Filled with Joy and the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:52)

In Acts 13:52, we read that “the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” In that passage Paul, Barnabas, and the church were being persecuted, but in spite of this, they were continually filled with joy and the Holy Spirit. Why were they so full of joy and the Holy Spirit? There are two things that stand out. First, the phrase “word of the Lord” is used three times. (See Acts 13:44, 48, 49.) The word of the Lord was being spread through the whole region, and people were rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord. God’s word rejoices the heart. (Ps 19:8) When we feed on God’s word, it produces a joy and delight in our heart. (Jer 15:16) As we have just begun a new year, have you started feasting on God’s word? Are you rejoicing in His word? Let me encourage you to feed on the word of the Lord every day.

The second thing that we see in this passage is that salvation was coming to the Gentiles. Luke records that “as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.” When the gospel is being preached, and people are coming to Christ, there is great joy. We get filled with the Holy Spirit in many ways. Prayer and worship are two of the primary ways. But, personally, I have experienced powerful fillings of the Holy Spirit and manifestations of the Holy Spirit when I share the gospel with others. Have you shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel? Are you praying and looking for opportunities to share the word of the Lord with others? May it be said of you and I this year that we are continually being filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.

Customer Value Propositions

Recently I finished up a class sponsored by Goldman Sachs and Babson College. Babson College is ranked # 1 in America for Entrepreneurship. The class is called 10ksb (10,000 small businesses), and it is designed to help small businesses grow. Most of the work was done on-line, but I had to make two trips to Boston to go through sections of the program that were held on campus. It was an outstanding class, and I had many takeaways from the program. At Murchison Drilling Schools (MDS), we have already begun implementing many of the things that I learned in the class.

One of the topics covered in the program was the customer value proposition or CVP. A CVP is a business or marketing statement that describes why a customer should buy a product or use a service. There were several steps involved in developing a CVP. First, we had to identify our customers or segments of customers. Second, we had to identify our customer pain points or needs. At MDS, we have two primary customer segments and their pain points are very different.  Third, we had to develop a message to each of our customer segments that addressed their specific pain points and how our products and services would meet that need. I realized that I needed to change the messaging to our clients. We had focused on what we provide and what distinguishes us from our competitors, but had not addressed our customer needs. We made immediate changes in our CVPs and are now addressing our customer pain points.

When I was learning about CVPs I could not help but think about Jesus. He was the Master of CVPs. He knew who His customers were. In Matthew 9:12-13, Mark 2:17, and Luke 5:31, Jesus identified His customers as those who needed a physician. He identified His customers as those who knew they were sinners. He said, “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” In Matthew 11:28, Jesus called out another customer group. He said, “Come to me all who are weary and I will give you rest…” He not only knew who His clients were; He knew their pain points. They were weary and burdened with sin. Jesus offered a solution. He offered a new covenant, not based on a law that burdened people, but one based on grace. Jesus was a Master at identifying His customers, their pain points, and addressing these in His message to us. In Matthew 11:29, Jesus said, “Learn from Me for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you shall find rest for your souls.” I am still learning from Jesus, the Master of CVPs, on how to effectively reach and touch the lives of people around us.

Celebrating the Birth of Christ

We celebrate the birth of Christ at Christmas. Why did God’s plan require Jesus to come as a baby. The main reason for it can be found in 1 Timothy 2:5. “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” The fullness of God dwelt in Jesus in bodily form. (Colossians 2:9) Jesus came as the mediator between God and men. A mediator represents both parties. Jesus was both God and man and He is the only One who could fully represent God and fully represent men.

We find in Luke 1:35 that an angel named Gabriel came to Mary and said, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. Jesus was the Son of God, but He was also the Son of Man. In Luke 19:10, Jesus said, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Jesus was both the Son of God and since he was born of a woman, He was also the Son of Man. It was necessary for Jesus to be born as a child to a virgin who conceived Him by the Holy Spirit so that He could be both the Son of God and the Son of Man. It was necessary for Jesus to be both so that He could be the mediator between God and men. We needed a mediator and a Savior because our sins had separated us from a holy God. Jesus came to seek and to save us, who were lost, and He reconciled us to God. This Christmas we celebrate the coming of our Mediator and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Pouring Into Others

In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, Paul shared that his life was being poured out as a drink offering. Paul was preaching the gospel, and pouring his life into the lives of men and women. One of the men that Paul poured himself into was Timothy. He became a spiritual father to young Timothy, and mentored him. Paul raised him up to be a great leader in the church at Ephesus, and then as an apostle to the church at large. In Paul’s second letter to Timothy he writes, “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” Paul was asking Timothy to do the exact same thing that he had done, find faithful people and pour your life into them. (See Phil 2:17, 2 Tim 2:2.)

Karen and I are planting our fourth church, Connection Church of Albuquerque. One of my prayers is for God to show me the faithful people that He wants me to pour my life into for the next few years. I am also asking the Lord to bring faithful men and women for us to pour our lives into. We believe there are many faithful people that are looking for someone to help them fulfill the calling on their life. They are looking for someone to pour into them, and raise them up. Do you have someone whose life is being poured out for your benefit? Do you have someone pouring into your life? Are you pouring your life into faithful men and women that God has brought into your life? Ask God to show you who you are to pour your life into.

Created To Be Connected

Recently, Karen was meeting with another woman, and she told Karen why she and her husband had recently left their church. She said that she had tried to connect with a number of different ladies, but had never been able to connect. People always had excuses for why they couldn’t meet.

In Genesis, God said that it was not good for man to be alone. God intended us to have relationships with one another. He intends for us to be connected to one another. This week, at the Connection Church, we are continuing our study of Genesis, and will be looking at being connected relationally. 

Connecting # 1 – Through the Gospel

Three weeks ago I was returning from South America, and on the last leg of my flight home, the Lord gave me a divine appointment. After a little small talk, the lady next to me shared three different dreams that she recently had. In the first dream, she saw Jesus from a distance being crucified. In the second dream, she was much closer to the crucifixion. In the third dream, she was at the foot of the cross, and she could see the stakes in Jesus that were holding him to the cross. She asked me if I knew what the dreams meant. I told her that all three dreams were one and the same. God is drawing you to the cross. I explained to her that our sins had separated us from God and that He sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for our sins. I took her to Romans 10 and shared the rest of the gospel with her.

Afterwards, I told her that it was important for her to get connected to a local church, where she could get fed, cared for, and grow in her relationship with God. I told her it was important to get connected to other believers. Since she lives in Santa Fe, I gave her the name of a church in Santa Fe, the pastor’s name, and his contact information.

At the Connection Church, this is what we do, we help people get connected to God, and to people. Jesus said the greatest commandment was to love God with all our hearts, and the second is to love our neighbor.

Connecting # 2 (Relationally)

I was in South America again this week. Yesterday, on my flight from Miami to Houston, I had the privilege of sitting next to a commercial airline pilot. Since I have used a number of airline illustrations in messages over the past seven years, we had lots of common ground. In fact, I did a ten-week message series on Ministry, and I used a Check List from the Embraer 175, which my brother in law, Scot, who is a pilot for American Eagle, had sent me.  This was a plane that this pilot was very familiar with and had flown extensively.

After establishing some rapport, he opened up about his struggling marriage. I was able to share some marriage principles with him. I exhorted him to begin pursuing his wife and rekindling the passion. I exhorted him to go on dates, and do fun things together. I exhorted him to let his wife know how much he loved her, and to make her know that she is his priority. I exhorted him to pray over his wife and to begin to lead her spiritually.

At Connection Church, this is what we do. We help husbands and wives reconnect. We help families reconnect. We help people connect with God and with one another. We are committed to helping people passionately love God, and to fervently love one another. Because we live in a broken world with disconnected relationships, God has given all of us this vitally important ministry of reconciliation.