It’s Christmas. Christmas is a celebration of when God entered earth in the form of a baby. What is remarkable about this story is that God didn’t hit the reset button. Sin was in the world. Things were getting worse. People rebelled against God. What does God do? He doesn’t hit the reset button. He does something that no one expected. He enters earth. He becomes fully human. He gives up His life for us. God could have hit the reset button and started over, He didn’t. Instead, God entered into our mess.
In his Son, Jesus, He [God] personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all. MSG Romans 8:3
I hope that God reality hits your heart. I hope it forever transforms your understanding of Christmas.
We are in a series called Immanuel. Immanuel means, ‘God is with us.’ We asked the question: Do you feel like God is with you? When we say, ‘Immanuel’ does that inspire you? Think about that for a second, God is with you. Does that excite you? Or, do you think, “The Christmas story was over 2,000 years old and it’s not really relevant today.”
Listen to what Jesus said to His disciples:
The fact of the matter is that it is best for you that I go away, for if I don’t, the Comforter [Holy Spirit] won’t come. If I do, he will-for I will send him to you. And when he has come he will convince the world of its sin, and of the availability of God’s goodness, and of deliverance from judgment. TLB John 16:7-8
Jesus told us, it’s better when I leave because God will come and live in you through the Holy Spirit. God the Son leaves so that God the Holy Spirit will live in you. That means when you hear, Immanuel, ‘God is with us’, it’s more real today than the day Jesus was born. Jesus told us, it’s better.
Last week Sam tackled a very difficult reality. He said something pretty intense. He said, God gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit. And the reason, many times, people don’t open and enjoy that gift is because of sin. He talked about how we must choose to live differently. He then talked about the nice list and the naughty list – do you remember?
Today, I want to pick up where Sam left off. I want to talk about how we unleash God in us. To do that I need to read to you what happens when the Holy Spirit controls our lives.
When the Holy Spirit controls our lives he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love [affection for others], joy [exuberance about life], peace [serenity], patience [willingness to stick with things], kindness [compassion in the heart], goodness [a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people], faithfulness [involved in loyal commitments], gentleness [not needing to force our way in life] and self-control [able to marshal and direct our energies wisely]; and here there is no conflict with Jewish laws. Those who belong to Christ have nailed their natural evil desires to his cross and crucified them there. TLB and MSG Galatians 5:22-24
Did you see that first part? When the Holy Spirit controls our lives he will produce… How do we give the Holy Spirit, God, control of our lives? Doesn’t that sound like a huge question? Doesn’t that sound like a super spiritual question? Doesn’t it sound like we could spend three months on this, read books, interview theologians for the answer? Maybe we need to jump into the Greek and Hebrew to discover deeper teaching.
Let’s turn to scripture and read what Jesus’ brother James wrote.
14 Dear brothers, what’s the use of saying that you have faith and are Christians if you aren’t proving it by helping others? Will that kind of faith save anyone? 15 If you have a friend who is in need of food and clothing, 16 and you say to him, “Well, good-bye and God bless you; stay warm and eat hearty,” and then don’t give him clothes or food, what good does that do? 17 So you see, it isn’t enough just to have faith. You must also do good to prove that you have it. Faith that doesn’t show itself by good work is no faith at all-it is dead and useless. 18 But someone may well argue, “You say the way to God is by faith alone, plus nothing; well, I say that good works are important too, for without good works you can’t prove whether you have faith or not; but anyone can see that I have faith by the way I act.” TLB James 2:14-18
James makes it pretty simple. If you say you believe in God and it doesn’t show up in your behaviors, your faith is dead and useless. Please hear me, giving the Holy Spirit control of your life isn’t complex or hard. All you need to do is do what He wants you to do.
Here is my question. How many of you right now, are currently wrestling with God? In other words, you know exactly what God wants from you and you won’t do it. You know exactly how God is leading you and you won’t follow. You know it but you make excuses.
This is a common thing for Christians, for people. We believe in God, we read the Bible, we sing the songs, but it’s not changing how we live because we want to stay in complete control. We leave here and make no changes. James would tell us, our faith is dead and useless.
The longer we fight God and won’t obey Him, we are not giving the Holy Spirit control. That means, because of choices, God cannot produce the following things in our life. Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Gentleness. Self-control. Don’t get me wrong. We can go to church, go to work, go to school, do discipleships and volunteer but until we give God control of our lives, He can’t produce anything in our hearts.
It’s not complex. You don’t need a doctorate-of-theology. It’s simple, so simple, people miss it. All you need to do is do what He wants you to do. The reason many Christians are not walking in the power of the Holy Spirit is because we demand control. When that happens, everything God wants to do in our lives is blocked.
If you want to unleash the Holy Spirit in your life, it is as simple as doing what God wants you to do. Let’s look at the nine things God wants to produce in your life and ask yourself, do I see these things growing in my life, my marriage, my family, my work life, my church life? Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Gentleness. Self-control. Be honest about this. Take ownership of it.
Let’s make this real practical.
22 Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. 23 The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. 24 So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands. 25 Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church – a love marked by giving, not getting. MSG Ephesians 5:22-26
Here is the secret to marriage. This one thing will solve about 90% of marriage problems. Get alone with your spouse. Both of you write on a piece of paper the top two or three things you need from your marriage to bring you to life. When you are done, switch papers. Guys, ladies, at that moment, you are looking at the secret to your marriage.
What do you do next? Rearrange your day or week and give that to them.
What is the problem we see in marriages? Control. One or both spouses knows exactly what the other wants and refuses to give it to them. They have 1,001 great excuses why it could never happen.
Scripture says, wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church – a love marked by giving, not getting. It’s not hard. It’s not a mystery. It’s all about control. There are too many miserable marriages in church because of control. James would say, our faith is dead and useless.
Depression, negativity, living in a miserable rut.
1 With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. 2 A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death. MSG Romans 8:1-2
This breaks my heart. If you are walking in depression, negativity or a miserable rut, it doesn’t have to control you. With the power of the Holy Spirit, you can break the power of those emotions and live with healing and hope. They don’t have to control your day.
We pay attention to our emotions, but never conclude that they control us. What is the struggle with these emotions? Control. Sometimes, it can be easier to stay in our ruts. We can struggle to give God control. Please hear me, if you are walking in this, we would love to pray for you. You can break free.
Day to day living.
3 Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life – even though invisible to spectators – is with Christ in God. He is your life. 4 When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you’ll show up, too – the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ.
5 And that means killing off everything connected with that way of death: sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy. That’s a life shaped by things and feelings instead of by God. 6 It’s because of this kind of thing that God is about to explode in anger. 7 It wasn’t long ago that you were doing all that stuff and not knowing any better. 8 But you know better now, so make sure it’s all gone for good: bad temper, irritability, meanness, profanity, dirty talk. 9 Don’t lie to one another. You’re done with that old life. It’s like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you’ve stripped off and put in the fire. 10 Now you’re dressed in a new wardrobe. MSG Colossians 3:3-10
We take our life and give it to God. That means, we don’t stay in control. If you want a new life, we get rid of the old life. We can stay content in obscurity, like Christ. Get rid of sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, doing whatever feels good, bad temper, irritability, meanness, profanity, dirty talk and lying. We crush our control and give our lives to Christ. That’s when the Holy Spirit comes and reproduces God in us.
Experiencing the Holy Spirit isn’t complex. We simply do what God wants us to do. What is it that you need to bring to God? Remember, if you believe in God but it doesn’t show up in how you live, James says, your faith is useless and dead. If you want to experience the Holy Spirit in your life, give Him control.