Is this it? Is this what Jesus meant?

The following article is a tweaked version of a message I gave recently. It’s something God has really been pressing on me in recent months in my personal time of prayer and Bible study. I cannot shake it. I can’t shake the feeling that He may be waiting for many of us to admit to our dissatisfaction and lift our chins toward heaven and have guts enough to ask, “Is this it, Lord? Is what we are seeing of the work of Your Holy Spirit all we can expect? Is this what You meant?”

If it is, then may God give peace and acceptance and understanding to those of us who are unsettled. But, what if our dissatisfaction isn’t inappropriate? What if it’s God-stirred? What if it has nothing to do with cynicism? What if God is sitting on His Throne, shaking His head with our willingness to accept so little evidence of His promises and He’s waiting for a number of us to say, “Is this all we can expect of the outpouring of Your Spirit in our day and in our part of the world?”

We’ve seen drops. Even seen a few showers but I’ve taken longer showers than those on a Monday morning running late for work.

I just keep staring at accounts of those early Jesus followers then into the mirror, bewildered over the dissimilarities.

Hebrews 10:32-39, for example.

32 But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, 33 sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. 34 For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. 35 Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. 37 For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; 38  but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” 39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls. 

And Acts 5:27-29 and 40-42.

27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, 28 saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. 

40 and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41 Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. 42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus. 

This is our heritage. The early followers of Jesus were unstoppable and not just unstoppable in works but unstoppable in faith and unceasing in joy. Do we look joyful to us? But what was given to them that drove their unstoppable work, unstoppable faith and unstoppable joy is the exact same thing we have been given.

Same exact Savior. Same Holy Spirit. “The promised Holy Spirit” (Eph.1:13) whose indwelling power turned fumbling followers of Jesus into unstoppable forces of the Kingdom of the living Christ. My daily Bible reading has recently had me in the pages of Jeremiah. The twelfth chapter records the prophet Jeremiah registering a complaint with God. He’d done so earlier and received reassurance from God. This time, God met Jeremiah’s complaint with a different response:

“If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you, how will you compete with horses? And if in a safe land you are so trusting, what will you do in the thicket of the Jordan? (Jer. 12:5)

Something about it rang true to me concerning our present Christian atmosphere here in the west. We’re so preoccupied competing with one another for the spotlight that the real darkness rages on undeterred. We have lost our tolerance for discomfort and renamed it pain. And we have upgraded pain to torture. The least insult and we cry persecution. Because we react to every day frustration at a 10, when we encounter real opposition and oppression, we’ve got nothing left. We’re too exhausted from carrying our purses to move mountains. I don’t think we meant to be reduced to this. We were just picnicking by the brook of culture, wading knee deep when the flood came and engulfed us. We’ve had an outpouring alright but it’s the spirit of the world.

The thing is, we like it. It offers instant pain relief for our paper cuts and microphones for our ceaseless opinions. And, anyway, why get ourselves all scratched up in the thicket when we can perform in costumes on stage?

We’ve atrophied in our affluence. In some respects our quality of life has diminished our quantity of Spirit. We need less so we pray less, plead for less, believe for less, live for less. I’m not proposing we go sell everything we have but I am proposing we not sell our souls to everything we have.

The earth is quaking with peril. Injustice abounds and we throw it pennies and post selfies doing it. We’re preoccupied with our race against one another while the eyes of heaven search the earth for servants of Elijah’s ilk willing to pay the price, pray earnestly for rain with such fiery faith that, at the sight of the first fist-sized cloud, they’d run like the wind, leaving the chariots of the world’s proud and mighty in clouds of dust.

“The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently…” (James 5:16b-17a)

We’ve lost our tolerance for pain and given way to whining and it does not look good on us. But here’s the question that keeps needling at me: Could it be possible that our habitual whining is the result of failing to wail when we should have? There’s stuff to wail about. The condition of the world, the sufferings of the masses, the hemorrhaging of the truth and the colossal loss of Christlikeness in the church are wail-worthy. What would happen if there was less long term whining and more rightly timed wailing?

Over the course of the last five years, one of the things I believe God has consistently made clear to me is that He’d require more in my later years than less.  Coasting was out of the question. If I wanted to teach and minister under an increasing anointing, for instance, or bear fruit more profusely or see bona fide breakthroughs in the Body of Christ and true wonders of God in the midst of ministry, I’d have to press in further, go deeper with Him in His Word, get bolder in love, service, prayer and get mightier in battle. Humbler in spirit. Some of the need for pressing in further as time goes on can probably be explained by Revelation 12:12. Satan is furious because he knows his time is short. Each generation will either get stronger in battle or sink further and further into defeat. But I also think God’s increased requirement was for my good. What once came a little easier, I’d now have to fight for. I’d have to want it desperately. Cry out for it.

This has been the gift of my older age, not the curse. I bring it up only because I wonder if I’m not the only one to whom Jesus is, in effect, saying, “It’s going to take more than this.”

John the Baptizer said Jesus would baptize us with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

But where IS our fire? Where IS the Holy Spirit?

It LOOKS like the Holy Spirit.

It SOUNDS like the Holy Spirit.

It often ACTS like the Holy Spirit.

But here’s the pertinent question: Does it WORK like the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit is effectual. His work bears abundant, lasting fruit.

I keep reading and reading the New Testament. I keep studying those early followers, noting how the Holy Spirit looked on them and operated through them. I don’t think this is it. I think we’re settling for woefully less than Jesus promised us He’d do. He is unfailingly faithful so He’s not the problem. Where are the “greater works than these” among us? Don’t tell me they were meant for those first followers alone. I won’t believe you and I won’t because I don’t think the New Testament from Matthew to Revelation supports it.  We’ve lowered the bar and exchanged the spring of living water for the spiked Kool Aid of cool cultural Christianity.

Yes, it is incumbent upon us to be relevant because we are not the church of a century ago. We are the church here and now. But what will make us relevant is the fact that our faith actually works. That we really are who we claim to be. Evidences that Jesus does what He says He does. To have an appearance of godliness but lack its power was a sign of fraudulence in 2 Timothy 3:5. We’re called to a fearlessness in the Spirit that results in authentic power, love and self control.

Good Lord, where is an ounce of self control among us???

If we were experiencing more than a few splatters of the Holy Spirit, we’d see evidences like…

Repentance of sins, then FRUIT of that repentance. Salvation of souls. Freedom from bondage that outlasts the weekend. Release from oppression. Transformation. True humility. Forgiveness. Reconciliation. The impossible made possible. Deliverance from addiction that takes less than 20 rounds of rehab. Remarkable reductions in pornography. (I’m talking about among US. The church. Forget preaching it the world when we’re neck deep in it ourselves. Pornography is leaving us impotent spiritually as much as physically.) Real, live healing from brokenness and brokenheartedness. JOY abounding even in suffering.

Some hint of real unity.

I just keep looking around, reading, watching podcasts, listening, trying my best to pay attention and I keep thinking, “is this it?”

Looks like the Holy Spirit.

Sounds like the Holy Spirit.

Acts like the Holy Spirit.

That’s not enough.

We cannot let up until we see the EFFECTS of the Holy Spirit. And if we’re not seeing them, let’s have courage enough to ask why. Galatians 3:3 says we can start something genuinely in the Holy Spirit but finish it in the flesh. Sometimes we lose heart but most of the time we just lose interest. Oh, to fall back on our faces that the Holy Spirit would fall back on us.

Leadership keeps talking about our corporate need for repentance but have we led the way? Are we even really praying anymore? Do we read our Bibles anymore? As hard as this is to accept, reading a blogpost does not qualify as reading the Bible.  For crying out loud, we’re getting push notifications on our phones for our daily Scripture readings and calling it spiritual discipline.  The way to the altar of repentance is so overgrown with the weeds of neglect, it’s not even visible. It’s up to us to hack the way through it and make the way clear again. It’s up to us to weep and wail for the church who has lost her way.

We are suffering from anemia. We need iron back in our blood. Calcium back in our bones.

In 1 Thessalonians 2:13, Paul refers to “the word of God which is at WORK within you.” If we were in the Word of God, it would be at work in us.

In Colossians 1:29 he says,, “For this I toil struggling with all His energy that He powerfully works within me.”

Many of us working hard in the Body of Christ. We are exhausted and unfulfilled and perhaps for any number of reasons but maybe chief among them is that we are empowering the powerful instead of the powerless.

Is this what the outpouring of the Holy Spirit was supposed to look like? The powerful keep getting more powerful? We’ve become wolves among sheep rather than sheep among wolves.

There are many upsides to the access the internet gives us to see innumerable events and concerts and church services where the Holy Spirit is powerfully at work but one downside is that we can inadvertently create the same atmosphere but without the authentic anointing of the Spirit.

Our biggest hindrance can sometimes be the fact that we’re just good at what we do. And we know how to do it. We’re huge on hype and hype is posing as the Holy Spirit.  A few weeks later when the adrenaline fizzles out and we’re back to our old selves and the environment is back to its old climate, why aren’t we asking,

WAS THAT IT? Is that all there is to it? All we can expect? All we should expect?

It’s risky to wait on the Lord and rely on His Spirit. It’s so much easier to default into what has worked before. The crowd pleaser. The crowd rouser. But what if we got the nerve to quit defaulting? What if we risked feeling the lack of His Presence if that’s what it took to send us to our knees to cry out for Him? What if we no longer relied on what we know would rally and we started admitting to Him in corporate and personal prayer that we’ve grown inept and ineffective and we’ve faked half of what appears to be working and we want Him back in the worst way?

I want holy fire. Bona fide holy fire. I don’t think what we’re seeing is what Jesus was saying. I want to see the real thing. Feel its heat. See its effects. There are glimpses here and there – a few campfires smoking – but I don’t think anybody’s got gall enough to say that the Body of Christ is glaring with the evidence of the Holy Spirit. In the words of Moses, what else but His Presence will distinguish us from the rest of the world?

“O God, we have heard with our ears, our fathers have told us,

what deeds you performed in their days, in the days of old.” Psalm 44:1

 

Share

129 Responses to “Is this it? Is this what Jesus meant?”

If you'd like your own pic by your comment, go to Gravatar.com. Click the first button "Get your gravatar today ->", and it will walk you through a simple process to select a picture.

Comments:

  1. 101

    Yes, Beth, there definitely seems to be a great shift of the quiet, simple, and patient shift in faith from those before us. We have now become addicted to technology we aren’t satisfied with The Word as we could be before. Now it takes discipline and self-control to resist a new temptation that didn’t exist even 10 years ago – instant connection to anyone and anything besides God on a phone always at our fingertips. You’re not alone in what you’re feeling. Thank you for voicing it so well.

  2. 102

    I have been susceptible to being caught up in hype masked as Holy Spirit. When it isn’t real, it always rings hollow eventually. However, during the most quiet, simple moments – those tend to be the times I can feel the absolute, awe-inspiring presence of the Holy Spirit. As much as I wish I could recreate it, I just can’t. But I know one thing – I want MORE of it.

  3. 103
    Natalie Bone says:

    Keep going Ms. Moore!!! Keep telling the truth to anyone who has ears to hear! May the Lord continue to speak through you to encourage, disable the enemies hold and to show what it means to live as a chosen child of the King!!!! This mama is SO thankful for you!!

  4. 104
    Sheri says:

    Wow – this is a really good word and I will say that I have never been a Beth Moore fan. I appreciate the work she is doing – teaching God’s Word. I do. But I was also born into the world of American’s Christian “culture” and I will say that I see danger signs in the Beth Moore movement. Mostly, what concerns me is that almost every church I have found uses her videos and curriculum for their women’s Bible studies. That means there are a whole lot of women at local churches not getting the chance or challenge to step up and lead and teach to those in their local community. HUGE opportunities lost. I am also concerned because the evangelical world has become increasingly falling into the celebrity worship trap. Mrs. Moore has become the Christian world’s “princess”. She’s super cute, polished, and bold. So I say all that to say I am thankful that from her sheltered view of being in the center of Christian “stardom”, I sense in this article that she is feeling the uneasiness of that celebrity worship stuff. I sense that she is listening to the Holy Spirit reminding her that it’s not about the crowds, emotionalism, hype. God IS moving and has been since He created the world. But usually we need to walk away from all the noise to find Him. He can still be found by the bedsides of all of His children who quietly, humbly call on Him. He can be found in those who live by faith even though they may have a deformity, or other undesirable quality that makes them less than popular in our culture that worships physical beauty. I, as a teenager and in my 20s, I used to love going to Christian concerts, conferences, and reading Christian self-help books. Then, I felt God convicting me and saying “When will it be enough?” I’ve given you SO much – it’s time to go into the dark corners and share all I’ve given.” I got a job in Social Services at a nursing home where I could serve the old, forgotten frail elderly and my joy returned. I think Beth Moore is sensing that God is wanting her to remember what is important. And I’m thankful she is being sensitive to the Holy Spirit and sharing her journey with others.

  5. 105
    Destee says:

    Beth, you put words to my journey. I also am seeking the Holy Spirit working as it was in Acts. I actually am in tears reading this because I grieve for the state of my heart and of the church of today. Have we grieved the Spirit so much by our lukewarm ways, our repeated compromises of holiness, our lack of faith and devotion? We have failed our Savior. We are people overgaken by the weeds. Lovers of the world. God help us! I’m so sorry Lord God. Help us!

  6. 106
    Kelsa says:

    Wow. It’s like you pulled up a seat in my heart and took notes. You put words to the stirring I have felt lately and you are so right! So what do we do? Besides the obvious answers of pray more, read the Bible and live by it, how do we realize this?

  7. 107
    Caiti Forslof says:

    Hot dog! this was the best article I’ve read in a long time! Yes! Yes! A thousand times yes!! I’ve been asking these questions for so long and both my husband and I have sensed a greater need for the church to awaken!! Lord! Wake us up! Put a fire with in us and beneath our feet!!

  8. 108
    Mary Ann says:

    No, this isn’t it! I have felt this way since I was very young. I have listened to pastors say that certain works of the Holy Spirit would not happen again because they could only be performed by Apostles. Yet, I didn’t see that in scripture. I have prayed about it and neglected praying about it. God gave me the opportunity to go across the ocean and experience first hand what He was doing. He even allowed me to be the one to pray for healing for a little boy who couldn’t walk. A few days later that boy was running with the other children. A few weeks ago, he took us to the home of a young lady plagued by an evil spirit and He delivered her! These are awesome acts of God but the greatest thing I have seen is over 20 people confess their belief in Jesus and give up their lives to follow HIM despite the consequences! I am thankful for the teachers that God has allowed me to hear, but I am sad that so many of them have not challenged themselves or us to put aside our materialism and do everything we can to give access around the world to those who have never heard the Good News! I am guilty of wasting so much time. Time that could have been used truly trusting the power of the Holy Spirit. God help us all to get in the race and pour ourselves out for His Glory!

  9. 109

    I couldn’t agree more! I have recently launched a ministry after 20 years of raising kids. During that time God has shaped me and sent the Holy Spirit to be my breath, guide and friend. I appreciate those called for missions but He has laid it on my heart that our greatest mission field is right here in our own backyards. Christians should appear to be supernatural in their joy, heath and love to the lost. I realize I have a long way to go in shaping my message and following Gods call, but I believe the first step is just putting one foot out there to start. We all should have a ministry in our own environments. What a confirmation to read that Beth has on her heart the same message that has been burning in mine. I pray that the fire Beth is igniting continues to fuel others. That many others answer the call to light the way for the lost. Praise God for all His blessings now and to come.

  10. 110
    Trina says:

    Yep. My husband and I have read this and are talking right now about it. We love you and believe you are teaching truth. My husband has posed an interesting question. Beth do you ever wonder if you need to close down the media-driven arm of your ministry (the part that costs money for people to access like simulcasts or LPL events) and conduct the Great Commission in your direct sphere of influence? By the way, if I had no access to your teaching online, I would be sad!! But we were pondering how did the early church do it? Are teachers who use social media and paid-for video teachings and books helping to drive the habits you speak of here in the post? AGAIN, I love them and am encouraged but I confess it has made me lazy at times . . . letting someone else do the digging and spoon feeding it to me. Just thoughts.

    I echo your senitments on questioning where have changes taken place. When a person comes to Christ they should be changed. I have discipled 2 or 3 people only to have them go on with their lives unchanged that I could see. No fruit. I’m so frustrated by this.I realize the pathway of Life is narrow and few will choose it. BUT I WANT TO SEE A LIFE TRULY CHANGED! Anyone else??

  11. 111
    Mindy says:

    AMEN! You are not the only one! God is stirring His church, His bride! May we make ourselves ready. “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God” [Psalm 42:1].

  12. 112
    Christine Peterson says:

    Alas, we can not know the mind of God, but I have felt a disturbance fir
    some time. I believe the enemy is pressing against the body
    of Christ, in a strong yet subtle way, and if not careful we can
    be lulled into complacency.
    Out antidote for this, is to submerge ourselves in the Word
    increase our prayer time, and make sure we do both in a bible based, spirit filled
    church. Only then, by seeking Him, in humility, with praise and thanksgiving, and by putting on the whole armour if God,can we hope to find the strength to engage in the battle at hand. (Ephesians 6:12)

  13. 113

    Yes! The cry of my heart for 15 years and a journey of growing faith and trust in His Spirit God is walking me through. I have heard others liken the “move of the Holy Spirit” over the past 100 years more to the Ishmael but “Isaac is coming.” Is what we have seen thus far been man’s attempt to expedite and force a greater work of His Spirit yet to come? It’s not that God Spirit has not or is not genuinely moving, but that man seeks it for man’s glory and pleasure more than moving in the flow and will of God’s purpose and glory?

  14. 114
    Diane Watt says:

    Your words are my thoughts!

    I turn 40 next month and I’m determined to spend the next 40 years radically different than the first. The Church is dying! I’m not gonna sit around and watch it happen.

    Time is short and Satan is ticked, but Revelation speaks of a remnant church in the last days – the Church of Philadelphia – who will ring faithfully and true amongst an onslaught of darkness. I feel like God’s Spirit is beckoning us to fill that church. Get on the ark. Spread His message effectually before time itself seals up.

    I’m ready. I’ve much to learn but my Teacher is powerful, wise, and patient. He will do it.

    Our generation sits on the precipice of change – and not necessarily the good kind – and our Savior gives us the tools to tell the whole world His good news. He asks us, “Are you willing? Will you gather up the armor? Fight the good fight?”

    Where amongst us are the Isaiahs, the here-am-I-Lord? Those who sacrifice their bodies, minds, and strength to the will of God to fight until the end? I proudly stand with them!

    Let’s pick up our Swords, Mighty Saints! The wind of the Spirit is beneath our wings; let us mount up as eagles and take flight.

    Diane Watt

  15. 115
    Janice says:

    I’d like to listen to your message that this post came from if you have an audio or video of it. Thanks for sharing, so meaningful!!

  16. 116
    Joslyn Roadstrom says:

    What if we have mistook the true meaning of the “baptism of the Holy Ghost”? We think it’s power….but power to do what?! What if it’s the power to follow the commands of God? What if the answers are really at the beginning?

  17. 117
  18. 118
    Shelley says:

    Shared this yesterday morning with a young 20-something I recently met. She’s chasing a PhD in neuroscience and recently converted from Hinduism to Christianity.

    “Thanks for sharing that piece with me…very convicting!!

    And it is very very very timely! I had been pondering all week if I was expecting too much from God…and bam! This piece of great writing convicted me to my bones. Thank you. Now more of my trust is restored in Christ!!”

  19. 119
    JENNIE SPEARIN says:

    Oh Miss Beth, so, so well said! 100 percent right on! Thank you! Thank You! I have been asking the same question, I just didn’t know how to put it into words. So much to think about and get on my knees and pray about! May God bless and keep you in his arms and you keep proclaiming his Glory!

  20. 120

    Yes! Amen and AMEN!

  21. 121
    April Rogers says:

    I cannot look at anybody with a pointed finger; the only thing I can do at this moment is say, Lord, it’s me! This is me right now. I am convicted at my core. I have sinned greatly against the Lord, trying to accomplish “great” things for the kingdom but truly in my own strength. I need the fire. I need the power of the Holy Spirit. I need God right now. Lord, I repent. I am sorry for the unauthorized fire that I’ve allowed to operate in my life and ministry. My soul cries out now for more of you Lord God. Forgive me. Set my soul on fire for you God. I need you!!!! Lord have mercy on our wretched souls for desiring the world and people’s affirmation more than you!

Leave a Reply

To receive a daily digest of comments on this post, enter your email address below: