The Missional Spirit

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May 12, 2019

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    The Most Important Word about the SPIRIT in the Book of Acts

    The most important word about the spirit in the Book of Acts is the word MISSIONAL. The Book of Acts, point after point, shows us that the Holy Spirit is most of all a Missional Spirit.

    What does that mean? Our God is a Missional God who is always seeking the lost, healing the hurting, repairing what is broken in the world, saving us from our sins, and pouring his life into us.

    The Missional God sent the Missional Son to be a Missional Messiah for all the world. The Missional Jesus is the Head over a Missional People called the Church.

    Hovering over and advancing all of this is the Missional Spirit or the Spirit on the Mission of God. It is simply the most dominant teaching of the Spirit through all the Bible (not just Acts). When we miss this and misplace our focus on Spirit experiences that seem mainly for our own personal satisfaction, we have missed what is most important about the Holy Spirit’s work in and through us. The Spirit is on a Mission and the Spirit is sending you and me on a Mission.

    The Holy Spirit is at work all through the Book of Acts, both in individuals and entire communities, to do two main things:

    Build the Church - Save the World

    In Genesis 12, God tells Abram of his plan to bless Abram to be a blessing to the nations. In the Book of Acts, God blesses his people with the Holy Spirit, so they can bless the world with all the love and grace and grace-gifts of God.

    The Missional Sprit builds a Missional Church to be on God’s Mission in the World.

    DAY ONE: The Big Picture in Acts

    Here is every place in the Book of Acts where the Holy Spirit is mentioned. If you want to, get your Bible and do a skim overview look at these passages. A few of them are longer, while others are only a few verses, but in 30 minutes you should be able to get the sweeping picture of the Sprit at work to build the church and save the world.

    Acts 1:1–11 The promise of the missional Spirit to come

    Acts 2 The day of Pentecost (the focus of the Sunday message)

    Acts 4:1–22 Peter preaches in the power of the Spirit

    Acts 4:23–31 Threatened by the authorities, trust the Spirit

    Acts 5:27–32 The Spirit witnesses and so do the apostles

    Acts 6:1–10; 7:51–8:1 Stephen - full of the Spirit

    Acts 8:9–19 The Spirit goes to Samaria (a big missional move)

    Acts 8:29–39 The Spirit goes to an Ethiopian through Philip

    Acts 9:17 Saul receives the Spirit and his sight back

    Acts 10:38–48; 11:12–18 The Spirit goes to the Gentiles (and this is an even bigger missional moment)

    Acts 11:22–27 Barnabas and Agabus

    Acts 13:2–12 Guided by the Spirit on new missional adventures

    Acts 13:48–14:7 Persecution can’t stop the mission of the Spirit

    Acts 15:6–12 Another affirmation of mission to the Gentiles

    Acts 16:6–10 A redirect by the Spirit

    Acts 19:1–16 The mission expands to Ephesus

    Acts 20:22–31; 21:4–10 Guided by the Spirit on a dangerous mission

    Acts 28:25–30 Continues to preach in the power of the Spirit

    DAY TWO: The Missional Warm-up

    It should be no surprise that Acts so powerfully shows the Spirit of God as the Missional Spirit. I really want you to see the narrative flow of the New Testament on this, and especially the tie in with the previous week on what Jesus taught about the Spirit in the Book of Acts.

    In addition to the Spirit being our Paraclete, who is our true friend forever and our TRUTH friend forever, the Paraclete is the one who testifies about Jesus and the one who empowers us to testify about Jesus as well.

    Look at these short passages. Jot down the key words and insights that show the most essential work of the Missional Spirit.

    John 15:26-27

    John 16:7–11

    John 17:12–14

    John 20:21–23

    Acts 1:4–8

    PRAY: Ask the Missional Spirit to empower you to be a Missional Follower-Friend of Jesus. Pray that the Missional Spirit would open your eyes to the needs of the world around you. Pray for faith, courage, compassion, generosity, and availability. Pray specifically for individuals who need Jesus. “Pray in the Spirit and on occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests… to make known the mystery of the gospel” (Ephesians 6:18-19).

    DAY THREE: Creating Thick Community

    Acts 2:42–47 Ephesians 2:11–22

    Thick community and thin community. These are terms used by sociologists to describe the different kinds of communities we live in.

    A thick community is one that has deeply shared values, a common story, and a sense of loyalty and commitment to the group, all in the service of a powerful purpose.

    A thin community is one that has none of what was just described. Thin community is where diverse, different, and often contentious groups coexist in a place. For thin communities to coexist, they need tolerance, some measure of civility to and respect for one another, and a willingness to put vital differences aside for the common good. All you need to do is look around to see just how hard that is.

    The Book of Acts is the story of a thick community emerging as many thin communities came together around a new story and new set of values-beliefs, who created a new loyalty and commitment, and accepted a new purpose (Mission).

    STUDY: Acts 2:42–47 is the description of the beginnings of that new thick community. Ephesians 2:11–22 is a deep reflection on what Jesus and the Spirit did to make that new thick community. What are the characteristics and qualities of this thick new community?

    REFLECT: This overcoming of all human divisions and the creating of such a generous, grace-filled community is one of the greatest miracles the Holy Spirit does. That you are a part of such a community is a miracle. That the Spirit would use you to bring others into this community is another miracle.

    PRAY: Ask the Spirit of God to continue to make Living Word a thick community of grace, love, faith, and hope, where the differences that divide humanity would be overcome.

    DAY FOUR: Breaking Through Big Barriers

    Acts 8

    Acts 8 is the story of the gospel of Christ going to the Samaritans. The Jews of Jesus’ day despised the Samaritans. Jesus had to go to great lengths to train his disciples that Samaritans mattered to God.

    Acts 8 is the exciting story of how the Spirit of God did for the Samaritans what was done for the disciples in Acts 2. The same Jesus, the same gospel, and the same Missional Spirit is at work so no one will doubt that Samaritans are a part of the new thick community of Jesus Christ.

    God gives the Samaritans the same gift of the Spirit and the same power of Spirit-inspired words as a confirmation. Tongues praising the mighty acts of God, prophetic words about the great deeds of God in Christ, and the preaching of Jesus are all part of the package of the Missional Spirit at work to build the church and save the world.

    PRAY: Pray that the Missional Spirit would give us (and give you) Spirit-inspired words, so that the Church would be built and the world would be saved.

    DAY FIVE: Breaking Through the Biggest Barriers

    Acts 10–11

    In Acts 10–11 the gospel goes to Gentiles, who are even farther away and even more despised than were the Samaritans! Are they, too, included in the promises of God? Unbelievable. You can read the amazement of the Jerusalem Church that “even” Gentiles have been granted repentance (11:18).

    God goes to great lengths to convince the Jewish-based church that Gentiles matter and are included in this thick new community of Jesus. They will need the same work of the Missional Spirit. So, I repeat what I said on Day Four, just using Gentiles.

    God gives the Gentiles the same gift of the Spirit and the same power of Spirit-inspired words as a confirmation. Tongues praising the mighty acts of God, prophetic words about the great deeds of God in Christ, and the preaching of Jesus are all part of the package of the Missional Spirit at work to build the church and save the world.

    PRAY: Pray that the Missional Spirit would give us (and give you) Spirit-inspired words, so that the Church would be built and the world would be saved.

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