Thursday 30th January 2020
Always surprised by Holy Spirit.
This week in the Tuesday daytime group we were doing the Holy Spirit section of the Alpha course.
This is the section where after watching all the videos about the Holy Spirit, you ask those involved if they would be like to receive and be filled with the Holy Spirit.
I’ve lost count now, how many times I’ve done this and have had the privilege to pray for young people, old people, and messed up people.
To be honest, in the flesh, my expectations are always generally low! With my general (wrong) outlook being that Jesus only moves bit by bit in people’s lives, through discussion, debate, facts, figures and robust argument etc..
But I’m never ceased to be amazed (particularly when He is asked) how the power of Holy Spirit cuts through people’s lives bringing seemingly immediate freedom, repentance, conversions, tears, joy, healing, pictures and prophecies.
Lives totally changed by Jesus and Tuesday was such a day. Hallelujah!!!
God has challenged me, on what my expectations of the power of the Holy Spirit is to change people’s lives.
Am I reliant on good pastoral skills, good arguments, kindness, well planned events, and well produced videos to change people’s lives? Or am I reliant on, or expectant of the power of Holy Spirit to tear through peoples lives, just like I saw and experienced this week?
We’ve been talking about the power and authority given to Jesus’s disciples in Luke’s Gospel on Sundays, but do we have a real understanding and realization what that power is?
I have to apologise profusely to you, as cerebrally, I may accent to that power, but my faith and actions often don’t match up to this, even though I’ve been the one preaching.
I missed or dodged so many opportunities where I should have asked the power of the Holy Spirit to come and work in someone’s life and instead either done nothing or given half-hearted platitudes to people about how Jesus is nice.
As a church if we want to see God move in Blackburn, just like he did in the book of Acts and Luke we need to have a reliance on, and a realisation of the power of the Holy Spirit to tear through and change people’s lives in an unexpected, immediate and miraculous way, leading people to Him!
I’d love to see the Holy Spirit move more in our Sunday meetings. I really want to witness His power through, words of knowledge, tongues, pictures, spiritual gifts and more than anything, lives changed powerfully for His Glory!
Next time you’re praying for someone ask them if they would like to be filled with the Holy Spirit or ask for yourself to be filled. Then if God gives you a picture or word tell them and watch the Holy Spirt do His stuff!
Let’s pray for more of His presence, more of His power to change lives for His Glory Amen.
Helpful bible passages to ponder
8 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.”
1 Thessalonians 1:4
For we know, brothers and sisters[b] loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction.
1 Corinthians 2:2
2 And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. 2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.
Scripture of the week
Presently I am reading through the bible in one year. You can have a look at it Here
This is the bit that really hit me between the eyes this week 😊
Exodus 25 New International Version (NIV)
Offerings for the Tabernacle
25 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering. You are to receive the offering for me from everyone whose heart prompts them to give.
In this story, the people of Israel are given instructions on how to build the Ark of the Covenant. I find it fascinating that so early on in scripture it is indicated what God is interested in through our giving, serving and worship.
God makes it clear that he is not interested in people, giving, serving or worshiping under duress. God is only interested in Israel’s offering, if its prompted from the heart.
God didn’t need anything from the people of Israel, he didn’t need them to build a fancy tent. He clearly could have just done it himself. But the reason he is asking them to do this is he wants the giving, service and worship to come from their heart. Which is the part He takes delight in.
How do to we give, serve and worship God?
Do we give to God under duress? Well God doesn’t want it!! God wants your giving to come from a place of a thankful heart.
How do you serve God, under duress, grudgingly or out of obligation? Well God doesn’t want it! God wants you to serve Him joyfully from the heart.
How do you worship God, under duress because you have to fit in, or this is what we do at church? God doesn’t want it!!
God doesn’t care what you look like, whether you have your arms up or down (Although lifting hands in worship is biblical), whether you bounce like Tigger or stand stiff as a post. God wants you to worship Him (Which is your whole life) from the heart and often your body reflects this after.
If you are doing any of these things grudgingly or under duress or in the wrong spirit. I think you should stop.
God wants us to give, wants us to serve, wants us worship but only as an outpouring of love and thankfulness from our heart.
Seek Jesus, spend time with Him, develop your love for Him, seek the kingdom first and then give, serve and worship from the Heart!
Then you can truly please God.
Books worth reading
Just Mercy (Bryan Stevenson)
You can get the book HERE , You can watch the film trailer HERE
Last year I bought and read this book after seeing a recommendation for it by Nicky and Pippa Gumbel (of Alpha fame)
I got the chance to see the film on my day off at the cinema this Monday. I would strongly, strongly recommend reading and watching both.
Just Mercy tells the story of Bryan Stevenson who is a young black lawyer representing inmates on death row in Alabama. Although not a ‘Christian’ book or film, Bryans work and story is motivated by a deep Christian faith.
The book and film wrestle with injustice, poverty and racism and as I watched the film, I noticed so many parallels with the book of Exodus which I’m presently reading through in the bible in one year.
I was also really pleased that the film maker hadn’t stripped any of the spirituality of the story from the book out of the film.
If you watch this film or read the book, you will need a box of tissues but prepare to be challenged and see a glimpse of the heart of God.
To whet your appetite here is a quote from the book.
“Proximity has taught me some basic and humbling truths, including this vital lesson: Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done. My work with the poor and the incarcerated has persuaded me that the opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice. Finally, I’ve come to believe that the true measure of our commitment to justice, the character of our society, our commitment to the rule of law, fairness, and equality cannot be measured by how we treat the rich, the powerful, the privileged, and the respected among us. The true measure of our character is how we treat the poor, the disfavoured, the accused, the incarcerated, and the condemned.”
― Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption
Activities and situations to pray for
Keep Praying for the bank. We are so nearly there Hallelujah!! And hopefully we will be back up and running next week!! 😊
Please pray for this Sunday. We have the Equip team coming with Alastair Murdock. Please pray that lives are changed and the power of the Holy Spirit sweeps through our church just like we’ve been talking about above. 😊
Stephen Norcross is an elder, married to Lisa and living in Blackburn. Stephen works full time for Community Church Blackburn. Stephen studied music at university and uses his musical gifts leading worship. He also has a passion for bible teaching.