November 3, 2016

Acts 8:15-17 When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

This passage was widely and vigorously used in the early years of the Charismatic Movement as people in non-charismatic denominations learned about the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but I can’t say that I’ve heard it used much recently. Whether that is because spiritual gifts are seen as more normative or because people have given up on the idea is a good question. I’ve read that “manifestation” spiritual gifts are in considerable decline even in traditionally Pentecostal denominations, at least in “developed” countries. When speaking in tongues is so central to such denominations as the Assemblies of God that seems very ironic, and sad, actually. It’s not at all that such gifts are essential to salvation, but there still seems to be a loss of energy. That should hardly be surprising, when Jesus expressly connected the baptism in the Holy Spirit with power. (Acts 1:8) The devil loves to have us take anything and everything about God/faith/salvation for granted, because that makes it much easier for him to distract us and trip us up, stealing our joy and our victory. There are certainly pockets of exception to this trend, and churches where the presence of the Holy Spirit is clear and strong. Such churches teach us that there is no deficiency on the part of God, but just in our perception/reception of Him. Many are realizing that America is in drastic need of revival at this point, and that awareness is a very good thing. Individual believers, and by extension churches and denominations, need to repent and seek God, abandoning their compromise with the world that they have dressed up as “political correctness.” They need to give all of themselves afresh to Him so that they may receive more of Him in return. Anything we might have certainly pales in comparison to the glory of Almighty God!

I am talking to myself here. I have experienced all of the gifts mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12, but at this point I would have to say they are at low ebb. I do pray in tongues daily, but it has been quite a while since I have prophesied actively, or even laid hands on someone for healing prayer. What a loss, to me and to those to whom I minister. Just last night at prayer meeting I was talking with someone about how I see this church, and though I used the term, Charismatic, an outside observer might never know it. Some of the members have received the gift of tongues, at least, but I don’t know that anyone is operating in those gifts with any regularity at all. It shows! I don’t want to come across as making any gift a litmus test of salvation or dedication, but I don’t want to deprive the believers of the incredible riches God has prepared for us. I desire to repent, but I’m not even sure how. I talk all the time about focusing on God instead of on ourselves, and I need to do better about practicing what I preach! I need to be so assured of God’s ability that my ability is irrelevant. I know that God desires and intends far more for us than we are experiencing now, and I need to rest in, and operate in, that assurance.

Father, thank You for this wake-up call. Help me not just let it pass, but appropriate and operate in it fully. May we become the people, the church, that You desire and intend us to be, so that Your name may be acknowledged as holy and Your kingdom come as Your will is done, right here, in and through us, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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