Archives For Holy Spirit

 

I love church!

But I have one problem, and here’s the deal.  I love being in church, but about 11 am every Sunday, man my stomach starts growling.  By 11:15 I can almost smell the tacos.  I can almost taste that ice cold Coke.  By 11:45 I lean over and ask my beautiful wife, “what’s for lunch?”  And she always gives me the same look.

I love church!  But Monday-Saturday, I eat at around 11:00.  One day a week I guess I just have to suffer.  I will buffet my body and be ready for the buffet later.

Seriously though, how many of you have been there?  Church is awesome, God is good, and you’re thinking about ribs on the grill and tall glass of lemonade?  Come on, fess up…I can’t be the only one.

9 out of 10 doctors agree that if you don’t eat you’re going to die.  God knows this because he made us this way!  But in every church I have been to, there’s always a sign that says, no food or drink allowed.  Man that’s a kick to the gut for a guy like me.  It’s almost a deal breaker.  I suffer through though and by 1:00 pm or so every Sunday I have had my fill of something.

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How many times in your life have you been wrong about something?  And did you like it?  I mean did you like it when you found out you were wrong?

If you did like it, congratulations on being first.  Because here’s the thing – we all have a point of view, and we think we are right, and we can defend our point of view until there are no words left – and it won’t matter to whoever we are arguing with if their views are different because they also can defend their veiws until they are blue in the face.

But what if you are wrong?  Who do you learn you are wrong from?  Not the person or group with an opposing viewpoint - you would never listen to them.  Where do we get understanding and knowledge from, and how do we trust that it is true?

Well, here’s my story – I’ve been wrong.  I’ve been told I was wrong and I didn’t believe it.  I had my arguments in place, I defended my little tower, I threw stones and took a few hits and my mind still was not changed.  I’m not talking about anything in particular here, even if you think I am – just in general.  My mind is made up, I’m right, you’re wrong.

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A few weeks ago I was on my way to work, I stopped at a light and my truck kinda shuddered, then the check engine light came on.  Then it went off, so I was thinking whatever.  Then at the next light it did it again this time the light stayed on.  It was a steady light – not blinking.  When it’s blinking, I think there’s a timer somewhere counting down to when the vehicle explodes or something.

The truck was running like it always does, there didn’t seem to be a problem but I took it to the mechanic anyway.  They couldn’t find anything, so I paid them a lot of money for nothing and went on my way.

Today, a week later – same thing.  Truck acts weird at a stop light, check engine light comes on, runs great afterward but the light is still on!

I don’t know what to make of it, but I have a piece of black tape somewhere and it’s going over that stupid light.  The light that tells me absolutely nothing.

I wonder what it would be like if we had a check engine light for life?  Eating too much queso?  Check engine light!  About to make a huge mistake?  Check engine light!  Ignored you doctor’s warning about clipping your toenails too short?  Yeah, maybe there’s no light for that one.

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(Cheryl continues her thoughts and experiences on baptism of the Holy Spirit.  See the first part here.)

What happened when my experience started to change? I had to re-evaluate my theology on this topic.

I began to start being open to the gifts of the Spirit. It’s funny how I thought I could pick and choose my spiritual gifts. Holy Spirit I want the gift of knowledge, but I’m not really interested in healing or speaking in tongues. It doesn’t really work that way. The spirit acts on our behalf and gives gifts when we need them.

When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, he will exercise spiritual gifts through us as we yield our will to His. So here are the spiritual gifts listed in 1 Cor 12. Wisdom, Knowledge, Faith, Healing, Miraculous powers, Prophesy, Distinguishing between spirits, Speaking in tongues and Interpretation of tongues.

When you are filled with the Holy Spirit, you will exercise one, two or all of these gifts at some point. I don’t believe you get just one.

Do I believe the Spirit can exercise all those gifts in His people today? Absolutely. Why? Because it’s easy to argue doctrine. It’s much harder to argue with an experience.

About 2 months after I had invited Jesus to fill me with the Holy Spirit, my younger daughter was very sick one night. She spiked a fever over 103 and was holding her ear and screaming. We had been through this once before. About 2 years ago, she got a staph infection in her ear and her eardrum burst and really gross stuff came out of her ear. When she was holding her ear this time, I thought we might be in trouble. I laid down by her in bed and she calmed down but she was burning up. I thought, “in 30 minutes we will go the ER if she’s not better.” I got up and laid down on the couch.

Then I heard these words: “I want you to get up, go to her room and heal her.”

Who me? I don’t know how to heal people. And there is was again -

“I want you to get up, go to her room and heal her.”

I decided at that moment I would trust and I went to her room.

So I went to her room and knelt by her bed. I put my hand on her ear and I began to pray. I really hadn’t spoken in tongues up to that point. I only had one phrase. But I prayed that phrase – out loud for the first time, and then something happened.

Power. Real power. I could feel it moving through me to her. And then something amazing happened. Her fever was immediately gone. Her pain was gone. I asked her “does your ear hurt” and she said “no.”

The next morning I went into her room and she was jumping on her bed singing at the top of her lungs, absolutely no sign of being sick.

She had been healed that night. (I have more stories like this!)

It took several months to really understand speaking in tongues. Speaking in tongues is a beautiful exchange between you and God in a heavenly language or unknown tongue. This is a whole topic in itself, but my perceptions and doctrine were holding me back on this. Holding onto false perceptions and other people’s opinion will squash speaking in tongues. This is truly about surrender and choosing to release all your preconceived ideas and perceptions and yield to the Spirit. And when I did that the Holy Spirit came in power and I spoke in a whole new language. If you will read scripture, speaking in tongues is for you as the believer. (I Cor 14:4-5 – these verses are often seen as a prohibition from Paul to not speak in tongues. What he’s actually saying here is tongues should be used privately. It may be used in group settings if someone interprets. I think the use of tongues in public settings without interpretation may be an invalid use of tongues, but obviously it depends on the context – Rich)

It’s not really a gift for the masses or congregation like the gift of prophecy. The use of spiritual language in prayer builds you up. It edifies, encourages the believer. This gift is for me and you in our prayer life with the Father. And it’s amazing.

I believe God still empowers His people today. Don’t let your past experience or your religious doctrine get in the way of you having an encounter with the Holy Spirit.

He will empower you to heal the sick, cast out demons, speak with wisdom, to know spiritual truths, to prophesy, to do miracles, to speak to Him in a whole new way.

Being baptized or filled with the Holy Spirit means allowing the Spirit of God to breathe new life in us. To empower us to do things we could never do on our own. To speak to us, through us, heal us, comfort us. To be our friend and companion through life. To have direct one-on-one connection to the God of the Universe.

And all you have to do is ask. (Luke 11:5-13 – Jesus tells the Parable of the Persistent Friend – the point of the story is, if we want something, we need to ask God until we receive. You’ll notice in vs 13 that Jesus is talking about receiving the Holy Spirit! It’s funny how we can focus on one part of that passage and never see the rest of it – Rich)

(I asked Cheryl to help me with my ideas on the Holy Spirit.  She was so clear about it, and her ideas so well thought out, it didn’t make any sense to not let her tell you herself – the following is from my wonderful, beautiful wife, and some thoughts of my own added in a few places – Rich)

John the Baptist says “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (Matt 3:11)

Jesus says, “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another advocate to help you and be with your forever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” (John 14:16-18)

When we came to Gateway church a few years ago, there was something different. You could feel God’s presence. His spirit was there and present among His people. I noticed in the bulletin where you take notes, it says, “What is the Holy Spirit saying to you?”

I thought, “I don’t know.”  I talk to God. I talk to Jesus. But do I really talk to the Holy Spirit? Does the Spirit of God speak to me? How do I know if I’m filled with the Spirit or that I’ve been baptized into the Holy Spirit.

It just so happened that same year I read the bible through in 90 days twice! And what I read about was men and women of the bible living in power. Not their power, but power beyond themselves. The ability to do things they could never do on their own. They had supernatural wisdom and knowledge, the power to comfort, heal, prophesy things to come, cast out demons, to speak in other languages. This was normal to the early church experience. It was also true of many greats of the Old Testament like Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David. The Holy Spirit worked in and through them.

When I would ask questions about this growing up the answer was always, “people don’t do that anymore. The spirit doesn’t work like that today.”  When I asked this question at a Christian college Rich and I both went to, I got the same answer.

The bible says that God doesn’t change. He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever. So if God empowered people by the Holy Spirit before Christ and then during the early church, why on earth would I think that He wouldn’t do the same for His people now?

So I began to read and study the word. Here are few scriptures you must read – John chapters 14 and 15, The entire book of Acts, 1 Corinthians chapter 2, 12-14 and Romans 8 for starters.

It seems that when you talk about Baptism of the Holy Spirit, people immediately think about speaking in tongues. That when you are baptized in the Holy Spirit you are going to get all crazy and people will think you are weird. Although that is one gift of the spirit there’s so much more to it than that. The enemy is using lies (and possibly the misuse of the spirit’s gifts) to prevent so many Christians from knowing and experiencing the Holy Spirit.

So I began to study. I read God’s word. I read our pastor’s book, The God I Never Knew (by Pastor Robert Morris). I read Jack Hayford’s book, The Beauty of Spiritual Language.  All books I recommend!

What I learned is the Holy Spirit is my advocate, my life line to the Father. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth and teaches me truth about the Father, not just through His Word, but by speaking directly to me. God speaks to me through the Holy Spirit. I never knew prayer could really be a two-way conversation. That the God of the universe speaks to me. The Holy Spirit is my helper, comfort, friend, and intercedes on my behalf, even praying for me when I don’t know what to pray.

When you explain it like that – I WANT that! Don’t you?

I went to a class offered by Gateway on Baptism in the Holy Spirit. They went through a lot of the scriptures that I referenced. I knew that this was the one thing I had been missing my whole Christian life. At one point in the class, there was an invitation. It’s just that simple. The word says Jesus is the baptizer into the Holy Spirit. It’s His gift and all you have to do is ask. And I did.

For those of you wondering did I break out in tongues at that moment – No. Does it happen for some – yes.

All of a sudden I was able to read the Word with clear understanding. Scriptures that I never really understood became clear. I would be reminded of certain scriptures at the right time. When I was discouraged, I could feel the spirit comforting me. I began to hear the Spirit of God. Not like I’m crazy and now hearing voices. But words, phrases would come to mind. I would wake up before my alarm and feel happy, content, at peace, literally surrounded by His presence. Where the Presence of the Lord is there is JOY!

I had only felt that a few times during my 20+ years being a Christian. I had felt the Spirit, but only in small doses because I was quenching the Spirit.

Holding to the beliefs and doctrines of my youth, I wouldn’t allow His work in my life for so long. It’s even harder when our experience matches our doctrine. If I believe the Spirit doesn’t empower anymore, and my experience matches that well then it must be true. But what if it’s not true?What if I framed my entire Christian life on the lie that the Spirit doesn’t move in power anymore?  Then what I end up with is a performance doctrine. Working out my own salvation on my own accord and my own strength. That’s in effect saying the cross wasn’t enough. And for years I said no to a free gift from Jesus! That was His promise to me – being empowered by the Spirit of God. Living and walking in absolute freedom.

Cheryl will post part 2 tomorrow – in the meantime, what is the Holy Spirit saying to you? What preconceived ideas about how God works and the presence of the Spirit in our lives do you need to let go of? If you ask God, the Holy Spirit will show his presence and his power in you!