logo

sign-up-for-free-cybersalt-today-button

Be Filled With The Spirit

I did not win the Denomination Derby last year. Oh, I was out there competing. Well, not exactly competing....driving as fast as I could. I had won it the year previous and figured my car was running well and didn't need any messing with. Well that's not exactly the case either. Rob and I did mess with the suspension. "Mess" is the operative word too. Here is a tip...don't mess around with what you really don't understand.

But that wasn't even the main problem, though doing circles on the backstretch instead of straight ahead doesn't help. What the main problem was I think, is that my fuel line or the fuel filters leading to the fuel injectors got dirty and restricted the fuel flow.  The result was that it would start and run fine at low speeds, so I had no indication there was anything wrong. But on race night, when I mashed the accelerator to the mat the engine revved then almost died as it starved for fuel. It surged then almost died all the way around the track. Every time I tried to pass it would give a moment of acceleration then just quit. It's really hard to race under those conditions. Valerie had a car that ran that way all the time and we finally sold it.

When you need power to pass, an anemic response just won't do.

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.  Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.  They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.     Acts 2:1-4

I did not win the Denomination Derby last year. Oh, I was out there competing. Well, not exactly competing....driving as fast as I could. I had won it the year previous and figured my car was running well and didn't need any messing with. Well that's not exactly the case either. Rob and I did mess with the suspension. "Mess" is the operative word too. Here is a tip...don't mess around with what you really don't understand.racing
But that wasn't even the main problem, though doing circles on the backstretch instead of straight ahead doesn't help. What the main problem was I think, is that my fuel line or the fuel filters leading to the fuel injectors got dirty and restricted the fuel flow.  The result was that it would start and run fine at low speeds, so I had no indication there was anything wrong. But on race night, when I mashed the accelerator to the mat the engine revved then almost died as it starved for fuel. It surged then almost died all the way around the track. Every time I tried to pass it would give a moment of acceleration then just quit. It's really hard to race under those conditions. Valerie had a car that ran that way all the time and we finally sold it.
When you need power to pass, an anemic response just won't do.

As long as you aren't needing any extraordinary strength, what we have normally available will do just fine.
As long as you aren't attempting to take on any extraordinary task, then the available strength works perfectly well.

But Jesus gave an extraordinary task to a bunch, and a rather small bunch, of very ordinary people.
He told them their task was to tell the entire earth about Himself and then baptize and make them into disciples.
Either they had to whittle the job down to what they could manage, or they needed extra help.
Whittling the job down to size was not an option.
So they needed a God-sized boost.
In last year's race, I wanted a jet engine strapped to my Cougar

On the day of Pentecost, which was an agricultural festival, the group that witnessed Jesus departure were in worship as they had been told, and God sent His Spirit, just as had been promised.
The house was filled with the sound of a great rushing wind and then they saw what looked like tongues of fire descending and resting upon each of them. Then they experienced being filled with the Holy Spirit.

They knew of the Holy Spirit, but until then, the Spirit had been given only to specific persons for particular tasks. God's Spirit had not come to live permanently within every believer until that moment.
They were given the power that Jesus promised them and were able to go out and turn the world upside down.
They didn't do it alone. There have been many generations of people who have assisted in that task.
But the Spirit has been with us all since then, available to accomplish God's tasks and to live the life we are called to live.

At one point, Jesus said he would send a counselor. That is also what the Spirit is: God's counselor. The inner voice you sometimes hear directing you this way or that. Not every voice you hear is God's Holy Spirit, but you know God's Spirit because when you follow those nudgings, things turn out well and when you ignore them, life goes badly.

God's Spirit is gentle and at times you might even doubt that is who is speaking to you.
The Holy Spirit doesn't shout in your ear, but has the sound of authenticity. You can usually tell because the Spirit lets you know what is right.

God's Spirit also works in us in other ways.
Paul writes in his letters of some of the ways God's Spirit empowers us.
We are occasionally given insight into things we could not have known otherwise.
We sometimes are given extraordinary faith to believe God can act when our senses tell us the opposite.
God's Spirit is the healer, counselor and teacher.
There are other ways God's Spirit works in our lives.
It is through God's Spirit that we pray, and have instant fellowship with other believers.
God's Spirit helps us to grow in our character, developing love, peace, joy patience and a host of other virtues.
And it is the Spirit that helps us to love and forgive when we could not otherwise.

To have the Holy Spirit is like having a shop full of power tools and the master craftsman there to teach us how to use them.

God never forces His way into our lives, and the Spirit comes when we believe and give our lives over to God's life. But God does not force us to open our lives to the Spirit's filling.
Take an example:
You drop a packet of Alka Seltzer into a glass of water, but don't open the package. The water has the Alka Seltzer, but the Alka Seltzer doesn't make contact with the water.
You open the packet and drop it in and Alka Seltzer and water make contact and the package will virtually burst open from the fizzing inside.

We all have the Spirit available to us, living in us. But we don't always turn to God's Spirit for help. Maybe we get used to doing life in our own strength. Maybe we hesitate to take on any challenge unless you know we have enough natural ability to accomplish it without help. In other words we limit the scope of what we will allow God's Spirit to do within us.

We are still filled with God's Spirit, but not living within the scope of what we have.
I read this story:

Dr. Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ tells this story of a famous oil field called Yates Pool:

During the depression this field was a sheep ranch owned by a man named Yates. Mr. Yates wasn't able to make enough on his ranching operation to pay the principal and interest on the mortgage, so he was in danger of losing his ranch. With little money for clothes or food, his family (like many others) had to live on government subsidy.

Day after day, as he grazed his sheep over those rolling West Texas hills, he was no doubt greatly troubled about how he would pay his bills. Then a seismographic crew from an oil company came into the area and told him there might be oil on his land. They asked permission to drill a wildcat well, and he signed a lease contract.

At 1,115 feet they struck a huge oil reserve. The first well came in at 80,000 barrels a day. Many subsequent wells were more than twice as large. In fact, 30 years after the discovery, a government test of one of the wells showed it still had the potential flow of 125,000 barrels of oil a day.

And Mr. Yates owned it all. The day he purchased the land he had received the oil and mineral rights. Yet, he'd been living on relief. A multimillionaire living in poverty. The problem? He didn't know the oil was there even though he owned it.

Many Christians live in spiritual poverty. They are entitled to the gifts of the Holy Spirit and his energizing power, but they are not aware of their birthright.1

God's Spirit is available to us all, individually and collectively and does more in our life than most of us are aware.
In Romans, chapter eight, we are told that the Holy Spirit living within us is constantly in prayer for us and gives expression to God of those deep needs we don't even have words for. When you feel a great need or longing you can hardly express, it is God's Spirit within you praying on your behalf. You can look that up in Romans 8:26

What keeps up back from relying more on the Spirit?
Ignorance for one. We have a belief that we should not ask, or that we have no right to count on God for routine things in our life. Or maybe we just don't know what God can and will do in our lives.
I think fear may be another. We fear turning over our decisions and control to God.
But God is gentle and respectful and will not force us beyond what we are willing and so we often do without.
We prefer to do for ourselves.

Take an ordinary glove and examine it.
By itself it looks exactly like a hand, but until you put a hand in it, the glove on its own is pretty limited in what it can do.
God's Spirit fits our lives like a hand in a glove and enables us to do and to be what we could not do on our own.

Only by God's Spirit can we really please God. In our natural flesh and mind, we cannot do what God wishes. It's just not possible. Like  helium balloons...without the helium in them, balloonsthey could go only as high as you could throw them and then fall back. Our best intentions are like that. We can make changes as far as we can empower the change, but inevitably we fall back.
Fill us with God's Spirit, and our prayers and our intentions have wings.

The Spirit has come. If you are a follower of Jesus, the Spirit lives within you. No one can confess Jesus as Lord without the Spirit. But does the Spirit have you?
And how is that possible?
Just ask then be obedient to what the Spirit shows you.
It really is that simple.

Preached May 15, 2005
Dr. Harold McNabb
West Shore Presbyterian Church
Victoria, British Columbia

Notes
1. Bill Bright, "How to Be Filled with the Spirit" (Campus Crusade publication)
JFBConnect not enabled. Please enable.