Listening 2 God (Image © Mal Austin - www.givenworks.com. Used with permission.)

Header image © Mal Austin - www.givenworks.com. Used with permission.

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Lesson 3 - The Power and Anointing of the Holy Spirit - Part 3:

The power of the Spirit

For most Christians, their first physical experience of spiritual power is probably when they are baptised in the Spirit, although some may have become Christians after experiencing a power encounter while being healed or freed from drugs or some other bondage. I had been a Christian for about ten years, but was in a very low state and descending rapidly into despair when I finally met the Lord in his glory. At that time I discovered that the Lord had known me, but I had not known him. I was walking in the Treasury Gardens at lunch time, crying desperately inside because I believed that the Lord had rejected me and I was doomed to spend forever in hell. He sovereignly reached down and touched me. I was bathed inside in light as I received a revelation of him which blew away my foolish thinking. It is tempting to say everything was rosy from then on, but it wasn't. There was so much in me that needed undoing, and I knew no-one who could help me. It was many more years of struggle before I consciously received the Holy Spirit and began to learn from him. I know now, however, that it was in that park that I was baptised in the Spirit. And it was in that park that my real life began, though I had been baptised in water as a believer many years earlier. From then on I knew that Jesus knew me.

Why are we so often surprised when the presence of God manifests in power? At a Vineyard Conference some years ago Dane Yarbrough pointed at a power point and asked if we put our fingers in the socket would we expect a manifestation? Well, that is only 240 volts of electricity. With what power did God call the universe into existence? How much power raised the dead and rotting body of Lazarus back to living health in an instant?

Those of you who have experienced the Toronto Blessing type of ministry (See The 'Toronto' Blessing by Dave Roberts and a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0006380433?ie=UTF8&tag=listening2god-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0006380433">Catch the Fire: The Toronto Blessing an Experience of Renewal and RevivalGuy Chevreau, Catch the Fire: The Toronto Blessing an Experience of Renewal and Revival by Guy Chevreau) will know just how strong is the force that pushes you to the floor. You don't have to shake or fall, but it is much easier if you do. After several such experiences I decided that God could work on me just as well standing up, so I resisted. I was thrown on my face. I lay there, seeing the bottom step up to God's throne in my mind, with a couple of people standing over me (who had failed to catch me because of the suddenness of my trip to the floor). They asked each other why I had wanted to do such a strange thing!

Sometimes, when the Holy Spirit is resting on a person there will be a sensation of heat. Their skin might glisten with perspiration, their eyelids may flutter or their hands may shake. They may feel a creeping feeling in their skin, or their hair might stand up. They might laugh, or cry, or even try to do both at the same time. They sometimes sway, or fall, or roll and kick on the floor. They might groan as if in pain, actually feel pain or other sensations, and even scream. Don't automatically assume this is a demon manifesting - God's power is far greater than that of a demon. We need to realise that the fallen human body is not wired for this kind of power, and some adapting might be needed. I once stood on a stage with 1000 people watching while I almost disintegrated as every joint vibrated. It sounds embarrassing, but in fact I enjoyed it, and the Holy Spirit used the experience to sharpen my intercessory gifts.

However, there is more to power than physical manifestations. The Holy Spirit has irresistible strength of character, will, patience, endurance, love, intelligence, wisdom, knowledge. Where we would struggle in a situation, the Holy Spirit can see straight to the core of the difficulty and know exactly what to do and how to do it (John 16:12-15). And the Holy Spirit has the power to protect us (John 17:14-19). We are safe if we are sanctified by the Spirit, because then the enemy has nothing in us with which to work (John 14:30).

The Holy Spirit gives us power to live in unity, even with those we might not easily get along with. Through the Spirit we have the power to love those who we can't or don't want to love. These are the things which demonstrate whether the Spirit really indwells us - are we manifesting the relationship which exists between the Father and the Son and extending it to those around us? Do we love each other? (John 13:34-35)

Because the Spirit creates a relationship not just between us and Father God, but between all of those whom he indwells, he is able to speak simultaneously to two or more people to confirm his word. During prayer ministry at the Beth Tephillah Ministry Centre we see his revelation given to the Intercessory Group so that words of encouragement are written on the sheet given for the person receiving prayer in another room. I would venture to say that the sheet always parallels the ministry at many points.




The fruit of the Spirit

It should be clear by now that the fullness of the Holy Spirit is primarily about relationship. It is easy to focus on gifts, but this too easily leads to a 'works' approach to spiritual living. Jesus, in John's gospel, and Paul, particularly in 1 Corinthians, emphasise the primacy of love, which is a fruit of the Spirit. A fruit of the Spirit is a direct result of the presence of the Spirit. This is why Paul could say, "And now I will show you the most excellent way. If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing." (1 Cor 13:1-3)

There are many characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23 lists: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. This chapter of Galatians makes it clear that living in the Spirit is all about these things - these are the characteristics of Christ's nature, and are directly counter to those of the sinful nature. 1 Corinthians 13 demonstrates how love encapsulates these characteristics: "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." (1 Cor 13:4-8a)

Should we be surprised at this? No! After all - GOD IS LOVE. And if we are truly filled with the Spirit of God - we also are filled with LOVE.

This could easily be discouraging, because how many Christians can honestly say they meet such a standard. However, remember that the Bible does not just say 'be filled with the Spirit'. The more complete meaning of this command, as it is written in the Greek, is 'go on being filled with the Spirit'. This is an ongoing work. Jack Hayford says, "The fruit then represents the sanctifying work of the Spirit in our lives. It's part of our ongoing walk with Him; it is not a special gift or manifestation."

If streams of living water are to flow out of those who believe (John 7:38), then there must be a constant and regular inflow of the same.

If you have been struggling for a long time, as I did, to receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit, perhaps you have been focussing on the wrong thing, or as it was for me, simply not known what it was you were seeking. Learn to fall in love with Jesus all over again (Revelation 2:4-5). Go back to that simple, non-striving, child-like trust in God. Then ask him for bread or a fish. He will not give you a snake or a scorpion, but will give you what you need - himself. If you are still struggling after that, then ask someone to pray with you for filling.

The gifts of the Spirit

There are many gifts of the Spirit, and we will consider their use for ministry in other courses. You might also be interested in some of the special ministry gifts described in the Resource Sheet 6 - Special Ministry Gifts.

Bibliography & Suggested Reading

Click on a title for more information about a book

There are many books on the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts, some good, some not so good. Read widely, observe and learn from those who live in the Spirit, and live it out yourself, but most importantly: listen to the Spirit - he is by far the best teacher.

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Malcolm Dow Dot Com - Malcolm Dow - the Roaring Mouse's autobiographical blog
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