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How to Live Filled By the Holy Spirit

The majority of Christians today know at least some information about the Holy Spirit. We’ve quoted Bible passages, listened to sermons about Him, and prayed to Him. However, I’ve come to realize that while we may know basic facts, many of us don’t understand who the Holy Spirit is, how He changes our Christian walk, or how we can encounter Him.

This year, I attended a conference workshop that talked about the importance of allowing yourself to be completely filled with the Holy Spirit. In just an hour, my whole outlook on the Holy Spirit changed completely.

The speaker explained the story of Pentecost, where the Holy Spirit first came upon the disciples after Jesus’s ascension into heaven (Acts 2). The disciple Peter began sharing the Gospel with hundreds of people from different cultural backgrounds and all walks of life. Miraculously, they all understood him in their own distinct languages. Around 3,000 people placed their trust in Jesus that same day, igniting a wave of revivals.

What I love about this story is that God used ordinary, imperfect people in extraordinary ways to help build His kingdom. Peter is widely known as the impulsive, stubborn disciple who denied Jesus three times, yet God perfectly chose him to share hope with others.

Peter emptied himself of his pride, past, and expectations. In doing so, he allowed himself to be filled by the all-consuming Spirit of God and was able to communicate with the right people in his spheres of influence.

Just like Peter, God is calling you to fully empty yourself of anything and everything that’s preventing you from moving forward in obedience. The Holy Spirit wants your whole heart, not just the bits and pieces you’re comfortable with surrendering. Many of us want to be kingdom builders, but God first wants to demolish our shaky structures to establish His firm foundation.

As we maintain a posture of open palms and open hearts, we start witnessing God doing something revolutionary in us and through us.

Before we evangelize to people across the world, Jesus uses our light to evangelize to those sitting right in front of us (Acts 1:8). Your background and experiences are able to share His love in an extremely personal and authentic way. The “languages” you have will be powerful carriers of the Gospel (Acts 2:5-12).

If you are a student, the Holy Spirit will help you communicate in a way that deeply penetrates other students’ hearts and shifts their perspectives. If you are a parent, the Holy Spirit will help you to communicate in a way that points your children to an everlasting, secure love. If you are a leader, the Holy Spirit will help you to communicate in a way that selflessly serves your team and makes them feel valued.

Something that’s really helped me is to pray before I start anything. I pray that the Holy Spirit will fill me and move in big ways. I pray that I would operate in His power and strength instead of my own, and that I would glorify Him and share the Gospel in whatever I do.

Don’t just pray for the Holy Spirit to move in your church or small groups- keep praying throughout your week as you interact with your family, friends, strangers, and in your alone time with Jesus. He will reveal to you how each step of obedience is an intricate piece of His eternal plan.

As you spend time doing this, here’s a disclaimer: When you ask the Holy Spirit to fill you, He will also call you to take action. Many times, what He’s asking you to do will seem crazy and also oddly specific. A lot of people (and even yourself!) may not understand what He’s doing or why He’s called you to do a certain thing.

That’s okay. Even when you don’t have the answers, choose obedience. In my experience, the things that make no sense or feel really scary are actually the things that will have the greatest impact. When we are Spirit-filled, we become Spirit-led.

Make that phone call. Send that encouraging text message to a friend. Accept that job offer. Leave that toxic relationship. Go up to that stranger. Be overly generous and thoughtful. Say no to the things you used to say yes to. Say yes to the things you used to say no to.

Amid all these decisions, it can be naturally difficult to know if you’re listening to the Holy Spirit’s whisper or your own voice. Here are some steps to practice biblical discernment:

  1. Stay tethered to God. Continually read the Bible and spontaneously talk to Him- these are the two strongest ways He speaks.
  2. Spend time praying and/or fasting about the decision. Invite trusted Christian friends to join you in prayer.
  3. Ask the Holy Spirit to bring clarity. When I’ve prayed for this, He has always brought multiple confirmations through extremely specific experiences, encouragement from friends, and His promises.
  4. Remember that the Holy Spirit will always bring you peace. Even when you are waiting for an answer you haven’t received yet or face continuous spiritual attacks, trust that if God told you something, He has something truly extraordinary ahead that He will fulfill. You are bearing fruit in this garden.  
  5. Spend time worshipping and praising God for who He is. When we continuously empty ourselves, we position ourselves to be Spirit-filled and Spirit-led.

Being Spirit-filled is a continuous process of surrender and sanctification. As you go through each day, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you how you can magnify His light. Kingdom builders are Spirit-seekers.

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