holy spirit

Sermon Recap | A Spirit-Filled Life


This week, we’re going to dive into what it really means to hear from God’s Spirit. Some of us respond with cynicism to hearing from God’s Spirit because we’ve seen it go bad. We’ve seen people talking about what God told them to do in immature and not well-discipled ways. However, time and time again, the Bible talks about how we are to hear from God’s Spirit for teaching, guiding, and instructing (Ephesians 5:18, John 14:16-17, John 16:13, Galatians 5:24-25).

Some helpful context for hearing from God’s Spirit:

  • God is a speaking God. (Genesis 1:28-31, Genesis 8:15-17, Genesis 17:1-8)
  • Relationships are formed through communication.
  • God's Spirit is more focused on who you become than on what you do. (1 Thess 5:18, 1 Thess 4:3, 1 Peter 3:17, Romans 12:1)

“The Spirit of God’s main work is to shape us into being the kind of people God wants us to be, because when we become the kind of people God wants us to be, we will do the things God wants us to do.”

- J.D. Greear

In answering the questions, “how do we hear from God’s Spirit?”, 1 Thessalonians gives us our guardrails to not fall into the two extremes as we explore the different ways we can hear from God’s Spirit.

Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.

- 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21

Paul tells us not to fall into the pit of quenching the Spirit or despising the idea of hearing from God. And He also tells us to test everything and not fall into the pit of believing every passing whim and message we think God is telling us.

Five ways to hear from God’s Spirit:

1. Through God’s Word

God’s Spirit is the one who inspired the writing of Scripture. God cannot and will not contradict Himself. (2 Timothy 3:16-17, John 16:13)

Here’s what this means for us:

  • We should open our Bibles and expect to hear from God’s Spirit.
  • We should not blame the Spirit for disobedience to God’s Word.
  • We should test any message from God’s Spirit by the message of God’s Word.

2. Through the church

In Acts 13:2, we see the church in Antioch is gathered together, worshiping, when the Holy Spirit speaks. In Galatians 2, we read that Paul, after 14 years of ministry, is prompted by the Holy Spirit to go to Jerusalem and submit what he was teaching to the leaders of the church.

In our lives, it is really helpful for us to submit what we’re hearing from the Lord to the church because the church is a body of believers with God’s Spirit as well!  (Ephesians 5:21)

3. In our giftings

To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

- 1 Corinthians 12:7

God has given the church different gifts to be used for His kingdom and our good. We can learn what God is saying to us by looking at what God has put in us. Part of how we receive God’s Spirit is through the gifts He puts in us.

To begin to discern what your gifts are, look for the intersection of these three categories:

Spiritual Gifts - Affinity Ability and Affirmation.png
  • Affinity - what we are passionate or care about. This is something God has given us a heart for.
  • Ability - what we are good at. Some of us have natural giftings and skills that can align with the Spirit’s giftings.
  • Affirmation - what other people see and call out in us. God’s Spirit can speak through other people to show us our giftings.

4. Through our circumstances

But I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, for a wide door for effective work has opened to me...

- 1 Corinthians 16:8-9

God in His sovereignty can use our circumstances to open some doors and close others as He guides us through life. We don’t have to panic about whether or not we have missed out from hearing from God, because He has us where we need to be in order to be on mission for Him.

5. Impressions of God’s Spirit on our spirit

This final way of hearing from the Spirit can make people uncomfortable or nervous because we’ve seen it get weird. We’ve seen it mishandled. However, we cannot write it off, because it’s evidenced in Scripture.

In Acts 20:22-23, we read that Paul was impressed by the Spirit to go to the Jerusalem, even though the Spirit showed him that he would face imprisonment and hurt. In Galatians 2:1-2 and Acts 16:9-10, we see how mission and evangelism is brought about by specific messages and visions from God’s Spirit In our cynicism, we are prone to look at and write all this off as, “Well that was Paul and Acts! It doesn’t apply to us.” However, over and over again, Paul calls us to follow Jesus the way he does (1 Corinthians 11:1, Philippians 3:7, 2 Thessalonians 3:7+9)

It’s important to note that Paul and the early church heard from God sometimes, but not every day. So we shouldn’t assume hearing from God’s Spirit every day, But if we wait and listen, we will likely hear Him speak at times in our lives. Sometimes He will convict us of sin. Sometimes He will remind us of the truth of the gospel and God’s great love for us. Sometimes He will prompt us to pray for those who are hurting. Sometimes He will help us see how to love and engage those who are far from Jesus. In all these ways and others, God’s Spirit  desires to speak to us and we will be wise to listen humbly.


If and when we think we hear something from Him, we should submit it to God’s Word and God’s people. We should ask if it aligns with our gifting and our circumstance. And lastly, we should make sure it’s in line with God’s clearly revealed will to grow our holiness and to grow His kingdom.

Sermon Recap | Why "Parakletos" Should Be Your Favorite Word

This week in our Personal Liturgy series, we continued to explore our fourth enemy to our spiritual health: cynicism. Our working definition of cynicism is a posture of skepticism that leads you to doubt God’s presence and activity in your life.

Beginning in chapter 13 of John, we see Jesus’ dialogue with the disciples as they eat the Last Supper together. Jesus knows that He is going to die soon, and takes the time to prepare and encourage the disciples, who don’t yet understand why Jesus has to die and what that means in the grand scheme of things.

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.

- John 14:18-20

In verse 18, Jesus speaks to the core of their struggle. He says, “I will not leave you as orphans.” Ultimately, the disciples are wondering if they are going to be left alone. This same idea forms the foundation for all of our cynicism. The nagging question of, “Is God going to be there for me? Is He reliable? Is He going to leave me?”

But Jesus offers hope that He will not leave them as orphans. He promises the disciples that He will come to them. And He offers this for us as well.

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

- John 14:16-17

Here, Jesus introduces a new idea to the disciples. He says He will ask the Father to send the Holy Spirit to them, to dwell with them, and be in them. This is the context in which He says “I will not leave you as orphans.” The supernatural Spirit of God is going to come and miraculously dwell in them. The Spirit will be their ongoing connection to Jesus.

Jesus calls the Holy Spirit a “Helper”, but this translation doesn’t concisely capture what Jesus is describing. The Greek word here is "paraklētos." It literally means "called in aid." It comes from para- ‘alongside’ + klētos (from kalein ‘to call’).

It’s a contrast word to the English word parasite. The word parasite is the combination of the words “alongside” and “eat”. It’s something that is stuck to us to take from us and steal our life and energy. Parakletos is the exact opposite. It’s something that is called permanently to our side to help us, and to give to us energy, resources, life, and power that we don’t have.

Despite Jesus wonderful promise, the disciples are still confused and upset. So Jesus continues to press:.

But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.

- John 16:6-8

These verses are actually very corrective for us.
We think everything in life would be better if Jesus was just here beside us. We could fight sin better and love God better and our faith would be so much stronger if Jesus was here in the flesh with us.

What Jesus says though is that the Spirit inside of us is even better than Jesus beside us.

To understand this better, look no further than the very disciples Jesus was talking to. Peter, who said he would lay down his life for Jesus — within 12 hours would deny Jesus three times (even curse Him!), acting out of complete fear. However, after being filled with the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts, Peter is a completely different person. He gets dragged in front of the king and boldly says, "Kill me if you want, but I will never stop preaching the gospel."

The Spirit inside Peter was more fruitful and powerful in Peter's life than Jesus beside him.

The difference is amazing, but it doesn’t stop there. Looking at the other disciples, we also see a night and day difference after Pentecost when the Holy Spirit comes. There is a supernatural boldness and power that was not there before. Doubt, fear, and timidity turn into confident hope and joy.

Our cynicism does not all look the same, but at the root of it all is this: “Is God really present? Does He care?...About me? Can He really do anything to help me? Is He trustworthy? Is He doing anything?”

The cross and resurrection answer those questions with a resounding “Yes!” But another word answers those questions with a resounding “Yes,” and that word is parakletos. Our Helper. The Spirit of the living God, sent to live in us.

Here is what this means for us, if we are Christians filled by the same Holy Spirit:

  • When we doubt, we are not alone.
  • When we feel distant from God, we are not alone.
  • We don’t repent of sin alone.
  • We don’t obey God alone.
  • We don’t read the Bible alone.
  • We don’t pray alone.
  • We don’t rejoice alone.
  • We don’t live on mission alone.
  • We don’t battle Satan’s accusations alone.
  • We don’t sleep alone. We don’t drive alone. We don’t eat alone. We don’t work alone. We don’t battle nightmares alone. We don’t daydream alone.

We are never alone.

This is the God we need. This is the God who puts cynicism to death. He is the supernatural, constant help we all need. God’s Spirit is always with us, and that’s even better than if Jesus were sitting beside us.