A Personal Pentecost

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit
(Galatians 5:25)

Given this has been Cambray’s Bible verse and motto for 2015, and it is now November, I wonder the extent to which we have each found ourselves living and walking life with the help and power of God the Holy Spirit within?

The battle is between doing things our way (within our human wisdom, strength and capabilities); or asking God to come and fill us with His Spirit to operate in God’s way (with His energy working so powerfully within and through us).

The more I read the writings of significant Christians of previous generations, I am convinced by their secret for usefulness. It is always a personal discovery of what Charles Spurgeon called a ‘Personal Pentecost’.

Spurgeon stressed that Pentecost was to be experienced in the heart of every Christian. Like those first disciples on the Day of Pentecost, ordinary unschooled followers of Christ were baptised by the power and fire of God the Holy Spirit… they were transformed into bold witnesses to the death and resurrection of their Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Their speaking was marked by an amazing anointing and power to change lives; their activities were saturated by a practical love for one another; they prayed and witnessed signs and wonders; they were filled with hope in spite of troubles, persecution and needs. They were people on a mission for Christ.

The Christian Church in the UK and Europe is weaker than it should be or needs to be. Far too many Christians today do not know the dynamic life available in the Holy Spirit, because we have neglected the Holy Spirit and fail to honour Him.

As evangelicals we focus on God the Father and God the Son… while easily disregarding God the Holy Spirit.  It is easy to know about God’s Spirit, without actually knowing Him personally, and inviting Him to take charge within. Jesus was specific that the gift of the Spirit would enable each follower to live the life Jesus offered.

Hudson Taylor describes his spiritual secret occurring at the age of 37, having already worked in China for more than 15 years. While feeling the strain and stress of life and work, he acknowledged that his spiritual life seemed perpetually inadequate – constantly dissatisfied, struggling to read the Bible, frustrated by failures and disappointments. Taylor recognised his own personal need was to abide in Christ and know greater holiness, power and life.

Then in 1869, Hudson Taylor discovered the power of God’s Spirit in a new way, grasping that it was all about trusting Christ for power, abiding in Jesus without striving or struggling. It was his felt need that ushered in his Personal Pentecost.

Carrie Judd Montgomery likened her experience to God ‘shaking her nest’; rather like the eagle disturbs the nest of her young and forces them out to start learning to fly. The nest is always cosy, safe and warm! However, as the young start their freefall, mother eagle swoops down under them and they land safely on her wings in flight.

The life God intends for each of us is to be a Spirit-filled experience every day. The starting point is recognition of personal need and prayer for the Holy Spirit to fill us again and again. I close with Carrie Judd Montgomery’s helpful challenge:

‘Now, who is going to trust God for the winged life? You can crawl instead if you wish. God will even bless you if you crawl; He will do the best He can for you, but oh how much better to avail ourselves of our wonderful privileges in Christ and to “mount up with wings as eagles, run and not be weary, walk and not faint.” O beloved friends, there is a life on wings.

I feel the streams of His life fill me and permeate my mortal frame from my head to my feet, until no words are adequate to describe it. I can only make a few bungling attempts to tell you what it is like and ask the Lord to reveal to you the rest. May He reveal to you your inheritance in Christ Jesus so that you will press on and get all that He has for you.’

Let’s pray this for ourselves and for our Cambray Church family to keep in step with the Spirit.
With love and good wishes, as ever,

Tim Welch