The Holy Spirit: A Call, a Challenge, and a Warning
This morning we’re finishing our fifth week of EQUIP for 2019 – where for the last 5 weeks we’ve been having 6 important classes on practically living life with God that we’ve had on Sunday mornings before the larger church service… And we want to take a moment to celebrate some of the highlights from this season of equipping that we’re coming through as a church family…
In this morning’s message I wanted to pull together some of the highlights from the equip class that Pastor Chad, and Heather, and I were in together on the Holy Spirit and Spiritual Gifts… And as I prayed about this message, 3 streams kind of came together into this message that we’ve called “The Holy Spirit: A Call, a Challenge, and a Warning.”
Let’s get into the message together; first – The Call. If you have your Bibles or iphones this morning, let’s turn to Luke 11:5-13. (If you need a Bible to follow along with this morning, just lift up your hand and the ushers will get you a Bible so that you can follow along).
5 And He said to them, “Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; 6 for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; 7 and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’? 8 I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.
9 “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 11 If a son asks for [e]bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”
Many of us are familiar with both of these passages – Jesus teaching about persistence in prayer, and Jesus teaching about the goodness of the Father, to give good gifts and to give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him… But Luke puts these two passages together and stitches them together into a unit that’s meant to be heard and taken together. So let’s take a deeper look at this passage as it comes to us in the Bible.
In verses 5-8 Jesus begins by telling this story: You have a friend, and you go to him at midnight, and say to him, “Friend, loan me three loaves of bread, because I have a friend and he’scome from a long ways away, and I don’t have any food to set before him.” In the ancient world, and in many honor-shame cultures today, this would have been like a social emergency. It would have been shameful to have a guest visiting and not be able to show hospitality… This would be like, you’re having Chinese take-out or dominoes for Thanksgiving, and your in-laws call you or just show up and say, “Surprise, we’ve decided to bless you and to come over for Thanksgiving.”
And so you go to your friend’s house and you start knocking on his door, going “Friend, please loan me 20 bucks so I can get some groceries to set some food down before my guest…” But your friend says, “ah, don’t bother me now man, I can’t, the door is locked, and my kids are in bed with me, I can’t get up right now and give it to you…”
But then Jesus said, I tell you, even though he won’t rise up and give it to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs… Jesus is teaching here about persistence in prayer.
And while there is a broader theme in general that we see in Scripture about persistence in prayer; in this passage Luke connects this idea of persist prayer to more of the Holy Spirit in our lives, in verses 9-13.
The first way we see this stitched together is in verse 9 where Jesus says “so I say to you…” So in light of the story about persistent prayer Jesus extends this out now into what he says about the Holy Spirit.
And so we see this theme of persistence being built upon in verse 9, Jesus said “ask, and it will be given to you, seek, and you will find, knock, and it will be opened to you.”
This is about persistence. The three different words that Jesus uses are about persistence – ask, seek, and knock… And each of these verbs ask, seek, and knock are in the present tense; which mean “keep asking, keep seeking, keep knocking…” It’s not just a one-time transactional experience, but a continual asking, continual seeking, continual knocking…
And with each of these asking, and seeking, and knocking there’s this progression of pressing in to God and to the answer… In our day asking your friend for some food, would be like sending him a text message… Nathan, please would you loan me a few bucks… seeking would be like saying, man Nathan didn’t answer me, I’m going to call him, I’m going to drive over to his house… knocking would be like, ok Nathan’s not answering my phone calls, I’m going to get out of the car and I’m going to start knocking on his door…
And then Jesus pieces the analogy together, between the imageof a grumpy friend to the image of our caring Heavenly Father – The Heavenly Father in contrast to our earthly fathers and in contrast to our friends…
11 If a son asks for [e]bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”
The point is that God is so much better than our earthly fathers, who know how to give good gifts to their children; and God is so much better and more caring than the friend who didn’t want to be bothered into helping… And yet there are times, when God’s answers seem to delay and when we need persistence in prayer; and so to encourage us to in our persistence Jesus lifts up the goodness of the Father!
To encourage us in the delay, between asking and it being given, between seeking and finding, between knocking and the door being opened; Jesus lifts up the Goodness of the Father.
The Father is good. The Father has good gifts for us – and Luke especially relates this to the Holy Spirit. “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more (how much more; how much more) will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”
Ok, let me just back up for a few minutes, and say that if you’re a believer, if you’ve trusted in Jesus Christ; the Holy Spirit is already in your life.
John 3:3: “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
John 3:5: “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”
It’s the Holy Spirit that causes us to be born again. When we trust in Christ, when we receive Jesus into our lives, we are born again. Eternal life is given; we come into the kingdom of God. Has that happened for you this morning? Have you trusted in Christ for your salvation? Have you come into God’s kingdom? Or are you still outside of God’s kingdom? You can open up your heart right now this morning, you can personally trust in Christ and receive Him into your life, and as you do you will be born again. And from the moment we trust in Christ, and are born again, the Holy Spirit comes into our life, and He indwells us forever.
Romans 8:9: But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.
And yet even as believers, there is more of God’s Spirit for us. Paul prayed this for the Ephesians.
Ephesians 3:19: to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Has that happened in your life? Are you filled with all the fullness of God? I’m not sure that we can know completely all of what that means… But the point is that there is more for us. There is more of God’s Spirit for us. And we’re to pray for that.
And we’re also commanded (as believers) to be filled with God’s Spirit:
Ephesians 5:18: And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit
Believers who are indwelt with the Holy Spirit are called to be filled with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirt is God’s personal and powerful presence in our lives. And the Spirit helps us to experience a deeper and closer relationship with God. He helps us to experience God’s power in our lives.
And so the question is how are we filled with the Holy Spirit? And the basic answer that we see both in our text this morning and throughout the Bible, is by prayer, and through faith. So often in the Scriptures there is this connection between prayer and the Holy Spirit.
Do you pray for the Holy Spirit to fill your life? We receive the Holy Spirit by prayer, and we receive the Holy Spirit through faith.
Galatians 3:5: Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
We are filled with the Holy Spirit by prayer, and through faith. And yet as we see in our text this morning, there are times and perhaps seasons in our lives where God may bring us into a time of persisting in prayer for more of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
And why does God sometimes postpone or delay in answering? And the big answer to that big question is that I don’t know… But there does seem to be a couple of clues within the text. One big encouragement – the Goodness of the Father. And then a couple of clues.
Psalm 107:9: For He satisfies the longing soul, And fills the hungry soul with goodness.
Matthew 5:6: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.
Are you hungry? Are you thirsty for more of the Spirit in your life? And so this is the call. The call is that there is more of the Holy Spirit for our lives. There is more. More power; more intimacy and joy from the Spirit, more fruit and transformation, more gifting, more anointing. This is a call to all for more. Sokeep asking, keep seeking, knocking. And receive. And how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.
Briefly this morning, I also want to put before us a challenge and a warning.
The challenge is to discover and to develop the spiritual gifts that God has put into your life. There are so many wonderful gifts that we see being exercised in our church. And many in seen, and many in unseen ways. Even just over these past weeks of Equip; gifts of administration, gifts of serving, gifts of helps, gifts of giving, gifts of mercy. And in the schools, and in the workplaces, and in homes; the wonderful gifts of the Spirit that are being used. I want to challenge us to discover and to develop the gifts of God in our lives. The Bible tells us that
Every believer has one or more spiritual gifts, no believer has all of the spiritual gifts.
The purpose of spiritual gifts is to:
(1) To build up others
(2) To bring glory to God
And we’re told to desire and to stir up the gifts of God in our lives.
1 Corinthians 14:1: Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.
2 Timothy 1:6-7: Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
To discover a spiritual gift in your life, pray and ask God to show you what gifts He has put in your life. Read what the Bible says about spiritual gifts and listen to what the Holy Spirit might speak to your mind and heart. Also consider some questions to pay attention to:
Oftentimes our perception and recognition of needs can be an indication of a gift of God at work within us and perhaps a way that God might prompt us to be involved in His work.
Along with discovering a spiritual gift in your life, consider at least three ways to develop a spiritual gift in your life.
Romans 12:6: Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them…
(look for ways to serve and use the gift of God in your life, don’t neglect it, stir it up, use it.)
(Read what the Scriptures say about that gift; look for examples of it; find others who seem to be operating in that gifting and talk with them, ask them questions).
(We need to encourage each other and receive encouragement from each other in the area of spiritual gifts).
Finally in closing this morning as we’ve heard the call to all for more of God’s Holy Spirit in our lives, and as we’ve looked at the challenge to discover and to develop the gifts of the Spirit in our lives – we want to end with a warning. And the warning is this: especially as it relates to life in the Holy Spirit, and especially as it relates to practicing the gifts of the Holy Spirit; we need to beware of comparing ourselves to others.
In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul takes up this discussion of gifts of the Holy Spirit and brings it into the body life of the church. And the picture is just that, that the church is like a body. Just as the body has many members and yet is one body; so it is that the church is made up of many members and yet we all come together to make up one body.
Different kinds of people, different kinds of members, different kinds of giftings, and while these differences are meant to bring about a beauty of diversity; if we begin to compare ourselves with one another there will always be these struggles andsicknesses that arise in the body.
On the one hand, comparing yourself with someone else will bring about discouragement. It will bring about a feeling of inferiority, like you’re not valuable or that you’re not needed. And the Word of God addresses this tendency in 1 Corinthians 12:15-20.
1 Corinthians 12:15-20: 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? 18 But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. 19 And if they were all one member, where would the body be? 20 But now indeed there are many members, yet one body.
Comparison always brings discouragement on the one hand, or on the other hand comparing yourself with someone else will bring about pride. It will bring about a feeling of superiority, like other people aren’t valuable or needed. And the Word of God addresses this tendency in 1 Corinthians 12: 21-27.
1 Corinthians 12:21-27: 21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. 23 And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, 24 but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, 25 that there should be no [h]schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. 27 Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.
Don’t compare yourself with others; it will only lead to either discouragement on the one hand or pride on the other. Appreciate others who are different than you in the body of Christ. Show care for others in the body. Contend for the unity of the body.
And as Pastor Ryan and the worship team comes back up, as we close in worship and response this morning; we’re going to have the men come forward also to distribute the bread and the cup of communion. I want to invite each one of us to respond to the Lord this morning; the call for more of God’s Spirit in our lives. The call to you, if you haven’t yet trusted in Christ, the bread and the cup are a symbol of what Jesus has done for us, that his body was broken on the cross so that our lives may become whole in Him. That his blood was shed on the cross so that our sins might by washed and forgiven. If you want to receive Christ into your life, take the bread and the cup as symbols of what Jesus has done for you. Communion doesn’t save us, but only faith in Christ saves us. But if you trust in Christ, then take the bread and the cup this morning and thank the Lord for what he has done. And let’s respond in worship, His call, the challenge this morning, the warning. And as you worship feel free to take communion with yourself or with those you came with as we respond to the Lord.