Judy and I are “old school” when it comes to many areas of our finances. Some people might simplify that and just say that we are “old.” Whatever – each week I personally take the check our treasurer gives me and I deposit it. I don’t take a picture of it and email it to the bank. I carry an actual piece of paper and give it to a teller, and ask to have it deposited into my account. And at the same time, I take out some cash, most of which I give to Judy for groceries and for whatever else she would like to do with it. Also I usually put a $20.00 bill into my wallet as my weekly allowance. We use real money – or at least as real as the government pretends that it is. Also, we stick to our weekly allowances, never using our debt cards and rarely using our credit cards.

In contrast to the Oldfields, let’s say that someone, with zero common sense, is given a gift card for his birthday. It is a generic VISA card so it could be used anywhere, and there is no amount printed on its face. Never having seen one of these before, he thinks that it gives him access to almost unlimited funds. So he buys breakfast for himself and several of his friends every morning for a week, using that card. On line he buys a new cell phone, and later in the day he orders a big bouquet of flowers for his girl friend, using that gift card for both purchases. Then on Friday night he picks up his girl, taking her to the fanciest restaurant in town, telling her to order whatever she would like. As it turns out, it is nearly the most expensive thing on the menu. They enjoy themselves for a couple hours, and then the check comes. This young man plops the gift card over the bill, telling the waiter to add a 25% tip to the total. Then a minute later he is told that his gift card has no money left on it. He has no cash, no credit or debit cards, and his girl friend has only a few dollars in her purse. Not only can’t he pay for his meal, he’s soon going to find out that he is responsible, to the tune of several hundred dollars, for the things he ordered online.

I’d like to use that situation as an illustration of the lives of many silly saints of God.

Paul exhorts us here in Ephesians 5 to be “FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT.”

This language is used often enough in God’s Word to let us know that this is important. And the Bible has given us several examples of what it is to be filled with the Spirit. Barnabas is described as “a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith” – Acts 11:24. And in Antioch in Pisidia after the Lord’s great blessings there, “the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost” – Acts 13.

To be “filled with the Spirit of God” is one of the great blessings God’s children might enjoy in this world. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential to living a victorious Christian life. He is the key to power, Christian boldness, wisdom and comfort. To be filled with the Spirit is critical to living the life saints were meant to live This is why Paul tells the Ephesians “be ye filled with the Spirit.”

And speaking of Paul: just after the time of his conversion, Ananias was told by the Lord to go and baptize him. As Ananias entered the house, there on the street called “Straight,” one of the first things he said was: “Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.” Then instantly Saul’s sight was restored. And I would surmise that just as quickly, Saul was filled with the Holy Spirit. He was immersed in water as a testimony of his new life in Christ, and shortly thereafter he began to preach Christ with power and great success, because he was filled with the Spirit.

In the light of that, what then is the meaning of Acts 13:9, where we read, “THEN Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost” began to deal with Elymas the sorcerer? If Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit at the time of his baptism, why does this verse imply that he was once again filled with the Holy Spirit three chapters later? And while we are on the subject, when Paul exhorted the saints in Ephesus to be filled with the Spirit, does that mean none of them had ever been filled with the spirit before? Was this something new for them? I don’t believe it was. The Bible teaches us that we need to be filled over and over again. We have in our possession a powerful and plentiful gift – a gift card – but its resources have to be constantly renewed.

Please turn to Acts 2, and let’s read from verse 1 – “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

What happened when those brethren were filled with the Holy Spirit? That is when they ceased to be learners, becoming doers and appliers of what they learned. They went from mere disciples to being evangelists. That is when their ministries really began. They became miracle workers, speaking boldly in languages that had been foreign to them. When the brethren were filled with the Spirit, souls were saved and God was glorified. “And the Lord added to church daily such as should be saved” – Acts 2:47. The word “daily” indicates that God’s blessings flowed to them and through them for some time. The people were living in the presence of God; they were living in the reality and power of the Spirit. They became the Christians and servants of God they were meant to be. “Filled with the Spirit” is not a description of extra-special saints. It describes what should be the normal Christian, the average Christian, the common servant of God.

Now turn to Acts 4 where we see Christ’s enemies begin to rise up against His church and people. Israel’s unbelieving leadership were grieved that the disciples wrought miracles, and “taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection of the dead.” And they laid hands on those servants of God and put them in jail to be judged. Notice verse 7 – “ And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this? Then Peter, FILLED with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”

The thing I’d like you to see is there in verse 8. As John Gill puts it, “THEN Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost… At THAT very instant, having received a FRESH measure of the gifts and graces of the Spirit, BESIDES what he had poured forth upon him at the day of Pentecost; so that he had great courage and presence of mind, and freedom of speech, as Christ had promised his disciples they should have, when they were brought before governors and magistrates (Matt. 10:18).” Gill, like most of the other commentators, points out that Peter was once again “filled with the Spirit.” Whatever earlier gift had filled his soul and empowered his service, it was renewed. There was a new task before Peter, and there was more need for a renewed spiritual energization.

Our simple lesson for this evening is that whatever Holy Spirit filling you may have had in past, even as late as last week, is like a gift card with limited resources. Your every day life and service has spent all of the Lord’s gifts. Now He is a only a nicely decorated piece of plastic filling a place in your wallet. There is no power in you for the successful completion of your new day. Your relationship to the Holy Spirit needs to be replenished over and over again.

The filling of the Spirit is not a once in a lifetime event.

It is not the same thing as the indwelling of the Spirit which took place when we were first saved. When dead souls are regenerated it is through a miraculous operation of the Holy Spirit. At that time He sealed us – He secured us with Himself, as property of Jehovah, becoming the assurance to us of all God’s salvation promises. We are indwelt by the Holy Spirit as the earnest of our salvation – I Corinthians 1:22. And reiterating that to the Ephesians, Paul said, “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchase possession, unto the praise of his glory.”

One lesson from these words is that following our salvation, the Holy Spirit will never leave us nor forsake us. You might illustrate that fact by saying, “The Holy Spirit gift card God has given to me, bears my name, will never leave my possession.” While that is true, it doesn’t mean that you will always be able to access unlimited divine power. It must be refilled; it must be replenished. That refilling is free. It is available to all who bear the card. But under ordinary circumstances, we must deliberately go the Lord to refill it.

Going back to the church in Jerusalem in Acts 2 and Acts 4:31, listen to that second verse again – “And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.” What had taken place between Acts 2 – the Day of Pentecost – and Acts 4 which required their refilling? What terrible choices had the church made which emptied their hearts? What sins had the Apostles committed or permitted among the rest of the membership? None. Had the Lord told them: “This miraculous power is going to last only through this special day?” Had the church ordered too much stuff on line and their account was overdrawn? No.

Why did they need to be refilled, refreshed and replenished? Because that is the nature of the Christian life. That is the need of every saint every day. Victories had been wrought, but also new challenges had arisen, draining their spiritual gift cards. Peter and John had been arrested for serving God, preaching the gospel and healing a sick man. They were commanded by the civil government not to preach the truths of repentance, the resurrection of Christ and salvation. The rest of the church became concerned and perhaps a little confused, but at the same time they lifted up their unified voice in praise to God. All of this necessitated spiritual energy, spiritual resources – the Holy Spirit himself. Even praise and worship. They needed to be recharged.

And what do we see them doing to refill their Spiritual card? They prayed. The context of Acts 4:31 outlines that prayer – the prayer of a multitude of unified hearts. It began with yet more praise to God – praise for deliverance and their recent victories. But more than that – those people expressed their praise to God for who God is. “And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them. And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is.” Whoever was voicing this prayer referred to scripture – always an appropriate approach. Then he noted that God always does “whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.” The prayer acknowledged God’s miraculous power, but made no specific requests or requests. “And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.”

Again, I remind you that our primary purpose for this service on Wednesday night is prayer. Yes, I will try to share with you some blessing from God’s Word each week, but we are here to pray. Yes, we have many burdens – personal, general and specific, but I would urge you to focus, at least for a few moments, on the Lord. And yes, I think we have permission to ask the Lord for the filling of the Holy Spirit. But it appears to me that if we focus first and foremost on worshiping our God and Saviour, we will find that He is more than delighted to fill us with His Spirit once again. And with that replenished gift, we will be equipped to serve the Lord as He deserves. “And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.”

Make a desire for the filling of the Spirit a part of your prayer this evening.