Lent Focus 2024 - Sermon - 3 March 2024 – completely4giving, responding to God's love - #3 giving enabler

Published On: 

Mon 4 Mar 2024 — 9:15 am

Acts 2:42-47/John 7:37-39

This is the third in our Lent series completely4giving – responding to God’s love

To recap on the last two weeks, and specifically linked to the statement of faith we regularly make during our times of worship:

First, Giving Creator – when we say…

I believe and trust in God the Father,

source of all being and life,

the one for whom we exist?

Second, Giving Redeemer – declaring…

I believe and trust in God the Son,

who took our human nature,

died for us and rose again?

And today, we are looking at…

Giving Enabler – when we often state…

I believe and trust in God the Holy Spirit,

who gives life to the people of God

and makes Christ known in the world?

What we are reflecting on is that God is the Creator of all things and the Lord of all history.

In Jesus Christ God made himself known and acted to save the world.

And through the Holy Spirit, God is at work in the Church and in the world to fulfil his purposes…

Let’s go back to the beginning of time… our time on earth – born – dependent – helpless in many ways – reliant on our parents and those who cared for us in our early years

Progressively we become more independent – getting washed and dressed – learn to ride a bike - go to school – educated – learn to drive - work – earn money

We have been encouraged and been given the ability to do these things for ourselves, as well as developing our expertise in all areas of life…

To give you a few examples, in my own case…

At home - gardening – painting and decorating – carpentry…

Working as an engineer – designing – thinking creatively - developing practical skills - plumbing…

Character building – fell walking – map reading – climbing – skiing…

With the Air Cadets – learning to fly as well as learning to work as part of a team…

As a priest in the church – biblical – liturgical – pastoral – reaching out with the good news of Jesus…

There are times when we are able to do things on our own…

…until such times that we might become proficient in our own right.

Even so, with all these examples I have shared with you, we need to recognise that we still need help…

We think we can manage on our own, but the reality is that we can’t…

When Jesus told the disciples he was going from them they found this difficult to take because they didn’t know how they could cope without him.

But, all is not lost…

First - Jesus promises the gift of the Holy Spirit – streams of living water – as read in John 7.37-39

The Spirit will only come when Jesus has been glorified – a clear reference to his resurrection from death to life.

And when the Spirit comes, he will be like ‘streams of living water’, within those who believe in Jesus, bringing new life and refreshment.

Similar to physical life without water, the Christian life without the Holy Spirit would be unthinkable, even impossible…

Last week, we heard the story of Nicodemus – eternal life – born of water and the Spirit – the water and the Spirit representing new life in Jesus Christ.

In our Baptism services we ask for God’s Holy Spirit to be a real part of what is happening – the water and the Spirit representing new life in Jesus Christ.

It symbolises the importance of water, as we hear in the words of the prayer over the water within the Baptism service…

Thank you, loving Father, for the gift of your Son Jesus, who was baptised in the River Jordan, where your Spirit came upon him and revealed him as the Son you love.

Heavenly Father, may those who are baptised in this water be cleansed by the water of life and filled with your Spirit.

May they know that they are loved as your child and be renewed to walk from now on in the strength of Jesus Christ our Lord.

In practical terms we need water to survive – without water we will dehydrate – shrivel up and die.

We can also see this in the plants and trees – if we don’t water them, they find it hard to live.

The importance of water is emphasized in society, and we can see the results of this in the many people who have a constant supply of bottled water with them.

And in the same way, we need the Holy Spirit in our lives in order to carry on with our lives, to go on living, to continue to exist.

Second - The gift of the Holy Spirit is given and received – in the message of Pentecost – Acts 2:1-21

The disciples heard what sounded like the blowing of a violent wind.

They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire. Being filled with the Holy Spirit they began to speak in other languages.

 It's in the middle of all the excitement and confusion that one of the disciples, Peter, preaches the first recorded Christian sermon!

For us to really get to a basic understanding of the Holy Spirit, there is a need for us to spend time delving into the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, reading and exploring.

And for our lives to really come to life, we are expected to believe.

That is, come to an understanding that Jesus died for each one of us, as individuals, that he rose from the dead, giving us the hope of eternal life.

And as we believe, Jesus has promised that we shall receive his Holy Spirit.

Unless we truly receive the Holy Spirit, to believe in Christ, and allow him to guide our lives, we can't truly contribute to God's church.

So, what happened at Pentecost:

The Spirit became available to one and all.

He was now recognised as personal.

He will never be removed - he will remain with us both individually and corporately until the end of the age. (Acts 15:8)…

Third - The results of the Holy Spirit being given and received are described in Acts 2.42-47

Luke gives us insights of the quality of the fellowship of the new Christians:

The new believers grow through the teaching of the apostles, fellowship, the breaking of bread, and prayer (2:42)

It is a time of great excitement and expectation. People expect things to happen (2:43).

We are given the image of believers having everything in common (2:44).

    Even though it sounds idealistic today, we are reminded that all that the early church had was given by God for the common good.

    This serves as a challenge for our Christian community.

This teaching , expectation and sharing led to fantastic things happening – the church grows daily

The enabler, the Holy Spirit, has been given to us…

…not so that we can be self-reliant, as there is warning against being like that, which we find in the first letter of Timothy - 1 Timothy 6:17-19

Timothy writes:

17 Warn the rich people of this world not to be proud or to trust in wealth that is easily lost. Tell them to have faith in God, who is rich and blesses us with everything we need to enjoy life. 18 Instruct them to do as many good deeds as they can and to help everyone. Remind the rich to be generous and share what they have. 19 This will lay a solid foundation for the future, so they will know what true life is like. (CEV)

As we receive Jesus into our lives we are given the Holy Spirit…

to enable us to grow in our faith and the knowledge of God’s love

to enable us to expect great things and to be excited by this

to enable us share what we have been given

to enable God to work through us and see others come to faith

The gift of the Holy Spirit leads to a depth of faith…

…it leads to vision and direction…

…and it leads to God's power in our lives.

If this is the case, then we shall become more committed to his service…

..and ultimately see his church grow…


Mike Lodge/3 March 24