We Are Not Alone Part 4: The Filling Of The Spirit
On Sunday 12th June at our morning services, we finished our series We Are Not Alone with the topic 'The Filling Of The Spirit'. In this blog you will find a summary of the talk and then some questions and reflections for you to think through on your own or to discuss in your small group.
To listen to the talk on-line, please click here.
To download the talk to listen to off line, please click here.
We started our service with a Worshiphouse Media clip. You can watch this by clicking here.
Sometimes we equate complicated things with brilliance. If we hear someone talking about something and we don’t understand it we think that they must be clever or a genius. But actually, I think that is the wrong definition of genius. I think genius is the ability to understand complicated or mysterious things and be able to communicate that to others in simple and easily understood ways.
Christians are often guilty of making things complicated, but Jesus made Christianity really very simple. He died on the cross so we could see really simply just how much God loves us. He rose again just so we could see that death is not the end, and he said if you want to be adopted as sons and daughters of God all you have to do is to follow me. He said if you follow me all you have to do is to love God and love other people.
Jesus also said to his first followers, when I’m not around anymore I am going to send you someone else to be God’s presence amongst you – the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit is another thing we tend to overcomplicate. Through this series we have been trying to explain simply and easily who the Holy Spirit is, what the Spirit does and today how we can be filled with the Spirit.
We see in God’s story that although the Spirit is always present, there are times when it is poured out in a more significant way on people and that happens for specific people for specific times to equip them with what they need for a particular challenge or situation. In the Old Testament part of the story it happens fairly infrequently. But then Jesus comes along and when he is baptised the Spirit comes on him - he is filled with the Spirit.
Then Jesus says to his first followers that once he leaves them to go back to be with his Father they are to wait for an outpouring of the Spirit and they do and the Spirit comes to them and fills them. And that launches a new era, when the Spirit is not only always present, but is now always available to fill people to equip them.
In the second week of this series we looked at the names the Spirit is given which helped us understand what this filling of the Spirit brings. Names like comforter, healer, helper, counsellor help us understand that when we are filled with the Spirit God brings comfort, healing, help and encouragement and wisdom.
When Jesus went back to be with his Father in heaven he told his first followers to wait in Jerusalem for the filling of the Holy Spirit. They did just that and then the Holy Spirit filled them and they burst out of the room where they were waiting, full of the Spirit and everyone though that they were drunk. And one of them – Peter gets up and explains what has been happening. You can read what he said in a book in the New Testament called Acts. In Acts chapter 2 verses 14 to 21 we can read what Peter said. You can read it by clicking here
He tells them that they aren’t drunk – it is only 9 in the morning! Then he speaks to them using the words of on Old Testament prophet – Joel.
The Spirit will be available to everyone (verse 17 and 18) and when someone is filled in this way by the Spirit some things may happen:
• Signs and wonders
• People will be saved.
This really isn’t complicated. There isn’t any secret recipe to be filled with the Spirit although sometimes people may suggest that there is. The Spirit is available in this way to anyone. We simply have to ask and God’s promise is that he will fill us.
Sometimes when we are filled with the Spirit we know it because of an overwhelming sense we get of the presence and peace of God. Sometimes it is a more physical sense. We may shake or even fall over. There is nothing weird about that, if the power of God comes in this way that is entirely understandable response.
So often we don’t ask to be filled with the Spirit because we are scared. However we need to remember that God is a God of love who has good gifts to give us, one of which is the Holy Spirit and he won’t go beyond what helps and equips us. So we just have to ask and be ready to receive.
Questions and Reflections (to think about on your own or to discuss in your small group)
1. Have you ever thought about how simple the core message of Christianity is? Why do you think we sometimes overcomplicate it?
2. Do you agree that although God is big and difficult for us to understand, Christianity really is at its heart very simple?
3. In what ways to we people tend to overcomplicate the nature and role of the Holy Spirit?
4. What did it mean 2,000 years ago for the Spirit to be available to everyone?
5. What experiences have you (or someone you know) had of the filling of the Holy Spirit?
6. Why do you think that sometimes people are anxious or worried about the filling of the Spirit?
7. Are you ready to ask God to fill you with his Spirit?