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Rev. Dr. William A. LewisRev. Dr. William A. Lewis, June 10, 2018


June 10, 2018 More about the Holy Spirit

Ezekiel 37 Part 2

In The Message Rom 7:14 reads: “What I don’t understand about myself is I decide one way, but I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So, I can’t be trusted to figure out what’s best for my life and then do it. It’s obvious that God’s command is necessary. But I need something more, for though I know the law, I can’t keep it, as the power of sin in me keeps sabotaging my best intentions.”

The H.S. can assist you out of this trap. A friend told me he found the best way to deal with temptation-- give in to it. The problem with giving into temptation over and over is it becomes a habit, like a wagon that makes ruts in a road, it’s easier to just stay in the rut and continue to give in.

This is what happened to God’s people, they had gotten into a rut of sin: extreme promiscuity, idol worship, child sacrifice and the oppression of the poor and weak. God will tolerate disrespect, but when injustice against the poor and defenseless occurs, He gets involved. The Lord removed the Jews to Babylon. What’s amazing about our God is His judgment does not last forever. He is at the core, a restoring God of 2nd chances. He used the pagan kings Cyrus and Artaxerxes to send the Jewish people back to Jerusalem. However, God is a history major and knows when His people return to Jerusalem, it won’t be long before the pull to sin and pursuit of other gods will begin again—it’s the sinful nature.

Therefore, God offers them a heart transplant. No longer will their hearts be hard and cold to His love. When God gives us a new heart and spirit, it inclines us to respond to His love.

The sinful nature makes us incapable of responding to God’s love. Only God’s change of heart turns us away from self-destruction to abundant life. God breaks the power that holds our hearts in a death grip and because Jesus rose from the dead, He raises us up with Him to new life… again it is an inner inclination—the new you starts from within. You know this happened because you turn from having little interest in spiritual things to pursuing the relationship He insists upon.

There was a couple in the marriage counseling office for the first time and the therapist asked to identify the root of the problem. The wife responded, “It all started when we thought it would be cute to think up each other’s New Year’s Resolutions.” God is probably the best One to get advice from about improvements.
In the book “Enjoying God”, Lloyd Ogilve writes, “One of the most astounding achievements in ophthalmological surgery is the implanting of lens in a human eye. After a man had this surgery in both eyes he exclaimed, “How wonderful to have new eyes.” Eph 1:18 refers to “the eyes of our heart.” Before conversion, our inner eyes have cataracts blocking our vision. We can’t see ourselves or others correctly. Nor can we behold God’s true nature. We’re spiritually blinded. Conversion begins the healing of our heart-eyes by removing the spiritual cataracts. This means we understand what the cross means for our forgiveness. However, we still don’t perceive all the Lord has planned for us and the power offered to us. We still need a supernatural lens implant in the eyes of our heart.

Sometimes we come to church asking the Lord to fill us, but we’re full of other stuff, so there’s no room for God to fill or reshape us. In our country it’s illegal to be served with a dirty plate. Salad bars post signs the health department requires each time you step up to the buffet, you must get a clean plate. Yet we step up to God’s banquet with a dirty plate and wonder why we are not served. Jesus insists on a clean plate for everyone. At baptism He washes away the filth of sin and replaces it with His Holy Spirit. Consider Jesus’ ministry to a former prostitute, no problem, you’ll become an example of precious holy love. Former coward? You’ll become a legendary leader. Former skeptic? You’ll become the deepest of believers… clean plate/clean slate/new beginning.

Every one of the people who walked forward with Jesus were given a new identity: no left-over sins defining them, unwashed resentments were replaced with compassion, disappointments replaced with a vision from heaven. God gives us a new Spirit, dynamic, purpose, power. I was moved by Bill’s sermon a couple of weeks ago when he contrasted Paul’s ministry in Athens which was defined by words and Paul’s ministry in Corinth which was defined by the demonstration of the Spirit and power…
Someone asked for a clarification from last week’s sermon, I said the Holy Spirit did not come to give us special powers, but to give us Jesus. The Spirit revealed all that Jesus said and meant. John 15:26 “He will testify about Me.” John 16:14 “He will glorify Me and will take of Mine and disclose it to you.” Realize having Jesus is a supernatural experience. With Jesus comes supernatural power. The H.S. is not a spiritual toy that gives us a spiritual buzz. Some denominations believe if you do not manifest a supernatural tongue you are not really a Christian—no. But it would be a shame to go through your life and not experience the power of God, answered prayers, special encounters, healing someone… 18% of the gospels are about healing.

When we repent, we change the direction of our lives from self-centered to God focused. God’s power is released–which is the Holy Spirit changing our hard hearts to receive God’s love.
The next step is reshaping us from within: Jeremiah 18 “the potter didn’t patch up the vessel but reshaped it.” In Genesis 32, Jacob didn’t discuss theology with God, but wrestled with Him until he received a blessing.

The Canaanite woman didn’t accept Jesus’ suggestion that her daughter wasn’t an option for God’s healing, but fought for any crumbs from God’s table. There’s more to be had from God than just being saved and the Lord gets excited when we go after it.

This morning we have an opportunity to experience God’s reshaping power and guidance of Christ’s Spirit. There’s a three course Spiritual meal offered: First, the Bread of Life Jesus Christ—God in the flesh who came to save us from sin-- the main course. Then we enjoy the fruits of the Spirit, replacing our broken attitudes with God’s heart and mind. Then we wash it down with the Living Water of God’s grace, so we are never thirsty again…a meal that sustains for eternity. The Spirit brings life so don’t settle on the ordinary eat, sleep and work, routine where the same ole can drain the life out of you.

Robert Robinson 1735-1790 got saved under the ministry of George Whitfield. He even entered Christian ministry. But he still tended to wander from God. He wrote the hymn, “Come Thou Fount” as an autobiographical sketch. In stanza three he admits he has a daily debt to grace and asked God to help his wandering heart. “Jesus sought me when a stranger, wandering from the God I love, O to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be; Let thy goodness like a fetter bind my wandering heart to thee; Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love...” One day he was on a stagecoach and behaving in a manner that made a fellow passenger think he didn’t know Jesus. So, she shared her faith with him, quoting his own hymn saying, “These words might help you as they have helped me.” He began to sob, “Madam, I am the poor unhappy man who composed that hymn many years ago. I would give a thousand worlds to have those feelings again.”

When the Spirit inclines us to turn towards Jesus He doesn’t take our will away. If we choose to ignore the spiritual promptings they will be shoved to the back of our minds and we become callous.

Irresistible grace is not some sort of blind force which simply drags the struggling rebellious sinner into heaven against his will as a policeman might drag a rebellious prisoner to jail. This is not something that compels you to enter heaven if you would prefer not to.
Irresistible grace is God working within our hearts so the knee that would not bend does so happily, the heart that otherwise, would not care about God, suddenly does.

When I was a young man I had a construction job—no skills, just clean up. When I started pushing wheel barrows around and shoveling, my hands got blistered because I wasn’t used to that kind of work. But as time went on I formed calluses and my hands didn’t feel the rough work so much.

In a similar way God has given us hearts that are sensitive to His presence and leading. But if we continually resist the Spirit’s promptings our hearts become callused and we lose our sensitivity. The Spirit is still working in us to draw us toward the things of God, but our hearts have become unresponsive. When Jesus says, “Those who have ears to hear, let them hear” It’s not because they are hard of hearing, but because they are hard of listening. We used to live across from the train track-- You would hear the train but after a while, it just became background noise.

Hebrews 3:12 “See to it that none of you has a sinful unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.” Recently, I noticed I was not responding to certain situations as I knew God would want me to. So, I got on my knees and asked for forgiveness for getting calloused and pleaded for the Lord to refresh me with the Spirit.

Set your mind on the things of the Spirit… otherwise you will fill up your soul on junk food. Ex. if you watch T.V. at night till you fall asleep – you miss the chance to talk to God. If the floors in your house were dirt would the paths be worn out to your Bible and prayer spot or to your T.V. and computer?

In our spiritual life, we see the rut we are in, the way to get out of the rut is to focus on the things that feed life to our spirit. That is why Paul says in Phil. 4:8 “Whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy--think about such things.” If you are trying to be a good Christian on your own, stop and invite the Holy Spirit afresh to be the source and focus point of your soul.
A politician roared at the editor, “What do you mean by publicly insulting me in your paper? I demand an apology.” The editor answered, “The news item appeared exactly as you gave it to us. That you resigned as the city treasurer.” He replied, “It did, but where you put it is the problem, right under the heading ‘Public Improvements.’”

The only column we want to be under is H.S. Construction Projects.
My wife said I want the gift of tongues. I told her you’ll never get it… you’ll analyze it to death, over think it, try to control it with your superior mind—it’s just for dummies like me. There’s a certain letting go required to walking in the Spirit. The same with praying for healing—if you overthink it, you’ll doubt it can happen because medically & scientifically it is not possible.
A few weeks ago, a man came to church and told me when he was young he had an accident and gangrene was literally moving up his arm right before their eyes. The Dr. wanted to cut off the arm. All the while his Christian grandma was pacing on her kitchen floor praying until 2:20 in the morning when she finally gave it over to God and went to bed. Suddenly at 2:20 they watched the gangrene retreat from his arm till he was completely healed.

This is how the Spirit operates within us guiding us to what seems to be the opposite of common sense, yet it’s the exact will of God.
During WWII, a man in Sussex, England sent some money to the Scripture Gift Mission. He enclosed a letter saying he longed to give more, but the harvest on his farm has been very disappointing because of the lack of water. He was also fearful because German bombs were being dropped in the area and his family and farm were at risk. He asked the workers of Scripture Gift Mission to pray that no bombs would fall on his land.

Mr. Ashley Baker wrote back from the mission and said, “While he didn’t feel led to pray that exact prayer, he had prayed God’s will for their lives would prevail.” Shortly after, a huge German missile crashed down on the farm. None of the man’s family or livestock were harmed, but the bombshell went so far into the ground that it liberated a submerged stream which yielded enough water to irrigate the man’s farm as well as the neighboring farms. The next year, due to a bountiful harvest, the man was able to send a large offering to the mission. Sometimes even bombs are blessings, that fall from heaven and liberate something wonderful within us—streams of water that refresh us and draw us closer to Christ.
Most Seniors don’t get enough exercise. In His wisdom, God decreed that seniors become forgetful, so they would have to search for their glasses, keys and other things thus doing more walking. Then God in His wisdom, made seniors lose their coordination, so they would drop things, requiring them to bend, reach and stretch. Then God considered the function of the bladder and decided seniors would have additional calls of nature, requiring more trips to the bathroom thus providing more exercise. So, if you find as you age, you are getting up and down more remember it is God’s will so quit muttering under your breath!
When I was a chaplain at the U.C.L.A. Medical center I encountered someone who just received a heart transplant. I asked what does it feel like to have someone else’s heart beating in you? He said, I often feel like another person is inside of me, another life wrapped in mine. Friends that is how it is for us, just as Paul said in Galatians 2:20 “I am crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.”
Jesus is your heart donor and yes, someone had to die in order for you to receive it… He did. Your new heart comes from Jesus whose cross was the spiritual surgery you desperately needed to overcome this sinful world and enjoy life with God. The Spirit of the Man now lives alongside of/inside of you. It is the Spirit of God—God is always with you! Intentionally activate His presence.

Source: Mike Wilkins, Joe Harding, Greg Buchner

About Rev. Dr. William A. Lewis: Rev. Dr. William Lewis has been the Senior Pastor of Community Presbyterian Church in Celebration since 2009. Whether at a traditional service, praise service, or the more casual Thursday night service, you’ll find that Pastor William’s preaching brings the Word of God to life D.Min. McCormick Theological Seminary Th.M. Princeton Theological Seminary M.Div. Fuller Theological Seminary B.A. University Colorado
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