This week, I simply want to point everyone back to what I believe the Holy Spirit was teaching us last week as we gathered for worship. If you were not able to make it to the gathering, I would recommend that you listen to the podcast here.
If we will simply stop and listen, the Lord will use our everyday, "random” experiences to bring blessings to others. In Acts 9, Peter demonstrates what dependence upon God looks like: kneeling and seeking for the power of God to break into a seemingly, hopeless situation. What we see very clearly in the text is that God does in fact use ordinary people (us), in ordinary situations (that’s 99.9% of our lives), to bring extraordinary blessing to others.
So, do you really believe this to be true?
Is God really concerned with using ordinary people (like me), in my ordinary life (that’s what I do everyday), for the purpose of blessing the world?
Everywhere I go?
Honestly, my answer to that question is "Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!"
Family, I’m committed to this prayer. The reality is, it’s so easy to forget and get caught up in just trying to make it through everyday. But I want more intentionality in my life. I want God to use me. So, here are some things that I’m praying for specifically (for me and for us):
- That we would realize that we are where we are because that’s where we are supposed to be.
The reason that you live in the city you live in, on the street that you live on, on the block that you live on, in the home that you live in, is because God is sovereign over every detail of our lives. And He loves the people around you so much that he saved you by his power, for his purposes, and sent you where you are to be a picture of his amazing grace and mercy to the people around you.
The same is true with your job, or your hobby, or your music . . . God really does have a missionary strategy – It's YOU filled with the Spirit. He seeks for every man, woman, and child to have a daily encounter with His son, Jesus. Lord, help us to live our ordinary lives with gospel intentionality.
- That the Spirit would help us to be better listeners.
In order to bless another human being, you have to first know their story. You have to know what “good news” is for them. You have to be a good listener. I remember early on in the church planting stage, I was walking around the streets of “downtown" Madison asking random people “What's the greatest problem in this community?” One gentleman I talked to said, “Well, everyone knows we need sidewalks; that’s the biggest problem I see!” Here’s what I immediately thought: “That’s insane!” How can this man believe that the biggest problem in this community is sidewalks?!
Well, a few years later I realized that this guy spent most of his day walking up-and-down the street going back-and-forth to work, back-and-forth to the bus stop, back-and-forth to the grocery store. I found out through Channel 4 News that when a pedestrian is hit by a car in Nashville, 9 times out of 10 it happens in Madison. Getting new sidewalks would be good news to a person who’s spent his life walking. If I had listened more deeply, or asked some follow up questions, I might have been able to realize this sooner. Instead, I let my paradigm shape my response to his answer. I wrote him off.
Lord, help us be better listeners.
Every other prayer point that I have for us as a church family flows out of our being better listeners. In God’s providence, Resonate Church is a beautiful mess of people made in the image of God. We are all people right in the middle of our own sanctification. We are all struggling with something. And if we would take time to listen better, we would know better how to pray for and bless others.
For instance . . .
- Did you know . . . that there are marriages in our church family that are struggling?
Would you be willing to pray that the Spirit would show husbands and wives that the only way for them to love one another well is by dying to themselves and following Jesus more closely?
- Did you know . . . that there are people in our church family who feel lonely?
Would you be willing to pray that the Spirit would prompt us to regularly have new friends over for a meal? Would you be willing to begin forming familial relationships with people who are not necessarily like you? If you are married, invite a single man or woman over. If you are single, invite a family over. Pray that our church would be a place where singleness isn’t viewed as “less than” (because it’s not, you know!). And pray also that we would not elevate our marriages over knowing Jesus.
- Did you know . . . that there are people struggling with addiction, affliction, and other sins in our church?
Would you be willing to pray that the Spirit would give us an understanding of the amazing grace of Jesus? And that in spite of our own sin and rebellion, we would be dispensers of the gospel, people of safety, and people of patience to others who are struggling? I’m reminded of the afflicted state of two people in Acts 9 (Aeneas – lame & Tabitha – dead). Their afflictions were impossible to hide, but honestly, someone could still miss them or write them off if they were in a hurry or not paying attention. But Peter saw the state of both individuals immediately. He listened and he blessed. Sometimes we church folks do a good job of hiding our own afflictions. May we pray for the Spirit to help us be a safe church and a safe place for confession.
- Did you know . . . that there are people in our communities who have been appointed to salvation?
This gives me great hope. We don't have to muster up “extraordinary” events, rely on church growth methods, or give in to manipulation. We are free to live ordinary lives, and as we do so, be bearers of the glorious news of the gospel. We have a perfect King and he is expanding his perfect Kingdom in and through his people. We are free to have relationships with people of different faith backgrounds, no faith background, people with different walks of life, messed-up people, have-it-all-together people, and don't-have-anything-together people. Whoever! We are free to listen well, to enjoy friendships, and to be ordinary people filled with the Holy Spirit of God.
If someone says, “You are not going to try to convert me are you?”
We can say, “It’s impossible for me to do that. The Spirit of God is the only One that has the power to do that. But if I’m talking about the goodness of Jesus and He saves you . . . You can’t blame me, ok??!!”
Would you commit with me to pray for these things? Lord, help us!
What other things should we be listening for? What other things should we be praying expectantly for the Spirit to do among us?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Email me at Shane@ResonateMadison.org