Day 172

Come, Holy Spirit

Wisdom Psalm 76:1-2
New Testament Acts 13:42-52, 14:1-3
Old Testament 1 Kings 8:6-13

Introduction

Spending time in the presence of God is the most important activity of your life. You need God’s presence in your life more than you need anything else. But where do you find the presence of God?

I remember so well the first time I heard someone pray one of the most ancient prayers of the church, ‘Come, Holy Spirit’, with a real expectation that the Holy Spirit would come! It was on a Sunday night in 1982. We had a meeting in the crypt after our evening service at HTB. As we prayed, ‘Come, Holy Spirit’ we saw remarkable events occur. We saw people being filled with the Holy Spirit with physical manifestations similar to those described in the book of Acts on the day of Pentecost. We saw extraordinary physical healings take place the following day when again someone prayed, ‘Come, Holy Spirit’.

God is always present with his people today by his Holy Spirit. When you pray, ‘Come, Holy Spirit,’ you are asking for an increased sense of the presence of God. There are times in the New Testament when the Holy Spirit filled a gathering of people sovereignly and spontaneously (Acts 2:2; 10:44). There are other times when the disciples prayed for the Holy Spirit: ‘After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit’ (4:31). In the Old Testament passage for today we read how ‘the glory of the Lord filled his temple’ (1 Kings 8:11).

Each of the passages for today tells us something about how to enjoy God’s empowering presence that comes through the Holy Spirit.

Wisdom

Psalm 76:1-2

1 God is renowned in Judah;
   in Israel his name is great.
2 His tent is in Salem,
   his dwelling-place in Zion.

Commentary

Longing for God’s empowering presence

The temple in Jerusalem was not primarily a place of sacrifice, but the place of God’s presence. The psalmist writes, ‘In Judah God is known; his name is great in Israel. His tent is in Salem, his dwelling-place in Zion’ (vv.1–2). ‘Salem’ is the old Jebusite name for Jerusalem. ‘Zion’ is a word often used to refer to Jerusalem as the focal point of God’s presence (v.7, AMP), among his people in the Old Testament. This is the place of his tent (‘abode’, RSV). This is where God dwells.

This is why the people of God were so passionate about Jerusalem, and in particular the temple. They longed, as we all do deep inside, for the presence of God. The amazing truth is that, through Jesus, we can know the presence of God in and among us, his people, wherever we are. He dwells in you by his Spirit.

Prayer

Lord, I long for your presence with me. Thank you that your dwelling place is with your people. Please fill us again today with your Holy Spirit and make your name great among us.

New Testament

Acts 13:42-52, 14:1-3

42 As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people invited them to speak further about these things on the next Sabbath. 43 When the congregation was dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God.

44 On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. 45 When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy. They began to contradict what Paul was saying and heaped abuse on him.

46 Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: ‘We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. 47 For this is what the Lord has commanded us:

‘“I have made you a light for the Gentiles,   that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.”’

48 When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honoured the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.

49 The word of the Lord spread through the whole region. 50 But the Jewish leaders incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. 51 So they shook the dust off their feet as a warning to them and went to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

14 At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Greeks believed. 2 But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the other Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. 3 So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to perform signs and wonders.

Commentary

Filled with God’s empowering presence

From the day of Pentecost, God’s empowering presence came upon his people. In today’s passage we read that they were, once again, ‘filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit’ (13:52). Every Christian now has the Holy Spirit dwelling within them (Romans 8:9).

In this passage, we see the impact of God’s empowering presence when you are filled with the Holy Spirit:

1. Effectiveness

In Antioch, crowds gathered to hear the word of the Lord (Acts 13:44–45). In Iconium, ‘they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Gentiles believed’ (14:1).

The Lord confirmed his message by enabling them to do signs and wonders (v.3). This does not mean that everyone in the church will necessarily enjoy perfect health in this life. Rather, we see an in-breaking of the future kingdom of God so that the gospel may go forth and triumph.

2. Opposition

Do not assume that if God is with you then you will not encounter any significant opposition. These incidents remind us that actually the opposite is often the case. Where God is at work, the enemy tries to stir up opposition and difficulty.

In Antioch, some people ‘went wild with jealousy and tore into Paul, contradicting everything he was saying, making an ugly scene’ (13:45, MSG). ‘They stirred up persecution… and expelled them from their region’ (v.50).

In Iconium, those who refused to believe ‘worked up a whispering campaign against Paul and Barnabas, sowing mistrust and suspicion in the minds of the people in the street’ (14:2, MSG). They organised to ‘beat them up’ (v.5, MSG).

3. Joy

Your happiness does not depend on what is happening to you. There is deep joy that comes from God’s presence. In the middle of all the opposition and after they had been forced to leave Antioch, they went on to the next town, Iconium, ‘brimming with joy and the Holy Spirit, two happy disciples’ (Acts 13:52, MSG).

4. Boldness

The Holy Spirit will give you boldness in spite of opposition. In Antioch, ‘Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first”’ (v.46). In Iconium, ‘Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord’ (14:3). In spite of opposition and ‘a plot afoot’ (v.5) they ‘continued to preach the good news’ (v.7).

Prayer

Lord, fill me today with the Holy Spirit and with joy. Help me to speak so effectively that many will believe. Help me not to be put off by opposition, stirring or plots. Give me courage to speak boldly for you. I pray that you will confirm the message of your grace with miraculous signs and wonders.

Old Testament

1 Kings 8:6-13

6 The priests then brought the ark of the Lord’s covenant to its place in the inner sanctuary of the temple, the Most Holy Place, and put it beneath the wings of the cherubim.

10 When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the Lord.

11 And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled his temple. 12 Then Solomon said, ‘The Lord has said that he would dwell in a dark cloud; 13 I have indeed built a magnificent temple for you, a place for you to dwell for ever.’

Commentary

Glory of God’s empowering presence

Why in the world would you not want to spend time with God? We spend hours on social media, watching TV or on our phones. As Joyce Meyer writes, ‘We seem to have no problem investing our time in those pursuits. The truth is this: The devil fights us more in the area of our spending time with God than he does in any other area of our Christian lives. In fact, Satan would much prefer that we get involved in all kinds of religious activity rather than spend time with the Lord.’

This passage helps us to understand how amazing it is to spend time in the presence of God – the extraordinary privilege that is available to you as a follower of Jesus.

This Old Testament passage – about the building of the physical temple in Jerusalem (a place for God to dwell for ever, 8:13) – takes on a whole new meaning when you read it in the light of the New Testament. The temple in Jerusalem prefigured God’s dwelling place in believers’ hearts in the New Testament.

In particular, the ark of the covenant represented the presence of the Lord. The climax of this temple, both in it being prepared for use (vv.3–9) and in Solomon’s praise (vv.15–21), was the placing of the ark of the covenant in the temple. The ark had nothing in it ‘except the two stone tablets that Moses had placed in it’ (v.9) – in other words the Ten Commandments. When you, the people of God, live under the word of God, you discover the Spirit of God increasing your experience of the presence of God.

We read, ‘When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the Lord. And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled his temple’ (vv.10–11).

Although God is present everywhere, we do not always sense his presence. Surely, what is being described here is a greatly increased sense of the presence of God. This is what Solomon was describing when he said, ‘I’ve built this splendid Temple, O God, to mark your invisible presence for ever’ (v.13, MSG).

When we pray, ‘Come, Holy Spirit,’ we are praying for a greatly increased sense of the presence of God to come among us. This is what we so often experience when we pray that prayer.

There can be particular moments when we experience God’s presence when we are with others, but you can also experience God’s presence as you spend time with him by yourself.

You don’t need to be legalistic about it, but a regular time with God helps. As you read the Bible, as you talk to your Father in prayer, as you listen to Christian music or just sit in silence, you begin to experience God’s presence. Indeed, sometimes the prayer ‘Come, Holy Spirit’ can be answered with total peace, calm and stillness.

Prayer

Praise you Lord that, as your glory filled the temple of Solomon, so now your glory fills your people. Thank you that all your promises are fulfilled in us (2 Corinthians 1:20).

Pippa adds

Acts 13:50

‘But the Jews incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region.’

It is sad that these God-fearing women got caught up with the jealously that the Jews felt (v.45) and sided against Paul and Barnabas. Even godly people can be wrongly influenced; we need God’s wisdom and discernment every day.

Thought for the Day

‘The devil fights us more in the area of our spending time with God than he does in any other area of our Christian lives.’
– Joyce Meyer

reader

App

Download The Bible with Nicky and Pippa Gumbel app for iOS or Android devices and read along each day.

reader

Email

Subscribe now to receive The Bible with Nicky and Pippa Gumbel in your inbox each morning. You’ll get one email each day.

reader

Website

Start reading today’s devotion right here on The Bible with Nicky and Pippa Gumbel website.

Read now
reader

Book

The Bible with Nicky and Pippa Gumbel Commentary is available as a book.

References

Joyce Meyer, The Everyday Life Bible, (Faithwords, 2018) p.530

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.

Scripture quotations marked (AMP) taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org)

Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

The Bible with Nicky and Pippa Gumbel

  • HOST'S INTRO
  • INTRODUCTION
  • WISDOM BIBLE
  • WISDOM COMMENTARY
  • NEW TESTAMENT BIBLE
  • NEW TESTAMENT COMMENTARY
  • OLD TESTAMENT BIBLE
  • OLD TESTAMENT COMMENTARY
  • PIPPA ADDS
  • HOST'S OUTRO

This website stores data such as cookies to enable necessary site functionality and analytics. Find out more