First Corinthians 2:1. This topic this morning is obviously near and dear to my heart. I’ve written books on it. I like to preach on this topic. And apart second only to salvation, I think this is the most important topic Christians can discuss. First being salvation, second being this. Are you curious what it is? All right, let me put the title up there. The title this morning is “A Demonstration of Power.” From Paul’s words, a demonstration of power, and if I could put a subtitle there, I would add “Is Your Cord Unplugged?” You know that means? Have you ever unplugged something? What happens? The power’s gone.
Some of you teenagers, you know, you go to pull that cord—they don’t have stereos anymore, you pull the iPod, I guess. Do they have iPods now? It’s Apples, and whatever it is now. It’s hard for me to keep up with everything.
But there’s a connection to God, a demonstration of power, and I’m going to talk to you about that this morning. Obviously once I was saved I believed in Jesus, but I believe I was led astray for quite a while, like the prodigal son, and it wasn’t until this demonstration of power hit my life that I begin to speak and write and the church came about. And everything that God has ever done in my life—and I’m sure many of you can attest to this too—is directly related to the work of the Holy Spirit in our life. For any of us to take credit is a big mistake.
Just last week somebody emailed me and asked, “With such a new young church,”—we’re fairly young as far as churches go—“but to have that many people coming and listening. How did you guys do it?” And actually, we have no answers. I mean, God moving, and I’m not being trite, I have no “seven tips for success.” I have no “try this and see if it works.” All you have to do is seek God with all of your heart, with all of your strength, with all of your mind, with all of your soul, and let Him do things in your life. And you look back and say, “God. If it wasn’t for the grace of God moving in our lives, we would be lost.”
This is an important topic found in 1 Corinthians 2, and this is Paul. We’re going to put it up on the screen. The apostle Paul—think about this—the writer of the majority of the New Testament, mighty man of God, saw miracles, saw people healed, raised from the dead, all kinds of things. This is Paul. He said,
I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. (vv. 1–2)
Basically he says, “I didn’t come wasting my time talking about all these different things. I wanted you to know about Jesus Christ and Him crucified. That was the central focus of my message. That was my ministry. I didn’t come to you with persuasive words and eloquence. I came to you with the power of the Spirit through the preaching of God’s Word.”
I was with you in weakness and fear and in much trembling. (v. 3)
We would look down on those things, wouldn’t we? I’m going to tell you in just a minute why that is vitally important to this topic.
So Paul came to them in weakness and in fear and in much trembling.
And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom. (v. 4)
Do you ever hear those people who can speak well? I mean, they’re fluent. Man, do they have a master’s degree in grammar? Do they even offer that? I don’t know. Have they read the dictionary three times over? They’re just so eloquent and captivating and have persuasive speech and they know how to use these words to bring up and these words to bring down in this persuasive speech. He says, “I didn’t come to you with any of that. I came to you in the power of the Holy Spirit, preaching Christ crucified. My preaching was not with persuasive words of human wisdom but…but what was it?
In the demonstration of the Spirit and of power. (v. 4)
So the power of Paul’s words, though he’s dead he still speaks to us two thousand years later. The conversions he saw, the cities come to Christ, the churches that were built all from his ministry, it wasn’t on persuasive words. It was not intellect, it was through the power, the anointing, the unction of the Holy Spirit coming upon him, the power of the Spirit. Because you can take a dumb country boy with no grammar or education and let him loose with the Holy Spirit, and he will penetrate the hardest heart, because it’s God’s spirit working in that person.
And he said, “I didn’t come to you,
but in the demonstration of the Spirit and power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. (vv. 4–5)
See, when you have to convince someone of Christianity based on wisdom alone, you might lose them when that wisdom fails. But look, look, look. Believe in Jesus because of this. And the Bible was written over sixteen years with forty different authors on three different continents… And those are all good things. I use them often. But at the end of the day, they’ve got to experience the power and presence of Christ. Their faith is built on Christ and Christ alone. It’s not built on a man. It’s not built on a church. It is built on Christ alone. So the whole point was that their faith should not be in the wisdom of men but the power of God.
So I wanted to get through all of chapter 2 today, but guess what happened? I stopped right there, and God begins to put so much on my heart, and it grows and grows and grows into a full-length sermon, and that usually works pretty good when I allow God to just change things around a little bit.
But let’s talk about this for a minute. The Greeks—Paul is writing to a Greek-speaking world. They put much emphasis in persuasive speech—debating—debating often and being persuasive. But—which you know, and I know—many people who God uses are often not gifted in the area of speech, correct? You’re listening to one right now. D.L. Moody. There’s a long list of people, especially Methodist circuit riders and in the early awakenings. They didn’t have a great a degree in English and grammar, and they weren’t great speakers. Where was their power? Their power was in their brokenness and in their weakness: When I am weak, then He is strong. That’s where the power of the Holy Spirit comes from.
And Paul is saying here, “Our goal is to magnify the message, not to know anything among you except Christ and Him crucified.” I’m going to give you little insight into my ministry, when I prepare sermons throughout the morning here. One of them is I pray, “Lord, I want to magnify the message of Christ. I want to magnify who you are. We want to leave here lifted up and built up and strengthened.” I look at how good our God is. That’s why I love that song, “All hail King Jesus. All hail King Jesus,” because we know every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Christ is Lord. Everyone at some point will say, “All hail King Jesus,” so you might as well sing it now.
Oh, I could stay there for little while, but I’m going to go on. Here’s the key: your faith should not be in wisdom of men but in the power of God. So I’m sure many of you are thinking, What is power? What’s he talking about? Shane, I see these guys on TV. They do weird things. Is that what you’re talking about? No. I’m going to make this half [of the church] blow over. <Makes blowing sound> You know, and “Oh, look, he’s so powerful.” Or you see these elevated in certain areas.
What is your definition of power? Well, I’m going to tell you what the biblical definition of power is. Very simple. I believe it’s Acts 1:8. I didn’t write down the reference, but it says, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.” And as we learned earlier, it might be good for those who haven’t heard this before, there are three primary prepositions when it comes to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will run alongside a person. It’s where you hear the high school there in town—Paraclete. It comes from the word in the Greek, to come alongside. So the Holy Spirit comes alongside as a helper, as a comforter, but He is also in the believer—en—inside the believer, dwelling in the believer. That’s why you can quench and grieve the Holy Spirit by how you live, the choices you make.
But there’s a very interesting word that’s used in Acts and in Jesus’s life. The Holy Spirit comes upon—epi—epi in the Greek. It’s coming upon. It’s this overfilling, overflowing, abundant Holy Spirit coming out of your life. And what you say, what you do in your workplace, what you do in your family, it’s bubbling out of you. I’ve used this example before many times, but if you weren’t here, you won’t remember, but what would happen if I turned on the water in the baptismal and just leave it on during my sermon? What’s going to happen? Uh oh. What’s happening? Here it comes! Here it comes! Same thing, when the Holy Spirit comes upon a person. That’s why they use that word baptized in the Holy Spirit, unction of the Holy Spirit, anointing of the Holy Spirit. It’s this overflowing abundance of God’s spirit, that it just flows out. Those people who do the most for God are those who are filled with His Spirit. It comes out.
But if we’re not careful, what can we do? We can quench and grieve the Spirit. How? You name it. Any type of sin that we love and we’re not going to repent of and we take pride in it. Anger, critical spirit. I’ve seen that. I’ve had to repent of this before. Pray for me. In the church, we can have a critical spirit. We know what the Bible says, we know people aren’t living like it, what’s going on here? Mr. Pharisee comes out, and you’ll be critical and judgmental. Gossiping, complaining, slandering, backbiting, hooked in besetting sin, from any type of addiction. We just keep quenching and quenching and grieving the spirit of God. That person will lack power.
But thank God He doesn’t make us wait a year. You can pray like David, “O God, I’ve sinned against you, and you only have I sinned. Create in me a clean heart. Renew a right spirit within me. Fill me again with the spirit of God. I’m repenting, I’m confessing. Wash me as white as snow. Cleanse my heart.” And you can go from stuck in sin to filled with the spirit of God like zero to a hundred in 1.2 seconds.
There are consequences; I don’t want to minimize sin, but I want to magnify what God can do in the life of a person who fully surrenders and repents of their sin and gives their heart to God. Anybody I’ve ever met before that is filled mightily with God’s spirit has struggled with sin. They’ve repented of it, they’ve confessed it. They bring it to the light, and the power comes in that confession, in that repentance. Do you know happens when we try to hide sin? We quench and grieve the spirit of God. Throughout the Bible it says, “Confess, confess, confess. Bring it to the light.” That’s what confession is if we were to take time to look at that word. It’s a bringing to the light something that is unknown or something that was sitting in darkness. You’re bringing it to the light, and you’re confessing it, you’re bringing it out in transparency, and then God can move through that person.
So that’s what I’m talking about. I’m talking about spiritual power. The Holy Spirit shall come upon you, and you shall what? Act weird? You shall live boldly for God. You shall witness. You’ll have a deep and abiding passion for the truth, and you do great things for God. The Bible is clear. Those who have this spiritual power have a deep passion for God’s Word. They love God’s Word. It’s the anchor to their soul. It’s the bread to their soul. It’s the food, it’s the nourishment.
So the demonstration of the Spirit’s power is what God is doing through you, the Holy Spirit’s power through you. This is interesting. Have you ever heard of Lifeway? They do research and take polls in the Christian community primarily. So a new poll that came out—you ready for this? It was in the news this week. Over 50 percent of Protestant churchgoers—so half the people in this room—failed to share the gospel in the last six months. There should be a big gasp on that one. And it’s so funny for me to read all the reasons why. You know all the excuses, like church growth, the younger generation. The bottom line is men and women are not filled with the spirit of God. That’s why this statistic is there. Because when the Holy Spirit is in you, you have to proclaim who God is and the truth of God.
So here are four ways we learned in the past, I want to revisit them again, why you might be lacking spiritual power. This might be mainly to those in the charismatic community.
Number one, you want power to impress people. Man, Lord fill me with your Spirit, I would be exalted. I would look so spiritual. I’ve been dying for this. My wife thinks I don’t do anything spiritually. Boy, fill me with the Spirit. Let me show her. Or the wife’s praying: Let me just be filled with your power to impress my friends. Or the power to control. We want to control others, we want to control our situation, and we want that power of God, the power so we can exalt ourselves, prove ourselves. Anybody want to prove yourself to your parents or your siblings? I’ve been down that road many times. Look, look, I’m not stupid. Look, I’ve arrived. Look, I am spiritual. Look. And we want that “Oh, Lord, fill me so I can impress these people and show them who I really am.” That’s not what spiritual power is for.
So I’m going to talk to about three keys to power. Are you ready for this? If you want spiritual power, and again I don’t mean weirdness, I don’t mean acting crazy. I mean actually being bold for God, living for God. And it’s so true that saying—I don’t remember who said it—but if you’re not willing to live for Christ today, you’re not going to die for Him tomorrow. I think Christians in our culture today need this boldness. This is why we’re in the predicament we are in. When did we say the school district can tell our kids what’s right and what’s wrong and take parental rights away? When did the government tell us that they can murder children? When did they redefine marriage, what God’s Word says? When did all this happen? It’s happening under the sleeping of the church. No, no, we’re not going to say anything. We’re just going to love people. That’s not biblical. The Bible says to be bold, to contend for truth, to say what is right and what is wrong, to love righteousness. “O man of God, what does God require of you, but to love justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly before your God.” There should be a right standard. There should be a stench in our nostrils when we see the direction of the culture. And then we’re supposed to say nothing? The lukewarm church won’t say anything. They don’t want to upset anybody. Hey, they kind of like this.
I’ll tell you right now. Two groups that do not like Holy Spirit-filled believers are carnal Christians and Pharisees. When you live for God and you’re filled with the spirit of God, you want to reach out to the homeless, you want to go start a ministry, you want to pass out things at the mall, you want to walk through the stores and pray with people, maybe buy them groceries. You’re so filled with the spirit of God, your carnal friends will say, “Who do you think you are? Jesus freak.” Have you ever been called that? Are you going to leave me hanging out here? Holy roller. Jesus freak. Holy roller. Super Christian. Goodie two shoes. I still don’t know what that means.
See, why don’t they like that? Because you’re showing them what they lack. Those who do not live for Christ do not want to emulate or be friends with those who do. It’s very hard. Now we should encourage those friendships. We need to come alongside those people. But the other side though, the Pharisee doesn’t like this either because they love their Bible but not people. They love theology, but they’ll never go out and do anything for God. They’re not filled with His power and His presence.
I explained to the first service—I’m glad I remembered this—I want to explain it to you too. This is just the pep rally. The ballgame is out there. Just yesterday I drove down Beach Avenue and Lancaster Boulevard. There are wonderful ministry opportunities. I used to do that with gas cards and walk down and pray with people. Takes a little boldness. Bring somebody. But you can diffuse all that. Hey, man, can I pray with you? We’re just here passing out cards, being a blessing to people. If you all went out and did that just once, you could reach more people than a year’s worth of preaching that I’m doing here to the unreached. That’s the battlefield. That’s the soil that we need to be planting on.
But we think church is it. No, church is where we get refueled and built up again and ignited, and then we go out and do great things for God. Many people don’t know what a pastor’s calling is. My main calling is not counseling, it’s not weddings or funerals. Paul is clear. It’s to equip the saints to go and do the ministry. And then we go and do the ministry. But according to this, 50 percent of people aren’t even telling people about Jesus. Can you imagine going six months and never mentioning Jesus? We’ll talk about the new contract Mike Trout signed or who the highest-paid basketball coach is. We know this, and we know the new movies coming out. We know that the Avengers did this at the box office. Is that still out? No? Maybe? Okay, yeah, see, I saw something there. But we’re all excited about that, but when it comes to the things of God <whistles>. Why? Very simple. What you’re filled with is what’s going to flow out.
So here are the three keys to power. Paul said, “I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.” Many of you might be saying, “What? Wouldn’t it say the opposite?” Not at all. Paul’s being very honest here. Why? “I was with you.” Paul said, “I came to you in weakness.” What is weakness? It’s the absence of strength, meaning Paul came, and he said, “I didn’t come to you in my power, my muscle, my authority, my sturdiness, my toughness, my strength. I came to you in total weakness, dependence upon God.”
Total dependence upon God. I had an eye-opening experience of this last week. Many of you don’t know this, unless you were at the first service, but last week was pretty difficult. I wasn’t able to sleep as well, lots going on, we had the new baby you know, and didn’t get to the sermon, but didn’t really even have a chance to work on it much. I put a few things together. I was hoping to do it on Friday and Saturday. Didn’t happen. Sunday morning I tried to stay at home, and it didn’t happen. I was just like, “Lord, this is going to stink. This is the Easter sermon, and this is going to stink. This is terrible. This does nothing for me. God, I’m going, trusting you.” Boy, did He move. Listen to last week’s message on finishing strong, or on the final words. God just completely took over. He said, “Finally, Shane. Finally. Just lay low. Let me take over.”
Come in weakness and total dependence because when you say, “God, God, I’m totally dependent upon you. Unless you move in my marriage, it’s hopeless. Unless you move in my church, it’s hopeless. Unless you move in my health or get rid of my depression and fear, I’m hopeless without you. God, I have no strength left in this. I can’t manage. I can’t handle it. I give it all to you.” That’s weakness. But, see, when I am weak, I am strong.
There’s something very dynamic that happens when you go and when you do something saying, “God, I’m not qualified for this,” because you are qualified as a Christian—unless it’s heart surgery or something, don’t mistake what I’m saying. Please be qualified in that. But to do things for God, you often say, “I’m not qualified. I don’t have a degree. I don’t have a this, I don’t have that.” But if God’s calling you, you rest in who He is and what He’s going to do through you, and in your weakness, because, see, when I’m weak, I’m utterly dependent upon Him. And I mean that. I mean that. I say, “God, unless you do something, this is going to really stink because I don’t have three points and a nice poem. I need you to move.” So there’s weakness there. And this is where humility comes into play. This is why humility is so important. Humility humbles us. In humility, you will humble yourself, and God will fill you with His Spirit.
And then Paul said, “In fear.” So I’m in weakness, and then I’m in fear. Well, I thought Christians weren’t supposed to fear. Hello, Shane, come on. No, no, no. Think about what he’s saying here. He feared whom? God. “I came to you fearing God, and because of that I was trembling.” What happens when you tremble? Have you ever been nervous? I have often on Sundays. Right? See, you move cautiously, trembling. You move slowly, reverently, wisely. You’re trembling with fear and trepidation because I’m speaking—and when you’re out there ministering to people—on behalf of the living God.
Have you ever thought about that? That’s why I don’t like to go way outside of Scripture, you know, because people say, “Well, do you believe in the rapture? Do you believe in pre-trib, post-trib, mid-trib? Pre-wrath? Amillennial? Premillennial?” Uh, He’s coming again. We need to be ready. It could get bad. That’s what I know. I’ve got to stick with what I know, with what the Bible says.
So you move cautiously and trembling. That’s why I go over the sermons like, “Lord, is this grounded in Scripture? Is this the heart of Christ? Is this what you want to say to your people? Man, this is going to be hard. How do we build them back up? How do we encourage them?” See, you come up here in fear and trembling, not like literally, but you’re like, “Oh God, I hope you move. I’m just going to stay consistent with what your Word says.”
So that was Paul’s key to power. If you want spiritual power, humble yourself, say, “Lord, I am utterly dependent upon you.” When we start to look at our abilities, God help us, because there’s giftings in people and abilities in people, and when you start to rest in that, you start to lose the power of the Spirit. I tell worship leaders often, and I’ve talked to them before, even in different churches: Make sure you don’t rest in your ability. Sure, you can sing. Anointing does not come from your ability. Show me one Scripture where God says, “Boy, you’ve got a lot of ability there. You’re going to be anointed.” Your ability is a gift. It’s a gift from God. You can sing. But the anointing comes from the life you live, your consecration, your surrender, your fear, your weakness in yourself and your strength in God, and saying, “God, you have to move.” And God begins to anoint that person.
The anointing of God is another term people misuse. It basically means that a person is filled with God’s spirit and God has anointed them for a task. I’ve called you to preach. I’ve called you to do this. I often rest in this. I often rest in this often. Many of you know, you’ve commented before, and you’ve seen the clips, like when Fox News will email me. Actually, this week “Fox and Friends” emailed me and asked if I was available this weekend. (They back out sometimes because they get different people.) If it had not been for this fact that “God, you have called me to do this. You’ve anointed me to speak to our nation and to speak to the church with love and boldness. You’ve given me that voice to do that. You did this. It’s not my problem then. You did this, not me. Guess what? You planted the church, not me. You called us here. You planted the church.”
So there’s tremendous comfort in that because I can walk in here or go do what I’m called to do knowing that God says, “For such a time as this, I have called you to speak my truth. Just open your mouth in humility and meekness and let the spirit of the living God rise up. When you let that anointing go through, and that anointing is going to break the yoke over our nation.” Praise God! That’s our only hope. That is our only hope.
It’s so funny to watch the politicians planning for 2020, as if that’s going to calm everything down. That could actually raise things up. That could turn up the heat.
Weakness, fearing God, trembling, being filled with God’s power, His presence. Let me tell you this upfront. All of this is affected or can be affected by besetting and unrepentant sin. If you are caught in unrepentant, besetting sin, God’s spirit cannot flow through you—unless you repent. Back to weakness. See how this plays together? The person who says, “I got this. I got this. This is not really that big a deal. I can deal with this. I can handle it. Yeah, I slip up once in a while.” And of course, everybody still sins on this side of the cross. I’m not talking about them. I’m talking about unrepentant, ongoing, habitual sin that we do not repent from, we do not confess. That will break that line. That will break that connection with God, the Holy Spirit.
What you think quenching and grieving the Spirit is? That’s what it is. Quenching—do you think of a fire? Have you ever had that fire of God in you and then sin quenches it? Or just doing great things for God… I mean, I’ve had it to where I spent all week worshiping and crying, worshiping and crying in the morning, and just the presence of God was so thick, and the sermon was coming together, and then later on in the day, maybe Morgan and I have a little spat. That happens, just so you know. We’re normal. Or the kids get on your nerves. Ever happen? Okay, every day. Amen.
Or life happens. Or traffic, and you get upset. Now I just went from tremendous high to now I don’t even want to go to church Sunday. Do you know how many times I’ve had to come here even when I don’t feel like it and walk to this pulpit, even when I didn’t feel like it in the morning? Oh, it’s too many times to count. You drag the ball and chain—the flesh, not your spouse; I caught you there. You drag that flesh. It doesn’t pull you. You tell it what to work. That’s why we sing that song: “Yes, I will.” What does it say? Yes, I will praise you even in the storm. Yes, I will look to you even though I’m going through hell. I know heaven hears me. Even though the life doesn’t make sense. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you are there to hold me. What does it go on to say? Yes, I will. Yes, I will praise Him in the storm, when the rivers come upon me, it will not flood me. Why? Because the Spirit of the living God holds me up. When I walk through the fire, they will not scorch me, and the flames will not burn me. Why? Because I love the living God, and I serve Him. So yes, I will praise Him even in the storm. I will praise Him even when I’m going through tremendous difficulty. I will praise Him even when the doctor says, “Hey, it does not look good.” I will praise Him when the court system and the school system and the government is against us. I will still praise Him in this storm.
My goodness. We need the spirit of God. Just remember though, spiritual power is like a bank account. It’s just like a bank account. What are you depositing? Because that’s what comes out. Have you ever done this? Have you ever opened a savings account and put nothing in it, then go check the balance a year later? I did that when I was younger. Or you put $5 in, thinking it’s going to be $5,000 in a year. I heard about interest; how does this work? No? Same thing spiritually, even more so. What is deposited?
So that’s why this is so important. You get into this [Bible], you live in this, and this is deposited into your heart. As a man thinketh in his mind, so is he. When I read about the goodness of God and the grace of God, when I read that no army can come against Him, when I read the devil is even His servant, how God is sovereign over the devil and demons, when I read Jesus’s words that the Holy Spirit has come upon Him, and He’s done great things, then I turn to Acts, and it says the Spirit of the living God will come upon you when you wait upon Him. And you begin to read that, and the Holy Spirit, who wrote the Word, begins to bubble up inside of you. You begin to say Scriptures throughout the day. Has that ever happened to you? Oh, no weapon formed against me will prosper. This too shall come to pass. Jesus, you’re my anchor, you’re my strength. And as the Word is deposited, it begins to bubble out.
Same thing with prayer. Prayer strengthens and fortifies. That’s why it’s so difficult. Think about this. If I say, “Okay, next Sunday all I’m teaching on is prayer,” I bet our attendance would not be that great. Actually, I’m not going to teach, we’re just going to practice it. Next Sunday, there’s no preaching, just worship and prayer. “Ugh. That doesn’t sound fun.” You see? See what we’re missing? That’s the power. That’s why I often say powerful sermons have to come from the prayer closet, not pop psychology. I get these emails. It’s like download a thousand sermons; you’ll be set for ten years. I’m like, “What about if God wants to say something else?” And in that prayer time I begin to fill these out all over my wall in my room. I begin to write down these things and then put the sermon together because, through that prayer, God is breaking and God is pulling things out, and God is saying, “Preach on hell, but preach on heaven. Peach on love, show them my grace, but show them how a disobedient people need to return to me.”
And Scriptures come to mind through the reading of the Word, and God begins to move in the power and presence of His Spirit. Why? Because of what’s being deposited. You want me to just sit and watch Netflix all week? I’d give you a good movie review sermon. What goes in is what’s coming out. Same with you. I love the people who say, “Yeah, but you’re a pastor. You have to do that.” No, you’re a Christian. You should want to. Same thing. Because let’s be honest, the rubber meets the road at home. We can come here and shake our heads. I can just put together an hour sermon, okay. Now it really starts when we get out those doors. That’s when life starts. That’s when disobedient children can be difficult or marriage issues or health issues or work issues.
I’m praying for people more often now than ever before who are actually in our political offices, in our school districts, and law enforcement. You would be alarmed at how politically correct we are having to be. If you accidentally call someone a he, and they really want to be a she, you’re going to be in trouble. You can be written up and lose your job. We have lost our minds. It’s a girl. No, she doesn’t want to be a girl. Well, it’s a girl. No, call her a boy. I can’t call her a boy. What? We’ve lost our mind. Well, Shane, you’re just insensitive. You don’t care. No, I care, and I love, and I love people. Point them to the true hope. The true hope is in the cross, not surgery. Many people struggling with identity, soon that fades away when you show them their identity in Christ. But why do I struggle with this? Well, welcome to sin. Welcome to the struggle.
Until you are buried six foot under and with your Savior, you’re going to struggle with the flesh that is hell bent on ruining your testimony. The Bible says the carnal mind is at enmity with God. Jeremiah said, “Who can trust the heart?” You trust your heart? It defiles you. It’s all wickedness in the heart. That’s why you should be careful with that person who says, “Well, I just want to follow my heart.” How often has that got us in trouble?
The Word, prayer, oh, what about worship? Worship prepares the soil of the heart. That’s where spiritual fire comes from, spiritual anointing from God. I don’t know if I’ve ever met anyone who spends time in God’s Word, who’s in the prayer closet, who’s worshiping Him, who’s not filled with the Spirit, because one or the other will prevail. Either the flesh or the Spirit. If a person’s seeking God with all their heart, with all their strength, they’re going to be filled with God’s spirit.
Now granted, I also believe there are difficult seasons. I’ve been in times of prayer, especially during fasting, and worshiping just feels like heaven’s brass. God, I don’t feel it. I don’t feel you. And even in those times, yes, I will. Yes, I will praise you even in the storm. Yes, I will. And I think God’s taught me to do it regardless of feelings. Even though you don’t feel like it, honor me.
And then, as I talked about before, confession and repentance keep the line of communication open with God. This is why mornings are so vital for people. I know you might be an evening person, I know there are different people. I’m not trying to make anyone feel bad, but all I’m saying is you have to give God your best, because what happens most of the time? We give God our leftovers. Oh, man, let me try to get this in really quick. Oh, I’m so tired. Whatever your freshest time is, where you have the most amount of energy, give it to God. And for most people it’s in the morning when they get up. When you get up, you don’t have to check Facebook first. You don’t have to check your phone first. You don’t have to see what’s going on in the news. What’s Putin up to? What’s North Korea doing? What’s China doing? I’ll tell you what, if it wasn’t for the sovereign hand of God, all those people would love to destroy us. All them. America is the great Satan in the Middle East. It’s nothing but the sheer grace of God that protects us. For how long, I don’t know. But He needs to be sought first. David said, “In the morning I will seek you.”
I don’t remember who it was. The book is about 150 years old. The author said, “I feel so convicted when I get up, and I hear other workers up worshiping their work, and I’m not up worshiping my master.” He wanted to be up early and seeking God with all his heart. And again, that time might not be for you in the morning. Personally, I’m a morning person. I’m not evening person. By seven, eight o’clock, I can’t read anything. It’s hard to pray. So you have to do what works best for you, but find that time.
And also a deposit will cost you something, will it not? To deposit something in the bank, it will cost you something. Every time my kids make money, I say, “Okay, let’s go to the bank.” What do they say? “I want toys. I want this. I want ice cream. I want candy. I want cookies. I want things to play with. Now, I want this now.” And then, when you get them something, the next day they’re upset, like, “I don’t want this anymore. I want something else.” So that deposit costs them something. It hurts. Anytime you deposit into this area, it will cost you something. You will have to give up something to be filled with God’s spirit.
A quick note to the Pharisee. You don’t need more Bible; you need more brokenness. You don’t need more theology; you need more knee-ology. You don’t need to show others how intellectual you are; you need to start loving them. And again, this is coming from someone who loves the Bible. I love theology. What is theology? It’s the study of God. What we’re doing would be called pneumatology, the study of the Holy Spirit. It’s where you get the word pneumatic. Your pneumatic tools are air-driven. That’s where pneumatology comes from, the study of the Holy Spirit. So it’s wonderful to have that, but that should not replace a relationship with God.
And to the worldly person, you will never know the power of God playing for the wrong team.
So here’s the key. I’m going to end here shortly. Don’t you see that you have to see the need? You have to see your need for this. I need God’s power in my life. I need it. It’s a desperation. It’s a need. Most people don’t think they need it, or they say, “Yeah, but I don’t want to get that carried away. I don’t want to get that crazy. I don’t want to end up like that guy up there at the pulpit. Oh Lord.” You must see the need.
There’s a story about a proud Presbyterian. His name was W.P. Nicholson. Brian talked about it when he spoke here. Proud Presbyterian, W.P. Nicholson. He preached with a powerful anointing of the Holy Spirit, and he was at times referred to as “the tornado of the pulpit.” Here’s the key. Northern Ireland owes him a debt of gratitude. His evangelistic campaigns in the 1920s did more to calm the storm of civil unrest than anyone else. Nicholson’s prayer-soaked preaching saw the special anointing, and God saved thousands of people. So they attribute, [the peace] from the unrest in Northern Ireland was accomplished by one man filled with the spirit of God. Same thing can happen—George Mueller in England. D.L. Moody here and in England. One man, one woman, filled with the spirit of God can make a difference. That’s how we make a difference, filled with the spirit of God.
But before this time—see, this is often the case. W.P. Nicholson, D.L. Moody, John Bunyan, Oswald Chambers, John Wesley—I can take you to so many men and women—Amy Carmichael—that before they had this powerful experience of the Holy Spirit, they were Christians, but you just never heard about them until they had a powerful experience, an encounter with the living God. They were filled with the Spirit. And this is why many good Christians are dissatisfied, cranky, and complaining. They’re unhooked from the power source, and deep down inside they know it. Isn’t that true? I don’t know of any joy-filled Christian who’s not connected to the Holy Spirit. Why? Because fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, contentment, gentleness, kindness, self-control. You’re connected to that. That’s the fruit that’s coming out. But when you’re disconnected, what’s the opposite of love? Anger. What’s the opposite of peace? Bitterness, discontent, critical attitude. What would describe most Christians? The fruit of the Spirit or the fruit of the flesh? And that’s a problem that many people have.
So here’s the story in a nutshell. Before this person, W.P. Nicholson, was mightily filled with the spirit of God, he was a proud Presbyterian. He was walking down the street in Ireland, and he saw a boy, a kid by the name of Daft Jimmy. Daft means ignorant. I’m being kind here. Stupid. No degree. Works with the Salvation Army. Little tambourines. You know, that still happens today. The proud Presbyterian. You’d be amazed at how many proud and arrogant people in conservative churches would mock our church services. Trust me. I’ve been to churches that seat two or three thousand, and they never raise their hands. They’ll do a quick song or two, quick hymnal. They’ll all stand there, devoid of the power of God. I’m not saying you have to raise your hands, that you have to be expressive. I’m not saying that. But we have to be very careful because many people can fall into this proud camp. What do they do? They start to mock spirit-filled worshipers. They start to mock emotional worship as if you shouldn’t be experiencing God during worship. Oh, that’s just emotionalism. That’s for those baby Christians. I’m mature.
You don’t see too many people with a master’s degree in theology at the altar. You don’t see Bible professors often at the altar. I’m just being honest with you. I’m being completely honest. There are two camps. There are conservative Christians, and there’s another camp. I would consider myself conservative, a conservative Christian. But when you marry that with the power of the Spirit, emotions flow. You might as well tell parents of a newborn child not to feel anything when that birth happens. Don’t feel anything on your wedding day. Just go through the motions like a robot. “I do.” “I guess.” “Whatever.” Why can’t we have emotions when it comes to worshiping God?
So back to this person, Daft Jimmy. He was with a few girls, and they had their red jackets on. Have you ever seen the Salvation Army? How it started is interesting. They faced so much criticism. Dead animals were thrown at them and apple cores and eggs. They were beaten up because they would just go through the streets proclaiming Christ as Savior. And they had their red jackets on, and on the back it said, “Saved from popular opinion.” They’re walking down the street with their tambourines. Think about this. Go try this on Lancaster Boulevard. You’ll see how humble you are.
So anyway, they’re walking, and here comes the proud Presbyterian. He sees them and thinks, “Oh, I can’t turn around. Uh oh.” And they asked him, “Hey, are you Christian?” He goes, “Yeah,” and they said, “Would you kneel down and pray with us?” in the midst of all these people, all the friends he knew. He was like, “Oh! Oh, I hope nobody sees me.” And he’s down on his knees, and he’s praying with them, and he’s thinking, “I hope it’s a long prayer,” and it wasn’t. And then they got up, and she said, “Would you help us? Here’s a tambourine.” So you have this proud Presbyterian, probably has a doctorate degree in something, knows all about church history, and he’s there with the Salvation Army, with the tambourine and singing, “How Great is our God.” Probably not that song, but one of the hymns back then. And as he was walking down that street, as he humbled himself, as he said, “I’m going to embrace the least likely. I’m going to humble myself,” the Spirit of the living God fell upon that man, and that man from that day forward began to be the tornado of the pulpit, began to preach with boldness and passion, began to love others. Once that pride was crushed. See, pride has to be crushed out of you. It has to be broken out of you. God has to highlight it. God has to highlight it, and show you that you’re the man, you’re the woman, crush that pride. Do you have to win every argument? Do you have to win every debate? Does your family walk around like they’re walking on eggshells, not to upset mom or dad because they know it all? The prideful, arrogant man or woman will fall on their face before Almighty God and be crushed. That’s when the power flows in. Then and only then do you receive the fullness of the Spirit. When you say, “God I’m desperate. I’m desperate for you. I’m desperate for more of you.”
This message will upset conservatives. Let me tell you. They don’t want to talk much about the power of the Holy Spirit. They don’t want to find themselves at the altar. Hour-and-a-half worship service? Have you guys lost your mind? See, because they haven’t experienced the power of God. D.L. Moody said this of the Bible teachers in his day—and I love Bible teachers, I know Bible teachers, but many times they’re not filled with the spirit of God. Well, Shane what are they filled with? Knowledge. And what does knowledge do? Knowledge puffs up. And he said about the Bible teachers of his day, “They’re good teachers. They’re good men. But why don’t they see that the power of the Holy Spirit is what they are lacking?” I could say the same thing, same thing today. Our pride has to be crushed. Then and only then does the power of the Holy Spirit come out of you.
How many of you use olive oil? What happened to the olive? Anybody use perfume? What happened to the flower petals? A.W. Tozer said, “It’s doubtful that God will use a man mightily until he has hurt him deeply.” Crushed. Crushed, broken. And I found that it’s okay to walk with a limp and been broken by God and crushed by God. Then you’ll be less judgmental. You’ll be a lot more loving, you’ll be a lot more sensitive. You can still have the love of the truth and the power of the Spirit in your heart, but you’re going to have compassion.
Did we not see that in Jesus? It’s so ironic. Some people love to just highlight His compassion, as if He would never point out sin, and other people just like to point out His fiery sermons, His going after the people. No, it was both. It was both. The Bible paints a picture of both. We see the Lamb, but we see the Lion. You see the Savior, but you see the Judge. You see the Servant, but you see the King. And someday, the Bible says, the armies of heaven will follow after Him. The armies of heaven will follow after Him, and He will tread the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He will have a name written on his right thigh: King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Just think about that. All hail King Jesus. You worship King Jesus. You’re saved, you’re set free, you’re a child of God. Should we not do great exploits for God? But in America, we’re worried. Because some people do tell me this. Shane, you might die someday for your faith. Yes, I might. Welcome to Christianity. It’s a religion of suffering. The blood of the martyrs is what planted the seeds, not these pastors with million-dollar homes and jets. The martyrs planted the seeds of the church. You might die for your faith. Do you know why? It’s called boldness in the midst of adversity. It’s called contending for truth in a postmodern culture. It’s called standing up and saying, “This is not right. You cannot kill innocent children on our watch.” We will stand, and we will shout from the rooftops, “You cannot redefine the definition of marriage.”
Listen, I have a word for the governor of New York and of California. You better repent before Almighty God because we have the blood of innocent children on our hands. Get back to worshiping God and seeking God with all of your heart, with all of your strength. That is our only hope. That’s our only hope.
Let me just ask you, are you plugged in? Are you plugged into the source? Some of you, you had your first love, and you lost it. I’ve been there. There’s nothing more miserable than a Christian leaving their first love. Do you remember when you wanted to come to church? You couldn’t wait to get to prayer meetings and worship, and then the drift happens. But thank God, it’s as easy as this: “God, I’m sorry. I repent. Restore. Restore, rebuild, renew, ignite that passion in me again.” When the psalmist wrote, “Wilt thou not revive us again, that your people may”—what? “Rejoice in you.” Just admit it and say, “God, I need to come back. I need to be anchored again. I need to be plugged in again. I want to do things for you, God. Would you help me? Would you restore me, wash me as white as snow, and I’ll be clean again? Fill me with your Spirit, God, please.” And He will do that.
But in closing, maybe you’ve never been connected. You will not have the Holy Spirit in your life if you’ve never had a relationship with God. The Bible is clear. The Bible is clear. Repent and believe. Turn from your sin. Repent and believe.
I went to a memorial this weekend. It was the saddest sermon I’ve ever heard. No mention of repentance. No mention of sin. Nothing. It’s what I would call a false gospel. You’re offering hope and talking about heaven to a congregation that’s on their way to hell.
So if you’re listening later, if you’re here now, and you’ve never had a relationship with God—not religion—if you’ve never had that relationship where you’ve been filled with the spirit of God, you’ve been cleansed of your sin, the Bible says confess and repent and believe. Confess your sins, repent, “God, this is not right. I need you,” and believe that Jesus will save you, that He was raised from the dead. His work on the cross is enough for your salvation.
Those are the two things I want to leave you with. You need to get plugged in if you been unplugged for a season, and if you’ve never been plugged in, you need to make that decision today, this morning.