Ephesians 1:18-20 (NIV) – “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms.”
John 15:5-8 (NIV) – “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”
God has given us unlimited resources- “the riches of his glorious inheritance and his incomparably great power” – because of the mission He calls us to. We don’t own these riches – they belong to Jesus. We don’t own the power – Jesus was given all authority and power. We don’t own the gifts – the blessing of the gifts flows through us. We have access because Jesus dwells in us, but how do we access?
Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches.” We are to believe by remaining connected to Him. The key to access is to remain connected moment by moment to Jesus. Everything about us is now wired to perfectly fit with God – our DNA, our heart, mind, soul, strength – our entire being. We are now designed to engage our whole being for the glory of God and to hear, see, learn and live by His presence. Everything about us is to be incorporated into what God is doing through fellowship with Him. When we remain in Him, we are made ready to exercise the gifts to love and edify others when the Spirit calls and leads us.
Let’s pray and ask that our hearts would change even more and embrace more diligently remaining in Christ through His word, worship, prayer and community life. Let’s also continue to pray that God would lead us to experience and witness greater blessings of healings, transformation and salvation among us!
1 Corinthians 12:14-20 (NIV) – “Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. Now if the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.”
When we look at one another, we can have the tendency to associate the differences we see with inferiority. But in God’s world, every person and the gifts we have been given matter, because God has redeemed us and arranged it all to fit and function together just as He wants it to be. Now some parts may strengthen more quickly, some may be more out in the open while others are more hidden from the public eye. But without this diversity, what would the body be? The redeeming power of God’s salvation is more than able to enable us to function together in His power and minister as Christ in the world.
So, let’s not neglect or resist the gifts that God gives us. Instead, let’s be thankful and ask God for humility to make our hearts and minds even more together with what He has arranged. Let’s also ask for the redeeming power of God’s salvation to fill us and to manifest in greater healings, more miracles, more salvations!
1 Corinthians 12: 8-14 (NIV) – “To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines. Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.”
Paul is using the analogy of the physical body to illustrate how we are together the body of Christ. It’s not a common style or mission that binds us. What binds us together is far more powerful and eternal – each one of us has died with Christ and was raised with Him – “For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body…and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.”
God did not give Spiritual gifts to us so that we would shine and function individually. Nor are we just “community”. We are the body of Christ, redeemed, empowered and gifted to display and share Christ in the world. The gifts of the Spirit work most effectively out of this unity.
Let’s ask God to purify our hearts to see and understand who we are as His church from His eyes, Let’s also thank and praise God for the beautiful and powerful unity of being His church, and may the Spirit fill us even more to strengthen and empower this unity so that gifts of the Spirit may be fruitful as we minister.
Acts 2: 36-38,41 (NIV) – “‘Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.’ When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?’
“Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit…’ Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.”
“I had such an experience of His love,” D.L. Moody recalled later, “that I had to ask Him to stay His hand. I went to preaching again. The sermons were not different; I did not present new truths, and yet hundreds were converted. I would not now be placed back where I was before that experience if you should give me all the world.” Moody was already actively involved in preaching the Gospel, but his experience provided new power for ministry. [R. Nathan, K. Wilson, Empowered Evangelicals]
When Peter preached on the day of Pentecost, his words cut people to the heart, and about three thousand believed and were baptized. D.L Moody experienced the filling of the Holy Spirit and received new power for ministry and hundreds were saved. We too can ask for and welcome the Holy Spirit to empower our sharing of the Gospel, so that persons we share with are cut to the heart and saved.
Let’s pray today and ask God for more of His empowering to come upon us. Let’s ask God to stir up the gift of evangelism among us, and to fill us with His love and anoint the very words we speak when we share the Gospel so more may be added to God’s family.
1 Corinthians 12:4-7,11 (NIV) – “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good…All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.”
What wonderful grace God gives to us. He gives Spiritual gifts to His believers, to the body of Christ. The gifts are abilities or tools given to us by the Spirit’s empowering to enable us to minister in specific ways to advance God’s kingdom. And it’s a gift! It’s not a reward or a merit badge. Spiritual gifts are not to elevate us or be some measure of our spiritual maturity. The gifts are given to us for service, for the common good, to lift up others, to edify others and build up God’s church. It’s not about us. It’s about Jesus. This is the marvelous grace of God at work in our lives.
Let’s seek God in prayer concerning the gifts He has given to us – may He stir them up and strengthen them. Let’s also ask God to help us step up in faith and exercise the Spiritual gifts so that God’s church would be built up.
Acts 4:29-31 – “Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus. After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.”
“We modern people think of miracles as the suspension of the natural order, but Jesus meant them to be the restoration of the natural order. The Bible tells us that God did not originally make the world to have disease, hunger, and death in it. Jesus has come to redeem where it is wrong and heal the world where it is broken. His miracles are not just proofs that he has power but also wonderful foretastes of what he is going to do with that power. Jesus’ miracles are not just a challenge to our minds, but a promise to our hearts, that the world we all want is coming.” [T. Keller, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism]
Application: Let’s pray like the early church for the Lord’s empowering to speak the gospel with great boldness. Let’s pray for the demonstration of God’s power and for the ultimate redemption for our world, salvation in Jesus Christ.
Acts 5:12-16 – “The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed.”
“[…] When Jesus performed miracles, his actions had a significance beyond the immediate act of healing. His actions were signs of the Kingdom of God. They were indications of a higher order breaking into our natural order. His healings were a sign that God is the ultimate healer. His control over nature was a sign of God’s control over nature. His resurrection was the firstfruits of the new order of resurrection life. And in all these things God was in Christ, drawing our attention to who he was and pointing us to the future.” [C. Brown, That You May Believe: Miracles and Faith Then and Now]
Application: The signs and wonders point to the One, who is the healer, the Savior, Jesus. Let’s pray for greater activity of the Holy Spirit in our church so that there will be more added to our number.
Luke 11:13 (NIV) – “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
“[…] Miracles are like warning flags. They signal the presence of a different order of reality that is present in the midst of our everyday world. David Hume thought of miracles as violations of the laws of nature. But there is another way of thinking about them. It is to see them not so much as violations of an existing order but as indications of the presence of a different order. On this view, miracles are not bizarre, random events. They are tokens of a higher order that is ultimately more real than our world of change and decay…
“To open the door to the possibility of miracles is not to open the door to every myth and legend. But how do we know the difference between the genuine and the fake? Once more we are back with the question of analogy… ‘Does the miracle story bear any analogy to my understanding of God and his creation?’ …It does not mean that in order to believe in miracles we have to abandon all our scientific understanding… scientific credibility is not the only kind of credibility at issue. There is also the matter of theological credibility. It is no less important to ask, ‘Does the miracle story fit with what we know of the character of God?’ …truth demands that we look for analogies not only with our understanding of nature but with God’s revelation of himself. The Christian operates with two frames of reference. One is our understanding of the natural world. The other is our understanding of God.” [C. Brown, That You May Believe: Miracles and Faith Then and Now]
“Here is how to receive. First, present your body to Him (Rom. 12: 1, 2). God can’t fill what He can’t have. Now I ask you: Are you ready to present your body with all of its functions and all that it contains—your mind, your personality, your spirit, your love, your ambitions, your all? That is the first thing. That is a simple, easy act—presenting the body. Are you willing to do it? Now the second thing is to ask (Luke 11: 9-11), and I set aside all theological objections to this text. They say that is not for today. Well, why did the Lord leave it in the Bible then? Why didn’t He put it somewhere else; why did He put it where I could see it if He didn’t want me to believe it? It is all for us, and if the Lord wanted to do it, He could give it without our asking, but He chooses to have us ask. ‘Ask of me, and I will give thee’ is always God’s order; so why not ask?” [Tozer, A. W.. How to be Filled with the Holy Spirit, Kindle Locations 424-428.]
Application: As a response to the Father in Heaven who gives the Holy Spirit, let ask. Just ask. Why not ask for the miracles in our lives?
Galatians 3:5 (NIV) – “So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard?”
“What Christians are claiming about the resurrection of Jesus is not that he rose by some natural processes; that would violate the laws of nature. No. Christians claim that Jesus rose because God injected enormous power and energy from outside the system. Now, unless you have evidence that the system is totally closed, you cannot argue against the possibility of miracles.” [J. Lennox, Miracles, VeriTalks Book 2]
Application: Let’s ask the Spirit to help us believe with all our hearts, even in dire situations to trust in God’s work of miracle among us.
Hebrews 2:1-4 (NIV) – “We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For since the message spoken through angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.”
Sadly, many Christians today are unfamiliar with the manifest presence of God. They have had little personal experience with God, and have not taken the time to study through the Bible to see how God’s Word describes such an experience. So when they hear an account of someone else’s experience with God, they are quick to judge it on the basis of their own experience— or lack thereof— and condemn that experience as false. The Bible teaches, however, that our God manifests Himself tangibly to His people. He comes to them to heal, empower and refresh. God doesn’t want you to just know about Him. He wants you to experience Him! He wants to manifest His presence in your life.” [Heidler, Robert. Experiencing the Spirit: Developing a Living Relationship with the Holy Spirit. pp. 206-207]
Application: as we open our minds and hearts to the Lord, let’s ask God for the empowering of the Spirit for our lives and for others. God who comes to heal, empower and refresh, let’s ask God for the increase of the Holy Spirit’s work in the church.