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Discerning the leading of God’s Spirit, together.
The heart of pursuing the mission of God is the conviction that God is always at work, bringing his kingdom and purposes to bear, building a trustworthy world. God is always at work redeeming and transforming the world; God is always at work gathering people together to become partners in that endeavour.
As God’s people, we have a unique part to play. Jesus said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” This includes where we live today. The Holy Spirit gives us the power to recognize what God is doing here and now. Then it also gives you the power to point God’s activity out to others so they can join in as well.
In John’s Gospel, when Nicodemus came to Jesus, he said “Rabbi, we know that you are a Teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do apart from the presence of God.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the Kingdom of God without being born from above.” Jesus is pointing out that even recognizing God at work comes through the power of the Holy Spirit (being born from above.) That means we need to take the practice of discernment into daily life; Not merely as a method for spiritual decision making but as a way of life attentive to the movement of God. The role of the Local Church is to recognise this Divine activity in us, around us and through us, but also in our partners and local communities. Then we also can Announce God’s Kingdom by pointing out to others and to one another where it is happening.
Whilst we may have a sense of the big picture of how God desires to bring his kingdom to the whole world, the way God is working his purposes out varies from place to place and people to people. Thus, the role of discernment is to discover how God is working particularly in our here and now.
Working this out is learned through a process, a practice of action and reflection.
This is what we want to do on the 14th March, Tuesday evening in Church 7:30 for an 8pm Start, turning, as a community, toward discerning what God is doing among us.
As we explore what God is doing amongst us, we will be moved to share our hopes. We trust that God is already at work planting the dreams in the hearts of our congregation. It is the stirrings of the Spirit and needs to be discerned as such.
We will notice together where the energies are, where the heart and energy, passion and enthusiasm are bubbling amongst us. This too is a sign of the Spirit’s leading.
Thirdly we will notice places where we see God’s activity amongst us. As we explore these things we will become “detectives of divinity”. We will want to recognize those endeavours that are making a positive difference and build on them or learn from them.
Discerning in this way helps us to develop something of a map of what God is already doing. A primary theological assumption embedded in this approach is the expectation that God is already working to bring God’s plans and purposes to bear. It is not our job to devise and then engineer a solution on behalf of God. Jesus announced the approach of the Kingdom of God; He did not call people to come build it for Him. When John the Baptist asked if Jesus was indeed the One to come, Jesus pointed out the things He was already doing as signs of what was to come. So, this then is why we are looking for places where God is already working by reflecting, exploring, and sharing together.
When we recognize where God’s Kingdom is coming near, we will want to point it out and bless it. Name it as a sign of God’s presence and activity. This will bless and encourage the people involved as well as inspire one another.
In all these ways, we are Becoming Detectives of Divinity… as we ask the question “Where do you see God already working or trying to ‘break in’?
When we talk of spiritual discernment as a practice we are inviting our congregation to develop a way of life that is attentive to the movement of the Spirit amongst us and in the world around. We believe God is active and moving whether we see it or not. God is present and working for good at all times and in all circumstances: even on a Cross. This conviction gives rise to a habit of asking what God is doing. When we recognize the movement of God we can reﬂect on our own actions, asking how we have hindered that movement, cooperated with God or need to adjust our life and ministry. The question is not ﬁrst “what ought we do?” It is, “What is God doing/up to?” and then “How shall we get in step with the Spirit?”
Most importantly it encourages the congregation as a whole because we sense that God is alive and active among us. The energy of a church’s life comes from the growing conviction that God is alive and active among them. When that energy ﬂows people recognize and respond to the movement of the Spirit and lives are changed. It is the cultivating of the practice of Spiritual Discernment that fosters such a climate.
Come join us on the 14th March, Tuesday evening in Church 7:30 for an 8pm Start, to do exactly this.