Jesus never promised life would be easy, but he did promise before he left that he would not leave us comfortless. When you are filled with the Holy Spirit—the great Comforter—he gives you the power to face anything that's ahead of you. In this powerful sermon, Tim Dilena reminds us where our source of power lies and the perfect gift we have in the Holy Spirit.
I want to just share something with you that I feel that God wants to help us, especially going into a new season where God is bringing us? When you go to the book of Acts where I want you to go, Acts chapter one, the disciples with the resurrected Jesus and Jesus is about to be ascended to heaven, to the right hand of God, the father, the disciples were about to enter into a time which would basically be considered the most difficult time in Christianity to be a follower of Jesus. It would be for that first century and not only for the first century, but for the next three centuries, 300 years, you would die or be persecuted for being a follower of Jesus Christ. And I have to tell you, and I'll discuss this in a few moments, I don't think we're far from that very time.
One of the things that I started to realize when I began to think about this is that Jesus really promised his disciples three things. He says, "One, you are going to be completely fearless. Two, you're going to be absurdly happy and joyful all the time. And number three, you're going to be in constant trouble." And I think that's really what Jesus promised them. One, you'll be fearless, crazy, fearless. Two, absurdly happy, but three, you're going to be in constant trouble if you are a follower, but don't be afraid because when you feel like things are over your head, just remember they're under God's feet. And he has to begin to remind us of this very thing. Three centuries probably considered to be 29 different persecutions.
I'm reading a book that just came out, it's about this thick, of someone that served many years ago in Washington, D.C., called William Bennett, who is secretary of education and wrote a book called Tried by Fire. And it is the first few centuries of Christianity. It is really an updated version of Foxe's Book of Martyrs to walk you through these 29 different persecutions that have come to the church and how the church didn't begin to fold, but the church began to grow. And it's amazing what God began to do as you read this starting from Nero at the ascension of Jesus and moving towards others like Diocletian and even some names that have been portrayed in movies recently in about maybe a decade ago would be names like Commodus and Marcus Aurelius, and what many see as the great man movie, the Gladiator, as these two were portrayed in that movie but forgotten is they were strict and literally unflinching persecutors of Christians.
Literally to be a follower of Jesus, you would be persecuted. In fact, in that movie, I was reading an article of movie called Gladiator, Ridley Scott, who began to direct that movie, left out what they call the deleted scene, which was a picture before the gladiators would come out. There was a minute and 16 seconds before the gladiators would come out there, they would send the Christians into the arena. And the Christians would go in there and there's this one minute and 16 seconds in the bowels of the arena where the main character is looking out through a portal and seeing a Christian father with his wife and children huddled around them and a lion pacing behind them.
In just a moment, all you see is the back of the head of this gladiator and as he's looking in the arena, this lion begins to climb up the back of the father and the scene stops. And they asked Ridley Scott, they said, "Why didn't you put that in the movie?" And he said, "Because I couldn't properly portray how persecuted the Christians were for their faith in Jesus Christ." That people have no idea, I have no idea of this persecution. And it was the great apologist, Francis Schaeffer in the '60s who really said something that's so touched my heart and challenged me with what really happened. He said this, he says, "Why did they kill the early Christians?" And this is what he said, "It was not for worshiping Jesus."
Don't miss this. He says, "It was not for worshiping Jesus." We think people will persecute, they were persecuting for worshiping Jesus. He says it wasn't that. It was because they wouldn't worship and acknowledge the other gods of the Roman empire. He said, "You can worship your Jesus, but you got to call every other religion legit." That's the generation we're living in today. You can be a Christian, but you better call everybody else legit, that everybody else is like this. And Jesus doesn't leave that open for us. He says, "I am here." He says, "This is who I am and you need to understand I'm not like this." Where every other religion says, "Die and pay for this." Jesus says, "No, I'll do it for you." That's called amazing grace like pastor Carter was talking about.
They hated the Christians, not because they were Christians, but because they didn't say all the other religions were just as legit as Christianity. And Jesus said, "In order for me to prepare you not only for what was going to be the hardest season..." And could very be a carbon copy of what we're getting ready to face here as a country and as a nation. Understand something, Jesus says, "I've got to equip you to face what is coming ahead. Always remember you will be crazy fearless, You will be absurdly happy, but get ready, you're going to be in a lot of trouble if you're going to follow after Jesus Christ." I know that sounds bad, but here's the thing I want you to understand. Jesus says, "Don't worry because I'm going to give you help for what's ahead."
Now, here's the part and this is where I want you to understand. Jesus says, "When I leave, I'm not going to leave you comfortless. I'm going to leave you a special gift." Now, in my years of ministry, I have received so many gifts from people. Some I'm so happy and some are interesting. And so there are some that Cindy and I, she could legitimize this. We have a special drawer that we have created called the special gifts drawer. So when people give us these special gifts and they come to us a year later and say, "Do you still have my..." and we can say without lying and before Jesus, "Yes we do." It made it to the drawer, but it didn't go any further than the drawer.
For example, somebody, when I first started in ministry in Detroit, crocheted me this sweater. Okay? It wasn't just a crocheted sweater. It was not only, and I love these people, but she has gone to be with the Lord and I can tell this story. And so it had to be the most hideous sweater I've ever seen in my life. It was crochet, but what made it get to the drawer is what they crocheted on it. I'm in Detroit, this very violent area, and she crocheted a bullseye right on the chest of the sweater. It was kind of like, hey, we want to make sure they see you easier when they kill you. And so I couldn't wear the bullseye sweater. So we put it in the special drawer and have it to this day, 30 years later. And in fact, you have to wear it when you lose in some of our family games, you have to wear the bullseye sweater.
Some precious woman, and you know what that means, precious woman gave us this, I didn't even know the name of it. It was called, I used to call it a hot plate, it was a trivet. I guess you put hot pots on it once you take them off the oven. But this wasn't just a trivet, it was the head of Jesus. And Jesus's head was on this and it wasn't just his head, his head was made out of the places he went to. So it was like one eyebrow was Capernaum and the other eyebrow was Judea and the mouth was Bethlehem. And it was like, really? So I get this trivet with the head of Jesus in the places he went. And I remember the first day we're putting beans and I said, "I can't. I can't put beans on Jesus's head. He's holy." We relent he's holy, holy, holy, put it in the drawer before we go to, not to heaven.
And so I just thought to myself, we can't, so in the drawer. So just think before you bless anybody. For heaven's sake, think so it doesn't go to the drawer. But here's what's amazing. When God gives a gift, it never goes to the drawer. Listen, the Bible says every gift is good and perfect. You will never get something from God you're going, "What is this?" And here's what he says, these two words are amazing, it's from James 1:17, "Every good and perfect gift is from above coming from the Father of lights." And these two words, good and perfect, if I could just separate them for a second and just unpack for a moment. These words, good and perfect, really speak to how he is going to equip you in the place that you're about to go into. Because the word good, let's start with that. In the original language, it doesn't sound like we would know.
So let me just push you a little bit on remembering old English classes. We would call this word a superlative, which means you would end the E-S-T at the end of it. So you would say in April it's hot, it could be hot in New York. In June, it gets hotter, but in August, it is at it's...
That's the superlative. So you can use it for anything. Great to see pastor David. Pastor David is a cool dude, but then there's pastor William, he is cooler, but then my friend pastor Carter, he is the...
Of course he is. That's the superlative. And what James was saying was when God gives you a gift, it's the best. Nothing can get any better than any gift that God is going to give to you. And then he says, "Not just good, but it's going to be perfect." And that's the word which we would say sometimes when someone gives you something and say, "That is perfect. That is exactly what I needed. I needed a bullseye sweater because I wanted to be with Jesus sooner." That's what you would say for that. But it wasn't perfect. It wasn't, the word meaning usable, something you needed. The word perfect means it's exactly what we need for this moment. It's exactly the thing that I can use at this time.
So when God gives me a gift and God gives you a gift, he's saying it's not just a gift. He says, "This gift is going to be the best gift you can ever have and this gift is going to be something you will always use." And he said, "In order for me to get you to the place of what you're about to face, I've got to give you a gift." And that gift that I want to just take a few moments to talk about is the gift of the Holy Spirit. That's the gift that he said, "I want to begin to change you, and before I leave," he says, "I want you to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. He says in Acts chapter one, verse eight, is the one verse that we're going to look at today. And he says, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you shall be my witnesses, both in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria, and even to the uttermost parts of the earth."
And you know what he was saying? He was saying this to us. He was saying this to the disciples and he was saying this to us today. He says, "You're about to enter into the hardest point and the hardest time it is to be a Christian." And he says, "And the best thing I can do, the greatest thing I can do is give you a gift in how to face this." And when we speak about the Holy Spirit, I want you just to put everything aside, everything that you would see on a TV, listen on Christian radio, and let's just see it from the way that the Bible explains it. And let's look at how the Bible begins to speak of this because really when God says, "I'm going to fill you," like pastor Teresa talked about two weeks ago, like pastor David talked about last week at the six o'clock and what's about to take place today.
The baptism, the filling of the Holy Spirit, this is going to date me because probably only the old people would know this. The infilling of the Holy Spirit is like the phone booth is to Superman. It means when that thing happens, you come out, not normal, you come out absolutely changed. Why? Because it is perfect and it's good. It's the best I can get from God and it's something that I'm going to be able to use. When you've been touched by the Holy Spirit, people know it. People know what's happened. In fact, the best way I can explain it... I'm just telling you, I don't understand popcorn. And let me just tell you why. We were eating it the other day and as we're eating it, you take this bag of popcorn and you throw it in this microwave, it goes into this room.
And while it's in this room, all of these kernels are experiencing the same thing. They're in together. They're all packed in. They're experiencing this micro, this is going somewhere, and it's experiencing all this place. But when it's all said and done, there're just some of those kernels that are so stubborn, they won't be changed though they're in the same place, hearing the same buzz, under the same light, in the same situation, and you can't get them to pop. When I saw Greg leading us in worship and we got to this freedom song, some of you were beside yourself jumping up, but there were some kernels in this place that are just sitting there like this, and I'm going, you can't pop, but today, this may be your popping day for the Holy Ghost to come.
I'm tired already. So here, let's do this. His gift, he says this in Acts 1:8, "When the spirit comes, you will receive power." When the Spirit comes. I just want to give you two thoughts that you will receive power and you will be his witnesses. That's it. Let's just take what the Bible says. You will receive power number one, when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. I have been very fortunate that I was raised by godly parents. For those that don't know my history and those that don't know how much this church means to me and what God has raised up here in New York City, when pastor David Wilkerson, the founding pastor came and started this church, before that was The Cross and the Switchblade and Teen Challenge. My dad was the police captain in the book, The Cross and the Switchblade.
So I was raised seeing and hearing the testimonies of a Nicky Cruz and Israel and seeing the beginning of Teen Challenge. And my dad was the first treasurer of Brooklyn Teen Challenge. When brother Dave first came to New York City, he met my dad. He was the one in the movie that when brother Dave was trying to preach on a street corner that they said, "You can't preach there unless you have an American flag." And then a police captain comes and says, "Let him preach," on that street corner. And they became lifelong friends at that moment. So I was raised seeing miracles, seeing what God was doing. I was raised in a church. Literally, I look at this choir and I literally was almost born in a choir loft on 33rd Street in a church called Glad Tidings Tabernacle during the Christmas cantata. It was during December 18th, no, December 22nd, that's when I was born.
So if you want to give me a gift. But it has to be good. It has to be good. I'm kidding. I was almost born in the choir loft and my mom sang soprano and I'm so thankful that I was raised in an environment that loved God and I never experienced the junk that others experience that we were exposed to watching the testimonies of the early Teen Challenge. And if pastor David was wanting to get somebody to give their testimony for the 6:00 PM, he wouldn't invite me because literally, I have never smoked a cigarette in my life. I have never drank alcohol in my life. I have never been on drugs in my life. God kept me as a virgin all the way til I got married at 33 years old. I'm not ashamed of that. I thank God for his keeping power and I'm grateful for that.
And can I just tell you? I pray that testimony for my own children and I pray every day. I was telling pastor Carter, every day I pray for Christian, Anna, Lauren, and Grace. I pray, God fill them with the Holy Spirit, fill them with the Spirit. That very thing, that very gift, that very person you said would begin to take them through the toughest seasons and the toughest places of their life, God, would you do that? And while I was at college, brother Dave asked me, he says, "Would you go to Detroit and help my son plant a church in Detroit in the '80s?" And little did I know that God would take me and put me on the streets of Detroit who has in a sense, no testimony at all. In the testimony of I didn't do anything.
Gary Wilkerson, brother Dave's son, said, "I want you to pastor..." A pastor would do a Bible study at a prostitution hotel at 19 years old. So I have a guitar, I know three chords, and I'm in a prostitution hotel speaking to pimps and pro... and I haven't been addicted to anything. I mean, the closest thing was Oreos and that was it. And then double stuff came out and I was done. But it was like, "Really me? Me do this?" And he threw me in the deep end of the pool. And I'm sitting there trying to lead pimps and prostitutes thinking, how am I supposed to? This is crazy. And I had somebody tell me in the midst of this, they said, "Tim, we know you've been on the streets for 30 years, but we feel like we could do a better job than you."
And this is what they said. I want you to listen to what they said to me. They said, "Because we have experienced the world and you haven't. So to minister to those prostitutes because we've been out there on the streets, we have a better shot than you because we can relate to them better." And for those that are on drugs, we appreciate your story, but because you haven't experienced... And students, listen to me, college students, high school students, listen to me close. Parents, listen to me. And I kept thinking to myself, that doesn't sound fair. It doesn't sound right that God would say, "If you live in that, you get to minister better."
And I'm not saying that God can't transform anybody's life. I'm not saying that at all. But it didn't seem right because... So the best way of effective ministry is to experience the world? That doesn't seem right. And in fact, this is the reason for Acts chapter one. "The best way," Jesus said, "To minister to the world..." You're ready for this? "Is not to experience the world, but to experience God." He said, all that I want you to know is God doesn't say, "Taste and see that the world is no good." He says, "Taste and see that God is good." What he was saying to us was this, once you get a taste of Jesus, he says, you don't want what's out there because there's nothing that can satisfy you like a relationship with Jesus Christ. Nothing can satisfy you. That's what he was telling us.
And so because it didn't seem right, so Jesus is saying to Peter... Excuse me if this is just a little over the top, but I want you to hear this. He didn't say, "Peter, you do drugs so you can minister to the drug addicts. Mary, you be a prostitute so you can minister to the ladies on the streets. And hey, we want you, Thomas, we want you to go ahead and be an alcoholic so you can minister to..." He didn't say that. He didn't say, "I don't want you to experience sin. I want you to experience the infilling of the Holy Spirit." He says, "Because what I knew is that if you can experience God, you will know how to lead people from this trap of sin that they can experience freedom in Jesus Christ." So when you are filled, when you are filled with the Holy Spirit... Listen to me today. He gives you a power to face anything that's ahead of you. Anything that's ahead of you.
In just a few months, we're going to go back into an Olympic season. And as that's beginning to take places, everybody's gearing up for Rio de Janeiro. We have somebody in our church, a woman who is training for the heptathlon to run those events in Rio de Janeiro. You see all these stories pop up. And one of the stories went all the way back, almost 12, 14 years ago to a winter Olympics that just really, I was so shocked to hear this, that when the winter Olympics were in Nagano, Japan, they said something interesting happened. They said, "Not only would they have to shut down sometimes a day or even two days," and they said, "We would never have to do this because of the extreme weather on the mountains of Nagano."
They said, "The part that we just couldn't understand, we expected that, but at the top of the mountain..." and this is what blew me away, they said, "There was a grove of trees at the top of the mountain that while we couldn't even see our hand in front of us because of the winds," he says, "This grove of trees were blooming in the dead of winter and fruit was coming out of them." They said, "We were so amazed. We were bummed that we had to shut down the slalom and we had to shut down some of the skiing events. But we were so amazed of why these trees were up there." And when I read this story, I just couldn't help but think of Acts chapter one and Acts chapter two, when the Spirit fell down and began to come with fire upon them.
This is what they said. They even sent geologists up there during the Olympics and said, "Why are these trees blooming in this harshest of weather?" And this is what they found, that the roots underneath the tree was touching volcanic activity, which meant that while it was snowing on top, they were experiencing fire underneath. So what that tells me is it doesn't matter what happens out there, these roots are touching the fire. They're touching the Holy Spirit. He will come and says, "You will receive power." And I love what he does. He says, "The first spot that I'll touch," listen to this. "The first spot I'll touch is the most untamed part that you have, that tongue." That tongue that no man can tame, God goes, "I can tame it."
He says, "Because when I baptize you with the Holy Spirit, I'm not going after your legs. I'm not going after your arms. I'm not going after your brain. I'm going after the most untamable part. I want to go after the part that James says no man can tame." He said, no man, he didn't say God can't go after it. And he says, "I want to begin to touch that." And all over the book of Acts, whether it was speaking in tongues or prophecy, some of them got filled with the Spirit in Acts chapter four and they spoke with boldness. And he says, "I'm going to go after your tongue. I'm going to go after this part. And what I'll do is I'll begin to fill you." And God is going, "I just want control of that. I want to take that."
And he says, "If you allow this heart of yours to touch fire, I'll take the most untamed part of you." But he says, "But the gift that I'm giving to you is going to help you to face the hardest season and the hardest season that you'll ever go through." I can't tell you how many times that in the hardest season that I've gone through I just would say, "God, fill me with the Holy Spirit today. I don't have anything else. I have nothing else God, unless you fill me with the Holy Spirit right now." And Jesus said this, "When I leave, I am going to let you receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you." And then number two, and we close with this, he says, "You shall be my witnesses."
When you are filled... You know what I love? He didn't say, "You will be lawyers." No offense. He said, "You will be witnesses." I've been in many courtrooms because I've stood with people that have gotten saved off the streets of the major cities of our country, the cities that I served in. I've been to court. I've been there where people's lives have been changed and they're saying, "Pastor, would you come and maybe be a character witness or maybe just be there to pray?" And that's what I would do. And I've watched, once again, if you're a lawyer, God bless you. But I would see the lawyers come up because they knew just the way it went and they would get up there and go, "This is my client, this is Johnny, and we're just asking for the mercy of the court. We plead guilty. But would you go ahead and just..."
No emotion because they're not... though it's a client, it doesn't mean they're connected. But when you put up a witness, the emotion comes out because you can be a Christian and just give the lawyer facts, but it never touch your heart. And so he says, "When you become a Christian, I don't want you just to give the facts, I want you to experience what's happening inside." Put a witness on the stand, put someone who may be the crime was committed, put up a mother that may be is a character witness. Listen to the emotion come out. And he says, "What I want you to do is not do witnessing," but this is what he says, "I want you to be a witness." What he was saying to them was this, when the Holy Spirit touches you, witnessing is that something that you do at a certain time on a missions trip or on the screen when we send out our young people to go at different parts of the city, like we saw up there.
He didn't say, "You do witnessing on the time clock August 1st through August six," he says that's doing witnessing. He says, "But when the spirit dwells upon you, you will be a witness." Which means that whether it's on a campus, whether it's at your job, whether it's in your high rise, whether it's in your neighborhood, whether you're walking outside of church and even in the subway, you can be a witness because it's not based on a timeframe. If the Spirit is in you, I don't do something, I become something is what it says here. Because when he fills you, he says, when he fills you, he says, "You become a witness." You don't realize how important a part this church has played on some real significant parts of my life.
I can go through seasons, even recent seasons and seasons of the past of how much this church has meant to Cindy and I. And I'm so happy Cindy is here today who doesn't have a chance usually to come with me. Cindy, my two teenage children and my two girls who are in the children's ministry right now. So we had a chance to come with all four of our children and Cindy, and I'm always honored when Cindy is with me, but it was here, it was here that we first not only announced that we were going to get married, but I had proposed to her in Central Park on... It was perfect New York proposal. I took her to Tavern on the Green. Because I'm 33 years old, I'm going to do this right. And so I brought her to Tavern on the Green. She had no idea because I really felt like God said, "Never tell someone you love them until you're going to put a ring on their finger."
And so we went on the horse and carriage ride and we're going around New York and I had the guy stop right at Rockefeller Center. I got out on one knee, I opened up the box and as I'm there in front of all those flags, I just said, "Cindy, I love you..." I'm on one knee. And so the guy is irritated that I made him stop and I go, "I love you. Would you be my..." and literally, he was watching the whole thing like this. And this is what he did. Without missing a beat, he goes, "This is beautiful." That's what he said, Cindy can verify it. "This is beautiful." On a Tuesday night, I was able to tell you that I got engaged and it was Brother Dave that did my wedding and Pastor Carter and Pastor Theresa had such an important part of so many seasons of our life and so have you.
You have been such an important part of these seasons. And so our marriage, we've been married for 20 years now on November 6th, which is such a blessing. On November 9th, we got married. If that's another gift, you can just bring, but make it good. And what's crazy is this, this is what's crazy. It was magical until our first argument in Wendy's. And so all this time, it's been awesome. "Yeah, you're my baby. You're my baby girl. You're my boo." All that, it was... And so we're doing all this stuff. So we're going into a Wendy's and I just do what I do. I just go, "I want a double cheeseburger, ketchup only, French fries, and a lemonade and biggie size that for me." And so I say, "Baby girl, what do you want? What do you want to take?" This is what she said. First fight. She goes, "I want a grilled chicken sandwich."
Women always get grilled chicken sandwiches. I learned that. You'll always do. You'll always get a grilled chicken sandwich. "Do you want anything to drink baby girl? Do you want anything to drink?" "Diet Coke." Women always get Diet Coke. But they have this fantasy about Diet Coke, like you can eat whatever you want and Diet Coke fixes it. I'll have those eight cookies, but I've got a Diet Coke. It just doesn't work. This is a place of truth. So she gets that and then, then, then it happened. I said, "Do you want French fries with that?" She goes, "No, I'll have some of yours." Someone needs to speak up for the men of America. So let me just tell you this right now. Let me just tell you.
So I look, I just said, "Cindy," and that's when I'm serious. I didn't even call her bae. I said, "Cindy," I said, "No, listen," I said, "I'll buy you your own. It's not a big deal." She says, "I can't eat a whole one. I just need a few." I said, "First of all, you know that's not true." So I just go... I didn't say that. I didn't say it. I was just married a couple months. I didn't say it. So I said, "No, but you don't understand," I said, "They just put enough, they've done science on this and they've just put enough to meet the appetite of an individual and if you pull any out, you ruin it. So I'll buy you one if you want, but I can't eat..." I said, "Listen," I said, "Here's what happens," I said, "I don't care if you eat one and throw it out. You're not getting any of my fries." "She'll have her fries."
Then we got counseling. Here's what happened. Then it dawned on me, listen, as an Italian, we take food very seriously, which means, you're ready for this? I don't share food. Do you want to share a dessert? No, I don't want to share a dessert. Can I have some of what you got, which means I don't like mine, I want to start eating... No. So here's what happens and this is what takes place. Do you know when I share my food, you're ready for this? It's when I'm full. When I'm done with my plate, then I go, "Would you like some of this?" Which means, you're ready for this? When you're full, you'll share. You're not getting. When you are full, you will share. He says, "You don't need a course in evangelism.
You don't need to go through some online course. When you get full of the Holy Spirit," he says, there's something deep inside that says, "You can't stop me. It's going to come out of me." That's how you become a witness, not by a course online, it's when he fills you with the Holy Spirit. So here's how we stop and we're done. This is how you're done. How we're done. When the Spirit fills you, he says, "I will begin to take you even back to same environments that used to bring you down." But he says, "But there'll be a new backbone inside of you." He says, "You know who I want to preach after I fill you with the Holy Spirit because you've been full you can share? Peter. Denying Peter. I want you to preach right in the very city that made you a denier."
So what I'm going to do is when the Spirit comes, you're going to receive power, which means these roots are touching fire though they want to kill me on top. When the Spirit fills you, you will be, not do my witnessing, you will be my witness. Here it is, in Jerusalem, Jerusalem, where you denied me three times, listen, to a little girl, you're going to stand up and instead of denying me three times, I'm going to give you 3000 converts because what is happening inside of you is greater than what's happening on top of you. And he says, "I want to fill you." So he says, "When I send you back to corporate America, when you hear Jerry Hampton today speak about this important topic to so many of you in the business world, to so many of you all over this city," what he is doing is, he's saying, "I want to give you a frame of reference, but in order for you to stand, in order for you to have backbone, you have to be filled with the Holy...
That's why Jerry as one of our elders is able to work in Goldman Sachs, able to be a CEO in New York City, not because he went to church, it's because something deep inside of him called the Holy Spirit gave him Christian character in an environment that will begin to try to get you to compromise. Okay, pastor Tim, how does this happen? How do we do it? Is this going to be crazy? Is this going to be... Let me give it to you as Jesus said it. I'm going to have the band come. Greg, if we can get ready just to play and let me just give it to you the way Jesus said it. Last verse I'll read and we're done.
Luke chapter 11, Jesus said... I want to show you how this happens. And I want you to be receptive because no one is going to do anything that is unbiblical here. We're just going to do what the Bible says. And here's what it says in Luke chapter 11, verse nine, Jesus says this, "So I say to you, ask and it will be given to you. Seek and you will find. Knock and it will be open up to you." How many have ever heard of that verse before? Okay. Look at me for a second. Let's connect this to context. Let's connect it to context. Watch this. "For everyone who asks receives, and who seeks finds, and to him who knocked, it shall be opened.
Now suppose one of your fathers is asked by his son for a fish, will he give him a snake instead of a fish? No. And if he asks for an egg, will he give him a scorpion? Of course not. Verse 13. If you then being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those that just ask him?" That's it. Just ask. He says it's not anything I can do, any of these pastors can do, any of the elders can do, altar workers. It's you just going, "God, I just ask you, fill me with the Spirit today. Fill me with the Holy Spirit today." That's it. It's you to...
And you know it's interesting to me as a side note? I don't think it's by accident that he puts in there, he says, "If you ask a fish, will you get a snake? And if you ask for an egg, will you get a scorpion?" Listen, because what Jesus puts in there, the words that he uses for food, he doesn't even use meat. He doesn't say steak. He doesn't say lamb. He doesn't say any of those things. What Jesus says is fish and egg, which are the two staple foods of that day. What he was saying to him, listen to me, he was saying to them, the Holy Spirit is not a luxury. It's a necessity. You need him every single day. It is me just going, "Lord you're my food every single day. Fill me with the Holy Spirit. Fill me."
It is a gift that he gives to you. It is a gift that he gives to you. And the last thing that I would ever tell you as you stand to your feet, here's what I want you to do. Everybody to stand with me. Every good and perfect gift comes from the Father of lights. Every good and perfect gift. Good, the superlative, nothing can be better. Perfect, the usable, the one that makes all the difference, the one that changes, the one that is useful. And here's what I want you to understand. With all the gift giving that goes on today, the thing that has rocked the gift giving world is when you just don't know what to give. Everybody shows up at a CVS or Rite Aid and you buy a gift card for somebody. And that's what people do today is they buy.
But here's what's amazing. Do you know the racket these companies are making on gift cards? For this reason, that almost 40% are never cashed because people forget or they lose them. So you're spending $50 for an iTunes card, $25 for an Amazon card, all these things, you give it, thank you so much. And people don't even know where it is. People forget that they even have it. They're still spending money and they forget they have a gift card. And when the Holy Spirit says, when Jesus says, "I'm giving you a gift today," I'm telling you, don't put that in your pocket. Don't put it aside. I'm telling you today, cash in that gift card and say, "Fill me with the Holy Spirit today."
Fill me with the Holy Spirit today. He did it two weeks ago at the one o'clock as Pastor Theresa prayed. He did it last Sunday at the six o'clock as Pastor David prayed, and can I tell you something? He can do it on a Sunday morning. In the balcony, if you're watching live at the New Jersey campus, if you're here in this sanctuary, you don't even have to bow your heads. But if you're here right now, and if we can play, How Great is Our God? If we can just get ready. Here's what I want you to do. We're just simply going to ask today. But if you're here today and say, "Pastor Tim, I'm cashing in that gift card today. He's given me a gift and what I have to face and what's ahead of me right now, I want him to fill me. I don't want there to be one empty spot inside my heart today. Fill me Jesus with the Holy Spirit."
And if you're here today and say, "Pastor Tim, I want the Holy Spirit. All we're going to do is ask, that's all we're going to do. And if you're here today and say, "What I'm facing right now, I can't do it without help. I need the Holy Spirit." And if you're here right now, heads up, eyes open, I want you to get down here as fast as you can. Just say, just pray for me today. Quickly. Just get down here as fast as you can. As we sing this song, I want you from the balcony, find your way to the exit and they'll lead you down here. Main floor, you come down. In New Jersey, they'll begin to guide you how to do it, in the annex, we'll pray for you in the annex. If you're watching in one of our home fellowship groups, I want you just to stand and just lift your hands and allow the Holy Spirit...
And as you come, can we just lift our hands and begin just to announce how great he is? And all we're going to do is ask him to. You come, make your way all the way down. Come on, let's begin to sing this together. Let all of us sing this as you come. How great is our God? How great? Here's what I want you to do. I don't want you to clap. I want you to speak with your tongue and just say, "Fill me with the Holy Spirit." Ask him right now. Just say, "Fill me with the Holy Spirit." Fill us Lord God. Fill us Lord God. Fill us Lord God with the Holy Spirit. God, I pray that you would just take us right now and fill us. We're about to face what could be, God, the most devastating point of being a Christian, but God, you have given us a good and perfect gift. And thank you for the person of the Holy Spirit.
And so God with our hands raised and these mouths asking you today, we are doing exactly Jesus what you said. You give good gifts to your children, so we just say, Holy Spirit, fill us right now. Holy Spirit, fill us right now. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Fill us all over this place, in the balcony, in the annex, on the main floor, up and down these aisles, in the choir, in the band, fill us with the Holy Spirit. Our home fellowship groups, in New Jersey, fill us with the Holy Spirit. [tongues]. We receive. We receive your gift. We receive the Holy Spirit.
I pray for power. And I pray, let them be your witnesses in this city. Power. Power in Manhattan. Power for our students at Saint John's. Power. Power, Lord God. Power, Lord God at Fordham. Power, Lord Jesus at Juilliard. Power for those that are on Broadway. Power for those in the business world. Power in Jesus name. Hallelujah.