We know that the Holy Spirit dwells in us. But it’s my conviction that He doesn’t always rest upon us. Jesus wants us to know how to be a people upon whom the Holy Spirit will rest continually. I put it this way to our people: “He is in me for my sake. But He’s upon me for yours.” The Spirit of God rests upon a person (both in the Old or New Testament) to impact that person’s surroundings.
“And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove” (Mark 1:10, emphasis added). The phrase, “the heavens were parting,” employs the same word used to describe the tearing of the veil of the temple and the splitting of rocks around Jerusalem, both in response to the death of Christ (see Matt. 27:51).
What happened at Jesus’ baptism was a violent act, not a passive wispy parting of clouds. It is the initial answer to Isaiah’s prayer, “Oh, that You would rend the heavens! That You would come down!” (Is. 64:1). The heavens were torn open at Jesus’ baptism, and the Holy Spirit came down. When the Holy Spirit was released upon the church in Acts 2, it was equally a testimony to that open heaven.
The heavens are open! For the believer, most closed heavens are between the ears. We were born again into open heavens and cannot afford to think otherwise. We make a mistake whenever we think that the oppression over our city is over us as well. It isn’t. When we think non-biblically, the enemy becomes empowered by our
unbelief. But a believing church, one that camps around the presence of God, will always help to define the nature of the world that they live in.
While open heavens may not yet cover our cities, we do not usually get increase in kingdom realities if we ignore or abuse what we’ve been given. For example, we generally don’t receive an increase of favor or finances unless we have been faithful with what we’ve been given. So it is with open heavens. What exists over me can exist over my city through faithfulness and radical obedience. It’s time to train the church to steward our greatest treasure: Holy Spirit—the evidence of an open heaven. When we treasure the Spirit, more will come.
As the church learns to live with an awareness of God’s presence upon us, we influence the atmosphere of the world around us, not only through our witness, but also through our presence. We broker the reality we are most aware of into our surroundings. Jesus modeled this after being awakened by His disciples in a life-threatening storm. He stilled the storm with a rebuke and the declaration of “Peace, be still!” (Mark 4:39). What enabled Him to sleep in the storm also calmed the storm when it was released from Him—peace. His internal reality became His external reality.
The Jesus Lifestyle
Jesus lived under an open heaven. No power could come between the Father and the Holy Spirit upon Him. What was provided for Jesus is also provided for us. He set the stage for a lifestyle that was to be manifested globally by those who follow Him.
The impact of both the open heavens and the presence of the dove upon Him became evident quite quickly. A woman noticed something intangible, something without definition. Her sickness drove her to the desperate act of touching a man in public, though she was “unclean.” In desperation, she touched His clothing and became well (see Matt. 9:20).
Jesus never taught about this secret to the miraculous, either before or after her miracle. Obeying a command did not heal her. She simply noticed the ways of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus and cooperated. The grace environment that surrounded Jesus invited people to explore. She was healed when she responded to an opportunity that no one else could see. However, once she experienced her miracle, her story spread.
By the time we get to the end of Mark 6, everyone who touched Him was made well. Even then, He never taught on the subject. He just lived as an open invitation for all to seek the One who desired to be found.
This adds an interesting insight to the possible effect of every believer who desires to live as Jesus did. The Holy Spirit upon us is accessible by others. People were healed as Peter’s shadow passed by. Our shadow always releases whatever overshadows us. Peter had learned to host Him well.
Pay the Price
To claim that the treasure of His manifest presence has priority over everything else must become evident in the price I am willing to pay to give Him honor, while maintaining such presence. While the Spirit was given without measure, what we possess is often different from what is in our account. We have the measure of presence that we are willing to jealously guard.
We must place the manifest presence of the Lord in our non-negotiable column. It’s hard to know whether the presence of God is really a priority until, to protect it, I’ve suffered the misunderstanding, ridicule and rejection that come with the territory.
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