Today is PENTECOST — we celebrate the 3rd person of the Trinity, THE HOLY SPIRIT.
We are taught that the HOLY SPIRIT comes to live inside of us at BAPTISM. The main REASON God implants the Spirit within us is to EMPOWER everything we DO as a Christian.
The Spirit empowers our Outreach … the Spirit transforms us inwardly so that our compassion / generosity / self-control / our inner PEACE + JOY / our sense of connectedness with God …. All INCREASE as a result of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that we receive at Baptism.
There’s just one catch — as we grow into adulthood and life’s challenges and temptations increase … the Spirit within us must also INCREASE to meet the growing TRIALS. THAT IS WHAT WE MEAN BY SPIRITUAL GROWTH.
And the difficulty is this
— WE are in control of whether or not the Spirit grows. I. E. The Spirit will NOT grow unless we
• decide it is important for the Spirit to Grow in us AND
• unless we DECIDE to use the tools God has provided to enable the Spirit to grow within us.
1. Spiritual growth requires DESIRE.
We need to ask ourselves: Do I really want to change***, or am I content to remain as I am? How important is it to me to be like Jesus? What price am I willing to pay to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ?
Everyone from St. Augustine to Blaise Pascal (and others) have been said to have originated the phrase “we are all born with a God-shaped hole and we cannot find satisfaction until that whole is filled with God.”.
• As important as that is … it doesn’t appear to be an adequate Motivator.
• Let me put the phrase in a slightly different way ==== Deep within each of us is a desire to be personally connected with God …
• The Question is – “Is my desire to be more connected with Jesus greater than my willingness to stay just as I ?”
• So the first issue is one of DESIRE…
2. Jesus’ most severe criticism of the religious people of his day was that they had ears to hear (spiritual truth) but never developed that ability; and that they had eyes to see (God’s activity in their lives), but never developed that capability. AS A CONSEQUENCE THEY NEVER DEVELOPED THE CLOSENESS WITH GOD THAT THEY DESIRED TO HAVE AND THAT GOD DESIRED FOR THEM.
The thing most Christians don’t like to hear is that developing that desirable personal connection with God TAKES TIME … IT IS A PROCESS.
AT SOME POINT EACH OF US NEEDS TO MAKE A DECISION … IS THIS IMPORTANT ENOUGH TO ME THAT I AM WILLING … THAT I AM MOTIVATED TO DEVOTE THE NECESSARY TIME AND ENERGY TO ACTIVITIES THAT WILL PRODUCE THE DESIRED OBJECT OF FEELING PERSONALLY CONNECTED WITH GOD.
3. Spiritual growth simply means choosing to allow the Holy Spirit to have greater influence in our lives….
That CHOICE must come from the belief that SPIRITUAL GROWTH has intrinsic value; the belief that the benefits mentioned earlier *** are WORTH
• the investment of our time and energy
• setting new priorities in our lives that give a higher place to Prayer / Bible study and Worship …
• in short — deciding that getting greater spiritual results is worth devoting more time and effort to becoming proficient in using the tools God has provided for us.
Spiritual growth is a process for which the Lord has provided TOOLS — prayer; Bible reading, study and application; Worship; meditation tools such as walking the Labyrinth and Contemplative prayer. None of these practices exist to be engaged in as ends in themselves or just for the sake of doing them — rather, they are TOOLS, imbued with the Spirit to guide, facilitate and empower our Spiritual development and growth, and our personal connection with God.
As a dedicated follower of Jesus Christ, God has given you His Holy Spirit to help you live life according to His perfect plan for your life.
SO the real question is this —- are you intending to decide to do anything differently after you leave here this morning?