myself, that’s a great compliment! I thought of a Puritan who once said,
“I preach as a dying man to dying men.” A Puritan
That’s the way every sermon should be, and last week Pastor Curt’s was certainly filled with the Spirit of God!
What does it look like to be filled with the Spirit of God? Have you ever met somebody who’s on fire for God? How would you describe them?
In John chapter 14, beginning in verse 15, Jesus said,
John 14:15-17, 15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”
(Now slide down to verse 25.He says,)
25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
Did you know that the world gives peace? It’s a pseudo peace, but it is a peace, nevertheless. He says, ‘NOT as the world does,’ and then He goes on and says, ‘My peace I leave you. Don’t let your hearts be troubled or be afraid.’
So what does it look like for somebody to be on fire for God? It’s kind of hard to describe, isn’t it? I mean, you can talk about emotions and things like this. It reminded me a little bit of growing up.
I grew up in a lower middle income home, and I’d never seen the ocean until I went to Florida on my first honeymoon. I was captivated by its awesome power! None of my friends had ever seen the ocean either. In order to impress my friends, what if I’d have brought an empty jar with me and just filled it up with water from the ocean and brought it home? That would be a little bit of what it’s like to try to describe what it means to be filled with the life of God, the spirit of God, the fire of God.
After 40 years of knowing God, I still feel a little bit like that 20-year-old who went on his honeymoon, trying to describe to you the things the scripture speaks of when someone is possessed by the life of God, the Spirit of God. The Person who sets God’s people on fire is the Spirit of God. He’s symbolized in scripture variously as a dove, as wind, as oil, as clothing, as a seal, and as fire! In the book of Acts, when the church begins, there is this picture of a rushing wind coming in, and then the Spirit of God appears as a fire over the heads of those who have been in-dwelt by the Spirit of God! The Apostle Paul said to his convert and disciple, Timothy, “Fan into flame, the gift of God which is in you.”
2 Timothy 1:6, “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands,”
He is a fire! It is, after all, the Fourth of July week, and I would say to you that God’s people should be spiritual pyromaniacs! Except, instead of starting fires outside of ourselves, (which is what a pyromaniac does) we should stoke the fire inside ourselves!
Who is the Holy Spirit and how can you experience His fire? That’s the question before us this morning. Well, He is God, and He possesses all of the attributes of God. We see this a number of times in scripture, but here’s one of the clearest references where He’s actually called “God. ”
At the beginning of the church, members of the church are all giving things. Barnabas has given a bunch of stuff. A couple by the names of Ananias and Sapphira think this is cool, so they give a part of what they sold… but they make it look as if they’ve given it all. In fact, the Greek uses the word “embezzled.” They kept back some of it. God, the Holy Spirit, allows Peter to see this and he says,
Acts 5:3-4, “But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but (what?) to God.”
Right there, the Spirit of God is called “God!” We don’t have time to lay out an entire study of the deity of the Holy Spirit. Let’s just consider the three big omnies. He is omnipotent.
Right out of the shoot, as the Bible kicks off, …
Genesis 1:1-2, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And (look at this) the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.”
The Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. In the ESV study Bible, it refers to the word, “hovering,” and it says, “It creates a sense of expectation. Something is about to happen.” (Ya think?!) Everything is about to be created! Only God can create. Hence, the Spirit of God IS God… and He is omnipotent.
He’s also omnipresent. We shared this last week from Psalm 139, where the psalmist says,
Psalm 139:7-9,”Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning (“which is a figure of speech for riding the rays of the sun.” In other words, David was saying, ‘If I could travel at the speed of light…’ That’s what he’s saying here. If I could do that, and) dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea…”
If I could go at the speed of light from one end to the other and… Bang! You’re there! Why? Because God, the Holy Spirit, is omnipresent. He’s God with all His attributes.
Every time I read this passage, I remember the VBS we did in our little country church I pastored many years ago. We had just had what seemed like 1,000 kids! (It wasn’t that many, but we had a lot of kids!) At this particular VBS, I think we had 15 visitors which was really good because we only had about three kids of our own! It was the final night, a big night for us, and the kids were going to sing. Every family representing those 15 kids was there. Even though he wasn’t old enough to be in the group, my three-year-old wanted to be in the group singing. I said, “You can do it, but you need to behave yourself up there and stay the whole time they sing.” He said, “OK, Dad!” Well, after about two songs he got tired of singing, and he started playing army man. (congregation laughing!) He crawled down the steps… and everybody started laughing! He heard it, crawled back up the steps… and now they’re laughing even more, so he crawled back down… again! Everybody’s in stitches, they’re laughing so hard! After they were done singing, he’s walking down the isle like this… (pastor demonstrates) By this time, I was spitting nails! (audience laughing!) As he was walking, I grabbed him and pulled him outside and into the corn field where it was just him and me… (congregation laughing!) and I let him have it! I said, “You were so disappointing to me! You disobeyed me in front of everybody, and you were a bad testimony for Jesus!” and I gave him a spanking right there on the spot! While I was administering the spanking, I looked up through the corn and there was a deacon running right at me! I said, “What do you need?” As he was trying to catch his breath, he said, “Pastor… (panting!) your microphone is on!” (congregation laughs)
The funny thing about it is, on the way there, I said to my wife, “I’ve got this great little devotional to give at the end! It’s all about the power and the presence of God. I just need something to cinch it up.” (congregation laughs) Well, God gave that to me! (congregation laughs) The Spirit of God is omnipresent…
and He’s omniscient. I love this! Look at 1 Corinthians chapter two. It’s talking about the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 2:10-11, “… these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the Spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.” (Have you ever read that?)
I was talking to a friend, just the other day, about the theological conundrums about God. ‘Why do you do this God?’ ‘Why don’t you do this God?’ ‘Why don’t you put the smack down on them?’ ‘Why aren’t you doing this?’ We wonder what God is doing. We wonder about His thoughts. “My thoughts are not your thoughts. My way is not your way.” [Isaiah 55:8-9] Remember, at the onset of this series on theology we quoted Psalm 50:21 where God says to man,
Psalm 50:21b, “… you thought that I was one like yourself.”?
‘You thought I was exactly like you.’ Remember that? That’s half our problem. We think God is just like us. But if God the Father said to the Holy Spirit, “I AM just like you…! ” He’d be right! While we might get the mind of God wrong, the Spirit of God never does. He IS GOD! He’s omniscient.
Secondly, He’s a person. He’s a person possessing all of the attributes of personality. This is a big deal, because so many people like Jehovah’s Witnesses get it wrong. They think He’s a force. They don’t think He is personality.
I love the humility of the eight lead pastors in our Engage churches. One of them, our third pastor in the Engage Network, Greg Pollock, who came to Christ right here in this church. In one of his first sermons, which was on the Holy Spirit, he really buggered up the whole personality of the Holy Spirit in his message! This last week, I sent a message to all the Engage leaders. I said, “I’m preaching on the Holy Spirit. Give me your best quote on the Holy Spirit.” Their responses were coming in left and right with quotes about the Holy Spirit… and here’s Greg’s note. “I got nothing. I once called Him an “It,” and I haven’t been the same since.”
Oh… that’s good!
He is a personality. We just saw this in Acts chapter five where Peter said, ‘Ananias, you’ve lied to God.’ You can’t lie to a force… but you can lie to a personality. Then in Ephesians chapter four where he says,
Ephesians 4:30, ”Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit by whom you’ve been sealed into the day of redemption.”
You can only make a personality feel… grieve… regret… sorrow. That makes Him a person. One of my favorite verses is Romans 15, verse 30, where we’re told, “The Holy Spirit loves you.”
[Romans 15:30, “I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf…”]
Did you know that? Have you ever thought of that? Because the Holy Spirit is God, He possesses all of the attributes of God. Just as the Father loves you… just as the Son loves you… so, the Holy Spirit loves YOU! He’s a personality possessing all of the attributes of such.
Thirdly, He permanently dwells in all believers. This is really important, because this is the big differentiation between the Old Testament (the Old Covenant) and the New Testament. We don’t live under the law anymore, but by grace! We’re thankful for the law, because it drives us to the cross, shows us our sin… but it can do nothing to save you! The Spirit of God in the Old Testament would come upon people powerfully but only temporarily. A great case study would be Saul. In 1 Samuel 10:6, Samuel is prophesying what’s going to happen to Saul.
1 Samuel 10:6, “Then the Spirit of the LORD will rush upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man.”
That’s exactly what happened! Look at chapter 11 and verse 6.
1 Samuel 11:6, “And the Spirit of God rushed upon Saul when he heard these words, and his anger was greatly kindled.”
We see here the Holy Spirit powerfully coming on the life of Saul. If you know anything about the life of Saul, it’s not a life to emulate… (Right?) He was jealous, angry, he wanted revenge… We’re told in chapter 16,
Samuel 16:14, “Now the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and a harmful spirit from the LORD tormented him.”
In the midst of all that, the Spirit of the Lord [departed from Saul], what He never does today! He doesn’t leave the person He comes and redeems. When He comes in, we are sealed to the day of redemption. He permanently indwells us… Amen?
Go back to the book of John chapter 14 and verses 16 and 17. I want you to look at this again.
John 14:16-17, 16 “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper (In the Greek, there are two ways to say “another.” One is the word “heteros,” which means another of a completely different kind, and then there’s this word, “allos.” It means “another of the exact same kind.” So, Jesus is saying He’s going to send somebody just like Him! How cool is that?) to be with you forever even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. You know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.”
There’s the differentiation in the Spirit of God’s work in believers’ lives in the Old Testament and New Testaments… powerful but temporary in the Old Testament, but with and in you in the New Testament… and aren’t you glad He comes to indwell you… forever! Contrary to the belief our charismatic friends, (this is not meant for you to use as a weapon) but there is no separate baptism of the Holy Spirit. Everybody who places their faith in Jesus is baptized into the Holy Spirit. How do I know that? I know it because of this haymaker right here. First Corinthians chapter 12 and verse 13;
1 Corinthians 12:13, “For in one Spirit we were ALL baptized into one body— (and this is the Corinthians he’s writing to here, okay?) Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and ALL were made to drink of one Spirit.”
Everyone who places their faith in Jesus has the Spirit of God living in them. It doesn’t mean that the Spirit of God is controlling your life, but He’s absolutely in your life! and praise God… forever!
Fourthly, He’s a Helper who gifts us to do God’s will. Again, back to John chapter 14.
John 14:16, “ I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper…”
We’re told the Spirit of God, Himself is a gift to us! Just to let you know, the Spirit of God, when He moves in, He doesn’t move in as a freeloader. He moves in as a… (what’s the word?) Helper. Let me just touch on some really bad thinking. I know some of you have it because I’ve heard it from you. It attempts to come off as humble, but in reality it’s excusatory. It’s like this. ‘Hey, way to go brother, way to tackle that situation for the Lord!’ ‘Oh man, it’s all God. I had nothing to do with it.’ That’s a lie! That doesn’t even make sense! Now, if by that you mean ‘I want to give all the glory to God,’ I’m with you on that, (okay?) but I couldn’t disagree more with the idea that I didn’t put forth any effort. ‘This is all of God…’ It sounds so noble, but as Paul said to the Philippians,
Philippians 2:13, “…for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”
Have you ever read that? So if I ask you to help me, what do I mean? Do I want you to come and do all the work? Is that what I mean? No… not unless I’m some deadbeat! There’s the problem. Some of you are spiritual deadbeats! You just want God to do everything without lifting a finger for God. You’ve got to stop thinking like that. The Holy Spirit comes in and He dwells in you. He is your Helper. He’s the infuser. He’s the one who gives you the strength. He does give glory to God, but this means YOU’re working alongside of Him! So, the word “Helper” is the word “Parakletos”, “para” meaning “alongside” and “kaleo“ means “to help.” It literally means “one who comes alongside to help.” The Greek root word carries the idea of advising, exhorting, confronting, comforting, strengthening and giving peace. We’re not going to take the time here, but we’ll show at another time in other passages that He gives gifts. He sovereignly dispenses gifts. Everyone who knows Jesus is gifted in some way to serve Jesus. And you should be serving Him! Those gifts are listed in first Corinthians 12, Romans 12, Ephesians 4, 1 Peter 4. When we submit to His control, He fills us. When that happens, you can expect the living God to pull off some really cool stuff in your life… but you have to believe to experience that!
Sadly, as Adam Ramsey says in his book Truth on Fire,
“One of the great tragedies of this present generation of Christians has been the divorce between Theological and the experiential Christianity.” Adam Ramsey
Many individuals in the charismatic movement are brothers and sisters in Christ who have had the doctrine of the Holy Spirit and His work highjacked. We’ve become very sterile in what we believe about Him. If you will indulge me, here are just a few experiences I have had with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit often leads me specifically… through God’s Word.
Just last week was the 25th anniversary of my time here as a pastor, and 25 years ago, I had burned every bridge to every other church out there. I had just gotten married. I’d taken my wife, Marilyn, away from her family, I’d taken her away from her church, I took her away from her acreage and I took her away from her friends. Even though it was just a half hour away, she was hardly connecting with them anymore. I could not conceive of the idea of leaving again, and going to another church, so when Saylorville contacted me, I said “Thank you, but no thank you. I can’t do it.” But then, over the next nine months, God was working me over! I couldn’t explain it. He just began to give me this burden for something other than the church I was pastoring… and I loved that church! I couldn’t explain it. I got to a place where I said, “God, you have got to show me what to do, because I sense that you’re telling me to leave.” I was in my Bible reading in Acts chapter 16. I can remember thinking, “Acts 16… Really, God… I mean, it’s the Philippian jailer, “…believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your house.” “I KNOW this passage. There’s nothing here that I’m going to see that I don’t know!” (What an arrogant thought that was!) Then I came to verse 36 where it says, “The magistrates have called for your departure. Now leave and go in peace!” I walked upstairs and into the bedroom where my wife was, and I said, “Honey, I believe God just called us to leave,” and that spiritual woman looked at me and she said… “Well, He hasn’t said that to ME yet!” So we had some work to do! But we did the work, and we’re here!
Not one major decision in my life have I ever made apart from this book… ever! The Spirit of God has done the leading, Not just the major decisions, but God has done the leading in the little decisions as well. I love how my wife will be reading her Bible and she’ll just sense that she should call somebody, write a note, visit someone… and I often think to myself, ‘I want to be like that!’
Francis Chan in his book Forgotten God writes:
“It’s much less demanding to think about God’s will for your future than it is to ask Him what He wants you to do in the next 10 minutes.” Francis Chan
I’ve experienced the Holy Spirit speaking to me most clearly in my darkest hours. By the way, don’t get hung up on the word “speaking” or “spoken” here. I agree with Sam Polson who said,
“When the Holy Spirit speaks to you, it’s not audible… It’s much louder!”
I know this. After my first wife died and I had a hard time just going up into our bedroom, I laid on the couch. The kids would be in bed. The first several weeks, I’d sort of weep myself to sleep. One day as I was laying on the couch weeping, I remember sitting up and literally saying out loud, “Nemmers, get ahold of yourself!” I seriously sensed the Lord saying to me, “I know you’re a mess, but I haven’t gone anywhere.” And I can’t tell you what peace that gave me! Then, as many of you have heard, when my sons were off the chain and my youngest was all but arrested, everything was hanging in the balance for me. One night, I was pleading with God that He would get ahold of my son! I sensed Psalm 63:3 which says,
Psalm 63:3, (ESV), “Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.”
I sensed the Spirit of God speaking to me and saying, “You’re not trusting me.” I argued with Him! I said, “I do trust you, Lord!” but I sensed Him saying, “No, you don’t. You tell everybody else to trust me, but you’re not trusting Me. Will you trust Me? Will you honor Me more than the soul of your son?” … and that broke me! That was God speaking to me. He revealed to me that I had an idol I didn’t even see… and it changed my life!
I’ve experienced the Holy Spirit often interrupting me in the midst of normal living. The little church I pastored had doubled in size by now. Our attendance was around 50. One day as I was sharing Christ with somebody in their home, I was telling about our men’s ministry, our women’s ministry, our choir… I sensed God saying, “What are you doing, Nemmers? When you first came to this little church, all you had was Jesus to talk about. We liked that better. Get back to Jesus!” I literally sensed that while I was about ready to jump into another thing our church was doing now!
Another time I was golfing with a guy. I’d been sharing Christ with him, and for some reason he wasn’t interested… but I was still sharing Jesus with him! What happened next was partly a miracle! I had my ball in the middle of the fairway. (That was a miracle in and of itself!) He was off in the rough. (I remember this as if it were yesterday!) It was a beautiful day… no breeze… no wind. He was underneath a tree getting ready to hit the ball. I looked up and I said, “That branch is getting ready to break. better walk away.” He looked up, took about three steps over and… Snap!… it fell down! I can’t explain that to you to this day other than the Spirit of God’s work in my life!
Our house was three miles north of the church and I never, ever went home for lunch day… but one day I did. My wife always picked up the mail, but the mail man had arrived a few minutes earlier, and since I was home for lunch, I thought I’d get the mail. As I pulled out the mail, there was a letter in there to my daughter from another girl that had just been coming to our church for a little while. It had little sticky notes on it, and all this stuff inside. Everything looked so flowery and cool. I kid you not, as soon as I touched that letter, I was literally overwhelmed with a sense of evil! I couldn’t explain it! This girl had given me no indication otherwise, but I sensed that I shouldn’t show this to my daughter. I opened up this beautiful little girly letter… and it was the most vile, vulgar, disgusting, accusatory and mean-spirited thing! I couldn’t even imagine another 14-year-old could write this kind of vulgarity… and she cloaked it in all of this! If I hadn’t gone home for lunch, my daughter would have gotten that letter… but the Spirit of God stopped me from giving it to her!
The Holy Spirit has helped me see things that others are hiding. One day, just a couple of years ago, I was at a lunch with another pastor in our church, and we were with a guy. His wife had accused him of adultery, but he said, “I’m not committing adultery. I just have this affection. It’s just an emotional thing. It’s nothing more than that.” While we were talking, the other pastor was pleading with him, giving him some good solid biblical counsel. I can’t explain why, but I literally put my hand on that other pastor and said “Hang on just a minute.” I leaned in and I said, “Are you sleeping with that woman?” He looked at us, hung his head, then lifted it up… and admitted he’d been living in adultery! The Holy Spirit can do whatever He wants!Amen?
I don’t say this to you so that you will respond by saying, “Oh, I got to do this.” No! My desire in sharing these experiences with you is that you might say, “I want this! I want this sense of God in my life!
So back to my points. The fifth point is the Holy Spirit of God makes Jesus irresistible to others. How does He do that? He does it by setting God’s people on fire!
Again, back in Clarion, Iowa, where I pastored that little church… the big stuff to do was to burn down houses! The fire department would get a condemned house, and they would torch that thing at night when it was really dark. The whole city would show up! Listen, the Holy Spirit is a fire that will draw people and make Jesus irresistible!
Ephesians 5:18, “Don’t get drunk with wine, which is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit…” (be filled with the Holy Spirit of God and be set on fire!)
The Holy Spirit is God’s demonstration in this world of joy and His power! My wife… that woman exudes joy! I go to the gym with her, and every time when I get done, there are a bunch of women gathering around her. Most of them don’t even know Jesus, but they want to be by her! The only way I can explain that is that she lives a life that makes Jesus irresistible! Do you?
The Holy Spirit does it. He makes Jesus irresistible by turning our bodies into temples. Those of you who know Jesus, don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Spirit of God who is in you? You are not your own. You’ve been bought with a price. So glorify God in your body and your Spirit which are God’s.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
This week, we’ll be celebrating the 4th of July and there are fireworks tents everywhere! YOU are the firework tent of the Holy Spirit! Make Jesus irresistible with your life!
In John 16:7-11, Jesus tells us that one of His primary things He does is point out man’s sin, God’s righteousness, and as Pastor Kurt preached last week, the coming of God’s wrath in judgment.
John 16:7-11, “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: (And then He interprets Himself. He does the exegesis concerning sin because they don’t believe in Me!) sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.”
Judgment. The Spirit of God convicts of sin… God’s righteousness… coming wrath…
Just the other day I was with a group of guys most of which I’ve had the joy of leading to Christ over the last few years. We were having a great time digging into the Word together. They had brought a friend who’s been coming to church here, and he was taking it all in. He said, “I’m all in!” We said, “Well, explain to us what the gospel is.” He began to say, “Well, it’s the Bible. It’s coming to church…” and this and that. One of the other guys said, “I’m going to stop you right there.” (It was my favorite moment!) He began to clearly lay out the gospel that Christ died for his sins, that he was buried, that he rose again, that he needed to repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ… That group of guys, made Jesus irresistible to him, and he trusted Christ right then and there! Praise the Lord!
Back in John back at chapter 15, verse 26,
John 15:26-27, “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness about ME! And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.”
That’s what the Holy Spirit does… He makes Jesus irresistible!
Finally, He hunts down and rescues those who are facing damnation. Some of you are facing damnation right now!
Over a hundred years ago, poet Francis Thompson wrote the famous poem, “The Hound of Heaven.” (There are 182 lines… Don’t try to memorize it!) It depicts a man, (himself) running from God, while acknowledging he couldn’t run from God! Jesus said, ‘No one’s going to come to me unless the Father draws him.’ He draws them by way of the Spirit of God.
John 6:44, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.”
I know this hounding! There were two incidences that occurred while I was working at John Deere before I became a Christian. (None of you have heard the first one.) Just a couple of weeks away from my being saved, I was under massive conviction. It was during shutdown and we weren’t doing any production. About 20 of us went to the local park, and we busted open a bunch of beer. We got drunk, we smoked a lot of weed, and then we went back to work. As we were walking back in, one of the guys climbed up on one of those portable ladders in front of all of us, and (in a drunken slur) he went, “Everybody’s a sinner and needs to repent and believe in Jesus… you’re all gonna go to hell!” I’d been laughing all along until that moment… but when he did that, I thought, “He’s saying exactly what I’m coming to believe… and making a mockery of it!” Two weeks later, I was shipped off to the foundry and worked with a guy who had been asking God all week, “God, bring somebody to me who’s interested in Jesus…” and he got me! God, the Holy Spirit, was pursuing me, and I wasn’t even aware of it!
My son was asking me about this story that he wanted to share. It had occurred when he was just two years old and didn’t remember it. His mother had died and there was just me and the seven kids. After stopping at Hardee’s after church, I packed up all the kids and drove back home to the acreage nine miles away. I got out of the car, opened the back door, and… my two year old was missing! I said to his brother, Josh, “Where’s John?!” Josh looked at me and goes, “I don’t know.” (audience laughing) I said, “You’ve got to be kidding me! We left him there?” Suddenly I was on a rescue mission! I flew… I think faster than the speed limit… the nine miles back! I got all the way back to Hardees, and there he was… playing in the ball pit, completely unaware that he was all by himself!
…And that’s where some of you are right now. You’re playing around with life. You’re completely unaware that you’re all by yourself. That’s a bad place to be when you die! You better place your faith in Jesus, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will no longer be lost! The Spirit of God will convict you. Maybe He’s doing it right now! Repent and believe that Jesus died for you. Receive him as your Savior (And the bonus…) you’ll get God, the Holy Spirit, to come and live in you! Pretty good deal, huh? Would you take it? Let’s pray.
Our Father, our time is quickly coming to a close, but we want to celebrate the Lord’s table. And as we do, I pray right now that as your people make their way to these powerful symbols, they would ask themselves the question, ‘Am I on fire for you, oh God?’ If you’re not, repent. Ask God to help you to pursue Him, to know Him, to experience Him and thank Him for making His salvation receivable through His Son, Jesus. if you don’t know Jesus, repent and place your faith in Him today. God, we pray all these things in Your Son’s name. Amen.
At the very beginning, I asked the question, how do you know if you’re on fire for God? If you’re on fire for God, (I want to close with these thoughts) you’ll want to stay near the Ultimate Flame of God. You do that by your time in His Word and listening to Him and in prayer. That’s staying near the flame of God. And if you’re on fire for God, you’ll do what fire does… It naturally spreads. You’ll spread that fire! If you’re on fire for God you’ll draw others by the warmth that you exude. And if you’re on fire for God, you’ll eventually flame out, because… it was never about you to begin with anyway… Right?
The great missionary, Amy Carmichael, was also a poet. She wrote a great collection called “If,” but she also wrote another little poem, a prayer. In it, she said,
“Give me the Love that leads the way,
the Faith that nothing can dismay,
The Hope no disappointments tire,
The Passion that burns like fire.
Let me not sink to be a clod.
Make me thy fuel, Flame of God.”
May that be the heartbeat of all of us who are in-dwelt by the Spirit of the living God! Make Jesus irresistible… Amen?
To those of you who do not know Him, why would you want to be alone? Come to know the One who’s already proven His great love for you!