The Holy Spirit had entered the scene in the most spectacular way, rushing in like a whirlwind with some fancy pyrotechnics. Peter had found a soapbox to air the dirty laundry of those who had murdered Jesus, and overnight 3000 people who didn’t speak the same language joined the newest toastmasters club that would proclaim the gospel through all the world. (Acts 2-3)
When they finally all got to their beds that night, what do you think was running through their minds? Did they even sleep?
Pentecost was a big deal. God had sent his own Spirit to fill all the believers and give them power they had never experienced before. They had grown up with the stories of God doing outrageous miracles through his prophets, and in recent times they had witnessed the astounding miracles Jesus performed before their very eyes, but this was different.
No longer was it ‘that guy over there’ that had supernatural power.
No, God had endowed anyone who believed with the same Spirit that had been at work in Jesus.
We can all be more awesome now!
“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 ... his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead." (Ephesians 1:18-20, NIV)
What if I don't feel awesome now?
Imagine for a moment what it would be like to be one of the believers when the Holy Spirit came upon them at that party at Pentecost (read about it in Acts 2). You can understand the euphoria that followed. Whenever we experience the tangible presence of God or witness a powerful miracle, our faith skyrockets and our emotions explode into brilliant sparks of joy and awe.
Those glorious moments can fill us with faith so strong we know we can wink at the mountain and it will move!
Yet, oddly enough, in my experience, a day later things can feel quite different. The sense of power lasts as long as it takes for me to have a selfish thought (which is, erhem, often).
Do you ever wish every day could feel like Pentecost?
Do you get discouraged if, rather than easier, things get harder?
Do you feel like you've failed if you haven't got the 'feeling' anymore?
What happens when you don't feel awesome now?
The truth is real faith flourishes when we can acknowledge the Holy Spirit working in the cracks and crevices of our lives, not just when we can see flags flying on the mountain tops.
Jesus said, “You will be filled with power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.” Acts 2:8
What does that power look like in everyday moments and does it matter if we don't feel it?
God's power hides but does not fade
The problem arises when, if we don’t experience “Pentecost” every day, we assume the power has waned.
For example, after receiving a vivid word from God that might have been rich in detail or depth, we can feel a strong connection with Him, but if He said nothing more for a week, we can start to doubt we're even born-again.
However, just because God isn't giving you a running commentary, it doesn't mean you've lost connection.
The power of the Holy Spirit is more than just words of revelation. It is a power that fills us with a steady, continuous supply of God’s grace and strength in all things.
For the believers who were filled with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the next morning was the dawn of a new way of doing things.
Their love of God deepened to a devotion of Him that resulted in everyday moments becoming Spirit-filled moments! Serving God in his new kingdom was superior to anything they had experienced under the rules of temple worship. Common activities becoming super-charged with uncommon joy.
Most noticeably, when the Holy Spirit came upon the believers, He gave them power not just for spontaneous miracles, but to sustain a miraculous life. This was evident in how Spirit-filled prayer, praise, and purpose infused their everyday moments.
The Holy Spirit burst out upon the believers with a spontaneous ability to speak in ‘new tongues’ (Acts 2:4). Paul makes it clear in his writings that this is still available to believers today. Jesus said we would no longer speak to a God we do not know, but we would worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:22-24).
Only through the Holy Spirit is this possible. This power supercharges our prayer life and how we express our inner thoughts and feelings to God. When words fail us or our emotions betray us, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us. At the same time, we grow to know God personally as the Holy Spirit reveals his heart and mind to us. This is one of the most wonderful gifts God has given us, to be able to commune with him spirit-to-Spirit through prayer and worship.
Personal question: How comfortable are you speaking in ‘tongues’ through the Holy Spirit?
Practical tip: For the next 7-days, spend 5minutes praying in the spirit then write down the truth that came to mind (e.g. it might be scripture, theme, or word)
The power of the Holy Spirit fills us with praise. It defies all understanding that in the midst of trouble, God’s people find not just a reason, but a sincere desire to praise Him. At Pentecost, the believers found themselves “declaring the wonders of God” under the influence of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:11).
This might seem like a good soundtrack for that moment in time, but it wasn’t a one-hit-wonder. Spirit-filled praise characterised the life of the believers the day after Pentecost, and the day after that (Acts 2:46-47). It was so genuine and life-giving, that it always got the attention of the non-believers before anyone had even begun to preach. Praise powered by the Holy Spirit resulted in the boldness of believers, prison doors being shattered, and joy being released.
Personal question: How much does ‘declaring the wonders of God’ characterise your life?
Practical tip: For the next 7-days, speak or write one declaration about the wonder of God. (e.g. journal entry, to a non-believer at work, or a social media post)
The day after Pentecost the believers awoke to discover their purpose for living had changed. The Holy Spirit’s power was at work in them in a way that changed them from the inside out. This power set them free from the fear that bound them, the pride that corrupted them, and the selfishness that limited them.
While the apostles performed great signs and wonders, the greatest evidence of the power of the Holy Spirit at work was in the transformation of people’s hearts and minds that united them together in the ministry of the gospel (Acts 4:32). It wasn't without challenges as the implications of the truth of the gospel for ALL people meant confronting personal prejudice, but when applied at the urging of the Holy Spirit, the church grew.
Personal question: How much does racism impact your common purpose with other believers of different cultures and languages?
Practical tip: Over the next 7-days, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any blind spots and choose one action that takes you a step closer to unity and ministry with others unlike you. (e.g. read an article from someone who is affected by racism or initiate a conversation with someone from a different cultural background and pray with them) .
Be more awesome now
Your day of Pentecost may have been the day you accepted Jesus as your Saviour. It may have been a time when someone specifically prayed for you to be baptised in the Holy Spirit. Maybe you can simply recall a moment in your life when God poured out His Spirit on you in a way that was as unique as anything recorded in the book of Acts.
Perhaps for you, this is the day to receive the Holy Spirit and his power for the first time. You can be more awesome now simply by asking Him to come and fill your life. Accept every gift He gives you and learn to trust Him in everyday moments.
You are more awesome now because you have received the Holy Spirit, not because you are doing awesome things.
We don’t have to see the Holy Spirit at work with a flash-bang to know that his power is at work in our lives. We can appreciate things are more awesome now as He empowers us to pray, to praise, and to live with purpose.
Jesus said, “You will be filled with power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.”
I reckon that's pretty awesome, don't you?
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