(November 13, 2019) Robert and Maureen McQuillan encourage expectation of the unexpected…
Remember the ‘The Spirit showed up!’ catchcry of a few decades ago when the Holy Spirit had freedom to move in any meeting he chose… and did?
A catchcry, yes, but an acknowledgement that God had moved in the church service and blessed his people through supernatural actions by his Holy Spirit! And Jesus was glorified.
At times it seemed that if the blessed Holy Spirit hadn’t ‘showed up’ the pastor, Bible teacher, evangelist, guest speaker or whoever would have floundered over whatever he or she was presenting!
And also at times, it all seemed a big surprise when the Spirit ‘did show up’ and a miracle or a healing happened, or prophetic words and words of knowledge were uttered (spoken genuinely and meaningfully!) and a wonderful dimension of heavenly bliss descended.
Others sayings come to mind… for example, ‘God shows up when you least expect it’ and ‘Everything was lost but out of the blue God showed up and saved the day.’
Yes we confess that we too have used the ‘God showed up’ expression… but only in the sense of acknowledging and confirming that God the Holy Spirit had done something wonderful, not us or any church leader or preacher alone.
Actually the reality of church life is that we should always be expecting the all-powerful third person of the Godhead to ‘show up’ with power at every meeting, not just Sunday morning, and bless us as we worship our Saviour Jesus and exalt our heavenly Father.
Always expect the Spirit to be there!
Surprise is still being observed in some churches today! Yet the Holy Spirit delights to ‘show up’ and bless God’s spiritual children. Actually we should expect this as a natural in our everyday living, not just at church meetings! But let’s stick to church at the moment.
Praise God, there still are Sunday church meetings when there is an incredible sense of the Spirit’s presence descending in a very special way that brings much joy and answers to prayers uttered from sincere hearts. One is so aware that there’s an added spiritual touch around us!
But… surely we should always be expecting the amazing third person of the Godhead to ‘show up’ at every meeting, no matter the day, and bless us as we worship our Saviour Jesus and exalt our heavenly Father.
Sadly it seems that many fellowships, even some Pentecostal ones, have no expectancy of the Holy Spirit ‘showing up’ – or have lost that all-important aspect of ‘old-time’ church gatherings.
Churches today need to be expecting the Holy Spirit to be an essential part of their program, their run-sheet, not going by rites and rituals and great worship alone! Then the Spirit will feel welcomed to move in with his holy fire and power… and supernatural things will happen.
We remember well many years ago at a Melbourne conference, Wynne Lewis, then leader of Elim Pentecostal Church, UK, recalling a particular ‘wake-up call’ incident when he was pastor of the renowned Kensington Temple, London.
After the traditional pre-service pastoral prayer meeting, he was about to follow his staff to go start the service when he sensed the Holy Spirit urging him to remain in his office. Wynne shared along these lines: ‘I waited… and waited some more. Then I clearly heard the Spirit ask, “What’s on your run sheet?” Quickly I went through all that we’d planned for the service… choruses, Bible readings, announcements, special items, my sermon and final chorus.’
He paused and added, ‘Then I distinctly heard the Holy Spirit whisper so quietly, “Yes, but where am I on your program?” That threw me! I realised that for some time we hadn’t been expecting the Spirit to be in our service, that he wasn’t on our agenda. I was shocked! From that moment we ensured that we allowed the Holy Spirit to be in charge! And things happened – we ‘determined that we were not going to miss out.’
Wynne Lewis, a great pentecostal visionary and mentor, was to ensure the Holy Spirit would always be on the church service agenda, that he was free to have his way, to (as we would say today) ‘show up.’ Signs and wonders happened, souls were saved and the church grew to over 5000 followers under this pioneering leadership.
We feel that many church leaders need such a wake-up call today!
Jesus’ amazing promise
May we remind readers that we’re talking here about the all-powerful blessed Holy Spirit – the very Spirit of God himself!
In his ministry Jesus moved in the power of the Spirit (Matthew 12:18, 28; Luke 4:18). Aware that he was shortly to be crucified and his followers whom he would commission to carry on his ministry would need supernatural help, he made an incredible promise on their behalf (our behalf too!).
The good news is that it was the Father’s delight to answer his Son’s John 14:16 request (‘I will ask the Father. And he will give you another Friend to help you and to be with you forever’)! And on Pentecost Sunday (Acts 2: 1-4, 41) the Holy Spirit – that great friend and spiritual enabler – came with such powerful anointing that the church was born, the believers immediately took to the streets and 3,000 people were born again!
The Spirit certainly showed up at that meeting! Can we encourage every Christian, not just ministers, to joyfully expect the Spirit to ‘have his way’ in our church services, souls to be saved, healings to happen, meaningful prophetic words to flow… as in ‘old-time religion’ circles?
Why should we be surprised today?
We can rejoice with those who have been so blessed when good things happen unexpectedly – but isn’t it so easy to get caught up with clichés, rituals and ‘our plans’ and miss out on great biblical truths?
What we’re getting at is this… why should we be surprised that the Spirit of God shows up?
- He’s God (!) …
- He can do whatever he wants to.
- He loves to be with us, surprise us and bless us!
- Again and again in the Book of Acts we read of the Holy Spirit (God) showing up to speak, lead, guide, bless and assist his people.
- And what the early church – and God-seeking churches have had throughout church history – is ours today too! (See Acts 2:39, ‘This promise is to you, to your children, and to those far away—all who have been called by the Lord our God’).
Why then should we be surprised today when he shows up? Rather the question is… ‘Weren’t we expecting him?’
In our seminars on the Holy Spirit, we teach that regarding the things of the Spirit, we should always expect the unexpected! Let’s be expecting the Holy Spirit to be there for us, by our side, wanting to give us surprises and bless us in ways that cause us to praise God.
And not just at church meetings! God is everywhere and his Holy Spirit can bless us at any time and in any way that pleases his heart! We just need to be open.
One of God’s ‘showing up’ times in scripture is Genesis 17:1. The Message Bible reads: ‘When Abram was ninety-nine years old, God showed up and said to him, “I am The Strong God, live entirely before me, live to the hilt!”.’
‘Showed up’ – that’s raah, ‘appeared’ – as the NIV, NLT and other versions read. We have a full life thanks to what Jesus accomplished on the cross – I encourage us all to live life to the hilt! To expect the unexpected, to believe for the Holy Spirit to ‘appear’ supernaturally manifesting himself however he wishes to communicate with us every time we gather to worship our Saviour.
We could tell of many experiences from our own lives where the Holy Spirit had his way… but that makes for other articles. However, we dare to ask this question of you: Does God show up in your life? Do you sense the Spirit’s moving in your life as you live it to the hilt?
Just remember that it’s all about trusting God, fully trusting. (See also Carol Round’s Seeking God’s Purpose / George Forbes’ World’s Biggest Business / Michael Ireland’s Ginger Vicar and Balding Bishop).
Can we encourage you be expecting this Sunday? We certainly will be! May every church declare after the service that…