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Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 55

The Advent Part 47

Acts 2:16-17, “But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams.”

Each time I read this passage, I get the impression that there was certainty in Peter’s statement. He wasn’t supposing as the Jews had been concerning those who had been gathered in the upper room, when Peter says, ‘this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel’ there is certitude and conviction there.

Even though Peter was full of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit only brought to his remembrance that which he already knew, and placed it in the appropriate context. Peter must have heard this scripture passage in Joel at some point in his life, whether from Jesus or in the temple, I do not know, but at this particular moment this is the passage that the Holy Spirit not only brought to his remembrance, but also properly applied.

The Holy Spirit will not do for us what we can do for ourselves, and as such it is incumbent upon us as children of God, it is incumbent upon us as followers of Christ to read the Bible, and know it, but when it comes to speaking the words of life into the lives of others, when it comes to preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom, fear not, the Holy Spirit will bring to your remembrance the scriptures you read, and provide such clarity that you yourself will be amazed by the words that are flowing from your lips.

I am not a fan of canned sermons, I am not a fan of pre-packaged excessively polished masterpieces of eloquence absent the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, and as such, although I read the Word daily, and I study, I don’t prepare a sermon outline when I go to speak where I am invited. When I get to the church or to the meeting, I usually sit somewhere in the back pew, say a prayer, and wait for God to put on my heart that which He knows the people need to hear. In the end, it’s God speaking to the hearts of the individuals that are present that compels them to repentance and sanctification, and when God speaks it is not in bombastic generalities or platitudes, it is personal and intimate, and targeted in such a way that the people know God is searching their hearts, and speaking to them on their level.

In our day and age there are entire cottage industries geared toward doing away with the need for divine inspiration of any kind. Preachers and pastors alike can go online and for a nominal fee download their next sermon, whether just the bullet points or the entire thirty minute oratory is up to them, they can likewise download entire series, project ideas for the congregation, layouts for growth projections and a myriad of other things that bypass the need for prayer and diligent study, that bypass the need for meditating on the word of God and being dependent upon Him for the spiritual feeding of the flock. Although some say that having these resources readily available has made their lives easier, and that they now have more time to spend with their families, or take up golf, personally I believe it is detrimental and destructive to the household of faith, as well as their personal relationships with God. The easier path isn’t always the right path, and try as we might we cannot bypass prayer, we cannot bypass studying the word, we cannot bypass fasting, we cannot bypass intimacy with God, and expect that when we stand behind a pulpit with our freshly printed sermon, written by a complete stranger, the power of the Holy Spirit will be present and the lives of those in attendance will be touched or radically transformed. I would rather hear the words of a simple sermon that is divinely inspired, than the words of a polished sermon that has nothing in the way of divine inspiration. The tragedy however, is that we’ve gotten used to the powerless sermons of our day, we’ve come to accept platitudes and clichés as being the norm, and when someone stands before the congregation with power and authority, divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit we think them too strange, too odd, too intense, and too polarizing. There are even instances wherein although the messenger is rightly dividing the Word, although the messenger is speaking a word from the Lord, because it is a message of rebuke and not all encompassing love, acceptance and tolerance, we label them unloving, intolerant, unmerciful and hateful. Whenever you hear a sermon, whenever you hear a teaching, the first question that ought to spring to the forefront of your mind shouldn’t be did the message make me feel good, did it bolster my self-esteem, did it make me laugh, smile or chuckle, but was rather was what I heard Biblical. If it was Biblical, then uncomfortable as it made you feel, challenged as you might have been, you have no choice but to receive it.

The foundation of Peter’s discourse was Scripture, not his own opinions not his own suppositions, not something written by someone else, and guided by the light of the Holy Spirit he was able to adequately explain to the multitude what had just occurred before their very eyes. It was not Peter’s vanity, it was not his pride that prompted him to stand and speak, it was the Holy Spirit in him that and because he submitted to the Holy Spirit the words that he spoke were beyond his ability to articulate and formulate. When we trust in ourselves, when we trust in our own wisdom we are bound to make a mistake, we are bound to miss some relevant and important truth, but when we trust in the power of God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit that which we are given to speak will be whole and complete, and will open the eyes of those hearing us.

Peter knew the value of the power of the Holy Spirit because he had learned it from Jesus. Jesus had spoken frequently of the Comforter and the Helper to His disciples, time and again He had referred the One who would come and instruct them in all things, and teach them in His absence, and now the promise of Christ had been fulfilled and Peter’s mind had been enlightened to the deeper things of God.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

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