“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”
There’s a mistake in seeking the gift rather than the Gift Giver. When we become focused on the thing we think we want rather than the One that’s wanting us, we lose out on a deeper relationship with Him.
Author Oswald Chambers understood this. For four long years, he was constantly seeking the gift of the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. But he became increasingly frustrated because he didn’t receive the kind of confirmation he thought he should receive. It was only after he read Luke 11:13 that he understood that he was looking for the gift rather than the Gift Giver.
So he simply said, “God, please baptize me with your Holy Spirit. God, thank you for baptizing me with your Holy Spirit.”
He believed. He received. It’s as simple as that.
So how should we respond to all that we’ve learned about the person and the help and the gifts of the Holy Spirit? Just believe and receive. If you are looking for a more complicated answer, there isn’t one. Believe God when He says that He wants to give you a gift. And then thank Him for the gift He has given you.
We've gotten to know the Holy Spirit—who the Holy Spirit is, what the Holy Spirit does, and the gifts the Holy Spirit gives. In light of this, what should our response be? What must we do? It’s a common question…with an uncommon answer.
There are many gifts the Holy Spirit gives. To better understand these gifts and their uses, we looked at 1 Corinthians chapters 12, 14, and 13 in that order and on purpose.
1 Corinthians 12 introduces us to many of the gifts of the Holy Spirit and begins by saying, “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant…” It’s important that we know about the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 14 teaches us about their proper use within the gathering of believers—“Let all things be done decently and in order.” (1 Corinthians 14:40). It’s also important that we know how to use the gifts the Holy Spirit gives us.
But using God’s gifts outside of God’s way is frustrating and annoying. Thankfully, God has “a more excellent way” (1 Corinthians 12:31). It’s the way we discover in 1 Corinthians 13—love!
Love must always be in the middle of receiving and using the gifts that God gives by His Holy Spirit. You see, these gifts aren’t really given for you. They are given to you to help to love others. Love for God and love for others must be in the middle of all that we do, especially in this area of spiritual gifts.
In Matthew 7:11, Jesus says, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”
This past Sunday, we considered the good gifts God gives us through the Holy Spirit. Knowing what these gifts are was only half of our study. It’s essential that we have a proper understanding of how we are to use these gifts and why He has given them to us.
Watch this third part of our Walk in the Spirit series—then join us next Sunday at 10am as we conclude this series and consider our response to the Holy Spirit.
Jesus didn’t leave us as orphans. He didn’t leave us comfortless or helpless. He sent the Comforter, the Helper—the Holy Spirit who comforts, helps, and teaches us. But these are just a few of the things the Holy Spirit does.
The Holy Spirit also reminds us of God’s word. Have you ever had a conversation with someone, and a certain scripture pops into your head? That’s the Holy Spirit at work, who helps you by teaching and reminding you.
But wait! There’s more—so much more!
The Holy Spirit empowers us (Acts 1:8); leads us (Romans 8:14); guides us into all truth (John 16:13); strengthens us (Ephesians 3:16); seals us (Ephesians 1:13); teaches us to pray (Romans 8:26-27).
And if you don’t have a relationship with the Holy Spirit yet, the Spirit walks alongside you to convict you of your sin, shows you Jesus’ righteousness, and warns you of the coming judgment (John 16:8) so that you can know Him and He can live in you and you can live forever!
You can walk in the Spirit right now! We can’t earn salvation—no amount of self-help will ever be enough help! We are saved by God’s grace when we have faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. All you have to do is realize that you (like everyone else) are a sinner, that Christ died for your sins, and ask Him for forgiveness. Then turn from your sins and begin your daily relationship with Him. And with each passing day, your reliance upon Him will grow and grow.
The Bible is so much more than a self-help book, yet many approach it as if rules and regulations will finally help them overcome life’s many problems. “If I could only try harder to control myself enough to actually do what the Bible says to do, then one day maybe I could actually have self-control.” This thinking is a tragic mistake.
When we look at the Bible like a self-help book, we err in thinking that all we have to do is try harder. But trying harder and attempting to control ourselves doesn’t work! A reliance on the Holy Spirit that comes naturally though a daily relationship does!
As we consider Paul’s encouragement in Romans 8:1, we’re taking a closer look at what it means to walk in the Spirit so that we won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. Last Sunday, we learned who the Holy Spirit is. This past Sunday, we looked at what the Holy Spirit does and how He helps us.
Imagine what physically walking with Jesus would be like. Following in His footsteps day after day. Talking with Him by the Sea of Galilee or in Jerusalem. Watching Him performing amazing miracles. Listening to His parables and teachings. Imagine how reliant on Him you’d become—when difficult situations would come up, Jesus would respond.
Just as we would become reliant on Jesus to provide for us daily while walking with Him, Jesus wants us to have an even deeper reliance on the Person, presence, and power of the Holy Spirit. He said that our relationship with the Holy Spirit would be even more real, tangible, and helpful than having Him physically walk by our side (see John 16).
So how do we develop this daily reliance on the Holy Spirit? Just like the disciples developed a reliance on Jesus—by walking with Him daily. Which really takes the pressure off, doesn’t it? You don’t need to solve some spiritual puzzle or attain a certain level of holiness. You just have to practice the presence of God—start walking and talking with Him as you develop a personal relationship with Him. Like any relationship, it will take time as you walk and talk with the Holy Spirit every day. And it can start right now!
You see, reliance comes from relationships—and relationships start with, “hello.” So if you haven’t said, “hello” to the Holy Spirit, why not say “hello” right now? And if you have, continue to speak to Him throughout the day, every day—and you’ll find that as your relationship with Him grows, your reliance upon Him will deepen.
Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” But what does it mean to “walk in the Spirit?” It's an important question to ask—and answer. Before we start this walk, we took time on Sunday to get to know the Holy Spirit.
What does it mean to “serve in the newness of the Spirit”(Romans 7:6)? This is one of the most important questions a believer in Jesus can ask because the answer is the only way to get off of the swing from license to legalism. Unfortunately as believers, we swing back and forth between these two extremes for much of our walk with the Lord.
We start our walk with Jesus so thankful for grace and grateful that the thimble of our sin was fully overwhelmed by the ocean of God’s grace. As we understand this unmerited favor, there comes a season where we take it for granted. If we’re not careful, we start to justify sinful choices on the basis that we have God’s forgiveness and use God’s amazing grace as a license to sin.
Convicted of this, we overreact and feel as though discipline and devotion and rules and regulations are what we need to prevent falling into temptation so we can re-earn God’s favor. We continue for a time until it gets exhausting and wonder why we even try—after all, God is going to forgive us anyway.
So we swing back to license…then back to legalism…and back and forth, again and again. But there is a new way to serve God that get’s us off of this awful and exhausting pendulum.
On that pendulum, the law is the pivot point and sin is the power that makes it swing. What an awful abusive relationship as we are battered between two extremes! The only way out of this awful and abusive relationship is for us to die. But how? How could we somehow die to the law and to sin and then be born again to newness of life and live in and serve in the newness of the Spirit?
The answer is found at the end of Romans 7—“I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25)
When we died with Christ, we died to the law and to sin. When we rose with Christ, we rose to newness of life—we have been born again to newness of life! And now, we no longer desire to find a balance in the tension between license and legalism, but our desire is to live in and to serve in the newness of the Spirit.
There are two extremes in reaction to God’s grace: on one side there is license; on the other side, there is legalism.
On one side of the spectrum, there are those who see God’s unmerited favor too good to be true. It’s almost too dangerous to tell people that they are completely forgiven and righteous forever because of Jesus. After all, wouldn’t they use that as permission to sin? This is license—“since we are saved by grace, we are free to live however we please.”
On the other side of the spectrum, others feel compelled to avoid the dangers of license and think it is necessary for strict adherence to some sort of tether to goodness and godliness—a law we must live by if we are to have any hope of pleasing God. This is legalism—“we must please God by living according to the law to sanctify ourselves through our own efforts to be good.”
Normally when there are extremes on either end, there is usually a position found somewhere in the middle. But, that’s just not the case here. God has something for us that is completely separate from this entire spectrum.
Watch or listen to our study of Romans 7 as we understand how we can be free from the pull of these two extremes.
In Christ, we have a new nature—a godly nature that loves righteousness and wants to walk away from wickedness. It is unnatural now for us to sin. Not only has Christ set us free from having to live in sin habitually, He has also set us free from having to fall for sin episodically as well.
How? There are three ways:
It might look and sound something like this:
“Lord, you have set me free. You have made me into Your righteousness. I want my everything to be an instrument of who You have made me to be. Lord, I offer you my eyes, my mind, my hands. Let them be a continuation of who You have made me to be. Let them be instruments of righteousness.”
This isn’t just a one-and-done prayer. Look for opportunities to offer yourself up throughout your day until it becomes a habit. “Lord, I offer up my work to You. I offer up the physical strength you have given me to You. I offer up the ability that you have given me back to You. I want the whole of me to be used as instrument for Your glory.”
Take my life and let it be
consecrated, Lord, to thee.
Take my moments and my days;
let them flow in endless praise,
let them flow in endless praise.
In our previous study in Romans, we talked about how the power of sin has been broken and how we are to reckon that we had died to sin and rose to newness of life in Christ. We no longer have to live in sin!
This Sunday, the Apostle Paul walked us through how to practically offer up our body to Christ so that we don’t even have to sin episodically—even if there is an ocean of God’s grace.
Watch or listen to our study of Romans 6:15-23 as we considered the simple, yet effective information, appropriation, and application that will keep us from living in and falling into sin.
In Romans 6, Paul speaks to our identity—our spiritual DNA—of who we are in Christ. The reality of our identity in Christ is so important to keep in the forefront of our minds. Why? Because our flesh, the world, and the devil continually try to trick us and convince us that we are still slaves of sin and slaves to sin.
But Paul shouts the truth to our souls and says, "The Son HAS set you free, so now go BE free!" You are no longer a subject of the reign of sin and death that came as a result of Adam's disobedience. If you are in Christ, you are now a citizen of the reign of righteousness, the reign of grace, the reign of life that came as a result of the obedience of Jesus. You are now made into the very righteousness of God in Christ. You died with Christ on the cross to the reign of sin and death and disobedience. You rose with Christ from the grave to live in the fullness of the newness of this life in Him—full of life and love and righteousness.
So now go and BE who you already ARE! And don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Don't be fooled to think that you still are who you were. That person died with Christ and sin no longer has any hold over you now that you have been raised with Christ. Reckon yourself dead to sin and alive to God!
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?” This is a question that the Apostle Paul poses in the section of scripture we considered this Sunday. After all, since God’s ocean of grace is greater than our thimbles of sin, should we just keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of His wonderful grace?
In response to his own question, Paul doesn’t advocate for legalism (trying to earn God’s favor) or license (using God’s grace to rationalize sin). Our motivation for obedience should always be love for God. After being saved by grace through faith, we want to choose to stop sinning out of our love for God.
And yet, Paul’s answer to the question is more elemental than love. He encourages us to remember who we are in Christ—and then simply be who we already are. It’s here, at this basic level, where we find a more readily employable application than just another exhortation to love the Lord more.
Watch our study of Romans 6:1-14 as we reckon ourselves dead to sin and alive to God.
God thinks about you…a lot. How do we know this is true?
Just look up, then look down.
We now know that there are at least 2 trillion galaxies without our known universe, each with an average of 200-400 billion stars. And you are just one of almost 8 billion people on a little rock rotating around a spark that is just one of those 200-400 billion stars in our galaxy.
This information might make you feel small and insignificant IF you had no hope in God or knowledge of His word. And yet, here is what God’s word says about those 2 trillion times 200-400 billion stars:
“He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name.” (Psalm 147:7)
Now, look down and consider the number of grains of sand you could hold in your hand. Then think of how many handfuls of sand there are at a beach. Then think of the number of beaches on earth. Then think of what God’s word says about those grains of sand:
“How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand…” (Psalm 139:17-18)
Why is what God’s word says about stars and sand significant? Because the number of grains of sand on earth is similar to the number of stars in our observable universe! And yet, God thinks about YOU more than the number of grains of sand on earth, more than the number of stars in our universe, even more than all the aspects of all creation combined—and His thoughts towards you are good!
He loves you! He can take you from a small, insignificant speck of dust to a co-heir with Christ—no matter who you are or what you’ve done. God loves YOU so much that He died on a Roman cross to rescue you—to pay your price for you—so that you can be elevated from a slave to sin to a saved, sealed, redeemed, and reconciled co-heir with Christ. Call out to Him today—He is willing and wanting to save!!
This past Sunday, we paused our study in Romans, but continued the theme we considered at the end of Romans 5—the thimble of our sin compared to the ocean of God’s grace.
We see this illustrated in the short letter to Philemon, which the Apostle Paul wrote to Philemon regarding his runaway slave Onesimus. Though seen as small, insignificant, and worthless in the eyes of society, God would esteem and elevate Onesimus to the highest position that anyone in creation could ever hold—co-heir with Christ!
God wants to do the same for you. He thinks about you more than the number of grains of sand on earth, more than the stars in our universe, and more than all aspects of all creation combined! His thought towards you are good.
This is what the letter to Philemon is about. You are NOT worthless. You are loved by God, who invites YOU to be transformed from His creation to one of His children. Watch our study from Sunday and marvel at the marvelous grace of Jesus.
Consider the great lengths God went to in order to express His love for humanity. He showed this love in a tangible way—“God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). In 2 Corinthians, we read that “God made Him who knew no sin to be sin so that in Him we might become the very righteousness of God.” (see 2 Corinthians 5:21)
That’s an important reality to realize. Jesus didn’t just pay the debt of your sin and zeroed out your balance. He didn’t just credit your account His righteousness. No, He went even further—He made you INTO the very righteousness of God itself.
So if you are in Christ—be who you are!
In Christ, you are no longer a daughter or a son of Adam—you are now daughter or a son of God.
In Christ, you are no longer a sister or a brother of Cain and Abel—you are now a sister or a brother of Jesus.
In Christ, you are no longer a subject of the reign of sin and death through sin that came as a result of Adam’s disobedience—you are now a citizen of the reign of grace through righteousness to eternal life through Him.
In Christ, you are made into the very righteousness of God in Him!
Be who you are—in all places and at all times. And should you forget who you are—should you drift back to being a son or daughter of Adam and revisit the reign of sin and death—remember that God’s grace is greater than your sin. All of your sin collected and contained would only fill a thimble compared to the ocean of God’s grace.
In Romans 5, Paul writes about two different men—Adam and Jesus. Each of these men did something that had lasting effects on everyone who came after them. Adam’s act of disobedience caused a reign of death and sin—a reign that all of mankind has lived through. But Jesus’ act of obedience caused a reign of grace through righteousness to eternal life through Him!
Paul wanted us to know that although we were born into the reign of sin and death, we can be born into Jesus’ reign of grace. His one act of obedience resulted in a gift of righteousness which will allow anyone who has been born again into His family to reign in life and grace!
Watch the replay of our study in Romans 5:12-21 as we considered this portion of scripture and see once again how God’s grace is greater than our sin.
While we were at our worst, Christ died for us. While we were still sinners, God demonstrated His own love toward us. While we were unworthy in every way, God give us His one and only Son. Not only His Son, but peace, access to Him, hope, love, and His Holy Spirit. When we were at our absolute worst, God showed us how much He loves us by giving us all of this.
Think this through: God gave us all of this to us when we were the most ungodly, unworthy, and unrighteous. What Jesus did was so much more than paying your debt and crediting your account. Jesus not only gave you His righteousness, He had made you into the very righteousness of God.
How much more do you think He will do now that we have been made righteous—His righteousness? If He has given us such peace, hope, and love while we were His enemies, how much more will He give now that He has made us into His friends—His children?
His grace is truly amazing!
Do you remember your identity before you put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ? You were anxious, alone, lost, and rejected.
But then, something happened once you met Jesus and yielded to Him. You were no longer afraid, but had a spirit of power and of love and of a sound mind. You were no longer alone, but a friend of God. You once were lost, but now are found. In Christ, you have been accepted and restored.
In the passage we considered this past Sunday, the Apostle Paul points out these disparities—the difference between a life without the hope of the gospel, and a life that’s forever changed by Jesus.
On one side, there are words like without strength, ungodly, sinners, and enemies. And on the other side are words like love, justified, saved, reconciled, and life.
Paul wants everyone to know that Jesus is willing and wanting to take anyone from a place of weakness to a place of life, love, and strong consolation. Watch our study from Romans 5:6-11 and learn about the reconciliation that Jesus offers to all of us.
In Romans 5, we discover the gifts that Jesus is eager to give those who place their faith in Him: peace with God and access to God. These are essential to remember when circumstances tempt us to think that God is against us.
Paul knew we would encounter suffering. But he also knew that suffering produces perseverance, which produces character, which produces hope. This happens when we stand in the grace that God has given us and remember that God is for us, not against us. Trials, tribulations, difficulties, and bad days are NOT God being displeased with us or judging us. If you are in Christ, you have been justified—God sees you as sinless!
So the next time the devil reminds you of your past, stand firm in the grace of God and remind him of his future.
The next time the accuser reminds you of your sin and says, “Who said you could go to God?” remind Him that Jesus has justified you and has given you peace with God AND to God—then go to God and receive grace and mercy.
The next time you endure a trial or difficulty and Satan tempts you to think that it’s because God is mad at you, remember that nothing in all of creation could separate you from the love of God.
God is using suffering to produce in you the priceless qualities of perseverance and endurance, which will produce strength of character structural moral integrity, which will eventually produce hope.
So stand, dear friend—not on your own two feet, your own merit, or your own strength. Stand firm in the grace God has given you!
So far in the Book of Romans, Paul has provided the ordered and logical argument that the only way of salvation is to be justified by grace through faith.
In the fifth chapter, we learn about the practical benefits of this justification, beginning with this incredible truth: “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…” (Romans 5:1)
Through Jesus and Jesus alone, we have peace with God. But it gets better! We also have access to God: “…through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand…” (Romans 5:2)
Through faith in Christ, we have peace with God AND access God’s throne of grace—where we will receive mercy and grace to help us in our time of need!
This grace truly is amazing! Watch our study from Romans 5:1-5 as we opened up the word of God to read, hear, trust, and obey.
Jesus loves Thomas and Mary and John—the three people we meet in John 21 who encountered Jesus in real and tangible ways. Jesus met them right where they were at. They all saw and believed.
And yet, Jesus loves you as much as He loves them. He says Himself that there is a special blessing for those who have not seen and yet still believe. He freely gives a special blessing—a gift of faith—for those who have not seen, but who have heard God’s word. And that’s because faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17).
We have the blessing to open the Bible week after week together, and day after day with Him to read the things that were written so that we can have the hope of resurrection and the help to find faith in Him.
In the pages of the Bible, we encounter the One who can forgive us, the One who loves us, the One who tells us the truth, and the One who gives us purpose.
These things have been written…”that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:31)
From Pastor Dom...
When I first gave my life to Jesus, there were friends in my life who helped me to grow in my understanding of God, through His word, and for those friends