February 28th, 2016 – Great Grace

Great Grace!


Are you facing a mountain today? Are obstacles in your way that seem insurmountable?

God wants to display “great grace” towards them!

What is great grace?

Grace defined is the – “Unmerited favor of God.”

But Great Grace is – “The dynamic displays of God’s unmerited favor and power through the Holy Spirit.”

Zechariah was facing a mountain. The opposition to rebuilding the Temple was great.

The people of God had become lethargic and complacent about their calling and responsibility as His people. The enemies of God’s people opposed them vigorously.

Facing the opposition from without and lethargy from within, Zechariah was called upon by God to speak to the mountain opposing him with great grace!

We all know this scripture –

Zechariah 4:6, “Not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord.”

But the following verse describes what that great grace, the dynamic display of God’s unmerited favor, the power of the Holy Spirit, was directed towards.

Zechariah 4:7, “Who are you, O great mountain? You shall become a plain, with shouts of grace, grace to it!”

In other words, “Who are you, opposition, in comparison to God’s great grace? You are nothing! You will be laid flat before Him as God’s unmerited favor is manifest on my behalf with unmatched, dynamic power through His Holy Spirit!”

That’s great grace! That’s what was going on in Zechariah’s day, and what the Church was experiencing at It’s inception.

The obstacles, the mountains in Zechariah’s way and the newly birthed Church are no different than obstacles we face today.

We see the results of what took place in Acts 4:31, where the place they were gathered was shaken while they were praying for God’s great grace.

They were filled with great boldness to combat their tendency to fear. (4:31)

They were filled with great unity to combat their tendency to fuss and fight. (4:32)

They were filled with great fruitfulness to combat their tendency to be spiritually barren. (4:31,33)

They were filled with great generosity to combat their tendency to be selfish and stingy. (4:32,34,35)

We can’t and won’t be bold, united, fruitful, and generous in our own strength. It’s not by our might or power that great grace is manifest, but only through His Holy Spirit.

The verses here are almost parallel in their similarity to Acts 2:42-47. This was the results of the first time they were filled with the Holy Spirit. Great grace was manifest as they walked in boldness, unity, fruitfulness, and generosity.

The second documentation of the Holy Spirit filling them resulted in the same thing. There’s a pattern here. We will see this again and again throughout the book of Acts. God shakes, the Holy Spirit fills, and great grace, the dynamic displays of God’s unmerited favor, are manifest by the Holy Spirit through His Church.

God’s intention is that this pattern wouldn’t cease after the last chapter of Acts was written, but would continue until the Lord’s return.

Shaken, filled, and empowered with great grace. That’s the pattern.

We are to be shaken out of our lethargy and complacency. We are to be shaken with the reality and urgency of the hour. We are to be shaken with the gravity of the task before us.

The baton has been passed to our generation. We have a job to do. Fear, division, barrenness, and selfishness are not of God, but of the enemy.

If satan can keep us swirling around and chasing our tails with all of that, then he wins and the Church looses.

It’s not by our cleverness or ingenuity that the Church will impact this generation for Jesus Christ, but it’s by His Holy Spirit, His great grace, His powerful displays of unmerited favor manifested in dynamic ways.

We are to be filled, over and over again, with His Holy Spirit. It’s not a one time event, but a continual washing and renewing and filling that needs to occur.

This infilling provides us the great grace we need to go beyond our natural capacity to be bold, unified, fruitful, and generous.

God is saying to us to speak to our mountains, corporately and individually, and declare “grace, grace, GREAT grace” to it!

When we do, a shaking will occur. The mountains of our own making or of satan’s feeble plans will be laid flat before us. Manifestations of God’s unmerited favor will be a regular occurrence.

Boldness, unity, fruitfulness, and generosity will be as plenteous and common as the grains of sand on a sea shore!  

This is what a healthy, focused, impactful, Spirit filled church looks like. Outwardly it can be small or large, contemporary or traditional, big city or small town, white or black, Hispanic or Asian, American or International. It doesn’t matter the language we speak, the clothes we wear, or the degrees on our walls.

If the body of believers submits to being shaken by and is regularly filled with the Holy Spirit, great grace (boldness, unity, fruitfulness, and generosity) will take place and those communities where those churches exist will be transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit!

The Holy Spirit’s job description is to proclaim Jesus. He’s in us. He wants through us to give witness to the resurrection of Jesus to all who would hear.

This requires great grace! This requires the dynamic displays of God’s unmerited favor and power through the Holy Spirit.

Cry out to God. Be shaken. Be changed. Be challenged. Be renewed!

May everything that can be shaken in our lives be shaken, and may we be filled and transformed with the great grace of the Holy Spirit!

This should be our default language and lifestyle. It was in the NT Church. The pattern was set for us to follow.

Today I speak great grace over you! May God’s unmerited favor, His dynamic displays of power, be manifest through His Holy Spirit.

Be shaken! Be filled again and again! Be empowered with great grace! Be the Church!

 

January 24th, 2016 – Epic Days – Acts 3:1-12

January 24th, 2016 – Acts 3:1-12

Out of the 365 days we have in any given year, few are what we would call epic.Think back on your life – depending on how old you are, your birthday, graduation, wedding day, birth of children, among a few others, are exceptional, highlighted, joyful, memorable days in your life. The rest, the majority, are what we would label “ordinary”. Work, school, eat, run errands, take care of the normal stuff of life. Check off the box sort of things.

But what if I were to tell you that going forward from here you could have more epic days than ordinary days? What if we could flip that statistic around in your life? What if epic became the norm? No more majority ordinary days. This is not only possible, but expected as we become Holy Spirit dependent and empowered people.

Now, what Jesus asks us to do is impossible. In Matthew 10 He tells His us to heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons – you know, the big ticket, over the top, out of our league sorts of things. The fact is, we cannot do these things or really ANYthing of lasting significance for God in our own power. That’s why He included in His instructions saying, “Freely you’ve received, freely give.”

But what have we freely received? What has Jesus given us that will help us effectively do what He’s called us to do? The answer – capacity beyond ourselves. The ability to exceed! He knows we have a severe capacity issue, just like our smart phones. But where we max out the Holy Spirit exceeds. That’s all part of the “greater things” Jesus was talking about when He said, “Greater things will you do because I go to My Heavenly Father.”

In Acts 3, we see a day starting out for Peter like any other day, but this ordinary day turned into an epic day because the Holy Spirit had a plan to exceed beyond Peter’s natural ability, and Peter was a willing partner in allowing it to happen.

Here’s the steps from ordinary to epic that Peter experienced – First, His ordinary turned exceptional –  Peter didn’t look away or ignore the crippled man, but looked straight at him. (v.4) This is the key, being sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit and making yourself available.

Every morning when you get up, pray, “Holy Spirit, make me sensitive and available to You today.” See what happens. That’s a prayer that will take your ordinary day and make it exceptional.

As Peter allowed the Holy Spirit to exceed through him, the crippled man was healed and thousands of people were filled with wonder and amazement at it. What could the Holy Spirit do through us as we make ourselves sensitive and available to Him?

Second, Peter’s exceptional day turned strategic “When Peter saw this…” V. 12 Peter didn’t stop there. He didn’t just go on his way. He continued to allow the Holy Spirit to exceed through him and began to preach Jesus to the gathered crowd.

The Holy Spirit is very intentional. We can trust Him. He has a strategy to glorify Christ. He’s just looking for sensitive and available partners like you and me.

There’s three things we can see in this strategic sharing – 1.He spoke with authority – He didn’t mince words, but spoke under the anointing of the Holy Spirit. We have the authority given to us by Jesus through His Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:18 – “All authority has been given to Me (Jesus)…”)

2.He spoke with clarity – He clearly laid out what God’s Word said about Jesus and His Lordship. 2 Tim. 4:2, “Preach the Word, be prepared in season and out of season. Correct, rebuke, and encourage, with great patience and careful instruction.” We don’t know what we’re gonna say, but the Holy Spirit does. Yield your tongue to Him and watch what happens.

3. He spoke with compassion – He didn’t belittle or berate, but lovingly conveyed the message without alienating them (3:17 – “Now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance…”) Jesus was asked what was the greatest commandment. He said, “Loving God and loving others.” These two greatest commands, when authentically lived out in true community, effectively reaps a large harvest.

Finally, Peter’s strategic day turned epic. In Acts 2 we see 3000 added to the Church. In Acts 4:4 we see 2000 more. We’re up to 5000 in just a short time. These people added to the Church that day heard the message of Jesus Christ powerfully, clearly, and lovingly.

The message hasn’t changed, “Repent AND turn to God” (3:19) We can’t have one without the other. We must first repent, turn from our wicked ways. But we can’t do that without also turning TO God. We can’t expect to be saved on Sunday and live the way we always have Monday-Saturday. We must turn away from those ways of unbelief and fleshly living and grab hold of God and His ways. That’s what the 2000 did that day Peter preached.

Listen, too many people repent with their mouths but not with their actions. Today Church, Bride of Christ, truly repent by relinquishing your hold on earthly things and turning with your whole heart to Jesus Christ. Give Him everything. Let Him make everything new. Don’t be just a Sunday morning Christian. That won’t cut it with God. He’s not going to share you with anyone or anything else. He’s not going to inhabit a compromised, divided heart. Truly live it out in 2016.

Let’s exceed where we are by allowing the Holy Spirit to empower us and let’s live a life completely dependent upon Him. No more majority ordinary days. Let’s flip it around. Let’s swap ordinary for exceptional, and watch the exceptional turn strategic, and watch the strategic turn epic!

It is possible. The Holy Spirit is just looking for a willing partner through which to exceed. How about you today? Won’t you be a willing partner?