This morning I woke and I was well convinced that I was going to write about waiting; specifically waiting on the Lord. We had a good discussion in a small group that we attend two Sunday evenings a month discussing the book of Acts, and we had had a good discussion, and part of it was on waiting.
After my prayers and normal wake up rituals, I was about to start writing when I came across a sermon in my email by Charles Spurgeon. The title of the sermon was “Receiving the Holy Ghost.” He originally gave the sermon July 13, 1884.
It was an interesting title, but I did not feel I had time to listen to it. I had to get started with MY plan. I cleaned out the rest of the mail and looked up a couple of scriptures, but the sermon kept on bugging me. The Holy Spirit kept reminding me of it until I relented. So I stopped and listened to this 45-minute sermon, which resulted in a topic change for today. Maybe I will cover waiting another day…
Spurgeon began with Acts 19 when Paul went to Ephesus.
Acts 19:1 (ESV)
1 And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples.
He found these disciples and met with them for a bit and asked them a question that surprised me a bit the first time I heard it, but I was more surprised by their answer.
Acts 19:2 (ESV)
2 And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”
They professed to be believers but were not even aware of the Holy Spirit. So hearing this Paul baptized them in the name of Jesus and gave them the Holy Spirit.
Spurgeon went on to discuss the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in us as Christians. He spoke of our need for Him in our lives. He went so far as to explain on those times when we feel empty of His presence ask God to be filled; filled to overflowing. After all, doesn’t the Lord tell us to ask?
Matthew 7:7 (ESV)
7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
Mark 11:22-25 (ESV)
“Have faith in God. 23 Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 25 And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
Luke 11:9-10 (ESV)
9 And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.
John 15:7 (ESV)
7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
I listened more to the sermon and began thinking of the scriptures where Christ talked of the “Helper” and His departure. So I searched my Bible for the references Jesus made, and I found so much in John that is where I focused. Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit coming as a helper in Chapter 14 and 16.
I read chapter 14 and was taken by two passages about the Holy Spirit. The first began in verse 15 and the second in 25. As I read these I the impact is hard to describe. I was both humbled and lifted up.
John 14:15-17 (ESV)
15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
I struggle for words with this passage. Verse 15 reminds me of when Jesus questioned Peter and asked him three times if he loved Him, but it is a bit different. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Then comes the promise of the helper, (the Holy Spirit.) Then the next passage. It is almost a 1-2 punch.
John 14:25-28 (ESV)
25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.
This passage fills me with hope and joy. We have this wonderful gift. The Holy Spirit who dwells in us and we are not alone. With Him, we have a peace and contentment that the world cannot know. Jesus reminds us not to let our hearts be troubled or afraid, and I cannot do anything but rejoice because the Holy Spirit reveals to me an understanding that I could not reach on my own, and to say I am thankful seems so small when I think of how magnificent a gift He gives me.
While I am still trying to catch my breath, I went on to chapter 16 and read the passage where Jesus comforts the disciples.
John 16:6-7 (ESV)
6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.
It had to be heartbreaking for them to hear that Jesus was leaving. The man they had followed for three years abandoning everything for was going away. But He explained that He would send a Helper, and He can only come if Jesus leaves.
John 16:12-15 (ESV)
12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
The Helper is the Spirit of Truth, and He will bring to them the things that they could not bear to hear from Jesus before He finished what He had come to do. As I consider these passages my heart races and it is hard to keep my breath.
As I consider these passages and the remainder of Spurgeon’s sermon I am left breathless but revitalized. I am reminded of those moments when I look inward to myself rather than to Jesus. Those moments when I feel alone because I have forgotten the gift I have in the Holy Spirit and look to my resources to resolve an issue. I am reminded of that passage in Revelation 3
Revelation 3:20 (ESV)
20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
There is no reason I should become so self-absorbed that ignore the knocking on the door to my heart. He is waiting there. He is there to help me in all things and in all ways to grow closer to God. To know God and to trust and depend on Him in all things. This reminds me of Romans 8.
What a glorious God we serve. What joy there is in growing closer to Him. The last passage I want to refer to is in Romans 8:26-30
Romans 8:26-30 (ESV)
26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
What a wonderful passage. In our weakness, the Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf in prayer. He knows what we need when we do not because He knows our heart. What comfort there is in knowing this.
I am always humbled how the Holy Spirit can affect my plans for the day if I listen. I am sure the message I had settled on would have been fine, but it was not what He wanted to be shared today.
There was something Spurgeon said near the end of his sermon that I will have to paraphrase, but it has stuck with me this morning. It is a picture of how we choose to live out our faith and whether we truly trust in the Holy Spirit and His help in our lives to draw us closer to God or not. It shook me up a bit this morning and here is what I got out of it.
He that has just enough faith to save him may not have enough here to comfort him for the present. He that is filled the Holy Spirit has enough for two heavens; one here and the one to come.
It does not mean life here is easy. It means regardless of our circumstances we have a Helper to comfort us; “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27)
Father thank you for all your provisions. Thank you, Lord, for all your promises. Thank you for the gift of Your Holy Spirit to be with me in all circumstances and teach me those things I need when I need them that I may grow closer to you and my understanding may grow deeper. Lord, I love you and Praise you in the name of your blessed Son, Jesus Christ, Amen!