Why is the Baptism in the Holy SPirit So Important?

part 1

Monday, May 18, 2020

As we continue to move toward Pentecost Sunday on May 31, I feel as though we should continue to study about the Holy Spirit and being Spirit filled. This week we’re going to be considering, “Why is the Baptism in the Holy Spirit so important?” 

 

The baptism in the Holy Spirit is an experience. It’s a gift that God desires for every believer to have. Consider some of the following observations regarding the infilling or Baptism of the Holy Spirit: 1. It is not all we talk about in Pentecostal churches. We preach a balance. But the Holy Spirit is a very important Biblical truth that must be taught and sought after regularly. 2. It is not unbiblical or outdated. The fact of the matter is that most scholars (who do not believe tongues are for today) do recognize that they were operative and functional in the Early Church. 

Typically, people who do say that tongues have ceased today use this passage as their justification: 1 Corinthians 13:8–10 “Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears” NIV.  These people would say that “the perfection” that Paul is talking about is the Word of God. That we have the complete canon of Scripture now and therefore we don’t need prophecies: we don’t need the gifts of the Spirit or the baptism in the Spirit today. They’re not for today because we have the Bible. 

Is that what Paul is talking about when Christ is talking about perfection? The Bible? Let’s read on. 1 Corinthians 13:11–12 “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12 Now we see but a poor reflec­tion as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” NIV. The perfection that Paul is talking about is that moment when you and I see Jesus face to face and are fully known. The exciting truth is that there is coming a day when we will see Jesus!

 

Let’s now take a look at 1 John 3:2: “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”  It is in this moment that we will know. So Paul is not talking about the Bible as the standard of perfection, but rather Jesus. When He appears, we will know even as we are known. 

The baptism in the Holy Spirit is not some transcendental experience. To speak in tongues is not to resign control of your body,  neither does it mean your emotions carry you away. The exercise of a spiritual language involves a conscious choice on your part to allow God’s assistance in helping you to speak, pray, in a language you do not know. It is simply God working through you.   

Furthermore, it is not a status symbol. If you’ve not been filled with the Holy Spirit, you’re not a second-class Christian. And it is not a substitute for spiritual growth.  Spiritual growth requires reading the Bible, spending time in God’s presence – through prayer & worship, and fellowshipping with other believers. These are the ways to grow spiritually!   

The baptism in the Holy Spirit is a command! It concerns me greatly that in Pentecostal churches we have presented the Holy Spirit as though He is an option – “Take Him if you want to.” Look at Ephesians 5:17–18 “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s Will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit” NIV. And Jesus told His disciples to wait (Acts 1:4). The truth is that God’s heart for all of us is for every one of us to be filled with the Holy Spirit.    

Speaking in tongues is the initial (first) evidence of being baptized in the Holy Spirit.  When someone is filled with the Holy Spirit, he or she will speak in a language (a heavenly language) they haven’t been taught.  Some might say, “Pastor, I feel like I’m filled with the Holy Spirit and I don’t speak in tongues.”  We must be careful, friends. We cannot formulate doctrine solely on our personal experience, otherwise,e we may be misled and manipulated. 

We will take the rest of our time this week and consider three things: What is the baptism in the Holy Spirit? What are the benefits of being baptized in the Holy Spirit? And: What are the barriers that keep people from being baptized in the Holy Spirit? 

 

Continued tomorrow

Why is the Baptism in The Holy Spirit So Important?

Part 2

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

What is the baptism in the Holy Spirit?

The baptism in the Holy Spirit is a second work of the Spirit in the life of a believer. At salvation, the Holy Spirit draws you to Jesus to save you. At salvation, the Holy Spirit immediately takes up residence within you. Romans 8:9 “You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.” 

Now look with me at 1 Corinthians 6:19: “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own.” People who claim they don’t “have” the Spirit are actually admitting that they are not saved.

There is a subsequent act of the Spirit known as the “baptism in” or “infilling of” the Holy Spirit.  Some will say, “Well, I have the Holy Spirit dwelling in me from salvation, therefore I don’t need the infilling.” Not true. Not biblical. They are two separate works. In fact, the Early Church saw this as so critical that, when they knew of Christians who had been saved but not yet filled with the Spirit, they sent spiritual leaders to pray for them that they might be filled. Look at Acts 8:14 “When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the Word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria.”

 

It is God’s desire that every follower of Jesus be filled with the Holy Spirit! The baptism in the Holy Spirit is a gift for everyone. There is absolutely nothing you can do to earn it - it would not be a gift if you could earn it! The gift of the Holy Spirit comes directly from the Giver of all “good gifts.” Look at what Jesus said in Luke 11:11–13: “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”  

We need to ask Him! God gives the gift; Jesus does the baptizing or the infilling! John the Baptist said this in Luke 3:16 “John answered them all, ‘I baptize you with water. But One more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose san­dals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.’”   

The (initial) first evidence of receiving this gift is speaking in tongues. Can a person be baptized in the Holy Spirit (the sec­ond work of the Spirit) happen to me without speaking in tongues? Let’s look at what the Bible has to say. Every time in the Book of Acts when people were baptized in the Holy Spirit, the evidence was speaking in tongues.

 

There are five specific instances: 1) Acts 2 (Day of Pentecost) – Acts 2:4 “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”  

2) Acts 10 (At Cornelius’s house) – Acts 10:44–47 “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believ­ers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, ‘Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.’”  
 
3) Acts 19 (At the Ephesus church) – Acts 19:6 “When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.” 

 

4) Acts 8 (The church in Samaria) – Acts 8:17 “Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.”  

 

And 5) Acts 9 (Paul’s experience) – Acts 9:17 “Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord — Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here — has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’”  

People who do not believe that speaking in tongues is the first evidence of being Spirit filled, usually refer to Acts chap­ters 8 and 9 and say, “Well, it doesn’t specifically men­tion speaking in tongues like the other chapters.” Look, in Acts 8, Simon the Sorcerer wanted to get saved! Acts 8:13 “Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.” Then he was so amazed at what was happening at the baptism of the Holy Spirit that he wanted to “buy it.” Acts 8:18–19 “When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the Apostles’ hands, he offered them money and said, ‘Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.’” And even though in Acts 9, as it relates to Paul’s experience about the baptism in the Holy Spirit, it doesn’t mention tongues, Paul himself later testifies, in 1 Corinthians 14:18 “I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you.”  

 

Some might ask, “Pastor, I know So-and-So who says he’s been baptized, but he doesn’t speak in tongues. What do you say about that?” Well, then my question would be, “Are you going to build your doctrine/theology on someone’s personal experience, or on the Word of God?” If you build it upon personal experience, then it’s hard telling where you’ll end up because you have no clear foundation. Those who live by experience alone can be easily misled or manipulated.   

 

Continued tomorrow

Why is the Baptism in The Holy Spirit So Important?

Part 3

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The Baptism in the Holy Spirit is for Everyone!

The baptism in the Holy Spirit is not the same thing as the gift of tongues listed as one of the gifts. The gifts of the Spirit are listed in 1 Corinthians 12:4–6: “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.”  

There are nine listed gifts of the Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:7–11 “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will” KJV.

Often times people confuse the gift of speaking in tongues (in a public worship setting) with their prayer language that they received when they were baptized in the Spirit. All believers, when baptized in the Holy Spirit, will speak in tongues. However, not all will exercise the public gift of tongues in a public worship setting.

The infilling is for all believers. The gift is for the Body. That is why Paul is not contradicting himself when he asks a rhetorical question in 1 Corinthians 12:30: “Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?” Here he is talking about the “gift,” not the infilling or second work.

The infilling of the Holy Spirit is something we need daily. It has been my observation that too many Pentecostals view the infilling of the Holy Spirit as a one-time event, not a daily experience. Consequently, they do not walk or live in the fullness of God’s Spirit as He intends.  

As Christians, we can be compared to a reservoir that produces electrical power. When we accept Jesus, construction of the reservoir is complete. We now have the potential to be useful and to affect lives. But until the floodgates are opened and the river water pours through, no power is there! So it is when we are baptized in the Holy Spirit, we open our lives to God and the Holy Spirit pours into us and through us.

As with the reservoir, this power-generating experience is not intended to be a one-time occurrence. It is an ongoing process! When our spiritual power runs low, we need to return to the Source and let Him pour into us again His fresh power. It is a gift to: Empower you on Monday; Touch you on Tuesday; Minister through you on Wednesday; Strengthen you on Thursday; Quicken you on Friday; Sustain you on Saturday; Bring you to the Lord’s house ready to praise Him on Sunday.

Some of us were baptized in the Holy Spirit years ago and we have never been refilled. We ourselves to be dry, empty. We are not walking in the Spirit. The truth, and reality, is this: WE need to be filled with the Spirit every day. Ephesians 5:18 “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” (Literally meaning: “be filled and keep being filled.”)

The early followers of Jesus knew this very well. They had already been baptized in the Spirit, but shortly after that experience on the Day of Pentecost they began to encounter persecution. Peter and John were thrown in jail; the Sanhedrin was threatening them. They needed a new surge of power, so they prayed. We read about this in Acts 4; in verse 31 we read: “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the Word of God boldly.”

We need a daily infilling — fresh anointing. I am afraid some of us have diminished the power of this precious gift of the Holy Spirit because we have relegated it to a past event. God says and expects us to be filled daily.

The baptism in the Holy Spirit is something we are commanded to seek. Ephesians 5:1 in the ESV says, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.” Then moving down to VS 5 - 8 “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.”  

And down in verses 15 – 18, we read: “Be very careful, then, how you live — not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s Will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.”

Seeking the Holy Spirit is not an option; it is a command to every believer! There is a call to every believer to be a Spirit-filled believer. To not seek the infilling of the Holy Spirit, is to live in disobedience to what God wants for you. This is truly a command straight from the heart of God.

Is it really a “command?” Look back at Acts 1:4 with me, “On one occasion, while He (Jesus) 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.’” If it’s a promise from the Father, If it’s a gift for every believer, If it was so essential for the Early Church, then why don’t some want it?

 

Continued tomorrow       

Why is the Baptism in The Holy Spirit So Important?

Part 4

Thursday, May 21, 2020

What are the Benefits of being Baptized in the Holy Spirit?
We know that Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit and His min­istry on earth was empowered by the Spirit. Look at Luke 4:1: “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.” Moving down to verse 14, “Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about Him spread through the whole countryside.” Now down to VS 18, “The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to proclaim Good News to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.”

Jesus’ life was led by the Spirit — from the manger to the cross and back to heaven, Jesus was Spirit-led. He knew the importance of the infilling of the Spirit, that’s why He said, “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift My Father promised, which you have heard me speak about” (Acts 1:4).

You might ask, “Pastor, what are some of the benefits of being filled with the Holy Spirit?” First, it is power to witness and work miracles. Prior to Pentecost, the disciples were locked in fear! Acts 1:8 “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.” In Acts chapter 1, you don’t read about any miracles; but once the Spirit is poured out (Acts 2), we see the birth of the Church; Acts 3, healing; Acts 5, Peter’s shadow falling on those around him and they are healed; Acts 8, Revival in Samaria; Acts 9, Saul’s conversion  

Secondly, it brings peace in conflict, and direct access to God. We are not fully walking in the Spirit if our problems or trials have a negative influence on our spiritual life, if they cause us to move farther away from God instead of closer to Him. We must remember: Trials are designed to develop us; temptations to destroy us – 1 Corinthians 14:2 “Anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people but to God.” Speaking in tongues puts us in direct conversation with Him!

Then it brings perspective in change and power in spiritual warfare. Much of our frustration in life comes from an attempt to control the things we cannot control, and a neglect of the things we can control. We spend inordinate amounts of energy on an impossible task we can’t control: People; Weather; Death. But we can control how we view life and the things that come our way!  

 

Part of the benefit of being filled with the Holy Spirit is found in Romans 8:5–9, 15 where we read, “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. “You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.” And verse 15: “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to son-ship. And by Him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’”

Being filled with the Holy Spirit prepares us for Spiritual warfare – Ephesians 6:10–12 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the author­ities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

An essential part of the believer’s armor is the ability to pray in the Spirit! Praying in the Spirit is effective against the powers of darkness! We are in a battle and many times the best way to win is to pray in the Spirit! We need all the armor; we must put on the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, have feet fitted with the Gospel, take the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit.

 

Continued tomorrow

Why is the Baptism in the Holy Spirit So Important?

Part 5

Friday, May 22, 2020

Even with the weapons and all the armor, we can lose spiri­tual battles if we do not pray in the Spirit! The Spirit knows where the battle is raging the fiercest, and He knows exactly what needs to happen for victory to be assured. When we pray in the Spirit, we are summoning His power to help us, and those we are ministering to, in overcoming the powers of darkness. So we must pray in the Spirit because we are in warfare!

The disciples were about to experience change. John 16:5–16 “But now I am going to Him who sent Me. None of you asks Me, ‘Where are you going?’ Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things. But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. When He comes, He will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in Me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see Me no longer; and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.  “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when He, the Spirit of Truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify Me because it is from Me that He will receive what He will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is Mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from Me what He will make known to you. ‘In a little while you will see Me no more, and then after a little while you will see Me.’” Life is full of change! (Sudden, dramatic, surprising, interrupting, etc.)
 

What are the barriers that keep people from being baptized in the Holy Spirit?

Unhealthy modeling, both in individuals and in churches. If our claim is to be Pentecostal but we do not model a Pentecostal life, then there is almost always an immediate negative response to everything about Pentecost. If a church jumps, whoops, celebrates, or walks straight but does nothing for the world they are in, it can be a turnoff.  

Inaccurate teaching. Some have claimed tongues are of the devil. Some have claimed tongues ceased with the New Testament and are not for today. Some recognize it, but consider it like leather seats, extra, not essential. And if it is not essential, Christ wouldn’t have made such a big deal of it.

Insufficient motivation. People view tongues as nice, not necessary.

The baptism in the Holy Spirit is a privilege for believers.

Speaking in tongues is not something you “have” to do, it is a privilege. It gives you a Spirit-filled prayer life (1 Corinthians 14:14 “If I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful”). And we find this in Romans 8:26–27 “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the Will of God.”   

It brings personal edification. 1 Corinthians 14:4 “Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves, but the one who prophesies edifies the church.”

John 7:37–39 “On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’ By this He meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.”

How do you receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit? Here’s an acrostic I have shared that has helped others, and that might help you too: C–A–L–L on the Lord:

Confess all known sin – Sin hinders the work of God’s Spirit; neither will Jesus, who baptizes us in the Holy Spirit, play games with us if we do not come clean with Him.

Ask by faith for God’s gift – “Jesus said, ‘If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!’” (Luke 11:13).

Long to be used by God – With eyes on Jesus (not emotions or people around us), we surrender ourselves to Him with a hunger for Him to use us, which is the reason we need to be baptized in the Spirit.

Lift praise for the answer – Begin to speak out in praise for the answer, in receiving faith, and yield to the flow of heavenly language as God’s Spirit fills you. END

SPirit Filled

Part 1

Monday, May 11, 2020

Since we are drawing near to Pentecost Sunday and we have already spent a couple weeks studying in the Book of Acts, we are going to focus, once again, on Acts 16 this week. We’ll be looking at some of the aspects of what it means to be filled with the Spirit of God.

 

Though I believe the primary means to coming into a Spirit-filled life is through the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, that is not the chief focus of this particular study. Using an incident in Acts 16, I want to compare the Spirit of Truth to the spirit of this world. (In John 16:13, Jesus said, “But when He, the Spirit of Truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth…”

Have you ever wondered why Jesus wants people to be filled with His Spirit? Or perhaps you’ve wondered why the measure of the Spirit you received when you were born-again wasn’t sufficient, as far as Christian living is concerned? Certainly a person receives enough of the Spirit of God to be born-again when they surrender their life to Christ, but based on a number of Bible verses in the New Testament, there is obviously more for us to experience than what we did when we got saved. Why else would He have instructed His disciples to go to Jerusalem to wait for this gift? 

John 14:15-17 “If you love me, you will obey what I command. 16 And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you.”  Jesus is prophesying about the day of Pentecost here when He says, in the last part of verse 17, “But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you.”

 

Isn’t that interesting? I have often said that the preposition regarding the Holy Spirit changed after the day of Pentecost. Prior to that day the word “with” was used. “For He lives with you,” but after the day of Pentecost the word “in” is used - “will be in you.” This is no different than Jesus Himself. While He walked the earth, He was with people, but after His death, He is in people (of course Jesus and the Holy Spirit are one).  

With the fullness of the Spirit in us we should be people who bear witness to the Light of God, truth, and righteousness. The Holy Spirit does more than merely help us speak in tongues; He is the Spirit of truth. He comes to restore our character and values. Spirit-filled Christians should be living the most upright, moral, and righteous, lives of any people on earth. 

What are your moral and intellectual grounds for decision-making in today’s complex world? Who is in your head, making your decisions? Somebody is there - who is it? Is it the Holy Spirit? Whose truth are you the standard-bearer for? Whose image are you living in? It is in this line of questioning that we come to the whole point and purpose of the Holy Spirit.  

The disciples knew at least that they had a great need. Before they could go out into the world and do the things that Jesus had given them to do, they knew that they needed to have some guidance and direction. They needed to know what God wanted them to do, and how they were to go about it. They also knew that the way they were going to get there was through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.  

When you think about the Spirit of God, with what do you associate Him?  Most of us associate Him with power. But when you give some thought to the purpose of the Holy Spirit, I think it becomes clear that God gave us this Gift so that we could resist the spirit of this world. It’s the Spirit of Truth vs the spirit of this world, which is anything but truth. So the kind of power that we are dealing with might surprise us.

 

Continued tomorrow

Spirit Filled

part 2

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Before we get back to the book of Acts, I want us to consider what Paul calls the “spirit of this world.” Ephesians 2:1-2 “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world…” He is making a distinction between our past life and the life we are to now live, or should live, as Christ followers. He said we formerly walked in accordance with the spirit of the world, a spirit of disobedience: “...according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.” The sons of disobedience encompass anyone who is not living for the Lord.

 

It comes down to this conflict: the Spirit of truth vs the spirit of disobedience - and it would seem that the only way to fully overcome the spirit of disobedience is by living a Spirit-filled life. Let’s take another look at a couple of instances from Acts 16 to help us see what it is to live a Spirit-filled life. 

Acts 16:6-7 “Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia (Frugia) and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. 7 When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.”

 

Paul was a Spirit-filled, Spirit-led man. There are just as many times that the Spirit of God says “no” to us as He does “yes.” Being Spirit-led is not a matter of performing forceful miracles and preaching with an anointing only.  Sometimes it is just as much of the Spirit to say nothing as it is to say something. The Holy Spirit kept them from preaching the word in Asia. Many times men want to use the great commission as a justification to do whatever they desire in the Kingdom of God. Yet here is an example of the Spirit of God forbidding them to go. If Paul had not been tuned into the Spirit, he most likely would not have heard Him speak to him. 

Acts 16:9-10 “During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.”

I sometimes wonder if we make the Spirit-led life much more complex than it is supposed to be. Paul merely obeyed the Spirit when He said, “no;” now we see him obeying the Spirit when He says, “go.” Knowing when to go and when to stay, knowing when to speak and when to be silent, knowing when to hold them or when to fold them, to walk away, to run - is all a part of what it means to be a Spirit-filled, Spirit-led person. 

This is a power that is quite different from the world’s image of power. This is a power to restrain or to follow. Typically, the picture of power is that of manipulation. In the world’s eyes, if a person is powerful he can manipulate other people. Spiritually speaking, a powerful person is one who has brought himself under the influence of God’s Spirit and does what the Spirit tells him to do. It’s a power to die to self-exaltation.

A few verses later we find them looking for a place to pray: Acts 16:13 “On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there.”

Now we come right to the heart of what it takes to become a Spirit-led person. They went out expecting to find a place of prayer. Prayer is central to a Spirit-controlled life. Isn’t it interesting that it makes no mention of men at this prayer meeting (with the exception of Paul and his companions)? They sat down to speak to the women who had gathered there. Thank God for the sensitivity of women to the things of the Spirit! We have some wonderful female prayer warriors in our church – but we also have some men who are giving themselves to prayer. I would love to see more and more men show up for a prayer meeting, but I’m glad that I can say that God has already raised some godly men in our church. If we can see more and more men praying, our church will continue to see a move of God.  

Acts 16:16 “Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future…”

Once again Paul was seeking out a place to pray. The gift of the Holy Spirit came to the church in a prayer meeting and it is sustained in prayer. How are we ever going to live a Spirit-led life if we fail to spend adequate time in the Spirit? Friends, we must observe the lifestyles of these great men of God if we are to learn all that God would have us learn. Paul once said, “Follow me, as I follow Christ.”

In other words, Paul said, “Do what I do – because I do what Christ does.” Paul the apostle was not one of those men who would say, “Do as I say, not as I do.” Paul could easily have said, and actually did say, “Do as I do.” That should be the testimony of us all.

 

Continued tomorrow

Spirit Filled

part 3

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

When we engage in spiritual activities we also encounter spiritual opposition. This time, as they were seeking a place to pray, the enemy met them in the form of a young slave girl. This girl had a spirit by which she predicted the future. Acts 16:16 “…She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling.”

This is the basic difference between our human spirit and the Spirit of God. Our human spirit seeks self-gratification, while God’s Spirit seeks self-control. The slave girl’s owners were using her “gift” to make money for themselves. Today we could say that the TV producers of shows which use spiritists or mediums are making a lot of money through the spirits they possess. 

Acts 16:17-18 “This girl followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, ‘These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.’ 18 She kept this up for many days...” Isn’t it interesting to note that though this girl is under satanic influence she is still speaking truth! Many times the enemy will use the truth to deceive (I’ll say more about that in a minute). The enemy was using this girl to convince others that she had insight and subsequently, should be sought out for advice. I mean, after all, when the servants of the Most High God came, she knew it and spoke highly of them.

 

But after a few days of her persistent, repetitive proclamations, Paul got tired of it. Acts 16:18 “…Finally Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the Name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.”

Paul’s life gives us a sense of what it is to live a Spirit-filled life. Paul knew when to refrain; he knew when to speak. He knew when to condone certain actions, and he knew when to rebuke them. To him, the work of God was a serious matter. So when he comes upon a young slave girl who was operating under a satanic spirit he recognizes that spirit. 

 

She was most likely under the influence of what is referred to as a “familiar spirit.”  In the book, “Taught by the Spirit,” Pastor Ron Auch wrote about what a familiar spirit is. The witch of Endor had a familiar spirit. She is the one who brought King Saul down by her witchcraft.  1 Samuel 28:7 “Then said Saul unto his servants, ‘Seek me a woman that has a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and inquire of her.’ And his servants said to him, ‘Behold, there is a woman that has a familiar spirit at Endor.”’ Some newer translations use the word medium, where this one uses the word familiar. The Hebrew meaning of the word is nec-ro-man-cy, someone who talks to the dead or uses magical powers for evil purposes. 

The witch of Endor used necromancy to conjure up Samuel for Saul. One of the reasons I do not believe we should watch the shows on TV that promote people who claim to talk to the dead is because these people operate by the power of Satan (even though these shows make the stars of the show, the mediums, to be regular people. If they are talking to the dead, they are operating under Satanic influence). 

Leviticus 19:31 “Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God.”  Young people, if you are watching these popular shows that make witches and vampires out to be regular people – you are subtly being fooled. Leviticus 20:27 “A man also or woman that has a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death…”

 

Continued tomorrow

Spirit Filled

Part 4

Thursday, May 14, 2020

The Bible clearly shows us that there is such a thing as a familiar spirit. It is a satanic spirit, not a hindering spirit (it doesn’t interfere with our lives); it simply lives in our sphere. It knows the details of our life and it can mimic our voices. These verses refer to someone who has a familiar spirit as being a person who has opened him/herself to satanic influence.

Through the familiar spirit they can tap into the spirit realm and talk with the familiar spirit of a person who has died. I don’t believe they can actually talk to the dead, but by tapping into a familiar spirit, that spirit can give the details of that person’s life, or even mimic their voice – so as to fool those listening. 

The deception involved here is this: suppose I go to a modern day medium because I want to hear from my long lost uncle. After contact has been made, he begins to talk to me from the grave (through the medium). If you have ever watched any of these shows, you will notice that the message the medium receives is always a positive one, encouraging those who are receiving it. I have yet to hear one of today’s mediums give a warning from the dead person that they should get right with God.

 

Yet that’s what happened in the Bible. In the parable, after the rich man and Lazarus die (Luke 16), the rich man calls out to Abraham and says, “I am in agony in these flames.” That is a truer picture of what would happen if these mediums were really speaking the words of those who had died without Christ.

But because these messages are all positive, it leaves whoever the message is directed with the impression that there is really nothing we need to prepare for regarding the next life - because if my ungodly uncle is doing fine and he didn’t live for Jesus, then I’m fine just the way I am. I don't need to live for Him either. 

That’s called the beautiful side of evil. It’s the devil using something that looks good to keep us in our current frame of mind. The devil can disguise himself as an angel of light and will do what appears to be good if indeed it keeps a person from feeling the need to change their life. This is just one of the many reasons why we need to live a Spirit-filled life. It keeps us spiritually alert to the attacks of the enemy.    

A friend of mine pastors a church in another state and he shared the following with me (this was a part of a conversation that a group of pastors in their state had while attending their District Council). He said, “We were discussing how to be more effective in our district, and how our churches could most effectively fulfill the great commission and so forth. The discussion began to focus itself upon us ministers and our state of being vs our doing. Our most natural vent is to focus on the doing of the work of God and yet it seems that Jesus put more emphasis on being.”

That really makes a lot of sense when you think about it. Christ-likeness within us is supposed to describe our state of being as the children of God. Without being like Christ, just how much can we get done for Him? If we are out doing the work of God without showing others what Jesus was/is like, we will hinder the work more than help it. 

Any person who claims to know Christ and yet cannot control their conduct or language is a greater hindrance to the work of God than a help for one simple reason: we are telling people that they need Jesus – but if taking Jesus into your heart has not changed you, then why would anyone need what you have? That is more of a display of the spirit of disobedience than anything else.

 

This is precisely why Jesus told His already “saved” disciples to go to Jerusalem to be filled with His Spirit before they went out.

 

Continued tomorrow

Spirit Filled

Part 5

Friday, MAy 15, 2020

I have been giving some time and thought to what I believe is a God-directed vision for Christian Assembly, especially as we come out of this season of online and/or drive-in services.  I feel such an urgency to push us deeper into spirituality as we move through the unknown of the remainder of this year (this is at least a portion of why we keep saying, “Let us Fix Our Eyes On Jesus”). Prayer and the Word are our two constant, primary focuses. It’s not that others are not important; it’s that they will, ideally, grow out of our focus on prayer and the word. Prayer and the Word, prayer and the Word, prayer and the Word – without those two core values being ingrained deeply within us, we will just move along with business as usual.   

I’m going to finish by reading a word that was given to a friend in regards to the church he is leading. The more I’ve read it and prayed over it, the more I feel it very much applies to us at Christian Assembly as well, and maybe it is for your church as well. For the purposes of the devotional I have summarized it, but this is the heart of it. It starts off by saying; 

We have come to a fork in the road, which road will we take? Business as usual or the Road of Brokenness?

I want to inject something about the idea of brokenness before we read this so that we get a better idea of what the road of Brokenness means. In a paper that John Bunyan wrote he was taking about brokenness. He basically said it is the only way to happiness. From his perspective, brokenness is not a repressive spirit, but a humble spirit that leads to true joy. Bunyan was talking about having such a revelation of the mercy of God that we should literally wake up in the morning thanking God that He didn’t allow us to die in our sleep – of which we all deserve. 

Brokenness comes from a full revelation of the mercy of God which if we had; we would never allow ourselves many of the worldly pleasures we do today. We were born into sin, none of us deserve to live, and therefore we should have this broken spirit, which is really a humble spirit – living in a state of gratefulness for what God has allowed us to do. Brokenness is really the key to happiness, joy, and the fullness of the Spirit. It’s not being down in the dole-drums. It’s gratefulness because God has been so merciful to us. We deserve nothing and yet we get everything and it’s from that perspective that we should not take advantage of God’s mercy but rather be motivated by it to serve Him. 

So we have come to the fork in the road whereby we need to decide if we are going to take the “Business as Usual” Road or the Road to Brokenness (in our context, it’s the road to “Follow Me”). Business as usual looks safe, quiet and serene, nothing looks threatening or hurtful. There’s no need to fear or extend oneself beyond the usual Christian walk!

 

Those on the Business as usual road will continue to:

  • Attend Church on Sunday only.
  • Do good when it benefits them.
  • Read the Word, if they have the time to do so.
  • Pray as they go, not in the prayer closet.
  • Pay tithes, once in a while.
  • Skip fasting, it's too hard. 

The “business as usual road” is crowded with nominal Christians who are deaf to the cry of the lost. They are indifferent to the call to intimacy (“Follow Me”), oblivious and unconcerned with the lateness of the hour. Business as usual types say, “I’m comfortable, safe, satisfied and in control! I have need of nothing!”

The other option (fork in the road) is the “Road of Brokenness.” Brokenness is the way of Revival. Repentance, contrition, self-denial, surrender and humility pave the way (to Follow Me). There is no standing still on this road. The daily call is to Come, follow Me; the movement is onward, forward and always upward.

  • Come, eat and drink abundantly
  • Come, meet in the secret place of love and intimacy
  • Come, lay down your life in love and service
  • Come, hold nothing back
  • Come, I'll send you forth prepared and anointed to work

 

The day in which we live demands that we get serious about the call to FOLLOW ME.

I read the testimony of a man who had an open vision. While he was awake, God showed him the day of the Lord and what is going to happen when He returns. He said he saw everyone on earth in terror over the holiness and power of God. He said he heard several men saying, “I thought I had more time,” but time had run out – it was too late to get right with God. We need to live a Spirit filled life, Today!  END