Part I of Power To Series
This week and next week I want to look at the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer. What I want you to know and understand is there is power available to you if you will be filled with and yield to the power of the Person of the Holy Spirit.
Forty days after His resurrection from the dead, Jesus ascended into Heaven and was seated at the right hand of God the Father. Acts chapter two tells the powerful story of the Day of Pentecost. Pentecost is significant in both the Old and New Testaments. It was a Jewish festival that was also known as the Feast of Weeks. It was a festival that celebrated the end of the grain harvest. It took place 50 days after the Passover.
You will remember that it was in the context of the Passover that Jesus had the Last Supper with His disciples. And now, here on the Day of Pentecost, we see the Holy Spirit descending on believers to fill them and empower them to do everything Jesus promised they could do. Where He had been bodily present with His disciples and taught them how to live, now He would be present inside of them through the indwelling Person of the Holy Spirit. They would have an empowering, a knowing, a filling on the inside that would prompt them to become and do everything Jesus desired His disciples would become and do. Pentecost is, in essence, the birthday of the church. Look at your neighbor and tell them, “Happy Birthday.”
The Pentecost described in Acts 2 wasn’t just the annual event the Jews were used to. It was an epic, supernatural event that changed everything. Just as Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection changed the way we can relate with God, Pentecost changed the way we could experience God and the way we could live every day. What Jesus did gave us freedom and hope. What the Holy Spirit did gave us power and purpose.
There is no way you could have been present on the Day of Pentecost and denied the miraculous workings that were taking place as people began to speak in languages they had never heard. All those gathered in Jerusalem were able to hear the Word of God in their own language. Verse 5 of Acts 2 tells us there were people in Jerusalem from every nation under heaven. Every tongue and tribe were represented on the Day of Pentecost. Every nation would be impacted by the knowledge of the Word of God and the Spirit’s power, and they would return home to describe to their people groups what they had experienced. Just as God sent His Son into the world for the whole world, so too, the Holy Spirit descended to earth so that the whole world could experience an internal transformation. The fact that every language was represented there in Jerusalem that day was a symbolic way of saying, “As Jesus was for all people, so too, the Holy Spirit is for all people.”
As people were amazed and some were perplexed and people started trying to process what was happening, Peter stood up and started to speak. He explained that what they were witnessing was what had been prophesied hundreds of years before by the Prophet Joel. Here is the prophecy:
“‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. 18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. 19 I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. 20 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. 21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
This is the stuff movies are made of. It involved a violent wind and tongues of fire. It was epic, riveting, powerful and mesmerizing. You couldn’t explain it except to say an act of God was at work. Peter went on to preach the Gospel in verses 22-36. The response was explosive. People didn’t try to wiggle out of conviction. They didn’t pretend they were OK and didn’t need what God was offering. They didn’t say to themselves, “I’ll do business with God when I get home and can make it a private affair.” They didn’t dismiss the message as for someone else. They couldn’t wait to be converted and to experience what those who had been filled with the Spirit had experienced. They didn’t even wait for Peter to give an altar call. They started asking Peter what they could do to be saved. (Let me just stop now and say that if anyone wants to be saved at any time during this message, nothing would be more important so you just feel free to interrupt away!) 3000 people were saved that day! Can you imagine? Heaven must have had a dance party for months! They rejoice when one sinner comes home. Imagine the celebration when 3000 pray to give their lives to Christ!
With that bit of background out of the way, allow me to share some of the things the power of the Holy Spirit enables us to do and why it is important that we are all filled with the Spirit of God.
The Holy Spirit gives us the POWER TO PERFORM.
By that I mean, the Holy Spirit gives us power to go where God wants us to go and to do what God wants us to do. If the will of God is out in the deep, we will be empowered to go. If it differs from something we have in mind, the Holy Spirit will redirect our thoughts. If it is out of our comfort zone, He will make a way for us do what doesn’t come naturally to us. He will give us what we need to do what we don’t want to do and would never choose to do. Look at this Scripture:
Acts 20:22-24 22 “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. 23 I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. 24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.
Well, thank You, Holy Spirit for taking us to challenges in places we weren’t even planning to go. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for the heads up that stuff like prison and hardship are on the path ahead. Paul says he was compelled by the Spirit and warned by the Spirit yet it was something he delighted to do. He was faithful to complete the tasks God gave to him.
The Holy Spirit goes us the “know-how” and the gumption to go and do things we couldn’t do in our own wisdom and strength. Basically, the Holy Spirit gives us guts. 🙂 You’ll remember that before Jesus began His earthly ministry the Bible tells us He was led by the Holy Spirit into the desert where He fasted for forty days and nights. I’m just going to be honest, the Sahara Desert isn’t on my bucket list of places to visit. I don’t go to sleep dreaming about a desert vacation. But as a person who has been filled by the Spirit of God, I have gone places and done things that were never on my radar because the Holy Spirit has given me a power to perform the tasks God has given.
This preaching thing wasn’t my childhood dream or even my young adult dream. I was 35 when God called me to the preaching ministry. I remember one of the first sermons that I ever preached compared the Gospel of Christ to a frozen TV dinner. No joke. I am sure that was a riveting message. Thank heaven it was before I started saving any files on a computer so that no one has access to that manuscript. But you know what happened? While I was talking about the Gospel as a frozen TV dinner, the Holy Spirit was doing a miracle of translation from my mouth to the people’s hearing because guess what? People were helped! People were challenged. People affirmed my call to preach after that TV dinner sermon. You see, the Holy Spirit was doing in me what I wasn’t equipped to do on my own. And that TV dinner sermon led to more and more preaching opportunities until God relocated me here in these hills, and I have no doubt that He is still doing a translation miracle every Sunday as I get up and try to share His Word!
Listen, in the power of the Spirit you can do whatever God wants you to do. Jesus was willingly led into a desert place where He literally waged war on the devil. And to wage this war, He emptied Himself of all of His physical strength as He went without food and water for forty days. And as He emptied Himself, He was filled with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit gets the credit for the victory that was won in that desert, and Jesus could emerge victoriously from that fight because the Holy Spirit empowered Him.
The book of Acts details crazy miracles the disciples performed. They raised people from the dead. They healed people of major illnesses. Evil spirits were cast out of people. Poisoneous snakes were shaken off like you would shake a fly off of you, just to name a few. They could travel and work in ministry for exhaustingly long hours and still keep going strong. It’s because of the Holy Spirit’s power at work in them.
The Holy Spirit gives us the POWER TO PROCLAIM.
What is it that we are to proclaim? Our first and foremost priority as Christ-followers is to proclaim the message of the Gospel. Jesus told His disciples in Mark 16:15 that they were to go into all the world and preach the Gospel. He also told them in Acts 1:8 that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit was poured out upon them, and that power would enable them to be His witnesses just as we see them doing on the Day of Pentecost when they were gifted by God to speak for Him even though they hadn’t learned the languages they were sharing. There is no way 3000 people would have given their lives to Christ in one day if Peter hadn’t been anointed by God to proclaim the Gospel with power. It wasn’t a one-time phenom either. The book of Acts is filled with bold proclamation. We read in Acts 4:31, “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.”
This past Tuesday it was our pleasure to host our first big outside community event as we hosted the Winfield High Baccalaureate. I witnessed student after student from Winfield High School share the Word of God with their peers. They were unashamed of the Gospel of Christ. These are young people who have been saved and filled with God’s Spirit as young people. Two of them were daughters of this church! Glory to God!
In Acts 4, Peter and John were actually arrested for proclaiming the Good News of the Gospel, but that didn’t stop anything. More and more people got saved. Here is the principle: You can’t stop the Holy Spirit! The Spirit of God is the ultimate power in the universe. Not mother nature. Not Karma. The Holy Spirit’s power is supreme!
When Peter and John were questioned by the authorities and were warned to quit speaking the name of Jesus, they simply said, “We can’t help but speak about what we have seen and heard.” Do you know why they couldn’t back down? Do you know why they couldn’t stop talking about Jesus? It was because they were filled with the Holy Spirit.
Who was the last person you talked to about Jesus? Has it been awhile? Have you been afraid to talk about Him because there might be consequences? Have you shied away from bringing Him up in conversation because it might not go over well? It might not be a popular or accepted topic? Perhaps it could cost you some friendships? Ask God to empower you to be His witness and you won’t be able to help yourself. You will have to tell others what God has done for you.
The Holy Spirit gives us the POWER TO PERSEVERE.
Look at Acts 20:24 again: However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.
These are the words of the Apostle Paul. He wouldn’t stop. He wouldn’t quit. He was going to be a finisher of the work God had given to him. I know some of us have gone through tough times, but I have yet to meet anyone who endured the kind of hardships Paul faced. Sure there were times Paul wanted to quit, but God, through the Holy Spirit would speak to Him and encourage and empower him to persevere. Don’t give up, Child of God. The Holy Spirit has power for you. You can make it. You can conquer. You can keep going. You can win your race. Look at what happened to Paul as the Spirit helped him.
Acts 18:9-11 9 One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. 10 For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.” 11 So Paul stayed for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.
A year and a half! Paul stayed a year and a half longer, a year and a half after he wanted to quit. Even Jesus was tempted to quit in Luke 22:42 as He asked the Father to take the cross away from Him, but Hebrews 9:14 tells us it was the Holy Spirit who strengthened Him, enabling Him to stay in the game.
When you are tempted to walk away from the things of God, when you are tempted to check out on your relationships, when you don’t think you can continue to love those who persecute you, when you don’t see how you can keep giving of your time or resources, when you don’t know how you can say “no” to the pressures to fit in and conform, call upon the Spirit of the Living God. He will empower you to rise above temptation and weariness and pressure.
The Holy Spirit will give you staying power and slaying power when you need to overcome trial or temptation.
The Holy Spirit gives us POWER TO PRAY.
Romans 8:26 tells us the Holy Spirit will help us when we pray. Look at Ephesians 6:18, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”
The Holy Spirit is literally your Prayer Partner! Glory! When I read this I see that the Holy Spirit helps us keeps prayer interesting. If you are praying all kinds of prayers and lifting up all kinds of requests and praying for people everywhere, you are going to have enough material to pray through. Don’t worry about running out of things to say. Don’t worry about having the right words. Just ask the Holy Spirit to help you pray, and He will prompt you. You will know what to say. Rely on the Spirit and ask for His power.
Prayer is a powerful weapon against our enemy and when we pray in the Spirit, we are praying from a position of power and victory. We cannot be defeated.
The Holy Spirit gives us POWER TO PROVIDE.
When I speak of power to provide I am not talking about power to provide for ourselves or our needs. I’m talking about the power to provide for other people. The Holy Spirit is a generous Spirit who compels us to give generously to others and to the Kingdom of God. Look what happened after Peter’s Pentecost sermon:
Acts 2:42-47 42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs (everybody say “miracles”) were done by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
Verse 44 tells us they did life together. They shared their lives with one another. Everything they had was shared among them. They had yards sales and gave to each other. They made or produced things and sold them and shared that money with each other. They shared their food with one another and they shared their homes with one another.
It is a work of the Spirit that enables us to possess a spirit of generosity. Let’s face it. We like our stuff. We like to acquire stuff. We like to make money to add to our bank accounts. It takes the transforming power of the Holy Spirit to allow us to loose our grip on our stuff and to share it with others. It was in the context of all of this sharing that miracles flowed. Think about that. Miracles flowed as people were providing for one another.
One sure way to reap the benefits of your resources is to use them for yourself. One sure way to reap the benefits of God’s miraculous power at work is to share your resources generously with others.
It is your generosity that is making the sharing of this building with our community possible. We had about 1300 people in our building this past week as we hosted Baccalaureate for Winfield and as we hosted graduation for the Putnam County Career and Tech Center. Who knows how God may have been speaking to them as they sat in this place that has been set apart for God’s use. As many of you know, we are in a three-year building campaign and we still have 17 months left on the campaign. Many of you have joined us since we made our pledges in October of 2016. Perhaps part of the reason the Holy Spirit has directed you here is so that you can share your resources with us to enable us to pay this ministry space off. In fact, the more you can give in the next couple of weeks to the building fund, before we convert the loan from a construction loan to our fixed loan, the more your money will actually be worth.
What we are sitting in right now is a miracle. God has done it through you as you have been led by the Spirit to make it happen. Let’s keep making miracles through our generosity.
Power to Perform
Power to Persevere
Power to Proclaim
Power to Pray
Power to Provide
Be filled with the Holy Spirit this morning and have the Power to….