WHEN THE HOLY SPIRIT DOES HIS WORK IN YOUR LIFE
At the moment we come into a relationship with God the Father, through faith in Jesus Christ, we are immediately indwelled by the Holy Spirit. He moves into us, makes us His temple, confirms the truth of the gospel to our heats, comforts us, counsels us, and accomplishes a divine work of transformation in our lives. He changes the way we think. He changes our motivations, and He helps us to value godliness over worldliness. The work He does in the family of God is amazing.
These are truths that devoted students of Scripture learn to appreciate from a theological standpoint very early, but these truths aren’t always appreciated in the same way when it comes to the impact they have on our day-to-day lives. Sometimes it takes our hearts a little bit longer to catch up to the knowledge our heads are starting to grasp.
In Joel 2:28-32, we are given a powerful glimpse of the work the Holy Spirit does in the lives of people and in the history of this world. These words were spoken prophetically, with a view toward their future fulfillment. But we have a different perspective on these passages than Joel did when he first wrote them down. He was looking forward to these promises coming to pass, but we’re living in the midst of their fulfillment. We’re seeing and experiencing what Joel was still looking forward to.
Can you see the work the Holy Spirit has been doing in your life? I promise you that if your faith in Christ is genuine, the Spirit is at work within you and around you. He’s also going to do a future work that will continue to point unbelieving hearts to Jesus. So what do we see when the Holy Spirit is doing His work in your life?
I. HE WORKS POWERFULLY WITHIN YOU AND AROUND YOU
““And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.”
— Joel 2:28, ESV
When I was growing up, I had severe acne. It started when I was very young and progressively got worse and worse. None of the topical treatments my doctor was prescribing worked, so the day came when he decided to take a more drastic approach. He prescribed a powerful medication that had a high rate of success, but because of its potency, I would need to have my blood tested regularly to make sure my body could tolerate it. Soon after I started taking the medicine, it became obvious that it was present in my body because the severe acne that was on my body went away.
In a similar way, it starts to become obvious that the Holy Spirit lives within a person. When He lives within someone, His presence and power start to have obvious effects on their life. He changes us from within and produces Christlikeness in our character that begins to grow apparent to others. We react differently to stress, grief, and pain. Our love for others, including those who hate us, becomes evident. Our hope regarding the future becomes solid.
Isn’t it amazing how easy it is to take what we’re used to for granted? I wonder how often we as Christians take the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit for granted. Do we realize that believers who lived under the Old Covenant didn’t enjoy the Spirit’s indwelling like we do? During that era, He would temporarily indwell certain people to help them accomplish something specific, but during the New Covenant era that Jesus inaugurated when He shed His blood on the cross, the Holy Spirit permanently indwells and empowers all believers from the moment they come to faith in Christ.
This is what Joel was prophesying would happen. In our era, the Holy Spirit is poured out “on all flesh,” meaning that He is generously given to all who believe in Jesus. And being that He lives within the family of God, He makes a point to work powerfully within us and around us. Joel gives examples of prophesies, dreams, and visions being divinely revealed through all kinds of people as the Spirit makes this so. And Scripture speaks of other ways the Spirit has revealed truth to us in this era as well.
A great example of this is given to us in Acts 2. The events of that chapter occurred on the day of Pentecost, the fiftieth day after Passover. On that day, the early believers in Jesus were gathered together in Jerusalem, and the Holy Spirit came upon them and gave them the ability to speak in languages that they did not naturally know. As the sound of this group speaking was being heard, others accused them of being drunk, but look at how the Apostle Peter replied to the accusers…
“But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:
— Acts 2:14-16, ESV
All this to say, when the Holy Spirit lives within you, He will do powerful things in your life and in your circumstances. He will demonstrate His presence in ways that may astound and surprise you.
II. HE ISN’T HUNG UP ON YOUR EARTHLY LABELS
“Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit.
— Joel 2:29, ESV
Isn’t it interesting how often we allow our occupations to define our sense of identity? That isn’t a healthy or biblical thing to do, but we frequently do it anyway. I recently heard someone tell the story of a discussion they had with their bus driver. He had seen the bus driver plenty of times, but one particular day, it dawned on him that the driver looked rather familiar. When he realized who the driver was, he walked up to him and told him he recognized him as the drummer from a band he grew up listening to. The driver was thrilled to be recognized because he clearly viewed his previous role as a drummer as being a more glamorous way to make a living.
Well, in the Lord’s eyes, our professions aren’t impressive. The Creator of the universe doesn’t get impressed by worldly titles, degrees, or pedigrees. He isn’t hung up on our earthly labels, and in fact, He delights to use the humble to accomplish great things while opposing the proud and arrogant.
Look at what this Scripture reveals to us about the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. Who is He willing to live within? He’s willing to live within anyone who calls on the name of Jesus. He’s willing to live within those who occupy the most humble positions among us. Male and female servants. Those in lowly position. Those who don’t get excited to tell others what they do for a living. The Spirit of God doesn’t hesitate to call such people His temple.
““Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?”
— 1 Corinthians 6:19a, ESV
III. HE DRAWS YOUR ATTENTION TO DIVINELY ORCHESTRATED SIGNS
““And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes.”
— Joel 2:30-31, ESV
I’m grateful that we have copies of God’s word to read and ponder. There is so much depth to the content of the Bible that our lives aren’t really long enough to fully search it all out, but I’m grateful that the Holy Spirit helps us understand what is being revealed in Scripture. Among the prophetic things being spoken of, we’re told that the Lord is going to bring to pass some divinely orchestrated signs that will testify to the day of the Lord and the return of Christ.
Joel speaks of some of these signs in this passage. He speaks about the sun being turned to darkness and the moon to blood. These signs are mentioned elsewhere in Scripture as well.
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” (Matthew 24:29, ESV)
“And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;” (Acts 2:19, ESV)
“When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood,” (Revelation 6:12, ESV)
The Holy Spirit draws our attention to these signs on purpose. The generation that will see these future events happen will be given the opportunity to realize that the testimony of Scripture is true, and that the promised return of Christ is imminent. And for those of us who already believe these things, our trust in the Lord is deepened as we witness Him confirm that He always brings His promises to pass.
IV. HE REVEALS YOUR NEED FOR SALVATION
“And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls.
— Joel 2:32, ESV
As this chapter from Joel’s book concludes, it does so with the assurance that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. This promise is true for those who are living on this earth during the time of the Great Tribulation that is still to come, but it’s also true for every one of us today. If we call on Jesus to save us, He will, but we will only come to the place of realizing that we have the need to be saved if the Holy Spirit makes that clear to our hearts.
Some hearts seem so hard and so distant from the Lord that it would be easy for us to think that they’ll never come to faith in Christ, but the Holy Spirit can speak into even the darkest and hardest of hearts.
“Johnny D. Pyles, the author of the poem, “With Glowing Heart I’ll Praise Thee”, was on death’s row in Texas from 1982-1998 when he was executed. He says of his conversion: “I spent eight years on death row for murder before Jesus became my Lord and Savior. The consequences of my sins have not been removed. I will still reap that which I have sown. Though I still face the death penalty, I have nothing to fear for Jesus is my Savior and Lord.”
His last statement was: “I want to tell you folks there, I have a love in my heart for you. I hope you don’t look for satisfaction or comfort or peace in my execution.
”Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior and I want him to be yours. I’m sorry for the pain and heartache I’ve caused your family. Too many years I’ve caused all my family problems and heartache. I’m sorry. I wanted to let you know that the Lord Jesus is my life and I just want to go. I’m gonna fall asleep and I’ll be in his presence shortly. I got reason to rejoice and I pray to see all of you there someday.”