I remember one of the most traumatic times in my life was when I left home for college. I had been very active in my church’s youth group, being together with them at least two or three times a week. My college was 1,000 miles away from home, so a quick trip home on a long weekend wasn’t an option. When I left in August, I knew I wouldn’t be seeing anyone again until Christmas break in December. Before that time, the farthest away from home I had been was Camp Cowen, and even then I had friends with me there. When I arrived in Tulsa, Oklahoma and beginning settling into a routine, I felt like I had died and gone somewhere else to live where there was no one I knew. Land-line calls were pretty expensive, and there was no Internet for email, instant messages or Skype. There were no cell phones. So the best I could do was written letters, and one cassette tape that was sent to me with a lot of verbal messages and well-wishes. I was miserable in those first few months. I was homesick, but too stubborn to admit it. If I could have just taken them all with me, I would have been so much better. Eventually I made new friends, and by the end of the second semester I had adjusted. Have you ever been in a similar situation? Have you ever been so close to one person or a group of friends that you wanted them with you as much as possible? God understands that need we all have for companionship. As important to us as that need is for the presence of friends and family, the need for the presence of God is even more important. We’ve been created so that we have a deep need not only to have others present with us, but to have God present with us. That’s one of the main reasons as Christians God has given us the Holy Spirit. For each one of us who has asked Jesus Christ to forgive us our sins and to give us new life, God imparts to us the Holy Spirit. Actually, that new life is a life of relationship with God, it’s a new existence of togetherness with Him. The only way we can have it through Jesus – nothing else is sufficient. So in this fourth and final message of the foundation series, we’re going to focus on the Holy Spirit. For a strong, stable foundation in our Christian lives, we need to have a basic understanding that God’s Word is our final authority, that God reigns over me, that Jesus is God with me, and that the Holy Spirit is God in me. As Jesus’ earthly ministry was coming to a close, after His death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead, he was preparing to leave His disciples. He had been with them for three years 24/7. He knew they hated to see Him go, and would miss Him. He told them earlier in John 16:7, “…I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send Him to you.” He also said to them in John 14:16, “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,” That helper is the Holy Spirit. When we are saved we receive the Holy Spirit, and He never leaves us. There are at least three important things you need to know about Him.
First, by the Holy Spirit God indwells me. 1 Corinthians 6:19 says, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,” Most of us look at ourselves in the mirror before we start our day each morning. We look at our bodies, and usually we are dissatisfied with what we see. We could use a little less fat, a little more muscle, a little more height, a little better looks, a little more hair, a little less wrinkles. There’s always something that about this body that represents us that we’d like to change to somehow increase the worth of the person inside. To God, He loves the person inside. When He looks at the body of a Christian, He isn’t looking at the appearance of a large waistline, a small chest line, stature, or signs of age. When God looks at you as a Christian, He sees His home. His standards of what makes a good home is far different than what the world’s standards are of what makes a good body. Before we go any further, we need to be clear on the nature of the Holy Spirit. He is not an “it.” For those of us who are into Star Wars, He is not “The Force.” He is not an impersonal source of power, though He is very powerful. He isn’t spooky – we may get that impression from older Bible translations that refer to the Holy Ghost. The Holy Spirit is a person who comes to live in every follower of Jesus Christ. Based on this verse in 1 Corinthians 6, our body isn’t just God’s home, it is His temple. A temple is a place of worship. Since God lives in our bodies 24/7, then our bodies are always to be places of worship. This church building isn’t the place where God’s Spirit lives. This church building is a place where God’s people meet to worship. God’s temple however, is you and me as followers of Jesus. In other words, your body isn’t a hotel, where the Holy Spirit stays on Sundays only with a checkout time of 12:00 noon. He is in you all the time. Since your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, what you do with your body can honor God or dishonor God. Also, the way you take care of your body honors God or dishonors God. Exercise is important. Sensible diet is important. We only get one body – we can’t trade it in when it becomes broken down as we would a car. I heard a saying some time ago, “You are what you eat.” To a great extent, that is true. Another saying that my family physician from years ago had posted on his wall read, “Eat to live, don’t live to eat.” Taking care of your body, including eating sensibly, is important because God lives there. We want to honor God with our bodies because He lives in them. The wonderful truth is that once God enters your body, He doesn’t leave. He doesn’t come to rent, he comes to own. In fact, He has already purchased you – you belong to Him. So there is no need to worry, there is no need to fear, God is with You, and God is in You. By the Holy Spirit, God indwells me.
Then by the Holy Spirit, God empowers me. Acts 1:8 says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” The Holy Spirit has great power, power to enable us to do things we could not do on our own. If you are struggling with sin, trying to drop an ungodly attitude, habit or lifestyle, you aren’t struggling alone. God is there to empower you to live for Him. If you are wanting to grow as a Christian, and just can’t seem to get your act together, you aren’t serving God on our own. The Holy Spirit is in you. Tim Keller, a popular Christian author and pastor, shared a story about the power of the Holy Spirit in a person. A minister was visiting Italy, and there he saw the grave of a man who had died centuries earlier. The man had been an unbeliever and was completely opposed to Christianity. Still, he was also a little fearful of it. So he had a huge stone slab put over his grave so he would not have to be raised from the dead in case there is a resurrection from the dead. He had insignias put all over the slab saying, “I do not want to be raised from the dead. I don’t believe in it.” Apparently, when he was buried, an acorn must have fallen into the grave before it was covered with dirt. So a hundred years later the acorn had grown up through the grave and split the stone slab down the middle. The acorn had become a tall, towering oak tree. The minister looked at it and asked, “If a small acorn, which has power of biological life in it, can split a slab of that size, what can the acorn of God’s resurrection power do in a person’s life?” Keller then said, “The minute you decide to receive Jesus as Savior and Lord, the power of the Holy Spirit comes into your life. It’s the power of the resurrection—the same thing that raised Jesus from the dead ….Think of the things you see as immovable slabs in your life—your bitterness, your insecurity, your fears, your self-doubts. Those things can be split and rolled off. The more you know Him, the more you grow into the power of the resurrection.” The whole reason God instills such power in you is so that You can be His witness, so that others will know about Jesus through you. By the Holy Spirit, God empowers me.
By the Holy Spirit, God leads me. Romans 8:14 says, “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” How exactly does God lead me? How does it happen? He leads you through helping you to understand the truth of the Bible. John 16:13 says, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, …” God’s Word is truth, but it cannot be understood apart from the Holy Spirit. In 1799 while French soldiers were rebuilding a fort in Egypt, they discovered the Rosetta Stone. The Rosetta Stone is important because for years scholars had been trying to understand Egyptian hieroglyphics, an ancient Egyptian form of writing. They were unable to make any progress. The Rosetta Stone however, had a message written in two languages, Egyptian and Greek. With the combination of the hieroglyphics and the Greek, the scholars finally were able to make sense of the hieroglyphics. The Rosetta Stone was the key. In a similar way, the Holy Spirit is your Rosetta Stone – He enables you to understand God’s Word when otherwise you would be unable to do so. Not only does He help you to understand, He is also your personal Guide. As most people now know, I am horrible with directions when it comes to driving. I have a GPS, so when I am going to some place unfamiliar it will tell me exactly where to go. That’s nice, but there are times when the GPS doesn’t know the way. The maps haven’t been updated with new highways, or there is road construction. Then I am on my own. Usually Jeannie is with me, so she serves as an excellent navigator. If we’re both in unfamiliar territory however, what works best is to have someone to follow who knows the way. Then getting to the destination is simple – I just have to stick with the person ahead of me who is my personal guide. Well the Holy Spirit is your personal Guide – if you stick with Him, He will navigate you through God’s Word and get you where you need to go. God also leads you through using you in His service. May we never insult God by saying He can’t use us. Throughout the Bible we see God using flawed, imperfect people. By the Holy Spirit, God leads you into service.
The Holy Spirit is Jesus leading us, but we have to be willing to follow. This morning, are you willing to follow His call? Imagine this scene if you will: you’re playing baseball with Jesus. The stands are full of fans, but out there on the field it’s just Him and you. You’re the pitcher. Jesus is the catcher, behind home plate. He settles into His crouch, ready to play, and you look for His signals—simple commands. What pitch does He want you to throw? You wait in anticipation, but also with one eye on the crowd. What will the crowd think of you? He signals a fastball. You think for a moment and then shake your head—no, not a fastball. Next He signals a slider. This time you look toward your teammates in the dugout for guidance. Then you glance up at the fans. No, you don’t like that one either. He gives you a third signal. No, not today, thank you! Then imagine Jesus silently and slowly withdrawing His signaling hand back into His mitt. There’s a deep disappointment in His eyes. He’s decided to let you throw whatever you want. So you do—and then wonder why you have no team spirit anymore and you’re losing the game! Has Jesus stopped giving you signals? I doubt it. He never stops speaking. Is there a signal God’s been trying to give you, even as you hear these words, but you’ve ignored it because you just don’t want to obey? Follow Him, trust Him, He knows what is best for You.