Empowerment for Service

Here’s a post I recently wrote for the Heritage Seminary Blog.

Do you long for a greater sense of God’s empowerment as you serve Christ?  Me too.  I’ve been in ministry long enough to know that, without the Lord’s empowerment, my best efforts have no eternal impact.
That’s one of the reasons I’m drawn to what happened in Northfield, Massachusetts back in 1880.  Northfield was the home of 19thcentury evangelist Dwight L. Moody.  He was born there in 1837 and buried there in 1899.

moodyIn 1880, Moody invited Christians across America and Canada to gather in Northfield to pray for the Lord’s empowerment in ministry.

He wrote, “Feeling deeply this great need and believing that it is in reserve for all who honestly seek it, a gathering is herby called to meet in Northfield, Massachusetts, from September 1 to 10 . . . for solemn self-consecration, and to plead God’s promises, and to wait upon Him for a fresh anointing of power from on high.”  (You can read the full announcement of the “Convocation for Prayer” here.)

Moody understood what Jesus told his first disciples.  Jesus instructed his followers to remain in Jerusalem and “wait for the promise of the Father”—the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus knew his followers needed supernatural power to carry out the global mission he was giving them.  “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

As you read through the book of Acts, you see the Holy Spirit repeatedly empowering believers for their witness in the world.

 “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them. . . .” (4:8)

“And when they had prayed the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.” (4:31)

“But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said. . . .” (13:9)

So how can we be empowered by the Spirit for the ministry God has given us?  My study of the book of Acts has led me to this conclusion:  the Spirit empowers Christians after we prayand as we obey.  First, we cry out for the Spirit’s strengthening power; then we step out in obedience to serve Christ.

The Christians who gathered in Northfield in 1880 prayed with a sense of consecration and anticipation.  Then they returned to their places of service, trusting the Lord to work powerfully through them.

Northfield, MA

This past summer, Linda and I drove to Northfield Massachusetts and walked grounds where Christians gathered 138 years ago.  As I walked the hillsides near Moody’s homestead, I cried out to the Lord for a greater work of his Spirit in my life, in the lives of Heritage students and in the churches in Canada.

As we begin a new year at Heritage Seminary, I invite you to join me in praying for a powerful work of God’s Spirit in our lives and ministries.  Let’s ask him to empower us for the mission and ministry Christ has given to his Church.

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