Catch on Fire! How am I filled with the Holy Spirit?
While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul passed through the interior regions and came to Ephesus, where he found some disciples. 2 He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?” They replied, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” Acts 19:1-2 (NRSV)
I like water. I love water. I am not a good swimmer at all, but I really love water. It was when I was 12 years old. I went to a pool with friends. If you were a kid and you had a pool and friends to play with, it is a heaven for the kid, right? The pool had so much fun stuff and my friends were all awesome. We really had a good time swimming in the pool. We were there all day and got kind of bored. So we made a bet on who holds breath the longest. So everyone will buy an ice-cream to the winner of the bet. One friend was a referee to see who is cheating and all others joined the bet. So all of us went underwater holding our breath altogether. It was not bad at first. It was bearable. But soon the feeling of suffocating came over me. Wow, it was hard holding breath underwater! So I opened my eyes looking at my friends who were also holding their breath. They all looked suffocated and suffering from holding their breath. And then here and there my friends started popping back out of the water to breathe. They couldn’t hold their breath anymore! And I was, too. I couldn’t hold my breath anymore, either and I didn’t want anymore! “I don’t need an ice-cream, I need to live!” That was what I thought that time and tried to jump back up out of the water. But my foot was somehow stuck in a chain that was holding some sort of lines that are in pools so I couldn’t get back out of the water. Oh, my. I thought I was going to die by being drowned. So while I was really struggling to pull my foot out of the chain, all other friends gave up and they got out of the water. I didn’t know that because I was too busy to see them because I needed to get out of the chain! And I finally got off the chain and desperately pulled my head out of the water. I was gasping for air so desperately. All my friends gave me big hands and shouting at me saying “You won! Yay!” I didn’t want to win! I was just about to die! Guys, I thought I was going to die today! Anyway, they bought me an ice-cream that day and that was delicious. Have you held your breath? Was that fun? No, it is not fun at all, right? Oxygen, O2, whatever you want to call it, it literally surrounds us and even lives in us. We cannot live without it, can we? We need oxygen to live. Last Sunday and today we are talking about the one that we need to live with. What does it mean for followers of Jesus to radically depend upon the presence in the power of God’s Spirit living actively and vibrantly in, around, and through us. And yet sadly there are far too many followers of Jesus who know of Jesus but know little or nothing of the Holy Spirit. And it was true even to the first followers of Jesus who lived in the first century, too. There was a place called Ephesus. Look with me Acts 19:1-2. This might be the reason why we came to church this morning. Here we go. (slide) “While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled across the hill country to Ephesus, where he met some of the Lord’s followers. He asked them, “When you put your faith in Jesus, were you given the Holy Spirit?” “No!” they answered. “We have never even heard of the Holy Spirit.” Paul met whom? The Lord’s followers. That means they knew Jesus. Then let’s look at the question that Paul asked. “When you put your faith in Jesus, were you given the Holy Spirit?” And what their answer was? “No! We have never even heard of the Holy Spirit.” And you know what? This reminds me of myself at times. We can talk about the Holy Spirit. We can memorize every Bible verse on the Holy Spirit, not experiencing a life in the Spirit. Isn’t that true? So today we are not talking about simply having head-knowledge; we are talking about having heart-knowledge. For far too many of us, isn’t the Holy Spirit forgotten God? We don’t know about this third person of God, the Holy Spirit. Have you ever thought about that? Living the Christian life without the Holy Spirit is like to live your life by holding your breath. It just doesn’t work, does it? And yet, it describes many of us. We are trying to gut out our lives. We are trying to do good things in our own power. We’re trying to find peace and joy in our own strength. And yet, the Bible promises us that if we live vibrantly in the life of the Spirit, then we can have all of those things even more. That’s why we are in this sermon series, “Catch on Fire”. The followers of Jesus, which is us, will literally catch on fire. We want Pentecost to happen all over again. Do you remember Pentecost we talked about last week? A hundred twenty fearful followers of Jesus in a moment in the coming of the Holy Spirit had their lives transformed into fearless missionaries who put their lives on the line for Jesus. And it reminds us once more a yesterday’s miracle won’t help you with today’s problem. Amen?
We need a fresh encounter with God’s Spirit in our lives regularly. I don’t know about you but challenges in my life, I need Pentecost every day. I need Pentecost every single day. I need to hear the whisper of Holy Spirit every day. What we need to do today is we need to catch fire in our lives so that we can hear the whisper of the Holy Spirit. So here is the question that we are going to try to answer this morning. (slide) How am I filled with the Holy Spirit?” This is the title of this sermon. When we read the Bible, the Old and New Testament, one of the things you see is that the Bible often uses the image, the metaphor, the picture of breath to talk about the Holy Spirit. Go with me all the way back to Genesis chapter 2, when God took the dirt from the garden of Eden, and God breathed into Adam. Some pastor said this is the Biblical proof that men are dirt. God with me to Prophet Ezekiel who has a vision. He sees a valley of dry bones and the breath of God, the wind of God goes across the valley of dry bones, then they come alive. Think with me about how the biography of Jesus in Mark goes. After the resurrection Jesus gathers with the disciples, he sends them on a mission, and the Bible says, “He breathes the Holy Spirit on them.” Here’s what I know. There are always some of us who feel like dirt today. We need the breath of the Holy Spirit to breathe on us reminding us that we’ve been cleansed by Jesus. There are some followers of Jesus in this church this morning, who they looked over the landscape of their lives, what they see is the valley of dry bones. It’s called foreclosure, bankruptcy, job loss, illness, loneliness, anger, and they need the breath of the Holy Spirit to turn their valley of dry bones into life again, Amen? And there’s some of us this morning who find ourselves weary missionaries. We are tired of washing feet and towel bearing. We are ready to throw the towel, we are ready to quit. And what we need? We need Jesus to breathe the breath of the Holy Spirit on us so we energize for missions. There’s some of us today who need to pray for the Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me. Is this our prayer today? Is that we are praying today? “God, would you come and breath into my life?”
Now I want to get really practical here. I want to answer this question. (slide) “What does it mean for the Holy Spirit to fill me?” And here is the answer I’ve got for this question. It is a little long, but it is all right. Let’s read this out loud. (slide) To be filled with the Holy Spirit means to live confidently and courageously as a follower of Jesus reflecting His character and living in His mission! So I am going to take this apart, one piece at a time. To be filled with the Holy Spirit means to live confidently. It is like my mom’s voice to me who was crying because of the fear of a dog, “It’s okay. You can do it! You can do it, Sophia! I am with you!” So with hearing her voice, I could walk by the dog, I could overcome the fear of the dog. That is what the Holy Spirit is speaking to us today. “I love you.” With hearing the whisper of the Holy Spirit, we can live our lives confidently! Yes God is on my side. Whom shall I fear? Also, we can live our lives courageously. I want to call it “gentle boldness.” Do you remember Steven from the Book of Acts? The Bible says Steven was full of the Holy Spirit. And yet, everybody around him, the Bible says they were gnashing their teeth at him. Wow, that’s a bad day, right? They were gnashing their teeth at him, and the Bible says, “Steve filled with the Holy Spirit preached the good news to them.” If I were him, I couldn’t do that. I cannot preach to someone who is gnashing at me. And what did they do to him? They killed him. But he had this bold, gentle confidence. He was courageous. And check this last two parts. “ reflecting His character and living in His mission.” One is inner, reflecting his character and this other, living in his mission, is outer. We are called to continually reflect Jesus’ character in us, and live out Jesus’ mission through our lives.
And there are two different expressions when we talk about being filled with the Spirit. We say, “I am filled with the Spirit” or “I am baptized with the Spirit.” Actually, both of them are written in the Bible. Let’s read the Bible verses with me. (slide) “Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit…” Ephesians 5:18 (NLT) Paul says this, and we can translate into this. “Don’t be drunk with wine, because it’s stupid. But be drunk with the Holy Spirit.” We can be intoxicated with the Spirit.
(slide) It is a mom who was drunk at a restaurant with her friend and she sent some texts to her son. She is so funny here. She says I love you my sweetie and I think she is saying she is drinking Chardonnay, some sort of wine. And she is making a confession to her son, “I am so happy I decided to keep you!” And the son says, “Me too.”
What if we are drunk in the Spirit, what would happen to us? Have you thought about that? It will be really awesome! We will be filled with honesty, love, mercy, joy in our lives when we have all kinds of problems. Even though we are in the midst of difficulties, if we are drunk by the Holy Spirit, we will be joyful, singing and dancing with the new wine! Right? And let’s read the next Bible verse with me. It is John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin, says about his cousin, Jesus. (slide) “I baptize with water those who repent of their sins and turn to God. But someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater than I’m not worthy even to be his slave and carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”Matthew 3:11 (NLT) The Greek word, here, is a Greek word, baptizo. It’s an ink-dyeing term. Take a piece of plain cloth, they dip it into ink and pull it out. They say they baptizo it so that the color of the ink becomes the color of the cloth. THere’s an identification between the ink and the cloth. It becomes integrated into the cloth. When we are baptized in the Holy Spirit, the very presence of the Holy Spirit becomes integrated into who we are. Here’s the deal. Whether we use the words, “filled with the Spirit” or “baptized with the Spirit”, the best I can tell is it is talking about the same kind of experience. When we say we are filled with the Holy Spirit, that means we become integrated into the color the Holy Spirit dyeing on us.
Then my question is this. (slide) “How am I filled with the Holy Spirit?” How does it happen? Number 1. (slide) 1. Give my life to Jesus! Starting place, right? If you want to live in the power of the Holy Spirit, you got to give your life to Jesus. Think of it in this way. When you give your life to Jesus, make a list of all the things that Jesus gave you. He forgave you your sins, right? He is sending you to heaven someday, right? He promises to give you an abundant life, right? And the list goes on and on and on! And on the list of the things that God give to you when you surrender your life to Jesus, on that list the big letter G, Gift of the Holy Spirit. Listen to how Paul put it in Ephesians 1:13. Read this all together. (slide) “And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago.” When we say yes to Jesus, God took a seed, a seed of the Holy Spirit, and placed it inside of us. And as we learn to cooperate with the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit grows in our life. It germinates, and we experience in the power of the Holy Spirit in our life. The real issue is that many of us, we don’t water the seeds. Alexa and I bought a hydrangea last Sunday at Walmart. The reason we bought the hydrangea was there was a beautiful hydrangea at the parsonage on my first year, but I killed it the next year. Actually, I killed every plant and flower at the parsonage that must be beautiful before I got there. I am a professional plant killer. We wanted a Hydrangea back in our yard, so bought a hydrangea last Sunday, and planted it Monday. And it was dying on Tuesday! What? Why? We planted you yesterday and you are dying today? Noooooo- So I asked people about why it was dying. And people said it is because I didn’t water it! It was so easy- Just give the flower enough water everyday, then it won’t die. It is that simple. So I have given enough water everyday and it is still going right. Thank God. And you know what? We don’t do this simple thing for our own souls. Isn’t that sad? What do you do to be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit? What do we do for our souls? If we water the seed of the Holy Spirit in our souls, then it will germinate and give us the power of the Holy Spirit. Number 2 (slide) “Ask for the Holy Spirit!” We need to ask for the Holy Spirit. Remember the prayer that we prayed together last Sunday? “Come, Holy Spirit, come” Every Saturday I come to this sanctuary and pray to God with that prayer. “Come, Holy Spirit, come. Fill us with your Spirit.” Jesus says we can pray this prayer. Let’s look with me Luke 11:11-13. (slide) “You fathers—if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! 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.” Circle the word, “Ask.” My father, my real father had never given me anything bad to me and Alexa. He loved us. He always tried to give us the best that he could get for us. If a human daddy wants to give the very best gifts to his kids, how much more you think your heavenly daddy would give to you if you just what? Ask! You have to ask! And let me remind you again. Yesterday’s miracle isn’t enough for today’s challenge. We need to ask for the Holy Spirit everyday!
Let’s read number 3 together. (slide) 3. Live in a community! When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we cannot live a loner’s life. We live in community! Let’s read Ephesians 4:2-5 out loud. (slide) “Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all.” See, the Holy Spirit is the glue that holds us together. As a matter of fact, if we want to see a church experiencing the Holy Spirit, it’s a church that works hard to protect its unity. The family that is experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit is it’s a family that works hard to love one another, embracing differences and different opinions, right? We need to work hard for unity among us.
Do you know Dwight Moody? He is a 18th century preacher, very famous, not very well educated. He lived in Chicago area, and he would preach all over the world. He went to England preaching there, and a bunch of preachers were gathered there to hear him. Listen to what one of the preachers said. “Why do we need this Mr Moody? He is uneducated, inexperienced. Who does he think he is anyway? Does he think he has a monopoly on the Holy Spirit? To which, a young preacher stood up and said, “Oh, no. Mr. Moody doesn’t think he has a monopoly on the Holy Spirit. But the Holy Spirit has a monopoly on Mr. Moody.” Wow, I want the Holy Spirit to have a monopoly on me. So, I pray “Come, Holy Spirit, come.” Would you join with me? Come, Holy Spirit, Come.