2 Kings 14:1-29; Acts 19:1-12; Psalms 147:1-11; Proverbs 30:24-28
NT: “While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled through the interior regions and came to Ephesus. He found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” “No,” they told him, “we haven’t even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” “Into what then were you baptized?” he asked them. “Into John’s baptism,” they replied. Paul said, “John baptized with a baptism of repentance, telling the people that they should believe in the one who would come after him, that is, in Jesus.” When they heard this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began to speak in tongues and to prophesy… God was performing extraordinary miracles by Paul’s hands, so that even facecloths or aprons that had touched his skin were brought to the sick, and the diseases left them, and the evil spirits came out of them.” (Acts 19:1-6, 11-12 CSB)
When Paul traveled back into Asia Minor after bringing the gospel message to Greece, he encountered a group of disciples in the Asian city of Ephesus. Something was apparently missing in these disciples’ lives, for Paul was compelled to ask them if they had received the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is requisite to our lives in Christ, and it was odd for Paul to encounter “believers” who did not demonstrate the power and fruit of the Holy Spirit in their lives. When he questioned them, he found out that they had not even heard about Jesus Christ, much less the Holy Spirit. They had identified with the baptism of John the Baptist and were living righteously in hopes of the coming Messiah. When they believed on Jesus and were baptized in His name, they were immediately baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit, with the ability to prophesy (in the spirit and in the understanding) the heart and truth of the Lord. Jesus promised the gift of the Holy Spirit to His disciples and explained that the Holy Spirit is necessary to fully live the life of a faithful disciple. In fact, Jesus said that by the Holy Spirit, His disciples would do greater works than He did… and Paul’s life demonstrated that. Normal life for a submitted and faithful disciple was to be full of, empowered by, and led by the Holy Spirit. A disciple who was not fully immersed in the Holy Spirit was unusual… and when that was the case, it was corrected right away. The Holy Spirit was not just gifted to the Apostles. He was gifted to all disciples. What was true of the disciples in the early church should be true of Christ’s faithful disciples today. All that is required is complete faith in Jesus’ name and a pure and submitted life to the Lord. If an earthly father is willing to give his child what he asks for, how much more willing is our Heavenly Father to give us the Holy Spirit when we ask.
Psalms: “Hallelujah! How good it is to sing to our God, for praise is pleasant and lovely. The Lord rebuilds Jerusalem; he gathers Israel’s exiled people. He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds. He counts the number of the stars; he gives names to all of them. Our Lord is great, vast in power; his understanding is infinite. The Lord helps the oppressed but brings the wicked to the ground. Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; play the lyre to our God, who covers the sky with clouds, prepares rain for the earth, and causes grass to grow on the hills. He provides the animals with their food, and the young ravens what they cry for. He is not impressed by the strength of a horse; he does not value the power of a warrior. The Lord values those who fear him, those who put their hope in his faithful love.” (Psalms 147:1-11 CSB)
This psalm begins the same way Psalm 146 begins: Hallelujah! Which means to fanatically boast and celebrate the Lord. The psalmist then goes on to say that it is good and right to [zamar] sing and make music to God, for it is beautiful and pleasant; and [tehillah] songs of praise are beautifully suitable for those who are upright in heart. In Psalm 22, in the middle of a time when David felt abandoned by God, he encouraged himself by remembering and proclaiming that the Holy God is enthroned on the praises of His people. I don’t think it is a stretch to say that the line in this psalm about the Lord gathering and rebuilding His people, is directly related to His called-out people lifting up and singing songs of praise to His honor. Our God is great and incomparable in every way. He knows all and and can accomplish all. He is easily able to heal all of our wounds (physical and emotional) and provide for our every need – but there is something about His people acknowledging that fact through praise that releases His blessing. God is not impressed with our strength or our resources… He is not impressed with what we have built or amassed in our own strength and understanding. He is not concerned with what we can do for Him. What impresses God is when we humble ourselves to place our hope completely on Him, and fully respect and honor His greatness. The way we express that trust, hope, honor, and respect is through praise. When we, as God’s chosen people, sincerely bow ourselves down and lift up songs (expressions that come from our heart of hearts) of praise to Him, He will establish His throne in our midst. He will call back and unite His people – His church, around Himself. He will rebuild His church that has been weakened through carnality, self-righteousness, and self-reliance. He will bless His people, provide for their every need, and empower them by His Holy Spirit to cover the earth with His grace and glory. Hallelujah! And amen!