The Spirit of God is named, “the Spirit of Faith” in this portion of a letter from Paul to the congregations in Corinth. He is at work in you, to prepare you and then use you in the work He is doing in the earth. When that work becomes painful or difficult, lean even more into His ability within you to make the awesome things happen through you.
Now we have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us. We are pressured in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed. We always carry the death of Jesus in our body, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who live are always given over to death because of Jesus, so that Jesus’ life may also be revealed in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you. And since we have the same spirit of faith in accordance with what is written, I believed, therefore I spoke, we also believe, and therefore speak, knowing that the One who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus, and present us with you. For all this is because of you, so that grace, extended through more and more people, may cause thanksgiving to overflow to God’s glory.
Therefore we do not give up; even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen; for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
(2 Corinthians 4:7-18 Holman Christian Standard Bible ®©)
Athletes train for success. “For although I am free from all people, I have made myself a slave to all, in order to win more people. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win Jews; to those under the law, like one under the law—though I myself am not under the law—to win those under the law. To those who are outside the law, like one outside the law—not being outside God’s law, but under the law of Christ—to win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, in order to win the weak. I have become all things to all people, so that I may by all means save some. Now I do all this because of the gospel, that I may become a partner in its benefits.
Do you not know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. However, they do it to receive a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one. Therefore I do not run like one who runs aimlessly, or box like one who beats the air. Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”
(1 Corinthians 9:19-27 Holman Christian Standard Bible ®©)
Athletes work – they compete for a prize. “Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. To please the recruiter, no one serving as a soldier gets entangled in the concerns of everyday life. Also, if anyone competes as an athlete, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hardworking farmer who ought to be the first to get a share of the crops. Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.”
(2 Timothy 2:3-7 Holman Christian Standard Bible ®©)
We need to be prepared for succeeding in our callings by doing all that we can to learn more of who our God is, more of who He says we are, and what He declares to be our purposes in the earth. He is the Judge of the race. We want to hear His voice saying “Well done.”
Brace up. Get ready. Run!
In events recorded in what we call the Old Testament, men and women were moved by the Spirit of God for supernatural strength or revelation that were temporary manifestations of being filled by Him or having Him fall on them. It resembled His hand in the earth donning a glove for a job.
Jesus purchased a new way of sending His Spirit on the cross. He then fulfilled “the Promise of the Father” (Luke 24:45-49) by sending the Holy Spirit to fill His brothers and sisters, making us powerful. That power includes making us able to manifest some ability that God has and wants to use through us in the earth to do works. These are individual works, and things that we do together.
It also includes the power to manifest His character. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, fullness of faith, gentleness, and self-control.
As we learn to give the Holy Spirit the master bedroom in our hearts, or the steering wheel and gas pedal in our lives, it is costly. It isn’t just when ministry needs to happen because someone near us has a need. It is all the time. It is costly: our entire lives. It is broad – every dimension of our lives. It is long – the rest of our lives.
What could be more awesome?
He humbled you by letting you go hungry; then He gave you manna to eat, which you and your fathers had not known, so that you might learn that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Your clothing did not wear out, and your feet did not swell these 40 years.
(Deuteronomy 8:3-4 Holman Christian Standard Bible ®©)
Expect some words to come to you from the mouth of the Lord.
As preparation for that, expect to get hungry. And don’t complain about it. Let it remind you to look for the words.
The processes by which we receive things from the Spirit seem to be a little different, depending on the gift: we gain knowledge, but we discover truth. We obtain abundant life. I think that there may be an indication there of which things come by standing in the right place at the right time, compared to which ones must be carved from a mine with a pick or a drill.
Sometimes it maybe is just at an appointed time that the blessing comes, like when Pentecost had fully arrived, and the Holy Spirit rested on the head of each person who was present in the upper room. Other times, Jesus’ instructions to pray and never faint, like the persistent widow make clear the only path to gaining what we want or need.
As always, the deduction I make is, “Ask the Spirit.” He will show you how to gain what He has prepared for you to possess. Ask Him how to pray. Ask Him what to do, or where to be, or with whom. Then do what He says.
Like the king’s servant in the story of Esther, He knows what pleases the King, and how to approach Him with your plea. He wants you to be the best you there ever was or will be. Ask Him how to be awesome.
… for although the law was given through Moses,
grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
(John 1:17 Holman Christian Standard Bible ®©)
Our work in the earth regarding others’ lives is not to make better behaved people of them.
People need to know the difference between right and wrong. More important, though, is to know the difference between Life and death. Leading them to abundant life by introducing them to Life Himself will improve their behavior. Pointing out their mistakes and failures might not.
Jails are full of people who knew they were breaking the laws that got them arrested. Heaven will be full of people who met the Person Who served their sentence on the cross.
The Bible doesn’t change us. It reveals Christ to us. It reveals to us what we really look like – like a mirror (James 1:22-25).
When we memorize it, and meditate on it, when we use it as a map instead of a rule book, the Holy Spirit will use it to lead us into our destinies of leading the people around us into life and out of death.
The human governments and cultures of nations aren’t sources of darkness and abuse simply because evil people are ruling in them and influencing them.
Darkness overtakes cultures and governments because sons and daughters of Yahweh are not rising up to bring influence to them from their relationships with the King of Righteousness.
You may feel as unempowered or unimpressive as Gideon, who was hiding in a winepress when the messenger of Yahweh found him and called him a “mighty warrior,” (Judges 6:11-16). You may still, however, be called to make a great difference in the earth – either by doing something to influence culture, or to influence a person who proceeds to do so.
“But I will be with you,” the Lord said to him.
Leonard Ravenhill made some challenging comments about our preparation for Sunday morning meetings.
The idea he presented was that if we spent at least as much time getting spiritually ready as we did getting dressed up and made up, we would have different meetings, and we would be different after we had them.
If we have a garden, we put fertilizer in it if we want it to do well at producing flowers or fruit. Prayer impacts our lives and our work and our relationships that way too. The more we apply the better the garden grows.
Nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:-39).
Many things can, however, separate us from His provision or guidance, including timing. If we are instructed to be in one place doing certain work, and are actually in another place or busy at other work, we have separated ourselves from the resources we need to be able to accomplish our assignments.
If we delay in our obedience until the time for planting or watering or harvesting has passed, we can miss our opportunity to engage with our assigned work. If you think that you have missed a window, ask the Lord of time to reset the clock. Ask Him to continue to be at work in you and around you to make you succeed at what He has ordained you to be and to do.
Time and space are under His authority. When His disciples found Him in the middle of the lake walking on it, and allowed Him to get in the boat with them, they were suddenly where they needed to be:
When evening came, His disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. Darkness had already set in, but Jesus had not yet come to them. Then a high wind arose, and the sea began to churn. After they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea. He was coming near the boat, and they were afraid.
But He said to them, “It is I. Don’t be afraid!” Then they were willing to take Him on board, and at once the boat was at the shore where they were heading.
(John 6:16-21 Holman Christian Standard Bible ®©)