Pete emphasizes the importance of having a strong relationship with the Holy Spirit. In this talk, he explains how we can find out if our relationship with the Holy Spirit has gone dry, and what we can do to fix it.
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Reflective Study Guide Questions
“Come Holy Spirit.”
1. As baptized Christians, we are called to holiness and mission. These are impossible without the Holy Spirit. How have you lived out your call to be holy and evangelize? Can you think of an example where you exemplified each? Which of these calls could you improve upon more? How?
2. When we receive the Holy Spirit, we are given a unique and specific charism. We are all different parts of the body of Christ. What do you believe your charism is? How have you used it for the glory of God?
3. The fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Which of these is your strongest? How has God worked through you with this fruit? What does God want you to grow in? What can you do to cultivate that fruit in you?
4. The Holy Spirit is present in our desire for and reading of scripture as well as our willingness to see His power. Can you think of a time you were exhilarated by reading scripture or greatly inspired to open the word of God? How can you increase your humble expectation and belief that the Holy Spirit has power and will use it?
5. The Holy Spirit gives us daily opportunities to live out the call to mission and the boldness to do it. When has the holy spirit given you a nudge to share the gospel, show love, or to simply be Jesus to someone? How can we become more bold in the Holy Spirit?
Text: Growing in our relationship with the Holy Spirit
There’s a surprising moment in Acts chapter 19 that I want to start with today. “While Apollo was at Corinth, Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus. There, he found some disciples and he said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ And they said, ‘No, we have never even heard there is a Holy Spirit.’ And he said, ‘Into what then were you baptized?’ They said, ‘Into John’s baptism.’ And Paul said, ‘John baptized with the baptism of repentance telling the people to believe in the One who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.’ On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. There were about 12 of them in all.”
You’re going to have these disciples – about 12 disciples, sound familiar – who are baptized in the baptism of John the Baptist, which means they were baptized for the forgiveness of their sins. And they were trying to follow The Way as they understood it, but something was missing. The third Person of the Blessed Trinity was missing. They didn’t even realize there was a Holy Spirit. They were trying, they were striving, to live the life, and yet they didn’t even know about the power source. And so, then Paul comes and he baptizes them in the name of Jesus. They received the Holy Spirit. And the same thing that happened with those in the upper room on Pentecost happens with these disciples in Ephesus: The Holy Spirit erupts in their life and they speak in tongues and they prophesy, and now they are commissioned for the mission to the growing church in Ephesus.
Before I go any further, cause we’re going to talk about the Holy Spirit, before I go any further, let’s pray though. Name of the Father, Son, Holy Spirit, Amen. And I’d invite you to pray with me. Come Holy Spirit, come Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit, You go wherever You are believed in, wherever You are loved, and wherever You are welcomed. And so Lord Jesus, send us Your Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit, we believe in You, we welcome You, and we love You. Amen.
Two Fundamental Calls
Every baptized Christian, every single one of you who are watching that are baptized, has two fundamental calls on your life whether you like it or not, whether you know it or not. The Second Vatican Council tells us this: The Universal Call to Holiness and the Universal Call to Mission. What’s the Universal Call to Holiness? It’s the great commandment: “You should love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.” Fundamentally, we are called to grow in love. We are called to grow in love of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and then grow in love with everyone else. We are called to grow in the character and the virtue and the holiness of God. God’s holiness becomes our holiness through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, through our baptism. God comes and we become temples of the Holy Spirit. All of a sudden the full power, the full majesty, the full glory of God resides in the hearts of believers. So, we’re called to grow, but we’re also called to go. To go make disciples of all nations. That’s the second universal call: the Universal Call to Mission. The Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” We’re called to go, and we’re called to grow. Called to grow, and we’re called to go.
I like to think of it as two legs of a person. If we’re running the race to Heaven, we have to step out and we need to grow. Absolutely. We need to grow in love. We need to grow in knowledge. We need to grow in wisdom. We need to grow in intimacy with the Lord. But then we need to give it away and we need to share the gospel with others. And we need to go. If you’re only growing, you’re limping. Similarly, if you’re only going, you’re limping. Both legs have to be going. The more you grow, the more you need to go. And the more you go, the more you need to grow.
And here’s why I begin with this: This process of growing and going, both holiness and mission, is not possible without the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the down-payment of our inheritance. It’s the life of God coming to dwell within us so that we both can be transformed here on earth, but so that the Father then sees the Son at the moment of our death. When we stand before the Judgment Seat of God, we have been stamped, we’ve been claimed by the blood of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus was so bold as to say that, “It is better for I to go so that I can send the Advocate to you.” Jesus understood that His earthly mission was actually not complete until Pentecost, until He was able to pour out the Spirit on all those who believed so that we could rise with Him again. Nobody can say Jesus is Lord without the Holy Spirit. Holiness is not possible without the Holy Spirit. Mission is not possible without the Holy Spirit. Both are necessary. We both need the fruits of the Spirit in order to grow and be Jesus: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5 tells us these things. In order to embody these fruits of the Spirit, the Holy Spirit needs to come alive in us so that we can be loving and joyful and patient and kind and good and faithful in all the things that Jesus shows us in His life.
The Spirit Unifies Us
But similarly, the gifts of the Spirit are given to us not just so, again, that we can grow in holiness, so that we can go out and build the kingdom. And the fancy word for this is “charisms”. These charisms are gifts of the Spirit, divine gifts, divine help, not just for our own sanctification, but more importantly, for the building of the kingdom, for the good of the many. 1 Corinthians talks about this. Listen to this: “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be uninformed.” Paul says, “This is important that you know this,” right? He says, “I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says, ‘Jesus, be cursed.’ And no one can say Jesus Christ is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.” I just said that.
Now listen to this. “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord. And there are varieties of workings, but it is the same God who inspires them all and everyone. Paul wants us to know assuredly that everyone who’s baptized into Christ has the Spirit alive in us in the measure to which we have been called and equipped for a particular mission within the body.
Listen to this: “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit. Why? For the common good. To one is given wisdom to the Spirit of utterance of wisdom. To another, the utterance of knowledge, according to the same Spirit. To another, faith, by the same Spirit. To another, gifts of healing by the same Spirit. To another, the working of miracles. To another, prophecy. To another, the ability to distinguish between spirits. To another, various kinds of tongues. To another, the interpretation of tongues. All of these are inspired by One and the same Spirit, who portions to each individually as He will.”
And then he goes on to talk about how we are one body with many parts. The hand can’t say to the eye, “I don’t need you” The foot can’t say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” We all need each other. The Spirit unifies us into the bride of Christ. The Spirit that Christ breeds into His church is then given to us so that we can live lives of holiness and mission.
Activation in the Spirit is not just like a particular spirituality. Living in the power of Pentecost is not a fad. From the very beginning of the church, the apostles understood that in order to live this life, God’s power had to be unleashed in us. And throughout the entire 2,000 year history of the Church, both the sacrament of baptism and the sacrament of confirmation have been established as kind of consistent, permanent means by which the people of God lay hold of this power, are brought from darkness to life, brought into the family of God, baptism, and then equipped for mission. Confirmation. There’s nothing more traditional than to live in the power of the Holy Spirit. I mean, think about this. The church was born on Pentecost. The church was born as John Paul the Second said, “On the move.” The mighty rushing wind of the Spirit comes and we are launched and the world has never been the same. That same Spirit is a portion to each of us in order for us to both live a life of holiness and to build the kingdom.
Five Signs that the Holy Spirit is Dormant in You
So, what I want to give you now is five signs that the Spirit might be lying dormant in you. And if you become aware of these five signs, then you can do something about it. So five signs that the Spirit which resides in you might be lying dormant. Because the the hard truth is: Yes, the Spirit of God can live within us, but if we don’t cooperate with the Spirit, if we don’t give the Spirit permission, if we don’t, as Pope Francis said, uncage the Spirit. He says, “Do not cage the Spirit.” If we don’t let the Spirit out, then that power source can lie unfulfilled, okay? So here are five signs that the Spirit might be lying dormant.
The Word of God is Running Dry
The first one: If you open the Word of God and it’s dry and there’s nothing in it, and every time you read it you’re not getting anything from it. Or you have no instinct or desire to read the Word of God, then the Spirit’s probably lying dormant in your life. The Scripture is the sword of the Spirit. It is living and active. It cuts through bone and marrow. There is nothing irrelevant. There is nothing untrue. There is nothing beyond our comprehension if we open the Word of God, filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. This Holy Spirit is the One to teach us how to read it. And the Church has great wisdom and things to rely on, commentaries and all that. But ultimately you, baptized, confirmed, say, “Come Holy Spirit and open the Scriptures,” and expect God to speak to you. These words are alive. They’re the roadmap to salvation. They’re the manual for a beautiful life here on earth.
So, if you’re not feeling inspired by the Word of God, if you’re not feeling inspired to open it, and you’re definitely not inspired when you read it, ask for more of the Holy Spirit so this becomes alive in you. Because everyone I know who’s alive in the Spirit can’t get enough of the Word of God. Consumes the Word of God. Feeds on the Word of God.
Second is, I’ve already mentioned it, but just as a reminder: Look at the list in Galatians 5 and ask yourself, “Are these fruits alive in me?” I’ll say them again. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” If you live by the Spirit, let us walk by the Spirit. Those who walk by the Spirit manifest these gifts. So ask yourself, “Are you loving? Are you joyful? Are you patient? Are you kind? Are you good? Are you faithful?” And if you’re not, ask the Holy Spirit to help you and begin again. And don’t necessarily say “I got to have all the fruits right now.” No, sit before the Lord and say, “Lord, what fruit of the Spirit do You want to birth in me? What is the seed that You want to water that can grow into a real fruit in me?”
Maybe you need to be more patient or more joyful or more hopeful, whatever it might be. Just ask the Lord and see what He says, and then focus on that fruit. And build some habits and build some strategies around living in and through that fruit. Because here’s the thing: If you grow in love, you will grow in patience. If you grow in patience, you will grow in joy. If you grow in joy, you’ll grow in faithfulness. If one of the fruits grows, all the fruits grow. So, if you’re finding that the fruits are either rotten, or non-existent, or just little seedlings, ask the Holy Spirit to help them grow.
God Moves in Power
So, sign number one: Scripture is dry. Sign number two: Is there any fruits of the Spirit in your life? Sign number three is that you don’t see any power. The Holy Spirit is dynamite. That’s literally what Jesus says. He says, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.” The Greek word for power is the word “dunamis”, in which is what we get “dynamite” from. This is not like you will receive a gentle nudge. This is not you’ll receive, you know, like a little candle. This is you will receive dynamite when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. The Christian is not surprised when God moves in power. I’m going to say that again.
A disciple of Jesus is not surprised when God moves in power, because that’s what Jesus said He would do. That’s what this Holy Spirit does throughout Acts of the Apostles and throughout the whole history of the Church. When the people of God come to the Father with expectation and ask for the Holy Spirit to move in their lives and the lives of others, stuff happens. People are healed. The blind see, the deaf hear, the lame walk. Now I’m not just talking hyperbolically, I’m talking like literally and figuratively. People who do not see the truth begin to see the truth. People who are blind see. All the miracles of Scripture are not just contained in Scripture. They’re carried out throughout the history of the Church and the people of God who are walking in Spirit should walk with expectation, not pride, but with humble expectation that God’s promises are true. And the Spirit within us will give us the power we need in those moments to do the work that He’s calling us to do. He’s the one who performs the miracle, not us. We just cooperate with His Spirit. So that’s number three. The Spirit might be lying dormant if you don’t have any power in your life.
No Opportunities for Mission
Sign number four is if you look at your life and you say, “I don’t have any opportunities for mission,” especially if you’re starting to think, you know, “I would really love to share the gospel with somebody” or “I’m kind of becoming aware that that’s a good thing. But who would I share it with? I don’t know who to share it with. I don’t know when to share it. I’m not sure if I have the courage to share it.” The answer to that is like, yeah, of course. But Paul the Sixth said, “There is no evangelization, there is no making of disciples without the Holy Spirit.” But if you are not even noticing, if you’re not even seeing the opportunities to do so means the Holy Spirit’s probably lying dormant in your life.
Because the Holy Spirit is the One who kind of nudges our conscience. He’s the One who opens our eyes to see what’s going on in our environment, in the relationship, in the conversation, to nudge, just to say that this might be a moment that God has orchestrated for the truth to be spoken, for love to be expressed, for power to be unleashed. And in order for us to know that, in order for us to be paying attention to that, we have to be aware of the Holy Spirit.
So, one of the ways I like to kind of deal with this is I start every day with a three-word prayer: “Come, Holy Spirit.” And I say it, and I pray it as often as possible throughout the day, and I mean, St. Paul said, “Pray at all times in the Spirit.” So, one of the ways we do that is through the gifts, like tongues and others. Another way to do it is just consciously send that text message to Jesus. “Come Holy Spirit. Send me Your Spirit. Help me to see what You see. Help me to understand what You understand. Help me to notice what this is about and how I should respond.”
So, if you’re not seeing any opportunities to share the gospel, it’s not because those opportunities don’t exist. It’s probably because you’re not paying attention to the Spirit in your life. So, number one: Scripture’s dry. Number two: The fruits of the Spirit are not there. Number three: You don’t have any power. Number four: You don’t have any opportunities for mission, or you don’t see them.
I mean, think about Philip. Philip in Acts of the Apostles. He’s just kind of like walking down the road and he sees the Ethiopian eunuch. And he all of a sudden feels inspired to talk to him. And he asks him a question, “Hey, what are you reading?” “I’m reading these Scriptures. I don’t understand them.” Boom. The Spirit of God is there. Philip preaches the gospel. He baptizes the eunuch and also the driver. And then all of a sudden, it just says the Spirit catches him up and he was gone. I mean, that is moving in the power of the Holy Spirit, and that can happen with us if we’re paying attention.
Lacking in Courage
And finally, number five: The Spirit of God might be lying dormant in you if you don’t feel like you have boldness. If you don’t feel bold, if you’re lacking in courage, especially in evangelistic moments. Listen to this story from Stephen. So, Stephen, you know, is dragged before the Sanhedrin, the same men who condemned Jesus to death, and they ask him to give an account of what he’s doing. And so, he spends a long time. He gives a pretty thorough analysis of what’s happening.
And at the end of it, listen to how he culminates this whole thing. He says, “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears. You always resist the Holy Spirit.” I don’t even know what he means. “Uncircumcised in heart and ears”, man. That’s like a biblical mic drop. He’s like, boom. I mean, that’s going for it. Then listen to their response: “And when they heard these things, they were enraged and they ground their teeth against him.” You know, I have a son, Zeke. He’s three. And he’s just starting to learn how to be angry. Right? He’s realizing that’s an emotion that he can express. And one of the things he does is he like, you know, “I’m mad at you”, like grinds his teeth at you. When a three year old boy grinds his teeth at you, it’s kind of cute, right? It’s kind of adorable. When grown men are grinding their teeth at another human with rage, it means they’ve lost control. These men are incensed. They’re beyond- They’ve lost it.
That’s what Stephen’s looking at. The men who have the power to put him to death. Men who are infuriated at him. That’s what Stephen’s looking at. And listened to his response: “But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.'”
What does the Holy Spirit do in moments when courage is necessary? When boldness is required? The Holy Spirit elevates our gaze, opens our eyes, and shows us what is to come and shows us why it’s worth it. Stephen isn’t focused on the enraged teeth-grinders. He’s seeing the glory of God. And the glory of God is worth sacrificing everything for. The glory of God. No pain, no suffering, no tribulation, no persecution compares to the glory of God. And Jesus- excuse me. And Steven sees this because of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit elevates the gaze, strengthens the heart, and gives us the conviction and courage necessary to persevere in the turbulent and trying times.
Ask For More
Scripture is dry, No fruits of the Spirit, no power, no opportunities of mission, and a lack of boldness. If any of that is present in your life, it means probably the Holy Spirit is lying dormant. So, what do you do about it? You ask for more. You open yourself up. You lean back into the graces of your baptism and confirmation. You say, “Come Holy Spirit. Renew my heart, pour out Your grace upon me. I’m not putting You in a box. I’m not limiting Your power. I’m not only asking for the things that make me comfortable or the gifts that kind of work with my personality.” You know how prideful it is to look at God and say, “I will take some of Your gifts but some of the gifts make me uncomfortable.”
No. When the Lord is giving out gifts, we should get in line twice. We should be in a posture of saying, “Whatever You have for me, I want it. Whatever You have for me, I need it. Lord, pour out Your Spirit upon me, unleash in me the power of Your Holy Spirit, that I might live a transformed life. That I may know You, that I may serve You, that I may be growing holiness and go out and seek and save the lost.” Come, Holy Spirit, renew Your church. Come, Holy Spirit, renew my heart. Come, Holy Spirit with Your fire. God bless you.
About Pete Burak
Pete Burak is the Vice-President of Renewal Ministries and the director of their young adult outreach called id. He is a 2010 graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, and has a Master’s Degree in Theology from Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, Michigan. Pete is a frequent speaker on discipleship and evangelization, and he is the co-director of Pine Hills Boys Camp. He is the co-founder of the Millennial Church Conference, a monthly columnist for Faith Magazine, the host of the Spirit-filled Leadership Podcast, the host of the television show G2G: Glory to God, and a member of the USCCB Young Adult Advisory Committee. Pete and his wife Cait have 5 children.