“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — John 7:38
Preparing for God’s Outpouring, by Randall D. Kittle

In June and July of this year the heartland of America was in the midst of a “mini drought.” Having received only a small amount of its normal rain, my hometown of Rockford, Illinois didn’t look much like the beautiful “Forest City” in which I grew up. The grass was turning brown, the trees were withering, and the crops on the edge of the city were starting to fail. We badly needed rain.

People began asking the Lord for rain. What were the results? We got rain. But when the much-needed precipitation arrived, it came overly abundantly. It was more than we had seen before … more rain than we needed. A record-breaking downpour fell throughout the Midwest. Eight to sixteen inches of rain fell in many places in less than 48 hours. It rained so hard on the roof of my house that I could hardly sleep for two nights. There was so much rain that one national weather commentator said that, with all the water covering the ground in the satellite view of the Midwest, it looked like a new Great Lake was forming in the heartland of the United States from Des Moines to Chicago. Many places received more rain than they could handle. The places that were not properly prepared had major problems. Instead of blessing and provision, the downpour brought disaster and destruction. Creeks and rivers went above flood-stage and overran their banks; dams over-flowed or burst ,destroying homes, submerging cars, flooding fields, and closing highways.

While praying a few days later, the Lord told me that this overabundance of rain reflects a spiritual promise and a spiritual warning. Oftentimes the things that happen in the physical realm are prophetic signs allowing us to see glimpses of what God has in store for us in the spiritual realm. This physical downpour is a spiritual promise that there is a great and powerful move of God coming to the Church in the heartland of America. Just as God opened the heavens and poured out physical rain, He is about to open the windows of Heaven and pour out His Spirit. The Lord is sending a deluge of the Living Water!

The Windows of Heaven
I asked the Lord to give me a Bible verse about this, and He gave me a verse I did not quickly recognize. It was Matthew 24:37, which says, “As the days of Noah were, so the coming of the Son of Man will be.” What was it like in the days of Noah? Society was wicked. It had deteriorated from bad to worse to wicked. Irreverence and ungodliness were rampant in that society. It was a terrible time to live if you were one of the few who loved God. Then, in Genesis 7:11 God did something He had never done before. He opened the windows of heaven when He poured out judgment.

Only twice in the Scriptures does God talk about opening the windows of heaven. The other place many of us know; it is Malachi 3:10. When we hear this verse, we usually think about tithing because that is how it is normally applied when preaching. However, this verse involves a lot more than just tithing. The prophet Malachi lived in a generation not unlike that of Noah’s days. Israel was terribly backslidden. They were
acting as if they were God’s people, but living for themselves. They gave lip service to being God’s chosen, but they not only refused to give Him their tithe, they were not pursuing the things of God at all. The Lord was calling them back to a heart repentance. He was saying to them, “Just line up your will with Mine, come back and be those who are really My sons and daughters. Come and align your heart with Me and see what I will do for you.” Listen to this hope-filled challenge from God: “Try Me now in this, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such a blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.” God is saying here that, if His people will align their wills with Him, He will open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing! When the Lord opened up the Heavens and poured His wrath out upon the earth in the days of Noah, there was not enough room to contain it. The deluge did not just fill up the streams, rivers, and lakes. It covered the whole earth! When the Lord opens the heavens to bring blessing, it will come in the same proportion; there will not be enough room to contain it.

This is what the Lord is promising to us in the days ahead. He is going to open the windows of Heaven and pour out His Spirit in unprecedented measure. He is going to baptize the heartland of the United States with His Spirit. The second chapter of Joel will be manifest in the central part of the U.S. Joel 2 is a prophecy declaring what will happen before the end of the age … and that day is approaching faster than many of us realize. Joel 2:28-31 says,
“I will pour out My Spirit upon all people. Your sons and your daughters will prophesy your old men will dream dreams and your young men will see visions. In those days I will pour out My Spirit even on your servants — men and women alike. … before that great and terrible day of the Lord arrives.” In this verse, we hear the Lord’s heart to pour out the blessing of His presence. God began to fulfill this prophecy for the Church in the second chapter of the book of Acts. While that was its beginning, that was far from its completion. There have been many outpourings of the Spirit down through Church history: the Great Moravian Revival of 1727, the Cane Ridge Revival of 1801, the Azusa Street Revival of 1906, the Charismatic Renewal of the late 60’s are just a few examples.

God is once more promising to pour out His Spirit, but it probably will not look like what we have seen before. It will be wonderful, but it will be wonderfully different from any expression we have ever seen. That is one of the difficulties when the Spirit of God is poured out. It usually doesn’t happen like we are thinking it should. Even if it does not fit into the box of our expectations, we need to let God move in our midst in whatever way He desires to move.

God’s Measuring Cup
With what measure is God going to pour out His Spirit? He wants to pour out His presence in an unprecedented proportion, for that is what He has planned for those He loves according to 1 Corinthians 2:9: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.” We are the beloved of God, and He has prepared an outpouring of His Spirit for the Midwest that will soon be released. He is going to pour His Spirit out in great measure — something we have not seen before … more than we have heard about … more than our minds could conceive or comprehend! We are not going to be able to get a handle on it. It is God!

God is going to pour His presence out like Ephesians 3:20,
“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us …” Our God does not do things meagerly or stintingly, but “exceedingly abundantly.” This impending move of God will be exceedingly abundantly above and beyond our expectations or understanding. So, let us acknowledge His sovereignty and prepare to yield to Him our agendas, our strategies, and our wills.

Preparation, Not Presumption
We read earlier that Joel 2 is going to happen before “the great and terrible day of the Lord.” What determines if that last day is “great” or “terrible”? It is determined by whether you are prepared or not prepared. For those who are prepared, it will be the greatest day ever, while for those unprepared to meet the Lord it will be far more terrible than they ever imagined. That is exactly how it was in the parable of the ten virgins found in Matthew 25. When the wedding feast arrived it was a great day for some — because they were prepared, and it was a terrible day for others — because they were not prepared for it.

This is also how it will be in this next move of God. We need to understand that this prophetic promise of a great outpouring is also a spiritual warning — a call to prepare. God is calling us to preparation, not merely presuming upon His grace. There is a big difference between preparation and presumption. Presumption is when we just pridefully assume we are ready for whatever may come our way.

Before the recent downpour that hit the Midwest, all sorts of people were living by presumption. One man knew he had a leak in his roof. It wasn’t too bad and he was so busy with softball that he just could not find the time to repair it. Now, he is paying someone to put a new roof on his house
and a new ceiling in his living room. Because he had not taken care of what he knew needed attention, the heavy rain caused the whole ceiling in this room to collapse. He was living under presumption. “It’ll be okay. I’ll get to that someday before it’s a problem.” For him, “some day” was too late. Another man had just put a new roof on his house. While the roof was finished, he had not yet reinstalled the gutters and downspouts. Having put the roof on himself, he was sore and tired and felt like he “just needed a break.” He spent the weekend before the cloudburst (both Saturday and Sunday) trying to “recover” by playing golf. Without the downspouts and gutters on his house, his whole basement was flooded … completely filled with water. Now, he gets to add remodeling his basement and installing a new water heater and furnace onto his “to-do” list. In Iowa, they had built a hydroelectric dam a few years ago. The water would flow into the dam, be stored there, and generate electricity. They designed it to be able to contain a very substantial amount of rainfall. However, the amount of rain they designed it to withstand was less than they received in the recent storms. Instead of all that rain producing a great quantity of electricity, it destroyed the dam causing much destruction in the area just downstream. Their assumption resulted in great damage because the dam was not adequately prepared. One city in Illinois had designed its drainage projects using a 50-year flood plan. They presumed that would be good enough. Unfortunately for them, the flooding in their city from this summer’s deluge was what is considered a 100-year flood. Their inadequate efforts of preparation resulted in hundreds of homes getting water in their basements. At least six houses in that city collapsed when their foundations caved in from the pressure of the water. When we live by presumption and there is a great outpouring, it brings damage and destruction instead of blessing and empowering.

Preparation for a Power-Surge
These are days of preparation in the Church. Therefore, do not be surprised when you hear messages calling you to repentance, forgiveness, the releasing of wounds, or the like. When you hear these, don’t think they are about “fixing” you or trying to get you to measure up. God is not trying to make us worthy of this move of God (because none of us deserve it); He is trying to get us prepared for it. God loves you just as you are. You do not have to change to be loved and accepted by Him. Yet, because He knows what is going to happen, He loves us too much to leave us just as we are. The Lord is going before this great outpouring from heaven wanting us to hear and heed His call to prepare. God is trying to prepare our hearts so that when His Spirit is poured out it will be a blessing and not a curse.

A number of years ago, the Lord showed me in an interesting way the importance of being prepared. On Easter morning, I got up early and was sitting in the study of my house. Suddenly, through the window, I saw a big flash of light by the road. Then I heard a loud “Boom!” and all the power in my house went out. In fact, all the power in the area went out because a power-line transformer had blown up. A few hours later, my wife and I were driving to meet my parents for Easter brunch when there was an explosion above us — another transformer blew up. No sooner had we turned the corner than “boom” a third transformer blew up.

After three different electrical transformers had blown up in one day, I decided to ask the Lord if there was something He was trying to speak to me through this. He showed me that the transformers had been destroyed because they were unable to handle the power that surged through them. He told me that this same thing has happened repeatedly in the Church. He had willingly poured out His power, but the Church was not prepared to handle the power surge. Because of this … lives, ministries, and churches had “exploded” and been destroyed. Think of the numerous “big names” in ministry whom God anointed and was using to advance His kingdom only to have their entire ministry eventually blow up in front of everyone … all because they were not sufficiently prepared to handle the power. The Lord wants to pour more power into the Church, but we need to be prepared to handle it!

God’s Ark of Safety
As in the days of Noah, God is going before the flood and telling the righteous to prepare. Noah prepared by building the ark. Noah’s ark was the vehicle God ordained to make it safely through the great flood when He opened the windows of heaven. How do we prepare for the coming outpouring of God? What is the vehicle that will get us through safely when the Lord opens the heavens and pours out His Spirit? The Lord showed me His ordained vehicle of safety in a vision. I saw a sailing ship that looked like it was from the 18th century. It was moored and had its gangplank on the dock. I could see people going up and down the gangplank loading the ship and stowing supplies below its deck as it prepared to sail. Then I noticed a billboard on the dock in front of the ship, which had two signs. The top sign read: Time of Departure — Immediately; and the other said: Destination — The New Land of the Next Move of God. The ship then pulled in its gangplank, hoisted its anchor, unfurled its sails, and shoved off. As the wind filled its sails and it began to move out toward the horizon, I could see the name on the back of the ship. It was the H. M. S. Character!

Then the Lord spoke to me saying,
“The next move of My Spirit in the Church will not be based upon spiritual gifts given to men, but upon My presence resting upon people. I am forming a nameless, faceless generation. The vessel will be unimportant and often seem unimpressive. They will simply be those who usher in My presence. It will not be giftedness, intellect, skills, or charisma — but character that will determine those whom I can use.”

It is not an ark we need to build to make it through the coming flood of God’s Spirit. It is the H. M. S. Character. The Lord is telling us that
character is the vehicle that will bring us safely through the next move of God. No other ship can carry us safely through. We need to begin to develop and display godly character, and, as the sign said, we need to start immediately! We must choose to embrace this work of preparation God is giving us. We need to build the vessel of character before He exceedingly pours out His power. If we do, we will have an impartation instead of devastation. Character is what will determine whether the outpouring of God will bring blessing or a blow up — whether it brings advancement or destruction.

Character is Critical
Across the body of Christ, there are innumerable saints who are not realizing the destiny God has for them. Their calling, their whole promised potential as men and women of God, has been pawned due to lack of character. Inadequate character has caused the spiritual gifts of many to lie dormant and unrealized. One of the biggest hindrances to the kingdom of God advancing is the unrealized callings of the saints. It saddens me just to think of all the believers I know personally who have been given marvelous gifts from the Lord, but whose gifts are now gathering dust instead of gaining God glory — all because they never developed the character to accompany the gift. The landscape of the Church is littered with lives that once shimmered with great potential, but now are castaways of spiritual shipwreck because of lack of character.

I believe Father God grieves as He looks down on some of His children and sees the spiritual shipwreck of their lives. This breaks the very heart of our Heavenly Father. He poured out His Spirit upon them, but their character was not prepared for the power they received and, instead of blessing, they got brokenness. Imagine how your heart would grieve if your child had a great potential with endless possibilities but they were not fulfilling it because of their lack of character. You would cry yourself to sleep at night, sobbing over this needless waste. That is the heart of Father God who grieves that His children are unable to be all He created them to be. Most believers were meant to live a life of so much more than that for which they have settled. God wants character formed in us that will allow us to walk in His power and fulfill the destiny He has prepared for us! While people may perish due to lack of knowledge, destiny lies dormant due to lack of character.

The Character God is Seeking
The ship was the H. M. S. Character because our Lord (His Majesty) Seeks Character! The Lord is urgently crying out, calling His bride to character. But what is the character He so earnestly desires us to have? The key to understanding this character is in the H. M. S. — His Majesty Seeks. The Lord said, “You develop the character I want by being of those whom I seek.” This sounds backwards from what most of us would do. We want to go on some Herculean quest — doing the undoable, seeing the unseeable, and going where no one else dared go — until we discover the hidden treasure of God’s presence. God simply wants us to be who we were created to be, to have the nature, the character, He created us to have. If we will become like that, He will seek after us!

Think about that for a moment. What if you could be the very one God was longing for? What if you could be what God was thirsting after? That is exactly what God wants for us. That is the character He wants us to develop.

Who are those the Lord is seeking? There are three different attributes we can posses that the Lord is looking for according to the Scriptures. The first type of person the Lord seeks is one who has a heart to truly worship Him. It says in John 4:23,
“But the hour is coming and now is when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the father is seeking such to worship Him.” This is an amazing Scripture. Father God, the all-power Creator of all things who has all He needs, is seeking something … true worshipers. He is looking for those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth. What He is referring to are those who would passionately worship Him from their hearts. That, and nothing less, is true and genuine worship.

Too many of those in our gatherings are merely going through the motions of worship. They don’t want to look out of place so they stand, clap, raise their hands — do what ever it takes to mimic and mime their way through the worship time — in order to fit. Whatever they may be doing, they are not worshiping. It is certainly not true worship. All their efforts are just imitated actions — not heartfelt, true worship. In other church services, we find almost everyone very engaged. Things are stirred up and emotions are going strong. But again, that might not have much to do with true worship. It may be little more than soul power. Any animated worship leader with an energetic song can get people excited.

What God is looking for are those who will truthfully worship Him with hearts that are abandoned. We must not shrink back or be satisfied with expressions of worship we have had in the past, no matter how rich, real, and meaningful they may have been. We need to come into our times of worship with a willingness to be spent and poured out in worship for the Lord — zealous worshipers of God. Some may shout, some may dance, some may lie prostrate, but how we express ourselves does not matter as long as we are willing to be spent on worship — abandoned to give Him our highest praise! When we have this kind of heart to worship the Lord, we will be the apple of His eye.

Those Who Will Join With Him in Prayer
The second character trait God longs for us to have is a heart of intercession. Ezekiel 22:30 says, “I sought for man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me on the behalf of the land that I should not destroy it, but I found none.” This is one of the saddest Scriptures in the Bible. The Lord sees the people with all their sin. He knows they deserve judgment, but wants His mercy to triumph over His judgment. God knows the time for judgment is coming, and He looks everywhere for one who will stand in the gap and pray, calling out to Him so He may exercise mercy … but there was no one.

God is always looking for intercessors. Hebrews 7:25 tells us that Jesus Christ
“… ever lives to intercede …”; and He invites us to join Him in His work. We need our hearts awakened and enlivened so that we would have hearts to cry out to the Lord for the ministries of our cities, for the moving of the Holy Spirit, and for the lost to be saved. God is seeking intercessors who realize the breaches in the wall that make us vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy, and are willing to plead the blood of Jesus to cover our sins: “Lord Jesus, because of Your mercy, because of Your provision of the Cross, do not judge us as we deserve.” God is looking for those who have a Christlikeness from joining Jesus Christ in His work of intercession … and He delights when He finds every one of them!

Becoming Whole-Hearted
The third attribute of those for whom God is looking are those whose hearts are completely His. Second Chronicles 16:9 says, “For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.” The all-seeing, all-knowing God is continually scouring the Earth, like a spiritual searchlight, and for what is He is looking? Those whose hearts are completely His. He is not satisfied with having some of your heart. He will not settle for even most of your heart. God is after your heart … and He wants all of it! 100%! God is looking and longing for those whose hearts are completely His, and when He finds them what will He do? He promises to support them strongly. Imagine what the Church could accomplish if the things that we were doing were strongly supported by our all-powerful God. This is what God wants to do, and He is looking for those for whom He can do it.

The difficulty is that we try to make our hearts fully God’s by the principle of subtraction. We tend to look at our lives and try to figure out what should be the next thing we throw out of our cluttered hearts to make our character incrementally improved. Too many in the body of Christ are striving to become wholehearted by spiritual “navel gazing.” While their intentions are commendable, they will never become wholeheartedly God’s by studying their flaws and removing them one by one. For every idol they remove, another one just pops up to take its place. God does not develop character by subtraction — that is legalism.

Character — an Inside Job
So often, I hear messages that give people a laundry list of things to remove from their hearts to make more room for Jesus. These sermons sound more like spiritualized self-help books than God’s word. We would be better off saying, “I need more of Jesus in my heart.” We need to hear afresh what John the Baptist said in John 3:30, “He must increase and I must decrease.” We need Jesus to increase first, and then He will help us decrease. When the Lord increases in your life, He will help you get rid of the things that need removing. If He increases, He will take care of everything else from the inside. True godly character cannot be put on from the outside. It must be lived out from the inside. It works itself out from within.

The character we need is the character of God. It is not our character new and improved. It is God working His character into our lives. That is why we must know the truth of 1 Corinthians 15:33,
“bad company corrupts good character.” If bad company corrupts good character, what would good company do? It would build good character. Who is the best company with whom we could possibly spend time? Jesus Christ! We were created for relationship with Him. That is why our focus should not be looking at our faults and flaws, but on loving God and letting Him love us. When we really fellowship with Jesus — spending time with Him and just being His — what is going to happen? We are going to become like Him; His character is going to be formed in us.

The key to becoming completely His is found in Jeremiah 29:13,
“You will seek Me and you will find Me when you seek Me with all of your heart.” This is what God is looking for, those who will seek after Him. If we will seek Him and set our sights on being with Him and spending time with Him, He will transform our character and we will be prepared for the things ahead. God is so desirous of us having this kind of character because He is about to pour His power out in unprecedented proportion. As the Lord showed my friend Bobby Conner, God is trying to get us in such a position that He can trust us with His glory. I want to be one of those God can trust with His glory … what about you? Once our hearts are postured such that God is seeking after us, we will be in a good place no matter where we are geographically, no matter what the circumstances of life present, because God is pursuing after us and we are in the center of His focus.

God promised Bobby,
“If I can find a people without mixture, I will pour out My power without measure!” God wants us to be a people without mixture, a people fully given over to Him, a people whose hearts are fully His. He is positioning us for His great outpouring by preparing our character so that it will bring blessing and empowering in and through our lives. All that He is really seeking is for people who are fully His. Who will be those people without mixture? Will it be us … will it start here … will it begin now?

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