Week 1 “The Indwelling” John 14:1-6, 15-20, Rev Steve DeNeff
In Jesus’ last conversation with his disciples, he said (in other words), “The reason I am leaving is so I can be with you,” and the way that He does this is through the Holy Spirit. Through the Spirit he is “with us forever” (14:16), he dwells or makes his home inside us (14:23), he teaches us all things and reminds us of everything he has said (14:26). So the transition from Jesus to the Holy Spirit is a transition from with-ness to in-ness. It is the blending of two into one. God wants to take possession of our faculties, without usurping our personalities, so that “when we speak, we speak the very words of God and when we serve, we serve with the strength that God provides,” (1 Pet. 4:11). We should not discount these verses (and others), as we so often do, but rather rise to them until they become our prayer and our highest ambition.
Week 2 “The Way In” John 14:15, 21-24, Rev Steve DeNeff
The way in is through love and obedience which are, in Jesus’ mind, inextricably tied together (Jn 14:15, 21, 23). That is, if we truly obey what we only say we love, we will come, over time, to love what we have so far only obeyed. Disobedience, then, is not so much a lapse of self-control as it is a lapse of love, or desire (Jn 14:24). To obey is the doorway into a bigger and better life. It is not, as we too often suppose, a sacrifice that we make to live the holy life. Rather, love is the cause and obedience is the effect so that any compliance, apart from love is not truly obedience. True obedience is the alignment of two minds – His and ours – so that we think the same thoughts, have the same views, and share the same passions as God himself. The Holy Spirit is the One who makes this all possible.
Week 3 “A Consonant Blend” John 14:25-27; 15:9-11, Rev Steve DeNeff
When Christ possesses us through His Spirit, we are never dispossessed of our (true) selves, rather we are infused with the personality of God. Unlike two objects, which cannot occupy the same space at the same time, the personality of God – together with our personality – is like two musical notes that can be blended into something new. In this way, we are “new creatures” when we are possessed by God’s Spirit. The personality of God is “peace” (Jn 14:26-27), and “joy” (15:10-11), and “love” (15:12-13, 17). When our personality is overtaken by these things, we are released to become the kind of person we were meant to be.
Week 4 “A Fruitful Life” John 15:1-8, 16, Rev Steve DeNeff
When God possesses us through His Spirit, we no longer work for him, but with him. Rather, he works with us so that one cannot always tell who did what because our work and His are interwoven, blended into one. God does His work in ours. How is our work different when God does His work through us? Jesus said that our work is the result of “remaining in him,” like a branch remains connected to the vine. When we do, “He prunes us so that we will be more fruitful . . . we will bear much fruit and our fruit will last,” (15:2, 8, 16). In this overactive day, many of us are busy yet so much of what we accomplish does not inspire, or doesn’t reproduce and it doesn’t last. In this sermon we’ll talk about practical ways to re-connect our work with God’s so that our work will matter and His work will get done.
Week 5 “A Prophetic Appeal (to the World)” John 16:5-15, Rev Emily Vermilya
When God possesses us through His Spirit, we have a prophetic witness in the world (not just to it) as God bears witness through us. Our words, our work, our virtue – even our very Presence – is in stark contrast to the world and so it “convicts the world of sin and righteousness and judgment,” (16:8-11; see also Eph. 5:6-15). The Spirit teaches us how to live in this world, as unpopular (15:18-21) as we are necessary (15:26-27). How often have we lost our witness because we cannot tolerate the world’s disapproval? How often, in return, have we attacked the world by trying to convict it ourselves, because we cannot wait for the Spirit to convict them? When we are possessed by God’s Spirit, we are able to “guide” the world in the same way that the Spirit guides us: “not speaking on our own, but speaking only what we hear . . . bringing glory to (God) by taking from what is His and making it known to (the world),” (16:13-14).
Week 6 “A Communion of Saints” John 17:1, 6-11, 15-19, Rev Steve DeNeff
When God possesses us through His Spirit, we have a genuine affinity for the communion of saints (or the Church). We love one another (15:9-10, 12-14) with a love that is unique to the world. By giving ourselves to the communion of saints, we find ourselves and Christ possesses us even more than he possessed me. The Triune God is enfleshed in the Body of Christ: “We are one, as they are one,” (17:11, 21-23). The great commandment is made possible through the great communion (of saints). In this final sermon, we’ll reveal some of the things we believe God is calling our church to do in the next few years. We’ll talk about our place in the Marion community and about our calling to the greater Church.