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Week 4: Obstacles to Filling

The people of God are journeying from Easter to Pentecost! Along the way, Christ Church Nashville will be posting short meditations on the Holy Spirit for you to use in your personal quiet times, or to read aloud with your family and friends. Let’s consecrate Pentecost 2015 as a season of expectation—a Holy Spirit advent—as we walk the road together. 

These meditations are excerpted from a book by Pastor Dan and Pastor Hunter called The Road to Pentecost. It is available for free in our bookstore or to download here.

MANY OF US WHO PRAY for the Holy Spirit to fill us to fullness are disappointed when we feel like nothing happened. For many years before I began to pray in tongues (see the article later in this book about tongues), I felt disappointed that the work of the Holy Spirit that I saw in others hadn’t occurred in me.

Here, we will highlight several of the more common obstacles to the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

But before moving to the common obstacles, let me make three comments to those readers who find themselves disappointed by what feels like unanswered prayers for more of the Holy Spirit. First, there is no formula to the work of the Holy Spirit (remember, this is the part of the Godhead described as a bird, wind, fire, water, and oil!). Second, keep asking. God is honored by our heart for Him. God’s work occurs over a long arc in our lives. His timing is perfect. And finally, the real test for the work of the Holy Spirit in a believer’s life is whether the fruit of the Holy Spirit is evident, not the gifts of the Holy Spirit. A heart full of love is much more indicative of the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit than tongues of fire.

As we pray for more of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, there are several potential obstacles to watch for that can block our availability to the Holy Spirit’s work and power. These obstacles include:

Lack of submission to God. Obedience is part of the pathway to the gifts of the Holy Spirit. If we’re holding back certain areas of our lives from the work of sanctification, we aren’t postured to receive more from the Holy Spirit.

Unconfessed sin. Lack of repentance is a signal that we’re not really open to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Remember, it’s the Holy Spirit that convicts us of sin (John 16:8).

Unwanted gifts. Paul tells us to eagerly desire the gifts of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 14:1). If we are unsure of whether we are open to receiving spiritual gifts from the Holy Spirit, we are not ready for all that the Holy Spirit could do in and through us.

Shame. If you have repented from sin and given your life to Christ, you are a worthy recipient of all the Holy Spirit has to offer. Period. The enemy will try to convince you that you aren’t worthy of the Holy Spirit’s gifts and power, but the enemy is a liar!

Making fun of the Holy Spirit. This might include pretending to speak in tongues.

Getting too close to evil spirits. Watching horror movies, entering into the darker side of Halloween celebrations, playing with Ouija boards, and visiting psychics open us to a spiritual world separate from the Holy Spirit. So renounce these practices and change your habits to ready yourself for a filling by the Holy Spirit.

Unforgiveness. A heart of unforgiveness places us not only outside of the forgiveness of God but also outside of the work of the Holy Spirit.

If any of these obstacles trigger you, pray that God would help you to ready your heart for the filling of the Holy Spirit. The beginning of a changed life is only a prayer away.

Father, we ask that you would bring to our minds any obstacles that are in the way of the work that the Holy Spirit wants to do in our lives. Ready us for the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.