We talk a lot here at NoLimits about getting closer to God. We are all on this journey of building a close relationship with God. But I’ve realized that there are some roadblocks along the way.
Let me put it to you this way. As you draw closer to God, you are always going to run into places where you get stuck because you don’t understand something about God. Actually, most of us run into the same roadblocks.
We’re talking about things like the Holy Spirit, prayer, worship, prosperity and healing. Basically, if it’s an area that Christians squabble about, you’ve probably found a roadblock.
In this series, we’re going to break through and get closer to God as a result. The good thing is, I really don’t mind talking about these controversial subjects, because we find all the answers we need in the Bible.
Our theme verse for this series actually comes from a place where people were making fun of Christianity and making fun of God because they didn’t understand what God was doing.
Before I show that to you, let me set the stage. Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose to life again three days later so we could have new life with Him.
After He rose from the dead, He spent 40 days in His glorified body, popping through walls, appearing and disappearing, giving his disciples final instructions. I bet He had a good time.
After the 40 days, He ascended into Heaven where He is today. But He’s going to be back, and honestly, it could be any day now. Jesus instructed the disciples to go to a room and wait for the Holy Spirit.
In Acts chapter 2, the Holy Spirit is poured out and it makes quite the scene. It wasn’t a quiet encounter, it was quite the show. And everyone who was around was blown away by what had just happened. Take a look at their response:
Acts 2:12-15 NIV – Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?” Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”
Maybe you’ve been here yourself. Something out of the norm happened at church and you just sat there thinking, “What in the heck is going on?!” And then you went home and made fun of it with your family and friends.
I’m not getting on to you. I just wanted to show you that you are not alone in your thoughts. And also, you will always criticize things you don’t understand. That’s just a natural response.
It’s not that you don’t believe God can do it, it’s just you don’t understand. And it is easier to make fun of it than to dig in and try to understand it.
But through this series, I’m going to respond like Peter did:
Acts 2:12-15 NIV – Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say.
As I explain these things to you, you are going to grow in your knowledge of God which will allow you to get closer to Him. So if you’ve been pushing these things away out of a lack of understanding, I encourage you to put your guard down and really listen through this series.
Acts 2:12-15 NIV – These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel.
This wasn’t what they thought it was. They thought these people were drunk. But no, this is not what you think. This is that, you know, the truth you find in the Bible.
This stuff happens to us all the time. Someone says or does something and we assume the worst, only to find out it wasn’t anything like what we thought it was. And then we do the same thing with God.
We have an idea about this mysterious thing of God but once we gain a real understanding of what’s really going on, our whole perspective shifts and we see it in a whole new light. That’s what’s going to happen for you in this series.
There’s no better way to kick off this series than to talk about one of the most controversial topics in church, The Holy Spirit.
Let me start by saying, it’s probably not what you think. If you understood the Holy Spirit, you’d want Him in your life. So, can you give me a blank page and at least consider what I am going to show you about the Holy Spirit?
Go ahead and push aside all the negative church experiences you’ve had. Take a deep breath and release the anxiety that likes to show up when we don’t fully understand something. And let me introduce you to the Holy Spirit.
Who is the Holy Spirit?
I couldn’t think of a better way to figure out who the Holy Spirit is than to look at the very words of Jesus. I am going to show your four ways that Jesus himself describes the Holy Spirit.
He is my inner voice.
We’re talking about when you get some direction on the inside and you know it wasn’t you because you aren’t that smart. Although, I think most of us like to claim what the Holy Spirit gives us, and He seems to be okay with that.
This inner voice also helps keep you on the right track. And that’s why Jesus explained it this way:
John 16:8 NLT – And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment.
We tend to see this thing called conviction as a bad thing. But I looked it up in the original language and one of the definitions is, “to bring to the light”. So, let me reread this to you using this definition.
“And when he comes, he will bring to the light the sin of the world, and God’s righteousness, and the coming judgment.”
Now, that’s a good thing. None of us wants to be lost in darkness. So, thank God the Holy Spirit brings things to light so we can live in God’s righteousness. And He is actually really gentle about it.
Let me give you a personal example. The one that happens most often for me is when I am about to talk negatively about someone, there is an inner voice that says, “Hey, hey, hey. It’s better to keep your mouth shut on this one.”
And then my mind kicks in and says something like, “It’s okay. You are just talking to Beth. You can tell her anything. Plus, you need to vent to someone.”
But deeper down, if I am listening, the Holy Spirit is still saying, “Shhhh. Let it go. Believe the best. Be kind. Don’t let anything negative come out of your mouth.”
I’ve gotten better at this over the years. Most of the time, I listen to the inner voice of the Holy Spirit and keep my mouth shut. But sometimes I let loose and very quickly realize the Holy Spirit was right. I should have kept my mouth shut.
The Holy Spirit is doing these things for you too. And He’ll even talk to you during a service like this. You’ll hear exactly what you need to hear out of this message, not because I said it exactly right, but because the Holy Spirit is speaking on the inside of you. Let me show you what I mean:
1 Corinthians 12:3 NLT – …no one can say Jesus is Lord, except by the Holy Spirit.
No one can give their life to Jesus unless the Holy Spirit first reveals the truth about Jesus on the inside of them. Thank God this isn’t up to me or you, or I don’t think anyone would make it to heaven.
Yes, we have a part to play in leading people to Jesus. We build relationships. We share our story about what Jesus did in our lives. We proclaim the Good News about Jesus. But the Holy Spirit is who shows up and knocks on their heart.
I am giving you four ways Jesus described the Holy Spirit. Here’s the next one:
He is my teacher.
You can read the Bible yourself and get revelation without going to Bible school. You don’t even need me to explain it to you because the Holy Spirit will bring to light the truth of the Word as you read it.
Maybe this has happened to you before. You were reading a verse that you’ve read before, but this time, the words jumped off the page at you and something clicked. You understood something brand new even though you’ve read it before.
You’ll often hear in church that the Bible is alive. This is what everyone is talking about. Only in the Bible can you learn a hundred different things from one verse. And every time you read it, you learn something new.
Let me show you how Jesus explains this:
John 14:26 NLT – …the Holy Spirit will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.
Man, if we could all just get this. We don’t have to wonder around confused about what we read in the Bible. The Holy Spirit is on the inside of us revealing truth and helping us understand everything about God.
The reason Christians walk around confused, or misunderstand something in scripture is simply because they haven’t invited the Holy Spirit to be their teacher. You have to be open to it. He’s not going to force Himself on you.
Let me show it to you in scripture:
1 John 2:27 NLT – But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie.
You have to receive the Holy Spirit. You have to welcome Him into your life. And when you do, He will teach you everything you need to know.
Alright, here’s the next thing you need to know about the Holy Spirit:
He is my guide.
Man, don’t we need this now more than ever. Life as we knew it was flipped on its side when corona came for a visit and the whole country shut down. Now most of us are having to rethink our lives and what we’re going to do.
Wouldn’t it be nice if God was our tour guide as we journey down this new path. Well, that’s exactly what He wants to do for you through the Holy Spirit.
“Over here you’ll see people freaking out because they are worried about their financial future. But we are going to keep moving forward because up ahead is a more prosperous life than you had before.”
Can I be real with you all? There’s a lot of talk about going back to the way things used to be. People just want to get back to normal.
But we’re not going back. No one is. Life as we knew it is gone and we need to let the Holy Spirit guide us down this new path. Take a look:
John 16:13 NLT – …he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future.
Holy smokes. This is so good. God knows what’s coming. He knows the best path for you despite the chaos that is going on around you. And the Holy Spirit is going to tell us what that is. Just like the prophet Isaiah said:
Isaiah 30:21 NLT – Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left.
Let me fill you in on a little something. The enemy likes to use things that look like good opportunities to distract us from where the Holy Spirit is guiding us to go. This job over here looks more promising and has better pay, but something on the inside is telling you to do this other thing.
Always listen to the inner voice. Sometimes you’ll have to go against what looks good on paper and what feels good in the moment to follow the Holy Spirit.
But God knows what’s coming. It may not look like the best option right now, but it’s going to turn into something that blows your mind. You gotta trust the Holy Spirit even when it doesn’t make sense to your mind.
Here’s the last way Jesus described the Holy Spirit:
He is my friend.
Your relationship with the Holy Spirit is designed to be very similar to your relationship with your best friend. You are confident He is always looking out for you. You know you can call on Him anytime and He will answer.
You live life together. You are completely open and honest, not hiding anything. And you just enjoy His presence and can’t wait to hang out. This is our relationship with the Holy Spirit. Here’s how Jesus explains it:
John 14:16 MSG – I will talk to the Father, and he’ll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you.
The Holy Spirit is here to be your friend. But a friendship requires both people to participate. As soon as you welcome the Holy Spirit into your life, you are going to gain the best friend you’ve ever had.
I love how the Apostle Paul explains the qualities of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit in this verse:
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.
We are all good with receiving grace from Jesus. We’re even good with receiving the love of God. But too many people stop there. It’s time for all of us to step into the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit.
It’s time to get practical. Now that you know who the Holy Spirit is and understand the benefit of having an intimate friendship with Him, let me give you three prayers you can pray to begin to experience that friendship.
Prayers to Experience the Holy Spirit
1. “Holy Spirit show me.”
Holy Spirit, I need your wisdom. I need your understanding. I need you to guide me through these uncharted waters. I’m not going to act like I have it figured out. You know the future. Show me the next step I need to take.
Here is something straight from the Bible you can pray every day:
Psalms 139:23-24 NLT – Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
Search me. I’m not going to hide anything from you. Test me and let me know when I’ve failed. I know I’m not going to get an A every time. And lead me along the path of everlasting life so I can experience heaven here on earth.
Here’s the next thing we need to pray:
2. “Holy Spirit change me.”
There is no reason for any of us to be stagnant in our spiritual journey with God. Whether this is new to you or you’ve been going to church for the past fifty years, there is always a next step.
I hope we never get to a place where we think there is nothing else that needs to change in our lives. Because if we think that, we are going to miss out on something that God wants to do.
2 Corinthians 3:18 NLT – … And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.
The Holy Spirit is helping us so we can be more like Jesus, but it is a step-by-step process. He’s not in a hurry for you to get everything cleaned up, but He does want to keep this thing moving forward. Holy Spirit, change me.
Here’s the third prayer:
3. “Holy Spirit fill me.”
In other words, Holy Spirit, give me everything that you have. Because how many of you listening right now believe that you’ve already experienced everything God has for you? Yeah, none of us.
That’s why, every day, we should ask the Holy Spirit to fill us with more of God, more of the Word, more love, more patience, more wisdom.
If you don’t take time to realize that all of this comes from the Holy Spirit, you’ll try to live out this whole thing called Christianity in your own power. And I hate to spoil this for you, it works for a little while, but you going to crash and burn.
Let me show you what I mean:
Ephesians 5:18 NLT – Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit.
If you try to do this on your own, you’ll end up turning to something the world has to offer to fill the void in your life because you are missing friendship with the Holy Spirit.
Instead of turning to the world’s potion – alcohol, drugs, pornography, retail therapy – instead of that, be filled with the Holy Spirit.
You can’t do this on your own. You were not designed to do this on your own. That’s why God sent the Holy Spirit to be with us everywhere we go. He is our friend and He is the inner voice that guides us and teaches us along the way.
This is really an interesting time for me to bring this message to you. Before all this coronavirus stuff went down, I was doing well, letting the Holy Spirit lead me and change me and fill me. We were pals.
And when everything hit the fan back in the beginning of March, I so quickly reverted back into trying to figure out everything by myself.
I wanted to lead our church well through the pandemic. I felt pressure to figure out this whole live streaming thing so I could put resources together for the twenty thousand church leaders on my email list looking to me for advice.
Looking back, I am still amazed at how quick I abandoned my friend, the Holy Spirit, because I felt the pressure to perform.
Maybe you’ve done something similar before, leaving a good friend in the dust to pursue a new opportunity. Or maybe even leaving your family behind to take a job that required more than you could give.
Well, it only took me a couple of weeks to reach my breaking point. I tried to figure all this out on my own and it only took two weeks for me to crash and burn. That’s a bit embarrassing, because I thought I was more skilled than that.
Trying to do this on your own, without the Holy Spirit, sucks. I spent a big part of my life doing it on my own. It’s only been in the past couple of years that I’ve really been allowing God’s power to work in me.
But man, reverting back to old habits made me realize how valuable the Holy Spirit is. If you haven’t experienced the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit, after you welcome Him into your life today, you are going to look back and wonder what took you so long.
God wants you to live your life in what’s called the rhythms of grace. You know how you can escape chaos by turning on a song that brings calm and peace into the environment? This is what your whole life is supposed to be like with God.
You don’t have a perfect life. Things still go wrong. There is still chaos going on around you. You look out and you see the chaos, but inside you have peace. You’re calm. You’re not striving. You’re not worried. You’re not trying to prove yourself.
This is what is available to you when you welcome the Holy Spirit into your life.
The last thing you need to know is there is a prerequisite to receiving the Holy Spirit. You first have to believe in Jesus.
Maybe the Holy Spirit is knocking on your heart right now. There is something on the inside of you stirring, excited, and ready to receive what God has for you. The first gift He has for you is salvation through Jesus Christ.
Without Jesus, you couldn’t have a relationship with God because of all the things you’ve done wrong. But Jesus died on the cross and rose back to life so that your old life could die and you could be raised to new life.
Believe in Jesus right now and your relationship with God will be immediately restored. Jesus paid the price for everything you’ve done wrong, and everything you will do wrong in the future. All you have to do is believe that Jesus was raised from the dead for you.
I want to help you put your faith into words by leading you in a prayer. Wherever you are right now, go ahead and pray this out loud:
“Jesus, thank you. I’ve been trying to do this on my own. It wasn’t working. I messed up a lot. But I believe you made it right. You paid for my sin on the cross. You gave me new life when you rose again. I want you to lead my life. I believe in you Jesus.”
If you just prayed that prayer, we want to support you along the journey that’s ahead. But we can’t support you if we don’t know. So we set up an easy way for you to tell us. Simply text the word Jesus to 918-373-9883.
We’re not going to bug you. We’re not going to spam you. We are just going to help guide you through your next step. We’re here for you. So please, go ahead and send that text.