Levi Lusko - How to Entertain the Holy Spirit
Genesis Chapter 8 is where we're at. We're in week three of a series that we called Ghosted. In our culture we talk about someone ghosting you, meaning they bailed on you, they didn't respond to you, they left you hanging, they stood you up. You thought they were going to be there, but they weren't there. Ghosted you. I put on my social media this week that if you talk to Alexa... don't know if you have Alexa in your house or Siri or Google Assistant, or whatever it is, but if you have an Alexa, you can ask her about her upcoming trip to the moon. See, the plan is Alexa, tomorrow at the time I'm preaching this message, tomorrow at 8:30 AM on the East Coast, Alexa is leaving on a rocket. And it's the most powerful rocket that has ever been launched by man, ever. And it is the first time since the Apollo program that we've gone back to the moon.
This is a really big deal. It might launch Monday. It might get delayed. But at some point, Artemis is no doubt going to launch. And the SLS rocket that's going to take it is going to generate 8.2 million of thrust as it goes. And there are no astronauts on board. This is just a test, just figuring stuff out. You don't want to have humans on the first launch of anything. So I love that they're sending Alexa. She's the only one stupid enough to raise up her hand. She literally is going to the moon and it's fabulous. But they've built it in, of course, that if you ask her about her upcoming mission, she'll tell you, oh, yes, I'm going aboard the Artemis moon mission. And blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. It's the return to moon. It's a big deal. And we've been in low Earth orbit for the past 50 years. But now we're going to return to a quarter million miles away. It's a big jump.
And so I told parents of kids, I'm always looking for ways to just help parents to have something fun to do with their kids. And so I said, hey, tell your kids to go ask Alexa if she's going to go to the moon. And I got this response back, that it kind of backfired. Here's what this nice woman says. She said, I told my son to go ask Alexa if she's going to the moon. So he goes and asks her and when he comes back to me, he's crying. And he's saying, why does Alexa have to leave us for the moon? You see, how cute is that? He thought her going, because she said, yep, I'm going to the moon. He thought she wasn't going to be available in his Alexa anymore when... You laughed, but that's exactly what happened in the Bible when Jesus told the disciples he was going to go to heaven.
They said, wait, hold on. If you go to heaven, you're not going to be here for me anymore. We love that we can ask Alexa to play us a song. We can ask Alexa to tell us the temperature, right? The disciples loved having Jesus like that. Their own personal Jesus. It's a big deal. Jesus, if you leave to go to heaven, we're not going to have you anymore. So why do you have to go to the moon? Jesus said, no, you don't understand. It's better, way better. I know you like hanging out with me physically, but if I come to you spiritually, which is the result of the Ascension, I've heard a lot of sermons about the Crucifixion, the Resurrection. You hardly ever hear anybody preach about the Ascension. But it was the ascension that Jesus said, him leaving to go back to the father, that would be responsible for the Spirit coming. If I go to the Father, the Spirit will come and it will be far better for you than me being here physically to have the Spirit with you eternally, invisibly working in your life.
In his estimation, this should cause the disciples to jump for joy at the prospect of the Ascension. Far from leaving you, I'm coming to you in the person of the Holy Spirit. And it is that we're trying to get our hearts around in this message series, Ghosted. That Jesus didn't abandon us. Listen to me. Jesus hasn't abandoned you. He sees you. Him being in one place doesn't it make Him not in the other. Him going to heaven, His Spirit now inside, Him working in someone else's life or someone else's marriage or someone else's ministry doesn't need to make you jealous. It can make you excited because He's not more with them than He's with you. He sees you. You've been ghosted in the best possible way. You have not been abandoned. You are not left as an orphan. He has, and is coming, to you in the Holy Spirit to minister to you in the most personal, the most delightful, the most delicious, way you could ever conceive.
In Genesis 8, we're given a picture of what this relationship dynamic can, and should, look like. We see, from heaven's perspective, the sending of the Holy Spirit on individual people as little snapshot of what that looks like from God's perspective. I want to read it to you in a message that I'm titling How to Entertain the Holy Spirit. How to Entertain the Holy Spirit. Genesis 8. It's interesting that God has me preaching out of this because it was only a few weeks ago, in our parenting and family series La Familia, that God had me turn your attention to Genesis 8. And actually, early this week, full disclosure, when God really impressed on my heart I was supposed to preach Genesis 8, I said, God, I can't. I preached that just a couple of weeks ago. And every single person in the church, who was no doubt here that Sunday because you all come back every single week, they'll be like, Levi, you can't preach that. You already preached that. We got to the bottom of that text.
And I should know better than to argue with God because he usually wins. And he said, you preach what I tell you to preach, boy. And so I will. And maybe, just maybe, there's a few crumbs in Genesis that we didn't exhaust when we referred to it in our parenting series. But as we've gotten closer to it, I see God's wisdom because when I turned your attention to Genesis 8 last, it was about parenting, and now it's about the Holy Spirit. And heaven help us if we don't need some Holy Ghost to parent well in this world. Can I get an amen for some moms and dads who need God's help to raise your little ones? Anybody with me? Yes. All right. Genesis 8. I'm going to read to you Verse 6 and following. Context, of course, being the flood. And I never want to flippantly or glibly reference the flood because it was a time of great death and disaster on the earth, the likes of which God has promised never to exact upon this world until he judges it with fire at the end of the age.
But in it there is such grace, in it there is such hope, believe it or not, because on the other side of the New Testament we get to look back at the flood and see what was really happening. Because where it seems like God heartlessly condemns a whole population to extinction, the truth is he was seeking to save them. For the New Testament tells us that Noah, the one who was told to build an Ark, to build a boat, to be the only means of salvation throughout a catastrophic civilization-ending flood, that for all of the years of Noah's ministry he preached righteousness. He preached. He was, through God, giving opportunity for people to be saved. But it seems, according to my reading of Scripture, that there never was rain before and never was flood before and certainly never was rain and flood like was coming.
And so it was laughable and preposterous and ridiculous to make a giant boat in the middle of a world that had never been flooded. And when Noah says, no, danger is coming. Danger is coming. You need to get inside. People laughed at him and mocked him and ridiculed him until the waters rose. But then it was too late, for the door was shut. And what we find, if we look back at it with the understanding we have in the New Testament, is a picture of the reality of the Gospel being preached today. For when I tell you that a peasant born, who was a carpenter son, 2000 years ago was hung on a Roman cross, and that judgment is coming for all mankind, and only through believing in him can you be saved, it is foolishness. It seems foolish. You can't even fathom standing before God because you've never done it before, just like the world had never been flooded before. And similarly to the Gospel, in the story, only those in the boat were saved.
Only those in the Ark. Only those who walked through the door had safety. Similarly, the Bible says there is one name given to men by which we can be saved, the name of Jesus. He is the ultimate Ark. Only in Christ is there safety from the flood of death. And so Noah preaches for these 120 years. No one responds but his family, and these animals are brought in, and on they go. And by the way, pro tip, probably not like the cutesy bumper of the crib story it has been turned into. Pretty dark and grisly, quite honestly, as you have all those living on the Earth who had their death, who had no one to blame but themselves for their death, where they were offered pardon and offered salvation.
Noah obtained grace in God's eyes, so he wasn't saved by himself. And that same grace was extended to everyone on the planet, but they all chose to scorn it and reject it and had their death and their blood on their hands. So that's the context. We're not preaching a message theories on the flood and on Noah, but I'm not going to jump in without getting our bearings a little bit. In case you're going like, Levi, what do you... you cannot possibly believe all that. I would just simply say, Jesus did.
In Jesus's life he referred to Noah's flood and all these events, and he put it on the same shelf of truth as his death, burial, and Resurrection. He did the same thing with Jonah. He was, like, hey, remember that guy Jonah? Remember how he lived in a fish for these three days and three nights and then he came out and was alive? Yeah, it's going to be just like that except I'm going into the grave and then I'm going to come out. So when we start going back to the Old Testament and going, well, we don't, what does it matter if this didn't happen, and maybe the Red Sea didn't actually get parted, and maybe this, and maybe this, and maybe this, what we're doing is we're pulling the bottom of the Jenga stack out. Yeah.
So a better way than to go, like, well, that doesn't happen, but I still can believe in Jesus as a guru. Jesus is a good example. Jesus is a motivational speaker, like a Tony Robbins with longer hair, right? Is to go, hey, I don't know about that Noah stuff but Jesus believed in it, and I believe in Jesus, and Jesus believed in that, so I believe in that. Yes. I don't know about the flood and how the dynamics of that work with the fossil record and the strata and the things, but here's what I know. Jesus believed in Noah and a Great Flood, and I believe in Jesus, so I'm down with the flood, right?
I like how Andy Stanley said someone told him one time, like, hey, my science teacher at school said that I can't possibly believe in these things, these crazy stories, fetched-stories in the Old Testament. And Andy Stanley said, well, did your science teacher ever die for the sins of the world and then come back from life? If they didn't, maybe just go with Jesus. And that would be my advice to you as well. So context established, shots fired.
Genesis 8 verse 6. "So it came to pass at the end of 40 days that Noah opened the window of the Ark which he had made. Then he sent out a raven, which kept going to and fro until the waters had dried up from the earth. He also sent out from himself a dove to see if the waters had receded from the face of the ground. But the dove found no resting place for the sole of her foot. And she returned into the Ark to him, for the waters were on the face of the whole Earth. So he put out his hand and took her and drew her into the Ark to himself. And he waited another seven days and again he sent the dove out from the Ark. Then the dove came into him in the evening and behold, a freshly plucked olive leaf was in her mouth. And no one knew that the waters had receded from the earth. So he waited yet another seven days. And again, he sent out the dove, which did not return again to him anymore".
And so, Father, we just ask in this moment You would speak to us. Thank You for this image we can have in our minds and it can help us to be informed as we face our lives, knowing what things look like from heaven's perspective, as You, with eyes that roam on the earth, search on the earth, looking to show yourself strong. You're looking for hearts upright towards You. I pray You would find them here now in this moment. And that for those of us who are focused on You and our Fresh Life churches church online podcast family, You would do a powerful eternal work in this moment we would point back to for years, decades, even eternity would have us still praising You for what You did this day, as we listen to You. Anything can happen when, by faith, we listen to Your word and take You at Your word. So Your will be done. In Jesus' name, Amen.
My wife and I have been in the process of doing a little remodeling. We've lived in the same house for going on 12 years. And when you live in a house that long with kids like we have, things break and things. And then You realize, oh, I should done this, should have done this, should have done this. And it's kind of a fun thing to re-imagine a space, re-imagine a room. And we've been doing that. And I only can remember, in all of the little remodel projects we've done in our home, ever complaining one time. And God so quickly clapped back at me that I was, I'm done. I've been cured of complaining about that. Because here's what happened. I woke up after a trip. And while I was on the trip, the water was getting cut off in the kitchen, and the sink was getting ripped out. And so in preparation for that. Everything in the cupboards gets put into boxes in the garage. I land at, like, 12:49 AM the next day and wake up in the house with no ability to make coffee, and no plan.
Now a friend later told me, oh, you fool. I just set up a alternate coffee making station in the garage. You can just put a Keurig on a little shelf and have it all ready, and have a pitcher of water. And I'm like, dude, I don't even know what's going on half the time. I just wake up, need coffee, no coffee. That's when it happened. I complained. And here's the exact complaint. I was like, oh, living in a house being remodeled is so inconvenient. And here's what God said back to me. Now you know what I feel like. Now you know what I feel like. The Bible says, God lives in me. That was salty of him to say that. Now you know what I feel like. And I stood there for a long moment. Not too long, because I quickly got in my car and drove to a coffee shop. But I stood there long enough to let it sink in. And now I see the sawdust differently when it's there. And now I see the little unfinished bits differently. Because I'm living in an environment not entirely optimized yet to my liking.
But God in choosing to live in me, and in choosing to live in you, has to deal with the exact same constraints. Wow. There's parts of your life that are not flowing like they're meant to flow, not vibing like they're meant to vibe, not completely changed. But what good news is that? The good news is that God has a plan for you. God has an ultimate blueprint for your character, your development. In choosing to live inside of you, He's choosing to live in an unfinished vessel. The scripture says, "Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it even entered into the heart of a man the things that God has prepared or planned for those who call him Lord".
You see, the Bible says we're His workmanship. And that He's always going to be trying to add on here. And in the meantime, yeah, there's going to be inconvenient moments. But that's a part of the process. We are works in progress. Is anybody thankful that God's working in your life and that you have the promise of scripture that faithful is He to complete what He began. He's not ignoring you. He's not done with you. As long as you're willing to let Him work, He's going to continue to change and grow and make you all He wants to be. And that's really the picture, I believe, that we have in front of us in Genesis 8, as a man stands at a window letting out a series of birds. Birds? Yeah, birds. A raven and then a dove. These two different birds, I believe, give us a picture of what Jennie so eloquently last week described for us as the battle that's raging inside of our hearts. We have the flesh and the spirit.
It was read a number of times in last week's message. That's the Spirit. But let's read it one more time. "I say then..." Galatians 5, "Walk in the spirit and you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit and the spirit less against the flesh. And these are contrary to one another so that you do not do the things that you wish". And it's been articulated a number of different ways. But she made reference to this idea of two dogs inside of you always fighting. When you get to work, when you have a fight with your partner, when you're dealing with bills that you didn't expect, any time someone cuts in front of you. What happens? There's two dogs inside of you, the spirit dog and a flesh dog. Which one's going to win? She referred to it. But the answer, of course, is the one that's better fed. And so now we move into a better understanding of the dynamics between flesh and Spirit when we look at this principle of Noah sending out first of all, the raven, and second in sending out the Holy Spirit, I believe, which is what we should have in our minds when we see a dove.
Why is that? Because that's how God used the spirit from the very beginning. You know how the Bible begins, right? It's with the Trinity on full display. Someone might have told you at one point, hey, you know the Trinity is not even in the Bible. And you're like, yes, it is. So you got your concordance out. Like anybody uses a concordance anymore. I don't know if you know, but there's this thing that's a physical concordance of every single word and then you get to look up wherever it's used in the Bible. I was actually telling Jennie it's kind of a loss that now with our mobile phones we're not even having to memorize the order of the Bible. Because she was talking to you last week about "go eat popcorn". That is a pagan way to remember Galatians Ephesians Philippians Colossians, right? Especially if you're trying to live your best Keto life, right? You have to remember God's electric power company.
That's how I remember some Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians. You need some power? Go to Galatians, God's. Electric, Ephesians. Power, Philippians. Company, Colossians. Anyhow, popcorn's good too and there's worse things you could eat, honestly. But the concordance takes a word. You can look up Adam. And it will show you everywhere Adam's used. You're going to see Adam's in the Old Testament as a human, as a person, but then in the New Testament as a figure, as a figurehead. The way we would refer to George Washington as sort of like, or Uncle Sam would be even better way to describe it, as sort of a human being that encapsulates all of America. Adam is sort of a figurehead for all mankind. And you're going to see that when you look into a concordance. But when you look at the idea of the Trinity, it's not in the concordance.
Now, I'll make you panic. Oh, crap. I've been believing a lie. Am I a part of a cult? Hold on a second. The word Trinity is not ever used in the Bible, true. But the concept is from beginning to the end. Let me show you Genesis Chapter 1. We're just a few pages over to the left, and it, we're told starts this way. "In the beginning, God..." So already, right there, we're introduced to the main character, and homie, it's not you. This book's not about you. It involves you but this story, this project, this whole thing, it's about God. OK?
So in the beginning, God, what did He do? He created. That's awesome. If He's a creator, then everything he works is creatively built with a plan in mind. So He created everything you see, everything you know, everything you are. God created the heavens and the earth. The Earth was without form and void and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, what is that? The word of God. God said, "Let there be light". And what? There was light. Flip over to John Chapter 1, and you're going to see the exact same story, but we're going to get to have the lights flipped on.
Remember last week, or two weeks ago, we said Augustine describing the scripture said the Old Testament is a fully furnished house but the lights are low. So the coffee table, the couch, the refrigerator, it's all there. You can't see it. So the New Testament turns the light on to look at that same passage. What does it say? "In the beginning". You don't have it on the screen. You have to look in your own Bible. Oh, can you read mine? Squint. "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God". So hold on a second. God created the world. But how did he do it? The Spirit was hovering over waters. And God spoke and his Word came out and John says in the New Testament that's Jesus, the Son. So we have Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, all active participants in the creation story. Three persons, one God. Don't understand it or your head will blow up, but don't reject it or your heart will fall out. OK?
So we need to understand God is in relationship within himself. And theologians have a word called the Trinity to describe something that the Bible teaches, though never encapsulates to such a fine word. And then when God goes to create man, what does He say? "Let us create Man in Our image". Showing there is personality within the Godhead. Three persons, Father, Son, Holy Spirit, within the one Godhead that scripture teaches to us.
OK, here's what's interesting to me. From the very first two verses of Genesis, we see the Holy Spirit introduced with the imagery or symbolism of a bird, and specifically a dove. For when it says the spirit of God hovered over the waters of creation, the actual Hebrew word is fluttered. The fluttering of wings. It's this picture of the Spirit introduced with this image that we can have in our minds that we understand of a bird, of, specifically, a dove. And that is why at the recreation moment of Jesus' coming, when God was preparing an etch-a-sketch shake for everybody for Grace to come out, for the church age to begin, for the spirit to fall, what happened? Jesus got baptized.
Mark Chapter 1. And what happened at Jesus' baptism? Well, Mark puts it this way. "As he came out of the water, he saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon him like a dove". Fluttering, fluttering, fluttering. "Then a voice came from heaven speaking, you are my Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased". So we have from beginning to the end, from the old to the new, the Spirit. We're giving this picture of Him like a dove. And here in Genesis Chapter 8, you have in Noah this releasing of a dove at another new beginning for those on this planet. So our relationship to the Spirit we can understand is that of enjoying like a dove coming upon you and the creation that can come from that. What about the raven? About the raven, the raven's a dark, dirty bird. That's what a raven is that's why Edgar Allan Poe used it as this picture of evil in the poem The Tell-Tale Heart "Quoth the Raven, Nevermore".
This conscience, this sense of, I did something wrong, and it's just this dark black bird. It's an omen. All throughout history there's been this kind of sense of the raven as this picture of death and darkness. In the Old Testament it was described as an unclean bird and that has to do with its diet. Birds tend to surprise us with what they eat, don't they? First time when I moved to Montana 15 years ago, I went to the dump to throw some stuff away and I was horrified to see bald eagles eating out of the trash. I wanted to interrupt them and say, sir you have no idea what you stand for. You need to stop. This is horrible for your image, right? I mean, you're this picture of liberty. We can't have you eating putrid meat out of a deer carcass or a dirty diaper. And I wonder how many times God speaks to us. You have the image of God. Don't you know what you stand for?
Come on. You're meant to stand as a king. You're meant to stand as a queen, as a warrior. Get your head out of that dirty diaper of what? Giving into the flesh. What do ravens eat? They don't eat birdseed like a dove. They eat flesh. They're willing to eat putrid, stinking, rotten flesh. Why, when Noah sent the raven out, did it not return? Because it hit the jackpot. All these bloating carcasses floating, it thought it was Christmas day. For the raven flesh was its ultimate gratification. But it would never be enough for that raven, for the text tells us that it flew to and fro, almost couldn't decide which putrid piece of meat to engorge itself upon first. And so the flesh is never satisfied, giving in to the dark appetites. First of all, the works of the flesh are obvious. You know when you're giving in to your baser impulses. You know when you're giving in to your shadow self. You know when you're giving in to that sinful impulse and no one's proud of it. Not one of us is like, I ate an entire family-sized bag of chips by myself. What a day, right?
None of us feel like, yay, us. The works of the flesh are, you know when you're giving into your anger. You know when you're being short-tempered. You know when you're giving in to your lust. You know. It's obvious. But it's also never enough. The drugs, the high, the revelry. Those things don't satisfy. They just make you feel low but then want more. Feel low, then want more. And the people, the relationships we crave because it validates our victim mentality or whatever else it is. The works of the flesh are obvious and evident. It's the raven. It's the flesh. It's that sinful side. And the raven goes to him. Who's pulling the strings behind the raven? The raven flew to and fro. To and fro? Job Chapter 1, God said to the devil, where have you been? And he said, I've been going to and fro. To and fro. To and fro on the earth.
First Peter Chapter 5, we're given the detail that while he travels to and fro, he's looking for those that he can pounce upon and devour. So it's the enemy who's trying to get us to give into our sinful impulses. It's the enemy who wants us to send the raven out. It's the enemy who, when we are we're irritated or we're feeling low, or we're not feeling worthy, it's the enemy who wants the raven to go get some flesh. And in this world there is no shortage of flesh, no shortage of opportunities for us to give in to that side of ourselves, the sinful side that still remains even as forgiven, loved children, that still remains until heaven.
So what's the solution? We need to send out the dove. We need to receive the dove's power, better way to put that, the dove that has been sent out. And I love the picture of the different degrees of relationship to the dove. Because, just as we in the parenting talk said, you can't just send your kids out to college as though that's the final emancipation. There has to be the gradual release of trust. And so that's how we use that analogy of, they go out a little bit, come back, go a little bit more, come back with the olive branch. Go out a little bit more, and that's a beautiful picture. So it is when it comes to human's relationship to the Holy Spirit. People, and you and me are people, relating to the Holy Spirit. From heaven's perspective, God sent out the spirit but not every person and not every Christian has the same taking advantage of what's been given. It would probably be helpful if I told you that there are three different words, prepositions, used to describe how people relate to the Holy Spirit. The first is with.
The Bible says the Holy Spirit is with you. So ever since He got sent into the world He's with us. So you can't help but to have a relationship with the Spirit in this way. And with us, He convicts of sin and righteousness in judgment. Some of us, you know, we feel like it's a conscience. But listen, when the Spirit's kind of doing that thing, you know it. Because it's like a highway bumper strip rumble strip. It's that, ah, shoot. All right? Whenever the raven's trying to get a little piece of meat, you know inside because the Spirit convicts. All of us have that and you can get better or worse at listening to it. Because you can eventually dismantle that warning. The Bible calls that having a conscience seared as though with a hot iron. Not something to aspire to, by the way, where you don't feel remorse, feel wrong. So everyone has that relationship.
Now let's say you got saved. Let's say you entered the Ark, trusted Jesus, asked Him to come into your heart. If that has happened, and guess what? The second relationship has taken place and that is where God has come to live inside of you. Jesus said, I stand at the door of your heart and I knock. If anyone opens the door, I will come in. So at the moment of conversion, the Spirit of God comes to live inside of you. And many Christians, many of you perhaps, have settled for that. That has been your experience. God's with me, He's convicted me, a sense of creation, but now He's in me. Awesome. But that's not all. There's more. According to Acts Chapter 1 Verse 8, you shall receive power when the Spirit comes upon you. And all throughout the book of Acts, we are told that someone was filled with the Spirit, filled with the Spirit, filled with the Spirit, and then would do things for God.
In Ephesians Chapter 5, we're told that we are to not get drunk with wine looking for that to solve our problems, getting drunk, but instead to be being filled with the Holy Spirit. Now this is a continual thing that needs to happen again and again and again. But there has to be a first experience. There has to be a first encounter. And the first time as a Christian with the Spirit in you, He comes upon you. And you can even just see this relation. I'm with this pulpit, I'm sort of in this pulpit, I'm on this pulpit. So the Spirit is with you, beside you, wants to come inside your heart. But then when he comes upon you, it's overflowing you. Come upon you, it's overshadowing you. Come upon you, you're not even, who are you even anymore? There's such strength. There's such gifts. There's such confidence. That what God wants, and some of you, that's the missing step.
So as it's been described, we're baptized into the Body of Christ to the Spirit, but then there's a baptism of the Holy Spirit that takes place that then gets topped off again and again and again. I first received that baptism of the Spirit coming upon me as a freshman in high school. And I cannot even describe that moment because I think back onto it and it's almost like I can't put into words what simplicity there was to it because there was not much to it. There was a guitar. Back in those days we didn't have a drum kit. It was a djembe. Do you know what a djembe is? It's like a Congo looking thing that you slap the top of the skin on top of it. So there was a guitar, There was a djembe, there was someone who gave a simple Bible study, and then someone said, hey, God is with you. God is willing to come inside of you and if you ask he will come upon you. And then you can re-ask for that as often as you need.
But for anybody who wants to there's a chance for you to pray for and receive the Spirit working in your life in that extraordinary, powerful way he wants to. And I asked for that to happen and my life has never been the same. Now, had I died five minutes before that happened I would have gone to heaven because I had the Spirit. If you're saved you had the Spirit. The third step, the upon step, is not about you having the Spirit. It's about the Spirit having you. And where the Spirit has you, He comes upon you. He's working through your life like He wants you, like He intends to. And that's where God wants you to be. So I see just such a beautiful image of it. And the first time the dove's sent out, it just flies right back. The second time the dove goes out, it gets a little bit of foliage. It's like, look, a little olive branch. This is the person who's like, I'm saved. I know it, I know God. But you're not experiencing everything God has for you because the text says the dove found no place to put its foot. The dove found no place to rest its head. The dove couldn't make a home. The dove couldn't live there.
So that's why I titled The sermon the way I did. How do we entertain the Holy Spirit? What is going to follow in this discussion, this talk, is I'm going to try and help you to see that you should see yourself as CEO of dove hospitality. Your job in your life is to say I want to make my heart hospitable to a dove. Now I've got a great example of this because my wife has such a strong gift of hospitality. Whether you come to sleep in our home, have dinner in our house, or come to be a guest of our church house, it is her heart to make sure you feel loved, seen, celebrated, and welcomed. So down to the granular level she's going to want to figure out if you got some terrible allergy. You come over here, hey, are there any allergies? Why? Because if you're allergic to peanuts she's not going to serve you Thai spicy peanut soup. You're right, here's your soup and here's an EpiPen.
You're know what I'm saying? Like, no. We want to cater to what you need, to what you like. My daughter Daisy, who's in the gathering, she went, we didn't know she was allergic to lavender until she stayed at a hotel one time and broke out in hives head to toe. And they were like, do you like our lovely lavender-scented sheets? And we were like, apparently not because she looks like Chunk from the Goonies. OK. Children, Google it. Right? So, hey, you guys, it backed down eventually. But let me tell you something. We're aware of that. Like, don't give Daisy lavender-scented sheets. So this idea of the dove and the Holy Spirit like a dove is perfect for us because we can have as a visual in our mind how would we make our situation hospitable to a dove? So seven things, jot them down.
Number one, it takes gentleness. Doves are skittish. I don't like it when birds are a little too bold, right? Like, if you ever go to shoo away a crow it just kind of looks at you cocky-like. It's like, oh, that's disturbing. You know what I'm saying? A little too much eye contact going on, fella. Right? And a magpie is even worse. But even a bold robin. They will stand their ground. But doves are not like that. Doves have no defense mechanism except to fly away. In fact, doves can jettison their feathers. So if a predator, it's pretty cool, actually. If the predator grabs them, they can just release those feathers. And so all it gets is the feathers. That's why they're used all throughout like the last 3,000 years in warfare, including even World War 1, where they would carry messages to and fro.
Come on, God is trying to speak to you. God's got a message for you. He sent the Holy Spirit to get it to you. It's a beautiful picture. But to try and grab hold, they're going to jettison those feathers. So you've got to be gentle to hold a dove. You don't need a big old leather mitt like to hold a bird of prey. It's gentle. What do you call a flock of doves? A flight, a bevy, a cote. Not like that with the ravens. You know what literally they call a flock of ravens? An unkindness. An unkindness, a conspiracy, or because they're a part of the crow family, you could just call them a murder. Hello, how obvious does the preaching get that it's the devil that's involved in the raven? Come on, someone. Unkindness? Conspiracy? Murder? Not so with the dove.
The dove's gentle and that's why Philippians says, "Let your gentleness be made known to all men. For the Lord is at hand". The Lord's at hand the Spirit's trying to work in your life. Be gentle. So that's one of the first things we need to do to make sure our life is capable of having as a guest in residence the Holy Spirit to come upon us is to be gentle. So oftentimes the flesh is what causes us to fly off the handle, where you write that angry email, where you say that thing, where you swerve in front and you give someone a piece of your mind. That's the raven, bro. Just eating that gross meat. You're going to feel sick. You're not ever going to wipe them off and go, yay, that was a delicious meal, right? Eating that carrion. But the Holy Spirit, dove, gentle. It's attracted to gentleness.
So number two... actually, I have to continue in number one for a second because I want to teach you the power to gentleness. Because even just saying that, it makes you think, all right, all right, add it to the list. Be more gentle this week. And so you get into a situation where you get pissed off and you're like, oh, wait, Levi said to be more gentle. I can't get the dove if I'm not gentle. That's not how you do it. That's not how you do it. Because Ephesians teaches us a little trick. And the trick is you don't ever get rid of the raven by shooting away the raven. You get rid of the raven by making your life hospitable to the dove. So less repelling the raven, more attracting the dove. So, example, gentleness. As example, Ephesians 4. "Do not grieve..." Ephesians 4 Verse 3. "...the Holy Spirit of God". Because He's a person. He can be grieved. He can... He's skittish, right? "By whom you are sealed for the day of redemption. So let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, evil speaking be put away from you with all malice".
All right, how do I do that, Levi? Verse 32. "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another even as God in Christ..." Here we go. Here's the power. "...forgave you". So I don't simply try and conjure up the wherewithal to not flip you off when you cut me off. I almost called this message When God Gives the Bird. But I thought I can't do that. I've grown. I've matured. But I could have. So help me. When I feel that rage rising, I don't go, no, no, no, no, no. Put away the raven. Instead, I remember, hold on. I didn't deserve forgiveness but Jesus hung on that cross for me. And if He gave that to me, I can do that to you. I can be kind to you. I know you took that spot at Logan fast. I circled for hours, all right? It's fine. It's what it is. But hold on. I can be kind to you when I remembered how kind He was to me. There's the power to make me tender to attract the dove. Gentleness.
Number two, quiet places. Doves will be habituated to a life in a city but it's not where they're meant to be. Doves prefer, if they had their choices, wide open spaces, woodlands, and even tropical forests. Similarly, God, if he's going to be working in your life the way he wants to, wants you to prioritize quiet places. Why? He's not in the earthquake. He's not in that big, noisy loudness. Oftentimes, like Elijah found out, He's in the still, small voice because God whispers. He comes close. So are you prioritizing, in between Netflix and Twitter and TikTok and news and how your Charles Schwab account is doing, the quiet places of scripture, the quiet times of getting on your knees before God? Just the quiet space of being in nature to do what Psalm 46-10 says to be still and know that he is God.
Quiet yourself. To be in nature, to listen to the thought of creation, giving God praise, which is what Psalm 19 says some Psalm 19-1, "The heavens declare the glory of God. The firmament shows his handiwork. Day unto to day it utters speech night. Night unto night it reveals knowledge". I like to imagine when I'm being quiet in nature, the reality of what nature longs to do, which is praise God. In those quiet places I'm more susceptible to the dove in my heart. And you can be in chaos at work and go into the bathroom and do this. My wife calls it a holy smokes break. Right? People need a smoke break? Well, sometimes when you're about to let the raven fly man, you go, holy smokes. Holy smokes, God. I need your help right now. These children. So help me. Or this situation. So help me. Dove. Dove. Dove. Quiet places.
Number three, scripture. God's word. The enemy likes to parrot God's word to us. Ravens are even better, believe it or not, at parrots imitating the sound of a human voice in captivity. They can even imitate noises. They do it as a part of their evil deceptive plan. Ravens are crazy. They will do anything they can to get food. I heard of one, the things I do for you. This week, I read about a raven that was eating a dead beaver and a bunch of other ravens came. And so they were watching him. Looking for their opportune moment to come in and take charge because ravens join gangs whenever they turn into teenagers. This is also true. But they find they find that if they test the raven's blood, they're more stressed out once they're in the gang. So take note, kids. Don't join the gang. But do get into a First Life group. Plug.
So the raven's standing there eating the dead beaver, and all these other ravens are looking for their chance to come kill him and shoo them away and eat the beaver themselves. So you know what he did? He pretended to get sick and die. And just died next to the beaver carcass and tried to make them think that the evil meat made him die. And it worked. And they all left and then he had a feast to himself. He's unbelievable. I mean, bravo, bravo. William Shakespeare called. He wanted his performance back. This other raven I heard about in Alaska, it must have been a big old raven in Alaska, you know what I'm saying? He would sit on the top of the Costco and wait for moms, specifically moms or dads who have kids in the cart with them. And at that moment he knew when they parked the stroller at the car, they were going to put the kid in the baby seat first.
And that was when he was swooped down and steal any meat he could out of the cart. Evil. Evil bird. But I love this picture of, the ravens speak God's word too. Because in the wilderness temptation, what did the devil say to Jesus? The ravens say to Jesus there? Did God really say? And he tried to quote and misquote God's word to him. And that's why Jesus kept bringing it back to scripture to clear up the confusion and to stay on track. I'm my Father's Beloved Son. Oh, but you need to do this for God to love you. He's like, nah, I'm already loved. I can never be more or less loved than I am right now. You need to have that in your tank too. And you're going to get that from scripture. The scripture was written by the Holy Spirit, so of course He's excited about it.
Every author is excited about their books. The scripture was written by the Spirit of God. And so He's going to, of course, work, the dove is going to, of course, work through scripture. We all want peace. Well, Colossians 3 says, if you want the peace of God, 3-15 of Colossians, to rule in your hearts, wouldn't that sound great? Peace is in charge around here. To which also you are called in one body and be thankful. How do you get there? Verse 16. "Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly". One translation says, "Let God's word put its feet up on the Ottoman". The idea of, let God's word make itself a home in your heart. And that's how you're going to get God's peace. The dove comes as the Spirit works through his Word.
A.W. Tozer described the process of seeing God in the scripture being gradual, much like the dove going out, when he said, and I quote, "If we draw near to God, and begin to hear Him speak to us in our hearts, I think for the average person the progression will be something like this. First, a sound as of a Presence walking in the garden. Then a voice begins to illuminate the scriptures. And that which had only been a sound or at best a voice, now becomes an intelligible word; warm and intimate and clear as the word of a dear friend. Then will come life and light, and best of all, ability to see and rest in and praise Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of all". What that means is, don't rush through your devotions. Don't rush through your Bible reading.
Linger, read, sit, stew, marinate. The Bible talks about reading God's word almost like a cow chews cud. They don't just eat it, swallow, and that's the story. They continue to get the nutrients out of it over and over and over again. So in having your devotions, you have your tea. You've got your matcha. You've got your coffee. However you roll. You've got a notebook. You've sat there with God's word. You've read something. Sit there in it. We're not checking boxes. We're not doing this so that God will be happy with us. You're already is beloved daughter in whom he's well pleased. You're doing this because you want to know Him, you want to grow in your relationship with Him.
So we're going to sit in it. And gradually it's going to come into focus. Gradually it's going to become more. Gradually God's going to begin. Because a lot of you are like, I tried that. It didn't work. That's like saying, I tried to go on a date with my wife and it didn't work. It's not like you do it one time and it's done. This is the person you're seeking to grow in the complexity and appreciation of and for. So your relationship with God through his Holy Spirit will come into focus and you'll get better at it with time. I am not still ministering in the power of the anointing of the Holy Spirit that came upon me as a freshman in high school. I asked God for a new feeling and a new anointing and a new fresh, I got on my knees today and set out every single name of every single location. I prayed over our staff, prayed over our impact team. There's a new anointing for a new day. And so there can be for you.
Number four, music. How do we make our lives hospitable to the Holy Spirit? When God gives us the bird. Music helps. Ephesians 5 puts it this way. "Do not be drunk with wine". We already read that. "In which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit". What does it look like? Well, there's music involved, for the next verse says, "We speak to one another and Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord". This, by the way, because He just gives us all these different types of ways you can sing and ways you can worship, ways that happen corporately, ways that happen individually. That's why we're going to spend much of the fall in a series called Words for Worship. Talking through the fact that like tools, we have different sophisticated tools in worship. It's not all Psalms. It's not all hymns. It's not all spiritual songs. And then there's also personal worship where you just make melody in your heart to the Lord.
There's a power in praise to puncture the darkness and let the light into the soul of your circumstances. I don't know if there's any people in God's house who like Stranger Things like I do, but I like Stranger Things. And I'm talking about the TV show. This is the part where judgmental legalistic people get pissed at me. All right. So I was on a plane watching the newest season of Stranger Things. And I'm telling you, like a bolt of lightning I saw culture parody the scriptural truth. In episode four. Spoiler alert, shut your ears if you don't want to know what went down in Max is "Running up that Hill". Because there is a moment in season four, episode four, where she is caught in darkness, caught in pain, caught in misery. Well, let me just show you. And she is about to be destroyed by the dark one and music opens up a window for her to see the light.
Music opens up a portal for her to see what really is, for her to break through the enemy, dark one's lies, to get his claws off of her head. And because she's listening to music on the other side, she's able to run through everything that comes against her. No weapon formed against her can prosper. And she is able to get safely back to the community of her friends because music snapped her out of the trance that she was under. And I am having a Holy Ghost-powered worship service on a Delta Airlines flight from Salt Lake City to Atlanta. I'm telling you something. I had to get up and walk around because I said, music opens a window. There's something in your soul. How is it there? I don't know maybe it's because God was humming while He created you. According to the book of Job. Well, why wouldn't He? You whistle while you work and you were made in His image.
So something about music was baked into us. Music makes you feel some kind of way. And that's true of all good music. But when we take music and we bring scripture into it, well, it becomes a force that can more than open up a window. It becomes a transforming, soul-building power in your life. That's how Martin Luther put it when he said, "Next to the word of God, music deserves the highest praise. For whether you wish to comfort the sad, terrify the happy, encourage the despairing, humble the proud, calm the passionate, or appease those full of hate, what more effective means than music could you find? The Holy Ghost himself honors music as an instrument for his proper work. Music remains a language without words".
And if you haven't learned the power of mixing up the soundtrack when you're having a bad day, when you're having a raven day, oh, no, you don't, devil. We're going straight to the throne right now. We're not going to feel sorry for ourselves right now. I exalt Thee, Jesus, defender. You don't have to know the words to a song. Make up your own. I'm telling you, you let a melody ring out from your soul to God, it will open up a window. It'll help you to run up that hill. And you don't need to make a deal with God, Kate Bush. He already did and he did swap places with you. It's called the Great Substitution. Yes. Just preaching. Tiptoes.
Number five, how do we make our lives hospitable to the Holy Spirit? Tiptoes. The Holy Spirit, in looking to bring His power through you to this lost dark world, is not looking for someone who's standing around with their arms crossed on their heels. Waiting to see if it's good, then they'll get involved. Waiting to see what's in it for them and then maybe they'll do it. You want to know what the Bible is looking for? The Bible says that God is looking for those who are on tiptoes, ready and willing. Who does God work through? People who say these three words. Here am I. Here am I. Someone who says, God, the answer is yes. What's the question? You need me to bless someone? You need me to touch someone? You need me to pray for someone? You need me to do it? I'm in. I'm yours. Tiptoes. Tiptoes is standing like a boxer, standing like a ballerina. It's standing like a warrior. It's on your toes. It's ready. Position. I want to be there. I want to do that. Get on your tiptoes. Be full of eager, earnest expectation. Start with the assumption that God wants to work in your world, in your friend group, in your city, in your circumstances. And then get on your tiptoes, saying here am I. That's what the Spirit's looking for.
Unity and humility is number 6. And while you could make the case that these are two different things, I think they're actually symbiotic. For what causes us to rise up in a lack of unity if not a lack of humility? The shadow side, the raven side of all of us, constantly is looking for any way to make yourself feel superior and separate. Superiority and separation. And if I'm different from you I can be better than you. Your raven is trying to make you feel superior and separate. The rules shouldn't apply to me. Separate. Superior. I deserve more. I deserve preferential treatment. And that pulls you away from your spouse. That pulls you away from a team. That pulls you away from a church. That pulls you away. I'm separate. The rules don't apply me. Don't they know who I am? What I've done around here?
I remember early on in the church I used to, if I met people, do the same thing I do now. Hey, I love the church. Because they always many times say, I love your church. And I was like, are you part of it? It's our church. Our church. And then I was like, are you in a group or are you on a team? I remember one guy told me, no, no, no. I've been a Christian for decades, son. Like, real, like, condescending. I've been a Christian for decades and in my old church, I was on the usher team. I was on the music team. I set up communion trays. And then he said to me this. He said, I've paid my dues. I've paid. I'll just be coming to church here. I paid my dues. And I was like, well, la di freaking da. You know? It was like the least impressive thing I've ever heard, you know what I'm saying? It was just, it didn't compute to me. But he thought he was separate. He thought he was superior. He didn't need to serve like those other Christians. Because he had paid his dues.
Now he's a big shot. But in God's kingdom, if you're too big to serve, you're too small to lead. There needs to be a servant spirit. So it's humility that causes there be unity. I'm no better than anybody. We're all in this together. We all have a part to play. We all have something to do. Let's go team, right? And so we need the Spirit's attract, the spirit loves the smell of humility. Loves the smell of unity. The Bible says God opposes the proud. What a terrifying thought, that there's something I can actually do to make sure that God opposes my every move. All you have to do is be smug and arrogant and God opposes you. That doesn't sound like a good time. He breathes out stars. I don't want Him opposing me. But humility causes Him to give you grace. Causes Him to give you aid. And unity is always something the spirit floods into.
In fact, Psalm 133-1 one says, "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity". And then it goes on to describe oil and dew, symbols of the Spirit working in a life through the power released by unity. OK, that's number six. I could go on but I want to save a little bit of time for response.
So let me just wrap it up by saying number seven. What does the Spirit love? Look at it on the screen. Jesus. The Spirit is such a fanboy of Jesus. It's almost like, wow, back it off pal. In fact, Jesus put it this way. He said, John Chapter 15, "When the helper comes..." Look at this on the screen. "...whom I shall send to you..." John 15-26, "...He will testify of Me". Jesus said when the Spirit gets here, you'll know it's him if he's making a big deal of Me. Then in John 16-14, Jesus said, hey, when the helper comes who's going to be even better than me being here, he, Verse 14, will glorify me. The Holy Spirit, what do you need to know about him as you decorate his room. He is obsessed with Jesus. He wants to make much of Jesus.
So in your life, how do you make your heart your home, your situation, everything about you attractive to the spirit to come in? It's through focusing and fixating on Jesus, God's son. And so that's why if we're to run this race like we're meant to, dropping sin that's holding us back, throwing off chains that are binding us, what do we need to do? Look at Hebrews 12-2. We do our run looking unto Jesus, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. That's what it means to have dove's eyes. Song of Solomon says, in complimenting the Beloved at the wedding, "Beloved, you have dove's eyes". Why are doves a picture of matrimony? We've all been to a wedding where they've been released, right? The fluttering of wings, the throwing of birdseed. Or bubbles now, or sparklers now, or whatever it is. Doves and matrimony.
Here's why two reasons. Number one, doves mate for life. Reason number two, doves lack peripheral vision. So if a dove is looking at you, homie, it's only looking at you. That's why on the honeymoon, the bride says to her groom, or the groom says to his bride, you are fair. You have dove's eyes. He's lifting up her veil. He's saying, you only have eyes for me. You're not looking elsewhere to see what better options could come along. You're choosing to say, I have looked and this is what's better and you have come along. So to live with the power of a dove means we keep our eyes on Jesus like a dove. And if we do that we can be positive the Spirit will be working in our lives, giving strength to our efforts to live for God.
And so Father we pray for your help. We see you in heaven sending out the dove and we don't want Him returning to sender saying, I tried but the pattern was full. We don't want Him coming back with a little olive leaf clipping saying, I was able to do a little bit in that life, I was able to do a little bit in that heart. We want You to send that dove out and like it was said of Jesus, so the dove would just descend upon us and remain there. Because each day we're asking for you to refill us, refresh us.
And we do so aware for some today might be the day of salvation for Jesus to come into you. That to you, even in this moment of prayer, you could trust Christ for salvation. What does it look like? It looks like you're saying, yes. I'm coming into the Ark right now. In your heart saying, I receive what Jesus did for me. Come to live inside of me, Jesus. Forgive my sins. Give me the promise of heaven.