For eight weeks I’ve been doing a series called “Amazing Stories”. We have looked at ordinary people who were weak and broken and yet God used them in powerful ways. People like Moses’ Mom, the jailer in Phillipi, a slave girl, and Naman teamed up with God and did some amazing things.
This weekend we baptized 17 people at the Syracuse site. To me they were amazing stories of God pursuing people and saving them. There were great stories of redemption and changed life’s. You were part of the amazing stories. You served them in the kitchen, at the front door, in the tech booth, on the worship team and with the kids. God used this community of faith to shape them.
I think there will be many more people committing to Jesus this year. (We had 30 new one’s this week!) So it is important we keep loving and serving people. It is important that each of us work to say hello and introduce ourselves to people.
Take a minute now to thank a specific volunteer who makes our weekend services special.
Yesterday I tried to communicate what a great love God has for us. He loved us so much He sent His son to tear down any walls between us. Jesus came and demonstrated how great His love is. He did this by always treating people with dignity and in a way that was best for them.
His love drove Him to make the ultimate sacrifice. His love came down and rescued us from what we deserved (song: Love Came down – watch the youtube video).
And this amazing love wants to keep communicating with us. Stop and listen. Let us open our hearts and minds to see what God may be saying to us personally. He has some great stuff to say. He has the words we need now to battle self doubt, confusion and anxiety.
Let me make a suggestion…
Take two minutes right now and tell God how much you love Him and want to hear from Him. Then, just listen for a few minutes.
Let me know how it goes.
As I wrapped up the message series “Spirit” this weekend I hope it inspired and equipped you to be more open to what the Holy Spirit can do in your life.
I pray that the Holy Spirit becomes an “all-the-time” reality and not just a Sunday morning surprise.
One of the things that have helped me become more expectant and open to the Spirit’s power is to hear people’s stories.
Well, here is your chance!
Take a moment and let us know one of the ways God has moved in your life. Big or small. New or old. Let us hear it……
I wonder what a church would be like if EVERYONE listened to the Holy Spirit. What would it be like if everyone at the Vineyard from the preschoolers to our seniors always had their antenna up listening for God’s voice and direction? How would Central New York be changed if 1200 of us were tuned into God and the supernatural at work in our neighborhoods, in family gatherings or at our schools. What would God accomplish with a team of people fanning out in Cicero and Syracuse, Auburn and Camillus? How about at the University?
I think it would be Amazing. God would use us to impact our families and friends. He would bring encouragement to those who were weighted down at work or in school. We would see people transformed by a prophetic word or healing prayer in Wegmans or at Wal-Mart.
God’s kingdom would invade Central New York much like it did in Judea at the time of Christ. Honestly, it is my dream to see that kind of sensitivity in my day to day experience as well as yours. It really is our choice (He wants to speak to us and use us to speak to others).
Let me know how you are trying to listen to God this week. What are you doing, and have you heard anything? What stops you?
Let’s share each other’s journey.
This last weekend I spoke about the Spiritual Gifts because I believe it is a really important issue. If we really want to serve our family, friends and acquaintances throughout Central New York then it is critical for us to move in God’s power. With spiritual gifts we can do that. If we make ourselves available to receive “Gracelets” of God’s power while we are serving we will notice as super-sizing of results.
Remember spiritual gifts are different then natural talents and skills. I am naturally a good reader. That is not a spiritual gift. However, sometimes as I read (and invite the Holy Spirit into my reading) there may be a sudden understanding and insight that is way beyond my ability. That would be a “Gracelet” of Wisdom. You may be a natural teacher, but in the middle of your lesson at small group something breaks and people really get it (in fact you learn even as you teach). That may have been a “Gracelet” of teaching.
The bible talks about lots of different kinds of Spiritual Gifts. Here are the ones listed in the New Testament:
- 1. Prophecy
- 2. Service
- 3. Teaching
- 4. Exhortation
- 5. Giving
- 6. Leadership
- 7. Mercy
1 Corinthians 12
- 8. Wisdom
- 9. Knowledge
- 10. Faith
- 11. Healing
- 12. Miracles
- 13. Discerning of Spirits
- 14. Tongues
- 15. Interpretation of Tongues
- 16. Apostle
- 17. Helps
- 18. Administration
- 12. Evangelist
- 13. Pastor
Other Gifts Include
- 14. Celibacy
- 15. Voluntary Poverty
- 16. Martyrdom
- 17. Hospitality
- 18. Missionary
I agree with John Wimber and many other scholars who don’t think God meant that to be an exhaustive list. A great example would be worship leading.
I am praying that each of us would ask God for a dropping of His power (Gracelet) in every situation we find ourselves this week. If we do that I believe that God will use us to help change lives….including our own!
Let me know any way God drops a “Gracelet” into your situation to release a spiritual gift this week. Also, if you have any questions about Spiritual Gifts please post them, and I’ll try to answer them on this blog.
Someone who was relatively new to the Vineyard (and had been involved in another church) asked me “Why do you speak to non-Christians so often in your messages?” I was a little surprised by the question, but the more I thought about it the more I realized that it is a really good question. My guess is that there are others who are thinking it too. So, let me explain….
1) God has called us to be a church that is “Come as you are.” We have built up an atmosphere where people feel comfortable coming no matter where they are on their spiritual journey. And lots of people do. According to our yearly survey about 11-13% of people gathered on a typical weekend have not connected with Jesus yet.
2) People may need many opportunities to understand and grasp the incredible gift of salvation. It may seem easy to some of us, but it is a big deal. God deals with each of us in His perfect time.
3) I think people can apply biblical truths in their life and benefit even before they have settled the issue of Jesus’ lordship. So, sometimes I try to help people who have not yet connection with Jesus see that.
4) God is blessing it. We do see lots of people make a 1st time connection to Jesus here at the Vineyard at all of our sites. In the last two years we have seen around 550 people do it. Have we seen all of them stick around and be discipled? No (although I am trying to figure out how to be better at that). Have some of them stuck around and been discipled? Yes!
So there may be times where you find me talking to people who are not yet connected with Jesus and leading them in a conversation with Him. Don’t just turn it off during those times. Pray that the Holy Spirit will move in their life.
What do you think about how this church tries to keep communicating on a wide spectrum?
This weekend I started a new series called ‘Spirit.” Over the next four weeks I hope to see us all have a better understanding and relationship with the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is mysterious, powerful, warm and engaging all at the same time. He helps us to see Jesus better and gives us the strength and knowledge to follow Jesus more fully.
I think I (and maybe many of you) short change the work of the Holy Spirit in our life by not paying attention or giving Him space to work. So, at the end of the message we took some time and invited the Holy Spirit to touch and speak to us. I also challenged us to take time this week to sit quietly before God and ask the Holy Spirit to blow through us. Well, how is it going?
Did you experience a touch from the Holy Spirit? Was there a sense from God? A word? Some kind of insight? Please share your experience (good or bad) with the rest of us on this blog.