about the Holy Spirit
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From Teachings and Stories in the Bible
These ideas for Pentecost sermons are taken from scriptures on the Holy Spirit.
There are many stories in the bible referring to the Holy Spirit.
And there are many other references to the Holy Spirit.
Even when not mentioned, the Holy Spirit operates throughout all of Scripture.
All scripture was written by inspiration of God ... for our instruction, (2 Timothy 3:16) and the Holy Spirit teaches us what lessons we can learn.
Jesus himself taught his followers about the Holy Spirit, especially at the Last Supper. (John 14:15-26; 15:26; 16:5-15)
Before he went to heaven, he promised to send him, asking his followers to return and remain in Jerusalem, spending time in preparation. (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5)
First Things First
Without the help of the Holy Spirit, we can't even begin to understand the things of God.
Jesus says, "Without me, you can do nothing." (John 15:5)
The Apostle Paul says we can't even understand the Holy Spirit without the Holy Spirit! No one can know God's thoughts without the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 2:11)
So we need God's help to do anything, especially anything related to God's life in our soul.
How do We get Help?
To receive this necessary help, we must ask.
Jesus tells his followers, "Ask and you shall receive, that your joy may be full!" (John 16:24 - cf. Matthew 7:7; Mark 11:24; Luke 11:9)
A very praiseworthy practice is when pastors start each sermon with a public prayer, such as a prayer to the Holy Spirit, inviting him to come. He enlightens our minds and strengthens our wills to do good and to avoid evil.
This also goes for any time we read, research, or study the bible, such as sermon preparation. Let's not just rush in, let's take a moment to ask the Holy Spirit for his wisdom and guidance.
It's important that we have a spirit of prayer, in order to receive the special lights and graces needed to understand the things of God.
The Coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost
The Holy Spirit is the Life of God.
The coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was a very important event in the life of the followers of Jesus, and the life of the Christian church.
The Holy Spirit is a very important part of our lives as well. In fact, without him, we have no spiritual life at all.
God exists by himself, the only one alive who depends on no one else for his Life. He is self-existing.
God lives. God is alive. God is forever alive. God is the source of all life.
All life comes from God. We attribute to the Father Creator and Author of Life. To the Son Jesus, Giver, Restorer, Savior of Life. And to the Holy Spirit the Life Principle, the Source of Life, within the Christian Community, and within each member.
In reality, God exists and acts with all three persons united - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
A Note on the Divine Union
The 10 commandments were given on Pentecost. The Israelites observe it annually ever since. It's known as the Jewish feast of Shavuot.
That's why there were so many devout Jews gathered from every nation under heaven, who heard the apostles speak in their own tongues. (Acts 2:5-12)
When summing up the greatest commandment, Moses, giving the Law in the name of God, said "Hear, O Israel, the Lord your God is one." (Leviticus 6:4; see Leviticus 5 and 6)
That God is the author of these words, is confirmed when Jesus himself also says this, when he was asked what is the greatest commandment. (Mark 12:29)
God, and Moses his prophet, clearly meant that the law is not a little thing, that the three persons in God are united - joined together - in giving the law and demanding compliance.
Just as God says a married couple is one - two persons are joined together. (Genesis 2:23-24; Matthew 19:5-6; Mark 10:7-8; Ephesians 5:31).
Just as today we would say our family is one - it's united together.
Or a team is one - it's united together in a common cause.
Or our country is one - united together, even though made of many citizens.
Really, a better translation should render it, "Give me your full attention, Israel! The Lord your God is absolutely united together on this!"
The commandments are for the protection and preservation of physical and spiritual life, as we see later on below.
Bible Stories and Teachings about the Holy Spirit
Pentecost is a good time to review the bible stories in which the Holy Spirit is shown to have an important part - and to include these stories in sermons.
Some important stories on the Holy Spirit are found:
The Bible Story of the First Christian Pentecost
- In the Gospels, when the Holy Spirit was shown coming upon Jesus at his baptism in the Jordan, at the beginning of his public mission of preaching. (Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22; John 1:29-34)
- In the Gospels, when Jesus promised the coming of the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5), and gave them the Holy Spirit (John 20:22)
- In the Gospels before the Ascension, when Jesus gave directions to his followers to return and remain in Jerusalem, to prepare for the coming of the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5)
- In the Acts of the Apostles, when the Holy Spirit came down on the followers of Jesus on the first Christian Pentecost, an event known as the Birthday of the Church.
On Pentecost, we especially commemorate this last story, so it is a very good thing to retell it.
It never hurts to review the basics.
A very important part of this story is the preparation they made for the coming of the Holy Spirit.
Before his ascension into heaven, Jesus told his followers to return and remain in Jerusalem.(Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5)
His followers did so, and remained in prayer together with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, (Acts 1-12-14) for about 9 or 10 days, until the Holy Spirit came. (Acts 2:1-4)
Proper Preparation for the Coming of the Holy Spirit
From this story of the first Pentecost, we learn the importance of a time of proper preparation to receive the Holy Spirit and his Gifts.
The Holy Spirit is Himself the Gift of Eternal Life, sent by the Father and the Son. By properly preparing for such a precious gift, we receive special blessings.
The more prepared we are by God's grace, the better we can receive the Holy Spirit to a greater degree.
Let us not be like the brides who ran out of oil for their lamps (Matthew 25:1-13), so that we may not be ashamed like those who will hear God say, I do not know you - because they were not willing to make proper and sufficient preparation, they were not prepared for his coming. They knew what they had to do, but they put it off too long.
Another Powerful Bible Story about the Holy Spirit
Throughout the Acts of the Apostles, we read how the Holy Spirit worked mightily through the Apostles, how he came to people who had not received him before.
One of the most shocking stories is the death of a married couple, Ananias and Sapphira. (Acts 5:1-11)
They sold a field. Together they agreed to give the money to the apostles, but keep back for themselves a portion of the money, but tell the apostles it was all the money.
When Ananias came, Peter told him that they could have kept the money while it was theirs, but that they lied against the Holy Spirit. Ananias dropped dead.
About 3 hours later, Sapphira came, and she too lied to Peter, and dropped dead.
Fear came on the whole church and everyone who heard what had happened.
The Holy Spirit is a friend. He is sweet. But he is powerful. God almighty powerful!
He is the Spirit of Truth.
A Good Pentecost Sermon Topic - Rivers of Living Water
God is infinite. In heaven, we could learn hundreds, thousands, millions of new things every moment, and never run out of new things to learn.
Yet God in his goodness has shared some special truths with us poor exiles on earth who are still undergoing this time of testing.
One of these is the teachings of Jesus on Living Water.
Water is an important symbol of the Holy Spirit. Without water, there is no life. Everything is dead.
The sacrament of Baptism uses water as a sign of God first coming to dwell in a soul.
One day, Jesus was in the temple. He stood up and announced that anyone who is thirsty, come to him and drink. Whoever believes in him, from within him will flow rivers of living water, as it says in the Scripture. (John 7:38)
Jesus said this about the Holy Spirit, who would come to those who believe in him. (John 7:39)
The River of Life
What scripture was Jesus referring to, when he talked about the rivers of living water?
Isaiah in a Song of Thanksgiving, talks about drawing water from the fountain of salvation. (Isaiah 12:3)
Specifically, the prophecy of Ezekiel mentions a river. In vision, God took Ezekiel to the temple to see a trickle that flowed east from the temple, and became a stream and then a mighty river. It grew, and grew, and grew so big and deep and wide, that eventually Ezekiel could not cross it, even though there were no other streams adding to it. Everywhere it goes, it allows life to multiply and live. Wherever it comes, the sea water is made fresh. (Ezekiel 47:1-12)
This is not an earthly stream. It is a divine stream of the Life of God.
It starts on earth at the greatest temple, Jesus himself. (John 2:19; Matthew 26:61; Mark 14:58)
After the crucifixion and death of Jesus, while his body was still on the cross, his heart was pierced, and there flowed out blood and water. (John 19:34-35) This is the fountain of salvation and the stream from the temple, that gives eternal life.
Another beautiful description of the River of Life is found in Revelation. (22:1-4)
Another Good Pentecost Sermon Topic - The Tree of Life
Very closely related to the River of Life is the Tree of Life.
First mentioned in the bible in the middle of the garden at the beginning of Genesis (2:9), it is last mentioned in the bible at the end of Revelation (22:2), growing on either side of the River of Life, flowing from the throne of God and from the Lamb.
It produces fruit each month, and the leaves serve as medicine for the nations.
How powerful is the operation of the Holy Spirit!
John the Baptist and the Baptism of Jesus
John the Baptist said that he baptized with water for repentance of sin. But when Jesus came, Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire. (Matthew 3:11; Luke 3:16)
When Jesus was about 30 years old - at the beginning of his 3 years of public teaching - Jesus came to be baptized by John.
After he was baptized, the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove came upon Jesus, and a voice from heaven was heard, "This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear him." (Matthew 3:17; Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22)
People are never the same after the coming of the Holy Spirit. Those with him have his life and power. Those who reject him have death and destruction.
Any time we do not respect life, whether physical life or spiritual life, we dishonor God. He is grieved, because he is the author and creator of life.
It's bad enough people want to destroy themselves.
It's worse when people destroy others. God is touched in the apple of his eye, and his Holy Spirit fire is kindled, ready to go on the warpath against such aggressors.
Why does God allow such evils?
God in his infinite wisdom alone fully knows why he allows evil to exist.. God is powerfully gentle, and allows people to do evil in their pride, arrogance, stubbornness, and / or blindness, because he gives to each person the precious - and dangerous - gift of making choices, also known as free will.
That is why God gave the 10 commandments in such awesome display of fire, cloud, thunder, lightening, and other wonders. The 10 commandments are to justly protect the physical and spiritual well-being of people.
It is up to us to obey the 10 commandments, and receive God's blessings and rewards. Yet we are still free to disobey them, and suffer the consequences.
God is the Author of Physical Life
God is the author - the creator, the beginner - of physical life.
In the physical realm, this is why abortion grieves the Holy Spirit. It is unjust murder.
One cannot support, assist, and/or commit abortion knowingly and still be a Christian or Catholic, no matter how much they say they are.
It is murder, and the sin of murder cries to heaven for vengeance. The baby is an innocent helpless victim.
(A list of 4 sins that cry to heaven for vengeance, taken from the bible, are - wilful murder, [Genesis 4:10], the sin of Sodom, [Genesis 19:13], oppression of the poor [Exodus 22:21], and defrauding a man of his just wages [James 5:4].)
Capital punishment and war are allowed - even commanded by God in the Old Testament - to preserve the life of others against those who try to unjustly violate it, because they are unjust aggressors.
While any sin is offensive to God, and any sin can be forgiven by those who turn to Jesus in repentance, such sins are especially grievous to God and damaging to society and must be avoided at all costs.
God is the Author of Spiritual Life.
God is the author of spiritual life. It is the divine life in souls by grace, and by his Holy Spirit, which is why it is called spiritual life.
Willful murder and abortion are bad, but what's even worse is the death of God's life in the soul, as also those who attack God's life in people.
One example from the bible - Jesus warns, it would be better people had a millstone tied around their neck and that they be drowned in the bottom of the ocean than that one of his little ones should be hindered - or scandalized - or a stumbling block put in the way - depending on the translation of the bible you're reading. (Matthew 18:6; Mark 9:42; Luke 17:2)
Do not Grieve the Holy Spirit
In the Letter of the Apostle Paul to the Ephesians, we find the words, "Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God." (Ephesians 4:30)
In this chapter (Ephesians 4), Paul exhorts us to "walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all humility and meekness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, careful to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace: one body and one Spirit, even as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one Baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and throughout all, and in us all. (Ephesians 4:1-6)
A little later, Paul tells us: "be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new man, which has been created according to God in justice and holiness of truth. (Ephesians 4:23-24)
Paul continues: "Wherefore, put away lying and speak truth each one with his neighbor, because we are members of one another. "Be angry and do not sin": do not let the sun go down upon your anger: do not give place to the devil. He who was wont to steal, let him steal no longer; but rather let him labor, working with his hands at what is good, that he may have something to share with him who suffers need. Let no ill speech proceed from your mouth, but whatever is good for supplying what fits the current necessity, that it may give grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God,
in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and indignation, and clamor, and reviling, be removed from you, along with all malice. On the contrary, be kind to one another, and merciful, generously forgiving one another, as also God in Christ has generously forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:25-32)
Thus we see the importance to not do or say anything which can cause harm or hurt to the soul of others, and to do and say those things which help build up their soul to keep in God's grace, or to help them be restored to God's grace.
Paul continues with the list of do's and don'ts with regards to our neighbor: " Be you, therefore, imitators of God, as very dear children and walk in love, as Christ also loved us and delivered himself up for us an offering and a sacrifice to God to ascend in fragrant odor. But immorality and every uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as becomes saints; or obscenity or foolish talk or scurrility, which are out of place; but rather thanksgiving. For know this and understand, that no fornicator, or unclean person, or covetous one (for that is idolatry) has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one lead you astray with empty words; for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the children of disobedience. Do not, then, become partakers with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk, then, as children of light ... And do not be drunk with wine, for in that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father. (Ephesians 5: 1-8, 18-20)
Those who Persecute the Life of God in His Family
Another example from the bible - is when Saul was killing Christians, Jesus blinded him, knocked him to the ground and asked, Saul, Saul, why do you persecute ME? (Acts 9:4; 22:7-8)
Thanks be to God and his great mercy, Saul repented, received God's forgiveness, co-operated with the grace of God, and became the Apostle Paul.
Unfortunately, Herod, another persecutor of the early Christians, did not repent. He had killed James, and threw Peter into prison to kill him. Peter was miraculously released, Herod killed 16 innocent soldiers, and God soon visited him with justice, as he died devoured by worms, deserving of hell. (Acts 12)
Even the Worst can Receive Grace
Now, even for the worst of the worst, there is hope!
Like Jesus, the Holy Spirit specializes in the scum of society.
He is the Father of the poor, the needy, the helpless, the disabled, the outcasts of this world - provided they honestly turn to him for help.
While he is mighty and powerful against arrogant, unrepentant, proud worldly people, he is merciful to sinners who repent.
He is love. He is consolation. He is light in darkness. He is life in the middle of death.
The gentle Francis of Assisi caught a bit of this vision is his prayer for peace
What Fire do you Choose?
The Holy Spirit Fire is coming. We all have a choice.
- Either we will be filled with the fire of his love.
- Or we will be consumed by the fire of his wrath.
What we say and do, and how we act, will make all the difference.
Call to Action
Every sermon should give us work to do. Not just external busy work, but work coming from our hearts, from the inside out, from good motives.
Pentecost is a good time to examine:
Where to Begin?
- Do I listen to the Holy Spirit, to the Word of God?
- Do I make careful and proper preparation for the coming of the Holy Spirit every day, and on special days in my life?
- Do I talk with (pray to) the Holy Spirit as my best friend and most powerful ally during the challenges that come each day.
- Am I working to please him by loving and serving God and neighbor to the fullest of my ability?
- Do I avoid offending him by staying away from all sin that displeases him?
- Do I remember that I am a temple of the Holy Spirit? (1 Corinthians 6:19)
- Do I respect and obey his lawful authority on earth through others?
- Do I respect him and his working in others, even those we are familiar with and take too much for granted, (such as family, parents, children, siblings, classmates), or even if they have strange customs, different skin color, or disabilities.
- Do I value life?
- Do I value the life of the soul above all?
- Am I walking with God?
If this seems like a lot to do, it is!
It is the work of many lifetimes. That's why we have to let God do his work inside us.
Don't know where to start?
A very good place to begin is - simply thank him!
Tell him you value him and his gift of life. Show him appreciation
. That's what praise
is all about.
Thanksgiving to the Holy Spirit
Too often in our prayers, we are in petition mode. God, give me this and this, and that, and that thing over there.
Which, can be a bit selfish.
Pentecost is an excellent opportunity to thank the Holy Spirit for what he does. And thank the Father and the Son for sending the Holy Spirit. I go into this in greater detail in Pentecost Prayers - Holy Spirit Prayers and Poems
We sometimes get so busy saying "Come Holy Spirit", that we forget to say "Thank You, Holy Spirit!"
Thank your stars!
Go to Pentecost Poems, Prayers, and Thoughts.
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