Monday, April 15, 2013

Monday Epilogue

Yesterday I spoke on the one, essential, non-negotiable for a church that is on God's mission: Holy Spirit power.  You can listen to that message here (A Mighty Wind).

I mentioned in that message something of D.L. Moody's experience with the Holy Spirit.  The Life of D. L. Moody, written by his son, is a very simple but striking account of the secret of D. L. Moody's power. Here is the story of Mr. Moody's enduement of power, as given on pages 146, 147, and 149.

The year 1871 was a critical one in Mr. Moody's career. He realized more and more how little he was fired by personal acquirements for his work. An intense hunger and thirst for spiritual power were aroused in him by two women who used to attend the meetings and sit on the front seat. He could see by the expression on their faces that they were praying. At the close of services they would say to him:
"We have been praying for you."
"Why don't you pray for the people?" Mr. Moody would ask.
"Because you need the power of the Spirit," they would say.
"I need the power! Why," said Mr. Moody, in relating the incident years after, "I thought I had power. I had the largest congregations in Chicago, and there were many conversions. I was in a sense satisfied. But right along those two godly women kept praying for me, and their earnest talk about anointing for special service set me to thinking. I asked them to come and talk with me, and they poured out their hearts in prayer that I might receive the filling of the Holy Spirit. There came a great hunger into my soul. I did not know what it was. I began to cry out as I never did before. I really felt that I did not want to live if I could not have this power for service."
Then the book tells of the great Chicago fire, of D. L. Moody's relief work, the building of the north side tabernacle, and of his visiting in the East to secure funds for his work. Then the narrative continues:
During this Eastern visit the hunger for more spiritual power was still upon Mr. Moody.
"My heart was not in the work of begging," he said. "I could not appeal. I was crying all the time that God would fill me with His Spirit. Well, one day, in the city of New York -- oh, what a day! -- I cannot describe it, I seldom refer to it; it is almost too sacred an experience to name. Paul had an experience of which he never spoke for fourteen years. I can only say that God revealed Himself to me, and I had such an experience of His love that I had to ask Him to stay His hand. I went to preaching again. The sermons were not different; I did not present any new truths, and yet hundreds were converted. I would not now be placed back where I was before that blessed experience if you should give me all the world -- it would be as the small dust of the balance."
Notice in the above account, in the words of D. L. Moody himself, that while he had great joy in the coming of the Holy Spirit upon him in power, yet the principal result was:. "The sermons were not different: I did not present any new truths, and yet hundreds were converted."

My primary point in Sunday's message is a simple one: We cannot do the works of God - especially the fulfillment of the Great Commission - without the power of the Holy Spirit!  Call it what you will - I prefer not to get hung up on semantics - but we need a fresh filling of that Spirit that changes hearts, empowers believers with boldness, and readies the lost to receive the Gospel.  Without it, we are simply "turning the crank" of the old church machine with predictable (and manmade) results.

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