God Empowers You – Chrysalis Talk

16Feb09

The Prayer to the Holy Spirit
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your faithful and kindle in them the fire of Your love. Send forth Your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth. O God, Who by the light of the Holy Spirit did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy Your consolations. Through Christ our Lord. Amen

Have a seat.

Consider the garlic. Look at this…. for a bulb that grows underground I think this is really quite beautiful. But whether or not you think a head of garlic is beautiful where garlic really shines is when you break it open.

[pass it out. break it open]

Now this is a man’s man’s vegetable. None of this fruity, sweet, girly smelling stuff. This stuff just reeks. Just about any Man Food you can think of has tons of garlic in it. Chili. Steak. Potatoes. If you are cooking just about anything you don’t need fancy delicate spices, just throw in garlic. It is all-purpose and all good.

There is something else about garlic that is really cool. How it grows. Take any of these cloves, stick it in the ground, basically forget about it for a few months and …. you’ve got a new, whole head of garlic. Contained within each part of this head of garlic God has implanted the genetic code to reproduce itself. Even though in it’s present state the cloves make up only part of the whole, each one can make a new whole perpetuating and expanding garlic-dom over the face of the earth. In a sense, you could say that God has empowered this garlic to be sustainable, reproducible, and purposeful.

My name is Aaron Klinefelter, and the title of this talk is God Empowers You.

God empowers us to live a Christlike life. He worked spiritual DNA into each us and the very fabric of the universe. The genetic code of grace flows through all of life. God designed us, created us, and desires us. That’s God prevenient grace that flows all around and even before us. It is grace that shows up early to the party, just to make sure everything is ready for when you get there. This grace sustains us and all of life. Just like garlic.

God even gives us the grace to say yes to a relationship with him. Grace that flows between us and God forming the texture and shape of our connection with the Trinity. This justifying grace is God’s language of love that let’s us live as God’s beloved children. This grace is reproducible, God-perpetuated, and ongoing. Just like garlic.
God’s grace extends as sanctifying grace. Grace that we participate in as active agents (kinda like FBI agents or 007). This sanctifying grace is purposeful and meaningful.

God sustains, reproduces, and purposes garlic and to an even greater degree he does the same for us. The spiritual genetic code of the universe makes up each of us. We are part of the whole and have been empowered by God for a purpose.

But what purpose? What does the Holy Spirit empower us to do? God’s Spirit dwells in us as followers of Jesus. It is that Spirit that enables us to actually follow him. On our own we wouldn’t have the will or the means to do so. It is the gracious stewardship of the Spirit that acts as spiritual hospice for us as we die and are reborn in Christ. Who knows what “hospice” is?

Hospice is way of caring for people as they die. It helps people die with dignity and respect. In a similar way the Holy Spirit helps us die so we can be reborn as followers of Jesus. In the Gospel of John, chapter 12, Jesus tells his disciples,

“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives. Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity. Anyone who wants to be my disciple must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.”

If we want to follow Jesus, we’ve got some dying to do. It is the Spirit that makes this possible. But the Spirit doesn’t just drop us off at the funeral home and says “later, have a nice death”! No, the Spirit moves with us from death to life.

It is the Spirit working in us that motivates us and inspires us to serve others beyond ourselves. The Spirit of God gives us the divine power to become the men [it was a boys only weekend] of God that God is creating you to be.

How does the Holy Spirit empower us? Well, the Spirit empowers us in many ways…. let’s list a few:

The Spirit adopts us into God’s family. Paul tells us in Romans, chapter 8,

So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.

The Holy Spirit produces within us. Here’s how Paul explained it to the church in Galatia:

“Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control”

The Holy Spirit teaches us and gives us peace. Just before Jesus was killed, he told his disciples,

“when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.

“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”

The Holy Spirit gives us power. Remember how I said that the Spirit adopts us into God’s family? Well, if we are really God’s kids, that we should act like. The Spirit gives us the power to do so. Jesus had this to say about that:

Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow.

“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much.

Let me tell you a story. This is a true story of a young man, living in a nice suburban house, going to a nice suburban church, going to a nice suburban private high school. He was popular and a starter on the varsity basketball team. He was basically living the equivalent of the teenage American dream. The problem was that he was a follower of Jesus. And that just messes everything up.

You see this young man’s heart broke for the things that break God’s heart. That’s something that the God tends to do in us as we are indwelt by his Spirit. So when this young man drove home from his nice suburban school to his nice suburban home he saw not so nice homeless individuals standing at Interstate exits looking hungry. The Spirit of God tugged within him and he was motivated, inspired, and empowered to use some of his own money to go buy food at McDonald’s for these hungry souls.

Now, does that mean you should go do the same. I don’t know. That’s not my job to tell you how, specifically, you should follow Jesus. In fact, it is not even YOUR job! It is the job Holy Spirit living in you. Your job is to cooperate, to work together with the Spirit of God. As God calls you to serve a cause larger and beyond yourself, God gives you the power to accomplish the task, he gives you the gifts of the Spirit that you’ll need, and he gives you peace and joy in the process of serving him. The point is that this is not a new rulebook or law to follow. The Holy Spirit empowers you to live in a dynamic, covenant relationship with God. Not to follow some arbitrary set of regulations of what to do and not do.

Again, we can learn a lot from garlic. If you go to Dewey’s pizza and order an Edgar Allen Poe (which I highly recommend; I like to add chicken to mine) you will ingest massive amounts of roasted garlic. You can be assured that the next day (and probably for about the next week) everybody you meet will know that you have eaten garlic. It oozes out of your pores. The same is true for the Holy Spirit. When the Spirit lives within us and we cooperate with the Spirit through prayer, scripture, service, and in community then the world around us smells it. It oozes out of our pores. Kinda like divine garlic.

So, all this talk of oozing and garlic and God and Jesus and the Spirit…. well maybe it just sounds a bit high falutin’ or maybe you’re just trying to figure out what your supposed to do in the midst of all this. What role do we have? How do we work with the Spirit or is it just something that God does to us?

We definitely have a role in this. We’re not just passive Spirit-sponges or robots, nope, the Spirit works in us but also WITH us. We cooperate with God in this mess we call life.

We make ourselves available to God. God’s empowerment for ministry and maturity begins by making ourselves available to the Holy Spirit. In other words, Fools may rush in – but God doesn’t. He waits for an invitation. We connect with Christ, but since Jesus isn’t on Facebook (at least not yet…. and if he’s your friend then you better make a “friend suggestion” for me!), how do we connect with him?

We abide in Christ. Abide is, of course, just a fancy word for feeling at home with Jesus. Through prayer and worship, we open to God; we abide in God’s loving presence and remain connected with Christ. We giver our hearts to God and grow in the heart of Christ.

Christ’s word abides in us. Through studying scripture, Christ’s word abides – makes its home – in us. God’s word is our lens for seeing our way and discerning God’s will. In study we give our minds to God and grow in the mind of Christ.

We bear much fruit for God’s glory. “Bearing fruit” is a churchy way of saying that we get stuff done for and with God. We serve those who are hurting, hungry, lost, last, least, lonely, forgotten, forsaken, broken, bummed out, and beatin’ down.

Lastly, we cooperate with the Holy Spirit by supporting one another. Through community and small groups, we are like cloves in a head of garlic. We need each other to make full head and we grow together in the process.

One last story, and then I’ll leave you to your oozing garlic mess…..

In 2003 our first child was born. Our daughter, Cloanna Jayne, was born October 29, 2003. We were living in Pasadena, California (Rose Bowl, just outside of LA) at the time. We were intending to move back to this part of the country (our families live near Lexington) after she was born, but we didn’t have jobs or a place to live. Our goal was to move in December after I was done with my seminary classes. We were, obviously, overjoyed by the safe and blessed arrival of our daughter…. but we didn’t know what or where we’d be in about 6 weeks.

This was a time for prayer like no other! Through a series of Spirit-led events we began to sense that God might be leading us to Cincinnati. This was confirmed by others in our community of faith – Jesus following friends and our house church. So in December 2003, with a 6 week old baby and no jobs, we packed up and drove 3,000 miles to meet and live with people we didn’t know and had only heard of online! Sounds crazy…. and it was. But we were (and still are) convinced that the Holy Spirit was at work in this and led us to Cincinnati and the church community we found there. We definitely sensed the Spirit as we cooperated in prayer, studying scripture – did this decision make sense in light of what God had done in scripture? We were called to act – to actually move across the country and into a new mission and phase of life. And our community of faith was intimately involved with this whole process.

In closing, for three days you have been asking God to empower you before each talk. Do you really mean it? God does, and God wants to give you the Holy Spirit so you may be transformed and fly with Christ to “renew the face of the earth.”

Fly with Christ.

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