Something I heard recently – There are really only two ways to view life. Either everything is really just chaos or everything is a miracle.
26 But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt. (Genesis 19:26)
Lot’s wife became a pillar of salt to represent that when we look back at what is behind us, we are essentially immobilized. We cannot go forward in God’s plan when we are focused on looking back.
Historically, a false sense of security has been the most common replacement for reliance upon the Lord.
The enormity of human need dictates the priority of prayer in our daily life.
It’s really that simple.
Waiting for God
The essence of Waiting for God is – an expectant trust or faith in the perfect goodness of the nature and character of God.
Lamentations 3:25 The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, To the person who seeks Him.
Heb 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Eventually)
Psalm 62:5-8 My soul, wait in silence for God only, For my hope is from Him. 6 He only is my rock and my salvation, My stronghold; I shall not be shaken. 7 On God my salvation and my glory rest; The rock of my strength, my refuge is in God. 8 Trust in Him at all times, O people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah.
Isaiah 8:17 I will wait for the LORD, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob. I will put my trust in him. (God will eventually show up)
It is the same today – We have needs and we cry out to God from those needs and God decides in His perfect wisdom, when and where He will eventually show up.
But there’s a problem here. I believe we have gotten so used to the concept of “God of the eleventh hour” (our Sovereign God) that many of us have missed out on another aspect of God’s availability to us.
You see, the thing is, most of us Christians don’t really believe in the outright availability of God and His manifest presence to us today!
Let’s look at Luke Chapter three vs 15, where we’ll find some people who are waiting for the Lord. And while doing so, they receive a promise not only of the coming Christ, but also of the baptism with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
Luke 3:15 The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Christ.
Luke 3:16 John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
Now, let’s go to Acts Chapter 1, just before Pentecost. In Verse 4 we see Jesus talking to the disciples about John’s promise of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. He exhorts them to wait for the Holy Spirit. Acts 1:4 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. Acts 1:5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
So, in Acts 1:14 we find the disciples … all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. They are there waiting for the Holy Spirit…
Then in Chapter 2 Verse 1, John’s promise of the baptism in the Spirit and with fire is fulfilled at Pentecost:
Acts 2:1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.
Acts 2:2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.
Acts 2:3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.
Each of them individually…A corporate supernatural event, but each of them receives a separate tongue of fire. What does this mean? The next verse tells us.
Acts 2:4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. The wind represented the presence of the Holy Spirit and each tongue of fire represented an empowerment gifting from the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit distributed the fire that rested upon each disciple.
And then, after going outside and speaking in tongues and getting some reactions from the crowd, Peter explains what has happened…
Acts 2:14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say.
Acts 2:15 These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning!
Acts 2:16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
Acts 2:17 “‘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.
Acts 2:18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.
Many of us today believe that we must “wait” just as the disciples were instructed to do as they awaited Pentecost in order to experience the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in our life. Many still believe, sometimes very religiously, that they must undergo a time of waiting filled with an expectant trust or faith in the goodness of God to usher in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. Some of us still believe that we must imitate the actions of the disciples in the upper room before Pentecost, waiting, speaking many prayers and supplications full of heartfelt declarations of our desire for the presence of God – hoping, wishing, that we could persuade God to visit us with His presence and His power.
And this is truly unfortunate. It is not that the Holy Spirit doesn’t ever respond to these kinds of religious actions. He does, quite often. It is just that these kinds of actions usually represent a belief that God must be persuaded to respond.
We are no longer in a time of waiting for the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has been and is being poured out. Pentecost has already occurred. You can stop waiting for the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit now. The Holy Spirit is available to you. We will not always see the power of God outwardly doing in our lives precisely what we want Him to do. There is still waiting involved here. God is still Sovereign. But there is a presence and power of God available to us in the person of the Holy Spirit that many of us have either overlooked, ignored, avoided or just plain not understood.
Some of us have been taught by well meaning Christians, that we must continue to wait in a pre-pentecostal waiting line for the Holy Spirit. That we need to try to earn His presence with just the right combination of heartfelt emotions, or worship songs, or declarations of love, or re-commitments, or sacramental observances, or confessions of faith.
But this is simply not true.
The Holy Spirit has been poured out on all people. On all believers, that is.
“‘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.
Acts 2:18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.
The Holy Spirit is no longer only poured out upon prophets, kings and priests. The time for waiting for the move of the Holy Spirit upon a prophet, a king, or a priest, in order to receive inspiration, direction, or special empowerment is over. Pentecost has come and the Holy Spirit is now poured out upon “all people.” All people.
“‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.”
It is really, actually, as simple as – believe and you will receive.
But if you’re like most Christians, you’re probably struggling to believe that it could really be that simple.
I am telling you today that you can be filled with the intoxicating, peace-filled, loving presence of the Holy Spirit any time you would like. This is not because you have the power to order the Holy Spirit around. It is because Jesus has made the Holy Spirit that available to God’s children.
Many of us have been programmed by social systems and religious convention to believe that we must earn the presence of God. We’ve been taught to believe that there are certain religious actions that we must undertake before we can experience the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. Most Christians that I have known have been led to believe that the Holy Spirit’s presence is something that must be acquired by persuasion through specific types of appropriate religious efforts. You put in your time voicing your heartfelt emotions, your worship songs, declarations of love, recommitment’s, confessions of faith, and you get a portion of the Holy Spirit.
Do you want more? Then you put some more time in and you get a little more of the Holy Spirit. This is a religious mentality that may be offensive to God. It may be offensive because it does not seem grace-based. It is not a doctrine of receiving from God. It is instead a doctrine of earning from God.
Now some of us may say, “But I’ve asked God for the experience of the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit over and over again, and I still haven’t experienced it like you are saying that I can.”
But have you really believed that the Holy Spirit is actually available to you like I am describing it to you today? Desire for the presence of God is not the same as faith in the availability of the presence of God. You can have much desire for God, and yet, still have very little faith in the availability of God.
Besides a lack of understanding regarding the availability of God, here are three common barriers to receiving or dwelling in the presence of the Holy Spirit.
The first barrier – You haven’t experienced the presence of the Holy Spirit like I am describing because you believe in your heart of hearts that you must pray to God over and over again in order to experience the presence and empowering of the Holy Spirit. You believe that you have to beg and plead. You believe that you have to convince God how serious you are. That you really, really, want this. That’s one barrier.
The second barrier – You may not truly desire to live a transformed life. From this attitude of the heart, you will most likely only have short-term experiences of the presence of God while living on this earth.
The third barrier – You may not really want to experience the presence of God on a daily basis because you realize how much more might be expected of you. Therefore, you won’t.
But, to all those that do desire to experience the presence of God, right now, while living on this earth – you do not have to earn the Holy Spirit’s presence by the effort of your desire. The Holy Spirit’s presence can be experienced, very simply, by the effort of your faith. Your faith is the proper exercise of your desire. Long prayers with lots of tears and moaning and groaning are not the proper exercise of your desire for the Holy Spirit’s presence. Your faith is the proper exercise of your desire for the Holy Spirit’s presence. Your faith in the availability of the Holy Spirit who has been poured out upon all people as the word of God declares.
Some people believe that being filled with the Spirit is a one-time event. Or at the most an event that is experienced twice. The first event is salvation. The second, for Pentecostals, is the “Baptism of the Holy Spirit.”
But scripture reveals that being filled with the Spirit is not meant to be viewed as an event that can only be experienced once or twice. Being filled with the Spirit is a continuing opportunity that Christians are able to benefit from. It is actually an ongoing necessity and an ongoing privilege that we are meant to take hold of. We need only ask and believe, and we will receive.
Like the disciples in Acts 4:29. They were no longer waiting and waiting for the Holy Spirit. They were asking and receiving!
Acts 4:29 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.
Acts 4:30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
Acts 4:31 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.
The full life Bible Commentary tells us, and I quote,
“Rather than pray for deliverance from danger, they ask for boldness to preach the word. The word boldness (Parresia) refers to courage and freedom of speech that results from being empowered by the Holy Spirit. The believers want to be inspired by the Holy Spirit so that they will have the courage to boldly present the message of salvation without regard for the threats of their enemies. God answers their prayer by giving them a visible sign of His presence: the place where they are meeting is shaken. This external manifestation of God’s power reassures the believers that the Sovereign LORD is still with them. God has heard them pray for the boldness needed to bear witness to the gospel, as well as, for signs and wonders.
The believers also experience an internal filling with the Spirit. These believers, including Peter and John, already received their initial filling with the Spirit at Pentecost. But scripture teaches that to be filled with the Spirit is not a “once for all” experience. The repetitive character of this experience is demonstrated by the fresh filling of Peter and John and other Christians as they pray.
According to our Western understanding, something full, cannot be filled more. But from the standpoint of the Bible, the Spirit-filled believer can receive additional fillings with the Spirit.” End of Quote.
We need to overflow with the Spirit of God! The world needs us to overflow with the Spirit of God. Which do you think would have more impact in the world today – a trickle of water or a great flood? A lit match or a bonfire? A little puff of air or a hurricane? These new fillings’ gave the disciples the extraordinary spiritual power needed to face the threats of the authorities. With boldness and great power they continued to speak the word of God and to bear witness about the resurrection of Jesus. The disciples believed on the availability of the Holy Spirit and they became a flood, a bonfire, and a hurricane that swept across the Roman Empire extending the Kingdom of God – by the manifest power of God.
Jesus promised that the heavenly Father would give His Spirit to those who ask. (Luke 11:9-13)
Luke 11:9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.
Luke 11:10 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
Luke 11:11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?
Luke 11:12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?
Luke 11:13 If you then, though you are evil, ” (poneros, pon-ay-ros'; hurtful or evil in effect or influence, and thus differing from a form of the word which refers rather to essential character, so, in other words… “If you then, though you ‘do evil things’) 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 are being told that we must have an unremitting, faith based attitude that God is going to give us the Holy Spirit when we ask him. This is about boldly believing the faith-based truth that there is an immediate availability of the Holy Spirit for our lives.
What else does the Bible say about being filled with the Spirit?
Eph 5:15 –17 “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.”
And what is the Lord’s will?
Eph 5:18-20 “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Let’s take a closer look at the words, “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit…”
“Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery” — asotia, as-o-tee’-ah; unsavedness, profligacy:–excess, riot. (Or, in other words, unrestrained immorality.)
“Instead, be filled with the Spirit” – pleroo (Greek) pronounced play-ro’-o; to make replete, (literally) to cram (like to cram a fish net with fish), or to level up a hollow in the ground by filling it full.
The Full Life Bible Commentary tells us that the tenses of the two imperatives in 5:18 indicate a “never do so” in reference to indulging in intoxicating wine and an “always do so” in reference to being filled with the Spirit. The actual expression of the second imperative is unusual. Paul does not say, “Be full of the Spirit”, as though one were full of Spirit in the same way that another is full of wine, but rather, he says, “be filled by the Spirit” with the emphasis on being filled to the full by the Spirit’s presence or with the fullness which the Spirit gives. (We do not put the bottle up to our lips and drink the Spirit as we would wine. We ask; the Spirit gives; we receive.)
Now check this out!
The precise form of the verb “be filled” (pleroo) is significant for four reasons.
First, it is an imperative, and is thus a command. Being filled with the Spirit is not an option or a tentative suggestion, as if we are at liberty to take-it-or-leave-it. It carries an urgent weight of importance.
Secondly, it is plural, and thus applies to the body of Christ collectively. All of God’s people are to be filled.
Thirdly, it is passive, and thus could be translated, “Let the Spirit fill you.” There should be such an openness and obedience to the Holy Spirit that nothing hinders Him from filling us.
Fourth, it is a present tense, and thus carries the idea of an ongoing action. Just as our physical bodies need the constant renewal that sleep brings, so the body of Christ needs the constant renewal that the Spirit makes possible.
Thus, we have an imperative, plural, passive, present tense in the single word “pleroo” translated “be filled.” In other words, we are being commanded (because it is an imperative), corporately (because it is plural), to receive the filling of the Spirit (because it is passive), all the time (because it is a present tense).
In summary – We are being commanded/ corporately/ to receive the filling of the Spirit / all of the time!
One may ask, “But how?”
There is no religious formula or specially anointed person required. We are not being commanded to do what cannot be done. It is as simple as this: we ask, we believe, we receive.
In Summary – we are being commanded/ corporately/ to receive the filling of the Spirit/ all the time!
What happened to waiting? It is no more.
Here is a religious allegory: Two formerly blind men who had been healed by Jesus crossed paths one day and upon sharing their respective stories they got into an argument.
Jesus had healed one merely by speaking a word to him but He had used paste from dirt and spit to apply to the other man’s eyes. In their passionate confrontation with each other, each was fully persuaded it could not have been Jesus who had healed the other because He had used a different method for each of them.
Conventional wisdom: the generally accepted belief, opinion, judgment, or prediction about a particular matter.
Conventional wisdom consists of opinions based primarily upon the experiences of men. Godly wisdom consists of inspiration based primarily upon the word of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit. God could do so much more amongst us if we didn’t try to “box” Him in.
(Actually, Jesus healed blind people in five different ways. Matt 9:29/ Mark 8:27 Mark 10:52/ Luke 18:42/ John 9:6,7)
The love of things religious is not a substitute for a personal experience with God.
John 3:3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”