Being part of the church has always felt like being a stranger in a foreign land—like a “visitor” whose citizenship is in another place. At times, though, this feeling has been softened by our “Christian values” culture, positive socioeconomic conditions, fruitful harvest and fairly cooperative government.
Yet the words of Jim Reeves’ song ring true: “This world is not my home, I’m just a-passin’ through …” While we know it’s true, many Christians have never felt more like a stranger in a foreign land than they do today.
Our nation and culture have changed and continue to change. The church is being asked very difficult questions. Often, we are characterized in inaccurate and unfair ways. Increasingly, we may feel more and more we are that stranger, wondering “What do I say?” or, more important, “How do I say?” as we live, serve and lead in this foreign land.
Good news! The Holy Spirit is equipping His people for these days, and we need not fear. I would echo the apostolic exhortation in Ephesians 5:18: “… but be continuously filled with the Spirit …” (NKJV, emphasis added). This continuous filling was certainly necessary for Paul and the apostles, and it may have been more important than we know. The book of Acts shows us how this filling made a difference for the church in the face of difficult questions and spiritual attack.
In Acts 4:7-8, Peter was in custody and found himself being confronted with angry questions and demands following a powerful healing: “By what power or by what name have you done this?” Just before he spoke, he received what he needed, “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit said to them …” and he preached a very strong message.
Eventually Peter and John were released with the command “not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus,” to which they responded, “For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:18-20). The lines were drawn and the stage was set as they gathered with the church and prayed, “Grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word … and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the Word of God with boldness” (vv. 29-31). They asked for power to do the very activity they were commanded not to do! At the very heart of the messages, decisions and prayers was power that came from being filled afresh with the Holy Spirit.
On another occasion, Barnabas and Paul were invited to minister the Word, but found that they must confront Bar-Jesus, a sorcerer and false prophet. In the midst of that spiritual attack, supernatural equipping for battle took place: “Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said …” (Acts 13:6,9-10). Paul declared a prophetic revelation, God performed a miracle of judgment at that moment, and the battle was won. Again, it all began when Paul received the power and discernment he needed when he was filled with the Holy Spirit.
We are being asked impossibly hard questions, and we are facing impossibly difficult situations, but we need not fear. The invitation to be continuously filled with the Holy Spirit is still available, and His willingness to fill us afresh at the moment of need is essential in these days in which we live. Be continuously filled with the Holy Spirit!
- Grant to Your servants, The Foursquare Church, that with all boldness we may speak Your Word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy servant, Jesus. Now, and moment by moment, fill us afresh with your Holy Spirit.
- Pray that, in these days of challenge, you will be mindful to expect to be filled with the Holy Spirit at the moment of trial or confrontation so that you may speak His Word and respond in His power.
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