June 25, 2021
While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”
They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”
So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?”
“John’s baptism,” they replied.
Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.
Once again we are in Acts 19, where a group of disciples decide to follow Jesus. When they receive the Holy Spirit, they begin speaking in tongues and prophesying. That’s where we want to focus this morning. Have you ever found yourself unable to do what you really want to? I’ve been battling to shed my “quarantine 15” and have found getting in shape much, much harder now in my 40s than it was a decade or two ago. Maybe you want to love a family member who is really hard to love. Or perhaps you want to make a risky career move but can’t find the courage. Battling addiction, overcoming anxiety, finding patience for toddlers (or high schoolers!) can all be things we desperately want to do, but cannot seem to accomplish.
As demonstrated in Acts 19, the Holy Spirit empowers us to do those things that otherwise are out of our ability. For the disciples, it was miraculous. They spoke in new languages and were given the ability to know things revealed only from God. And while praying for the explicitly miraculous may feel too risky or illogical for some, if we’re going to call ourselves followers of Jesus, we have to believe that God enables us to do things beyond our natural strength and competence. Jesus said at the very beginning of the book of Acts:
“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.”
There’s not a lot of room for interpretation in those verses. The Holy Spirit gives us power to be witnesses for Jesus. If we want to be a part of what God is doing, but refuse to extend ourselves beyond our own ability, our effectiveness as witnesses for Jesus will be severely diminished. For some, this means allowing God to use us in miraculous ways. For everyone, including you, this means asking God to make us more generous, loving, patient, kind, wise, joyful, peaceful, and self-controlled than either our own strength or the situation would otherwise allow.
My challenge for you today is to ask the Holy Spirit to make you (ready for this?) supernaturally gifted in an area that feels outside of your control or ability. This doesn’t mean asking God to help you dunk a basketball or make a million dollars. It means asking the Holy Spirit to empower you for God’s work. In doing so, we can become the witnesses Jesus spoke about in our homes, neighborhoods, cities, and the world.