As we enter this new year, we might have our own personal goals and resolutions already in mind, but how much of the matters of God are on our mind?
Our theme this year reminds us that God wants a community that, like Jesus, is passionate for the transformation of the world. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8 NIV.
To be a witness is the calling of all believers, but God has not left it to us to do it by ourselves. He has given us the Holy Spirit, and with that, power to be witnesses. May we be empowered this 2023 to fulfil the calling that is set before all believers.
The monthly themes will follow the direction of the Assemblies of God Statements of Fundamental Truths # 7-8 on the Holy Spirit:
7. THE BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT: All believers are entitled to and should ardently expect and earnestly seek the promise of the Father, the baptism in the Holy Spirit and fire, according to the command of our Lord Jesus Christ. This was the normal experience of all in the early Christian Church. With it comes the enduement of power for life and service, the bestowment of the gifts and their uses in the work of the ministry (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-8; 1 Corinthians 12:1-31). This experience is distinct from and subsequent to the experience of the new birth (Acts 8:12-17; 10:44-46; 11:14-16; 15:7-9). With the baptism in the Holy Spirit come such experiences as an overflowing fullness of the Spirit (John 7:37-39; Acts 4:8), a deepened reverence for God (Acts 2:43; Hebrews 12:28), an intensified consecration to God and dedication to His work (Acts 2:42), and a more active love for Christ, for His Word and for the lost (Mark 16:20).
8. THE INITIAL PHYSICAL EVIDENCE OF THE BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT: The baptism of believers in the Holy Spirit is witnessed by the initial physical sign of speaking with other tongues as the Spirit of God gives them utterance (Acts 2:4). The speaking in tongues in this instance is the same in essence as the gift of tongues, but different in purpose and use (1 Corinthians 12:4-10,28).
Following Acts 1:8, our subthemes aim to provide a guide to living mindfully in the power of the Holy Spirit each month. This guide aims to help believers seeking to be:
• Baptised in the Holy Spirit
• Continually filled with the Spirit
• Transformed by the Spirit
• Empowered to pray, serve & witness effectively
We begin the year by examining ourselves, seeking the Lord’s forgiveness and turning from everything that hinders us in our relationship with Him. We open our hearts to receive a fresh baptism or infilling of the Holy Spirit, believing that our heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit without measure (John 3:34) to those who ask Him.
38 Peter replied, “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. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!
We are children of God; we are no longer slaves of sin because Christ has redeemed us. The Holy Spirit bears testimony to our sonship by giving us the confidence that we belong to God not because of our goodness or effort, but because of His love for us. As sons and heirs, we not only have access to all the gifts and blessings of God but the Lord Himself is our inheritance.
Romans 8:15-16 (NKJV)
15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.
6 Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.
The Holy Spirit not only bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, He takes up residence in our lives. We were purchased and paid for with the sinless, spotless blood of Jesus. Therefore, the ownership has been transferred to Christ and our bodies have now become the sacred dwelling place of His Spirit. We give up our right to do whatever we want with our bodies. Instead, we offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
2 Corinthians 6:16
16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
“I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”
Jesus defeated the power of sin and death on the cross of Calvary. Easter is a reminder that the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead is dwelling in us, and that same resurrection power is available to us to put to death the carnal desires of our flesh and to live a victorious life. The manifestation of the Holy Spirit’s power in us and through us authenticates our presentation of the gospel message.
Romans 8:11-12 (NLT)
11 The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you. 12 Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do.
Romans 15:18-19 (NLT)
18 Yet I dare not boast about anything except what Christ has done through me, bringing the Gentiles to God by my message and by the way I worked among them. 19 They were convinced by the power of miraculous signs and wonders and by the power of God’s Spirit. In this way, I have fully presented the Good News of Christ from Jerusalem all the way to Illyricum.
After Jesus’ ascension, the apostles devoted themselves to constant prayer and tarried for ten days as they waited for the promise of the Holy Spirit. Prayer preceded the outpouring of the Spirit on Pentecost.
In the events that ensued after Pentecost, the believers gathered again for prayer upon hearing Peter and John’s report following their release from prison. After they prayed, the place they were meeting was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:31). Like the disciples, let’s tarry in His presence that our hearts may be prepared through the season of prayer to experience Pentecost afresh.
Acts 1:4, 2:1-4
4 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.
1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.
To those who continually come to drink of Him as the fountain of living water, Jesus promises a life of overflowing abundance. Not only will their spiritual thirst be satisfied, the reality of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in their lives will refresh and impact others. Are rivers of living water flowing from our inmost being or have they been reduced to trickles of living water?
38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.
55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.
To live a life continually overflowing with the fullness of the Spirit requires that we yield every conscious area of our lives to the Holy Spirit’s control. If we want to live in accordance with the Spirit, we have to deliberately set our minds on what the Word of God says about what His Spirit desires. Only then will we be able to overcome the desires of the carnal nature with the help of the Holy Spirit.
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.
5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.
By His divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life through our knowledge of Him. Our responsibility is to build ourselves up in the most holy faith, pray in the Holy Spirit and keep ourselves in the love of God (Jude 20-21). To pray in the Spirit is to pray in the power of the Spirit, by the leading of the Spirit and according to His will which includes praying with our understanding, praying in tongues and groans that words cannot express (Romans 8:26).
Jude 20-21 (NKJV)
20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
The battle between the flesh and the Spirit is an on-going conflict. In the Old Testament, God’s people fell into sin time and again despite religiously observing the Law. Through the prophet Ezekiel, God gave the promise of a new covenant in Christ where His indwelling Spirit would bring about spiritual transformation in His people and move them to obey His word. The evidence of this inward change is the outward, visible and godly virtues displayed in a believer’s life viz. the fruit of the Spirit.
26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.
While the fruit of the Spirit characterizes the life of a believer, the gifts of the Spirit are given to build up the church, to equip God’s people for the work of the ministry and to manifest His presence in the world through the Body of Christ. Differing gifts are given to individual believers for the purpose of the entire body. As each of us has received a gift, we are to use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace (1 Peter 4:10).
1 Corinthians 12:7-11
7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.
1 Peter 4:10 (ESV)
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace.
Spiritual gifts are given to the Church to unite it, not to divide it. The gifts of the Spirit are never an end in themselves. They are tools with which we can express the love of God to all men. Unbelievers come face to face with the reality of the living God as He displays His power, love, and wisdom through His people who are united by their faith in Christ and love for one another. The desire of our Lord is that our love for one another will prove to the world that we are His disciples (John 13:35).
Ephesians 4:2-4 (NLT)
2 Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. 3 Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. 4 For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.
1 Corinthians 13:1-2
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
Jesus prayed for complete unity among His followers so that the world may believe in Him. The motive for unity is the Great Commission of Jesus (Matthew 28:19-20). To walk in the fullness of the Holy Spirit and to proclaim the gospel with power and authority requires that we come to a place of complete unity. Only then can we be effectively empowered to be His witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
John 17:20-21 (NKJV)
20 “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”