Sunday June 26, 2016 | Greg Boyd
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
We began our new Holy Spirit series by hearing stories from Rob & Fred, friends of Greg's and podrishioners from a house church network in Philadelphia. They shared about what it looks like for them to choose to live in the flow of the Holy Spirit on a day to day basis.
The message started off with a short video on a passage from Jude reminding us that we are engaged in a cosmic battle between God and the forces of darkness. In this battle we need to use everything we have, prayer and scripture, being constantly on the lookout for the enemy’s weapons of doubt, lies, and fear that try to blind our hearts and keep us from helping others. We were encouraged to fight the good fight and to know truth so we were not led astray.
After the video Greg spoke about how believers are in a cosmic battle, the spiritual equivalent of D-Day in World War II. Earth is like Normandy and Christians must not be overly interested in civilian affairs, but rather be seeking to please their commanding officer- Christ Jesus. The only way this is possible is to be in touch with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God in us. He is present in all who have surrendered to Christ.
This summer will be the summer of the Spirit! While at a church planting conference Greg met Fred and Rob. As the three became friends, Greg quickly saw that there was no separation between ordinary life and spiritual life for Fred and Rob and asked if they would come share with Woodland Hills. Greg, Fred, and Rob shared what walking in the Spirit means in a interview-like style. The biggest obstacle for most believers it that though they believe in the Holy Spirit, they don’t experience Him on a day-to-day basis. To counter this Rob encouraged us to start everyday giving God our first fruits. Oftentimes there is a temptation to start the day with social media, or tv, or the news, but Jesus is the giver of all good things. Spending the very first part of the day with Him, praising Him and getting to know the goodness of God, sets the whole day on a positive foundation.
Rob impressed that a heart of gratitude towards God makes possible walking with Him. It is also this time with the Lord that makes possible loving others.
Rob and Fred shared how the Lord can lead in any part of the day. They will start by asking “Holy Spirit what do you have for us today?” Greg likened it to keeping our walkie-talkies on. Not that God dictates to us our every move, but rather as we move through the day founded in His goodness we are giving Him the opportunity to intercede.
Fred shared how he travels for work and to keep the door open for God to intercede he has chosen to take cabs. Most of his cab drivers are muslim and this gives him an opportunity to talk with them. During one cab ride he got the opportunity to invite his muslim cab driver to a prayer and worship meeting.
The key to staying aware of God’s presence and possible intercessions is to be intentional. We only have so much time in this life and why not live it fully to God’s glory? Rob shared how he had opportunity to talk with a woman at work about somethings that were on her heart. During the conversation he felt a nudge from the Holy Spirit to ask some specific questions and this led to him having the opportunity to share Jesus with her.
The key to hearing God’s voice is to know what God’s voice sounds like. Speaking time getting to know God allows us to know our Father’s voice. He has a lot of wonderful things to say about every single person. Greg likened it to being in a crowded room. When you are surrounded by people you might not notice a gentle nudge. Same with the Holy Spirit, if our lives are too full of noise we have a much harder time hearing the Lord’s voice.
Hearing God’s voice allows for opportunities to share and love others. Rob cautioned to never treat anyone like a projected but to recognize that we might be the only example of Jesus that someone every meets. Fred met a woman at a boutique that mentioned to him that she had a friend in accident. Fred asked to pray for her and right there prayed with her about her friend, impressing during that prayer the love and compassion of Christ. We don’t have to “close the deal” and bring someone to Christ. That is the work of the Holy Spirit. We only need to be agents of God’s pursuing love. Never be afraid to say the name of Christ, even if it might seem to offend people, because there is power in His name.
Rob shared a story of going out on a two person evangelist outing. Before Rob and his partner in the outing, Chris, set out they prayed and ask the Holy Spirit if there were specific people that they should talk to. Rob saw in his imagination a young man in a plaid shirt and Chris saw a woman in a hooded sweatshirt. Throughout the night they each found the person that they had seen in their mind. Rob was able to share a natural conversation about Christ with the man in the plaid shirt. He found that he didn’t have to do the work of the Holy Spirit, but rather simply step out in faith. Later they found the woman in the sweatshirt and were able to pray with her about her need for physical healing and share Jesus with her.
But how do we know that the nudges we get from the Holy Spirit are from Him or just our brain? Part of it is being in a community with a culture of sharing testimonies. As we hear these stories we get a better sense of how God works. Fred shared that he was once driving a bus and felt the need to open the door and tell the man in the car next to him that Jesus was still on His throne. Fred thought that was too odd and pushed it aside, but after hearing it three times, he did. The man in the car next to him started to weep after he heard Fred. Fred explained that we can’t always understand what God is doing but need only be faithful.