Are You Filled with the Spirit?

A few days ago, a good friend of mine asked how to be filled with the Spirit. I thought this was an interesting question, as there seems to be some assumptions in different churches as to what exactly it means to be filled with the Spirit. Specifically, many assume that to be filled with the Spirit is the same thing as speaking in tongues. It is also a common belief that once you are filled with the Spirit, you are always filled with the Spirit.

There is also a difference between being filled with the Spirit and receiving the baptism of the Spirit. Both happened in Scripture. But, let’s focus on what it is to be filled with the Spirit. I can tackle receiving the baptism of the Spirit another day.

Let’s look into Scripture to find out what people actually did when they were filled with the Holy Spirit of God.

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Luke 1:41-45:
“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. And she cried out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.”
Elizabeth spoke prophesy and blessings to Mary when she was filled with the Spirit.

Luke 1:67
“And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied
Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit when he obeyed God and thus prophesied.

Acts 2:4
“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.”

When they were filled with the Holy Spirit, they spoke in tongues. (Check out my book for a biblical explanation of tongues!)

Acts 4:5-12
 “
On the next day, their rulers and elders and scribes were gathered together in Jerusalem; and Annas the high priest was there, and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of high-priestly descent. When they had placed them in the center, they began to inquire, “By what power, or in what name, have you done this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers and elders of the people, if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by this name this man stands here before you in good health. He is the STONE WHICH WAS REJECTED by you, THE BUILDERS, but WHICH BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone. And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”
Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit and had the right words to speak to the court and the boldness with which to do it.

Acts 4:31
“And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.”
They were filled with the Holy Spirit after their prayer and began to speak the words of God with boldness

Acts 13:8 -11
But Elymas the magician (for so his name is translated) was opposing them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. But Saul, who was also known as Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, fixed his gaze on him, and said, “You who are full of all deceit and fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease to make crooked the straight ways of the Lord? Now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and not see the sun for a time.” And immediately a mist and a darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking those who would lead him by the hand.
Saul was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke truth against the magician who was attempting to stop God’s word from being spread, and he proclaimed judgment on the sinner. The judgment took place immediately.

Acts 13:52
“And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.”
They were continually filled with the Spirit and joy

Ephesians 5:18-21
“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.”

We are instructed to be filled with the Holy Spirit, like a person gets drunk with wine. This terminology is a present perfect tense and means we must be filld over and over again. It is a repeated process- we must be filled with the Spirit continually.

From these Scriptures and my quick summaries, you can see the proof of being filled with the Spirit is not limited to speaking in tongues. Here are the other things that happened when people were filled with the Spirit:

  • Boldness
  • Speaking truth
  • Joy
  • Prophesying
  • Singing to each other
  • Singing to the Lord
  • Giving thanks to God
  • Worshiping God
  • Loving one another

Just think. If speaking in tongues was the only proof of being filled with the Spirit, why would Paul have said in 1 Corinthians 14:5, “Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy; and greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying”? Paul thinks prophecy is better than tongues!

Here’s another question to ponder. If being filled with the Spirit was a one-time event, would we who have been filled ever sin again??

And if being filled with the Spirit happened only once in a person’s life, why then was Peter filled both on the day of Pentecost and when he spoke to the courts?

My conclusion is that we must be filled over and over again with the Spirit. Yes, tongues is one proof that we have the Spirit, but according to what we have read in the Bible, there are other proofs as well! Take another look at that list, and if you have not experienced these things, maybe it’s time to ask our Lord to fill you with His Spirit, perhaps for the first time!

May He bless you as you seek Him!!

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Answer to: What is a Powerful Prophecy You Like in the Bible

In response to the question I asked you last week, “What is a powerful prophecy for you in the Bible,” I’m going to give my own opinion!

My favorite prophecy in the Bible is found in Revelation 21 & Isaiah 60. It is a short description of part of our future life in the heavenly Jerusalem.

I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its lights, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed; and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it…” (Revelation 21:22-26).

& here is the corresponding Scripture in Isaiah 60:19

No longer will you have the sun for light by day, Nor for brightness will the moon give you light; But you will have the LORD for an everlasting light, And your God for your glory.”

Wow. Take a moment and picture that! I cannot imagine the pure beauty of light being only from God! We won’t need the sun or lamps or the moon or candles or light bulbs! No, the only light we need will come straight from the glory of God and the Lamb (Jesus Christ!) Have you ever noticed references to God being as “light” throughout the Bible? Turns out that this is not only symbolic talk–it’s fact and we will see it in the New Jerusalem!

Let me share a couple of examples:

  •  “God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5)
  • Your Word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105)
  • For You light my lamp, the Lord my God illumines my darkness” (Psalm 18:28)
  • The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?” (Psalm 27:1)

 

Simply beautiful.

 

Next week’s question:
http://growinginjesus.polldaddy.com/s/what-s-your-favorite-book-of-the-bible-why?iframe=1

Learning God’s Voice #4

A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him,
because they do not know the voice of strangers

(John 10:5)
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Perhaps right now you think you may know the voice of strangers better than you know the voice of Jesus. Maybe you are much more familiar with the voices of your culture, greed, anger, hopelessness and failure. This makes it especially difficult to know God’s voice. If this is you, my recommendation is to turn off the TV, turn off the movies & the music. Then “turn on” the Bible. The only way you can become familiar with the voice of Jesus and know how to recognize Him is if you start reading His words regularly and becoming very familiar with what He has said all throughout the Bible. Jesus is “the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God(John 1:1). Read what has already been written. No one else can do this for you.

God says that we must train our senses to know good from evil (see Hebrews 5:14). The pastor can’t do it for you. Your mom can’t do it for you, neither can your teachers, friends or mentors. Only you can make sure that you devote adequate time and energy to learning His voice, His character and His truth within Scripture. As you do this, you will learn when He is speaking elsewhere to you because He will never contradict what He has already written in His Word! Numbers 23:19 says, “God is not a man, that He should lie.” And, of course Jesus will speak using His words spoken in the past, because “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever(Hebrews 13:8).

Learning God’s Voice #3

As you grow in the knowledge of God and becoming better at “having ears to hear” what He is saying, you may begin to put what He is saying to you in paragraph form.

This style of hearing God and recording what you hear Him say has recently become more popular with the book, “Jesus Calling,” by Sarah Young. The author heard about hearing God’s voice everyday and writing it down. I learned how to do this before I saw her book, and was thrilled when I learned of it! I also have a copy of a delightful book, “Come Away, My Beloved,” by Francis J. Roberts which is also filled with words from the Lord. Every time I pray and ask God to speak through that book as I open to a random page, God speaks directly to my thoughts and worries using what Francis recorded years ago.

This is also a terrific way to hear God’s voice- through the writings of other Christians who have heard Him speak. My personal prayer journals are filled with quotes from “Come Away, My Beloved,” because I often will open it when I am longing for God’s voice, and He always speaks accordingly. I’m sure the Lord can use that or any devotional book to speak right to your heart concerning your own thoughts & circumstances. After all, “The LORD looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men; from His dwelling place He looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth, He who fashions the hearts of them all, He who understands all their works(Psalm 33:13-15) and God “alone know[s] the hearts of all the sons of men” (1 Kings 8:29).

But not only can you hear Him through the writings of others, but you can record what you hear, too! When I want to hear His voice (of when I already sense that He is speaking to me) I ask Him to speak as I have a pen in hand. Usually, He starts to remind me of Bible verses or He gives me a short phrase, and then the words start to flow. Scripture is, of course, “God-breathed,” and He has already spoken to us with the Bible. (It is called “the word of God!”)

This is one reason that it is incredibly important to read the Bible and become very familiar with it. If you do not know the word, you have nothing to hold on to, nothing to anchor you to the truth and prove that you are indeed hearing God’s voice and not another. As Jesus said, “A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers(John 10:5).

God has spoken many times when I stop and listen. He reminds me of Scripture & I write it from His perspective. Often wheat He tells me can relate to many Christians; sometimes it is very specific to my life.

Here are two examples of what God has spoken to me in this way:

10/23/2011
Oh, I love you, daughter! You are Mine and I am holding you so close, close to my heart. Feel my heart beat, it is so full of love for you and for the world. It is burning with desire to know and be known by My people. I am full, full of love. You are Mine and I am so close. My protection is on you, stop worrying about worldly dangers! I send My angels for protection. Oh daughter, My heart is yours, I am for you. My heart is full of love for you, relax in My arms. I am holding you.”

 In just that paragraph there are a plethora of Scriptures referred to! Here are some I’ve found:

Deuteronomy 33:27
The eternal God is a dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms

Deuteronomy 1:31
the LORD your God carried you, just as a man carries his son

Isaiah 43:1
You are Mine!

Psalm 91:11
For He will give His angels charge concerning you, to guard you in all your ways.

Galatians 4:9
you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God

Matthew 6:31
Do not worry then

So you can see how Scripture is of utmost importance when listening for God to speak!

Here is another example of God speaking in my life. This time it was right after I read a certain Bible verse. As you can see below, I asked Him for clarity, and then He so graciously responded!

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March 30, 2010

Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you…Isaiah 30:18

Some versions say “longs” instead of “waits”

 Lord, do You like delayed gratification? I know I do…probably a bit too much. Help me to balance. Also Lord God please help me realize that You wait to be gracious to me—You wait for the perfect timing, for all things to be positioned so that it will all work together for my good!
                       

[God speaking]

I long to be gracious to you My child. But there is a time and a place. All things have their seasons, and a season of waiting will only bring you more gratification once you receive My gracious gift at the right time. All things work together for good for you because you love and Me and because I have called you according to My purposes. Remember, I am waiting to be gracious to you.”

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You can even see in this example how it is mostly Bible verses woven together:

Isaiah 30:18-Romans 8:28-Ecclesiastes 3

 

Now you try it! Stop, listen for the Lord & ask for Him to speak while you wait with a pen and paper (or a computer screen!) If you don’t hear Him right away, pray and open the Word or a nearby Christian book. He can use so many avenues to speak. Then share here if you get anything!

My Recommendations for books for learning to hear God’s voice:

Learning God’s Voice #2: Visions

As I wrote last week, during high school I wanted to hear God speak about my future, but I wasn’t really sure about His methods or how He spoke or any of that! It baffled me, but there was no one to provide guidance. I recognized His voice in song lyrics, but that was pretty much it, and I wanted more. (Even now I still want more!)

From the age of 16 up until now, I have been recording prayers, personal needs, answered prayers and awesome experiences with God in journals that I like to call “Prayer Journals.” While I went through a long process (2 and a half years!) of typing them up, I had a wonderful realization. Even when I thought God was quiet, He was indeed speaking to me. Looking back in your own history will truly reveal to you that you could hear God; you just didn’t recognize His voice as His.

Fast-forward to college, sophomore year! I finally met some people who could explain to me a bit about how we can hear God’s voice! I learned a lot from them, and I am so grateful! A few friends of mine and I found ourselves on a journey from Him that sparked the writing of my book “How & Why…” years later.

Two ways I learned that God speaks is in visions and in dreams. My very first vision that I recorded was for an acquaintance of mine. She wasn’t sure what God’s will for her life is (see this post!) and she asked us to pray for her. I closed my eyes in prayer, asking God if He had anything to say about this. To my surprise and joy, I saw a sheep! Now, as I wrote in my book, seeing a sheep can mean different things, it all depends on what exactly God is saying at that moment. But for her, I felt that it possibly referred to her teaching others, perhaps children, perhaps not. But, as God often does, He only supplies one piece of the puzzle at a time! For me, I was just excited that He spoke to me in that way!

In the Bible, God spoke to Jeremiah in a similar fashion (see Jeremiah 1:11-14). Peter heard God speak through a trance vision (see Acts 10:9-16,) and Daniel had many visions and dreams. Receiving visions from God is a valid way that He speaks to us. Remember also, Jesus told His disciples, “My sheep hear My voice,” (John 10:27), so if you seek to hear Him, He will reveal Himself to you! Good practice for learning His voice in visions is to ask Him, “What are You doing in this room right now?” He may choose to show you something!

But when you first start asking for visions, don’t expect it to be mind-blowing! Instead, try this. Look at something in the room. Close your eyes. Now, picture that thing you just saw. It’s probably not very clear, but you can tell what it is, right? Any vision you receive will probably be as clear as what you see now. But ask the Lord to strengthen your ability to hear Him, and He will reveal Himself more!

How to Know God’s Will

What is the will of God?

As Christians, many of us know and believe that God has a plan for our lives and we must rely on Him for direction. But one of the most common questions people have is “What is God’s will?”

Thankfully, Bible has plenty to say about God’s will! For example, 1 John 2:17 says, “Those who do the will of God will abide forever,” and Jesus told His followers, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). With those words from Jesus Himself, it’s no surprise that Christians want to know what God’s will is for their lives!

Here are some times in my life that I have asked this very question:

  • “Who will I marry? Is it God’s will for me to marry him?”
  • “Where should I go to college? What’s God’s will? Where does He want me to be!?”
  • “Does God want me to be in this major?”
  • “What am I supposed to do with my life? What kind of job did God make me for? WHAT IS HIS WILL!?”

If these questions sound familiar to you, obviously you’re looking for His thoughts on the matter. Seeking for God’s answers will always lead you in the right direction, because He promised to direct us into His will. Take Psalm 32:8 for example (one of my favorites!) He says to YOU, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.”

Before we go further, let me define the different meanings of “God’s will.”

There is also God’s general will for all of His people. For example, God gives many specific commandments in the Bible–that we must obey Him, believe in Jesus, serve others, love one another, be unified and seek Him. This kind of “God’s will” is for everyone. No one is exempt from the many commands in the Bible. However, this is not what people are usually wondering about when they question God’s will.

Sometimes when people refer to “God’s will,” they are wondering if God’s plan matches their own. But we read in James 4:13-15, “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”– yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’”

God’s will is His desire.  This passage explains that any plan we have for our lives may or may not happen. We are “a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” Submit yourself to the Lord and He will act out His plan.

God’s will may also be mentioned when a person is questioning God’s judgment about something. This often happens when a person goes through difficult times or someone passes away. But 1 Peter 3:17, we read: “For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.” God’s will may involve suffering because suffering produces endurance and faith and a multitude of other wonderful things! (See Romans 5:3-4.)

But here’s the “God’s will” that we wonder about when we ask questions like what I listed above.

So how do you find God’s will for your life? Easy!

First, let me be clear. There are Christians that do not believe God has a calling for each of our lives. But there are people in the Bible whose lives tell us otherwise. For example, Jeremiah was called before he was born to be a prophet to the nations!

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5).  God knew Jeremiah before he was even formed. God’s calling (aka “God’s will”) for Jeremiah’s life was for him to become a prophet.

Look at Paul (formerly known as Saul, the persecutor of the church.) He was called to be an apostle and evangelist. Romans 1:1 says, “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle.” He knew his calling.

So, in order to discover God’s will for your life, your first job is to follow the general will and obey what He has written in the Bible. Here are some examples:

  • Believe in Jesus
  • Love God, love others.
  • Seek peace with others
  • Care for the poor
  • Seek God’s presence continually
  • Witness to others’ of God’s love
  • Repent and ask forgiveness when you sin against God and others
  • Forgive others when they sin against you

“Yeah, yeah, I know all that!”

Right! Of course you do. So let’s just say you’ve already been practicing all those things (wow! Impressive.) What’s next? How can you know His will for your life?

Jesus said in John 10:3-4 that He is the Shepherd and we, His ‘sheep’, can hear and recognize His voice. Have you heard Him? If you don’t think you have heard Him speak, do you trust Him to lead you in the way you should go? (see Psalm 32:8) Take me, for example. When I was trying to figure out where to go to college, I asked God over and over, “What is Your will!?!?” It was a very frustrating time, because I never heard Him respond! But no one had taught me that God would lead me in the path He had planned for me as long as I asked Him and trusted Him. Sometimes the answer can come through something as simple as a confident feeling.

“But I’m not supposed to trust my feelings!” you say. I have heard that said, but when we are looking for God’s will, He can give you an answer in many ways! Sometimes He will speak to you through strange circumstances and sometimes through the mouth of a friend. The answer could come through a prophecy that someone gives you who knows nothing of the decision you are facing. God will also speak to you while you are reading the Bible. For me, it was just a confident feeling that I should go to that specific college. And I never regretted it! [For more ways to hear God’s voice, check out my book, “How & Why to: Pray for Healing, Pray in Tongues & Give Prophecy.”]

But if you’re looking for all the answers at once: “Who am I going to marry, God? And where should I go to school? Don’t forget to tell me what I should major in!” well, don’t count on it! God will almost always give you His will for you one piece at a time. He’s not going to tell you your entire future in one sitting. (I think if He did, it would freak us out!) Your life is far more complicated than that! But He will give you little impressions, thoughts, dreams and sometimes images. He will speak to you more about His immediate will than His will for the future, because He wants you to trust Him!

Knowing the will of God is really all about knowing God. The more you know Him, the clearer His will for your life will become, and the more you will hear Him.

But relax!! Don’t be consumed with worry that you will never discover His will. He will give you answers. But more importantly, when you make sure to trust Him and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you, His will will find you.

-Jen

   Psalm 32:8

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.”