The Wind of the Spirit | 2014-1

 

Jesus said, The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit (John 3:8).

The distinguished Jewish theologian could no longer deny the miraculous power of God at work in the life and ministry of the Galilean. Nor could he quench his thirst to meet Jesus face to face. So, humbling himself and putting his reputation on the line, Nicodemus went one night to confess that Jesus was from God and inquire of Him the way of salvation.

Jesus responded to Israel’s prominent thinker by making an issue of the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. No one can enter the kingdom of God without a spiritual transformation, Jesus explained, and this requires the Spirit of God to bring about the miracle of regeneration. Just as a natural birth is necessary for one to enter and become aware of the human family, we must be born again, born of the Spirit—in order to grasp the reality and relationships of the kingdom of God. Furthermore, admission to the kingdom of God is never by the proud prerogative of race, status, nation, class, or gender. It is certainly not by heredity! All who enter the kingdom of God must be born into it by the Spirit. This spiritual birth is an act of God.

Jesus was faithful to explain to Nicodemus the one simple condition for being born again: believing in God’s one and only Son who was lifted up (crucified) for our sins (John 3:14-21). The evidence that one has truly believed (come into the light), Jesus said, is that he lives by the truth (John 3:21).

The wind blows where it pleases, Jesus said, conditioning Nicodemus for accepting the sovereignty of the Holy Spirit. This seeking Pharisee represented an institutional religion that thrived on writing dogmas and building walls—dogmas of condemnation and walls of exclusion. He belonged to a tradition that arrogantly drew lines and decreed, “Here within this perimeter the grace and power of God must operate according to our set rules, and beyond these lines all else is heresy and damnation!”

It has been the everlasting temptation of organized religion to try and direct the operations of the Holy Spirit—to say what miracles He can and cannot perform, to dictate what gifts He can and cannot give, to determine on whom He can and cannot fall.

No! Dear friends, the wind blows where it pleases! Not where our pride and prejudices prohibit, not where our dogmas demand, not where our fears forbid!

Those of us who are engaged in revival work should lead the way in repenting of our sins of spiritual pride and unbelief shown in our attempts to control the Holy Spirit. Sometimes we have longed only for His gentle breeze in order to refresh the saints, reunite the members, replenish the treasury, and restore the church’s reputation in the community.

But the Spirit of revival is not always the comforting, accommodating force we had hoped. We must be willing for Him to come as He chooses—perhaps as a tornado to destroy our idols and blow down our walls. Like Nicodemus, we need to be reminded that the Spirit of God must be free to embarrass our rigid theological positions or bypass our proud ecclesiastical forms.

The anointed Scottish preacher James S. Steward once cautioned the church against quenching the Spirit:

 

“Don’t try to tame that intractable wind. No set of Convocation or Assembly can circumscribe it, no arrogant political dictator can curb it, no rooted personal prejudice can patronize it. It is master of the world.
“And—don’t you see?—this is the essential optimism of Christianity. Here in the Spirit of Christ is a force capable of bursting into the hardest paganism, discomfiting the most rigid dogmatism, electrifying the most suffocating ecclesiasticism.
“This is the sovereign freedom of the Holy Spirit. There is no citadel of self and sin that is safe from Him, no unbelieving cynic secure beyond His reach. There is no ironclad bastion of theological self-confidence He cannot disturb into faith, no ancient animosities He cannot reconcile. And blessed be His name, there is no winter death of the soul that He cannot quicken into a blossoming springtime of life, no dry bones He cannot vitalize into a marching army! This is the glory of Pentecost.”

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us join with Christ’s apostles and revivalists across the ages and surrender our prejudices, pride, fear, dogmas, and unbelief to the sovereignty of the Holy Spirit. Then let us fast, pray, and believe for howling winds and refining fires of Pentecost. Let us allow His holy fire to burn up our chaff of unbelief, disobedience, selfishness, worldliness, and division. Then let us hoist our sails into His holy winds and prove the Holy Spirit’s mighty power to save, sanctify, and empower us to reach our imploding nation before it is too late.

Let us pray: O God, may your Pentecostal gales blow across our American churches until saints and sinners alike experience your glorious presence once again. Keep us on our knees in solemn assemblies until we surrender to the sovereignty of Your Holy Spirit until we make up our minds that we will not live another day without His fullness. Keep us before You until we are prepared for the greatest revival in the history of our country. Amen!

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Our Continuing Commitment

For the last 20 years I have given myself to the ministry of calling God’s people back to the Upper Room in intercessory prayer for another full-scale historic spiritual awakening. Despite the deepening darkness of the world and the growing coldness of the churches, I’m not planning retirement, retreat, or resignation from the task that the Spirit of God called me to two decades ago.

The year of 2013, which will soon be past, has been my most fulfilling year in the ministry of prayer. There have been fewer events of preaching and teaching, but I’ve never know the Spirit’s anointing for adoration, introspection, petition, and intercession in the depths I’ve experience over the last eleven months.

Therefore, my vision for revival is clearer. My passion to see the glory of God in tidal waves of conviction on saints and sinners has never been greater. And my call is going out for many more prayer partners to join us in the spiritual conflicts ahead— they’ll grow more violent, more dangerous, and more costly as we face 2014.

Please, pray WITH me, and FOR me!

And allow me to pray for you. Consider prayerfully the enclosed Commitment Card. I’m spending most of my mornings in prayer each day and ask that you write out your requests on this card. Allow me to be able to take your prayer requests before the Lord.

Also, pray about helping Christian Renewal Ministries with the costs of continuing our publishing of the Journal, our web site, and our ventures in sponsoring Schools of Prayer. In years past we’ve been blessed to have local churches host our Schools of Prayer. It has been helpful when several churches in a given area have gone together to bear the cost of these events. But in more recent years we’ve been on our own in bearing such costs of advertising, renting auditoriums, and helping defray literature expenses.

While we’ve never gone all out to plead for financial support, I do believe the work that God has called us to is worthy of your prayers and your obedience to the Spirit’s leadership to help us. Ask the Lord what He would have you do to support us, whether a one-time gift or a monthly or periodic contribution. I believe you’ll find it an investment of laying up treasures in heaven as you stand with us in the struggle for a mighty spiritual awakening.

As you pray for me and this ministry, I urge you to consider the following:

(1) Pray for those spiritual leaders who are considering hosting Schools of Prayer or Revival Meetings to make definite plans, set dates, and back their plans with serious praying. (2) Pray for our Christian Renewal Board of Directors: Gail & Betty Fremont, Duncan & Susan Hill, Ron & Mary Ann Johnson, Rich & Christi Sherlock, and Jim & Shirley Tharp. (3) Pray for me as I continue writing a new book, OUR HOLY GUEST, a work of devotional theology on the Holy Spirit, seeking to show the necessary response we must give as we are privileged to host the Blessed Holy Spirit in our daily lives. Otherwise, there is no power, no passion, and no progress in our spiritual growth. Unlike our last book, ESTELLE, this work is not a novel, but a list of the Spirit’s titles and careful Biblical expositions on how to fellowship with the Spirit in His holiness and power.

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we are in perilous times. Our gracious God is not willing that any should perish, but that all come to repentance and faith. While we await Christ’s return, let us not be caught up in wasted worries and lose the fire of the Spirit in our lives. Please, let us concentrate on prayer, the Word, worship, reaching the lost, and believing God to stir His people awake.

I ask that you stand with me. Even as our omniscient God mercifully waits for the world’s cup of iniquity to overflow before His judgments, we as His people have the golden opportunities to live under His power and make a difference right up to the end.

Please, let me hear from you, and let us pray and believe together for revival!

Blessings on your New Year from
Jim & Shirley Tharp
Christian Renewal Ministries.

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