This sermon was preached on Sunday, September 26, 2010.
The title of this series is: Following Jesus In A Spiritually Hostile World. There is so much in this book [Ephesians], there is so, so much. So as we kind of go through it, little by little, we’re going to unpackage, sometimes sections, sometimes just a couple verses, that will help us. Today is a very unusual message and I just kind of ask you to hang with me till the end and you’ll see. We are going to go to some different places that I believe the Lord wants us to go today.
So please turn with me to Ephesians chapter 1, verses 13 and 14. Please stand with me as we read God’s Word together. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of His glory.
[Prayer] Father, I thank You for Your word today. We thank you for Your precious Holy Spirit. I pray You will help us today to understand more about the Holy Spirit in Your desire to have fellowship with us, a personal, intimate relationship with the third member of the Trinity. Thank You, Jesus, that you sent Your Spirit to be with us. I pray that you will speak to every heart here today what we need to hear, individually. Please pray with me: Heavenly Father, speak to my heart, change my life, in Jesus’ name. Amen, amen. You may be seated.
As you heard in the prayer time, Ireida [Grabill, Pastor’s daughter-in-love as he calls her] is in Dallas right now prepping for Rob [Pastor’s son] and Ireida’s work when they’re going to go to India, and God is going to use her background in theater arts to reach out to the girls of India. Artistic stuff and theater arts are a big, big deal in India. The number one location for movie-making in the world is Hollywood. Number two is Bollywood, in the west side of India. We’re believing God that He is going to do great things through them. A number of people have asked about what’s happening with Rob and Ireida, and they are planning to leave in November. And some of you have said, “How are we going to support them?” Well, the end of October, we are going to take a Miracle Missions Offering as we have been doing every year now for many years, and that will go to support them, so you can keep that in mind. That will be the last Sunday in October, and we’ll tell you more about what they’re doing, and when they’re going, and what they’re going to be doing, and all that sort of thing.
It’s really something to think about how all this came about with them. It was two years ago that the Board of Elders [at SCAoG] so very, very kindly said to Arline [Pastor’s wife] and myself, “You need a break. You really need to take a month, four to six weeks, and take a mini-sabbatical.” And they said, “Go anywhere you want in the world. Just go where God is moving and just bathe yourself in it.” And so I started calling my friends, and I knew some things, but I start calling some of my friends who know what’s happening around the globe–missionaries, missiologists, and so forth. Dick Nicholson [Regional Director LAC at Assemblies of God in Springfield, MO] said, “The greatest revival in the world right now is in Cuba,” and I think I’ve mentioned that before. But he said, “It takes three months to get approval to get into Cuba. Do you have that period of time?” I said, “No, we’ve got to go in January. We only have six weeks to get everything together.” So I talked to another friend and he said, “You gotta go to India; it’s happening in India.” So we went to India, and Indonesia to see Jeff and Liz Hartzenfeld [Liz grew up in State College and became a missionary through Assemblies of God.] The whole idea of the trip was just to receive, but in a little over a month, I found myself speaking 15 times. [He chuckles, and says humbly] And I didn’t. . .You know, it’s not about. . .It wasn’t. . . [Starting again] When we go on these trips, I enjoy giving what we have to give, but I enjoy receiving and learning from them and coming back, to be able to kind of interpret some of that, what God is doing around the world, because God is doing amazing things.
The irony of this is about the same time that Rob and Ireida are going to be leaving for India in November, we will just be getting home from, Lord willing, a trip to Cuba. The Assistant Superintendents in the US Assemblies of God—I am one of those and there are 57–have been given an invitation to go to Cuba and do some ministry and receive there, and this happened some months ago, and our district, the Penn-Del District Assemblies of God, is going to fund our way. Only five of the 57 said, “Yes, we are going to go.” So we have five couples and we are going in November, Lord willing, to Cuba to be part of the great revival there. So that’s kind of where we wanted to be two years ago but God took us to India. We came back with a heart for India; we had All-India Sunday, and God laid India on Rob and Ireida’s heart. So had we gone to Cuba then, they wouldn’t probably be going to India now, you with me? See how God works? He always supplies and brings things around. I have a good friend, another Assistant Superintendent [in Assemblies of God] from California, who said, “Paul, I believe you are going to be healed in Cuba.” So we’re believing, and we’re going with expectation of what God is going to do there. God does good things regardless.
By the way, this year we are going to have, in November, All-Africa Sunday. And for those of you who are Africans [in the congregation there are many Penn State students and visiting professors who call Africa home], I know Africa is not a nation. I know that; it’s a continent. But you understand too, that we can’t have All-Kenya Sunday, or All-Nigeria Sunday, or All-Ghana Sunday, so our emphasis is going to be on Africa in November and we have some very exciting things that are coming up regarding missions that way.
Well, I enjoy travel and Arline does too, and we’ve had the privilege of either personal travel or missionary-related travel or Assemblies of God travel to go to many places in the world, and to observe different cultures. We’ve been to Asia, we’ve been to Africa, we’ve been to Europe, we’ve even been to California [congregation laughs], and there are many different cultures out there, I’ll tell you that. And when I go, you know, I’ll give what I’m asked to give; I’m happy to do that. Sometimes I haven’t had to do anything. When we were in Jordan, for instance, a couple of years ago with [friend] Sam and then went into Israel–it was Ryan [Pastor’s other son] and myself. We were supposed to go into Iraq and conduct a seminar for Christian leaders in Iraq and then the day before, the Americans shut down the airport in Erbil where we were to fly into. But the day before that we were in Jordan at an ordination service in a town in southern Jordan where a lot of the terrorists are bred in that area, and here we’re ordaining three people to full-time Gospel ministry in a place that gives birth to terrorism. So I didn’t have to do anything in that service but sit on the platform. Because I’m the pastor, I had to sit on the platform. And Sam told me, “Whatever you do, don’t cross your legs. You’re in a different culture. Don’t cross your legs, whatever you do.” Well, I cross my legs all the time, you know, whether it’s this or this or this [demonstrates leg crossed at ankles, legs crossed at knees, and one leg crossed perpendicularly to the other, right ankle on left knee]. I sleep with my legs crossed usually. I’ve got to tell you, it was a wonderful service, but the only thing I can remember from the service is sitting there every three seconds, telling myself, “No. [congregation bursts into laughter] No. You can’t cross your legs.” I mean, everything in me, the whole time, two hours of “No! No!” That’s all I remember. But in that culture, it’s an insult. In some cultures it’s an insult to raise a left hand toward somebody. We were told that in India–don’t ever wave at somebody with your left hand. It’s one of the ultimate insults. It’s kind of like some things we do here that are different [congregation laughs again], but you don’t do that. I’m used to using both hands waving, so I had to remember that. And then we had to tell Arline to walk behind me all the time too. [congregation chuckles] Different cultures.
When I go to these places—there’s a point to all this, there really is. You’re wondering. You’re going to be surprised. When we go to these places, I enjoy, particularly on Sunday, worshipping with brothers and sisters around the world, and see how they do it. And it’s different than us, you know, again different cultures, different customs. There are times when we’ve gone to two or three services on a Sunday so I can maximize that input of seeing what they do. City churches are different than rural churches and obviously different places in the world are very, very different.
When we were in Italy, we took a personal trip to Rome and we stayed with the Peretti family, Frank Peretti’s [Frank is a Christian author, known for books about spiritual warfare—This Present Darkness to name his first, but I am not sure with which brother he stayed] brother in Rome, and I got to walk the Appian Way where Paul–after he wrote to the Ephesians, when he was arrested and tried and makes his way to Rome–walked the same stones, literally, that he walked as he’s at the end of the procession, being brought into Rome as a prisoner. And we got to go to the Catacombs, and obviously all the main sites in Rome. Well, one of the services was an international congregation; it was very similar to ours, same kind of music, and people sat where they wanted to sit. But we went to a more traditional, Pentecostal Assemblies of God service that tended to be a little bit older people, just slightly older, and there the men sat on one side and the women sat on the other, and the women had their heads covered. This is in Italy. And I noticed that, as I go around the world, the places where the church feels like they are more of a minority, sometimes they are more conservative than we are here, in a number of ways. And they take things very literal.
Now one thing we did not encounter was—in the Eastern Bloc, I’ve not been there yet and I don’t know if the Lord will ever take us there—but in Greece or in Eastern Bloc nations, where Eastern Orthodoxy or Russian Orthodoxy has been the heritage, there are some verses in the New Testament about greeting one another with a holy kiss they take very literal. In fact, let me read you these verses. Romans 16 [verse 16a] says: Greet one another with a holy kiss. I Corinthians 16:20 says to greet one another with a holy kiss. II Corinthians 13:12: Greet one another with a holy kiss. I Thessalonians 5:26: Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss. I Peter 5:14: Greet one another with a kiss of love. Five times, so why don’t we do that? Well, I’ll talk about that in a little bit.
Brother Tom Trask, former Superintendent of the Assemblies of God, early in his ministry decided, “If the Bible says it, I’m going to do it.” It’s been his practice. He’s been here twice, and you may remember, some of you, he came up on the platform, he grabbed my face, and kissed me on the cheek, and gave a holy kiss. It’s holy because there is nothing romantic or sexual about it. It is a familial kiss. It is a kiss of affection. He went to the Eastern Bloc and discovered that, in some places, they have a Trinitarian kiss. Now we’re talking men with men. They kiss on the left cheek for the Father, they kiss on the right cheek for the Son, [pause] and they kiss on the lips for the Holy Spirit. Now I remember, thirty years ago hearing a missionary to Greece, and he went for the first time and it is a custom in some of the churches there, that at Communion time, the men will put their hands on each other’s shoulders, and they will greet one another with a kiss on the lips. And he said, “God, why did you call me here? [congregation laughs] I don’t want to be here.” And he said what was worse was, the Bible says greet one another with a holy kiss. It doesn’t say exactly how to do that, but it does not say to brush your teeth first. [Congregation laughs again.] He said that was even worse. So still to this day, there are churches in that part of the world where the men will greet the men, and the women the women, okay? And there is nothing, again, romantic or sexual about it at all. It is a familial kiss. It’s a familial kiss. And I’ve thought about that and I’ve talked to Brother Trask’s son—he is a good friend of mine, and I said, “There’s a few of you in full-time ministry. Are you continuing your dad’s practice? And he said, “No, none of us do.” [He laughs.] Culturally, here it is not something that we grasp.
Okay, some of you are saying, “Pastor, what does this have to do with the text today? What in the world does this have to do with verses 13 and 14?” I am not going to ask for a show of hands, but I know a lot of you are ahead of me a lot of the time, and you are already thinking about other verses and so forth. I’ll tell you, when I read this text a week ago, and said, “Lord, where do you want me to go with this?”, I read these verses, and let me read them again. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of His glory.
Now I’ve read that passage many, many times in my life, and I’ve heard many sermons preached on the seal of the Spirit. And by the way, there’s a lot about the Holy Spirit in Ephesians, so this is not my one-time message on the Holy Spirit from Ephesians. It talks about being filled with the Spirit, singing in the Spirit, unity in the Spirit, walking in the Spirit, so we’re going to come back to the Holy Spirit theme as we go through Ephesians. So I said, “Lord, you know, when I look at these words: seal, deposit, inheritance, possession, we automatically think of things—money; you have deposit, deposit in a bank; inheritance, money; possession, money. And we are so, as a society, we are money and sex-crazed, both those things. You know that political stances, the vast majority of them, have to do with money. That’s really what it’s about, what it comes down to it. Who has the money? Sometimes it’s power, but it’s money and then the social issues that sometimes get raised or not raised have to do with sexuality. We are so into that stuff that when we talk about intimacy and relationship, unfortunately, I think our mind goes to sexuality when it should not. It should go to relationship. And what I want to talk to you about today is about having an intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit of God. What is that like, what does that mean, to be sealed? And I felt like the Lord whispered to me, that it was like sealed with a kiss.
Recently I had the privilege of participating in Allie Ray’s wedding. Allie was marrying Josiah Clark, so it’s now Allie Clark. You know how it is when you know the bride, it’s hard to give up that maiden name because that’s how you know them. They’re having a wonderful [honeymoon]. They’re two weeks married now, I guess. And Allie came up early in the ceremony and she said in front of everybody—I mean, they were so excited, Allie and Josiah, like a bride and groom should be–and they came up and they held hands, and at the very beginning of the ceremony, Allie says out loud to everybody, ”I want to kiss you right now.” [Pastor and everyone laugh.] But think of the wedding ceremony. You have the vows, you have the rings, you have everything, but how is it sealed at the end? It’s sealed with a kiss. It doesn’t mean the couple has necessarily not ever kissed before, but there’s a sealing. It’s a relational thing. It’s not, “I’m sealing it with, you know, I’m giving you fifty bucks.” It’s not material. We think materialistically so much, you with me? And so, even when we talk about intimacy, I’m not sure that we get it sometimes. You know, in our society, it seems like the more sexuality we have, the less intimacy we have. You with me? We treat each other as people that are just [he pauses] meat. When people go to the bars, it’s kind of like going to the meat market. Where is the relationship? Where is the intimate emotional and spiritual connection that there should be?
Sometimes we have difficulty with that because we have difficulty having that with God, and we’ll come back to that. And sometimes we have difficulty in our families, of even having the right connection within the family. In the Bible, how did they express affection and connection, relationship with each other? Sometimes they did it with a kiss. I’m going to read through a number. Genesis 27 [verse 26]: Isaac tells his son Jacob to kiss him, on the cheek, I assume. Genesis 29 [verse 13]: Laban kisses his son-in-law, Jacob. Genesis 31[verse 55]: Laban kisses his grandchildren. Genesis 33[verse 4]: Esau kisses his son[he means brother], Jacob. Genesis 45 [verse 15]: Joseph kisses all of his brothers. Genesis 50 [verse 1]: Joseph kisses his father. Exodus 4 [verse 27]: Aaron kisses his brother, Moses. Exodus 18 [verse 7]: Moses kisses his father-in-law. Ruth 1[verse 9]: Naomi kisses her daughters-in-law. I Samuel 10 [verse 1]: Samuel kisses Saul, when he anoints him King of Israel, so that’s not even family. I Samuel 20 [verse 41]: David kisses his best friend, Johnathan, and this was not homosexual. This is friendship kissing that was fine in that culture, in that Semitic culture. We’re just not there. Psalm 2:12 tells us to kiss the Son of God. Think about it, Psalm 2: Kiss the Son, lest He be angry. The Gospel tells us that Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss [Matthew 26:49, Mark 14:45, Luke 22:47-48]. So that raises the question: Is that the only time that anybody kissed anybody on the cheek? I doubt it, because here in Acts 20 we have—when I read, “greet one another with a holy kiss”, it’s not in Ephesians, is it? It’s in Corinthians, Thessalonians, in Peter, but it’s not in Ephesians. But in Acts 20:27, the Ephesian elders weep when Paul departs, the Bible says, as they embrace and kiss him.
I grew up in a family where kissing was very, very rare. My mom probably kissed me a few times, I just have no recollection of it. My dad, I don’t know that he ever kissed me on the cheek. Now I kissed my sons when they were young, but once they become teenagers [congregation laughs], it’s an awkward thing. But I’ll tell you, a couple weeks ago when Ryan was leaving for Springfield, I was saying the last good-bye—we’ll see him again, you know, but for then– I hugged him and told him again I loved him, I was proud of him, it was only natural to kiss him on the cheek. And you should. I think it’s a good thing for families. Now some families, it’s cheek to cheek and you just air kiss, and so forth. I’m still getting used to hugging [and he laughs].
Let me say something, I know I’m going way out here but this is an opportunity. We tend to be a hugging church, okay, and that may scare some people once in a while, and you don’t have to. But let me give you some guidelines. First of all, and we were talking about this this morning with the pastors. Yeah, I know there are five verses that say greet one another with a holy kiss. There are so many scandals going on in the church and outside the church, I just don’t think we’re ready. And if I’m wrong, I’ll have to stand before God and give an account. I don’t think we are ready to do a whole lot of that. We’re talking about same gender here. Well with hugging, it should only be full frontal hugging if it’s same gender. So teenagers, you should not be full frontal hugging with the opposite sex. If you’re engaged or something, I understand. We have, some of you are side huggers, you just kind of hug to the side. Zac here, help me demonstrate. [Pastor Zac goes up to help demonstrate, and congregation cheers him on.] This is kind of family Sunday, okay? This is not a whole lot of deep exegesis, but this is a side hug. [They demonstrate a side-by-side hug.] Now there is nothing wrong about it, there’s nothing implied, but with the opposite gender I’m old enough that I can do an opposite gender A-frame hug. You with me? The A-frame is the legs are straight, the top is bent over [they stand far apart and over-exaggerate and the congregation laughs]—thank you–and that’s an A-frame hug. But with the same gender it’s okay for a full frontal, Rick Spicer hug. Where’s Rick? [Rick is one of the elders in the church, a friendly, egregious man.] That’s a man hug. Yeah, Rick gives really good man hugs [the men in the congregation concur]. So I just want to give you some guidelines. When have I ever said that, right? We need guidelines because of our flesh.
But here’s the thing. I think some other cultures understand intimacy better that we have, particularly when we talk about intimacy with God. In Genesis, how was man created? God framed from the dirt. In Genesis 2 [verse 7], it says that God breathed into his [Adam’s] nostrils. I looked it up, and it doesn’t say lips. God breathed into his nostrils, and he became a living soul. That implies—it’s not like da Vinci or Michelangelo, whatever, on the Sistine Chapel where you have Adam stretching out his finger and God stretching out His finger. That doesn’t come from the Bible. How could Adam stretch out his finger anyhow if he’s not alive? So God breathes, so who—Father, Son or Holy Spirit? I doubt that it was necessarily God in the flesh, the Son manifesting, which did happen in the Old Testament a couple of times. I believe it was the Holy Spirit, the same Spirit that brooded over the chaos of Earth, and was used in creation. Jesus was the Word that was spoken, and the Holy Spirit brooded over it. But the word πνεύμα, spirit, means breath so it implies closeness. Derek Kidner, the great Old Testament theologian [1913-2008, priest in the Church of England and professor at Oak Hill Theological College], says it was an intimate moment like a kiss [probably written in his commentary on Genesis]. It wasn’t a kiss, because the word for nostrils also can mean face or countenance. But it does mean nose; it can also mean snout even, the word in the Hebrew, so it does mean nostrils. But it implies that God’s not a million miles away breathing. This is not hurricane force winds from far away. It implies closeness, you with me? He’s close.
Well, where do we see that in the New Testament? Now, it’s here where we get a little more Biblical, or deeper Biblical. In John chapter 20, Jesus is with the disciples, after He is risen from the dead, and He breathes on them, in verse 22, it says: Receive you—the what–the Holy Spirit. [King James Version] What is that? Jesus breathes on them. Now, I don’t think He kissed them on the lips. And I don’t think He put His mouth over their nose. I don’t think this was CPR, but I think He was close. I don’t think He stepped to the other side of the room and worked up and then, whoooo [pantomimes blowing air out his mouth]. I don’t know if he did it one by one or He did it with a group, but He breathed on them, re-enacting Genesis. And this time, they’re already alive, they’re human. What happens? Their Spirit comes alive. This is the seal: When you come to Jesus, you have the Holy Spirit, so when we talk about the fullness of the Spirit—we’ll talk about that later, being filled with the Spirit to overflowing, we’ll talk about prayer languages and gifts of the Spirit, we’re talking about fullness–but when you come to Jesus, you have the Holy Spirit. The Bible says if you don’t have the Holy Spirit, you are not one of His. So sometimes we incorrectly say, “Do you have the Holy Spirit?” to a Christian. The answer is yes, every Christian has the Holy Spirit, and you are sealed with the Holy Spirit. You are sealed. And your spirit, when you commit to Jesus 100%, not 20%, not 80%, but when you commit 100%, you totally surrender to Him, that spirit man that was dead is risen to life. You can often see it on people’s faces. When people come to Jesus, I mean, they’re totally converted, they totally have surrended to Him. I can see on their face, they’re a different person. What happened? I mean, the blood’s still pumping, the heart’s still working. It’s not physical. It’s spiritual. [shouting] THAT SPIRIT MAN COMES ALIVE, THAT SPIRIT MAN IS NEW! AND WE ARE A NEW CREATION IN HIM. SPIRITUALLY, A MIRACLE HAS HAPPENED, THE GREATEST MIRACLE THAT CAN HAPPEN, [normal tone] that God breathes on us by His Holy Spirit, seals our salvation, and we become alive in Him. [now his voice is almost a whisper] We’re alive, we’re new. We’re born again. [back to regular voice] So if you are a believer, you have the Holy Spirit. Do you realize how precious a relationship that is? He is in you, He is with you, He surrounds you. Jesus said that it was better that He go and that He would send the Spirit, better for us. That’s hard to imagine. Who wouldn’t want Jesus here in the flesh? Who wouldn’t? And yet He said, I send a Comforter, I send the Holy Spirit to be with you [Check these verses in John 14:16, 14:26, 15:26, 16:7. The KJV uses the word Comforter in place of the Holy Spirit here].
If you don’t have a background in our kind of worship, let me say this. I think I’ve said this before. There are two qualities of God that we sometimes talk about: transcendence and immanence. Transcendence is that God is greater than us, He is different than us. He is on a throne and you may think He is on the other side of the universe. He’s great and mighty, He is bigger than the Universe, He is beyond imagination. That is all true. But at the same time, He is immanent. He is with you, He is with me, and He wants to have very special moments with you, very special moments, and He cares about every little thing. He does.
Next week, Lord willing, we’ll talk about prayer. So often we pray about big things, and sometimes we don’t see the answers we want, and I’ll talk about that. And we forget to pray about the little things. Mike Leone [a member of the congregation] was just telling me this morning how he lost some motorcycle gloves, misplaced them, and Karen [his wife] reminded him to pray about it. He did, and he found them. And he still doesn’t know how they got to where they were, but he found them. And yesterday my niece was telling me she was buying a birthday gift for my brother, her dad, for his 70th birthday. She decided to get him a book, but didn’t know what book to get him. She walks into a secular book store, and right in front of her is a book on Bonhoeffer, that I mentioned to you some weeks ago [Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxes, published by Thomas Nelson, 2010], and it’s right there and she feels like the Lord told her, “That’s the book to get him.” She got it for him and she had no idea that was exactly the book he wanted. I mention these because these are tiny things. Are those tiny things part of your walk with God, or is God only for the really big, big crisis? You with me? Does He walk with you and talk with you? Do you have a personal, daily, constant, intimate relationship with the Spirit of God, who is not only the seal of our relationship with God, that precious, personal, relational seal? So don’t think about yourself as canned goods, hermetically sealed, or a letter has a seal and the seal can be broken, or not broken. I understand all that. But think of it personal. The Holy Spirit is a person. The Holy Spirit is a person, not a force, not a thing; the Holy Spirit is a person. Ephesians says that we can grieve the Holy Spirit, so we need to think of Him like a person. He is the deposit of our inheritance. You know, when we think of Heaven—I mentioned Heaven before–we are so materialistic. I’m afraid that sometimes we think immediately of streets of gold. Why do they have streets of gold in Heaven? To show how worthless gold is. That’s the macadam. That’s the stones that you walk on. That’s the starting point. Or we think of the home in Heaven we have? And when we think of relationships in Heaven, we tend to think about our loved ones. I’ll see Grama and I’ll see my lost brother [Pastor has a brother who drowned when they were children], and so forth. But our relationship with Jesus and our relationship with the Father and the Holy Spirit, sometimes we have a hard time getting ahold of that.
I want to suggest to you today: the Lord wants an intimate relationship with you. It has nothing to do with sexuality, and it has nothing to do with material things. He just loves you. You are part of His family. He wants to hug you, He wants to kiss you on the cheek. He wants to be that close to you. Do you want to be that close to Him? Years ago we would sing, “Let Him breathe on me. Let Him breathe on me. Let the breath of God now breathe on me.” [traditional Gospel hymn] That implies closeness. You don’t feel someone’s breath unless you are really close to them. And that seal, that deposit, that inheritance and that possession—by the way, that possession is like Valentine’s Day, you are mine—it’s not a thing, it’s not a coin, it’s not a table. It’s a relationship. You are mine. That’s what that word means. Are you His and He is yours? Are you that close? Are you that close?
Would you stand with me please? As Pastor Wayne ministers, I felt in my heart this week that some of you just need an intimate time with the Holy Spirit. So many times we are rushing off to the next thing. I noticed this morning; I leaned over to [Pastor] Buck [Fetzer] and said, “Isn’t it great not to be in a big hurry?” So many times we have so many things to do, we’re always rushing off to the next thing, next thing, next thing. As we took time this morning, we had a little extra time in worship and fellowship, people are being prayed for. You know, when you are with family, you are not normally thinking, “Okay, I’ve got a half hour.” Thanksgiving? Who goes–I trust not–I hope you never go to a family Thanksgiving dinner thinking, “Okay, I’ve got 30 minutes. I’ve got to be out of here because of some reality cable show I like is on, and I don’t have DVR or TiVo. I gotta be home to see that.” Wow. Think about Sunday mornings. It’s the family of God. The Lord is here in such a sweet way, sweet Holy Spirit, sweet Heavenly Dove. Stay right here with us, filling us with your love [quoting the chorus from “Sweet, Sweet Spirit, a hymn by Doris Akers, copyright 1962 by Manna Music]. Why would we not value that more than anything else? You say, “Well, Pastor, sometimes it becomes routine.” I understand. You say, “Sometimes I come and I don’t feel what I want to feel. I don’t feel the presence of God the way I want.” I understand. There’re lots of factors that go into that. It could be us, it could be somebody else. I just want to encourage you at the end of the service–those of you who just need an intimate time with God–I just want to invite you to come and stand here, and we’re just going to spend some time with the Lord, and let the Holy Spirit speak to you. Right now I’m not focused so much on Spirit baptism or all that stuff, just letting the Holy Spirit minister to you, because He is here. Do you feel His presence? Do you feel His presence? He is here, and He wants to touch you, and He wants to hold you, and He wants to breathe on you. And that seal that He has already given you if you know the Lord, is so precious. He sealed it with a kiss. If you don’t know the Lord, today is the day just to surrender to Him. Let Jesus become the Lord, the Master, the King of your heart, and you’ll know Him in an intimate way. Not know about Him, not just believe He was a good man, but you’ll know Him as Savior and Lord. We’re going to sing together, and I invite you, just come and stand here at the front. Raise your hands to Heaven, just receive from Him. Just spend time with Him, especially if all you have done up to this point is mostly duty and routine ritual. Break out of that mode. Say, “Lord, I’m here because I want to be with You. Holy Spirit, I want to be in your special presence. Jesus, I love you, I love you, I love You. Would you come as we sing? Just spend some time with Him today.
[Singing] There’s a sweet, sweet, spirit in this place, and I know it’s the Spirit of the Lord. [Pastor, inviting] Just come and worship and adore Him. Soak in His Presence. We bless you Lord. [Singing continues] There are sweet expressions on each face, and I know they feel the presence of the Lord. Sweet Holy Spirit, sweet Heavenly Dove, stay right here with us, filling us with Your love. [“Sweet, Sweet Spirit” by Doris Akers, copyright 1962, and the music fades.]