Friday, February 21, 2020
30 LETTERS TO MY CHURCH on DISCIPLESHIP - LETTER 26
LETTER 26 - DISCIPLES OF JESUS EXPERIENCE MANIFESTATIONS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Dear Redeemer Family,
In 1972 I read, in the Bible, about the manifestation of "tongues." 1 Corinthians 14 says a lot about this spiritual gift. Verses 39-40 told me, Be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.
I had never heard about this spiritual gift, or any other, for that matter. I had also never been exposed to the idea that the spiritual gifts have stopped manifesting. That idea would have confused me, since the Bible presents these wonderful manifestations as needed to strengthen, comfort, and encourage the church.
At that time I was the youth leader at Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church, in Rockford, Illinois. This was my home church. One night I could not get away from the idea of this strange Spirit-manifestation called glossalalia ("tongues"). The thought came to me, "I want this."
After a youth group meeting, I went into Tabor's large, empty sanctuary. I lay on my face, on the carpeted floor, and said this to God: "God, if you want me to have this gift, I am willing to receive it."
Nothing happened. But I did not feel discouraged. I sensed that God was pleased that I was asking.
Almost twenty years later, it happened. In 1991. Linda and I lived in East Lansing, but had driven a hundred miles to a gathering at Redeemer Church in Monroe. This is where we still are. After the meeting, some of Redeemer's people surrounded us and prayed for us. One of them prayed for me, saying, "God, give John all that he needs."
As we were driving back later that night, Linda fell asleep in the car. While she was sleeping, I began to pray in tongues. It did not feel pressured or forced. It felt natural, and beautiful.
This is not how it happens to every disciple of Jesus. It is the story of one disciple, me. I also do not think someone is not Spirit-filled if they do not manifest all the spiritual gifts. Remember: the gifts are essentially manifestations of the Spirit, for the edifying of the people of God, distributed by the Spirit as He wills.
Here is one way I see this.
Some people, when it comes to spiritual things, are divers. I'm not. I am a wader. I have seen some enthusiastic divers fade away when the initial thrill is gone. Meanwhile, I am still wading, sometimes slowly, even methodically. I have seen all the spiritual manifestations, working around me in the Jesus community, and many of them through me. God has healed through me, delivered people from darkness through me, and prophesied through me, all to my amazement.
I just keep going deeper. Today, I lift my head and observe that I am swimming in the deep ocean waters of the Holy Spirit, expecting more to come.
I want this for you. I want you to pray,
"Come Holy Spirit. Have Your way in me."
Come, Holy Spirit, have your way in me.
Manifest spiritual gifts through me.
I see You working through me to strengthen, comfort, and encourage my brothers and sisters.
The Holy Spirit is having His way in me.
Breakthrough is always happening around me.
I love being God's Church, the body of Christ.
In my church spiritual gifts are manifesting all the time.