23 May Jesus Removed the Wiggle Room!
One of the best parenting tips that I heard my pastor B.B. Hankins share years ago was to never prove to your child your ability to count. By that, he meant, never say to your child, “I’m going to count to three and if you don’t do what I’ve told you to do, you’ll be sorry. You’ll get a spanking.” He then asked, “Why would you need to count? In acquiescing and adding a two and then a three, you’ve shown that your initial directive didn’t matter. Make your first word your final word.” In other words, don’t allow wiggle room in what you are saying.
In Acts 1, Jesus didn’t mince words or allow wiggle room for excuses when He spoke to those that loved and followed Him about the promise of the Father, the Baptism in the Holy Ghost. Luke records that just before Jesus’ ascension back to heaven …
“And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that
they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of
the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized
with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many dance hence.”
Did you catch that? Jesus commanded. It wasn’t a suggestion or an option. Leaving Jerusalem to come back later wasn’t a possibility. Convenience wasn’t open for discussion. For those with previous commitments, Jesus didn’t offer a make-up date for a future gathering. No. Jesus let every follower know that their priorities and plans had suddenly changed. There was absolutely no wiggle room. Being baptized and empowered (Acts 1:8) was a MUST and #1 PRIORITY.
Here’s a question for you. Is Jesus’ priority your priority in your sphere of ministry (a Sunday school class, children’s church service, mid-week Bible club meeting, or youth service)? I’m not talking about everyone packing up and moving to Jerusalem. Are those in your ministry Spirit-baptized, and, if not, are you passionately providing opportunities for this to happen?
Reality check … those in your ministry will never be Spirit-baptized unless you preach/teach and preach/teach again and provide opportunity after opportunity after opportunity. This must not be a once-a-year message at a camp or retreat or encounter. For several weeks, lay a strong foundation as you teach from the Word. When the time for asking comes, Jesus said that Father will give the Holy Spirit to those that ask. (Luke 11:13). It’s just that simple!
One more important thought … to bring clarity, please understand that I’m not suggesting that we force those in our ministry to receive the promise of the Father. Forcing removes the gift factor. This is a gift from heaven, not a punishment. As you teach, the Father will stir the hearts of the listeners. So, simply teach and make this gift available.