Category Archives: every member ministry

Holy Spirit in Human History (8)

But Moses replied, “Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!” (Numbers 11v29)

Those of us with knowledge of what happens 1300 years later at Pentecost will read Mose’s response as more of an unintentional propheric utterance to the people challenging him.

In Acts 2 we read of how Jesus’ disciples – bouyed by seeing him alive – obey his instruction to remain together as they pray for the Counsellor to be sent to them. What happens next is staggering as God’s Holy Spirit arrives comes upon them and they spill out into the streets, glorifying God to people in other languages who (convicted by what they hear and see) respond to the message and also become Jesus’ followers. More than that – the disciples discover that if they lay hands on these new believers and invite the Holy Spirit into them, it happens and these new converts are also filled with the Spirit of God.

How true the outcome: I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!

 

 


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Dreams, prophesy and visions?

Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy,  your young men will see visions,  your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.’ (Acts 2v14-18)

I love this picture, especially its colour and vibrancy. The tree with its autumnal leaves is beautifully contrasted against the azure blue sky. In short: all is well within this picture. Moreover,  it fufils and defies our expectation.

In a similar way, Peter brings colour, vibrancy and contrast as he explains to the visiting Jews what it is they have just experienced: ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy,  your young men will see visions,  your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.’

Or in other words:

‘Listen guys, you want answers and the only thing I can tell you is that God is making good on His promise. As we speak, His Holy Spirit is falling on people, enabling them to  prophesise, have visions and dream about a different future with God in which He reigns.’ (circa Bob)

However dull or muted or lifeless we might feel in our Christian life, the truth is that God is in the process of bringing change to the weary and downtrodden. Change fuelled by a desire that we too – like the first Christians – might know Him deeply and respond to the gifts he generously gives us. The only catch being that we must be open to God, willing to accept whatever we are given and proactive in putting them to use as we build God’s Kingdom in the world.

 

 


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Clean in a dirty world?

John 10v8-11 recounts this exchange:

(Peter ) “You shall never wash my feet.”

(Jesus)  “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

 (Peter) “Then, Lord, not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

(Jesus ) “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.

While all of the other disciples were happy for Jesus to wash their feet , Peter refuses. Although it is not clear why he does this, his over-the-top counter response to Jesus seconds later in which he instructs him to wash his head and hands as well, says something of how Peter was open to correction and ready to change his perspective in an instant.

One possible explanation for Peter’s initial refusal to be washed may have come from his understanding of who Jesus was and his mission. While all of the disciples struggled to grasp Jesus’ teaching and what he was telling them about himself, Peter was  the first to recognise him as the Christ. Moreover, Peter was also present at the transfiguration and it is likely he thought it unworthy of Jesus to degrade himself in this way by washing  feet.

Of course, what Jesus was actually demonstrating in the washing of the disciples’ feet was that just as they had been washed and served by someone greater  than themselves, so they too should serve others in the same way. Living examples of the change being wrought in people’s hearts and lives through God’s incoming Kingdom. A change that will in turn affect and challenge societal norms.

And what of the disciples in this- did they take this lesson to heart?

Well yes! In Acts 6,  the disciples are later called upon to intervene to deal with a problem  with the distribution of food to the widows. In the wake of Jesus’ death and resurrection, Jesus’ discipoles – Apostles  as they were now called – could have made a case that others others should intervene. After all, their calling was to go out and telling them the good news of Jesus.  Instead – for a season – they put into practice what Jesus had shown them and served the widows in the way a leader in the Kingdom of Christ should do. Something God calls each of us to aspire to.

 


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Christ’s disciples or loved up junkies?

‘By your love for one ‘another, people will know you are my disciples.’ John 13v35

I wonder what you make of this image? Presumably, the silhouetted people are in an aquarium observing jellyfish. However,  there’s a problem in that it’s unclear if the people are being observational at all. If anything, their body language seems to be turned in to one another and missing the spectacle above them?

In a similar way, the picture is a window on the dilema faced by many churches for whom the instruction to love for one another has resulted in communities being more concerned with meeting their own internal needs rather than those who stand outside the church.

While there are many explanations as to why churches focus inwards, it is worth noting that God has always entrusted communities and groups to reveal His Love and message to others. Of course, in churches, it is not always easy to change herd mentality but individual obedience to venture out – knowing you’re loved and valuable to God – is exciting and can be a great encouragement for others to change.


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Full spiritual potential?

‘But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.’ (1 Peter 2v9)

There’s something very appealing about this image. Possibly because its constructed from disjointed geometrical shapes? Maybe because the coloured images repeat themselves in different sizes and at tangential angles? Or could it be the stark colours that don’t sit well together  – such as pink beside orange – also work through variations of tone and colour?

For me, this image also serves as a useful pictorial representation of Church in which colour and shape depicts the eclectic nature of the people within it. More than, that, the disparate and differing needs of those who make up the body of Christ. People who at first glance,  we might think would never work well together. (Incidentally, they also think the same of us!). And yet, somehow,  by the grace of God and the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives and ours, a royal priesthood, holy nation and special possession to God is created.

Of course, this is merely the beginning stage. Those who are called to form the body of Christ are also expected to realise their own full spiritual potential within it.  Regrettably, through ignorance, lack of teaching or lax attitude, many people attending churches today remain unaware of their primary spiritual gift, calling and/or passion. Where this happens,  the church is curtailed in size so that only a fraction of its potential is realised and visible – rather like the fragment image  taken from the picture above. Bottom line, its one thing to believe, another to commit and realise our full spiritual potential in God’s tapestry.

www.primarygift.co.uk

 

 


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Are you leaving a spiritual fingerprint?

‘For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.’ Ephesians 2v10.

What does it mean to be God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works? Well. in his book ‘To Boldly Go,’ Eric Delve details our uniqueness in Christ like this:

‘You are the precious, loved, desired child of a glorious great loving Father. And this relationship began long before you were born, in fact before the world or universe was made. He loved you before ever he breathed the galaxies into being. And why you especially? Because you are you, a unique once only expression of the living God made to hear, know and see Him as no one else ever did, and then out of that knowledge to unveil before the watching world the revelation of God that only you can reveal. Since you are physically, biologically, intellectually, emotionally, psychologically never to be repeated; God will never have another chance in this universe to reveal the facet of His character that is uniquely for you to know and show.’

Wikipedia describes human fingerprints as ‘impressions left by the friction ridges which are detailed, nearly unique, difficult to alter, and durable over the life of an individual, making them suitable as long-term markers of human identity.’

Today, if you haven’t already, why not resolve to plant your spiritual fingerprint and identity on this world. Realise your unrepeatable potential and opportunity  as you leave your human and spiritual mark for God in this time and place. Be blessed!


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Avoiding the pitfalls of spiritual growth?

The Apostle Paul in the book of Corithians says this: ‘What I told you about Christ is true. Now you have every spiritual gift you need as you eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns.’       1 Corinthians 1v6-8

Some believers – if they are not careful – end up with with a condition that is best  described as  ‘spiritual gift envy.’ The situation usually occurs where a person desires to be  like another  to the point where they want the exact same spiritual gifting and ministry. More frequently, their desire is often a ‘trade up’ from what they have at present as seldom do they envy the person who washes dishes or cleans toilets but rather the  evangelist,  apostle, teacher, leader or prophet in the church.

To counter this condition, the person needs to understand that the cure to ‘gift envy’ is contentedness. That’s why scripture says: ‘Now you have every spiritual gift you need– what else can this  mean other than God has given us the spiritual equipping we need that compliments who we are and the perfect role ordained for us to do within the Church. Want to grow spiritually? Ascertain your primary spiritual gift and determine to use it every day to fulfil God’s purpose and plan for your life! You won’t regret it!


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Why ignoring your primary spiritual gift will damage God-given potential

When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth….Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,  to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen Ephesians 3v14,20-21.

Imagine a scenario in which Pele, knowing his unique skills and ability as a footballer, chose to hide them away from the world until he was in the last year of his footballing career.  People would want to know why he had wasted the opportunity to help the national team as he could have made a real difference in many matches and tournaments?

In the passage, we are informed that God ‘the Creator of everything in heaven and earth’ has spiritually equipped each of us in a unique way – in other sections of the Bible we learn this equipping involves a range of specialised gifts in which believers will serve, teach, prophesise, evangelisepreach, encourage, lead, etc (see table ). The reason God does this is that there is no benefit  if everyone is a pastor in much the same way that for all to be administrators will achieve nothing.  Moreover, God gives believers different passions – one might be a teacher of childern while another a discipler of adults.

To not put our primary spiritual gift to use in the church is similar to the footballer Pele never making himself known or available to the Brazilian team. Both talent and our primary spiritual gift are great opportunities to achieve great things in life.


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Ever wondered why churches fail to grow spiritually?

But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. “Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy;  now you have received God’s mercy.’ 1 Peter 2v9-10

In this passage we see how a people with no identity become  known as the ‘people of God.’ The task given to them was to show God’s goodness to those outside the Church and lead others from darkness into light. Straightforward so far. However, unlike every living creature in this world that goes through the stages of birth and growth, this is not always guaranteed for people when they become Christian. Yes,  spiritual birth occurs but the growth that ought follow may not where they refuse to engage with the Holy Spirit of God. There are many reasons this happens but most often it’s an  ignorance about spiritual gifts or reluctance to engage with the faith they’ve undertaken.

In the same way that an infant’s growth will falter as he continues to refuse food offered to him,  so too spiritual growth will falter in communities where they quench the Holy Spirit and/or do not keep pace with Him . Very often this occurs when individuals no longer engage with their spiritual gifts but can also occur due to a lack of understanding about the spiritual elements of their faith.

Question: Why do some churches fail to grow spiritually?

Answer:    Lack of spiritual engagement within the community.

Find out more at www.primarygift.co.uk


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Why I spend half my time using my primary spiritual gift – and you should too!

‘But as the believers rapidly multiplied, there were rumblings of discontent. The Greek-speaking believers complained about the Hebrew-speaking believers, saying that their widows were being discriminated against in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve called a meeting of all the believers. They said, “We apostles should spend our time teaching the word of God, not running a food program.  And so, brothers, select seven men who are well respected and are full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will give them this responsibility. Then we apostles can spend our time in prayer and teaching the word.” (Acts 6v1-4)

I love this passage because it’s one of the few instances in the Bible where people actively seek to protect the spiritual ministry they’ve been given. For the ‘twelve’ apostles –  serving the widows was never meant to be a full-time ministry but something they did until replacements could be found. What’s more, they weren’t scared to articulate their discontent  such was their sense of loss when forced to set aside their God-given calling.

Let’s cut to the chase! If you know your primary spiritual gift and are using it, you’ve probably already discovered that in busy churches it’s all too easy for ministry to be sidelined as other competing needs present themselves. The advice I give in ‘Know your spiritual gifts’ is to designate 70% of your time to your primary spiritual gift. Of course, it probably won’t ever happen but you may end up with 50% dedicated to your primary ministry with the remainder used on those gifts that make up your formational gift set.

Important as it is to serve in Church, God has purposed and equipped each of us to develop and grow the church using the gift that is particular to us. What that means in practice is much as we serve we also – like the apostles – need to be in tune with what God has called us to do which may mean saying ‘no’ to other peoples requests so that we are true to what God has called us to do.

Find out more at primary spiritual gifts

 


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