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The Spirit of God at Work

What can happen when people become filled with the Spirit of God and listen and obey His promptings? Well, let's find out how Charles Finney's (1792-1875) life impacted the community after he was touched by the Spirit (See yesterday’s meditation). After his salvation and filling with the Holy Spirit, he resolved to give up his law practice and began to reach out to those who did not know God. The Spirit of God seemed to stay with him in great power as he went from village to village, preaching the Word of God. When he spoke about Christ, people would fall on the floor under great conviction, crying for God to have mercy on their souls. There seemed to be a unique presence of God over the area where he would be preaching. He says of one time:

"The state of things in the village and the surrounding area was such that no one could come into the town without feeling awestruck with the impression that God was there in a peculiar way. As an example of this, I will relate to a particular incident. The sheriff of the county resided in Utica. There were two courthouses in the county, one in Rome and the other in Utica (New York State).

Consequently, the sheriff, Bryant by name, came to Rome quite frequently. He later told me that he had heard of the state of things at Rome, and he, together with many others in Utica, had laughed a great deal about it. One day it was necessary for him to come to Rome. He said that he was glad to have business there, for he wanted to see for himself what things were really like. He was driving in his one-horse sleigh, without any particular impression in his mind at all, until he crossed what was called the old canal, a place about a mile from the town. He said as soon as he passed over the canal, a strange impression came over him, awe so deep that he could not shake it. He felt as if God permeated the whole atmosphere. He said that this feeling increased the entire way until he came into the village.

Bryant stopped at Mr. Franklin's hotel, and the stable man came and took his horse. He observed that the stable-man looked just like he felt—as if he were afraid to speak. Finney went into the hotel and found the gentleman there with whom he had some business. He said they were both so obviously shaken that they could hardly attend to business. Finney reported that several times during the short time he was there, he had to rise from the table abruptly, go to the window, and look away, trying to divert his attention to keep from weeping. He saw that everyone else appeared to feel just as he did. Such awe, solemnness, and a state of things he had never conceived of before. He quickly concluded his business and returned to Utica—but (as he said later) never to speak lightly of the Spirit's work in Rome again. A few weeks later in Utica, he was converted when Finney traveled to that town."[1]

In this testimony, we have an account of how the Holy Spirit came to a man, convicting him of sin and purifying him before using him significantly for the salvation of many lives. God hasn't changed; He wants to do the same today. The Holy Spirit filled Finney differently than many people experience; that is His prerogative. The Spirit of God will come in various ways to different people. He will not ask or require the same thing of everyone, just that they repent, believe the gospel, and follow Christ. We need this same power of the Holy Spirit more than ever in the days we live. When our hearts overflow with the presence of Christ, others around us will observe the power of God and become spiritually hungry themselves. When we hunger and thirst for God Himself, this causes a chain reaction in those around us. This unique presence of God is what revival is. He is looking for people who are committed and open to His Spirit, moving in the midst. Keith Thomas

Taken from the series, On Fire with the Spirit. This study is If My People Who Are Called.

[1] Autobiography of Charles G. Finney, published by Fleming H. Revel Company.


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