Evidence of the Spirit in Our Midst

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 Ro 12:10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;
 11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;
 12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer;
 13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.

Paul continues to lay down the guidelines for Christian behavior as it relates to the Body of Christ, and as we have been saying all along here, don’t try this at home...without the aid of the Holy Spirit. With Him, they are a joy, without Him they are misery.

These are not so much the things we are to do as they are the things the Holy Spirit does when he is present in our lives and in the midst of our fellowship. .  

 Ro 12:10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;

As members of this fellowship of believers we call Living Word, we are to be “kindly affectionate” to one another. The phrase “kindly affectionate in the Greek means to cherish one’s own kindred, as parents and children are kindly affectionate to one another.  

In other words we are family here, and there is no stronger bond of love in the natural realm than that of parent and child. It was good to see that bond in evidence again in the hospital room this week between Kim and Mahli and Mark and Mahli.

This same kind of bond should be evident in this Body of believers and it is not to be a lip service bonding, it is to be a bonding that comes through connection to the Holy Spirit. If we are all believers and the Holy Spirit indwells us, how can we not be kindly affectionate toward each other?

The Holy Spirit is not divided. He’s not just in love with that part of Him that dwells in you! Don’t you know, a kingdom divided against itself will not stand! And kindly affection toward one another is evidence of the Holy Spirit in our midst.

Next we are to honor each other. The term here in the Greek is financial. It means money or valuables. So how does that play into our honoring of one another? Are we to go about tossing honorariums at each other? I honor you with 5 bucks! Oh yeah, well I honor you with 10! Wouldn’t that be an interesting way of getting along?

No,  honor here is the idea of setting aside hard earned money for something you value, it involves a sacrifice. So in honoring one another,  we set aside our own valuable priorities for our brothers and sisters in Christ, we give preference to one another.

Through faith in Christ and the indwelling Holy Spirit we are kindred! All related by the blood of Jesus, and as family, we must be willing to set aside what is valuable to us for the sake of others, and that involves our time, talent, and treasure.

All these things are given to us by the Lord anyway, so why do we think it is necessary to hoard them? If we reject this kind of affection and honor toward our brothers and sisters, it is a sure sign that we need to grow in our yielding to the Spirit.

Next, we are not to lag in diligence. 11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;

What a strange command. “Thou shalt not lag in diligence! What does this mean? In the Greek the word “lag” means to be tardy, slothful, irksome. How can one word have three distinct definitions?  I mean to be tardy is to be late. To be slothful is to be lazy or slow, and to be irksome is to irritate others.

Well, let’s put them all together to get the drift of lagging.  Don’t drag your heels to the point of irritating others when it comes to the matter of diligence in carrying out the will of the Lord in the Body of Christ!

The King James here says that we should not be “slothful in business,” As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we are sons of God, and as sons we are to be as Jesus was.....about His Father’s business.

So whatever it is that the Lord gives you to do, do it!  Have a sense of fervency about obeying the Lord!  Don’t hold up the work of your church or the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit in you by dragging your heels. Find out what your role is and do it! We aren’t going anywhere with the Fred Flinstone brake system...you know, dragging our heels!

Paul says our desire to serve the Lord ought to be  “fervent in spirit.” To be fervent is to be hot, to boil, to glow. This is the attitude we ought to have in serving the Lord.

We can’t wait to get going!  We can’t wait to obey, we can’t wait to act on His promises, we can’t wait to plug our gift or gifts into the Body at Living Word and beyond! Have you heard the phrase “on fire for the Lord?” Well this is it!

Think in terms of an assembly line. What happens when one person on the line lags in diligence? Well if it’s putting cream pies into boxes, you’ve got a great comedy routine, but if it’s something else, everyone’s efficiency is affected. The line starts and stops and is herky jerky, out of sync, delayed. Is this the way to bring glory to God!  I don’t think so.

Next, we are to be a people  12 “rejoicing in hope,” This is not a jumping up and clicking your heels kind of rejoicing, rather it is the idea of being calmly happy. As Spirit filled believers we are to be calmly happy in our hope. Well, what is our hope?  

Is it not the resurrection unto eternal life? The faith, that one day we will be with Christ forever, and there will be no more night, pain, tears, and sorrow.

 1Co 15:17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!
 18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.

Be calmly happy about the resurrection! You know something most people don’t know or have refused to believe! This life is only a vapor! One day the Lord is coming back and he is going to take you with Him to heaven!

Those who dwell on their own personal problems, or the horrible sin sick conditions of this world, or on what they lack in the here and now, will never experience “rejoicing in hope“ Rejoicing in hope is another sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit in a believer!

“patient in tribulation,” Bear your times of soul squeezings. Those times that you feel like you are going through the wringer. Remember the old washing machines? You’d take the clothes out of the tub and put them into the wringers and they’s squeeze all the water out of them. Well sometimes life makes you feel like that.

Remember that God has a purpose for your trials and tribulations. Bear with them, knowing that they will end when they have served His purpose. The Lord will hang you out on the line to dry....but He won’t leave you there! Too often we look to escape our trials and tribulations forgetting that God’s way of escape is to endure.

1 Cor. 10:13 says, “There isn’t any temptation (trial) that you have experienced which is unusual for humans. God, who faithfully keeps His promises, will not allow you to be tempted (pressed) beyond your power to resist. But when you are tempted (squeezed) He will also give you the ability to endure the temptation as your way of escape.

The way out is to endure! Believe it! The quicker you believe it, the quicker the trial will pass!

“continuing steadfastly in prayer;” The King James says “continuing instant in prayer. The idea of continuing instant is like that of a servant constantly at his master’s service. Have you ever thought of prayer as being your master? You should.  A master who says, “Pray......now!......

How many times have you told someone, “I’ll pray for you” or “I’ll be sure to pray about that” and then go home and forget about it completely. Oh people, learn to pray instantly! On the spot! I’ll never forget Orv Krueger at Good Shepherd Lutheran church in Two Rivers, because he knew that prayer was his master.

I remember a man in church before some sort of a meeting was to convene. He was talking with Orv and spilling out his guts concerning a family issue. He asked Orv to pray for him, and Orv took his hands and said, “what are we waiting for, let’s pray now!”  Prayer was his master! Not his servant!

“Oh I couldn’t do that, not in public, it’s too embarrassing!” Really? How embarrassing do you think it will be in the eternal scope of things when you promise to pray, but don’t? And think it through, why are you embarrassed? You’re embarrassed because you don’t know or believe in the power of your master. Being instant in prayer is a sign that the Holy Spirit is in your midst.

Next on the list is 13 distributing to the needs of the saints,

So many people are looking for supernatural manifestations of the Holy Spirit. Well here’s one that was powerfully evident in the church of the second chapter of Acts.

 Ac 2:44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common,
 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.

Now, we aren’t talking about taking a vow of poverty here, but we are talking about koinaneo “lying open to all,” who are in the fellowship, that’s what the word distributing means here. Do you have a need, allow me to open myself up to meet it. Whether that is opening up my pocketbook, or giving you access to my power washer, or cordless drill, or my listening ear, if you need it, it’s yours.

Needs have a way of dropping in on congregations in this sinful world. Jobs are lost, marriages disintegrate, tragedy strikes and suddenly there is a need. A Spirit filled church meets the needs of the saints.

One of the greatest tragedies in the church was when we turned our “meeting needs” responsibilities over to the government. In case you don’t know, the government is not exactly a Holy Spirit filled organization.  

George Grant has written that the first things the communists did when they took over Russia was to ban charity. If you want to make the government god, this is the quickest way to do it. If you want people to see Jesus in the church, sacrificially meeting needs is the quickest way to do it.
The early church thought this was so important that they appointed Spirit filled men to oversee the distribution to saints in need. Today’s church typically doesn’t have enough in the kitty to distribute to anyone. And if we are going to be a Spirit filled church, then we must put a stop to this!

The first place to look is in our own giving. We all ought to at least be tithing, that is, giving 10% of our income to the church. Have you ever considered the power of the tithe? Do you realize that 10 families tithing their gross income would provide a very nice living for one family with no income at all?

Actually, it only takes nine because the recipient of the tithe, must turn around and tithe back to the church as well. A tithing church should be able to handle a 10% unemployment rate in their city. A tithing church should be able to help a single mom stay home with her children. But we aren’t there yet are we?

I’m so glad that we have a benevolent fund at Living Word. I’m thankful that people faithfully give to it so we can help the needy saints inside these walls and out! I’m so glad that we have some Spirit-filled men who are willing to take on the role of distributing such funds wisely.

We are doing “some” distributing to the needs of the saints, but we could do so much more! I know many of you would like to tithe but due to financial crunches in your own home, you  feel you cannot do it. Your maxed out on credit cards, 2nd and 3rd mortgages, unexpected medical expenses, and so on. But I’m here to tell you that you can do it!

There was a time shortly after this Prodigal son came home to the Lord that we were tested in this area. We had thousands of dollars of bills from my drunk driving accident. I was earning a meager salary as a radio announcer, Joanie was a stay at home mom, but we purposed to be obedient and tithed.  And we never looked back.

God promises to open the windows of heaven to those who tithe,  and bless them.  Mal 3:10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this," Says the LORD of hosts, "If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it.
 11 "And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field," Says the LORD of hosts;

The devourer is rebuked and a 1991 Ford Festiva lasts for 150,000 miles and is still going strong!
A neighbor and brother in the Lord does a brake job for you. You find a great deal while shopping! I don’t know how the Lord works it out, He just does. And the quickest way out of your financial mess is to tithe. Because God’s Word promises it!
After our service today, we will have a special Adult Education hour. Alan Prahl of F.I.S.C. will be here to help show you how you can get there. He will show you how you can start down the road to tithing and become the grateful and joyful giver that God wants you to be. A cheerful giver is also a sign of the Holy Spirit in our midst.

All these things that we have mentioned today and the things coming up in this portion of Romans are just indicators of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our individual lives and in this congregation.

If we are short in any of these areas, we need more of the Holy Spirit, and remember what God has said about giving us the Holy Spirit. Lu 11:13 "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!"
This Christmas, you will look under the tree and see the good gifts you managed to give your children. It was your delight and desire to give such gifts whether you could afford it or not. How much more will you delight the Father as you ask for and receive His gift of the Holy Spirit.

O God, give us this gift! And Lord as you give this gift to us, help us to spend it wisely in Your kingdom.

Let us allow Him to teach us to treat each other like family, willing to sacrificially honor each other. To give us a sense of urgency concerning obedience and the Father’s business!. To give us that calm assurance of our blessed hope, quietly confident of where we are going when the Lord returns.

To give us patience in our trials, enduring them, knowing that God has a purpose. To give us hearts that are quick to pray, that allow prayer to be our master rather than the other way around. And to give us the desire to position ourselves and our church to “open up”  to the needs of the saints.

Let’s pray.