By Jane Grivjak
“I AM FULL OF THE POWER BY THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD.” MICAH 3:8
Micah declared, after showing how corrupt the leaders and prophets in Israel were, “But truly I am full of power by the Spirit of the Lord.”
Micah prophesied of the coming fall of Israel, as a result of the sin and idolatry that had become such an accepted part of their lives, but also, he predicted their eventual return to the land, based on the faithfulness of God. His prophecies show a perfect blending of the justice of God and the grace of God. The prophecies of Micah make it abundantly clear that the God of the Old and New Testaments is the same God.
Today, as we look at our hostile world, we realize that until the Lord returns, or until we die, we must live in this world and face continued opposition. How can we do this? What is the secret of victory? It is the presence and power of the Holy Spirit of God in our lives.
Last week we ended our devotional with Jesus’ final instructions with these words: “I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.”
This morning we will begin with Luke’s Book of Acts. The theme of the Book is found in Acts 1:8 where Jesus told His disciples, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
So the book tells the story of how the Holy Spirit established the church. It is an exciting story to us today, as we seek to be used by the Holy Spirit as we are empowered by Him.
Jesus continued to heal, work, and pour out His grace, mercy and love. Only in the Book of Acts, He did it by the power of the Holy Spirit through His apostles. In that sense, the book is open-ended because the Lord continues to work to the present day through believers filled with the Holy Spirit.
Since the time of Adam’s fall when He lost the spirit God had breathed into him, God’s Spirit had striven with men, and worked in some with power, but as CHARLES SPURGEON writes:
“It was only when Jesus had come, and by His death had broken the power of sin, and had won in the resurrection, a new life for men to live in Himself, that the Spirit of God could come and take possession of the whole heart, and make it a dwelling place for Christ and for God. Nothing less than this could be the power in the disciples and in us by which sin could be overcome, and we could serve God as a beloved child rather than a stressed-out, guilt ridden slave. This power comes from the Holy Spirit.”
BILLY GRAHAM writes:
“There is not a person anywhere who can be a Christian without the Holy Spirit. There is not a person who can follow Christ without the help of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit gives you power to serve Christ.”
This morning we will be looking at one of the greatest witnesses in the Bible, he also happened to be the “Pharisees of Pharisees” or in his own words; “less than the least of all the saints.” And in 1 Timothy 1:15, “the chief of sinners.” His name was Saul of Tarsus, later “Paul the Apostle.”
SAUL’S CONVERSION ON THE ROAD TO DAMASCUS: TRANSFORMED FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT
“….and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven.
Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And Saul said, “Who are you Lord?” Then the Lord said, I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”
So, Saul trembling and astonished said, “Lord what do you want me to do?”
Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
“Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But his companions led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.”
We may notice three things from Saul’s responses to the Lord:
- He recognized Him as Lord but asked for confirmation as to His name.
- Upon realizing it was Jesus, he immediately humbled himself, asking “Lord what do You want me to do?”
The author of Hebrews describes Saul’s encounter with the risen Christ “an illumination” or “enlightenment.”
Heb 10:32-34 But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings: 33 partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations, and partly while you became companions of those who were so treated;
- Upon receiving His directions, Saul responded in obedience.
A.W. Tozer- “True faith is active, not passive. True faith brings a spiritual and moral transformation and an inward witness that cannot be mistaken. True faith means that we allow the teachings (directives) of Christ to dominate our total lives from the moment we believe. One of the first changes will be a shift of interest from earth to heaven, from men to God, from time to eternity, from earthly gain to Christ and His eternal kingdom. Suddenly, or slowly but surely, he will develop a new pattern of life. Old things pass away and behold, (change should be evident) all things become new, first inwardly and then outwardly; for the change within him will soon begin to express itself by corresponding changes in his manner of living.”
SAUL EMPOWERED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT: AN EXAMPLE OF A TRANSFORMED LIFE
GREG LAURIE writes: “It is clear from the Book of Acts that the empowering of the Holy Spirit (coming upon with power) is distinct from the indwelling Holy Spirit (coming within, bringing new life) which is in every believer.
Saul had already put his faith in Christ when he met the risen Lord (this made him a new creature in Christ). But God spoke to a godly man named Ananias and told him to go visit Saul and pray for him, because Saul was a “chosen vessel to bring the gospel to the Gentiles.” Just like the prophet Micah, Saul needed to be “filled with power by the Spirit of the Lord!”
(vs 17)“And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on Saul said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
It is this spiritual power, the anointing of the Holy Spirit for which there is absolutely no substitute.
Zechariah 4:6 “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord of hosts.”
All of Paul’s prior preparation as a Pharisee, his knowledge of the law and other prestigious credentials were useless without the power and guidance of the Helper.
Before we leave this section, we should not forget the response and obedience of another servant of the Lord.
ANANIAS: ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF OBEDIENCE
To begin with, God can use even the most obscure “saint.” Were it not for the conversion of Saul, we would never have heard of Ananias, and yet Ananias had an important part to play in the work of God. Behind many well-known servants of God are lesser-known believers who have influenced them. The bright light and the voice from heaven were dramatic events, but the visit of Ananias was somewhat ordinary. The hand of God pushed Saul from his “high horse”, but God used the hand of a man to bring Saul what he most needed. The “ordinary” events were just as much a part of the miracle as were the extraordinary!
Ps 143:10 Teach me to do Your will,
For You are my God;
Your Spirit is good.
Lead me in the land of uprightness.
As believers, we also have the Holy Spirit as our guide. He is looking to send us out just as He did with Ananias. We need to be ever attendant to His still small voice in order to hear His promptings. Jesus may not come to us in a vision, but the Holy Spirit is constantly looking for those He can send out to do His will.
THE HOLY SPIRIT: THE SUPREME GUIDE IN PAUL’S LETTERS
Paul experienced the leading of the Holy Spirit in his daily life - he saw a great spiritual principle in the Christian life as noted in the following verses:
Romans 8:14 “As many as are led (continually) by the Spirit of God, they are sons of God.”
2 Cor 13:14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
Strong’s definition of communion: a partnership, in participation, in cooperation, in communication
In 1Thessalonians 1:4-7
Paul introduces a description of the Holy Spirit in relationship to the believer:
4)“We know dear brothers and sisters, that God loves you and has chosen you to be His own people. 5) For when we brought you the Good News, it was not only with words but also with power, for the Holy Spirit gave you full assurance that what we said was true. And you know of our concern for you from the way we lived when we were with you. 6) So, you received the message with joy from the Holy Spirit in spite of the severe suffering it brought you. In this way, you imitated both us and the Lord. 7) As a result, you have become an example to all the believers in__________.” NLT
NOTE: For Paul the “imitation” of Christ involves readiness to be shaped by the Holy Spirit.
Evidence of the Holy Spirit is a transformed life and a transformed life is evidence of the Holy Spirit!!
2 Cor 3:17-18 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
THE BOOK OF ROMANS: PROOF OF PAUL’S KNOWLEDGE OF THE SCRIPTURES UNDER THE CONTROL OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
The Book of Romans is often considered the best work of Paul. Romans has reached millions over the past 2,000 years. My study bible notes that: “ countless men and women of faith have singled out Romans as the weapon God graciously used to bring about their surrender to Christ. Augustine, Martin Luther, John Wesley, and others received unexpected spiritual volleys from Romans that pierced their defenses and ended their rebellion against God.”
It serves as a profound explanation of the gospel. The entire book explains the need for salvation, and how God is able to give us righteousness. Paul explains the purpose and need for the death and resurrection of Jesus. Paul also teaches about the glorious grace of God that brings righteousness to all who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. He ends the epistle by giving practical examples of how righteousness can be lived out in our daily lives.
Here are just a few examples of the profound truths from this book:
IN ROMANS 7:24 Paul’s lament, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from from this body of death?” is followed by:
ROMANS 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.”
IN ROMANS 8:31 we receive encouragement from “If God is for us, who can be against us?” and in ROMANS 8:37 We find victory in we are “more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”
All written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in order for all who came after him to live the victorious Christian life.
Not only has God given us the sacred writings of both the Old and New Testaments as inspired by the Spirit, He has also, through that same Spirit, given us so many other benefits that accompany our salvation….
THE HOLY SPIRIT’S PROFOUND IMPACT IN THE LIFE OF CHRISTIANS TODAY
1)Through the power of the Holy Spirit, believers are saved, filled, sealed, and sanctified. The Holy Spirit reveals God’s thoughts, teaches, and guides believers into all truth.
2 Cor 1:21-22 Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, 22 who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.
John 16:13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.
2) The Holy Spirit provides wise counsel to Christ’s followers. Jesus knew He would be going away and that His followers would need the Holy Spirit as a Helper and an advocate to remind them of His teachings.
John 14:26 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 things that I said to you.
3) The Holy Spirit is a source of revelation, wisdom, and power.
God gives His followers the Holy Spirit so that we may know Him better. The Holy Spirit opens believer’s eyes to the hope of salvation and the inheritance they have in Christ to eternal life.
Luke 2:25-32 And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. 27 So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, 28 he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said:
29 "Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace,
According to Your word;
30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation
31 Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples,
32 A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles,
And the glory of Your people Israel."
4) The Holy Spirit gives spiritual gifts to believers.
Attributes of the Holy Spirit such as wisdom, knowledge, and power are manifested in the lives of believers for the good of others. (More gifts are listed in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11)
Acts 6:8-10 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. 9 Then there arose some from what is called the Synagogue of the Freedmen (Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and those from Cilicia and Asia), disputing with Stephen. 10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke.
5) The Holy Spirit helps in a Christian’s weakness and intercedes for them.
We all have times we feel weak and don’t know what to do. The Holy Spirit helps us line up with God’s will.
Romans 8:26-27 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
Serving God and living faithfully can become a constant “guilt trip of trying harder and doing better next time” …. Until we come to the realization of the accessibility of the Holy Spirit merely by asking for His help!
Luke 11:9-13 "So I say to 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 he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 11 If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!"
CHARLES SPURGEON writes:
“This morning let us hear the Lord Jesus speak to each one of us---
“‘Before the world began, I chose you. I made the covenant for you. I laid aside my glory and became a man for you; I gave up My life for you; and if I did all this, I will surely help you now. In helping you I am giving you what I have bought for you already.’” From Spurgeon’s devotional on Isaiah 41:10
“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with My victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 NLT
Let’s close with a word from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians:
“I keep asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that He may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you; the riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people, and the incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength He exerted when He raised Christ from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms.” EPHESIANS 1:17-20