Intimacy Before Activity (Holy Spirit Series Part 4)

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But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth,~Acts 1:8.

I told you last post that I would talk about how the gifts operate. I realized this part of the equation is so vital; intimacy with God. So many people want to get up and run with the ball without cultivating intimacy with God or being empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Oswald Chambers explains it well.

Many people today are pouring their lives out and working for Jesus Christ, but are not really walking with Him. One thing God constantly requires of us is a oneness with Jesus Christ. After being set apart through sanctification, we should discipline our lives spiritually to maintain this intimate oneness. When God gives you a clear determination of His will for you, all your striving to maintain that relationship by some particular method is completely unnecessary. All that is required is to live a natural life of absolute dependence on Jesus Christ. Never try to live your life with God in any other way than His way. And His way means absolute devotion to Him. Showing no concern for the uncertainties that lie ahead is the secret of walking with Jesus.

Do you ever wonder why Jesus’s ministry did not start until He was 30. What was He doing during that time? He was living, working, being obedient and honoring to His earthly parents and His Heavenly Father. Jesus models for us something we try to bypass, He grew in favor with God and man. “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man,”~Luke 2:52.

We don’t know what the Father was developing in Jesus all those years. Yes, Jesus is and was fully God. He was also fully human. Jesus knew the importance of intimacy (oneness, closeness, relationship) with the Father.

God longs to establish our identity in Him, develop intimacy with Him, and then send us out. Our greatest strength lies in our intimacy with God. He is our source!

The gifts of God are gifts. You can operate in the gifts without cultivating deeper intimacy with God. The problem is if we don’t know God, we are bound to misrepresent Him. If we are not cultivating relationship with God, we are going to be prey to pride, self promotion, self reliance, jealousy of others God uses, and self destruction.

The gifts of the Spirit aren’t primarily for us, they are for others and the building up of the Body of Christ. If we have an intimate relationship with God, those gifts are fueled by love. God is love. We will co labor with God to bless other people and help them become all God calls them to be.

So how do we cultivate intimacy with God?

I am a make lists type of person, but I am against legalism. It looks different for every person. These are just some ways God and I engage. Your relationship with God is so unique. He’s so beautiful in the sense He knows what each child needs. He speaks your love language.

So here’s my list…

1. Prayer (talking and listening to God). It all started with prayer, that is after salvation. If you haven’t given your life to Jesus, that’s where to start.

2. Reading God’s Word. I like what Joyce Meyer says, she eats until she’s full. There’s no formula for how much to read. His Word is life giving. So, being in His Word helps to know Him. It’s God’s story written down for us. It reveals Him. It does not contain Him. Meaning the Bible is designed to lead us into an encounter with the author. It’s written in such a way that we need His Holy Spirit to bring revelation and insight.

3. Worship. It’s more than singing songs. It’s a life centered around glorifying God.

4. Giving thanks. Yes giving God continual thanks is a way to cultivate relationship.

5. Soaking. This is time set aside to just be with God. It’s inviting Him into the time to do as He pleases. It can be anywhere from 15 minutes to hours. It can involve worship music, journaling, prayer, or just lying prostrate before Him.

6. Listening to sound teaching. The Holy Spirit is the ultimate teacher. He’s also working through other people. Feeding our spirits good things keeps our focus on God.

7. Serving others. Our relationship with God should benefit everyone around us,~Kris Vallotton. One of the ways I’ve seen God deepen my understanding of His love is through serving other people, especially the poor, sick, broken, and truly messed up people of society. When I was and am in desperation, God steps right into my brokenness. He brings Himself low to lift me up.

As I stated, your relationship with God is unique. These were just on my list and I don’t follow a formula to be with God. I wake up and tell Him how much I love Him and offer Him my day and my entire life.

Father, I pray we would cultivate intimacy with You. Help us to know You. May we be empowered by Your Holy Spirit and yield to Your relentless pursuit of our hearts. In Jesus powerful name, amen.

Gifted (Holy Spirit Series Part 3)

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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. 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,~1 Corinthians 12:4-11.

Before we start talking about the gifts of the Holy Spirit, I want to touch on the purpose of the gifts.

A. To glorify God. The Holy Spirit is continually at work to glorify God. The gifts of the Spirit are given for His glory.

B. To build up the Body of Christ and be a blessing. Most natural or gifts of the world are beneficial for the recipient. We are called to use the gifts of the Spirit to bless one another.

C. Reveal the character of God. There’s so much that can be said here about how God works through His children to demonstrate to the world His character. Read the entire Bible. Every story reveals some aspect of His nature.

What the gifts are not:

1. Proof of spiritual maturity. Gifts are given by the Holy Spirit as He sees fit. Fruit (see last post) is manifest in our lives through abiding, pruning, and relationship with God. Someone can have gifts of the Spirit and be led by their flesh or be spiritually very immature.

Gifts are free, maturity is costly,”~Bill Johnson.

2. Proof of salvation. This one can be touchy as some teach the gifts are proof of salvation. We are saved by faith, not by our ability to do something (Ephesians 2:8).

3. About us. The gifts are for other people. It’s not about us. It’s about God and others.

4. For sale. There are many verses in the Bible about not using the gifts of God for personal gain. Those who demand money to pray for people or prophesy or share wisdom, I dare not judge, it’s not encouraged in the Bible. Jesus said, “Freely you’ve received, freely give,” Matt 10:8. There’s a difference between accepting an offering or holding a paid office (as pastor, counselor), and demanding people pay you to pray for their sick relative, etc…God hates exploitation, and mistreatment of the poor.

I’ve visited services (long ago) where you had to give an offering to get prayer for a miracle and the person made it seem the more you gave the minister, the more incentive God had to bless or heal you. God is generous. He’s looking to give, not exploit people. Our giving should be motivated by a desire to give, to honor Him, an act of worship, not to get something from God.

5. To embarrass, harass, or condemn people. Jesus used the gifts to help people. He knew the sins of the people around Him, yet He didn’t frequently broadcast their sins for the purpose of humiliation. If the Holy Spirit reveals a persons weaknesses, it’s so we can pray or gently lead to restoration. It’s not so we can gossip, judge, or shame people.

Spiritual discernment (the ability to see good or evil at work in someone’s life) is for the purpose of helping the person, honoring them, building them up, and/or restoring them.

Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted,~Galatians 6:1.

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Now that I’ve touched on the purpose and what they are not. What are the gifts of the Holy Spirit?

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The image is not an exhaustive list. It covers the gifts mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12. I will break down the gifts in more detail next post.

Be encouraged that every member of Christ’s Body has a role to play and no member is more important than another. If you read the rest of 1 Corinthians 12, it covers unity within the Body of Christ and how EVERY person has a part.