Holy Spirit

So it’s been a great journey that we’ve been on. And as I was preparing this this time with you, I, I always get advice from my wife, Michelle, and I know that you guys really appreciate that, that I’m not just out here on my own. And I asked her, you know, what should I share? Because there’s so many things on the spirit. We could be here all night long.

We’re not going to be trust me. We’re going to be able to- She narrowed me down and said just just focus on a few things. And the things I want to focus on is how the spirit makes us new, how it helps us in every area of our lives. But the spirit wants to change you and make you new. So two things I’m going to talk about today is the new walk and a new joy. You know, the Holy Spirit has always taken things out of chaos and then bring them into a new state, even in creation.

In the beginning, it says in the beginning, of course, there was the world was there was formed and the Holy Spirit was over the waters. And scholars believe that’s the chaos that was there. But then God spoke, his words spoken. When God’s word spoke, things came into order and a new existence begins. Isn’t that the same in every era of God’s people? Even if it was the Jews coming out of Egypt, they went through the Red Sea, they went to a new place.

They went to the desert. But then they they became new. They became a nation. And it’s the same thing with us when we get baptized, amen? When you make Jesus Lord of your life, you repent of your sins and you say, Jesus is the Lord, then you are baptized as it says in Acts 2. For what? The forgiveness of sins, the chaos into a new life. And you get a gift that makes you new and keeps you new.

And it’s the wonderful gift, the Holy Spirit. But so often, it’s so easy for us to resist a new era. Are you with me? We’re in a new era, aren’t we? Who would have predicted that we’d be meeting like this? There’s some things about this era that you like. There’s other things you don’t like, you know, for for introverts it maybe good to not have to get involved with so many people all the time. For extroverts we’re like, “why can’t we get together even more?” You know, I think that even how we do church now. You know, one thing I like about this whole thing that’s been going on right now is that I’ve been able- Michelle and I do Kingdom kids every first Sunday and I haven’t been in Kingdom kids where I can say over at least twenty eight years.

But because the pandemic we get with the kids once a month and we do a zoom call, we have an amazing time. I love that! You know what I don’t love? Preaching to a camera. I mean, I look at the camera right now. It’s my friend. How are you doing out there? I really don’t like this. I remember when we were putting together for 2020, we’re doing some promotional videos and Marshall asked me if I could join and we had this promotional video for Stronger and it was like three of us doing different parts of it.

And all I had to do was like three lines. So I had the lines memorized until I got in front of the camera and you know, I just forgot and I was stuttering, I was going and, you know, the pressure of the camera and Marshall Mead was there. And he’s he’s kind of laughing in the back, you know, my good friend, you know, and it got so bad that I got through it. But then Marshall said, let me just do it just in case.

So I went home to my wife.

I said, honey, I’m not in that video. There’s no way they’re going to take what I got. There’s no way. And I’m so glad I don’t have to do this anymore. Someone else can do this. And then the pandemic came now, right? I talk to cameras. Now I’m talking to Live Stream. I talk on Zoom. I, man, we all talking to cameras all the time. A new era. You know what’s good about that?

The video came out and guess what? I was in it. Praise God for the editor. Praise God for people like Jason. They can straighten you out and help you out. And I think that’s the way the Spirit is. You know, we don’t have to be perfect all the time. We act like we got to have it all down before we go somewhere, do something for the spirit. The spirit will help you and get you. He just wants you to show up.

He’ll edit the process. Just get on out there in the video got out there. And I’m still working on my presence. I’m not as smooth as Jake Rock. Of course, I can never look as good, but that’s all right. I can get good at this the best I can. A new era. Let’s not resist it. Let’s know that God wants you to be different, so a new walk. That means that the spirit wants to take you to new places.

We’re going to look at Galatians. You can open up your Bibles to Galatians, Chapter five. That’s where we’re going to spend some time. When Paul was talking to the Galatians, it was all about the spirit, because the Jews were going back to saying, if you want to be a disciple, you’ve got to get circumcised, be a Jew and go back into that way of following God. And Paul was very upset about that.

He’s like, who cut in on you? Who cut in on the spirit? You did not get the spirit through obeying the law. You got the spirit because you believe in Jesus who brought the spirit to you. And it’s a new era. And he- the whole book corrects this. And at times he even said, you know, Galatians 3:3 he said, “You foolish Galatians! He was so upset. And he said something here that are you so foolish after beginning by means the spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?

And isn’t that how we are? We want to go back to the things we know. I think the Jews knew that the law. We know what it is, we know we’re here, you’re going to do this, too. It was easier for him, but we’re the same way, aren’t we? So to be led by the spirit you’ve got to know that there’s going to be conflict. That you’re going to have to fight with your desires, because we are not naturally spiritual.

Our flesh wants to take us somewhere else, and that place that it wants to take us is natural, isn’t it? But when we walk by the spirit, when the spirit gets a chance to make you new and give you a new walk, then you have an opportunity to overcome. Let’s go to Galatians5:16. And Paul says, so I say, walk by the spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the spirit and the spirit, what is contrary to the flesh, they are in conflict with each other so that you are not to do whatever you want.

But if you are lead by the spirit, you are not under the Law. You see, we got to recognize that conflict and know, when we we’re in it. Your fleshly desires. What does it come down to? Let’s just call it what it is. Either you got to surrender to the spirit or you’re going to be selfish? See, this new walk is the spirit leading you to a new place, and we’ve got to overcome. Verse 19, it tells us, is it this is the part where it just tells us about the flesh and how it wants to lead us.

And it says it’s obvious here in verse 19 the acts of the sin, the acts of flesh are obvious: sexual morality impurity and debauchery, idolatry and witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissentions, factions and envy, drunkenness, orgies and the like.

I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. You know, I remember when I first read this. And I said, “Wow, all those things are sins it’s described so much of my life, I knew I needed a new life. I never looked at sin, you know, we don’t look at sin. We don’t look at sin that much. And we kind of get the moral standard we get on the basis of what’s good and evil off of each other instead of the Bible.

But when you look at the Bible, it’s amazing how it lays it out and we need to look at this whenever we look at our flesh, we got to look at it in a different way that when we see that we’re tempted to do these things, when we see that we’re about to go that direction, then it gives us an opportunity to step with the spirit. But what you’ve got to do is you got to be able to know where is it going, you got to ask yourself a few questions before you walk another way.

You see it’s a walk with the spirit. It’s a lifestyle. And we know if you’re tempted, I’m tempted by lust. I got to know I’m heading down that way. I’ve got to have an opportunity to be led by the spirit. And you got to constantly be changing you’re walk. You got to know which movies you can watch. You got to know there’s a lot of gray areas, what some some people can do. Not everyone can do.

We got to be willing to say, well, I’m not going down there because that’s going to lead me that way and look down the path that you’re going. You know, the problem with these sins? Some of them, we love them. Let’s be honest. There’s pleasure. There’s pleasure in lust, there’s pleasure in those things, there’s pleasure at times and even being angry sometimes and in a fit of rage, you know. Yeah. We sometimes say that’s a righteous rage, but how often is our rage righteous when someone cut you off on the road?

So we got to know ourselves and know which way we’re going. And whenever those things come up, we got to realize that, you know, what’s the spirit want me to do? And I don’t have time to go through each one of those, but I want to go through one of them is selfish ambition, because selfishness is really behind every one of those things if you really want to look at it. Selfishness is the core, but what’s selfish ambition?

Well, we all have ambition. And some of our ambitions are good. Not all of our ambitions are bad. But when does it become selfish? You know, when it becomes selfish is when God says no. Or when God says, wait, before you get this, I can think in my life with God, there’s ups and downs. Are you with me? Are you on the same rollercoaster ride that I’m on?

And we make dreams and we make goals. I want to do this, I wanted to go in the ministry. I wanted to go be a missionary. God allowed me to do many things.

But I want to tell you something, there’s a few things he hasn’t done. There are some dreams that you have that God hasn’t done yet that are good, that are worthy, that you said if you give me this Lord, I’ll use this for your kingdom. I’ll use this to serve if I can do this and go there. This is a good thing. My career, I’ll be able to give more to the church. If you give me this, I’ll use this house for the for the ministry.

You know, these are all good things. What happens if God says no? Makes me think of Paul when he was going to Asia in Acts 16. He wanted to go and the spirit said no, then he turned another direction to Bethania. You know what God said? No. What happens when God allows your world to crumble a little?In this pandemic our world is crumbling. Some of you have lost work. Some of you are going through changes in your career, changes in how we do things.

It’s been tough for some of us. And how do you know it’s selfish ambition is when you get mad at God. When you say God, why don’t you give me this? And then you see someone else out there doing the exact same thing? How come you always give it to Larry Anders and not me?

What, do you love him more, God?

No, don’t tell me she’s going to get that to? She got that? Oh, my goodness. I’ve been praying for this for 20 years.

And I won’t go down the whole list because I don’t want you to start crying. You know the area. And what happens to us when we don’t get our way? We get mad at God. We say God’s not fair. And what do we do, other sins. What were some of the other sins I just shared about jealousy, envy, hatred. You know, I pray I do well spiritually because I’m a leader. I’ll even lead people to God or I can lead people astray.

If I’m not in a good place and I’m not just saying this, I’m a leader because I’m a minister, you know, we have leaders out here, you’re a leader, and we all lead in different ways. But which way are you leading people towards the spirit? Are you leading them towards the flesh? And what can happen is when you get frustrated with God, you start getting into the world and start getting into things that you can see, things that make a difference, things where you can be rewarded.

And we’re just like the Jews here, went back to the flesh, went back to the law instead of going with the spirit. And we’ve got to get to a place like Paul where when he saw that vision of Macedonia and he said, OK, Lord, I’ll go there.

And let me tell you, that’s hard. And the Spirit said Amen that’s why the wind is blowing. So what am I saying when there’s sin it’s an opportunity to what, be led by the spirit, start taking steps when you see that happen and take steps away with the spirit instead of walking towards your flesh? I mean, track your steps. We do that, don’t we? I track my steps every day. I do. I try to get steps, you know, 10000 steps in.

And when I go running, I have a I have my heart rate on my watch. I have an app that shows me how far I run and when and when I’m listening to music. I get- I run point so many miles now. And you’re at this pace and your heart rate is this. We get all kinds of things that just track track all kinds of things. And it’s convicting to me, because I got to ask myself, do I do that with the word of God?

Do I track my steps? Do I make sure I’m in the spirit? Do I love my brothers and sisters enough to when I see that they’re going another direction, they’ll go and help them and get them and say, listen, come on back. You know, I appreciate a sister called me one day and it was about a brother. I won’t mention any names. I know whenever I start talking about people, you’re wondering who. You can’t figure this out.

I’m just going to share this right now. My sister said, you want to check on so-and-so because I noticed that this brother is not turning on his Zoom. You know, I went down that aisle, the spirit, I must have spoken to her just because someone didn’t turn on their themselves on Zoom isn’t a sign that you’re in sin, all right, I just want to let you know that. But but there was just something that she knows about his character. And it was good because I got to talk to him and be able to lift him up and help him out.

We got to care for each other and watch out each other’s walking.

Think of my daughter, Bianca. I just want to thank all of you for praying for her as we shared about her having MS multiple sclerosis and, Bianca came home for Thanksgiving, and my wife, Michelle, noticed how she was walking. She said something’s not right, Brian. And it made us it spurred us on to get Bill involved, Dr. Bill Byrd, and to get going on, and we got to figure out what’s wrong and praise God we figured it out.

Praise God that we were, even though it’s a tough news and we don’t want to go down this road, but it’s the news we needed to see to be able to help her. And I want to thank you for your prayers. I want to thank you for the prayers that you prayed for me to to not sin and hate insurance companies. I praying for you that I’ve made it through so far and I still got a ways to go. But, you know, we needed we needed that.

We needed to know what was going on. And then we were able to to help her. And she had her first infusion and it went well. And I want to thank you for continuing those prayers. But it was her walk that was noticeable by my wife. And we’ve got to allow the spirit to guide us and take us. So we talked. So Paul said it’s obvious the way the flesh wants to go. Let’s talk about how the spirit goes now.

So let’s see how we should be in the spirit, because a new way of walking is just being in the spirit, verse 22 says, but the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things, there’s no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with his past sins and desires. You know, I really love what it says here, because all these things are all the things that are hard to be, isn’t it?

And if I was to put music to this, it sounds like it would be some real, real background music. That’s lovely. As we say these, the spirit is love, joy, peace, and there’s be some some soft music playing behind it, a gentle place, a place that we want to go. But then in first twenty four says those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with his passions and desires. I think the music will be strong there.

You see how it changes because we want to be with the spirit so bad all of a sudden Paul says, “but crucify the flesh.” That’s strong. Brothers and sisters, we’ve got to be radical about walking with the spirit. We got to put to death our fleshly nature, and I can’t focus on all these different all the different fruit of the spirit because there’s so many of them.

I want to focus on love and joy. You know, there’s something special about love is really obedience and joy is an expression of doing what is right.

When we live, right, do what God wants us to do and we and we follow the spirit, then guess what you have?

You have joy. Joys noticeable. Even with our mask on last night, my wife and I went and saw Brandon in the show and we made one of his friends last night and we took a picture with our masks on and the girl was taking a picture of us, said, smile. We didn’t have to, but I can see in your eyes that you’re smiling. Isn’t it true? Joy can come through your mask. Joy is something we can see. You know, sometimes we don’t want to be in Spirit because we don’t when you can’t see the spirit, we can’t let it move us.

But you know what the spirit can show through joy that is in your life. Yes. And that’s why it’s a new joy. And no one can take that away. A joy that’s from the spirit cannot be taken away. And I’m not saying that everything is always happy, but yet when you’re doing what God wants you to do, no matter how bad it is, you can find joy.

And if you haven’t found joy recently, then you got to really look at yourself and say, am I in the spirit or not? Because the spirit hasn’t left you. So you got to check it out and say, what if what’s wrong with my walk that I don’t have or can’t access joy? And I believe that Jesus said that when he sent out the seventy two, you can turn to Luke 10. In Luke 10: 16. He sent out the 72 and he gave them some instructions and those instructions were very detailed.

Where to go, what to pack?

I don’t know if we like to go on vacation with Jesus because he said just carry don’t carry an extra bag extra to he told you listen just trust in Him.

He said, go to a town and then there’ll be someone there that will feed you. And what an extensive outline for them to follow. But it was a message of love. And then they returned in the Spirit because they represented Jesus. You see, I say they return in the spirit because one of the things he told them was this in Luke 16, I mean, Luke 10, verse 16. He says, whoever listens to you listens to me.

Whoever rejects you rejects me, but whoever rejects me rejects him. Who sent me. In other words he said, you’re going to go out there and be me. When they see you, they’re going to see me. They reject you. That that means that they rejected me and they came back with joy. Look at what it says, verse 17, the 72 returned with joy, said “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name. He replied, I saw, Satan fall like Satan, I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven, I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions to overcome the power of the enemy. Nothing will harm you, however. Do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven. What brought them joy, doing what they were created to do, doing what Jesus told them to do.

What does that say to me? If I don’t have joy it’s because I’ve stopped doing what Jesus wants me to do, there’s something wrong. But isn’t it true when we stop doing what Jesus wants us to do, how awesome that is? How you’re filled with joy when you do a whole project? How you’re filled with joy when you share the scriptures? How you’re filled with joy when you’re just thankful for all that God has given you, even in tough situations when he told them, don’t don’t get so excited that the demons like why didn’t you you said, don’t get so excited about that.

And Jesus definitely one-upped them, he says, OK, the demons submit to you. I saw Satan fall from heaven. OK, that’s great. All well and great. But he said, but don’t don’t rejoice. Don’t find joy in your power. And what you can do, find joy that your name’s written in heaven because no one can take that away from you and that every day you’re going to feel like the demons are submitting to you. These guys, we’re going to be martryed one day and it wasn’t-

Their will might have been different than the Lord’s, but. But he said no, get your get your joy on straight. And that fruit came out of them and they had this moment. And then and then you see right there in verse twenty one at that time, Jesus full of joy through the Holy Spirit. You see how joy is right there with the Holy Spirit. I praise you, Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned and revealed them to little children.

Yes, Father. For this was, this is what you were pleased to do. You know, I love this because Jesus was filled with joy, and I can’t imagine what that looked like, the son of God filled with joy, but what a moment they had right there. And he told them he went to his father, he went to his father, said, God, this is amazing. And you got to ask yourself. Do I have that place where there’s joy?

You know, I live in the north, what we’re doing for those of you that are from different regions, we’re doing a series of in the desert. And we’re talking about the path the other day about how there’s different rocks in the path. And we’re going through the desert, and the desert’s teaching us how the Israelites, as they go through the path, through that, through the desert, that there’s lessons in that you can stumble on little rocks and you can you can go to your knees on a bigger rock and then they show this huge rock.

You can just stop right there. And there’s all kinds of situations in life in all those rocks. Truly take away our joy, isn’t that true? And after we get into our, we go into our small groups and I was actually in a small group with with Bev Key, you know, she shared that, yeah, it’s a big rock because we know that Bev had lost her husband, Joe, who was so dear to our region. We miss Joe, don’t we?

And she just said she shared she said, you know, you know that I’m in the face of the big rock, but I can find and the message was finding honey in the rock. That’s what we’re talking about, how God put even in tough situations, even when you feel like it’s not fair, even when you fall into that place of where you may be bitter about what God has given you, the hand, the cards you got dealt, you can find joy.

Bev, I know you’re at home watching right now. You inspire me. She’s inspired me on Valentine’s Day. You know, it would be a really tough day, I’m sure it was for her, because it’s during those holidays that when you lose a loved one, that you really feel down. And I talked to Bev on Valentine’s Day and in her sweet voice, is that the sweetest voice that you could ever imagine? You know, you talk to you if you need encouragement call Bev Key.

I said, Bev what are you doing today? And she says, Well, Brian. It’s Valentine’s Day, she brought it up. You know what I’m going to do? I found a card that Joe wrote to me for Valentine’s and I found a card that I wrote to him on Valentine’s.

And a little bit later, I’m going to read both of them and have a moment with Joe and God, and she said that not with sadness, she found joy in a tough situation. And I called this morning.

I was going to share this. I want to make sure that she knew I was going to share this. But you know what? She encourages me because it shows me what am I feeling down about? Sometimes that people in tough situations are the most encouraging. How does that work? They have a walk with the spirit that’s greater than what’s going on in the world right here. And they’re following Jesus. And Jesus is taking them through with a new walk and a new joy.

And John, 14:15, Jesus says, if you love me, keep my commandments and I will ask the father and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever. The Spirit of truth. It says another advocate. Why did he say another advocate? Because he was their advocate when he was on Earth. But the question for you today is, are you walking with the spirit? Are you walking with if you’re not a disciple, it’s time to surrender and let the Bible change your life and let the Holy Spirit take you into a new life, find whoever asked you and ask him, how did you make a decision to have the spirit. Study the Bible. Get in the word.

But if you are not filled with joy and this message reached you somewhere, it’s time to talk to somebody. Talk to someone who loves you. A spouse or a good friend and sit down, have coffee or whatever, or Zoom each other, whatever you got to do in this time. But ask them, am I filled with joy? What do I need to change? What do I need to be different? And what are the fruit of the spirit do you see in me?

And what are some of them you don’t? This could be a tough conversation, couldn’t it? But isn’t it a good one? Because it gives you an opportunity to change and to be like Jesus. So think about these things today. I want to close out before we take our communion and it’s John 15:11 where Jesus, who we’re following to a new with a new walk and a new joy that’s going to lead to heaven one day said this.

And John, 15, verse 11, these things are spoken to you that my joy may remain in you and that your joy may be full. You know what Jesus wants for you, that joy that he felt that day. We can have it. He says, I want your joy to be full. This is my commandment that you love one another as I loved you. Greater love has no one than this. Then to lay down one’s life for his friends.

You are my friends if you do whatever I command. So as we take the bread and the fruit of the vine, it reminds us that Jesus died for us, that Jesus went to the cross, and that God raised him up on the third day so we could lay down our lives for each other. Let us remember, there’s a way out if you came here today and you’re feeling down and you feel like it’s just been too much pressure and there’s a lot of different things and you’re just not doing well spiritually, if you’re a disciple, that’s fine.

The spirit can lift you up. Let’s remember the cross. Let’s remember that Jesus wants us to lay down our life for each other because he laid it down for us. Let’s pray for the communion at this time. Heavenly Father, we thank you for your word. It shows us what Jesus has done for us, and it helps us to understand that we need to be different. Father, as we take the bread that symbolizes His body, let us realize that there was sacrifice and surrender involved.

And as he poured out his blood, let it convict us. That we need to lay down and pour out our lives for you. And that love is obedience. And father, we ask that you can use us to walk by your spirit. Be filled with joy. And do all that you created us to do, we pray these things. Thank you. For Jesus, we pray in Jesus name, amen.

One Spirit

Well, good morning and welcome, welcome to our Sunday service, if you are on Zoom, then you’re not watching this.

But chances are at the moment I’m getting ready for my own Zoom just to make a guest appearance to introduce the tribe to our baby girl. Molly and I have just had a little baby girl. Her name’s Lucy Elizabeth Owens, and just so blessed by God, grateful for the journey he’s taken us on. And we are currently on maternity leave. But in advance, I have prepared a lesson for you guys today about the Spirit, not just any Spirit, but the one Spirit that we have listed here in Ephesians, Chapter four.

In Ephesians four four. It reads, as is our theme for the year. “For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called, to one glorious hope for the future.”

So much about the Spirit is quite hard to talk about. Perhaps you might conjure up quite a few different thoughts when you think of the spirits or just the word Spirit, right?

It’s a it’s a word, at least in our culture, that tends to be scoffed at by naturalists, those that believe in science alone.

And it’s also a word that tends to only belong in October right in our culture. But we know that we’re not talking about just any spirit with a lowercase. No, we’re talking about the one Spirit.

And in the Spirit of him, who am I to speak about today? I want to I want to do the best I can. But at the same time, I feel that it’s a subject I tremble at because as much as I can study it and I hope you guys do too, I feel there’s so much more for me to learn about the Spirit. In fact, the Spirit is not a topic that we should really learn in a dry kind of way. And so this is a bit dangerous to talk and talk about the Spirit when you’ll be left with today, really just the charge to go walk in the Spirit or go find the Spirit, go ask God for it and live with the Spirit within you.

The Spirit is quite a mysterious concept in the Bible. It’s hard to pin down. It’s it’s more than a concept. But the Spirit is a character in the Bible. In fact, he’s one of the three in the Trinity. In the Godhead we have three persons making one being them being the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. And it’s this great Holy Spirit that we’re talking about this morning. The One Spirit. He’s the eternal creator. He was there in the beginning.

He is behind the scenes in your life, even to this day. And he is the great actor that moves so many of the miraculous things that happen in acts all throughout that book and all throughout the rest of the Bible. In the letters, we’re just called to live by the Spirit. So if you keep your Bibles in Ephesians, I want you to flip over to Ephesians Chapter six.

You know, the Spirit as mysterious as he can be. He is definitely a personal Spirit. He doesn’t want to remain shrouded in cloaked in mystery, as if his hand is out there saying, back off, don’t get too close to me. In fact, he says, I want to live in you. I want to reside in you. And he does that for the Christian. He lives in us. He’s the seal of our salvation. He’s our counselor and he knows us intimately and can speak on our behalf better than we can speak for ourselves.

This is the kind of holy Spirit that we have.

He’s not a thing, he’s not a force, he’s not a chi, right? He is a character. He is someone to get to know. But it’s hard to relate to the Spirit quite a bit more than, let’s say, the father or even the son, right. Those physical relationships, familial relationships we have some context for. But Spirit, it’s a little harder to have that kind of context for. I think I was asked to do this lesson by those close to me kind of knowing my story and my story of coming to God actually involves quite a bit of context and contact with the Spiritual realm.

And for that, I’m so grateful. But I will say this, that one of my deepest and most experiential convictions is this, that the real battle in our world is a Spiritual battle. When I was 14, I made a decision to make Jesus Lord be baptized and thankfully get the gift of his Holy Spirit. In my life’s been so different since then, I don’t know that any of you would recognize me if you knew me. There are a few here that may have known me back then, but the man I was at that time, I was a plagued soul.

I had a normal life was raised by two awesome Christian parents, nothing too atypical about my life. But when I was about 14, things took a turn for the spiritual in my life. And up to that point, I have been trying to be a good guy, I was on track to become a Christian, I thought, yes, I want that in my future. I do want to be a Christian. But in the meantime, let me build my own tower and let me be good, you know, and let me read my Bible.

Even so, my life on all accounts looked pretty decent. But on the inside, I think my motivation was I want to be great. I want to be good. I want to be a I want to be good. And if I can do it without God, then all the better. Right. God’s my last resort and I’m working towards that. But let me scrub myself up. Let me be good.

I want to emphasize that I was living a shallow spirituality, almost as if spirituality was on my terms, on my account, and I was pretty good and God decided to set Satan loose on my life.

I think if you if you recall the story of job where Satan asks, hey, can I go after this man? Well, I’m sure that’s what happened in having Satan probably knocked on Gods door and said, look, you see Tyler down there, he’s a good guy. I’m going to go after him. Can you let me. And on all accounts that year from my life, the last year in middle school, but I started seeing things in a spiritual world. I started hearing things. I started losing a grip on who I was. I had thoughts that seized me and took over. And there is voices there were things that were on all accounts, spiritual, just plaguing my conscience, losing my identity. I’d watch the news and I attached myself anything that was sinful. My mind would become that. And and on all accounts, Satan had hijacked everything I thought was under control. And so if you read Mark five or even just the story of the demon possessed boy and his parents just saying, look, Lord, can you help my son?

I was right there throwing myself in the fire and I didn’t know how I would last another day. It got to that point.

But I will say that this has helped me and tempered my faith in a way that no other experience has. And it’s hard to put it into words. It’s hard to be relatable with that part of my story. It’s not generally the part that I tell a ton of people unless it helps. But man, do I have a firm conviction that the most real battle in my life and in your life is a spiritual one. And with that, let’s read Ephesians chapter six, verse ten.

It reads “A final word. Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power, put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh and blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle, you will still be standing firm. Stand Your Ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness for shoes put on the peace that comes from the good news so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil put on salvation as your helmet and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion, stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.”

Take note that in the last first verse 18, it actually says, pray in the Spirit at all times on every occasion. Concluding, putting on all the armor, pray in the Spirit, pray through the Spirit, the one Spirit that if we’re Christians, we have him in our lives.

And it was so I’ll wrap my story up here with this, the ending here, my stories, the day I decided to put on the armor of God and stop trusting in my own lowercase spirit. And I was adopted by God. And given his Holy Spirit, it was like a demon had been driven out of my heart and all the voices ceased, all the sightings ceased, all the all the things in my heart where I wasn’t sure who I was. I came to my senses and it was like day and night from that day forward just knowing, wow, I am God’s. He has marked me. He sealed me with his Spirit.

And I’m so grateful. And it’s almost like you look back and you’re like, did that just happen? And I remember for the first few years, just wondering, like, wow, what what did just happen? Is it going to happen again? And I’ll tell you that God’s Spirit continually renews me day by day.

It’s the force in my life. It grounds me. I’m so grateful that I have a spiritual gift for a spiritual battle. I don’t know if you know just how spiritual this world is. It’s true, this quote that says that one of the greatest lies from Satan is convincing the world that he does not exist.

He doesn’t want our battle to be engaged on a spiritual level because that’s the most effective that’s the Spirit of God’s home turf. If he can dupe us into thinking that life is just what we see. Well, he’ll win the battle because we won’t see him coming. We won’t see his schemes and we won’t expect the attack, you’ll see here it talks about the authorities, the powers of the unseen world.

Those are angels. Those are demons, right? Leagues of each. And I don’t know how they’re organized, but, man, if that’s the battlefield for our souls, I definitely would like a spiritual help. And that’s where the Spirit of God comes in.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t quite enjoy demonic movies personally. They strike a chord that’s hits home for me. But I think what it does sometimes is it reduces what’s real and what the Christian believes is the reality of spiritual things going on. It reduces it down to entertainment and we start to live in a dimension where the spiritual realm isn’t immediately apparent. We forget that it’s a spiritual world. But if you recall in Genesis Chapter one, there is the Spirit of God hovering on the water, right?

It started with God and the Spirit painted a physical world. It started Spiritual. Yet we can forget.

And Paul in Ephesians six is just reminding them, not with metaphor, as if this is some psalm of David. Like, take it poetically. No, take this literally. You are in a spiritual battle.

And man, sometimes the physical world even still even what with what I’ve gone through in my past, sometimes the physical world is so opaque I can’t see through it. It’s not transparent enough for me to to sense what’s going on spiritually as I’m tempted with anger or as I’m tempted with selfishness or wanting to just hurt my wife with a comment. There’s a Spiritual reality in that moment that I have to decide if I’m going to say what I impulsively want to say.

Right. For example, if there’s somebody, in my view that’s quite attractive in my heart, longs to lust, I need to realize that this is something spiritual.

This is not just about, you know, whether I’m going to confess or give in or hurt my marriage like all these superficial things. Right. This is more on a spiritual level than I ever realize. It’s a battle for my soul. Yet we forget and we forget and we forget. But if you could turn back the curtain, oh, you would see look what Elisha prays in second Kings Chapter six, verse 17, Elisha comforts a servant by saying, don’t be afraid. Elisha told him, for there are more on our side than on theirs. The enemies. Then Elisha prayed. Oh, Lord, open his eyes and let him see the Lord open the young man’s eyes. And when he looked up, he saw that the hillsides around Elisha was filled with horses and Chariots of Fire. He could see that there was a spiritual majority in their favor on God’s side.

It’s on the spiritual plane that that Jesus and the father and the Spirit, they’re all fighting, fighting demons for our soul, for our allegiance, for the affections of our hearts. And they can clearly see who’s uniform we’re wearing.

Some of us aren’t even on God’s side. We’re actually fighting on the devil’s side. And I wonder if we could turn off the, let’s say, the Photoshop layer of the physical world and we could see what you looked like spiritually. What uniform would you be wearing? Whose side are you fighting on if you aren’t fighting with the Spirit? You are not on God’s side. And so the spiritual realm is the home turf of the Holy Spirit, the one and only Holy Spirit.

So how do we survive spiritually in this realm?

Well. The one Spirit is the answer. He is the greatest gift. He is the gift here and acts chapter two, verse 38.

Peter replies to those wondering, what do we do? We are not right with God. They realize they’re not on the Lord’s side. So what do we do?

When Peter says an Acts 2:38 , he says “each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.This promise is for you. And your children in those of far away. All who have been called by the Lord, our God.”

You see, it’s not just that they’ll receive the Holy Spirit, they’ll receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. God is gifting it to us. We have no right to it. He’s he’s the greatest gift we could ever receive. And John, verse 15, Jesus, he promises the Holy Spirit to his disciples.

He says, “if you love me, you’ll obey my commandments and then I’m going to ask the father and he’s going to give you another advocate who will never leave you.

He is the Holy Spirit who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you you know him because he lives with you now and later will be in you.”

This great gift of the Holy Spirit. He lives in you. It’s a great gift. One more thought on it being a great gift comes from from Jesus’s words again in Matthew Chapter seven in his Sermon on the Mount, Matthew seven, verse nine through 11.

He compares how fathers want to give their children great gifts. I want so bad to give my new daughter great gifts in life and I can relate to that.

And he says, like, look, you know, if your kid asks or a fish, you’re going to give them a fish. You’re not going to give them a snake right now, and you’re wicked. And yet you know how to give good gifts to your kids and check out what he says. He says, how much more in verse 11? How much more will your heavenly father give good gifts to those who ask him?

What’s telling sometimes is if you look at the parallel passage, he says good gifts here, but in Luke, 11, 11 through 13, he actually doesn’t say good gifts. It’s the same exact story. Run through the snake, run through all that stuff, the egg. And he says in verse 13. So if you sinful people 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?

Right, it’s it’s like both of these help you to understand that God’s giving us a good gift, right? And if you just read Matthew, you’d be like, cool, God can give me whatever. Let me ask and I’ll receive. Let me let me ask you this. What he’s talking about. Luke clarifies, he’s talking about the Spirit.

That’s the good gift. That is the the present, the Holy Spirit. That is the greatest gift. And it’s good news that the Spirit being the greatest gift we could ever have in a spiritual war. Right. Use it, don’t neglect it, don’t leave it on the table, it might be time for you to start walking in the Spirit. Maybe you know the truth. Maybe you started with the Spirit and left him behind, right?

Galatians talks about that. Backtrack, go back, find where God is, sit in his presence, sit still, be with him, you know, the great gift of the one and only Holy Spirit in our lives is our one and only hope in spiritual warfare. And we must not neglect him. He guides us. He wants to show us where to go when things are hazy, when things are not straightforward, we can always rely that God with his Spirit will make our path plane to follow. We must follow his promptings, right?

We have two choices. It’s very clear in the physical world it might be gray, right? We live in the in betweens. I’m convinced in God’s realm he sees it really clearly. It’s quite a lot more black and white in his world.

If you look in Galatians five 19, it spells out the two options quite clearly of following the Spirit or following the flesh, “when you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear. Sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissentions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, wild parties and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God”, but verse twenty two.

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in your lives love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. There is no law against these things. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed their passions and desires of the sinful nature to the cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit leading in every part of our lives.”

And that’s the gift of the Spirit that he’s leading you at the present, he’s leading you here, he’s leading you today, you can leave with that hope that God will lead you by his Spirit.

Don’t ignore it. Don’t grieve the Spirit. Don’t disobey the Spirit. Don’t quench the Spirit. Let’s thank him for this gift. Because of this gift that the Spirit is living in us, we can have a true connection with Jesus and we have certainty that our eternal future will be with Jesus if the Spirit of God is living and active in our lives. It’s a gift. Like I said, it’s a gift. So as we think of the cross in every way, Jesus by way of the cross gifted us with the forgiveness of sins and with the gift of the Holy Spirit.

We are a part of one body and we all have the same Spirit in us as we take communion. Consider that we are connected because the same Spirit lives within each of us. We don’t all have separate spirits. The Holy Spirit, the one and only somehow in his way knows how to live in all of us at the same time. And that is quite a glue. That is quite a reason to have communion with others and to have a common cup and a common bread as we eat of it.

Now, let’s think of Jesus and thank him for the gift of the Spirit in our lives and consider how we might follow that and what he’s prompting us to do today. I love you guys and look forward to introducing our new family soon until then let’s pray:

God so grateful for you, for your Spirit, for all you’re doing what your gift to us. It is an immense treasure. You want to come and take residence in our life. God, you want to live in our hearts and direct our lives to bring you more and more glory.

God help us to surrender to your transforming power as your Spirit works in our lives. God, you are. You are so generous. We don’t deserve the Spirit in any way. Please, God, help us to see things Spiritually, see things on your terms. Pray God to follow it this week.

In Jesus name we pray Amen.

One Spirit


In John 7:38 Jesus says: “The one who believes in Me as Scripture says, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him”. (NAS) It says that, from their innermost being, will flow rivers of living water.

And that’s really what we are as a church. We are striving to change our inner person, striving to please God, striving to have the Holy Spirit deep within us. Christianity is not just something that we do. It’s not just a list of commands that we obey. It’s not just a checklist of having our quiet time, sharing our faith, getting to church on time, showing up for midweek, turning on your camera during your zoom meeting. That’s not really what Christianity is all about.

If you have a relationship with Christ, you then have streams of living water, you become a source of water and refreshment for others. And so that’s really what we as a church desire to be for central Florida. We desire to be a source of Christ, a source of living water, and so I pray that you will enjoy today’s service, you will be inspired as to what we’re going to be doing to share the gospel with the city of Orlando in a more profound way online.

The Holy Spirit is revealing new, refreshing and fun ways to share the good news of Jesus with more people in central Florida.

Now, speaking of the Holy Spirit: During this month we will explore the theme of “One Spirit”. Last month we studied the “One Body”. Let’s now read a Scripture that connects the one body with the one Spirit. We find it in Ephesians 2:21-22 – “In Him (or: in Christ) the whole building is joined together and rises to become a Holy Temple in the Lord and in Him. And in Him (in Christ) you, too, are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit.” There it is! The church has become the new place in which God lives by his Spirit. With the Holy Spirit the immortality of God is now bundled in your soul.

The Holy Spirit is a deposit that guarantees your inheritance in heaven. In the meantime, the Holy Spirit shows you and me how to live as Jesus would live in this world.

Now, keep in mind, no one is automatically born with the spirit.

You cannot receive the Spirit from a family member. You don’t get the Spirit just by showing up for church and and getting fired up about things. You cannot work for the Spirit. You cannot buy the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a gift you receive by faith and the waters of baptism.

And if you’re not sure if you have the Holy Spirit – if you want to study in the Bible how to get the Spirit, we can help you with that.

Please click the connect button on the home page of our website or click the link that’s pinned to this thread are down in the description of this video.

Connect with us on that form and we will contact you A.S.A.P. Let’s discover true Christianity together the way Jesus defines it in the Bible.

Now, next up, Acts chapter two. The Book of Acts is the Super Bowl of the Holy Spirit.

And last year, as a church, we spent the first six months on the Book of Acts and what Acts does. Acts shows us how to have the wind of the Holy Spirit in our sails.

And here’s what I mean: In John, Chapter three, Jesus compares the Holy Spirit with wind. And the wind, as we know, is powerful! The wind can propel a large windmill to generate electricity, the wind can move a massive ship around our planet.

The wind can also give us that gentle whisper to comfort the soul – that wind is the Holy Spirit.

It’s also very mysterious. You hear the wind but, as Jesus says, no one knows where it comes from or where it’s going. So it is with the Holy Spirit. You can only see or experience the effects. Listen for it. Wait for it. Every moment of the day. This is very similar to when a little boy asked his grandfather, “Grandpa, what is the wind?” “I cannot explain the wind to you”, the old fisherman said, “but I can teach you how to raise the sails in the same way.”

This is how Jesus teaches us about the Holy Spirit in John, Chapter three. This embodies so much of what it means to follow Jesus. This shows us what it means to be a Spirit-led man or woman of God.

And as a church, as individuals in the church, we must raise the sails in anticipation of His inspiration. We must listen, watch and wait for the winds of the Holy Spirit to blow in our lives.

Let’s read about a perfect example of this. Acts chapter two, beginning at verse one: “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and they began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them. Now, there were staying in Jerusalem, God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one of them heard them speaking in his own language. Utterly amazed, they asked: ‘Are not all these men who are speaking, Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language?'”

What I love here is that, when the time comes, these disciples are ready for the Holy Spirit. When the massive winds of the Spirit begin to blow, they absolutely crush it, they’re not asleep at the wheel, their sails are raised, the disciples are together as one. They don’t miss the moment. And that defining moment comes when thousands of hearts are wide open to the message of Jesus because they’re ready.

Check out what the power of the Spirit does here. We see it in verses four, six and eight. The disciples preach the good news of Jesus in many different languages, and the rest, of course, is history.

Three thousand were added to their number that day. Three thousand respond to the message as they hear it and their own language. They repent, they’re baptized. They receive the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit. As I said before, this is the Super Bowl of the Holy Spirit right here. By the power of the Holy Spirit, every open heart, here’s the good news of Jesus in a language he or she can understand. Now, fast forward two thousand years.

Our goal today remains the same. By the power of the Holy Spirit we must share the gospel with central Florida in such a way that they understand what we’re saying. So here’s our reality in twenty twenty one. Most of the world nearly makes all of their life decisions on the Internet. Think about it! I know for me the last few times that we’ve bought a car, Amy and I found it on a Web site. We researched there and we discovered our house here in Orlando while we were living in Scotland, we saw it on the Internet and found it.

In the pandemic, we ordered nearly all of our groceries on a grocery store app, and I don’t even want to know how much money I’ve spent on Amazon this year or even the last five years, you know, really who needs a door to door salesmen when I can just go on a website, see reviews from a thousand different people, look at the pictures and pick the product I want to buy while I’m sitting on my couch.

When I want to fix something or if I want to repair something, where do I go? I can watch a DIY video, of course, on YouTube. Before we moved to Orlando, I met so many of you in advance through Facebook or Instagram; we became friends before we even saw each other in person here in Orlando.

I have good friends who found their wives on DT Heart and Soul, a dating website; and that’s how many people are meeting and dating and getting married today, they go looking online. That’s our world today. That’s our current reality. That’s the language that so many people now speak. Most of the world will make their major life decisions now online, including those critical decisions about religion and the meaning of life.

I see it this way: as a church we have an incredible opportunity here, we have an opportunity to save souls for Jesus with the language that we speak online.

Now let me share some good news with you from our sister church down in Broward County and for the last five years, they’ve invested a great deal in their online presence. Since they restarted in-person services at the beginning of this year, they’ve had 15 to 20 newcomers per week. And nearly all of those newcomers found out about the church online.

Since the pandemic began last March, here’s how newcomers are finding the church in Broward. Well, fifty-five percent are finding it from family and friends and I think: meeting people face to face that we already know, that’s always going to be the best and always going to be reliable.

But check out how all the others are learning about the church now in Broward County: 6 percent from Facebook, 10 percent from Instagram, 16 percent from Google searches.

More on that in just a moment. And in this picture here, you see your new brother in Christ. This is Fernando. He was baptized early last year. He found the Broward Church doing a Google search.

He found the church and next he watched a sermon online. After that he finally decided, OK, I like these people. I like the message that they’re preaching. Then he came in person before the pandemic. Fernando became a Christian. He’s now your brother in Christ. He’s serving as a drummer in their band in the church, and also runs the online sound for them.

An amazing story. Since the pandemic began, eight people have become Christians in Broward exclusively from their online platforms.

Praise God. This is good news. This also demonstrates that there are many people out there today who will initially choose their church by the research they do online.

And that’s exactly why we’re raising the sails of our online platforms here in Orlanda. When the winds of the Holy Spirit blow, we must seize the opportunity to help more and more people become Christians. That’s what we’re all about. We want to make sure, though, that we speak their language. We want to make sure that thousands upon thousands of people hear the good news of Jesus. I’m thrilled that we have a new logo. I’m excited. We’ve made upgrades to our website, our Facebook, our Instagram, our YouTube. Those platforms are getting a facelift. Jake Rock is working on an incredible app that I think is really going to enhance the fellowship of our church family.

The cat’s out of the bag. I don’t think there’s any turning back at this point. The toothpaste is out of the tube and I think once this pandemic is finished, there will be a new normal.

And I think we’re going to be ready to face that as a church and it’s going to be very exciting for us to do that by faith.

There’s no going back at this point with Zoom and so many new ways of communication via technology. I’m very faithful and I dream about the endless possibilities that are in front of us.

People who live far away on the outskirts of Orlando, they can now connect with our fellowship. Distance is not an issue. Our elderly members and our members with chronic illness, they can join us for more fellowship from home. We can reach out to more professionals for Christ, like doctors and nurses who work the night shift. And they can now visit our church services in new times and new ways to hear the message of Jesus. The potential here is extraordinary.

And you see in this slide, as I mentioned earlier, 16 percent of the new guests in the Broward Church found them with a Google search. So with this in mind Lucas Ferrer, one of our church members in Oviedo, runs a company called Hit or Click Marketing, and he’s been really one of the reasons Broward has found people online that are receptive to the gospel.

He’s worked with the Broward Church for a number of years. He’s also worked with their private Christian school and finding new students for them via his business. So the good news here is that, in an effort for us to make disciples in Central Florida, we’ve now hired Lucas Ferrer part time this year. Amen. He’s going to help our church online with what’s called search engine optimization.

In layman’s terms. What is that?

Well, what Lucas strategically does is he figures out what people are talking about on the Internet and with his research, he finds ways to connect them to us as a church.

So we’re excited about these possibilities.

Don’t get me wrong, nothing will ever replace face to face conversation.

Nothing’s better than face to face worship together.

Nothing is better than a hug, even a side-hug. All right. And nothing beats sitting around the table and sharing a meal together. And it was the same for the first century church.

John, Peter and Paul, they longed to spend time with people and to spend time with the churches face to face. But the reality was for them the same as for us. It wasn’t always possible for them to do that.

And yet the apostles leveraged the Roman roads. The apostles leveraged the technology of the time with a global mail system and by the power of the Holy Spirit, their letters of communication back then to one another. Those now have become for us, the word of God.

God has a proven track record that He will move powerfully by the Holy Spirit from one generation to the next, and my prayer and my hope is that each and every one of us will raise the sails and we will make sure that we capture the moments when the powerful winds of the Holy Spirit blow in our lives.

And one of the major reasons we’re able to try new and innovative ways to get the gospel out there to Central Florida, is you. It’s your generosity. It’s your weekly offering.

It’s this church family continuing to invest, continuing to give by faith. And of course, there are so many different ways to give. Perhaps the best and easiest way will be with our new church member App and Jake Rock will talk about that in just a few moments.

But if you’re giving on the website, Orlando Church dot org, as of now, it’s two easy clicks. That’s it. You click the three bar menu in the top right hand corner. It’s on every page of the website. You click there and then you click online giving.

It’s as simple as that. Let’s go to God in prayer and thank him for all that He’s done for us. Let’s pray for our offering.

Our father in heaven, holy is your Name. We’re so thankful for all the good gifts you’ve given to us, especially the gift of the Holy Spirit. God, we’re thankful that, as Christians, you give us exciting lives that are dynamic and ever-changing by way of your Holy Spirit. I pray that we take all the good gifts that you give to us, and as we give that back to the church, that many souls will be saved.

Bless the new adventures in front of us this year. I pray that we can see many people become Christians in many different ways this coming year. God, bless our efforts to reach people out there through the language of our online platforms.

We love you, God.

We praise you. We thank you for this time of giving and we pray these things in Jesus name. Amen.


Good morning, Church. I am so glad I get to come before you and share the second part of our sermon together and even just to celebrate on Super Bowl Sunday, like Marcus, as a cowboy fan, I get to labor over the fact that my team has not been in the Super Bowl since the 90s, since I was a kid. We were probably close to the same age, maybe the last time that our teams were in the Super Bowl. And I just get to enjoy watching other people’s teams play and just try to celebrate with a good attitude, hoping that I get to see a good game. And I really love what he shared to you about the Holy Spirit. And that’s trying to listen to the whispers, to the voice, to the wind of the way that the Spirit is moving and all the ways that the Holy Spirit really is calling us to do some new things here together.

Now, I don’t know how you feel talking about the Holy Spirit, but I feel torn oftentimes in this discussion. There’s one part of me that gets really excited about the Holy Spirit, about how He comforts us. He seals us for heaven. He prays for us. He reminds us of what is right, even when we’re saying things that are stupid.

I love parts of the mystery of the Holy Spirit, the things I don’t know, all the all the ways that He is operating in the spiritual realm, that I can’t quite hear the way that He’s probably in the shadows listening to me pray and having reactions like this.

But the Holy Spirit also really scares me. There’s much about the spirit that I don’t understand. Trusting in what I can’t see, trusting in the adventure that the Holy Spirit wants to take each of us and collectively as a church on – the challenges and all the unknown. That there’s parts of thinking about the Holy Spirit that just makes me uncomfortable. It scares the pants off of me like this kid on a roller coaster. But as we’re we’re really getting into this discussion this month, I love that we’ve gone back to the Book of Acts.

I know the church really went through this a lot last year, but it’s good to revisit because the Book of Acts is such a great case study because it really introduces us to the Holy Spirit as the main character of the story that even we need to share, and right now. It’s like a Marvel movie that Jesus for four gospels teased about this Holy Spirit that was going to come, that it was going to live inside of us, and now we get to witness. In the Book of Acts he show’s up to be on the scene to move in Acts Chapter two.

But then throughout the book, as He’s leading his people to do new, scary, adventurous things in the first century. But then also the case study for us about what it means for us now as disciples today.

We’re going to pick up in the book in Acts Chapter 10 with the story of Cornelius. But before we read it, I think there’s some things that we need to understand about what makes this story so significant. In Acts, Chapter one, before Jesus ascended into heaven, he told his disciples: “…But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses and Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria and to all the ends of the Earth.

You see for the first seven chapters of the Book of Acts, possibly even 10 years had gone by. But the disciples were still stuck on the Jerusalem part. They’re still stuck on Jesus saying go to Jerusalem, but there’s other places I want you to go as well with My gospel. And then about 10 years later, Stephen is killed and everyone scatters and the Holy Spirit then uses this tragedy, this moment in their history to move them towards part two and three of this verse.

Even though Jesus told them to go everywhere, to go to these other places, they stayed put until Chapter eight. Then we see the Holy Spirit showing up in big ways to seek out people from Judea, Samaria and the ends of the Earth. And he does it by sending the disciples people that that probably most of us, even now, would consider to be the most unlikely to be Christians. We see in Acts Chapter eight, the story of the Ethiopian eunuch, the Holy Spirit taps Philip on the shoulder and says, I want you to go down to this road, the desert road from Jerusalem to Gaza.

And while he’s going down there, he says, you see that chariot? Stand next to it. So he walks up to this chariot of an Ethiopian official who’s reading a copy of the book of Isaiah. This man who had gone to Jerusalem to worship would not have been welcome in the lower courts of the temple.

Philip goes up to him and is able to teach him about Jesus and help him to become a disciple, and a lot of historians even think that this man might have been the beginning of God’s church spreading throughout Ethiopia. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church might be rooted in this man.

Then acts Chapter nine. Jesus blinds Saul, the Jewish Christian killer, and tells the man that we never meet again in the Book of Acts, named Annanias, to go meet him and restore his sight and baptize him. He says: “This man is my chosen instrument”. Now, in Acts Chapter 10, we meet a man named Cornelius that we’re going to be reading about here in a minute, but you can see this narrative through these three chapters of God saying to his people: “Look, I’m doing things that you’re not on board with yet”.

I want to meet people. I want to do things. I have a vision that is so far beyond what you can see right now. Now in Acts Chapter 10, where we meet Cornelius. Let’s pick up at verse one and let’s read a little bit about him. You’re going to need your Bible. It says in verse one: “At Caesarea, there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion, and what was known as the Italian regiment, he and his family were devout and God-fearing.

He gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. One day at about 3:00 in the afternoon, he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God who came to him and said: ‘Cornelius!’ Cornelius stared at him in fear. ‘What is it, Lord?’ he asked. The angel answered: ‘Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon, who is called Peter. He is staying with Simon the Tanner, whose house is by the sea.

When the angel who spoke to him had gone, Cornelius called two of his servants and a devout soldier who is one of his attendants. He told them everything that had happened and sent them to Joppa.'” We’re going to pause here. So what do we know about this guy, Cornelius? We know that he was a centurion, which means several different things, that means that he was a Roman. He was not of God’s people. He was he was technically one of their oppressors.

He had lots of power. A centurion commanded one hundred soldiers. That’s where the word centurion comes from. He had authority. He had clout that at face value, we would look at a man like this, like a four star general in the Army or something and say he’s probably not a likely candidate to become a Christian, to be a follower of Jesus. But it also tells us in the Bible that he and his family were devout and God-fearing, that somewhere in their story – we don’t know exactly where – they had heard the message about Jesus and it had made an impact on them. And they weren’t just intellectual believers, they weren’t just hearing about this guy and some of the miracles that He had done and just kind of praising from a distance. It says that it changed their lives. It says that he gave generously to the needy; he prayed to God regularly; that he was practicing his following of Jesus to the best that he could; that this was no small guy just taking this passively.

This man was impressive, he was respectable, he was fighting to be faithful in every way he knew how. This is a lot like the Ethiopian eunuch. I love both of these stories combined because this always reminds me of the Scripture in Jeremiah twenty nine 13. Says that when we seek after God with all of our heart, we will find Him. That God takes note when people pursue Him. God pays attention when people are doing their best, and God saw this centurian and sends him an angel to meet him, telling him: “You’ve got to go find this guy named Peter.”

And I want to take a second to take note of something with this. For a lot of us we would look at a guy like Cornealious probably and think he’s good. He’s faithful, he’s praying, he’s doing what he needs to. But God saw this man, and how he was trying to live to please Him. But God didn’t say “OK, he’s good, he’s doing what he needs to”. He noticed the good that he was doing, the angel tells him: “Your gifts to the poor, your prayers, are a memorial offering to God.”

He saw this. And then God sent him to someone who could teach him the rest of what he needed to know about Jesus. And Marcus offered this up earlier, but if you’re watching this and you’re doing your best to honor God in any way that you know how, maybe God is calling you right now . To now reach out for someone who can show you what it really means to be a disciple of Jesus; that God does take note of our efforts to please him, but He never designed for our relationship with Him, for our part the following Jesus, to be something that we do solo or something that we just try to figure out on our own with the Bible at home.

He knows that all of us need help to be sure we’re following Jesus biblically. So I want to just again extend an offer. Please reach out to us – if you’re looking for your relationship with God, if you’re trying to figure out if you’re doing things in the way that will really honor Him, please reach out to us. You know, for time’s sake, we’re not going to read this whole story. There’s a lot to this about 50 verses in this chapter.

But I’m going to summarize what happens next. Peter doesn’t get an angel when God shows up for him. He gets a vision – a hunger trance! It’s like on Thanksgiving, if you’re one of those people that likes to fast on Thanksgiving, maybe even the day before, because you just want to go go nuts on the meal, that you’re starving yourself before Thanksgiving, but you can smell the food in the oven cooking.

You know, God is smart, he also knows that a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. It tells us that Peter was hungry and he’s waiting for his meal and then he falls into this trance and he has a vision. And in this vision, there’s this this large sheet that falls from the heavens and lands on the earth and it’s got all kinds of animals on it. And then God tells him something I know we all love to hear: “Kill and eat.”

But as a Jew, he notices that most of the animals that are on that sheet are not kosher-friendly. Most of them fit the categories in the Book of Leviticus that he, is a Jew, would not be allowed to eat. And so he tells Him: “No, no, no, no! No unclean thing has touched my lips. I won’t, Lord.” And I love how God responds to him. In verse 15 the Voice speaks to him a second time: “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”

It tells him: “Look, you really don’t know what I’m getting at here, but don’t call something impure that I have made clean and pure. And three different times. This vision, you can read it in Acts 10. They go back and forth saying: “Kill and eat.” And Peter says: “No, that’s unclean!” And He tells him again. If you know Peter from the Bible, this is the classic Peter Fashion. He oftentimes needs to be told things three different times.

But when he wakes up from this vision, he has no idea what this is about. And contrary to the carnivore’s out there, this vision is not about eating whatever meat we want to. Other scriptures in the Bible talk about that for us. OK. But while Peter is mulling this over and he’s wondering why he had this vision as a Jew – about impure food that he’s not supposed to eat and breaking this food law. The spirit actually has to spell it out for him, says: “Look, there are three men coming up. They’re going to want you to go with them. They’re going to take you with them. Just go.”

So they leave to go and see Cornelius. Let’s pick it up in verse twenty seven, when they get to Cornelius’ house. It says : “While talking with him, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people. He said to them: ‘You’re well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a gentile.'”

Just for a minute: imagine that this was the first thing you told somebody when you met them. Hey, you know what?

I hope you remember that I’m not supposed to be here. You filthy gentile. I’m not. You know, that our law (and if you notice there, it’s lower case “L”, not upper case “L”). It was their oral tradition. Not something in the Old Testament. The first-time meeting Cornelius. He says: “You know that it’s against the law for me to be here”, but let’s look at what happens.

[Peter continues:]”‘But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean. So when I was sent for, I came without raising any objection. May I ask why you sent for me?’ Cornelius answered: ‘Three days ago I was in my house praying at this hour, and at 3:00 in the afternoon, suddenly a man in shining clothes stood before me and said, ‘Cornelius, God has heard your prayer and remembered your gifts to the poor. Send to Joppa for Simon, who is called Peter. He’s a guest in the home of Simon the Tanner, who lives by the sea. So I sent for you immediately and it was good of you to come. Now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us.'”

You’ve got to love his attitude. “Then Peter began to speak: ‘I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism, but accepts from every nation the one who fears Him and does what is right.'”

This is an amazing story of God seeing someone who is searching for Him. I love the truth of this narrative in the Book of Acts. But there’s probably, maybe, something more important for us to understand here: that in this story, we see that the Holy Spirit had to pull Peter (and the other Jewish disciples that are with him) to pull them into what God was trying to do. They kept missing it. Ten years maybe after Jesus told them to go to Samaria and the ends of the Earth, they hadn’t done it yet.

The Holy Spirit had to say: “Now is the time. It’s time to get to this part”. That even there’s a part of this that seems like they resisted. I think part of why that is, is that, for the Jewish Christians (for the ones that had been followers of God up until this point, before Jesus even!), this meant sharing what they had with their enemies. This meant loving the people in a nation that was oppressing them.

This meant including people that racially, culturally, historically offended or threatened them. They were ready to share what they had with Samaria and the world. The Holy Spirit had to lead them there. At the end of Chapter 10 God sends the Holy Spirit to show up in dramatic fashion. Peter starts preaching to them about Jesus and all of a sudden the Holy Spirit comes down just like it did in Acts Chapter two that Marcus read earlier, that He now shows – He kind of shows off – the power of the Holy Spirit to gentile believers, showing that they’re participating in the same thing that the Jews had gotten two years earlier.

And it’s at this moment. In Chapter 10, it says that God was showing Peter that the Holy Spirit was bigger than Peter’s comfortable plan of staying in Jerusalem with the people that he felt cozy with. It took God saying three different times in a vision and a miraculous display of the Spirit to get him there. And in the next chapter, we see that it’s not just Peter. God was starting with Peter, but in Chapter 11 when he goes back to Jerusalem, when he’s telling the disciples there what had happened, it says that they were criticizing him.

The Jewish Christians there were criticizing Peter for stepping into Cornelius’ home, and he has to explain the whole story to them and tell them what God had done. But I love the words here in chapter 11, verse 17: “So if God gave them the same gift he gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who am I to think that I could stand in God’s way?” Peter is saying: “Look, I got to watch the Holy Spirit come down on them in the exact same way He did in Acts Chapter two, and if God was doing that through the Holy Spirit, then who am I to stand in God’s way and what God was doing?” It’s at this moment that the other Jewish Christians were like: “Man, let’s go along with this. Let’s go along with what God is trying to do.”

This is true of us as disciples today. We are creatures of habit and comfortability. We love when we go to church, we sit in the same seats, we tend to sit with the same kinds of people, we tend to talk to the same people.

We, you, might even have your after-church ritual of where you’d like to go to eat. We are creatures of habit and comfortability. And because of that we often find ourselves not ready to be on the ride with the Holy Spirit and maybe, even whether we realize it or not, may even unintentionally be standing in the way of the new things that God is wanting to do. The new people that God is trying to reach, the new places He wants us to go, maybe the digital world, the online world that he wants us to reach.

When I was in college, I was out sharing my faith with with one of the other evangelists in the church there, and he was training me. She and faith for Bible talk, and we stumbled across this guy named Evan. And Evan was a Marine. He had a shaved head. Looked like he was angry. And as we were out sharing our faith, I saw him and I kind of looked away. But Steve, that I was with, said: “Hey, share your faith and go invite him to this retreat we have coming up.”

And my heart just doesn’t want to. I don’t want to do this. He doesn’t look happy. I’ve already been let down today. I don’t want to do this. But if I was like, OK, fine. And I went up to him, handed him an invitation, gave him a very half-hearted (you know!) “…love to have you” kind of a thing. And to my surprise, he actually responded. Evan ended up studying the Bible and becoming a disciple.

Then, after Evan became a disciple, he reached out to Michelle. You’ve known Michelle from several of his classes. She actually took classes with other disciples there, too, but he starts bringing Michelle out. Michelle starts studying the Bible, she ends up becoming a disciple too. Michelle and my wife are best friends. They share the exact same birthday and the same spiritual birthday. We love them. Evan and I ended up being roommates in college. And we’ve known each other for years now .

Throughout the course of our lives, things continue to go on and I get engaged and get married and Evan and Michelle got to be in our wedding as some of our best friends. And then, shortly after that, we got to be in their wedding. And often, as I’m thinking about what we’re talking about here today (it’s easy to go to a place of thinking), what if I hadn’t listened to Steve, what if I hadn’t listened to the Holy Spirit trying to prompt me out of my comfort zone, to share my faith with someone that I didn’t feel like I wanted to talk to?

What if I had stayed and put my head down instead of opening my mouth? That’s what I wanted. What friends my wife and I could have missed out on – their kids, our friends, with our daughters -and they’ve been growing up together! What would we have missed out on in our lives with a grander vision that God had?

But I needed to be pulled along by the Spirit at that time. We don’t know God’s vision. We can’t see what God wants to do, but we’ve got to be listening to the voice of this Spirit, prompting us and whatever directions He wants us to go. And as we take communion together, I want to close with the Scripture from John, Chapter 17. At times Marcus shared a lot about this. Two weeks ago.

But in verse 20 it says: “My prayer is not for them alone, I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I in You; May they also be in Us, so that the world may believe that You have sent me. I’ve given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as We are one. I in them and You in Me, so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that You sent Me and loved them even as you love me. Father, I want those You have given to Me, to be with Me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory You have given Me because you love me before the creation of the world. Righteous Father, though the world does not know You, I know You and they know that You have sent Me. I have made You known to them and will continue to make You known, in order that the love You have for Me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.

Before Jesus’ crucifixion, He prayed for the people that would hear the message through us. He prayed that our oneness through the Holy Spirit – Him living inside of us. There our unity in the spirit would reveal to the world how much God loves them. That no one would be excluded, no race, no sex, no culture would be left out from sharing in the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit wants to lead us to new people, to new places, to new open doors, even in covid, even from our homes.

And as we remember, Jesus dying on the cross, as we take our communion here in just a moment, He died to send us the Holy Spirit.

He died so that we would have the opportunity to share in this thing that would be inside of all of us, that would make us one connected to Him. Let’s continue to pray that we will listen to the voice of the Spirit here in Orlando. And let him lead us. And what he wants to do next, rather than standing in his way.

Let’s pray for the communion. Father, I do want to just thank you so much. For your patience with this. God, thank you that when we resist you, when we we’re missing what the voice of the Spirit is trying to say, that You still have the patience to pull us along to be part of your story. God, I pray that right now as we’re thinking about Jesus going to the cross, as we think about the fact that his death and resurrection is what allows us to have the Holy Spirit. Help us to remember. Part of what the purpose of the Spirit is, to let it be for us to be led by Him to where You want us to go. God help us to not be in your way. We love you, we thank you. This in your Son, Jesus’ Name, we pray. Amen.