“What the world needs most today is Jesus, and what the church needs most today is the Holy Spirit.”
These words came from my friend Pastor Doug Chambers as we talked on the phone last week. It made me wonder if perhaps the world is more receptive to receive Jesus than the church is ready to embrace the move of the Holy Spirit.
Today as you read this I am in Izvesck, Russia, where hundreds of pastors have gathered from all across the nation. They are hungry for the power of the living God to refresh them to walk in dark and difficult places, planting and building churches while believing that nothing is impossible with God.
What God has done across this great nation of Russia is a miracle to the nations of the world. The church is open. They love God; they love Russia; and because of this, the harvest continues to grow. Many things have changed here, including the church, and it is clear the revival they are experiencing is a move of the Holy Spirit.
But Russia seems to be the exception to the rule in the body of Christ. Instead of inviting the Holy Spirit and embracing the life-changing revival and renewal that would come with Him, churches too often restrict His operation, which strips the power of God from both the individual and corporate fellowship and weakens the testimony of the church before a world that is lost and searching for a Savior. This is not what God intended when He sent the Holy Spirit to believers after Christ’s resurrection and ascension.
On the Day of Pentecost, when the crowd gathered around the apostles as they received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the onlookers asked, “Whatever could this mean?” (Acts 2:12, author’s paraphrase). They recognized something different had been introduced, and some of them mistakenly assumed it was the result of new wine (v. 13). Instead, the presence of an almighty God had come to rock the city with change.
Changes that impact the world forever for the better can only come by the power of the Holy Spirit. When we examine any change—Holy Spirit–led or not—there are three factors we must consider:
- the element of change
- the amount of change
- the container for change
All change begins with a new element. At Pentecost, the followers of Jesus were under the influence of the Holy Spirit. He was the new element that catalyzed a change that would forever impact the church of God. His power lit the fuse that ignited their own spirit and spread throughout the world and through generations.
The impact of any change is also directly related to the amount of the element of change that is introduced. You can introduce a little, which really brings little to no change, or you can pour out an amount of change that will blast everything from the past. When God poured out His Spirit on the believers gathered in the Upper Room—fulfilling the prophecy of the prophet Joel (Joel 2:28)—it filled up those gathered, but the impact was so great that after Peter explained what had happened to the onlookers, three thousand people decided to trust in Christ as their Savior that day alone (Acts 2:41). The apostles were filled with the Spirit to overflowing, and the radical change in their lives spilled over onto others.
This underscores the final point: when it comes to revival, we are the containers for change. We are the containers for the Holy Spirit to come in. Luke 5:37–38 says: “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise the new wine will burst the wineskins, and it will be spilled, and the wineskins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”
We, the containers, must be new or renewed. We, as the containers, are common on our own but filled with uncommon power through the Holy Spirit. God gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit through Christ’s sacrifice so that we could both be conduits of His power and experience that transformative power in our own lives. Surrendering to the work of the Holy Spirit completely means surrendering to His will to change our lives and all that is around us. When we fail to invite Him fully into our hearts and lives, we prevent the very move of God that will change us and the world.
It’s time for the body of Christ around the world to surrender to the movement of the Holy Spirit in our lives and churches in the same way people in Russia are surrendering their lives to the Lord for the first time. Their hunger for God is intense and desperate. Today, be just as intense and desperate for God. Let Him hear you ask for more of Him, and be ready to receive all He has for you and the community you serve.
Finally, when you pray, please continue to intercede for the churches in Russia. Everything is changing but the harvest, and God is doing exciting things there, just as He will do in and through you.
You’re beautiful! I see Jesus in you. Have a great week!