The Overflow Of Spiritual Life And Power
By Rich Carmicheal
This issue focuses on the need (and hope!) for revival and the need and power of prayer. We hope you are much encouraged by the messages, but also challenged and motivated, even as we have been in preparing this issue.
One of the significant reminders in these messages is that the Lord desires to fill us with His Spirit and life so that we are more equipped to make a difference in the world around us. He blesses us so that the blessings can overflow and impact the lives of others. As He shared with Abraham, “I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. …And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen. 12:2-3). Similarly, Jesus told the early disciples, “…You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
Consider Jesus’ own example. He Himself was full of the Holy Spirit and of power (Luke 3:22; 4:1; 4:14; Acts 10:38), and at the beginning of His ministry declared from the Book of Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18-19; Isa. 61:1-2). Jesus knew that the Holy Spirit was upon Him in order that He might preach, heal, and set people free. The power of the Spirit in His life overflowed into ministry to others.
Salt and Light
Jesus tells us that we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matt. 5:13-16). There is no doubt that the world is in desperate need for such salt and light, and therefore in need of the church to be filled with the Spirit, the power, the life and the love of God. As Al Whittinghill shares in the lead article, “A Spirit-filled church is the greatest need in America....” Of course, this is true for every other country as well. Brother Whittinghill goes on, “The world is waiting to see the New Testament church, clothed with power from on high and brimming over with the joy of resurrection life and the presence of the Lord. Nothing else will impress the world or convince it that Jesus Christ is the wonderful Lord the Word says that He is. We must have revival in the church!”
This brings to mind the ministry of Paul, Silas and Timothy in Thessalonica. When they first arrived to the city, the people were entrenched in idolatry. And, yet, in just a short time, they had “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven…” (1 Thes. 1:9-10). What caused the spiritual breakthrough? Paul writes, “For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake” (v. 5). In other words, the Thessalonians encountered the Word of God, the power of God, the Spirit of God and the Spirit-filled people of God (Paul, Silas and Timothy). The impact of this encounter was so profound that they not only turned to God themselves, but their lives became a witness to many others: “…You became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe. For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out…” (vv. 7-8).
What would happen in our day if the church experienced revival and was “clothed with power from on high and brimming over with the joy of resurrection life and the presence of the Lord”? What would happen if we were filled with such love from the Lord that we, like Paul and his companions, cared deeply for the lost and longed to not only share the gospel of God, but our very lives with the lost because they had become so dear to us (1 Thes. 2:7)?
Well, we know from the history of revivals that when God’s people awaken to His presence, power and love, the impact in the lives of others in the community and nation is profound! As Wesley Duewel shares in “Heart-Cry For Revival” (p. 3), when revival comes, not only do believers awaken and become more like Christ, but many unsaved people who have been resistant to the Gospel open up their hearts to God’s grace for salvation. The Lord’s work accelerates and He often does in a short time of revival what had not been done for the many years before. In other words, we see supernatural results to the supernatural stirrings of God!
Deal with Sin and Seek the Lord
On page 7 we are blessed to include testimonies from two missionaries that illustrate this very point. While their gospel work had produced little or no spiritual fruit, once they and other believers experienced revival, hardened souls began to be converted. The turning point was when the missionaries started breaking up their own fallow ground. “Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, till He comes and rains righteousness on you” (Hos. 10:12). The missionaries broke up their fallow ground by dealing thoroughly with every sin in their lives – acknowledging it, confessing it, and repenting from it. They also began to pour their hearts out to the Lord in prayer, seeking His presence and power. And the Lord was gracious and faithful to pour His life and love into them and to impact the lives of others through them.
Like them, and many others who have experienced revival, if we want to experience increased measures of the presence, power and love of the Lord and His Spirit, then we will have to get serious about dealing with sin and seeking the Lord. As we do, the Lord will be faithful to revive us and impact others through our lives. Consider these precious promises:
“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chr. 7:14).
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jer. 29:11-13; cf. Deut. 4:29-31).
As we turn fully away from sin and toward the Lord, may He fill our lives with His presence and power to the extent that many others are deeply impacted by the overflow! And all to His glory!