Chris Hodges - Be Filled with the Spirit
All right, so good to see all of you here today in church. Anybody glad to be here today? Anybody? Come on, give Jesus a great praise together. I love it. Ha, ha, that's awesome. And a big hello to all of our locations. We are one church at 23 locations. I always like to take just a moment and look in the camera and just make sure you guys know that I love you, pray for you every day. And I know you've had an amazing worship experience on your own at your location, but now we are just one church listening to one message. And to the men and women in the Alabama Department of Corrections, I hope you guys never get tired of us saying this, what a joy and an honor it is to bring all that we are as a church into more than 20 of the facilities across the state of Alabama.
We love you guys. And to all that are watching online somewhere, we're grateful for the miracle of technology. We're glad you have that option. There's nothing like being in the room, but we're so glad that you're with us today. Grants Mill, would you do me a favor and come on give them a good hand? Make them feel welcome. Come on, do it a little better. You can do it. That's awesome. All right. We're in week number two of a four-part series that's called, "By My Spirit," and I'll explain that in just a moment. But if you've been a part of Highlands for any amount of time, you know that we normally, in the month of August, we focus on a series similar to this around power, or prayer, or the Holy Spirit, to kind of pull us out of what I call the summer slump, you know.
Sometimes we take vacations, and sometimes our spiritual life takes a vacation, as well. And as we move into historically what is usually a harvest season, a season where a lot of people come to faith in Jesus, and I always love to just pull the church together for prayer and a series like this. And let's just make sure our spiritual lives are stirred. So, every year for 20 years we've also coupled this series or a series like this with what we call "21 Days of Prayer," and I know most of you know what that's all about. But for those of you that are new today, I met some people that are visiting here for the very first time, and we're so delighted that you're here. But if you're new to our church, twice a year I call the church together for prayer, to really just go after God with all of our hearts. And we're in that season.
This first week, I'm gonna tell you, it blew my mind, honestly, the participation, the number of people who showed up at all of our locations at 6:00 in the morning. It never ceases to amaze me to see the traffic coming in at 6:00 in the morning at these locations, while people just seek God with all their heart. And if you're able to come, we're here every morning, Monday through Friday at 6 o'clock, Saturday at 9 o'clock Central. And, of course, if you can't come physically, we're streaming that live. You can set up a tablet perhaps in the kitchen while you're getting kids ready for school, or whatever you're doing, getting ready for work, but we're just inviting you to pray with us. Let's seek God with all of our hearts. And if that time does not work for you, we stream it on demand for 24 hours.
So, you can go find the time that's right for you to pray with us. But would you join us, please? If you call this place home, I'm inviting you to step into this, and for a simple reason, and that is we seek God because we need God. I said we seek God because we need God. Amen everybody? I, honestly, and I'm not floating your boat, this is not hype. I've never needed him more than I need him right now. I need him in my family, the decisions, the ability to lead, for our church, for our culture. I'm, honestly guys, I'm more desperate for the move of God in our lives. I know what I'm able to do, and it's not enough. And I know what you're able to do, and God bless you, but it's not enough. We need God. Could I hear a good amen, everybody?
So, would you please just join us in whatever way works for you? And that really sets up what this series is all about. I felt like, as I was praying for this year and this August, our focus, this verse just came to mind over and over. It's a prophecy in the Old Testament about the New Testament church, and here's how it goes. "This is the word of the LORD. Not by might," that means human might, "not by power," and that means human power, "but by my Spirit". And that's a very interesting word in the Hebrew. The word Spirit, it's ruach in the Hebrew, and it literally means it's this unseen force. It literally translates, and it doesn't translate well into English, it translates "the breath of God". And it doesn't translate well because it's not the word "breath". It is breath.
So, literally translated, you'd have to go... That would be the word. It's not the word. It's the power behind the word, that we need something beyond human ability, human power. We need the breath of God, the power of God. In the New Testament, that same word power or spirit is the word pneuma. Same word, it means wind. It's the breath of God. It's something that's propelling me. And when it does, it moves me in ways that I could never have moved on my own. So, throughout this series, we're talking about what does it look like to live a Spirit-empowered life? What does it look like when we're living in a way that's by the Spirit of God? So, last week I talked about Spirit-filled prayer. Today, I'm gonna talk about the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Next week, we're gonna talk a little bit about the holiness, and the fear of the Lord, and the work that he does deep on the inside of us, and the posture that we take, that really what the Holy Spirit is here to do is to put a holy spirit on the inside of us. And then we're going to finish it by talking about the gifts of the Spirit and the fact that he wants to supernaturally enable you to do something that will impact other people's lives. But here's a verse that I wanted to start off with today. And the Bible says in 1 Corinthians that "the kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk". And for a lot of people... don't take this the wrong way, but for a lot of people, that is all it is. It's ideas, it's a belief system, it's a "I believe this," and some follow that, but really nothing's happened on the inside of people.
So, there's a lot of people who believe or have a belief system, but they need more of that. They need to live by God's power. And there's that word again. In fact, in the New Testament, that word power is the word in the Greek dunamis, where we get the English word dynamite, and it means something explosive. It literally means supernatural ability and supernatural strength. So, the question of the day is how do we live that kind of Spirit-powered life. What does that look like? And there's really one verse that I want you to see, and I'm gonna try to unpack the rest of the message. It's gonna be the last sentence Jesus would ever say on planet Earth, which I would submit to you is pretty important. So, he said a lot. He had 33 years of life. We have four gospels recording his teachings.
Of course, he came to pay for sins. But if you know anything about his story, after he was resurrected on Easter, he spent about 40 days kind of just appearing in his glorified body to his disciples, giving final instructions. He would, on the 40th day, go to the top of what's called the Mount of Olives. And it's the place, that if you've ever seen a picture of the old city of Jerusalem, and you see the gold dome, normally, it's taken from that spot. There's an olive grove. The garden of Gethsemane is at the bottom of it. And at the top of it, that's where Jesus would spend his last seconds on earth. And he had what in theology we call the great ascension, which, by the way, that's the same place where his feet will come back on the second coming of Christ, which I believe can happen in any moment.
But when he was there, he has his last sentence. And you've gotta imagine with me. If this is the last sentence, you would have to think it would be pretty important. And here's what he said. He said, "But you're going to receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you". And it goes on to say, "So, you can be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth". But you've gotta have power. In fact, he told his three-year trained disciples, "Don't do anything until you get the power of God working on the inside of you". Now, he says it's going to happen when the Holy Spirit comes on you.
Now, for a lot of Christians, for 2,000 years, a lot of Christians experienced the person of the Holy Spirit. But for a lot of Christians, this is still probably the most vague part of Christianity. So, we understand salvation, we understand Jesus, we understand God the Father. There's so much we understand. But when it comes to the Holy Spirit, there's still a lot of confusion. Even in the Bible, if you were to read the rest of the book of Acts, you will see that they're just constantly trying to get people in a relationship with the third person of the Godhead, the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. And there's still confusion to this day, and I'm gonna do my very best to put aside all the confusion and all the things that are misunderstandings, and all the fear and the resistance and to whet your appetite to get to know the person of the Holy Spirit. That's my job today.
So, there are story, after story, after story, after story in the New Testament. I picked two of them that show how this is something that God wants for all of our lives. Here's Acts chapter 19. And it says that "When Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at," a city where he planted a church, "in Ephesus". It's where we get the book of Ephesians. It says, "And there he found some disciples". So, those are Christians, disciples. And he asked them, "Hey, I know you got saved, but are you still growing in your faith? Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became a believer"? And they said, "We haven't even heard about that". And it's funny to me because thousands of years later, there are people that are saved, they're going to heaven, but they still don't know anything about the Holy Spirit.
So, Paul asks, "Then what baptism did you receive"? And a baptism means an immersion. What are you being immersed in right now? And they said, "Well, we've had John's. We're John's baptism, a baptism of repentance". And that's, of course, the baptism of water. To which Paul said, "That's great, that's a good one. In fact, that's the most important one, because that's the one that gets you into heaven". But "He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is in Jesus. And on hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul placed his hands on them," they experienced something else. "The Holy Spirit came on them". And remember, that's the condition for us to live the Spirit-empowered life. You're going to receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you.
So, you see, Paul making sure people understand this relationship. "And they spoke in tongues, and prophesied". Let me show you another one in Acts chapter 8. "Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Christ there". So, he's preaching. "And when they believed as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and in the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized". Again, that's salvation. "Both men and women. And when the apostles in Jerusalem heard a bunch of people got saved in Samaria, they accepted the word of the Lord, they sent Peter and John to them. And when they arrived, they prayed for them, that they might receive even more, the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon them. They had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. And then Peter and John placed their hands on them".
And again, the condition for us to live this Spirit-empowered life, they received the Holy Spirit, to which people say, "Then why doesn't God just put it all in one package"? And I'm going to explain that to you. Because God wanted salvation to be so simple, and nothing you do to get it. Salvation is a free gift, not of any kind of work that you can do. You receive Jesus, and you are saved. But listen to me. That's not the end of your spiritual journey. That's the beginning of your spiritual journey. And I've got news for you. God has more for you. And I have this desire just to whet your appetite for this hunger. Like, I have what I need to go to heaven, but there still is more for us.
So, I want to illustrate it with a story. And I'll start it by saying it's probably obvious to you that I love food. I mean, come on now. I have a lot of tension on this button right now. It could kill anybody on the front row right now. If it releases, they're dead. So, and I like it 'cause I'm a foodie. Where are the foodies at? Foodies, foodies, foodies. There they are. And foodies, foodies are unique. Foodies, the non-foodies, they eat to live, but foodies live, can I get a better amen, somebody, right?
Like, I just, my wife and I, we plan our vacations based on what restaurants we want to go to. It starts with the food places, and then we find the city. It's not the city first. Like, we love, we love to eat. And I have people, organic type people always in my face like, "You know, that's gonna kill you, you know". And they, like, "You know, I only eat organic food". I was like, "You know what? You gonna die, too, but you're just gonna have a nasty taste on your mouth when you do. I'll be the guy in the box with a smile on his face". Come on, somebody. A little glaze on my lips. That's all right with me. I just don't mind that. So, Tammy and I have this place in Atlanta that we deeply love. It's an Italian place. We were there on vacation, and they got recommended by the hotel concierge. I was looking for a place to go eat, and he said, "Dude, you gotta try this. Trust me". And so, I said that sounds great. You never know when that happens.
And so, we called an Uber, and the Uber brought us to this restaurant. And when we got there, there's no sign. It doesn't look like a restaurant. In fact, it looks like a house. It looks like, it just looks like an apartment building type, built in the '60s or '70s. It has that '60s, '70s vibe going on like... and I told the Uber driver, "This is not it". He goes, "Oh, no, this is it". I said, "Are you sure"? And we walked into a lobby that had no restaurant signs anywhere, just looks like you're in a hotel lobby or an apartment complex lobby. And there's this little black sign with an arrow pointing. It just said, "Restaurant". And we followed this little, old hallway to this elevator that went down. And I didn't even realize there was a basement. It was a floor, we were at the ground level, and this thing's now gonna go down to the basement. It's real small.
So, we got in there, still kind of confused, not sure if this is gonna be good or not. And that door opened. And y'all, you could tell right when you walked out, "Now, this is gonna be all right". It just looked like they knew what they were doing, and the place was packed. It was this underground restaurant, and the place was packed. And there were people with business suits on. You could tell deals were being made everywhere. And every table completely packed. Waiting, there were people waiting in line to get into this place. And y'all, when I saw that menu, I wanted everything on it. Y'all ever been there? Like, I need to spend the rest of my life right here, you know? And can I tell you these brothers can cook some Italian food. I honestly, I think, Tammy and I looked across the table, just stared at each other like, "I think I'm having the best bite that has ever been in my mouth. This is incredible".
And so now we plan vacations to go get us a little 24-hour vacation, go stay at a hotel just so we can eat at this place. Well, about three years ago, I'm at a conference, and I'm one of the speakers, and Louie Giglio and Shelley Giglio were there, as well. They were one of the speakers. But someone other than us was speaking. We weren't listening to the sermon. We were having this conversation about food 'cause I found out they're foodies. And I said, "Brother, have you ever been to this restaurant"? And I described this restaurant in Atlanta. Well, he's born and raised in Atlanta. Like, and then when I said it, he says, "Dude, I'm from Atlanta". I said, "Have you ever heard of this place"? He goes, "No, I've never heard of that place". And I said, "You have got to try it". And he rolled his eyes at me like, "You gonna tell me where to eat in my town? I don't think so".
You know, he's kind of gave me that, "Bro, don't tell me. I know my town". And I said, "Louie, look at me. Like you want to go here. Trust me, brother, you want to go here". And he kind of was a little reluctant, you could tell. It's like, "Ah, do I trust this guy"? But you know, he knew. I'm a Cajun. I mean, eating is an Olympic sport in South Louisiana. Come on, everybody. And so, I said, "Brother, trust me. This is a great place". "All right, all right". I said, "And when you do, text me. I mean, I want to know. In fact, ahead of time, you're welcome. You're gonna thank me". And sure enough, a few weeks later, he and Shelley went and tried this restaurant. And late at night, I got this text. "Brother, best food I've ever found in Atlanta. This is my new favorite place in Atlanta. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you". And I said, "You're welcome. I told you. You're welcome".
And I'm here to tell y'all, there's a place with God that does not look like you even want to go there on the outside. And it's closer than you think. In fact, that restaurant was within walking distance of Louie's house, and he never knew it was there. And there are things that God has for you that is in walking distance, that you don't even know is there. And God is inviting you into a deeper part. And you're going to say, "Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you", if you ever find it. And I'm actually trying the best I can to hold this tease out there. Guys, God has more for you. Praise God for our salvation. Praise God that our sins are paid for. You're going to heaven, if you receive Jesus as your Lord, but that's not the end. That is the beginning. He wants to change your life. He wants to empower your life. He has gifts for you. He has a work he wants to do on the inside of you, and it comes through the person of the Holy Spirit. Are you listening to me, church?
And I'm doing everything I can to get you to have some confidence, to go to a place, even though it's in your town, and some of you are rolling your eyes at me, thinking, "You don't know. I've been doing this my whole life. I've been in church my whole life". Well, maybe that's your problem. 'Cause our God has more. In Ephesians chapter 4 the Bible says, "Don't grieve God". Which begs the question, "What grieves God"? What grieves God? Where does God get grieved when he thinks about his church? And this letter was written not to unbelievers, but to Christians. Don't grieve God. Well, how do you grieve God? "Don't break his heart". Well, he's getting ready to tell you. His Holy Spirit wants to move and breathe on the inside of you. It's the most intimate part, let me say it this way, it can be "the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don't take that gift for granted".
And I maintain so many do. It's like having a Christmas morning, trees full of presents. And the first one, you open it up. You open it. It's beautiful. It's called salvation. It's the best one. It's the most important one. But we left all these other ones unopened under the tree. We call this church, Church of the Highlands, 20 years ago, so that all of us, the pastor included, could be on this constant pursuit of all that God has for us, so that we could go to what we call higher heights in God, because God has more. I just want you to hear that. God has more. What is the more? It tells us in the next chapter 'cause the dialog continues. "Be filled with the Spirit". And remember, it's when you're filled with the Spirit that you have the powerful life that God desires for all of us. So, that's the inspiration.
Now let me give you the steps. I'm a practical guy. I'm doing everything I can to say, "Hey, go on the journey. Don't be satisfied with a few Sundays every year and just getting into heaven". God has more for you. And if you ever found it, you're going to text me. You're going to go, "Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you". 'Cause it'll change your life. And those that believe it or have already gone through it, can you say a good amen, everybody? It's 'cause it's true, it's true.
So, here's how. If you want to take steps like that, here's the first step, and that is we do have to remove barriers that keep us from all that God has for us. And there are some, even among Christians. So, some of them are your fault, and some of them are not your fault. Some of you guys have had bad church experiences. For a lot of people that are turned off by the Holy Spirit, it's not the Holy Spirit that they're turned off by. They're turned off by the packaging that some use while they were trying to give people the Holy Spirit. I'm one of those. I couldn't stand, I didn't want it to be weird. In fact, it doesn't have to be weird or goofy, because he's not weird or goofy. And some have just made it where, like, "I just don't think I want that. If that's what they're offering, I don't think that I want that".
And I don't blame you, but don't let it keep you from the things of God. I was actually raised in a Baptist church. Some of you know my story. I've never missed a Sunday in church in my life. I've always been... I love church. I've never not loved church, honestly. I didn't know God while I was going, but I really enjoyed the church experience. My parents were very involved. Mom sang in the choir. Dad played organ at the church for more than 30 years. And it was a great experience, but I'll never forget, at 12 years old, our church, the church I grew up in, had a church split, and they were splitting over the Holy Spirit. The Holy Ghost, they called it back then. It was the Holy Ghost. And there were some that were like, "I think this is the direction we should go in," and there was a whole other half, and it all played out one Wednesday night at a business meeting.
If you don't know what a business meeting is, you are blessed and highly favored of the Lord. Can I tell you? Just ask about this, they'll tell you, all right? 'Cause this is where you have a short, little service, sing a song or two, hear a short message, and then the fight is on. Let's get ready to rumble. I mean, here we go. And they're on both sides, and there's a mic, and they vote on everything, you know, 'cause they have congregational rule. I mean, when they want to change the carpet, I mean, you have the brown carpet versus the blue carpet, and they'll fight you over it. But it's everything. It's horrible. Right? It's horrible.
And I saw this, and I'm a little 12-year-old watching this fight go on. And the first guy up at the mic gets up there, and he says, "I just think we need to stay away from that Ghost. We need to stay away from them Ghost people". And that was all he said. And he had me in. I'm like, "I've never liked ghosts. I'm with you, bro. I'm on your side. I run from... I'm on the no Ghost side". And that became my doctrinal position because of one man's testimony. Now, you fast forward about three years, and my life's miserable. I'm not only not a Christian, and I think I am, but every part of my life is falling apart. Every part of my life is falling apart. And I got saved, which is great, I found out. I thought I was recommitting my life to Jesus. I know now I was getting saved for the very first time 'cause I never knew him.
But a few weeks later, people are saying, "And there's more". And then they said, "You need to receive the Holy Spirit". I was like, "No, I know about that part. That ain't happenin'". And they said, like, "No, I think you'd like this". But these people were normal, and I slowly kind of just put my toe in the water, a little bit at a time. And I'm just here to tell you, over 40 years later, thank God I know the person of the Holy Spirit. Because you'll be clothed with power whenever you receive the Holy Spirit. That's just a fact. And God wants you to live a powerful life. The truth is we tend to avoid what we're afraid of or what we do not understand. And please do not let that be the barrier to you receiving all the things of God. Amen, everybody?
In fact, let me tell you this. If it's good, and it's perfect, it comes from God. Let me say it this way. There's nothing that God has for you that is not good or perfect, and you can trust him. So, what do we do? For some of us, we need to repent. We've offended God by our doctrinal positions, our fear, our resistance, our apathy. It's like, "No, God, I know you have more, but I'm just gonna keep an arm's distance. I need enough to get into heaven". And I'm gonna tell you it offends God. We need to "Repent, be baptized, take steps, every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins, and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit". And this is not just for a few, and this is not just for the ones in the Bible. "This promise is for you, your children, and for all who are far off, for all whom the Lord our God will call". And that includes you.
Let's take a step toward God. Let's repent. And then here's the second step, and that is we need to ask God to give us all that he has for us. Like, I'm asking you to ask God, "God, if you have it, I want it". Because I want to make a declaration that is absolutely true. All that we have is not all that God has. Y'all didn't get that, or you'd have said a little louder amen. All that we currently have, myself included, is not all that God has. So, what do we do? We say, "God, I want to stay on this journey to higher heights. I want all that you have for my life", and I'm inviting you to pray a prayer that for some of you feels dangerous to pray, because you've become comfortable in your position, and you're not receiving the divine encounter that God has for all of us.
I love this prophecy in Ezekiel. To me, it just, it kind of pulls me in. It's a beautiful one, and it's a picture story Ezekiel saw about the New Testament church. He said, "A man went eastward with a measuring line in his hand, and he measured off a thousand cubits and he led me through water that was ankle-deep". I would submit to you that's salvation. So, like, you're in. Like, you're clearly in the river. You're in the family. You're in the family of God. You're wet, but you're not fully immersed, you're not baptized yet, like, immersed in God, but you've got enough to get to heaven. But "He measured off another thousand cubits and led me through water that was knee-deep". So, for some of you, that's gonna be, "I'm gonna get in a group. I'm gonna maybe serve on a Dream Team. I'm not just gonna come every once in a while. I'm gonna kind of jump into church life". But there's more still. "He measured off another thousand and led me through water that was up to the waist".
Now, if you've ever been in water up to your waist in a river, you can start to feel the current. It's pulling you into a place that you really, don't think you really want to go. And so, you take a bracing posture now. 'Cause I love kind of being in the deeper things of God, but I still want to be in control, God. Now, look in my eyes. That's a dangerous place to be. So many of you guys have entrenched yourself in the place you are currently right now, and that's dangerous. First of all, you're missing all of God, and you're rejecting the very middle of the will of God, that God has for you, that requires you to be out of control. But we brace. I'll give you some examples. And I'm not trying to... I'm just trying to pull you into the deeper things of God.
Some of you know the Bible says, "Clap your hands, all you people. Shout unto God with a voice of triumph". But that's not how I worship. The Bible says, "I want men to lift up holy hands in prayer, without wrath or doubting. Lift your hands in the sanctuary and bless the Lord". "No, that's all right. This is my style". And God's going, "But there's more". And for some of us, we entrenched ourselves in our current position, and you're gonna go to heaven, you're gonna be fine, but you're never gonna see the view from the top. You're never gonna see the things that really God has for you. And, oh, by the way, and we don't mind doing all of those on Saturday in our other congregation called Bryant-Denny Stadium, and our campus down at Jordan-Hare Stadium, right? Like, we'll go all the way down there. Woo-hoo! Wah-ha! Woo! For a piece of leather that's being brought up and down a field by a bunch of 20-year-olds who don't even know your name.
But we have a God who created you on Sunday, that deserves more praise than anything we give on a Saturday. But it's time to pull them out. "Like, I don't lift my hands". Well, try it. You'll see that you'll actually like it. And by the way, I didn't write the Bible. God did. He put 150 chapters of how he likes to be worshiped in the largest book of the Bible. And I think it's dangerous to be a waist-deep Christian, bracing, feeling the current, but refusing to go there. But "He measured off another thousand, and now I'm in the middle, and it becomes a river that I can't even cross". Why? 'Cause the current's got me now. God's taking me where he wants to go. Because the water had risen, and it was deep enough to swim in, "a river that no one could cross".
I'll never forget, when I was 15 years old, somebody invited me to a church like this, and I loved it. They were worshiping, and I thought, "I think I like this. I think I really like this". And I gave my life to Jesus. You know my testimony. I gave my life to Jesus. And like, every Sunday, I just kind of went a little deeper. I'll never forget the first Sunday I decided to actually lift my hands in church. Everybody was doing it, but I thought everybody was watching me. They're not, by the way, just FYI. So, I was like... You know, I thought, "Woo, I went there today". And check it out. Take your own journey and take your own speed, but don't stay where you are, because there's more. I'm just telling you there's more. So, I remember when they introduced the Holy Spirit. "Like, dude, no, I know about that. That's for chandeliers and snake crowd. I ain't goin' there. Mm-mm". And they talked me into it.
So, here's my prayer. "Okay, Holy Spirit, let's go, me and you. I'm gonna let you in, but you gonna have to behave yourself". And guess what he did? Nothing. Because God doesn't answer prayers with those kind of conditions, okay? "I want to go in the middle of that river. I'm gonna keep one toe on this bank. So, if I want to pull myself back, I can". And that's why for 20 years we tell people, "What would it look like if you went all in"? You'll never know, and that's why we've invited you to say this phrase for 20 years. Try it. You're never going to know. Come to prayer, 21 days, watch. Watch how prayer will become, something that you thought was so hard be so easy. Go serve somebody, and watch your heart explode with compassion at a level you never even dreamed, and lay your head down at night feeling the most fulfillment you've felt in your entire life.
Why not worship him with everything you have, like the Bible describes, and just see. Why not get in a small group? Better yet, why not lead one? Yeah, you'll grow. You will grow more in 12 weeks than you've grown in 12 years. What would it look like if you got on a Dream Team? Well, I'll tell you. Swarms of living creatures live in the middle of the river. Everything lives there. There's large numbers of fish. That's a metaphor for, like, there's multiplication of your life everywhere. And where the river flows, everything lives. Wouldn't that be great? So, we repent of whatever our barriers to God are. We tell God, "Lord, if you have it, I want it. Holy Spirit, have your way in me. Fill me. I'll take everything you have".
And then here's the ultimate goal, and that is he becomes your best friend. I'm inviting you to what thousands here have already experienced, and that is you can have an intimate friendship with the Holy Spirit. Why was Jesus so desperate to tell his own trained disciples, "Don't do anything until you get the Holy Spirit". I mean, these disciples were hand-trained by Jesus, personally trained three years with the Son of God. You'd think you'd be a stud leader after three years, right? No. At Jesus's own trial, Peter couldn't even tell one little girl that he knew Jesus. He denied him three times that night, when Jesus needed him most.
So much for those three years of training, right? Fifty days later, Peter's preaching in front of 3,000 people. Threatened that they will kill him, if he doesn't stop, he goes, "You're gonna have to judge for yourselves. I am preaching Jesus". What happened? Only one thing. Acts chapter 2, he was filled with the Holy Spirit. And that's why I'm inviting you into a relationship with the one who can change your life. Let me say it this way. After your salvation, nothing will change your life more, that you can have not only the amazing grace of Jesus, that's salvation, and the extravagant love of God the Father, that's your relationship with God, where he daily takes care of you, but someone who takes this journey with you, an intimate friendship with the Holy Spirit.
Jesus used the word parakletos. As he described the Holy Spirit, he used the word that literally means in picture form, if you pick up one end, he picks up the other. Wouldn't you love to have someone that every day, every moment, every place, every decision, every relationship, every hour, he's right there by your side. He'll guide you, direct you, empower you, speak to you, warn you, lead you. I'm inviting you to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Let's bow for prayer.
Father, I pray for the church. And God, I'm asking you, Lord, to let them have the courage to step into the deeper things of God. God, we are so grateful for salvation. It was powerful. It was so real, and we're grateful. But God, we know you have more for us, and that you always intended for us to live a Spirit-empowered life, filled with the Holy Spirit. God, for whatever barriers, or fears, I break them now, in Jesus's name. God, give your church confidence to take steps toward all that you have, and be close to the third person of the Trinity, the person of the Holy Spirit.
Heads bowed, eyes closed. I'm gonna invite our campus pastors to come to the stage. Pastor Blake, come join me here. And at all of our locations, if you feel like you're not even close to God, you don't have a relationship with him, that's the first step. For some of you, you really need to get your life right with God. You can't go to the deeper things, because you're not even in a real relationship with God. There I was in church my whole life, thought I was a Christian, and I was really, truthfully, far from God.
Say, "Chris, what would I have to do to have that kind of relationship with God"? Surrender your life to him. In fact, in my mind, in my heart, I see right now somebody, you feel God saying, "Today, today, come on make it today. Let's make it today". And he's knocking on the door of your heart right now, and it's for you, sir, or ma'am, to respond to him and say, "You know what? I'm tired of living my life weak, without power. I need God. In fact, I need all of God". And you need to repent today and give Jesus your life. If that's you, we're not going to have you stand up or come to the front, but I think you need to be bold and say, "That's me. I'm ready to surrender my life".
Or for some of you, like me, you've been in church. You're a Christian, but you're so far from God, and you're ready to come home today and have a right relationship with him. If that's you, heads bowed, eyes closed. Please be bold right now and say, "It's time. This is my time. I'm giving Jesus my life". If that's you, right now lift your hand as high as you can. Come on, lift it high. Good, good, good, good, good. I see hands all over this room. God bless you, sir. God bless you. God...two hands. God bless you here. Bless you all over this room. Pastor Blake, come on, lead them in this prayer.
Pastor Blake: So amazing. We're so proud of you, each of you that lifted your hand. And if you didn't raise your hand, but you know this is your moment, right there you are, just a simple prayer, a simple prayer that says, goes like this, in your heart, or you could say it out loud, or you could just whisper it, however you choose. Say:
Jesus, today I give you my life, and I ask you to be my Savior and my Lord. Forgive me of my sin and give me a brand-new life. Jesus, I believe that you gave your life on the cross. You died, were buried, and you rose again, and I put my faith in you. Today, I put my trust in you, and I don't ever want to look back. (Come on, make this statement to him, say:) Jesus, from today, forward, I'm going all in, and I make that commitment to you right now. In Jesus's name I pray, amen.