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.

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.

FRESH OUTPOURING

Acts 3:19-21 – Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.
Too many Christians have “settled”, they have settled for a lukewarm spiritual life reflecting on the good old days when “God was really moving”. It is quite disturbing to me when people reminisce on the “good old days at Victory Fellowship”. Don’t get me wrong, there were some great times in the past but I don’t live in the past, I need the Lord today. We need daily bread from heaven and the Lord is happy to give it. In today’s verse Peter was prophesying about times and seasons of refreshing that would continue to come from the presence of the Lord. We need daily renewal, yesterday’s mercies will never sustain me today. Check out the words to this song from Kim Walker-Smith.

Renew us in this day

Just like You said You would

Your Word is not in vain

Our hearts reaching heavenward
Fresh outpouring

Tear the fabric open

Come, Jesus come

Breath of heaven

Nothing left unshaken

We long for more

We need a fresh outpouring

Unleash a fresh outpouring

We need a fresh outpouring

Unleash a fresh outpouring
As temporary fades

Let glory invade this earth

Your power on display

Our eyes looking heavenward
Fresh outpouring

Tear the fabric open

Come, Jesus come

Breath of heaven

Nothing left unshaken

We long for more
We need a fresh outpouring

Unleash a fresh outpouring

We need a fresh outpouring

Unleash a fresh outpouring

There is fire, stirring in our bones

A shout is rising, rising up inside

Soak the earth, come and fill our hearts

Your voice is calling, calling us to life!

We need a fresh outpouring

Unleash a fresh outpouring!

We need a fresh outpouring

Unleash a fresh outpouring!

Make a way where, I see none!

Make a way where, I see none!

Let the waters rise in the desert

Let the waters rise in the desert!

Fresh outpouring
Fresh outpouring

Tear the fabric open

Come, Jesus come…

So maybe there is more for you than you ever thought. Yesterday was good but the Lord is here pouring out His glory today.

DO IT AGAIN LORD

Psa. 102:15 Nations will fear the name of the LORD,

and all the kings of the earth will fear your glory.

All of us know the world is a mess and really needs to be fixed. I guess the question that needs to be asked is how does it need to be changed and how should that be accomplished? As usual, the Lord has a very simple answer. What is that answer? The solution lies in the church itself not in the culture of the world. Revival, divine visitation in the local church, ultimately impacts the world we live in. Think about it, the Almighty God visits His people, how can there not be a change? Everywhere He goes, life follows. When God visits His church, today’s verse says the people (nations) and even the kings will be impacted. I say ‘do it again Lord’. Here is how Spurgeon sees it.

So the heathen shall fear the name of the LORD. Mercy within the church is soon perceived by those without. When a candle is lit in the house, it shines through the window. When Zion rejoices in her God, the heathen been to reverence his name, for they hear of the wonders of his power, and are impressed thereby. And all the kings of the earth thy glory. The restoration of Jerusalem was a marvel among the princes who heard of it, and its ultimate resurrection in days yet to come will be one of the prodigies of history. A church quickened by divine power is so striking an object in current history that it cannot escape notice, rulers cannot ignore it, it affects the Legislature, and forces from the great ones of the earth a recognition of the divine working. Oh that we might see in our days such a revival of religion that our senators and princes might be compelled to pay homage to the Lord, and own his glorious grace. This cannot be till the saints are better edified, and more fully builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. Internal prosperity is the true source of the church’s external influence.”

The Lord has promised to do it again, numerous prophecies describe a great time of spiritual outpouring at the end of the age. It seems as if the Lord is allowing a time of spiritual darkness in the land; that will be temporary. If you look throughout history there is often a time of great darkness just before the light breaks in. The time of darkness is passing away, the true day is drawing near. DO IT AGAIN LORD.

THE GREAT AWAKENING AGAIN

Psa. 85:6  Will you not revive us again,

that your people may rejoice in you?

About twenty years ago I became strangely enamored with the years just preceding the American Revolution. It was characterized by the birth of American evangelicalism by an outpouring of God’s Spirit on our land. Historians call this the Great Awakening. Thousands of colonial Americans experienced the new birth; some would say a national identity was birthed out of this common spiritual experience. As we are approaching the 250 year mark of the birthing of “One Nation Under God”, our country is drifting far away from her moorings. It is becoming more obvious everyday that we are in need of another Great Awakening. I was recently listening to the Christian recording artist Leeland. He has an album entitled the Great Awakening. The title song is actually a poem by Lawrence Tribble written at the end of the first Great Awakening that Leeland put to music. Here are the words of that poem.

AWAKE

(a poem by Lawrence Tribble, written on the eve of the American Revolution)

One man awake, awakens another.

The second awakens his next-door brother.

The three awake can rouse a town,

By turning the whole place upside down.

The many awake can make such a fuss,

It finally awakens the rest of us.

One man up with dawn in his eyes,

Surely then multiplies.

We have experienced several outpourings of the Spirit during my lifetime. none of these movements have had the profound impact that the one which birthed our nation had. In the beginning stages of the outpouring in our church in 1994, I became painfully aware of how revival starts in a very personal way. In order to pray for revival I had to be willing to let it start with me. What was the painful part? Revival starts with change. I had to be willing to let the Lord work a change in me before it could progress any further. That is what this poem, ‘Awaken’, is about. ‘One man awake, awakens another. The second awakens his next door brother.’ This is a description of spiritual awakening. It all starts with an individual. It starts when one man or woman becomes hungry for God. In 1734, this hunger flowed out of Jonathan Edwards and ultimately spread throughout the thirteen colonies. In 1738, the one man to awaken was George Whitfield in his dorm in England, England and the western world were dramatically effected. Maybe you will be that one man today. Only when you are awake can you awaken your next door brother.

OVERFLOWING AND EVER-FLOWING

Psa. 19:1-2 ¶ The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.

Luke subtly reveals the endless supply of God’s miracle power in his remarks describing the raising up of the dead young man in Nain. He began by saying, “Now it happened, the day after, that He went into a city called Nain…”. The day after what? The day after He raised the Roman centurion’s servant from the edge of death, Luke is showing us that every day is filled with the miracle power of our Lord. Did He touch your life recently? Get ready because He is our “glory to glory” God. He has moved in the past, He has infinite supplies of His glory to shower on His sons and daughters.
This year we are celebrating the 20 year anniversary of God’s visitation in our church. It was 1994 and at that time I had pastored Victory Fellowship for 16 years. I had experienced a measure of God’s glory on my life and ministry. Still, I had no idea that there was more, there was so much more. His outpourings that began for us in August of that year began to show all of us at Victory Fellowship that His storehouse was never diminished, that we had only tasted a small portion of what He has in store for His sons and daughters. He has miracles and works of grace to display in your life. Just as He surprised all of the people in Nain that day (especially the boy’s mom), with His sudden appearance and the amazing display of supernatural power, maybe He has something special prepared for you. Here are some interesting comments from Spurgeon on this very topic.

“Behold, dear brethren, the overflowing, ever-flowing power of our Lord Jesus Christ. He had wrought a great work upon the centurion’s servant, and now, only a day after, he raises the dead. ” It came to pass the day after, that he went into a city called Nain.” Day unto day uttereth speech concerning his deeds of goodness. Did He save your friend yesterday? His fullness is the same; if you seek him, his love and grace will flow to you today. He blesses this day, and he blesses the day after. Never is our divine Lord compelled to pause until he has recruited his resources; but virtue goeth out of him forever. These thousands of years have not diminished the aboundings of his power to bless.”

I love to read Spurgeon. He is called the prince of preachers for a reason. His phrase “overflowing and ever flowing” is quite descriptive and captivating. In one short phrase he captures the unlimited and endless nature of God’s supply. God’s supply is also personal. His resources are overflowing and ever flowing toward you. Regardless of all He has done for you, in you, and through you; He has saved the best for last.