Why Do You Want the Spirit?

Here are my notes for the fourth session of The Forgotten God, by Francis Chan, which includes questions for my Poster-TheForgottenGodsmall group, quotes from the book, and other observations. Remember these are notes, and not a complete article on the topic. Please purchase the book to support the author.

The first step in reversing the neglect of the Holy Spirit is to desire to see him at work in us. So ask, “Why do you want him?” We can’t assume our hearts are right in our motivation. Why does it matter?

1. What are a few possible motivations for desiring the Holy Spirit?

2. Can you detect any of these in your heart?

Read Acts 8:9-24

3. It appears that Simon was intrigued by the power of the Holy Spirit. Why did he want the Spirit?

4. What would Simon’s motivation look like if it were transferred into the American church today?

5. Have you seen examples of this?

Peter calls Simon’s motivation into question. Seeing the Spirit working is one thing, but your heart must be in the right place. What is the purpose of the Spirit working in a believer’s life?

  • The Spirit works to glorify God (John 16:14)
  • We work to glorify God (Matthew 5:16)

6. When was the last time you saw someone do something amazing, yet received all the glory for himself?

7. When was the last time you saw someone do something amazing, yet all the glory went to God?

  • Jesus was very clear that their mission could not be accomplished on their own, they needed the power of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2)
  • We fixate on flashy manifestations of the Spirit, but when a proud person exhibits humility, is this any less supernatural?

8. What are some less glamorous ways the Holy Spirit’s power can be manifested in a person’s life.

9. Why are these expressions just as powerful?

10. Another trap we can fall into: we could be trying to lead the Spirit. We start with our dreams & desires then ask the Holy Spirit to accomplish our plans.

11. Practically, what does it look like to be led by the Spirit rather than trying to lead the Spirit for your purposes?

12. What is the right reason for desiring the Spirit?

  • 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, it is for the common good.
  • 1 Corinthians 12:31, there is a more excellent way: love people placed in our lives.

If we are open to the Spirit’s working in our lives, we must first let go of things that keep us from close fellowship with him.

Having the Spirit is not about being everything you want to be, but about God working through you to help people around you grow.

If the proper motivation for desiring the Spirit is love, ask yourself how much you love the people around you. Francis Chan challenged us in the room to speak the truth in love, and recognized how difficult this is for people to do this…

  • Are you willing and humble to do this for someone else?
  • Are you willing and humble enough to receive this from others?

Quotes from The Forgotten God book:

  • Recently, a man dying of cancer asked the church elders to anoint him with oil and pray for his healing. Before we prayed, however, I asked the man a question I don’t normally ask: “Why do you want to be healed? Why do you want to stay on this earth?” The man, as well as everyone else around, seemed a bit surprised that I would ask such a blunt question. The reason I probed like this is because in the epistle of James, we are reminded that we often don’t receive the answers to our prayers because we ask for the wrong reasons: “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” (James 4:3). Our desire to live should be for the sake and glory of the God who put us on this earth in the first place.
  • Right now I want you to take a break from reading and spend some time asking yourself why you want the Holy Spirit. Is it for power? Is it for your own betterment and purposes? Or is it because you want to experience all that God has for you? Is it because you love the church and desire to be a better servant to your sisters and brothers?
  • First Corinthians 12 tells us that each follower of Christ is given a “manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:7). As we’ve seen, these manifestations, or gifts, are “empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills” (1 Corinthians 12:11). So these reflections of the Spirit’s presence and activity in us have nothing to do with our natural abilities, and we have not received them because we have earned or somehow deserve them. Since these gifts come according to God’s will and not ours, it should be clear that they should not be used for our own boasting or entertainment.
  • The Holy Spirit has given you a supernatural ability to serve the people God has placed around you. If God cares enough about His church to give you this Spirit-empowered ability, shouldn’t you care enough about the church to use that gift for the same purpose?
  • The Holy Spirit works to glorify Christ (John 16:14), yet so many who emphasize the Holy Spirit seem to draw attention to themselves. The Corinthian church was notorious for this.
  • I have yet to meet someone who wouldn’t want to see a miracle. My concern is that I’ve met many people whose pursuit of miracles is greater than their pursuit of God. A lot of people want to talk about supernatural things like miracles, healing, or prophecy. But focusing inordinately on these things quickly becomes misguided. God calls us to pursue Him, not what He might do for us or even in our midst.
  • It used to be that if I had a great worship experience, I asked God to duplicate it the next time I came to worship. Like the kid impressed by a silly magic trick, I would pray, “Do it again!” One thing I’ve learned about God over the years, however, is that He rarely “does it again.” He’s the Creator, which means that He is (among other things) creative.
  • The Spirit is not a passive power that we can wield as we choose. The Spirit is God, a Being who requires that we submit ourselves to be led by Him. Do you really want to be led? Even people who are natural leaders don’t get to lead the Spirit. Everyone is called to be led by Him.
  • What if He asks you to give up something you’re not ready to give up? What if He leads you where you don’t want to go? What if he tells you to change jobs? To move? Are you willing to surrender to Him, no matter where He wants to take you? Am I?
  • The fact is that God is calling. The Spirit is beckoning. The real question is will you follow? Will you listen? I know I prefer a multiple-choice option for what God is asking me to do. That way, if I don’t like A or B, there are always options C and D. Sometimes, of course, this is exactly how the Spirit leads us. There can be two equally good choices that God lets us choose between.
  • My purpose in these questions is to get you to take 1 Corinthians 12 seriously, to believe that you have been given a manifestation of the Spirit and that your church, the worldwide body of Christ, and the world are crippled without your involvement. I write this because I love the church and want you to trust that you are more than just a helpful addition. You need to believe you are a vital member.
  • If you are still alive on this planet, it’s because He has something for you to do. He placed us on this earth for purposes that He orchestrated long before we were born (Ephesians 2:8–10).
  • When we submit to the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit, He helps us become more holy—more like Jesus. It is a lifelong journey of putting our flesh to death, or as Paul puts it in Galatians 5, of walking by the Spirit and not gratifying the desires of the flesh.
  • The phrase crucifying the flesh is not exactly a friendly, appealing group of words. I think this is because God wants us to be clear on what we are getting into. He wants us to know that His gift of the Holy Spirit is really not for our own pleasure or purposes. The Spirit is meant to lead us toward holiness. The Spirit is here with us to accomplish God’s purposes, not ours.

Hearing the Truth

We really cannot know the truth of our circumstances until we have heard from God. Moses demanded that Pharaoh let God’s people go, but caused the Hebrews to experience greater hardship. What might we have done in Moses position?

  1. Gotten mad at Israel and returned to tending sheep.
  2. Gotten mad at God and told him to get someone else.
  3. Decided that I must have misunderstood God’s will.
  4. Go back to God and ask to see what is happening from God’s perspective.

Moses blamed God and accused him of failing to do what he promised. He was so discouraged that he was ready to quit (Exodus 6:12). Let’s work on responding with the last statement.

The most difficult thing for anyone to do is to deny yourself and take up the will of God and follow him. We need to be God-centered, rather than self-centered. Look back at your day and you will notice how radically self-centered we are. It takes a lot of effort to see your life from God’s perspective.

Hearing the Truth:

The Truth is a person (John 14:6) so let’s work at hearing the truth from the Truth.

  1. Disciples in the Storm (Luke 8:22-25) They thought they were going to die in the storm. Was that the truth? No, the Truth was asleep in the back of the boat. The truth in this circumstance is that Jesus would stand up and calm the storm.
  2. The Widow of Nain (Luke 7:11-17) She likely thought that God doesn’t care, her son has died. Was that the truth? No, Jesus showed that he cares and has power, and raised her son. The people were filled with awe and praised God.
  3. Feeding the 5000 (John 6:1-15) They thought that we cannot feed all these people. Was that the truth? No, Jesus was testing the disciples because they were not God-centered. The people were fed and they praised God claiming a prophet has come to them.
  4. The Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) They were to reach the whole world, on their own? Was that the truth? No, Jesus wanted them to be filled with the Holy Spirit, for him to work through them to reach the world. Trust me and see what happens. He will not give us a task without the ability to accomplish it.

Never determine the truth of a situation by looking at the circumstances. We cannot know the truth of a circumstance until we have heard from God.

The Truth About Secrets

Everyone has a story to tell, and every part of our lives make up that story… victories, successes and the mistakes. Author Jeannie St. John Taylor wrote a book called “You Wouldn’t Love Me if You Knew” where a boy did something wrong and is afraid he can never be forgiven. He tries to replace the mistake with a series of good deeds but he never feels good enough. Once he comes clean, he learns a powerful truth about forgiveness.

  1. When was the last time you felt unforgivable? What did you learn?
  2. How often to you feel like that little boy… if we only knew your deepest and darkest most private secrets of your life?
  3. If you are currently keeping a secret, why do you think you are afraid to be honest?
  4. When was a time where you came clean with a secret, how did the most important people in your life respond?
  5. How do relationship suffer or benefit from being vulnerable?

Video Questions:

  1. How did you feel after seeing this scene in the film?
  2. How do you think Hannah felt when Cindy denied her the truth she was seeking? How can you relate?
  3. Has someone close to you ever kept a secret (the truth) from you? How did you feel? How did you respond when you learned the truth?
  4. How can you relate to Cindy’s response in this scene?

Bible Study: (2 Samuel 12:1-17) David is a man that has all of his ups and downs record for the world to see, throughout generations of time. The man after God’s own heart, the adulterous murderer king.

David was a giant among godly leaders, but he remained human as his sin with Bathsheba and Uriah showed. He spied Bathsheba bathing, desired her, and engineered the death of her faithful warrior husband, after committing adultery with her (2 Sam. 11).

Nathan, the prophet, confronted David with his secret sin, and David confessed his wrongdoing. The newborn child of David and Bathsheba died. David acknowledged his helplessness in the situation, confessing faith that he would go to be with the child one day. Bathsheba conceived again, bearing Solomon (2 Samuel 12:1-25).

  1. How is it easier to see the sin in someone else but not see it in ourselves? (2 Samuel 12:5-6)
  2. What did Nathan say would be the result of David’s sin? (2 Samuel 12:10-14)
  3. How did David respond when his sin was uncovered? (2 Samuel 12:16-17)
  4. How are you impacted by knowing that David was forgiven but still had to endure the consequences of his sin?

For the rest of the story: Able to rule the people but not his family, David saw intrigue, sexual sins, and murder rock his own household, resulting in his isolation from and eventual retreat before his son Absalom.

  • David grieved long and deep when his army killed Absalom (2 Samuel 18:19-33).
  • David’s kingdom was restored, but the hints of division between Judah and Israel remained (2 Samuel 19:40-43).
  • David had to put down a northern revolt (2 Samuel 20).
  • The last act the books of Samuel report about David is his census of the people, bringing God’s anger but also preparing a place for the temple to be built (2 Samuel 24).
  • The last chapters of 1 Chronicles describe extensive preparations David made for the building and the worship services of the temple.
  • David’s final days involved renewed intrigue among his family, as Adonijah sought to inherit his father’s throne, but Nathan and Bathsheba worked to ensure that Solomon became the next king (1 Kings 1:1-2:12).

Take a look at Psalm 32:

  1. David writes these psalms as confession of his sin. Psalm 32:3 mentions that he kept silent about his sin, how did that make him feel physically and emotionally? (Psalm 32:3-4)
  2. What are some ways that you see sin and guilt affecting people?
  3. According to Psalm 32:5, what did David do and what did God do?
  4. What lessons did David learn about sin and secrets (Bathsheba, Uriah, the front lines)? (Psalm 32:6-11)

A baby lost his life, a warrior lost his life, a woman lost her husband… but don’t judge David too harshly. How have you been like David the sinner?

Take a look at Psalm 51: this is a deeper confession of David’s sin

How have you been like David the forgiven?

The fact is that we have all done horrible things and we try to put on the false face to hide the truth from other people. Here are a few truths about secrets:

  1. Secrets birth other secrets.
  2. Secrets make us lonely.
  3. Secrets disconnect us from other people.
  4. Secrets are not secrets from God, while they do strain our relationship with him.
  5. Secrets prevent us from being fully alive in Christ.
  6. Secrets lose their power when they are shared.

Assignment and Challenge:

  1. What is there about your personality that not many people know?
  2. What is something you have overcome that not many people know?
  3. What is something with which you struggle that not many people know?

What Does the Bible Say About Keeping Secrets?

A secret can be difficult to keep and equally difficult to share, yet life seems to run on secrets, from concealing birthday presents, to obscuring a difficult past, to protecting the whereabouts of an important political figure. The Bible teaches, indirectly, that secrets can be either good or bad, but it does not clearly delineate the right and wrong uses of secrets.

Throughout the history of Israel, political and military secrets are mentioned without pronouncing any moral judgments for or against them (e.g., 2 Samuel 15:35-36). However, in the story of Samson and Delilah (Judges 16:4-22), Samson reveals the source of his strength, an act which, based on the aftermath of his admission, was awfully stupid. It was a secret he should have kept.

Esther’s story provides a positive example of someone who kept a secret. Her decision to hide her nationality (Esther 2:20) became an integral part of God’s plan to save His people (Esther 4:13; 7:3-6). The same story also supports the morality of revealing a secret that, if kept hidden, would cause great wrong or serious harm (Esther 2:21-23).

Proverbs, the central book among the “wisdom literature” of the Bible, is the most explicit about secrets. Chapter 11 says that “a man of understanding holds his tongue. A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret” (Proverbs 11:12-13). So, keeping a secret can be noble, but secrets kept for the wrong reason earn a person the title of “wicked,” for “a wicked man accepts a bribe in secret to pervert the course of justice” (Proverbs 17:23), and “whoever slanders his neighbor in secret, him will I put to silence” (Psalm 101:5).

One type of secret is always wrong: trying to hide sin. “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy” (Proverbs 28:13). When it comes to our sin, God wants full disclosure, and He grants full forgiveness (Isaiah 1:18).

Of course, there’s no use trying to hide our sin from God. Nothing can be kept from Him. He is “the God of gods . . . and a revealer of secrets” (Daniel 2:47). Even our “secret sins” are exposed in His light (Psalm 90:8). “For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light” (Luke 8:17).

God Himself keeps some things—likely many things—hidden from us: “The secret things belong to the LORD our God” (Deuteronomy 29:29). Jesus asked several people to keep miracles He had done secret. For example, Jesus healed two blind men and told them to “see that no one knows about this” (Matthew 9:30). When Job realized the immensity of God’s knowledge, he spoke of “things too wonderful for me to know” (Job 42:3).

We can conclude that God does not consider keeping a secret to be sinful in and of itself. There are some things that people should know and some things they should not. God’s concern is how secrets are used, whether to protect or to hurt.

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Being a Man of Steel

I have recently discovered that we find Superman in Psalm 45! Take a look at this:

In your majesty, ride out to victory, defending truth, humility, and justice. Go forth to perform awe-inspiring deeds! (Psalm 45:4)

When I was younger, I remember watching the Adventures of Superman on our black-and-white Motorola television set. I wanted to be just like that “strange visitor from another planet” who fought a “never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way.”

Superman, ironically enough, has much in common with the king who is praised in Psalm 45. This psalm is unusual in that it is addressed, not to God or to the people of Israel, but to the king on the occasion of his wedding (Psalm 45:13-15). In Psalm 45:4, the psalmist urges the king to “ride out to victory, defending truth, humility, and justice.” That’s not exactly “truth, justice, and the American way,” but two out of three ain’t half bad.

When we pray for our leaders, as Scripture urges us to do (1 Timothy 2:2), we should ask God to lead them in the ways of truth, humility, and justice. Yet Psalm 45:4 also provides a model for our behavior in this world. We are also to be people of truth, humility, and justice.

  1. As people of truth, we will speak and live in a way that reflects God and his revelation. In a world of falsehood, in which truth itself is under attack, we will seek the truth in all things, stand for the truth in what we say and do.
  2. As people of humility, we will never speak the truth in a way that is prideful, as if the truth belongs to us. We will always see ourselves as subjects of the King of kings, and offer our lives to him, and to others as servants. We will imitate the humble servanthood of Jesus.
  3. As people of justice, we will treat all people fairly and will work for a world that offers justice for all. We will be especially committed to doing justice for the poor and powerless. Where we have been given authority, in our work, our families, our churches, or our community, we will strive for just systems that reflect the character of God.

When you “ride out” today into the world, defend truth, humility, and justice as God’s servant. How can you express your commitment to truth today? How can you live with humility? How can you seek God’s justice in your part of the world?

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