I want to start with a verse that will help us understand why this series is so important.
To give you some context, the book of Acts is the fifth book in the New Testament and follows the four gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
All four of these books talk about the life of Jesus. And then Acts is all about the first church. In other words, it tells us how this all got started and why we are here meeting every Sunday.
What’s interesting is the whole book of Acts starts with the Holy Spirit. The verse we are about to read is in Chapter 19, which is decades into the early church. And watch what is still going on:
Acts 19:1-2 NLT – While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled through the interior regions until he reached Ephesus, on the coast, where he found several believers. “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” he asked them. “No,” they replied, “we haven’t even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”
What is interesting is that there are still people like this today. They are saved and going to Heaven, they love God, yet they haven’t received the Holy Spirit.
And there are several reasons this happens. The main one being that the Holy Spirit has been given a bad rap. Like it is something that makes you act crazy and scares everyone around you.
The reason people get stuck here is because their theology isn’t based on what the Bible says, but maybe what their grandma said or some experience that they had at church, or something they saw on TV.
You hear them say things like, “I don’t want any of that Holy Ghost stuff.” I mean, I don’t want anything to do with ghosts either.
And if I get involved in this stuff, I’m either going to have to wear a lot of makeup or no makeup at all. I am definitely going to have to cut my hair and trim of my beard.
There’s a lot of confusion. And there are a lot of things that get associated with the Holy Spirit that are simply not true.
So I want to ask you to hang with me through the next four weeks, especially if the Holy Spirit is a little scary to you. Just give me four weeks and I promise, you’ll come to know the person of the Holy Spirit.
Not the ghost, not the crazy experience, but the person of the Holy Spirit. Because the Holy Spirit is just as much a part of God as Jesus is.
And I am going to show you how essential it is that you have the Holy Spirit in your life. Because He has a very specific role to play in your life while you are here on this Earth. And trust me, you don’t want to do this without Him.
Actually, this series is basically a continuation of the series we just came out of, All that Matters. Remember:
The ultimate purpose for your life is to make a difference.
Try to live out your purpose without the Holy Spirit and you’ll come up short every time.
So the series we just came out of was all about why to live your life for others and what that kind of life looks like. And the series we are starting today is going to give you the how.
How do you live your life for others? Well, you need the power of the Holy Spirit working in your life.
Go ahead and set aside all preconceived ideas you have of the Holy Spirit and all those negative experiences and all those negative things your family member said and see the Holy Spirit through fresh eyes today.
Let me introduce you to the Holy Spirit.
I’m going to do this by giving you insight into His nature. And all of this is going to be based on what the Bible has to say about the Holy Spirit.
Actually, you’ll see Him referred to as two different things in the Bible: Holy Spirit and Holy Ghost. And the reason is, the translators had a dilemma. There really is no single English word that translates this well.
The Bible was written in two different languages. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew and the New Testament in Greek. So I want to go back to the original word in both of these languages so we can really begin to understand.
Ruwach – a wind, breath, a violent exhalation, blast of breath.
Notice that it has nothing to do with a spirit or a ghost. But you can understand why the English translators did what they did, because how weird would it be to talk about a holy breath?
The only kind of breath you hear people talk about is stinky breath. So, calling the third person of God a holy breath just isn’t going to work too well.
But going back to the original language gives us insight into the nature of the Holy Spirit. The word Ruwach was actually used in the second verse of the Bible:
Genesis 1:2 NLT – The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.
So, the breath of God was hovering over the waters. Which makes total sense because we know God spoke to create the world. And with words, you release breath.
Now let’s go to the New Testament word that was translated to Holy Spirit.
Pneuma – a current of air, blast of breath, a strong breeze.
Hm. That sounds familiar. So, once again, we can see why the translators found themselves in a predicament.
Just like calling God a Holy Breath might not work, calling Him a Holy Breeze probably isn’t going to work either.
Let me show you one place of many that this word is used in the New Testament. And this is actually Jesus talking:
John 6:63 NLT – …the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.
Again, seeing this in context makes sense. Jesus is talking about speaking words and relating them to a blast of breath. Which we also know is the very thing that brought us to life and keeps us alive.
God created the very first man, Adam, and then breathed life into him. And here we are, still breathing today to remind us of the one who gave us life.
So, here’s the deal. The Holy Spirit is here to bring you alive in a way you’ve never experienced before. He is the essence of life. And the only way you can live you best life is with the Holy Spirit.
Since the Holy Spirit is related to breath, air, and wind, let’s take a look at the characteristics of wind in the natural and parallel them to the Holy Spirit. Trust me, this is going to open your eyes.
Wind is unseen.
You live in Oklahoma, so you know all about wind. And aside from the times it is blowing at 120 miles per hour, you walk outside on a spring or summer day, and if the wind is blowing, you say, “Ah, this feels good.”
And nobody is weirded out by that. Actually, if you are outside on a stale summer day, you are probably asking for the wind to come. And when it comes, you’re like, “Ah. This feels so good.”
But, say that about your experience with God while you’re here and church on Sunday and people going to be like, “What? What did you feel? Did the air just click on or something?”
Then you wonder why they’ve been avoiding you since then. They think you crazy!
And then people who are a little more serious than others get a little hung up about feeling the presence of God. They say things like, “You shouldn’t get so hung up about feeling God. God is not a feeling.”
No, you shouldn’t base your Christianity or faith on feelings. But that doesn’t mean you’ll never feel the presence of God. Actually, I believe God takes delight in the joy and peace we receive from feeling His presence.
I want you to have a moment during every one of our services where you just kind of stop and realize, “God is here. His presence is evident and it’s changing my life.”
Let me show you how Jesus explains it.
John 14:16-17 NIV – And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth.
He’s not here to spook you. He’s not here to make you uncomfortable. He’s here to help you and be with you. He’s your advocate. In other words, He’s on your side. He’s your friend.
Look at what Jesus says next:
John 14:16-17 NIV – The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.
Now you can see why the world is so freaked out about the Holy Spirit. They’re thinking, “I can’t see anything. This doesn’t relate to anything I know with my mind.”
And sometimes as Christians, we listen to this nonsense and start to think, “Maybe this is a little weird. Like I can’t quite reason this out, and everyone at work thinks its weird, so maybe I should just stay away.”
But here’s the deal. You know Him because He lives in you. The Holy Spirit is not a stranger. He’s not a weirdo.
Can you understand Him with your mind? No. But how many things have you learned through God’s word actually made logical sense at first? None! Because God’s ways are different that the world’s ways.
Just last week, Don’t Look Back prison ministry was here. And one of the ladies with them was here for the first time.
After service, I was thanking them for being with us and she put her hand on my shoulder and said, “This is a great church. I could feel the presence of God here.”
And this isn’t the first time that I’ve heard this. Because here’s the deal. Even though you can’t see the Holy Spirit, there are times you will be able to feel is presence. Just like you feel the wind even though can’t see it.
Now, here’s the next parallel between wind and the Holy Spirit:
Wind is unpredictable.
It blows this way, it blows that way. It blows at 90 miles per hour and then comes to a standstill. We just don’t know what it is going to do.
And a lot of us don’t like this part about God. We want everything to be tucked in and orderly. We want to know what He’s up to in advance. We want to be able to predict what He is going to do in our lives.
Well, I hate to break it to you, but if you expect God to be orderly and predictable all the time, you are going to spend a big part of your life frustrated with God, because that’s not how He does things. You know why?
If God did things the same way every time, you’d worship the method instead of Him.
It’s kind of like when people get stuck thinking that you have to lay hands on someone to see them healed. Or, you have to have spontaneous church services to experience the move of the Holy Spirit.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen God move using both of these methods. But, we can’t get hung up on how He does things. We just need to trust that He will do it, even if its in a way we would never expect.
Here’s a prime example. In the Bible, we find that Jesus didn’t just use one method to heal people.
One time, Jesus spit in the dirt to make mud and then rubbed the mud on someone’s eyes, and then told them to go wash it off. And this blind guy came back seeing.
Other times, Jesus cast a devil out. There were times He simply commanded someone to do something they couldn’t do before. And He even healed people that were in another city because one of their relatives came to Him and asked.
So don’t put God in a box and think He only does things one way. He does things His way, which is the best way. And we have to simply trust Him. Even when it’s not what we expect. Even when it’s unpredictable.
Jesus explains it this way:
John 3:8 NIV – The wind (pneuma) blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit (pneuma).
In other words, the Holy Spirit has an unpredictable nature.
You have things in the Bible, like one time, God talked to Moses through a burning bush. He’s never done it again that we know of. Yet, we don’t say it’s a requirement to burn a bush to hear from God.
And then one time, some friends brought a blind man to Jesus and begged Him to touch the man to heal him. In other words, “Hey Jesus, do the laying on of hands thing that we’ve seen you do.”
Jesus must have been feeling a little ornery that day because He didn’t do what they asked. No, Jesus spit right on the man’s eyes, totally skipped the mud this time, and then laid His hands on him.
On a side note, Beth often gets on to me for not doing things exactly as people expect of me. She says something along the lines of, “It just has to be your idea, doesn’t it?” Well, now we know I am in good company.
But, seriously, can you imagine? Asking Jesus to heal your friend and He spits in their face?
You’d be like, “Oh… oh my gosh. I was just trying to help my friend and he’s over there getting a spit bath.”
It’s kind of like when you bring an unchurched friend to church and that happens to be the service where the Holy Spirit moves in a tangible way and people are falling out and speaking in tongues.
And you’re just over there wide-eyed like, “I swear, it’s not normally like this.”
But why did Jesus do the spit thing? Because they all thought the hands were the trick. Like, to get someone healed, you got to touch them with your hands.
Again, don’t put God in a box and think He only does things one way. He does things His way, which is the best way. And we have to simply trust Him. Even when it’s not what we expect. Even when it’s unpredictable.
Wind is powerful.
It can generate electricity. It can sail a ship. It can even tear apart a city. Remember the Moore tornado not to long ago? And the Joplin tornado?
So we can see that wind has the power to do almost anything it wants to do to our natural world.
And when we allow God’s power to work in our lives, He will accomplish things we can’t even imagine. He has the power to do anything He wants to in our natural world and in the spiritual realm.
Yet so many of us live our lives in our own power. We’ve kind of put God in this little Sunday morning box. And then inside of that is another box because we don’t want God to get too crazy at church either.
So here we are, living our lives according to what only we can do in our own power. And turns out, it’s pretty lame. We can’t do a whole lot without the power of God working in our lives.
But, it doesn’t have to be this way. I implore you to destroy the box that you’ve put God in and let Him loose in your life to do whatever He wants to do.
Acts 1:8 NLT – But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere.
To receive this power, you have to allow the Holy Spirit to come upon you.
Which means you have to get over all the bad experiences you have had that turned you off to the Holy Spirit. And you even have to get rid of all the negative things your relatives said about the Holy Spirit.
And you have to open yourself up and say, “Holy Spirit, I receive you and welcome you into my life. And I recieve your power.”
Because if you haven’t been there already, you will get to a point in your life where your own power just ain’t going to cut it. The problem is too big, the sickness is not curable with modern medicine, the relationship was destroyed.
But with the Holy Spirit and His power working in your life, God will accomplish infinitely more than you could even ask for!
He will take all the impossibles and make them possible. He will take the worst sickness or disease and obliterate it. He will take your mess and use it to prosper you beyond your wildest imagination.
Because the Holy Spirit is powerful and we need His power working in our lives.
Wind is refreshing.
Nothing like getting in your car mid-summer when its been parked in the sun for several hours. You get in there and it’s about 180 degrees and then your roll down your windows and feel that breeze.
Or how about when you’ve been outside mowing the lawn and all of a sudden, a breeze starts to blow across all your sweat? Ooo, feels so good.
Well, listen to me, the Holy Spirit wants to refresh you.
When you are feeling stuck, when you feel like you can’t take any more of life, the Holy Spirit wants to blow in and refresh you like a summer breeze.
The Bible says it this way:
1 Corinthians 2:9-10 NLT – No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him. But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit.
In other words, when your eyes can’t see any further, when listening to others advice doesn’t seem to be working anymore, and when your mind is tired, the Holy Spirit is still able to reveal all the amazing things God has prepared for you.
So, I want you to hang with me over these next three weeks as we deep dive into this series about the Holy Spirit.
Because here’s the deal. There’s no way for us to fulfill our mission here of limitless life in Jesus without the Holy Spirit.
We can’t do it without His power. We can’t do it without His refreshing. Every single one of us needs the Holy Spirit working in our lives.
The scripture we just read goes on to say:
1 Corinthians 2:9-10 NLT – For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets.
We don’t have to wonder what God wants to do in our lives when we invite the Holy Spirit to come upon us. Because He will reveal everything we need to know when we need to know it.
So, for everyone here who came in today with a negative idea of the Holy Spirit, either because someone told you not to have anything to do with it, or you had a bad experience at church in the past. Let me encourage you.
The Holy Spirit is not crazy and He’s not destructive. The Holy Spirit is the power of God and He’s the refreshing from God. And you need Him in your life.
Take a breath of fresh air.
So I want you to just take a deep breath and exhale all the lies that you’ve believed about the Holy Spirit leading up to this point. Because it’s time for you to experience His power working in your life.
The Bible explains it this way:
Ephesians 4:30 MSG – Don’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted.
So, how do we allow the Holy Spirit to become the most intimate part of our lives? Let me give you three practical steps you can take today.
#1 Let go of fears and misperceptions.
We all have them. And I bet we’ve all heard negative things about the Holy Spirit. But, we have to let them go.
Dive into the Bible and find out for yourself what an amazing gift the Holy Spirit is to us. Because we can’t base our lives on what other people have told us. We must base our lives on what the Word tells us.
Proverbs 3:5 MSG – Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Everything that God has for you is good. So, I promise, you can trust Him.
He’s not going to put you in a trance and make you become some barefooted missionary that travels all over the world. No, you can trust Him to lead you into your best life.
And don’t try to figure it all out in your mind by reasoning and planning and predicting what God is going to do. No, trust God. He’s got it!
#2 Go all in.
It’s really astounding the culture we live in today. America has this idea that we can live our best life by giving God just a small piece of our lives. Like, as long as I go to church on Easter, me and God are good.
Prime example, Sunday mornings used to be reserved for church. But now, our kids sports games are scheduled on Sunday mornings, all the stores are open so you can go shopping on Sunday mornings.
And get this. As you might know, we rent our building as an event center when we are not here, and I’ve had people ask to hold their baby shower on a Sunday morning.
If you’re not careful, culture is going to pull you right into this trap. And you are going to start thinking that it doesn’t matter if you make church a priority or not. It doesn’t matter if you give towards the work of God.
You’ll believe the lie that all God wants from you is to acknowledge Jesus and then come to church just a few times a year to make sure you’re good.
But you will never live the life God has for you if you don’t go all in.
I’m not bringing this up because I want more money or more people at this church. I’m bringing it up because I want you to live your best life.
And for you to do this, you have to go all in with God.
You have to make church a priority in your life, not because I told you, but because the Bible gives us a very specific instruction not to abandon gathering together as believers.
You have to make giving a priority, not because I told you, but because you want to be a part of something bigger than you. You want to see lives changed and you want to live a generous life.
And like we talked about last week, you will be rewarded for every generous act, not just in this life, but even in eternity.
If you want to live your best life, the one God planned out for you before you were even born, then you have to go all in.
No more toes in the water. No more straddling the fence. Give God your all.
Make church a priority. Make giving a priority. Make your small group a priority. And seek God in your everyday life.
Jeremiah 29:13 NIV – You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
There’s a condition. You find God only when you seek Him with all your heart.
You can’t be half in. Because here’s the deal, if God’s not first on your list, He’s not on your list.
Something else will come in and distract you and you won’t even realize what’s going on until your life has fallen apart.
But, you don’t have to wait for this to happen. You can decide to go all in with God right now.
#3 Develop an intimate friendship with the Holy Spirit.
This is the Holy Spirit’s primary role in your life, to be your best friend.
You see, God has a role in your life. Jesus has a role in your life. And the Holy Spirit has a role in your life. And all three roles are spelled out in one verse in the Bible:
2 Corinthians 13:14 MSG – The amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit, be with all of you.
Each person of the trinity has a specific role. And we need all three of these in our lives.
Something that really breaks my heart is that a majority of christians live their entire life with just one of those operating in their life.
They receive Jesus and they are going to heaven, but they don’t live with the reality that God loves them. And they never experience the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit.
God the Father loves me.
And some of you in this room have yet to settle this in your heart. Like maybe you’ve heard about it and it sounds really good, but there’s no way that God could love someone like you who’s made so many mistakes.
One of our core values here at NoLimits is, “We don’t waste one moment in regret.” And the reason is, regret steals the love of God from our hearts.
We try to use regret, you know, feeling sorry for what we’ve done and distancing ourselves from God, as a way to earn His love. But His love can’t be earned.
God loves you because you are His. He created you because He wants you here. And He loves you so much that He sent His one son to die a shameful death so that you could be restored from your failures.
So, leave the regret behind, because it is not helping you. And hold on to God’s love because it’s not going anywhere. God will always love you.
And Jesus has a role too:
God the Son saves me.
Jesus died a horrific and shameful death so that you could have a relationship with God. He did nothing wrong, yet He took the punishment for all the wrong you’ve done.
And after all this suffering, He rose back to life so that we could come alive with Him. So that we could rise out of our shame and have an intimate and close relationship with God, our father.
And for most people, this is where it all stops. You have the father and the son in your life, but the Holy Spirit, that’s just a little too much.
But there is a role that the Holy Spirit wants to play in your life. And it’s nothing freaky or spooky. It’s actually really comforting.
God the Holy Spirit is with me.
To be honest, this is something that I don’t even fully understand yet. And this year, the Holy Spirit has become closer than He’s ever been, but I know there’s an intimacy that I haven’t even experienced yet.
But I know that the Holy Spirit is with me. Because when I am listening, He gives me the simplest instruction. Kind of like when a good friend saves you a load of time by showing you how to do something a different way.
It’s not an everyday thing, but it’s often. And sometimes I write it down and I want to share one of those with you.
This is something I wrote on April 9 of this year:
The Lord spoke to me, “Stop worrying about growth (in numbers) in the church. I am doing a work and you are right on track.”
The work He is doing is making us one as a church. And it is very evident. My mind races to find ways to grow the church in numbers, but right now, it is growing in another way.
And, it’s essential we give it time to work out or we will not be ready for the next step.
The Holy Spirit is working to bring us into unity as a church. And He is not just doing it at NoLimits. He’s doing it all around the world.
I share this with you because I want you to understand the nature of the Holy Spirit. He wants to give you direction that leads you away from the frustration and overwhelm and into peace.
And not everything has to do with the church. I have times where the Holy Spirit helps me solve a problem at work, or tells me not to eat something.
The Holy Spirit’s role in your life is intimate friendship. He’s the friend that gives you everything you need without asking for a favor in return.
If you feel you are stuck. If you feel like you are all alone. Let the Holy Spirit give you a breath of fresh air.
Let go of the fears and misperceptions. Go all in. And invite the Holy Spirit to become the best friend you’ve ever had.