Saturday, August 27, 2011

Evidence of Fruit = Result of Obedience

I have been on a journey through the Book of Acts for the last couple of months.  As I have been going through it the progress has been slow, but very insightful.  Here are some insights from Phillip's work and ministry as recorded in Chapter 8.

The first part of the chapter talks about Phillip’s missionary journey to Samaria.  During his time of ministry there many miracles happened, demons were cast out and people were healed.  There were many that were baptized and came to know Jesus because of Phillips evangelistic efforts.  Due to the success of what was happening in Samaria, the apostolic leadership team in Jerusalem sent Peter and John to bring completion to the team in Samaria.

VS 14-17: Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, 15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. 16 For He had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit.

There are a couple of things that stand out in this first section of the chapter.

1.       There are some that say that there is only one filling of the oly SpiritHHoly Spirit that happens at the time of conversion.  However, in this section of Scripture there is definite evidence of people coming into relationship with Jesus and being water baptized and then later being baptized with the Holy Spirit.  Here is proof that this can be two separate events.

2.       It shows that while the work of an evangelist is important, there needs to be other ministry partners that function in other levels of the five-fold to bring balance to the ministry.  Also that there needs to be relationship with the leadership that brings a level of accountability to the teams. Expanding the team with the other members brings strength and allows everyone to function in unity.
1 Corinthians 12:28:  (NASB) And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.

Ephesians 2:19-20: (NASB) So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone
Ephesians 4:11-12: (NASB) And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ

It is interesting that after Phillip had a victory in Samaria, the apostles were sent in to make a further difference.  The apostles, or apostolos in the Greek, were ones that were sent in after a military victory by the Romans. Their mission was to change the culture in the area that was just conquered to match the culture of the emperor.  Apostles in God’s Kingdom in this case were sent in to Samaria to help adjust the culture to one that aligned with The Kingdom. This also freed Phillip to go on to his next assignment.

The second half of chapter 8 tells about Phillip being sent via the Holy Spirit to minister to and evangelize the Ethiopian eunuch. This shows the diversity in Phillips gifting.  When he was in Samaria he was reaching the masses in a powerful way, performing miracles etc. However, with the Ethiopian he is ministering one on one; he is investing time and knowledge. He sat in the chariot and took the Ethiopian through the Scripture and showed him Jesus through the Scripture which led to his conversion and baptism. Some say that there is a correlation between the Ethiopians conversion and the spread of Christianity to and through Ethiopia. What is evident in both events is Phillip’s being able to function in his gifts and that he was readily obedient to the Holy Spirit’s guiding. In fact, after he finished baptizing the Ethiopian the Holy Spirit took him to Azotus and he continued to evangelize as God led him.

The moral of the story:
You can never underestimate the amount of fruit that will be produced when you are obedient to do what the Holy Spirit tells you to do, when He tells you to do it; and when you are fully functioning in your gifting and in your God given identity there is nothing you cannot do.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Clay.... where are you on the potter's wheel?

Jeremiah 18:1-6  The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying: “Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause you to hear My words.” Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something at the wheel. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make. Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?” says the LORD. “Look, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel!

Part of the process in our walk with Christ is the working out of His destiny for our lives.  As the Creator of the universe He has the perfect vision and plan for our lives.  In Jeremiah 1:4-5 it says:  Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying:“ Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you;  I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” and in Jeremiah  29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.  God has a perfect plan for our lives, like an artist that has a vision for His newest creation, so God has a vision of the end product that He is forming in us. We need to give Him full control of this process, we have a tendency to interject our own version of what He has planned for us which lengthens our time on the wheel. He knows exactly how fast or slow needs to be turning for the phase of creation that you are in, He knows exactly how much water to apply or what tool to use to imprint the unique design that He has in mind.  In verse 4 above it says that the vessel that was being created was marred.  The marring for flaws that come up don't surprise The Potter, He expects them.  When we first get on the wheel we have imperfections that need to be worked out,consequences that we are still working through from our past, unforgiveness, offenses, rebellion and wounds to name a few.  The Master Potter has away of recognizing these flaws and know exactly what needs to be done to work them out. We need to remember that God the Creator of the universe has a vision of where He wants us and what the end product of what He has in mind for us and know that His plan is the perfect one.  We need to trust Him and give Him full control of the process, the shaping, the working out of the flaws, the  healing, the speed (or lack of in our perception) of the wheel. So where are you on the wheel, in the process?  Are you giving Him full control of your life? If not.... it's time.   He wants to make you into a vessel of honor.

2 Timothy 2:21 Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.