Acts 1:4-5 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. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
This is actually a restating of what Luke had recorded at the end of his Gospel. “I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49) Along with verse 8 of this chapter, that makes it very clear that the Holy Spirit is to supply the power to be and do all that the Father commands. Without the Holy Spirit, it actually goes without saying that we don’t have the ability to be God’s agents. Actually, it should go without saying, but far too often we try to do it on our own. That’s something we have to keep in our awareness: the organization and economy of the kingdom of God are absolutely illogical and even impossible without God. That is reflected very clearly in what God told Paul when he was complaining about a physical problem: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) If we don’t accept that we are weak in ourselves, we won’t be fully open for the power of God to operate through us. We have such trouble accepting what Jesus said: “Apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) God is not stingy with His power, but it is different not only in quantity but in quality from ours, and the more we trust our own power and try to use it, the more we get in the way of God’s power operating through us. At one point, while the Southern Baptist mission board still had strict rules against the exercise of Charismatic gifts, fully half of the Southern Baptist missionaries in Japan had been baptized in the Holy Spirit, simply from realizing how impossible it was to make any headway here without the help of the Holy Spirit. They cried out to God, and He answered.
This is something I’ve had a lot of trouble really getting through my head. God has given me a lot of abilities, but if I try to use them on my own, I accomplish nothing worthwhile. I am to exercise those abilities, but always in recognition of and submission to God. When the Holy Spirit is operating through me, people are touched and encouraged and healed and otherwise drawn to God. When I’m operating on my own, none of that happens. I experienced the baptism in the Holy Spirit in 1975, and have experienced all of the gifts mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12 at least once, but that doesn’t mean I operate in the Spirit with full consistency all the time. I still get in the way! Just as I tell the believers in this church, I’ve got to be more intentional in submitting to the Holy Spirit, asking Him to use me for the Father’s glory and making myself available. I’ve learned that my own will is involved, even though the power comes from God. I might feel a stirring in myself, but if I don’t choose to open my mouth, the speaking gifts aren’t manifested. I might feel something needs to be done, but if I don’t start moving, the action gifts aren’t manifested. That’s why I’ve got to stay humble, because I don’t have the wisdom to keep it all straight.
Father, thank You for this strong reminder, and for the awareness You want me to speak on the power of the Holy Spirit on Sunday. It won’t make any sense if I try to express it on my own, so I ask You to guide as I write the outline, so that it will be Your message in Your words to work Your will in the hearers for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!