April 8, 2019

Holy Spirit Power

One person in my family belongs to a religious group that believes the Holy Spirit is an impersonal force. He is not called ‘He’ and never called not God. 

Luke would totally disagree. In the book of Acts, he writes frequently about the person and work of the Holy Spirit. Just before Jesus ascended from this world, Luke describes the scene and what Jesus said:

He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:3–5)

The disciples wanted to know if the kingdom would be restored to Israel at that time. Jesus replied:

“It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:7–8)

Obviously, the power of the Holy Spirit was next in God’s plans. To live and witness for Christ would require a supernatural ability. Jesus knew it and the disciples didn’t need much convincing. After they prayed for God’s leading, they selected a man to replace Judas (who betrayed Jesus then committed suicide) and were together in one place:

And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:2–4)

Crowds gathered to hear them speak the mighty works of God in their own languages. Then Peter preached the first sermon of the newly created church. Three thousand were added to their number that day. Soon after, a lame man was healed and a crowd gathered to hear Peter again. This time Peter and John were arrested but not before an even greater number (5000 plus) put their faith in Jesus. Peter remained filled with the Spirit and was able to preach also to those who arrested them. These were astonished and didn’t know what to do with them.

Finally they were released, charged not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus. Peter and John knew silence was not the will of God. They went back and reported to the rest of God’s people and they prayed:

“And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. (Acts 4:29–31)

I’ve heard a few Christians attempt to speak with their own bravado and their witness falls flat. The power of the Holy Spirit is not necessarily like the boldness of human effort. It is obedient speech with authority yet not always assertive or sharply given. The Holy Spirit works in ways that might baffle the person speaking in His power. Their words might seem odd, or awkward, even hesitant or clumsy, but when the Holy Spirit uses those words, ears will hear them as if God puts a megaphone to their heart. I cannot make that happen. If I try, all they hear is me.

Lord Jesus, the Holy Spirit changed these early Christians. They became men and women of God who astonished the people of their day. When they spoke, sometimes thousands of lives were affected. While we long for results like that from our efforts, we are very aware that unless You are in it, unless Your Spirit is at work, our speaking is just words and our actions do not make an impact. We need discipline, wisdom, guidance and the incredible power and unity that only Your Spirit can produce. Forgive me for the many times I thought I could convince people of Your grace and power but relied on my own efforts. Keep reminding me of my need for Your Spirit. With His enabling, I can do anything that You ask of me.

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