I officiated at a wedding that took place in a spacious homey log cabin.  The place was packed including the huge loft area that overlooked the ceremony.  The decor included festive votive candles that were artfully placed throughout the house. 

During my biblical charge to the couple, someone in the loft accidentally kicked one of the candles.  It plummeted to the ground floor and landed squarely on a man’s head – burning wick, hot wax and all.  He survived it with a small bump.  

I felt badly for him, but I was encouraged about my preaching.  I mean how many other pastors can say that while they preached, tongues of fire descended from above and rested on each head.

Not only that, I think I heard the man grumbling in an unknown tongue just after he got hit!

Maybe I shouldn’t be so glib about one of the most earth-shaking sensational happenings in human history.  The day that the Holy Spirit descended from heaven to indwell His people was a watershed event.

In the Old Testament era, the Spirit was given on a temporary basis, to special people that they might perform a certain God ordained task.  

It was the Spirit of God that enabled Joseph to interpret Pharaoh’s dream (Genesis 41:38).  He infused creative ability into those who crafted the tabernacle (Exodus 31:3). The Spirit made wise Moses and the 70 Elders of Israel (Numbers 11:17). 

He breathed courage into whimpering Gideon (Judges 6:34) and fortified the spent muscles of Samson (Judges 14:6) and He imparted a host of savvy skills to young King David. (1 Samuel 16:13) I could use power like that. 

In some cases, God withdrew His Spirit as with king Saul because of his sin. (1 Samuel 16:14) Saul became like a deflated balloon, which may be why his successor David prayed, “Do not take your Holy Spirit away from me.” (Psalm 51:11)

When the Spirit came upon an Old Testament personality, it was front page news.  It rarely happened but when it did, there was always spectacular, God honoring events that followed.   Everyone else would watch and wonder and wish for just a small taste of that power in their own lives.

But then God changed the rules at Pentecost.  “Suddenly a sound like a violent wind blowing came from heaven and filled the entire house where they were sitting. And tongues spreading out like a fire appeared to them and came to rest on each one of them.  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit, and they began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them.”  – Acts 2:2-4 NET Bible ®

At Pentecost, every believer – man and woman – received the gift of the Holy Spirit, and they were immediately filled with courage, power and new supernatural abilities.  Since then, every person that enters the Kingdom of God, has had the Spirit come to dwell.  (Romans 8:9) 

And He comes to stay for good.  We may impede His work in and through us (Ephesians 4:30) but He will never leave or forsake us. 

The Spirit was given, not simply as a badge of belonging, but as an energy source for service.  Like the men of old, the Spirit empowers us to serve God’s purposes.  Paul said, “To each person the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the benefit of all.”  (1 Corinthians 12:7)

So, what difference does the Spirit make?  It’s mostly about quality.  When we allow ourselves to be filled and controlled by His Spirit, it is manifested in the way we live and relate to others.  We will bear the fruits of the Spirit which are, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”  – Galatians 5:22-23, NET Bible ®

Unfortunately, some of us have more in common with a porcupine.  If that’s you, take a moment to transfer control of your life to the Holy Spirit – once again. 

When you said “I do” to your spouse, you surrendered a lot.  Implicit in your vows was a commitment to honor and listen to the person that you wed.   Yield to the Spirit of God in that way, and He will fill you and use you and bless you. 

And I promise it won’t be as painful as getting clobbered with a votive candle.