Two of the most asked questions are related – what is the Holy Spirit and how can I be filled with the Holy Spirit? And, yes, that pronoun is correct. Him with a capital H. Because the Holy Spirit is one of the three persons of God and Scripture tells us the Spirit is a person.
The Bible is full of stories of how God’s Holy Spirit came upon certain people at certain times to do specific tasks. Think of Paul. Christian hater. Put to death hundreds of Christians. Took part in the stoning of Stephen, the first Christian martyr. Then, as he was traveling to Damascus to kill and persecute more Christians, Jesus and the Holy Spirit overtook him and Acts 9:17 tells us Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit. From then on, Paul became the primary evangelist of this new religion called Christianity.
In the description of the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2, Luke uses the language of a heavy tropical rainstorm. It’s a picture of the power of the Spirit flooding the apostles' beings. They heard a gale. Some trembled. They also saw something that resembled fire. Physical heat sometimes accompanies the filling of the Spirit and people experience it in their hands or some other part of their bodies. Some describe it as a feeling of glowing all over. Still another described "burning in my arms when I was not hot." Fire perhaps symbolizes the power, passion, and purity the Spirit of God brings to our lives.
For others, the experience of the Spirit may be an overwhelming experience of the love of God. Paul prays for the Christians at Ephesus that they might have "power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ." We see this love supremely in the cross of Christ. We know Christ's love for us because He was willing to die for us. Paul prayed that we would grasp the extent of this love.
When these early Gentiles were filled with the Spirit they started "praising God." Spontaneous praise is the language of people who are excited and thrilled about their experience of God. It should involve our whole personality, including our emotions. I’ve heard the question, "Is it right to express emotions in church? Isn't there a danger of emotionalism?"
The danger for most of us in our relationship with God is not emotionalism, but a lack of emotion ? a lack of feeling. Our relationship with God can be rather cold. Walk into many churches today and you get a feeling the Holy Spirit left a long time ago.
So what keeps us from being filled with the Holy Spirit?
The first obstacle is doubt. We find it very difficult to believe that God would give us anything ? let alone something as unusual and wonderful as His Holy Spirit and the gifts that come with the Spirit.
The second obstacle is fear. Even if we have cleared the first hurdle of doubt, some of us trip up on the next hurdle of fear. The fear is about what we will receive. Will it be something good? Will it be something weird? Will I be ostracized by my friends and family if I am filled with the Holy Spirit?
The third obstacle is inadequacy. We feel unworthy. It’s hard to believe that God would give us anything this wonderful. We can believe that He would give gifts to holy and advanced Christians, but not to us.
If you would like to be filled with the Spirit, you might like to find someone who would pray for you. If you don't have anyone who would be able to pray for you, nothing stops you from praying on your own.
If you are praying on your own:
1. Ask God to forgive you for anything that could be a barrier to receiving.
2. Turn from any area of your life that you know is wrong.
3. Ask God to fill you with His Holy Spirit.
Being filled with the Spirit is not a one?time experience. Peter was filled with the Spirit three times in the space of three chapters in the Book of Acts. When Paul says, "Be filled with the Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18), he uses the present continuous tense, urging them and us to go on and on being filled with the Spirit. It’s important that we pray to be filled with the Spirit at any time, but especially before something important like a job interview or a big exam, or preaching a sermon.
Pray “Lord, fill me with your Spirit. Inspire me. Give me confidence. Guide me. Lead me.”
In my years in ministry, I’ve seen the Holy Spirit do many miraculous things in my life and in the lives of others. I’ve seen miraculous healings – both of body and of mind. So can you. Jesus promises: ”ask and it shall be given. Seek and you will find.”
The Rev. Dale Chrisman, Rector, Trinity Anglican Church, now worshiping in our new church at 18900 FM 1431, five miles from Cedar Park and Leander. www.trinitychurchlagovista.org.