by Denise Reed
This Week’s Verse: Acts 1:4-5, “On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: ‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit’”. (NIV)
Devotion: Our Life Group read the book ‘Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire’ by Jim Cymbala. I had heard a few people talk about this book and how awesome it is. I’m one of those people who get disappointed after seeing a movie or reading a book that’s been ‘talked up’. It raises my expectations too high. This book, however, did NOT leave me disappointed in the least bit. In fact, I don’t think it could be ‘talked up’ enough, I recommend you reading it if you haven’t.
This book tells about how the Brooklyn Tabernacle went from a small, dysfunctional church to a very active mega-church. What is so amazing is not the high attendance numbers or the award-winning Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, but what God has done with the church. Back when it had few members, who were only there out of duty, the church (with Pastor Cymbala’s lead) broke down and cried out to God for His Spirit to move. And from that very simple, but humble act, modern-day miracles happened. The book recounts story after amazing story of personal spiritual transformations of people in the community (which is considered a rough area). It just amazed me and humbled me to read how powerful the Holy Spirit is. Not too long ago, the Holy Spirit was something foreign to me. Of course I’ve always known about the Trinity, but the Holy Spirit was an unknown, therefore neglected by me.
Back to the Brooklyn Tabernacle, the only reason the Holy Spirit moved was because the congregation started pleaded for it during their weekly prayer meetings. They prayed out loud, in unison – as one voice lifted to Heaven. As it states in Matthew 21:13 “It is written”, he said to them, “My house will be called a house of prayer…” Jesus didn’t say “My house will be called a house of great sermons, or great music…” Those things are good, but not the emphasis of Jesus’ teaching. In our Life Group we end our meeting praying this way. We pick a few topics to pray for that are weighing on our hearts and we pray for them at the same time – as one voice. It really is invigorating!
After reading the book, God heavily laid it on my heart that our church needs to have a time of corporate prayer, calling out for the Holy Spirit. I feel that if I ignore this nudging, I will be disobedient to God. So, I have spoken to our minister and plan on beginning weekly prayer meetings sometime in March. This is all very exciting and scary to me, but I know that is will be a ‘success’ as long as the prayers are sincere and heartfelt, and there is a true calling out to the Holy Spirit. To quote Jim Cymbala from his book ‘Fresh Power’ (a follow up book to ‘Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire’) he states the following very clearly:
1) The Holy Spirit’s power is our greatest need.
2) This power and blessing is freely promised to all of God’s people,
3) This promise can only be fully received through sincere praying in faith and through waiting of God for His blessing to come.
Lord, thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit and please help us know the Holy Spirit and His blessings. Please send the wind and fire of your Spirit upon us, transforming us from the inside out.
Application: If the Holy Spirit is an unknown to you, pray that God will reveal His Spirit to you and be willing to wait upon the Lord.
Phillipians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (NIV)
1 Peter 3:12, “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” (NIV)
Acts 2:42-43, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.” (NIV)