I don’t want my life to be explainable without the Holy Spirit.  I want people to look at my life and know that I couldn’t be doing this by my own power.  I want to live in such a way that I am desperate for Him to come through.  That if He doesn’t come through, I am screwed.

From my perspective, the Holy Spirit is tragically neglected and, for all practical purposes, forgotten.  While no evangelical would deny His existence, I’m willing to bet there are millions of churchgoers across America who cannot confidently say they have experienced His presence or action in their lives over the past year.  And many of them do not believe they can.

If I were Satan and my ultimate goal was to thwart God’s kingdom and purposes, one of my main strategies would be to get churchgoers to ignore the Holy Spirit.

When believers live in the power of the Spirit, the evidence in their lives is supernatural.

If it’s true that the Spirit of God dwells in us and that our bodies are the Holy Spirit’s temple, then shouldn’t there be a huge difference between the person who has the Spirit of God living inside of him or her and the person who does not?

This may be a silly illustration, but if I told you I had an encounter with God where He entered my body and gave me a supernatural ability to play basketball, wouldn’t you expect to see an amazing improvement in my jump shot, my defense, and my speed on the court?  After all, this is God we’re talking about.  And if you saw no change in my athleticism wouldn’t you question the validity of my “encounter”?

Yet when those outside the church see no difference in our lives, they begin to question our integrity, our sanity, or even worse, our God.  And can you blame them?

Take a moment and ask yourself this question: When was the last time I undeniably saw the Spirit at work in or around me?

The Christian’s life in all its aspects—intellectual and ethical, devotional and relational, upsurging in worship and outgoing in witness—is supernatural; only the Spirit can initiate and sustain it.  So apart from Him, not only will there be no lively believers and no lively congregations, there will be no believers and no congregations at all.  J.I. Packer

What would your church (and the worldwide church) look like if everyone was as committed as you are?  If everyone gave and served and prayed exactly like you, would the church be healthy and empowered?  Or would it be weak and listless?

I think a lot of us need to forget about God’s will for my life.  God cares more about our response to His Spirit’s leading today, in this moment, than about what we intend to do next year.  In fact, the decisions we make next year will be profoundly affected by the degree to which we submit to the Spirit right now, in today’s decisions.

It is easy to use the phrase “God’s will for my life” as an excuse for inaction or even disobedience.  It’s much less demanding to think about God’s will for your future than it is to ask Him what He wants you to do in the next ten minutes.  It’s safer to commit to following Him someday instead of this day.

Nowhere in Scripture do I see a “balanced life with a little bit of God added in” as an ideal for us to emulate.

You don’t need the Holy Spirit if you are merely seeking to live a semi-moral life and attend church regularly.  You can find people of all sorts in many religions doing that quite nicely without Him.  You only need the Holy Spirit’s guidance and help if you truly want to follow the Way of Jesus Christ.  You only need Him if you desire to “obey everything” He commanded and to teach others to do the same (Matthew 28:18-20).

Some people encounter Jesus and say, “Sweet! Jesus, do you want to join the party of my life with this sin, that addiction, this destructive relationship, and we’ll all just coexist together?”  But repentance means saying, “Jesus, you are the best thing that has ever happened to me!  I want to turn from all the sin and selfishness that rules me.  I want to let it go and walk with you.  Only you.  You are my life now.  Help me to walk away from the enslaving, worthless things in life.”

Haven’t you met those rare people who you can tell are daily keeping in step with the Spirit?  Somehow they exude graciousness and peacefulness to a degree that is not humanly possible.  Don’t you want that in your own life?  I mean, who really wants to be a stressed out, angry, selfish person?  It’s not much fun, for you or anyone who happens to come in contact with you.

I think each of us has a strong tendency to attempt to wrestle control from the Spirit and “do” this life on our own.  Each of us tends to switch from living the gospel of grace to trusting in a system of works.

I don’t want my life to be explainable without the Holy Spirit.  I want people to look at my life and know that I couldn’t be doing this by my own power.  I want to live in such a way that I am desperate for Him to come through.  That if He doesn’t come through, I am screwed.

Has anyone ever been amazed by your peace?  Love?  Joy?  Have they ever envied your self-control?  Have you ever prayed that God would so fill you with the Spirit that people would know the change could be empowered only by the Spirit?  It is when we are filled with true peace and hope that people notice there is something different about us.

You are most likely familiar with the “fruit passage” in Galatians 5, which says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Against such things there is no law.”  You may even have the list memorized.  But look over those traits right now and ask yourself if you possess each to a supernatural degree.  Do you have more joy than the average person?  If God truly lives in you, shouldn’t you expect to be different from everyone else?

What disturbs me most is when we’re not really bothered that God living in us has not made much of a noticeable difference.  Most churchgoers are content to find a bit of peace rather than a “peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Phil.4:7).  We want just enough peace to survive the week or perhaps even the day.

My favorite verse is quite possibly James 5:17, which reads, “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently.”  Don’t keep yourself from praying desperately and courageously for the Spirit to work in your life simply because you are not the prophet Elijah.  As this verse says, Elijah was human being with a nature like ours.  He as just like us.  The key thing about him?  He prayed fervently.

As for me, I am tired of talking about what we are going to do.  I am sick of talking about helping people, of brainstorming and conferencing about ways we can be radical and make sacrifices.  I don’t want to merely talk anymore.  Life is too short.  I don’t want to speak about Jesus; I want to know Jesus.  I want to be Jesus to people.  I don’t want just to write about the Holy Spirit; I want to experience His presence in my life in a profound way.

When I read the book of Acts, I see the church as an unstoppable force.  Nothing could thwart what God was doing, just as Jesus foretold: “The gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).  The church was powerful and spreading like wildfire, not because of clever planning, but by movement of the Spirit.  Riots, torture, poverty, or any other type of persecution couldn’t stop it.  Isn’t that the type of church movement we all long to be a part of?

Our scriptures teach that if you know what you are supposed to do and you don’t do it, then you sin (James 4:17).  In other words, when we stock up on knowledge without applying it to our lives, we actually sinning.  You would think that learning more about God would be a good thing…and it can be.  But when we gain knowledge about God without responding to Him or assimilating His truth into our lives, then it is not a good thing.