Christianity 201

April 16, 2018

Filled With The Spirit

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:33 pm
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Acts:13.6 They traveled through the whole island until they came to Paphos. There they met a Jewish sorcerer and false prophet named Bar-Jesus, who was an attendant of the proconsul, Sergius Paulus. The proconsul, an intelligent man, sent for Barnabas and Saul because he wanted to hear the word of God. But Elymas the sorcerer (for that is what his name means) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul from the faith. Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said, 10 “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord? 11 Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind for a time, not even able to see the light of the sun.”

Immediately mist and darkness came over him, and he groped about, seeking someone to lead him by the hand. 12 When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord.

Today’s thoughts are from a 2010 Zondervan book, A Certain Risk: Living Your Faith at the Edge, by Paul Richardson. To learn more about Paul, check out a story we did at Thinking Out Loud on Mustard Seed International.


In Acts we read that Barnabas and Saul were traveling together when suddenly they came face to face with a sorcerer. Luke writes that Saul was”filled with the Spirit” as he stepped forward to face the adversary. From this moment forward, Saul’s name is inexplicably changed to Paul. When I studied this event, I asked myself, wasn’t Paul already filled with the Spirit? He’d been a follower of Jesus for many years! I believe the answer is yes and the answer is no. Luke writes with the assumption that there’s a distinction between (1) being sealed with the Spirit, unleashing God’s ebb and flow of artistry in us and resulting in bearing fruit, and (2) being filled with the Spirit during certain moments, launching us into the fray to fulfill God’s chosen purposes in those moments.

Luke aligns Paul’s brazen response to the sorcerer with hundreds of other moments in the Scriptures when individuals are momentarily “filled with the Spirit.” Let’s slow down a bit and take a careful look at the following examples of Spirit-filled moments. Try not to rush through them. Instead, soak them in, allowing them to revitalize your understanding of what it means to be filled with the Spirit. Notice the triangulation of God, one of his image bearers, and the world around that person. Also notice how these moments portray how God takes purposeful action, drawing men and women of faith into movement, shattering our mundane routines in extraordinary fashion. I have added italics for emphasis.

  • “The Spirit of the Lord came upon him, so that he went to war.”1
  • “Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet.”2
  • “Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah. He… advanced.”3
  • “The Spirit of the Lord will come upon you in power, and you will prophesy.”4
  • “The Spirit of the Lord spoke through me.”5
  • “Then the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah… He stood before the people and said…6
  • “The Spirit is poured upon us from on high, and the desert becomes a fertile field.”7
  • “I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice  to the nations.”8

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners. (Is. 61:1)

The following Spirit-filled moments can be found in the four gospels:

  • “It will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”9
  • “I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations.”10
  • “But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.”11
  • “At once the Spirit sent him out into the desert.”12
  • “Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say.  Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.”13
  • “For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”14
  • “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”15
  • “When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me.”16

Notice that Spirit-filled moments have three elements in common: God, image-bearer, world. God moves from within an image bearer to somehow imprint, transform or confront the world around that person.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  Acts 1:8
A Certain Risk, pp 98-100

1 Judges 3:10
2 Judges 6:34
3 Judges 11:29
4 I Samuel 10:6
5 II Samuel 23:2
6 II Chron. 24:20
7 Isaiah 32:15
8 Isaiah 42:1

9 Matthew 10:20
10 Matthew 12:18
11 Matthew 12:28
12 Mark 1:12
13 Mark 13:11
14 Luke 12:12
15 John 14:26
16 John 15:26

November 17, 2010

Rested In or Rested On

I was lying awake at 4:00 AM this morning thinking that perhaps I have more in common with Old Covenant believers than I do with New Covenant believers.    At least in this respect:  Sometimes I feel that just as the Holy Spirit would rest on certain people then, I don’t always feel like the Holy Spirit is dwelling in on a 24/7 basis.

Now before you write me off as a heretic, let me explain this more.   I know that positionally I am indwelt by the Spirit.  That’s a given.   I believe in both the receiving of the Holy Spirit at Salvation and also in subsequent, post-conversions overflows of the Holy Spirit.*   I believe I have experience both.   I’ve also known — many times — what it is to be sharing my faith, or just speaking with someone generally, and have the Holy Spirit take over, giving me words to say that I was not at all planning on speaking.

But like more of you than care to admit; I have moments when I am simply living in the material world and am not specifically conscious of the Spirit’s presence as I check the tire pressure on my car, or brush my teeth.

At this point, my wife interrupts to remind me that in the Old Covenant days, it was certain people (i.e. the prophets) on whom the Holy Spirit would rest.  I’m not claiming to be a prophet.  I was just trying to find words to express that sometimes I seem to sense the Spirit working in my life more than at other times.

But perhaps her comment is key to understanding what I do experience, even in those moments when the world is looming larger than it should; namely that under the current arrangement, the Holy Spirit is available to everyone, both for those moments when we don’t know what we should say, and also for that ongoing, abiding sense of His presence.

The great difference for New Covenant believers is not an issue of on versus in; but rather a celebration that it’s an issue of all versus some.

And we’re part of the all.

-=-=-=-

* Someone explained it to me this way:  Consider a can of pop/soda.   Open the tab and look inside.  The can is filled.   It can’t be more filled if it’s already filled, right?   Now put your thumb over the opening and shake it really hard.   Now release your thumb.   That’s the overflow I’m talking about.