The church, indeed, the entire world, is in desperate need of God’s mighty power. Deliverance from oppression and suffering, the judging of evil and wickedness, salvation to millions - all of these things will require a great release of God’s power.
When Jesus ascended to the Father, He launched His fledgling church - 12 disciples and a handful of ardent followers, some of whom had been with Him throughout His entire ministry. Before sending them, however, He gave this band of enthusiastic zealots an interesting command: wait (see Acts 1:1-8).
I can think of many things Christ may have said to them at this point, none of which would have been “wait.” Wait for what? One would think the proper response at this moment would have been to act quickly, seizing the moment. But Jesus said, “Wait. Wait until the Father sends you a new level of power, through the infilling of the Holy Spirit.”
Why wait? Why didn’t Jesus baptize them in the Holy Spirit right then? Because God had appointed a right time to do so, the feast day called “Pentecost.” “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place,” (Acts 2:1).
It is not always easy to wait for the timing of God, but it is always necessary. Sometimes we won’t know the reason for His timing, but we must trust that He does all things well. In this instance, just as with the Cross, God was doing things in sync with Jewish feasts, in order to fulfill symbolisms and pictures He had painted in the Old Testament. The point is that there was “a right time” for the release of God’s power. And whether they liked it or not, the early disciples had to wait.
In our lives, timing is usually based on circumstances God is dealing with: prayer and/or obedience that is needed, repentance and cleansing (hearts made ready), faith being released, satan being bound, Holy Spirit’s determination to use circumstances to work in our lives, and more. One thing we can be assured of, however, is that we are now in a “right time” and God’s power is about to be released on the world scene in a significant way.
We must allow God to prepare us for this. We did the 30-days of separating our hearts to Him, using The Pleasure of His Company book for this very purpose (see the GiveHim15.com archives). Unless and until we are made ready to receive God’s outpouring of power, it can have the opposite effect from what He and we desire. God’s power can destroy those unprepared for it.
In his great book, Rebuilding the Broken Altar, Greg Hood writes about this:
“In 1 Kings 18, things were dark for Israel. Baal worship ruled the spiritual landscape, presided over by nefarious rulers Queen Jezebel and her doleful husband, King Ahab. Poverty and hunger abounded. The people lived in fear. God’s power was desperately needed. The prophet Elijah decreed a three-year drought upon the land as part of the needed preparation process. Eventually, he heard from God that it was time for breakthrough (1 Kings 18:1); God would release His power and show Himself strong. Therefore, Elijah challenged Jezebel’s 850 prophets of Baal to a showdown. ‘Let’s see whose God will show up with fire-power and consume a sacrifice on Mount Carmel.’
“Ordinarily, we might consider the odds of 850 stark-raving mad, demon worshipers, armed to the teeth, competing against one lonely prophet of God to be slightly skewed. But hey…I never said God fights fair!
“Elijah knew it was time. The nation of Israel was starving. People were dying physically from lack of water and spiritually from lack of God’s presence. They were ready for change, so Elijah gave Ahab the ultimatum. ‘Get your army of prophets together and we’ll see who is truly God in Israel, Baal or Yahweh.’
“It was a contest of power. It had to be. The Prophets of Baal, and by extension, the children of Israel had sought power, and satan had obliged. He will use power to entice and impress. God does not. Yet, He does use signs to point to Himself and confirm to the hungry that He is God. But He never does so to impress, perform, or satisfy the skeptic. At the time of Elijah’s challenge, Israel was living out the dire consequences of their misguided quest for power. For years, they had gone after foreign gods. Despite God’s love for them, the Jews were drawn to the tactile gods etched in wood and stone and appeased with the warm blood of human sacrifice—often innocent children. Power they had sought, and power they had received…with devastating results.
“It was time for change. It was time for GOD’s power. But first, preparation was needed. With all of Israel gathered for the contest, the prophets of Baal built an altar, laid a bull upon it, and called on Baal to answer with fire. They screamed, cried and cut themselves, imploring this demonic imposter to respond with a demonstration of his potency and supremacy.
“And you know what? He did just that. He did…nothing.
“At the end of the day, Elijah knew it was time for God’s power to fall, time to show Israel just who the true God was. Well…almost time.
“With all of Israel watching and the Prophets of Baal seething hate, Elijah did what every servant of God has done since the dawn of time: he built an altar. Before the power of God Almighty could fall and the contest be decided; before the people could be converted and those who had defiled Israel into abandoning its true God be judged...Elijah built an altar.
“He brought together 12 stones, each stone representing a tribe of Israel. Each tribe was unique in blessing, power and qualification; each tribe represented a different facet in the jeweled crown of God’s chosen people on earth; and each tribe, like the stones Elijah was gathering, soiled through their forsaking of the Lord.
“Israel, pictured by this altar, an altar once paired with God and now re-paired. A nation being prepared to receive the power of God. This power was about to fall, and those prepared to receive it would survive and be blessed. Those not qualified would be destroyed.
“And so it was. With the altar restored and the sacrifice splayed for the sins of the people, Elijah positioned himself before the altar he had built in obedience to God, and prayed.
“God answered. Power fell. Fire consumed the sacrifice and the altar. The people cried out: ‘Yahweh, He is God!’ And the prophets of Baal rushed for the exits…a tad too late.
“Yes, there was a great slaughter of evil that day, but the real story was God’s power and love. God prepared the people to receive His power. In spite of heinous sin, He never abandoned His people. Nor did He send His delivering power prematurely. He prepared them through difficult circumstances, showed His commitment to them by lifting the drought, revealed His restorative mercy through the altar and demonstrated His power through the fire.
“God will bring His redeeming power as long as we submit to the qualifying process. From the moment we pray, He begins preparing us for the answer. It might take minutes; it might take days…even years. But God is faithful to not give us what we ask for until we’re ready to receive it.
“Seeking God’s power? Build an altar!”
Pray with me:
Father, we pray today that You would give us the discernment, patience and fortitude to walk out the process of redemption You have set underway in America. Help us, by the power of Holy Spirit, to not just sit back and wait for You, but to partner with You as sons and daughters; to execute the entire process of Your plan for our nation. We agree with You, Lord, that You are not done with America, that You are creating a place, through us, for Your fire to fall. Thank You, Father, for Your goodness and for contending with us to see Your will done on the earth.
We decree that there is a fresh wind of Holy Spirit moving across this nation, filling God’s people with a fresh power of His Spirit. We also decree that we are moving out of the cheap seats of the spectators, into the place where altars are built for the fire of God to fall and the nation be redeemed. Amen.
Portions of today’s post were contributed by Dr. Greg Hood. You can find out more about Greg here.
Click on the link below to watch the full prayer.