Good morning and welcome to today’s podcast. I hope you are well, that you are experiencing love and openness in all of your relationships and that whatever God has given you to do at this time is productive and fulfilling.
I am writing today’s podcast whilst reflecting on last week’s day of prayer. As a team we have taken extended periods to come and pray in the worship area with colleagues and with those who have been able to join us. I hope that you also were able to take a little extra time to pray despite the busyness of everyday life.
It strikes me that as we take time to pause and pray, peace descends upon those gathered. We gain new perspective and our trust in God’s ability grows. It becomes less about us and so much more about him.
Today’s reading is from Acts 19:1-7. After the song of worship you will hear the whole reading. But for now I will focus on v2:
[Paul] asked them [some disciples in Ephesus], “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”
Paul moved on to Ephesus and he came across some of Jesus’ followers. They were seeking to be like their master Jesus, living the way that he lived, following his teaching and doing the things he did, all without the Holy Spirit. Without the spirit all of our efforts will eventually turn to legalism. We will strive to do the works of God without him, asking for his blessing on our endeavours rather than doing the work that he has given us to do. We will strive to be holy without being transformed from within.
What Jesus did on the cross was to take away our sin and our shame. It was to pay our debts to God, to lift us from the filth of our own brokenness and welcome us into God’s home, clean, free, and acceptable in his sight.
And as we were cleaned, by Jesus’ blood, not by our own doing, we were made holy, we were made ready to be a temple, a home where God comes and lives within us. He then sets to work restoring our broken lives, bringing light to the dark places, healing the hurt, loving into life our damaged hearts… we cannot do this on our own. We cannot be transformed without his grace and his love. We can try, we can pretend, we can achieve much, but without the spirit of the living God our attempts fail.
Imagine you own the only car in Sheffield… a car with no petrol… It sits outside your house and every Sunday you sit in it, play with the switches and even turn the radio on, flash the lights, sound the horn. Neighbours look at your shiny car, wonder what it does… but to them it’s just a place where you sit on a Sunday morning. You seem to love the car, you even talk about the car and how it has changed your life… you encourage those you meet to get one… you even invite them to come and sit in the car with you on Sunday morning… but until you fill it with petrol and turn the ignition on it’s just a lifeless lump of metal and rubber. Your neighbours see your effort and your shiny metal box and they all think you’re odd. Life without a car seems just a good thank you very much! What’s the point!? You can pretend to drive but in the end it’s impossible to keep up the pretense that having a car is worth all the effort.
Fill it with petrol and turn the key and life becomes very, very different. Those around you sit up and take notice. Ask you what your secret is. realise the benefits and see the change in your life. They ask for a lift and begin to count the cost of getting a car for themselves.
“Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”
Did you get filled and you have since run out of petrol…? Be filled with the spirit… be filled and keep on being filled.
As we did last week during the prayer day; as I hope you are doing every day of your life, prayer day or not; pause, pray, read the Bible and invite the Spirit to come. He changes everything.
Come Holy Spirit, come. We pause in your presence, come and meet with us. Lift our eyes, lift our spirits, prepare us for the day. We ask that you would heal and restore us, that you would show us the good works that you have prepared in advance for us to do, that you would lead and guide us and cause our faith in you to soar today. Amen.
READING: ACTS 19:1-7
While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’
They answered, ‘No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.’
So Paul asked, ‘Then what baptism did you receive?’
‘John’s baptism,’ they replied.
Paul said, ‘John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.’ On hearing this, they were baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all.