How Can I Be Filled With The Holy Spirit? 12 June 2011

Big Idea: Being filled is a vital but not automatic experience that must be done continually. In Pentecost Sunday, we will look at what happened in Acts 2 and how we can experience the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Today we celebrate Pentecost, a tremendously significant day reported in the second chapter of Acts.

Last week we began our creatively titled series “The Holy Spirit” with a look at who the Holy Spirit is. We said that He is not a ghost, but a Person, God, one third of the Trinity, one God in three Persons. We saw, too, how Jesus said it was better for Him to leave and give us the Holy Spirit than for Him to stay on earth, so He ascended into heaven and promised the Holy Spirit. The Spirit arrived in a big way in Acts 2.

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. – Acts 2:1-4

This is quite possibly the most popular passage of Scripture among charismatics and Pentecostals. These groups are often known for signs and wonders and miracles in their midst, something that should not surprise us since Jesus did them and said that we would do even greater things.

So why doesn’t the Church in USAmerica look more like the New Testament? Why are so few people doing “the stuff,” to quote John Wimber from last Sunday? Why aren’t people flocking here on Sunday mornings to get healed and set free from addictions and bondage?

Great questions!!!

Scio family, I can’t find a biblical answer to that question! How many of you want more of God? Really!

Have you ever been on a cruise? There was a man who wanted to go on a cruise in the worst way. He had heard about the wonderful experiences of others aboard ships and spent years saving up every possible penny in order to purchase a ticket. When the big day arrived, he proudly boarded the boat and waved goodbye to those less-fortunate people on the dock as the ship headed to sea.

Over the course of the cruise, he got acquainted with a man in a nearby cabin. After several days, the neighbor finally asked why his friend was never seen in the dining room during meals. The man replied, “I cannot afford the extravagant food on the ship so I eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in my room that I packed in my luggage.”

“My dear friend, all of the food is included with your cruise ticket!” the neighbor replied in disbelief. “It has been available to you all week!”

Friends, if you have surrender your life to Jesus Christ, you get the Holy Spirit, too. He is included!

So why do so many Christ-followers live such miserable lives? They have not been filled with the Holy Spirit!

Last week we looked at Luke 11:11-13

“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

It says that our Father in heaven will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.

How are we filled with the Holy Spirit? We must ask.

Jesus’ brother James said once,

You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. - James 4:2

So all we have to do is ask and the Holy Spirit will bring us gourmet meals, heal all of our diseases, enable us to do miracles, and we all live happily ever after? Not quite

The late Bill Bright, the founder of the international group Campus Crusade for Christ, called the process of being filled with the Holy Spirit “spiritual breathing.”

It begins with
exhaling—repenting of our sins and getting the junk out. This is where we confess our sins, acknowledge that we have wronged God and possibly others, and commit to a new way of righteous, holy living.

Confess your sin -- agree with God concerning your sin and thank Him for His forgiveness of it, according to 1 John 1:9 and Hebrews 10:1-25. Confession involves repentance - a change in attitude and action.

Have you ever grabbed a drinking glass from the shelf only to discover that it was filled with junk inside? What do you do? You grab another glass!

I think God is much the same way. When He wants to show His power, I think He often looks for those that are truly seeking Him and His holiness. Understand, we’re not perfect, but because Jesus is, we can be forgiven and stand righteous before a holy God. When we agree with God that we have sinned, turn away from our sin, and follow Jesus it is called repentance and it delights the heart of God and brings us back into right relationship with Him.

The next step—
inhaling—is simply to ask the Holy Spirit to come. Ask to be filled. When a glass is filled with dirty water, there’s no room for the pure stuff. When we receive the cleansing of Jesus, we make room for the Holy Spirit to come and fill us.

Inhaling is when we surrender the control of our lives to Christ, and appropriate (receive) the fullness of the Holy Spirit by faith. We must trust that He now directs and empowers us; according to the command of Ephesians 5:18 and the promise of 1 John 5:14, 15.

Spiritual breathing and being filled with the Holy Spirit is not just some fun thing to please ourselves. The second part of James 4 says

When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

Being filled with the Spirit is a blessing for us, but ultimately it’s about Jesus and bringing honor and glory to Him. Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus (5:18)

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.

Drunkenness was the besetting sin of the ancient world, but this is not a verse about wine. A drunk man is possessed by alcohol.The Holy Spirit should possess the believer, a divine intoxication. This isn’t emotionalism but a dynamic life that looks like Jesus, the ultimate human who was filled with the Spirit continually.

The Holy Spirit is given at the time of conversion when a person makes Jesus their LORD and Savior.

I love these words from John Piper:

“What we should seek is that God pour His Spirit out upon us so completely that we are filled with joy, victorious over sin, and bold to witness. And the ways He brings us to that fullness are probably as varied as people are. It may come in a tumultuous experience of ecstasy and tongues. It may come through a tumultuous experience of ecstasy and no tongues. It may come through a crisis of suffering when you abandon yourself totally to God. Or it may come gradually through a steady diet of God's word and prayer and fellowship and worship and service. However it comes, our first experience of the fullness of the Spirit is only the beginning of a life-long battle to stay filled with the Spirit.”

This word “filled” is not something that is done once, but the Greek verb means to continually be done. It’s like breathing. You don’t say, “I don’t need to breathe today because I breathed last week!” You constantly breathe and in the same way we are to constantly be spiritually breathing and filled with the Holy Spirit.

Years ago my pastor, Roger Schweigert, demonstrated it this way: when you put Nesquik powder in milk, it needs to be stirred. If it sinks to the bottom, it doesn’t consume the milk despite its presence. The Holy Spirit is a bit like chocolate powder! When you get Jesus, you get the Holy Spirit. Having something doesn’t mean that you are filled with it, though. We need to stir it up to allow it to permeate our entire being, and we need to keep stirring—every day—repenting of our sins and asking the Spirit to fill us.

This will enable you to walk in the Spirit. It doesn’t mean you’ll be perfect. You may fall like a child as you’re learning to walk, but you are to get up and try again.

What happens when you’re filled with the Holy Spirit? The next verse says

Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
– Ephesians 5:19-20

The fundamental meaning of being filled with the Spirit is being filled with joy that comes from God and overflows in song. Luke wrote in Acts 13:52,

The disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

One of the core values of our denomination, the Christian & Missionary Alliance, says

Without The Holy Spirit’s Empowerment, We Can Accomplish Nothing

The Apostle Paul said, My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power (1 Corinthians 2:4–5).
This is the fiber of our being as believers and the sixth of our Alliance core values.

In addition to joy and empowerment, when you are filled with the Holy Spirit, you will receive gifts and fruit, two things that we will look at the next two weeks.

Until then, I invite you to get out of your cruise ship cabin and get down to the dining room. Repent and be filled with the Holy Spirit. He is in your life waiting to be activated. If we all commit ourselves to spiritual breathing as much as physical breathing, I believe our church will begin to look a lot more like the New Testament and we’ll begin to see God show up in unexpected and wonderful ways to bring His Kingdom from heaven to earth.

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