Entries tagged with “The River of God”.
Did you find what you wanted?
Mon 13 Jun 2011
As I write, it’s Pentecost Sunday—a time when many of us pause to remember and celebrate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the church on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2) and reflect on what that means for us today.
I had been a Spirit-filled Christian for 20 years, and I thought I knew all there was to know about the Holy Spirit.
But then God showed up in unexpected places and revealed just how little I really knew.
Upon reflection, I can see that I had the Person and ministry of the Holy Spirit all wrapped up in a neat little package.
My ‘box’ was comprised mainly of two compartments—the role of the Spirit in my personal life, and His role in church life.
In the first, I knew the Holy Spirit as my Comforter, Helper, Teacher and Leader—the One sent to empower me in my Christian life. This is the Holy Spirit as revealed by Jesus in John chapters 14-16.
In the second compartment, I knew the Holy Spirit as the One who distributes spiritual gifts to the church (1 Cor 12:4-11). This expression of the Holy Spirit—in my experience back then—was largely confined to church meetings and church services and church life in general.
This second also included my expectation and joy of the Holy Spirit’s Presence being felt, and His power being manifested, in church meetings and church services. And as a prophetic worshipper, I particularly loved this aspect of the Spirit!
But then in 1995, some things began to happen for which I had no prior frame of reference.
Surprised by the Holy Spirit
At that time, The Hunk and I experienced a fresh encounter with God personally. Our love for Jesus overflowed as we sought to reach out to people around us with the good news of salvation.
The Holy Spirit showed up in our neighbourhood, moving amongst unchurched people—people who had never stepped inside of a church building.
- There were answers to prayer requests made on the behalf of non-Christians.
- There were Divine appointments—seemingly ‘coincidental’ meetings or circumstances that were clearly arranged by God to lead someone closer to faith in Jesus.
- One time, friends and I prayed for a neighbour in our living room. She fell to the ground, overcome by the power of the Spirit as she experienced God’s love. And she wasn’t even ready to give her life to Jesus.
- There was the guy we had been praying for who called us one night in alarm—he was physically feeling the power of the Holy Spirit and he wanted us to explain to him what was happening.
‘Why God—You’re Here!
One evening I was visiting a neighbour who did not know Jesus. In our conversation, I referred to the troubles and escapades of my younger years.
Surprised, she asked me what had taken place in my life to cause such a change in me.
I began to share my story—the testimony of how I came to faith in Jesus and the changes that happened in my life as a result.
Whilst I was talking to her, I noticed something taking place in the room. The manifest Presence of God—the anointing of the Holy Spirit—filled her lounge room.
I had never known such a thing. We weren’t in a church service. There was no worship taking place, no spiritual ambience at all.
In fact, we were in a dark house, which smelled of cigarettes and the family dog and had witch puppets hung around the walls.
On the outside, I was still talking, but on the inside, I wondered in amazement: ‘Why God—You’re here!’
The Holy Spirit of the Book of Acts
I realise now that although I knew the Holy Spirit personally, and experienced His ministry in church life—I did not know the Holy Spirit as He is revealed in the book of Acts and in the life and ministry of Jesus.
The Holy Spirit—like Jesus—has come to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). He loves people and wants to reach them in partnership with us.
When the Spirit came upon the waiting believers on the day of Pentecost, the manifestation of His arrival drew thousands of people from around the area.
When Peter shared the Gospel, 3,000 were saved as the Spirit caused conviction to rend their hearts.
The Holy Spirit didn’t just come for those in the upper room—He came for those who were outside of the room. And so it is today.
A Reservoir, or a River?
‘Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive.’ John 7:38-39
As the years go by, and as The Hunk and I visit from church to church, we recognise that many Christians have a limited knowledge and experience of the Holy Spirit— similar to the ‘box’ I described above.
This is not surprising when you consider that there are two contexts in which we primarily teach on the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our churches today.
- Discipleship, where the infilling and baptism of the Spirit is taught in the context of spiritual growth
- Spiritual Gifts and ministry in the church
As a result, our personal lives and churches have become like reservoirs—we expect that thirsty people will come to us and drink. And we wonder where the crowds are.
But Jesus has called us to be releasers of the life of the Spirit—people and churches from whom the Spirit flows like a continuous river.
A River bringing transformation and life wherever we go—in our homes, in the streets, in our neighbourhoods, our schools and universities, in our workplaces, hospitals and supermarkets.
In our suburbs, our communities, our towns, cities, states, our nation and the nations of the world. (Acts 1:8)
This is the purpose of Pentecost.
And this is the vision I live for.
Read more about this subject in the following posts:
The Greatest Evangelist In The World Today
What Pentecost Tells Us About God’s Heart For Nations
The Secret Of Living An Undivided Christian Life
When Non-Christians Encounter God’s Power They Learn Of His Love
This article is related to my book, ‘How To Be A Supernatural Christian In Your Everyday World:’ a beginners’ guide to prophetic evangelism.
Find out more about the e-book here:
‘How To Be a Supernatural Christian In Your Everyday World’
© Helen Calder 2011 Enliven Blog
On team with David McCracken Ministries
Do you have any more ideas or thoughts on the topic of the Holy Spirit and ‘Pentecost: How God Exploded My Box?’ ? I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment in the box below. If the comments box is not visible, click on this link and scroll down.
Tue 1 Feb 2011
‘On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.’ John 7:37-39
Some years ago, we were visiting Pukekura Park in New Plymouth, NZ. Pushing our young son along in a stroller, I noticed a man-made waterfall. “Look, Stephen,” I enthused, “What a beautiful waterfall!” and we paused to watch it.
In the meantime, The Hunk was reading a notice behind us that said, “Insert a coin into the slot behind the wall to start the waterfall.” We found a coin and put it in the slot.
To our amazement, hidden floodgates opened and out came a massive downpour of water.
THAT WHICH I HAD THOUGHT WAS THE WATERFALL WAS IN REALITY ONLY A TRICKLE.
I came away thinking, “How like our experience of God. We become so accustomed to the measure we have known of His Presence and power, that we believe it is all that is available to us.”
Little do we know that beyond our experience is a vast supply that our Father is waiting for us to plug into.
The River of God
I long to have a lifestyle where people around me are being impacted by the Spirit’s power:
- Where my home life honours God
- Where my family, neighbours and workmates are being drawn to faith in Jesus
- Where regular answers to prayer for healing and freedom demonstrate the mercy of a loving Father
- Not just on a Sunday or at church meetings, but in the everyday.
Is such a life possible?
In Ezekiel 47, the prophet had a vision of a River that flowed from God’s temple into the surrounding land of Israel.
This River, sourced in God’s Presence and Rule, brought transformation, life and healing wherever it went.
Speaking of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, Jesus later said, “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” (John 7:38)
This was a picture of the Holy Spirit moving through the life of a Christian—through you and me.
The Half-Lived Christian Life
God purposed that we be both receivers and releasers of His life, living not only for Him but also from Him.
Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Freely you have received, freely give.’ (Matt 10:8)
Our Christian life is supposed to be a continuous rhythm of receiving and releasing, receiving and releasing.
However, many times as Christians we have periods when we give without receiving, or receive without giving. In these times, the flow of the Spirit through our lives becomes restricted or blocked.
I find it helpful to stop regularly and check how I am going in this area.
Am I vitally connected to God? Am I excited about my life with Him and sharing about it with others?
Or is there a blockage somewhere?
Here are two checklists to help reflect on this. You may see a symptom you identify with, or you may be able to add your own.
Signs you are Receiving Without Releasing
- You attend church on Sundays, but people around your daily life are not moved towards God by the life you lead or demonstrate
- You may be bored with your Christian life and feel that you are caught in a rut
- You have received a lot of teaching but when you stop to think about it, you are not putting it into practice
- You long to see the power of God impacting others around you and wonder why it is not taking place
- You may have Christian friendships, but lack meaningful relationships with those who don’t know Jesus
- You may be involved in a ministry, but wonder why it is not as fruitful as it once was.
When we receive but do not give out, we eventually become stale in our Christian experience.
We may believe that receiving more teaching or personal experiences of God’s power will help, but ultimately, we remain dissatisfied.
Signs you are Releasing Without Receiving
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5
The purpose of fruit is not for the vine or tree itself, but to be given away—to feed the hungry. However Jesus also taught us that we can only bear fruit when we are connected to and receiving from Him, our Source.
Here are some indicators that you are serving without being replenished:
- You are busy with Christian service, but are often short of time for your private devotional life with God
- You are feeling weary, spiritually and emotionally
- You find yourself going through the motions of living a Christian life or serving God, but it has become more of a duty than a passion
- You wonder where the power of God is
- You find it difficult to stop and receive from God—after all, other people are relying on you
- You do not have a current testimony of answered prayer or of God’s goodness towards you personally.
When we release without receiving, we are giving out of our own resources. Without being re-filled, we inevitably become dry and can ultimately burn out.
I confess this has been my personal downfall. It has always been easier for me to achieve than to receive.
Being replenished spiritually does not come naturally for many—it requires discipline.
Keys to Escaping the Half-Lived Christian Life
Receiving and releasing is the rhythm of the Christian life that God designed us to live.
If you have recognised signs that you need strengthening in one of these areas, here are some keys that may help:
1. Take time to meditate on what living a life of receiving and releasing means for you personally. The first step towards change is to realise that something is missing
2. Pray—talk to Your Father about it. Take time to encounter God and be filled with His Spirit
3. Become dissatisfied with your current lifestyle enough to do something about it. Decide on a specific course of action that will effect a change in your life
4. Find a Christian friend, leader or mentor who you can share with and who can help keep you accountable to lasting change.
If you can identify with the above thoughts, I have included a prayer in the comments at the bottom of the blog. To view the prayer or to share your thoughts on this topic, go to the comments box. If it is not visible, click on this link and scroll down.
7 Signs of Spiritual Dryness
7 Ways To Combat Spiritual Dryness
© Helen Calder 2011 Enliven Publishing