Filled with the Spirit
The Bible encourages us to “be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18), and if you’re going to witness for Jesus, you’d better be sure you have that filling first. In witnessing, you need to be directed by the Spirit of God as to where to go, what to do, and what to say. If you’re not Spirit-filled, then you’ll just be talking in the flesh. Sometimes God will use the words anyway, but He can’t use you as effectively as He could if you were filled with His Spirit and under His control.
The purpose of the filling of the Holy Spirit is not to make you feel good. It isn’t just to give you a bunch of spiritual toys to play with–called “gifts.” Some people seem to be saying, “I’m filled with the Spirit, and I’ve got this gift. What have you got?” So whole groups of Christians are standing around, saying, “Gee, that looks nice; I think I’ll have a little of that, and one of these, Lord, and a couple of these. Gimme, gimme, gimme.” This is not Spirit filling, but a bunch of self-righteous people indulging themselves.
The filling of the Holy Spirit is designed to give you power in witnessing and victory in living. When you have victory in living and power in witnessing, then Praise God, you do feel good, and Praise God, there are gifts that He gives. But that is not the purpose of the filling; that is not the reason. The reason is to give you the power to do something. There are many people who say, “I’m filled with the Spirit,” but they haven’t begun to act the way the Christians acted on the day of Pentecost. Some people say, “I’ve received the Spirit,” and they can speak in tongues for six hours straight, yet they haven’t ever gone out on the street and preached.
They’ve focused on one little aspect of something that happened, and they haven’t seen the big picture. God filled them with the Spirit so they could go out on the streets and preach.
When those first Spirit-filled Christians preached on the streets of Jerusalem, people were saved–3,000 of them the first day. This happened because they got filled and got out. They didn’t sit around sharing with one another how wonderful the filling was, they went out and shared it with the world. They communicated a simple, powerful message that people could understand and identify with. They explained that they were lost and that Jesus could save them. People today are just as hungry and responsive to that simple message shared by Spirit-filled Christians.
There’s something wrong when you can get thrilled in a meeting but you can’t get thrilled outside the door. We get so excited about Jesus when we’re with a group of Christians. We see everybody praising God, 500 in a rally, souped up and praising the Lord. Then, they walk out the door. Shhhh! They put their Bibles under their coats, their lips are sealed. These “hallelujah Christians” go into a restaurant and a lost waitress serves them. They sit there eating pie and praising God for the rally, but that woman serves them, puts napkins on the table, takes their menus, does everything but kiss them, and they never even think about sharing Christ with her. Something’s wrong with that kind of Christianity. Now, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with praising the Lord, but brother, they need it in the restaurant, they need it at the laundromat, they need it on the streets. If the power of Christ doesn’t reach these places, it’s an abortion of spirituality. It’s something that starts but is never finished.
So, Spirit filling and witnessing have to go together. Witnessing without Spirit-filling is hollow; Spirit filling without witnessing is incomplete.
Called by the Spirit
When God wants someone to do a job for Him, He calls that person by His Holy Spirit. It’s not easy to describe what a call from God is like, but He knows how to get His message through to us in unmistakable ways.When you know that God is leading you into a ministry, you’d better do it. If you don’t, you’ll never be the same. That is a warning. God will forgive you, but you’ll never reach the spiritual state that God wants you to be in, and that is an awesome kind of failure. If there’s anything that I’m concerned about in my life, it’s to be ready to do what God wants me to do. I don’t want to get out of step with His will even once.
I could tell you story after story after story about people whom God called. He laid right before them an opportunity that was ready to explode; but they hesitated, they waited, and that opportunity went by. Because they didn’t respond to His call, God raised up someone else. The ones who did not obey the call may be living for the Lord, praising God, loving Jesus. God may be using them, but they know that they’ll never be where they could have been with God.
I can give you illustrations of people I’ve been involved with personally who hesitated when God called. God was ready to go with them, but they weren’t. Two months later they were ready, but the opportunity had passed. Since then, they’ve continued with the Lord, but they’ve never been as effective as they could have been if they’d answered the call then.
Don’t you play games with God’s will. Don’t take His call lightly. I don’t know whether this is theologically sound, but I think God will have more mercy on someone who’s trying to follow His call, even if he sometimes stumbles along doing it, than on someone who never responds to His call. You look at the examples in the Bible. When God chose someone, He often put up with a lot of foolishness. He judged them, He dealt with them, but as long as they were trying to follow Him, as long as they were preaching, as long as they were doing what God called them to do, God’s armor was over them. Even when they were wrong, God was still with them. He injured their petty little whims and straightened them out and disciplined them, but His loving hand was on them. However, if they ever got out of doing what God called them to do, He came down on them hard. You have to face an awesome judgment of God when you turn away from moving the way God wants you to move.
Many people hesitate to answer God’s call because they’re afraid they won’t be able to do what He’s asking them to do. But that shouldn’t stop you. Just recognize the fact that no one can do anything for God in his own strength. “It’s not by might, by power, but by my Spirit,” said the Lord. It’s not you that does anything, it’s not me that does anything. It’s God. You do not convict a person of his sin. You do not convert anyone, you do not save anyone; it’s all the Lord. You are just an instrument in His hand to use as He will. When you try to convict, it’s self. When you try to convert, it’s self. When you just allow the Spirit of God to convict, to convince, to convert, to seal, then you have no hesitation in your ministry.
Someone may look at the ministry you’re involved in and say, “Isn’t that a pitiful failure?” But it’s not their estimation that counts. It’s whether you’re doing what God tells you to do. It may be that you have been pastor of a big, successful church, but God calls you to a little congregation out in the mountains somewhere. And everyone says, “You’re blowing it. You had a great ministry, and you’re giving it up.” Don’t worry about it. You do what God tells you to do. The best place in the world to be is in the will of God. That’s the most enjoyable and the happiest place. Let His will come together in your life. Don’t worry. If you’re in the Father’s will, He’s going to look after you. He knows your needs. Just minister in triumph. You may be surrounded with failure and frustration, but concentrate on what Jesus is doing and He’ll use you.
Led by the Spirit
The call of God is to a specific ministry. This kind of message from the Holy Spirit may come several times in a person’s life, at special moments of decision. But the leading of the Holy Spirit is a daily, minute-by-minute experience of the Spirit-filled Christian.
Many believers talk about being filled with the Spirit in the past tense. “Yes, I was filled with the Spirit in 1969.” But the fact that you were filled with the Spirit in 1969 or in 1976 or last Sunday does not mean that you are full of the Holy Spirit today. And it does not mean that you are led by the Spirit in your life moment by moment right now. If you’ve been saved, the Holy Spirit is indwelling your life. He is still present with you. But there is a difference between having the Holy Spirit in your life and being led and filled with the Spirit on a day-by-day, moment-by-moment basis. Looking back on past experiences will not give you power for the present.
When you are filled with the Spirit in the present, you are led by the Spirit. He controls your mind, and thoughts and actions, so that your life becomes His life. When you are Spirit-filled, every desire you have is His desire, and along with the desire is the power to perform it. Therefore, there can never be any frustration when you are Spirit-filled.
Many times Christians get desires and ideas for things they want to do for God, but they don’t originate in the Spirit of God. That’s why they can’t accomplish what they want to. This leads to confusion, but God’s not the author of confusion; He’s the author of harmony and peace. When you are led by the Spirit, and are a spirit-filled person, you will not have to battle in your mind, day-by-day, moment-by-moment–“Is this my will, or is it God’s will?”
Putting Out the Fleece
I meet Christians who are so anxious about knowing God’s will that their lives are just a series of spiritual nervous breakdowns. They are in spiritual confusion. They may feel a desire to do something, to witness to somebody, and then they start analyzing whether they should or they shouldn’t, or what the person would do if they talked to them, or what someone else would think of them. They mull it over, “I wonder if it’s my desire to talk to them, or if it’s God’s desire.” So, to deal with their confusion they decide to go back to the signs-and-wonders approach. I am not a signs-and-wonders, will-of-God Christian. That leads to more confusion.
?There are Christians who won’t move unless God gives them some miraculous sign, unless there is some dramatic event proving to them that it’s the will of God. A person may say, “I feel that God wants me in New York to do a certain task.” He may feel very strongly that this is the will of God. But, then he begins to think it out, and he says, “Well, if it is God’s will, I’d better look for a sign. Maybe the plane ticket. If it’s the will of God, then somebody’ll come up and give me a plane ticket, and if no one gives me a plane ticket, I’m not going. Lord, send me a plane ticket.” Once you begin thinking like this, you’ll question everything. “If they want me in New York, somebody’ll come up and give me a credit card,” or “They’ll call me within three hours and ask me.” Or maybe you’ll have an impulse to go, but you don’t know whether it’s to New York or Chicago, and you’ll say, “Well, Lord, I’ll go to either city, just send me a plane ticket in the mail today.” And you go to the mail and there are two plane tickets, one for each city! You’re still in a state of confusion.
There is one passage in the Old Testament that people use to determine the will of God (Judges 6:36-40). It tells how Gideon put out a fleece over night. Whether or not the fleece was wet in the morning showed him God’s will. Many Christians live their lives by putting out fleeces all over the place. They think that’s how the Spirit is leading them.
But Gideon was not demonstrating faith by putting out the fleece; he was showing a doubting spirit. God had already indicated that He wanted Gideon to lead the people in victory, but Gideon was having second thoughts. His faith was wavering. He didn’t know any more after the fleece episode than before. God just underlined what His will was, but He didn’t reveal anything new.
If you start living your life by laying out fleeces, your Christian life will be in a turmoil. No one will be able to live with you, and you’ll even find it hard to live with yourself. Forget the fleece. If God says you should go to New York, go to New York. And if a plane ticket doesn’t come in the mail, drive. If you don’t have the gas money, hitchhike. If nobody will give you a ride, walk. If you can’t walk it, crawl. Die obeying God’s will. But do what God tells you to do.
Looking for Open Doors
Another way Christians complicate the Spirit’s leading is by always waiting for open doors. Usually, the people who think this way are also the ones who are not doing anything! They’re “going to” Christians. They’re always on the verge of a miracle, but the miracles never seem to happen because the doors are closed. They’re constantly praying, “God, open the door.” I don’t believe any doors need to be opened. I believe the door is already open. The door was opened when Jesus died on the cross. Satan was defeated, and the door was thrown open. If you’re doing what God wants you to do and something gets in your way, if it looks like there’s a closed door, knock it down, kick your way through it, just keep going. The door is already open. When you obey God, you’ll find every door is open. You won’t have to open it. Just go ahead and do what God says to do. It doesn’t matter what it costs, or what it looks like. If God says to do it, do it.
If I laid out fleeces, if I waited for open doors, I would not be here today. I would not even have gotten out of town with the cross, and I certainly wouldn’t have gone all over the world. I tell you there hasn’t been one continent that’s invited me to come yet. Nobody invited me to Hollywood to minister on Sunset Boulevard. As a matter of fact, I had a car wreck on the way, got hit in the head with a bed spring, and ran into all kinds of other obstacles. I could have interpreted them as signs, but I firmly believed that God had said, “Go.” So, I went.
When I was about to begin carrying the cross, I ended up in the hospital with a stroke. The doctors said I needed total rest, but God said, “Walk.” I walked. I was just trying to do what He told me to do. If I had looked at the state of my body or had listened to what people told me, I wouldn’t have even begun.
I can’t think of one great thing that I’ve ever done, not one single great thing. My life is a series of simple little things God has told me to do. People see all these little things piled up, and it looks like something great has happened. But I’ve just talked to one person about Jesus, and he’s been saved, talked to another person over here, and so forth. A series of little acts of obedience adds up to a lifetime of obedience.
So, when the Holy Spirit tells you to do something, do it. Don’t wait for the big things to happen; follow Him in the little things.
God’s Leading May Be Surprising
Two of us were driving home one night in Hollywood. My friend was driving, and I was practically asleep. Suddenly, I was wide awake. The Holy Spirit gave me a picture in my mind of a guy looking out of a second story window. I could see him in profile; his head was down and he was either reading or writing.
I shocked my friend by saying, “Stop, turn left.” He didn’t know what was happening, but he did it. I kept directing him, “Turn here. Down this street.” I had shared my mental picture with my friend, and when we came to a certain point on Santa Monica Boulevard, he said, “There it is; there it is.” He was right. Through a second floor window, over a laundromat, I saw the man the Holy Spirit had put in my mind.
My friend said, “What do we do now?” I said, “We’re going to knock on the door and lead him to Jesus.” I found the door entrance, and knocked. The guy asked, “Who is it?” I said, “It’s a preacher. God sent me by to share with you about Jesus.” He opened the door. I said, “I was driving down the street, and the Lord told me to come see you.” We started talking and he gave his heart to the Lord. He was really ready to be saved. This kind of thing doesn’t happen to me often, but when I have a spontaneous impulse from the Spirit, I’m careful to follow it.
I believe God gave me a lesson about following the Holy Spirit when I was a child. I lived on a cotton plantation in Louisiana. My dad would have me carry water to the people who were chopping cotton. I would load up a couple of buckets with ice water and walk through the hot fields. The workers would drink all the ice water, and then I’d take the empty buckets back about an hour later. I’d do it all over again. Quite often I didn’t feel like walking out there in the hot sun. I’d walk along like a typical lazy little boy who has to do something he doesn’t want to do.
One time I was dragging along when the Lord told me in my heart to turn right. I did. Then He told me to turn left, and I obeyed. Then He told me to take 25 steps in another direction, turn and take 50 steps in another direction. I was zigzagging all over that field. I ended up far from the workers, so my dad drove up in his truck. “What are you doing over here?” “Daddy, God’s been telling me to zigzag,” I answered. “He said to go 30 steps this way, 20 steps that way.” My dad looked at me and said, “I don’t care who’s telling you what. You get over there with those buckets.” By the time I got to the workers, I was crying.
I believe that episode was God’s way of giving me a little obedience training. He wanted me to learn to follow His leading without question–whether it seems logical or not, even if others don’t understand me. My ministry in the last few years has been a lot like zigzagging over the fields of the world. I don’t have any grand strategy. I just follow what the Holy Spirit tells me to do every day.
When There’s No Clear Leading
There are many times when the Holy Spirit doesn’t reveal what the next step is. When I feel that God is preparing me for something else, but I’m not sure what the direction is, I don’t get into a fizz over it. I just wait to see His will unfold in my life.
When you’re in the process of discerning the will of God, don’t sit in limbo. When you’re in doubt, do what the Bible tells you to do. I have people coming to me all the time saying, “I don’t know what the will of God for my life is. I don’t know what the Lord wants me to do. I don’t know whether He wants me over here, or over there.” And while they’re waiting to find out, they’re usually doing absolutely nothing.
You may not know where God wants you next, but you can work for Him where you are right now. Share the love of Jesus, be involved in witnessing, feed the poor, love the lonely. There is more work than you can handle right where you are. So do it, now, and then when God reveals some other place to minister, you’ll be ready to do the same thing there. The only thing that really matters is that you do God’s will wherever you are. It’s His will for you to minister all the time.
A lot of people come up to me and say, “I want to join you and walk with you.” And boy, they’re ready to explode; they’re ready to go. I say, “What’s your ministry right now?” “Well, I tell you, I’m in school now,” or “I’ve got a job that keeps me busy, but boy, if I could quit this and join you full time I’d really be turned on for Jesus.” You know, if I needed help, it sure wouldn’t be from that kind of person, because he’s not doing anything now. If you don’t have enough oomph to witness now, how are you going to do it when you go somewhere else? Sure, you can get caught up in the excitement and get started, but pretty soon things will get tough and you’ll just fall over flat.
If there’s ever any question as to what you should be doing or where you should be going, then just do what you know God wants His followers to do–go into all the world and make disciples. Keep doing that and the will of God will become clear. The more you’re involved in the service of God, the clearer the will of God for your life becomes.
Peace of Mind and Heart
I usually feel peace in my life, and when I don’t, when I feel restless, I’ve learned to take this as a sign of God’s leading me.
My family and I were in Paris on our way across Europe. This was during the time I was carrying the cross around the world. We were starting out for Munich, but I had only taken a few steps when I suddenly felt restless and had no peace. I stopped dead in my tracks and I stood there a second. I pulled out my map of Europe and opened it. I followed the map toward Munich, and I had no peace. I looked at Scandinavia and at Holland–no peace. I traced the map toward Rome, and there was still no peace.
There was one other direction–toward Spain. That wasn’t going to help me go around the world because it was in the wrong direction. Besides, Spain was the only place where I had no contacts. Yet, as I looked at the map of Spain, I felt God’s peace.
From that moment, we knew in our hearts that God was going to send an awakening to Spain, and we felt peace as we started out in that direction.
Never Look Back
It didn’t look much like an awakening at first. Gary Davis, a Baptist pastor, traveled with me as interpreter. He was all spruced up, with a suit and tie, so I rumpled up his hair a bit. He asked what I was doing. I answered, “I’m loosening you up. If you’re going with me, you’ve got to be loose.”
We crossed the border and gave out stickers and tracts. We preached to hundreds of people along the street. But we had only gone about a mile when the police came. We were both arrested and thrown into jail.
So, we sat in jail for a day. I might have thought, “Well, Arthur, I guess you made a mistake in Paris. If you’d have kept going you’d still be preaching.” But, I didn’t. I never even thought in that direction. I never look back. I don’t do anything, if in my soul I don’t feel it’s right, and after I’ve decided to do it, I don’t look back. I don’t ever say, “If I had made the other decision, this might not have happened.” I say, “Glory to God, as best as I knew how, I made the decision God was leading me to make.” In that jail I was thinking and praying, “Now, God, how are you going to use this, lead me as to how to make the greatest witness possible.”
While we were in jail the one day, Gary suddenly said, “Hey, Arthur, I’m loose!” He was remembering the incident when I rumpled his hair. But his words also symbolized for me the feeling of confidence we have when we have peace about being led by God’s Spirit and in the center of His will.
The Holy Spirit and Reason
It’s true that the Holy Spirit may lead us in ways that don’t seem reasonable, but if we could see all the facts we would realize that the Spirit and reason are always in harmony. There isn’t a thing that I’ve ever done in my life that has not been logical and reasonable in some sense. Now, let me illustrate this. If I only have a few dollars, enough to put a down payment on something, but not enough for me to be sure I can pay it off, I don’t spiritualize the issue and buy it, trusting God for the payments. If I did, I would have a huge pile of debts lying on top of me. When I start out on a trip , my actions may not seem logical. It may sound totally weird to everyone else in the world, but in my mind, it is perfectly reasonable. I may have only $500, but I know if I’m careful, spending only a few dollars a day, I can make it to our destination. I don’t check in at the Hilton just because I’ve got $500, and then come to God saying, “Lord, you’ve abandoned us out here.” No, I feel responsible to use my reason so that the resources He’s given me will go as far as possible.
Some Christian ministers feel that to be led by the Spirit means to do things that are illogical. So they jump impulsively into impossible situations and then they expect God to bail them out. We should follow the leading of God’s Spirit, but we need to keep our reason in gear all the time. Both the Spirit and our reason are gifts from God. They work best in harmony.
The Holy Spirit and Money
The fact that I am following the Spirit’s leading does not give me the right to go around begging. One of the worst things a person in a ministry can get into is the telling of sad, sad stories about his financial problems. If there’s anything that makes me sick, it’s to hear someone in Christian ministry moaning about not having any money. My family and I ate day-old bagels and pastries on Sunset Boulevard during the fall of 1967 and all of 1968. We had nothing. We ate the leftover food that we’d get from catering services, and bakeries. When people asked me, “How are you making it, Brother Blessitt?” I’d say, “Just fine, Praise the Lord.”
If you’re not careful, you’ll develop a ministry with such an overhead of expenses that you’re working most of the time just to produce the money to survive. Then you’ll have to have crowds just to raise income. And, you’ll be laying burden after burden on them. You’ve got to raise that money, because you have thousands of dollars in debts every month. Before you know it, you’ve become very commercialized. Everything is money, money, money.
That’s why I travel light. I don’t have a staff, because if I did I’d have to go out preaching just to make the money to pay them. I cannot preach for money–I do it only to do God’s will. I can’t begin to think, “Is this a big church or a little church? Will there be a good offering?”
Because I don’t beg for money, a lot of people think I’m a millionaire. That’s O.K. As a matter of fact, anyone with good, healthy pride would rather have people think he is loaded than to be reduced to begging for money.
Make sure the money issue is always in the background. God’s Spirit has called you to a ministry. The money is only a way to accomplish that ministry. Don’t get into obligations you can’t afford. God will bless you with the finances you need if you handle them carefully and humbly.
Prepare to Share Jesus
Now I’d like you to go through the entire way of salvation with another Christian. Ask him to respond to you as if he were lost. This will be a very helpful exercise in preparing you for a life of sharing Jesus.
The Last Word
You may have read this book to the last page and still not know Jesus. I invite you to pray this prayer right now:
“Dear God, have mercy on me and forgive my sins. Jesus, come into my
Heart and save me now. I want You in my life forever. Make my home
Heaven, and fill me with Thy love and Thy Holy Spirit. Thank You, Lord.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.”
If you would like more information or help, please write:
Arthur Blessitt Evangelistic Association
Post Office Box 201840
Denver, CO 80220 USA
THE NEW LIFE TRACT SCRIPTURE REFERENCES
Jesus has come to live within your heart.
Your sins are forgiven.
1 John 1:7-9; 2 Peter 3:9
You are saved.
You have received eternal life.
John 3:16; Romans 6:23
You are now the child of God.
John 1:12; Ephesians 2:19
The Holy Spirit abides within you.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 2 Corinthians 6:16
You have become a new person.
2 Corinthians 5:17; John 3:3
Your relationship with other people has changed.
Matthew 6:12; Mark 11:25-26; 1 John 3:11-24
Be filled with the Spirit.
What to do now!
1 Thessalonians 5:17; Luke 18:1
Read the Bible daily.
Acts 17:11; Psalm 1:2
Witness for Christ daily.
Acts 1:8; Acts 5:42
Confess Christ openly and be baptized.
Matthew 10:32; Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 2:41
Attend church where the Bible is preached and Christ is honored.
Keep Christ’s commandments.