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Fall is in the air!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

An Interactive Gospel

I just had to smile this morning as I walked up to the side of the bed to help my wife up for the day.  When I looked down at the floor all I could see were four black paws with copper socks and the tip of a black tail!  Since I placed some raisers under the bed a week or so ago, our dog has reverted back to an old practice of snuggling under the bed during the night.  She stayed perfectly still today until I knelt down and reached out and touched her paws.  Then the tail began to wag and the feet stretched out.
I am sure that Mandie knew I was there as soon as I walked into the room but she did not make any attempt to acknowledge my presence or move until I made contact with her.  Then after I gently greeted my wife and sang a little Good Morning ditty to her ending with This is the day that the Lord has made… and we get to rejoice and be glad in it! ”, I picked up our healing confession sheet, glanced at the first scripture on the top of the list from Exodus 15:26 and declared: “Father, Piper and I just want to begin this day by acknowledging the truth of your Word and let You know that we come into agreement with your Word and It’s working in and for Piper today.”
Well, let me tell you, the results of that statement where instantaneous as we suddenly felt the anointing of the Lord encompass us around that bedside!  It was amazing as the reality of our coming into agreement with and hooking up to the power of His Word came to our understanding.  For that instant it was as if we were suddenly sitting with Jesus at the right hand of God in the very throne room of heaven!  I was so awestruck that I simply could not move for a moment or two.
After that momentary experience we definitely read and received those healing scriptures with a whole new sense of expectation and enthusiasm!  It also helped me to understand what the people in that city in Samaria where Philip preached the Word must have felt like!  Acts 8:6 tells us that “the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spoke, hearing and seeing the many miracles which he did.” (MKJV)
I am convinced that it was the people’s reactions to Philip’s preaching and teaching of the Word that brought about the miracles and the resulting “great joy” in that city. (Acts 8:8)  The Greek meaning for the word “heed” is “to hold the mind or to apply oneself to, to be given to and to devote thought and effort to.” (Strong’s/Thayer’s)  In other words, the people in that city did not just hear the Word that Philip spoke, but they took it into account in their own lives.  They took ownership of it and allowed and expected it to change them… and it did through a series of signs and miracles… just like the Apostle Mark declared at the end of his gospel! (See: Mark 16:20)
I will always remember a time when I stood in for our Senior Pastor when he and his wife were gone on a Sunday morning while attending a Christian leadership conference in another state.  I really don’t recall the subject of my sermon, but as I drew it to a timely close, well within the regular length of a Sunday service, I felt led to ask if there was anyone in the congregation that needed prayer (which was not an uncommon practice with our church), and invited them to come forward.  A hand full of folks responded so I asked my wife to come up as we tended to make a good prayer team and I always felt more comfortable and it more appropriate to have her at my side when praying for other women.
Well, as we prayed it was a little like this morning and a noticeable anointing filled that room.  Some prophetic words began to come forth and as we laid hands and prayed for the individuals, we could see their whole countenance change as they received from the Lord.  I think that this was the first time I could actually feel the power of God going through me into others!  
After a while I looked up to see how many folks were left and there was a line of people across the front and into the side aisle!  Being as the Senior Pastor was gone I wanted to make sure that everything was done right and glanced up at the clock and took note that we had about ten minutes to the regular end of the summer service.  So I swallowed hard and as I also did not want to quench the move of the Spirit, I simply told the Lord that it was His service and I put Him in to total charge of the remaining activities and went back to the prayer line.
As the line finally began to dwindle I looked at the clock again and realized that about thirty minutes or more had passed and there were still a few people in line.  So I paused and stepped back and told the rest of the congregation that I did not want to hold them any longer and that they were dismissed and free to go if they needed to.  But as far as I could tell at the time, no body moved and they stay closely connected to the action that was taking place at the altar.
Well, needless to say, that was an awesome experience for my wife and I as countless folks were ministered to and blessed under the power and leading of the Spirit that day.  As I looked back on that experience I could see how it was a result of the people in the congregation not only listening to but also taking personal heed to the Word and the workings of the Holy Spirit.  As things began to unfold, their expectations were peeked and they wanted in on the action as well… and those that stepped forward on that Sunday morning received a blessing as a result of their faith.
I think that this is exactly what must have occurred with Philip’s ministry.  The people were not just stationary listeners but active receivers and doers of the Word and that caused an explosion of signs and miracles that followed the preaching and teaching of the message of Christ that was shared.  I also think that this is a good example for us to follow in our daily walks with the Lord.  I am positive that He wants us to not only hear the Word but “to devote thought and effort to it” and then apply it to our personal lives.  That action then frees Papa God to work His miracles in us, for us and through us unto others!
That thought makes me excited to go out and see just what the Lord is going to do today.  Does it do that to you as well?  It is interesting though, that there were probably some people in that town who didn’t hear and put the Word to use in their lives.  The same thing happened to me.  I was meeting with our Pastor a few days after he and his wife had returned from their conference and he asked me about that Sunday service.  He had received an email that Sunday afternoon with someone reporting that I had gone way over the usual time for the service and they were less than pleased about it.  Then a few years later when I was standing in for our new Senior Pastor, he also reported that someone had told him about how I tended to go way over the allotted time of the service when I preached.
It is obvious that not everyone hears and receives the same thing.  It is not something that is just going to fall on you like ripe cherries falling off a tree.  We have to be enthusiastic and expectant of it.  We also have to take it personally if we expect it to work in and through our lives.  That is what I like about the Gospel.  It is very personal, relational and interactive!  We tend to get as much out of it as we put into receiving and allowing it to work in our lives.
Is that how you respond and interact with the Word that you study each day?  I think that is the way the Papa God wants it to be with you and me.  Have a great day.  Stay involved and in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting to INTERACT with today?”

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