If Christians learn to respond to God the way Abraham did, they can be as close to God as the “friend of God” was. In his sermon on Pentecost Sunday, Pastor Bobby Chaw taught the church four ways to respond to the Holy Spirit.
“Pentecost Sunday reminds us that no matter what we are going through in life, the Holy Spirit is here,” said Bobby Chaw, City Harvest Church’s executive pastor, as he began his sermon on May 30 and 31, the weekend of Pentecost Sunday.
In John 14:16-18, Jesus was giving His farewell speech before ascending to heaven. He promised His disciples that “I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever.”
Pastor Bobby reminded the church that Jesus did not left His believers alone in this world; He sent the Holy Spirit to help them. Sharing the story of Abraham, the pastor taught the church how to respond to the presence, the power and the person of God.
“Abraham had such an intimate relationship with God that he was called the friend of God,” Pastor Bobby said. “My prayer is that we too will be called friends of the Holy Spirit.”
In Genesis 18:1, God appeared to Abraham in the form of three men and Abraham could recognize Them immediately. Pastor Bobby painted a picture of the circumstances surrounding Abraham at that time: it was in the heat of the day in the desert and everything and everyone was dull and lifeless, and Abraham was disappointed because had not received an heir as promised by God.
“Abraham must have felt abandoned and forgotten by God. Yet, he did not allow the outward circumstances to cloud his senses,” the pastor said. Abraham was so sensitive to the presence of God that he noticed the moment God appeared and ran to meet Them.
Likewise, the COVID-19 situation has brought about extreme conditions of stress. A lack of business and activity may make Christians feel abandoned by God because their dreams and visions are not coming to pass.
“But Pentecost reminds us that the Holy Spirit is here,” declared Pastor Bobby. “Even in the heat of the day. He’s still with us.”
In fact, it was in this extreme condition that Abraham’s life was turned around. It was during this encounter, Abraham’s wife, Sarah conceived and gave birth to a son.
In Romans 8:5, the Bible teaches that Christians can choose to set their minds on the things that the Holy Spirit desires. The phrase “mindset” in Greek is phroneō and it means to “intensively exercise the mind, and to intensively set your affection on what the Spirit desires”. Pastor Bobby gave the example of Jesus being tempted in the wilderness.
“He fasted 40 days and 40 nights to turn His mind and affection from the natural desires, and focus on what the Spirit desires,” said the pastor. Each time Jesus was tempted, He made a conscious chose to set His mind on the Spirit. In the end, Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Pastor Bobby encouraged the church to stay sensitive to the Holy Spirit. “Because the Holy Spirit is here, and in His presence there is power, and miracles can happen.”
In Genesis 18:3-5, Abraham served his guests personally even though he could have delegated the tasks to any of his servants.
“When it comes to the Lord, Abraham would always be personally involved,” said Pastor Bobby. “Church, you must personally engage the Holy Spirit. Be personal.”
Pastor Bobby recalled how the Holy Spirit was always present in his last 31 years as a Christian. “I found that whenever I close my eyes to give the Holy Spirit attention—to think about him, or to pray—His peace, and His assurance is there, even in the midst of crisis,” he said.
Reading John 7: 37-38, Pastor Bobby noted that Jesus promises, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”
“Notice what Jesus said, ‘If you thirst, you must personally come and drink’. No one else can do it on your behalf,” explained Pastor Bobby. He encouraged each member to join in the praise and worship during service, and to pray, instead of just listening to the sermon.
“Because the Holy Spirit is here,” he reiterated. “Jesus promised that as you come personally and drink, out of your heart will flow rivers of living water, you will experience His love, His joy and His peace.”
Pastor Bobby shared a personal testimony that when his mother first received Christ, she would always call upon him to pray for her when she faced challenges. Recently, she learned to meditate on the Scriptures and pray. Since then, she has found a special grace to overcome the challenges she faces.
“She used to get anxious and frustrated easily when things didn’t happen the way she expected. But now she finds herself with peace, joy, and the ability to exercise self-control, even when provoked,” the pastor shared, adding that his mother now calls him to ask how she can pray for him.
“When you engage the Holy Spirit personally, He will change you into a better person in the image of Christ.”
Abraham’s response to the Lord was immediate (Gen 18:6). “Abraham’s response was urgent, because he was a lover of God. Church, do not procrastinate when it comes to responding and obeying the Lord,” urged Pastor Bobby.
The pastor went on to teach that obedience is an expression of love. 2 Timothy 3:16 teaches that the scripture is written by the Spirit, so when Christians obey the Bible, they are telling the Holy Spirit that they love Him.
“What is the Holy Spirit saying to you today?” he asked. “Today, if you hear His voice, repent immediately. Do not procrastinate.”
Pastor Bobby told the audience how he used to be a sarcastic person who wielded cutting words. Even after he became a Christian, he did not change this habit. Until one day, when he said something hurtful to a girl in his cell group, the Holy Spirit spoke to him to stop wounding others with his words. Pastor Bobby repented, and learn to be encouraging in his words, particularly to the girl he had hurt. They eventually became good friends, and today, they have been married for 21 years.
In Genesis 18:2, Abraham ran to the meet the Lord and bowed himself to the ground. “This is an expression of total surrender,” the pastor noted. In verse 5, Abraham addressed himself as a servant. The word “servant” in Hebrew is ebed, which means bondservant or slave.
“The disposition of a slave is different from that of a servant,” Pastor Bobby explained. “A servant is still his own person, he’s free to go where he wants and quit as he pleases. But a servant’s life belongs fully to his master. He can only do what the master wants him to do. Abraham was totally surrendered to the Lord as a bondservant, a slave.”
As such, Abraham was unreserved with his resources; he prepared more than enough food for his three guests. Abraham understood that everything he has had come from God.
2 Corinthians 3:17 reads, “Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” The word “Lord” in Greek is kyrios, which means one who is supreme in authority. “In other words, the Holy Spirit is the exclusive owner of our lives.
“Church, are you willing to be a bond servant to the Holy Spirit? To be surrendered to love Him to do what He says, and to go where he leads?” challenged the pastor.
Pastor Bobby concluded his sermon with 1 Corinthians 10:13 (MSG): “No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.”
He reminded the church that the Holy Spirit is with them and wants to help them; he encouraged them to make Him the Lord over their lives, so that they can receive the power and strength to overcome every challenge in life. Pastor Bobby ended his service with a prayer for every one listening, to be sensitive, personal, urgent and surrendered to the Holy Spirit.