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  • Writer's picturePastor Jeff Needleman

Holy Empowerment! Text & Video (Live from Church)

Holy Empowerment

They were a small group & they were afraid. Fright overtook them & in that panic they isolated & hid behind locked doors. The authorities had taken away their leader & executed Him. They were terrified; could they next? Yet they’d witnessed their leader heal the sick & infirm. They’d seen Him stand up to the politicians & keepers of the law & willingly sacrificed himself for them. They were eyewitnesses as He performed miracle after miracle, & spoke wisdom that could only be God-given. Even so, in their fear their faith wavered. Even so, Jesus came to them. Even so, Jesus gave them comfort & direction. Even so, He gave them the Holy Spirit. & shortly afterward, following Js’ instructions & under the Holy Spirit indwelt power, they came out of hiding & proclaimed His name. These were Jesus’s disciples.

Today at PC3 Univ, we’ll take short survey course in Pneumatology! Pneuma is GK for wind, air, or Spirit, (w/ a capital “S”) & ology means to study. Pneumatology is the study of the Holy Spirit which helps us understand who He is & what His does for us.

The last time I preached on the Holy Spirit, someone came up to me & said: Jeff, that was a very good message." I told her that I had to give the credit to the Holy Spirit. She responded: "It wasn't THAT good!" Let’s start with Js’ 1st appearance to them on Easter in

Jn 20:19-22 NLT That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors becuz they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! Peace be with you he said. As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands & his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! Again he said, Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” Then he breathed on them & said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.

50 days after that, on Pentecost, the gift of the Holy Spirit became available to all who chose to believe in & accept Jesus as Lord & Savior. & that remains true 2000 years later. Now there’s good reason to study the Holy Spirit because He plays a prominent in the Bible. He was an active part in Jesus’ life. , He played, plays & will play major roles in our world & in our lives & is an integral part of our triune faith.

But too often there are many misconceptions & unbiblical perceptions about the Holy Spirit’s identity, mission, roles & functions. In misunderstanding there are those who look upon Him as an errand boy subject to their beck & call, their whims & prayer requests. To others the Holy Spirit as an impersonal power or a mystical force given to us from God – as in “use the force Luke”. This stuff is just not Biblical. Pneumatology use Scripture to study the Holy Spirit & clear up & clarify the Biblical roles He plays in our lives & helps us know & appreciate the 3rd Person of the Trinity.

So 1st understand that the Holy Spirit is an individual member of the Trinity with His own personality, mind, will & emotions, just like The Father & The Son! He’s not an also ran which becomes apparent when we read that the Holy Spirit chooses who gets what Spiritual Gift’s in: 1Co 12:11 NIV All these are the work of 1 & the same Spirit, & He gives them to each 1, just as He determines. & then connect that with Eph 4:30-31 NIV And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

1 of my college text books tells a story of a Pastor Kinlaw who helped a successful businessman accept Jesus as Lord & Savior. This businessman wasn’t well versed in Christianese jargon at all & kept calling the Holy Spirit the spook.

He kept telling the Pastor about what the Spook had shown him, how the Spook impressed him to do this, & how the Spook guided him to do that. He didn’t have the… terminology… the words to explain who it was that came beside him! But Jesus does in: Jn 14:16-19 NIV & I will ask the Father, & he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you & will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.

Wow! He lives with us & within us! Js’ words hold tremendous impact for believers. “Another Counselor” means that the Holy Spirit is Js' personal replacement on earth. The Greek word Jesus used to name the Holy Spirit means counselor, helper, encourager, comforter &/or 1 who intercedes for us like an advocate does in court. This is the Holy Spirit who gives us hidden strengths that non-believers can’t see or understand.

God is closer than ever- He lives with us & within us, He indwells us & guides, reminds & personally teach us just as Jesus said in: Jn 14:25-27 NIV "All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things & will remind you of everything I have said to you.

When we receive salvation by accepting Jesus as Lord & Savior, the Holy Spirit has a permanent place in the lives & hearts of all believers. He’s now inexhaustibly, readily & constantly available to help us with behavior & offers guidance to live lives more pleasing to God! We read in:

Eph1:13-14 NIV & you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit... And In: Ro 8:9-11 NLT But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (& remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.) And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you….

The Bible tells us there are many things the Holy Spirit does for us- if we let Him- if we listen, & if we’re obedient. & I know these promises are true from personal experience.

So, there are whole University courses on Pneumatology, so even though we can only glance at just a few of His ministries this morning, know that’s their only a small part of what the Holy Spirit does! So here’s a short lightning round overview.

1st -God hasn’t abandoned the world to its sinful condition-yet, although that may be changing as we speak. Even so, the Holy Spirit is still ministering to the world. We read in Jn16:7-11 that He convicts the world of its wrongdoing & sin. & we were the world with stubborn, unrepentant hearts before we turned to God & found new life in Jesus Christ.

2nd The Holy Spirit shows the world, & us- what righteousness- right living- looks like. When we’re convicted & turn back to God, the Holy Spirit cleans us up spiritually! He sets us apart from the rest of the world, & makes us His own! We read in

1 Co 6:11 NIV But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ & by the Spirit of our God.

& the Holy Spirit will guide us in all truth as we learn in: Jn 16:13-14 NIV But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, & he will tell you what is yet to come. The Holy Spirit enlightens & clarifies God’s direction & will for us. He helps us be more effective in His Kingdom by granting us spiritual wisdom, & knowledge & understanding of truth.

But how do we recognize the Spirit’s guidance? How do we discern between our own thoughts & the Holy Spirit’s leading? We start with prayer & listening & studying God’s Word! & then the Holy Spirit whispers to us through our inner voice or impressions, our conscience, or other people. But, as I do, always check with your accountability partners & reality checkers, & ALWAYS hold all things up against the light of Scripture!

Next up, & of great comfort- we can ask the Holy Spirit to plead & intercede before God the Father for all our concerns, needs, goals & problems. & He offers us comfort in times of trials, troubles, tribulations, tempests, temptations & hardship! We read in: Ro 8:26-27 NIV In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will. & the tough part is waiting on His guidance before we act! & there’s more!

We’ll also find that the Holy Spirit refreshes us through love & hope: Ro 5:5 NIV "& hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." That’s an AMEN because hope & love are what we need in a lonely, dark, confusing & scary world.

Which brings me to my next point. Have you ever wondered what holds humanity back from total widespread evil, depravity, immorality & corruption? & why aren’t there more tyrants, murders, thievery & riots then we’ve experienced? Look, it a false sense of security thinking locked doors will protect us when it’s way easy to break into our homes through glass windows.

I’m comforted knowing & grateful to the Holy Spirit for restraining evil as we read in: 2Th 2:6-7 & now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the 1 who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. The “he” being held back is the man of lawlessness- the anti-Christ, whom Satan works through to harm us. But, the devil doesn’t have complete freedom… he’s restrained by the Holy Spirit! However, things will go from bad to worse to much worse as the restraining influence of the Holy Spirit is taken out of the way.

I look at the current situation of our world & I truly wonder if even now the Holy Spirit is loosening His grip. In our own country divisiveness is growing & we find widespread & increasing lawlessness, immorality & abuses. Anti-Xian & Anti-Semitic bias * prejudice is growing at an insane rate. Our gov’t leaders & judges are running amok with & corrupted by their authority… I believe that these are just the tip of the iceberg.

But take heart & trust God! As the Holy Spirit ends His restraint of evil in the world, He’ll empower us to become His witnesses & enable us to withstand persecution, torture & death. We can rely on the Holy Spirit to be the source & foundation of our courage & strength. We read in:

Mk 13:11 NIV Whenever you are arrested & brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit enabled the very 1st Christian martyr, Stephen to face death with dignity & composure. Please read about it in: Ac 7:55-58

I find it fun to describe the Holy Spirit as a type of Iron Man suit… an exo-skeleton that empowers & enables us do that which we couldn’t do in our own power! If you’re thinkin’ “gotta get me 1 of them’” see me after the service! I’ll give ya a good deal! The deal of a century! The deal of your LIFETIME!

Earlier I mentioned Pentecost - which is today! Pentecost is a multi-purpose holiday occurring in both the Xian & HB calendars. It’s the Jewish Holiday of Shavuot, or Feast of Weeks- that just ended yesterday. It’s GK name is Pentecost because it falls 50 days after Passover. Shavout celebrates 2 major Old Testament events. 1st, God called for a festival to celebrate the harvest using bread & 1st Fruits as gratitude offerings! It’s no coincidence that Jesus is our bread of life, & Xians are called 1st Fruits at least 4X in the NT. But catch this undeniable symbolism as Jesus says to his disciples in:

Mt 9:35 "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." Now let’s read about the harvest of souls in: Ac 2:1-4 NIV When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in 1 place [The Temple]. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven & filled the whole house [of God] where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated & came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit & began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them

It was crazy! Foreign speaking Jews from around the world came to Jerusalem for Shavout. Those within hearing range heard the Apostles speaking in their own languages. They were “amazed & perplexed” but some made fun of them for being drunk. But we know better…they were infused with the Holy Spirit. Peter stood up & said no, no they’re not drunk & delivered the very 1st church sermon. Let’s read:

Ac 2:15-16 NIV It's only 9 in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 'In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. He then tells them about Jesus & we read in:

Ac 2:37-40 NIV When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart & said to Peter & the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" Peter replied, "Repent & be baptized, every 1 of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit...Those who accepted his message were baptized, & about 3000 were added to their number that day.

For Christians, Pentecost is the celebration of the birth of the X Church & of the Holy Spirit’s arrival! Happy birthday Church!

Oh- did I forget to tell you about the other event Shavout commemorates? It celebrates the giving of the Word of God, the 10 commandments on Mt. Sinai through Moses! Bam… what a holiday!

1st the Word Of God was given to us externally written on stone tablets. But God tells us of a future date in:Jer 31:33-34 that ESV I will put my law within them, & I will write it on their hearts. & I will be their God, & they shall be my people. Bam! What a holiday! The day God’s law moves from outside us to within us through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit! AMEN?

So, to sum up, the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, is the 3rd Person of the Trinity & fully divine. He inspired holy men to write the Scriptures. He enables us to understand truth & the revealed Word of God. He glorifies & exalts Christ. The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, judgment & of righteousness. He calls pre-Christians to a belief & salvation in Jesus Messiah, & brings us to Spiritual & often times Emotional renewal.

At the moment we accept Jesus as our Lord & Savior, the moment of our rebirth, the Holy Spirit baptizes every believer into the Body of Christ. He cultivates Christian character, comforts believers, & bestows the spiritual gifts by which we serve God through His church.

He helps bring the believer into the fullness & image of being Christ-like as we follow Jesus. He enlightens & empowers the believer & the church in worship, evangelism, & service. He is with us as believers, until the day of final redemption. & without Him, we’d be like defenseless babies in a scary, dangerous & confusing world.

The more we learn to trust & depend on the Holy Spirit, the more we stop & take the time to check in with Him & follow His guidance, the more peace, comfort & joy we’ll find in this life. & the more we listen & follow Him the more effective we’ll be in accomplishing God’s will for our lives & for His Kingdom.

Again, if you would like your very own Holy Spirit Iron Man suit… just contact me! We’ll trade in your old life for a brand new in Christ!

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