Watch on Facebook Live at 10:45 am Sunday.
Read John 14:15-21
We are not alone.
I don’t know what your situation is right now. I cannot see you. Maybe you’re sitting with your family and you’re saying, “Yes, you’re right. I’m not alone.” Or maybe you’re the only one in your house, so you’re saying, “No, Melissa, I am alone. It’s just me here.”
You cannot tell whether I’m alone here, either. There is no one else on camera. If my husband Rob stays out of the frame and stays silent, you would never know that he is here. Just because you can’t see him, doesn’t mean he’s not here.
Even if Rob were not here with me, if I were to say, “I’m all alone,” I could be telling you my perception, my feeling. Sometimes even when there are people with us, we might still feel alone. That’s our perception, but not our reality. We talked a couple of weeks ago about how grief can cloud our perceptions. We may feel alone, but we are not alone, because God is always with us.
We talk about that a lot because God promises to never leave us. Jesus says at the end of Matthew, “I am with you always.” And in our reading today Jesus says, “I will not leave you alone as orphans” (v18). What these statements are promising us is that we will have the Holy Spirit. That’s why we’re never alone. God has given us the Holy Spirit.
Today’s message is really a part two. Last week we talked about John 14:1-14, part of the Upper Room Discourse or the Farewell Discourse, named that because John chapters 13-17 are Jesus talking to his disciples on the night of the Last Supper in the Upper Room, just before he gets arrested and put to death.
Last week we talked about how in the first part of John 14 Jesus makes four statements that form a framework for carrying on after he’s gone, with Jesus at the center. Trusting and praying surround and support preparation and action. The graphic of the first part of this verse, in a sense, describes a cloud of being in which we exist. This is our life with Jesus. “In him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28)
Then, in the next part, the part we read today, Jesus says, “If you love me, you’re going to want to do all that I’m telling you to do, and keep on doing what I’m telling you, so God is going to send you a helper, the Holy Spirit, who lives in you, who will fill you with my love and help you to see me and live out my teachings.”
In two weeks, we’ll be celebrating Pentecost, remembering the story in Acts 2 in which the Holy Spirit makes a dramatic and powerful appearance. Sometimes the Holy Spirit does work in ways that are obvioius, but often the work of the Holy Spirit is more subtle. In our reading today Jesus explains that the Holy Spirit is hard to see if we are only thinking in worldly terms. But there is more to life than what we can see physically.
The most important work of the Holy Spirit is giving us life. Jesus says, “Since I live, you also will live.” (John 14:19)
In Genesis God breathes life into Adam (Gen 2:7) and in Ezekiel 37 the prophet Ezekiel tells how the Spirit breathes over a valley of dry bones and the dead bones come to life.
Inspirational author Joni Earekson Tada tells about a moment in which the Holy Spirit helped her find new life. She was laying in hospital bed wanting to die after the accident that left her a quadriplegic. She was ready to give up on life, not wanting to face the challenges ahead, but instead she asked God to help her through that moment and she has gone on to live a new life in which she inspires others in remarkable ways.
Jesus tells us that the Holy Spirit guides us and helps us know what’s right.
Jesus says, “He is the Spirit of truth.” (John 14:17) And “he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.” (John 14:26) This is why I sometimes think of the Holy Spirit as being like Jiminy Cricket. He tells Pinocchio to whistle and he’ll help him through temptation. “Give a little whistle and always let your conscience be your guide.”
Jesus says in chapter 15 the Holy Spirit helps us bear fruit, and in Galatians 5 Paul gives us a list of some of the fruit that helps see the Spirit’s work in us: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. And sometimes we’ll see in this list something with which we need to ask God for help.
Isaiah 11 says that the Spirit of the Lord is “…the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of learning and the fear of the Lord.” (Isaiah 11:2 NLV)
The Holy Spirit is our encourager. We all have gifts and abilities that the Holy Spirit helps us use. I Corinthians 12:7-11 lists some of these. We see the Holy Spirit at work in people helping one another. The Spirit gives us insight and foresight.
The Holy Spirit comforts us. Inspires us and gives us peace, even in the midst of chaos.
It is not possible to say everything there is to say about the Holy Spirit in one message, and it is not easy to explain the work of the Spirit because . . . well, it just isn’t. These Bible verses help us to see and understand the presence and the work of the Holy Spirit. Praying and asking God about these verses helps us to grow in our understanding and in our ability to listen to and follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
My favorite analogy is that the Spirit is like the wind. We cannot see the wind, but we can see the impact of its presence. We can hear it rustling the leaves in the trees, we feel it blow across our skin and through our hair, we see it send pieces of paper flying. We see the Spirit by its effect in us and in the people around us.
We are not alone. Even when we feel alone. Sometimes we need to ask God for help with that. Sometimes even when we don’t ask for help, God sends us helpers. Have you ever had someone call you or stop by at just the right moment? The Holy Spirit prompts us to pray for people or to reach out to them. When we listen and obey we are helping others to know they’re not alone.
Scriptures about the Holy Spirit help us to understand more and more how to see that the Holy Spirit is working in us and through us and in the people around us.
So may I give you some homework? Go on a hunt for the Holy Spirit in the Bible.
- In an online Bible, if you search using the word Spirit you’ll get hundreds of scriptures.
- If your Bible has a concordance in the back, there will be some lists of scriptures there.
- Read John 14-16 and consider all that Jesus says about the Spirit there.
Remember I said that this is message is part two? There’s a part three. In two weeks, on May 31, we’re going to celebrate Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit. Writer and Pastor Francis Chan says, “The point is not to completely understand God but to worship Him. Let the very fact that you cannot know Him fully lead you to praise Him for His infiniteness and grandeur.”
We’ve celebrated in lots of different ways over the years. This year, because we’ll be celebrating on Facebook live and not in person, we have an opportunity to be creative and maybe more than ever go beyond our traditional celebrations. The Holy Spirit is in each of us, giving us life, guiding and inspiring, teaching and transforming us.
So I have another bit of homework for you.
- How are you experiencing the work of the Holy Spirit?
- What would you like to celebrate about the work of the Holy Spirit? Let’s give thanks to God!
Would you share your answers to those questions? You can send me a picture or a video or a text message. You can send art or music, a poem or a story. It can be as involved as a dance or as simple as word or a picture of yourself wearing red.
When I asked Rob yesterday how he might answer, he said, “language.” That was the word he got one of the times we handed out words on stars. He has noticed recently that his language has changed, so he might send me a picture of that star. (The star in the picture was my star that same year.)
I’m going to incorporate what you send into our worship on May 31. Send them to me through Facebook or email by May 27.
Are you alone? Jesus has promised that you are not. He said in verse 18:
“I will not leave you all alone like orphans. I will come back to you.” John 14:18
God loves us too much to leave us alone, so he sent his son Jesus to conquer sin and death for us, and then he sent us the Holy Spirit to help us to do and be all that he made us to do and be.
We are not alone. We are filled with and surrounded by the Holy Spirit and the love of Jesus. Thanks, God.
 Chan, Francis. Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit (p. 39). David C. Cook. Kindle Edition.
 Chan, Francis. Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit (pp. 65-66). David C. Cook. Kindle Edition.