5 Steps to Real Change: Part 4 - The Gift of the Holy Spirit

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Part 4 - The Gift of the Holy Spirit

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MP4 Video - 720p (636.35 MB)
MP3 Audio (19.47 MB)


5 Steps to Real Change: Part 4 - The Gift of the Holy Spirit

MP4 Video - 1080p (1.03 GB)
MP4 Video - 720p (636.35 MB)
MP3 Audio (19.47 MB)

God wants you to change but doesn’t expect you do it alone. Learn how He will help.

In this captivating fourth episode of "5 Steps to Real Change", delve into the profound transformation of the Apostle Peter, from fearful denial to bold leadership. Explore the pivotal moment on Pentecost, where 3,000 people were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Discover the power of the Holy Spirit in igniting lasting change and overcoming life's challenges. Follow the journey of Peter's redemption and learn how you too can embrace a life of purpose and spiritual fulfillment. Unveil the promise of God's transforming power and the invitation to embark on a journey towards a life aligned with His will. Join the legacy of Peter and countless others in experiencing the life-changing impact of the Holy Spirit.


[Darris McNeely] Have you ever tried to change and failed? One day in the first century the Apostle Peter gave a bold message, which led to 3,000 people being baptized in the name of Jesus Christ in one day. Less than two months earlier, this same frightened disciple had denied even knowing Jesus three times in one night. What changed in Peter's life and can it change yours? Stay with us as we tell you about the gift of the Holy Spirit.

[Narrator] Join our presenters from the United Church of God as we bring you help for today and hope for tomorrow directly from your Bible Here on "Beyond Today."

[Darris McNeely] For several, years I have belonged to a YMCA. I go there several times a week. I like to swim. I like to work out occasionally. But every January I notice something a little different, a little change. I see new people show up I haven't seen before with new memberships, and all of them wanting to get in shape and to lose weight. Great plans, great idea, and a worthy goal. But you know what happens. Within a few weeks, usually by mid-February, I don't see them anymore. They stop coming. The best laid plans have failed again.

In this series of programs, I have been talking about change and how hard that change really is. It's very difficult. We make well-meaning resolutions in January but usually they're not enough. Most people know this, but it comes around every year and it happens. It takes something more to get beyond January, to get beyond a good intention. I want to talk about that today in this program from a view of what God can do when we come to ourselves. At a moment of internal crisis where we experience what could be called our own moment of truth and we come to a point where we recognize that we can only go forward with the help of God. That is a moment of brutal reality for anyone.

Change is something that God wants us to do. The Bible, we talk about the term repentance. We've talked about that again in these programs. But God doesn't expect us to do that all by ourselves. Neither does He expect us to rely on a lot of self-help ideas and techniques that are kind of the idea of the month or the idea of the season. Now God wants us to live successful, positive lives, and He promises us the help that we need to transform our lives into a vibrant, happy life that we can be happy with, desire, feel successful and motivated. But so often we find it to be unattainable. It's somewhat elusive to us when we get down to it. When you break it all down to a simplest point, change begins in our mind and in our heart. It begins where we really see ourselves and where we think about ourselves. When we become aligned with the mind of God and the power of God, we can expect to produce change that endures, change that leads to a different life, one that is spirit-led with meaning and with purpose. We're talking about the kind of change that is the most important we will ever make in our life. The kind of change that leads to eternal life in the kingdom of God. So let's look at what Jesus said would create that change and how that actually came to be in looking at the life of one of His closest disciples, one of His closest followers.

On the night before His death, Christ was talking with His disciples. He revealed to them the promise of the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised His disciples the help that they would need to live a transformed life. He said, "The Helper," the Holy Spirit is what He was talking about. "The Helper, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to remembrance all things that I said to you." In that night in His teaching, in several ways, in very clear language, Jesus told His followers that His death, resurrection, and ascension was necessary for the Helper, as He called it, for it to be able to come and to be available to us. The Bible shows that this is the power of God, the Spirit, and it would be how they, the disciples, and by transferal us, would be able to overcome the world just as Jesus had overcome the world Himself. On that night when He was talking about this, there were some very serious events taking place. Religious leaders were plotting. The crowds following Jesus were agitating for change. They thought something big was about to occur and among His closest disciples, stress was beginning to show. He encouraged them. He said at one point, "Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you not as the world gives to you." He said, "Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." We know that Jesus was moved by what was near and what was coming in the hours ahead. Perhaps His heart was racing, His mind no doubt set on preparing His disciples for the job ahead of them. And then perhaps in the most profound statement of the night, Jesus told His disciples that He was going away and coming back. He said, "I am going to my Father, For my Father is greater than I."

There was one disciple that night who was listening quite closely to what was being said. That disciple would be an example of the transformation that was coming for all of them, but his stands out. It was the Apostle Peter, the one who would become a leading apostle. On that night Peter would sink to depths of despair that he'd never experienced, and then he would recover. He'd bounce back and he would help then lead the greatest beginning in history, which was the beginning of the church of God. Peter would later stand up in front of a crowd and deliver a very powerful, eloquent sermon. We read about it in Acts chapter two, where Peter stands and delivers an inspired message before thousands of people. People at that moment were astonished at the sight of this ragtag group of disciples who've been following Jesus for a few years, who now were speaking in many different languages and excited. Jews that were watching were thinking that the disciples were drunk. They said they've had too much to drink. And Peter said to the crowd that, no that is not what is happening. He says, "Listen to this, let it be known, and heeded what I'm talking about for these are not drunk as you suppose," he said. It's only nine o'clock in the morning. They weren't drunk with wine. They were moved by the spirit of God.

Now Peter was the leader among the disciples there at that moment. When you look at the story of the gospels, we see that very often Peter was always the one who had something to say when other disciples would keep quiet, or it was that Peter just jumped out and gave an answer or did something, had a reaction. A few weeks earlier on the night that Christ was arrested by the Roman authorities, Peter had acted in a very cowardly manner. The way he conducted himself that night would've caused us and other men probably to just collapse in remorse, would've been difficult for anyone to come back from. But it was at the most critical moment in Christ's earthly life when that happened, and it would highlight the underperforming life that Peter had been living, and it provides a very powerful lesson for us to learn.

You see, God cares for us so much. He cares that we succeed and He carries us more than we realize. And what happened to Peter on that night tells us that. God carried Peter on that occasion. Let me tell you how it happened. Christ had predicted and said to Peter in advance, He said, "You're going to betray me when the pressure is turned up." A few hours before all that happened, Jesus had actually said to Peter, "Simon, indeed, Satan has asked for you that he may sift you as wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith would not fail. And when you've returned to me," He said to him, "strengthen your brethren." The key is in that thought of return, "when you return to me." Well, Peter's reply was, "Lord, I am ready to go with you, both to prison and to death." But Christ again turned to him and He said with a note of finality, "Peter, I tell you that rooster shall not crow this night before you deny me three times.” You'll deny me three times that you know me. Those were pretty strong words.

What Christ was predicting came to pass. After His arrest and while He was being shuffled between the Jewish and the Roman authorities, Peter, who actually was following close behind in the scene that night, actually did exactly as Christ had predicted. On the first occasion, Peter was sitting around a fire in a courtyard at the high priest home. There was a young girl there. She recognized him as one of those who was following Jesus. And she pointed him out and she said, "This man, this man was also with them." Well, Peter's response was sharp and quick. "Woman, I do not know Him." It was the first time. The night went on, and another voice from the crowd around the fire said, "You're also one of them." And again, Peter vehemently denied that he was a follower of Jesus. He said, "Man, I am not." About an hour passed. The interrogation of Christ continued on within the house. It's likely that Peter saw it out in the courtyard. Another man saw Peter sitting there and he confidently pointed to Peter saying, "Surely, this fellow also was with Him for he's a Galilean." And one last time, in the account, we see Peter rising up, denying him vehemently and shouting, "Man, I do not know what you are saying." And at that moment, as the gospel records it, in the inner rooms Christ heard the crowing of the rooster and He turned and He looked at Peter. And in that look, at that moment, Peter's whole world fell apart.

Can you imagine your Savior turning and fixing you with a piercing look? Peter was exposed by that look for what he really was at that moment. He was humiliated in the presence of a man whose admiration and esteem meant more to him than anyone. He had left all and followed Jesus for over three years, and he admired Him and now he stood, in a sense, kind of just naked before Him. For three years, Peter sought the approval and the friendship of Jesus and he'd worked to prove himself worthy of that respect. But Peter had never quite seen his own weakness and how vulnerable he was in his weakest points, and it took this experience to bring it out. Which is usually what happens with us. It takes some type of an experience to bring out true aspects of our life.

We're all like Peter. We all want to be accepted. We want to be validated as people of value and worth. We desire someone else's approval sometimes as much as life itself. We'll work toward a vocation, degree, certification. We'll apply ourselves. We'll reach success. Sometimes it's not enough. We're not satisfied. There's something missing. And our frustration might lead us to a mistake of words or actions that cost us a job, cost a promotion, might cost a relationship, separation. Divorce could happen. Peter's misguided and misfocused drive at that moment led him into an emotional box canyon. There was no way out. He was trapped in his own emotions.

Now the gospel account says that Peter went out and he wept bitterly. Later events that we see from the Bible prove that that would be a turning point in Peter's life. It seemed that, within hours, he began to think deeply through what he had done and he began to change. And we see that in the subsequent revelations of the story of Peter, that he's a different person. The power of God's spirit began to work in his life and as it does with us, it can change, cause positive change. Peter was transformed, and the disciples were transformed, by the power that was available to him. The very power that Christ promised would come, the Spirit.

You can have that power, all of us can. It can work wonders in our life. Think about how we react. Ever been discouraged? Ever been depressed? Something has gone wrong in life and life has dealt you a bad hand, didn't go the way you expected, and perhaps we're emotionally shattered at some point and unable to find a way forward. That's something that pretty well happened to just about all of us. The key to success at that moment, and it can be a moment of truth for us, just as I mentioned earlier that it was a moment of truth for Peter, the key to success is knowing how to find your way back. How to find your way back. Christ said to Peter, remember, "When you've returned to me, strengthen the brethren." When Peter did return to Christ, as we say, he kept coming back to the table. He kept showing up. He didn't just disappear. Christ encouraged Peter to “feed my sheep.”

There came a point where Peter finally did get it. He did understand it. He saw himself as Christ saw him, and he came to the point where then he could strengthen people who also were struggling with life just like he was. One of the road marks on that path of recovery to a later degree of success was that scene on the day of Pentecost that I started to talk about earlier. They were all speaking in other languages at that moment. They were excited about what was occurring. They were not drunk with too much alcohol. In some way, they had been prepared for that moment. That scene in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost was foretold in a prophecy by one of the earlier Israelite prophets, Joel, who had written that God would pour out His Spirit on mankind. The result would be inspired living by people of all ages. God's spirit of love, peace, and a sound mind would provide clear-minded thinking, enriching their lives, helping them to create a life as God intended it, fashioned and molded in the image of Christ.

Listening that morning the crowd was stunned to hear that the Jesus of Nazareth, whom they had seen and heard, those who had watched Christ teach the masses, heal the sick and the crippled, who had commanded evil spirits to leave the mentally tormented, they were now learning that they had actually seen God walking among them. And Peter's message that morning was one that was full of hope. It was a message that God can restore the years that were lost.

Think about that. Do you have time that's been lost, opportunities missed? It can be regathered. Peter was quoting from one of Israel's prophets of the past, and he was speaking words about a promise. The promise of the Holy Spirit from God to provide help to recover from the ravages of sin and its destructive effects. Christ teaching an example revealed a way of life filled with joy, and it showed how to live before God, how to live with people, to get along. It showed the only way to build a solid relationship with God and with our fellow man. Peter's message worked the crowd to a point where many were agitated and they were worried. They were finally realizing just how seriously flawed their lives really were. And for the first time, they saw a way forward out of the tiny little trap of a life that they had. They saw a way to crawl out of their hole and begin to live. And sometimes that's what we need. For the first time, they were hearing words that made sense. They were hanging on a positive message that could frame the remainder of their lives. And that is really the message of the gospel.

There came a moment at which they had all had to act and decide, and it was similar to the moment that Peter had when he denied Christ and was struck by the turning of Christ's head and that penetrating gaze that must have been there. Peter came to the moment of his truth and he said, "Let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus whom you crucified both Lord and Christ. And when those words penetrated their minds, they were cut to the heart and they said to Peter, ‘Men and brethren, what shall we do?’" This was Christ looking at them through His inspired words and His teaching through Peter that day. That was Christ looking at them just as He had looked at Peter on that night that He was betrayed. Here was Christ in those words, looking with a look from which they could not turn away, and from which you cannot turn away.

So what will you do? I think Peter had them in the palm of his hand. He said, "Repent, let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promises to you and to your children and to all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call."

On this Holy Day, the festival called Pentecost, the church began. And God began to give His Holy Spirit, a spirit of power, love, and sound mind to those who repented and came to admit that they were sinners. That was the beginning of transformation. When we come to that it can produce the quality of life representing the Kingdom of God. God holds out to you a promise, and it is the promise of a transforming power, the power of His Holy Spirit. And you can receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, a transforming power, enabling you to deal with all the challenges of everyday life, a promise that begins with a desire to change how we live.

Can we do it? Can you do it? Can you change? Can you and will you come to see your life? No matter how honest, no matter how sincere, no matter how good your life is, there's something that's still not quite there and insufficient. You see that you've fallen short of the mark of righteousness, the true godly life that Peter was summoning people to live. To receive the Spirit, you must repent, which means to change and to turn to a life based on God's law and the example of Jesus. And it begins inside, winning over the desires of self and personal interest that crowds out the life of God.

So here's the challenge. Christ is looking at you just as He did at Peter. And in His eyes is the summons to follow Him, to become a disciple, one who wholeheartedly desires to walk in his footsteps and do what He taught and practiced. It's the opportunity to change your life, to pull out of the rut that entangles you in this world, that has missed the summons of Christ to a new life based on a tried and proven way. That way is based on God's eternal law. Receiving this look from Christ requires a response. Peter melted in despair on that night and he ran. He may have fled from the presence of Jesus, but he returned and he learned from the experience, and he went on to on to accomplish significant things by the power of the living resurrected Christ within him. And he summoned others by his preaching to do the same. And that message is before us right now, the challenge to turn around and to face Christ and to meet that look that He puts our way, and let our eyes meet Him in a willing obedience and surrender of our lives to Him.

The look that Jesus gave Peter that night stripped him of all pride, ambition, and the final fragments of this false veneer of his little world. He wore all of this as part of the daily walk of life, and it took this experience to jolt him out of a way of thinking about himself that was a lifetime in the making. Years later, near the end of his life, Peter wrote a letter to the churches under his care. And in it, he charged the elders who were working with him to meet the spiritual needs of his congregation. And he wrote from years of experience, and he gives the years of experience through the words to willingly and lovingly care for the people of God with a tender care of a shepherd. He wrote, "You who are younger, submit yourselves to the elders. All of you, be submissive to one another. Be clothed with humility. God resists the proud. He gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He caress for you."

The book that we are offering on this program is called "The Power of the Holy Spirit." It's the same Spirit that is available to us. It's a free study guide to help you understand this full biblical teaching about this important topic. God's Spirit is the manifestation of His power. Upon repentance and baptism, you can receive that Spirit. This booklet is free. You can begin reading it right away on beyondtoday.tv or you can call the number on your screen and request your free copy of "The Power of the Holy Spirit," and to begin reading this and making a change in your life. You can change your life and you can be transformed by this power, the power of God's Spirit, given on the day of Pentecost. Jesus said He would not leave His disciples without help. He would send a comforter. He did. He fulfilled His promise. The Holy Spirit came upon the disciples and the Church began. To be a part of that church, you must begin to keep this festival with God's help and with God's Spirit.

[Narrator] Please call for the free literature offered on today's program, "The Power of the Holy Spirit." When you order this free study aid, we'll also send you a complimentary one-year subscription to our Beyond Today magazine. The Beyond Today Magazine brings you understanding of today's world and hope for the future. Six times a year, you'll read about current world events in the light of Bible prophecy, as well as practical knowledge to improve your marriage and family, and godly principles to guide you toward a life that leads to peace. Call today to receive your free booklet, "The Power of the Holy Spirit," and your free one-year subscription to Beyond Today Magazine. 1-888-886-8632. Or go online to beyondtoday.tv.

[Gary Petty] In today's world of confusion, disorder, and suffering, fellowshipping with others and learning the truth from God's word is more important than ever. Hi, I'm Gary Petty, a pastor with the United Church of God. If you're looking for a church that encourages living what the word of God really teaches, you found the right place. We're a community of believers dedicated to seeking the truth and preaching the good news of the coming kingdom of God. We'd like to welcome you to come and join us on this spiritual journey. We have hundreds of congregations around the United States and across the world. Visit ucg.org to find a church near you. We're looking forward to meeting you soon.