Follow the Spirit
By Pastor Greg Byman
March 18, 2018, 10:00 a.m.
St Joe Community Church
One of the great challenges of the Christian life is learning to tame the flesh. For the Christ-follower, governance of the flesh and concerns of this world must managed by a mind that is continually renewed by the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Pastor Greg Byman delivered this sermon on March 18, 2018 about the “why” and “how” of following the tender leading of the third person of the triune God—the Holy Spirit.
For pastor's notes and sermon transcript, click "Read More."
Follow the Spirit
By Greg Byman
March 18, 2018, 10:00 a.m.
St. Joe Community Church
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I want to go right back to that same passage that you heard Pastor Dave read to us from Acts Chapter eight and we're going to unpack a story of two men. Who God was using in a mighty and powerful way and brought them together in a divine appointment that led to one man putting his faith in Jesus Christ as his Savior and Lord it is no accident that you are here today is no accident. What has happened around you this week it is no accident this month the things that have been working and around your life it is no accident this year this season however you want to measure time in your life something is going on and God is in the middle of it. And I want to just announce to you that God has been at work he always has been at work and he always will be at work to accomplish His will. The Lord's Prayer says Jesus said this isn't the Lord's Prayer this is the Lord's Prayer for us to pray by the way but we call it the Lord's Prayer because he gave it to us Your will be done. Even as it is always being done in heaven Jesus said I will build My Church he is working in our lives today and he's working in your life today he's working in and around and through us and he's working through other people in our lives. It is no accident that you're here it's no accident you've experienced some things you experienced because God is at work and I'm just going to say follow the spirit which is the name for God It's about the Father God the Son God the Spirit follow the spirit. That is the active working of God today is working his Holy Spirit is working and our lives he's working in this world and he is doing something to bring himself glory to bring more people towards him. For His glory. And we're all part of that somehow. Even people who don't want to be our part of that if you can take a pagan ruler. To manipulate a little girl young lady who was pregnant with the Messiah who had ZERO rights zero influence zero influence of any kind politically of any kind and take her from the top part of her country down to the southern part of our country to the town of Bethlehem so that Jesus would be born of a virgin and Bethleham if he can take a guy who could care nothing about God who declared himself to be God and was doing things just because he was really one in it for the money he wanted to know how many people were in the kingdom so they could mum number them and tax them bad motives pagan heart and blasphemous claim. And God use that man. To bring forth our Savior to be born at the exact spot that had been foretold in the Old Testament he would be born thousands of years earlier so if there were God can't use me in spite of you God will use you. But I want to encourage you. To willingly let God to use you and the fall of the spirit. To not just be a part of the circumstances that God has orchestrated to do his work but to join him in his work and to enjoy the work that is given us. You're going to see and hear a couple of exciting things too man two results one man is a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ Philip we see him early in the book of Acts he's called out as one of the seven to be the leader of serving tables among widows really helping to also solve a dispute that arose up that was kind of a racially charged dispute of people not getting what they thought they needed or deserved in the distribution of this funds that were given to take care of people in need. You see Philip preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ in these places in some area there's a great revival going on and in this passage we see here that the Spirit tells Philip to get away from all that and go to a place a road that leads to the desert. And then later on we see him go. And he preaches to other towns and we don't see a whole lot of where Philip goes from that. After this the second man we see is an Ethiopian and in the very verse that we already read is only what we know about him and after this passage of scripture there is no other record of him there is antiquity there is tradition and legend that says that he ended up in his own country and spread the gospel and started the church and great things happened but we do not have any proof that that actually is true. But what we do know about this man is that is he wasn't a servant of Jesus Christ he was a city. Or of Jesus Christ he was seeking Jesus Philip was serving Jesus Ethiopian was seeking Jesus and we see here in verse twenty seven where it says so he got up and went there was an Ethiopian man a unic and a high official of Candace queen of the Theo peons who is in charge of our entire Treasury he was the he was the secretary of treasury. In Ethiopia. Underneath Candace the Queen because at that time the people that were set up as a king thought they were too high and mighty to be doing the basic things so they always put the work on the women so what they did it's like a beehive women do all the work and so Candice was a title. That was put upon the queen. But she took care of everything and under her authority was this Ethiopian unit probably emasculated early in his life. So as to gender here to get his loyalty to the king to the throne and to not distracted by family. This person who had gone through tragedy early in his life it's set in stone that this is the way he would be grew up in a country that did not believe in God and any inkling about the Hebrew faith at least as far as we can tell in the in the in the archaeological record. Who is seeking after God who made it a point to get to a holy to the holy city of Jerusalem purchased a Bible what Bible there was at that time he had a scroll of Isaiah and maybe not the whole Bible but he had at least part of it and while incidentally it happened to be the very part that talked about the savior that died for him. And the one that he would have to trust in in this story we already know the end of the story but I want to unpack it to see how to follow the spirit based on these two men let's look at Philip and learn from the servant of the Lord Jesus Christ first of all when the Spirit says do something do it go where the Spirit says go where God says. It says an angel told Philip to go down to this road that goes to Gaza to the desert. Now this think about this there is a great movement of God happening there some excitement those people getting saved in Jesus Christ name there's all kinds of activity going on and Philip was with this whole band of people in there going on this is a crowd it's a team and he says Philip get up out of there and go buy yourself somewhere else somewhere less than what's going on over here and human standards have you ever been asked to do something that you thought was beneath you have you ever thought about doing something about the moment that you know that you're a servant as one someone calls you that and you thank them to hear that the moment you know you've arrived with a servant's heart the moment you know you really are a servant of God is when someone asks you to do something called you a servant or treat you like a servant and you thank them and you're grateful that you get to serve. Any other moment is just your pride level goes up you go what about me I know that back I have a pastor friend that he's pasturing in Garrett Indiana and he has taking classes he's Bob vocation as fulltime engineer and General Motors and he is going down to seminary. And getting his post education in to a Masters of Divinity because he's and he never went to seminary and so he's down there special occasions he's taking it in different nontraditional way and while he's down there he's asking these young preacher boys that are down there taken classes and they're in the Christian bubble of seminary and he says if God called you to preach his whole Yeah it's called me to preach really so you're called to be a pastor a preacher of the Gospel That's right says you you get very many opportunities to preach Oh no no no these big churches down here in Louisville and just there's a whole lot of room for us to preach around he's not tell you what I will pay your gas bill I will give you a hotel room we will give you an opportunity on a Sunday morning in Garrett Indiana to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ what you come bring a sermon and we'll let you preach and for the last two or three years he's been gone down there he's been giving that invitation every time he gets an opportunity around those young seminary professor some unary students how many people do you think have ever taken him up on that offer how many how many say five people took him up on it in the last two years for three to just put your hand up if you agree with the two one if you said zero you'd be correct they're all looking for the next big. Now Garrett ain't small but I ain't big and I guess to them thirty people isn't enough to preach to. I was in a meeting full of pastors and leaders and people in their churches that come together for a board meeting two weeks ago and there was a man named Terry who I have admired for many years here in Indiana and he is sitting there and I call him the senior statesman in the Lord and He is a retired minister he is. He's probably one hundred years old but he looks sixty five I mean he's just he just is you know jealous for genes you know and you look at him and his gene pool but he is he has lived a life of faithfulness and he's planted seven churches in his lifetime that's called Starting Over seven times that's called denying yourself an incredible paycheck probably not an incredible one but a good one and all the security of a church that's already established to go and start a new one with no security physically speaking or worldly speaking and start over seven times I did it once. And I better follow the spirit if you tells me but right now I'm glad he has an OK just because. I don't know if I have that much energy there just aren't a whole lot of people. Who are willing to give up a leadership position even in a church because they think oh if I give that up out on nothing without this title and we say all time a Saint Joe we give out towels not titles and every title has a talent attached to it. And it's the Taleb responsibility and accountability and influence when you're a towel of leader. But when you give that tally way you just get another town is just as equal as the Taleb leadership as the talent following under leadership and serving we're all. Servants of the Lord Jesus Christ and we need to go where God says you know what I fear about my life what I fear what I pray about and I pray for our church is if God's Spirit told us to do something that was completely radical and off the beaten path completely away from what everybody else was doing and got on we knew that based on the thirty of God's Word and the Council of the unity of the Spirit of Christ we knew we were supposed to do it and we didn't do it that would just wreck my heart churches have been told You need to pick up and move your church over to here and do that and they didn't hear from God and they're dead today. It's a church in town that thought they are too good and mighty for a little guy named Billy Graham to be their preacher and the Fort Wayne gospel temple no longer exists and I don't know if he was supposed to be their pastor they may ruin him you know I don't know that was a joke OK I don't know if. But yeah OK we'll take your word for it. But honestly. If you can just write in history when people hear from God don't do what God says and you can write it could be dead right over the door steps over the door posts I know people that are viable broke loose and God worked in their walk in that way and their life in a mighty way and God It warmed their heart and caused them to really want to follow him in a fresh way and then later in their life something happened they grew cold. And they can have a stony heart that doesn't even care about the things of God anymore the city is full of people that are deter ched. And they used all kinds of excuses. To not fall of the Spirit in their. Go where God says. Henry Black would be made it clear in his very very Christian famous book that makes God famous really not him but he is very much an influencer where God speaks to us he says this is kind of a formula but it's not a formula it's just a way of life it's the way of the pattern of Scripture that God speaks to us by prayer Bible study godly people and circumstances I've said this before some of you have have studied experiencing God and knowing and doing the will of God But this is the basic principles of hearing from God How do I hear from the spirit today how can I know an angel talk to me I know it Hebrews one four it says that there are ministering angels all around God's people but you know have you ever seen an angel I haven't seen it have you seen an angel I don't know if you have or not you might there might be one in our midst by the way there is an angel that cleans our building her name is Angel she goes to a church out north but she claims our building on during the week praise God for her but but but there are people in our lives there are circumstances our lives were God is prodding and pushing us to do something he's prompting us and he's using those angels but he's working through prayer our per a life he's working through bible study my Bible study not the one I hear on Sunday morning but the one that I have on top of not just Sunday morning but in addition to that my own time with God my time in my small group with my people of God and God the people in my life how many Christian counselors are in your life to help you do the right thing how many people do you put past an idea whether you should do it or not before you do it buy a house buy a car get married that's a big one how about start a relationship you know you could fall into love with the wrong person emotionally how do you avoid heartbreak through wrong relationships do you have people in your life to advise you to encourage you to make good decisions so that you stay away from your addictions. And your habits and your hang ups you need to listen to God's people and then look at the circumstances and interpret your circumstances based on the three things above it many times people get a circumstance and they align up and they assume that this circumstance must be true so then they make all these godly they find the people they want to hear they find the scriptures they want to find and they pray the prayer they want to pray in order to fit the circumstances it's all for. Not just one we can impact that another day but I just want to throw that back at you. To hear from God to know what the Spirit says. We learn from Philip by seeing that we see people not labels we see people not labels Philip was a Jew He was a God fearing Jew He was a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ and he comes across a person who is economically more wealthy than he could ever have imagined from a country that was beyond the imagination of the Jewish nation in general. A man who was not really a man by man standards because he had been emasculated he was a unit and so even from the from the standpoint of the Jewish nation and the Old Testament law he would have been excluded from the temple and not allowed to enter into the temple and worship God And so the preconceived notion that Philip could have had was this guy don't count this guy isn't as important this guy isn't really it's not even my race he doesn't even look like me and it doesn't say anywhere in the scripture or that even get caused Phillippe a hiccup. He saw a person in that chariot reading the Word of God. And so then he shared the good news. We learn from Philip you go where God sess you see people not labels and you keep sharing the good news. Had a police officer asked me this week how do I share my faith with someone in my on our police force that I feel like they don't get it and I said be ready to share the reason for why you have a hope within you first Peter be ready to share be ready to tell them why you believe what you believe the worst thing a lost person can get is a Christian that doesn't know why they believe what they believe. In fact I want you to know what you believe beyond what I tell you what God says we ought to believe together. Or that hit me in college I'm psych past the. I'd say well my pastor says this My pastor says that in Ball State they didn't care at my pastor said he lived in Ohio. They didn't know him they could care less. And I said I want to know what you believe. I want to know why you believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior and I want to know why you believe it's important to go to church I know I don't why do you believe the Bible is authority God's word is God's authority as it's actually true all the way from the from Genesis to Revelation Why do you believe the whole thing and I had to give him some hard answers that I had to go look for myself and become not so ignorant about how to share Jesus with somebody. We got to share Jesus with people we prepare we connect with the person around us we explain the good news of Jesus and we invite them to respond. This Thursday at seven o'clock for anybody and everybody who can make it for anybody who can make it everybody who's here I hope will come we're going to hear how we can more carefully share the good news of Jesus Christ we're about to have people on the property. We're open for two or three hundred people to show up on an Easter Sunday that means a whole lot of people have never been here before going to show up. We put a little thing up in the in the bulletin that said how many people you bring in are you bringing ten people you bring in ten people if everybody brings ten people we got a lot of people here and if you don't invite anybody I guess I'm going to guarantee you that nobody that you don't invite they won't come because you invited him. Because you didn't invite him. That I say that right. However So the shots you don't take it you don't make if you invite ten people least maybe two or three or show up just because they feel sorry for you I don't know. But if a whole bunch of people show up it's not just up to you to say hi to him because you're their friend it's up to us to share Jesus with them and love on him and encourage him and Thurston that we're going to talk about how do you start a conversation with a brand new person never met for some of you that's the worst fear of your whole life I understand that. But we're going to have people in line get face painting their kids get face painting maybe they want to I don't know they'll be some adults they'll be some people who get in line to do the balance house of the Commune line to eat a hamburger on an April the twenty first there's going to be some people on this property I said to three hundred people I like to see three to five hundred people come just through that forty eight o'clock period flow through our property maybe they're here to go see the police officer maybe they're here to see the fire truck I'm here to see the fire truck by the way maybe they're here I just love fire trucks and maybe they're here because they're seeking something they have not found. And while they're lying you got to be standard on. Nice kid they look clean I know you got a can I have some ideas of what the say so that you know and just start talking and encouraging them and then as soon as it gets really complicated for some of you know how to hand them off and find the charity person to say Well actually over your over here talk to this person. Your charity but I can't talk to everybody and by the way. From a worldly perspective I get paid to talk to people. Right because on the pastor on the hard guy right now you know and you know I'm saying from the world's percentage but it's gold when somebody around here that does volunteer in to be here they want to be here they show up because they want to they show up because they just believe in what God's doing and our church and you say to them man I love going to St Joe I love talking about I love what we do in our small group I love seeing what God's doing through the baptism is so cool what god's up to I think it's cool anyway but you guys when you share it it's magnified even more so your influence is far greater in our city than even mine as a pastor. So Thursday night I want you to come and learn more about that we're going to have another training in April but this is the first big one and I hope you'll be here my friend Jim Hall stands going to come and help us learn about that that's the servant of Jesus Christ Philip let's learn from the Theo open and. Do something about what we're here in this morning. The Ethiopian the seeker you know if you're seeking God. And maybe that's you this morning you've not put your faith in Jesus you've not really turned that corner spiritually you've not put your life in the hands of Jesus Christ you've not surrendered your life to him you've not repented of your sin you've not turned to him and openly professed him in baptism I told the guys by the way don't close don't close baptismal down don't empty it maybe some I was get baptized after her and I mean that seriously not being crass. Because maybe God might tell you to do something this morning that's radical because it's time for you to get right with God The first thing you need to do is just start worshipping God in whatever way you know how God I know you're there and or I want to know that you're there I have someone who is a complete They didn't said they didn't believe in God and I said I tell you what I want you to do will you just start praying God I don't believe you but I want to believe you show me who you are. And I've seen people get closer and become followers of Christ because they started praying a prayer to a person they didn't believe in draw near to God and He will draw near to you that's the spirit of God working in their life drawing them to pray even when they didn't even know who they're praying to this is the OPI and was praying to a god through a religious system that was completely bankrupt to be honest it was absolutely a rock they didn't even recognize Jesus the Savior they didn't recognize God in the flesh and they crucified him to protect a manmade system. And they were judged for that but in Meanwhile Wall this crass pagan blasphemous work that was going on in the name of God called religiosity. And he Opie and slipped in and said I need to start. Serving God he was looking beyond religion to find God I hope that's what you're doing this morning looking beyond religion. God wants a relationship ship with you not a religion out of you if you're seeking God today look beyond religion look beyond the bad church stuff that you see and have heard and thought about I if I hear another story of someone say Well the church did me wrong this way and that way I mean and trust me if you're here today and you say man he just loaded it up for bear this morning I've been thinking about this for many months and years that our city is so hardened to the Gospel of Jesus Christ because they in their mind have it in their thoughts that they can justify not following God because of so many others who do not follow God Well and that's be like well you know what my daddy didn't treat me right he was a low down and you just put in words of what you want to talk about your daddy and so because he didn't treat me right I'm going to be a jerk of a dad myself I'm going to be an idiot father I'm going to I'm going to be a terrible husband and I'm going to just be disloyal to every place I work because that's just like my dad and it serves him right that I'm going to be that way well who loses on that one you do I do. And it's just an excuse to keep you from doing what you know you're supposed to do and it's a smokescreen to stay away from the authority of the Word of God OK I'll stop meddling. And by the way I don't go out there on the street corner and tell people that but I'll tell you what it breaks my heart let me just do the compassionate side I breaks my heart the people actually do not see past the ugly in the church to get to the beauty of Jesus. It bothers me it wrecks me and what wrecks me more is the thought that maybe somebody in our church maybe my life maybe my lifestyle maybe something we would do in this church that could become a stumbling block it could be that ugly. That would stop people from seeing the beauty of there by the grace of God go US I'm not judging other churches for what they've done or not done I'm not judging other leaders I'm just saying we ought never use somebody else's mishaps as an issues for not doing what God tells us to do. Look beyond religion and then read God's word. He has he had Isaiah fifty three in front of him. Again appropriate absolutely appropriate he's like he was led like a sheep to the slaughter as a lamb is silent before it serious so he does not open his mouth in his humiliation just as true or not was denied to him who will describe his generation for his life was taken from the earth he is using a text that the Jewish nation had grappled with for years and probably even Isaiah didn't completely know who God was talking about when God was speaking through him by the Holy Spirit to bring about this word that was now still to this day even as in our hands but was in the hands of the Ethiopian and he's reading it aloud as they would have done in those days and he's like who is this and other words read the word and ask questions asked some questions here who in the world is a talking about and that's the age old question of the day how can this mighty God become a suffering servant How is it that God Almighty would come down and humble him self and done across that we might know him through his sufferings what in the world is that all about Jesus suffering God suffering I had been somebody not God it was it was a somebody and it was God it was God in the flesh Jesus Christ who came down and died for our sins because we could not save ourselves we couldn't do it so he had to do it for us. And he asked some questions What in the world is going on here and felt it was Phillips he's asking questions you know what you know what that's all about he says no I don't have a clue so let me tell you it and he gets up in the. It with them. I mean that be like someone riding down the road they're reading their cell phone or going to get in trouble because not supposed to reach cell phone and they're doing that and it's in there and they read it and he and are reading the Bible at dot com and they're looking at that thing and they realize if it is three and you're walking along as a just a spirit filled person and you say how do you know you're talking about because of summertime when the wind is down you didn't know if you open the door to get in with them Selema tell you. Maybe it's one of those automatic cars now that Google has I don't know and it's driving itself and on as they go along starting with that passage the Ethiopian gets his questions answered. We're not given the whole story of what they talked about but it says starting from that scripture he continued through the scriptures and shared the good news of Jesus Christ to the point that that guy knew that he he probably drew from what Peter talked about at the Day of Pentecost when he said repent to be baptized for the mission of your sense turn you wicked generation he may have used some words from the apostles from the Bible teachings that have been going on the rabbi will that have been drawn away from we don't know exactly he didn't have the New Testament but he did have the Old Testament and they used and opened it up and at the point at which they found a body of water circumstances I think not they Theo P. And says What is the reason why and where what would stop me from getting baptized he followed Jesus right then. Maybe Theo paean was saying that Jewish faith the Old Testament says I'm excluded because I've been physically marred. Your nation is pretty prejudicial and really even up to that point even the church was not getting out beyond the Jewish nation to share the gospel do I get included I'm a black guy you're not we're different I don't get I don't really fit into this thing called the this Jewish Jesus but he was warmed in his heart and he knew he was accepted by God and he said what would stop me from getting baptized right now and Philip says Now let's get it done. And he was baptized. He followed Jesus right then and right there. Have you ever been told to do something and he said well I'll do that later a favor teenage responses in a minute Favorite Husband responses in a minute I'll get to it later. And isn't it true that many times later never comes. How many of you have had to haul trash to your house from your house somewhere else because it got so bad because you didn't get in time but trash can out to the curb more than one week in a row and you and I have things building up in our lives because we've not we've said in a minute God in a minute in a minute. I'm busy Rochon my movie in a minute God I've got to get some things done over here with my job I've got to get some more hours in because I don't have enough money has got a solution for that money problem and you've got your ideas of how you're solving it and you just want to him to fit into your plan. In a minute God I'll get to what you want me to do in a minute. And pretty soon in a minute turns into a lifetime. Of not doing God wants you to do. And a lifetime of missing out on the blessings that God has for your life. The best thing you and I could do this morning is the follow the Holy Spirit and my question to you this morning is what's the asking you to do and if he's asking you to do something what is stopping me from following the Holy Spirit right now what's stopping you. For you who are seekers of God We are not followers of God You've not put your faith in Jesus Christ there's no guarantee that you were to die today you know that based on the thought of God's Word you will not enter into eternity with heaven because you cannot put your faith in Jesus Christ if you deny me before man I'll deny you before others but if you profess me before man I'll profession before others what's stopping you from professing him before others is it worth. Your eternal life for those of us that are already followers of Christ how many of you have been told to do something and you haven't done it yet is whatever it is that stopping you worth missing out on what God wants to do in your life and through your life. If Philip had never gone across to meet this man could God have saved you the open some other way yeah you could. But he chose to use Philip. When you let God. Use you. To make a difference in this world the results are phenomenal the Ethiopian was so rejoice and excited he noticed that Philip was gone suddenly Philip was gone where to go is so excited so like him in the baptismal he no I was there. Yes. Philip you know what Philip did man he ran off and he was preaching in several cities the Gospel of Jesus Christ he got more energy than you could ever thought it tell you what I've when you lead someone to faith in Jesus Christ you can YOU CAN HAVE TO twenty five thirty rejections after that you don't matter man you get one guy one girl one person and oh jesus man you're ready to go again for a long time. It feels your fire team let's come forward and let's sing well more song church let's stand up. And let's just ask ourselves what's stopping us from being baptized what's stopping us from moving forward what's stopping us from following the Holy Spirit take that yellow card look at those inserts we don't put stuff in the buy and in our bulletin just for you to look at and throw away later or to write notes and doodle on and put little mustaches on we we give those to you for a reason. And maybe some of it is just sort of have maybe it's a good idea we'll try to do something here but a lot of it strategically put there so that you can start moving forward in your faith find something in that bulletin that you can start moving forward with this week find something that you've heard this morning in this message that you can follow the Holy Spirit more carefully more earnestly Father God This morning I pray that you help us to be open and obedient to whatever you tell us to do in Jesus' name I pray a min.
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