Channels, Faucets and Nudges

Andrew Carnegie was a Scottish-American industrialist who led the expansion of the American Steel industry in the late 19th century. He became one of the wealthiest and most philanthropic Americans in history. When a journalist asked him the secret of his success Carnegie replied, “I listen to the nudges that I think I get in the wee small hours of the night.”

Have you ever gotten a “nudge?” Have you ever felt a nudge from God that you are supposed to do something? Sometimes I get a “nudge” from God to write someone a note. I can’t explain it. A person will come to mind for no apparent reason and I will think, “I’d like to reach out and see how they are doing.” And…when I respond to the nudge and write a note…it is the most amazing thing…they almost always say, “How did you know that I needed a note of encouragement or a phone call at just that time? How did you know?” And I realize that I didn’t know…but the Holy Spirit knew and I was simply a channel of the Holy Spirit to that person. But, to be honest, many times I get a nudge from God and I do not respond. Sometimes I forget about it or other times I simply fail to respond or I get busy with other things. Can you relate to this?

On this Pentecost Sunday, it is important to remember that one of the reasons that we are on the face of the earth is to be a channel of the Holy Spirit to others. But, so many Christians are uncomfortable with the Holy Spirit. We are more comfortable talking about God, the Creator, and God, the Son, than God the Holy Spirit. But the Holy Spirit is an essential part of the nature of God. The Holy Spirit is the present tense of God. The Holy Spirit is God in the here and now. He is our source of strength, courage, peace…and nudges!

On Pentecost, we celebrate the day when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the church. The word Pentecost literally means, “the fiftieth.” Pentecost occurs fifty days after the Passover. It was one of three great festivals in Judaism that every adult Jew within a 20-mile radius of Jerusalem was bound by Jewish law to attend. On that first Pentecost after Jesus had been raised from the dead, the early disciples of Jesus and a crowd of people were gathered together, and as they spoke about the deeds of God and the resurrection of Jesus, everyone heard the words in their own language. Parthians, Medes, Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia all heard the words that these Galileans spoke in their own native language. As they tried to figure out what was happening, the Apostle Peter explained that this is the fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel in the Hebrew Scriptures. After Peter concluded his sermon, 3000 people welcomed his message and were baptized…not a bad new members class!

[tweetable]Before he departed the earth and ascended to heaven, Jesus told his followers that the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, will “abide with them and will be in you.” (See John 14: 15-17) What Jesus is saying is that the power of the living God comes to live inside us by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is our source of wisdom and guidance on the journey of faith. But it is our human tendency that when we see dynamic people or alive churches, we mistakenly think that they HAVE the Holy Spirit! But the truth is that no one HAS the Holy Spirit…the Holy Spirit has us! The Holy Spirit is not given to us for our own private enjoyment…but for our deployment into a world in need. We are on the face of the earth to be conduits/channels of the Holy Spirit to others. But, so often we mistake the conduit for the Holy Spirit! When we see an alive person or a dynamic church we mistakenly think that this congregation or person is the source of the Spirit…when in reality they are simply a channel of the Holy Spirit.

A good example of this is the story of Thomas Edward Lawrence, the famous author and British soldier, who became known to the world as Lawrence of Arabia. He became famous for his daring raids during World War I. Once he brought Arab leaders from the desert to a hotel in France for the Paris Peace Conference. These Arabs had never stayed in a hotel before and they had never seen water running out of a faucet before! As they were leaving their hotel rooms, Lawrence caught them trying to detach the water faucets so that they would always have access to running water. They mistakenly thought that the faucet was the source of the water! But, the faucet is not the source…the reservoir is the source of the water. In the same way, the “human faucet” is not the source of the living water…but the reservoir of the Holy Spirit is the source. Once we plug into the Holy Spirit…we will be in touch with the source of the Living Water of life forevermore.

So…don’t unscrew the faucets…turn on the tap! And when that happens, we will become channels of the Holy Spirit to a thirsty world! So…listen to those nudges that you get in the wee small hours of the night…or in the middle of the day…they might hold the key to your being a channel…a faucet…of the Holy Spirit!

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