I wanted to talk about the key characteristics that embodied those who received the Holy Spirit. What are the requirements to receive the Holy Spirit? So last month, I looked at the first instance in which the life of Jesus was borne – through the womb of Mary. From that story, we learned about the immense honesty and faith that must inhabit all of the rest of us, as we also seek to bear forth the life of Jesus. I now want to talk about a second characteristic that Scripture tells us embodies those who will receive the Holy Spirit. We read about this in John 7:37-39 – Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. I think we can understand Jesus’ words if we better understand its context. Jesus said this on “the last day, the great day of the feast.” The feast being referred to is the feast of Booths or Tabernacles (John 7:2). We can read more about this particular festival commanded by God in Leviticus 23:33-44. But in short, this feast was a WEEK-LONG celebration of thanksgiving for what God had done for them. All future generations of Israelite were to leave their houses and live in tents (booths) for this week, and remember how God led them out of Egypt, and was with them as He led them into the Promised Land. Have you ever experienced a week-long feast? Some cultures in India have of this. But no matter what, a week can be quite an incredibly satisfying time, if you do nothing but celebrate! It was on the last day of this kind of feast that Jesus stood up and called out for those who were thirsty. Who could possibly be thirsty after a week long celebration of God and His goodness? And what could be the ache that persisted even after a week of celebrating God? The answer to this question is something that I feel that is very relevant for our times. We live in an age where church services are so often synonymous with music, entertainment, and celebration. Now to be clear, there’s nothing evil about music or entertainment or celebration. In fact, I believe God is the author of all these three, not the devil. However, the life that Jesus offers – and that is available SOLELY through the Person of the Holy Spirit, is not brought about through music or entertainment or celebration. Rather, it is accessed only by those who are thirsty for more of God AFTER all their singing and praising and celebrations of God. Only those who are thirsty for God even after a time full of celebrations for God, will access the life-changing power of the Holy Spirit in their lives. The unfortunate reality is that most Christians settle for the entertainment, pump-me-up church life, where Sunday morning church service is one big celebration, and they are FILLED UP AT CHURCH, but need to keep coming back Sunday after Sunday for a refill. The true Christian life was supposed to be where Christians celebrated and glorified and interacted with God at church on Sunday, but only in such a way that increased and heightened their desire for MORE of God in their own personal lives. So even though they were filled up by the love of God as they gathered with their other brothers and sisters in the faith, they left with a greater thirst and longing for intimacy with God. And this is evidenced in their walk with God
throughout the week – as they seek Him in their secret daily lives (when nobody else is around) for His living water to quench their thirst in secret. Do you have this kind of thirst for God? Do you want the company of Jesus and long to please Him, even if there is no feeling or experience to accompany it? Please don’t skip over what I wrote too quickly. From my own experience, I have seen how often I tend to tie my relationship with God in with certain sets of feeling. Something so deep-rooted in us longs to affirm our interactions with God by various pre-conceived feelings. However, But I am learning that I must assess my relationship with God based purely on what His Word tells me. John 14:15 tells me that my love for God is proved, not by a set of feelings or emotions, but my obedience to His commands. So as I chose to obey God in my daily life, I believe that the Lord IS well-pleased with me (regardless of how I am feeling). I now see that it is a perpetual thirst for God that accompanies every Spirit filled Christian. I think that many sincerely want to be filled by God’s Holy Spirit. But if we’re honest, many of us will admit that we don’t have a primal thirst for God and His will and His pleasure. The Scripture that Jesus might have been quoting in John 7:38 is in Isaiah 58:11 -And the LORD will continually guide you, And satisfy your desire in scorched places, and give strength to your bones; And you will be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail. Can you picture what scorched place looks like? A ground that is completely dry from the merciless heat of the sun? I have this picture of a parched ground, caked and hardened by the sun, and with deep, wide cracks in it. This was not how the ground was meant to be. But I can almost feel the ground relishing it when water is poured over it. The water would soften it and nourishes it, and make it useful again for even bearing fruit. Do we maintain this posture as we walk with God every day? Do we stop ourselves during our lunch break at work, and remember our need for God? Have we made this a persistent cry and longing of our hearts – to be filled by Him – as we walk with God all day long? I am convinced that if we maintain this posture, God will quickly move to give
us His Holy Spirit. Jesus tells me that if I am thirsty for God no matter what, I just need to come to Him and DRINK. If I want to quench a most painful thirst, all I need to do is open up my mouth and drink. It is not more complicated than that. So is receiving the Holy Spirit! I will leave you with this thought for now. May we HONESTLY embrace that it is impossible to fully obey God’s commands without His Holy Spirit. And
from what we’ve learned here, may we HUNGER AND THIRST for more and more of God Himself.
©Copyright – Sandeep Poonen
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