Living Beyond the Ordinary

I just finished up a post on being a servant and having the heart of a servant, and instead of sleeping I’m thinking about how God designed us for the extraordinary and supernatural, but we settle for the ordinary and mundane. There’s an old Switchfoot song that says, “We were meant to live for so much more. Have we lost ourselves?” And I can’t help but think we have.

Filled with Power from on High

The Prophet Ezekiel talked about the Holy Spirit in chapters 11 & 36 when he shared a vision that God gave him; in which, God spoke, “And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God” (Ezekiel 11:19-20). Luke tells us that after Jesus’ resurrection, Christ told His disciples to wait for this “power from on high” before continuing His ministry (Luke 24:49). In John, Jesus described the Holy Spirit as an advocate, helper, and Spirit of Truth (John 14:15-17). And throughout the book of Acts–and the remainder of the New Testament–we see the results of being filled with the Holy Spirit, as a group of frightened disciples is filled with the power of the Spirit and transformed into a fearless group of messengers bringing the Good News of Christ to everyone they encountered! 

The Holy Spirit is the power of God alive and at work on the earth; and every believer is filled with this same power from the moment we accept Christ as our personal Lord and Savior. His Spirit is what enabled the disciples to face persecution head-on, with joy! His Spirit is what gave them the ability to cast out demons and heal the sick. His Spirit gave them boldness and authority to preach the Word to the nations. It’s the same Spirit that’s at work in us today! Yet, we’re content with just getting from one day to the next. Even unbelievers can do that!

Gifts of the Spirit

The Holy Spirit empowers us to do things far above and beyond that which we could ever do in, and of, ourselves. He helps us all to live lives full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). This means that regardless of our ethnicity or background, the Holy Spirit gives us the supernatural ability to treat others with love, gentleness, and respect; even when the world tells us we have the “right” to be angry and/or react offensively. It’s inexcusable for believers to site their ethnicity or background as an excuse to behave poorly or unkind. If we’re a believer, it’s Christ’s blood that runs through our veins, and that’s the only thing that matters.

The Spirit also empowers us with other gifts and abilities; although, different for each believer, they’re all equally important. These gifts include gifts of wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment, speaking in tongues, and interpretation of tongues (1 Corinthians 12:4-11); as well as teaching, helping, and administrating (1 Corinthians 12:27-31).

Lastly, let’s recall my last post in which we discussed how we were created for the purposes of God. Each of us were created with intimate precision and care (Psalm 139:13-16), and God provides each of us with giftings and talents that we’re to use to bring Him honor and glory.  Reinvesting the gifts and talents that God has given us into establishing His kingdom is what He designed us for (Matthew 25:14-30)! But the talents that He gives us will never be used to their full potential until we allow the Holy Spirit to work in us and through us to. Only once we abandon all selfish ambition, will God be able to take us above and beyond all we could possibly imagine or conceive, yet not for our own sake, but for His (Ephesians 3:20-21)! Because God’s Spirit makes the impossible possible! He brings the dead to life. He brings healing to the broken and sick. Provision to the needy. Hope to the hopeless. Joy to the hurting. Freedom to the oppressed. He does what we could never do in our own strength and abilities.

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Multiply: Week 4

Part II: Living as the Churchmultiply_square_black1[1]

1: Life in the Church

Thanks for returning while we read/work through Francis Chan & Mark Beuving’s Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples.

This week, Francis Chan discusses our need to belong to a body of believers (a church), the purpose of the church, and where we fit in, as believers. He begins by stating that  “While every individual needs to obey Jesus’s call to follow, we cannot follow Jesus as individuals. The proper context for every disciple maker is the church.” In other words, we cannot make disciples without being part of a larger church community, because we cannot follow all of Jesus’s commands if we’re not in relationship with other believers.

Look at if from this perspective: the New Testament is full of commands to do this or that for “one another.” Love one another, pray for one another, encourage one another, etc. So how can we teach people to “observe all that I have commanded” if they have no one to love, pray for, or encourage? It’s impossible to “one another” yourself. It’s impossible to follow Jesus alone. We can’t claim to follow Jesus if we neglect the church He created, the church He died for, the church He entrusted His mission to. (Chan & Bueving, 2012, pp. 51-52)

It is incredibly important for every Christian to find and commit themselves to a local body of believers. As Francis Chan states, “The church is a group of redeemed people that live and serve together in such a way that their lives and communities are transformed…If you are not connected with other Christians, serving and being served, challenging and being challenged, then you are not living as He desires, and the church is not functioning as He intended” (p. 53). This can also be applied to finding a church. If you’re attending a church where God’s word is not being taught and applied in a way that challenges you or in which serving others isn’t a priority, maybe you should rethink where you’re attending. You don’t want to remain in spiritual immaturity forever and you want to be able to serve as God has called you to. And, as Francis Chan states, “A pastor’s job is not to do all of the ministry in a church, but to ‘equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ’ (Ephesians 4:12)” (p. 55).

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 5:1-2)

As believers we are called to “encourage, challenge, and help” other Christians in our lives, and they should do the same for us; and as we minister to others we are sanctified by Christ.

Now, here is the challenging part…We need to be ministering wholeheartedly and walking in love; the love that comes from the power of the Holy Spirit. It’s easy to throw some money towards a particular church activity or service, but to set aside time to get to know the individuals involved (those serving or being served), to be involved with them on a daily basis, to really care for their spiritual, physical, and emotional well-being–that’s the challenge.

Yet God has supplied us with everything we need in order to fulfill His calling. The power to transform hearts and change lives comes from the Holy Spirit (John 6:63), through the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17), and through prayer (James 5:16-20). As we use the Scriptures to give counsel to others, there is power (Hebrews 4:12). As we pray passionately for their hearts to change, there is power. (Chan & Beuving, 2012, p. 60)

God places each of us in our particular situation so that we can minister specifically to the people around us. Until every person in our church is using the particular spiritual gift(s) that the Holy Spirit has empowered each of us with, the church won’t be functioning at its full potential.

I’m still sitting here trying to fully comprehend all that this chapter discusses. I have a certain set of spiritual gifts, but where they can be applied in my church, is something of a challenge to me. Strangely enough, I’ve been praying about this since just before the new year…Where can my gifts be best used/applied? Where should I focus my time and energy? How do I best love/serve others?

I’m sure you’re now asking yourself some of the same questions. This is good! This study should challenge and encourage us to make change, so that we can become disciples who make disciples.