revjoaquinwillisweb.gifThis past weekend at the Collective Banking Group of Miami Dade and Vicinity’s 3rd Annual Economic Empowerment Conference, attendees glimpsed the meaning of “Living with the Holy Spirit.”

Pastor-teacher the Rev. Dr. Floyd Flake, a man living with the Holy Spirit, was anointed.  His phenomenal ministry in Queens, New York, has created thousands of jobs, brought millions of dollars to the community, and attracted 23,000 members. We were blessed to hear testimony from the reverend’s flock, from businessmen and pastors. 

The Holy Spirit affects our lives, whether or not we believe in it.  How do we explain the unexplainable? Partial believers limp between the strength of faithful conviction and the weakness of doubt. If one firmly believes in the Holy Spirit, as do I, one stands in awe of its power. But belief in the Holy Spirit can be either life-giving or life-imperiling.  

In Acts 2:12, we find that the people were, “Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another what does this mean?”  Most were in awe of the Holy Spirit, but some mocked it, and others called its followers “drunkards.”  Many had come to town for “The Festival of Weeks” to give thanks for the harvest.  The previous 50 days had been a godly setup.  Six weeks earlier, those in town for Passover had witnessed a crucifixion.  Now, 50 days later, news of Christ’s Resurrection was heard, Luke 24:49. “I am going to send you a helper, but go to the city and wait until you have been clothed with power from on high.”  True to His word, the Holy Spirit descended upon thousands who were filled with “tongues of fire.”

Events described in Acts cause us to link the Holy Spirit with grandiose power over multitudes. We forget the quiet manifestations of the Holy Spirit in the persecuted.  Through the Holy Spirit, those who endured hardship became powerful witnesses for Christ.    

The Holy Spirit‘s presence is evident in the dynamism of Rev. Floyd Flake.  But the Holy Spirit also resides within the Sunday school teacher, in those ministering to the imprisoned, and in singular witnesses to Christ.  The power of the Holy Spirit is upon the highly gifted and the humble, alike.  

But mortal peril also exists for those living with the Holy Spirit, as we see in the account of Ananias and Sapphira, Acts 5:11.  Tithing had become routine, per Acts 2:44, to ensure that none suffered need.  And Ananias and his wife, who were confronted by the Apostles after holding back some of God’s money, both fell dead.  The Apostles, in Acts 5:4, advise, “You haven’t lied to men but to God.” A great fear came upon the church and the Holy Spirit seized all who had heard about the events.  

The issue of tithing to God what is His has always captured my attention.  If we shortchange Him, we will eventually learn the truth, as did Job, after great suffering and calamity.  “The Lord gives and the Lord can take away,” Job 1:21. 

On the other hand, “Living with the Holy Spirit” can empower us.  In Numbers 11: 25, we find that Moses, then a tired leader, received help, with God spreading the Holy Spirit also among the elders and leaders.  As the Spirit comes to rest upon them, “They prophesied and spoke in tongues though it stresses that it only happened just that once,” Numbers 11:25. 

We are reminded here about God’s anger with complainers, Numbers 11:10.  God is not angered by Moses’ complaints to Him, because Moses brings his concerns directly to God.    

We learn that “Living with the Holy Spirit” can save us, as it saved Moses.  But in the account of the water and the rock in Numbers 20:12, we find that Moses’ complaints to the Lord cost him the victory of entering the Promised Land.

In Acts, we see the results of “Living with the Holy Spirit,” of lives nurtured and empowered, and of the gift of community.  In Acts 4:34-35, we find that “There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the Apostle’s feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.”  Today, the church needs to help create a new economic order, one infused with Christian love and courage, demonstrating our trust in God, and understanding of  “Living with the Holy Spirit.”

The Rev. Dr. R. Joaquin Willis is pastor of the Church of the Open Door at 6001 NW 8th Ave., Miami.  To contact the church, call 305-759-0373 or email the pastor at