THE ONLY END OF RACISM

Gal.3:28 -There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

The death of George Floyd exposes the sin of racism bound in the hearts of all humans exposing our fallen state. Only the power of redemption and the regeneration of the Holy Spirit can change that. History teaches us that the outpouring of the Spirit is the only cure for racism. Touch our nation Lord. Victory Church is proudly Pentecostal. Our roots can be traced to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Azusa Street In Los Angeles in 1906. This move of God was led by William Seymore, the son of a slave from St. Mary Parrish in Louisiana. This revival is still sending shock waves throughout every continent of the world. Azusa Street was characterized by interracial services and apparently race was not a consideration for most participants. The world was different in 1906, the Holy Spirit is the same. Here is an excerpt from Vincent Synan describing the Azusa Street Revival.

“The revival at Azusa Street, under Seymour’s leadership, also stood in opposition to the racism and segregation of the times, as blacks and whites worshipped together under a black pastor. Frank Bartleman, a white Azusa participant, captured the spirit of the historic meeting by these words: “The ‘color line’ was washed away in the blood.” There was a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and Seymour was God’s chosen leader at this crucial time in history. Seymour’s leadership qualities blossomed in a time when African Americans were not considered to have the capacity for leadership. Nevertheless, Seymour would dispel these racist myths by leading one of the greatest revivals in American Church history.”

Our nation and our world are being torn by racial strife and people using racism to advance political agendas. The church holds the key, the only key to this hatred that eats away at our world. Racism is bound in the heart of fallen man. It is not about color it is about hatred that eats away at our insides, it is the curse of sin. The only way to change comes from regeneration, being born again. The only way to walk in love toward others is renewal, the continual renewal of the Holy Spirit. We need an outpouring to break this curse of sin. We need a people full of God’s Spirit walking together in love, proclaiming the gospel of Jesus. Come Lord, send your fire once again.

EXTRAORDINARY MIRACLES

Acts 19:11,12 – God kept releasing a flow of extraordinary miracles through the hands of Paul. Because of this, people took Paul’s handkerchiefs and articles of clothing, even pieces of cloth that had touched his skin, laying them on the bodies of the sick, and diseases and demons left them and they were healed.

“Miracles of no ordinary kind, i. e. extraordinary miracles.” This is what Adam Clarke said about the astounding outpouring in Ephesus. Luke had seen all sorts of miracles in his travels with the Apostle Paul but what they were seeing in Ephesus was unprecedented. Nothing like this had ever been seen by Luke before. Obviously the Lord had big plans for the church in Ephesus. I find it quite interesting the way these miracles were described. Luke said that pieces of cloth that had been part of clothing worn by Paul were sent out to the sick and the afflicted. Apparently the anointing that was flowing from Paul was collecting in his clothes. How else could you explain what was happening here? This is reminiscent of the garment that Jesus wore. Often times people would touch the fringe of the Lord’s clothing and healing would flow into their bodies.

Next, Luke describes the effect these clothes had on demons. Apparently, these clothes would be attached to individuals being tormented by evil spirits. The result would be that the spirits would leave and the people would be made whole.

What Luke was describing was a regional outpouring of the Holy Spirit characterized by signs, wonders, and miracles. It started with twelve men in a Bible study and progressed to daily meetings in a rented facility. After two years of these daily meetings there appears to have been an explosion of miracles that effected all of Turkey.

Is it possible for these types of things to happen in our modern world? Maybe we need more of a focus on saturation in the Holy Spirit if we are to see outbreaks of the power of God. Think about what happened here; daily meetings with Paul for two years. Maybe that is why unprecedented things began to happen. In our modern world of social media and smartphones it wouldn’t take much for our world to be turned upside down. Unprecedented miracles would surely get the attention of the world. Maybe its time for another outbreak of signs, wonders, and miracles.

RUSHING MIGHTY WIND

Acts 2:1-3 – When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them.

This is the classic passage of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that birthed the New Testament church. I wonder if these manifestations were more than just spiritual sensations? I believe they were. It seems that the outpouring was so dramatic that it effected the physical world. Apparently there was fire literally seen on the heads of those gathered in the upper room. It also indicates that there was a noise, a violent rushing wind. This violent wind seems to have made a real sound. Adam Clarke seems to agree. Here are some interesting comments from his commentary.

“The passage of a large portion of electrical fluid over that place would not only occasion the sound, or thunder, but also the rushing mighty wind; as the air would rush suddenly and strongly into the vacuum occasioned by the rarefaction of the atmosphere in that place, through the sudden passage of the electrical fluid; and the wind would follow the direction of the fire. There is a good deal of similarity between this account and that of the appearance of God to Elijah, 1 Kings 19:11,12, where the strong wind, the earthquake, and the fire, were harbingers of the Almighty’s presence, and prepared the heart of Elijah to hear the small still voice; so, this sound, and the mighty rushing wind, prepared the apostles to receive the influences and gifts of the Holy Spirit. In both cases, the sound, strong wind, and fire, although natural agents, were supernaturally employed.”

If you think about it there were other examples of physical effects of the Spirit. In Acts 4 the building where the church was praying shook. In Acts 16, the earth shook and prisoners shackles fell off. In Acts 8 Phillip was translated many miles by the power of the Spirit. Of course people were raised from the dead by the Spirit, many diseases were healed by the Holy Spirit, and John at Patmos (and others) fell to the ground by the power of the Spirit. Our world is ripe for another great outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Maybe it will take radical demonstrations like those in the Bible to turn this generation back to the Lord.

THE RIVER OUTPOURING

Ps.46:4 – God has a constantly flowing river whose sparkling streams

bring joy and delight to his people.

His river flows right through the city of God Most High,

into his holy dwelling places.

I have told this story probably hundreds of times in the last twenty five years but it is impossible to tire of reiterating the same story again and again. The testimony of the move of God lives in the telling of the story. In 1994 I was dissatisfied and unappreciative of the things of God and with the church I pastor in New Orleans. Saying that again today brings me under conviction. I was dry and lukewarm in my spiritual life. Now don’t misunderstand, I was not living a secret life of sin, I was faithful to my marriage and was walking in a pure, Christian life. Something just wasn’t right. Somehow I was trying to get my satisfaction and identity from the size and influence of my church but it was never big enough or good enough. I had fallen into the despair of professional Christianity.

When I first heard rumors of the outpouring of the Spirit I was disinterested at best and critical at worst. I reluctantly went to some revival meetings near Dallas, Texas and that’s when I got more than I bargained for. The services were worse or better (depending on your perspective) than I could have imagined. There were worship times that would go on for two hours, offering teachings that seemed endless, and services that would often last beyond midnight. There were people littering the floor, their bodies, having been overcome by the Spirit. There was mass intoxication by the Spirit and then there was the laughter. Hundreds of people laughing and laughing at the same time.

The outward appearance of all those things would unnerve just about anyone except…. The longer I stayed in that atmosphere the more undeniable it became. What do I mean? The presence of the Lord was unmistakable, undeniable, and stronger than I had ever begun to experience. That’s what got me; the familiar presence that drew me to Christ so many years before was reeling me in to the River.

After several days in those services I went up for prayer. Needless to say God rocked my world. I was filled with a supernatural joy that tasted to me like heaven itself. My joy was restored, my first love for the Lord was restored, and my love for His church was restored. Twenty five years later I am still enjoying the fruit of that outpouring. All I can say is do it again Lord.

THE WELSH REVIVAL

Ps.40:3 – He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; Many will see and fear And will trust in the LORD

I love reading about the glorious visitations of God from the past. I know that we can never reproduce what happened in another time and other cultures but the similarities in the outpouring of the Spirit throughout history produces an expectancy in my heart for God’s “new thing” for this generation. There is something very special and unique about the Welsh Revival that began in 1904. As a student in Bible School I heard about Wales and the young revival leader, Evan Roberts, and I longed to be part of a great move of God in our generation. As of this writing I am grateful to have participated in two such outpourings of the Spirit. I was born again and filled with the Spirit in the Charismatic Renewal and was also swept up in the outpouring I call “The River” in 1994. I am in full expectancy mode for another outpouring to effect our world. Check this testimony from the book “THE WELSH REVIVAL” for a glimpse into that great outpouring.

“It was a meeting characterized by a perpetual series of interruptions and disorderliness. It was a meeting characterized by a great continuity and an absolute order. You say, “How do you reconcile these things?” I do not reconcile them. They are both there. If you put a man into the midst of one of these meetings who knows nothing of the language of the Spirit, and nothing of the life of the Spirit, one of two things will happen to him. He will either pass out saying, “These men are drunk,” or he himself will be swept up by the fire into the kingdom of God. If you put a man down who knows the language of the Spirit, he will be struck by this most peculiar thing. I have never seen anything like it in my life; while a man praying is disturbed by the breaking out of song, there is no sense of disorder, and the prayer merges into song, and back into testimony, and back again into song for hour after hour, without guidance. These are the three occupations—singing, prayer, testimony.”

I love this description of God’s outpouring. To the casual observer the meetings seemed disorderly. To those awakened by the Spirit, a supernatural heavenly order was on full display. Once you taste this “heavenly order” church as usual will just never do.

OPEN YOUR HEART TO JESUS

Jn.1:11-12 – He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,

In yesterday’s devotion I spoke about receiving from the Lord. That was the first lesson I learned as I embraced the outpouring of the Spirit in 1994. Somehow, my receiver had been broken. I had been serving and counseling and praying and preaching and binding and loosing for so long that I had become stuck in the pouring out mode. Even when standing in the line to receive prayer the tendency was an aggressive, intercessory type of prayer. There is a place for that but not when you are trying to drink in the Holy Spirit. To receive from the Lord our stance needs to change. Words like compliant, humble, open, and hungry come to mind. Jesus said it like this, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink”. Here is how Spurgeon speaks about receiving.

“When I receive Jesus, He becomes my Saviour, so mine that neither life nor death shall be able to rob me of Him. All this is to receive Christ—to take Him as God’s free gift; to realize Him in my heart, and to appropriate Him as mine. Salvation may be described as the blind receiving sight, the deaf receiving hearing, the dead receiving life; but we have not only received these blessings, we have received CHRIST JESUS Himself. It is true that He gave us life from the dead. He gave us pardon of sin; He gave us imputed righteousness. These are all precious things, but we are not content with them; we have received Christ Himself. The Son of God has been poured into us, and we have received Him, and appropriated Him. What a heartful Jesus must be, for heaven itself cannot contain Him.”

When my heart first opened to the outpouring that summer of 1994, I felt like waves of glory were literally washing over me. I was shocked at how real and how profound this outpouring was. It was unmistakeable and undeniable. The only prerequisite was spiritual thirst which flows from a profound humility. David says it like this-

Ps 34:1,2 – “I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.

My soul will make its boast in the LORD; The humble will hear it and rejoice”.

WINDOWS OF HEAVEN

Acts 2:2 – Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting.

Have you ever been in a place when it seemed that the windows of heaven seemed to be suddenly wide open? I am the first to say that Jesus opened the heavens for us by His death on the cross but it is apparent that there are special seasons when the windows of heaven fling open and the wind of God begin to blow. On the day of Pentecost this is apparently what happened. The disciples had been praying and waiting on the Promise of the Father (they didn’t have any idea what that was) when suddenly the wind of God begin to blow from heaven into the room where they had gathered. This was the first New Testament outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Thankfully it would prove not to be the last. Arthur Wallis describes the source of spiritual awakening in his comments from “THE DAY OF HIS POWER”.

“With the brevity and simplicity characteristic of Scripture, we are shown in four words the source of the outpouring: “There came from heaven . . .” (Acts 2:2)…. (revival) is spontaneous, because it is “not forced or suggested or caused by outside agency.” It is the result of a divine and not a human impulse. In language plain to all, it cannot be “worked up.” It is true that spiritual conditions must be met before revival can be expected, but fulfilled conditions do not provide the motive force of revival. At Pentecost it was “the windows of heaven,” not the windows of the Upper Room, that were opened. The source of the blessing was the heart of God, not the heart of man. It cannot be too strongly emphasized that such “seasons of refreshing” have always come “from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19). We may believe that during those ten days of waiting, there were revived hearts in that Upper Room, but there was no revival; there were empty vessels but no outpouring. When it came, it came direct from heaven and found in that waiting band a channel through which to flow.”

I remember when those windows opened in our church in August of 1994. Our church nor I have ever been the same. Another generation is now in that upper room phase; something unprecedented is about to blow into the room.

THE DAY OF HIS POWER

So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD.

His going forth is as certain as the dawn;

And He will come to us like the rain,

Like the spring rain watering the earth.

Hosea 6:3

Are there special seasons when the Lord moves on the earth in unusual ways? Because I am a Christian and have some sort of spiritual experience is it still possible that there are outpourings way beyond anything I have ever known? If you believe the testimony of men and women of God from history the answer to both questions is a resounding yes. Jonathan Edwards lived in one of those seasons known as the Great Awakening. The Great Awakening took place from the late 1730’s until the 1770’s, it was closely connected to the birthing of the United States of America. Here is a quote from Edwards describing revival.

“God hath had it much on his heart, from all eternity, to glorify his dear and only-begotten Son; and there are some special seasons that he appoints to that end, wherein he comes forth with omnipotent power to fulfill his promise and oath to him. Now these are times of remarkable pouring out of his Spirit, to advance his kingdom; such is a day of his power.”

People have all sorts of ideas about what revival is. Ask Christians and the answers will range from a series of evangelistic meetings to an outpouring of fanaticism. Here is a definition of revival from Arthur Wallis, the author of the book “THE DAY OF HIS POWER”.

“Numerous writings on the subject that have been preserved to us will confirm that revival is divine intervention in the normal course of spiritual things. It is God revealing Himself to man in awful holiness and irresistible power. It is such a manifest working of God that human personalities are overshadowed and human programs abandoned. It is man retiring into the background because God has taken the field. It is the Lord making bare His holy arm and working in extraordinary power on saint and sinner.”

With this definition in mind we obviously need an outpouring like this in our generation. Think about it; holiness, irresistible power, human personalities overshadowed, and human programs abandoned. This is exactly what we need today. Lord, would you glorify your dear and only begotten Son with a remarkable and undeniable outpouring of your Presence in our day?

THE HOLY SPIRIT FELL UPON ALL…

Acts 10:44 – While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message.

Have you ever experienced the outpouring of the Holy Spirit? Before you answer that question think about what that means. In Acts 10 Peter’s sermon was interrupted by a houseful of Italians praying in other tongues. Peter and his Jewish friends were shocked when these gentiles were receiving the Holy Spirit in the same way they had. I have been in services where the Spirit was poured out and entire congregations were being overcome with laughter and crying at the same time. When God comes down in His power our whole being is exposed before Him and our attraction to the things of this world melts like butter before Him. There is nothing in this world that comes even close to His manifest presence. Here is a powerful quote talking about a spiritual outpouring from Arthur Wallis.

“True revivals have ever been marked by powerful and often widespread outpourings of the Spirit. Many, many times the preaching had to cease because the hearers were prostrate or because the voice of the preacher was drowned by cries for mercy. Who will deny that these were outpourings of the Spirit? Who could find a more appropriate description of such scenes than the words of Luke: “The Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word” (Acts 10:44)? David Brainerd recorded the beginning of the wonderful movement among the American Indians in 1745 thus:

The power of God seemed to descend upon the assembly “like a mighty rushing wind,” and with an astonishing energy bore down all before it. I stood amazed at the influence, which seized the audience almost universally; and could compare it to “nothing more aptly, than the irresistible force of a mighty torrent. . . . Almost all persons of all ages were bowed down with concern together, and scarcely one was able to withstand the shock of this surprising operation.”

David Brainerd was a missionary to the Native Americans during the Great Awakening. The language barrier seemed to be irrelevant as the power of God fell upon this precious people in that early American wilderness. Our country was birthed by a mighty outpouring of the Spirit in the 1700’s. Three hundred years later we stand in need of another Great Awakening. This is beyond human effort, this is a mighty invasion of God.

CONTINUING GOD’S PRESENCE

Ezek. 39:28,29 – then they shall know that I am the LORD their God, who sent them into captivity among the nations, but also brought them back to their land, and left none of them captive any longer. And I will not hide My face from them anymore; for I shall have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel,’ says the Lord GOD.

The Great Awakening had its start in a church in Northampton, Massachusetts under the leadership of Jonathan Edwards. The first wave of revival began in Northampton in the fall of 1734 and lasted about eighteen months. It seemed as if the whole city was mightily effected by the outpouring. Edwards said that just about every family in town had someone who had been converted during that season. He wrote a sermon several years later called CONTINUING GOD’S PRESENCE. It seems that the church had lost the fire they once had and Edwards was preaching messages trying to light the fire again. He said that in order to continue to see the lost come in they needed to continue in revival. Here is a portion of that sermon.

“A people don’t only stand in need of enjoying this blessing for a time, but they need it at all times. They don’t only need to have it once bestowed, but they need to have it continued. They need to have God always thus dwelling among them. They need it for the carrying on the work of conversion. If God withdraws, there are many will be like to perish eternally. And they stand in continual need of it for the upholding and building up of saints; for the saints are every moment dependent on the Spirit of God for all spiritual good, and can’t do without it. The once giving, the Spirit of God won’t answer the necessities of a people, but they need to have it continued.”
Edwards believed that we need the Lord on a continual basis. Getting touched once in the past wasn’t nearly enough, we needed to continue in the presence of the Lord if we want to impact our world. Thankfully Edwards prayers were answered. In 1740 the Lord visited the church in Northampton once again. This time it spread throughout the colonies and thus the Great Awakening began. Thousands of farmers, and shopkeepers, and students gave their lives to Christ in the early 1740’s. Our country was birthed and our world has never been the same.