I just returned from a trip to Haiti and it was an unbelievable trip. There was only one downside and it’s the same downside we all have when we return from any great trip or vacation: the to-do list that is waiting for you when you get home. I got home on Wednesday and on Thursday I had this long to do list of things I needed to do to get my home back in order.
The first thing I noticed when I came home was my lawn needed to be mowed. So I put that on my list. The lawn mower is in the garage and when I lifted the garage door, the bottom part of my garage door fell off. So now I needed to fix my garage door. I put that on the list. When I did get the door opened I saw the half built doll house that I’ve been working on for my daughter for Christmas. So I had to get some work done on that. So that’s on my list.
You get the idea but in case you don’t here’s what my entire back-from-Haiti to-do list looked like:
- Mow the lawn
- Fix the garage door
- Build a doll house
- Replace van parts
- Get the van ready to be sold
- Sell the van
- Clean the pool
- Clean the pool filter
- Replace the termite damaged wood
- Buy groceries
- Clean the house
To-Do List Christianity
We all have these to-do lists when we get back from vacation, so why am I bringing this up? Aren’t we taking about the Bible at all today? Yes, we are. Let me see if I can make sense of this for you with one more to-do list. This is a to do list that many people got when they become God followers:
- Read your bible a half hour every day
- Spend 15 minutes in prayer
- Say 10 Our Fathers and 5 Hail Mary’s
- Discipline yourself to overcome bad habits
- Go to church
- Tithe 10% of your income
- Join a small group
- Serve in Sunday School
- Memorize one verse a week
Do any of you have any experience with that to-do list? This is what following God is all about right? Make this list and check these boxes. Why do we do that? I think there is a noble reason behind all of that. We want to grow in our faith. We want to be better God followers. We want to be more godly and more righteous. But honestly, just looking at that list is exhausting, isn’t it? Because it’s just another to-do list. It’s just more plates to keep spinning; more duties to perform. Honestly, lists like this ultimately get so burdensome that they just wear us out. Some people I know got so tired they just left the church altogether. Wouldn’t it be great if there was another list?
The Apostle’s Creed
Today we are continuing our series on the Apostles Creed. The apostles creed is a document that is only 109 words long that the early church fathers created to help people understand the basics of our faith. Today we are talking about an aspect of our faith that is often overlooked. This line simply says this: “I believe in the Holy Spirit.” Many people miss this aspect of faith in God. And as a result, you end up with a long to-do list of responsibilities. If that’s you I have news, for you: “Pull yourselves up by your own boot straps” is not in the Bible. Jesus never expected you to go through life alone. He sent his Holy Spirit down to be with us. When Jesus was with his disciples during his last days he sat them down and told them he was leaving. But He would not leave his friends empty handed.
25 All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.–John 14:25-27
Most of us think that life would be easier if Jesus was just walking beside us along our journey. Jesus said, “I will do you one better. I will send my Spirit to live in you.”
What Would You Rather Have?
Jesus says: “Listen to what access to the Holy Spirit can do for you: He will remind you of me. He will give you peace. He will keep your heart from being troubled. He will remove your fears. The Holy Spirit is better than me. He’s me living inside of you.”
Anyone here a golf fan? You love golf. Live for golf; happily miss church for golf? Just kidding. Let me ask you golf fans a question: what you would rather have Dustin Johnson, the number one ranked golfer in the world, to take you to a private course and teach you everything that he knows about golf or the spirit of Dustin Johnson to live inside of you always. With the second scenario, when you are on the golf course, you would instinctively know golf the way Dustin Johnson does. You would make bunker saves like Dustin. You would putt like Dustin. You would be able to pull out a driver on the narrow fairways and hit it a stiff 350 yards. To this point in my life I’ve gotten closer to throwing my driver 350 yards to hitting it 350 yards. Wouldn’t it be sweet to have that power inside of you? If that was the case, I would happily miss church to go golfing.
Folks this is what we’re talking about when we talk about the Holy Spirit. God living inside of us. God giving us the strength to do what we could never do on our own.
What the Holy Spirit Can Do for You
Let me give you a quick rundown of some of the things God promises us through his spirit along with some Bible verses to back me up (I know you are busy but if you take a minute to read them you won’t be disappointed):
- He promises us power
The Greek word that is used for power in each of these promises is the word “Dunamis.” Any guesses what English word we get from this word? That’s right. Dynamite. When we let God into our life he unleashes explosive power into our lives.
- He promises to give us hope in a hopeless world
Bible Reference: Romans 15:13
This is a great verse. In this verse, God promises us hope, joy, peace, and hope again. Anyone want those three characteristics in their life? What do you have to do to get those characteristics in your life: Trust. If you can get to the place where your trust is in God and not yourself you get hope, joy, peace, and overflowing hope.
- The Holy Spirit gives us power to speak for God
Bible reference: I Corinthians 2:12,13
Let me ask you a question: have you ever had any of these thoughts run through your mind? “I really need to talk to that guy about God… I really need to reach out to my sister and tell her about Jesus, but I have no idea what to say…I’m just not smart enough, I don’t know enough about the Bible.” If you’ve ever been in a spot like that where you really think you should say something, but you just don’t know what to say, here’s what I want you to do: Just pray this: “God open up our conversation. God, you give me the opportunity and you tell me what to say.” That’s what the Holy Spirit does. He gives us the right words at the right time. Try it out. See what happens.
- The Holy Spirit gives us the power to experience all the fullness of God
Bible Reference: Ephesians 3:16-19
When you have the Holy Spirit in your life and you let him loose, this is what you get. You get the fullness of God. You get everything God has to offer. The love. The power. The knowledge. All that God has to give.
Okay, quick question. Is there anything that you don’t want on this list.
Anyone here who doesn’t want inner strength?
Anyone here not want hope even when life looks hopeless?
Anyone here not want God to speak the words you can’t seem to say?
Who here doesn’t want all the fullness of God’s love and peace and knowledge and joy?
I like that list. Here’s the amazing thing about that list. It is not a to-do list. It’s a to-be list. This is what we will be if we invite the Holy Spirit to live in us.
Turns out we are working on the wrong to-do list. We are trying to do it all ourselves by our own power. If only I could read more. If only I sacrificed more. If only I had more will power and I just tried harder. Then I could live like I want. That was never God’s plan. Our Christian to-do list is not a bad list. Some of those items can be good. They can help us grow. But too many of us have been trying to do life with God by our list alone. That’s why you’ve been so frustrated. That’s why you’re not making progress.
Do Not Quench the Spirit
There is an obvious question I think we need to ask ourselves at this point. Let’s just say there is a Holy Spirit and that He promises us this kind of power and joy and peace in our lives. If that is the case, why are we not experiencing more of him? Right? If this really is true, then why aren’t we all happy and peaceful and full of hope and feeling fulfilled? In 1 Thessalonians 5:19 Paul makes this famous statement:
“Do not quench the Spirit.”
Is it possible that we are quenching this spirit? That the reason we aren’t experiencing all of this is because we are getting in the way. I can only answer for myself and my answer is “Absolutely yes. There is no question I get in the way.” So how do we quench the Holy Spirit? Let me tell you:
We neglect to invite the Holy Spirit into our situation
What situation do you have today? One thing I know for sure I know is that you have a situation. Some of you are struggling with a kid situation. They are sick or struggling in school or out of control and you aren’t sure what to do about it. There are others who have a marriage situation. Some of you are surviving a work situation. Some of you are having a car situation. That’s your big issue. I don’t know much but I know that you all are right smack dab in the middle of a situation.
There are a lot of ways we can handle a situation. We can talk about it with someone. Call a counselor. Search the internet. Look it up on Web MD (I don’t recommend that one). Buy a book on the subject. None of those are necessarily bad, but that that’s not the first step we should take, at least according to God. Philippians 4:6 gives us our first step:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Our first step in any situation is to go to God. Ask him for help. Get his opinion. According to what we have learned today, this isn’t just a prayer request. We are asking God for the power of His Spirit to enter into our lives and do what we could not do for ourselves. That needs to be our go-to move before Google. According to what I read this week, you don’t even need to know what to pray for and you will get the help you need. God knows what you need, even if you don’t.
The Waffle Fairy
I want to end this message by telling you the magical tale of the waffle fairy. I love waffles. My waffle-making skills go way back. 30 years to be exact. That’s when I got the title, the waffle fairy. Jilane and I got married 30 years ago and one of our wedding presents was a waffle iron. I love waffles and you would have thought the waffle iron would be in our kitchen, but the first time we plugged it in it didn’t work. No heat. So we put it back on the wall to be returned. One day I came from work to our little house and I walked by the trash and I noticed that the waffle iron was in the trash. So I rescued the waffle iron from the trash and found my wife and said, “Why did you throw out the waffle iron?” At that point my wife said the words that would become forever famous in our house, “It’s broken. What, is the waffle fairy going to come over and fix it?” People who know me know that I’m a very cheap man and I can’t throw out anything, especially a sparkling new waffle iron, so after two years of owning a broken waffle iron I decided to see if I could fix it. I got a screw driver and opened it up. When I looked inside I saw that there was a male electrical connector that had come apart from a female electrical connector. So I simply attached the two, put the waffle iron back together and guess what we had for dinner that night? I’ve been the waffle fairy every since.
What good is a waffle iron without electrical power? It’s no good. It ends up in the trash and you end up with a cup full of waffle. A waffle iron can only make waffles if it’s plugged in. Folks, maybe it’s time you plugged in. Maybe it’s time you stopped living to-do list Christianity. You stopped trying to just check off boxes in your spiritual life. Maybe it’s time you believed in the Holy Spirit.