“In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.
Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy."
Acts 2: 17-18, NIV
God has always appointed people to speak for Him. We can see consistently in the Bible that God finds creative ways to speak, both directly and indirectly, and often appoints someone to speak for Him at a particular time or over a period of time.
The book of Joel reminds God’s people that this kind of appointment by God will become more normative in the future: “And afterward [after the coming of the Day of the Lord], I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days” (Joel 2:28-29).
This prophesy of Joel comes to fruition on the Day of Pentecost. In Peter’s first sermon after Pentecost, he declares as much, citing the Joel passage as being fulfilled by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (see Acts 2:14-21). The time has come when men and women will join the chorus of voices throughout history to speak forth the wonders of God.
Today, all of us who have received the Spirit of God at salvation and who are responding to God’s sanctifying work in our lives have the opportunity to speak about God’s wonders, to dream dreams, and to envision what a world filled with God’s love and goodness would look like as we work toward that goal.
We are living in the time prophesied by Joel, brought about by Jesus and the gift of the Holy Spirit, and affirmed by Peter.
This promise of all people being granted this gift also comes with the promise that there will be those who are specifically called to vocations that focus almost exclusively on the proclamation of the Gospel: pastors, Christian educators, evangelists, chaplains, missionaries, etc. These men and women will have the opportunity to fulfill God’s Spirit-led vision in very specific ways – ways that define their life’s work.
As the new calendar year begins, perhaps we should take time to pray specifically for those men and women who are called and who will be called to these kinds of vocations in service of God through the Church.
Those who serve us now need our prayers and encouragement. Those wrestling with a call also need people with whom they can talk, pray, and receive counsel. They also need opportunities to be trained in this calling and to share their gifts in the context of the community of faith. Let us pray for Christian vocations in the Church while we also pray that all of us will be a reflection of the light of Christ in our world.
Prayer for the Week:
Teach us, Good Lord,
To serve you as you deserve;
To give and not to count the cost;
To fight and not to heed the wounds;
To labor and not to ask for any reward,
save that of knowing that we do Thy will.
Through Jesus Christ Our Lord,
Amen. (Ignatius of Loyola)
Charles W. Christian is managing editor of Holiness Today.
Written for Coffee Break with Holiness Today