March 01, 2011

“If in faith you seek for a greater measure of God's Spirit, you will be constantly taking it in and breathing it out. Daily you will receive a fresh supply.” (Ellen White, The Upward Look, p. 143.)

The crisis came suddenly. One minute the strong young man was enjoying the ocean swells out beyond the breakers; the next, he was in a grim battle for life, caught in an unyielding riptide.

Whether the struggle took minutes or hours, he does not remember, but he does recall a face — one he will never forget.

It belonged to a petite teenage girl who found him motionless, face down in the water. She dragged him to shore and administered CPR. Helpless to help himself, this moose of a man drew a sudden, rasping breath, fluttered his eyes open and beheld the face of his savior — the source of his revival.

When a pastor or church leader calls us to revival, urges us to pray for the Holy Spirit, what should be our response? Some Adventists through the years have determined the Holy Spirit is hard of hearing or, worse yet, reluctant to answer. After repeated prayer meetings and fasts, they reason the delay is all because of them — they are not yet ready, not yet dedicated enough. They feel no rush of emotion. They see no tongues of fire.

It's a strange parallel to the earnest Jews who, millennia ago, prayed in vain for a Messiah to match their expectations. Today their descendants line up at Jerusalem's western "Wailing Wall," still pleading for a Messiah who has already come.

Is there a lesson here for us? Could it be those tempted to think they must become better or pray more earnestly before the Spirit will listen are unaware the Spirit is a gift already given? Have our human expectations blinded us to the amazing promise already at hand and daily renewed?

Acts 2 reminds us of two conditions for receiving the Spirit: repentance and baptism. One involves a willingness to renounce self and do things God's way, and the second, a public acceptance of new life serving a glorified Lord. Acts 2:38 is no mystery: "Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."

The Spirit is not offered as a reward for becoming good. It's a gift to guide and empower believers on a growing journey of faith. That seems so simple. When did it become complicated? Why did it become so uncertain?

Will revival come when we recognize the gift has already been bestowed ... that the Spirit is already ours? To the cripple at the pool, Jesus said, "Rise, take up your bed and walk." His command was a promise.

Today the same promise is ours. Every morning we have an opportunity to "rise and walk" with Him. So take a deep breath and get ready to watch the Spirit at work.

Some Adventists through the years have determined the Holy Spirit is hard of hearing or, worse yet, reluctant to answer.