““ ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.” –Acts 2:17 NIV
We live in such an exciting, remarkable, difficult and unique time in human history. While the world grows darker and evil increases, there is another reality. The Spirit of God is at work around the world in some of the most remarkable ways! (Read some stories just from the mission organization I am leading: Stories of Transformed Lives). It is true that where the darkness is darkest, His light can and does shine the brightest! (Isaiah 60:1-3).
God is also working in a way that is different than other ages past. For example, the Spirit of God did not dwell in and work through, as he does now, every believer. That is unique to this “church age” or really “era of the Holy Spirit” (Numbers 11:29, Acts 2:38-39).
I don’t know about you but have you ever wished you were there when Jesus walked this earth in the flesh? Yet, did you know we shouldn’t wish for that, that we actually have it “better” than His disciples did? Think about it. When Jesus was in the flesh, he was “limited” in that sense to one place at one time just like the rest of us. But the Spirit is not limited in that He can be everywhere at once and with everyone all the time! Jesus in fact said to his disciples in John 16:6-7, Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things. But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. Jesus, in essence, was speaking of this time as a “privileged” time to live in!
The Spirit of God (the same Spirit by which Jesus rose from the dead!) resides in every true believer and wants to work in supernatural ways through each of our lives. The very Gospel message is a faith that hinges on a supernatural event: the resurrection of Jesus Christ by the Spirit and power of God. Being “born-again” (saved and made into a new person) is also a supernatural experience that can only be accomplished by God’s Spirit. And the true Christian life, from beginning to end, is a work of the Spirit, not our striving our own efforts. That applies to our sanctification (becoming more like Jesus) and the ways God wants to use us, or work through us. Being saved is not the end, but the beginning, of what is supposed to be a “naturally” supernatural life!
God hasn’t just saved us out of something but into something special. While we are not saved by good works, we are saved for good works; works that He however, has planned and prepared for us in advance to walk in. In other words, they are works that are “of God” (good) and only accomplished by God’s grace.
In the mission organization I lead, I work with some of the most remarkable people around the world. They are not remarkable because they are any different humanly speaking then anyone else, but because they have embraced God’s Word, God’s dreams, God’s vision, God’s heart, God’s plan and God’s purpose for their lives.
For example, I just spent time listening to our partner in Uganda share his story with some of our donors in the US. His dad was jailed and persecuted under Idi Amin’s evil rule back in the 70’s, simply for being a bold Christian who refused to deny Christ and stop preaching the Gospel. Yet even in that, God worked in some miraculous ways, using his life as a catalyst for others to encounter Jesus and be saved, even the government official charged with overseeing what was supposed to be their execution. This man ended up being in a bad car accident that very day, but during which He encountered Jesus Christ, in a way similar to Saul of Tarsus, who would later become Paul the apostle.
Moses dad, after being released from prison (instead of executed) continued to preach the Gospel. However, he died at a relatively early age. Moses was just a young man at the time but suddenly was thrust into heavy responsibilities. He was the oldest of fourteen children and his family also took in three orphan children. His father was pastoring a church of about 300 that Moses was appointed by the elders to lead after his fathers death. However, Moses was quickly challenged by the people and most left to go to other churches believing he was “too young.” Moses could have become bitter and quit, but every night God continued to give him dream after dream of glimpses of what he had in mind for his future, especially in regard to orphan kids.
Although Moses found himself internally fighting these dreams, he eventually embraced them. He struggled, like us, with many excuses. He had no money. He had no connections. How would these dreams become reality? However, after reading the story of George Mueller, whom God used to take care of over 20,000 orphans, often providing in miraculous ways, Moses realized God was able. And so he believed and began to walk in the “good works” God had in store for his life.
Thirty years later, the church of 300, that was down to only 30 when he took over, is now a church of over 700, that has also planted over 300 other churches in remote parts of Uganda! And the three orphan children, are now four thousand children living in extreme poverty that are being provided an education! (Read more here on our website: Uganda).
A few weeks ago, I got back from Ukraine with our leaders there and a couple who have also had God sized dreams that are now becoming reality. Orphan girls who had been praying for years specifically for a bakery program, have experienced God answering their prayers through ServeNow. (Read more here: God’s Bakery). This is what ServeNow is all about, being the answer through which the God-sized dreams of others become a reality by the power of God!
Later this fall I will be Nepal again where we are gearing up to begin a new center that is aimed at providing skill training for women who think prostitution is their only means of survival. This particular slum area has the highest rate of prostitution in all of the country and has no other Christian influence or activity. This center will be the first to demonstrate God’s love and light in a dark area. We also hope to begin another six-month tailoring class in a remote village for thirty other young women at risk of human-trafficking. (You can read more here about the young women who graduated our latest class earlier this year, but also help make these next two dreams a reality: Skill Training Preventing Trafficking/Prostitution).
Lastly, in my own life I marvel at what God can do. I am a nobody from a small, rural town in Lancaster county, PA, surrounded by Amish. But God began to fill me with His vision and dreams for my life and I began to ask God to send me to the nations of the world to preach the Gospel, serve those in need, encourage pastors, rescue those at risk of, or caught up in, human trafficking. Those dreams are now becoming a reality as I lead ServeNow, through which about one million people per year are being served in a variety of ways, such as some of the ways mentioned in the stories and countries above!
When we begin to delight ourselves in God and his heart becomes our heart; when our prayers align with his will and His Spirit is poured out upon us as He shows us what He has in mind for us, amazing things begin to happen! Scripture promises in Psalm 37:4, Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. God calls us to good works done in His Name, by His power, just as Jesus went around doing good where there was need and his Father was working (John 5:19-20, Acts 10:38, Galatians 6:9-10).
And this can happen to any of us and all of us! God isn’t looking to use only the smartest, wealthiest, strongest, most connected or educated people. He certainly can and does want to use those in those categories. But there is one condition that he requires: a humility or dependency on Him. A surrendered and willing heart. A person who dares to believe and begin to intentionally, passionately, obediently, ask. God says in Psalm 2:8, “Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.” In the book of James chapter 4 verse 1-3, we are informed that we have not because we ask not, and the things we ask for we don’t receive because they are selfish instead of for selfless purposes to serve others.
The Spirit of God is given to those who believe. And for those who believe, He begins to give dreams and visions of what He wants to accomplish through our lives by His Spirit. It may seem crazy to us, but nothing is too hard for him! What could it be that He wants to accomplish through your life? What God-sized dreams has He given you? What good works (God-works) does He have prepared for you to walk in?
Look around! The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. There are opportunities to serve everywhere. Some are big. Some are small. Some are close to us, others far away. But all matter and can make a difference in the lives of others. Ask God to reveal His plans for your life. Dare to dream. Ask Him to give you His heart and His vision for your life. Ask him to fill you with His Spirit and send you out in His power, with His Spirit upon you. Ask Him to do what only He can do in and through your life for the good of others and to bring glory to His great Name!
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. -Ephesians 3:20-21