How is your journey into the “more” of God going? We’ve considered a desire for more asking God to make us thirsty and we’ve looked at how we can receive and then from the overflow of that give more of God’s love. The MORE we are talking about today is Power! I’m just listening to a song as I type which I heard during zoom a couple of weeks ago.
“The well is deep and I require a draft of the water of life
But none can quench my soul’s desire for a draft of the water of life
‘Til one draws near who the cry will heed
Helper of men in their time of need.
And I, believing, find indeed that Christ is the water of life.”
The more I drink of this water of life, the more thirsty for it I am. As I write this, I keep having to stop just to drink in more and to worship the God who gives without reserve. It’s interesting as when Jesus meets the woman at the well, he tells her that if she drinks of this water, she will never be thirsty again. I don’t think, though, that Jesus means that one drink of it will be enough. Instead, I think he means that there is an unlimited supply of it for us to receive whenever we come to him. We still have to actively choose to drink…. It brings to mind a saying about a horse and water!
Today, we’re going to think some more about water, and about fire. Today we think of Pentecost. The day when that water of life was poured into the lives of the disciples in such a way that they were literally never the same again. The day when what looked like tongues of fire rested on each of them and gave them power like they had never known before; power which transformed them from quivering wrecks in fear for their lives to bold proclaimers of the gospel of Jesus, willing to die rather than to stop preaching the good news of his death and resurrection.
Let’s look in our bibles at Acts 2:1-4:
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
It would be really good for you to read the whole of the chapter, but it would make this really long if I were to include it in here and I’m aware that can be off-putting!
This is what they had been waiting for! This is what Jesus had promised them over and over again. Quick bible study:
John 14: 15 “If you love me, keep my commands.16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth……….25 “All this I have spoken while still with you.26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”
Luke 11:13: If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?
John 15:26: “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me”
John 16:7: “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.”
John the Baptist told His disciples even before Jesus’ ministry had truly begun in Matthew 3:11: “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
And the last one, in Acts 1, just before Jesus is taken up into heaven:
On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit….. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
I don’t think any of the disciples really had any idea of who the Holy Spirit that Jesus promised was or what would happen when he came, do you? The idea that this motley bunch of followers who had let Jesus down so badly at the first sign of real trouble would become the catalyst for a movement that is still growing worldwide over 2,000 year later is just mind-blowing and yet that’s exactly what happened!
Just look for a few minutes at the life of Peter. I love Peter. There’s something so raw and real about him isn’t there? He often doesn’t think before he speaks or acts. He’s so keen and yet has so much to learn. He denies that he even knows Jesus when Jesus is facing trial and death and he so quickly goes back to his old life of fishing for fish instead of people until he is reinstated by Jesus, forgiven and told that God is going to use him. I find it quite interesting that his denial happens at a fire, his forgiveness is received at a fire on the beach and his life is transformed by the fire of the Holy Spirit. Possibly coincidental but maybe not! It certainly allows us to connect and compare the before and after, doesn’t it?
This uneducated fisherman, very rough around the edges, stands up after his experience of receiving the Holy Spirit and explains in the most clear and wonderful way just who Jesus was, what he did and why, what it means for the listeners and what they need to do to become a part of his family. He uses Old Testament writing and prophesy to back up his claims. He must have been convincing as around 3,000 people became followers of the Way as a result of his words on that occasion alone. Oh God, please!!
Jesus said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses….” Here we see it. The power has come and straight away the witnessing starts. As you read through the book of Acts, you see that progression that Jesus talks about from Jerusalem to Judea to Samaria and on to the ends of the earth. We see the power to heal a little further on, too, when Peter and John are on their way to the temple and come across a lame man who they speak healing to in the name of Jesus.
The Holy Spirit wants to breathe power into your life. He is already living in you if you have accepted that Jesus died for you and given your life to him. We don’t have to wait for that as the disciples did. Jesus said that once he went back to his Father, the Holy Spirit would be released, and he was. Maybe, though, you are feeling as though his power has left you or you’ve never had it in the first place? Maybe you’re feeling so weak right now that you can’t ever imagine having this power again? It’s right there for you. All you have to do is ask. Paul says, in Ephesians 1 that the same power that God used to raise Jesus from the dead is available to us. Wow!
If we want to grow the Kingdom of God in our country, in our towns and our churches, then we need this power at work in us. We can’t do it in our own strength.
Do you want the power that raised Jesus from the dead to enable you to witness to the life-saving love and grace of God? Then ask.
Do you want the power to pray for people and see them healed? Then ask.
Do you want the power to live a life growing in the fruits of the Spirit (Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Gentleness, Goodness, Faithfulness and Self-Control)? Then ask.
Do you want the power to resist the temptations that draw you away from God? Then ask.
Do you want the power to live a life on fire for God? Then ask.
Maybe today you just want the power to get through the day? Please ask!!
There is a song we sing in the Salvation Army, written by General John Gowans and Ivor Bosanko. Here’s a link to listen if you can and the words are underneath for those who are unable to.
At the moment of my weakness,
When my need for power is plain,
And my own strength is exhausted once again,
Then my Lord has made provision
For the day of my despair,
And His precious Holy Spirit
Hears my prayer;
Holy Spirit! Promised presence fall on me.
Holy Spirit! Make me all I long to be.
Holy Spirit! Holy Spirit!
Give Your power to me, O Holy Spirit.
When the darkness falls around me,
When bewildered and afraid,
When I feel the most deserted and betrayed,
Then my every need is answered
By God’s providential care,
And His precious Holy Spirit
Hears my prayer;
Nothing now can rob God’s servant
Of the peace that He bequeaths,
Nothing take away the strength
His presence breathes.
Of the everlasting arms of love
I’m daily made aware,
And His precious Holy Spirit
Hears my prayer;
Here is my prayer for you over the coming weeks. It’s from Ephesians 1:
“17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.”