Damariscotta Baptist Church
Tuesday, October 23, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

05/19/13 Sermon

Romans 8:22-27

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in Thy sight O Lord our Strength and our Redeemer, Amen


As most of you know, my family and I are getting ready to make the long trip back to Tennessee in 11 days. We’ll be loading the big moving truck and our car and begin the 1400 mile journey to Jackson, TN.

And of course any time you’re going to be taking a long trip in your car or truck one of the things you will be doing quite a bit of is stopping at the gas pump.

And with gas prices the way they are, it’s always depressing to see the light come on your dashboard telling you that you need to pull over and re-fill your tank.

But in order to continue on the journey you have to have gas no matter the cost. Gasoline is what fuels us on our journeys.

Of course alternative sources of energy are a possibility some time in the future that might change us from being slaves to the gas pump.

Electric vehicles are one the latest technologies that will hopefully offer us a different alternative to gasoline.

But still like filling up with gasoline, the prototype electric cars still have a light that comes on the dashboard telling you to pull over to get re-fueled. Batteries on electric cars have to be re-charged.

And the big problem right now with this new technology is that there aren’t many recharging stations where you can pull over to get recharged on a long journey.

Of course that can change once the demand gets higher.

But the bigger problem is the amount of time it takes right now to charge the batteries on electric vehicles--it can take several hours.

However there was a report in the Economist magazine that says that engineers are apparently working on trying to make a better battery that will reduce the time it takes to be re-charged.

But in order to speed things up, the battery has to be able to handle more electric charge being put into it at a higher level.

The problem they’re running into is that in order to receive this higher supercharge, the outer casing of the battery has to be able to contain it without melting.

But until then, we continue to wait and wait and wait for new technology to replace the old fashioned gasoline engine……

So what does all this have to do with our scripture today?

Well today we’re talking about power because today is Pentecost Sunday; it’s the day we remember and celebrate the power of the Holy Spirit who came blowing into a room full of those first followers of Jesus Christ.

The book of Acts in chapter 2 tells us the story of divided tongues of fire that appeared and rested on each of the followers.

They were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages.

The Spirit’s coming was like a high powered supercharge that came into each one of them and powered them in a completely new way.

With this great power coming into them, you have to wonder if they thought their outer shells could handle the power surge they had received!.................

Now today’s scripture from the letter to the Romans we see Paul talking about this same Holy Spirit.

And he speaks about the Spirit in a way that is something new coming in the world; kind of like the new technology of electric cars.
He says:
"We know that the whole creation has been groaning in birth pains until now”.

All of creation is crying out for something new; a new age to not just redesign the old one, but rather something born anew; a new creation to replace the old one with the new Kingdom of God.

And the Holy Spirit is at the center of this new transformation.
The Holy Spirit is the divine Power Current that comes directly from God infusing into us to this new way.

And we of course experience this new way in the change that comes over us when we’ve receive the Holy Spirit in our lives.

We receive the first fruits of the Spirit as we see in verse 23, which Paul details further in his letter to the Galatians. These first fruits are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
We are infused with these characteristics as Christians which leads us to bring about a transformation in the world around us.

Still, while we receive these first fruits when the Spirit came into us, Paul says we still "groan inwardly". We still groan inwardly because God's work in us and God’s work in this world has not yet been completed.

The new invention of our quick-charge batteries and strengthened outer cases has not yet been finished.

While the Spirit’s coming has given us glimpses of what lies ahead, the fullness of the fruits and the Kingdom of God are not yet here.

And of course we know this in the struggles we still see in our lives as well as the world around us.
Our world seems to groan louder and louder in pain.

There is dissension and conflict, violence and injustice, sickness and worry.

We long for peace and freedom in this world but still we experience all kinds of problems---

We have health problems, money problems, family problems. We have problems at work and at school. We are unhappy about our appearance, we’re lonely, we’re hurting with the heartache of a broken relationship, we are grieving over the loss of a loved one.

There's nobody in this room who doesn’t have problems.

I’m reminded of the story Norman Vincent Peale told about his friend George.

George was downtrodden and deeply concerned about something.

So Peale asked him, "How are you, George?"

Well for fifteen minutes George enlightened him on how bad he felt.

Finally Dr. Peale said to him, "George, I'm sorry to see you in such a depressed state. How did you get this way?"

"It's my problems," George said. "Problems - nothing but problems. I'm fed up with problems. If you could get me rid of all my problems, I would contribute $5,000 to your favorite charity."

That got Peale's attention. He said, "Yesterday George I went to a place where thousands of people reside.

As far as I could determine, not one of them has any problems. Would you like to go there?"

George said, "When can we leave? That sounds like my kind of place."

Peale said, If that’s the case, I'll be happy to take you tomorrow…. to Woodlawn Cemetery because that’s the only place I know where people don't have any problems”.

To be alive in this world we live in, is to have problems…

Even though the Holy Spirit has come into this world, this creation still groans inwardly longing for the day when the fullness of the Kingdom of God will completely replace the old way that is full of problems.

But until then we wait and we wait and we wait.

Like the way we wait for electric motors to replace gas engines; for how long, nobody knows.

Still as we wait in this broken world, we don’t wait in despair.

For along with the first fruits that the Spirit infuses within us, Paul says the Spirit also supercharges something else inside us.
And we see what this is in verse 24---
In verse 24 Paul begins to speak about the power… of hope.
It’s the power of hope that helps us as we wait.

For the Christian, hope is what keeps us going. The Spirit gives us hope that strengthens and hardens our outer cases to continue to move forward even when things are more and more bleak and difficult.

Even when we are stricken speechless at the problems that come our way, the Spirit’s infusion of hope gets us through.

Paul says in verse 26 that the hope of the Spirit helps us in our weaknesses. The Spirit intercedes for us when we don’t know what we ought to pray.
You know we often link this scripture to help people when they are nervous in learning how to pray……

But when I look at this scripture and we examine the whole theme of birth pains and groans;  what comes to mind to me are those times when things are so bad in your life that you’re left speechless to even speak to God.---things are so bad you don’t even know what to say!!

Have you ever been in those times when you just shake your head and say God where are you?

Those times when you feel utterly forsaken; when you say God I’ve been faithful, I’ve done everything you told me to do and this is how you repay me!!

The next words after that are NOTHING!---You’re flabbergasted---completely silenced.

But it’s at these times when we are completely forsaken that the indwelling Spirit intercedes for us, and prays in us.

An example of this is Job in the Old Testament.

If you recall Job was a righteous and blessed man who was crushed, bewildered, sick unto death, seeking answers and getting none.

He was wanted to give God a piece of his mind but couldn't find him. Then in the darkness of his soul Job was surprised to hear himself speaking the words that came out as he prayed to God.

Instead of cursing God, Job hears himself declaring "I know that my Redeemer lives."
Out of his hopeless doubt the Spirit spoke through him, and to him, the words of hope and faith.

Job says, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust him." ---------Job found a faith he didn’t even know he had.

His unutterable groanings found expression thru the Spirit who infused him with hope that guided him through the terrible wilderness he was in.

Another example besides Job of how the Spirit prays for us and gives us hope is Jesus.

While hanging on the cross, Jesus cried out, "My God, my God, why have thou forsaken me?"

Can you imagine how he felt? Utterly speechless.
But then we see the Spirit in him who cries out to the Father in heaven, "Into thy hands I commend my spirit." And after that---there was peace.

The power of hope infused into us by the Holy Spirit helps us in our weaknesses.  

Right now you may be experiencing physical pain or emotional depression or worry or doubt. You may find yourself utterly speechless.
But be rest assured that you are not forsaken; for the Holy Spirit within you will give you strength in hope………
In closing this morning, on this day we celebrate Pentecost, let us give thanks for the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Let us be thankful that Jesus did not leave us alone but sent the Holy Spirit to remind us of what lies ahead.

One day, our waiting will be over. And the fullness of the Kingdom of God, where the fruits of love and joy, peace and patience; kindness and goodness; faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control will reign forever.
Until then, may you and I be prototype vehicles of the coming kingdom where others see within us the supercharge of the Holy Spirit.
May they see the first fruits glowing from underneath our hoods, and may they see the power of hope that we have been given, even when we groan in pain.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen