Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Spirit and Exploits

I have been traveling a bit lately. I just got back from St Louis, MO where Margi and I were attending a Newfrontiers Leadership Conference. It was a great time to see friends and be stimulated by some great teaching. John Lanferman brought a great word of encouragement to leaders to remain full of faith in regards to the work they have been called. Terry Virgo was there and spoke passionately about the Holy Spirit. I was captivated by Terry's delight to see people embrace the role of the Spirit in their lives.

I have been teaching a series and reading on the Holy Spirit and was struck one morning by the context which the disciples and the early church would of received Jesus teaching on the giving and receiving of the Spirit. In reading the Pentecost account in Acts when Peter speaks to the crowd it dawned on me that he immediately looked back to the Old Testament to contextualize what they were seeing. As I have looked back on the characteristics of the move of the Spirit in the OT, It is evident that exploits of some type followed that Spirit coming upon a man. Gifts of leadership, prophesy, physical strength, insight and wisdom, skill, the list could go on, all of these were given not for personal edification only but for the accomplishment of mission. Looking forward to the NT Jesus spoke of the role of comforter and teacher, with the mission of leading them in to truth and to testify of Jesus. Jesus last words to His followers was to stay in Jerusalem to be endued with power so that they could be His witnesses through out the world.

I think back to my first days as a Christ follower and much of the teaching I received about the Spirit, most of it was in the context of personal blessing and edification. I figured that if it was something that was only for my benefit, that left me the option to wait until such a time that "I needed it. After all who wants to speaking tongues any way." The reality is that if we feel the call of God on our life to affect this world and want to make a difference we need empowerment for mission.

The early church did not approach the Spirit with any sense of complacency, they felt the pressure to do they work they were called to and they were sharply aware that they had scattered when Jesus was killed, they knew they did not have the goods to pull it off. Jesus had promise that He would sent the Spirit to make up the difference. They would of thought back to the great
heroes of the OT and their exploits, and approached with hope and faith that God could use them in the same way.

It raises the questions, are we hungry for the Spirit manifested on our life? Are we fearful? Is to much made of this? What must we do today to experience the same kind of power the early church experienced?

What do you think, your comments are welcome.