To start with, this morning I want to read to you an excerpt from General Bramwell Booth’s autobiography (Echoes & Memories)
‘At night Corbridge led the hallelujah meeting till 10 o’clock. Then we commenced an All-Night of Prayer. Two hundred and fifty people were present till 1am; two hundred or so after. A tremendous time. From the very first, Jehovah was passing by, searching, softening and subduing every heart. The power of the Holy Ghost fell on Robinson and prostrated him. He nearly fainted twice. The brother of the Blandys entered into full liberty and then he shouted, wept, clapped his hands, danced, amid a scene of the most glorious and heavenly enthusiasm. Others meanwhile were lying prostrate on the floor, some of them groaning for perfect deliverance ….’
If I didn’t know better I would think this was a description of a service in the modern-day Pentecostal Church!! And this is just one of the many readings that I could bring to you that depict the exuberance, excitement and power of early-Army worship.
So, what happened??? When did the Fire go out? HAS the Fire gone out?
Recently I was challenged for being too ‘traditional’ Army. I must admit that I do like the old songs, though I like new songs too. I do respect the legacy that our forefathers left us, but I am conscious that we are adding our own legacy to that today as well. I affirm the Army’s uniqueness within the Christian Church and I uphold our distinctiveness and culture- because I believe it was raised up by God for a purpose......
The truth is however – the only thing I REALLY want to recapture from the Army’s past is this living, energetic, electrifying, FREE, Holy Spirit-filled kind of worship!!!
2 Corinthians 3:17 says, “...where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom”
Is there freedom in this place this morning? Are we free to worship God as the Spirit directs us? Or are we bound by our finely choreographed script! Are we bound by our man-made rules and expectations as to how worship should be? Are some of us even bound by our very own tradition?
Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom......
Just as electricity permeates every cell, just as electricity powers every function in our bodies – so the Holy Spirit permeates every Christian and empowers the Church – the body of Christ to function.
So......What else do we know about this Holy Spirit? What else can we ask of Him or claim from him - for ourselves as individuals and for us as the Church?
The Holy Spirit is a holy fire – He is the fire in the burning bush from which Moses was called. He’s the pillar of fire that led the Israelites through the wilderness. He is the tongues of fire that rested on the heads of the believers on the day of Pentecost. He is the fire that burns in our own souls when we’re convicted of sin and wrong. He is the fire and empowers us to witness to others about the greatness of our God. He is the power that enables us to say, “Jesus is Lord”
The Holy Spirit is a creative, life-giving force. He was the force that moved upon the face of the deep at the dawn of creation. He was the force that made man a living soul. Romans 8:11 tells us that it was the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead and it is the Spirit who gave birth to the church.