My Life on Earth

Monday, September 8, 2008

"Worth the Waiting"

"The water of God's Spirit is absolutely free, but we must wait by faith continually to receive fresh infillings of this promise from the Father. This is how Luke ends his gospel narrative as he records Jesus' last words to his disciples:"I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high" (Acts 24:49)

Two thousand years later, this is still the greatest need of the Christian church-to wait regularly in seasons of corporate and individual prayer until we are "clothed with power from on high." These are the garments Jesus will still give his people-supernatural ability, might, and power from the Holy Spirit so we can accomplish great things for God's glory.

Think how seldom this promise is preached and emphasized among us-that we can be clothed with the very power of God himself! It is not through human talent or earthly resources that the true Christian church is built, but rather through men and women saturated with God's Spirit and full of his Word.

The word used here for wait means literally to "sit still." Jesus knew the disciples; lives would be filled with tremendous amounts of evangelistic and teaching activity, but he commanded them to sit still and wait first so God could properly equip them for fruitful ministry. This cycle of waiting on God followed by effective Spirit-filled service is the divine program for all time, not just the New Testament era. Without seasons of prayerful waiting for fresh power, we will see little or no divine assistance in doing God's work. Churches will end up resembling that of Sardis, which the Lord said has "a reputation of being alive, but you are dead" (Rev 3:1)

Can we not begin to gather across the land in churches and homes to claim this wonderful promise of being "clothed with power from on high"? Why forfeit God's supernatural help, when the signs are all around us that only something from heaven can meet our need? Let pastors begin to lead their congregations in this vital matter of waiting in prayer for God to come and manifest his grace in a greater dimension.

Luke closes his story by relating that the disciples "returned to Jerusalem with great joy and were constantly in the Temple praising and blessing God" (Luke 24:52-53). If we put this together with his account in the book of Acts, we see that they went to Jerusalem, visited the temple regularly, and then apparently ended up meeting in the upper room, where the Spirit descended upon them (Acts 2:1-4). The important thing to note is that they went back to the city "with great joy," for they knew that Jesus was risen from the dead! They also knew he would keep his promise of sending them the Holy Spirit's power. Their attitude was not one of morose and depressed introspection but of a joyful looking at God and his faithfulness.

The other important key to their prayerful waiting on God was their regular practice of "praising and blessing God." The meaning of the Greek word for blessing here is "to speak highly of, to say great things," about someone. The word for praising is used primarily of singing exultation and worshiping God in song.

So there they were; praying, waiting, praising, blessing, singing, and worshiping God with all their hearts. It was not a time of only silence, or only noise, but rather a joyful mixture of the two, for these Jewish folks knew all too well that God is "enthroned in the praises of Israel" (Psalm 22:3). And all this went on before the Spirit came in power upon them!

God will act the same way today whenever and wherever his people slow down long enough to give him their total attention in faith-filled prayer, praise, and worshipful waiting. He will transform our lives, invade and bless our churches, and equip us to do things beyond "all we [could] ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us (Eph 3:20)."

I quoted this from Jim Cymbala. The last two paragraphs sum up the Walk to Emmaus, you "slow down long enough to give him your total attention in faith filled prayer, praise, and worship." I love that quote.

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