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So he said to me, "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: 'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the LORD Almighty. (Zechariah 4:6)
This Sunday is Pentecost, the day which commemorates the events recorded in Acts 2, when God poured out His Holy Spirit into the hearts of His people, empowering them to launch the new Christ-centered community that would become known as the church. Before Jesus had ascended to heaven, he had promised to his disciples this gift: “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). And as the disciples waited in prayer, this world-changing event happened: “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. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them” (Acts 2:2-4).
What would have happened if the disciples had gone ahead to preach the gospel without waiting for the empowering of the Holy Spirit? What if they had allowed their enthusiasm to overshadow Jesus’ dictates? I think it is clear that the disciples would have been able to do nothing of eternal significance.
Is it really any different today? Yes, we who believe in Jesus already have His Holy Spirit inside of us. But how often do we forge ahead in our own strength, confident that we can accomplish a task on our own, without being led and empowered by the Holy Spirit? I believe that if the enemy can keep you busy believing that the answer to your problems is found in trying harder, and not in accessing the power of the Holy Spirit, then he has won. And if the enemy can get us believing as a church that the way to reach the world is through better programs and plans and not through prayerfully depending on the Spirit and walking according to the Spirit, we’re sunk. On the day of Pentecost, and still today, the believer’s power comes from the Spirit:
1 Corinthians 2:1-5 - When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power.
Brothers and sisters, pray and ask God to empower you and lead you by His Holy Spirit! May the words that were spoken of the early disciples in Acts 4:13 be true of us today: “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”
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