Called to Freedom
Galatians 10: Spirit-Dependent
April 21, 2013
SCRIPTURE READING: John 16:7-13 (Jenna)
Let’s start by catching up from last week:
Galatians 3:1-5 You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2 I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? 3 Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? 4 Have you suffered so much for nothing-- if it really was for nothing? 5 Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?
Last week, the main point is that the longer we are a Christian the temptation to “OUTGROW” God’s GRACE gets greater.
It is sad how DEEPLY PERSONALLY that sermon was and how little time it took for me to apply it. As we were worshiping I thought, “That was a pretty good sermon” and I started COMPARING it to other preachers in the Valley.
* That quickly, I had started to think that the SUCCESS of this church depended on me and not God’s grace for us.
Now, notice that I GLOSSED over a key point last week to focus on “outgrowing grace”; receiving the Spirit. That will be our focus this morning.
CHAMBER OF SECRETS
In honor of “THIRD SUNDAY” let me first let me tell you a story.
* I hope you’re not OFFENDED by Harry Potter; they’re some of my favorite and I’ve started reading them to Grace and Sarah.
If you are not familiar with the story, you just need to know the four characters in this scene: HARRY POTTER is fighting again Lord VOLDEMORT.
* Voldemort has returned through a DAIRY he kept when he went to Hogwarts years ago, then called Tom Riddle.
Voldemort is using a BASILISK, which is a giant, deadly snake that can kill by looking at people. Harry is being helped by Dumbledore’s phoenix, FAUKS.
[Read abbreviated version]
Q What does HARRY have to do with the HOLY SPIRIT? We’ll get there soon enough.
I am finally understand why JESUS did his teaching through STORIES – stories connect with us on a deeper, emotional level.
Last week, I took a little POP-SHOT about growing up PENTECOSTAL, but I want to be clear how grateful I am for my background. I know that without it I would not be who I am.
* While being Pentecostal can become a “JESUS PLUS” thing, it can and should be a “GRACE DEPENDENT” thing.
I have seen the ABUSE, but I have also seen the NEGLECT of the Spirit. There is a great SPECTRUM of how church’s view the Spirit, from ignoring him entirely to being extremely weird.
* I think that I would prefer the ABUSE to NEGLECT.
The Gathering takes a stance between PENTECOSTALISM and CESSATIONISM.
SEEKING THE SPIRIT
So this morning, I want to encourage us all to become more dependent on the Spirit. This sermon is DRIVEN by the CONVICTION that most of you are MISSING out on something.
John 16:7 But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.
Jesus genuinely saw his leaving as best thing: If you had to CHOOSE between me staying here or getting the SPIRIT, you really should choose the Sprit.
To put it BLUNTLY, if you are NOT LEANING into all that God offers us through the Holy Spirit, we DON’T really BELIEVE JESUS on this point.
* We don’t realize the POWER we have ACCESS to.
In the story, Harry thought he had been deserted with nothing more than a SONG BIRD and a HAT. In reality, he had fellow WARRIOR and personal DOCTOR. He had a really cool SWORD too.
* SATAN is much HAPPIER if we don’t realize what we have either.
SPIRIT DEPENDENCY IS GRACE DEPENDENCY
There can be a lot of reasons for IGNORING the SPIRIT: IGNORANCE, FEAR, EMBARRASSMENT. But one major one is the same sort of self-dependence that I talked about last week.
* Just as we cannot earn the Spirit, neither can we CONTROL him.
Galatians 3:5 Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?
When it comes to MIRACLES, all ILLUSION of CONTROL vanishes. There are no strings to pull, no sure fire methods; it is utterly out of our control.
* It isn’t just the abuse that scares us, it is the Spirit’s UNPREDICTABILITY.
Q Are you AFRAID of the Holy Spirit? That if you are open to him you will start speaking in TONGUES or lose control?
Q Is YOUR RESPONSE to the Spirit an example of SELF-DEPENDENCY?
* There are many ROLES the Holy Spirit plays, but I am going to focus on three ones that are marks of being DEPENDENT.
These are all types of grace that we must be careful not to “OUTGROW.” Ideally, the longer we walk with Jesus, the more we will learn to lean on these.
1. GUIDED BY THE SPIRIT
NIV John 14:25-26 All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
Jesus is saying that the Spirit would guide the APOSTLES to WRITE the BIBLE, but also guide us we read the Bible.
Q Have you ever had the experience of understanding something in a whole NEW WAY, and you can’t take CREDIT?
We might be reading the BIBLE and he helps us understand it, or listen to a SERMON, or just driving along and you UNDERSTAND something new.
* I used to me annoyed when people a person’s FAVORITE PART of the SERMON is something I DIDN’T even SAY, but now I love it!
LED BY THE SPIRIT
But he doesn’t just lead us in reading the Bible. Throughout Scripture, the Spirit LEAD his people in their EVERYDAY LIFE.
Every day, you wake up and there is a WORLD of POSSIBILITIES before you. You don’t know what will happen, who you’ll meet, what TRIAL, TEMPTATIONS, or OPPORTUNITIES you will encounter.
* But the SPIRIT DOES, and he is waiting to WALK BESIDE you and help you.
I want to live in EAGER EXPECTATION of his help. It is amazing to watch the way he guides.
* Start your day with the PRAYER: GUIDE me today, help LISTEN and OBEY.
2. EMPOWERED BY THE SPIRIT
I said last week that SANCTIFICATION, the PROCESS of God making us righteous is a COOPERATION between us and him:
Philippians 2:12-13 ...continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
God works in us through his Spirit and like the story of CHARLIE carrying JOHN across the NIAGARA, the largest part of our job is LEANING INTO the Spirit’s empowerment.
* You AREN’T CAPABLE of doing this alone, you need HELP.
He helps us even when we don’t ask, but how much more, if we ASKING him on a DAILY BASIS, will he help us. “You have not because you ask not.”
I feel that as Christians we have this SECRET ADVANTAGE over everyone else, but we don’t use it:
* You know when you STRUGGLE to respond appropriately to your co-WORKER? The Spirit helps.
* You know when you don’t know what to say to a NON-CHRISTIAN? The Spirit is there.
* You aren’t able to LOVE like the Bible calls us to? The Spirit helps.
* When you don’t know what is REALLY GOING ON in your relationship? The Spirit helps.
I am convinced one of the most IMPORTANT ELEMENTS in my life is the gift of the SPIRIT working in ways I can’t see in so many areas, in CONVERSATIONS, RESPONSES, PARENTING, and on and on.
* We need to live in EAGER EXPECTANCY that the Spirit will help us in all these ways.
3. EQUIPPED BY THE SPIRIT
There is one final thing, what we call the “GIFT of the SPIRIT,” these are SKILLS, ABILITIES, and GIFTS that God equips us with to care for others:
Romans 12:6-8 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
This list (and ones like it) is not meant to be EXHAUSTIVE. ALL of you GIFTS and SKILLS were given by God, and they become SPIRITUAL GIFTS when you INVITE the Spirit to work through them supernaturally to God’s glory and the benefit of the church.
For instance, we don’t think of “ART” as a spiritual gift, yet in the OT, it says that the Spirit filled the craftsmen who made the ARK and the TABERNACLE so they could do really good work.
That is not to say that there aren’t some pretty clearly MIRACULOUS thing, like healing, but I think it best to START by thinking of your REGULAR GIFTS.
Think about what you are good at:
* Making people FEEL COMFORTABLE.
* WORKING HARD.
* CARING for others.
* SOWING (Cf. Santo Poco)
This is HOW you make that a spiritual gift:
“God I know this is a gift you gave me, but I tend to use it for MY own BENEFIT. I GIVE it to YOU, to be used for YOUR GLORY.
Take it, and use it in SUPERNATURAL WAYS.”
* Then WATCH to SEE how God uses it.
The trick to using your spiritual gifts is not having your act together and being “all that,” it can be summed up in two words – COURAGE and FAITHFULNESS.
* Watching that scene with the girls, knowing how deadly the fangs are, I was frightened by the thought of striking.
This is what God has given you; be FAITHFUL and COURAGEOUS.
* Please text Sunday School Teachers ; service is almost over
BE FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT
As we wrap this up, I want all of us seeking to be CONTINUALLY FILLED with the Holy Spirit on a daily basis.
Ephesians 5:18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.
“Filled” is a PRESENT IMPERATIVE verb, which means it’s a command to continuously be filled. You have to keep it up.
Q That is all fine and good, but what does it mean for us?
We need to maintain a mindset of SHEER DESPERATION; we know we can’t do it. We need the Spirit to come through or he was toast.
Q What about you, when was the last time you were in a place you HAD to RELY on the HOLY Spirit?
Think through what you have going on in your life – STRUGGLING to keep a good ATTITUDE at work, fighting against TEMPTATION, feeling like you are at the END of your ROPE.
* Look at these things as an OPPORTUNITY: How can God use them to make you DEPENDENT on his SPIRIT?
Rely on the Holy Spirit, need his help, ASK him to put you in POSITIONS were you NEED him. SERIOUSLY, ask the Spirit to put you in a position that either he comes through or you fall flat.
Q Why are we AFRAID to ask for that?
If the Spirit is able ANSWER that prayer, he is able to HELP you out in the situation.
But the NATURE of the GIFT is that you have to ASK, you have to want his help.
* The reason why so many Christians don’t operate under the power of the Holy Spirit is that they AREN’T ASKING.
And when we are dependent on the Spirit like that, we should be filled with GRATITUDE and THANKS.