Operation Activation!

It seems these days I need to so often activate something. A new savings card arrives in the mail and it needs activating. I sign up to a new loyalty program and I get an activation email. You get a new SIM card for your phone and you need to follow the activation steps. My kids get a new game and they want me to quickly activate it. I pick up a recipe and even the nuts and seeds need activating!

Activation starts something, it turns something on, it’s gets something going, it moves things along, it energises something, it leads to growth.

The idea has been on my mind a lot over recent weeks as I have been reflecting on what it means for followers of Jesus to live the kind of life they yearn for, but often don’t experience. What’s the missing piece? When I get an activation email I can choose to ignore it, but this blocks my access and opportunity to the resources available to me. So what might we need to activate in our lives this week?

In a great message at this year’s Hillsong Conference Carl Lentz powerfully reminded delegates that followers of Jesus are meant to be Spirit-led, Spirit-fed people. Yet so often, for so many different reasons, as Lentz’ highlighted we fail to live day to day as Spirit people, benefiting from all the Holy Spirit wants to do in our lives. And when that happens, we miss out, others miss out and ultimately God misses out as our lives are not fully yielded to him.

The reality is that I can’t become the person God wants me to be without the work of the Spirit. I can strive and strive to bring transformation to my life, but it is only as the Spirit is activated in my life that I can grow and change and live and look more like Jesus.

Further, without the Spirit I will labour in my own strength and never experience the fruitfulness and impact that innately I desire to make. Without the work of the Spirit I will not grow in the character qualities that God wants to shape in me – things like peace, joy, patience and self-control. Without the Spirit at work in my life each day I will not grow and make good use of the unique gifts God has deposited in me to make a difference in the lives of others, which ultimately brings glory to God.

Learning how to be filled (controlled and empowered) by the Holy Spirit by faith can be the most important discovery of our Christian lives.

Before Jesus’ death and resurrection, he highlights to his disciples that he is set to depart the earth [even though at the time they did not understand what he was talking about]. He promises his followers they will not be left alone. He promises His Spirit “who will never leave you” [John 14:15-31]. In Ephesians 5, Paul reminds us of the need to be regularly re-filled with the Holy Spirit. In Galatians 5, Paul highlights the vital importance of staying in step with the Holy Spirit.

In simple terms without the Spirit activated in my everyday life I will not experience the “more” that God has in store for me – the “more” that I yearn for.

Why do we miss out? My experience suggests there are a number of common reasons. There are a number of barriers that consistently hinder followers of Jesus from activating the work of the Spirit in their lives.

These include:

  • Ignorance – a lack of Biblical understanding about who the Spirit is and what He wants to do in our lives.
  • Control – when we choose to stay in control of our lives and we fail to surrender our lives to Jesus
  • Sin – where habitual sin continues to block the power and work of the Spirit.
  • Intellectualism – where we allow our natural minds to rule out the power and potential of the supernatural.
  • Religious tradition – where religious traditions get in the way of God being able to freely work in our lives.
  • Fear – when we fail to step out in faith and trust God to have his way in our lives and circumstances
  • Pride – when ego and self-focus gets in the way. When life is more about us and our priorities than Jesus and his Kingdom purposes.
  • Familiarity – when faith in Christ becomes overly familiar and we lose sight of new possibilities and encounters with God.
  • Resistance – when we actively resist what God wants to do in our lives.
  • Others – when we are more concerned about what others may say, or pleasing others, rather than humbling ourselves and letting God have his way.
  • Apathy – when we become spiritually lazy and other things in life become more important and we give little time or attention to the work of the Spirit.
  • Guilt – where we haven’t experienced God’s forgiveness and we are being weighed down by things from the past.

Today, are one or more of these issues getting in the way of what the Holy Spirit wants to do in your life? Are one of more these points hindering the renewing and transforming work of Jesus?

Because here’s the crunch!

Every authentic follower of Jesus I have met wants genuine change in their lives. They want transformation. They innately know God has “more” for them. I know this is true in my own personal experience and this is where we all need a fresh encounter with the Holy Spirit.

In his introduction to the Letters to the Young Churches, J.B. Phillips writes: “The great difference between present-day Christianity and that of which we read in these letters, the New Testament epistles, is that to us, it is primarily a performance; to them it was a real experience. We are apt to reduce the Christian religion to a code or, at best, a rule of heart and life. To these people it is quite plainly the invasion of their lives by a new quality of life together. They do not hesitate to describe this as Christ living in them. This same first century power – the power of the risen, living, loving, indwelling Christ made known through the Holy Spirit – is still available to you today.”

The older I get, the more I seek to simplify my faith.  So often we complicate Christianity. And yet the more we keep it simple, the more we open ourselves up to the transforming work of the Holy Spirit.

If you are a follower of Jesus then today the Holy Spirit is within you – but are we attuned to what he wants to do? Are we appropriating his power? Activating his gifts? Discerning his leading? Appreciating his comfort? Allowing him to get on with the work of transformation?

The bottom line is I know I can’t manufacture Christ-likeness.

I can’t manufacture the fruits of the Spirit.

On my own, the voice of fear calls loudly.

On my own, circumstances can become overwhelming.

On my own, I can all too often mess things up.

On my own, the voice of the evil one echoes my human weaknesses.

On my own, I can miss out on so much around me – I can fail to see and hear – I can miss out on what God is doing all around me.

But with the Holy Spirit activated, with the power of Jesus at work within me, suddenly everything changes.

I open my life up to character change. I open my life up to expanding faith.

I open my life up to the strength, peace and resources of heaven.

I open my ourselves up to God’s clear leading and direction.

I open myself to being “promptable” – to being nudged by God in the ordinary, everyday moments in life.

I open my life up to experiencing the power of God at work in and through me.

I open my life up to the gifts of the Spirit blossoming within me.

I experience the freedom and victory that Jesus won on the Cross.

I position myself to experience the “more” God has for me – not more of what the world says I need, but more of Jesus that opens the door to life and life to the full!

When I get an activation email I can choose to ignore it, but this blocks my access and opportunity to the resources available to me.

The Holy Spirit is here – ready and waiting – to “invade” our lives, our relationships, our marriages, our vocations, our churches and communities.

The big question – do we want to surrender our lives afresh and enable Jesus to invade our hearts and minds.?

Do we want to live and look more like Jesus?

Do we want our lives to be more attractive to others?

Do we want to experience more of God’s power?

Do we want change and transformation?

Do we want to make our unique mark?

If like me you say “YES” to all of the above, then you may like to join me in this daily activation prayer: “Come Holy Spirit have and have your way in my life”.

I wish I could turn back the clock many years, because like too many believers. I. missed out on much because I wasn’t being led and fed daily by the Spirit. All too often control and human performance got in the way. All too often fear got in the way.

A Spirit-led life is not meant to be weird, spooky or crazy. Often those who make it that are focused more on themselves than Jesus.

As we see in the Book of Acts a Spirit-led, Spirit-empowered life is meant to be the norm. It’s not meant to be extraordinary – it’s meant to be the “new normal” for surrendered, faith-filled followers of Jesus.

I am a work in progress.  I haven’t arrived. And thank God, Jesus is not finished with me yet!

“Come Holy Spirit”. A prayer that opens the door to the power of heaven. A prayer of activation. A prayer that may surprise you in so many ways. A prayer that God will answer when offered in faith.

Today do you have some activating to do?

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