by Gloria Copeland
One thing I’ve learned over the years about the Holy Spirit is that He’s not pushy. He doesn’t just barge in on our lives or our church services and do whatever He chooses. If we want Him to move among us in power, we have to recognize His ministry and be willing to wait on Him.
We have to invite Him into our midst and give Him place.
He doesn’t do things just between 11 and 12 o’clock on Sunday mornings. It just doesn’t work that way with God.
The Lord knows what people really need, and what it takes to get it to them. So, when He’s ministering to us by the Spirit (whether it’s on Sunday morning or any other time), He expects us to be patient. Rather than us always being in a hurry, He expects us to allow Him to finish His work.
A praying friend of mine once told me this is why we have to pray and intercede for the spiritual outpouring God has for us in this day. It’s not because we have to talk God into giving it to us. It’s because the Body of Christ must be prepared to receive it. We must come to the place where, more than anything else, we desire to let the Holy Spirit move.
As the Lord explained it to my friend, If I’m moving during a service and people get restless, if they start thinking about getting to the cafeteria before it gets too crowded, or getting home to watch the evening news, it grieves My Holy Spirit. It puts limits on Him and He’s not free to do all that He wants to do.
You might wonder, “What exactly does the Holy Spirit want to do in this hour?”
He wants to pour out God’s power and manifested presence in the greatest measure this earth has ever seen. He wants to work signs and wonders and miracles in unprecedented numbers. He wants to come upon all flesh and bring into God’s kingdom the end-time harvest of souls that’s been prophesied about for years.
I’m totally convinced the revival the Lord has planned for us in these days is going to be talked about for all eternity. In the ages to come it’s going to be remembered as The Big One! It’s going to be more astounding than the parting of the Red Sea and even more magnificent than the events recorded in the book of Acts.
God has saved His best for last—and we have the opportunity to be in on it!
To take full advantage of this opportunity, however, we have to learn to keep our attention on the things of God and stir up our hearts so that we desire Him more than we desire the things of the world. We have to open the door for the Holy Spirit to have full liberty among us by treating Him with the utmost reverence.
In our generation, we sometimes forget the importance of reverence. We think of God only in very familiar terms as our heavenly Father. We major on the facts that we are His children and He loves us very dearly. Yet, while those are thrilling and absolutely true, we need to remember that our heavenly Father is also the Lord God Almighty. He’s the Great I Am, and we should come before Him with honor and great, reverential respect.
Walking in the Fear of the Lord
Often in the Bible this kind of reverential respect is referred to as “the fear of the Lord.” That’s actually a wonderful phrase! When properly understood, it doesn’t carry a negative connotation. It doesn’t mean you should be frightened of God. It simply means you should esteem Him so highly that you always put Him first place and yield to Him in all things.
When you combine the fear of the Lord with faith in His Word, the Holy Spirit can work powerfully in your life. He can move on you, for you, and through you in marvelous and supernatural ways.
The book of Proverbs even connects the fear of the Lord with divine healing. Proverbs 3:5-8 says: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.”
Although those verses apply to each of us personally, they can also apply to the Body of Christ as a whole. In meetings and church services when we come together as a group, we become the “habitation of God” (Ephesians 2:22). We provide a place where He can dwell and work not only within us, but among us.
During our Believers’ Conventions, for example, when people come together for Healing School, in every single service the Holy Spirit moves and people get healed. Afterward they often testify that they’d been struggling with sickness for years. For some reason, just at home on their own, they couldn’t get a breakthrough. But during the meeting, the Word they heard preached and the collective faith of their fellow believers opened the door for the Holy Spirit to go to work on them and they were able to receive their miracle!
I’m convinced we’d see even more of those miracles if the Holy Spirit had His full way. But sometimes He doesn’t. Sometimes He’s hindered because, while He’s moving, especially if the service goes a little long, people in the congregation let their flesh distract them and they get to thinking about going to lunch or whatever. A few of them will even leave their seat, go out to the convention center snack bar, and come back carrying a hot dog and a soda, as if they’re at a ballgame.
Bless their hearts! I’m not being critical of those people. I’m just saying that tells me we have a problem in the Body of Christ. Not everyone realizes that, although we’re supposed to have a good time when we get together, church meetings and services are not just for our entertainment. They’re sacred assemblies where we honor God and participate with Him as He carries out His plans and purposes in people’s lives. They’re gatherings meant to be marked by a corporate sense of the reverential fear of the Lord.
“But Gloria,” someone might say, “I’ve always thought of the fear of the Lord as an Old Testament concept. Does it really apply to us as New Testament believers?”
Absolutely! It not only applies to us, we should be known for it. We should be like the believers in the early Church. Acts 9:31 says they were edified and multiplied, “walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost.”
Notice, according to that verse, even in New Testament times the power of the Spirit and the fear of the Lord go together. They work hand in hand. Therefore, if we want to experience an increasing measure of the Holy Spirit’s supernatural comfort and power, we must make sure we’re walking in the reverence of the Lord.
“How do we cultivate that kind of reverence?” you might ask. How do we overcome the pull of our flesh and its tendency to distract us? How do we discipline our physical body so that, whether we’re in our prayer time at home or assembled with other believers at church, we can give God the honor and the undivided attention He deserves?
One way we do it is by practicing.
An Uncomfortable Dilemma
Our physical body is trained by practice. It’s naturally wired to develop habits as a result of doing things over and over. Think about what you were like before you were born again and you’ll understand what I mean. As an unbeliever, you had a habit of sinning. You didn’t have to try real hard to do it. You could sin without even thinking about it because you’d practiced all your life. You were well developed in it.
When you put your faith in Jesus, although your spirit instantly became a new creation, your body didn’t. It still had the same old bad habits you’d practiced when you were in your unsaved condition. As a result, in the early days of your Christian life, while your heart was pulling you toward the things of God your flesh was still pulling you in the opposite direction.
That’s a very uncomfortable way to live! When we’re first born again, it presents all of us as believers with a real dilemma. The Word of God, however, gives us the solution. It says, “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).
When we practice walking in the spirit, we turn the habit-forming bent of our body to our advantage. By spending time every day in fellowship with God, praying and feeding on His Word and doing what He says, we retrain our flesh. We bring our natural, physical body into subjection and develop new habits that reflect the righteousness that’s in our reborn spirit.
This is the way we, as believers, are designed to operate! It’s the reason God gave us the New Covenant. As Romans 8:4-5 says:
So that the righteous and just requirement of the Law might be fully met in us who live and move not in the ways of the flesh but in the ways of the Spirit [our lives governed not by the standards and according to the dictates of the flesh, but controlled by the Holy Spirit]. For those who are according to the flesh…set their minds on and pursue those things which gratify the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit…set their minds on and seek those things which gratify the [Holy] Spirit (The Amplified Bible, Classic Edition).
To be clear, those verses don’t say we’ll get to the point where we’ve spiritually arrived and we don’t have to deal with the flesh anymore. No, as long as we live on the earth we have to keep practicing putting spiritual things first. Otherwise, we’ll get our attention back on natural things and fleshly desires, and we’ll lose some of our hunger for God.
I’ll never forget the moment back in 1977 when I realized that very thing had happened to me. At the time, I was listening to a prophecy given by Kenneth E. Hagin. He was prophesying about believers in the last days who will march out into the world like a great spiritual army, doing the works of Jesus.
“You can be part of that army if you desire,” he said. “So purpose in your heart that you’ll not be lazy, that you’ll not draw back. Purpose in your heart that you will rise up and march forward and become on fire.”
When I heard those words, I realized something about myself I hadn’t previously noticed. After 10 years in ministry, I wasn’t as on fire for the Lord as I had once been!
In 1967, when Ken and I had first started learning about faith and the integrity of God’s Word, I’d been so spiritually hungry that the things of God had absolutely consumed my thinking and my life. I didn’t give my attention to anything else. Partly because we were in such a desperate situation back then—broke and saddled with a mountain of debt—I saw God as my only hope. So other than taking care of my children and doing my duties at home, I spent my time with Him in the Word.
By 1977, however, Ken and I had grown some in the Lord and our situation had changed. We were blessed, debt free and prospering. Busy with ministry matters and life in general, natural things had increasingly begun to absorb my attention. As a result, my passion for the things of the Lord had cooled off. Although I was still putting the Word in my heart every day, I was doing it out of discipline instead of desire.
That day, as I was listening to Brother Hagin, I decided to make a change. I purposed in my heart to do what he said and become spiritually on fire again. I made a commitment to give less of my time to all the other things I’d been doing—things that, although they weren’t wrong, had begun to occupy too important a place in my life—and give more of my attention to prayer and God’s Word.
Sure enough, before long the hunger in my heart for things of God began to return!
My desire for Him increased. My passion for the move of His Spirit heated back up again. Why? Because it’s a principle: Our desire follows our attention. The more we attend to the things of the flesh, the more we desire and follow after the flesh. The more we attend to the things of God, the more we wholeheartedly desire and follow Him.
Colossians 3:1-2 says: “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.”
Those are God’s marching orders to us as believers—and they are especially vital for those of us who are living in the last of the last days. We don’t have time anymore to straddle the fence between the flesh and the spirit. The biggest spiritual outpouring this earth has ever seen has already begun. God wants to reveal His glory through the Church as never before.
So let’s invite Him into our midst and let Him do it. Let’s give Him first place in our lives and our church services. Let’s reverence Him above all, bring our flesh into submission, and throw the door wide open for the Holy Spirit to do everything He wants to do!
Points to Get You There
You can help open the door for the outpouring of the Spirit. Here are some points to get you there.
- The Holy Spirit isn’t pushy; He waits for you to invite Him in and give place to Him. Luke 11:13
- God wants to pour out the power of the Holy Spirit in these last days in the greatest measure this earth has ever seen. Acts 2:17, 19
- Keep the door open for the Holy Spirit to move by cultivating great reverence for the Lord. Acts 9:31
- Train your flesh to submit to the Spirit by spending time in fellowship with God and obeying Him every day. Galatians 5:16
- Increase the level of your spiritual desire by giving God and His Word more of your attention. Colossians 3:2