This Saturday, April 9, a historic gathering will take place in Los Angeles, CA. It's expected that tens of thousands of believers will cry out for an increased and widespread outpouring of the Holy Spirit (with the vision being for over 100,000). Azusa Now, being pioneered by Lou Engle (author of The Jesus Fast and founder of the Call), represents a catalytic moment that has the potential to shape history for years to come.
While it's obvious that the powers of darkness are advancing more and more upon the Earth, Scripture points to a simultaneous glory that would arise upon the people of God and draw in the nations of the Earth (see Isaiah 60:1-3). It's time for us to press in and walk in this glory!
Azusa Now commemorates 110 years since the historic outpouring of the Spirit on Azusa Street (in 1906), which became the birthplace for modern Pentecostalism. Perhaps more significantly, the Azusa Street revival unveiled a key shift that took place in the heavenly realm. More and more people were experiencing the fullness of the Holy Spirit because they observed that experience as available. Salvation through Christ is the glorious entryway into a lifestyle in the kingdom of God. While salvation is an unparalleled gift, too many Christians "make it in," but never learn how to live as kingdom citizens through the Spirit's power.
For many centuries, only select individuals here and there would taste of the "power of the age to come" (see Heb. 6:5) Miracles. Healings. Signs and wonders. Gifts of the Spirit. These are evident throughout history, for sure, but not as normatively until the time following 1906's Azusa Outpouring. Why?
This was not because God was holding Holy Spirit hostage, sovereignly waiting for a certain "dispensation" of time. Far from it. The Spirit had been made available on the day of Pentecost. And yet, for one to experience the fullness of the Spirit's power, one needs to follow the biblical model. Even though He has been made available, we are still instructed to ask for Him (see Luke 11:13). The same is true for salvation. Yes, the cross made salvation available, but to receive it and experience it, we must ask for it. It may sound overly simple, but it's true—history is shaped by men and women, on Earth, who make their "ask" clearly known in heaven.
It's time for you to ask for the outpouring of the Spirit like never before!
On the Brink of a Historic Crossroads ...
We don't need another conference or church service; we need a great awakening. I have every reason to believe that Azusa Now represents a key shift in the heavenlies that will position the church to step into the next season—fulfilling prophetic words spoken by William Seymour and Maria Woodworth-Etter about a "greater outpouring" yet to come. We're living in the "yet to come."
I attended the Call Nashville back on July 7, 2007. What did we see as fruit following that catalytic event?
In 2008, we witnessed the Lakeland Revival. Yes, it ended poorly. No, it was not stewarded well. I have strong opinions about this. At the same time, I do believe there was a genuine and authentic hunger for revival during this season.
In 2009, International House of Prayer in Kansas City began to experience an unusual season of awakening and visitation that broke out during their ministry school classes. Many were healed, delivered and set free during these powerful services.
In 2010, the Bay of the Holy Spirit revival broke out in Daphne, AL at John Kilpatrick's Church of His Presence. During these services, singer and minister, Delia Knox, was healed of paralysis and legitimately got out of her wheelchair. Many notable physical healings took place during this season.
Since then, we've only seen increase of the Spirit's movement. The revival cry back in the 1990's was "More, Lord!" We've seen it fulfilled. We've seen the increased influence of the Holy Spirit through churches like Bethel church, ministries like Catch the Fire Toronto, and revival movements like An Appeal to Heaven led by apostolic leader, Dutch Sheets.
If we witnessed this measure of spiritual awakening and increased visitation of God following the Call, Nashville back in 2007, what's ahead?
Truly, we're standing on the brink of something the eyes of men have yet to behold.
It's Time for Us to Tarry Again...
What were some of Jesus' final instructions before His departure?
"And look, I am sending the promise of My Father upon you. But wait in the city of Jerusalem until you are clothed with power from on high" (Luke 24:49, MEV).
The King James Version uses the phrase tarry in the city. I am not sure how many disciples "dropped out" of the number between the resurrection and Pentecost, thus, prematurely ending their season of waiting and tarrying. All I know is that there were at least 500 witnesses to the resurrected Christ, and there were 120 gathered in the upper room on the Day of Pentecost (1 Cor. 15:6, Acts 1:15).
I don't hear many people use the language of "tarrying" today. Maybe it sounds too "works" oriented? Tarrying is not going through spiritual gymnastics trying to convince God to do something that He is hesitant to do.
God is not hesitant to send revival.
God is a good Father; He has not wrapped a clenched fist around revival, outpouring and awakening.
Tarrying is the process through which we partner with God, lay hold of His promises, and remain in agreement with Him until what's an invisible promise becomes a visible fulfillment.
How Do We Partner with God to Fulfill These Prophetic Words?
God is not releasing prophetic words and announcing promises that He does not intend to fulfill. He's willing to move. He's just looking for a people on Earth who are willing to make room for His movement in their lives.
The church is at a prophetic crossroads. In many ways, it's extremely positive and encouraging. I am seeing more people, denominations, and churches open to Spirit's movement than ever before. What I've read about the Charismatic movement of the 1960s is, I believe, going to be eclipsed in the days ahead. However, we must be careful to cooperate with what God is doing, rather than trying to make it comply with what we think it should look like.
Here are some strategies to accommodating what God is doing in this unique moment in history:
Be hungrier than your history. Don't let your past theological education distract you from pressing in for everything God has made available in the Holy Spirit. This is not a call for the people of God to leave their brains at the door and get all crazy. Far from it. It's a summons to open the Word with a new level of honesty, and say, "Holy Spirit, show me everything you have made available to me. I'm desperate to walk in Your fullness—whatever it looks like. I want You, Holy Spirit. Not on my terms, but on Your terms."
Be willing to get uncomfortable and stop restraining the Holy Spirit's movement. We're at a crossroads where many "charismatic/Pentecostal" churches are distancing themselves from their roots due to the "lack of respectability" that the Spirit's movement carriers. There's a price to pay for revival. Always has been. If we want God to dwell in the midst of us, then we need to be OK with and actually celebrate His effect in people: falling on the ground, laying prostrate on the ground, shaking, trembling, laughing, weeping, etc. It's messy. Perhaps our expectation is too clean and sanitized, hence why we are not actually experiencing the fullness of what's available.
Build cultures that accommodate the Holy Spirit. At the day's end, we need to be Spirit-sensitive, not seeker-sensitive. We offer people nothing—especially those who don't know Jesus—when we try to control the Holy Spirit. He is the Evangelist. He is the Healer. He is the Deliverer. He is the "finger of God" who brings freedom and liberation from bondage. At the day's end, let's have a plan. God's not asking us to throw caution to the wind; He's asking us to hold up our "plan" before Him and say, "Holy Spirit, I'm committed to excellence ... but above all, I'm committed to You. Give me eyes to see how You are moving and ears to hear what You are saying so I can partner with your movement." We're are the best servants to people when we become the best servants to the Spirit.
Stop assuming that delay means denial—keep asking, praying, knocking and believing. Too many Christians take "no" for an answer when, in fact, it was never God's answer. We assume that the lack of immediate breakthrough means denial. Not at all. Read the history books chronicling landscape-shifting revival. History-makers always persevered for the promise of outpouring. Some for months, some for years. Evan Roberts persevered for Wales to be transformed. William Seymour tarried to receive the baptism of the Spirit in his life. Frank Bartleman interceded for the fire of God that was falling in Wales to also fall in America. Two sickly 80 year-old women cried out for God to transform the Hebrides Islands.
Many are crying out for the Spirit to move in a landscape-shifting way. Let's partner with God and during this historic Azsua Now event, ask the Spirit: Holy Spirit, show me areas in my life (my church) where I need to make more room for You to move freely and without restraint?
At Pentecost, God gave us His best—the Holy Spirit. We're not asking for more to come down; we're desiring more of Him to come out. To be demonstrated. Manifested. Revealed. Unveiled. To see these 110-year old prophecies fulfilled, it's time for us to pray, seek the face of God, and ask the Spirit to show each one of us how to accommodate His movement in our lives in a greater measure!
Larry Sparks is compiler of the brand new book, Ask for the Rain and co-author of the book The Fire That Never Sleeps with Dr. Michael Brown and John Kilpatrick. Larry's mission is to help teach all believers how to experience and sustain personal revival—enjoying a deep relationship with God through encountering the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. To this end, he maintains a blog through Charisma magazine, is a published author, teaches revival seminars, and is the co-founder of Renewing South Florida, an organization committed to uniting the local church for regional outpouring. Larry holds a Master of Divinity from Regent University and presently serves as publisher for Destiny Image publishing house.
Larry Sparks is co-author of the book, The Fire That Never Sleeps, with Dr. Michael Brown and John Kilpatrick. Larry's mission is to help teach all believers how to experience and sustain personal revival—enjoying a deep relationship with God through encountering the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. To this end, he maintains a blog through Charisma magazine, is a published author, teaches revival seminars, and is the co-founder of Renewing South Florida, an organization committed to uniting the local church for regional outpouring. Larry holds a Master of Divinity from Regent University and presently serves as vice president of publishing for Destiny Image Publishers.
You can receive daily empowerment for personal revival from Larry on Facebook (facebook.com/larryvsparks).
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