'Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you.'
THE children of Israel were instructed by Moses to give tithes of all they had to the Lord, and in return God promised richly to bless them, making their fields and vineyards fruitful and causing their flocks and herds safely to multiply. But they became covetous and unbelieving, and began to rob God by withholding their tithes, and then God began to withhold His blessing from them.
But still God loved and pitied them, and sent to them again and again by His prophets. Finally He said: ' Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in Mine house, and prove Me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it' (Mal. iii. 10)
He promised to make their barns overflow, if they would be faithful, if they would pay their tithes and discharge their obligations to Him.
Now, this overflow of barns and granaries is a type of overflowing hearts and lives when we give ourselves fully to God, and the blessed Holy Ghost comes in and Jesus becomes all and in all to us. The blessing is too big to contain, but just bursts out and overflows through the life, the looks, the conversation, the very tones of the voice, and gladdens and refreshes and purifies whereever it goes. Jesus calls it ' rivers of living water (John vii. 38).
There is an overflow of love. Sin brings in an overflow of hate, so that the world is filled with wars and murders, slanders, oppression and selfishness. But this blessing causes love to overflow. Schools, colleges and hospitals are built; shelters, rescue homes and orphanages are opened; even war itself is in some measure humanized by the Red Cross Society and Christian commissions. Sinners love their own, but this blessing makes us to love all men-strangers, the heathen, and even our enemies.
There is an overflow of peace. It settles old quarrels and grudges. It makes a different atmosphere in the home. The children know it when father and mother get the Comforter. Kindly words and sweet goodwill take the place of bitterness and strife. I suspect that even the dumb beasts realize the overflow.
I heard a laughable story of a man whose cow would switch her tail in his face, and then kick over the pail when he was milking her. Then he would give her a beating with the stool on which he sat. But he got the blessing, and his heart was overflowing with peace. The next morning he went to milk that cow, and when the pail was nearly full, swish! came the tail in his face; with a vicious kick she knocked over the pail, and then ran across the barn-yard. The blessed man picked up the empty pail and stool and went over to the cow, which stood trembling, awaiting the usual kicks and beating; but instead he patted her gently and said, ' You may kick over that pail as often as you please, but I am not going to beat you any more.' The cow seemed to understand, for she dropped her head and quietly began to eat. She never kicked again ! That story is good enough to be true, and I doubt not it is, for certainly when the Comforter comes a great peace fills the heart and overflows through all the life.
There is an overflow of joy. It makes the face to shine; it glances from the eye and bubbles out in thanksgiving and praise. You never can tell when one who has the blessing will shout out, ' Glory to God! Praise the Lord! Hallelujah! Amen! '
I have sometimes seen a whole congregation wakened up and refreshed and made glad by the joyous overflow from one clean-hearted soul. A salvation soldier or officer with an overflow of genuine joy is worth a whole company of ordinary folk. He is a host within himself, and is a living proof of the text, 'The joy of the Lord is your strength' (Neh. viii. I 0).
There is an overflow of patience and long-suffering. When a man got this blessing, his wicked wife was so enraged that she left him and went across the way and lived as the wife of his unmarried brother. He was terribly tempted to take his gun and go over and kill them both. But he prayed about it, and the Lord gave him the patience and longsuffering of Jesus, who bears long with the backslider who leaves Him and joins himself with the world. The man continued to treat them with the utmost kindness, as though they had done him no wrong. Some people might say he was weak, but I should say he was unusually 'strong in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ', and one of his neighbours told me that they all believed in his religion.
There is an overflow of goodness and generosiy. I read the other day of a poor man who supports eight workers in the foreign mission field. When asked how he did it, he replied that he wore celluloid collars, did his own washing, denied himself and managed his affairs in order to do it.
Do you ask, 'How can I get such a blessing?' You will get it by bringing in all the tithes, by giving yourself in love and obedience and wholehearted, joyous consecration to Jesus, as a true bride gives herself to her husband. Do not try to bargain with the Lord and buy it of Him, but wait on Him in never-give-in prayer and confident expectation, and He will give it to you. Then you must not hold it selfishly for your own gratification, but let it overflow to the hungry, thirsty, fainting world about you. God bless you even now, and do for you exceeding abundantly above all you ask or think!
A comrade went from one of my meetings recently with a heart greatly burdened for the blessing, and for two or three days and nights did little else but read the Bible and pray and cry to God for a clean heart filled with the Spirit. At last the Comforter came, and with Him fullness of peace and joy and soul-rest; and that day this comrade led a number of others into the blessing. Hallelujah! 'If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?' (Luke xi.13) 'Ask . . . seek . . . knock.'
'HAVE YE RECEIVED THE HOLY GHOST SINCE YE BELIEVED? '
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