Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Working in the Power of the Holy Spirit, Day 1

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Leslie Basham: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth says our own strength and our own talents aren't enough.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: I believe we have today in the church men and women ministering in a host of different ways, doing God-ordained tasks, being called and set apart by God to serve Him, but doing it without a conscious sense of the anointing of the Holy Spirit. And what we get is words. We get tasks. But we don't get the power of the Holy Spirit of God.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth for Monday, May 9, 2016.

What are the main things on your to-do list today? It's easy to launch into a day and try to tackle those kinds of to-dos on your own. But Nancy's going to remind us how important it is to do everything in the power of the Holy Spirit. She delivered this message at Revive '15 this past fall. She was talking with women's ministry leaders, but all of us are called to a mission and we're all leaders to somebody. So we all need to hear what Nancy has to say. Let's listen.

Nancy: I told the women in the pre-conference this morning that something I've prayed many times over the years is that the Lord would never let me get to the place where what I do in ministry would come easily for me. And that is a prayer He has been very faithful to answer (laughter), because no matter how long I do this, no matter how much of it I've done, I come to any setting like this with a sense of fearful, awesome responsibility and weight and neediness, dependence on the Lord.

And I think there are no sweeter words that we can say to the Lord—maybe to tell Him we love Him is certainly sweet, to tell Him that we praise Him—but also to say, "I need You." Because what does God do for needy people? What does God do for the humble, those who know they don't have what it takes? God pours, what? Grace on the humble.

And what is God's grace? It's the desire and the power to do what God has called us to do.

So as long as I think I can do this . . . I sometimes have the sense that God's sitting up in heaven going, "You think you can do this? Go ahead; try." In fact, it's not just that. God doesn't just leave us alone. When we become self-reliant or proud or think that we can handle this . . . what does God's Word say He does to proud people? He resists them. That word is He sets Himself in battle array against them.

Now I don't know about you, but I don't want to do what God has called me to do with God working against me. He's bigger than I am. But He pours grace into the humble.

So don't let the fact that you feel inadequate and needy keep you from doing what God has set you apart to do. But do it with a spirit of humility and always this constant, conscious sense that, "I cannot do this without You. Every hour, I need You. Every moment, every day for every task."

I cannot tell you how many times I've come to a ministry assignment, small or large, on the platform or off, and thought, I can't do this. I cannot do this. Lord, I need Your grace. I need Your power. I need Your strength. I need Your Holy Spirit.

"That's what I was hoping you'd ask." And then He comes, He fills, He anoints, He empowers, and He enables.

And who gets the glory? We can't take it because we know, "I didn't do this. I couldn't pull this off. I wasn't smart enough. I wasn't gifted enough. I wasn't ready enough. God is the one."

We stand back in awe, and we give glory to Him, and that's what He deserves.

The apostle Paul said to the believers in Thessalonica (Thessaloniki, as they say it in Greece), "Our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction" (v. 5).

Now, there are many other such verses in the Scripture, but when I read a verse like that, something in me gets really deep longing.

He says, "We preached the gospel. The gospel is powerful. We preached the gospel to you, not only in word. Not just words."

Have you ever heard teachers that you thought, This is just words. It's good stuff. It's true stuff. The subject is powerful, but what's happening in the room and in the listener, it's just words. It's in one ear, out another. It's not having impact. It's like just sliding off of Teflon. It's not making a difference.

Now there can be a lot of different reasons for that. Sometimes it's in the condition of the hearer. Sometimes it's in the condition of the speaker. But Paul says there's an alternate way. "Our gospel came to you not just in word." It did come in word. There were words used to communicate. But he said it also came "in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction."

I've done a lot of thinking about the difference between ministry that is . . . this ministry may be large audiences, platform, but it may be just the ministry you have to your children in your home, in discipling one-on-one, and counseling others. However God has called you to communicate truth to others, the difference between ministry that is only in word and ministry that is in the power of the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. And I think that difference is critical in our day. It's critical in every day.

I want to use a term that you don't hear very often in our evangelical world today, and some of the ways we've heard it used in some circles has not been in a biblical sense. It's the word "anointing." The anointing of the Holy Spirit.

I want to talk about the divine anointing. I want us to take time to consider what it is, what it means, why it's important, what it looks like, and how we can have it.

As we think about anointing in the Scripture, it's used in some different ways. Sometimes it's used just as a mark of hospitality as a host will anoint his guests. You read this in Luke 7. You read it in Psalm 23, "He anoints my head with oil," as God is the ultimate host who anoints our heads.

But wherever anointing is done, you see the symbol of oil, anointing with oil. You read it many different times in the Scripture. That oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. And throughout the Scripture, the anointing with oil imparted something that the person did not have prior to being anointed.

The anointing with the physical oil imparted an endowment, an enduement, an empowering of the Spirit of God. So that person, once anointed, became something that they weren't previously. They became different. There was a power, there was a resource, there was a conviction. It was the Holy Spirit coming upon and in and filling and using that person in a way that had not been true previously.

Now we would have to have a lot more time than we have today to go into all the theological distinctions of all of that, all the precisions of the Old Testament, the New Testament, and how the Holy Spirit worked then and now, and some similarities, some differences. I'm not going to parse all that, but I want us to think about this thing of what it means to be anointed with the Holy Spirit.

Throughout the Scripture, the anointing of oil signifies consecration, preparation for service. It's an enabling, an empowering to serve the Lord, to do what you've been called and set apart to do.

Sometimes in the Scripture inanimate objects were anointed with oil. Things in the tabernacle, things in the temple, the pieces of furniture, the instruments, the tools that were used in worship sometimes were anointed with oil. What that meant, simply, was that this otherwise ordinary item was now set apart. It was consecrated. It was set apart for God's service. It became unusual. It became distinctive. It became different because it had been anointed with oil.

But more often than inanimate objects being anointed, people were anointed. Anointed for God's service. That anointing with oil became an evidence that they had been divinely called and enabled to serve God. It was an evidence of divine calling and enabling for a task.

This is something you can't do without the Holy Spirit of God. So the anointing with oil symbolized that an inner work of the Holy Spirit coming upon, filling, and enabling people to do something that they otherwise could not have done.

This anointing with oil bestowed authority and boldness. And this is what set the ministry or the service apart as being distinct. And I believe we have today, in the church, men and women ministering in a host of different ways, doing God-ordained tasks, being called and set apart by God to serve Him, but doing it without a conscious sense of the anointing of the Holy Spirit. And what we get is words. We get tasks. But we don't get the power of the Holy Spirit of God.

Why do we see thousands and thousands of churches and pastors, preparing and pouring out their hearts week after week after week, and people sitting like bumps on a log, no evidence of any transformation or change or awe or wonder or power or anything?

My heart goes out to the average pastor who's speaking to people who don't look like it matters, like they care. So it's ho-hum. We hear these amazing, glorious truths, but there's no power. Why is that? Why is it so often in our own ministries? Why do you feel this sometimes in your parenting? Why do you feel it sometimes in serving the Lord as a wife? In serving the Lord as a discipler or a worship leader or a small group leader? Why do you feel sometimes it's just words?

Maybe it's because we haven't identified the need for the anointing of the Holy Spirit of God in whatever He has called us to do.

In the Scripture, in the Old Testament, the anointing was used to set people apart for three distinct offices—that of prophet, priest, and king. Priests and kings almost always, prophets occasionally, were anointed with oil to indicate that they were set apart, they were consecrated for God's service. And this is what made their service distinct.

You read about this all through the Old Testament—Leviticus, Exodus, Deuteronomy. It's fascinating to go through and see what happened when these prophets, priests, and kings were anointed with oil.

Let me just give you one illustration. In 1 Samuel 16, the prophet Samuel was sent to anoint David as the king of Israel. And then verse 13 tells us "Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed [David] in the midst of his brothers."

He was set apart. He was one of eight, and he was set apart. The youngest, the least likely, the most ordinary one, the least qualified one, as far as most people were concerned. But God said, "He's the one, and demonstrate this. Here's the evidence: anoint him with oil." Which Samuel did.

And then it says, "And the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon David from that day forward" (v. 13).

And I read verses like that, and I think, Oh Lord, I'm not a king. I'm not a priest in an Old Testament sense. (We are in a New Testament sense.) I'm not a prophet in an Old Testament sense. But I am your servant, and how I would love for your Holy Spirit to not only be in me (as He is in every believer), but to fill me and to come mightily upon me and to use me in ways that I could never, ever do apart from that divine anointing.

So these prophets, kings, priests were set apart for God's service by being anointed with oil. And they were called the Lord's anointed ones. The Hebrew term there is mashiach. Mashiach—they were the anointed ones.

Remember in 1 Samuel where David refused to take the life of King Saul because he said, "He is the LORD's . . ." what? "The LORD's anointed." Samuel had also anointed King Saul with oil. Now he didn't do a very good job with the living up to that calling, but David said, "He is the Lord's mashiach, anointed one."

To be mashiachs symbolized being chosen and commissioned by God for an office or a task and then filled with His Spirit to fulfill that calling.

The word mashiach, in the Hebrew language is rendered in English, what? Messiah. You know that word. One theologian has said that this is one of the most important words in the Old Testament.

Another has said that it's the greatest word in the Hebrew vocabulary, that it expresses the central concept of Jewish theology.

Why? What's so important about this word mashiach, anointed one, Messiah?

Throughout the Old Testament, God promised that there would one day be a future leader, one sent from God, one anointed with His Spirit, the ultimate prophet, priest, and king, who would deliver God's people, establish His kingdom, and rule the world. The Messiah.

And the prophets, the priests, the kings, the people, they waited on the edge of their seats . . . until they got tired waiting for the Messiah.

And then you come to the New Testament. The Greek counterpart to the Hebrew word mashiach, anointed one, is the word Christos: Jesus Christ.

Now Christ is not Jesus' last name. It's a title. What does it mean? Jesus the Messiah—Mashiach, the Anointed One.

All those Old Testament anointed ones were just pointing to God's ultimate Anointed One—Jesus who fills all three offices perfectly: Prophet, Priest, and King.

And so we read, prophetically, in Isaiah 61, and then fulfilled in the New Testament, "The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me (Mashiach, Messiah, God's Anointed One) to bring good news to the poor" (v. 1).

So we think of Jesus, He is God, so we say, "Of course He can minister in the fullness of the Holy Spirit, He is God!" But He came in human form, recognizing His need as a man for mashiach, anointing with the power of the Holy Spirit in order to proclaim good news to the poor.

He was the one to whom all those Old Testament offices pointed. It's amazing, but that's not all. Here's what I think is just as amazing, and that is as New Testament believers, we have been given the gift of the Spirit by the Father. The same Father who gave Jesus, anointed Him with the gift and the power of the Holy Spirit, has given His Holy Spirit to us, to be in us, to fill us, to anoint us, to empower us for service. We serve as God's anointed ones, filled with the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

"You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses" (Acts 1:8). There's a connection between the Holy Spirit and power, enabling to do tasks that we could not do apart from Him.

Second Corinthians 1: "It is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee" (vv. 21–22).

We read in 1 John 2, and I'm just giving you a little sampling, a taste of some . . . and this is all introduction, by the way . . . a taste of scriptural passages about the anointing. In 1 John 2, the apostle John says to the children of God, not to some special clergy, he says, "Little children (children of God) you have been anointed by the Holy One. The anointing that you received from Him abides in you." And he talks about how that anointing guards from error and guides into truth and then enables service.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones was a preacher of a past generation who got this. He believed in the divine anointing, the unction, as sometimes it's been called, of the Holy Spirit. He talked about the penetration and domination of the personality by the Spirit of God. He talked about preaching and teaching being theology coming through a man who is on fire. Divine anointing. The accompanying power of the Holy Spirit.

In fact, I rarely do this when I'm teaching, but there's a book . . . I don't even know if it's still in print, but I love it. It's really impacted me. It's by E.M. Bounds. It's called Powerful and Prayerful Pulpits. And if you'll turn to page 7 in your little handout here, I want to just read you an excerpt from that book. It's kind of old language, so I want to read it and maybe emphasize it in such a way that it will make greater sense.

Now here he's talking about preaching in pulpits, but I believe that every servant of the Lord, wherever you're teaching, wherever you're serving, however you're ministering, in whatever capacity, you need divine anointing of the Holy Spirit to do that task. So where you see the word preaching here, think about teaching or counseling or discipling, and I believe similar things would apply.

He says:

The power of preaching or teaching lies in the divine anointing on the man. This is his consecration and qualification. Though he may have the tongue and wisdom of men and of angels, the power lies in the continuous anointing of the Spirit. The lips that do not glow with the kindlings of this divine flame are impotent to speak for God.

In the Christian system, unction is the anointing of the Holy Ghost, separating unto God's work and qualifying for it. This unction is the one divine enablement by which the preacher or the teacher accomplishes the peculiar and saving ends of preaching. Without this unction, there are no true spiritual results accomplished. Without this unction on the preacher, the gospel has no more power to propagate itself than any other system of truth.

You see, God has designed to communicate His truth, His powerful gospel through weak, flawed, failing human vessels. And how does He do that? We're cracked pots, as the apostle Paul says. Broken vessels. He does it by the power of His Holy Spirit coming in and filling us and using us.

Bounds says,

Unction in the preacher puts God in the gospel. Without the unction, God is absent, and the gospel is left to the low and unsatisfactory forces that the ingenuity, interests, or talents of men can devise to enforce and project its doctrines.

What's he saying? If we don't have the power of the Holy Spirit, it's just up to our natural gifts, and they aren't enough to accomplish the ends that need to be accomplished in people's lives.

If we don't have the power of the Holy Spirit, it's just up to our natural gifts, and they aren't enough to accomplish the ends that need to be accomplished in people's lives.

He said, "Unctionless preaching makes everything hard, dry, acrid, and dead."

Have you heard teaching like that? Have you done teaching like that? I have.

Let me read on.

Nothing short of the baptism of the Holy Spirit qualifies the preacher, the teacher, the disciple, the counselor. He needs power. The power to raise the spiritually dead. Power to deliver from the slavery of Satan. Power to enfranchise from the dominion of sin. Power to bring the brightness of noonday to the midnight of sin and hell. The power of learning, the power of eloquence, the power of the brain will not qualify for this work.

Do I hear any amens?

An anointed pulpit is the most powerful of God's institutions, the tenderest and the firmest, the gentlest and the strongest, the most quieting and the most disturbing, the most attractive and the most repulsive, the best loved and the most hated of things on earth. The one thing that gives God the greatest comfort and gives the devil the greatest trouble—God's great demand, and the church's great need—is a pulpit [a Sunday School class, homeschool classroom, a mom, a woman] anointed with the power of the Holy Spirit.

The one thing that gives God the greatest comfort and gives the devil the greatest trouble is a ministry anointed with the power of the Holy Spirit.

Leslie: That's Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth helping you see that everything you do needs to be empowered by the Holy Spirit. Nancy will be right back.

God has a call on each of our lives, so we all need to be connected to Him to do His will. Nancy delivered that message at Revive '15, a conference Revive Our Hearts hosted for women's ministry leaders. Nancy, why does the ministry put so much emphasis on developing leaders?

Nancy: Leslie, I believe developing leaders is one of the most important things we can do as a ministry. Leaders like this are on the front lines of the battle for women's hearts. They can get close to the needs of real women, closer than we can from this distance. They can answer questions, confront, listen, encourage and do a lot of things we just can't do well through a radio program.

So as a part of our heart to develop front line leaders here's some things that Revive Our Hearts hopes to do in the next twelve months.

  • We are now mobilizing thousands of leaders who will get a group together on September 23 to cry out together in prayer on behalf of our nation and our world. We're asking the Lord to gather at least 100,000 women in these groups to join a simulcast—a nationwide prayer event for women that will originate from the True Woman '16 Conference in Indianapolis. And we're asking Him to raise up leaders to put those groups together and then to mobilize those groups to continue praying for revival and spiritual awakening in these urgent times.
  • We are continuing to train and encourage Revive Our Hearts Ambassadors—women who meet with other women in their part of the country and use Revive Our Hearts resources to minister to them.
  • And then I've been working on a brand new book on Titus 2. It's called Adorned: Living out the Beauty of the Gospel Together. It's a call to older women to invest in the lives of younger women. You'll hear a lot next spring about women mentoring other women.
  • We're in the process of planning another conference to train and equip women's ministry leaders.

The only way Revive Our Hearts is able to build up leaders who will then invest their lives in other women is thanks to listeners like you who believe in the value of this ministry and want to see it continue.

Your gift is especially important here in the month of May as we come to the end of a fiscal year. That's when our accounting books get wrapped up, and we make plans for another season of ministry. It's a time when we need to be in a healthy financial position as we make plans for investing in these leaders in the months ahead.

Because this is such an important time to the health of the ministry, some friends have offered to double the gift of each podcast listener here during the month of May. If you appreciate the podcast each weekday and you'd like it to continue, I want to encourage you to visit a special site we've set up for you. It's ReviveOurHearts.com/donate/transcription.

The days we're living in are dark. But we know the God of hope and we have message worth sharing. A message that brings great hope. So the time is now to work together in calling women to freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ.

Leslie: Thanks Nancy. To make your gift by phone, call us at 1–800–569–5959. Or visit ReviveOurHearts.com. Donate there, and you'll have the opportunity to check a box and let us know you'd like the Jan Mulder CD.

Today Nancy showed us how important it is to be filled with the Holy Spirit as we launch into the things He's called us to do. Tomorrow she'll show us several points on how we go about doing that. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

And now, here's Nancy, praying we'll live out what we've heard.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.