The Life of a Man or Woman of God

What makes a man or woman of God? What makes the life of a man or woman of God different? It is the presence of the Holy Spirit and His leading in our lives that sets us apart.

The Book of Acts describes how Peter is called to preach the Gospel to the devout gentile household of Cornelius.  After a divine visitation to both Cornelius and Peter, Peter arrives and “opens his mouth.”

This was the first time in history when Christians reach out to Gentiles.  So this was a time when every word counts. 

Peter describes the Gospel as follows:

God was with Peter too.  Peter was on the rooftop “in the Spirit” when God told him to go to the Gentile Cornelius’ house and preach the Gospel.  That meant Peter had been communing with Jesus in prayer.  Imagine praying to Jesus in heaven when you had walked with Him as a man on earth. 

Note that Peter, after communing with Jesus, was “in the Spirit.”  Remember, when Jesus rose from the dead He told His disciples to wait in Jerusalem until He sent the Spirit.  He had said the purpose of the church is to spread the Gospel and make disciples of all men, but He would not let them start that project until He sent them His Spirit. 

In fact, in this verse we see Jesus Himself was anointed with the Spirit.  Jesus was God, but in His example of being a man in ministry He did not try to minister without first depending on the Holy Spirit.  Just like Peter–who had known Jesus as a man on earth–communed with heavenly Jesus, so Jesus–Who had always been with the Father in heaven–communed with His Father from the earth.  

“For God was with Him.”  Isn’t that an amazing thing . . . if we will be with God, God will be with us!  (James 4:8) Communing with God brings heavenly influence down here to the nitty gritty life of earth. When we are walking in the Spirit, God is with us and we can go about doing good that has eternal effect.

If Jesus and the Apostles had to commune with God in order to walk in the Spirit, so should we.  And don’t think that they were special and were able to walk in the Spirit in ways normal people like you and I cannot do.  Jesus sent His Spirit to the whole church!  He is there–waiting–for any one of us to wait upon Him.

It’s not a simple matter of spiritual disciplines.  Many people go through those without communing with God.  Many set time aside only to talk to God and never stop to listen.  The Holy Spirit is waiting to speak to us if we will just listen.  James told us to be slow to speak and quick to hear.  That applies with God too.    Jesus often said: “He who has an ear to hear, let him hear.”  Do you have the type of ear that is ready to hear from God?

Often, when we are being led of the Spirit, God will tell us to do things differently than we would have imagined.  Here, God was telling Peter to preach to the Gentiles and Peter resisted preaching to them.  Once the Apostle Paul wanted to preach the Gospel to some people but the Holy Spirit told him not to.  How many of us are open to God leading us to the point that we would hear God telling us not to do some great thing we had planned to do for Him?

I am surprised Peter described Jesus’ ministry as “going about and doing good.”  I would have thought “preaching the Kingdom of God” would have been more likely to make the short list.  After all, the healings He did affected only that person, whereas His preaching, recounted in the Gospels, continues to affect millions today.  For us to imitate Jesus’ ministry, doing good does not seem to be the right focus.  The social gospel is a natural consequence of such a focus.   Besides, as Jesus said, “Why do you call me good?  No man is good, only God.”

Hidden in Peter’s description, however, is the fact that the life of a man or woman of God is pure.  Doing good is the antidote for the problem of hypocrisy, which defeats the message.  Only when the motive of the minister is love and his or her life is pure can their message be credible.  So the message was still central.  As James said, “I will show you my faith by my works.”  Jesus’ good works demonstrated His faith.

The good Jesus did is not humanistic.  It is the kind of good that can only be done when God is with you.  It is only such Good as the Father leads you to do.  Jesus said “I do only those things I see the Father doing.”  (John 5:19)  Unless God is with us as we minister, we cannot set anybody free.

Note also that doing good meant meeting people where they are.  Because of God’s leading, Jesus was in touch with exactly what the Father was doing in each individual He met.  Whenever Jesus ministered to someone, He always saw into the soul of the person and spoke truth to them that homed in on what God was saying to that person, not what came to His own mind.  And in healing the brokenhearted He touched exactly that core place of wounding with exactly the right words because God knew the exact contours of that wound.  Only the good that comes from the Father’s leading will accomplish anything truly good in people’s lives and leave a lasting memory in those who witness it.

All these things and more are packed into Peter’s simple summary of Jesus’ ministry. 

If people had just a few words to capture the essence of your life or ministry, how would they describe it?  What principles would be tightly packed into their description? 

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