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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

Moved by the Spirit

By Randy Hurst
May 23, 2010

One of the greatest challenges we face as believers is motivation. The simple act of doing what we know we should is often difficult. Thankfully, one of the works of the Spirit is motivation — moving us to action.

Our Lord promised that the Spirit would empower us to be His witnesses in the world. This power includes more than the signs, wonders and spiritual gifts commonly associated with the Spirit’s fullness. 

The word translated “power” (dunamis) is wonderfully vague and comprehensive.  It simply means “ability” and applies in practical ways to everyday life. The Holy Spirit’s power provides whatever is necessary to accomplish the task to which our Lord has commissioned us. While this enablement includes doing things beyond our own capacities, it also involves an often-overlooked “ability”: the motivation to do what we are already capable of but lack the desire to put into action.

In the Book of Acts, beginning on the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit moved people to action. The same is still true. In seemingly natural situations, the Spirit moves us to do something supernatural — to reach out to people in ministry.

Even before Christ’s message is proclaimed, the Holy Spirit is working to prepare hearts. When we do what God has planned for us, we simply enter into His work — both in the world and in specific people’s lives.

We are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. The apostle Paul wrote: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8,9, NASB). But notice that immediately after Paul states that we are not saved by good works, he says that we are saved for good works: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand” (Ephesians 2:10). Whenever we do the work God has planned for us, we enter into His work in people’s lives. The Holy Spirit equips us to do those works.

Sometimes the Spirit will move a person to do something that doesn’t seem consistent with that person’s natural talents. In my home church, our senior associate pastor’s wife, Darlene Matrone, was moved by the Spirit to help needy families in the surrounding community. Darlene is an accomplished musician, and music has been her primary ministry in the church. When the Spirit prompted her to begin a food pantry ministry, she prayed, “Lord, I’m a musician. This is what I’ve done all these years.” But the Spirit compelled Darlene to reach out beyond the four walls of the church and minister in a tangible way.

Since then the food pantry not only has touched many people and met their physical needs, but it also has been the means of people coming to Christ and being part of the church. The process began with the Spirit moving Darlene’s heart to action.

Some of the greatest ministries God has raised up in our Fellowship began when the Spirit moved a person to do a work God had prepared for them. That work then grew into a ministry that has touched great numbers of people.

David Wilkerson was pastoring a small church in Pennsylvania when he felt led to sell his television and devote his evenings to prayer. Not long after, he read a Life magazine story about New York City gang members who had brutally killed a disabled teenager. David began to weep as the Spirit moved him to go to New York City to try to reach those boys. The rest is history.

While David never met the boys who were on trial, he connected with Nicky Cruz and other gang members on the streets. The result was Teen Challenge, a ministry that has rescued many tens of thousands from drug addiction and spiritual lostness around the world.

The Spirit moved Hal Donaldson to borrow a pickup truck, fill it with groceries and drive to a needy neighborhood where he told people that Jesus loves them. That was the beginning of Convoy of Hope. Since then the ministry has provided food for 32 million people around the world, and hundreds of thousands have received Christ as Savior. In just the last two months, Convoy has supplied millions of meals for earthquake victims in Haiti. The borrowed pickup truck Hal used has now become a fleet of semitrailers that crisscross the country as volunteers feed the hungry and share the gospel.

The Spirit doesn’t lead most of us to begin ministries like He did Darlene Matrone, David Wilkerson and Hal Donaldson. Most of the time He moves us to reach out and touch people with the love and message of Christ — one at a time.

Being witnesses as the Spirit enables us involves simple readiness to “plant and water” the seed — the message of Christ — in practical ways in everyday living.

So what does someone need to know to believe in Jesus and receive His gift of forgiveness and eternal life?

Notice that after the Church was born on the Day of Pentecost, the message of the early Christians focused on the person Jesus Christ. As they boldly and clearly proclaimed Jesus, great numbers believed. Today this same message — Jesus — must be clearly communicated to our spiritually lost world. As Paul said in Colossians, “We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ” (1:28, NIV).

Who and Why
The apostle Peter’s preaching in the Book of Acts always answers these two basic questions: Who is Jesus? and Why did He give His life? Being prepared to discuss these two questions will equip us to share Christ simply and clearly with nonbelievers.

1) Who is Jesus?
In recent years, stories about Jesus have appeared in almost all major national news magazines. Television programs and miniseries highlight His role in history. But these accounts almost always present Him as a fictional character, a great teacher or a prophet. He is depicted as only a man.

Jesus is much more than a teacher and prophet. He is God in human form. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died for our sins, and conquered death by rising again to offer us forgiveness and the gift of everlasting life. He ascended to heaven and will return to earth again for His followers.

If Jesus Christ is not who He claimed to be, if He is not the crucified and risen Son of God, then, as the apostle Paul declared, our faith is useless (1 Corinthians 15:17). Paul also wrote, “There is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).

2) Why did Jesus give His life?
The Jews and Romans cannot be blamed for Jesus’ death. His life was not taken from Him. He gave it. He said, “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life — only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again” (John 10:17,18).

Jesus gave His life for these two essential reasons: because we’re sinners, and because we could do nothing about it.

John the Baptist clearly announced the purpose of Jesus’ mission on earth when he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29, NASB). Each of us has sinned and is separated from God. The punishment for sin is death (Romans 6:23). The death about which the Bible speaks is not just physical death. It means a person’s spirit will suffer everlasting punishment in hell. Jesus explained that hell is a “lake of fire,” and that everyone who goes there is separated from God forever and burns in fire that never ends (Mark 9:47,48; Revelation 20:15).

God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the penalty for our sins. Jesus was born as a Man, but He lived His life without sin. Men lied about Him and judged Him guilty of things He had never done. Then they killed Him on a cross. Jesus never sinned, but He was punished for sin. So death had no power over Him, and He came back to life after three days (Mark 8:31; 9:31; 14:27,28). Now He gives everlasting life to anyone who calls upon His name (Romans 10:13) and receives Him as Savior and Lord.

Every person must be given the opportunity to know who Jesus is. Everyone needs an adequate witness and the opportunity to accept or reject Christ’s offer of forgiveness and His gift of everlasting life., the Evangelism Commission’s Web site, features a four-minute video on how to share the story of Jesus. Click on the link “Movie: What Everyone Needs to Know.” The Web site also offers a variety of helps to equip you to share your faith in Christ when God opens the door of opportunity.

Here are a few examples of how anyone can be a witness.

• Be ready to pray with someone. When conversing with nonbelievers, listen carefully to what they have to say. Let them talk about themselves and their lives. When they express a problem or need and if the setting is appropriate, simply say, “I believe God answers prayer. In fact, He has answered specific prayers in my life. Could I pray with you briefly right now and ask God to intervene in that situation in your life?”

• Share your personal testimony. As opportunity allows, simply share the difference Jesus has made in your life — what your life was like before you received Christ and how it is different now. Anyone who enjoys a personal relationship with Jesus has a testimony to share.

• Invite people to your church. Extending a personal invitation to a church service is one of the most effective means of outreach and a chief characteristic among believers in strong, growing churches. At church, nonbelievers feel the Holy Spirit’s presence and have an opportunity to respond at the conclusion of the message. You can introduce them to the pastor and get them in a Sunday School class. Through these opportunities they can learn the Word, meet other believers and find the spiritual answers they seek.

• Share acts of kindness. Just do nice things for people, helping them with personal needs. In his first core value for our Fellowship, General Superintendent George O. Wood urges us to proclaim Jesus by word and deed.

Make yourself available to God and open your heart to the Spirit’s leading. Let Him move you — give you the motivation — to do the good works God has prepared for you.

Randy Hurst is commisioner of evangelism for the Assemblies of God and communications director for AG World Missions.

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