Do you ever feel like you're missing out on something powerful and transformative in your life? On this special Memorial Day weekend and the day of Pentecost, we're uncovering the incredible role of the Holy Spirit and how you can experience its fullness in your own journey. From the Holy Spirit's presence in creation to its encounters with various individuals throughout the Old Testament, we'll explore the unique experience of Pentecost and share a touching story of a woman named Amanda, whose connection to her late mother will prompt you to ask yourself if you're open to hearing from the Holy Spirit in your life.
Over the next few weeks, we'll delve into the power of the Holy Spirit, discussing how it can help us avoid hurting others, convict us of sin, and lead us to Jesus. Additionally, we'll explore practical ways to connect with God, such as reading the Bible, praying, and participating in baptisms. By learning to become more attuned to the whisper of God and making conscious choices to create an environment for hearing God more clearly, you'll be well on your way to opening yourself up to the Holy Spirit and experiencing a profound spiritual transformation. Are you ready to embark on this life-changing journey?
Welcome to Madison Church Online. My name is Stephen Feith, i'm the lead pastor of Madison Church and I'm so glad that you're joining us on this Memorial Day weekend. We are online only this weekend and so there is nobody else in the room with me. You are all watching or listening online, either the day of that this comes out or later on in the future on YouTube or podcast. But once again, i just want to say thank you for joining us and also I hope that you'll make a plan to join us in person soon. We meet Sundays at 11 o'clock at Trinity Lutheran Church. Well, you may know this, you may not know this. It isn't just Memorial Day weekend. This Sunday is actually the day of Pentecost. It's at this point in Christian history we read in Acts 2. On the day of Pentecost, all the believers were meeting together in one place and suddenly there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. And then what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them, and everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages. As the Holy Spirit gave them this ability. What happened on this day of Pentecost 2000 years ago or almost 2000 years ago, is what we're going to talk about for the next four weeks. More often than not, we read this story in Acts 2 and we think that what occurred on that day was just for those people on that day, or we think that it was just basically about the gift of speaking and tongues. Both of those are a misunderstanding of what the significance is behind the day of Pentecost, and I hope that over the next four weeks we're able to get rid of some of those misunderstandings and some of our lack of understanding in our series. The Holy Spirit. When we don't understand what really happened on the day of Pentecost, we don't live our lives as fully as God intends us to. We're going to talk over the next few weeks about the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives, the role that the Holy Spirit wants to play in our lives. In the biblical text, the Holy Spirit is sometimes described as a fire and other times as a dove. The Spirit is God and God is the Spirit, and as such, the Holy Spirit has the attributes of God. It's an exciting and yet subject matter person of our trinity that we don't understand and we don't talk nearly enough about, and so we're going to do it now. We read in Genesis that the Holy Spirit was present at the beginning of all of creation. The writer of Genesis depicts the Spirit as hovering over the waters. We read as we go through the Old Testament. We read how the Holy Spirit encounters different people in different ways, and we keep reading through the Old Testament. We get into Luke and we see that the Holy Spirit is on other people, such as Mary, who gets pregnant. The Holy Spirit is moving, but what happened on the day of Pentecost is different. It's something that hadn't occurred before, and that's what I want to dive into over the next few weeks. I came across a story of a woman this week. Her name is Amanda And sadly, amanda's mother died a couple decades ago in Washington state. Amanda didn't have much of her mother to hold on to. You know those things, those items that keep you close to someone after they've passed away. All that Amanda had after her mom died was a stuffed animal bunny that her mom gave her one Easter when she was a little girl. Amanda, she wouldn't give that up for the world. She talks about her experience growing up. She says, after my mom passed away, i was shipped all over the country from Washington state to Texas, to Louisiana, to Texas, back to Washington, back to Texas, in and out of foster care. As a parent myself, it's hard to imagine a little girl, amanda, how she didn't feel lost, how she never felt like she belonged somewhere, being moved not just from different houses but in different states. It was about 23 years after Amanda's mom passed away that, amanda, she received a package in the mail from the executor of her mother's estate. The executor, who lives in California, was recently moving and she came across a box of belongings, things that belonged to Amanda's mom, and inside were letters and photographs and different mementos from Amanda's childhood. One letter was written just weeks before her mom passed away and it reads Dear Amanda, you know I really miss you and not being able to get up with you every day. Well, honey, try to keep smiling and always be brave. That note was a connection to her mom that Amanda never thought she'd get. She didn't know it existed, she didn't know it was a possibility until she got that letter, and now she cherishes it. My question for you is can you imagine, after so many years, getting to hear from someone that important to you. Can you imagine someone like God? My next question would be are we open to hearing from the Spirit? I think sometimes we might be a little resistant to that. This is the first way the day of Pentecost can change our lives. Pastor and author Henry Blackaby tells us from the beginning, from the time of Pentecost to the present, god has been speaking to His people by the Holy Spirit. We might think or believe that God only speaks to spiritual giants, people like the Pope or some grandma that you have, but because of Pentecost, the day of Pentecost and what happened on the day of Pentecost, the gift of the Holy Spirit is available to all of us who follow Jesus. The Spirit takes residence in us and is present with us all the time, right now, wherever you are, whether you're watching this on your phone or listening to it in the car or at a computer or watching it on YouTube wherever you're watching this, the Holy Spirit is available to you, is in you and working around you, which means that God can communicate with you all the time. This is exactly what Jesus said would happen. If you want to follow along, i'm going to go to John 16. It's a scene that takes place just before Jesus' death, just before Jesus' crucifix. He's beginning to talk to his disciples, getting those last things out. As you can imagine, if you knew you only had days to live, moments to live, these were the last conversations you were ever going to have with someone, with people that you cared about. You were going to cover the really important stuff, maybe go over that thing one more time, or? oh yeah, i have been meaning to mention this. Well, i was hoping for a better time, but we're running out of time. When Jesus is having these final conversations, i think that we need to have a greater emphasis in our reading, as he probably had a greater emphasis in his speaking. He says in John 16, 7, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don't, the Advocate won't come, the Advocate being the Holy Spirit. If I do go away, then I will send him to you. I think that this has to be one of the hardest things Jesus ever told his disciples, and Jesus told a lot of hard things to his disciples. You imagine sitting around a table with Jesus and Jesus is about to say something. You're kind of expecting it to be either odd or weird, or you're not going to understand it. You're going to have to ask for clarification. We've read enough of the New Testament to know that that's how it's going to be. But then imagine what Jesus ends up saying. As you know, it's actually best for you that I go away. We know that they struggled with this because Jesus would tell them over and over again this you know, i have to die, i have to die. And they didn't quite get that. But Jesus' explanation in this passage as to why it's best that he leaves isn't just for the forgiveness of sins. It's not that you're sinful people that you need to be forgiven for your sins, and this is the only way that you're gonna have victory over those things. It wasn't that people messed up and now there's this disconnect between you and God, and this is the only way to fix it. Certainly he had those things in mind, but what Jesus says in this passage is it's best for you that I go away so that the advocate will come, so that you will have the Holy Spirit Now again going back a little bit. For those of you who are Bible nerds, you know that the Holy Spirit has been moving in and around people throughout centuries, before Jesus came to earth, through people like Elijah and Samson and David, the Holy Spirit was moving in and around them. You can read in Luke just read the first few chapters of Luke and you'll see that the Holy Spirit was on Mary and Elizabeth and Zachariah. So the Holy Spirit has been moving in and around people. And yet, in John 16, when Jesus talking to his disciples, he's referring to something that hasn't happened yet. He's referring to something new. He's referring to a function, a way that the Holy Spirit would move and operate in our lives, in which he hadn't already done before. Jesus tells us close his followers that soon he will leave, but they will not be left alone. God is not leaving them. The advocate, the Holy Spirit, will come, and one of the ways that the Holy Spirit changes our lives is by speaking to us. On several occasions, jesus reminded his followers that the Spirit would come and speak to us if we will listen. Well, what will the Spirit say? Jesus unpacked some of that in this passage. While admitting that he didn't have the time to teach all of it, He says there's so much more I want to tell you, but you can't bear it now. When the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own, but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. So one of the ways that the Holy Spirit will speak to us is by speaking what is right. What is right? Have you ever been in a situation where you needed guidance? You had some options, you had to make a choice and, more than anything, you wanted to know what God's will was. You wanted to know what the right path was. What's the best decision I can make? God, why won't you speak to me? And I'm not talking about the answers for a test that you didn't study for. I'm talking about the real serious, deep stuff. Should you find a new job? Should you start looking for a new job? Should you accept that offer, that job offer, that promotion? Should you move? Are you supposed to make a career change? Really big things that can change your life and we ask God, god, what should I do? Well, the Holy Spirit can tell us what's right. You think about those times with your kids and your parenting, and nothing that you are doing is working. There's that issue, that problem, that thing that you guys just can't work through, and you've tried everything. And now you're just at your end and you say, god, help me, speak to me, tell me what I need to do to help my child. Well, the Holy Spirit can tell you what's right. How do you need to hear from God today, this week? What are the questions that you have and you're saying, god, i want to get this right. Or maybe a better question would be what have you been asking yourself for the last few years? Maybe you haven't been asking God what's right, but you're wondering what's right. You're wondering if you're making a mistake. You're wondering if you're on the best path for you. Well, the Holy Spirit can tell you what's right because He is speaking on behalf of Jesus Himself. The Holy Spirit won't just tell you what's right. Jesus continues on how the Holy Spirit will talk to us. He says when He comes, he will convict the world of its sin and of God's righteousness and of the coming judgment. The world's sin is that it refuses to believe in me. So not only will the Holy Spirit tell us what's right, but the Holy Spirit will tell us what's wrong. And, as a reminder, sin isn't always and it's definitely not limited to the things that you should not do. Sin includes some of that stuff Do not steal, do not lie, do not murder. But sin is so much bigger than that. Sin is also about the space between us and other people, the space between us and God. You see, a lie isn't just wrong because it's deceptive, but because it creates space between us and other people, the mistrust, the hurt, the abuse, the neglect. It creates space. Our relationships can't be what they should be, and it doesn't just affect our horizontal relationships, but it affects our vertical relationship with God. And Jesus says that the Holy Spirit can help you. The Holy Spirit can help you by convicting you. You know the hard part about this and the good part about this is that sometimes we don't know what we're doing is hurting someone. Sometimes we don't know that those words are hurting someone. Sometimes we don't know that what we're doing is hurting someone and the Holy Spirit can step in. But, for example, maybe growing up you had a parent, a mom or dad who did something or said things that profoundly hurt you, and they did so unintentionally and they did so ignorantly, because they were clueless about how their actions or their words were affecting you, and it wasn't until you told them later that they realized what kind of damage had already been done. And because the damage had already been done, there's work that needs to be done to restore that relationship. Well, the Holy Spirit can help you and I avoid those mistakes. It doesn't mean we'll be perfect, but when we seek the Holy Spirit out, jesus promises us that it will convict us of our sin. So instead of making mistakes for years and years that we don't know are affecting other people, and then eventually they get the guts to tell us, hey, this really hurt me. We can avoid that by opening ourselves up, by being humble and saying God, search my heart and show me in all the ways that I'm coming up short. The Holy Spirit can convict us, not just about those types of things. But maybe you're reading a passage about forgiveness, a story about Jesus teaching about forgiveness, and as you're reading that passage, someone's face, someone's name comes to your mind. Well, that can be one of the ways that the Holy Spirit is speaking to you. So if you're not seeing a saying it's time to forgive that person, or you think I'm going to go pour that drink, or I'm going to go have another drink, or I'm going to go to that website, or right before you lay out that insult that you've been sitting on for weeks and you get in that fight with your significant other and you're about to let them have it and you hear a voice that says should you do that? Do you really want to do that? Do you need this? It's that conviction, it's that pain And we know that there is pain associated with that that the Holy Spirit wants to keep us from experiencing. So the Holy Spirit can help us with what's right. The Holy Spirit can convict us when something is wrong. But the Holy Spirit also tells us who won. Jesus starts to wrap it up. He says the Holy Spirit will bring me glory by telling you whatever He receives from me, all that belongs to the Father is mine. This is why I said the Spirit will tell you whatever He receives from me. Jesus says in this passage that the Spirit will glorify Him And the Spirit will point other people to Him, and that the Holy Spirit will declare through God's people, through you and me, that everything is His and that we are all our fathers. The Holy Spirit points us to God. The Holy Spirit calls us to God. It's calling our neighbors and our co-workers to God, and the Holy Spirit works in and through us to lead other people to God. It's in this moment Jesus reminds us that, no matter how difficult your day might be, all of those mistakes because you didn't have the Holy Spirit speaking to you and all those mistakes you made, that you didn't ask what was right, that you made some other mistakes But Jesus reminds us at this point that ultimately, now the Holy Spirit, you win, that there's still victory, that we can still undo those mistakes, that we can still get the path going the right direction because of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus And that's the power of Pentecost What's right, what's wrong, and redemption and victory. Even in our most difficult and trying moments and perhaps you're in one of those seasons right now it's difficult, it's hard, it's challenging. In those moments, jesus is saying the Holy Spirit is here to remind you what the bigger picture is and that eventually and ultimately, you will overcome. Now let's talk practically real quick about how the Holy Spirit can speak to us, and this isn't by any means an exhaustive list. The Holy Spirit has spoken to many people in many ways, but at our church we have a strategy to help you and help people, to help our community grow spiritually, gather together and give back. This is about making a positive impact in the city that we call home. It's about building good friendships and good relationships And, of course, it's about a greater connection with God And in pursuing our strategy, we put ourselves in a position to regularly hear from God. So when we talk about connecting with God, we're talking about reading the Bible And, as I mentioned earlier, you might be reading the Bible and you read something about grace or forgiveness, and the Holy Spirit might bring someone to your mind. Have you offered them grace? Have you offered them forgiveness? Perhaps it's yourself. When you're praying, it isn't just about talking to God and giving him your wish list, but listening to God, and perhaps in silence and in meditation and as you're receiving what God would have for you, god speaks to you. God brings something up. It might be a voice, it might be an image, it might be a feeling, but make no doubt about it, you'll know. And of course, we can hear and experience the Holy Spirit through baptisms. When we do baptisms at our church, it's like God is in the room And that's because of the Holy Spirit. We can connect and hear from the Holy Spirit by connecting with other people When you are in a small group. Small groups are a great place for the Spirit to confirm and challenge us. We're challenged as we hear other people speaking. We can be affirmed when we're speaking by other people that we're doing what God wants us to do. We can hear from the Holy Spirit by eating with other people. When we begin to develop friendships outside of the hour on Sunday morning, when we do things like exchange numbers, exchange text messages and get together outside of Sunday, we begin to develop close relationships, and these relationships are so rare in our day and age. But we can begin to have those relationships with other people, and I'm not just talking about you and me, but the people in the seats next to you, the other people who are watching this, listening to this right now. We can develop close relationships with them And they can celebrate your big days. But they're also going to be there on your sad days, those days you feel alone And sometimes, when you're having a bad day, they're going to send you a text message just because, just because they felt like it. They might not even know what's going on And in that way, god can use them to speak to you And vice versa. Vice versa, god can use you to speak to them. Of course, through conflict resolution, the Holy Spirit can work. As we're convicted of our sins, as we humble ourselves to recognize that we make mistakes and in some situations, when it's really complicated, we ignorantly do something or say something that hurts someone else. When that's brought up through healthy and biblical conflict resolution, we can experience the Holy Spirit and the blessings of that. We can experience the Spirit speaking through us to other people by giving back. You see, you can be an instrument of the Holy Spirit. You can be a speaker of God and for God to other people. Through your giving and your generosity, through your volunteering and by using your influence and by sharing your story, you can let God speak through you. So often times when we come to church and in the sacred space that we have, we think I need to hear from God. I want to hear from God and experience the favor and the blessings, the forgiveness, the grace, the future, the healing. We have to pause and recognize that we're in a community, that there are other people around us And that God wants to use us to communicate to them as well For some of us, the idea that God wants to speak to you through the Holy Spirit or speak through you by the Holy Spirit might be very new. Maybe you feel like you've never heard from the Holy Spirit. You may doubt that you ever will hear from the Holy Spirit. That was me. As I was getting started with faith, i thought the only way to hear from God was by reading the Bible. I would pray to God. That was me speaking to God. But if I ever wanted to hear from God, i was under the impression I had to read the Bible And I was challenged by that. And then one day, as I was praying with other people we're at a prayer meeting and we're just praying for one another I heard God and experienced God so tangibly and so differently. And I remember, as I look back on it now, i said God, i didn't think you did that, god. That wasn't part of my theology, that wasn't in my box, i didn't think that you could do that. But I'm so glad that you proved me wrong And I pray for that sort of experience for you, for those of you who you haven't heard from God or the Holy Spirit, for those of you who don't think it can happen. I'm praying for your openness. I'm hoping that you're going to be willing to not lean on your own understanding, but to say God, do what you want to do and let your will be done. If all of this talk about the Holy Spirit is new to you, we've done series on the Holy Spirit before. I don't want to invite you to check that out this week. There might be some overlap in the content, but I don't believe there's going to be a lot of overlap, because in each time we talk about the Holy Spirit, we have a different angle in talking about Him. So in one series, we're talking about being open to the Holy Spirit. How do we move beyond our comfort zone so that we can experience more of God's Spirit? In another series Naturally Supernatural we talked about, okay, what does the Holy Spirit do for us practically and in our natural lives, and in this series on the Holy Spirit, we're going to talk about why the day of Pentecost changes every day of our lives, and so I hope that you'll go to our website and check those out. Let's end with a story When we brought our first child home from the hospital, oliver, back in 2016,. He was born in 2015, but December 30th we brought him home When he was a baby, we would swaddle him and put him in his bassinet right next to our bed not in our bed, but next to it, in his swaddle So he would sleep safely. But we did not sleep safely. We slept lightly. If Oliver moved an arm, if he took a deep breath, we would jump out of bed. It was like somebody threw a brick through the window. Our adrenaline was running. He moved an arm. Is he still breathing? Is he still alive? That was Oliver, our first kid, the first weeks, the first months of that. Nowadays, oliver might have a nightmare, climb into our bed, climb over me I won't even know until the next morning. And yet his mom, megan, can still hear when Quinn is crying from down the hallway. You see, whereas I don't even feel Oliver climbing over me anymore, i don't hear him crying at night. If he has an earache or if he has a bad dream. Megan has a sensitivity to this. She can hear her kids make the slightest noise anywhere in the house. She has a trained ear and she's listening. So even when she's asleep and she hears that noise, she gets up to see what's going on. I bring the story up because God might be shouting and screaming at some of us, god might be like Oliver, climbing over you to get your attention And we just don't hear him because we're not listening. And yet others can hear the whisper of God. And I think today, as we reflect and we wrap up and we close and we consider the day of Pentecost and the Holy Spirit and what that means for our lives, are we a person today who God is shouting at, trying to get our attention and we can't hear him, or are you someone who can hear the whisper of God? How do I get to be that kind of person? How do I go from not hearing God shout to hearing God whisper? Well, it's by putting into practice what we talked about today growing spiritually, gathering together and giving back. It's about placing yourself, and I promise you that the people who can hear the whispers of God are people who make choices with their schedules and with their budgets, with their lives. They put themselves in the situations and in the circumstances in which God's voice remains loud and distinguishable in their lives, no matter how much other noise is coming in. Yes, there's the boss. Yes, they have kids too. Yes, they have problems with their spouse as well. Yes, they get in the car accidents, they get cut off, they get bad diagnosis from the doctors, they get fired too. But the difference is for some of them, for those who hear from God, is everyday decisions to seek God out, to recognize his voice and to hear his voice. So it makes me want to ask, and end on this note today, a very real question Who do you want to hear from? Who do you really want to hear from? And if it's God, are you willing to open yourself up to the Holy Spirit? And if you are, are you willing to make changes so that that can happen?