Friday, 28 June 2013

Open to the Prophetic

As people and churches we need not only an ongoing experience of the Spirit and the ministry of the Word we also need the prophetic – the now voice of the Spirit speaking expressly to us as God’s people.
Several times in Scripture we are exhorted to hear what the Spirit is saying – in Revelation it wasn’t the same message to every church.
When those words were written there was no completed Canon of Scripture so it can’t have been hearing what God has to say through scripture, though certainly there is a place for that.
The early disciples and church were very much led by the prophetic voice of the Spirit. As they worshipped the Spirit spoke and they responded. The result was a constantly developing and flexible movement that would impact the nations.
Today, as much as then, we as God’s people both personally and as churches need to be open to and willing to hear that voice, and when we hear it not quench it but respond in obedient faith.
It is the willingness to hear that voice that will save individuals and churches from religious formalism, stereo typing, inflexibility and stagnation.
Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is there is abundant life and glorious liberty.
Whoever has ears to hear let them hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

The Importance of the Word

The last couple of weeks we have looked at the necessity of work of the Spirit. In this post I want to focus on the importance of preaching/teaching which was a vital part of the growth, establishment and expansion of the early church.
Not only did they know God present and active through the Spirit, but they knew him speaking powerfully through the Word and continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine.
Those who were called to lead were to be men of the Word and Spirit. In fact at one point when the apostles threatened to be overwhelmed by the increasing needs of the rapidly expanding church they appointed men full of the Spirit and faith to look after the practical needs arising so that they could give themselves to prayer and the Word.
But a question is sometimes posed – if we have the Spirit so dynamically present with us, why do we need the preaching/teaching of the Word?
A Few Good Reasons:
Here are a few good reasons…
1. Because we are living in a fallen world, and therefore our knowledge of God and of ourselves is skewed.
2. The enemy is always out to destroy the true knowledge of God – both for the those who don’t know him and those who do.
3. The enemy is out to prevent our relationship to God first of all by seeking to prevent our being saved through faith in Christ, and two, if he can’t do that, he will seek to undermine the relationship we do have with God.
4. The enemy is out to prevent our maturity – the Word keeps us focussed, reminds us where it’s at and refines us.
5.  The enemy is out to prevent our equipping for the purposes of God – all Scripture is God breathed, and is given not only to challenge and change us, but to equip us to fulfill God’s purpose.
The knowledge of God, growth in walking with him, being transformed and being equipped don’t just happen by being filled with the Spirit, our minds needs to be educated, old thoughts and ideas need to be challenged and changed, all of which the enemy is against, therefore in teaching we are confronting and demolishing strongholds, whether in the unsaved mind or the Christians.
The Big Issue 
What place does it have in your life?
What place does it have in your church?
Are you, me, we taking it seriously – in other words acting on what we hear?

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Are you quenching the Spirit?

In the last post we looked at the baptism and fullness of the Spirit, in this one we are asking the question, are you quenching the Spirit?
A quick glance over the New Testament very quickly reveals the dynamic of a God who was present with his people, present in person and present in power. The writers describe his coming and activity in a a variety of ways – wind, fire, falling upon, different languages, prophecy… God wasn’t simply a creed, information in a Book, but One who was present to his people in a very real, personal, and powerful way in their lives, meetings and ministry.
I wonder when you read the story do you see it as something that simply belongs to the birth of the church, a bygone day, never to be repeated? If so you are quenching the Spirit. As Peter said the ‘promise is for you and your children, and to all who are far off, everyone who the Lord calls to himself’  (Acts 2:39). No cessation but a glorious promise for all God’s people through every generation and in every land.
Maybe you think you are not good enough and so ruling yourself out, if so you are quenching the Spirit. Peter said the promise was for all God’s people, and it was never about you being good enough – Jesus is our claim on the promise! Peter said, ‘repent and be baptised …. and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’ (Acts 2:38). He is a gift, not a reward, and you need Him, now.
On the other hand maybe you have known something of the Spirit, yes you had a real encounter, knew what it was to move in the things of the Spirit, but today you are empty, dry….. Let me assure you God doesn’t want you to stay that way, the enemy does. Perhaps it was sin, if so Jesus has paid the price, seek his forgiveness and cleansing, and come and receive again.
On the other hand it might have been a bad experience in church that has caused hurt and disillusionment, and today you are quenching the Spirit. Whatever your circumstance (and I’ve been there) it’s the enemy who wants you to remain that way and thereby rob you of God’s presence and power in your life today. You will need to go to God and pray it out. You will need to forgive those who’ve offended you – the Holy Spirit who is already with you can help you in that. Invite his presence, seek his help, come and be released and be filled again.
Maybe you think the Spirit is for today, just not things like tongues, prophecy, manifestations…. if so you are quenching the Spirit. The promise was never divided up and apportioned differently to following generations. The Spirit is God present to his people in glorious fullness and as such he loves to distribute gifts that reveal to us the heart and purposes of God.
On the other hand maybe you are a ‘Word’ person, that’s where it’s at. You know the Word through and through, you are sound in doctrine, but you wouldn’t go near the things of the Spirit, if so you are quenching the Spirit.  Now I love the Word, I believe in sound doctrine, but with all respect Jesus didn’t promise a Book, but a Person – Holy Spirit (remember the early church didn’t have access to the Bibles we do for many years). As someone who loves the Word I know that it is something I can hide behind, and it can easily be all about my mind, whereas the Spirit is about a Person, a Presence, a relationship. We are called to be people of the Word and Spirit, to be filled with then both (Ephesians 5:18 and Colossians 3:16), and no they are not saying the same thing.
Maybe it’s your personality, you say it’s just not me, I’m quiet, reserved (so was I!) – then you are quenching the Spirit. They are arguments that relate to the flesh, the fallen world, but now we are new creations in Christ and the presence of his Spirit can not only transform our lives but personalities as well. Maybe God has given you a word, but your shyness, your fear, has held you back. Don’t allow it to, life in the Spirit involves stepping out in faith – trust God and step out allowing his Spirit to work through you and bring his word to others and a greater flow in your life.
Maybe you fear allowing him to work in your church, your meetings are not like those in the New Testament, everything is held tight,  everything is predictable, then you are quenching the Spirit. The church is meant to be the temple of the living God, the dwelling place of God by the Spirit, the place of his presence and activity and therefore full of his life, love and power.
The Spirit has been given, have you received him?
The Spirit has been given, will you allow him to work in and through you in his own wonderful ways?
Be encouraged, God is for you, and he wants you to know the fullness of His Spirit, the promise of His presence and power is for you. Don’t quench him any longer but come and be filled, and who knows what God will do in and through your life and church!!