In the Spirit, By the Spirit

I woke recently with the concept of “Being in the Spirit” on my mind. It was as if the Lord was impressing on my heart a warning. Warning me not to operate in my flesh today, a warning NOT to go about all my business as usual – a call to walk with Him, eyes on Him, IN the Spirit today.

Assuredly, if you asked me on a daily basis if THAT is how I WANT to operate, I would answer with a resounding, “Yes!” But, the real challenge is to look at life – moment by moment – and answer the hard question…if yes you want to operate in the Spirit, then do you?

We’re going to discover momentarily that it’s not about us conjuring up the “want to” or being disciplined enough in ourselves to operate in the Spirit. It’s actually Him who does it – The King of Glory lives inside us – we lack no good thing – we just need More surrender in our lives. More yield. More waiting on Him. More going low before Him. More receiving instruction so that we can be More effective when we do go into our day. More life “un-usual.”

I felt led this same morning to review Acts 11, because the night before I had heard a compelling sermon from Dr. Kyle Martin (you can listen here). When I reached the end of Acts 11, these verses leapt off the page given the subject on my mind.

Acts 11:27-30

During this time some prophets traveled from Jerusalem to Antioch. One of them named Agabus stood up in one of the meetings and predicted by the Spirit that a great famine was coming upon the entire Roman world. (This was fulfilled during the reign of Claudius). So the believers in Antioch decided to send relief to the brothers and sisters in Judea, everyone giving as much as they could. This they did, entrusting their gifts to Barnabas and Saul to take to the elders in the church in Jerusalem.

Agabus was a prophet from Jerusalem. He travelled with some others to Antioch. I wonder why? Maybe they, too, had heard what was going on there. Verse 21 tells us in Antioch “The power of the Lord was with them, and a large number of these Gentiles believed and turned to the Lord.” Then, when they heard about it, the church in Jerusalem sent Barnabas to Antioch. Barnabas saw the evidence of God’s blessing there, he was filled with joy, and he encouraged the believers to stay true to the Lord. Then he went to Tarsus to get Paul. Paul & Barnabas spent a year at the church in Antioch teaching large crowds of people.   It was “during this time”, as v. 27 says, that the prophets from Jerusalem travelled to Antioch as well.

What struck me was this: I highly doubt that Agabus and the other prophets just woke up one morning and said, “What do y’all feel like doing today, boys? Think maybe we ought to set out and travel to Antioch? “ I really don’t think it was out of boredom, on a whim or their own great idea! (Although – God can use those motives as well to get us where we need to be!) But, I truly believe they were operating in the Spirit.

What I mean by that is, they were tuned-in to what God was saying and where He was leading them. Their heads were not down into their own stuff, they were looking and asking and ready to obey when He sent. It is very likely that they each had things to be done in Jerusalem, undoubtedly “life as usual” was an option that day, but they were willing to follow the Lord’s leading. They were ready to hear, willing to listen, and prepared to obey…life un-usual.

Are we?

God sent them carrying a word for the believers in Antioch. It tells us right there in scripture that they were New Testament prophets. And when they got there, they found one of the meetings and Agabus stood up.   He traveled a long way, and he meant to deliver what he was carrying. God had actions for the believers to take, there was an event in the future that needed provision, and through His prophet God delivered the message and everyone benefited!

Something along the same lines happened in Revelation 1. Check out what happened to John when he was in the Spirit on the island of Patmos:

Revelation 1:10-11

I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”

I believe there is a whole world of tireless excitement and wonder when we will surrender!  When we will yield to the Spirit, waiting on Him. When we will go low before our King, receive from Him exactly what we need, walking in obedience – THEN we will be effective in living out this life for Jesus and for the sake of the Cross.

John was in the Spirit, then heard the voice of King Jesus telling him what to do. It was not John’s idea to write the book of Revelation! He wasn’t at a retreat on the Isle of Patmos to gain clarity for his next book! It wasn’t because John was good enough or strong enough or that people really liked him. It was Jesus’ voice he heard and then he obeyed. The word of the Lord came to John while he was IN THE SPIRIT.

Agabus was able to give the Word of the Lord that saved lives and invited the believers to give generously to care for others because it was BY THE SPIRIT. And then they each obeyed! John did what God said. Agabus did what God said. The believers in Antioch did what God said.

Are you seeing the common thread here? In the Spirit and by the Spirit. It’s all about Him. It’s all about us being surrendered, yielded, waiting, willing to go low, and receiving our marching orders, our instructions…then obeying. Not leaning on our own understanding but trusting in Him, acknowledging Him in all our ways, THEN He will show us which path to take.

Lastly, this verse has been echoing in my heart for several weeks. I believe it’s telling us the same message if we will have ears to hear:

Matthew 9:37-38 NLT

He said to His disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord Who is in charge of the harvest; ask Him to send more workers into His fields.”

The ESV says it this way:  Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”

So many of us really want the Gospel going forth, just as it spread and prospered in Acts 11 in Antioch. We long to hear stories of lives changed and needs met and then exceeded far beyond comprehension, those stories of the Holy Spirit moving in such a way that no man’s name is lifted up but only the Name of Jesus Christ.

This is what I believe the Lord was telling me that morning when I woke up with being “in the Spirit” on my mind, then He confirmed it through His Word:

  • We are all part of the body of Christ. We all have different callings and giftings we get invited to use for His glory and to make His Name famous. Barnabas and Paul were teachers and preachers, Agabus was a prophet, the believers in Antioch were generous givers, John was called to write the vision God gave him in Revelation.
  • The entire point of giving us giftings and equipping us for our callings is because there are fields to be harvested. Spiritually speaking, there is a great harvest that is plentiful and fields that are ripe. If you and I will keep our heads up and our eyes fixed on Jesus, we will undoubtedly experience the most exhilarating partnership in the Spirit as we obey Him. And that is the exact kind of un-usual life to which He is inviting us! He is looking for workers He can send out into the fields. And we are commanded by Jesus Himself to pray that the Lord of the Harvest would thrust workers into the fields!
  • He, the King of Kings, Creator of the Universe invites us to partner with Him, invites us to know Him and His heart, invites us to be His hands and feet to the people around us. He is pleased to equip and send us out into the harvest.

In the Spirit.

By the Spirit.

Surrendered. Yielded. Waiting on Him.

Going low in humility because it is Him who does it.

Having everything we need.

Eyes on Jesus.

Harvesting for the Kingdom.

Great God Almighty – here am I, Lord, send me!

Today.

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