The Other Andy Murray

 
9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water … 13 Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  (John 4:9-14)
 
37 On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.  (John 7:37-39)


“God gives the Spirit without limit.”  (John 3:34)
What Jesus promised about the Holy Spirit to the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4 has now been fulfilled. Although Jesus needed to tell people to wait for the gift of the Holy Spirit before his death and resurrection, he has now been glorified – that is, he has ascended back to heaven in triumphant glory. The promise in John 3:34 is now therefore our promise, and not just his. God now pours out his Holy Spirit on all his people without holding back.
 
But let’s be honest with one another. We don’t always feel as though we are experiencing the limitless inflow of the Holy Spirit into our hearts. When we look at Jesus in the gospels, ministering as a man filled with the Holy Spirit, we become very conscious that our own experience of the Holy Spirit seems very limited indeed!
So what’s the problem? I think that one of the most helpful answers that I have ever read to this question was written by Andrew Murray over a hundred years ago. Not to be confused with our local tennis hero, the writings of this other Andy Murray have had a deep influence on the beliefs and practice of Everyday Church over the years. In his book ‘The Full Blessing of Pentecost’, he explains that:

“There is only one great stumbling-block in the way to the full blessing of Pentecost. It lies in the fact that two diverse things cannot at one and the same time occupy the very same place. Your own life and the life of God cannot fill the heart at the same time. Your life hinders the entrance of the life of God. When your own life is cast out, the life of God will fill you. So long as I myself am still something, Jesus Himself cannot be everything. My life must be expelled; then the Spirit of Jesus will flow in. Let every seeker of the full blessing of Pentecost accept this principle and hold it fast … He himself is his own worst foe: he must be liberated from himself; the self-life to which he clings must be utterly lost. Only then can the life of God entirely fill him.
 
“I can neither bestow this blessing on myself nor take it. It is God alone that must work it in me. The blessing of Pentecost is a supernatural gift, a wonderful act of God in the soul. The life of God in every soul is just as truly a work of God as when that life was first manifested in Jesus Christ. A Christian can do as little to bring the full life of the Spirit to fruition in his soul as the Virgin Mary did to conceive her supernatural child. Like her, he can only receive it as the gift of God. The impartation of this heavenly blessing is as entirely an act of God as the resurrection of Christ from the dead was His divine work. As Christ Jesus had wholly and entirely to go down unto death, and lay aside utterly the life He has, in order to receive a new life from God, so must the believer abandon all power and hope of his own to receive this full  blessing as a free gift of divine Omnipotence. This acknowledgement of our utter impotence, this descent into true self-despair, is indispensable if we would enjoy this supreme blessing.”
  1. If God now gives the Spirit without limit, then any limitations must be on our side. Can you see any truth in Andrew Murray’s suggestion that struggling to be filled with the Holy Spirit is linked to being full of ourselves?
  2. How is it encouraging that Andrew Murray likens our being filled with the Holy Spirit to Mary conceiving Jesus in her womb?
  3. Have you experienced the sense of ‘utter impotence’ and of ‘self-despair’ that Andrew Murray mentions here? How do our struggles to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit actually help us to receive him?
  4. If you are still struggling and you feel that you need somebody to help you, have you opened up about this to your Life Group leader? They are there to help you to receive this gift from God, so why not talk to them today?
Father God, I thank you so much that you give me the gift of your Holy Spirit without limit. And yet, I feel so limited in my experience of him. I confess my self-confidence and I renounce it right now. I empty myself of my own ego so that I might be filled instead with your Spirit. Please grant me the full experience of this gift of your grace towards me. I ask it in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Today’s Everyday Devotions were brought to you by Phil Moore, who leads our team of whole-church elders.
If you have time, consider carrying on your conversation with God using one of our helpful Prayer Pathways.
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