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Under the Influence of the Spirit

I really enjoyed preparing a message for Pentecost Sunday this past week. In fact, it struck me that without Christmas and Easter, there would be no Christianity, but without Pentecost, Christianity would have no power or ability to last!

Pentecost was so important that Jesus’ final instructions to his followers were to wait in Jerusalem until they received the Holy Spirit, till they were baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire.

Paul writes, “Don’t get drunk on wine, which produces depravity. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” Don’t live under the influence of alcohol. Instead, live under the influence of the Holy Spirit. He said they’d receive power for their mission of being witnesses of Jesus Christ after the Holy Spirit comes upon them!

The ongoing challenge is that we may forget our reliance upon, and need for, God. That was John Wesley’s fear for future Methodists. He wrote …

I am not afraid that the people called Methodists should ever cease to exist either in Europe or America. But I am afraid lest they should only exist as a dead sect, having the form of religion without the power. And this undoubtedly will be the case unless they hold fast both the doctrine, spirit, and discipline with which they first set out. (“Thoughts Upon Methodism,” 1786.)

I’ve long prayed the prayer Jesus’ followers prayed in Acts 4.29: “Lord … enable your servants to speak your word with complete confidence.” But I’ve recently started praying the rest of their prayer, as well: “Stretch out your hand to bring healing and enable signs and wonders to be performed through the name of Jesus, your holy servant” (Acts 4.30). Hopefully, the result now will be as it was then: “After they prayed, the place where they were gathered was shaken. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking God’s word with confidence” (Acts 4.31).

Another passage of Scripture that has made it into my regular prayers is 1 Corinthians 2.4-5 …

My message and my preaching weren’t presented with convincing wise words but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power. I did this so that your faith might not depend on the wisdom of people but on the power of God.

Turning it into a prayer, I often pray, “Lord, let my message and my preaching be presented not with convincing wise words but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that people’s faith might not depend on human wisdom but on the power of God!”

May God pour out his Spirit upon us anew so that we may live, and lead, under the influence of the Spirit!

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