Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Afraid of the Holy Spirit?


Dear Friends,

Our three most holy days are Easter, Christmas and the Day of Pentecost which was last Sunday. It was on the Feast of Pentecost in A.D. 33 that the Christian church was born. God ushered in His presence and His glory fell on his disciples with a mighty rushing wind. Now some of us have been taught that the Spirit of God fell upon only that exclusive and select group of Jesus’ twelve disciples. We believe that because that’s church tradition and because most of the religious art from the medieval period shows the flames descending on twelve men. But that’s not what the Word of God says in our Bible. Jesus promises His disciples that God will send to them the Holy Spirit who will live with them and within them forever. John 14:15-17 

Then in the first Chapter of Acts, we find that after Jesus ascended into Heaven, the disciples came down from Mt Olivet and returned to the upper room in Jerusalem where they stayed united in prayer with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and the other women and the brothers of Jesus. There is no description of the house with the upper room, but we must assume that it was very large because we are told that about 120 people were staying there. Acts 1:12-15 They were awaiting the Jewish holy day, the Feast of Pentecost that was to come ten days after Jesus ascended into Heaven. 

So picture in your mind the twelve disciples and Mary and about 107 more women and men who had been the close followers of Jesus. And now, Luke tells us that all were gathered together on this Day of Pentecost. That’s when there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm that filled the house where they were sitting. And the tongues of fire settled on each of them. On each man. On each woman. On Mary the Mother of Jesus. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Spirit gave them this ability. Acts 2:1-4 We need to jettison from our mind the picture of the Holy Spirit falling solely on that exclusive group of the twelve disciples and replace it with our Biblical description of this monumental world-changing event.

And then all throughout the book of Acts, as it records the experiences of the early church, we read that Christian believers were filled with the Holy Spirit. But why then do so many Christian believers today become so uncomfortable with the reality of the Holy Spirit? I received an email from a pastor’s sermon resource website that acknowledged Pentecost Sunday and asked, “Was the Holy Spirit ever meant to be an easy subject to address? How do you preach such a controversial and volatile topic?” A Southern Baptist theologian wrote that in most churches, “The Holy Spirit is talked about, if at all, in hushed tones and with some anxiety.”

I honestly think that we are we are afraid of the power of the Holy Spirit! The New King James refers to the Holy Spirit at Pentecost as a “rushing mighty wind” but another translation calls it a “violent wind.” And we are afraid of that violent wind blowing through our lives because we are fearful that God really will change us into the man or woman He wants us to be. We are afraid of being truly committed to Jesus. We are afraid of becoming passionate about God. We are afraid we may become that zealous believer we’ve always made fun of. We’re afraid of the Holy Spirit because we have become far too comfortable with our complacent spiritual calmness. If we are at the point in our apathetic Christian walk where the most disturbing thing at church was when Edna forgot the potato salad for the potluck barbecue, then we most certainly would not tolerate any life-changing violent winds blowing through our congregation! We will have nothing to disturb us, thank you very much! No surprises. No upsetting changes. There is something safe and reassuring about the grace of God and the love of our Lord Jesus, but that meddlesome Holy Spirit just cannot be trusted to leave well enough alone!

But who is this Person that we’re afraid of? The Holy Spirit is God. He is a Person. He is not an impersonal force or power. We refer to the Holy Spirit as an impersonal “it” but Jesus says, “You know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” John 14:16-17 The New Testament tells us that the Holy Spirit speaks, comforts, convicts and can be grieved. The Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Trinity 1 John 5:7 who was sent to us from God and through the Son but the Holy Spirit has existed from all time. John 14:26

The Spirit of God that fell upon Mary, and the twelve disciples and on all the men and women that were there on that Pentecost day is available to you as well. Peter tells us that when we repent and are baptized, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit Acts 2:38-39 but we need to activate that gift by accepting His presence in our life. If you’re feeling spiritually empty, you need to be as Paul said, “filled with the Spirit.” Ephesians 5:18 Jesus promises us an abundant life John 10:10 and Paul tells us that God is able to give us that abundance according to the amount of Holy Spirit power that we have in our life. Ephesians 3:20 But if we are afraid of the Holy Spirit and reject or limit His power, we’ve limited the abundance from God that He wants for us to have.

Don’t be satisfied with a comfortable non-threatening two-thirds of the Trinity in your life! We were created to live in the fullness of God and with a joyful abundance of life. For some of us, the first step towards a more abundant life is simply the desire to have the Holy Spirit fully operate in our lives. Raise your hands and your voice to Heaven and ask God to give you the infilling of the Holy Spirit. Allow His refreshing wind to blow through your spirit and be filled with Him. It’s what God has always wanted for you.  Amen?

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The AMEN Corner is a weekly devotional for the family and friends of New Hope Family Church. It is intended for this devotional to be strengthening, encouraging or comforting and your comments too should be for the glory of God and reflect the intended purpose of these posts.

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