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What the Holy Spirit Means for Normal People

 

Copyright CreationSwap, created by Patrick Fore.

Copyright CreationSwap, created by Patrick Fore.

 

 

Who really understands what the Holy Spirit does?

I mean, I know a little bit. I know that what we call the ‘Holy Spirit’ is God’s own spirit which lives in my heart, and has lived there ever since I accepted Jesus’ forgiveness.

I know the Holy Spirit is part of the Trinity: God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

I know Jesus sent the Holy Spirit into the hearts of believers, so that He can help us.

But any understanding beyond that gets a little fuzzy.

A few weekends ago I heard a sermon which spoke about the Holy Spirit in a clear and simple way that I’ve never heard before. I’ve listened to the sermon four times since and it has majorly helped me with understanding this mysterious part of God’s character.

And it just so happens, the preacher was my Dad.  So I’ve been able to get a copy of that audio and put it here to share with all of you. 🙂

I think this message was also especially good for people who don’t feel like they fit into church. So if that’s you, listen up! 🙂

Since I struggle to remember things that I only hear—it’s far easier for me if they’re written down—I listened to the sermon again last night and wrote down notes to help me remember all the great points. I’ve included those notes below for all of you too.

I really ask that you give this message a go. Dad’s a farmer, so he talks in normal Aussie language and explains things in a practical way.

Play it while you wash the dishes or rake the lawn or something, and get ready for God to talk to you!

 

All the sermons that Dad (Danny Everingham) has preached lately are also posted on the Inverell church’s website.

 


What the Holy Spirit Means for Normal People

 

First, Dad does a quick recap of the sermons they’ve done so far this term. They are all about the Book of Acts.

1. Who is the church for?

Not just ‘churchy people’, but everyone.

2. The Holy Spirit draws ourselves and other people closer to Jesus.

The Holy Spirit wants the whole church to take the whole gospel to the whole world.

3. It was Jesus’ mission, and it is ours too today, to make disciples. (Jess’s note: By ‘disciples’, we mean ‘to make followers of Jesus who are becoming more like Him’.)

4. We need to get ready for that mission, and to get our identity from God. We need to know who God is and what he’s done for us, so we know who we are and what we should do.

5. Preparation often involves waiting. We usually think we’re waiting for God, but God is often waiting for us to focus on Him.

6. We need to pray together. Praying together builds unity.

7. The Holy Spirit is in our hearts and enables us to continue Jesus’ mission of creating disciples. His Spirit fills us and overflows into our interactions with people we know.

8. The Holy Spirit helps us to know Jesus/God better.

9. The Holy Spirit is for everyone.

Then Dad prays.

Okay, here’s the ‘real’ sermon:

Dad is preaching from Acts 2. You might want to pause for a minute and read the verses he’s preaching from; that part got left out of the recording.

On the day of Pentecost[a] all the believers were meeting together in one place.Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages,[b] as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.

At that time there were devout Jews from every nation living in Jerusalem. When they heard the loud noise, everyone came running, and they were bewildered to hear their own languages being spoken by the believers.

They were completely amazed. “How can this be?” they exclaimed. “These people are all from Galilee, and yet we hear them speaking in our own native languages! Here we are—Parthians, Medes, Elamites, people from Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, the province of Asia, 10 Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, and the areas of Libya around Cyrene, visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism), Cretans, and Arabs. And we all hear these people speaking in our own languages about the wonderful things God has done!” 12 They stood there amazed and perplexed. “What can this mean?” they asked each other.

Acts 2:1-12, NLT

The Holy Spirit is for all people.

(Jess’s note: Dad’s reference here to ‘Beksy’ was for my sister, who was sitting beside me in church laughing at something.)

The Holy Spirit worked to connect people to Jesus. He still empowers us to do that today.

What attracted the crowds was Jesus, not clever speaking or talent. That hasn’t changed today. It’s all about Jesus.

The Holy Spirit is here to connect us with Jesus, and others with Jesus. He communicates with us in ways we can understand.

When you let God take over more of your life, you give the Holy Spirit more room to work in your heart. You become even more empowered to reach other people.

(Jess’s note: At 14 min 30 sec, Dad refers to a ‘line’. I think he had a picture of it up on the projector in church, so here is my best reproduction of it.)

 

Two extremes to avoid, and the balance in the middle

I did this and then realised how bad my handwriting is. :) If you can't read that 'h' word, it says 'heads'.

I did this and then realised how bad my handwriting is. 🙂 If you can’t read that ‘h’ word, it says ‘heads’.

Here is a list of things that happened when the Holy Spirit did stuff, as recorded in Acts:

 Miracles happened

They prayed together

They worshiped Jesus

They had unity

They spoke in heavenly tongues

They spoke about Jesus with courage

They cared for the poor and sick

Lots of people believed in Jesus

People were generous

They prophesied

They were obedient

They spoke in foreign languages

 

It’s all about bringing us closer to Jesus, and others closer to Jesus. Each of those actions helps accomplish that.

The number of times an incident is recorded in the Bible can be an indicator of how much emphasis God puts on it. Which two things in that list do you think were recorded the most often in Acts?

SPOILER ALERT: BELOW ARE THE ANSWERS

‘Miracles happened’ was #5. ‘Prayed together’ was #6. ‘Cared for poor and sick’ was #8.

‘Spoke about Jesus with courage’ was #1. ‘Lots of people believed’ was #2.

In fact, most of the items in that list were mentioned less than a handful of times. But Acts records thirty instances where the Holy Spirit empowered believers to speak about Jesus with courage. It also records seventeen instances where lots of people believed.

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—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

If we will wait and we have the Holy Spirit on us, we will be God’s witnesses. 

(Jess’s note: By ‘witnesses’, Dad means that we will communicate to people about God and what He’s done for us.)

God has given us all different gifts, but the Holy Spirit is for everyone. This is a promise made to all.

It is not only a promise, but also a command.

Jesus used a variety of styles to connect with people. God meets people where they’re at. Eating with them, working with them, doing life with them.

God puts people in our lives for a reason. Our job is to pray, watch and wait for God-provided opportunities.

We don’t have to force anything; the pressure is off. It’s just us being obedient.

When this event at the start of Acts happened, there were two main problems with spreading the word about God. One was distance; no cars or planes back then. The other was language barriers.

In this event, everyone was already there for the Pentecost festival. And God solved the language problem with a miracle. It’s almost like He knew what He was doing!

The message about God is bigger than just us; it’s about everyone.

The Holy Spirit is given to those who obey.

The Holy Spirit isn’t just for special people, or super-spiritual weirdos. He’s for ordinary people like us.

All of Acts is a record of what the Holy Spirit will do, working through the lives of obedient people.

Pray for courage, pay attention to those outside the church, be intentional about growing disciples and listen to the Holy Spirit. Watch and see what God’s doing around us. Let the Holy Spirit deeper and deeper into our hearts.

Obedience can teach us stuff about God that our minds cannot learn on their own.

 

Jess’s note: So one question for me to think about after this message is, am I becoming more and more obedient to God?

I also especially loved the part about how the Holy Spirit empowers us to communicate with other people about God.

Comment below and share how/if this message challenged you!

Also, if this message means as much to you as it has to me, please consider sharing it with others.

I think this is a topic that gets missed a lot in church, and I feel very lucky that I’ve been able to get a better understanding of it. 🙂 It’s also been great timing, with our Project X mission coming up next weekend.

If everyone can shoot up a prayer for the Project X weekend,  that would be fantastic! 🙂

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This Will Make You Smile

I am one of 7,000,000,000 people on the earth. I am one of tens of billions to exist in history.

Original map sourced from Creationswap.com, by Kaitlin McMichael.

Original map sourced from Creationswap.com, by Kaitlin McMichael.

I just pulled a hair from my head, slipped on my Supernatural Glasses of the Unseen (i.e. my imagination) and looked at the tiny, tiny number stamped at the base of the follicle.

#7,651

That’s right, God not only pays attention this little 1/7,000,000,000th of the world’s population, He knows exactly how many hairs are on my head.

Don’t believe me?

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Luke 12:6-8 NIV

That’s straight from the Big Man himself.

He giggled at the funny cartoon I drew at work today. He pondered my next novel idea with me. He heard my silent thoughts, wondering if anything I did today had eternal value. (And the follow-up thought, wondering if I think too much.)

I’ve been studying Experiencing God this week, and I’m up to a section that particularly deals with the church and our roles in it. It struck me anew that EVERY part of God’s ‘body’, the church, is vital.

 A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together. If Foot said, “I’m not elegant like Hand, embellished with rings; I guess I don’t belong to this body,” would that make it so? If Ear said, “I’m not beautiful like Eye, limpid and expressive; I don’t deserve a place on the head,” would you want to remove it from the body? If the body was all eye, how could it hear? If all ear, how could it smell? As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it.

1 Corinthians 12:14-18 MSG

Do I treat myself like I am an essential part of my Christian community? (With the community being not just my church, but also my Christian friends, family, and organisations I’m involved in.)

Uh, no.

My default thought has always been that I’m a small toe. Handy, but not that effective or vital.

But there’s another part to this, too. Do I treat everyone else like they’re also the heart and muscle of this body called the church?

No again.

What would be different if I did? I’m not sure. But it’s something for me to ponder this week.

What I do know is, these verses make it clear that God has a very personal interest in my life, and my community. He wants to have relationship with us, work with us, and do life with us.

It’s a thought that makes me smile.

‘All I Am’ – My Second Novel

It’s been an exciting week everybody!

On Tuesday I entered the first 15 pages and a synopsis of my second novel, a contemporary romance tentatively titled All I Am, into the Oregon Christian Writers’ Cascade Writing Contest. Apparently I’m their first ever international entrant. 🙂 Hopefully I do a good job representing the Aussies!

I also found out this morning that Elaine Stock has listed this blog as one of her ‘April favorites’ on her website, Everyone’s Story. Thank-you Elaine!

Another exciting thing: on Saturday I was surprised when I was invited to speak at my church’s night service in a few months’ time. I have never done anything other than a youth group talk before, so I’d love some prayer to help me out.

I have also been working on revamping the blog, and as part of that I’m regularly adding new recommendations to the tab above. This week’s recommendation is the Bible study Experiencing God. This study explains in simple, Biblical terms how we can experience God by working with Him, listening to Him and being part of a love relationship with Him. I cannot overstate the difference this has made in my life, and the lives of a lot of people I know. Check it out!

Lastly, I had to let you all know about this awesome guy I heard about this week. A character in All I Am is in remission from cancer, so I emailed an author who offered to tell me about her Dad’s experience with cancer. During our conversation she happened to mention that her father, who is in his eighties, still flies his powered parachute—as recently as last week! She said his cancer made him a lot weaker, but he was very strong initially so even in his weakened state he still takes the parachute for a spin!

I was amazed, but she sent photographic proof. Enjoy.

James and his parachute.

James and his parachute.

James in action.

James in action.

I’m Finished!

THE ENDThat’s right, I finally typed those words this afternoon!

While I’m sure there will be plenty of revisions still to come, I can officially say that I have written an entire book.

It’s a good feeling.

To check out the (new and improved) first five chapters of Open Your Eyes –  or even just to sticky beak at the back cover blurb – click on the ‘My Novel’ tab on the menu above.

And if you like it, feel free to share it with your friends!

Happy reading!!!