Echos of the Holy Spirit

A Six-Week Series on the Holy Spirit at Work in the Old Testament

We often hear about the Holy Spirit at work in the church after Pentecost. But as a person of our triune God, the Holy Spirit is eternal and unchanging and thus has always been at work in creation, from the Old Testament to now. The idea of doing a sermon series on the Holy Spirit using only texts from the Old Testament was inspired by the book Growing the Church in the Power of the Holy Spirit: Seven Principles of Dynamic Cooperation, by Brad Long, Paul Stokes, and Cindy Strickler (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009), which our church’s council and prayer team were reading.

The Bible speaks of the Holy Spirit in the beginning, moving over the face of the waters at creation. The Spirit of God sustains human life (“If God were to take back his spirit and withdraw his breath, all life would cease, and humanity would turn again to dust” (Job 34:14–15, NLT)) and the life of all creation (“When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the ground” (Psalm 104:30)).

The Spirit of God empowers and equips people for special tasks, including judges and kings (Numbers 11:17, 25–26; 27:18; Judges 3:10; 6:34; 14:5–6; 15:14–17; and 1 Samuel 16:13) and prophets speaking God’s word (Joel 2:28; 2 Chronicles 24:20; Isaiah 61:1–3). The Holy Spirit worked within people to give wisdom for leadership and skill and craftsmanship (Genesis 41:38–39; Exodus 31:1–5; Deuteronomy 34:9). The Old Testament also prophesied the pouring out of God’s Spirit, giving new hearts (Jeremiah 31:31–34; Ezekiel 36:25–27) and enabling all to serve God (Numbers 11:29; Isaiah 44:3; Joel 2:28–29).

The visual arts team at Grace Community Christian Reformed Church, led by Trudy Kooy and Marilyn VandenBout, created a large dove across three panels to hang in the front of our sanctuary to represent the power and movement of the Holy Spirit through all of time. The artists first drew the figure with chalk on three panels of dark blue fabric. Then they cut tulle to match the outlines and pinned it in place, adding extra tulle to show contrast on the wings, head, and tail. They also twisted the tulle to make the curls of “wind” coming down from the dove, creating a sense of movement. The fabric panels were then placed on curtain rods and raised to the proper heights using string and wire. Once the dove was in place, the artists noticed the panels were perfectly spaced to create the image of the dove coming out of the base of our stained-glass cross window, giving even more significance to the installment.

Our series theme song was “Holy Spirit, Come,” by Wendell Kimbrough. We chose this song because its lyrics reference many Old Testament passages about the Holy Spirit and end with a call for each of us to show the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. To teach the congregation the song, we used it as the offertory the week before the series began and then as the prelude for the first week of the series.

Each service began with the same call to worship reminding us of the presence of the Holy Spirit in us:

Hear what the Spirit is saying to the church:
The love of God has been poured into our hearts
through the Holy Spirit who has been given us;
we dwell in him and he in us.
Give thanks to the Lord and call upon his name;
make known his deeds among the peoples.
Sing to him, sing praises to him,
and speak of all his marvelous works.
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty,
who was, and is, and is to come!
The Book of Alternative Services of the Anglican Church of Canada. Anglican Book Centre, 1985. © 1985, General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada. Used by permission (Also see The Worship Sourcebook, Q1.2.3.)

Week 3 includes a liturgy for the Lord’s Supper because that service coincided with our monthly communion celebration, but this can be adapted for your needs.

Week 1

Skills and Gifts

Prelude

God’s Call to Worship

Songs
“Creator Spirit, by Whose Aid” Maurus, LUYH 523, PsH 425
“God, the Uncreated One (King Forevermore)” Keyes and James

God’s Greeting / Mutual Greetings

New Testament Reading
1 Corinthians 12:4–11

Song of Illumination
“Holy Spirit, Come” Kimbrough

Scripture Reading
Exodus 31:1–5; 35:30–35

Message
“Echoes of the Holy Spirit: Skills and Gifts”

Sermon Notes
By God’s Spirit, all we do is for the glory of God. Bezalel and Oholiab were given skills in craftsmanship and teaching by God’s Spirit. These gifts, like all other gifts of God’s Spirit, are to be used for the common good (1 Corinthians 12:7). Bezalel and Oholiab used their abilities to reflect and evoke the beauty of God’s redemption and new creation as they embellished the worship center in Israel’s life.

We stay in the flow of the Spirit when we use our skills to serve God and others. Our lives are transformed by serving. Using our gifts and skills lends beauty and grace to the lives of those around us, reflecting the flourishing God gives in creation.

In the fallen world, we encounter frustration and problems in using our skills and knowledge, yet every problem is an invitation to grow in God’s Spirit, who uses the problem to point us to what really matters and challenges us to rely on God as we use our abilities to serve.

Songs of Response
“We Are Members of Christ’s Body” Polman, SNC 178
“Holy Spirit” Getty and Townend

Prayer of Confession
Suggestion: Reformed Worship 39:33

Song of Assurance
“O Great God” Kauflin

Profession of Our Faith
In his divinity, majesty, grace, and Spirit,
Christ is not absent from us for a moment.
By the Spirit’s power
we make the goal of our lives not earthly things
but the things above where Christ is,
sitting at God’s right hand.
Through the Holy Spirit
Christ pours out his gifts from heaven upon us his members.
The Spirit, as well as the Father and the Son, is eternal God.
The Spirit has been given to us personally
so that by true faith
the Spirit makes us share in Christ and all his blessings,
comforts us, and remains with us forever.

—from the Heidelberg Catechism, Q&A 47, 49, 51, 53; TWS Q.3.6.1

Prayers of the People

Offering

Sending
Go forth into the world,
rejoicing in the power and gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Amen.
The Book of Common Prayer, according to the use of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America, © 1977, Charles Mortimer Guilbert as custodian; P.D.

Blessing

Closing Song
“God, the Father of Your People” Mulder, Newton, LUYH 927, PsH 322

Postlude

Week 2

Leading and Helping

Prelude

God’s Call to Worship

Songs
“Shout to the Lord” Zschech, LUYH 603, SSS 426
“Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty” Heber, LUYH 538, GtG 1, SSS 450

God’s Greeting / Mutual Greetings

New Testament Reading
Ephesians 4:7–8, 11–13

Song of Illumination
“Holy Spirit, Come” Kimbrough

Scripture Reading
Numbers 11:16–30

Message
“Echoes of the Holy Spirit: Leading and Helping”

Sermon Notes
This passage addresses how leaders are called and ordained within the body of God’s people, but more importantly, it tells us that the Spirit is put on those leaders—the same Spirit that was on Moses. Interestingly, the Bible specifically mentions that the elders prophesied when the Spirit came on them, but only that one time. This is a biblical example of how the Spirit may work in people. Sometimes people are blessed by being filled with and empowered by the Spirit over and over again, but other times the Spirit fills and empowers once or twice, and never again.

The crux of this narrative is in verse 29, when Moses says he wishes the Lord would put his Spirit on all of God’s people. There is a clear connection here to Pentecost. It is important to think about how the church functions in relation to this narrative: One person should not lead alone, gifted though they may be. Those in positions of leadership should be filled with the Spirit and equipped for their task. God will provide guidance to God’s people. It is important that we cooperate with that guidance and realize where God is at work.

Song of Response
“Holy Spirit” Getty and Townend

Prayer of Confession
Happy are those whose way is blameless,
who walk in the law of the Lord.
My walk is not blameless,
I often break your laws, O Lord.

Happy are those who keep his decrees,
who seek him with their whole heart.
I long to serve you with all I have,
all my mind, soul, heart, and strength, but I fail.

Happy are those who do no wrong,
but walk in his ways.
I wish I could only do right, only walk in your footsteps,
but I wander to the right and the left.

You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently.
Your instructions are perfect,
and I know them and reach toward them,
but my reaching is short.

O that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!
Lord, help me to pay attention to your ways,
to the prompting of your Spirit.

Then I shall not be put to shame,
having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.
And when I fall, when I fail again,
help me to have the humility to look to Jesus.

I will praise you with an upright heart,
when I learn your righteous ordinances.
In your Son I am renewed,
my failings and wrongs are forgiven,
my heart is cleansed.

I will observe your statutes;
do not utterly forsake me.
And with the help of your Spirit
I will follow your ways,
knowing you have not forsaken me,
giving all you have,
so I may walk with you each day.

—“Psalm 119: A Confession,” by Dave Hopwood, davehopwood.com and engageworship.org. Used by permission.

Song of Assurance
“Breathe on Me, Breath of God” Hatch, LUYH 747, GtG 286, SSS 273

God’s Will for Our Lives
Ephesians 6:10–18

Prayers of the People

Offering

Sending Prayer
Suggestion: The Worship Sourcebook Q.9.1.7

Blessing

Closing Song
“Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)” Newton, Tomlin, LUYH 693

Postlude

Week 3

Weakness and Strength

Prelude
“Come, Holy Ghost” Benedict and Mills, LUYH 232, SSS 217

God’s Call to Worship

Songs
“How Firm a Foundation” J. Rippon’s Selection of Hymns, 1787, LUYH 427 (vs. 1, 2, 4, 5), GtG 463, SSS 291
“Sovereign” Tomlin, Ingram, et al.

God’s Greeting / Mutual Greetings

Time of Confession
Suggestion: Reformed Worship 27:42

Song of Assurance
“Spirit of God, Who Dwells Within My Heart” Croly, LUYH 618, GtG 618, SSS 277

God’s Will for Our Lives
Colossians 3:12–15

Prayers of the People

Song of Illumination
“Holy Spirit, Come” Kimbrough

Scripture Reading
Judges 6:33–7:8

Message
“Echoes of the Holy Spirit: Weakness and Strength”

Sermon Notes
Gideon begins his leadership in Israel with the Holy Spirit coming upon him, enabling him to serve. Judges 6:34 says, “The Spirit of the Lord came on Gideon.” The verse could also be read as, “The spirit of the Lord clothed itself with Gideon” (see Francis Brown, Samuel Rolles Driver, and Charles Augustus Briggs, Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977), 528). The Holy Spirit put on Gideon like a soldier dons armor. The Spirit worked through Gideon to bring redemption. The Spirit that “clothed itself with Gideon” is the same Spirit that enables us to serve and live for Christ. The people God’s Spirit clothes itself with today are moved to work toward God’s kingdom presence in our life now.

God’s power is made perfect in our weakness. Judges makes much of Gideon’s weakness. Gideon asks: “How can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest . . . and I am the least” (Judges 6:15). Gideon wouldn’t go forward without assurance that God was going to save Israel. Further, God’s battle strategy was to reduce Gideon’s army to 300 men. In his wisdom, the Lord God picks the least and equips them by God’s Spirit to bring hope and healing to God’s broken world. By that Spirit, God’s power is seen in our weakness.

Lord’s Supper
We used a liturgy from The Worship Sourcebook with references to the Holy Spirit. Also consider “A Brief Form for the Celebration of Holy Communion” from the Christian Reformed Church, choosing from the options presented those that make reference to the Holy Spirit (search crcna.org for the liturgy’s title).

Songs during distribution of elements:
“There Is a Redeemer” Green, LUYH 833, GtG 443, SSS 495
“The Lord Is My Salvation” Myrin, Getty, Nockels

Offering

Sending
Let us go forth into the world,
rejoicing in the power of the Spirit.
Thanks be to God.
The Book of Common Prayer, according to the use of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America © 1977, Charles Mortimer Guilbert as custodian; P.D.

Blessing

Closing Song
“May the Mind of Christ, My Savior” Wilkinson, LUYH 334, PsH 291, SSS 638

Postlude

Week 4

Cleanliness and Joy

Prelude
“Be Still, for the Presence of the Lord” Evans, LUYH 532, SNC 11

God’s Call to Worship

Songs
“Come, Thou Almighty King” Anonymous, LUYH 492, GtG 2, SSS 388
“Ten Thousand Reasons” Redman and Myrin, LUYH 559, SSS 440

God’s Greeting / Mutual Greetings

New Testament Reading
Titus 3:4–7

Song of Illumination
“Holy Spirit, Come” Kimbrough

Scripture Reading
Psalm 51

Message
“Echoes of the Spirit: Cleanliness and Joy”

Sermon Notes
This is, in many ways, the quintessential psalm. There’s confession, assurance, praise, lament, longing, and comfort. One does not necessarily lean into the Davidic superscription about the circumstances of its writing other than to give a biblical example of a time in which one might pray this psalm.

The Spirit theme here comes from verse 11 and raises the question of what the psalmist receives from being in the presence of God and having the Spirit? The answer provides the key to this psalm and the sermon: There is peace in the presence of God, and there is love in spite of all our sins. God is a God who forgives and assures us of that with the Spirit.

Songs of Response
“Holy Spirit, Truth Divine” Longfellow, LUYH 864, PsH 423, PH 321
“Just as I Am” Elliott, Moffitt, et al.

Prayer of Confession
Dear Lord,
life ambushes us;
it’s the nature of things.
This broken world sidetracks and distracts us;
it is full of traps, temptations, and terrors,
and we fall at times,
frequently, daily, sometimes hour by hour.
It’s the nature of us.
We are flawed, fragile, frantic beings,
hungry for satisfaction, for a quick fix, for an escape.
Have mercy on us, O God, according to your extraordinary love;
according to your kindness, compassion, and crucified grace.
Please deal with our wrongdoing,
remove the stains, heal the past, and lift the guilt.
We offer you all that we are—
our mistakes, our falling short, our regrets,
our strengths and weaknesses, disasters and triumphs.
Our moments of following you, and our moments of meandering.
We are wayward people, but because of you, we are not lost,
Forgiveness is possible, hope is on the agenda,
and a fresh start is offered to us, each minute, each hour, each day.
Because of you, because of your love,
and because of all you have done.
We thank you,
in the name of your compassionate, courageous son.
Amen.
—”Psalm 51,” by Dave Hopwood, davehopwood.com and engageworship.org. Used by permission.

Song of Assurance
“Create in Me a Clean Heart, O God” Anonymous, PfAS 51F, SNC 49

God’s Will for Our Lives
Micah 6:8

Prayers of the People

Offering

Sending
Suggestion: Our Song of Hope, st. 16, Reformed Church in America

Blessing

Closing Song
“Go, My Children, with My Blessing” Vajda, LUYH 946 (vs. 2 and 3), GtG 547, SSS 710

Postlude

Week 5

Renewal and Deliverance

Prelude

God’s Call to Worship

Songs
“Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty” Heber, LUYH 538, GtG 1, SSS 450
“In the Presence” Altrogge

God’s Greeting / Mutual Greetings

New Testament Reading
John 3:1–8

Song of Illumination
“Holy Spirit, Come” Kimbrough

Scripture Reading
Ezekiel 36:16–32

Message
“Echoes of the Spirit: Renewal and Deliverance”

Sermon Notes
In an oracle that forms the core of Ezekiel, the prophet speaks to the exiles. The Israelites had sinned persistently and made themselves unfit to inhabit God’s land and live in God’s presence. But God was going to renew them and restore them. The Lord promises to replace their stony hearts with hearts of flesh. The Lord will cleanse them from their self-made impurity and restore them to God’s land out of exile.

The reason for this deep deliverance was not the people’s righteousness, but God defending the honor of God’s name. This renewal began with God’s deliverance of the Israelites from exile and was made universal at Pentecost. Is radical change possible? Yes. God’s renewing Spirit brings us new hearts, leading us to faith and to loving obedience. By that Spirit, we look forward in hope to the day when we will live fully in God’s presence in God’s kingdom.

Songs of Response
“Spirit of the Living God” Iverson, Baughen, LUYH 749, GtG 288, SSS 555
“The Power of Your Love” Bullock, WR 467

Other Song Suggestions for the Series

Week 1
“God Is Here” Green, LUYH 246, GtG 409, PsH 516
“God of This City” McCann, Boyd, et al., LUYH 277
“Before You I Kneel” Taylor, Getty, and Townend
“Build Your Kingdom Here” Llewellyn and Gilkeson

Week 2
“God of the Prophets” Wortman, Daw, LUYH 853, PsH 521
“Take, O Take Me as I Am” Bell, LUYH 741, GtG 698, SSS 620
“The Perfect Wisdom of Our God” Getty and Townend

Week 3
“Let Every Christian Pray” Green, PH 130, WR 332
“My Soul Finds Rest” Townend and Keyes, LUYH 370, SSS 328

Week 4
“God Be Merciful to Me” Psalter, LUYH 623, SSS 508, PsH 255
“Merciful God” Getty and Townend

Week 5
“Change My Heart, O God” Espinosa, GtG 695, SSS 507
“Amazing Grace” Newton, LUYH 691, GtG 649, SSS 523
“Spirit Divine, Inspire Our Prayer” Reed, LUYH 617, GtG 407, SSS 571

Week 6
“O Worship the King” Grant, LUYH 2, GtG 41, SSS 2
“This Is Our God” Fournier, Plank, et al.

Prayer of Confession
Holy and merciful God,
in your presence we confess
our sinfulness, our shortcomings,
and our offenses against you.
You alone know how often we have sinned
in wandering from your ways,
in wasting your gifts,
in forgetting your love.
Have mercy on us, O Lord,
for we are ashamed and sorry
for all we have done to displease you.
Forgive our sins,
and help us to live in your light
and walk in your ways,
for the sake of Jesus Christ, our Savior. Amen.
—Henry van Dyke in Book of Common Worship (Presbyterian, 1906), alt., P.D.

Song of Assurance
“Search Me, O God” Orr, SSS 506, WR 385

God’s Will for Our Lives
Ephesians 4:21–25

Prayers of the People

Offering

Sending
Go out into the world in peace;
have courage;
hold on to what is good;
return no one evil for evil;
help the suffering;
honor all;
love and serve the Lord,
rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.
With God’s help we will.
—P.D.

Blessing

Closing Song
“Agnus Dei (Alleluia! For the Lord God Almighty Reigns)” Smith

Postlude

Week 6

Restoration and Empowerment

Prelude

God’s Call to Worship

Songs
“Let Your Kingdom Come” Kauflin
“How Great Is Our God” Reeves, Cash, and Tomlin, LUYH 574, SSS 458

God’s Greeting / Mutual Greetings

New Testament Reading
Acts 2:1–12

Song of Illumination
“Holy Spirit, Come” Kimbrough

Scripture Reading
Joel 2:28–32

Message
“Echoes of the Spirit: Restoration and Empowerment”

Sermon Notes
The gifts of the Spirit are for everyone—all of God’s people. Sons, daughters, old, young, men, and women will all have the Spirit poured out on them if they call on the Lord to be saved. There is an obvious call forward to Pentecost here, probably the most noticeable in this series.

This passage also does a fair bit of looking forward not only to a post-Pentecost world, but to the day of the Lord. Even as we await the day of the Lord, God’s kingdom is being ushered in. How are we seeing that in today’s world? In our lives? In our churches?

Songs of Response
“Hear the Call of the Kingdom” Getty and Townend
“Mighty to Save” Morgan and Fielding, LUYH 611

Time of Confession
The Spirit of the Lord fills the world
and knows our every word and deed.
Let us then open ourselves to the Lord
and confess our sins in penitence and faith.
—from In Penitence and Faith, David Silk Mowbray, 1988. Reprinted by permission of the Continuum International Publishing Group, Inc.

Generous God,
you send us the Spirit of courage,
but we have been afraid.
You send us the Spirit of truth,
but we cling to our illusions.
You send us the Spirit of healing,
but we cannot let go of our hurts.
Holy Spirit of forgiveness, come to us again:
Shake our hearts,
set our souls on fire with your love:
Send us out into the world
rejoicing in your power.
We hold out to you
all our particular burdens of guilt and sin,
and we ask for your help
to live the way of your justice and love. Amen.
—by Janet Cawley from Celebrate God’s Presence: A Book of Services for The United Church of Canada. United Church Publishing House, 2000, p. 205, alt. Used with permission.

Song of Assurance
“Blessed Assurance” Crosby, LUYH 363, GtG 839, SSS 320

We Profess Our Faith
In his divinity, majesty, grace, and Spirit,
Christ is not absent from us for a moment.
By the Spirit’s power
we make the goal of our lives not earthly things
but the things above where Christ is,
sitting at God’s right hand.
Through the Holy Spirit
Christ pours out his gifts from heaven upon us his members.
The Spirit, as well as the Father and the Son, is eternal God.
The Spirit has been given to us personally
so that by true faith
the Spirit makes us share in Christ and all his blessings,
comforts us, and remains with us forever.

—from the Heidelberg Catechism, Q&A 47, 49, 51, 53; TWS Q.3.6.1

Prayers of the People

Offering

Sending
Suggestion: Reformed Worship 39:34

Blessing

Closing Song
“Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow” Ken, LUYH 965, GtG 906, SSS 696

Postlude

Diane Ritzema serves as worship coordinator at Grace Community Christian Reformed Church in Oak Lawn, Illinois. Her work includes thematic service planning, leading praise teams, and coordinating volunteers.

Michael Kooy is the pastor of Grace Community Christian Reformed Church in Oak Lawn, Illinois.

Matthew Mulder was serving as an interim pastor of preaching and connections at Grace Community Christian Reformed Church in Oak Lawn, Illinois