by Kenny Rader
I hope you read last month’s article, WOW!!! I introduced the view that to reach today's culture we need a certain amount of WOW to our approach and service. Jesus gave us the perfect example. He not only wowed His audience and followers with miracles, but He also lived and taught with excellence. Jesus lived what He taught. He never asked for anything from his followers that He didn't do Himself. He wowed his audience in every way.
We applied Jesus’ wow factor to us here at RCC. We asked the question, “Are we supplying people with the WOW factor?" Are we doing things with excellence that reaches this culture?
I would like to follow up last month’s article with a similar, yet different thought, thus, WOW!!! 2.
This month, let’s look at the other WOW. Jesus ministered with a spiritual WOW, but what do we mean by spiritual WOW? Well, the spiritual WOW is not what people see . . . yet they do see it. Or maybe they actually see the results of the spiritual WOW. While we can’t see the spiritual WOW, we know when we have it. The sad thing, however, is that we don’t know when we don’t have it. Let me explain.
When we look at the creation, we view it with amazement as to how God brought about all the essentials of the earth, to not only give us beauty but to also (and more importantly) sustain life. After He created the plants and trees; after He created fish, birds, and land animals; He then created man and woman, and the Bible goes into more detail at that point.
26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” 27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. - Genesis 1:26-27 (NIV) italics added
Notice God's emphasis concerning all the special effort He put into the man and woman. God made them after His likeness, which means God made you and me in His likeness. He created us in a special way and made us unique. God created you and me to be like Him as His children.
7 Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. Genesis 2:7 (NIV) italics added
God brought Adam and Eve to life with His breath. God gave you and me His breath of life. Have you thought about that? We have the breath of God within us, meaning that every breath you and I take comes from God. It originates from God. God sustains our life by His very breath.
In the Old Testament, the LORD took Ezekiel to a valley of bones. In those days, warriors fought their battles in valleys and low areas that provided room to fight. The LORD took Ezekiel to one of those valleys where men had fought and died. The battle had ended long ago, and all that remained were the bones of the warriors: dry, lifeless bones.
The LORD told Ezekiel to prophesy to the bones.
4b ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! 5 This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. 6 I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’” - Ezekiel 37:4b-6 (NIV) italics added
After Ezekiel had carried out the LORD's command in telling the bones to come to life, they did. Breath entered them, and they stood up alive.
God used this miracle to illustrate the deadness of Israel, but He would put His Spirit back in them, thus breathing life back into them. Specifically, after the captivity of Israel by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and later of Darius the Mede, God was going to restore Israel once again. God foretold of His breathing life back into their dead nation. The breath of God is life-giving.
After Jesus had risen from the dead, He appeared to His disciples, and they were overjoyed to see Him. John's Gospel gives us a compelling account of how Jesus breathed life on His disciples.
21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. - John 20:21-22 (NIV) italics added
Here we have another example of God/Jesus breathing life on/into people. In each of the three passages we examined (creation, dry bones, Jesus’ disciples), God breathed life into them. Finally, on the Day of Pentecost, God breathed His Holy Spirit into them. That Holy Spirit is the same Spirit that we, as Christians, have in us today.
Every living person has God’s sustaining breath of life. It came upon every one of us when we took our first breath as a newborn. That breath came from God. Each and every breath after that first one still comes from God. He is the Sustainer of our lives. E a c h breath is a gift from God. But when we became Christians, God gave us a much more fulfilling breath within us. That Breath is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God. The Holy Spirit is Jesus. The Holy Spirit is God within us. The Holy Spirit packs this second WOW that we are talking about.
Many people don’t seem to have this WOW in them. They are on artificial respiration. When people receive artificial respiration, they still receive life-sustaining oxygen, but only enough to lie there and barely stay alive. They are closer to death than life. This is what we mean by Christians on artificial respiration. While we are not taking their Christian faith from them, they don't actually appear to have the life-sustaining overabundance of God within them.
Artificial respiration, in this case, is God’s breath, but not God’s full life-giving breath that we can thrive in. It's the life we claim to live as followers of God, yet we are hardly alive. Spiritual artificial respiration is the weak Christian life that we mistake for real life in Jesus. It is a life without the WOW. It is a life that we are alive, but we are not thriving as God intends for us
We can thrive! All we have to do is breathe in! Take deep breaths and enjoy the breath of God. It's life on fire for God. What does this thrilling life look like? It’s a life of outreach. Let’s read Paul’s words.
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. - Philippians 4:3-4 (NIV)
Living real life with a spiritual WOW is a life that looks outward toward others. It means becoming outward focused. We look to the needs of others. We help our neighbors and those in the community. We come along side others and serve them, teach them, nurture them, and make them into disciples (RCC’s mission statement). It’s living life with a dance in our step. It’s living life by deeply breathing the life-giving breath of God. Do you want to see this congregation grow spiritually? Do you want to see us increase in numbers here at RCC? If you do not answer a resounding, "Yes" to both questions, you might want to examine yourself. Are you actually breathing deeply in the breath of God?
Let's all breathe deeply using God’s life-sustaining breath. Let’s do whatever it takes in the name of Jesus to grow spiritually and in numbers here at Rousculp. We can thrive! We can thrive here at RCC utilizing God's breath of life. Let’s live by the power of God’s WOW!!!
Love you & God Bless,