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11 & 12 March 2023 (Pastoral Page) SURPRISED BY THE PRESENCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

By Asst Ps Lai Keet Keong


The recent revival in Asbury University, Kentucky, has caused quite a stir and interest about the amazing presence of the Holy Spirit within the Christian community. Likewise, we are sensing a shift within our church services since the beginning of the year as we go through the book of Acts in our pulpit and CARE Groups.


However, should we be surprised at all by the presence of the Holy Spirit?


The scripture is peppered with the evidence of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the catalyst of creation right from the beginning. While the earth was a formless dark void, the Spirit of God hovered over the waters (Genesis 1:1-2). Then the miraculous happened! Light penetrated the darkness as His voice commanded it to be so, followed by the separation of time, then land and the sea, so forth and so on. What a spectacular visual that must be with divine creativity expressed in such wonderful rhythm and perfection. It was a mic-drop moment on the sixth day when Spirit of God finished His masterpiece which included mankind created in His own image.


Fast forward to Nazareth in Galilee, we again witnessed the presence of the Holy Spirit manifesting Himself in an awesome manner. As Jesus came up of the Jordan River, heaven was torn open and Spirit of God descended on Jesus like a dove, followed by an audible affirmation from heaven (Mark 1:9-11). However, what followed seems to be baffling and totally counter intuitive. Mark 1:12 stated that “At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness” and Jesus was in the wilderness for forty days tempted by Satan. The remarkable thing here is the presence of the Holy Spirit is with Him even in this trying season. Consequently, Jesus emerged triumphant over Satan and returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit (Luke 4:14). And the rest is history.


When the Spirit works, the devil also works. As believers, we are assured that greater is He who is in us, referring to the Holy Spirit, than he who is in this world! (1 John 4:4) For the Spirit did not come just to make us happier, but to make us stronger for the work of the ministry.


Moving forward after Jesus’ ascension, we witness a power movement orchestrated by the Holy Spirit who filled the believers with such fire and passion that caused an exponential revival, resulting in three thousand men saved. That was merely the beginning of the church, where we also see persecution, diaspora of believers out of Jerusalem like seeds scattered into the world, and the exponential expansion of churches all over Asia Minor. Once again, the Holy Spirit played a key catalytic role in the church and Christian community. Challenges and persecution not withstanding, the Spirit of God continued to forge forward with His redemptive plan and purpose through the church in the known world then. Early Christians who recognize God’s fingerprint continue to submit to His authority and fix their focus on Him, rather than circumstances, passionately and prayerfully (Acts 4:23-31).


If the Holy Spirit is such an active participant right from the beginning through creation of the world to the life and ministry of Christ, and the life of the church (Acts 2), should we be surprised at all by His active presence in the church today? As we recall Jesus’ promise in John 14:26 that the Father will send the Holy Spirit to aid believers, teaching and reminding us of what Jesus had said, we should totally expect the Holy Spirit to be our active and constant partner no matter where or what jam we are caught in.


Let us not be surprised that the Holy Spirit is present with us, empowering us for His calling and our sanctification. Let us not take for granted the presence of the Holy Spirit, understanding that we are never our own master and no longer walk alone in this world. And let us not be surprised by oppositions and the burden of the cross we are to carry as disciples of Jesus Christ.


This is a season that calls for our utmost humility and complete submission to His Lordship. As we stand poised, His presence will prepare and equip us to minister to a broken world in the power of His grace, love and gifts.

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