How the Holy Spirit Can Empower Us
Discovering the Holy Spirit
After my divorce, to say I struggled would be an understatement. But among the most glaring evidences of my struggle was my lack of finances. Nearly every month, I made my way to the office of the apartment complex where I lived to explain again why my rent payment would be late.
On one such occasion, I was stunned and delighted when the young woman in the office said,"Oh, you don't need to worry about it this month. Your rent has been paid." Of course, my first thought was “Who would do this for me?"
It took a while, but I finally figured out who paid my rent and was able to express my gratitude. But I still didn't make the connection that ultimately led me to the "real" Person behind that kindness—the Holy Spirit!
Of course, in a general sense, we give thanks to God when things like that happen, but it doesn't always lead us to the third Person of the Godhead. We're good with our "Good, good Father," and we're grateful for the sacrifice of our Savior, Jesus, as well we should be. However, we sometimes get confused and uncertain about the role of the mysterious third Person of the Trinity. Who is He, and why is His ministry so vital in our lives today?
Experiencing the Power of the Holy Spirit
In the upper room, while Jesus was seeking to explain to His beloved disciples what was about to happen (His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension), He assured them that it was actually a very good thing that He was "going away." In John 14:15-16 (NLT), Jesus said: "If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you." And in verse 17, Jesus gets very specific: "He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth."
Notice a couple of things in these verses. First, Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as "He," not "it." But also notice the word Jesus uses to describe the Holy Spirit, "Advocate." In the original language, it was the word "Paraclete," which can also be translated Comforter, Encourager, or Counselor.
Paraclete literally means “one who will stand by you.” The picture painted is a courtroom where you are on trial, but you're not alone. The Paraclete, brilliant and informed regarding the law and the details of your specific case, comes to stand by you and defend you.
Where the plot thickens is in Acts 2 when the Holy Spirit comes in power. Listen to Luke's account beginning with verse 1: "On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place. Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability."
That's when we begin to get nervous. Why? What's the implication? Through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, God did something new, something none of them had ever experienced in all their time following Jesus—He took control of them and enabled them to do something none of them believed they could do! In this case, the Holy Spirit enabled those early believers to speak in languages they'd never learned. Why? Because the situation called for this dramatic yet essential application of the Spirit's power.
Speaking the Language of the Holy Spirit
There were thousands of visitors who had come to Jerusalem for the Jewish Festival of Pentecost, many from different parts of the world, who spoke different languages than the common language spoken in Jerusalem at that time.
So, what needed to happen? God needed to enable His children to share the good news of who Jesus was and what He did with all of those visitors in a language they could understand—their language! And the only way that was going to happen was through the miraculous intervention of the Paraclete—the One who would come alongside those empowered believers, enabling them to do what they could never have done in their own strength or ability.
Isn't that exactly what the Holy Spirit is longing to do in our lives today? But how? By enabling us to speak the language of those in our spheres of influence who don't yet know our Savior. How do you think it will ever be possible to reach the 800,000 neighbors and friends who live within a ten-mile radius of our church if we can't learn to communicate with them in a language they can understand?
But there's a catch. "Okay, I'll bite, what is it?" You have to be willing to yield the most precious thing you possess. "Oh no, not my iPhone!" Nope, worse than that. "My Beamer?" Nope. "My job? My spouse? My kids? My health?" Nope. The control of your life!
Those early believers were in that upper room in Jerusalem in obedience to a directive the Lord had given them. They chose to submit to the Lord's authority in their lives, unknowing and uncertain as to what that might mean.
Do you think they were scared out of their wits when the wind started howling, the place started shaking, and they heard themselves and their friends speaking what seemed to them to be gibberish? Of course, but you know what? It all made perfect sense when 3,000 plus Jews from all over the world yielded their lives and allegiance to Jesus. Being scared was a small price to pay for 3,000 souls.
Connecting with the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is the Friend we may not have known we had, who will show up at unexpected times (though He actually lives in us and never leaves us) and bless us in unexpected ways to do for us what we can't do for ourselves, enabling us to bless those we are seeking to reach for Jesus. It's a win, win, win!
The greatest adventure I've ever known is following Jesus and yielding my life completely to His control through the ministry of His Holy Spirit who fills and empowers me. And just as the Holy Spirit led those two men who paid my rent to bless me, He's led me countless times to bless others to His glory, honor, and fame.
Are 800,000 souls worth yielding control of our lives to the vital ministry of the Holy Spirit? I'm not going to lie. I don't know what that will look like exactly. But I can assure you, based on the authority of God's Word and more than fifty-five years of following the Savior, whatever the cost, it's worth it. And by the way, we’re not in control anyway!