Supernatural Power for Everyday People: Experiencing God?s Extraordinary Spirit in Your Ordinary Life

Supernatural Power for Everyday People: Experiencing God?s Extraordinary Spirit in Your Ordinary Life

by Jared C. Wilson

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780718097509
Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date: 01/23/2018
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 816,761
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Jared C. Wilson is the director of content strategy at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri, and managing editor of the seminary's website for gospel-centered resources, For the Church. He is a popular author and conference speaker, and also blogs regularly at the Gospel Coalition. His books include Your Jesus Is Too Safe, Gospel Wakefulness, The Story of Everything, Unparalleled, and The Imperfect Disciple.

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CHAPTER 1

THE PROBLEM WITH YOUR INNER LIFE

Experiencing the Spirit's Conviction

Apart from God's power, there is no Christian life. This crucial truth makes the phrase "Christian life in the power of the Spirit" essentially redundant. The Holy Spirit causes the process that Jesus referred to as "being born again," and the Holy Spirit seals those who are born again to ensure they stand blameless before God at the end of their days, and the Holy Spirit sustains those who are born again every millisecond between those two moments. Because of this, if a person lived apart from the power of the Holy Spirit, he would not be a Christian — in fact, he could not even be said to be spiritually alive at all!

But many of us — Christians included — don't think of God's power this way. We experience an especially powerful church service and say things like, "God showed up!" We muddle through an extended period of spiritual drought and say, "God is hiding from me" or "God is giving me the silent treatment right now." We read in some books or hear in some sermons that God really wants to bless us in some exceptional way if we would only "let" him. All of these ways of thinking betray a fundamental misunderstanding of God's real presence in our daily lives.

We need to understand that when our life feels lacking in power, it's not because we haven't actualized our innate potential. In fact, that's the problem! When our life is lacking in power, it's typically because we are working in our own strength too much!

Similarly, when our life is lacking vision and we feel confused and bored, it's not because we are missing out on the power of positive thinking — it's precisely because we are leaning on our own understanding.

When Christians live sluggish Christian lives, it's not because they don't have enough of God but because they have too much of themselves. Because, in actuality, it is impossible for any true Christian not to have enough God.

If you are a Christian — that is, if you are someone who has repented of your sins and placed your faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation — God's presence in your life is guaranteed. His love is always over you, his Son in heaven is always interceding for you, and his Spirit has taken up residence in your soul to give you the power required for every need you have.

This is God's honest truth.

And yet too many of us live weak, pitiful Christian lives. We constantly feel spiritually dry, theologically confused, and religiously weary. Is there any hope for us?

It's not as if we aren't looking for answers. It's just that we too often look for these answers in the wrong places. Or, alternatively, when we incline our ear to reliable sources of truth, we misunderstand what they're saying. The first mistake we make is looking inside ourselves for the help we need. We won't find the solution in the place where the problem is.

If we want to participate in the truly supernatural life in this earthly world, we have to stop looking for earthly solutions to our problems.

The First Step Is Realizing You Don't Have What It Takes

Once upon a time, my friend Ray and I each planted a church. We planted our churches in the same year in the same place. In fact, the church I planted met on Sunday evenings in Ray's church building. On some Sunday mornings, some folks from my church would attend Ray's church. We really enjoyed Ray's preaching, and we wanted to be the kind of encouragement to his church plant that they had been to us.

My church plant was attended almost exclusively by young people. My wife and I were probably the oldest people in the church. Ray's church plant was attended almost exclusively by old people. When we attended Ray's church services, we brought their average age down quite a bit!

I remember going to some of those early church services and feeling sorry for Ray. He's such a great preacher, I thought. He really deserves to have more than a handful of blue-haired old ladies in his church.

Now, I have nothing against blue-haired old ladies. In fact, having since pastored a church with a vibrant contingent of old folks in it, I can attest to the fact that blue-haired old ladies are often the sweetest, most encouraging people you can have in a church! But my vision was dull. I was leaning on my own understanding. I was looking at Ray's church and wondering how in the world it was going to "work." I mean, there's a reason nobody in the missional world is planting Blue-Haired Old Lady Community Church in your local neighborhood!

Well, I have to tell you that my church plant doesn't exist anymore. We regrettably had to close its doors when God called my wife and me to a ministry in another state.

Ray's church? Well, I happened to be back in town on the Sunday they were celebrating their fifth anniversary. The place was full. All the blue-haired old ladies were still there. In fact, aside from a couple of folks who had passed away, all the founding members were still there. But they had also seen hundreds of other believers of every generation and multiple races join their ranks. I don't know if I've ever been happier to feel like an idiot.

I remember Ray sharing these words with the congregation on that anniversary morning: "God's been very gracious to us. People ask me how this church has grown. I think we've seen such sweet growth because none of us showed up five years ago with big ideas and visionary plans. We were all weak. Some of us were hurt. Some of us were confused. But we all came here broken. And the Lord can use that."

The apostle Paul spoke of this dynamic this way:

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Cor. 12:9–10).

These important truths follow Paul's sharing of one of the greatest pains of his life. He had a "thorn in the flesh" that had been afflicting him constantly, and he had pleaded with God to take it away. We don't know exactly what this thorn was, but it appears to have been a kind of spiritual oppression that caused him extreme physical and psychological discomfort. These are not the kinds of feelings we typically equate with a victorious Christian life! And yet for Paul this pain was the entryway to experiencing God's power, because it was precisely this pain that kept him at the end of himself and totally reliant on the Holy Spirit.

Even without being able to articulate it, this is what Bill was tapping into in that Sunday school class. He was finally able to confess his utter confusion — his weakness — and this admission prompted his calling out to God for help. This is certainly the reality that Ray was acknowledging in his church planter testimony.

I love that Ray's church has even adopted this reality as their official "mantra," which goes like this: "I'm a complete idiot. My future's incredibly bright. Anyone can get in on this."

So, yes, contrary to the teaching of so many self-help gurus and religious motivational speakers, the key to empowered living is acknowledging that we don't have what it takes. The key to living a victorious Christian life is first understanding that we are losers. Our inner human potential is only a mediocre help compared to what we truly need. And we possess no innate virtue that can bring us lasting joy, peace, and hope. Our innate nature in fact is sinful and deceitful.

This is why the things we so often do to compensate for our experience of weakness only exacerbate it.

The Failure of Our Compartmentalized Lives

One of Bill's problems is that he mistakes the behavioral tidiness and normalcy of his routine for spiritual tidiness and normalcy. But he has fallen into the trap that is all too common in our modern lives. He has compartmentalized his spirituality.

What I mean is, Bill has begun to think of his spirituality as just one aspect of his life, perhaps referred to as his Religious Self. Monday through Friday Bill is living the life of his Vocational Self (what many of us think of simply as our Normal Self). On Saturday, then, he lives the life of his Recreational Self. When Sunday comes, it's time for Bill to become his Religious Self.

The Vocational Self goes to work, eats meals, pays bills, and does the regular mundane tasks thought necessary to well-adjusted adulthood. The Recreational Self is how we compensate for the stress of spending time as our Vocational Self — the reward we give ourselves for paying the dues of our Vocational Self. Then we become our Religious Self on the days or in the moments when we feel especially needful of a higher power or simply when we feel the need to access our "spirituality."

Each version of ourselves resides in its own neat compartment, stays in its own lane. It's rare for us to access multiple versions of ourselves at the same moment. It's as if we think of our inner life as a boardroom table occupied by multiple employees — directors, if you will, of our multiple responsibilities or interests. Around the table we divvy up workloads and time commitments to our Normal Self, our Recreational Self, our Religious Self. We may even have slots assigned to Family and Friends and Education. Our system feels very coherent and cohesive. But in fact, it is quite disjointed and divided.

I knew that someone in my church was trying to live a compartmentalized life when she would say things like, "I just don't have much time for God these days." Or when he'd say theologically confused things like, "I guess I just need to trust in my faith more" (which is basically like saying, "I need to have trust in my trust").

You know that someone is living a compartmentalized life when their social media bio includes a Bible verse but their photos display them unashamedly engaged in all kinds of things the Bible forbids or warns against. I have been utterly confused to see friends or fellow churchgoers posting sexually suggestive photos, images of themselves binge drinking, or graphics featuring quotes full of profanity or perversity, and right there in their profiles sits Jeremiah 29:11 or Philippians 4:13. I had to "unfollow" one young lady who attended my church because she had the inexplicable habit of posting sexy selfies of herself with Bible verses or inspirational Christian quotes in the captions. This is just one real-life example of what the Bible calls being "double-minded" (James 1:8; 4:8).

The man secretly indulging in his porn addiction while constantly complaining about gay marriage is living a compartmentalized life. The woman who neglects her kids to spend hours and hours on the Internet blogging about how to be a better mom is living a compartmentalized life. The pastor who preaches against drunkenness and lack of self-control on Sundays then goes home and eats like a glutton the rest of the week and engages in arguments on social media is living a compartmentalized life.

The "power problem" with this way of living should be somewhat obvious. If we assign God and his Word a portion of our lives, we are at the same time seeking to detach the other portions from his sovereign power. This is what the Bible calls "quenching the Spirit."

The compartmentalized approach promises to make our lives easier, more manageable. But anytime we try to make areas of our lives off-limits to God's authority or to the Holy Spirit's prompting, we find the rest of our lives given to greater and greater messiness.

The most significant practical issue with compartmentalized living is that our Religious Self inevitably becomes our smallest self. Many Christians say they believe in the God of the universe and have trusted in the Son of God as their Lord and Savior but then spend the bulk of their lives obeying other lords and trusting other saviors.

When we relegate our intentionality with God to a minute fraction of our time, it's no wonder we feel distant from him during the times we happen to be thinking about him and lack power during all the other times. Whatever we focus most of our conscious time on will invariably dominate the way we think and feel.

That Nagging Sense of Emptiness Is a Gift

We should probably stop picking on poor old Bill, but we need to help him see that his life revolves around his own agenda, his own needs, his own wants. It's not good that his spiritual life is compartmentalized, fit into the larger order of his "normal" lifestyle. Bill has arranged things to be as convenient as possible, and even when he has the inclination to "do hard things," he is usually too tired to do them. Bill is not often faced with the opportunity to serve or help others because he rarely makes time to interact with others in substantive ways. It is hard for him to be generous with others because he is generally generous with himself and thinks of others as window dressing in his life. And over time just doing the regular, ordinary, mundane, "easy" things of life seems to take more and more out of Bill because he has cordoned them off from his only hope for minute-by-minute power.

Every message Bill takes in only reinforces his problem as it promises to alleviate it. His environment and its "gospel" keep sending him further into himself, which is where all his issues began in the first place.

This is not the way God has designed life to be lived.

So what's the answer? What is poor old Bill to do?

The first thing he ought to do is recognize that this sense of longing, this nagging sense of emptiness, is itself a gift! It is, in fact, something God is doing. God is speaking to him. He has led Bill right into his own Ecclesiastes, where he will realize, as King Solomon did, that all the comings and goings and doings and earnings can never satisfy the eternity in his heart (Eccl. 3:11).

This realization of dissatisfaction is a severe mercy from God himself. It is a mercy because the worst thing that might happen to us is to be completely content and happy apart from experiencing the power of God. No, this nagging sense of dissatisfaction is a gift of the Spirit, a form in fact of the Spirit's conviction of us over our sin. We all ought to beg the Spirit to make us dissatisfied when we are distracted from God and neglecting our worship of him.

In fact, anytime any human being is dealing with utter emptiness and lack of fulfillment in life, it is the result of the God-embedded message inside that the person needs God. The Holy Spirit who separates order from chaos is warning that person about life apart from his power.

And when we listen, that is the Spirit's power working too.

Bill is listening. And so it's time for Bill to head to the boardroom of his interior life and fire all those other directors. He needs to give every employee a pink slip. He needs to let them know that their services are no longer required. Then he needs to go out into the office space of his life and knock down all the cubicle walls with extreme prejudice. He needs to vanquish the compartments of his inner life. He has experienced the Spirit's conviction, which has primed him to experience the Spirit's power.

Maybe you need to follow Bill's lead. Maybe you need to wave the white flag. While submitting to the Spirit's conviction may seem to promise less control, less security, it is instead the way to maximize the power available to every square inch of your life. You will now be surrendering the eight-lane highway of your life to the free rein of the Spirit of the living God. His joy will now spill over into every compartment. And when you expose more and more of your inner life to the otherworldly message of God, his power will spill over into your outer life too.

This power is what Jesus Christ has promised you.

CHAPTER 2

THE PROMISE OF MYSTERIOUS POWER

Experiencing the Spirit's Presence

Do you ever wonder why we don't see the kinds of miracles today that we see in the Bible? I'm sure this thought has occurred to you at least once or twice. Maybe you don't think too much about it, but it's a question that has come up frequently in my own life.

When I was a child hearing all the fantastic things taking place in the Bible stories — fire falling from heaven, water turning to blood, paralyzed men walking — I always wondered why God didn't seem to do those same things today. My favorite miracle story when I was a child was Jesus' feeding of the five thousand. We were always told that the boy brought to Jesus in John 6 with his little bit of bread and fish had been the only one sent to hear Jesus with a lunch box in hand, packed by his thoughtful mom. Clearly, mom-centered propaganda! But I always found that story staggering. I wondered how Jesus did it. How did he take a fish sandwich (basically) and turn it into a meal for five thousand people, with baskets of leftovers? Yes, by his power. But what did he physically do? Did he keep pulling food out of a never-emptying basket? Did he just keep tearing morsels off of never-diminishing bread and fish? I was fascinated. And it made me believe that miracles were always just around the corner.

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "Supernatural Power for Everyday People"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Jared C. Wilson.
Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents

Introduction xi

1 The Problem with Your Inner Life 1

Experiencing the Spirit's Conviction

2 The Promise of Mysterious Power 11

Experiencing the Spirit's Presence

3 Pressing "Reset" Every Day 36

Experiencing the Spirit's Guidance

4 Engaging the Divine Dialogue 54

Experiencing the Spirit's Voice

5 The Spiritual Power of Prayer 80

Experiencing the Spirit's Strength

6 The Blessing of Going Without 97

Experiencing the Spirit's Filling

7 Breaking free from the Drama 120

Experiencing the Spirit's Counsel

8 Holding on to Hope When the Days are Dark 149

Experiencing the Spirit's Comfort

9 Finding the Energy to go the Distance 168

Experiencing the Spirit's Gifts

10 The Powerful Promises of GOD 185

Experiencing the Spirit's Baptism

Recommended Reading 197

Acknowledgments 199

About the Author 201

Notes 203

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Supernatural Power for Everyday People: Experiencing God?s Extraordinary Spirit in Your Ordinary Life 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
joyful334209 More than 1 year ago
Supernatural Power For Everday People Is such a wise book. I would even say an authority on just what it says, getting everyone to find the Supernatural Power for everyday people. It is amazing how He kind of - forgive me y'all -dumbs it down - I Appreciated it - and it touched me to my soul where I needed it. I found myself crying because I found I needed it, and so will you. I received a copy of this book from the Publisher and Netgalley; all of the opinions expressed in this review are all my own. if you would like to read more of my Christian book reviews go to christianlybookreviewers.blogspot.com