Join our mailing list

Keeping in Step with the Spirit - Romans 8, Galatians 5

The third service plan in a Pentecost series entitled "Catching God's Wind." This service focuses on our responsibility to keep in step with the Holy Spirit.

Worship Service
Also in this Series

Catching God's Wind

This series of worship services explores how the church receives the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Theme of the Service

This worship service will continue the focus on the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit; however, the emphasis is on responding openly to the work of the Holy Spirit. Last week the service centered on the work of the Holy Spirit, thrusting the church into mission. This week we focus on our responsibility to keep in step with the Holy Spirit.

The prayers, readings, and songs of this service support and complement the message by our praising, seeking, and promising to walk in step with the Holy Spirit-our response of obedience to the leading of the Spirit.


Prelude: "Come, Thou Almighty King", Krapf, McKinley [Organ]
"Come, Thou Almighty King", McKinley [Piano]
"The Almighty King", Lohr [Handbells]

*Responsive Call to Worship and God's Greeting:

If God is for us, who is against us?
He who gave us his son, now gives us the Spirit in power!
The Holy One is in our midst:
equipping us for life in the service of Christ.
In Christ we are more than conquerors,
for nothing in creation can separate us from the love of God!
May the all surpassing grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
And the unshakable love of God be with you.
The joyous communion of the Holy Spirit be with you.
And also with you!

*Song: "Come, Thou Almighty King" PH 139, PsH 246, RL 618, TH 101, TWC 5

*Worshipers Greet One Another


Sung Prayer: "Gift of Christ from God Our Father" SNC 167

The Call to Confession

Our Prayer of Confession:

Spirit of Truth, you know all too well what lurks deep within us. We have not faithfully used the powerful gifts of love and service you gave to the church. We are quick to find fault and spread gossip. We undermine the fellowship of believers. We have left strangers and seekers among us feeling like outsiders. We have not done our best to carry the good news of Jesus Christ beyond these walls.

Renew a right spirit within us that we may carry Christ's love and mercy from this place to our community and to the world beyond. We pray in the name of Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Father, one God, now and forever. Amen.

The Assurance of Pardon - Romans 8:15-17

God's Guide for Grateful Living - Galatians 5:16-26

Anthem: "Be a New and Different Person", Christiansen

The Children's Moment

*Song: "Step by Step" SNC 17

Offertory: "Holy Spirit, Mighty God", Wallace

Offertory Prayer


The Reading of Scripture: Romans 8:5-11 and Galatians 5:25

The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

The Prayer for Illumination

Sung Prayer: "Holy Spirit, Mighty God" PsH 278, RN 95

(Catching God's Wind - #3)


Sung Prayer: "O Holy Spirit, Breathe on Me" SFL 183
or: "Breathe on Me, Breath of God" PH316, PsH420, TH334, TWC295

The Pastoral Prayer

*Our Affirmation of Faith:

Jesus stays with us in the Spirit,
who renews our hearts,
moves us to faith,
leads us in the truth,
stands by us in our need,
and makes our obedience fresh and vibrant.
The Spirit's gifts are here to stay
in rich variety -
fitting responses to timely needs.
We thankfully see each other
as gifted members of the fellowship
which delights in the creative Spirit's work.
He gives more than enough
to each believer
for God's praise and our neighbor's welfare.

From Our World Belongs to God: A Contemporary Testimony, Article 31, 33, ©1987, CRC Publications, Grand Rapids MI, 1-800-333-8300. Used by permission.

*Song: "For Your Gift of God the Spirit" st. 1,4,5 [Blaenwern: PsH416, TH 339, TWC285, Bethany: RL382]
or: "Lord God Almighty" RN 40, SNC 9

*The Benediction with Congregational Amen!

Postlude: "Trumpet Tune in D Major", Johnson

* you are invited to stand

Sermon Notes:

Two beginning assumptions form the spirit in which this sermon is given. First is that the Holy Spirit is a person and must be referred to in personal terms. The Holy Spirit is not "it". As a person the Holy Spirit loves, rejoices, persuades, accompanies, comforts, but also is saddened and grieved. Second is the conviction that, though the Spirit is sent by Christ sovereignly, our response to the Spirit determines the degree of influence the Spirit may have in our lives. We can be open to the Spirit, can be filled with the Spirit, but can also grieve, limit and resist the Spirit.

We suggest that in the development of this sermon, you draw attention to several contexts:

  1. The Scriptural context: the theme of Galatians, the importance of Christian freedom, and the emphasis on the work of the Holy Spirit in chapter 5, as well as material from Romans 5 and Paul's teaching about "being controlled by" the Spirit.
  2. The Theological context: an overview of the total work of the Holy Spirit in the world, the church and in the lives of Christians after Pentecost.
  3. The Pastoral context: Paul's personal concern for the Galatian Christians, and also awareness that we each must assess our personal relationship with the Holy Spirit.

The development of the text and what it means to "keep in step" with the Spirit will benefit from a careful consideration of other statements in Scripture about our relationship with the Holy Spirit. Compare and contrast the insight that comes from the text with statements such as:

-"live by the Spirit", Galatians 5:16
-"be filled with the Spirit", Ephesians 5:18
-"controlled by the Spirit", Romans 8:6,9
-"do not grieve the Holy Spirit", Ephesians 4:30
-"resist the Holy Spirit", Acts 7:51
-"do not put out the Spirit's fire", 1 Thessalonians 5:19

The message should conclude with instruction and challenge about "how" to stay in step with the Spirit. Pastoral advice, challenge and encouragement should be very warm and clear in the conclusion of the message.

Music Notes:

Glossary of Hymnal Abbreviations:

PH The Presbyterian Hymnal (Presbyterian Church USA; Westminster/John Knox Press)
PsH The Psalter Hymnal (Christian Reformed Church; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
RL Rejoice in the Lord (Reformed Church in America; W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Company)
RN Renew! (Hope Publishing Company)
SFL Songs for LiFE (children's songbook; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
SNC Sing! A New Creation (Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Christian Reformed Church, Reformed Church in America; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
TH Trinity Hymnal (Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Church in America; Great Commission Publications)
TWC The Worshiping Church (Hope Publishing Company)
WOV With One Voice (Augsburg Fortress)

Music Level Key: E = Easy, M = Medium, D = Difficult

  1. The three suggestions for prelude can be played consecutively or separately. The organ pieces can be found in Gerard Krapf's "Sing and Rejoice vol.1" published by SMP KK234 [1978] (E) and in Carl McKinley's "Ten Hymn Tune Fantasies", published by H.W. Grey GB274 [1933] (M). The Krapf piece could be played on the piano as printed; the McKinley piece can be found arranged for piano in Reginald Gerig's "Piano Preludes on Hymns and Chorales", published by Hope 251 [1959] (M). The handbell piece for 4-5 octaves by Alan Lohr is published by Soundforth 184218 [2001] (M-D).
  2. "Be a New and Different Person", an SATB anthem by Paul Chirstiansen, is published by Schmitt, Hall and McCreary SCHCH 7619 [1976] (E).
  3. The offertory organ selection can be found in "Hymn Prisms" arranged by Sue Mitchell Wallace, published by Hope 270 [1985] (E).
  4. The postlude by David Johnson is published by Augsburg 11-805 [1962] (E-M).

Liturgy Notes:

1. The Call to Worship and any introductory comments should clearly identify that this is worship in the season of Pentecost, and the ministry of the Holy Spirit is the subject of our attention as we worship. Don't assume that worshipers are aware of that when they arrive (although Pentecost banners and other liturgical art help convey the season, too).

2. The Prayer of Confession has the same focus. Notice that the prayer is addressed to the Holy Spirit and in it we make our confession to him about our relationship (or lack of it).

3. You are free to move the Children's Moment to another place in the service if you like. It is valuable to use your time with the children to speak about and instruct them in the various acts of worship and elements of the worship service. In that case, you would want to locate it in the service next to the items you are speaking about. If you leave it here, and use it as a time to address the subject of the day, you may consider asking them to think about times they have obeyed and disobeyed their parents, and then go the next step and speak about what that did to their parents - obedience makes them happy; disobedience makes them sad. It's the same with the Holy Spirit and us. (Perhaps give a simple definition of a Christian as someone who walks with and obeys Christ.)

4. The Pastoral Prayer (you may prefer a different label) should also focus on our obedience to the Spirit. Since it is placed after the sermon, the prayer should be an intercessory response to the message that includes our concerns about our life in the Spirit, and also the concerns of the worldwide church so that we are praying for others.

5. The affirmation of faith comes from the contemporary testimony of the Christian Reformed Church, "Our World Belongs to God", and included in the Psalter Hymnal (pp. 1028-1029). For copyright permission, please contact CRC Publications at (616) 224-0819, 1-800-333-8300 or