We worship a big God! He is all powerful, all knowing, eternal, fair, just and ever present. The God we serve has created all things around us. He has intricately designed this world and all that is in it; He has created you and me as unique individuals and somehow, he makes sure everything is working for all things to exist and survive. But He is not just a God of the “big” details, He is also the God of the “little” details. I love what Francis Chan writes in his book entitled, CRAZY LOVE,
“Have you ever thought about how diverse and creative God is? He didn’t have to make hundreds of kinds of bananas but he did. He didn’t have to put 3,000 species of trees within a square mile of the Amazon jungle, but He did. God didn’t have to create so many kinds of laughter. Think about the different sounds of your friends’ laughs – wheezes, snorts, silent, loud, obnoxious.
How about how plants defy gravity by drawing water upward from the ground into the stems and veins? Or did you know that spiders produce three kinds of silk? When they build their webs they use, they create sixty feet of silk in one hour, simultaneously producing oil on their feet that prevents them from sticking to their own web! Coral plants are so sensitive that they can die if the water varies by even one or two degrees.
Did you know that when you get goose bumps, the hair follicle is actually helping you stay warmer by trapping body heat? OR what about the simple fact that plants take in carbon dioxide (which is harmful to us) and produce oxygen (which we need to survive)? I’m sure you knew that, but have you ever marveled at that? And these tiny poison swallowing, life giving plants came from tiny seeds that were placed in the dirt. Some were watered, some weren’t; but after a few days they poked through the soil and into the sunlight.”
Have you ever just sat and thought about the excellence of God? Have you ever thought about his intricacies, his creations, his unfailing love for you, his sacrifice, his massiveness, his care, his mercy, his concern with the small details of life? Have you ever thought about his promises; His promise to never leave or forsake you; his promise of eternal life to those who believe in Jesus Christ; his promise to be near to you if you draw near to him; his promises of justice; and his promise to take care of you and me?
I have thought about these things over and over and when I think about how great our God is and the specific, wonderful care and kindness He shows, I am encouraged beyond all things. But then, when difficulties arise or the future becomes uncertain, I start to wonder, do I really believe all of this about God? I begin to question; do I believe God is capable of marvelous accomplishments? Do I really believe “God is good all the time and all the time God is good”? Or is this a response I have been programmed to repeat whenever prompted? Ultimately, I ask myself; do I really believe what I believe? Maybe you have asked yourself this same question? Maybe you are asking this question right now amid this pandemic.
Can I speak to you on a personal level? I admit, there are times in my life where my thoughts and beliefs about God do not match up to what I preach when it comes to worry and trusting God. Now, I know, I am a pastor so I should NEVER question God, worry or have moments where my faith is tried right? Because we all know pastors are never ever supposed to worry or question God. Well, I don’t mean to rain on your parade but there are times when I do worry and struggle. I mean, intellectually I know God is perfect in all ways, I know He will not leave nor forsake me and I fully believe He will provide for all of my basic needs in life; so, tell me why do I continue to worry?
Worry, what is it Good For?
Today we are going to look at a couple of passages in the Bible that will an encouragement to all of us (myself included) as we seek to live worry free lives, especially in these days and times. As believers we are always called to trust God and yet we worry that maybe today is the first day in all of eternity that He is not going to pull through. Worry and trust are negating in all ways. The two cannot co-exist. Francis Chan writes from CRAZY LOVE again, “Worry implies that we don’t quite trust God is big enough, powerful enough, or loving enough to take care of what is happening in our lives.” Does that quote sting a little? It should. However, my first response is to say, “How dare someone say that my worry implies that I don’t trust God?” I mean come on, didn’t the patriarchs of old worry? The disciples seemed to worry, didn’t they? I mean isn’t worry a natural response that all humans experience? Sure, it is, but what is worry good for?
Matthew 6:25 – 34
If you have your Bible’s in front of you, or a digital version, I want us to pause for a moment. Get a pen, highlighter or select the text on your digital device and underline these verses if they are not already… Now let’s dig into this passage and see how Jesus can speak into our worry.
Vs 25 – Jesus says don’t worry about trivial things like what you will eat or wear because life is more than that.
Verse 26 – Do I have trouble believing God is going to take care of my needs? Well look outside see those cute and annoying birds flying around outside. They don’t plant or harvest their food, yet they seem to always have something to eat. Hmmm… God provides for those birds. Do I believe that I am more valuable than a bird in God’s eyes? If so, do I believe maybe, just maybe God will provide for me? He cares enough about those winged creatures to provide; then shouldn’t you and I trust and believe that God cares enough about you and me?
Verse 27 – Can you tell me; how much do we accomplish by worrying? Let’s think about this. I spend hours worrying about something and during those hours what am I accomplishing? What purpose has my worry filled? Nothing whatsoever! Was anything accomplished by my worrying? Not a single thing.
Verse 28 – If worry is useless then why bother living your life in bondage to it?
Verses 29 – 32: God takes care of His creation with or without our help, He provides everything that is needed for the plants, the birds, the grass, etc. God knows our needs and He will give us WHATEVER we NEED.
Verse 33 – So if we don’t spend out time worrying then what are we supposed to do? Jesus tells us to SEEK first Kingdom of God and all the trivial things in life will be taken care of. Jesus tells us that we need to make seeking God and his kingdom our top priority. We are to let him have complete rule and reign over our lives. But when we worry, we do not believe God is going to pull through for us.
Verse 34 – Jesus essentially tells us that since God is going to take care of us let’s stop wasting our time worrying about anything because God has it all under control. Since He has it all under control then we need to live in the here and now because God has provided all we need for today.
So, what is Jesus telling us in this passage? He is simply saying, do not worry because God has taken care of ALL our needs. Now this does not mean that we should neglect personal preparation and planning for the future. No, that is not what Jesus us saying, He is telling us to not spend all of our time planning for the future and what we want to accomplish because God’s plans may (and probably will) be different from the ones you and I make. I mean isn’t this when we worry most? It seems to me that when things don’t go the way I planned them is the time when I start freaking out and worrying about things?
How Can We Live “Worry Free” Lives?
I wish there was a pill or a formula I could give you that would eliminate worry from our lives forever. Unfortunately, there is no such thing available. However, we can turn to the Word of God and let it speak to us today as a daily reminder that God is in control of all things and I am not.
This passage has encouraged me time and again in my life. In it I find three steps to help us live worry-free lives.
To paraphrase Proverbs 3:5 – 6 and help us live worry-free lives we need to “Trust in God and not your intellect or your crafty plans. Dedicate your life to Him and give Him complete control over your life in all areas and when you do this God will eliminate the power of worry in your life.”
For many worrying is a nasty habit to kick, and it can paralyze you, if you let it. This message today is just as much for me as it is for many of you. We are living in a time where it is easy to give in to our worries, fears and anxieties, but I want to encourage you (and me) to take keep the words of Proverbs 3:5 – 6 close in heart. I have purposed in my heart for God to have complete dominion in my life so I may live a stress- and worry-free life. I am determined to come to terms with the fact that worrying is useless and a complete waste of time. Time is precious and God does not want me to waste it worrying about things that I have no control over. Today I am speaking to you in my vulnerability, and declaring that I am giving my worry over to God and I am acknowledging Him in all my ways (good and bad times) and trusting that He will take care of the rest of the details and concerns in my world today. Would you join with me?
This is the manuscript of the sermon I preached online for West Bradenton Southside on 3/22/20.
This week we are continuing our series on the Holy Spirit. We have spent six weeks talking about the Holy Spirit and the role He plays in the transformative life of the believer and in the Church. Last week I talked about the many and varying gifts of the Holy Spirit (If you missed it you can read the manuscript online; I will put a link in the comments sections). I noted that the Bible clearly states each person has a gift(s) and they are given for the benefit and building up of the body of Christ and to the glory of God. As I concluded the message, I encouraged you take a journey of discovering your gift(s) either online or a physical copy and I would be interested to see what you found out about your gift.
Today I will be talking about what the Holy Spirit abiding in the believer (the Spirit-filled life) looks like, and we will do this by looking at the fruit of Spirit found in Galatians 5.
Read Galatians 5:16 - 17
Vs 16: The Apostle Paul writes to the Galatians, “walk by the Spirit and you will certainly not carry out the desires of the flesh.” What he is saying that when you walk in the Spirit you will not give in to or walking in the desires of flesh or sin. “Walk(ing) by the Spirit” means to regulate, adjust or conduct your life to the Spirit.
It is very important to understand that The Spirit-filled life is one we cannot live in our own power and under our own control. You see by nature; we live in direct contrast to the Spirit-filled life; we are controlled or driven by the flesh. We are sinful by nature, thus we walk in contrast to the ways of God. The only way you can walk in the Spirit is when you have submitted your life in obedience to Jesus Christ and depend on the Spirit to lead and guide. You cannot live in the Spirit if you don’t allow the Spirit to live through you. When you have submitted your life to Jesus then the Spirit has control of your life and thus, we will not seek to live flesh filled lives. This is what verse 16 says… if you walk by Spirit (under the influence of) then you will not seek or desire to walk in the flesh.
Vs 17: There is a war going on in our bodies and this is a war of the flesh and the Spirit. The two (flesh and Spirit) cannot co-exist. There is no such thing as a Spirit-filled, flesh-controlled Christian. It just cannot happen. I have heard people refer to people who claim to be filled by the Spirit but live their lives contrary to God and are controlled by the flesh as carnal Christians, but I don’t see any evidence in Scripture that supports this claim. The truth is you are either Spirit-filled/driven or flesh-controlled.
Now, there are times in moments of weakness and selfishness that allow the flesh to control us (remember there is an ongoing battle in us) and as believers we must allow the Spirit to live through us. We need to pray for the Spirit to motivate us daily and guide us through life. When those moments of flesh-control come to tempt us we need to pray even more. The flesh is ever present, yet we cannot allow it to control us because the Holy Spirit dwells in us. In fact, without the Spirit we simply cannot control the flesh.
The Works of the Flesh
Vs 18: Paul begins by contrasting the Spirit-filled and flesh-controlled life. He says, “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” This implies one who is attached to an attendant. Thus, if you are attached to the Spirit then you are not attached to the law. As a Christian you have been released from the oppression of the law and you are now under grace, faith and love through Jesus Christ.
Go to 2 Corinthians 3:16 – 18 (Detour)
3:16: “But whenever a person turns to the Lord (Jesus), the veil is removed.” The veil represents the separation between God and man. So, when one comes faith in Jesus Christ the veil of separation is removed. We now have access to the Father at any time.
3:17 – “The Lord is the Spirit”; Jesus and the Holy Spirit are one and the same. Where the Spirit is there is freedom – Freedom from the law, guilt, sin, death etc.
3:18 – Being free in Christ we begin and continue in a process of becoming more like Christ… we transform into his image. If we are transformed into his image, we become Spirit-filled (under the influence of the Spirit) and our desire is not for the flesh. When you are Spirit led you will become more like Christ and thus the Mosaic Law is of no benefit because Jesus fulfilled the law. If you do not have the Spirit, then you will be controlled by the flesh and it will be evident by the bad fruit you produce.
The Fruit of the Flesh (back to Galatians)
Vs 19 – 21: – The person who does not have the Holy Spirit will produce bad fruit and a person controlled by the flesh has one, most or all these characteristics.
The Fruit of the Spirit
Since there is a battle going between the flesh and Spirit it is important for us to know what the Spirit-filled believer’s life is based upon.
Vs 22-23: The Fruit of the Spirit.
Fruit = That which originates or comes from something. An effect or result. Evidence.
A person who is a believer in Jesus will have the fruit of the Spirit evident in his/her life. The Spirit-filled life is not attainable and sustainable in our own human power. In fact, the fruit of the Spirit will flow naturally from the life of a person who is truly submitted to Jesus Christ. However, this does not mean there won’t be struggles in living these out. They are the evidences or proofs of the Holy Spirit dwelling in you. The flesh and the Spirit are at war with each other and we can only live in the Spirit when we allow the Spirit to have complete control over our lives. Thus, a Fruitful (or Spirit-filled life) involves submission, obedience and transformation to Jesus Christ and His Word.
[i] Theological dictionary of the New Testament. 1964-c1976. Vols. 5-9 edited by Gerhard Friedrich. Vol. 10 compiled by Ronald Pitkin. (G. Kittel, G. W. Bromiley & G. Friedrich, Ed.) (electronic ed.) (9:369). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.
Read Psalm 13
Today’s Psalm is a short one written by David. It is a Psalm most of us can relate with as it is a feeling, we probably have had during trying times. This is a song with varying emotions that begins with crying out in despair and anguish and concludes with joy and hope.
Psalm 13 was likely penned at a low point in David’s life; some have suggested he was fighting a life-threatening illness and others suggest it was penned during the time when David was fleeing from the murderous pursuits of King Saul who was trying to kill him. Whatever the situation he was facing at the time it is apparent that he was in utter despair and close to the end of his rope.
The Psalmist begins his song by asking God a question, “How long?” He asks this question four times and his repetition show that David is at a breaking point, he is getting to the point of being unable to bear or endure the situation(s) he is facing. He asks God, “How long YHWH will you forget me, how long will you hide your face from me, how long must I take counsel in myself and how long must I watch the enemy exalt over me?”
Initially one would think David is having a crisis of faith as he wonders if God is around or if He even cares. Now, I don’t believe David is questioning the existence of God nor is he literally thinking God has forgotten about him. Remember this is a poem or a song which is intended to express a pure feeling or a raw emotion. His song is not intended to be a theological treatise about God in any sense; he is just expressing his real and open emotions and feelings to God.
David is simply doing something that people in the Bible did for centuries and something we Christians do today and that is question God. Some examples would include Abraham questioning God when He promised Abraham’s wife, Sarah, would one day bear a son. Job questioned God when he lost everything that was precious to him. The prophet Elijah questioned God’s whereabouts when he fled for his life from Queen Jezebel. And the Israelites continually questioned God in the desert, in famine and other times of calamity. This should bring comfort to us because when we see some of the greatest people of faith having struggles in life, and they had the guts to cry out to God with these questions and express their true emotions to their sovereign God. Now, there are people who believe questioning God or complaining to God is wrong, disrespectful and irreverent. I could not disagree with them more whole heartedly and the Psalms prove that.
You see God is not taken back, intimidated nor offended when we bring our raw unfettered emotions to him. In fact, I believe He welcomes cries of despair and welcomes when we cast our anxieties on him.
David is voicing his anxiety and concern to God by asking, “How long do I have to endure before you will intervene and take control of the situation?” It is at this point he feels alone and abandoned by God (yet he knows He’s there) and he is in despair as he faces this difficulty or trial before him.
In verse 3 he asks God to consider, pay attention, show regard, or look favorably upon his request. In other words, he is saying, “God, hear my prayer! I have made my request known and I implore you to give it consideration. Give me the hope I need to know that I will emerge victoriously over my enemies for your name sake; lest my enemies think they have won.”
So, in the first three verses we see David lodge a complaint to God (How long O LORD?), a request (Consider and answer me), and now the Psalmist waits with great anticipation and expectation. He does not have a shallow hope that God may pull through for him; he is expecting God to hear his prayer and respond in an appropriate manner.
Verse 5 is the turning point of this Psalm as it goes from a cry of despair and lament to one of joy and hope. In despair David is faced with a choice; he can choose to continue in one of two ways
He chooses to not allow his feelings to hinder his faith. It is so easy to let our feelings or emotions determine our relationship with God and in the same manner it is also very difficult to not allow our feelings and emotions to determine our relationship with God. In other words, if we feel down in the dumps, it can be easy to feel that God is far away and when we feel happy it’s easy to feel close to God. Now, I don’t want to imply that we should never listen to our feelings and suppress them so that we become emotionless people. We should instead learn from David as he writes, “But I have trusted…” David does not allow his feeling of despair or his anxieties to dictate his circumstances and his faith. In fact, the remainder of the Psalm shows us that although David is in great despair, and anxiety but he will still trust in God’s steadfast love. God has never failed him, and he will trust Him to never fail him ever. Instead of looking at the circumstances around him or at the overwhelming feelings he has, he will focus on the steadfast love of God. He will focus on God’s loving kindness and on the many times He has shown David his steadfast love. David will not only focus on God’s character, but he will also focus on his salvation.
In the Old Testament salvation meant being saved from physical and spiritual danger. David is rejoicing a bit prematurely because nothing had changed from the opening of the song to its closing. The situation hadn’t changed one iota, but David’s heart did. He believes that God will deliver him from his enemies and despair.
I don’t know about you, but I want to be more like David with my emotions and anxiety. There are so many times when I get anxious about finances, work, and ministry and I cry out to God. I submit my concerns, anxiety and negative feelings to him and inevitably I come to the realization that God has never failed me, and He is not about to begin failing me.
In closing, I would like to give some application points for those of us who may feel the anxiety and despair David is feeling. Maybe you feel anxious, helpless, and in complete despair and my prayer is that you will gain some insight and respond in the way David does.
Application/” Regaining a Sense of God’s Presence”
Gerald H. Wilson writes in his commentary of Psalm 13 of three helpful responses to the question “How we can regain a sense of God’s presence when we feel as though we are all alone and far from his presence.” Below are three ways we can be assured of God’s presence in times of despair. He writes…
Today, if you feel as though your life and all its difficulties seem to be weighing you down and you feel all alone please remember to keep your eyes fixed on God… He is there and He does care. Talk to Him today and voice your complaint, trust in his steadfast love and rejoice because he has and will deliver you from this time of despair in His perfect timing.
This is the manuscript from the sermon I preached at West Bradenton Southside Campus this Sunday 3/15/20.
For the past five weeks, we have been in our series entitled “The Holy Spirit”. In this series I have talked about how the Spirit plays a significant role in the transformative life of the believer and in the church. I began the series with a general introduction to the Holy Spirit and then we spent three weeks in the Gospel of John and looked at Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit and last week we looked at the Holy Spirit in both the Old and New Testament. I talked about the Holy spirit was not an afterthought or a remedy to a potential problem in God’s plan of salvation. The Holy Spirit, as we have seen, has and always will be eternal, the third person of the Trinity, and given for God’s glory and our benefit.
The overall goal of this series to help us become a people and a church that abides in and is empowered by the Holy Spirit. With this goal in mind it is inevitable that today we tackle the subject of spiritual gifts. I have talked with many people over the years and I have found that many people are either curious, apprehensive/scared, or mystified/unclear about spiritual gifts. Many are curious because the idea of possessing a spiritual gift sounds exciting and they want to use this gift for God’s glory, which is healthy and biblical. Some are apprehensive or scared because when/if they discover their gift it may not be one of the “big ones” or they are just plain afraid that when they discover their gift something freaky might happen to them and they turn into a full-blown charismatic. They may be mystified or unclear because many people don’t know their gift, or better yet don’t know how to discover their gift and some wonder if they even have one.
My prayer and hope is that this message will help dispel any apprehension, fear or confusion concerning Spiritual gifts. One thing I cannot do is tell you what YOUR gift is. That is part of the journey… This is a journey of discovery and my prayer is for you is to discover the gift God has given to you and that you use it for His glory, for the common good and the building up and edification of His Church.
Our text today is found in 1 Corinthians 12:1 – 11 (Read).
In this passage the author, Paul, is addressing some people in the church or Corinth who have the tendency to regard certain people and their gifts as more “spiritual” than others. People were elevating certain individuals in the church on pedestals because they claimed to have a certain gift (probably tongues). Paul tells them a little later in this passage that there are no superior people worthy of a superior gift. He says that all the gifts of the Spirit are from God and they are given for the benefit of all by one Spirit. The same goes for the Church today. There are no superior gifts of the Spirit… Sure some may seem to be a little more “glamorous” from the outside, but all are equally important.
Vs 1 – “Now concerning spiritual gifts…” For some reason every translation uses the word “gifts” after the word “spiritual.” However, this is not in the original texts. Some of you may notice in your Bible a number or Asterix by the word “gifts”. In other translations the word may italicized (which means it was added) and if you follow the reference to the bottom of the page you will notice the footnote will say something like “spiritual people” or “spiritual things”. Now Paul is basically saying “Concerning spiritual persons/things I do not want you to be uninformed.” In the King James version translate uninformed as ignorant, and the Greek word denotes being mistaken, in error or not recognizing.
Vs 2 – Many of the people in the Corinthian Church had pagan backgrounds the reality of spiritual manifestations was not something new. However, the manifestations they witnessed or were used to were not from God. The Corinthians were used to ungodly or demonic supernatural occurrences happening and Paul is telling them, “just because something supernatural is happening, this does not mean it is from God. In their former e Pagan days, they were easily tricked (even awed by a manifestation) and Paul does not want them to be ignorant concerning Spiritual things.
Vs. 3 – “Therefore”, or since this is the case you must know there is a way to test these supernatural occurrences to determine whether they are from God or from demons. Paul gives us essentially the same litmus test John gives his readers in I John. He says…
1. If a spirit attests that Jesus is accursed (loathed, assigned to damnation, dedicated to evil) then the Spirit is not from the Holy Spirit.
2.All who profess Jesus as Christ (Lord, Messiah) have the Holy Spirit in them. In fact, one can only make this confession through the Holy Spirit. If you confess Jesus as your Lord, savior and Messiah then you have the Spirit it in you.
Vs 4 – 7 - There are a variety of gifts, services and activities all given by one Spirit. The word “gifts” in verse 4 is the Greek word charisma which means “A favor with which one receives without merit of his own. Something given freely and generously.” It is similar to the word grace (charis)… God gives us gifts of grace. TO EACH is given the manifestation of the Holy Spirit for the common good. The Spirit manifests Himself in the life of each believer by imparting some gift. There is no believer who does not have a function to perform.
a.According to I Peter 4:10 we all have a gift and we should use it to serve others. “Based on the gift they have received, everyone should use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God.”
b.The Apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:11 – 12 that we are given gifts to “build up the body of Christ.”
The purpose of your gift is to serve one another, to edify the body, and to glorify God. So contrary to popular belief the gifts of the Spirit are not given so you can have an exciting experience, but they are given to glorify God, edify the church and serve one another (the common good).
Gifts of the Spirit
1 Corinthians 12: 8 – 11 - Paul explains spiritual gifts from 3 different perspectives: They are given freely by the Spirit’s grace, they are intended to be used in a Christ-like manner of servanthood, and they are the result of God’s power working in someone’s life.”
I am sure there are some listening today that have or are struggling with discovering their Spiritual gifts. My suggestion to you (if you are truly seeking your gift) is to begin by praying and asking God to help you discover your gift. Also understand that these gifts are gifts of grace and there is nothing you can do outwardly or in your own power to attain a spiritual gift. Therefore, prayer is vital in the discovery process. There are Spiritual tests online that can assist you in discovering your gifts and I will post links in the comments section after this message. However, before you go down that road I would ask you start with diligently praying for God to reveal the gift of grace he has given to you. God isn’t about hiding something from us and sending us on a wild goose chase to find it. The Bible clearly states each person has a gift and it is given to you for the benefit of the body of Christ and the glory of God.
https://s3.amazonaws.com/bhpub/edoc/DOC-Spiritual-Gifts-Survey.pdf?AWSAccessKeyId=1FAF154W9TVZ6M3REZG2&Expires=2091905659&Signature=ldYe7bhXPOBW311aMkUrWRbCfMI%3D (hard copy)
MacDonald, W., & Farstad, A. (1997, c1995). Believer's Bible Commentary : Old and New Testaments (1 Co 12:7). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
Vine, W. (1997, c1996). Vine's complete expository dictionary topic finder . Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
In response to all that is going on in the world today with the coronavirus mass hysteria, I think it is important for us to take a deep breathe, collect our thoughts and reflect on God and his position in all of this. Louie Giglio’s writes in his book I AM NOT BUT I KNOW I AM “God is big. Really, really big. And I am not”. This summarizes today’s message perfectly. This quote is VERY important to understand and believe because it can give perspective of who God is and our response to him in all that is happening in the world today.
The key word I want to focus on for a minute is the word “Sovereignty”; it is taken from the Greek word dunastes (doo·nas·tace/) which means powerful or Mighty one, a Royal Minister of Great Authority. When we speak of God’s sovereignty we are talking about God’s supremacy, His Kingship, or His God-hood. A.W. Pink writes in his book THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD, “To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that God is God. To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is the Most High, doing according to His will in the army of Heaven. To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is the Almighty, the Possessor of all power in Heaven and earth, so that none can defeat His counsels, thwart His purpose, or resist His will. To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is ‘The Governor among the nations’, setting up kingdoms, overthrowing empires, and determining the course of dynasties as pleaseth Him best. To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is the ‘Only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords’. Such is the God of the Bible.”
The doctrine of God’s Sovereignty may be offensive to some and I am not sure why. My best guess is that people get offended with the truth that God can and does do whatever He pleases and does not need to give reasons why or how He does what he does.
Personally I believe some are offended because they have a lack of trust and dislike for authority and God is the ultimate authority. As American’s we do not like to be told that we are under the authority of anyone. We cherish the idea of freedom (which we should) but true freedom comes when we submit to God, our higher authority.
When we understand and submit to the biblical reality that in all things God is in control, we will find strength and assurance during difficult times. If you take anything with you today please understand that God is in control! Do you think He is taken back with America’s financial upheaval and health pandemic? No! Nothing ever shakes God and nothing will ever dethrone him. He’s got this! This SHOULD bring comfort to us all.
Now this does bring up the question, “If God is sovereign, then why does He allow bad things to happen?” This is a good question and unfortunately I cannot answer it easily. I do not know why God allows bad things to happen. I do not know why God allows his creation to suffer the evils of cancer, AIDS, or Alzheimer’s. I do not know why God allows Tornadoes to rip through towns and destroy homes or why the threat of unknown viruses paralyzes the world. I cannot answer those questions nor will I try to attempt.
I do know this, "For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen." (Romans 11:36, ESV). I don’t know why, but I do know that all glory belongs to Him… regardless of what happens.
In our text Job asks some of these same questions that I noted above to God. He in essence asks, “Why God do bad things happen to good people like me?” God’s response or should I say rebuke can be found in Chapter 38. God doesn’t answer the question “why?” Instead God asks a question “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me if you have understanding?” Or to put another way, God was stating what Paul writes to the Romans, "But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, ‘Why have you made me like this?’ Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?" (Romans 9:19-24, ESV). That my friend is sovereignty in the Bible.
Once Job understood what God was saying, his response was “Behold I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand over my mouth, I have spoken once, and I will not answer twice, but I will proceed no further.” (Job 40:3-5) We cannot and never will know why certain things happen. Romans 11:34 & 35 states, “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” (Romans 11:34-35, ESV) We may not know his mind or why he allows what he does, but Corinthians tells us we have the mind of Christ. This does not mean we will understand all that God does. It simply means that when we have the mind of Christ we will learn to accept the fact that things happen and we may not have any control over the situation or know why something is happening, but we can trust that God is good, His mercy endures forever, He is in control, He’s got this! And let us take comfort in these truths.
This is the manuscript for the sermon I preached at West Bradenton Baptist Southside on Sunday, March 8, 2020.
For the past couple of weeks, we have looked at Jesus’ introduction of the Holy Spirit to the Disciples in the Gospel of John. He speaks in this passage about the Father sending another Counselor (Advocate, Helper, Comforter) or more simply the Holy Spirit who will come to encourage, empower and exhort the disciples when He leaves this world. He tells them this so when he is gone, they can be assured that they will not be left alone but the Holy Spirit will come and dwell or manifest himself to them.
Last week we talked about how Jesus will send the spirit and testifies of him and he likens our joy in persecution, suffering and tribulations to the pains and joys of childbirth. The overall them last Sunday was through sorrow and pain Jesus overcame the world and since Jesus overcame the world, we too may experience joy, peace and victory in our times of turmoil and suffering in our lives today. And this is attainable through the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Today, we are going to look through both the Old and New Testament to see that the Holy Spirit was not a new concept or idea that Jesus came up with when the time came for him to die. The Holy spirit was not an afterthought or a remedy to a potential problem in God’s plan of salvation. The Holy Spirit, as we have seen, has and always will be eternal, and the third person of the Trinity. He has a purpose and He was given for God’s glory and for our benefit.
Did you know the Holy Spirit was promised to the people of Israel before Jesus came to the earth? And we have seen from the past few weeks that Jesus made promises concerning the Holy Spirit. And we all know and believe that every promise God or Jesus makes has come or will come to fruition? God is the ultimate promise keeper. His Word is truth and His Word is bond. This is what is amazing about Him… If He promised it, it is as good as done. There is a saying “If God said it; I believe it and that settles it”. God has made some wonderful promises throughout the scripture and you and I are banking on these promises to be fulfilled (if they haven’t already). So, today I want to focus on God’s promise of the Holy Spirit.
In today’s message there are three areas in which I want to focus.
Old Testament Promise
Read Genesis 1:1 – 2
Since we will look at only a few passages in the Old Testament, I think it is appropriate to start at the beginning. In the beginning the earth was a created by God as an unorganized chaotic dark mass (deep or waters). The Spirit of God mysteriously hovered or moved above the earth. This implies the Spirit or wind of God was active presumably preparing for the acts of creation that were to follow. Sinclair Ferguson says in his message entitled ORDER FROM CHAOS, “The Holy Spirit, by forming and filling the shapeless, empty mass, is creating a temple, a meeting place, for God to have fellowship with His creation…. The Spirit has brought order and fullness into the creation so that we might know Him, worship Him, and adore Him.”
We also see in the Old Testament that the Holy Spirit dwelt in and enabled prophets, judges and leaders.
Read Joel 2: 28 – 34
This is probably the most recognized O.T. prophecy concerning the Holy Spirit. It is recognized mostly because it is the passage Peter quoted in his sermon in Acts 2 after the Holy Spirit fell on the men in Jerusalem. Joel 2: 28 was a promise made by God through the prophet Joel. It says, “After this…” An undisclosed future time… “I will pour out my Spirit on all humanity;”. Pour out is derived from the imagery of Israel’s heavy winter rains; it speaks here of abundant provision.  All humanity can mean all of Judah or more likely Jews and Gentiles. A way of translating this passage could be, “There will be a day when God will pour out an abundant provision of His Spirit on both Jews and Gentiles alike.” As a result of the outpouring of His Spirit “Sons and daughters will prophesy…” There will be no gender or age discrimination, His Spirit will fall on male and female, young and old, Jew and Gentile alike. Young men will see visions (this is noteworthy since visions were generally reserved for specific people but after God’s pouring of the Spirit it will be available to all). So, in Joel 2:28 – 32 we see a promise made by God concerning an outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon all people regardless of race, gender or age.
New Testament Promises
John 16:4 – 15: We have spent three weeks in the Gospel of John and as a review we know that Jesus is talking to His disciples about his upcoming death. He is telling them it is for their benefit that He dies and goes on to be with the Father. It was to their advantage because when He does go to the Father then He can send the Holy Spirit. If Jesus remained alive, He couldn’t send the Spirit. Jesus makes the promise “If I go, I will send Him” (the Counselor) or as we know the Holy Spirit. He makes the promise, “When I am gone, I will send the Holy Spirit and He will convict of sin, teach you all things and bear witness of me.” Verse 12 Jesus says there are other things they could receive from, but they were not ready and once the Spirit comes, He will reveal what needs to be revealed. This would be one of the jobs of the Holy Spirit to guide them in understanding these things. Again, Jesus promises in verse 13 when says, “WHEN (the Spirit) comes” not “If”, nor “Perhaps” but “When the Spirit of truth comes He will guide you into all truth.”
Luke 24:49: This is the promise Jesus made before he ascended to heaven. This was his farewell speech to his disciples, “And look, I am sending you what my Father Promised.” He tells them to be wait, be attentive, and be ready because when He leaves, He will send the Holy Spirit which is THE PROMISE of God which is fulfilled in Acts 2.
Acts 1:8: Jesus also tells his disciples before his departure, “But you will receive power (to be witnesses of Jesus Christ) when the Holy Spirit has come on you.” Jesus tells them they will receive the power to proclaim His message boldly and unashamedly when the Spirit falls upon them. The disciples didn’t really grasp what was going on and Jesus has promised them that He would equip them to do the job they needed to do through the empowering of the Holy Spirit. This is a promise He makes to the disciples right before He leaves this earth.
The Promise Fulfilled
Acts 2: It is on Pentecost that the promise Jesus made concerning the Holy Spirit was fulfilled. We see at that at this time the Holy Spirit filled the believers (both Jews and Gentiles) and miraculous things happened. We have come to know that the fulfillment of this promise is also the beginning of the Church. It was at this time the Holy Spirit empowered believers to be witnesses of the name of Jesus as thousands of people saw what happened and became believers in Jesus Christ. What we learn about the Holy Spirit in Acts 2 is When the Holy Spirit empowers, abides and is active in you, God will use you to bring people to Christ. In Peters sermon that proceeds the falling of the Holy Spirit he tells the people that the fulfillment of the Promise of the Holy Spirit is at hand and the result was three thousand people believed.
The Promise for Us Today
It is beneficial to us that God made a promise concerning the coming of the Holy Spirit in the days of old. It is also encouraging to know that God fulfilled this promise which resulted in the birth of the Church. However, it does not end at Pentecost. The Holy Spirit is still active in us today. In Ephesians 1:13 – 14 Paul writes, “In him you also were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed. The Holy Spirit is the down payment of our inheritance, until the redemption of the possession, to the praise until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” The result of God’s promise of the Holy Spirit is that we are sealed and guaranteed an inheritance (which is eternal life). William Macdonald writes, “As soon as they believed, they were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. This means that every true believer receives the Spirit of God as a sign that he belongs to God and that he will be kept safe by God until the time he receives his glorified body. Just as in legal matters a seal indicates ownership and security, so it does in divine affairs. The indwelling Spirit brands us as God’s property and guarantees our preservation until the day of redemption.” 
When I read this passage, I am so thankful and excited because I see that the Holy Spirit has kept me secure and is preserving me daily. Now, I know to some this can be a controversial teaching because it does teach the doctrine of eternal security. However, the scripture says what it says, and we need to take comfort in this truth. When you believed you were marked, sealed, and kept by the Holy Spirit. The controversy should not come in the doctrine of eternal security, the problem arises when people abuse the doctrine of eternal security to think we can live however we want to. It pains and saddens me to see people calling themselves Christians and living contrary to the way Jesus commanded us to live. Our inheritance and redemption is secured in the truth that God has called you (or is calling you) to be His child according to His plan and purpose. And as God’s children we are called to live in obedience to Jesus’ commands (love God… )and fully submit ourselves to Him and His will (It is no longer I who lives, but Christ who lives in me).
The promise of the Holy Spirit is a guarantee that we will inherit life; it is an assurance that we are kept in Christ and that we have the power of Christ in us. The scriptures declare that when we receive the Spirit we are sealed or secured and then we will be guided by the Spirit (which means you have submitted to the will of God). We will be shown or taught things relating to God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit (the Spirit will be our teacher of Spiritual things, not man). The Spirit will abide in us and empower us to live the Christian life (Christ Himself will abide in us). Thus, in receiving the promise of the Spirit we now possess the gifts and the fruit of the Spirit so that we may glorify Jesus in all we do. We will talk more about the gifts and fruit in the next two weeks.
Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1997). The Nelson study Bible : New King James Version. Includes index. (Joe 2:30). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.
 MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1911). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
This is the manuscript for the sermon I preached at West Bradenton Baptist Southside on Sunday, March 1, 2020.
For the past couple of weeks, we have looked at Jesus’ introduction of the Holy Spirit to the Disciples in his farewell discourse found in John 14. He speaks in this passage about the Father sending another Counselor (Advocate, Helper, Comforter) or more simply the Holy Spirit who will come to encourage, empower and exhort the disciples when He leaves this world. He tells them this so when he is gone, they can be assured that they will not be left alone but the Holy Spirit will come and dwell or manifest himself to them.
Today we are going to continue in the Gospel of John and look at today’s passage (John 15:26 – 16:33) where Jesus will send the spirit and testifies of him likens our joy in the persecution, suffering and tribulations to the pains and joys of childbirth. Our general theme for today is: Through sorrow and pain Jesus overcame the world and since Jesus overcame the world, we too may experience joy, peace and victory in our times of turmoil and suffering in our lives today. And this is attainable through the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
The Holy Spirit
In John chapter 15 Jesus has been speaking on the theme of love. He commands his disciples to love one another, love God, abide in Him and keep his commands. Since we love Jesus and abide in him the world (the godless system that is in direct rebellion to God) will ultimately hate us and hate him and the worldly people will eventually kill Him. He encourages his disciples to remain strong and to continue to love one another because when He is gone, they will be left on their own… Well not completely.
15:26 – 27: Jesus speaks about the Holy Spirit at the conclusion chapter 15 and reminds the disciples about the ongoing work the Holy Spirit in our lives. The Spirit is called the Counselor and his job will be to help the believer by abiding in him, teaching him all things and bearing witness of Jesus. The Spirit will guide believers in truth, He will glorify Jesus and He will declare to all what belongs to Him.
Vs. 5 – 7: Jesus reminds the disciples to not be full of sorrow because his departure from this world is not the end. His departure is for his glory and ultimately for our benefit, because in his absence the Spirit will be present in each believer and the result will be Jesus glorified through us by the Holy Spirit. If Jesus does not depart, then the Holy Spirit will not come and abide in the believer.
Vs. 8 – 11 : But when the Spirit comes he will convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment. There are at least two views on what it means that the Spirit will convict the world of sin. The first (and what I think is most probable) refers to those who are in rebellion to God and how some will be convicted of the sins by the Holy Spirit and thus called to repentance. Francis Chan writes in his book FORGOTTEN GOD, “The Holy Spirit convicts’ people of sin. He does this both before we initially enter into right relationship with God and as we journey through this life as believers.”
The second view suggests that the Spirit will expose the guilt of world to the sin of unbelief. He will prove the world guilty because of their unbelief. I like what New Testament scholar Leon Morris writes, “The Spirit shows men (and no-one else can do this) that their righteousness before God depends not on their own efforts but on Christ’s atoning work for them”
The Holy Spirit also convicts the world concerning judgment where the world is judged guilty because the ruler of the world (Satan) has been judged guilty and condemned.
Vs. 12 – 14: Jesus has more things to say, but he cannot share these things now because they could not bear them at this moment. This tells us that Jesus was going to continue to speak and reveal after his departure (at least to the disciples). And in time the Holy Spirit will speak to them and guide them to the truths that they should know. When the time is right Jesus will reveal to the Spirit what needs to be known and the Spirit will reveal to us what Jesus has revealed to Him.
Then we see that ultimately the job of the Holy Spirit is to glorify Jesus Christ. The purpose of the Holy Spirit is not to draw attention to ourselves and make us look good and attractive, His job is to exalt Jesus and show his goodness to all. Francis Chan writes, “A sure sign of the Holy Spirit's working is that Christ is magnified, not people.”
Your Sorrow Turned to Joy
Vs 16 – 24: In a little while Jesus will not be seen by anyone. Then in a little while he will be seen once again. This probably refers to the death of Jesus and his post resurrection appearances. In his death he will be seen no more. In his resurrection he will appear once again to the disciples AND he will also be seen at his second coming.
However, for the time being the disciples will weep and lament over the loss of their Lord, leader and teacher. His death will bring great sadness among the disciples. Just as we mourn the loss of a loved one to death who was a believer, even though we know we will be reacquainted with that person in eternity. The world will not be sad, in fact they will rejoice over his death. Their hatred was so strong against Jesus and the Father that when Jesus is finally put to death the world will not be able to contain their enthusiasm and rejoicing.
Yet Jesus says in his departure (death) their sorrow will turn to joy. In his death, resurrection and eventual ascension the plan of redemption will be complete. Through his death sin can be forgiven, eternal life can be given, and true joy, peace and freedom can be found to those who believe in faith and commit their lives to Jesus Christ.
Ultimately the result will be joy amid mourning, suffering and persecution… just like the joy of childbirth. I am certain that any woman who has gone through the pain of childbirth actually enjoyed in the moment the pain involved. However, the outcome is a beautiful life that has the potential to bring inexplicable joy to the parent(s). Isn’t it nice to know we are all the product of someone’s pain?
I don’t believe Jesus is giving a case for all suffering leading to happiness. Some suffering does in fact lead to much pain. I think Jesus is telling the disciples that joy can be found amid suffering. The same goes for us today we may be miserable, in pain and suffering but we can still have joy in us that is given by Jesus. It is when we keep our eyes on the prize (in this case it’s Jesus) we will get through the difficulties in life. What is best about this joy is that it is given by Jesus and he promises that nobody (no human) can take that joy from us.
I Have Overcome the World
Vs. 25 – 33: Jesus tells the disciples that he has been speaking figuratively up to this point. A time is coming when he will not have to speak figuratively, but he can speak plainly for them to understand. It is suggested that Jesus is talking about the coming of the Holy Spirit and some have suggested he is talking about his post resurrection appearance (Acts 1:3) where he speaks to them openly about the Kingdom of God.
Regardless, the time is coming when his death will cause the disciples to scatter abroad and go back to their everyday lives. We see this is the case after Jesus is crucified many of the disciples went back to their old ways of life. He has told the disciples all the things he has so they may have peace in the time of turmoil that is coming up. The reality is persecution is on the horizon. The trials and tribulations the disciples will face will not come to an end once Jesus is crucified. In fact, this is just the beginning. During this time of persecution, the disciples may feel alone and abandoned but peace will come to them through the Holy Spirit because this peace is grounded in the fact that Jesus has overcome the world. The world will cause great persecution and trials, but Jesus tells the disciples to have courage and know he has overcome the world. The world has no power over them.
I take this to be a promise for all Christians. The Apostle John writes in his epistle and in Revelation about Christians being overcomers. Four times in his Epistle (Read I John 2:13, 14, 4:4 & 5:4) he reminds the believer that he/she has also overcome the world because we are born of God. In Revelation 3:21 Jesus gives a promise to those who are overcomers (conquerors) will be given the right to sit with Him on His throne.
As believers we need continual reminding about the fact that we are overcomers… We are victorious in this life because of Jesus and through the abiding of the Holy Spirit in us. The world has no hold on us, and we are not slaves to this world. Thus, I believe that since we are overcomers we need to live as overcomers. The words Jesus speaks to us show that there is nothing the world can do to take away our joy. It can and certainly will try it’s hardest to beat us down, try to cause us to doubt, and take away a joy that cannot be taken away so let us start living as victorious Christians. Let us acknowledge and believe that in turmoil, pain, suffering, and persecution that through the indwelling Holy Spirit in us, joy can be found. Let this truth also be our foundation. Of course, we live in a time of uncertainty, violence, godlessness, a moralism and turmoil and this should not affect our lives in the least. We have overcome the world because we belong to God, the Spirit abides in us and He is the ultimate victor thus enabling us to live victorious lives as well.
Chan, Francis (2009) Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit (Kindle Location 18). Kindle Edition.
Biblical Studies Press. (2006; 2006). The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible. Biblical Studies Press.
 Chan, Francis (2009) Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit (Kindle Location 572). Kindle Edition.
Jeff has been in ministry for well over two decades. He currently serves as Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Southside Campus in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). Both are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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