Have you ever wondered about the mysterious nature of the Holy Spirit and his true value in our lives? Today, inspired by the surprising story of George Walton and his 1913 Liberty Head nickel, we uncover the incredible power of the Holy Spirit and explore his potential to transform our lives in ways we never thought possible.
Join us as we dive into Jesus' prediction in John 14:12, where he said that believers would perform even greater works than he did. With a closer look at four stories from the book of Acts, we examine the various ways the Spirit empowers believers and the remarkable feats we can accomplish when guided by him. Discover how being filled with the Holy Spirit can grant us the courage to live out our faith boldly.
We challenge you to examine the evidence of the Holy Spirit's work in scripture and consider if you need to be filled or refilled with his power. Listen in to our personal testimony and insights on the transformative influence of the Holy Spirit as we inspire you to embrace his true value in your life. Don't miss this enlightening and empowering conversation on the power and value of the Holy Spirit.
And speaking of and welcome to our online audience. I'm Stephen Speaking of these questions on the connection card, where, if there's something that we talk about that you don't understand or you want us to go further in and jotting them down, today might be one of those days that you take us up on that offer, because it's going to be like Bible whiplash I'm going to be moving us around a lot and we're not going to stay at one place very long. It just has to deal with the subject matter that we're dealing with today, and so if there's like a verse, a scenario, an event, something I say that you're like, Hey, i'd like to go deeper on that, jot it down. I mean, really would love to to try to answer that question. I have no promises that I can, but we'd love to try to begin with a story. Um, has anyone ever heard of the name George Owen Walton? George Walton, i wouldn't suspect that you would. Uh, he was born in May of 1907. He lived the life of an estate appraiser. This is what uh Walton did, and as such, he had first dibs on things like rare coins, guns, jewelry, books, and over the course of his career, he built up quite the collection, as you can imagine, and at age 38, walton was given an opportunity to purchase one of only five 1913 Liberty head nickels that were ever minted, and he jumped at the chance. We got this picture up here. There's only five of them ever minted in 1913. He has the chance to buy one, and he paid $3,750 for this coin back in 1913. Okay, so I think that's a tremendous amount of money for a coin over a hundred years ago. He justified this huge purpose purchase because he told his family that one day this coin there's only five of them in one day It's going to be really, really valuable. Well, 17 years, almost two decades after he purchased this nickel, uh, walton died in a car accident. Um, i actually on his way to have the nickel appraised, so he was going to go see how much it had gained value, and he dies on the way to do that. So, uh, while he never made it, the nickel does make it, and the appraisers there uh declared that his nickel was a fake, it wasn't real. Um, they marked it that it had no value and they returned it to the disappointed family, where you do what you do with old coins You throw it in a box and you throw it in the corner and you forget about it Until someone dies and you pass that box on to someone else, which is what happened, because, eventually, one of Walton's nephews great nephews um, his name is Ryan inherited this box of stuff with the nickel in it, and although everyone in the family knew this story about how you know uncle bought this coin, is he bought spent $4,000. It's, it's fake. Um big failure story. Something inside of him said why don't I just get this rechecked out? In 2013, the other four 1913 Liberty head nickels went on display and there was a million dollar prize offered to anyone, anyone who could produce the fifth one. Remember, there were five of them. They have four of them that will give you a million dollars if you have it. With high hopes, ryan submitted his coin for evaluation And, after hours and hours and hours of comparing and contrasting against the other four nickels that they now had in their possession, six expert appraisers announced that Walton's coin was actually genuine. It wasn't fake. After all, it just took a hundred years for them to find out. Givens did not just give it up for the million dollars. He's smart. He held onto it for another decade, where, about 10 years ago he sold that coin for $3.1 million not a bad return on your investment. Can you imagine right now in your house, somewhere in a box, somewhere in a box there's a nickel Worth three million dollars? I mean like we're all gonna go home now and start going through our stuff right and finding all the loose coins and and taking it in. In this case it was worth three million dollars and it was deemed worthless. Remember That's why it was in the box. Experts said this had no value, despite it actually having a lot of value. And in a way, the Holy Spirit for a lot of us is like that coin Our understanding of the Holy Spirit. We kind of just box it up, throw it in the corner. We don't know its value. Some people tell us it doesn't have value. Some people tells us it has a lot of value and and we just don't know. We throw it in the corner. Which is why we've been doing this series on the Holy Spirit. Now we are in the final part of this four-part series and we've been just dedicated to talking about the Holy Spirit kind of at a high Level. We haven't gotten too deep, but a very high level. Today We're probably gonna go even higher. As a reminder, the Holy Spirit is a divine person, the third member of the Trinity, but for many of us, the Holy Spirit is the most Mysterious member of the Trinity, because most people, even life long Believers, aren't quite sure what the Holy Spirit does or how the Holy Spirit does what the Holy Spirit does. If you missed any of the weeks of this series, i want to encourage you to go back and watch it on YouTube or listen to it on podcast. The some of the stuff that we've been able to cover is that the Holy Spirit communicates to us. Yes, you can read the Bible to hear from God. You can pray to hear from God. You could talk to other believers to hear from God, but God is speaking to through the Spirit, to you and me. Sarah and we too, talked about how the Holy Spirit can free us. I mean something as significant as addiction. The Holy Spirit can give us power to overcome those things sometimes. And then last week I talked about how the Holy Spirit equips us with spiritual gifts to contribute to the church and to God's mission, and today we're concluding this series with how the Holy Spirit empowers us and what we are empowered for. There's a story in acts I think most of us are going to be able to connect with, and so, if you want to follow along and either a house Bible on your smartphone, Your own Bible, if you want to take notes, we're going to acts 19, we're going to act. Chapter 19 acts for a little context was written by Luke, the same Luke who wrote the gospel of Luke. So Luke and acts are actually a two-volume work. Luke is part one, acts as part two. Luke is all about the life of Jesus. It's history, it's investigative, it's theology And if you have heard of Luke before, luke had been tasked to investigate Jesus. For this guy, theophilus. Theophilus says Luke, go investigate. Luke is not a follower of Jesus, but he goes to investigate Jesus and in the process of investigating and doing eyewitness accounts and doing his own homework, luke becomes a follower of Jesus. And then in acts we read how Luke is now participating in the mission of the early church. He's traveling around with people like Paul and Peter. And so Luke and acts two volumes that were. We're in acts and we're at a point in acts if you're at chapter 19, when Paul has already started traveling around the world, the known world at the time and he's starting churches and he comes up and we're going to read in verse one Which says while Apollos was in Corinth, paul traveled through the interior regions until he reached Ephesus, on the coast, where he found several believers. Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed? he asked them. No, they replied we haven't even heard that there is a Holy Spirit. Then what baptism did you experience, he asked, and they replied the baptism of John. Paul said John's baptism called for the repentance of sin, but John himself told people to believe in the one who would come later, meaning Jesus. And as soon as they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And then, when Paul laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them and they spoke in other tongues and prophesied So Paul's going around, he's traveling you, starting churches, making disciples. He's doing the Jesus. He thinks he comes to this group of Believers. That's the first fact that we're thrown out there. Okay, there's a group of believers And his question, the first question that we read in acts, is did you receive the Holy Spirit? To which they replied we haven't even heard a word Of no Holy Spirit. Like, what's this Holy Spirit? And this is where the part of the story that I think many of us can relate to. You may have grown up in and around the church. I mean, you might have been a part of this thing for decades, but you feel like, what is the Holy Spirit like? if Paul were to come to you today and say, hello, have you received the Holy Spirit? What would you say? What would you say? I mean, you've heard of the Holy Spirit, but if Paul asks you that question, did you receive the Holy Spirit? Would you say yes, because a pastor told you that you did. Or somebody told you you did. Well, you're a follower of Jesus. You have the Holy Spirit. Check right, that's okay. That's a common answer. Would you say, yes, i have experienced it. It wasn't because somebody told me I had the Holy Spirit. Yes, because I experienced the Holy Spirit. Or, like this church in Ephesus, these believers in Ephesus, would you just say no, haven't heard of a Holy Spirit. So they say no, we haven't heard of the Holy Spirit. They're baptized, paul lays hands on them and we read that they're filled with the Holy Spirit And in this particular event, they speak in tongues and prophesy as a result of this. We'll further examine that in a moment. But I want to point out that this is not a one-off experience. It doesn't just happen in Acts 19. It's a pattern we see throughout the entire book of Acts. Some of the bigger occurrences that I want to share with you is in Acts 2, 1 through 4. This is the day of Pentecost, right When the Holy Spirit was poured out on the early believers. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit. They began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. That was a big moment. Acts 8, verses 14 through 17,. there's believers in Samaria. They laid hands on them so they might receive the Holy Spirit and then they did receive the Holy Spirit. Then in Acts 10, in this passage, peter is preaching to a group of Gentiles at the house of Cornelius And while he is speaking, the Holy Spirit, we read, came upon all who heard the message and they began to speak in tongues and praise God. And very similar to what happened on the day of Pentecost. So there are four stories that we've covered. real quick, very similar pattern of an occurrence. Now I highlight these three stories because they capture the essence of what we're talking about today the Holy Spirit and being empowered by the Holy Spirit. Let's point out, or let me point out, and you observe, that within each of these stories, some of those people who were filled with the Spirit, they were believers In Acts 19, they were believers In Acts 2,. They were believers, but in these other scenarios they were not believers. So, in these different events happening, being filled with the Spirit happened either as somebody was beginning to find Jesus or as somebody who has already found Jesus. Some of them, and catch this this is really important. okay, some of them spoke in tongues, but not all of them spoke in tongues, and I point that out because I think that sometimes what happens in conversations like this, conversations with people that you know and churchy conversations, we can boil down and reduce in a really negative way, being filled with the Holy Spirit to like speaking in tongues, and we kind of just say, well, it's like the same thing. Are you filled with the Spirit? You speak in tongues, speak in tongues filled with the Holy Spirit. And that's not what we read in Acts. Now, we should not be surprised that any of this happened in Acts. And again, these are just four occurrences. There are many, many more, but we should not be surprised that this happened. Jesus predicted it would happen Before Acts was ever written. Jesus tells his followers in John 14-12, i tell you the truth anyone who believes in me will do the same works I've done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. So we think about Jesus, we think about walking on water, we think about miracles of healing people, and it's really hard to believe, isn't it? I mean, jesus looks at you and says and in some cases you're going to do greater things than me. And we're like nah, you're messing with me. He doesn't lie. I mean, he starts with I tell you the truth. It's funny. It's like he knows you weren't going to believe him. So he's like I'm just going to start by saying I'm not lying, i'm telling you the truth. You are. How is this possible? Jesus continues in the same conversation two chapters later It is best for you that I go away. This should sound familiar. This was in week one. We talked about this verse. Jesus says it's best for you I go away, because if I don't, the advocate referring to the Holy Spirit won't come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you. So how will you be able to do these great things that Jesus did, and in some cases greater things. It's by the Holy Spirit and being filled with the Spirit and walking in the power of the Holy Spirit, which Jesus said would happen. It is tough to believe, but the same Holy Spirit who empowered Jesus to perform miracles is also available to you today. The same Holy Spirit working in and through Jesus is readily available for you and wants to work in you and through you. All of this can be kind of hard to believe This whole idea that we could do something greater than Jesus because we lack experience. You've never walked on water, you've never fed 5,000 people with some fish, you've never raised someone from the dead. So you lack the experience. I lack the experience. I haven't done any of those things either, and so we can kind of maybe dismiss it because we haven't experienced it. But lack of experience doesn't mean it's not possible. Lack of experience doesn't mean it cannot happen. Other times we can't believe it because we live in a world that resists anything that cannot be understood or easily explained or studied in a lab. And good luck trying to study in a lab the Holy Spirit and what we're talking about today. It is possible and I recognize that for some of you, this is probably your scenario. You have experienced a little bit of God's miracles in the past, the power of God. In the past, you've sought out being filled with the Holy Spirit, but you're skeptical or perhaps even hurt because you had a bad experience or that experience turned out to actually be a phony experience. And so I just want to acknowledge that, like I see you and I know that for some of you that is your story You had a bad experience in a church or with church people regarding the Holy Spirit. You felt taken advantage of, you felt foolish, you felt silly, and so I understand that what we're talking about today is probably more difficult for you than some other people, but let's not dismiss the possibility and even the probability that the Holy Spirit can redeem even that. Now maybe you're wondering. I think some of you are probably wondering. We've been doing this series on the Holy Spirit. Today we're talking about the power of the Holy Spirit. We see these examples in Acts of the Holy Spirit. We talk about how Jesus said this is exactly what was going to happen, and maybe now you're saying why, like why did this happen? Why is it happening? Why are we talking about it? Why should we seek it out? Is this like some form of super Christian? Is this make me a Christian superhero? Christian plus, we might say today? but let's go back to Acts, and in chapter 1, verse 8, jesus tells us exactly why we want to be filled with the Holy Spirit. He says you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be my witnesses telling people about me everywhere, in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria and to the ends of the earth. You see, being filled with God's Spirit. Again, it's not just like, oh, i can speak in tongues, i can prophesy, i can do these crazy things. It's not just to show off that you are some sort of like super Christian or like some better follower of Jesus than everyone else. Being filled with the Spirit, jesus states right from the onset this is about my mission, not about you. This is about my mission And when my spirit comes on you, yes, there will be miracles, but it's all about my mission. You're going to go into the rest of the world And that's exactly what happens. That's exactly what happened in all of those scenarios that I told you about earlier. Think about Acts 2, the day of Pentecost, you get to the end of chapter 2 and what you read is that 3,000 new believers joined the early church. Okay, we went from Jesus, some disciples, we went to 140 in the upper room the day that they're filled with the Holy Spirit, exponential growth, 3,000 new believers. In Acts 10, peter preaching for those group of Gentiles. Okay, this is the moment where, if you are not Jewish in the room, like you're not, that's not your ethnicity, you're not Jewish. Okay, this is where your faith was born, because up until this point, this whole Jesus thing there was questions about Gentiles and can Gentiles believe in Jesus and follow Jesus? This is where your faith was born. So the Holy Spirit comes on this room and then, all of a sudden, people who aren't Jewish can now find and follow Jesus, and they do. In Acts 19, when Paul encounters those believers in Ephesus okay, they're filled with the Holy Spirit, they start a church. You probably recognize the name Ephesus because in your New Testament you have a letter called Ephesians, which was a letter to that church. That got started after they were filled with the Spirit. And in Acts 8, after they prayed for the Samaritans, the Samaritan believers started spreading the gospel to everyone. So what we see is quite literally what Jesus predicted miracles are going to happen, things are going to be crazy. You're going to do greater things in some cases than I have done and it's for the mission. And so when we're talking about being filled with the Spirit, the evidence that we should be looking for, the fruit of what we should be looking for, is other people finding a life-giving relationship with Jesus and developing a robust relationship with Him. It's example after example after example in Acts, historically speaking when people are filled with the Spirit and then they begin to follow Jesus and they start churches and they start making disciples. Some may speak in tongues, others don't, but they always start living for God passionately. You see, as followers of Jesus, you and I were designed for specific purpose that can only be actualized by being filled with the spirit. This is why we do things a little bit differently at our church And if you're watching online, you're listening, you're in the room, you're kind of new we do things very differently. We got started in 2014. We didn't have to start. There were already 200 churches in Madison. They didn't need 201, but we felt that there was a mission And we felt that we were supposed to be part of that mission to help people find and follow Jesus. We want to see God's kingdom expand throughout the city of Madison. We want to see those ten you, if you want, saw on the website. You saw those micro locations that we want all throughout the city. We do that because we want to be different, we want to participate in this mission And the only way that these things are going to happen, that our vision is going to become a reality, is if we are a body of believers who are filled and refilled with the Holy Spirit. That brings us to another point of clarification being filled with the spirit isn't just a one-time thing. Paul writes to those same believers in Ephesus who had already been filled with the spirit right in Acts 19. They were filled. He writes, in Ephesus, or two Ephesians, 518, be filled with the Holy Spirit, and in the Greek the connotation is an ongoing filling. It's ongoing. Be filled and be refilled, it's continuous. So it's not just something that happened one time back in Acts 19, and Paul's writing good job, guys, you know, stay the course. But he tells them Continue to seek out the Holy Spirit and be filled. So, practically speaking, today I have two challenges for you. For some of you, this is the first time you've ever talked about this. It was the first time you've ever heard about it and you're skeptical and I'm way cool with that. I'm glad you're here. I'm glad you're joining this conversation with us. For those of you who are just Investigating this, i've got a hefty challenge for you. I would read Luke and then I would read Acts and I would circle or highlight or underline every time the words Holy Spirit appear. So you're reading Luke one Holy Spirit And then, after you read all of Luke and after you read all of Acts, go back and look just how much you circled and underlined the Holy Spirit and As you assess that data, what are you learning and hearing and see it? thinking about the Holy Spirit and learning Challenge to. For others of us, we need to be filled and perhaps it's never happened to you before. You've never actually thought that out. You're like those Christians in Acts 19. I've not heard this Holy Spirit And no, i was supposed to be filled. For others of us, it's a refilling. We're like. You know it's been tough since 2020 Pandemic, social justice issues, the economy is a wreck and then like your personal everyday stuff, right, like the stuff that doesn't make the news that you really care about the fights with your spouse or with your kids, all of that stuff. It might be time today to take a breath and say I need to be refilled. I need the spirit of God to refill me, and so Why we're doing things a little bit differently today is because we want to give you an opportunity to pray you and me to pray that you Would be filled or refilled if you are Comfortable with that. And if you aren't comfortable with that and you feel very like reluctant to do that, i want you to know that I did too, like 10 years ago, and then college and I was going through a really, really rough time With spiritual warfare, just kind of like always walking around with darkness around me, and then I started feeling like afraid and I it's the weirdest I don't know how to like describe it except say I didn't feel safe, which was weird because You know I'm a 20 year old kid, like I was, and living on a Christian campus. Of course I was safe, but I just never felt safe and I got paranoid, started sleeping with the light on at night and my little dorm I was too embarrassed to tell anyone, because I'm a 20 year old man who is talking like a child with an overactive Imagination. It's like, oh, you're already scared of the dark. That's what it felt like to me, so I didn't want to say anything. But it really began to interrupt my life because I wasn't sleeping good at night. You can't sleep good with fluorescent lights on over your dorm room bed, right? Okay, so I wasn't sleeping good. I could tell it was affecting my grades, is affecting my relationships, and so finally I got to the point where it's like you know, when you start to break and you let someone know You've been trying to hold it in. And I got to a little breaking point where I was a little vulnerable And I told a friend I'm going through this rough time and he had just this wild idea Yeah, why don't we pray about it? So why don't we get our team, our friends, together and let's go just pray about it? and that that seemed fair, because in my mind I'm thinking this was gonna be a very boring ordeal. We're gonna go to this room I think it was called the fireside room. No, that's here. There's a similar room to that one, and we were going to pray and I figured what we're gonna do through in a circle, right Fold hands, close eyes Yes, jesus, help me. And that's not what happened. So I go to this prayer meeting with my friend and there are people there and they're laying hands on each other. They're praying for healing, they're praying for breakthrough, they're praying for this. And then I'm like, oh, i'm not very comfortable, i don't think God can do this. And they lay hands on me and they pray. Nothing happened. I was so opposed to this. I didn't believe God could do this not to anyone and not to me. And so I was so guarded, i was so tense, and then they'd go and they'd pray for someone else, and then they would circle back And they'd pray for me and nothing would happen. And it kind of starts to get discouraging after a while, when, like, they're praying for someone and someone's like, yes, i feel great, thank you. And they walk away and they're like, oh, let's go back to Steven. They pray and you really begin to think like something, what's wrong with me? and Then there came a point, though We've been probably praying for an hour or two even, and someone began to walk up to me. It was actually my friend's dad. He starts to walk up to me and I don't know if you've ever experienced this like you. Just feel like whatever's about to happen, like it's gonna be like a God moment, like someone. He was walking up to me and I felt so deeply convicted that whatever he was about to say next was from God himself. And it was like listen up, real good. And he came up to me and all he said Was Steven Lee, not on your own understanding and trust in the Lord with all your heart, which is Proverbs 3, 5. And in that moment, hearing that and really feeling strong like this, was God, god, saying Steven, i want to do something in your life and I know you don't believe I can do it. It's not in your realm of possibilities and knowledge, but would you trust in me and let me do what I want to do? And I made a decision. I was like all right, what do I have to lose? God, if you want to do something, do it. And what happened next was crazy. I, okay, yes, god, do it. Boy. I do not understand this. I don't have a theology for this. I couldn't tell you those Bible verses that the save my life at that point. But what happened? I felt really like strong but weak at the same time. And so I remember sitting down on the floor because it just I'm so weak and I sat down on the floor And what happened was like this outer body experience. It was like I was walking with God. It was crazy, it was overwhelming. I never wanted it to end, but when it did end, so what happened? And so you were filled with the spirit, i said, well, that was crazy. I don't even have a box for that. I don't have to go home and like study this forever, because this makes no sense, because, like many of you, i Like to be able to study and understand and hold in my hands, and I couldn't do that with this experience. But as I walked away from that experience, that spiritual warfare was over, there was no more darkness, there was no more fear. The spirit that I had within me was not one of fear. I had boldness and I was able to walk in that boldness. We are meant, you and I, for action and adventure, because that's what Jesus has For us. But if we're gonna walk in that and walk in his mission, we need to have the power of the Holy Spirit.