Summary: Throughout this series, we’ve been learning the functions of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit which gives our life meaning and ties us to God. It is the Holy Spirit that allows us to understand God’s will for our lives but it is also the Holy Spirit
Breathe: Speak to the Wind
Throughout this series, we’ve been learning the functions of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit which gives our life meaning and ties us to God. It is the Holy Spirit that allows us to understand God’s will for our lives but it is also the Holy Spirit which empowers us to bring new life to others.
In 586 BC, Jerusalem was totally destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzer of Babylon. The Temple, which had been the pride and glory of Israel for almost 400 years, was reduced to ashes; all the inhabitants of Jerusalem had been taken either into captivity in Babylon, including King Mattaniah, who was blinded and taken in chains. Although they had been warned repeatedly by God through His prophets, including Ezekiel, they had turned a deaf ear! Now they found themselves in a foreign land, separated from friends, loved ones, home and temple without any hope that they would ever return. The people had gone astray and forgotten that God was the one who had provided protection for them, who had fought their battles for them, who put food on their tables and who provided their home, the holy city of Jerusalem and the Temple of God. They had literally turned away from God. Now they were spiritually dead, their hope was gone and they were in complete despair in their Babylonian Captivity. They thought that God would never take them back. So they also had completely lost their faith in God.
One day, God shows up to Ezekiel in an amazing way: on a whirlwind. We learn several things from God in this encounter. That tells us that not only does God like a fine ride but God can find you wherever you are. When He did, Ezekiel fell to the ground. There’s something about being in the presence of the holy and Almighty God which can be overwhelming. Time and time again in the Scriptures we see when God’s presence shows up in all its fullness, it moves us to fall in his presence and worship Him. Ezekiel says that God spoke to Him and filled him with his presence and then he arose. Ezekiel had to be filled with God’s presence to stand and behold what God had to show him. Now the presence of God shows us not only who we are but also who we’re not. This is what God is wanting to show Ezekiel. But more importantly, God can show us who we can become in Him. From this experience, we learn that God is always wanting to speak to his servants. God is wanting to show himself to you and his will for your life. There are times when you have been ushered in to the very presence of God. God works in ways that we can never imagine. God can move anywhere. God is so low you can’t get under him, so high you can’t get over him, so wide that you can’t get around him. When he wants to show up, he’s doesn’t need an invitation to let his presence and his majesty be experienced. That’s the kind of God we serve and worship. We can all relate to a time when God showed up in a way we can understand.
When I was a 4th grader, I went on a spiritual retreat. We had worship one night and the counselor sent us to go find a private spot where we could pray individually. I went by a large tree away from everyone else. As I began to pray and pour my heart out to God, I heard a rustling in the leaves. I opened my eyes and saw a wild rabbit. Now if you know anything about wild rabbits, they’re skittish. You can’t get near them, let alone touch them. But this rabbit came up to me and sat between my legs and let me pet him. It was in that moment I knew God has sent this animal as a sign of his presence and love for me. God didn’t send an angel, didn’t give me a great vision but rather spoke to me in a manner that I as a 11 year old could understand. God wanted me to know that He was there, that he loved me and had a purpose for my life. I walked back to the campfire and shared with it with the counselor who rejoiced. As wonderful as that experience was you can’t live on those experiences. That’s not enough to carry you through the difficult times, the challenges and the ups and downs of serving God. So what do you do?
You have to continually seek fresh fillings of the Holy Spirit. Jim Cymbala, in his book “Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire”, tells being asked in 1972 to pastor part-time the Brooklyn Tabernacle. It was in a shabby two-story building on Atlantic Avenue in New York City. The location was bad. The people were few. The facilities were falling apart. In fact, one Sunday night a pew broke, spilling several people onto the floor as he preached. Looking around he was surrounded by a city of muggers, transvestites, drug addicts and more, and Jim realized he was in trouble. He was overcome by his own inadequacy to lead the church, as well as his lack of answers for the world. In his desperation, he began to search for answers, yearning for the power that can only come from God. At the end of his rope, he felt the Lord impress on him, deep within his soul, that God’s power would be with them, if only he and the church learned to call on His name and be filled with the Holy Spirit to supply their needs. The Spirit said, “If you and your wife will lead my people to pray and call upon my name, you will never lack for something fresh to preach. I will supply all the money that’s needed, both for the church and for your family, and you will never have a building large enough to contain the crowds I will send in response.” He went back to the church and told them that from that moment on the health of the church would be measured by its Tuesday night prayer meeting focused on seeking the Holy Spirit. That first night 15 people came. God began to move. The church grew. The prayer meeting became larger. They were forced three times to seek larger facilities. By 1985 they were running 1600 each Sunday service. Hundreds came to the Tuesday night prayer meeting. God brought miraculous conversions and they continually receive a fresh filling of the Holy Spirit. Today the church worship over 10,000 each week. Once you have been filled with the Holy Spirit, you have to stay filled and you do that by seeking the Spirit regularly.