Acts 19:1-2 (the message)
Now, it happened that while Apollos was away in Corinth, Paul made his way down through the mountains, came to Ephesus, and happened on some disciples there. The first thing he said was, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed? Did you take God into your mind only, or did you also embrace him with your heart? Did he get inside you?”
As soon as I read these verses this morning I had to pause. Wow. Paul comes upon some disciples in Ephesus and his first question is did you receive the Holy Spirit? Did you embrace God with your heart? Is He living inside of you?
Two things come to my mind and heart this morning. First, mental assent. You can mentally agree with an idea without passionately embracing it with your life. You can have head-knowledge that doesn’t penetrate your heart and therefore, your life. You can, for example, be raised in church-world all of your life but if the truth and reality of who Jesus is never makes it from your head to your heart then you may not really be living as a believer and follower of Jesus. This brings me to the second thought in my heart this morning. We need the Holy Spirit. This brief encounter Paul has with these disciples in Ephesus is a great example of this to me. Regardless of what we know mentally, we do not have the power to live passionately for Jesus without the Holy Spirit. We aren’t meant to live without the Holy Spirit!
Paul asks these men if they took God into their minds only or had they embraced Him with their hearts? It would be wise for us to slow down here. Ask ourselves this same question. How do you know? I mean if you can quote some scripture and you agree that Jesus is God’s son then isn’t that good enough? How do you know? Well, I am just an ordinary girl and no Bible Scholar, but here is one way to look at it if you really want to be honest…what kind of fruit does your life produce? See, mentally agreeing with the Bible or that Jesus is the Savior can be done, is done, everyday without any life-change by many. We can give God the affirmative nod but then ignore everything He says to us about living. We can refuse to let Him help us, deal with us, heal us and free us without any real inner struggle because we have accepted Christianity with our minds only. Am I suggesting that if we struggle we don’t have the Holy Spirit living within us? No, not at all. I am suggesting, however, that without Him we can never live in the power and passion and promise that Jesus died to give us. God is supernatural. His love is supernatural. His grace is supernatural. His power is supernatural. And when we truly embrace Jesus with our lives, our whole hearts, the Holy Spirit brings with Him this supernatural love, grace and power. It doesn’t mean we never have struggles or challenges, but it certainly means we can be overcomers when we fully embrace Him.
For me personally, Holy Spirit is the most intimate connection of my life. I didn’t always live this way. For many years I loved God and had the Holy Spirit in my heart but I didn’t know what it was like to actually hear Him speak to my heart. I didn’t know how to recognize His promptings and leading. My goodness how getting to know Him is changing my life. Many, many times Holy Spirit will lead my heart to specific verses in the Bible that are exactly what I need at that time. Holy Spirit will tug on my heart to make things right when there is discord or ask forgiveness when I have sinned. Holy Spirit has been my greatest comfort in the loss of miscarriage. Holy Spirit has empowered and strengthened me to withstand words and treatment I never could have on my own as I trusted God was working in my situation. Holy Spirit is like a highlighter in my heart as I read my Bible. He gives me insights and helps me to understand what I read since it was by His power and inspiration the Bible was written. Holy Spirit fills me with His love for people…all people. He causes a courage and passion to rise up inside of me that leads me to do things I never would be able to do on my own. Most importantly, Holy Spirit speaks to my heart so personally about the Love and Grace of God for me. He is the witness in my own heart and life that God is very real and that God is very personal.
I don’t believe I would ever know Jesus this way by mentally agreeing with who the preacher says He is. The Holy Spirit dwells in my spirit which is far deeper and greater than my understanding only. As we open our hearts wide to God…as we embrace Him not with our mental understanding only but with our hearts….our choices, our pain, our complete humanity…Holy Spirit comes. He is everything we need and life is never the same as we embrace Him fully.
Father, I ask on behalf of any person who reads this and lacks a very personal relationship with You through Your Spirit that you speak to their hearts. I ask You to draw them through Your Love and Grace. Help them to see and hear what You want them to. Help them to know that in fact you are so very real…I ask You to stir an overwhelming desire in their hearts to embrace You…to find out what living passionately for You is all about. Lord, it has changed my life to realize that You don’t ask us to live for You by our own merits or in our own strength. You give us this precious gift of Holy Spirit to lead and guide us into all truth. My prayer is that each pair of eyes that reads this post will long to embrace You fully as You show them how. In the matchless name of Jesus.