Wednesday, April 30

The Holy Spirit is not deficient {thoughts preceding Pentecost}

As we wrapped up our celebration of the feast of Passover and first fruits commemorating the death and resurrection of Jesus my thoughts have been drawn towards the feast of Pentecost and the sending of the Holy Spirit. Today I re-read portions of Luke 24 and Acts 2 and a few things struck me. These are simple thoughts and yet it is their simplicity that caught me off guard and hit me like a ton of bricks.

1. The disciples believed. It is that simple. Jesus says "I am sending upon you what my Father promised, so stay here in the city (jeru.) until you have been clothed with power from on high" (lk 24:49). So what do the disciples do? They wait and they pray. I do not think they were sitting in that room all together just twiddling their thumbs occasionally asking... did it happen yet? Anybody feel stronger? They were praying and waiting and trusting that if God promised it, it would take place.

2. There was no doubt. In Acts 2 we do not read of any of the disciples asking what these strange events/experiences were; they knew that it was the sending and filling/clothing of the Holy Spirit. How did they know this? It was a completely new experience for humanity but something about it was self-confirming or rather Spirit-confirming. The Spirit came and filled them with power and there was no doubt or confusion.

3. They walked in the power of the Spirit immediately. We also do not read of anybody doubting that what just happened actually happened. No one says, wow that was weird, I know I felt something but there is no way to know for sure... (or all the things we tend to say following a move of God in our life). It seems there was no doubt about it, and even as we read further in Acts we do not find anyone backtracking on their experience or wavering or questioning if they had the Spirit or if they lost the Spirit. They waited, they prayed, the Spirit came, they started walking in the power of the Spirit immediately, and miracles followed and many received Christ. There was no doubt.

It is at this point I notice a strong difference between the disciples experience of receiving the Spirit and what I see today where I live. Today, there seems to be so much doubt among Christians concerning if they have received the Spirit or been filled with the Spirit,  if they still have the Spirit or how the Spirit manifests or if the Spirit manifests. We have even gone to various extremes claiming that the Spirit is only our inner voice from God so that we don't sin to other extremes that unless we exhibit one particular manifestation then we definitely don't have it. We have lost the simplicity of the Gospel! The disciples received the Spirit and let the Spirit guide them, and as we read further we see that they also relied on the community of Faith filled with the Spirit to set boundaries.

The other part that stuck out to me concerned the power that the disciples walked in. As we read the rest of Acts and the Epistles, we do not see that power diminishing at all but only expanding in the way it manifests and leads the people of God. When I look at me life, however, and the life of other believers, it is as if there is a disconnect between what we believe mentally and the belief that is demonstrated in our practical life. In my mind I know that Spirit is God and the Spirit has not changed, and so on... but in my practical/spiritual life I live as if there is less of the Spirit now than there was when the Spirit was given at Pentecost. It is as if the "power from on high" were a substance in a bucket and the some was poured out of the disciples as they prayed that day so long ago, and as believers through out history asked God for His spirit more was poured out from that bucket and now we are dealing with rations... as if the power diminished. I know that is not how things work in the kingdom. The Spirit is not like a pie with 8 slices (or in my house 6 big ones) and when one slice is given out that makes less pie available... a whole pie is give to all who ask and their is a never-ending supply of pie (my husbands dream by the way:). When God gives, He is not made deficient, He remains whole!

We get tripped up in our minds and in our emotions. The Holy Spirit was not given by feeling but by Faith. Receiving the Spirit is a matter of asking for and trusting in the promise of God. It is not a matter of feeling tingling all over your body or heat or any other feeling or emotion (though they may be present). When we go by our natural emotions we are simply creating another litmus test and step out of the realm of faith. These are the ways that doubt sneak in and the enemy seeks to take advantage of us. If we trust in our receiving of the Spirit and being filled with the Power of God based on our logic or emotions the enemy of our faith has an access point. On the other hand, if our starting point is faith, the door for doubt is closed. That does not mean the enemy will not try but if I can say in the midst of 'feeling' nothing that I know the Spirit of the living God resides in me, if i can by faith stand on His promise what can the enemy say to that? Whether I feel the Spirit or can logically prove in my mind or talk myself into believing or disbelieving... all of those mean nothing when the doubt and trials come... but if i can humbly come before the Father and remind myself that He who promised is Faithful and stand or rather kneel in that place my hope will remain secure.

In seeking to understand the kingdom of God we can not start with our natural reasoning, logic, or emotions. We have to remember that Gods ways really are different from ours (as cliche as we have made that statement often to justify our own dis-belief or lack of understanding).

We make things so complicated. The disciples, in this case, kept it simple. God promised it, Jesus said it was time, the disciples believed and waited, God remained faithful, the disciples were filled with the Spirit and began walking in the power of the Spirit. The results were mind blowing! Their faith was strengthened and thousands upon thousands received Christ and joined the body of Christ. Imagine the results today if as Christians we held firmly to this simplicity. Imagine the effect on our own personal relationships with God. Imagine the effects on a desperate world in need rescue.

If you find yourself in any of the places I described, either in doubt over whether you actually received the Spirit or believing that the Power of the Spirit is less now than when the Spirit was first given you can simply repent and join with me in prayer asking the Father to help our unbelief. If you have never asked God to be filled with His power through the Spirit I encourage you during this season to ask. If you need to go through the scriptures first, then go through them asking God to open up your understanding to the scriptures as He did for His disciples after His resurrection. Once you repent, once you ask, trust in the reality that He who promised is Faithful.