God Breathes When I Feel All Alone

Dr. Jon Morrissette - 4/26/2020

Welcome to Lakeside. Thanks for joining us online! Last Sunday we launched a teaching series called “Second Breath.” The big idea is this… Genesis 2:7 tells us we are physically alive because “God breathed the breath of life into our nostrils.” And just, we think we invited CPR! But as we saw, God wants us to be more than just physically alive. So John 20:22 tells us Jesus “breathed” on disciples saying, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”We also talked about Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus in John 3:5 that “Truly I tell you, unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” When you were born, your poor mother’s water broke, and you passed out of your mother’s womb literally through water, from darkness into the light. The doctor held you up, and your first act was to breathe! It was so new, and scary, and terrifying you screamed and cried and needed to be comforted!

Jesus’ point isn’t lost. After we pass through the waters of baptism, having been washed and forgiven all our sins, our first act as believers is to breathe in God’s breath (His Holy Spirit)! Jesus Himself is our pattern. Upon his baptism, the Spirit descended upon him from Heaven, to lead him! The Early Church is our pattern. On the day of Pentecost, not the 120 believers, but the first converts (3000 people) were baptized in water for forgiveness of sin and the gift of the Holy Spirit. God’s physical breath carries us in this life, but God’s spiritual breath carries us through death into eternity!

This morning, I want to talk more about our relationship w/the Holy Spirit. I’m calling this sermon: God Breathes… When I Feel All Alone. I cannot think of many things more painful than feeling isolated and alone. Even in his perfected state, before he sinned, God says of Adam, Genesis 2:18, “It’s not good for man to be alone, I’ll make a help suitable to him” We don’t do “alone” very well, not for long anyhow. For intimacy, man will risk most any danger, and violate most any law. Our greatest terror is dying alone. This was true of Christ Jesus on the cross. What did he agonize so deeply about, in the Garden of Gethsemanae, the night before his death. It was the prospect of being alone, separated from God. On the cross he didn’t cry out, “Oh how these thorns hurt… these bruises… these slashes on my back… this rugged cross… these nails.” No, Jesus cried agonized, “My God my God, why have thou forsaken me!” The terror of the cross physically did not even begin to compare to the terror of being alone, without God. If the existential crisis of “aloneness” could be so real to Adam (while he was still sinless), and to Jesus the sinless Son of God… how much more must we struggle with the pain of aloneness and isolation?

My heart goes out to all of you, who are feeling alone. It’s okay for you to cry out to God about the agony you feel. I cannot imagine how this time of social distancing has only amplified such pain. Throughout my life I’ve experienced profound loneliness. I remember after high school, driving down to Lincoln, to begin Bible College. No one in
my family cried any tears as I pulled out of our family driveway. To them it was just another day. But my eyes welled up with tears the whole drive down. I didn’t know a single person in Lincoln. When I arrived, the campus, the dorm, the hallway, my room was silent. I didn’t even have the distracting comfort of a TV or radio, there was no Internet, no smart phones.
I’ll never forget the profound loneliness I felt after my Dad passed away. As I drove home to Springfield, I drove past a little league ball diamond packed with families. My mind flashed back to those many times Dad and I played catch and smiled at me from the stands. Months later, I attended a Woodshow in St. Louis. There were all these men my age, enjoying the show with their older fathers, but mine was gone. The emotional pain of loneliness can match/exceed the physical pain of even death itself. But I don’t need to tell you that, you understand.

I was thinking of these verses in 1 John 1-4, where the Apostle John writes, “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have observed and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 that life was revealed, and we have seen it and we testify and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us— 3 what we have seen and heard we also declare to you, so that you may also have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.” We easily imagine the Apostle John writing these words, tears streaming down his cheeks, dripping off his chin, staining the ink w/which he wrote. Never before, and never since, has there been a more fully alive human being, than Jesus. John 1:3 tells us that “in Jesus was life, and that life was the light of men.” John 1:14 tells that not only was Jesus “full of grace and truth” but in his flesh, reflected the glory of God. John 1:18 says, “No one has ever seen God… but Jesus came from the Fathers side to make him known to us!”

Every so often, some human being larger than life passes away, or tragically dies. Years ago, I remember watching Kobe Bryant play the Indiana pacers. I never had the privilege of watching Michael Jordan play (except on TV), but that night couldn’t believe my eyes. His charisma, his smile, his speed, movements, cuts, skills. I’d never seen a human being live/move/breath as fully as Kobe in all my life.
When Kobe’s life was tragically cut short, it cut many to the heart. The world (literally grieved). It seemed a travesty, an injustice, that such an incredible human being be taken from the earth. And I’m speaking from a worldly point of view. He had his faults, and sins, I’m not glossing over that, but he was so loved. When you read 1 John 1:1-4, how MUCH MORE might the Apostles, Jesus’ dearest most beloved companion John felt, as Jesus died? Jesus life was revealed, and then it was tragically snuffed out.

Who or what could possibly fill the vacuum left by Jesus’ death? Gosh, I’m not trying to be severe or depressive. But have you ever lost someone so dear, you wondered, who or what could ever possibly fill the vacuum they left? Some of you have lost a spouse. Some of you have lost a son or daughter, a child, born, unborn. Some of you have lost a father or mother or both. The pain of grief, the pain of being alone with out them, is overwhelming. We cannot imagine moving forward. We saw in our study of Mark, how Jesus prepared his disciples for his own death. He didn’t mince words. He let his disciples feel the pain of his shocking announcement that “the Son of Man must be betrayed, and suffer, and die.” But that isn’t all Jesus told his disciples. In John 16:7, the Apostle John recalls how Jesus once said, “I am telling you the truth. It is for your benefit that I go away, because if I don’t go away the Counselor will not come to you. If I go, I will send him to you.”

Perhaps you’ve never let the force of Jesus’ statement strike you. Imagine the most fully alive, fully human, gracious, truthful, loving person you’d ever met… and could imagine knowing… were to say, “It’s good that I go… its better for you… its to your benefit I go… because someone greater is coming…” Who could possibly be a greater companion in life that Jesus Christ, the Son of God? This is how it is with grief--we cannot imagine anyone or anything filling the void. But Jesus says, the “Counselor,” the “Comforter” is coming. Right at the precise moment, when grief has stolen your breath… God will breath!
This is what John 20:21-22 is all about. John 20:21-22 Jesus says, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, I also send you.” After saying this, he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’” They knew Jesus was about to die, but Jesus says, “Guys! It’s okay. Breathe! Peace.”

As Jesus died, the Apostles wept. They couldn’t imagine how completely God’s Holy Spirit could, and would, and eventually DID fill their empty souls. You see in death, Jesus didn’t abandon his disciples. No, he breathed his Holy Spirit into their souls. Up to that time, they’d known Jesus physically. But now Jesus was taking up residence within their body/soul by His Holy Spirit.
When I read the gospels a part of me grieves. What if I could have walked with Jesus? I’m not sure I would have been man enough to be one of the Apostles. But what if I could have known Jesus as a friend? What if I could have seen him with my every eyes, and touched him with my hands, and tasted his goodness, and heard his voice with my ears, and experienced his electrifying charisma/presence? What could possible top experiencing Jesus presence, face to face? Well Jesus himself told us is there is something better! What’s better, what’s greater by far, is Christ in Us, the hope of glory! It’s Jesus Christ taking up residence in the temple of our body!

Could we once more consider 1 John 1:1-4? “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have observed and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 that life was revealed, and we have seen it and we testify and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us— Now listen carefully! " what we have seen and heard we also declare to you, so that you may also have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is w/the Father and w/his Son, Jesus Christ. We’re writing these things that our joy may be complete.”
The apostles agonized at the mere thought of life without Jesus, but it was a nightmare that never came to fruition. Why? First, each and every one of us is part of the body of Christ! We have fellowship with one another! What incredible comfort we find turning to one another, comforting with the comfort we’ve received. But second, and even better, we have fellowship with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. Our heavenly Father didn’t die! His Son, Jesus Christ didn’t die! No, the Spirit of the Living God raised Jesus to life. And that same Spirit now dwells in us, and He will do for us what He did for Christ!
Look at 1 John 1:4. John says, “we’re writing this so our joy may be complete.” Can it really be so, that we’d know joy after death? Can it really be so, that our aloneness be overcome with comfort/joy? Can it really be so, that God’s counselor/comforter grant us us a peace that transcends understanding? YES!

I can’t explain this, I know it will sound ridiculous, and unbelievable. I had all those years with dad. When he died, I thought I’d be so alone. Yet I would tell you I’ve never felt a deeper intimacy, closeness, bond with my earthly Dad than I do now! He is physically absent, but profoundly present. And it’s like that with Jesus. Jesus is physically ascended to Father, yet by his Spirit profoundly present!
What do you do with our profound aloneness? We look to God. We seek fellowship with the Father/Son—the Living God. We accept Christ’s peace. We invite Jesus to blow his Holy Spirit on us, and into us. We invite God to make our joy complete! We comfort others, with the same comfort we receive. We praise God comfort isn’t a “thing”—the Comforter is God Himself—His Holy Spirit—dwelling within!
Genesis 2:18 God make a helper suitable to Adam, for comfort/companionship and intimacy… it’s a woman! In Acts 2:39, God doesn’t “make”… rather he “sends” forth a helper suitable for all mankind, for our comfort/companionship/intimacy and JOY! John 14:26 (NASB) says, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” Thank you God, for this glorious gift!

Scripture Verses

John 20:21-22, 1 John 1:4, John 14:26

Worship Playlist

Holy Holy Holy (Savior King) by Vertical Worship

Good Good Father by Chris Tomlin

Resurrecting by Elevation Worship

What a Beautiful Name by Hillsong Worship

Study Questions

1. Why do you think the human heart so desires relationship?
2. What are you doing to invest in your relationship with God? With other Christians?
3. How might the Spirit use you to encourage someone alone or lonely today?
4. Ever felt lonely? Write a note to God, asking for His comfort, seeking His wisdom in daily living, searching for the peace and joy only He can provide.

Quote from Experiencing the Spirit by Henry & Melvin Blackaby, p, 81:

The Holy Spirit Himself is God's gift to you. The same Holy Spirit who manifested Himself in the life of Jesus and the early believers has been sent to work through you. If you open your life to Him, He'll manifest His power in your life. Don't bypass the relationship and try to experience the power. First the relationship, then the power.

Apply It!