The joy of giving

Change of climate

I have just arrived home from a very exciting World Watch conference in Cardiff, Wales. We have had inspiring reports from many parts of the world of what God is doing. But to me the welcome session and concluding session by my longstanding friend Keri Jones, who is also an outstanding apostle of Jesus Christ, were the most important. His words inspired me to write this entry on my blog. I trust God will use these words to stir you in your spirit and provoke you to creative acts of love!

The whole world is speaking of the change of climate that is taking place before our eyes. We may differ on how much of the change is caused by humans or the sun or other natural forces out of human control, but we are all aware of that a change is taking place. The future of this earth depends on the change of climate. Some of the scenarios we are presented with by some scientists are not very encouraging, but some other scenarios are not that bad. However we are all dependent on the climate.

The climate is vital for growth and development. The climate is very important for the entire life on this earth. This is a fact that we all know. But a change is taking place and we don’t fully know what the future will bring.

But there is another climate change taking place in the world today. There is also a spiritual climate that is undergoing a thorough change that eventually will affect the entire world. When I look back to the spiritual climate dominating the time of my youth and compare it with today, I realize that I have witnessed a vast change. In fact, as a young believer I would not have believed that this change that has taken place could be possible. But I am a witness to a great transformation of the spiritual climate in the world caused by an unprecedented   outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

In the present time there is a new change of the spiritual climate taking place. I am so excited to be alive, not only to witness this change take place, but to actively take part in the change myself. During the years I have walked with God, from 1957 onwards, God has taken me through many life changing encounters with the Holy Spirit. I sense I am in the midst of a new move of the Spirit to change the face of the earth as the Psalmist is saying is happening when the Spirit is poured out (Ps 104:30). The Spirit is creating a climate that causes life to spring forth for the whole world to bloom and blossom. The Spirit renews the face of the earth.

But let us bring it down to earth. Let us see what it means in our lives. As there is a spiritual climate in the world, there is also a spiritual climate in every nation, city and village. In fact, there is a climate in every church and in every gathering of people. The fact is that each and every one of us is carrying a climate with us. By our attitudes and behaviour we are bringing an atmosphere with us. We are all contributing to the spiritual climate in our churches and gatherings.

Some churches have a climate of love, joy, freedom and grace. Other churches have a climate of legalism, heavy authority, restrictions, rules and set forms of doing things. Some churches are growing because their climate releases life, growth, progress, development and positive changes. Some churches are not growing but decreasing in numbers because of the bad climate of legalism or heavy authority.

The Bible is saying that the Spirit is life and freedom. The letter of the Word kills, but the Spirit gives life. Even spiritual life principles can be thwarted into rules killing our spirit. Legalism and heavy authority always bring condemnation and restriction. The Spirit of God produces and fosters righteous and joyful living. Focusing on the letter of laws and regulations bring people into bondage, but the Spirit liberates people, bringing emancipation from bondage. Legalism creates a stifled life and religion, but the Spirit of God brings complete freedom.

When God is a living, personal presence among us and not a book with a set of rules, his Spirit will bring a climate of liberty, joy and love. In this climate of the personal presence of the living Spirit people’s faces will shine with the brightness of his face, and they will gradually become brighter, freer, and more beautiful as God enters their lives.

We need to take a good look at the climate we are in, asking the Holy Spirit to show us the true situation.  We need to dare to ask the question if what we are in is producing life. If the climate we are in, does not promotes growth, development and freedom, we need to change the climate by the help of the grace of God.

Every human being has the natural tendency of being legalistic. Legalism is the child of the flesh, the natural man. This tendency in natural man will turn the life principles of the Bible into restricting rules and regulations. This legalistic tendency will turn the God given structures of leadership into harsh authority and subduing hierarchies.

We can counteract this natural tendency towards legalism by a God-centred life in the Holy Spirit. We must help people to take their attention away from themselves and other people to focus on Jesus Christ and his liberating message. The key to achieve what God wants and to see his purpose being accomplished is to empower people.

Jesus Christ came to set people free from all kinds of human bondages. In the climate of the Spirit we will allow people to live a free life. We have been called to freedom and must not allow any bondage to be put on the people of God. We are called to be liberators of people. We are called to bring the good and liberating news of the Kingdom of God to the people. The Spirit enables people to be creative and full of initiatives. We must not allow anything to dampen that creative freedom of the Spirit among the people of God.

In some churches there is a climate of fear or mistrust. Therefore every initiative must be checked with the Pastor or be approved by the collective board of elders. In the meetings all the expressions of gifts of the Spirit must be tested and approved before the people are allowed to bring it in the gathering. That practice need to stop. We must learn to obey the Spirit only. The Bible is saying that we must not become the slaves of men, but only be the slaves of Jesus Christ. It is time for the people of God to mature, to be able to hear from God, act in obedience to him, and live in the holy freedom of the Spirit.

Leaders need to trust God to trust people and encourage them to listen to the Spirit, follow him and bring whatever he gives them. The Church belongs to God. The people belong to God. The task of leaders is to equip and empower people. The Kingdom of God is taken away from the legalistic people and given to those who have faith. When the Kingdom of God is among us we will rid ourselves from everything legalistic and abandon every structure that is hindering the free expression of life of the Spirit among us.

There is a grand change of the spiritual climate taken place in the world in our time. The Spirit of God is being poured out upon all people all over the world, as the prophets said it would be. This move of the Spirit is bringing a new identity to the people of God. The Spirit of God takes the believers out of sin-consciousness to a righteousness-consciousness. The people of God are throwing of the old identity as a sinner and replace it with a new identity in Christ as a saint and a new creation.

The move of the Spirit is removing the old notions of clergy and laity, ministries and believers, master and disciple, bringing to focus the priesthood of all the people of God. Thus the Spirit is bringing a liberating kind of empowerment that supersedes the old restrictions of limited delegated authority. The gifts of the Spirit belong to the Spirit who freely distributes them to whoever he wants. Under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, there are no human limitations, only the supernatural gifts and abilities leading to creative freedom in serving God and our neighbour.

The spiritual climate change that is taking place removes blame-shifting as the Spirit is making each and every one responsible to hear and obey his voice. There is a new sense of responsibility rising among the people of God today, and a new ownership mentality causing people to work side by side. Freedom always brings responsibility and blaming others for our situation is no longer an option. The responsible freedom of the Spirit liberates people from their past and the false burdens of legalism, restrictive rules and customs. The freedom of the Spirit is not license or disorder, but is peace and harmony in the midst of a great variety of expression of the grace of God.

The Spirit is bringing a new focus on the gospel of the Kingdom of God in these days, taking us beyond personal forgiveness of our sins and the assurance that heaven waits. The old climate of escapism is giving away to a climate of changing the world by the power and grace of God. It is a climate of expectation and not of despair. God wants us to be agents of the Kingdom bringing heaven to earth. He wants us to be partners with him in creating a climate for miracles to happen every day to meet the need of the hurting people in this fallen world.

There is a huge change of climate taking place for the good among the people of God these days. The Holy Spirit is the agent of change and of creating life. The Spirit gives life! He brings the climate of joy, love, freedom, healing, forgiveness, acceptance and reconciliation. Today he is challenging us to take a radical look at the climate of our churches and small groups to see if it measure up to his climate of life and growth. He is challenging us to take responsibility, to listen to his voice and to obey the promptings of the Spirit to be those who create a climate for miracles to take place.

Live free! Take initiative! Trust the Holy Spirit! Listen to his voice and obey him! Be a climate changer!