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"And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability." - Acts (of the Apostles) 2:4 (NLT)
The phrase “game changer” is entirely overused. I’m guilty of it. It’s used when something revolutionary or just plain exciting comes along. Technology inspires this term often. Things once not possible (or at least terribly laborious) happen in seconds. You used to have to go to a library to read a book or go to a special store to purchase music and now you don’t. There was a time when a phone call was made from a phone with a cord in your house. I recently rode in a car that is entirely electric, no gasoline whatsoever. There are times in life when things change drastically and we take notice.
The Holy Spirit coming to earth was more than a “game changer.” It was a life changing, rarely before experienced, monumental shift in the relationship between God and man. What was once only thought to be a distant and mystical reality was now available to all believers. The idea that God came and took up residence in a person wasn’t really conceivable. The Old Testament records some episodes in which the Spirit of God came upon people for a time or for a task, but to literally dwell in a believer for life was unheard of. The Holy Spirit coming “down” didn’t change “the game;” it blew up reality and destroyed the crippling power of the Enemy. The Holy Spirit coming down was and is revolutionary.
- This amazing act by God is recorded in Acts 2:1-13. Let’s take some time right now and read these verses to prepare our hearts and minds for the day and this week’s study together.
"I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth, you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world." - John 16:33 (NLT)
My youngest son is about as outgoing as they come. He’s never met a stranger and immediately says what enters his brain to anyone around him, friend or foe. He loves to find out who people are and what they are about. I’ve watched him make people laugh so hard they cry. He doesn’t much fear what people think; he just is who he is.
Yet with all of that confidence considered, he’s afraid of his own shadow at home. We can’t get Lincoln to go upstairs by himself at our house for anything. I could promise him a pet elephant and he wouldn’t dare go upstairs alone. No amount of logic, chiding, pleading, or other forms of behavior manipulation can remove the fear he has of going upstairs. The only way he’ll go upstairs is if someone else goes with him.
Jesus spent three years in close relationship with His disciples. He invested everything He had in them and when it came time for Jesus to depart, fear began to creep in. The fear that the disciples would now be alone. [For more read John 16]. Jesus promised them, and ultimately us, that we wouldn’t be alone. The Holy Spirit came to guide us in a way we couldn’t otherwise go on our own. That’s kind of a crazy thought. God came to dwell in us. If we could figure it out on our own, the role would be duplicated and unnecessary. God wasn’t “throwing us a bone;” He sent Himself because Jesus knew firsthand the danger of life without the Spirit.
- So are you tapped into the Holy Spirit? It is not really possible to be a Christ follower if you don’t engage with and/or sense the Spirit leading.
- Ask yourself these questions. How easily do you give in to temptation? Are you quick to justify or rationalize things that people who care about you question?
"Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine that leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit," - Ephesians 5:17-18 (NLT)
Ever heard the phrase Christianese? Christianese is the language we speak in church. All cultures have their own language and/or distinction in phrasing and Christians are no different. If you grew up in church, you likely aren’t even aware of all the phrases you know and use that many others don’t. Phrases like “the body and blood,” “brother and sister,” and “we are the bride.” They all have tremendous and deep meaning, but many people outside the church don’t have the context (and thus the understanding) of their meaning.
One Christianese phrase I’ve heard and used is, “I have a check in my spirit.” It means that I can’t put my finger on it, but something isn’t right about the situation I’m evaluating and I can feel it. Often times I can feel it before I can explain it. Sometimes I can’t ever really explain it, I just sense that it’s not right. This check is a great thing to pay attention to. It’s more than likely the Holy Spirit doing what He does in our minds and hearts. God gives us insight and wisdom into a situation we would not have on our own outside of His living in us. When you feel a tension in your gut, slow down and evaluate what God may be saying to you.
A word of caution, if I only ever go on my “feelings,” I run the risk of assigning a feeling to God’s will for my life. Since I still have a lot of growing to do I have to test my “check” against God’s Word, time in prayer, outside wisdom and counsel from other believers, and life experience.
"The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.” - Acts (of the Apostles) 8:21 (NLT)
One of my favorite stories in the book of Acts is found in Chapter 8. Philip had been a follower of Jesus since the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. Jesus had left Earth and His followers were now out sharing the Good News of Jesus wherever they could. The story begins as Philip is directed by an angel to head down the road from Jerusalem to Gaza.
He’s on down the road when he sees a foreign caravan. In the story, the author Luke includes an important detail about how Philip engaged this traveling group. Philip was told by the Holy Spirit to, “Go over and walk along beside the carriage.” It turns out this was an Ethiopian man serving the powerful Queen of Ethiopia. He had traveled to Jerusalem to worship and on his way back was reading from the Old Testament. The Holy Spirit seized an opportunity to use Philip to share the Good News of Jesus with an influential leader in a powerful government.
The outcome of their divine encounter is that this man is baptized into Christ on the side of that very same road. It’s incredible what took place because Philip heard and the listened to the Holy Spirit tell him what to do. It’s clear that the Holy Spirit came down to move in and guide Jesus’ followers (Romans 8:14).
"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." - Romans 7:15 (NLT)
So it’s Friday and as a regular devo writer I prefer to end the week as simply as possible-- but not this time. If you’ll indulge me, I want to open up a can of spiritual worms before we finish this week’s devo.
All week we’ve talked about the power of God, the Holy Spirit living IN US! It’s exciting to think that when we surrender our lives to Jesus and are baptized we are filled with the power of the Living God Himself. But the question begs to be asked: What about the days when I don’t feel like God’s power is in me? What about the days when I’m not at all a fan of obedience and living step by step with Jesus? What about when I’m tired and lonely, and downright selfish? Why are there days or moments when I don’t feel like I have the Holy Spirit at all?
It would seem that while we have the Spirit inside of us, we still have the capability to choose our own path and go our own way. The Apostle Paul taught us a lot about our relationship with the Spirit, and he outlined one clear reality. While we have the Spirit, we also inhabit earthly bodies that aren’t yet fully redeemed. He describes this tension in Romans 7:15.
If you are like me or Paul and do what you hate to do, let me recommend you wrestle with this tension together, in Scripture, and in prayer:
- When you struggle with obedience to the Spirit, confess your struggle with other believers. (James 5:16)
- Read Romans 8. The entire chapter illuminates the power we have access to through the Spirit.
- Pray and ask God to help you dial out your sinful desires and tap into the fruit of the Spirit.
- And, join us at Southland this Sunday as we explore the gifts the Spirit gives that we can use to do good!