THERE IS MORE
Many years ago I was at a conference where I found myself connecting with some leaders from a fast growing church. They were kind enough to invite me to join them for dinner at a restaurant which turned out to be a fancy one. As I glanced at the menu I began realise that I was in a bit of a tricky spot. I had no debit card with me and the cash in my pocket was only enough to cover a MacDonald’s Chicken meal. The prices on this menu were far in excess of your humble takeaway burger. The trouble was, I was hungry and if I was to make my excuses and leave, my remaining money was just enough to cover the cost of my taxi fare back to the hotel. This was also a great opportunity to learn from these folks who were seeing amazing church growth.
Thankfully as I eyed the options, I spotted a starter that was just within my price range. If I ordered a tap water and this measly portion, I’d be able to cover my part of the bill. So the waiter came to our table and folks were ordering the steak option with wine and my order was something like, “I’ll take the mushroom crostini and a tap water” (it was something small and crusty, but I can’t quite remember what it was). For some reason my order caused a bit of surprise. “Is that all you’re having? Why not order something else? The steak looks great. Or there are some nice vegetarian options.” I told them that I was okay.
Well, the food arrived and the steak did look great, all succulent and sizzling, beautifully presented and smelling amazing. And my meal was indeed small and crusty. I tried to eat it slowly, so as not to sit there with an empty plate and my tap water. Well it was an encouraging get-together and it was finally time to pay the bill. I was hoping that I had remembered correctly how much was in my pocket, as it would be embarrassing to say I’d come up short.
As the waiter looked to hand someone the bill, the Pastor took it and handed it to his friend, a businessman; oh and also it turns out is a millionaire. This millionaire friend announced that he was paying the whole bill, everyone’s bill, (including my crusty starter, but not my tap water because that was free). Funnily enough, I was the only one which this came as a surprise to. Everyone else seemed to be aware that our bill was being fully paid for!
Suddenly I realised that I could have been enjoying so much more! This was my moment to enjoy the millionaire lifestyle! (Even if it was just for one meal). But I had restricted myself, believing my crusty morsel was all that there was, and in doing so, I missed out on the generosity of a millionaire.
When it comes to the Holy Spirit, some people can be like this. The Holy Spirit’s job is basically to make God real to us in the here and now (there’s more to Him than that, but that’s good for starters). He’s not meant to just be used as a religious word to close a church service. He actually communicates to us in lots of different ways both seen and unseen. He also does powerful things that we don’t expect causing sick people to recover through prayer in Jesus’s name and bringing all sorts of wonderful things about. Yet some people are missing out! Just like me in the restaurant, they think they have all there is when they became a Christian; that there is nothing more after that, when actually God, like the millionaire businessman has so much more for us to enjoy. Other people think that after just one experience they’ve had all that the Holy Spirit has to offer and don’t need to receive any more.
But I believe there is so much more than just one blessing of the Holy Spirit (good though that blessing is!). There is a second blessing, a third blessing, a fourth and so on! We need to be continually asking and hungering for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our lives each day. Okay, so where does it say this in the Bible? Let me show you something you may not have noticed before!
Take a look at John 20:19-22 “On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said “Peace be with you!” After He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that He breathed on them and said “Receive the Holy Spirit.” So this is the monumental Sunday night of Easter. Jesus has risen from the dead in the morning. The disciples are scared that they too will be arrested and executed. Now Jesus appears to them and reassures them. And then Jesus does something unexpected. He gives them the Holy Spirit. This is on Easter Sunday, some 40 days before the Holy Spirit visits the disciples in the upper room on the day of Pentecost. Something is happening here. Just as Jesus spoke to the blind man, “Be healed” and the blind man could see and “Lazarus come forth!” and the dead man come alive again; when Jesus spoke things, they happened. But isn’t this just a symbolic act? No, because this isn’t the way Jesus worked. When Jesus spoke or acted, something always took place. He wasn’t a guy for empty words.
What is happening here? These are the first disciples to believe in Jesus’ resurrection. It had literally happened that morning. Now they needed the seal of the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 1:13 tells us that “Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession.” A seal is a melted red wax which was used on a scroll to keep a letter closed. Those living disciples now needed God’s seal upon them, having believed. This is what happens to us when we believe. We receive the Holy Spirit inside us and are marked as God’s possession. The enemy the devil will see that we belong to Jesus. We are protected.
This is a wonderful work of the Holy Spirit. But it doesn’t stop there. There is more! God wants to give us more. We also need His power to be activated in us. Jesus actually says in Acts 1:4 to those same disciples “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” And forty days after the first Holy Spirit moment, whilst they wait and pray, God’s power fills all who have already received Jesus – all those who are already Christians and have the Holy Spirit inside them. But God doesn’t stop there, as the believers pray on a later occasion in Acts 4:31, it says as Peter, John and others were praying together “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.” So it happens again! There are two different purposes at work here; firstly having the Holy Spirit as a seal that we are God’s possession and secondly, being revived and empowered by the Holy Spirit to know Jesus and serve Him.
Let me take you on to one other piece of evidence, before we finish… As Christians we need to be under the influence of the Holy Spirit. As we allow Him to fill our lives daily, we will have His inspiration, strength and favour powerfully affecting our day. The Apostle Paul says this “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). The word for “be filled” in Greek “plerousthe” literally means “go on being filled.” It is written in the present tense, ie. in the now and also continuous tense, or on an ongoing basis. So it’s clear here that Paul isn’t expecting this to be a one-off experience. We need the Holy Spirit daily. We need to be full of His presence daily. The more of us that we submit the Holy Spirit to in our lives, the more we will see God at work in surprising and powerful ways.
The whole bill is paid for. Don’t be the one who thinks what they have got just enough to cover it. Don’t say you have been there, done that and got the t-shirt. Ask the Lord for more! If you are hungry for more of God, I recommend you read this verse and then ask the Lord to do what He says He will do! Check out Luke 11:9-13 read it all! Paul Martin is a Youth Pastor and author and has recently published a Bible study devotional book for young people which goes through the whole book of Revelation in 49 easy to understand devotions. You can check it out HERE.
____________________ Restaurant picture: Des Récits (Unsplash)