Holy Spirit… Who?

By Don Gentry

Do you want to learn how to hear God speak to you? Then you must understand the role of the Holy Spirit. You want to know why you don’t know the Holy Spirit very well, then keep reading. I will warn you that this is longer than most of my posts. This is just a brief snippet of understanding the Holy Spirit; there is nothing fast about understanding His role in our lives. We even live a culture that has influenced us to almost eradicate our understanding of how to communicate with God. I encourage you to read on.

We are told that we have five senses- sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing. I would like you to add a sixth sense. Your spiritual sense. It wasn’t until the late 1800’s that the philosophy of pragmatism hit the scene and attempted to help people resolve some conflict or discrepancies between science, reason, and religion/spiritual thought. You can trace this early philosophical struggle back to the age of enlightenment as well. Before I bore you with the history of Philosophy and how it affects your daily life without you even knowing it, let me just say that these movements have all but erased our ability to engage in a truly meaningful spiritual relationship with our creator.

God has given us the Holy Spirit that we humans might engage in a relationship with Him. The church has taught that we invite Jesus into our hearts, but in reality we put our faith in the work of the fully human fully God incarnation through Jesus Christ. At the point of salvation, we actually invite the Holy Spirit to come live inside of us.

Look at what Jesus says.

John 14:23-26 (NIV2011)
23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

Jesus uses the word “we”, (Dad and I) are sending you our spirit. The advocate, the Holy Spirit is now with us.

Paul gives us a great look at this when he gives the Ephesians instruction on the role of the Holy Spirit as well. We are sealed and given the Holy Spirit at the point of belief in the work of Christ our savior. At that point we have personal access to our relationship with the Holy Spirit.

13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:13-14 (NIV2011)

The Holy Spirit is the one that resides in our hearts, not Jesus.

21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 (NIV2011)

Because of all of this, it is the Holy Spirit’s role in the Godhead to keep us in right relationship. That is why the scriptures say:

30 And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Ephesians 4:30 (NLT)

It is because of these truths and the fact that at the point of creation (yes, we have to believe that God created man) God “breathed” life into man so that we can walk in relationship with the Holy Spirit. God only gave breath to man, not animals or any other living organism. That word “breathed” signified the giving of his Spirit. He has intended on living in us since the beginning. At the point of birth man(kind) then begins their journey of either searching for God or rejecting him. If we choose His path of redemption, He then gives us the power and the access to live in right relationship with himself as if we were walking with God in the garden of Eden. The Holy Spirit is given to us that we might live in relationship with God.

My dear friends, if you have stuck with me thus far, and if you do not know how to communicate with the Holy Spirit, you do not know how to communicate with God.

I could go on and on about what the Holy Spirit has come to do in your life but I fear you haven’t even read this far! I long for the day when God’s children actually yearn to walk closely with their creator!

Let me close with one last warning because we are talking about learning to hear God speak. Jesus goes on to say that the Holy Spirit is the advocate of truth.

26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. John 15:26 (NIV2011)

If the spirit is the truth, then we must know that there is also a spirit of deception. There is another power at work in this world other than God, and it is the power of evil and deception. He doesn’t come clothed in red or with a pitchfork in hand. Satan was around at the beginning of creation too. He knows how desperately he screwed up and he wants to take as many people with him as possible. The scriptures warn us that we must learn to test the spirits that exist in this world.

1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. 4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 5 They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood. 1 John 4:1-6 (NIV2011)

The Holy Spirit is more powerful than the spirits that wander in the world, but we must learn to walk in relationship with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit begins to teach us his voice by speaking to us through the Scriptures. He is the one who wrote the scriptures through men. THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL NEVER GO AGAINST THE WORD OF GOD, THE BIBLE. HE WROTE IT! You will never be able to differentiate the Holy Spirit’s voice in this world if you don’t read the Bible. He does use other sources at times, but He will never neglect what He wrote to us in the first place.

Think about it. Satan tempted Jesus not by misquoting scripture, but by misapplying it. What if Jesus wouldn’t have been able to correct Satan with a proper understanding of the Scriptures?

I am a firm believer that if you don’t know how to hear God, then you are infantile in your belief in Christ that you still argue with God about what sin is, let alone knowing how to discern God’s word.

Living in relationship with God is learning to communicate with the Holy Spirit. When you do that, you will stop asking the question, “how do I learn how to hear God.” If you read this far you are on your way to actually caring enough to hear God speak to you!

It is the absence of our dependence upon the Holy Spirit that causes us to live impotent Christ like lives. Learn to seek Him daily!

Weekend Preview | Ideal Family Part 4: Family According to Star Wars

By Don Gentry

You are in the middle of the biggest film of your life. You are the main character AND you are writing the script. You get to decide if you are going to be the hero. You have an enemy and it is the dark side. (Aka Satan, selfishness and the deceitfulness of time.)

What you may not know is that “the force” is with you and has actually already won the final battle. Victory is yours! There is a battle plan and play book that has been written to guide you and set up a pattern of ideals that will lead you into many victorious skirmishes all along the way. The dark side is forever going to be luring you.

You get to choose on a regular occasion how you are going to act. If you act according to the battle plan and choose the way your guide has laid out before you, your movie will end victoriously. You may have a few scenes you wish could be deleted, but that is why your guide has chosen to walk with you. To help you recover from those difficult scenes.

The only person in your film that you can write a script for is yourself, and you may have to adjust your script regularly because of outside influences. Every character in the movie gets to write their own script and it often causes us to re-write our own role.

You see, we are all writing our own script, and the movie I am talking about is you and your family. God, through His son Jesus, has provided us a path to victory. He has given us the Holy Spirit as our “force” to walk with us as we choose how we are going to write the script in each scene of our life. Whether every scene works out the way we want it to is not the main point of the movie. The main point is are we learning to listen to the Holy Spirit guide us as we figure out our role in the movie.

Our current series at Journey has been about creating our script for an ideal family. God has provided direction for all of us. He has provided power and victory. He has provided examples, as well as a way, to write a good script. If you are breathing oxygen, then you are a part of a family. If you are drawing breath, you still play a major role in your family, whether that role is child, parent, grand parent, or extended relative. There is great freedom granted to you, but caution is encouraged as you become all that God has intended for you to become.

May the force be with you as you write your story!

Weekend Preview | Ideal Family Part 2: The Ideal Dad

By David McNeely

Get ready for the greatest sermon ever preached on being a Dad. It will be your one stop shop where you and your sons will be fully equipped with everything necessary for being a godly father. If you put into practice everything we talk about then you will not sin anymore, your children will be fully equipped for everything, and your family line will win the world for Christ by 2041…

Why are you laughing?

Of course this is a ridiculous statement and is given, by design, to make a point. My guess is, you would do just about anything you could to be a better spouse to your wife/husband. I’d be willing to bet the farm the same is true of being a better parent.

There are two equally dangerous extremes to keep in mind as we head into this “Ideal” series. One extreme is believing that all of it is attainable. We do this when we try to put everything into practice from all of the resources we have at our disposal. Books about family, blogs, videos, conferences, retreats, curriculums, and the like are in abundance these days.

On Thursday, April 07, 2016 (my twins’ 13th birthday) the Christian Book Distributors website listed 59,916 resources on the subject of “Family.” Let that sink in. Granted, some of them are key chains, sweatshirts, travel mugs, and picture frames, but there are over 24,000 books alone targeting family related subject matter!

The danger with access to such an abundance of resources is to try and put it all into practice. I love the fact that we live in a time where so much help is available to us in our parenting and in our spousing (did I just make up a word? Spell check tried to change it to espousing but that doesn’t work). A down side to having all of these resources is that we tend to let the professionals tell us what is supposed to work for us.

The other equally dangerous extreme is believing that none of it is possible. We do this when we become so overwhelmed that we quit. Why begin what could never be finished or perfected?

If you hear nothing else please hear me and bank on this: The Holy Spirit is alive and well. He is not short on resources. The Holy Spirit has not run out of ideas. The Holy Spirit knows how you and your kids are wired. The Father is far more interested in conforming you, your spouse, and your children into the image of the Son; and the Holy Spirit will guide you and teach you in all things. The Holy Spirit will empower you. He will convict you. He will comfort you. You cannot do all these things. But Paul reminds us, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

So listen this Sunday at Journey. But don’t listen to a man. Listen to the Spirit. Hopefully the Spirit has spoken to the man about what to say. Ideally, the Spirit will empower the man to say it. But listen for the voice of the Shepherd.

He has a perfect track record as a dad.

Oh, and go buy a Dad, Be Strong and Courageous Travel Mug for the old man. Then he’ll know you really care.

Weekend Preview: Who is Love?

Make no mistake, we are all searching for a LOVE that will satisfy the longing of our souls.

Although this desire is placed in us by God, it is also the drive that prevents us from experiencing true love and settling for the cheap imitation of love that satisfies for a moment. Our strong desire for love often causes us to be selfish in our love.

We long to feel needed, wanted, desired. This is natural within every person and was there in our hearts by God. However, we often try to fill that void with a love that simply cannot fully satisfy our souls, because we settle for how love functions in our current society.

Example: If you’re emotionally needy, you’ll ultimately connect with a controlling person who shows interest in you because they need to control things and you long for someone who will be highly invested in you. This will start out in the form of “love” but later on with show its true colors that both of you entered into a relationship with selfish agendas. When one starts to buck that control and the other starts resenting how needy their partner is, love fades and resentment takes its place.

Our approach to love is naturally selfish. We have needs, desires, longings in our soul and we seek to get them filled. Similar to the “jackets” I put on last week, we view love from a “what fits me / what do I need / what do I want” approach.

What we really are looking for is a SELFLESS Love. Someone who will love us sacrificially and who always wants the best for us.

Here’s the GREATEST NEWS YOU WILL EVER HEAR… We already have that love.

God’s Love is Selfless!

The love that our souls long for comes from Him. The fulfillment we crave comes from His love expressed through Jesus Christ and indwells us through the Holy Spirit. We have the most incredible Lover of our souls who is selfless.

This is the kind of love we are able to OFFER someone else when we experience the LOVE of Jesus in our own hearts.

Ephesians 3:18 “…may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.”

When you and I are living in the fullness of God’s LOVE for us (the width, length, height, and depth), we are able to GIVE THAT SAME LOVE TO SOMEONE ELSE.

Think about it… God gave us the greatest gift we could imagine by giving us the ability to LOVE someone else the way that He loves them in this time and space on earth. The opportunity I have to LOVE my wife and show her how much God loves her through my Love is available 24/7.

I just have to be experiencing it for myself first. I have to be so fulfilled by God’s love that my selfish needs, desires, and wants are overcome by the fullness of His Love for me.

When I can experience that kind of LOVE, then I’m able to choose to love others with a SELFLESS LOVE!

Join us this Sunday (VALENTINES DAY!) as we continue with the question “Who is Love?” in our message series.

Message Follow Up | A Dimly Lit Room: Part 3 – How He Does It

By Don Gentry

In my sermon yesterday, I talked about my book that I am trying to complete and how it is all about the Holy Spirit’s interaction in our daily lives. As we bring this series to a conclusion I want to take an excerpt directly from my upcoming book on the Holy Spirit:

The Holy Spirit is trying to get us to come into complete surrender to God. I used to think complete surrender was done through discipline like “hard work discipline,” but it is done through trust in God’s discipline and there is no discipline that seems pleasant. God’s discipline is different; His discipline brings freedom.

“For you have been called to live in freedom—not freedom to satisfy your sinful nature, but freedom to serve one another in love. So I advise you to live according to your new life in the Holy Spirit. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.

The old sinful nature loves to do evil, which is just opposite from what the Holy Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are opposite from what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, and your choices are never free from this conflict. But when you are directed by the Holy Spirit, you are no longer subject to the law.”

Galatians 5:13-18 (NLT)

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Weekend Preview | A Dimly Lit Room: Part 3 – How He Does It

I hope you’ve been enjoying our series about the Holy Spirit “A Dimly Lit Room”.  We’ve looked at WHO the Holy Spirit is and WHAT He does over the past 2 weeks. As we prepare to close it out this Sunday – we are going to discuss HOW He shows up in our lives everyday.

The best way to share this with you is through one of our #hopeLKN stories.  We have several of them here on the blog site – most of them are from our Sunday when we gave away over $10,000 to the folks at Journey to invest in bringing HOPE to someone in LKN.   Here is one of the latest stories of HOPE from Don Gentry.

“Several months ago Matt challenged us on a Sunday morning to take the money given to us and make a difference in our LakeNorman area. I felt kind of bad, but we hadn’t used our money until June 9th. My wife and I had decided we were already going to multiply what we received, but we really hadn’t found anything that we felt compelled to give towards. Then it happened. I was putting KidZone signs out one day and driving the church van to prepare it for Camp KidJam.  It was a very busy day and I was in a “hurry.”

As I was setting up the signs, a man named “Bob” came up to me and asked if our church could help him. He and his wife had split up, actually she had kicked him out of the house. He had been sleeping in the car in 100 degree weather. I told him to come down to my office around 10:30 and I would see what I could do

When he returned to my office he shared more of his story with me and I felt compelled to help him. As a church, we have a network of referrals but we don’t help with hotels. Then it hit me, “HopeLKN money,” so I decided to put him up in a hotel for at least a night and I gave him several more phone numbers in our referral network that he could call for additional help.

He used the room and was exceedingly grateful. I really wasn’t expecting much from the chance encounter, but a couple of weeks later Bob came into my office to thank me for helping him that night. He then went on to share that he called some of the other numbers and found additional help. He got connected to Steel Creek church. Within those two weeks, he surrendered his life and addictions to the Lord!! He sat in my office a completely changed man!

He called me again on Tuesday June 30th to tell me that he got baptized! He and his wife are still not reconciled yet, but he knows that he hurt her over the years and he knows he has to change.  He recognizes that he has to change for God not for himself or her,  but for God. He has gotten himself into counseling and a few other support groups.

It has been an amazing story of change in the course of three weeks and it isn’t over yet. God is doing some remarkable things in his life and it has been great to get to know Bob and see how God is changing him from the inside out.

The next time a stranger comes up and asks for money –  ask yourself, “will you take time to get to know their story?” I didn’t know it at the time, but helping Bob that day simply gave him the spark of hope that he needed to make it through another day and give God a chance. Remember, the BEST WAY to bring HOPE to LKN (#hopeLKN) is to humbly point everyone to absolute hope!”

The Person of the Holy Spirit is at work EVERY SINGLE DAY of our lives and sometimes we just need to be open to stepping into the story that is happening all around us.

Join us Sunday as we finish our series and discuss how we can be more aware of His presence and power every day of our lives! 

Message Follow Up | A Dimly Lit Room: Part 2 – What He Does

By Matt Dawson

I hope you are enjoying this series. It’s a lot to take in, especially when we don’t really understand the Holy Spirit very well. It’s no wonder the Bible refers to Him as a mystery!

However, we can EXPERIENCE His Power the more we understand who He is. I think this is the main part of the message yesterday that I wish I could have made it’s own message. There is such a big difference between KNOWING about the Holy Spirit’s POWER and EXPERIENCING His Power at work within us.

His Spirit INDWELLS US! This alone is a miracle beyond miracles. We do not pray to God for a power that is EXTERNAL, but we pray to a GOD THAT IS EVER PRESENT within us. Of course, we have to be choosing to walk in the Spirit to experience this – and many times throughout the day, I often choose to live and function out of my own power. I also resort to praying to God as if he is miles away, yet He is closer than my skin and NEVER leaves me or FORSAKES me.

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Weekend Preview | A Dimly Lit Room: Part 2 – What He Does

By Daniel Shafer

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For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.

1 Corinthians 12:8-10

As we enter into the second week of our series, A Dimly Lit Room, we are going to be delving into the gifts of the Holy Spirit. These gifts were presented to the early church as a way of unification, and a sign of the Holy Spirit at work in them. Each of us is given a gift through the Holy Spirit, and is expected to use it to pursue, love, and glorify God.

For this calling, we must first acknowledge the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives and look to see what gifts he has given to us. Using spiritual gifts tests can give you an idea of where your gifts lie, and through prayer, you can see where the Holy Spirit has directed you and worked through you.

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Message Follow Up | A Dimly Lit Room – Part 1: Who He Is

By David McNeely

God is mysterious. Blog is done.

Ok so a little further explanation is required. Although the entirety of the Godhead is mysterious, the Holy Spirit seems to be the one with whom we have the least understanding. RC Sproul wrote an entire book on it and titled it, The Mystery of the Spirit.

In Forgotten God, Francis Chan writes, “As I thought about writing this chapter, I realized how ludicrous it would be for anyone to say they were going to explain the Holy Spirit. The Bible says we cannot fully understand God, and I am certainly not going to be the exception to that rule.”

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Weekend Preview | A Dimly Lit Room: Part 1 – Who He Is

By Chris Denning

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Let’s be honest: the very nature of God is complex.  In my opinion, this is a good thing.  I’m grateful that our God is beyond my ability to fully comprehend.

The doctrine of the Trinity (that God is Father, Son, & Holy Spirit) can be difficult to understand.  How can God be three things at once? God the Father & God the Son are easier to understand because we have/know fathers & sons in our lives, but the Holy Spirit is easily the most misunderstood part of the Trinity.

In our new series, A Dimly Lit Room, we’re going to be learning more about who the Holy Spirit is, what He does, and how He does it.

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