By David Stahl

Karen and I recently attended a nice little local Pentecostal Church.  The people were very friendly and warm, but there was not much Pentecost going on in the service.  If you did not know the name of the church you would have thought you were in a mainstream denominational  church:  two fast ones, a slow one, take up the offering, mention a few announcements, a short sermonette, and out the door.   Now I was raised in the Pentecostal church most of my youth and can remember the power of the Holy Spirit suddenly falling (tears streaming down cheeks, snot running out noses, people wailing then running to the altar repenting, and so much more), but it has been a long long time since I have seen this display of God’s power. I know it is not God not wanting to reveal Himself with such power He desires to open up the windows and heaven and pour out unto man His best, but maybe it is man who does not want to be bothered with the requirements to experience and handle the power of the Holy Spirit. For the most part the main stream denominations (including the eight or so Baptist  churches have left the power (whether you believe in speaking in an unknown tongue or are miracles are for today) of the Holy Spirit on the ground. To me this is amazingly sad.  Did you know this power from God, this Holy Spirit power is ours for the asking? In the Book of Acts we read,  “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”  (Act 1:8)This power is like the free gift of salvation, “Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.”  (Romans 5:18)  What a wonderful thought to know salvation for us is free (but it cost Jesus His life) and power from on high is waiting for our request. But in that request is the obligation to be obedient to what God wants in our lives. Obedience is in the Holy Spirit.  We are called upon by God to live and transcend above the carnal and natural.  We are brought into the kingdom of God to operate beyond our human ability.  No one in their own human ability can live a life for God and please God.   God picks us up and sets us on a higher plane.  He provides us with an ability beyond our own to operate and function on that plane which is higher than we.  It is a level higher than our natural, human capabilities.  God is after responses from us in the area of obedience. Our Heavenly Father calls for obedience in a certain situation.  He has given the ability to respond correctly through the power of the Holy Spirit.  The bottom line is are we going to use that power which the Father has provided and obey or are we going to turn from it and disobey.   At times we are caught in certain situations where as far as our natural ability was concerned it would have been total disobedience. To move in obedience to God in that situation seemed to be completely out of our hands.  But the Holy Spirit rushes in and lifts us up above our natural inability and into an ability we did not have.  At this point we still have a decision to make; are we or are we not going to respond correctly to the enabling of the Holy Spirit.  Only with help from our Heavenly Father is perfect obedience possible.  Such a thing brings a tremendous sense of victory.  We  know that God won the battle we did not, we simply surrendered to the mind of the Holy Spirit.  If we walk according to the Holy Spirit we shall not fulfill lusts of the flesh.  Paul tells us,  “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.”  (Galatians 5:16)  Why not?  Because the Holy Spirit is actively engaged in leading and directing us. The Spirit is constantly bringing to us God’s desires.  If (the most important word in the Bible it always sets the condition for receiving from God) we surrender to His direction (at that same time) it is impossible to be fulfilling our own carnal desires, “we shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.” It would be quite impossible. Another wonderful benefit of this Holy Spirit power is our obedience becomes the manifestation of love.  Jesus said, If ye love me, keep my commandments.”  (John 14:15)  The power of the Holy Spirit moves in us to bring us to obedience.  Here is another power which also moves in us to bring us to obedience.  The power of love brings to us the “want to” in obedience.  There are those who do not “want to” obey God, but love comes in and there is a change.  Now there is a desire to obey God.  Obedience begins in the small, easy things in our Christian walk.  We are first brought into obedience in our basic and undemanding babyhood.  That is just a beginning for us. Speaking of Jesus Paul said,  “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”  (Philippians 2:8)

As we follow in His path obedience will grow in strength, in us.  In its development it will carry us through our life into the fulfillment of the most difficult requirements that God has for us.  In other words the longer we go in God and the more we learn the easier learning  becomes. We grow into this we learn, we are not born again with this.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we were?  But we’re not.  We disobey, we make a mistake.  Failure is not failure unless you get stuck in it.  Failure is nothing but a stepping stone from one classroom to another classroom on that higher ground. Progress on failure! Why yes on failure.  The Bible is full of it.  Failure is not sin.  Sin is sin.  Failure is failure. There are many differences between the two.  Sin is wrong where failure is just another opportunity to try again and get it right.  Sin is wrong!  Never condone sin.  Sin no matter the situation is wrong in the eyes of God.  Sin is always judged through the heart and eyes of God not through our eyes.  What we would call sin God may not.  We must always be careful what we call things, but never condone sin.  One would say Abraham’s faith failed in his stay in Egypt and in regards to the son whom God promised him.  But he went on and came to the complete  faith which God intended for him.  Jacob’s life seemed hopeless in its beginning.  He went on and came to greatness.  Saul’s life was a disaster.  He wrestled and even fought the LORD. He even persecuted the LORD,  “And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?”  (Acts 9:4) But he went on from failure to become the great apostle Paul.  We see them succeeding in God because they did not get stuck and swallowed up in their failures, even in their disobedience.  They did not give up and sink deeply down into the thick mud and trapping mire.  They allowed the Lord to;  “He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.  And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.”  (Psalms 40:2-3) We will never be able to survive the “horrible pit” and the “miry clay”unless the Holy Spirit has empowered us with His ability. They did not get down thinking that God had forsaken them oh no, they did not bog down over the question, “what must God think of me now?”  They failed they knew it (the beginning of getting over failure).  They learned. “For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.”  (Proverbs 24:16)  Rather than sinking further into the hopeless mire of self-condemnation we can learn.  Let us step up on higher ground where it becomes more solid.  Let us allow our experiences to become learning processes for the LORD to develop us.  Sometimes our experiences are costly.  Since we pay we just well ought to gain some benefit in return from our pain. The learning process is best found in humility and submission.  “He humbled himself . . .”  This is where the success of learning obedience is found.  He became a servant.  Paul again helps us here, “But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:”  (Philippians 2:7) He became obedient in humility and servitude. There will be success in humility and servitude.  We cannot carry pride in our life and learn obedience.  That is quite impossible.  We may obey to a certain extent, as it pleases our whims and inclinations.  The extent of  our disobedience will be in direct proportions to the extent of the pride in our life. His Holy Spirit power is waiting for us.