Receive the Breath

John 20: 21 – 22

So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

Why in the world did Jesus breathe on his disciples? After yesterday’s Word of the Day, I bet you know the answer. Let’s ponder this just a moment though. Yesterday we saw that the breath is the Spirit. We also saw that where this breath is there is life and when there is the absence, there is cessation of life. So, I suggested that everything which has life has a measure of the Holy Spirit. I also wrote that there are different measures of the Spirit. That reality is shown in today’s verses.

John 3: 34 reads, “For he is sent by God. He speaks God’s words, for God gives him the Spirit without limit.” This verse is about Jesus and says that God gave him the Holy Spirit in unlimited measure. In John 20, Jesus breathed a new measure of the Spirit upon his disciples. I’m thinking, “Inhale deeply.” As he breathed on them, he said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Wouldn’t you think this to be the end of the story regarding Jesus giving them the Spirit? It’s not. Later, in the first book of Acts, Jesus gave further instructions regarding the Holy Spirit to these same disciples, “Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now,” (Acts 1: 4 – 5).

I find all of this interesting. We know the connection between the breath, specifically God’s breath, and the Holy Spirit. People who don’t know that the Spirit is the breath of God probably don’t recognize the importance of Jesus breathing on them. In fact, it probably looks odd to them but then Jesus did spit to make clay for a blind man’s eyes, so he has reasons we don’t always recognize the fullness of.

The most interesting thing is this conferring of the Spirit. You get the sense from today’s verse that Jesus was passing his anointing to them. In Acts, it was all about the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Clearly, the two acts are related but there must be some nuance in that Jesus is using two events to give the disciples the fullness of the Holy Spirit. So, every person has some of the Breath of God. Jesus has an unlimited measure of the Spirit and I believe it is this fullness, this unlimited measure that he transfers to us at some point.

The thing to ponder is these different measures. Why? If we recognize we can have a bit, some more, and then a fullness, it might move us to pray for the unlimited fullness of the Holy Spirit that Jesus desires for us. So, let’s all get filled up with the Breath of God.

Helping Hand

Galatians 5: 24 – 25

Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

So many times, when people hear about passion and desire they think of sexual desire. That is a very limited view of what this passage is speaking about. Your passion for anything, your desire for anything that is not God can be a problem. When your consuming passion is for a new car, a favorite activity, food, etc. then you are serving the desires of your flesh instead of the desires of the Spirit. So even if sexual lust is not a problem for you there may be something that does consume your thoughts. There is help though. When we crucify the flesh, Jesus stands with the promised gift in His hands. We do not have to fulfill the lusts of the flesh because we have a helper. We are not alone.

For those who belong to Jesus the helper leads and guide. He teaches and He empowers. As He teaches us, He also leads us in our own personal reformation. He changes us from the inside out. We no longer have to adhere to a strict set of rules that we enforce through an act of our willpower. That is life according to the law. Now, in our enlightenment, we walk by the Spirit. The Spirit leads and guides us. As we surrender more fully to His guidance, we just naturally do not fulfill the lusts of the flesh because He leads us by a different path.

The key word, though, is surrender. It takes a person of courage to surrender their lives fully to God. It also requires someone who can sacrifice their ego on the altar of grace. God, through the Holy Spirit, will do all of the heavy lifting but you first have to find the guts to move out of God’s way and give your complete life over to Him. In truth, I find that many just can’t put God ahead of themselves. They do not have the courage to surrender. They are just plain scared, and they don’t really trust God. Look, it is easy to talk the talk, but it is hard to walk the walk. How many will graduate from God’s elementary school to the upper grades? Well, the choice is completely ours. Can you really let go of your control, your thoughts, your plans, your ideas, your power, your ego? If you will really let go, the Holy Spirit will take you by the hand and gently guide you in the way. He will lead you into those green pastures. He will keep you from harm even when enemies approach from all sides and He will turn your problems into victory. Let go of your control and live and walk by the Spirit into all grace.

Receive

Galatians 3: 13 – 14

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us – for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”- in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

In the Old Testament when God promised that He would pour out the Holy Spirit He sometimes made the promise to the nation of Israel but more often said that He would pour out the Spirit on all mankind. You see, God already knew the future. He knew that through Jesus and His sacrifice all the world would inherit the blessing of Abraham through adoption into the family of God. It was God’s intent that we would all share in the blessing.

Paul, I believe, demonstrates how important this whole structure is. God put together a plan that would ensure that we received all the best He had. It was an elaborate plan and very expensive. It took the sacrifice of the unblemished lamb in order to extend the blessing of the chosen to those of us who were formerly outside the family. God gave His son as that sacrifice so that He could bring us under the umbrella of His protection and into His family. We are now children of the Most High. It cost God everything but through God’s sacrifice, we receive everything.

That is how important you are to the King. And that is how important the Holy Spirit is that God went through these elaborate measures to get the promise to you. The promise is for you.

Now, what do you do? You invite the Holy Spirit into your life. You ask Him to be a part of your daily life; everything you do. You talk to Him just like you talk to God because He is God. He, being the third part of the trinity, is God with you. Ask Him to come live in you. Ask Him to fill you up with himself. And as Paul wrote in the passage above, you must receive Him by faith. You certainly can study more about the Holy Spirit. There are many more verses about Him. They continue to show who He is and how He operates in this world. Many people in the New Testament received the baptism in the Holy Spirit when someone prayed for them so you can ask a pastor or other spiritually mature person to pray with you if you like. There are also plenty of people who have received Him while alone in their own prayers. There is no secret here. It is all in the scriptures. It boils down to acknowledging Him, asking Him into your life, asking Him to live inside of you, to fill you, and then receiving Him. That is really all there is to it. Don’t miss out on the third person of the Trinity. I believe today’s passage shows how important this part of our relationship with God really is. As Jesus said, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20: 22).

Fill ‘er up

Ephesians 5: 18

[B]e filled with the Spirit.

God does not only want you to have a little bit of His Spirit, He wants you to be full to overflowing. Well, that is His nature after all, isn’t it? In everything He does He likes to fill us and more so that our every need is met with plenty left over for others. He never leaves the smallest portion of us unfilled or unfulfilled.

After promising the Holy Spirit for many years, it is not a surprise to me that He wants to completely fill us with this promise. There is no part of us that God, our Father, does not want to inhabit with us. He wants to be a part of everything that is important to you, but He also wants to participate in all of the small things of life with you. To Him, they are all important because they are all a part of you and your life. That is why He wants to fill you to the utmost with Himself. And that is what His Spirit is, His inner being, and He wants to share that most intimate part of Himself with you. God is not a small God and He does not do things in a small way. He gives you His best and He gives you all you can hold and a bit more so that you will have some to share with others. It is God’s intention that you be filled with the Holy Spirit. Make it your ambition to be filled with His Holy Spirit until He, the Holy Spirit, bubbles out of you in your abundance.

For he will be great in the sight of the Lord and … he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, while yet in his mother’s womb.  Luke 1: 15

Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.  Luke 1: 41

And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit.  Luke 1: 67

And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan.  Luke 4: 1

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.  Acts 2: 4

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit …. Acts 4: 8

And when they had prayed the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.  Acts 4: 31

But select from among you, brethren, seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task.  Acts 7: 3

And the statement found approval with the whole congregation; and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy SpiritActs 6: 5

But being full of the Holy Spirit …. Acts 7: 55

[F]or he was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith.  Acts 11: 24

But Saul who was also known as Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, fixed his gaze upon him.  Acts 13: 9

And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.  Acts 13: 32

Divine Wisdom

Acts 2: 32 – 33

This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.

This verse unites many of the themes we have seen in the scriptures we have looked at regarding the Holy Spirit. God, multiple times, made a promise to pour out the Holy Spirit upon all mankind. Jesus, then, told us that it was imperative for Him to leave so that He could send that which the Father had promised. Receiving the promise unto Himself from the Father, He then poured the Holy Spirit out to all.

It is done. God has done His part. Jesus has done His. The prophecies and the promises have been fulfilled. These are the days of glory that the Lord spoke about. So why aren’t we living in more victory and in more of that glory?

Just like it took some people a long time to recognize Jesus as the Messiah, even when He walked among them and they witnessed His miracles, we are only just beginning to recognize the Holy Spirit and His role. It is much easier to be wise when one can look back into history and see what others missed. It is quite a bit more difficult to be wise in the days of your own history. That is why we need the Holy Spirit. Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would “teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you” (John 14: 26). Jesus also said that the Holy Spirit would take what He hears from the Father and will disclose it to you (John 16: 13). So, the Holy Spirit’s job is to lead us into this wisdom of the Father. We have been given the scriptures to help us learn about the Spirit. We have the wisdom to seek Him and to learn to work with him because the Holy Scriptures first taught us to expect Him and then informed us as to role in our lives. The Holy Spirit has the Word as one of His tools. He uses the Word to remind us of the things Jesus said and also to lead us in the way that we should go. The Holy Spirit also has the very thoughts of God to minister to us. What we must do is recognize Him. We must be wiser than those who did not recognize Jesus in His day. Then, having recognized the Spirit of God, we invite Him to take an active role in our lives. We invite him to indwell us, teach us and guide us all day every day. He can have as large a role in your life as you want but you must first ask Him into your life. Then let Him fill you up to overflowing.

Resident

John 1: 33

He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the one who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.

In the Old Testament the Holy Spirit would come “on” someone and that person would perform anointed works. Gideon blew his horn; many prophesied. But the Holy Spirit would lift off them after their task was accomplished. He did not come upon them and remain. The time of the Holy Spirit was not yet.

John the Baptist baptized in water but announced that one was coming after him who would baptize in the Holy Spirit (Matt. 3: 11, Mark 1: 8, Luke 3: 16, John 1: 33). He spoke, of course, of Jesus. When Jesus ascended to heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit to be with us, to live with us forever as we saw in John 14: 16. No longer was the Holy Spirit to come “on” us and then vacate. Instead Jesus said that He was going to send the Holy Spirit to be with us forever to be our constant helper, teacher and guide. So now the Holy Spirit has come and made His abode with us. Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, “Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3: 16). Then in Romans 8, the eleventh verse Paul wrote, “He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you.” Now we have the Holy Spirit with us, dwelling in us all of the time rather than coming upon us in a time of need. He is here to be your constant standby and He couldn’t do that very well if He had to come and go. So, Jesus sent Him into the world to be with us and to stay with us until Jesus comes back to establish His Kingdom in the earth. We are never abandoned because God has made provision for us to have a divine helper with us at all times.

The Gift

Luke 11: 13

If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?

The Father promised the Holy Spirit to His people for years. Then when the appointed time came, the Holy Spirit was poured out onto all who would receive; all who ask. Jesus promised that all who would ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit would receive. God is not trying to make you earn this gift. He is not withholding the Holy Spirit or reserving it for only a precious few. Jesus said that God is a good Father, a better parent than any of us even have the capacity of being. Yet, earthly parents give good gifts to their children. You don’t make your children earn your gifts. They are not gifts if they are earned. They would be payment instead. You give good gifts just because you love your child or grandchild. It does not even have to be a birthday or holiday. You just give to your children because they are your beloved.

How much more is God a good and gracious parent? How much more does He love us? Therefore, He wants to bestow good gifts upon us, especially the gift of the Holy Spirit. That is the point Jesus is making here. Your heavenly Father loves you more than you can even imagine and out of His love for you flows His unfailing gift of love, the bestowing of the precious Spirit of God. You have only to ask.