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#carmelprays – Acts 2:14-41

Opening Song: King Of Kings

Read Scripture: Acts 2:14-41

Of the Holy Spirit and “personal encounters”

I used to think about how I would answer a child asking me about how I understand God, the Son and the Spirit. I see myself easily likening God to a father. With Jesus, it probably wouldn’t be too difficult either. I’d cite the familiar jingle of “Jesus loves me” and talk about Christ as our saviour. But the Spirit? I’d probably have to weave together a story of a personal encounter to bring credibility to my words.  

“So how do I know if the Holy Spirit is within me?”
“It’s hard to explain it, but you will just have a personal encounter. And when it happens, you will know.” 

If you are anything like me, you might have wondered at some point in your walk if you really ever had the Holy Spirit in you. This was an answer to my question that always left my internal eyebrows (not my visible ones) raised with skepticism. Simply because I could not understand this concept of a “personal encounter” in my own lived experience. 

Yet, Peter is faithful to remind us that if we are in Christ, we do, without a doubt, have the Spirit in us. In fact, he says in no uncertain terms, that a natural outcome of repenting and being baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins is, the receiving of the gift of the Holy Spirit (v38). He does not say we might receive this gift, he says we will. Thus, obedience to His expressed will result in the Holy Spirit filling our lives.

Referencing the prophet Joel, Peter tells us also the purpose of this Spirit to make known the Lord’s name, to build the Church and save more from the crooked generation (v40). This Spirit that has been given to us for the purposes that we may ourselves be “seeing and hearing” (v33) so that “it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord be saved” (v21). 

Today’s passage brings clarity to what I have often struggled with. We can be certain. We can be certain that the Holy Spirit is in us, if we have repented and asked for forgiveness in the name of Jesus Christ. And we can be certain that with this power given to us through this Spirit, we can boldly proclaim and make known the Lord’s name, even to a child who asks us about it. And then, we can definitely be sure that this is a promise for the child, as it is for us. The promise of this gift is open and inclusive, “for your children and for all who are far off”. It is for “everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself” (v39).

So a personal tangible encounter? Yes. But this, I believe, could perhaps take on a different shape for each and everyone of us and manifest in an infinite array of ways. For some, perhaps it was in a proclamation of God’s great works in tongues, in prophecy, a vision or a dream (Acts 2:11,17). The fullness of the Presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives results from obedience (Acts 5:32) and in that same chapter we can see that boldness accompanies those who are full of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit produces in us fruit (Ga 5:22-23). Thus, we can see that in the Book of Acts, while the exact manifestation in terms of giftings may differ in individuals, the fruit of character, ministry and courage are consistent in those who are filled with the Holy Spirit. 

The truth is, when you last wanted to act out in anger to a patience-grower in your life but held yourself back and instead acted in obedience with love and understanding, that was the work of the Holy Spirit. When you last were overcome with worry and discontentment with the state of your life and your future but then caught yourself in the vicious cycle of self-pity and dread, that was the work of the Holy Spirit. When you last opened your Bible or heard the word of God preached to you and it convicted you of some dark sin in your private thought life, that was the work of the Holy Spirit.

For me, I can say, that when I last feared my faith would fail, but in and through that darkness of doubt and found myself still clinging on to this reality in Christ, that was the work of the Holy Spirit.

So the next time you are tempted to second-guess if you have the Holy Spirit in you and look in confusion at the experience of another’s “personal encounter” and yearn for it too, take confidence in the fact that that very yearning in and of itself, is the work of the Holy Spirit in you. And hold fast to that work inside of you, allow it to grow, do not snuff it out and proclaim it to the world outside of you.

Pray in Response

Father God, You raised Jesus from the dead, freeing Him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him. Jesus is Lord and Messiah and in Your Word, Peter said to the people “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” Lord God thank You that You called each of us to Yourself. Lord as You call, I pray that we will listen and heed. Help each of us as Your children and those who do not know You to fully see Who Jesus is and in so doing, trust and obey You fully in Jesus’ name we pray. Amen! 

Response Song: This Is My Desire

By Anne Hwarng

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