“Begin Again”: A Weekly Devotional for a New Year, Week 16

“When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet fallen on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.”

Acts 8:14-17

“Wait… There’s more?” That question usually comes from one of two places: anxiety or excitement. If it’s anxiety, it usually means: “I thought I had everything I need, but you’re saying I need to do/know more?” When it’s excitement, it can mean: “Yes! Let’s do this! I am ready for more!” If you studied for an exam, and found out you missed a lot that you now need to review, the “Wait… There’s more?” feels bad. Real bad. If your favorite television show tells you that – not one – but two, new seasons, are going to drop at about the same time, then you love that ‘more’.

The disciples spent three years with Jesus, day in, day out. They were in on all of his teaching. They saw the miracles. They were empowered by Him to preach, teach, heal and deliver. He went to them after the resurrection and gave them the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20). But, even though they experienced all this, Jesus promised them something “more” – he told them to wait for that something more – the Holy Spirit: “stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49)

God made good on his promise. In Acts 2 the Holy Spirit falls, and the church is empowered to go – the church which had already heard the Word of God, including many who may already have been baptized. Something more was promised. Something more was required.

In the passage from Acts, above, we see the same thing: The people in Samaria had accepted the Word of God, but had not been baptized in the Holy Spirit. They believed. They heard the Word of God preached. They gathered together, because they both believed and heard, and yet something more was necessary. So Peter and John go, in the power of the Spirit, to meet that need.

When we hear that God promises more, and expects us to receive more – the Holy Spirit – there are usually two responses: “Wait, I’m fine. I don’t think I need that, thank you, very much.”, or: “Yes. I’m willing to say Yes, and see how God changes me, when his Spirit falls on me.” The first answer means staying right where you are. I get it. A lot has happened in the past two plus years, and things seem to be getting back to ‘normal’. But maybe you sense that things can’t go on the way that they have, and you know that a change needs to happen. The second answer – “Yes, let’s do this!” – means being given power to do, what you sense God has been calling you to do, for some time. You’ve heard him calling in the night. You’ve had the opportunity, but you didn’t think you were ready. And maybe you really weren’t ready.

How about today? What has God been calling you to do? Will you ask to receive his Spirit, and do that new thing?

Prayer: Lord, I have often said No to the ‘more’ that you have for me. I have been anxious, annoyed, put out, because I thought I had everything I needed. But I can see that you promise and expect more – that I would receive your Holy Spirit, and do the new thing you’ve been trying to put on my heart for some time. Father, I am ready. Send the Spirit of your Son, and fill me anew, so that I can go out in the power of his Spirit and do your work. Amen.

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