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Next Steps

Recently, we published the final issue of our quarterly magasine Intermission that is now being sent to hundreds of mail boxes around the world. The publication focuses on the theme of the Holy Spirit and how our Mission Partners have seen Him at work. So how can you partner with the Holy Spirit? It’s so easy to read an article about what another Jesus follower is doing, or hear a good sermon about how the Holy Spirit is empowering someone, and respond with “well that’s so great for them!”. And that’s it. But one of NZCMS’ goals is not simply to share stories of our Mission Partner’s work around the world but to call you, the reader, to action. How can you, as part of the Church of Aotearoa, partner with the Holy Spirit’s mission in the world today?

I was asked recently to preach at my church and I’ve been thinking about using a clip from “The Hobbit”. In this clip Gandalf the Wizard is trying to convince the protagonist, Bilbo, to join him on an adventure.

“The world is not in your books and maps,” Gandalf says to Bilbo as he gestures to the fields outside his living room window. “It’s out there!”

How often do we refuse to take a step outside of where we’re comfortable? A step into the unknown. Into the scary. Into the place where we’re forced to rely on God to help us in our journey. But what if that is exactly the place where the Holy Spirit is moving and ready to empower us, inspire us and teach us? When we take a step outside.

One of the verses that I’ve known since I was a child was Proverbs 3:5-6.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
   and he will make your paths straight.”

It could be that as we take a step out onto the “path”, that’s precisely the place where we will find the Holy Spirit can come alongside and empower us. That’s where we will hear His voice. Sense His leading hand. Be filled with His empowering gifts. I wonder sometimes if we can treat the phrase “trust in the Lord with all your heart” as just a sort of feeling or emotional state. But there is no trust without action! There is no faith without deeds! “Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds” cries James in chapter two of his epistle.

Already I’ve found in my short 29 years of life that the Christian life does not stand on the foundation of intellectual belief or emotional highs and lows. To be a Christian is to act on the faith we declare in our Lord. Therefore, is it so hard to believe that when we make decisions where we have to depend on God, that’s precisely when we will see Him “make our paths straight”?

Let’s become a people that shout at the top of our lungs “Holy Spirit, I trust in your healing power!” and then offer to pray for our sick neighbour. Let’s become a people who say “Holy Spirit, I know you’ve forgiven that person for what they did to me,” and then offer to pay for their next petrol bill. Let’s cry out “Holy Spirit I feel so alone, but I believe you are here with me” and spend the beginning of every day thanking Him for His faithfulness.   

So what choice can you make today that would cause you to rely on the Holy Spirit? What “path” can you turn towards? What comfortable place in your life can you step out from for a moment?

May the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you as you discern with Him where your next step is. God is calling us to join Him in His mission, but look, He is not calling us to do it alone.