I.         Our Life Together is about Experiencing God’s Presence

There are many diverse understandings of the Holy Spirit among Christians and among churches. Some focus primarily – or solely – on the Scripture. Others focus primarily on Liturgy and Sacraments. In most of these Churches, the Holy Spirit is always noted but the Spirit receives little attention in the life of the church – whether the church is focused on Scripture or Liturgy.

The typical way of thinking includes both a list of doctrines and a list of acceptable behaviors/practices. People believe the doctrines and practice the behaviors. But, for the most part, people do not experience much of anything spiritually.

However, in the Pentecostal Movement, the Pentecostal Churches, and the Charismatic Renewal there is a significant emphasis on the experiential nature of the Spirit’s presence in the life of the believer. This experience is typically called “baptism in the Spirit.”

People who have been baptized in the Holy Spirit testify that their experience brought them:

  1. to a new awareness of presence of Jesus Christ – and of their own sinfulness; 
  2. to a new hunger for the Word of God;
  3. to a renewed desire for holiness;
  4. to a new desire to build holy relationships and repair damaged relationships
  5. to a renewed desire to evangelize and serve the poor

And while with them Jesus commanded his Apostles, “Do not depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, “you heard me speak about; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit a few days from now.” (Acts 1:4-5)

Jesus is not talking about his disciples waiting to be converted from unbelief to belief. Jesus is speaking about a genuine new experience – intended for people who already believe.

Luke confirms that people believed in Jesus as he summarized their response to Jesus’ ascension saying, “they (the disciples) worshiped Jesus and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and they continually went to the temple blessing God and praising him.” 

II.        Why is this gift of Baptism in the Spirit special?

When Jesus says, “you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit,” he is speaking about receiving an extraordinary power – a grace – intended for intimacy w/ God, personal holiness, and ministry. Jesus called this gift of Baptism in the Spirit as a “clothing from on high” (Luke 24:49).

Theologians say, “This power may come at the very moment of conversion or later. It is followed by lifelong subsequent experiences of empowering in the Holy Spirit.” 

We need extraordinary experiences of God’s grace and power – again and again – so that we can grow in our faith by the power of the Holy Spirit. Fresh outpourings of the Holy Spirit empower our lives, strengthen our faith, and emboldens our desire to live for God. 

We need to pray for this power to come upon us every day. Protestant pastor Martyn Lloyd-Jones tells us that he continually prayed, “God, I need a fresh anointing. I need a fresh filling. I need a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit.”

III.      Baptism in the Spirit and Building a Community

The Preacher to the Papal Household, Fr Raniero said, “The principal instrument by which the renewal in the Spirit “changes people’s lives” is the baptism in the Spirit. This, he said, “is a personal Pentecost!”

Baptism in the Holy Spirit is the grace that makes someone a renewed person.

Whether, in the early church, or today, the principal instrument by which the renewal in the Spirit “changes people’s lives” is the baptism in the Spirit. We need to pray for a fresh outpouring regularly.

The early church was drawn together in community after they were filled with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2:42-47). They prayed together, they ate together, they saw miracles, they devoted themselves to the teaching, they evangelized.

You and I were baptized in the Spirit. We were drawn to community by the grace of God. You all are such a special to me – and it’s by God’s grace we met. Our mission is to help each other increase our love for God, be holy and to build the kingdom of God. May we be ever alert to this calling; pure in all we do; and never distracted.

IV.       Inspiring each other to live our life together in 2021 – (in order of priority)

May we “treasure this gift of Baptism in the Spirit every day”

May we “ask the Holy Spirit to come and “pour the love of God into our hearts” (Rom 5:5) 

May we “set our minds on things above as best we can each day – and be decisive (Col 3:2)

May we “present ourselves as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God” (Rom 12:1-2)

May we “love one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8)

May we “have unity of mind, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind (1 Peter 3:8)

May we “consider how to stir up one another to love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24).

May we “encourage one another and build one another up, as we are doing (1 Thess 5:11)

May we “never giving up meeting together and always be encouraging (Hebrews 10:25)

May we “be the people of God; his special possession; born to declare his praises (1 Pe 2:9)

May we “all do many great acts of service and love for Jesus this year” (Col 3:17)

Our life “in Christ” together is a wonderful way to live.


  • Week of Prayer for Christian unity begins today, international observance
  • “How has ecumenism made a difference in your life?”

Ephesians 4:1–6

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

  • Reading a passage like that, it’s hard to imagine that there could ever be divisions in the church: one Lord, one faith, one baptism…
    • Yet, there are. 
    • Not only the rise of many distinct denominations, but the existence of prejudices and misconceptions (Catholics worship Mary). 
      • We haven’t been humble or gentle. We haven’t made every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit.
      • Also been spiritually opposed.
        • “Satan always hates Christian fellowship; it is his policy to keep Christians apart. Anything which can divide saints from one another he delights in. He attaches far more importance to godly relationships than we do. Since union is strength, he does his best to promote separation.” – Charles Spurgeon
  • At the same time, “There is one body and one Spirit.”
    • “Believers are never told to become one; we already are one and are expected to act like it.” – Joni Eareckson Tada
      • God of course sees our divisions. But he only has one church. In heaven, people from every tribe, nation, and tongue will worship together.
      • “Acting like it” is the call and work of ecumenism.
  • According to Raniero, the work of ecumenism happens on 2 fronts
    • “The doctrinal and institutional level to ecumenism”
    • “An ecumenism of personal encounters and reconciliation of hearts”
  • I believe the Sword of the Spirit has a very special call to show the church that there is one body.
    • Most of what we accomplish is on the level of personal encounters. Grassroots unity.
      • There are quite a few places in the world where Catholics and Protestants worship together
      • But I’m not aware of another movement where Catholics and Protestants are covenanted with one another, living the same way of life, committed in relationships. 
        • It’s just very rare. We kinda stumbled into it, we weren’t the masterminds!
        • Really, masterminded by Jesus who has poured out the Holy Spirit. 
        • Francis admonished Catholic charismatics that they had a “special grace to pray and work for Christian unity, because the current of grace goes through all the Christian churches … ‘But Father, can I pray with an Evangelical, with an Orthodox, with a Lutheran?’ … You must! You have received the same Baptism.”
  • “How has ecumenism made a difference in your life?”
    • Ecumenism has been present since the very beginning of my spiritual walk.
      • Conversion at a large evangelical worship concert
      • Baptism in the Spirit with Catholic friends
        • Saw the Spirit move in them just like in me
      • Committed to this community
        • Which has experienced some turmoil due to ecumenism, losing a number of people in our early days. But we made it through
        • Learning curve: I remember in the early days someone would spontaneously lead us all (except me) in a Hail Mary
        • Never felt looked down on because of my Protestant faith
      • Defended the Catholic faith on a number of occasions among friends
        • One friend who “Pope is the antichrist” because he was establishing contact with Muslims…
      • Have an ecumenical marriage (never would have guessed as a 16 year old!)
      • Gained things from Catholic spirituality
        • Lectio Divina, praying in silence

Week of Prayer For Christian Unity – sending them out each night for the following day

In person next week

Ministry time – Right knee, headache, right ear problems, stomach issues, excessive fear

John 21:12–17 (will read twice)

12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead. 15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” 16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” 17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”

Brief Sharing

  • Did you feel you were able to imagine yourself in the scene? Did any part resonate with you? 

Comments on Community

  • Jesus fed his disciples after they had abandoned him. Powerful act of grace.
    • Especially for Peter, reinstituting him 
  • Do you love me?
    • Feed my sheep, tend them (literally shepherd my sheep—take care of them)
  • The mercy and grace we have received (being cleansed from sin and filled with the Spirit) doesn’t come with a catch
    • But it does come with a call:
      • To take care of the Lord’s people. To feed them with encouragement and love. To build them up.
  • We are not Pastors or Priests. But we are also called to lay down our lives for one another in love.
    • Love one another as Christ loved us (John 13:34)
    • Make every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification (Rom 14:19)
    • Look to the interests of others (Phil 2:4)
    • Encourage and build one another up (1 Thess 5:11)
    • Always strive to do good for one another (1 Thes 5:15)
    • Encourage one another daily (Heb 3:13)
    • Consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds (Heb 10:24)
  • Goal that this year, we do that more than in any year prior.


1. Jesus fed his disciples before he called them to “feed my sheep”. How is this significant for our lives?

2. Is there one way in which you’ve been “fed” here in the community? How has it helped?

3. Is there one practical way you can commit to helping take care of one another here in the community? (Maybe you can use your answer from last Monday) What about outside the community?

Happy New Year

  • Something fresh and exciting about a new year, think the Lord wants us to be hopeful.
    • He himself is our wellspring of hope.

Step Out

I’m grateful for some recent times with some of you:

  • Visiting the Micklers’ backyard. 
  • Christine and E cooking a meal (I ate it). 
  • Coffee on Starbucks patio with 2 guys…

Element of fun and spirituality in each. 

  • Fulfilling – made for relationships.

The Lord has been speaking to us a lot recently about being outward. Probably the number 1 theme over the last few months.

  • To be knit together with one another, serve one another, to step out of our comfort zones, to serve our neighbors, to be a light

Yes, we’ve encountered challenges. But we can overcome them—not even that hard.

What will it take?

1. A willing attitude.

            Thankfulness for what we do have (Zoom, backyards, a beautiful community).

2. Faithful love for one another.

            Relationships are the end, not the means.

3. Creativity.

            Think outside the box and make do with the resources we have.

Let the Scripture Speak about Prioritizing Our Relationships

Several passages to be assigned.

Sharing about the passages:

  • What can this passage teach us about community?
  • How can you personally respond to this word?


Philippians 2:19–21

19I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. 20I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare. 21For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.

  • We would all love to be esteemed by Paul like Timothy was.
  • We know that genuine concern is so rare in the world.
  • What are the concerns of Jesus Christ? The welfare of the people around us. That’s what he’s most interested in.
  • For me, contacting the members of my small group more regularly, talking and meeting with them.

1. Romans 14:19

19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.

2. Philippians 2:3–4

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

3. Ephesians 4:1–3

1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

4. Ephesians 4:11–13

11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers,12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

5. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing…

6. 1 Thessalonians 5:14–15

14 And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.

7. Hebrews 3:12–13

12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 

8. Hebrews 10:24–25

24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

9. John 13:34–35

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

10. Ecclesiastes 4:9–10

Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.