But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. – Acts 1:8
The most powerful times of ministry I have had have been times when I could sense the Holy Spirit working through me. During those times, when I would speak, the words would just flow to me like a river. I would hardly have to think about what to say. I could see the affect of those words on the people that I spoke to, and many times they would come to the Lord in tears, asking for forgiveness. Many would be strengthened in their faith.
I certainly can’t take credit for those times, for I know how good I am as a speaker: terrible! I’ve spoken too many times in my own ability and it is AWFUL. I hate it. Even when I am at my most prepared state, speaking without the help of the Holy Spirit is like trying to drive a car with no oil. It might move along a little, but it will be awful. Some people are used to it, and can do it quite well. But not me.
We can see this type of Holy Spirit inspired preaching in the New Testament. I can’t imagine that Peter wrote out his sermon for Acts chapter 2 – or for chapter 3 after the healing of the lame man. He rose up in the power of the Holy Spirit (that he had received that day) and rivers of living water came from his innermost being (Jn 7:38). It’s hard to think that Stephen’s grand discourse in Acts 7 was planned out, or Paul’s sermon on Mars Hill (Acts 17). It seems much more likely that the Holy Spirit gave them the words to speak. This was part of that ‘power’ that Jesus spoke of in Acts 1:8.
I don’t think that preparation is wrong. Paul told Timothy to ‘study to show yourself approved’ (2 Tim 2:15). We should prepare the mind and the heart – give ourselves entirely to doing so – then we should allow the words from our mouth to come from God.
The preparations of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord – Pro 16:1
In regards to preaching, I think that the highest way (although not the only way God uses) is for a servant of God to be so prepared in mind and in heart that the Holy Spirit can use him at any moment to preach and teach on the subject needed.
Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. – 2 Tim 4:2
Not everyone is called to be a preacher, but all are called to share the gospel. You may never preach in front of a crowd, but you should be speaking to others one-on-one. And if you are anything like me, you need power to do that. That power will come from being filled with the Holy Spirit.
How do you get this power?
If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him! – Lk 11:13
The Holy Spirit was poured out on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), and is now available to all who will ask. Ask, and the Holy Spirit will be given to you. Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened. God desires you to be filled with His Spirit so that you can have the power you need to spread His Word.
I remember when I was seeking to be filled with the Spirit. I knew that, in the bible, those that were filled with the Spirit would speak with tongues (Acts 10:45-46). So that is what I desired, as well. In my bed room I cried out to the Lord for this and the Lord answered me. I began to speak in tongues. But, because it was not spectacular and because I did not have some glorious feeling, I thought that it must not have been God. It wasn’t until later in a prayer meeting that I realized that I had the real thing. God gave me what I asked for.
If you ask for bread, will He give you a stone? (Lk 11:110)
Another way to be filled with the Spirit is to have someone lay hands on you to receive. This happened several times in the book of Acts:
Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. – Acts 8:14-17
And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit. – Acts 9:17
And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. – Acts 19:6
Recently I watched a movie called Dances with Wolves. During one scene, a certain indian tribe was soon to be attacked. The protagonist begged the chief to allow him to make a run for some guns that he had buried back at an old camp. He said to him, “guns would make one warrior like two.”
This is very similar to what it is like to be filled with the Spirit. We may be able to accomplish a little without being filled with the Spirit, but we are so much more powerful when the Spirit is upon us.
Look at the disciples. They had some success when they walked with Jesus. But anyone can notice the difference in them after they were filled with the Spirit. They were like completely different people! Indeed, they changed the world!
We must be filled with the Spirit and stay filled with the Spirit. We can change the world, too!