Pentecost is upon us. Last month I shared about the spiritual value of numbering our days, specifically heeding God’s command to count the fifty days from Passover to the Feast of Weeks, also called Pentecost. It’s when the Word was given to Moses on Mount Sinai and the Holy Spirit was first poured out by Jesus on the early church and “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
Why have a countdown every year? Passover was when God promised to marry us; Pentecost is the marriage itself. The seven weeks in between, are like the seven days that a bride-to-be counts in preparation for her wedding, when she purifies and readies herself. This Feast is a shadow or type of our new life in Christ and the journey He takes us on.
In a very practical sense, we countdown the days because Pentecost 2,000 years ago was not a one-time experience for the disciples, but rather the first experience of a constant refilling of the Spirit. There is still an endless supply of “more” for those who keep asking, seeking, and knocking, and He wants us to live our lives counting the days till our next encounter. So, this month as we arrive at Pentecost on Saturday, June 8th let’s seek together to encounter the Baptism of the Holy Spirit for those who never have, and ask for even more of the wonderful manifest presence of Jesus for those who have encountered the Baptism but are still longing for more of His touch.
If your particular church upbringing has left you confused or even hesitant about the possibilities of such encounters and experiences in our day, listen to Jesus describe what the average Christian life would look like just before He ascended: “And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” Mark 16:17-18
Earlier in Mark 16 we can see why they needed a significant encounter. When the women first came to the tomb after the resurrection and encountered an angel, “they went out quickly and fled from the tomb, for they trembled and were amazed. And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” Then when Mary Magdalene finally gained the courage to tell the apostles, they did not believe. When the two disciples who walked with Jesus on the road shared their story, they did not believe them either…Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen.”
Obviously, Jesus doesn’t want any of us to repeat the mistakes of the apostles or fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah 28 “Whom will He teach knowledge? And whom will He make to understand the message…For with stammering lips and another tongue He will speak to this people, to whom He said, “This is the rest with which You may cause the weary to rest,” and, “This is the refreshing”; yet they would not hear.”
Thirty-nine years ago when I first received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, I was utterly shocked that other languages which I didn’t understand or speak were suddenly pouring out of my mouth. A moment before I had been standing in a field worshipping in the only language I have ever spoken, English. I had never heard anyone speak in tongues before or heard anyone teach on it. The Holy Spirit massively changed my life in much the same way Jesus had the year before when I gave my life to Him.
“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:8
The Hebrew word for wind or breath is ruach. It’s also the word for Spirit. Obviously, we can’t dictate the moving of the wind or the Spirit.
Thankfully we don’t have to catch the wind to be filled with the Spirit. have known many people who have earnestly sought the Baptism of the Holy Spirit but still haven’t received. Some went away bitter, some went away offended, some stopped seeking and plunged into denial declaring that they had received the Baptism when they were saved and no tongues were required. Sadly, I also know of teachers who claimed to be filled with the Spirit and intentionally deceived other seekers into mumbling repetitious phrases and declared it a move of the Spirit.
Striving in the flesh for a move of God is agonizing. So is screaming at the wind to blow where we want it to blow.
Micah 6:8 tells us, “He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” We need to be like a windmill, which is designed to be propelled by the wind, no matter which direction it’s blowing in order to generate power. If we want to be filled, then we need to be sensitive to which way He is blowing, and then we will not only be filled, but empowered by the Holy Spirit to do His will.
"You make your messengers into winds of The Spirit and all Your ministers become flames of fire." Psalm 104:4
Why does this encounter involve tongues? Luke 6 says, “For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit…For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”
The Holy Spirit Baptism can occur any time after Jesus comes to dwell in our heart. He doesn’t get buried in our hearts, He plants Himself in order to bear fruit. We literally become a tree that bears spiritual fruit. All we have to do is ask and receive. Sometimes that includes asking until we receive.
The nine fruits listed in Galatians 5 all come as the result of “life” on a tree which requires us to grow. Controlling the tongue is not easy; our unruly tongues require revival. Faithfulness, gentleness, goodness, joy, kindness, longsuffering, love, peace, and self-control are all expressed many ways, but never so beautiful as with the tongue. Proverbs 18 tells us, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”
Still, there’s more to the Spirit than tongues or what and how we speak. 1 Corinthians 12 tells us, “there are many spiritual gifts including: the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, faith, healing, the working of miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, different kinds of tongues, and the interpretation of tongues.” The Spirit distributes them individually as He wills. Why does He give them? These nine gifts require us to minister to others in order to use them. They are not for keeping or storing up, but rather for using and giving away. And Deuteronomy 30 reminds us, “But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.”
Join me on Friday, June 7th at 7:00am on Rise & Stein as we encounter Jesus as our Bridegroom, breakdown the biblical history and traditions of the Feast, and explore the biblical shadows and types of Pentecost.