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"Christmas: God Always Makes the First Move"


Larry Sparks
Dec 24, 2019

From the Desk of Steve Shultz:

Steve Shultz

I appreciate Larry Sparks writing this word during Christmas and the powerful moves of God from past history.

Often we can slide through Christmas and not see the fullness of the impact of this season.

I'd like you to take a few minutes in the busy time to encourage yourself in the Lord and what He made available to you. Let this word by Larry draw you closer to the Lord. (To Subscribe to the Elijah List subscribe here.)

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"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:14)

We trivialize the Christmas celebration when we reduce it to what's familiar. I'm certainly grateful for everything portrayed in our pageants and nativity scenes. Each element carries profound and powerful revelation, regardless of how many times we see it on a Christmas card or as a statuette outside of a beautiful cathedral. But let's step back for a moment and consider the very purpose of the Christmas season – God moving toward humankind.

The Incarnation, the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us, represents the eternal protocol of Heaven – God moves first, then we move in response to His movement. Otherwise, we are incapable of moving without God moving upon us first.

β€’ We only love Him because He first loved us (see 1 John 4:19).

β€’ We can only draw near to God because God first drew near to us (see James 4:8).

We can only respond to God because while we were dead in our sins and trespasses, God sought us – we didn't seek Him (see Romans 5:8; Ephesians 2:1-4). He stepped into our darkness and flooded it with His redeeming light.

Throughout Church history, the great "moves of God" that we often identify as revivals, awakenings, or outpourings of the Holy Spirit, were, I believe, the combination of two key elements: the sovereignty of God and the stewardship of humankind. God moved, yes; but I am convinced that the supernatural intensity of revival is the collision of humankind moving toward God.

Often, people are waiting on or praying for a "move of God" when they fail to realize that God has already made the first move.

God Moved Toward Humankind

There are three key, biblical illustrations that showcase how God has definitively moved toward humankind through the Man and Messiah, Christ Jesus: the Incarnation; the torn veil; and the day of Pentecost.

The Incarnation

So the Word became human and made His home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen His glory, the glory of the Father's one and only Son (John 1:14).

During Christmastime, we celebrate the ultimate move of God – the Word descending from Heaven, taking upon Himself frail humanity, and serving as the Messiah-Man who was 100 percent God and 100 percent Man. God came from Heaven to Earth to live a perfect life, die a perfect death, and then rise from the dead, granting humanity access to God in three realms.

Through the perfect life of Jesus, we receive sanctification because it's no longer us who live, but Christ in us (see Galatians 2:20). It's faith in His perfect life that is key for our sanctifying process – the journey of becoming more and more like Jesus while we walk this planet. It's faith in His perfect death that redeems us spiritually.

By placing our faith in His perfect atoning work, our spiritual status changes. We are delivered out of the kingdom of darkness and translated into His Kingdom as sons and daughters of God (see Colossians 1:13). Finally, it's faith in His resurrection which affirms that one day we, too, will share completely in His resurrected glory by also having glorified bodies (Romans 6:5; Philippians 3:20-21).

The Torn Veil

"Jesus passionately cried out, took His last breath, and gave up His spirit. At that moment the veil in the Holy of Holies was torn in two from the top to the bottom..." (Matthew 27:50-51 TPT).

One of the key catalytic moments during the death of Jesus was the tearing of the temple veil from top to the bottom. It was as though the invisible hand of the Lord tore apart this exceedingly thick fabric, proclaiming that a physical building would no longer restrain or contain the presence of God. Now all who would receive the Messiah's atoning work on the Cross would become the temple of God, for His Spirit would take up residence within them (see 1 Corinthians 6:19).

After all, it was the Lord who asked David through the prophet Nathan: "Thus says the Lord: Would you build Me a house to dwell in?" (2 Samuel 7:5). Later we see the Lord ask a similar question: "Thus says the Lord: 'Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool; what is the house that you would build for Me, and what is the place of My rest?'" (Isaiah 66:1). God had long sought a resting place on Earth, but not one created by human hands – one that He Himself had fashioned. This resting place would become redeemed humanity. If Jesus shed His Blood to make atonement for our sins and grant us passage to eternal life in Heaven, that would have been beyond sufficient.

However, the Old Covenant pointed to another dimension. The Scriptures of old spoke little of Heaven, although that is definitely a tremendous benefit and blessing of being redeemed. Rather, the Old Covenant pointed to a day when the barrier of sin was removed so that humankind could become the new resting place for the Spirit of God.

"I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes and be careful to obey My rules." (Ezekiel 36:25-27)

The Day of Pentecost

"On the day of Pentecost all the Believers were meeting together in one place. Suddenly, there was a sound from Heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting." (Acts 2:1-2 NLT)

The Old Testament prophecies that spoke of the Holy Spirit came to a dramatic fulfillment on the Day of Pentecost. God's home address had changed – at least partially. No more buildings. No more Ark of the Covenant. No more tents or tabernacles. The Spirit of God officially moved out, changed locations, and now, because the work of redemption had been performed and the sins of humankind had been absorbed by the spotless Lamb, it was possible for sinful flesh to actually become a house for the Holy God. The Son of God ascended to the right hand of God the Father.

And yet, prior to leaving His disciples, Jesus made a promise that He would not leave them alone as orphans (see John 14:18). He promised to send the Comforter, the Helper, the one called the Holy Spirit. We are not waiting for another Pentecost. Only One Man will one day split the sky and return to planet Earth – Jesus. Until then, we are not waiting on another outpouring to come from above; if anything, Heaven is waiting for this outpouring to come out of the temple and flow into the earth, bringing healing, salvation, and transformation to the nations. Where is this temple? It's you and it's me.

Can't You Talk Louder, God?

To summarize, God has made the definitive move toward humanity. We see this beginning with the Incarnation, continuing with the torn veil and then culminating with the Day of Pentecost. God made the first move; how will we respond?

What Is Our Response to the Move of God?

In studying the great revivals that have punctuated the past two thousand years of Church history, I've discovered a common denominator that seems nonnegotiable to catalyzing a powerful outpouring of the Spirit – the people's determination to move toward God. The following are but a few examples:

We see evangelist George Whitefield and Methodist pioneer John Wesley persisting in prayer until the power of God fell upon them.

Charles Finney was frustrated over the lack of effectiveness in people's prayers. This frustration fueled his hunger and thirst to experience God at any cost. As a result, on October 10, 1821, he experienced a powerful filling by the Holy Spirit. He urged the people to pray to God earnestly and expectantly for the immediate outpouring of the Spirit.

Phoebe Palmer opened her home for what became known as the "Tuesday meeting," making space for people to come and experience the deeper Christian life through a touch by the Spirit.

Jeremiah Lanphier was a businessman in New York City who felt led to start a noontime weekly prayer meeting. He was willing to persist after the first few meetings were received by poor attendance. As a result, he pioneered a great prayer revival that undoubtedly was responsible for birthing some of the most demonstrative and historical revival movements that would come in the decades to follow.

Andrew Murray longed and prayed for revival in South Africa. His desperation for God to move with power and demonstration is palpable when reading his various Spirit-filled works.

Dwight L. Moody became desperate and thirsty for God, crying out for a baptism in the Spirit. His cry for this filling was consistent and persistent. Following Moody's power encounter with God, it is said that even though he didn't radically alter his evangelistic methods, the fruitfulness of his ministry shifted significantly and many more people received Christ because of his outreach.

In Wales, Evan Roberts began to hunger and thirst for God as a thirteen-year-old boy. He had two requests of the Lord: 1) for God to fill him with the Holy Spirit; and 2) for God to send revival to Wales. History books record that both requests were fulfilled, as Roberts was the key catalyst and noteworthy personality attached to the 1904 Welsh Revival.

Frank Bartleman was an intercessor who contended for a historic outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the United States. William Seymour was a half-blind African American minister living in a very racially hostile era. Who would have thought that Bartleman's travailing intercession combined with Seymour's bold hunger for Holy Spirit baptism would have produced the Azusa Street Revival of 1906, birthing the modern Pentecostal movement.

From the 1900s onward, there are multiple examples – some local and some global – of men, women, and entire Church communities who moved toward God in the place of prayer, desperation, and hunger. Not only did they cry out in the place of prayer, but they were willing to make room for God to move in the ways He saw fit. That was huge.

Who will make room for the move of God? Mary and Joseph did. In the lowliest of conditions, they accommodated the prophesied plan of God.

Will We Embrace His Move?

It's one thing to claim to want God; it's another thing entirely to accept His move on His terms. He often comes in ways that we don't expect to offend our minds while drawing us into a place of intimate communion with Him. It's always God's friends who recognize Him first. The way He moves might seem dramatically different from anticipated or expected, but those who are His intimates will always see His steadfast face through the often-unusual works of His hand.

These friends can see the joy of the Lord through what appears to be uproarious, uncontrollable laughter. They can see the power of the Lord through what appears to be people falling down, "slain in the Spirit." They can see the wonder of the Lord through unusual signs and manifestation of His presence. They can see the freedom of the Lord when someone is delivered of demonic oppression or possession. They will see the awe of the Lord when someone shakes or trembles in His presence.

These are some common "manifestations" that take place during seasons of revival. They are only controversial because we think they are new, or somehow contrary to the personality of God. They are neither. They challenge us because they demonstrate that the God we read about is actually real. He's not a baby in a manger anymore, nor is He a broken man on a Cross.

Yes, He was born into the earth as a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, and we know that He died a criminal's death on a Roman cross for the sins of the world, but the story did not end there – and we should not live, think, or function like it did. Jesus rose from the grave, ascended to Heaven, and prayed that the Father would send another Helper to Earth who would be the Spirit of Christ dwelling in our midst.

He's alive! He moves. He touches. He heals. His presence has a measurable, tangible impact on the environment around us.

God moved toward humankind, so that we might move toward God. The end result? A move of God through moving people.

Prayer

Lord, draw me close to You. I want to be Your friend. I don't seek You because of the benefits or blessing – You are my great reward. I want to know You so deeply that even when You move in ways that might seem new or different, I will recognize if it's You because I'll see Your face. I'll see Your nature and character being revealed and unveiled. Help me to be like the shepherds and wise men who were not offended by Jesus.

Larry Sparks, MDiv
Equip Culture

Email:Β equipculture@gmail.com
Website:Β www.LarrySparksMinistries.com

Larry SparksΒ is a prophetic author, speaker, and lecturer on revival. He presently serves as publisher for Destiny Image (destinyimage.com), a Spirit-filled publishing house pioneered by Don Nori Sr. in 1983 with a mandate to publish the prophets. Larry is fueled by a vision to help the Church community create space for the Holy Spirit to move in freedom, power and revival fire, providing every Believer with an opportunity to have a life-changing encounter in the Presence of God. In addition, Larry is a regular contributor to Charisma Magazine, he conducts seminars on revival, hosts regional Renewing South Florida gatherings, and has been featured on Sid Roth's It's Supernatural, TBN, CBN, the ElijahList, and Cornerstone TV. He is author of Breakthrough Faith, The Fire That Never Sleeps with Michael Brown and John Kilpatrick, compiler of Ask for the Rain, and co-author of Arise with Patricia King. He earned a Master of Divinity from Regent University and enjoys life in Texas with his beautiful wife and beloved daughter.

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