Spring Spirit: Refreshing Pt 1

Pastor Terry Inman

04-21-13

 

The tragic events of this week in Boston and Texas remind me of something Pastor Dishan of Sri Lanka said a few years ago. He had experienced terrorism, persecution and burning churches; then a devastating earthquake and tsunami. He said, “This isn’t Heaven”!

This is earth. Hardship and blessing are part of the human experience. Jesus said, “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Matt. 5:43-44 (NIV)

I don’t know about you but I could use a little less bad news and a little more good news right now. Rain can be a good thing it brings spring. Spring is full of hope and the promise of fresh growth and new life.   Today I want to talk about a refreshing: the Spirit’s Spring!

Last week we ended our three-week series on Resurrection with Paul’s bottom line. “Therefore my beloved brethren, be, steadfast (firm) immovable, (fixed) always abounding (fruitful) in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” (futile) 1 Cor.15: 57-58 

We called a huddle down front. We soaked up the Holy Spirit like a gentle spring shower. We were thirsty. It was refreshing. Hosea had some words of comfort for God’s people who had suffered many years of captivity.  

“Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence.

Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.” Hos. 6:1-3 (NIV)

This week I was praying about a follow up to the resurrection series. In my morning devotions I was listening to the book of Hebrews. Chapter six picks up the same theme we ended with last week. 

Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.  And God permitting, we will do so. Heb. 6:1-3 (NIV)

Paul says, the elementary curriculum about Christ is the basics of the gospel--repentance from sin, faith in God, water baptism, laying on of hands, and even the resurrection and final judgment.

Let’s review these ABCs or our faith. (1.) Repentance (Gr: metanoia) is a reversal, a turn around. It’s to make a U-turn in our belief and behavior. Paul says we are to repent from “acts that lead to death”. He is referring to sinful behavior. He is also talking about turning from religion with all its rules and turning to relationship with God.

He says, (2.) Turn from dead acts or “works” (NKJV) to faith toward God.

Repentance ismaking an about face from anything that smacks of getting our self to heaven and totally putting our trust in what God has done through Jesus Christ to get us there!  

Next Paul lists (3.) “Baptism” as an elementary but essential start-up to faith. Baptism is a visible way to express of our faith in Christ. It’s like body language. The bible says we identify with Christ in his death, burial and resurrection. Then we walk into a whole new life. Rom. 6:4 (NIV)

Some think baptism is optional. But Jesus modeled it and commanded it. He said, whoever believes and is baptized will be saved. Mark 16:16 (NIV). We can’t move on to maturity until we finish the basics like baptism.

Paul includes, “the laying on of hands” in his list of basics. The power of the Holy Spirit was received by the laying on of hands. Acts 8:18 (NIV) Healing and anointing for service were also accompanied by the laying on of hands.  (Acts 28:8, 1Tim. 4:14, 1Tim. 5:22 NIV) 

We may think the Holy Spirits gift like speaking in spiritual languages, supernatural healing, and prophetic ministry are signs of maturity but Paul says this is also just the beginning. He even includes the teaching about resurrection, and eternal judgment as “elementary teachings”. 

We just spent three Sundays with Paul’s teaching on the resurrection of the dead and the eternal judgment. It’s a reminder that this life is not everything. This isn’t heaven! We are responsible people. One day we will rise and be changed and we will give an account of ourselves to God.

So what does Paul mean by moving on to maturity? The difference between maturity and immaturity is not knowledge, its experience. Maturity is moving from teaching to practice.   

By this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Heb. 5:12-14 (NIV)

Maturity is forward movement! When we are following Christ, there is no standing still or falling-out. Paul goes into a long run-on sentence warning us about this. He specifically mentions six spiritual experiences that if neglected or rejected could leave us in the dust.     

It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened,

who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit,

who have tasted the goodness of the word of God, and (who have experienced) the powers of the coming age…

if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. Heb. 6:4-6 (NIV)

If you experience God, with true repentance and are baptized, if you receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit--If you fully anticipate the resurrection, and then abandon it all you’re back at square one with the rest of the unrepentant scoffers who crucified Christ.  

Paul illustrates this principle with an analogy from agriculture.  Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God.

But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.  Heb. 6:7-8 (NIV)

God expects our relationship with him to be highly productive. He saturates us with the refreshing rain of his Holy Spirit time and time again because he is anticipating a valuable crop.

Repeating the basics over and over without really moving on to productive maturity can be a curse. It’s like getting inoculated with just enough Christianity to keep you from getting the real thing.

At least fifteen years ago we experienced an unusual season of powerful manifestations of the Holy Spirit. It began with a video of two young women that had been overcome by the presence and power of God so dramatically that they couldn’t move for several days.

These high school students were not exceptionally passionate about spiritual things until God captured their attention. In the video Pastor John Kilpatrick of the Brownsville Assembly of God in Pensacola Florida was interviewing this medical Doctor’s daughter. She began to violently shake and prophecy then she fell to the floor along with the Pastor.

When our Pastoral staff viewed the video it was frankly weird but we knew it was God’s power impacting these people. Spontaneously our staff members began to respond with open and repentant hearts. The same thing happened after viewing the video in a subsequent board meeting.

Then on the following Sunday morning I was preaching on repentance. “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”  2 Chron. 7:14

At the conclusion I showed the video from Pensacola. Again it just seemed really strange but there was an awesome sense of God’s presence all over it. First there was an uncomfortable silence. Then weeping began to break out across the congregation. The front of the church was filled with people some in silence others weeping. Several leaders candidly shared their pain, hurts, and losses. Sins were confessed hearts were opened. It was awesome!

That was the beginning of several years of a special visitation from God. Many revival and renewal leaders from around the world came our way with prophetic words and powerful manifestations of the Spirit.

It was wonderful and at times overwhelming. I clearly remember asking the Lord to tell be what this was all about. He lead me to Acts 3:19 “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord”   

The Lord impressed me that we were experiencing a “time of refreshing”. The word translated as “refreshing” was an ancient Greek medical term.  It was an expression for exposing a wound to fresh air for healing.

For Harbor Light this refreshing initiated what continues to be a gift for freedom and healing. Recovery Ministries like the prayer teams, Cleansing Streams, celebrate recovery, and more recently “Issue Focused Ministry” sessions have consistently touched thousands.

I sense God is up to something refreshing again. It may not be the same. The Holy Spirit is incredibly innovative. Throughout history, revival, renewal, and reformation begins with repentance. The Lord gave me three expressions of repentance several years ago. Humility, Hunger and Holiness.  We will talk a little more about this next week. 

Let me finish this passage. Paul has been in our face here about the Spirit’s rain producing something useful for both the grower and the consumer. We have to be faithful with what God has planted and watered if we expect to get more. However Paul compassionately ends this challenging word with some encouragement.  

Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are confident of better things in your case—things that accompany salvation. God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. Heb. 6:9-10

God is not absent-minded or insensitive. He rewards our work. Paul says our work is to love God and help people. This is the lasting fruit of revival. More love for God and more help for people! We do the loving and the working and He does the miracles! Simple but powerful! It will sustain a revival culture!

Then he adds something very close to last week’s closer, which was…be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. 1Cor. 15:58 (NIV)

Here he says, “We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.”  Heb. 6:10-12 (NIV)

We have been given many prophetic promises here at Harbor Light over the years. Many have been fulfilled, others we wait for. We are to imitate the heroes of faith who were faithful even when they did not see the fulfillment of the promises in their own lifetimes.  

Reaching this diverse community is a lot of work. The soil is very hard. But a little spring rain goes a long way. I am agreeing with Hosea, “He will come to us like the rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.” Hos. 6:1-3 (NIV)

Lord Jesus we welcome the spirit’s spring of refreshing. With faith and patience we will produce a new harvest as we love you and help people.