God said, "I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams; your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.
Long ago God promised He would fill us up with the Holy Spirit. Every Christian would know the will of the Lord. They would all prophesy in His name. That is, they would be able to declare the good things that God had done. Today this very prophecy is being fulfilled among us.
We've just been through junior confirmation here at St. John. Every year thirteen and fourteen-year-olds stand and profess their faith in Jesus as their Savior. That is a proud and happy time for the people of God. We know that the Holy Spirit has brought about this confession in them. The thanks and praise goes to the Spirit when our sons and daughters prophesy of the goodness the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.
I once heard a story about a girl who had a confirmation party. At the party there were gifts. One was in a large nicely wrapped box. She opened the box, and inside was a clock. It was a beautiful and expensive clock, with rich wood, brass, and leaded glass. As she looked at the clock, she noticed there was something wrong with it. The glass that covered the front of it was broken.
Who would give a gift like that? A beautiful clock with such a big flaw in it. Was it damaged on the way to the party and the giver didn't notice? Surely no one would give such an expensive gift knowing it was broken.
Compare this confirmation gift with God's promise to send us all the Holy Spirit. God has said that He would pour out His Spirit on all of us. What a wonderful gift! But have you noticed that the Holy Spirit does not always flow out of us? Rather than being filled with the Holy Spirit, very often we are filled up with other less pleasant spirits.
Evil spirits are ready to fill us up today. I do not necessarily mean demon possession. Just reading the daily paper should be enough to prove that we as a people have for some time started down that road that will lead to rampant immorality and the rise of moral chaos. The groups are lining up waiting to teach our children a new definition of the family, where man sleeps with man and woman with woman.
It was 7 o'clock the other evening when I sat down with my family to watch a little television. Our seven year old was with us. I went from channel to channel. Every one I turned to had something inappropriate for a child to see and hear. There were bedroom scenes, murder scenes, or jokes of human depravity of some sort. We can't let a child use a computer without and adult standing over them monitoring what they might accidently get into. Remember those public service announcements, "It's ten P.M. Do you know where your children are? Today it should say, "Do you know what chat room your children are in?"
Not only are these spirits coming into our homes from the media, they are already in us. Children defy their parents, parents are fighting, and families are tearing apart at the seams everywhere. Yes, the spirits of darkness have entered in. Left on their own, they will not leave us until we are safely locked in the fire of hell. That is their prime objective. If we will not repent right now and call on the mercy of God to save us, then that is what we deserve.
These are not the only spirits that would enter into us. The Bible warns us against these destructive spirits waiting to fill us up with selfish pride, jealously, envy, and divisive spirits. Remember my story of the confirmation gift? A good examination of ourselves shows that we are that broken clock. We have been wonderfully fashioned by God, crafted and recreated by the work of Christ on the cross. We have been born again by the power of the Spirit of God. But we are flawed. The clock mechanism is working, it ticks and the pendulum swings, but we have this big crack down the front. There are different spirits at work in us.
It's been that way for a long time. Back in Bible times, the great apostles Peter and Paul had a discussion over whether the Jewish Christians should sit at the table with the Gentile Christians. Later on the great churches of Constantinople and Rome did not recognize each other's authority. There was a great need for a reformation five hundred years ago. Today there continues to be hundreds of denominations throughout the world. This happened because other spirits are at work along side the Spirit of God in Holy Scripture. All of this has gone one in spite of God's promise that He would pour out His Spirit on all flesh that they might prophesy. Surely there is only one Spirit of God, not many spirits of Him that conflict with each other.
The word of the prophet Joel are true. God would pour out His Spirit on us all. But what comes earlier in the book of Joel is also important to know, that God disciplines His people. The people of Joel's time were really in trouble. They weren't listening to God's Spirit in His Word. They were tuned into their own spirits, and the false religions around them. Idol worship. Immorality. They no longer asked what was right in God's sight. Everyone did what they thought was right in their own eyes.
God had to get their attention. He had to show them that they were like that broken clock. When the armies surrounded Jerusalem in 586 B.C., the people said, "Why is God allowing this?" That was right before the walls were breached, the gates were burned, and the temple of God and every home were torn down and leveled and the people taken off in chains.
God is trying to get our attention today. He wants to pour out His Spirit on us again, but first He wants us to be emptied so we can receive him. We think, "Why do I need to be emptied? I'm already full of the Lord. What more can he give me?" We should stop right there and check what spirit we are filled up with--the Spirit of God or the spirit of selfish pride in this immoral culture.
To Judah God said, "Return to the Lord your God. With fasting and weeping and mourning. Tear your hearts and not your garments." God's desire was not to destroy Jerusalem, but to get back into His people's hearts. There was no room there.
Is there room in our hearts anymore for the Holy Spirit? Or are we so full of self-righteousness and pride that God cannot get in? On this Pentecost Day we should all ask ourselves: What is in me that prevents God from filling me up? Pride? Fear? Self-righteousness? Jealousy? Envy of others? These spirits are making us spiritually sick. Like Judah, they will bring about our destruction if we are not relieved of them.
On the night before He died, Jesus said He had to go away, but He would send the Holy Spirit to all His disciples. He said that when He came, He would convict the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. All this the Spirit does through the Word of God. By the Word of the Law of God, He convicts sinners of their unbelief. On the Day of Pentecost, God poured out His Spirit on His Church.
By the Word of the Gospel today, the Spirit delivers to us the righteousness that our Lord has won for us by the shedding of His blood on the cross. By the Word of the Gospel the Spirit delivers to us the glad and comforting assurance that by our Lord's atoning death on the cross Satan has been judged and so disarmed of his power to accuse us before God.
God is ready to fill us up with His Holy Spirit. With God's Spirit inside us we are devoted to the holy things. He leads us to love one another. We find ourselves serving God in everything we do. Our lives have a new purpose, to live for God, declaring the praise of Him who gave his life to bless us. We rejoice in being forgiven. The peace of Jesus Christ rules over us and the spirits of darkness have no choice but to depart from us. We have a strong desire to hear God's Word preached to us. We are thankful for our baptism and we journey there in thought to the place Almighty God put His name on us. We long for the taste of the body and blood of the Lord as we have come to recognize Him in His Holy Supper. What a happy life this is when the Spirit of God enters inside us.
If we will not recognize our brokenness, the work of the Spirit stops right there. But when He moves in us to turn us from our fears to admit our great faults and submit ourselves to the mercy of God in Jesus Christ, He can repair that broken glass and fill us up with His Holy Spirit. Then we will begin again to prophesy. Instead of complaining about our problems, we will see the mercy of God everyday and declare how good the Lord is to us.
Do not fear of the spirits of this age. They can't harm us when we are filled with the Spirit of God. Just be certain you are filled with the right spirit, the One Jesus promised to send. Come, O Holy Spirit. Amen.
Copyright © 1998-2011 James F. Wright. All rights reserved.
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