Disruptive Discipleship | Dr. Mark Merrill

Hello, everyone at Church Online. Today, we’re continuing our message series, Disruptive Discipleship. And I hope you’ve been blessed so far. I know that you have, because the word of God, Jesus, himself, his words, his actions, they’re calling us to follow him or to follow ship.And we’ve learned so far that as disciples of the Lord, Jesus, we must know the gospel. We must know it. We must love outside the lines. And last week we learned, we must be devoted to Christ centered community. I hope you’ve already connected to a small group.Today, I’m so honored to have with us an incredible preacher communicator. He’s a wonderful friend of mine, Dr. Mark Merrill. He’s my pastor and he serves as a Superintendent for the Georgia District Assemblies of God, which includes overseeing hundreds of pastors and 210 churches across the state of Georgia. Now, listen, that’s a big job, but Pastor Mark is a great man of God. He’s a great leader. So I want you to lean in right now. Let’s continue to grow as disciples, as Pastor Mark brings us this message today, a disciple is empowered by the Holy Spirit.Good morning. I am so excited to be with you today, Chapel Hill in all of your locations, Bremen, Dunwoody, Atlanta, and everyone watching online. I’m thankful for my friendship with your lead pastors, Dave and Cindy Divine. And so [inaudible 00:01:38] of this opportunity to share in their ministry.I am taking part in this series called Disruptive Discipleship. And today is my assignment to talk to you about how a disciple is empowered by the Holy Spirit. For those of you who may have grown up in a Pentecostal charismatic church like me, there’s a lot we take for granted as it relates to the person and the ministry of the Holy Spirit.And so, because there’s a wide spectrum of people who are not as acquainted with the Holy Spirit due to our spiritual background in our formative years, I want to center our thoughts this morning on this idea of who is the Holy Spirit? Because before empowerment can take place, there must be a clarity of relationship, to understand who we are dealing with and how they interact with us in our life.Now, for those of you who may not have grown up in a Pentecostal charismatic background, and it was not emphasized to you or taught you in the same way it was to me, the person of the spirit may be a mystery to you. And therefore, when we begin to talk about the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit may feel more like a threat to you than a promise.But what I want to say to you is, is that God has given the Holy Spirit to us as the promise of the father in order to bring good things into our lives. I don’t want you to ever think that you are in any way, looking on the outside, in, as it relates to the person the spirit, God wants to come to meet with you personally.And though I grew up in a Pentecostal charismatic background that was hyper spiritual and hyper emotional, I always felt like the odd man out, if I could be honest with you. There were many times that I had difficulty relating to the Holy Spirit as a child or in my teenage years because of the way that it was modeled for me.I was 10 years old when I had a powerful experience with the Holy Spirit. That experience with the spirit of God did much to impact my life and would later give me confidence in my calling to ministry. But I never seemed to be as emotional as everyone else around me. I never seem to really display the kind of outward demonstration of excitement or enthusiasm that those in my home church did. And because of that, it was difficult for me. I was never overly animated. I was never that loud as the previous generations in my church.The older generation referred to the Holy Spirit as the Holy Ghost or as the Holy Ghost, ah, many times. It was their way of talking about this person, this work of God in their hearts and lives. And I came to realize as an adult, that that was oftentimes based upon the wording in the King James version of the Bible, or maybe their own cultural understanding of who the Holy Spirit is.However, the people who emphasized that word the most in the church, I happened to notice, had some of the nastiest dispositions. I mean, they were rude and sometimes gossipers and just downright mean. There was a spookiness in the way that they carried themselves. And I thought that maybe the Holy Spirit had that kind of disposition and personality. Let me say something to you today that may set you free. The Holy Spirit is not weird, we are.We are the ones that sometimes project an inaccurate view of who the Holy Spirit is. And then there was this matter of the Holy Spirit being a ghost. I don’t know about you, but I was scared to death of ghosts. Come on, somebody. I mean, because ghost hanging around dead people and I don’t want to hang around dead people. That was kind of creepy to me and made him even more mysterious.Therefore, the Holy Ghost had a couple of strikes against him right out of the gate, when it came to a person that I could relate to. I was having difficulty of seeing him as a loving person who had a personality who wanted to draw me close to the heart of God and to fill me with all the characteristics of Jesus. I had a very warped view of the Holy Spirit.So when we ask the question, who is the Holy Spirit, we have to immediately recognize our limitations. Our human. Language is simply an adequate to be able to express and to describe all that the Holy Spirit is. So my hope is to try and stay as close to the Bible. In fact, I’m going to drown you in scripture this morning, as we teach through this topic, to paint a picture of the Holy Spirit, that is true, accurate biblical and approachable.Again, our theme this morning is disruptive discipleship. A disciple must be empowered by the Holy Spirit. So let’s begin with this question. How is the Holy Spirit similar to us? The entire premise of this message today revolves around the Holy Spirit, being a person. And in this way, we can learn a great deal about the Holy Spirit as we relate to him as a person.When we come to understand the Holy Spirit as a person, we have to first recognize that he has a personality. Someone much like us, in which we have feelings and we have emotions that come to the surface. This is a very critical perspective because many times people want to treat the Holy Spirit as an, it, or as a force, or as a power.However, the Holy Spirit is very much a person. He is not in an animate object in any particular way. And in being a living person, we interact with him on that living basis. So how do we know this morning that the Holy Spirit is a person? Well, the scripture seem to reveal several factors that help us to understand how the Holy Spirit is a person.First, when the Holy Spirit is described, personal pronouns are used, for example, in John chapter 16 alone, when Jesus is talking about the Holy Spirit, that is yet to come, he uses the masculine personal pronoun, he, specifically referring to the spirit as a person. The next thing we noticed from the Bible is that the spirit also is personal in that he has a name that Jesus uses of himself in John 14:16, Jesus says, “I’m going to send you another comforter or another Paraclete.”So when we begin to look at this phrase, that Jesus gives us in John 14:16, please understand that there is some particular words that we need to pay attention to. There is the word another, and the word comforter, or Paraclete. In the Greek language, the word another can mean two different things. It can refer to something that is completely different than we are or something that is exactly the same.Jesus uses the word another, that talks about someone who is exactly the same that he is. And when we begin to understand the meaning of the word comforter or Paraclete in the Greek, it is one who is called alongside us to help us. So Jesus is talking to a bunch of disciples who are really struggling and coming to grips, that he is now going to be crucified, buried, resurrected. He’s now going to go to heaven.But Jesus says, “Don’t worry about it as I’ve walked alongside you for these three years of ministry, I’m sending someone who is just like me, who’s going to come alongside you, even better than that, come to live inside of you to help you and to walk with you all the days of your life.”We also know from the scripture that the Holy Spirit has a personality like mine. You see, there are three essential elements to personalities you’re going to see on the screen this morning. There is intellect, feeling, and will. All three factors of personality have a very much of a connection to the Holy Spirit. The first is intellect. In first Corinthians 2:11, it says, “No one knows the thoughts of God, except the spirit of God.”So it takes a personality to know thoughts. And here’s the awesome part about the Holy Spirit, there is nothing off limits or inaccessible in my life to the Holy Spirit. If I’m living for God and I’m trying to serve Jesus, the Holy Spirit has complete access to my thoughts. But here’s the better part, the Holy Spirit also has complete access to the thoughts of God.So the Holy Spirit is ever at work, empowering our lives by taking our thoughts, as carnal as they may be and helping to conform them or shape them or mold them to the thoughts of God. Isn’t it powerful in our lives, what thoughts of God become our thoughts? When we begin to think like Jesus, when we begin to act like Jesus, when we are lead like Jesus.We also know the Holy Spirit has feelings. There were several things about his feelings that I want you to understand. First, he can be tested. In Acts 5:9, “As [inaudible 00:10:00] who put him to the test by being honest, we too can test him. We can push the limits. He can be lied to. In that same passage, Acts 5:3, ” [inaudible 00:10:11] directly, Peter says, lied to the spirit and say that he was giving an offering that he really wasn’t giving.”We know the Holy Spirit can be grieved. In Ephesians 4:30, it says, “Grieve not, the spirit of God,” that we can act in such a way that the heart of the Holy Spirit, the heart of God can be saddened by the behaviors, by the actions that we make in life. So we need to be careful that we walk with the spirit of God and not grieve him. He can also be resisted.Stephen said in Acts 7:51 at the end of his great sermon to the people who were responsible for his death, “You resist the spirit as did your fathers.” How many of you right now, God’s been dealing with you about something, the Spirit’s been talking to you about something, maybe you thought it was your unconscious and you’ve been resisting him. You’ve been pushing him away of trying to not conform, to go your own way, to be independent in your heart and your spirit and not do what God says. Don’t resist him.And then we also know he can be insulted. Terrifying passage of scripture, Hebrews 10:29, talks about those who were trampled under foot, the son of God and that in doing so, they would sin against the blood that was shed for them. How many times in our lives do we willfully, knowingly sin against God and trample Jesus under our feet, where we sin against the precious blood that has been given for us in that moment.The Bible says in Hebrews 10:29, that we insult the spirit of grace. God is ever there to forgive us, ever there to redeem us, to restore us. And yet when we willfully knowingly sin against God, we go against the very blood of the covenant by which grace is given to our lives.Notice that all five personal treatments of the spirit or of a negative nature. He is a person. He can be welcomed, or he can be rejected. He can be praised, or he can be ignored. He can be loved, or he can be resisted. We also see here that the Holy Spirit has a will. In 1 Corinthians 12:11, in describing the Holy Spirit it says, “He gives spiritual gifts to each, as he wills, as he determines, as he decides.”Therefore, the gifts that are placed in the body of Christ and the assigned responsibilities in the body of Christ, come through the marvelous working of the spirit because we have a will, we take actions that stem from our determinative will, so does the Holy Spirit. So how do we see that in the scripture? Well, we see that he speaks. In Acts 13:2, the Holy Spirit is speaking and says, “Separate from me, Paul and Barnabas to the work for which I’ve called them.”He speaks, listen. If you haven’t heard God speaking in your heart for a while, it may be a sign to you that something is wrong. Because from the very beginning of time, all the way through the New Testament, all the way to the Book of Revelation, God is ever communicating or speaking to his people.We also see that he teaches. In John 14:26, we see him as our teacher. He is teaching us all things concerning the Lord, the Holy Spirit, the Bible says, “Will bring back to our remembrance the things that we have learned in the moments in which we need them.” His fundamental role as teacher is to make Jesus alive and real and present in our everyday lives.Here’s something he also does, he convicts. We know this. When we do something wrong, we feel that check in our spirit. We feel that conviction, if we will, that we have done something wrong, that we have transgressed against the law of God. It is God’s loving hand in our life to let us know that we are stepping outside the boundaries of his grace and he’s trying to bring us back in.We know according to Romans 8:26, that he intercedes for us. Today, know that God is listening for your prayers and your cries because Jesus is interceding for you. When Jesus died and ascended into heaven, he sat down at the right hand of God, the Father, ever to make intercession for us. So always know that God is looking over your life, through the person of the spirit to pray the will of God, to Jesus, that you may be preserved.We also that he leads and he guides and he reveals God’s word to us. The Holy Spirit takes the difficult and abstract ideas of our faith, and it makes them understandable and applicable to our every day lives. All these personal acts are descriptive of a person with intelligence and feeling and a will.So let’s go the second question this morning, and it’s this, how is the Holy Spirit different from us? When I say the word different, I can almost sense a wounding inside your heart because we know that we’re not like God. In fact, it’s an indictment against us that we’re not more like Jesus. However, it is comforting when we can say that the Holy Spirit is different from us because the Holy Spirit can do things for you that you cannot do for yourself.It is comforting to me to know that he is no way like me, that he has more power, more wisdom, more knowledge, more love, more grace, more hope, more joy than I could ever possess in my human existence. So today, do not be offended by the fact that the Holy Spirit is different from you, be assure that that is God’s blessing in your life.For example, we know today that we are not all-knowing, we are not and never will be all powerful. We will never be at least in this life, immutable or unchangeable. Those are characteristics that only belong to God and we are thankful for it. We know that he is eternal, that our lives are only eternal because of the spirit of God that lives inside of us. So the spirit is without beginning or without end, even as it’s said of Jesus, he is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. So when we come to spirit, he has no origin and no ending. And because of that, he can bring to us everything that we need for life and godliness through Christ, Jesus.So let’s look in particular to some of these characteristics of how the spirit of God is different from us. We’ve mentioned a few of them in passing already. First, he is all knowing. 1 Corinthians 2:10-11 says that the spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God, for who among men knows the thoughts of man, except the spirit within him.In the same way, no one knows the thoughts of God, except the spirit of God. I am thankful today that the Holy Spirit is so different from me because he’s all knowing. He knows my hopes and my dreams, my fears, and insecurities, my victories and defeats, my strengths and my weaknesses. He knows my past, he knows my present. He knows my future and he loves me Anyway. Come on, somebody.We also know that he’s all powerful. He is the power that raised Jesus from the dead. He delivers forgiveness to our lives by applying the blood of Jesus to our hearts. He is the power that heals sickness, that humans have no remedy for. He is the power that feels our hearts with confidence to stand for what is right in a world that loves to do wrong.I don’t know about you, but I need some of that power today. I need some of that inspiration that comes from the Holy Spirit to empower my life, to be the disciple that God has called me to be, to be the disruptive kingdom person, to swim against the stream, to go against the tide and to live for Jesus, with righteousness in a world that’s full of corruption.We also see that he is present everywhere. We say it this way, he is Omni present. Another characteristic of God, Psalm 139:7-10, “Where can I go from your spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go to the heavens, I find you there. If I make my bed in the depths of the sea, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there, your right hand will guide me. Your right hand will hold me fast.”I don’t know if this feels like a threat or a promise to you, but there is no where you can go in the world today where the Holy Spirit can not be found. Think about the person who said those words of David. David, who rode the highs and lows of a relationship with God, of being a King, the greatest King that ever ruled over Israel, the one who was a man after God’s own heart, but also a man who sunk to the depths of depravity through murder and adultery, of seeing his family fall apart before his very eyes, because of his own sin.And he said, regardless of where I go, though, I’m the most powerful man on the earth, if I climb to the mountains, I find you there. If I try to hide away in some pit somewhere, you still follow me there, no matter where I go, no matter what I do, you are always there because you are Omni present, because you are the spirit of God.And then this morning, I want to land this message. This final point, this final idea with this thought, it is so important for where we’re at right now in 2021. And it is this, the Holy Spirit, he brings order out of chaos. The reality of life on earth is chaos. Like no other time in my 47 years on earth is the reality of the United States of America, such chaos. I want you to think about some of the storms we’ve been through over the last year.In fact, if you were to survey the last 100 years of US history, there are three major events that play prominently on the landscape of US history. There is the Spanish Flu of 1917, where 800,000 people died, in a time in which the population, which was much smaller and medical advancements were not nearly as advanced as they are today.The second major thing that happened in US history over the last 100 years was the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. There was the assassination of JFK, of Robert Kennedy, of Martin Luther King, Jr. There’s the Democratic Convention of 1968, where literally frustration of oppressed peoples spilled over into the streets and began to cause a tear in the very fabric of our country. And then the third major event in the last 100 years of US history has been the Great Depression of the 1930s and the Great Recession of ’08.Here’s what I want you to consider, from March through June of last year, all three things happened in America in a period of 90 days. We saw the COVID crisis that still looms and lingers over us today. We saw the killing of George Floyd, Brianna Taylor, that caused the injustices of our nation and our world to be exposed, where frustration spilled out into the streets. And we also saw one of the greatest transfers of wealth that we have seen in a generation, where literally a skyrocketing economy was brought to its knees, as 11 million people overnight became unemployed.People are struggling right now to make ends meet there. There’s economic stimulus on every side, trying to prop up an economy that’s in free fall, but I want you to hear this. We did not process this or live through this like previous generations. We did so in isolation, we did so in hidings. There were no church services to help us during that time. There was no backyard barbecues with our families. There was nothing in order to comfort us or to give us a sense of community in the struggles that we faced.No, my friends, we did so in isolation, depending upon the Holy Spirit who empowers us that one who brings order out of chaos. And so here’s what I want to say to you. I’m speaking to a people right now who have witnessed over the last year, every kind of uncertainty and sorrow this world can imagine. You have seen loved ones die and disease ravage our nation. You have seen economies rise and fall. You’ve seen marriages break up. You’ve seen businesses close. You’ve seen all kinds of things and a spectrum of human emotion.And in the midst of this, what I’m going to tell you, as the storm that has been raging upon us is about to pass, I believe the sun’s about to shine again. And the same spirit who is with us now, was with us then, and God is bringing about the completion of his wheel in our lives, if we will simply trust him. As much as we try to calm the chaos, we only perpetuate it, but not so with the Holy Spirit.We know him as the divine, God who brings about good peace and order. In fact, when you open up the very front of your Bible, Genesis 1:2, it says, “The earth was without form and void and darkness was over the face of the deep.” The King James puts it this way, “That the spirit of God was brooding over the face of the waters.” The newer translation says, “The spirit was hovering over the waters.”What does that have to do with us in 2021? Well, it’s such an eloquent introduction in the scripture to the personality of the spirit of God, into the spirit is always brooding, hovering, ever near to the chaos of this earth, of this world. Even before it was created, it was in this chaos, this blob of gases and liquids, where the spirit was brooding, hovering over the chaos to bring forth life.Listen, there are some chaos in your life right now. There are some hard things that you may be going through. This Holy Spirit who empowers you is there to bring life out of your chaos, to bring light out of your darkness, to give shape and form and definition to things that are totally bewildering to you, things that confuse you, things that take over your mind and dominate you.You see the creation account is one of the most powerful pictures of what the spirit wants to do in our lives. You see a life of life without god is chaos. A life without the spirit of God is empty. Behind the chaos of her life, the spirit of God is wanting to create in us, the personality of Jesus and breathe into us, the formlessness and the void of our life, the life of Jesus. He is at work in the creation process.Psalm 1-4:30, “When you send your spirit, they are created and you renew the face of the earth.” There’s one more picture from the creation account. God begins to get down into the dirt of the earth and begins to play in the mud. And he begins to form what is a human being, but it was without life and IT was without spirit. So in the creation account, God breathes into man, this formless shape, the spirit of God.It was the breath of God, the ruach of God, according to Hebrew, thAT caused life to be animated, for man to have a mind and a spirit and a will to interact with God. And some of you feel just that empty right now. You feel like you’re a shell with nothing on the inside today, because you’re a disciple of Jesus who’s determined to be disruptive for the kingdom of God.God, by his spirit, wants to breathe in you today. He wants to empower your life. He wants to heal your hurts. He wants to overcome your sorrows. He wants you to begin to dream again. And so as we come to this closing moment of this message, I want to pray for you right now that the spirit of God, like a wind, would begin to blow over your heart and life that you will begin to sense and to feel the stirrings of life, maybe the first time in a long time and that God will bring you to the place of empowering your life, like never before.Will you pray with me right now? Father, right now in the name of Jesus, I thank you Lord, right now that you are here by the spirit of God to breathe on us. Like a wind, Lord, you’re going to blow into our hearts and lives and God, we are going to come to life again. Lord, you are a God who turns graves into gardens, who takes bones and makes them an army. God, you are the one who comes to give us power when we are without any power of our own.So Lord right now, for every person who is hungry, desiring, striving to be a disciple, will you empower them right now? Holy Spirit, fall on them, right where they’re at. Holy Spirit, right now begin to stir on the inside. God, begin to bubble up inside their hearts. I pray God, that they’ll begin to offer praise to you, right where they’re at, whether they’re on a couch or in a campus or a location or wherever, they may be, Lord, that you right now, that they would sense and feel your presence in their life that is stirring them back to life again. Father, as we now continue to worship, as we continue to glorify, may we, Lord, sing praises to you and allow your spirit to saturate our hearts?