One of the ways the Holy Spirit wants to work nowadays is through the gifts of the Spirit in the church to build us up (see 1 Cor 12:7-11).
Paul summarises his teaching in 1 Cor 14:1: ‘Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy.’ We need to have an attitude which longs for a better connection to the Holy Spirit and to see these spiritual gifts at work in our church. It’s all too easy to be wary of these gifts, for they can be misused and we can feel afraid of the unfamiliar, but God is the giver of all good gifts and can be trusted to lead us in ways that are ‘naturally supernatural’, as Garry put it last week.
We can feel afraid of the miraculous and supernatural because it’s outside of our control and outside of our ordinary experience, but actually, we don’t need to be afraid. God will not do anything that is harmful to us; He is good and all He does is good. (Ps 119:68) Listen to some of the very ‘ordinary’ ways the apostles spoke about the Holy Spirit:
The first missionaries were sent out by the Holy Spirit in quite understated tones: ‘While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”’ (Acts 13:2) And that’s what happened!
James said, when discussing what to do about Gentiles who were turning to Christ, ‘It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements.’ (Acts 15:28)
‘Paul and his companions travelled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been ‘kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. 7 When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.’ (Acts 16:6-7) We don’t know how the Holy Spirit kept them from preaching the word in the province of Asia or how the Spirit of Jesus stopped them from entering Bithynia, but the whole tone of this passage is very matter-of-fact. Even when Paul talks about a vision of a man from Macedonia, which he takes to be the way God’s Spirit shows him where to go next, there is no sense of weirdness or anything to fear. God the Spirit is there to help us, build us up and guide us, not there to terrify us or keep us cowed.
We need a hunger for God’s Spirit, a dependence on Him that means we are not relying on ourselves and a desire for more of God’s Spirit if we are to see God move in power in our area and in our church.