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Welcome to part three in a four part series about the Holy Spirit! Let’s kick of today by looking at our theme verse again:
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.”
This all happened more than 20 years after the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the church. And what’s interesting is, here we are 2,000 years later and some people still have the same question.
They either don’t know the Holy Spirit or they don’t want to know about the Holy Spirit because of the way others have represented it.
And that’s exactly why we are doing this series, because we all need clarity on who the Holy Spirit is and what He wants to do in our lives.
In week one, we examined what the word Holy Spirit actually means. When you dive into the original languages of the Bible, you find that the word actually means a strong breeze or a blast of breath.
So, to get an idea of the nature of the Holy Spirit, we took a look at the characteristics of wind.
Just like wind is unseen, the Holy Spirit is unseen. And we’re not weirded out that we cannot see the wind, so there is no reason to be weirded out by the Holy Spirit either.
Wind is also unpredictable, and so is the Holy Spirit. 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 need to simply trust Him.
Wind is powerful, just like the Holy Spirit is powerful. To show you what I mean, let’s take another look at this scripture in Acts:
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.
This is the essence of the Holy Spirit right here. He came to give you power so you could go out and lead people to Jesus unafraid. In other words:
The Holy Spirit gives you power to make a difference.
And last week, we talked about the word pentecost. This word tends to scare a lot of people, but turns out, it simply means fifty. The reason is, the Holy Spirit was poured out fifty days after Jesus was resurrected.
Here’s the deal, the day of Pentecost, we’re talking about when the power of the Holy Spirit comes upon you, is not so we can have wild church services, goosebumps, falling over, and running around.
No, the purpose of Pentecost is to give you the power you need to live in a way that makes a difference in the lives of those around you. We’re talking about power to lead people to Jesus and save them from eternity in hell.
For us to have this live this kind of life, the power of the Holy Spirit actually enables us to do three things.
#1 The Holy Spirit empowers me to live righteously.
When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, He begins to do a transforming work on the inside of us. I’m not obeying a set of ten commandments, those ten commandments have become a part of who I am.
And it’s not that I have to do it, I want to do it. And I want you to have that because is so much more fun and a whole lot easier than trying to fight your sinful nature with your own power.
#2 The Holy Spirit empowers me to live supernaturally.
When you read about the life of Jesus, people ran towards Him because of the supernatural life He was living. They weren’t running away because He was a crazy charismatic. No, they wanted what He had.
Here’s how the Bible explains it:
Acts 10:38 NLT – And you know that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. Then Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.
He wasn’t anointed to draw attention to himself by acting like a crazy, super-spiritual person. No, He was anointed to live his life to help people in amazing ways.
And it’s the same for us. The Holy Spirit empowers us to live supernaturally so that we can help people.
#3 The Holy Spirit empowers us to live on mission.
When you receive the power of the Holy Spirit, He empowers you to do everything that God’s needs you to do.
He’ll tell you to go here or go there, talk to this person or that person. He’ll give you the boldness you need and the words to say to lead people to Jesus. He will empower you to go about healing the sick.
And you don’t have to worry about if you are doing enough. All you need to do is let the Holy Spirit come upon you, give you power, and start listening to His step-by-step direction.
So, now you know that the purpose of the Holy Spirit is not to make you act like a crazy person. No, the Holy Spirit is a gift.
And the purpose of that gift is to give us power to live our lives in a way that make an unfathomable difference in the lives of those around us.
Now that you know the Holy Spirit is a gift, this week I want to unpack what we call the gifts of the Holy Spirit, or spiritual gifts.
There are actually three different gifts God has given us that I want to talk about. And the first one is:
This is a gift God gives every single one of us that stand all on it’s own. Like we said last week, salvation has nothing to do with you. You can do anything to earn it, and you can’t do anything to take it away.
Jesus paid the price for your eternal life, and it’s a gift. The only part you play is to receive the gift by believing in what Jesus did for you. Let me show you what I mean:
Romans 6:23 NLT – For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.
In other words, to receive eternal life, you don’t have to pray a certain amount of time, you don’t have to join this church, you don’t even have to keep coming to church.
Salvation is a free gift that stands on its own. You can’t earn it and your bad behavior can’t even scare it away. God gave this to you as a gift and the only part you play in salvation is to receive the gift by believing.
Here’s one more scripture to help drive this truth home:
Ephesians 2:8 NLT – God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.
The reason I’ve spent so much time on this one truth the past few weeks is because the next gift God gives you does require you to do something. And I don’t want you to get the two confused.
You can’t do anything to earn eternal life. It’s a simple gift and all you have to do is receive it.
But here’s the deal, God still has something for you to do, which is why He gives you a second gift:
The Holy Spirit
Again, you can’t earn the Holy Spirit. He is a gift as well. Let me show you:
Acts 1:4-5 NLT – Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before. John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.
And that’s what we are going to talk about next week, how to be baptized with the Holy Spirit. And don’t forget, we just spent two weeks establishing that the Holy Spirit is not spooky or crazy.
He is the power you need to live the life God planned for you before you were born. He is the power to make a difference. And we all need the Holy Spirit in our lives if we want to fulfill our mission of pursuing limitless life in Jesus.
Today, I want to talk about the third set of gifts God gives us:
You’ll often hear these referred to as gifts of the Holy Spirit, and for a good reason. It’s not until you are filled with the Holy Spirit that you experience these gifts in your life.
Just like the Holy Spirit, there is a lot of confusion around spiritual gifts. And it is not new to our generation. Take a look at what Paul said to the early church:
I Corinthians 12:1 NKJV – Now concerning spiritual gifts, I do not want you to be ignorant.
In other words, these guys were uninformed about spiritual gifts and Paul was about to clear things up for them. Because, when you are uninformed, you become confused anytime it is brought up.
This is exactly what happens a lot of times regarding spiritual gifts. People are uninformed, so when spiritual gifts are mentioned, they get uncomfortable and confused.
And then people start saying things like, “Yeah, spiritual gifts existed in the Bible. But when the last apostle died, the spiritual gifts went away with them.”
These same people don’t believe in healing, nor do they believe in miracles. But, listen to me. If one miracle has happened between then and now, we can prove that these things did not go away with the apostles.
And you’ve probably experienced more than one miracle in your lifetime. So we can’t even count how many miracles have happened since the last apostle died. Because they are still going on today.
Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus is still healing bodies today. He continues to deliver people who are oppressed by the devil. He’s still going around doing good. And He’s doing all of this through us.
This is exactly why we have spiritual gifts. And to be honest, most people don’t have a problem with spiritual gifts, they have a problem with one of them: speaking in tongues.
They can handle the gift of faith, or the gift of serving, or the gift of mercy. Actually, there are about 27 spiritual gifts listed in the New Testament. There’s a lot of spiritual gifts, but this one is the problem child.
People are told not to have anything to do with speaking in tongues. But listen to me, you never have to avoid anything that God has given you. And, this includes tongues.
If God has a gift for you, it is good. But at the same time, we should not focus on just one gift because that will cause just as many problems as rejecting the gift.
Sincerely, allow me to apologize for all the Christians who have made you feel that, since you don’t speak in tongues, you are a second class Christian. Because nothing can be further from the truth.
At the same time, let me encourage you not to run from the gift, but to pursue the gift. Because God wants you to have everything He’s given us. Because all of it is good.
Let me show you why we need all spiritual gifts working in our lives:
1 Corinthians 12:7 NLT – A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.
The purpose of spiritual gifts is not so you can be wild in church. No, every spiritual gift has an assignment, and it’s to help someone else.
That’s why there is an all-out war against spiritual gifts! The last thing the devil wants is for you to have the power you need to help others. Because you’ll start taking people away from him, and they’ll start serving God.
This is also why people get hung up in the idea that the only ones who can operate in spiritual gifts are those in church leadership. These things are for Kade, or for Chris, or for Michelle, or for Pastor Mark.
And if the enemy can get you to believe this, he can keep you from discovering your spiritual gift.
Because of this, we actually talk about this very misconception in every leadership meeting. We remind ourselves as leadership that this is not about us and our spiritual gifts.
No, our job as leaders in the church is to help you discover and operate in your spiritual gift. So, instead of trying to be a super-leader and doing everything on our own, we are always looking for ways to empower you to serve in the way that God has gifted you to serve.
God has gifted me to lead this church. The outcome of this going well has nothing to do with my ability. It’s all because of the spiritual gift that God has placed on the inside of me.
Everyone in this room has spiritual gifts. And God’s placed a specific assignment on your life. Whether it’s in kids ministry, in leadership, in hospitality, or whatever it is, no gift is greater than the other. They are just different.
And it takes all of us operating in our own spiritual gifts for this church to function at its best. We need every person here. You are essential to this church.
We actually have a core value that drives all of this home:
The comparison trap stops with me.
There is no use in us wasting time thinking that my gift is better than yours, or your gift is better than mine. Or our church is better than the church down the street, or why can’t we be more like that other church.
Comparison is a tool used by the enemy to keep you from discovering and thriving in the spiritual gifts that belong to you. So, put a stop to the comparison trap and be confident in who God has called you to be.
Because here’s the deal:
A spiritual gift is a special supernatural ability that God gives each of His children so that together we can advance His purposes in this world.
So how do we do this? I’m glad you asked! Let’s go through three things you can do regarding spiritual gifts.
Discover the gifts God has for me.
Chances are, your spiritual gifts are not going to be that obvious to you. Because spiritual gifts are not your natural talent. We’re not talking about your skill set.
If I were to only follow my natural gifts, I would not be leading this church today. Because the truth is, speaking is not one of my natural abilities. Actually, aside from this one hour on Sunday mornings, I am generally a very quiet person.
And over the last 11 years being a part of this church, I was asked to speak occasionally and it would be the most stressful thing to prepare a message. I hated it.
But a year ago, God made it obvious that it was time for me to lead this church. And get this, now it’s actually quite fun to prepare these messages. All because now I have a spiritual gift to do it. I didn’t have it before, but now I do.
So how are you supposed to find your spiritual gifts?
Romans 12:6 NLT – In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well.
So we all have different gifts. And we can see here that they are given to us by the grace of God. We know we are operating in these gifts when it just comes easy to you and you’re not quite sure why.
Like, I’m a young guy and only the Lord knows why He would call me to pastor a church. Yet, leading this church, speaking on Sundays, fixing issues that arise, all come easy to me.
And there’s really no explanation other than the grace of God on my life to lead this church.
And then there are people like John and Chaliena who just can’t wait to get back to Mexico. They will even drive down to the border to drop of a drum set!
If I were to try to do what John and Chaliena are doing through missions, I don’t think I would make it. Because the grace of God is on them to make an impact in Mexico.
You see, we all have different gifts. And we discover those gifts by tuning into those things that come easy to us, that we enjoy, yet we know our natural ability has little to do with it.
Let me give you a little side note. Sometimes, when we are operating in our spiritual gift, we think that everyone else should have the same gift.
So, if you are in missions, you think everyone should want to go as often as you do. And if you are in kids, you think everyone should serve as much as you do. And if you are a pastor, you think everyone should show up to church as much as you do.
Y’all get what I am saying? Watch out for this. You be you and let the other person find and operate in their own spiritual gift. You don’t have to find it for them, let them have their own walk with God.
Here’s how the Bible explains it:
Psalms 139:13-16 NIV – For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
God didn’t just create your body, He created your inmost being – all the stuff on the inside that make you, you. All the desires, passions, God put on the inside of you.
For those of you with the gift of helps, you walked in this morning and saw all the chairs that need to be straightened.
For those of you with the gift of mercy, you couldn’t care less about the chairs. What you see is the person sitting by themselves.
Both of these things are important and God is the one who made you who you are, with your desires, your passions, and your spiritual gifts.
Let’s keep reading:
Psalms 139:13-16 NIV – I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
In general, men don’t have a problem with this verse. Because we are the ones who can be in front of a mirror, and it doesn’t matter how fat we are, we still think we look good.
It’s funny. Beth used to spend a lot of time telling me I looked good until she realized that I already knew, not because she told me, but because that’s just how men are.
What I want you to notice from this verse is David was confident in who God made him to be. He wasn’t wondering if his life mattered, he knew it mattered because God made him. And everything God makes is wonderful.
And many of you need to pick up this confidence right here. You go through life beating up on yourself because you feel you don’t measure up, and it’s time to stop that nonsense.
Quit looking at what you can do and instead remind yourself of the fact that God made you and everything He makes is wonderful. And then you can get on with the next verse:
Psalms 139:13-16 NIV – All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
God has a specific plan and purpose for your life. And if the enemy can get you caught up in yourself, he can keep you from this plan. But if you stay focused on what God can do through your life, you’ll follow God’s plan to the T.
So, once you discover the spiritual gifts God has for you by paying attention to those things that come easy to you and you’re not quite sure why, then you can move on to the next step:
Develop the gifts God has given me.
Here’s the interesting thing about spiritual gifts: they change and mature.
When I was 15, God called me to lead worship. I couldn’t sing all that well. I could, however, play the piano because my mom wouldn’t let me quit piano lessons. I could play classical music, but not worship music.
Nevertheless, God dropped a vision of leading worship into my heart and I ran with it. And over the course of leading worship for 15 years, my spiritual gift grew and I got really good at understanding and running sound.
Now, I train thousands of church sound techs all over the world every week through my blog and online courses.
This wasn’t a natural gift. I actually started learning sound out of necessity. And I am not a natural teacher either, yet people tell me all the time how thankful they are that I took something complicated and made it simple.
The most interesting thing about this journey is that about three years ago, my passion for leading worship started to fade. And I felt really guilty because I knew God gave me the gift and calling. What was wrong with me?
Then, last year, God dropped the vision of this church on me and I knew He was calling me to lead this church.
Through the years, there were people that told me I would be the next pastor of this church, but I just thought they were crazy. I was called to be a worship leader, not a pastor!
Well, here we are. And I tell you this story to illustrate how spiritual gifts mature and can even change through the years. And that’s why the Bible says this:
1 Corinthians 14:1 NIV – Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy.
In other words, don’t just settle in the one gift you’ve already discovered. No, be eager to discover all of the spiritual gifts God has for you.
And while you do, let love be your guide. Because the whole reason we have spiritual gifts is not for our own benefit, but for the benefit of others. Which is exactly why the Bible says this:
2 Timothy 1:6 NLT – Fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you.
Once you discover it, light it up! Make it all that it can be. And at the same time, eagerly desire all of the spiritual gifts God has for you.
And the reason is, in order to live limitless life in Jesus and live your life in a way that impacts the world, you need to discover and develop the spiritual gifts God has given you.
Which leads us into my final point:
Use the gifts God has given me.
Once you receive the gift of eternal life by believing in Jesus, and then receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, this is your one assignment.
You don’t have to be someone else. You don’t have to pastor a church. You don’t have to start a charity. You don’t have to go to the street corners of downtown Tulsa and tell people they’re going to hell.
No, your one assignment is to use the gifts God has given you. And here’s a bonus tip: this is going to look different for each of us.
So, those of us who are called to street ministry shouldn’t look down on those who don’t want to go. And those of us called to missions shouldn’t look down on those who are called to their local community.
Because it takes all of us. And every single believer has a unique set of spiritual gifts.
You may have wondered about the core value we talked about earlier, but now it probably makes sense to you. The comparison trap stops with us because comparison really is a trap set by the enemy.
If he can keep us comparing our spiritual gifts and trying to figure out who’s is more important, then he can keep us from reaching the world for Jesus.
But here at NoLimits, we don’t do that. We are confident in who God called us to be, not because we’re better than someone else, but because God made us wonderfully.
1 Peter 4:10 NLT – God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.
We have spiritual gifts not to figure out who’s is better, but to serve one another.
You may remember a couple of months ago when we talked about the spiritual journey that every single one of us goes on. And every person in this room will find themselves somewhere on this journey.
- Know God
- Find Freedom
- Discover Purpose
- Make a Difference
This message was all about step three, where you discover your purpose. Because you are here on purpose and you have a purpose. And I want you to discover that purpose.
But you can’t skip steps one and two. It all starts by believing in Jesus. And like we’ve discovered over the past several weeks, the Holy Spirit helps you with step one and two.
He helps you know God by putting the desires of God on the inside of you. He helps you understand the Bible. And He even helps you find freedom from all those things that are keeping you from being the best version of you.
You need the power of the Holy Spirit for all steps in your spiritual journey.
And let me remind you, salvation and eternal life is a gift. You can’t earn it and it’s not a reward for the good things you’ve done. No, it is a legitimate gift and the only thing you have to do is receive it by believing in Jesus.
The Holy Spirit is a second gift. You’re already saved and going to heaven, but God has something else He wants to give you while you are here on this earth, the Holy Spirit.
And when you receive this second gift, you receive all the power you need to live the life God planned for you long ago.
The Holy Spirit helps you know God. He gives you the power you need to find freedom. And He leads you into your spiritual gifts so you discover your purpose and ultimately make a difference in the lives of those around you.
Next week, we are going to talk about how to be filled with the Holy Spirit.