"I believe in the gifts and the power of the Holy Spirit, but just don't think they are for me." This is a common response after I teach on the Holy Spirit. People often feel disqualified or that they are not "spiritual enough" for God to choose to use them and pour out his Spirit upon them. However, this is not the story of the New Testament, and this is not consistent with the story God is telling at River City Church.
Here is Saul's story (soon to be Paul) of encountering Jesus through the Holy Spirit. He was employed by the Jews to persecute, capture and kill Christians.
But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. — Acts 9:1–2 (ESV)
So if anyone did not "deserve" to experience God, it was certainly Saul. But the Holy Spirit doesn't play favorites.
Here is what happens to Saul along the way:
Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting." — Acts 9:3–5 (ESV)
Because of God's love for Saul, and by grace, Paul was rescued. Not because of anything he had done. God then used Saul for His glory and building His Kingdom.
I know, I know, you are saying, "exactly, that is Saul!! He was special, God used him to write a bunch of the New Testament, God picked him to pour His Spirit out on because he was special."
True, Saul was special, but so are you!
This is the story of someone who attended River City Church for about a year and moved for a job opportunity at a local micro-brewery in Tampa. He writes this of his experience with the Holy Spirit:
Throughout my year of attendance [at River City Church] I had some vivid encounters with the Holy Spirit. The power of the Holy Spirit I felt during prayer was so strong, I would aggressively tear up at times. A specific day stood out to me as I was in worship with my hands open, ready to receive what God had for me. In a moment, my thoughts went blank, there was a flash and I physically felt God grab my left hand. A glowing ball of energy beamed at me and said, “I got you, follow me.” I went home and told my roommate about the great experience I had at church. I said it felt like I have been climbing a mountain my whole life and for the first time caught a glimpse of the reward at the top.
At the next service as I went up to prayer, a prayer minister of RCC joined me. He said he had a picture for me from the Holy Spirit. He continued, "I see you on the top of a mountain and like an eagle I am about to take off and soar." Today I realize I am not at my ultimate destination, but I am exactly where I want to be for the moment. Thanks to God I am at the healthiest stage of my life physically, mentally and spiritually." — Microbrewer
This is from a normal dude, who just needed to know what is next in his life. God loves to lead us. He loves to speak to us through His Spirit. He doesn't play favorites. He wants you to experience His love, His power and His joy, through His Spirit.
Stop acting like Jesus plays favorites! Jesus tells us in Luke 11:13, "If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
If you want to experience more of God's love, more of God's power, more of God's transformation… just ask!