Thursday, May 4, 2017
When the Spirit Takes Over
Acts 6:8 Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people.
The disciples discovered they had a problem when it came managing all the aspects of their burgeoning ministry. They felt called to their mission to preach and so they sought out those who could administer the ministry of waiting on tables, and feeding those who were hungry. Stephen was one of those who was assigned to this aspect of the work. What we discover, however, is that as the Spirit worked in and through Stephen, his ministry expanded. Suddenly we find Stephen filled with grace and power.
The grace of God becomes a part of Stephen’s nature because the Spirit is uniting Stephen with God. The very nature of God therefore exudes through the works of Stephen. This grace is empowered through the action of the Holy Spirit. Stephen is capable of performing miracles to the same extent as the Apostles. Suddenly the human divisions of ministry disappear for there is no holding back the Spirit. The Spirit cannot be contained within human roles or definitions, but when the Spirit takes over then power is revealed. Suddenly the Spirit-filled Stephen finds himself filled with grace and power and performing the same acts as the Apostles.
We often try to create structure for God to follow. The Apostles tried to do it right away in the early church. Now, that’s not to say that there wasn’t a need to organize the ministry but they also seemed to be identifying and affirming who was engaged in the preaching and teaching ministry. It just seems as if the Holy Spirit had other ideas in mind. Instead of being locked into one particular category or skill, the Spirit empowered Stephen and filled him with power and grace, and he was able to do things that the Apostles were doing.
We live in a world that loves to quantify and examine just about everything that we do. Now please, don’t get me wrong, because I think understanding more about yourself can be incredibly helpful but it may also be confining. We can find out our personality type through Meyers Briggs, then our Strengths, and now we can take the five-fold survey to find out where we are gifted in APEST. Again — these can be helpful, but they should not be limiting. The Apostles thought they needed to be freed to do the preaching, teaching and healing and others to wait on tables. They thought that this was Stephen’s area of gifting and so he was assigned the work of Compassionate Ministries. What no one took into account was the transformational work that would happen when the Holy Spirit flowed through Stephen. The Holy Spirit took over and wasn’t confined by Strength Finders!
May we never limit the work of the Holy Spirit by creating man-made boundaries. When the Spirit takes over we are able to participate with Christ in his mission in this world and become partakers of the divine nature. Where that will lead, no one knows, but it sure is fun to be unbound by human expectations. It’s time to live life in the freedom which can be found by giving space for the Spirit to take over.
Lord, open my mind and remove every barrier from the work that you want to accomplish. Amen.