But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8 NLT).
Friend to Friend
After three hours on a school bus, we arrived at the waterpark for a youth retreat weekend. I’ll admit I needed an attitude adjustment. Listening to the students in my group complain about not having their phone for two days was grating on my nerves. Once we got to our rooms, disagreement broke out about who had to sleep on the pull-out couches rather than the beds.
My irritation level rose. I wanted to remind these students how grateful they should be for a weekend away to stay in beautiful rooms, eat food prepared for them, hear amazing speakers, connect with a thousand other teenagers, and enjoy the waterpark. I knew my ranting wouldn’t set a good tone, so I hustled the girls down to the first session.
As the worship began, I knew something needed to change in my heart. I confessed to the Lord my bad attitude. I complained about the ungrateful students. Then I asked Him to awaken in me a love for these girls. I prayed for them by name and asked Jesus to help me see them the way He does.
Miraculously, something inside me shifted. While I still had to deal with some difficult personalities, general immaturity, and more complaints about phones, I was able to share my faith with these girls. On the last night, one of them asked if she could speak with me in private. With tears in her eyes, she asked if she could receive Christ personally in her life. I had the privilege of praying with her and sharing an eternal moment.
During that weekend retreat, the Lord reminded me again that I can’t serve Him in my human strength. His Spirit is necessary for spiritual life—mine and yours. In the opening pages of the book of Acts, the followers of Jesus experience a significant pause as they waited for the gift that Jesus promised them. They were not to jump into activity without first waiting for God’s promised Holy Spirit.
We notice these truths about the Holy Spirit in the first chapter of Acts:
- Jesus gave instructions to His disciples through the Holy Spirit.
- The Father would be the One sending the gift of the Spirit.
- Jesus said a baptism of the Holy Spirit was imminent.
- Power from the Holy Spirit would enable believers to be witnesses to the world.
I’m sure the disciples didn’t know exactly what spiritual baptism and power would look like, but they gathered and waited for the promise to be fulfilled. I can imagine that after Jesus died, rose again, and then appeared to them over a forty-day period, they would have been antsy to start telling others about all that had happened. Yet Jesus told them to stay in Jerusalem and wait.
We can grow impatient and experience anxiety when God pushes the pause button in our lives. Sometimes we get ahead of Him by failing to wait for His leading. In Acts 1 the disciples waited for the promise of the Spirit to be fulfilled, and during that time they asked questions, prepared, and prayed. They knew something good was coming because Jesus said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 NLT)
A season of questioning, preparing, and praying preceded the action in the book of Acts. I don’t want to move without the Spirit’s guidance, but I also don’t want to lag behind because I’m distracted or apathetic. I know He wants to work in my life and yours. We can awaken to God’s power by awakening to His Spirit.
As we awaken to the Lord in our everyday lives, we can experience power – not in our own strength – but by receiving God’s power through the Holy Spirit. While I often look for God’s power in big displays, the Holy Spirit often shows up more discreetly in my life.
He softens my heart, changes my attitude, and guides me. He helped me love teen girls on a retreat weekend, and He has the power to work in your heart today.
Is there a time when the Holy Spirit showed up in your life and enabled you to say or do something you otherwise would not have been able to do?
Lord, help me to learn from the early Christians to wait well. I don’t want to get ahead of Your Spirit’s work, but I also don’t want to lag behind. Show me where I can ask questions, prepare, and be more devoted in prayer when You hit the pause button in my life. In Jesus Name, Amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
How can you prepare for the work God is calling you to do through His Spirit?
What do you need to pray about right now?
More from the Girlfriends
Check out Melissa’s new Bible study titled Acts: Awakening to God in Everyday Life for an in-depth study of the early church.
© 2021 by Melissa Spoelstra. All rights reserved.