Do you know how to feel joy, laugh, forget yourself? Few things can take the joy out of a situation more quickly than starting to think “What will they think of me?” There are those sports fans that Len Sweet writes about- “the crazies, the over-the-top, the out-of-control behaviors that die-hard sports fans exhibit. Paint yourself blue and go bare-chested in the end zone in December? Sure! Wear floppy ears and bark like a dog? Why not! Stand in line and camp on the street for days to get those play-off tickets? You bet! Take a “sick day,” buy an airplane ticket, lose pay and travel for hours just to see the big game? No problem!” But when it comes to our faith … he wonders why we insist on a “low-profile, don’t-rock-the-boat, show-up-on-Sunday” decorum.
The Word speaks of being intoxicated with the joy of the Lord! “Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit!” (Ephesians 5:18, NLT) Just as too much wine loosens inhibitions we can know a kind of fullness of the Spirit of God that overwhelms us. Paul presses the metaphor as he continues – “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:19, NIV) When guys have a few too many, they will drape their arms around each other’s shoulders, share their emotions, and even sing together. When we drink of the Spirit He too can allow us to forget ourselves and release songs of praises, shouts of celebration; ecstatic utterances in the Spirit that express our ‘fanatic’ love for our Lord Jesus.
Such was the experience of Pentecost. In Acts 2, Luke tells us the story of the Spirit’s outpouring on those first believers. We call it “Pentecost” since it happened on the Jewish feast of ’50 days’ (Pentecost). In obedience to Jesus’ direction, the disciples waited in Jerusalem, prayerfully, expectantly. One morning, God’s Spirit fell and His coming to them was an intoxicating experience. There was a sound like the wind, ‘tongues of fire’ appeared over their heads, and then they spilled into the street talking loudly with ecstatic ‘tongues,’ words of worship and praise of their Risen Lord. Some of the bystanders laughed at them, declaring that they were drunk at only 9 in the morning!
Peter told those looking on: “I see that the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. No wonder my heart is glad, and my tongue shouts his praises! My body rests in hope. For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your Holy One to rot in the grave. You have shown me the way of life, and you will fill me with the joy of your presence.” (Acts 2:25-28, NLT) (a loose quote of Psalm 16) He said this was Jesus’ rejoicing song at His Resurrection and it is OUR rejoicing song because of our ETERNAL LIFE. He was not ashamed of their uninhibited worship. Remember, it was more than a religious circus! The Spirit’s power was so evident that 3000 people were converted that day, convinced of the reality of Jesus’ resurrection by the Spirit-filled witness of those believers.
How I pray for a new Pentecost; not a ‘worked up’ emotionalism, but a fresh experience of the Spirit that fills me up. I want to be intoxicated, full of the joy of the Lord. I was raised in a little church with people that the rest of town called ‘holy rollers.’ There was a fervor in worship, responses to the Spirit that were over the top, and sometimes they embarrassed me. In retrospect, I realize that some of what I saw among us happened because unbalanced individuals felt ‘permission’ to be strange. I saw some really ‘crazy’ stuff happen that was blamed on God, the Spirit. But, there was a deep, undeniable reality of God’s Presence, beautiful, sweet, warm, and enduring that we felt, too.
If the focus becomes those who might get ‘out of order,’ if controlling their excesses of worship becomes our aim, we will likely suppress expressions of true worshippers as well. Paul says “I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind.” (1 Corinthians 14:15, NIV) We invite the Spirit to fill us and respond with both emotions and mind; weeping, laughing, shouting, remaining silent – fully present in the Lord.
As we celebrate Pentecost, lets’ pray together for the baptism of the Holy Spirit immerse us in the Presence of God. Let’s remember that worship is more than thinking right thoughts or grasping profound truth. It ought to be emotional, too! Let’s get intoxicated – on the Spirit, and pray that His life and love will move us to glorify God.
Lord send the old time pow’r
The Pentecostal pow’r
Thy floodgates of blessing
On us throw open wide
Lord send the old time pow’r
The Pentecostal pow’r
That sinners be converted
And Thy name glorified
Lord as of old at Pentecost
Thou didst Thy pow’r display
With cleansing purifying flame
Descend on us today
For mighty works for Thee
Prepare and strengthen ev’ry heart
Come take possession of Thine own
And never more depart
All self consume all sin destroy
With earnest zeal endue
Each waiting heart to work for Thee
O Lord our faith renew
Speak Lord before Thy throne we wait
Thy promise we believe
And will not let Thee go
Until the blessing we receive
Charles Hutchinson Gabriel © Words: Public Domain