“Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.” (Acts 2:41)
The apostles were filled with the Spirit on the day of Pentecost and 3,000 people were converted (Acts 2:41). I’d call 3,000 responses really full. Yet a few weeks later they had a special need – their leaders had been arrested and threatened. They did the only thing to do; they called a prayer meeting and prayed for courage to witness in the face of persecution. Once again they were filled with the Spirit (Acts 4:31) and as a result proclaimed the word with boldness. Amazing! Spirit-filled people were filled! The same pattern is common throughout Acts – Spirit-filled people are said to be filled again. How can that be? Remember, filled is a picture word. I get the picture of a great schooner plowing through the ocean with sails full of wind when suddenly a gust of wind sweeps down and the schooner surges ahead under really full sail . So it is with the wind of the Spirit. (In both the Hebrew and Greek, the word spirit means “breath” or “wind.”)
When we practice surrendered, obedient faith, we will experience the movement of the Spirit. The Spirit moves in with wisdom, courage, and words that just weren’t naturally there. You know God is at work and others can tell, too. Before I preach I always ask the Spirit to move with power. I’ve been at it a long time. If I rely on myself I can explain Scripture and tell stories. People will listen and say nice things, but nothing of eternal value will happen if the Spirit doesn’t act. When the Spirit works, I watch in wonder as God transforms lives. When I write, I’m always grateful to note any small amount of “fruit” God gives. But once in a while the words flow almost uninvited out of my computer like they’re on fire. When published, the work seems to take on a life of its own. When I read it later I say, “Where’d that come from? Did I write that?” The Spirit had been working that day, and the result wasn’t just my work. I wish it happened always. I wish every time I write or speak lives would be changed. I do not want to glorify myself. Rather I long to be filled permanently with the Spirit, so people will know for sure God is at work and give Him the credit.
Do you have some gift working at a minimal level? Can you tell God is at work through you, but it’s not full throttle so that other people can tell? Ask Him to fill you. Open your heart to the wind of the Spirit and trust Him to empower and use you. Begin the habit of asking Him, at the time of special opportunity or challenge, to completely empower you so that He may get the glory.
As we’ve seen, the picture word full seems to have three different emphases. A person is full when, in his or her relationship with the Spirit, the Spirit is in full control. Second, a person is full when plenty of evidence shows the Spirit at work- a miracle quality of life (fruit) or a miracle impact in ministry (gifts). People can see it. The third emphasis is more elusive, as feelings always are. Do you feel full?
Full can also speak of a personal relationship – the kind of thing that defies scientific analysis. How do you analyze a relationship? Like a good marriage, the outward evidence, such as a home and children, may be obvious, but the feelings are more mysterious. A relationship includes moments of shared ecstasy and shared agony, a deep and constant sense of well-being and surges of passionate love. So it is living in a deep relationship with the Spirit. If you’re filled with the Spirit you’ll have joy, confidence, or peace when there’s no earthly reason to have any peace at all. Your affection for God will be filled with passion-an excited sense of anticipation when you worship Him, a rush of pleasure when you think about His love for you. You may not sustain an emotional high; but you will have moments of uninhibited ecstasy, especially in devotional times alone with Him. But also, unexpectedly in the midst of a busy day the wind of the Spirit may blow in gale strength. I can’t explain it, but we can feel it.
If you can’t remember anything out of the ordinary in your relationship with God and you are thirsty for a full surge of awareness of God’s presence, why not pause right now and tell Him so? But don’t leave it there. Tell Him how much you love Him, how grateful you are for Him, for His constant companionship, and for all the wonderful blessings He floods into your life . Ask Him to fill you up with Himself. Pause now and write out in your journal either the description of your experience of fullness, the prayer for fullness, or both.