Strong in Spirit – John grew and became strong in spirit. Mom, do people say you grew strong in spirit? Dad, do people say you grew strong in spirit? This will determine if your children grew strong in spirit. The difference to God in a great life and a life not great is if we GREW STRONG IN SPIRIT.
by Delbert Young
Strong in Spirit (Luke 1:41-77)
Scriptures: Luke 1:57-66; Luke 1:14-15; Luke 7:28; Luke 1:41; Luke 1:67; Luke 1:15; Matthew 3:4; Luke 1:41-42; Acts 2:4; Acts 10:46-47; 1 Corinthians 12:10; 1 Corinthians 14:2; 1 Corinthians 14:18; Acts 4:8; Acts 4:13; Acts 4:31; Acts 9:17-18; Acts 13:9; Acts 13:52; Ephesians 5:18; Luke 1:76-77; Luke 3:7, 8; Luke 1:80
Today, we will study the important birth of John the Baptizer. I say “baptizer” to make certain we separate John from the Baptist religious organization. John was not a part of a denomination and did not begin either the Baptist or Southern Baptist.
Refresh: Zechariah was an elderly unknown country preacher/priest in a small community in the hill country of Judea married to his elderly Elizabeth. They had no children. One day the angel Gabriel appeared to Zechariah speaking some important and amazing things. Though Zechariah’s wife Elizabeth was barren and beyond child bearing years, she would conceive. They were to name the child John who would operate in the spirit and power of Elijah fulfilling the prophecy from Malachi 3:1; 4:5-6. John would be the messenger to come before the Messiah preparing the way.
Zechariah doubted Gabriel. God was not going to allow doubt to play a part in this. Gabriel struck Zechariah mute (it seems both speaking and hearing). Elizabeth did conceive and Zechariah remained muted.
Six months later Gabriel appeared to the virgin Mary telling her she would miraculously conceive. Her baby’s name would be Jesus. Gabriel also told Mary her relative Elizabeth had conceived in her old age. Marry hurriedly went some seventy miles to see Elizabeth remaining with Elizabeth and Zechariah for three more months showing Mary must have been there when John was born. I’m certain Mary wanted to see what God was doing. John’s coming was vital. Unless the forerunner came, Emmanuel could not come.
Luke 1:57-67 When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy. On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, but his mother spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.” They said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who has that name.” Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, “His name is John.” Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue was loosed, and he began to speak, praising God. The neighbors were all filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, “What then is this child going to be?” For the Lord’s hand was with him. His father Zechariah was FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT and prophesied: [NIV]
They made signs to Zechariah. He was muted both hearing and speaking until the day to name John and circumcise him. The circumcision was a covenant celebration day. I’m sure John was excited about everyone watching him be circumcised. At the moment Zechariah wrote “…John” his tongue was loosed. It was a miracle and the entire area associated the miracle with John. What is this child going to be?
Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied. He first prophesied about Jesus and then about John. More about that shortly.
With all this said, if I were to ask you today, excluding Jesus who is/was the greatest man ever born in the history of the world, what would you answer? Most likely, John the Baptist would not come to your mind. However, Gabriel referenced John’s greatness.
Luke 1:14-15 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for HE WILL BE GREAT… [NIV]
The main acknowledgment of John’s greatness was Jesus.
Luke 7:28 I tell you, among those born of women there is NO ONE GREATER THAN JOHN; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” [NIV]
John was the greatest ever born of women. Jesus was bringing a kingdom far greater than John experienced, a kingdom into which you would be born again by the Spirit. However, there is no one greater ever born of women than John. That’s a powerful acknowledgment of John’s accomplishment and greatness.
It’s important we know some things about John. John the Baptist is a big deal in the scriptures. If God gave a prophecy how John must come before the Messiah king and sent the angel Gabriel to announce it, it’s a big deal. Let’s look at some things that made John great.
(1) John came from spirit filled parents and John himself was spirit filled.
Luke 1:41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and ELIZABETH WAS FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT. [NIV]
Luke 1:67 His father ZECHARIAH WAS FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT and prophesied: [NIV]
Luke 1:15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord …and he will be FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT EVEN FROM BIRTH. [NIV]
We usually think those on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 were the first New Testament people to be filled with the Holy Spirit. No. It was Elizabeth, Zachariah, and John. It was a Spirit filled family! How many families are like that today? Is your family Spirit filled?
Being a Spirit filled person with spirit filled parents is a great first step toward making one great. But, what does it mean to be spirit filled?
Talking about being Spirit filled spooks out many people. We’ve heard about or seen some weird stuff. Be honest with me. How many have ever heard about or witnessed some weird stuff called “spiritual” done by people who called themselves “Spirit filled”? I have and I’ve done some weird stuff myself. Don’t be too judgmental. Sometimes spiritual people are a little weird. John was a little weird.
Matthew 3:4 John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. [NIV]
John dressed like a super hero and, I suppose, ate like one. That was John’s lot and only John’s lot. If I were to see someone in town like that, I would think “weird,” not Spirit filled. Most people associate spirit filled with Acts 2 and tongues, or some preacher on television touching people on the head making them fall down. I’m being cautious not to blaspheme, but sometimes it does appear weird.
So, what does it mean to be filled with the Spirit? Luke talks about being Spirit filled more than anyone. Remember, Luke also wrote Acts, which is filled with people being filled with the Spirit, but don’t go to Acts first to learn about being Spirit filled. First, go to Luke and look at Elizabeth, John, and Zachariah.
Luke 1:41-42 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. IN A LOUD VOICE SHE EXCLAIMED: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!
Elizabeth had the spiritual gift of the word of knowledge. No one told Elizabeth that Mary was pregnant, but she knew. They lived at least seventy miles apart with no means of communication. The Spirit revealed to Elizabeth that Mary was pregnant and her baby was Lord.
Luke 1:67 His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit And PROPHESIED: [NIV]
There’s always a conjunction if not written implied with being filled with the Spirit. Elizabeth’s conjunction was exclaiming with a loud voice her word of knowledge. Zechariah’s conjunction was he prophesied. The conjunction connects the spiritual gift to being Spirit filled. Zachariah prophesied speaking of events not yet happened.
Acts 2:4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit And BEGAN TO SPEAK IN OTHER TONGUES as the Spirit enabled them. [NIV]
Some people speak in tongues. The tongues of Acts 2 and Pentecost were foreign languages. Tongues are obvious evidence, but no place does it say a person must speak in tongues when filled with the Spirit. I believe they can if they want. We find tongues in three different uses. (A) When some people receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 2; Acts 10).
Acts 10:46-47 For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, “Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.”
(B) A message in a church gathering requiring interpretation.
1 Corinthians 12:10 …to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. [NIV]
(C) Praying in tongues speaking to God (1Co 14:2).
1 Corinthians 14:2 For anyone who speaks in a tongue DOES NOT speak to men BUT TO GOD. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit. [NIV]
I’ve learned over the years a person can speak in tongues, but still live a vile ungodly life. Because a person speaks in tongues does not necessarily mean they are “filled with the Spirit.” Also, because a person decides not to speak in tongues does not mean they are not filled with the Spirit. Again, I believe they can if they want.
Delbert, do you believe in tongues? Of course I do. It’s in the Bible and I believe the Bible. Maybe you’re asking if I speak in tongues. Of course I do. Peter, James, John, and all the disciples did. Mary did in the upper room the Day of Pentecost. I enjoy speaking in tongues especially in prayer. I grew strong in spirit. My mind is out of gear and I can pray in my purest form – straight out of my spirit. Paul said,
1 Corinthians 14:18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. [NIV]
I pray in tongues. I’ve spoken messages in tongues. I’ve interpreted messages in tongues. Do you? I’m not ashamed of the Spirit.
Acts 4:8 Then Peter, FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! [NIV]
Acts 4:13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. [NIV]
The conjunction was a tremendous boldness and unexpected intelligence came upon Peter to astonish and defy the vile religious rulers and elders who told Peter he could not preach in the name of Jesus. Being Spirit filled should not show the lack of intelligence rather the miraculous intelligence one has.
Acts 4:31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were ALL FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT AND SPOKE THE WORD OF GOD BOLDLY. [NIV]
The conjunction is, anointed, bold teaching and preaching of the word of God came from being filled with the Spirit. I sometimes listen to myself on DVD or CD and I say, “From where did that come? I’m not that smart.” Of course, there are other times when I say, “I’m smarter than that.”
Acts 9:17-18 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord – Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here – has sent me so that you may see again and be FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT.” Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized
The apostle Paul (at that time Saul) had his encounter with Jesus. Religiously he believed in God. However, it was his being filled with the Holy Spirit that enlightened him to God through Jesus. Afterwards, Paul became unstoppable.
Acts 13:9 Then Saul, who was also called Paul, FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT, looked straight at Elymas and said, [NIV]
Paul moved in all the gifts of the Spirit, taught, and wrote about them.
Acts 13:52 And the disciples were FILLED WITH JOY AND WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT. [NIV]
Being filled with the Spirit is way more than tongues and weird. Jesus said “he the Spirit,” (Jn 16:13) not “it the Spirit.” The Spirit of God is a person who can be grieved (Eph 4:30), quenched (1 Thes 5:9), and resisted (Act 7:55). The Holy Spirit is God included in the trinity. He desires to fill you unless you grieve, quench, or resist.
Ephesians 5:18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT
Being filled with the Spirit is a life controlled by God instead of anything else. As a drunken person succumbs to alcohol, the person filled with the Spirit succumbs to God’s Spirit. God’s Spirit comes into you so Jesus can come out from you with gifts, worship, love, wisdom, God’s word, etc.
John the Baptizer came from Spirit filled parents. One real point we need to make is Spirit filled parents are just that – Spirit filled. They bless, minister using the gifts, and give direction to their own children. Zachariah said to his son John,
Luke 1:76-77 AND YOU, MY CHILD, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins…
Spirit filled people should be Spirit filled parents. John’s parents helped him understand his destiny and purpose in life. Zechariah and Elizabeth encouraged John and directed him through the Spirit. The Spirit of God helps the parents to help their children. Have you ever prophesied over your own children especially when they were only minutes old? How powerful was that moment for John when his dad spoke over John, John’s destiny?
(2) The second thing making John great, John obeyed God’s call for his life. John’s job was not easy. He called both political and religious people to repentance. That will usually cost you your life and it did John. John’s message was PRIMARILY to religious people. Religious people stand off to the side in fundamentalism and legalism acting holy, but they themselves being the most serious sinners. John pointed to the religious people and said you are the worst of all. These were people who were circumcised the eighth day, raised in the synagogue, wore preacher garb, and memorized scripture. John said, “Brood of vipers!”
Luke 3:7, 8 John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers!
We will talk more about this in a few weeks, but that was how John prepared the way for the Lord obeying his call and giving his life.
(3) John became strong in spirit.
Luke 1:80 And the child grew and became STRONG IN SPIRIT; and he lived in the desert until he appeared publicly to Israel. [NIV]
It seems today instead of teaching our children to grow and become strong in spirit, we allow society to teach them to grow and become strong in consumption. Society tells a boy being a man is determined by what he consumes, not by becoming strong in spirit. “Drink this beer and you’ll be a man.” “Drive this truck and you’ll be a man.” “Dress like this and you’ll be a man.” “Play these video games. You’ll be a man.” You’re not a man. You are a boy who can shave attempting to define your maturity by what you consume – liquor, porn, cars, trucks, clothes, fantasy league, women, money. Today, you now have massive debt and massive addictions, but think you’re a man. Women are the same. Society teaches women to determine their womanhood by her bra size, the clothes she wears, the makeup she uses, and the plastic surgery she has – look like this model and you’ll be a woman. You’re not a woman. You may be married with children, but you’re a girl who has a cycle.
What’s sad is the people who enable us to remain consuming children all our lives are parents who either have very little or no interest in maturing in the Spirit themselves, or have a total misconception of a primary purpose of being filled with the Spirit – to raise children who grow, becoming STRONG IN SPIRIT.
It’s close to Christmas. Will Santa Clause bring your children everything they want? Where will the Spirit of God fit into your Christmas plans? Where will Jesus fit? There’s nothing wrong with giving to your children and family. You know I’m not saying that, but are you training them to be thirty year old children, who consume, or to grow and become strong in spirit? How strong are you in the spirit mom? How strong in the spirit are you dad? Are you filled with the Spirit? That will determine how strong, and even if, your children are filled with the Spirit. The difference to God in a great life and a life not great is growing STRONG IN SPIRIT.
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