"Many want the Spirit's power but not the Spirit's purity. The Holy Spirit does not rent out His attributes. His power is never separated from His glorious Self." - James A. Stewart, Heaven's Throne Gift
Henry and Mel Blackaby further challenge many Christians' self-focused view of the Holy Spirit.
"Why is it that countless believers seem to stand powerless before a world desperately needing what we claim to have? Why does the church have so little impact? Why are so many Christians so frustrated?
There are probably several reasons, but a major one is that Christians are seeking gifts of the Holy Spirit and not the Holy Spirit Himself. They want power but not a relationship with the One whose presence gives power. They want to do great things for God, but haven't understood that greatness in the kingdom of God comes out of a relationship with Christ and the filling of the Holy Spirit. They are so enamored with self that they have no idea what is on the heart of God.
If we seek the gifts of the Spirit and not the Holy Spirit Himself, we'll always focus on self. We must learn to understand that there are no gifts apart from an intimate relationship with the Spirit.
How fully do you appreciate what this relationship means?
For the Christian, faith is not asking for what we don't have, but making use of what God says we already possess. It's simply trusting God's Word to be true. Nowhere else is this more profoundly true than in what is given us in God's Spirit." - Henry & Mel Blackaby, (What's so Spiritual about Your Gifts? pgs. 14-15)
Is Relationship the Root?
Our society tells us to utilize time for speed, efficiency, effectiveness, investing long hours of hard work, an attitude of "never let it rest until your good is better and your better is best," being the best-of-the-best, and more.
Yet, did Jesus model this form of living? What did He do? How did He handle the gift of time He was given?
But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. - Luke 5:16
Jesus withdrew from the crowds; those who sought after Him, His power, His miracles, His wisdom, truth, and understanding. Jesus often sought times alone before the Father. As He worshiped, thanked, praised, adored, petitioned, and listened to the Father, the Father provided Jesus with all He needed through their relationship. Jesus knew the importance of His relationship with the Father- not only for Himself, but also for the impact His model would have on others who sought after Him and followed Him.
Might Your Quiet Time Benefit from a Revision?
Many Christians establish a "quiet time" (time set apart with God) during a part of their day or night. For many, it's a set-aside time to study a portion of the Bible, read a short devotional, offer a few minutes of prayer, or something similar. Will doing these things draw one closer to the heart of God? Maybe so, maybe not. One question I'd ask is, "Have you invited the Holy Spirit into the time/conversation?"
A.W. Tozer once shared how he made it a habit to pray to the Holy Spirit to help him every time he read something. He did this whether he was reading Scripture, Shakespeare, a magazine, or newspaper article. Tozer explained how the Holy Spirit would share deeper insights, God's perspective on the passage or article, specific ways to pray about what he'd read, and teachings he likely never would've gleaned if he'd simply read without asking the Holy Spirit's partnership in doing so. This was especially the case when it came to reading the Bible!
Inviting the Holy Spirit's help and deepening presence draws us closer to the heart of God, but so does setting aside time to ask, meditate, ponder, and listen for God's impressions of our lives, decisions (past and upcoming), and more while being still before Him.
The Hurry-Up Offense
It's important to consider one's motive in a quiet time if a hurry-up attitude is present. Relationships based on momentary meetings are shallow at best.
Some better-known Christians in the past, known for power in their preaching, serving, leading others, and more, share something in common; they spent hours alone with God. Abraham, Moses, David, Jesus, Tozer, Moody, Spurgeon, Brother Lawrence, Ravenhill, Torrey, and many others discovered the power and joy of dwelling in the presence of God. As their personal relationships grew with God, they found themselves in no hurry to run away from God and back into the world's counterfeit joys. Many later wrote that they'd remain in God's presence until they felt He released them to go serve Him and others. Here we see a vastly different attitude than the common "tip of the hat" acknowledgement to God we frequently see in our Christian culture or in a 5-minute quiet time devotional pattern. God deserves better; and we're capable of presenting our hearts, lives, and times with Him in ways that better honor Him.
Many Christians, with deeper/deepening relationships with God, would emerge from their set-aside times with God to enter powerfully into appointments, meetings, speaking engagements, devotional times with their family members, ministry opportunities, public prayer meetings, and more; and they did so empowered by the Holy Spirit.
But you aren't Torrey, Tozer, Spurgeon, Abraham, David, Moses, or Ravenhill. You don't consider yourself a "professional Christian" taught or trained in seminary or by special discipleship courses. They didn't consider themselves "professional anythings," either. The depths of relationship they discovered with the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit weren't given to them because of who they were or because of any particular ministry they trained in or served with. They sought God, His time, His presence, refuge in Him, and quickly discovered the benefits of tasting and seeing that He is good (Psalm 34:8). Out of the time and depth they spent in God's presence flowed forth intimacy and a deeper relationship with God; prayer, speaking, writing, service, power, joy, godly passion for God, others, and more; unlike that of most others alive in their lifetimes.
Those same depths, and even greater depths, are just as available to you and me as they were to those considered "greats" throughout Christian history. But it's never about making a name for ourselves. It's about allowing His Name to become great in and through us.
God desires a deep/deepening relationship with you and me. But He allows us to determine the time and depth we invest in His presence. Our day-to-day lives often reveal the depth and time, or lack thereof, we spend with Him.
So, what's the hurry? Could we personally benefit by asking God, and His Spirit, to help us re-prioritize our schedules; time we dwell with Him, and others? Might it be a good time to seek God to help us hit the reset buttons of our lives, then show us how to prioritize Him more fully into and throughout our days? What's preventing you and me from seeking Him ahead of His gifts?
Lord, teach us to pray, and shepherd us forward into your presence as we do. In Jesus' name, Amen.
"But the biggest misfortune for a Christian does not lie in the calamity that befalls him in this world. It is the betrayal of God for the sake of secular things on earth." - Yuan Fusheng, house church leader in Beijing, China.