The Power and Blessing of God's Presence
In our times of fellowship and prayer we can bring any request we have to God. We can tell Him what we would like to see done, but we also have the option of leaving the final choice to Him. I once received a card that said, “God always gives the best to those who leave the choice with Him.” We can pray as Jesus prayed, “My Father, if it is possible let this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39). The determination of my heart can be, “More than I want my own will, I want Yours. Choose what is best in the light of time and eternity, and with all my heart I will offer thanks.”
I understand prayer to be a time to listen to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit, a time to gratefully take His promises to heart, and a time to offer praise and thanksgiving in all things. “Loving Heavenly Father; You are here this morning. How can I thank You enough for going before me today? You make a way where there is no way! Thank You for the amazing work of Your grace that is being carried out whether I can see it or not. I begin this day by bringing to You my praise and my love. In Jesus name, so be it!”
Joy was not the only sign of the Holy Spirit's coming. As we read further in Acts, we will discover that the early disciples created an atmosphere of proclamation. From that center, the word of God sounded forth throughout all of Asia. The idolatry that was entrenched in Ephesus was undermined, and before long we read of men burning their objects of witchcraft.
Today these same things are true. May we determine this hour to go a little further — a little further than confession, a little further than repentance, a little further than the long wait for something that never really comes, a little further into complete, absolute, joy-filled submission to Jesus Christ.
The Day of Pentecost did not come and go over 2,000 years ago. Today is the Day of Pentecost. The Spirit of God is here! If we are not praising and praying and proclaiming, it is because we are like the men at Ephesus. We came just so far and no further. May each of us determine to go further! If, in answer to Paul’s question, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” we must say, “No, I didn’t,” then receive Him right now.
How we can receive Him? We receive Him when we open our hearts to Jesus. In seeking Jesus, we receive the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus. We don’t seek Jesus by subscribing to Christian principles. We don’t seek Jesus by listening to His teachings. We don’t seek Jesus by believing Him to be our perfect example. We don’t seek Jesus by trying to emulate Him.
We seek Jesus by surrendering to Him. We seek Him by putting our entire life at His disposal. We seek Jesus by trusting Him for yesterday and today and tomorrow and for all eternity. We seek Jesus by giving Him our entire life — by physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally belonging to Him. We seek Him as we share His life!
This truth was brought home to me in an unusual way many years ago. Our three children were young, and my mother was sick and in the hospital. On Sunday morning James and I took the children and went to Sunday School and church. Then we came home to eat lunch. After our meal James said, “Honey, I’ll clean up these dishes. You go on to the hospital and see how your mother is doing.”
I got into the car and headed out, grateful for his offer. I was thinking about how much I loved and appreciated him, and I heard myself murmur aloud, “I am so thankful that he chose me to share his life.” Immediately a response framed itself in my mind. It was the voice of God that I heard! I had no doubt about that, but it was not an audible voice. It was like a direct transmission from one mind to another. These were the words. “And I chose you to share My Life!” I was absolutely stunned and then awed. Tears of joy began to roll down my cheeks, and I cried all the rest of the way to the hospital. Oh, the wonder of it all. God Almighty chose me to share His life!
This is His word to every one of us. My Dad used to explain it this way. He said that he did not believe that God walks through the line of human history choosing some people and rejecting others. His understanding was that God chose to reveal His love and grace through mankind. We all have equal opportunity to share in His Life.
In 2 Peter 3:9 we read, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” He gave us free wills, and He will not overrule them. However, His offer stands good. Will we choose to share His Life?
If we have received the Holy Spirit, we have one more responsibility and that is to yield to Him. Allow the fire, the power, the joy and the hope to rise up in you. Don’t smother the song! Don’t quench the Holy Spirit!
If your answer to Paul’s question is “Yes, yes, I have received the Holy Spirit. As surely as He lives, He lives in me”, then be aware of the danger you are in. If you have received the Spirit, if the praise has come and the prayers have come and the words proclaiming the good news have come, then what is the danger?
The power and the reality of the Holy Spirit laid the foundation for the church at Ephesus. It was a great church, so wonderful that Paul wrote one of his last letters to it. But that was not the end of their story. The Lord in whom they had believed and through whom they had received the Holy Spirit wrote another letter to the church at Ephesus. He sent it through the apostle John from the island of Patmos. Through that letter, the tragedy unfolds. He writes, “I have this against you, that you have left your first love” (Revelation 2:4).
Once again we hear the cry of God’s heart over the lost love of people who had received the Holy Spirit. They had brought their praise to Him. They had offered their prayers to Him. They had proclaimed Christ. With the passing of time, rather than their love for Him growing, they had lost their first love. Other things had taken first place.
That brings us to another question. Have we lost our first love? Was there a time when our being was filled with the glory of God? Then, life brought disappointment and sadness and confusion and loss, and somewhere along the way we quietly lost our first love. What did Christ say to that Ephesian church? He said, “Repent and do the first works.” He was saying in effect, “Go back. Repent. Set the rudder of your will once again. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Get back to where you stood when you left me. Do once again the things you were doing when songs of praise rang out in your heart. Go back!”
There are multitudes today that see our churches as tombs of dead and lifeless people who feel nothing and know nothing of the very life of Christ pulsating through them. Such tragedy cannot be calculated! However, to those who belong to Him, every day offers great opportunities to honor Him with light and love and service. Every day can begin with a prayer of thanksgiving.
“Loving Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of another day in which to come to know You better and love You more.” May we thank our Heavenly Father for having sent the Holy Spirit to us, and may we live out our lives in the reality and the power and the blessing of His presence!