Monday, October 06, 2008

Being Led Dangerously By the Holy Spirit...

I caught a snippet from The Amazing Race last week & it reminded me of how we often see God working in our lives- God gives 'instructions' in yellow mailboxes, then we're off to try & complete the task on our own & in our own power. This particular episode had a young couple arriving in Alaska to sleep a night in an igloo before moving on. Sitting around the campfire the girl unloads on the guy:

'You're such a jerk...'

The clueless guy asks for examples while the rant continues. She finally closes with, 'I've got you everywhere so far.'

That thought is one we often say to others, to ourselves, or even say it in anger to God!

"Did God do any of this, or has it just been me all along?"

The Race continues, the clues are left, people find them. Is this the spiritual journey that the early church taught us about, that they experienced and modeled for us? I don't think so. Yet if we're really honest most of us treat our spiritual journey in a simialr vein.

Heck a lot of pastors, me included, have behaved that way for far too long!

My understanding of God and His commitment to supply the Holy Spirit was shallow and intellectualistic. I was especially afraid of anything in worship or prayer that might be emotional or what I saw as "spooky." At bottom, it was a matter of trust. I relied heavily--sometimes almost entirely--on my mind as a Christian thinker and on my hard work as a pastor. Prayer and what the apostle Paul calls "the fellowship of the Spirit" were "dispensable supplements" for me as a pastor. What really mattered for me was frequent and regular visiting of people, studying the Bible carefully, preaching biblical truths with contemporary relevance, and often using the media to publicize the programs of our local church. In all this I had a naive confidence that biblical truths clearly expressed would almost automatically change lives. Jack Miller


Acts 19:1-6
Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?"

They answered, "No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit."

So Paul asked, "Then what baptism did you receive?"

"John's baptism," they replied.

Paul said, "John's baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus." On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them...

This isn't the first occurence of a group of disciples who hadn't yet recieved the Spirit recorded in Acts. Lets call these folks, 'head Christians'. They knew who Jesus was, they had some beliefs and were acting on them as best they could, but they hadn't yet opened up to the Spirit. Where was their guidance coming from...?

Did Jesus say, "If anyone is thirsty, let them come to me and THINK?"

Lets look at some of the things Paul wrote to the Ephesian church that was forming in Acts 19,

Ephesians 1:17-18
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you...

2:1-10 (The Message)
It wasn't so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn't know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It's a wonder God didn't lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.

Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It's God's gift from start to finish! We don't play the major role. If we did, we'd probably go around bragging that we'd done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.

All of our power comes from the Spirit. If our power doesn't come from the Holy Spirit, it means nothing. Paul doesn't extol clever thinking- he calls us to soften our hearts that we may invite the Spirit in and see real change begin.

Have you abandoned 'the futility of your thinking?'

Are you ready to be led dangerously by the Holy Spirit?

Paul was led by the Spirit, knowing that the real truth wasn't the actual directions but the fact that Jesus Himself was with Paul wherever he went. We get way too hung up on the actual directions. We want to live the amazing race- just give us directions & we'll do fine from there.

That's the futility of our thinking!

How was Paul led by God?

Paul had Jesus speak to him (Acts 9) and shortly thereafter received the Spirit (9:17).

He was later kept from going to Asia by the Spirit (Acts 16:7-8).

'The Spirit of Jesus would not allow them.' We don't quite know what that looked like but Paul certainly knew who was stopping him!

Next Paul had a vision of a man begging him, 'Come over here and help us'. Paul concluded the Spirit was telling them to go to those people.

Later in Acts 18 Paul hears from the Lord, 'Do not be afraid...'

Again and again Acts records these followers of Christ who were filled with the Spirit, experiencing much grace, much unity, daily leadings, miraculous interventions, deep pain, real comfort, & true hope that they didn't worry that they were all alone on this journey.

A true Holy Spirit message will always draw you nearer to God.

What activities and messages are drawing you away from God right now?

Proverbs 3:25-26
Have no fear of sudden disaster or the ruin that overtakes the wicked. For the Lord will be your confidence, and he will keep your foot from being snared.

Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don't try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he's the one who will keep you on track. Don't assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil!


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