How God Showed Up Beyond Our Church
Nothing is too difficult for God. Do you believe this? Do you believe that He can show up in our gatherings in
such a way that people are astounded and certain that the Lord has been among them? Jesus, in his grace, has allowed me to experience this several times.
In one instance, I shared the story of what God had been doing in my life, ministry and church with a group of about 150 seventh to twelfth graders at a local Christian school. After I challenged them to abandon their lives completely to the Lord, there was a pause. Then, with teachers stationed across the front of the room, about half of them came forward for prayer. One boy came up the isle crying and saying, “I’m lost. I’m lost.” The Spirit of God was showing him his lost condition. I explained the gospel to him and he stood and confessed his newfound faith in Christ before his peers. Another female exchange student gave her heart to the Lord. A group of eighth grade boys gathered in a huddle and cried out to God with great intensity.
Students, including boys, were weeping and hugging one another. I realized that it was student lunch time and asked the principal what he would like to do. With the announcement that it was lunch time, very few of the students left to eat. They chose to stay and linger in the presence of the Lord. When God’s presence is so strong like that, people realize that the things they thought were important aren’t so important in comparison with enjoying his presence.
In another incident, I had the opportunity to share with a youth group from a local church. 23 of the 25 young people came forward for prayer. God was working in a powerful way that went well beyond anything I had ever seen.
I recall walking in the hallway of our church and being overcome with weeping. I was actually experiencing the thing I had prayed into for years, a mighty move of God. It was overwhelming. Some of the things that I had only read about in revival books were actually becoming a reality in and around me.
What I had longed for was happening. Now I felt like the Lord could take me home.
I felt what I imagine Simeon felt when he got to hold the baby Jesus:
Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
‘Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace’”
As my 50
birthday approached, my wife asked me how I would like to celebrate. I wasn’t much help to her because I could not have cared less about a birthday celebration. I was so thrilled and satisfied with what God was doing that something like my birthday party paled in comparison.
I had the opportunity to share what God was doing in various settings and was able to personally pray for about 500 individuals.
I was very eager for everyone to experience this inner strength and fullness of God that I was experiencing. Time and time again the Holy Spirit brought specific Scriptures to my mind as I prayed for people.
I shared this illustration many times: Several years ago a young man of nineteen approached the foreman of a logging crew asking if he could be hired. The foreman replied: “That depends. Let me see you fell a tree.” He did a nice job and was told he would be hired and could start on Monday.
He worked hard for four days. On Thursday he was told he could pick up his pay check. Puzzled, he said: “I thought you paid on Fridays.” “We do,” the foreman replied, “but we are letting you go. Our charts show that you were our most productive worker early in the week but you have become our least productive employee.”
The young man responded, “But I work hard and don’t even take my breaks.”
Sensing his integrity, the foreman asked if he had been taking time to sharpen his ax.
“No, I haven’t had time,” was his reply.
This story is a picture of the Christian life for many professing believers. They work hard putting out a lot of energy but see little fruit just as the young man in the story kept hacking away with a dull ax but with little productivity. Spiritually, what can change this fruitlessness is relying upon Jesus and tapping into the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. Without this, we hack away in our lives as with a dull ax.
As Jesus said,
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5)
Human effort falls short when it comes to producing spiritual fruit for God’s kingdom. Being connected to the source of power is considerably more important than being intelligent, skillful, or hard-working. Strong planning and excellent programs are no substitute for the work of the Holy Spirit. Having tasted what God can do, I am thoroughly unsatisfied with what mere humans can do. I hunger for genuine God-activity. How about you?
Copyright Ed Skipper 2013