This is That

Baptized with Fire 3

In 1923 Aimee Semple McPherson, the founder of the Foursquare Movement, published a book titled “This is That” as an explanation for the fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit that was happening worldwide in the early 20th century.

But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh Acts 2:16,17  (KJV)

Sister Aimee, as she preferred to be called, was a Holy Spirit filled evangelist who traveled from coast to coast and held revival meetings that brought many thousands of people to Christ. This was on the heels of the great Azusa street revival that started in Los Angeles California when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the house church services being held by a preacher named William Seymour, the son of former slaves. The services quickly outgrew his home and then filled a nearby warehouse to overflowing–every night.

If you think God can only use the educated and socially approved people in gilded buildings to accomplish his mission— remember that. That God used a black man and a woman, a divorced woman at that, in a day when both groups were still largely denied the right to vote in this country, who had little say in anything of importance, to spark a movement that shook the world for the Kingdom of God that continues today.

God is no respecter of persons.

Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: Acts 10:34

God uses those who say yes.

From those meetings on Azusa Street that were always busting at the seams as people came from all around to hear the word preached in power, to see and be healed of all manner of infirmities, and even to see the Shakina Glory of God move about the room, many other ministries and movements were birthed and the Spirit continued to be poured out as people picked up the mantle of ministry and power to continue spreading the message, Christ working with them.

This was that which had been spoken by the prophet Joel. And it continues today, for we are certainly in the last days. We are in the last days that started at Pentecost as the stage was being set for all to know and receive Jesus Christ as Lord, to come to the Father through his Son and to receive his life giving Spirit.

And his Spirit was poured out to accomplish that mission through us as we continue to await the return of our King.

I’m not going to spend a lot of time defending the Holy Spirit, He can do that Himself—and he does it quite well. And to any of you who have followed me here for any length of time this is nothing earth shattering—“The Baptism of the Holy Spirit?— Whaat!?”

Sadly there is much of the church who does not believe that the Baptism and the subsequent outpouring and empowerment is for today. That that was only for what they call the Apostolic age.

If that’s the case then there are a whole lot of believers in Jesus Christ, including myself, who have been born again of the Spirit, baptized in water and washed in the blood of Christ who are operating in the gifts of the Spirit that was released in them when they sought out the baptism of the Holy Spirit that was promised to them by the scripture in numerous places, that are doing a great job of pretending.

Seriously? It is as obvious as the nose on my face to any who are paying attention that the Holy Spirit is alive and well and still being poured out as God’s holy fire continues to set hearts ablaze with zeal for his word and his mission to take the healing and life giving message to the world accompanied by healings and deliverances.

As Peter proclaimed in the opening words of the first sermon ever preached by a born again, Spirit filled believer in Christ—”this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;  And it shall come to pass in the last days

‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,
That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your young men shall see visions,
Your old men shall dream dreams.
And on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days;
And they shall prophesy.
Acts 2:16-18

The last days…Either we are in the last days or we are not. To say that the empowerment, the gifts, the baptism of the Holy Spirit was only available in the day of the Apostles is to say that the last days are over—unless Joel and then Peter are false prophets. And no one would argue that–would you?

Because they declared the outpouring that happens in Jerusalem on the first post resurrection Pentecost experience as being a last days happening. So again—either we are in the last days or we are not—there cannot be more days after the last days. Otherwise they would be called the next to last days. And that’s just silly.

If anything, as we see the days progress, and things seem to be heating up, prophecies continuing to be fulfilled and the last days apparently nearing their end as the day of the Lord approaches, the outpouring of the Spirit seems to be getting more intense, more available and more necessary as the darkness ramps up their efforts to destroy all things good and Godly while he still has a chance.

We must strive for and receive all that we can from our God so that we are victors in these last day battles and not victims.

The baptism of the Spirit is so much more than just tongues. It is speaking for God, representing God in this earth where darkness so often prevails through those who find their voice through the evil one.

It is speaking words and creating beautiful things that point to his glory as you are inspired by visions, dreams—words, pictures and ideas that the Holy Spirit puts in your head, in your mouth, in your hands, in your song—it is an overflow of his power—his love and glory that must find it’s expression in us, that wants to find it’s its expression in us, and advance the Kingdom of Heaven through us.

Something the angels of heaven only wish they could do. We have the creativity of our creator God inspired by his Holy Spirit. And only beautiful things can come of that arrangement, so long as you don’t quench the Spirit.

But that’s a sermon for a different day.

I know a Ghost Crowder

Other Tongues

Baptized with Fire 2

“And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.” Acts 2:2

The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it . . . The words of Jesus to Nicodemus three years earlier, finding a new and very literal fulfillment as they hear the Holy Spirit come rushing into their existence.

So the Holy Spirit comes rushing in from heaven with the sound of a mighty wind, taking on a visible appearance like tongues of fire above the heads of each, reminiscent of the burning bush or the shekinah glory that led the children of Israel at night in the wilderness, and it settles on each of them and fills them with the Holy Spirit—and they suddenly have power.

And they are only beginning to discover what that means, which is what the rest of the book of Acts is about. But the first thing that happens is, the same as what happens today when one is baptized in the Holy Spirit, they get the gift of tongues. An immediate manifestation of the Holy Spirit’s presence.

 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven.  And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. Then they were all amazed and marveledActs 2:4-7

The scriptures going forward will have a lot to say about all of this, including the gift of tongues. It is the ability to speak words in a language that the speaker does not understand, yet it is a known language to someone, either men or angels. It is used to pray for oneself and for others without hinderance from ones own thoughts. It is a way to offer praise and worship. It can be a prelude to prophetic words and messages, or simply a way to calm the mind and soul of the one speaking.

I use my prayer language often when I feel stressed, when I’m about to lose my temper, or when I feel threatened. It puts my spirit back in control and keeps my emotions in check—and reminds me of who it is that is always with me—the Holy Spirit of God.

On this day, on Pentecost, tongues is a way for the Holy Spirit to, sayHey—I’m here, I’m real and I can prove it.’ It is also a way to get the attention of the crowds who are in Jerusalem from all over the Roman Empire, many of them speaking different languages and recognizing the words that many of the disciples are speaking as they are extolling Almighty God in their new way of doing so.

They apparently heard the sound of the wind and now hear the commotion caused by these people, whom are known to be from the backwater region of Galilee, speaking loudly and plainly in their own foreign tongues. And it draws quite a crowd.

The quiet and small group of Jesus followers who have been mostly staying behind closed doors are now apparently out in the street drawing all kinds of attention to themselves. ‘Don’t they remember what happened the last time this happened? Their leader, Jesus, got crucified. But now they are carrying on like he is the king and all is well—and this tongues thing—what is that all about?’

Mission accomplished—the tongues have glorified God, proven his presence and prepared Peter to preach a Holy Spirit inspired sermon that will rock their world and have them all begging for the Spirit of God to come on them in the name of his Son Jesus as well.

Remember—these are all Jews. The Holy Spirit has just drawn them into the church of Jesus Christ, convinced them that he is indeed the Messiah and brought them all into his Kingdom.

Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”

Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:37—38

They repented, were baptized in water and the Holy Spirit—with fire. Three thousand of them right off the bat, as soon as Peter finished speaking. Now there’s an anointed sermon. Pretty good for a short tempered fisherman who was afraid of a servant girl just a few weeks ago.

Lord, fill all of us, your people with the power to change this world-for you! Baptize us with fire!

Are you brave enough to pray this?

We Do Not Belong

Baptized in Fire

And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Acts 2:2-4

And so the Holy Spirit makes His grand entrance onto the world stage and reclaims that which was lost so long ago—the hearts of men.

This passage is speaking of the birth of the church, the long awaited day of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit onto the children of God, onto those who seek his face and accept his Son.

It’s easy to get distracted by, and hung up on, the amazing events recorded here with the wind blowing, the fire showing, and the tongues flowing, but we cannot overlook the significance of what is happening here, the significance of this day.

Nothing like this has ever happened before. The Holy Spirit has made some spectacular entrances before, but He has never manifested Himself like this for the purpose of indwelling a group of people.

He makes this grand entrance to come and to not just abide for a while in someone, not just visit, not just anoint—but to take up permanent residence, to empower, enliven and radically change, not just a group of people, but to create a whole new class of people—a people who are alive in him, who are empowered in him, who are in Him period. People who are truly alive, who are more than conquerors.

The church, the bride of Christ, has been born. And she lives and thrives yet today as us—the church. We are the bride, born again, empowered, enlivened—radically changed and ready to be Jesus in a dark and dying world. A world we no longer need to fear, a world we no longer face alone—a world of which we are a part, yet to which we do not belong. We cannot belong to a broken world, because we are now whole.

We do not belong to a world of broken hearts. We do not belong to a world of shattered dreams and broken promises. We do not belong to a world of death and decay, perversion and hate. We are in this world but not of it. We belong to a Kingdom that is not subject to any of that which the world would impose on us, a Kingdom that is not at the mercy of evil. Because we belong to Jesus.

We, who have believed and received, are now one with the Father and filled with His Holy Spirit—Baptized with fire. Fire is cleansing, fire is all consuming, irrepressible, irresistible— fire is power.

And that power comes from a fire that is not like the furnaces of electrical generation plants, not like the fire that propels our trucks and trains and sends rockets to space, it is not like the fire of the sun that gives life and energy to nearly all living things in one form or another.

The fire that gives us life, that empowers us is so much greater than all of that, and in fact created all of that—our fire is the Holy Spirit of the Living God.

And we can be fully immersed, fully filled, fully enlivened, empowered— cleansed, clothed and recreated by that fire, by that Spirit. So that we can say, as Paul did, it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me—I am a new creation. Or, we can choose to mock the true power and continue striving to understand and to be understood, to find our way alone and hope it’s all enough. We can accept the power, or we can deny the power.

 So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “Whatever could this mean?”

others mocking said, “They are full of new wine.” Acts 2:12-13

On the day the Spirit was poured out on the first believers many mocked and derided them as drunk and disorderly—emotional chaos. But in the end they could not deny that what was happening was from God. They could see, hear and even feel the Spirit stirring their hearts.

That’s what happened on that day of Pentecost, at that Feast of Firstfruits. That’s the fire, the power that was turned loose on the earth that day. Because Jesus is Lord, because he was not left in the grave to see corruption and because he was indeed raised up.

 This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear. Acts 2:32-33

These were the words of Peter on the day of Pentecost as he preached the first sermon of the church that is about to grow by thousands in a single day—all because the Holy Spirit came and not only got everyone’s attention, but put a fire in Peter that he could not contain and that could not be resisted.

The cornerstone had been laid, Jesus was raised up, and the church was being built. A new spiritual house to which we would belong was taking shape—in a big hurry and in a big way.

The Holy Spirit was poured out in a way that all could see and hear—there was no mistaken. The Apostles may have been born again quietly in a locked room and given new life, (John 20:22) but on this day they would have their whole lives, their whole world, radically changed. There would be no denying or hiding anymore.

Afraid to seek, receive and move in the fullness of the Holy Spirit and the gifts he gives? If you are living for Christ you are going to be mocked and derided in this increasingly hostile world anyway, so why would you stop short of the power?

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8

We do not belong to this world, but this world desperately needs us!

Commissioned

Last week we celebrated the resurrection of our Lord, his victory over sin and death and his glorification and return to the Father. But there is so much more to the story. That was not the end of the story by any means.

It wasn’t— “Yay, Jesus is risen—let’s go to the buffet and feast in celebration of our promised salvation—then just go on with our lives, same ol’, same ol’. We’ll find out just what it all means when we die and go to heaven—we hope. Pass the deviled eggs please.”

They actually tried that, but Jesus was not done rocking their boats—literally, for some of them, as they had tried to go back to fishing—the story was far from over.

Their story was only just beginning. They were no longer to be hapless bystanders following Jesus around and marveling at his teachings and miracles. They were no longer just fishermen.

They were about to become his ambassadors and proxies, turning the world upside down, as they would soon be accused of doing. Taking on those who thought they had it all figured out already and sharing the truth of God’s love with those who thought they were far from worthy of hearing it.

But first Jesus has to get them away from the buffet table.

So he crashes their party and gives them a commission.

The empowerment to do the things Jesus speaks of here would come on the day of Pentecost, but on this day they, and we, received the marching orders.

Go into all the world and preach the gospel . . . And these signs will accompany those who believe. . . .” Mark 16

Few people have any trouble accepting that the great commission applies to all of us as far as preaching the gospel to all nations is concerned, yet many struggle with the rest of it—the signs that would accompany those who believe.

Signs that include speaking in tongues, casting out demons, laying hands on the sick, protection from deadly venoms and poisons. This was not limited here by Jesus to the apostles, He says Those who believe. ”Do you believe? —Then there you go. Expect Jesus to have your back, to work with you to confirm the word, and he will.

We see Jesus working mightily through and with the apostles and the early church again and again in the book of Acts. And the apostle Paul would confirm this in his letters to the churches, that the gifts and signs were not just for the Apostles.

 “I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, . . .” 1 Corinthians 14:5

Why would Jesus send us out to share the gospel with the world, leave the sharing of the message that saves the souls of those he loves up to us to share, and not help us in that? He doesn’t. And why would we want to?

If Jesus isn’t working with me—His Holy Spirit going before me, speaking through  me, and confirming his words in my mouth to the hearts that receive—then I am wasting my breath. But I know better. Because I have seen and experienced his power working through and for me too many times to remember, confirming truth whether in the responses to my words, answers to my prayers, healings and deliverances released, and lives changed.

The Lord works through and with all of who believe and take the commission seriously.

We have been commissioned, empowered and released to share the words of Jesus with the world. And we must continue to trust and pray for more and more of his Spirit to be released and revealed in this quickly darkening world.

I pray continually for the power and love of Jesus to be evidenced in our lives and our worship services.

To see more healings, hear more heart healing words of wisdom and strength, more encouraging and fearlessly honest words of prophetic truth spoken—for the glory of God, not the speakers. To see people delivered from oppression of all kinds—for the glory of God to be seen, felt and experienced in undeniable ways that make people fall to their knees in repentance and worship.

It’s time to part the seas and lead God’s children to freedom.