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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Waiting on the Holy Spirit

Luke 24:45-49 (ESV)
45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

I am not good at waiting. I often leave doctor's waiting rooms because my appointment time has passed. I tell the receptionist that I would like to reschedule. I am not angry and hope that I am not rude but I am also persistent in seeing people on time. If possible, I make all my doctors' appointments the first of the morning and arrive early. No one should have to wait on me either.

Maybe that's why I don't like fishing either. I don't want to wait for something to happen. I want to make something happen. (I might like fishing with dynamite?)

However, I must wait when it comes to seeing the Holy Spirit act. I cannot demand that He show up early. I cannot leave and get a new appointment the first thing in the morning. I can arrive early but I cannot make Him do so. I must wait.

I wait because I need my mind to understand what I am to say and do. I stopped simply studying the scriptures a long time ago. Scholars may or may not have insight from the Holy Spirit. I pray that the meaning of the scriptures are revealed to me. I ask the Holy Spirit to reveal them. Sure, I still read commentaries, Bible dictionaries, translate from the originals and all that stuff I learned in seminary but I don't depend upon it. I would be tossed back and forth in the meaning and application of many scriptures if I merely read what others said. I must listen to the Holy Spirit to have the scriptures revealed. My prayer is: Holy Spirit, please read the scriptures to me."

The Holy Spirit gives power in doing His will. The disciples essentially knew what they needed to do. They were to be Jesus' witnesses. They could go around doing as they had done when Jesus was physically with them. They had preached before. But Jesus told them to wait for the power to do so this time. Maybe the message wasn't any different but the power in the message changed considerably. They must wait for this power or they would fail.

So, the disciples were obedient and they turned the world upside down. At least that is what they were accused of.

The book of Acts is often called the "Acts of the Apostles." It does tell what the Apostles did but they acted under the direction and power of the Holy Spirit. Years ago I said it should be called the Acts of the Holy Spirit.

Amazing things have happened when the Holy Spirit is present. Three thousand souls being baptized, places shaking like earthquakes after prayer, chains falling off prisoners, people being healed and the gospel being preached in unknown tongues.

I hear that over 80% of churches are dying. Could it be that these churches simply can't wait on the Holy Spirit? They act because of habit and tradition rather than waiting on Him to tell them what to do and empower them to do it. Their prayers are not for His wisdom or power. They only pray for the healing of their sick. They are so weak without His power.

I don't condemn these churches. I understand how hard it is to wait after you have prayed for the Spirit to act. I have, like Saul, tried to offer the sacrifice myself rather than waiting for Him to present the sacrifice to the people. I have tried to force witness upon those who do not know Christ rather than waiting for His timing. I have done things because they were traditional because I was afraid of those who would criticize me for not doing them. I know there are times I haven't waited.

Today is Sunday. I will preach. I ask the Holy Spirit to fill me, empower me and change my message into His. I ask Him to speak to the people who hear this message.  I wait upon Him to do so because I still can't make Him act.


Anthony Chia said...

When I read the Scripture text, the Spirit revealed something to me. I thought I would comment on that, here, but I also re-look at the title of your entry, and I refrain, and I come to this: perhaps, the revelation was for own writing on my blog. As I pen, I realise too, that in penning these one or two lines, I am penning what the Spirit would like me to pen, to illustrate that when we are open and sensitive to the Holy Spirit (and there is really no short-cut to be “open and sensitive” to the Spirit except through His grace and our “constant use” of practising waiting on Him), He would reveal anything He wants us to do. In any situation, including scripture passage, there are a myriad of things, issues and angles to it, that we can be focussing on; the pertinent thing is, at particular instance, what is it that the Spirit of God wants us to do. To be led by the Spirit means that.

Many believers do this: Just go through the routine of going to church every Sunday. Is wrong to do that? No. Isn’t that the thing we would like to see, believers, do? Yes, but it is more than just a routine or a “just show face” thing. For the rest of the time, their attitude is, “OK, finished that (the “go church” routine), now the rest of the time and week, it is MY time and MY agenda.”

Some of us do better, for the period of time of attending church service, “I give of my attention to God, but the rest of the time, I bring NOT, God or His Spirit, with me. I have chosen to leave the Spirit there, in the church. Yes, the rest of the time is my time and agenda.” So, for the time in church service, they try to wait on the Holy Spirit, at other times, they don’t. I will come back to this, in a moment, after I talked about the next category.

The better ones would be those who don’t box the Holy Spirit; who DO NOT say, “Wait till Sunday church service, please, Holy Spirit, then you are welcome. Tell me stuff then, NOT now!” The Holy Spirit is NOT our worker or consultant or “genie in the bottle”; NOT we can directly or indirectly telling Him, “When I call for you to speak, you speak, if I do NOT, please make yourself scarce or please, don’t interrupt or convict!” The Holy Spirit is Lord and King, when we hold Him NOT as such, instead as one who is at our beck and call, He is NOT pleased. He is King, and it is either He reigns over the whole of our lives or He does NOT. “No-lah, bro Anthony, I boxed Him-what, but you know that time, in church, when I prayed for a sick man, the Holy Spirit still “slain the man in the spirit”. Yah, but that does NOT mean you can box Him, and He is nonchalant about it. That He still, moves for you, it can be grace for you, and/or grace for the sick man, or for any other reason(s) which you and I are NOT aware of; it does NOT necessarily mean He approves of your boxing Him, or you being disobedient or are engaged in sinfulness.


Anthony Chia said...

cont. from above

In life, many things come as a process; and about this Holy Spirit’s working through us, it is no different. We have to prepare ourselves for the waiting, we actually wait, and then we need to respond to the revelation given by the Holy Spirit. If we only wait, and response NOT, afterwards, the process is truncated. Imagine, if in the church service, you wait for the Holy Spirit to reveal something to you, and He does; He (say) shows a picture of a human heart, and then the heart picture turns into a cut-open half heart, followed by a zooming, to reveal deposits and blockage in the tubes into the heart, what do you do next? If you do nothing, just carry on, sit there in your pew, and then, when the whole church service routine is over, you just go home; in other words, you respond NOT, what good has come out of that waiting on the Spirit? Nothing! If you believe the Spirit is telling you that He wants to heal someone with a heart condition, you have to do something; you cannot simply ignore, and do nothing. Then, there is the church service liturgy is NOT for you to dictate, and so, the pastor of the church must also be prepared to see how to deal with the Holy Spirit wanting to come across or through. If the church leadership is NOT accommodative, the member who received is constrained, in how he can respond. Compared to the Holy Spirit’s desires, all our desires are frivolous; we are to defer to His desires.

Over the recent years, what I have come to realise how precious it is, when the Holy Spirit would want to come across or through. We must NOT hinder any Divine Initiative of the Holy Spirit, instead we should capitalise or up-size or go for more when He moves. Like I have said above, the Holy Spirit is NOT at our beck and call. It is we should be at His beck and call. It is NOT He did NOT wait and missed our cue; it is we are to always take cue from Him. Unless we wait and be attentive, we are going to miss His cue. His cues are so precious because He does NOT conform to our volition, but move according the volition of the Godhead. So, when He wants to move, we must move with Him.

I have people saying when important people come or important event (like Olympics) takes place at our place, we should NOT miss it; we ought to have prepared for it, re-plan and re-schedule so as to be in it, and give our full support to make the occasion most successful, because it is NOT easy to have another opportunity; but how about the coming through, of the Holy Spirit?! So often we can yearn for it, we don’t seem to see Him “coming”, but when He comes, we did NOT welcome Him, even give Him the cold shoulder. The “cold shoulder” that Jesus got from many, some 2,000 years ago when He was in His earthly ministry of a few years, before He was crucified, is still happening today, to His Spirit (the Spirit of Christ who is also the Holy Spirit). Few were attentive to Jesus then, today still many are NOT attentive to His Spirit. Can we be more attentive to Him, the Holy Spirit, please (Speaking to myself, too!).

Anthony Chia, high.expressions