Spirit of Grace Ministries
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Spirit of Grace Ministries
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Spiritual Climate

Rain

by Dennis Pollock

Since the days of my spiritual infancy, I have long been fascinated by the subject of revival. As I have read of those times and seasons in church history where the churches have come alive and whole communities have been transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit, I have wondered what conditions must be met for such a thing to happen. Is this simply an expression of the sovereign will of God, or are there things we can do that will bring this to pass?

The classic model for revival is the church of which we read in the book of Acts. Here we have all the attributes of revival: men and women filled with the Holy Spirit, tremendous conviction of sin, multitudes coming to Christ over a short period of time, miracles, healings, signs, and wonders. To sum it up in Biblical language: "Great grace was upon them all" (Acts 4:33). For much of church history, Christians have assumed that the awesome work of God detailed in this book could never be duplicated and should not be expected in the present church. God was merely giving His people an extra boost to get them off to a good start. Now that the church has been established and the Bible written, all supernatural power has been withdrawn from the people of God. Let us preach Christ, encourage people to live good lives, and wait for heaven. Don't expect much more.

In the Day of Thy Power

This might sound reasonable as long as you never read about the great revivals that have occurred throughout the centuries. During such times of outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the church of that time began to resemble the early church in power, results, and supernatural witness of Christ. There are many definitions of revival, but I would sum it up thus: "A revival is a high degree of the Spirit’s manifestation and working, leading to the awakening of believers and the conversion of sinners in numbers well above the ordinary." You don't need a great revival to lead a soul to Christ; people can be born again in even the driest of spiritual conditions. But in a revival people get saved wholesale. It is not necessary to be in the midst of a fiery revival gathering in order to feel the presence of the Holy Spirit. Even in some dry little community that hasn't seen much of the Spirit of God in the last hundred years, you can still start singing praises to God and feel the sweet and gentle presence of the Spirit. But when the Spirit is poured out from on high, hard-hearted sinners who haven't thought about God for years may suddenly be overwhelmed by His presence and break down sobbing. Revival isn't really God doing a totally different thing than normal; it is God doing things in a far greater measure than normal.

To understand revival you must understand spiritual climate, the prevailing spiritual conditions that affect the ease or difficulty with which the Lord’s work may be done. In the gospel of Luke we read, "Now it happened on a certain day, as He (Jesus) was teaching, that there were Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting by, who had come out of every town of Galilee, Judea, and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was present to heal them" (Luke 5:17). In the original Greek text the word present is not there. What it actually says is that the power of the Lord was… to heal them." We could say the power was manifested, or the power was working to heal them, or the power of the Lord was released to heal them. The point is that in this situation God's power was at work in a healing anointing, and it was easy to be healed.

The fact that Luke records this implies that God's power is not always being manifested for healing, but in this case it was. There was a climate of healing all around Jesus, and all kinds of people were being healed without much difficulty at all.

When the Fishing is Good

Spiritual climate is that atmosphere in which the Holy Spirit’s power and presence saturate hearts and make what otherwise would be difficult and unnatural both easy and natural. When I was a boy I used to go fishing from time to time, but I wasn't really much of a fisherman. I would get bored sitting around waiting for fish to bite. I had a number of fancy lures, and they were kind of neat to look at, but I rarely caught anything with them. Usually if I did catch a fish, it was using a worm on a hook with a cork bobbing around on top of the water. One day, however, I experienced a totally different situation. My uncle took my cousins and me to a pond that must have been drying up. Whatever the cause the fish seemed to be starving. Every time I threw my line in the water I had a fish in no time. The fish were biting so eagerly, I decided it might be a good time to try some of the fancy lures I had. Sure enough even those lures worked. I could hardly throw out my line and wind it in without catching a fish. After a while I tried something really radical. I threw out my line with a bare hook – no worm, no lure, just a hook, and by the time I reeled it in I had a fish on the hook.

FishThere was a perfect climate for fish-catching in that pond at that time. What normally was difficult and unnatural had become easy and natural. Catching fish was the simplest thing in the world for me for that one outing. I hadn't changed. I was still the same rank amateur I had always been. The climate was somehow different, and the fishing was great! Such is the nature of revival. In seasons of the outpoured Holy Spirit the church is able to accomplish more in a year than they may have been able to do in the last fifty years. Pastors who have struggled with small, dry congregations for twenty years may suddenly find themselves in the midst of a thriving work of God, and wonder how in the world it happened.

Many Christians rarely think about climate. If the going is hard and the work seems dry, they double their efforts and determine to try all the harder. If last year's evangelistic campaign netted only three conversions, this year they will spend twice as much money and canvas more houses. We work and sweat and plan and scheme, but sometimes we fail to see that the problem may not be our labor, but the climate in which we labor. Imagine going to the North Pole and planting a corn crop. You take all the latest and greatest agricultural equipment. You have the most expensive tractor money can buy, you plant the finest seeds, you plow the straightest rows. But of course there will be no harvest. The climate is all wrong for farming. As long as the temperatures remain subzero and snow covers the ground, all your diligent labor is a total waste of time.

Seed plus Rain

The gospel of Jesus Christ is the best seed ever to be planted in the hearts of men and women. Indeed it is perfect. The proclamation of Jesus Christ's death on the cross for our sins and His resurrection from the dead three day later is truly a life-transforming message that will shatter strongholds of sin and bondage, set the captives free, bring eternal life, and heal hearts, lives, and families. But it was never meant to be planted in a poor climate. It will not thrive under dry, dusty, and waterless conditions. It was meant to be mixed with the water of heaven, the refreshing life and sweet presence of the Holy Spirit. No matter how carefully it is explained, no matter how precisely it is exposited upon, no matter how eloquently it is articulated, if there is not the accompanying power of the Holy Spirit, there will be no life. Far better a stumbling, inarticulate, faltering sharing of the gospel in a spiritual downpour, than a dynamic, brilliantly preached gospel in a spiritual desert.

Establishing a healthy spiritual climate is one of the fundamental responsibilities of every believer. And we are not just talking about great national revivals here. A climate of the Spirit's presence should be the goal in every home, every home Bible study, and every local church. This climate is not only a great asset in drawing souls to Christ, it is the ultimate environment in which souls grow to spiritual maturity, and in which relationships thrive and flourish.

Music

So what can we do to create such an atmosphere? The first thing is to know that there are things we can do. We do not have to merely sit around and hope that God will sovereignly honor our lives, families, and churches with His manifested presence. One clue is found in life of Elisha. When the prophet was asked for a message from God, he told his inquirers to bring him a musician. The Bible tells us, "Then it happened, when the musician played, that the hand of the LORD came upon him.  And he said, 'Thus says the LORD…'" (2 Kings 3:15,16). Elisha couldn't force the Holy Spirit to come upon him and give him a word, but he could bring himself into a place of worship through anointed music, that made it more likely for the Spirit to show up. And sure enough, the word of the Lord came to him as the musician played his instrument.

Music plays a huge role in creating a climate of the Holy Spirit! When God's people sing praise songs to their God and play worship music in their homes, they are not forcing the Spirit to make His presence known, but they are surely making it far more likely that He will. Another factor that brings the Spirit's presence is prayer. God has ordained that the simple act of talking to Him and calling upon Him will dramatically increase the measure of the Spirit's working and manifestation. It is no coincidence that the initial outpouring of the Holy Spirit came on the heels of an intense prayer marathon. The Bible tells us, "These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication…" (Acts 1:14). The climate found in a praying family or a praying church, or even a praying nation is radically different from and infinitely superior to that which exists where people never take the time to pray.

Prayer – Rain - Fruit

James writes, "Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit" (James 5:1,18). Prayer brings rain and rain brings fruit. No prayer, no rain. No rain, no fruit. To expect the blessings of heaven without praying for the rain of the outpoured Holy Spirit is naïve. Spiritual rain will always and only fall when and where it is requested and petitioned for. This is why prayer is always associated with revival. Find a great historical outpouring of the Holy Spirit, then look back a bit, and you'll find men and women who prayed for God to open His heavens and pour out His Spirit.

It is the presence of God that makes the church radically different from the world. The world may have more talent, more money, more "cool," and more visibility than the church, but we have something much more precious and far more powerful. Unto us it given the incredible privilege of being recipients and carriers of the presence of God. Moses valued that presence so much he told God, "If Your presence doesn't go with us, we don't want to go anywhere" (Exodus 33:15).

Jesus Christ hung on a cross and died for us, that we might live in that presence all the days of our lives. His precious blood was shed that we might become spotless carriers of the presence of God to our generation. When we shop at the grocery store, when we watch the football game, when we sleep and when we rise, His presence is with us. And as we give prayer and worship their proper place in our lives, that presence will be manifested. Lives will be changed, relationships will be healed, and the kingdom of God shall advance. It is amazing how fast and how well crops will grow when the climate is right.

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