Getting Acquainted With Peter, 8: The Power of the Spirit
- Tuesday, July 06, 2004
Not too long ago I was reading the beginning of Acts. For you to understand my Word-Reading habits, it’s important that you know that as a writer, I look for the hidden items when I read the Word. No, I’m not saying that God is trying to keep anything from us (much…), rather what I’m speaking of is the human elements we often miss as we read.
Take, for example, the fact that within the early chapters of Acts the Twelve (minus Judas but plus a few others now) are back in Jerusalem (for Pentecost), the very city where they’d cowered away not too terribly long before. Why were they there? Surely for more than the Feast of Weeks (see Exodus 34: 22). Indeed, they were there because this is where Jesus had commanded them to be.
Reading on, I chuckled a bit as I read the details of the events surrounding the raining down of the Holy Spirit.
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. (Acts 2:1-4)
Later on, we read of Peter’s stand—yes, in the very city where he’d screamed, “I don’t know Him!”—and of his telling everyone who could hear his voice the story of the Christ. My smile truly broadened as I thought, “Well, one good fiery act deserves another…”
The Holy Spirit Brings Ability
Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. Utterly amazed, they asked: "Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs--we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!" (2: 5-9)
Years ago I both choreographed and danced with a mime-drama troupe. Every other weekend we performed Keith Green’s Prodigal Son Suite before hundreds of people across the southern part of the United States. With every performance, all thirty-five members of the troupe felt more assured of what we had been called to do for that season in our lives.
Then, after one such performance, a word of prophecy was spoken over us. “You will dance before kings…and before many nations.” I have to tell you, I my emotions were caught between giddy and terrified! Sure enough, within a few months, our troupe was called to dance on the streets before the Parliament building in Nassau, Bahamas. Surrounding us were hundred so people…tourists…from many nations!
Was I nervous? You’d better believe it. Yet, moments before the music began, the Holy Spirit filled me to overflowing, giving ability to my trembling legs to dance and bring glory to God in the hundred-degree heat. The people were moved to tears, many giving their lives to the Lord.
How Peter must have trembled in the early moments before he cleared his throat and began to speak. These were the very people he’d run from only 50 days before…the ones he’d hidden from in the dark hours after the crucifixion. And not only is he speaking to them, he’s speaking in their language!
Time and again in the Word of God we read of God calling those without ability and then giving them the ability they needed to carry out His will. With so many people in Jerusalem during the Feast of Weeks, it was imperative that the Disciples be able to communicate with them. Peter was suddenly right smack dab in the middle of God’s ultimate purpose for his life. What a moment that must have been!
The Holy Spirit Brings Passion
Some, however, made fun of them and said, "They have had too much wine."
Two years ago, six Christian journalists (including yours truly), a representative from Israel’s Ministry of Tourism, a tour guide, and one wacky Hebrew driver (who drove so fast I have yet to be afraid in any American taxi) sat in a restaurant on a darkened street in downtown Jerusalem, eating a scrumptious meal and recapping on the day’s events.
We’d gone down to the Dead Sea region, had reached the top of Masada, been indulged with mud treatments at the Hyatt Regency’s Spa, and had then ventured back to Jerusalem. This was the eighth day of our ten-day tour, and we were both blessed beyond words and tired beyond belief.
We were, as they call it, “punch drunk.” We laughed around the table as though we’d “had too much wine.” As we recapped all the fun we’d had during the trip and especially that day, tears poured down our faces. We doubled over in breathless rapture, attempting to calm ourselves but making a spectacle all the while. People about the restaurant looked at us as though we’d lost our minds.
Every one of us still claims that night as one of the most eventful of the trip. Oh, the JOY! The absolute JOY of being in the presence of the Holy Spirit, of other Christians who love the Lord as we, and of taking pleasure in life and all it is about.
Whatever we are called to do…travel to Jerusalem for the purpose of journalism or stay in Jerusalem for the purpose of receiving the Holy Spirit, He will bring to us a new passion! And it will be counted as joy by ourselves…whether the rest of the world understands it or not.
The Holy Spirit Brings Logic
Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: "Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It's only nine in the morning! (2:14,15)
The church that Peter would establish in the name of Jesus begins with a sermon of logics. “Good heavens, guys! It’s only 9:00 in the morning! Who has had time to get drunk already?”
Notice that Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, did not pull a sword and cut off someone’s ear (as he’d done in Gethsemane), he didn’t run and hide (He actually shouted here!) nor did he defend God’s work within himself and the others with anger or an illogical argument. No. This new man Peter stated the obvious. It was too early for them to be drunk on wine; therefore it had to be more than this. It had to be…prophecy come to fruition.
The Holy Spirit Brings the Word of God to Mind
Peter immediately speaks from the Word of God.
Amos 3:7 reads: Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan
to his servants the prophets.
Yesterday, my granddaughter, in all the wisdom of a six-year-old who passionately loves the Lord, said to me, “Don’t you know that sometimes God does things for us and other times he just tells us what to do.” In a way, this is what happened here. But first, Peter had to know the Scripture. That’s God “telling us what to do.” God has already spoken very loud and very clear (not that I don’t believe He doesn’t still speak to His children today) through His prophets. Peter didn’t have to rewrite the Word; he only had to speak it.
Peter learned from the Master Himself. Remember the wilderness story in Matthew 4? When Satan tried to come against Jesus, He used the Scriptures to state His case against the lies that would attempt to stop the plans of God. God’s Word will not return void (Isaiah 55:11).
The Holy Spirit Doesn’t Care About Our “Earthly Positions”
'In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.’ (2: 17,18)
It’s important to understand the pecking system of the Jewish people in Peter’s day. Sons were of great importance. Daughters were not. Older men were considered wise and learned; young men were not. Masters held the control; servants most assuredly did not.
But, God doesn’t care whether you are male or female, master or slave. What he does care about is that your heart is willing to be opened up, allowing for the pouring out of His Spirit.
Picture this: an exquisitely cut crystal vase stands next to a plastic cup in a garden of flowers. The vase is covered with an equally fine lid while the mouth of the cup forms a perfectly opened O. Someone comes along to fill the vase and the cup with water, but alas the water merely spills over the crystal vase and eventually the pourer stops in his efforts. The cup, however, not only welcomes the water, but as it is filled to the brim, it spills forth the liquid contents for the refreshment of the flowers at its base.
You may be an exquisitely cut crystal vase or you may be a plastic cup someone purchased at Wal-Mart for 88 cents. But if you are not opened to the pour of the Holy Spirit’s “water,” you are useless to Him.
The Holy Spirit Turns Fishermen into Fishers of Men
With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, "Save yourselves from this corrupt generation." Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. (2: 40,41)
Goodness, doesn’t it blow your mind? Peter, the fisherman who could barely catch a fish without the help of the Master (John 21) is now drawing men into the Kingdom of God! And doesn’t it make you want to just run out there and start shouting “Jesus Saves!”
Before you do, however, take a look back with me at what happened before the Holy Spirit gave His power to Peter’s life and the lives of those who were with him. The first chapter of Acts clearly states that before the Holy Spirit poured out Himself out on the early members of Christ’s body, they were devoting themselves to prayer.
Then they returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day's walk from the city. When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. (1:12-14)
In prayer, they were prepared for power. Allow me to say that again: in prayer, they were prepared for power.
Are you seeking the power of the Holy Spirit in your life? Begin by devoting yourself to prayer.
Questions for Personal or Group Study
1. What ability or abilities has the Holy Spirit given to you since you “became a new creation in Christ?”
2. Are you passionate for Christ or are you a quiet believer?
3. Can you think of a time when the Holy Spirit gave logic to what looked to be an illogical situation? Write or talk about it.
4. How much time do you spend in the Word of God? If you were pressed to scripturally defend the faith, could you?
5. Go back to the last question I asked: are you seeking the power of the Holy Spirit in your life? How much time daily do you spend in prayer? Is praying something you “do” or are you devoted to drawing into the throne room of God?
Award-winning national speaker, Eva Marie Everson's work includes Intimate Moments with God and Intimate Encounters with God (Cook). She is the author of Shadow of Dreams, Summon the Shadows and Shadow of Light. (Barbour Fiction) She can be contacted for comments or for speaking engagement bookings at www.EvaMarieEverson.com.
Other Articles in This Series:
Getting Acquainted With Peter, 7: Sifted as Wheat
Getting Acquainted With Peter, 6: Walking on WaterGetting Acquainted With Peter, 5: The Confession
Getting Acquainted With Peter, 4: The Inner Circle
Getting Acquainted With Peter, 3: Declarations of Faith
Getting Acquainted With Peter: Part Two
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