The Shepherd of Hope blog is here to serve you, to help you know Jesus better and to find hope in Him. This blog relies on the Spirit of God using the word of God to build people of God. All material has been prayerfully submitted for your encouragement and spiritual edification. Your questions and comments are welcome.

Monday, October 3, 2011

What is An Afterglow Service?

The Origins of Afterglow – The concept of an afterglow service is derived from an event found in Exodus 33 and 34. God’s people had fallen into great sin (Exodus 32:1-29). Moses had interceded for them and secured God’s forgiveness, but not without discipline (Exodus 32:30-35). God then tells Moses that He will not accompany the people on their journey to the Promised Land because of their stiff-necked stubbornness (Exodus 33:1-6). Moses responds by pitching his tent outside the camp where “the LORD talked with Moses” (Exodus 33:7-11). Moses prayerfully beseeched the LORD for grace and that His presence would go with them and the LORD agrees (Exodus 33:12-17). It is then that Moses, who loved the LORD and just couldn’t get enough of the LORD, asked Him, “Please, show me Your glory” (Exodus 33:18). God consented saying:

“I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” 20 But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” 21 And the LORD said, “Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. 22 So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. 23 Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen.” (Exodus 33:19-23).

Moses experienced a bit of God’s glory passing by (Exodus 34:1-9). This concluded with a reaffirmation of God’s covenant with Moses and the people (Exodus 34:10 ff.). But it also resulted in an afterglow on Moses face (Exodus 34:29-35). In the New Testament this afterglow of Moses is referred to by Paul. It is explained that while Moses afterglow wore off the afterglow that comes from the indwelling Holy Spirit does not fade away. We are transformed from glory to glory by the Spirit of the LORD (2 Cor. 3:1-18).

The Baptism with the Holy Spirit – During times of discouragement and confusion we are instructed in scripture not to depend on human resources alone but on the empowerment of the Holy Spirit (Zech. 4:1-6). The work of God is not done in our strength, but His. And God’s empowerment is promised to us in the Baptism with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5, 8). This is a promise of God that is for us today (Acts 2:39).

This baptism with the Holy Spirit is a second work of God’s grace. The disciples who were born again in the gospels (John 20:22; John 3) were instructed by Jesus to wait in Jerusalem until they received the empowering work of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 1:4-5, 8; 2:1ff.). It purifies the heart from obstacles to fully serving the Lord (Luke 3:16). It isn’t a question of getting more of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit getting more, or all of us. It is a question of total surrender in faith to the Holy Spirit to serve His will in and through us.

The experience of the Baptism with the Holy Spirit recorded in the Book of Acts indicates that the reception of this empowerment was often accompanied by particular spiritual gifting, e.g. speaking in tongues (Acts 2:3, 4, 11; 10:46; 19:6); speaking prophecy (Acts 19:6). Sometimes this experience is accompanied by indeterminate but evidently noticeable behavior (e.g. Acts 8:17-18). The important thing is not the phenomena associated with the experience of the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. The important thing is that you experience the empowerment of the Spirit so that you can live victoriously and serve Him more effectively for His glory.

How can we receive the Baptism with the Holy Spirit? - The experience of the Baptism with the Holy Spirit is received by faith (Acts 15:8-9). When we pray for something that is God’s will we can be confident that God hears and that He will grant our request (1 John 5:14-15). Therefore, if we pray to God in Jesus name asking Him for this Baptism with the Holy Spirit, we need only receive it and then step out in faith relying on it. Jesus said, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Luke 11:13).

What is the Evidence of the Baptism with the Holy Spirit? - What difference does the Baptism with the Holy Spirit make in our lives? D.L. Moody said that after he received the Baptism with the Holy Spirit that his messages didn’t change but their effect on the hearers did. The Book of Acts is a historical account of how people baptized with the Holy Spirit can impact the world.

An evidence of the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives is greater effectiveness in ministry (Acts 2:40-47). There will be victory inwardly in defeating fleshly desires (i.e. selfishness; the sinful nature; e.g. Galatians 5). We will experience a more vibrant spiritual walk and effective prayer life (cf. Rom. 8). The greatest evidence of being baptized with the Holy Spirit is not gifting but a fullness of God’s love (Rom. 5:5; 1 Cor. 12 – 13 the love chapter – 14; Gal. 5:22a).

If the power is not there when we step out, we must consider that there remains an impediment in our hearts and lives that God still wants to work on and remove (Acts 2:37-39). Our problems as Christians are often the consequence of trying to live in our strength instead of the Spirit’s power (e.g. Gal. 3:1-3).

Refreshing - Because we are human and weak there are times when we need to be refreshed in this empowering work of the Spirit in our lives (e.g. Acts 4:31). We need to be continuously filled with the Spirit which involves a daily moment by moment yielding to the Spirit (e.g. Eph. 5:18). The Holy Spirit will help us in our weakness (Rom. 8:26a).

An Afterglow Service - An Afterglow service therefore, is a time when we seek to come closer to God. It is a time where we seek to fully surrender to Him. The heart is deceitful. Only God can know our hearts (Jer. 17:9-10). We should ask God to reveal anything in our hearts that hinders us from experiencing His fullness of the Spirit (e.g. Psalm 139:23-24). God’s word is His scalpel to help us discern the thoughts and intents of our hearts (Heb. 4:12). And when He exposes something He wants to deal with, we need to confess it, receive forgiveness and surrender it to Him (1 John 1:7-9).

An afterglow service in line with God’s word will be done decently in order (1 Cor.14:33, 39-40). Jesus said the teaching of His word would be followed by signs (Mark 16:17-18). If tongues are spoken they need to be interpreted (1 Cor. 14:27-28). If a prophecy is given, it should be judged (1 Cor. 14:29-32). Such a service is about coming closer to the Lord. An Afterglow service can include a devotional on the workings of the Holy Spirit, waiting on the Lord in prayer, worship, and/or Communion.

Our desire should always be to come as close to and go as deep with Jesus as possible. Afterglow services are one way to present ourselves to God to go deeper with Him. Seek Him with all your heart and you will find Him (Jer. 29:13; cf. also Rom. 12:1-2). I pray you experience His afterglow.

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