Saturday, January 21, 2012

Let Us Keep In Step With The Spirit

Sometimes I worry that with all our vision and planning in the Church we are sending the wrong message to our youth. Scripture makes it clear that we are to be attached to nothing in this place. We who are controlled by the Spirit should have the freedom to come and go as the wind. We are to take our direction from the Spirit, sometimes through visions and dreams and other times from what the Spirit lays on our heart through the Word. Too often  we move ahead with plans because they seem good and reasonable. Good and reasonable does not mean they are the will of God. I can do a lot of good things in my flesh, powerful things, great things but good, powerful and great are not always what God desires. Sometimes he wants simple and steady.

For too long we have taken our lead, even submitted ourselves to the the teachings of men and women who have fashioned the Church after business principles. This has led to some success in numerical growth but in the Kingdom we are not interested in such growth if there is no spiritual growth to accompany it. As a people of the Spirit of God we can fully understand the psalmist as he wrote:

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High 
   will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 
I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, 
   my God, in whom I trust.” (Psalm 91:1-2)

That is the experience that we live every day, or at least we should. Instead we have large segments of the Church that look no different from the world as people are overwhelmed by fear, worry and anxiety which leads to physical and mental illnesses. The only thing I can conclude is that we are doing this wrong. God is who he is but are we who we are suppose to be? First of all it might help if we took our counsel from the Word of God and the Holy Spirit instead of the wisdom of man:

Stop trusting in man, 
   who has but a breath in his nostrils. 
Of what account is he? (Isaiah 2:22)

You should read the context of that message from the prophet Isaiah, you may find it interesting. It is the mistake that the people made when they wanted Moses to be between them and God and again when Israel wanted a man-king instead of allowing God to be their king. We are always wanting to put someone between us and God. That is exactly how the Church ended up with clergy whereas we were called into a direct relationship with Jesus in the context of the Body of Christ. (read 1 Corinthians 12).

Our problem now is that we are trusting people to interpret God's Word and teach it to us. Yes, some have been called for this purpose but we have also been given the Holy Spirit as our teacher so we can know the Word directly, to know whether what is taught is of God or man. We have been given apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers to keep us on track but we in turn must have enough of the Word and be in the Spirit to know if what is preached is correct. It sometimes happens that it goes wrong. Wrong people with wrong motivations end up in wrong positions of spiritual authority. They are not to be confused with men of God who are sincere in their calling and teaching but who on occasion may speak a lesser teaching only because of their lack of maturity. Isaiah warned again:

Woe to those who call evil good 
   and good evil, 
who put darkness for light 
   and light for darkness, 
who put bitter for sweet 
   and sweet for bitter. (Isaiah 5:20)

A teacher of the Word must chiefly desire to remain humble and empty of self, self opinion, self direction, self wisdom. Too easily a little bit of knowledge puffs up:

We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. (1 Corinthians 8:1)

We must be careful every day that we remain in submission to the Holy Spirit, that we do not think too highly of ourselves, that we do not allow our calling to become our god:

Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes    and clever in their own sight. (Isaiah 5:21)

It is never about us and always about Jesus. Our knowledge and wisdom amounts to nothing in comparison to the riches we find in Jesus Christ. We must make sure that we are not using God's Word for our own agenda, that it is his truths we are speaking and not our own opinion. We can't allow fickle popularity to become a sign of God's approval. Success does not make it right and failure does not make it wrong. All things must be according to God's will for God's glory. That is the biggest thing we need to keep in mind: none of the glory belongs to us and all of the glory belongs to God. Let's make sure we are living by the Spirit of God, the will of God and not by our own feeble goals and wisdom.

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