FROM HOPSCOTCHTO HOLINESSGROWING UP IN CHRISTMARGIE BURGER
TABLE OF CONTENTSIntroduction 4Chapter 1 Growing in grace 7Chapter 2 Growing in wisdom 19Chapter 3 Growing in favor with God and man 33Chapter 4 Growing in love and compassion 41Chapter 5 Growing in holiness 53Chapter 6 Growing in freedom and healing 65Chapter 7 Growing in supernatural ministry 79Chapter 8 Growing the church 93Other Resources 112
Aldersgate Renewal MinistriesThe UNITED METHODIST RENEWAL SERVICES FELLOWSHIP, Inc.Aldersgate Renewal Ministries (ARM) is a movement of Christianscommitted to equip the Body of Christ to minister to the world in thepower of the Holy Spirit. ARM’s passion is to educate through learningexperiences designed to equip individuals to pray, worship and share theirfaith, empowered by the Holy Spirit.ARM also seeks to strengthen thelocal church by providing a strategy of team-led renewal events tailoredto the spiritual needs of the congregation. ARM offers tools to help achurch establish a vibrant prayer, worship and faith-sharing life fueled bythe power of the Holy Spirit.ARM also provides ministry to ministers andleaders through unique events and experiences designed to renew andrefresh those who have committed their lives to serve in ministry.Established in 1977, ARM functions as a 501(c)3 non-profit corporationsustained by the grace of God through the gifts of individuals and churcheswho have caught the vision of ARMMinistering locally, nationally andinternationally, we invite you to become involved in what God is doingthrough Aldersgate Renewal Ministries..”Aldersgate Renewal Ministries121 East Avenue, Goodlettsville, TN 37072Phone: 615-851-9192 Fax: 615-851-9372Email: Info@AldersgateRenewal.orgAldersgateRenewal.orgScriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ®.Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used bypermission of Zondervan Publishing House.All rights reserved.Cover Design and Interior Production: Tyler Mattingly
4 From Hopscotch To HolinessIntroductionWhy hopscotch? Hopscotch is a wonderful children’s game.Children learn chalk drawing, counting, hopping dexterity and rulefollowing. Many of us are familiar with the rules and the fun of the gameof hopscotch. However, God recently began to paint a picture for me ofthe relationship between hopscotch and my personal spiritual journey.There seemed to be many lessons to be learned. This book is the resultof processing some of these areas of growth in my own life. I’ve grown inmy walk with Christ and my prayer is that you will as well.We know that when playing hopscotch you must throw your small stoneat a number on a grid and then hop on one foot following the pattern ofnumbers in the game. At the midway point, you turn around and returnto the starting place. Easy enough, right? The analogy to life becameclearer to me with some probing questions from the Lord. For example,“What are you aiming at when you pray? Did you hit the target? Areyou living a balanced life as you move through your day? Or are youonly hopping on one foot, wobbly and out of balance?” Sometimeswe’re growing spiritually and for whatever reason we turn around andmove in the opposite direction. “What causes you to turn around andretreat from your passionate pursuit of God? Where is your focus?” Onany given day, I would probably answer these questions differently. Butmaturity in Christ requires consistency. God is looking for perseverance
Introduction5rather than perfection in our daily walk with the Lord. Our heart shouldalways be intent on growing in Christ.The key verses that exemplify the scope of this resource are Ephesians4:14-16. “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth bythe waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and bythe cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead,speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect themature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the wholebody, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows andbuilds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” We will strive tobecome in every respect the mature body of Christ.As you study this book with others in the body of Christ, you will beconsistently challenged to grow up into the likeness of Christ. That meansto me, to look like Christ, to act like Christ, and to react like Christ. But thisresource is meant to be more than a Bible study. It will be a means foryou to share your own testimony of growing in Christ and to share yourhonest questions with others. To reap the benefits of this small groupexperience, you are challenged to read, pray, and worship together.The eight chapters in this resource are each designed to highlight an areaof growth in the believer’s life. You will be challenged and encouraged asyou study the many scriptures related to becoming like Christ. By God’sgrace you will come to a better understanding of the things that hinderyour growth and those things that spur you on to grow into the likenessof Christ. But beyond that you will be changed and transformed by thepower of the Holy Spirit. Prayerfully expect to encounter God.The adventure begins as you delve into the scriptures and participate inthe group discussions. The study deepens as you participate in prayerand worship activities together. But the real work of the Spirit begins as
6 From Hopscotch To Holinessyou commit yourself to continue to grow in the Spirit daily and allow theHoly Spirit to use you in ministry to the world.All references to rules of hopscotch were taken from Hopscotch Rules• ehow.com/how_2044144_play-hopscotch.html• askville.amazon.com/basicruleshopscotchAll definitions are adapted from Microsoft Word 2010 thesaurus anddictionary.
Chapter 1Growing In Grace
8 From Hopscotch To HolinessHopscotch Rules:How to win the game of hopscotch: Be the first to hop all theway through the grid.GRACE: a gift of God to humankind; in Christianity, the infinite love,mercy, favor and goodwill shown to humankind by God.Grace is a fundamental tenet of Christianity. Romans 3:23-24 states a keyunderstanding of our faith: “for all have sinned and fall short of the gloryof God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemptionthat came by Christ Jesus.” There is not another world religion likeChristianity that embraces the grace of God. Christianity teaches us thateverything we receive from God – salvation, provision, wisdom, the gift ofthe Holy Spirit, power to obey, forgiveness of sins etc. – is a result of God’sunmerited favor. We cannot earn grace; we do not deserve grace. ButGod freely gives us his grace out of his unconditional love for us. God’sgrace truly is amazing. 2 Peter 3:18 says: “But grow in the grace andknowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both nowand forever! Amen.” Why do we need to grow in grace? Good question.Grace must be received in order for us to walk in this truth. And that’sthe point at which we often need to grow. Especially in our self-centered,“I can do it myself” world, freely receiving salvation or any unmeritedfavor from the Lord often seems incongruous. After we receive Christ asour personal Savior, we still need to grow in many areas of our spirituallife. God freely gives us everything we need for life and godliness, but wemust learn how to receive each precious gift from the Lord. Many thingscan hinder our ability to receive God’s grace.
HINDRANCESGrowing In Grace9Many common hindrances derail us from experiencing God’s grace. Thefollowing descriptions will help you to find the healing necessary togrow in grace. Ask God to reveal and to heal any hindrances uncovered.Receive God’s grace to practice self-examination. Remember God’sconviction is not condemnation! Whatever the Lord reveals, he desiresto heal.Poor self-esteem is very prevalent in the body of Christ. Many people feelunworthy to receive God’s grace because of past trauma in their lives. Oftenthey have buried the reason for their feelings of guilt and shame rather thandealing with the need to find healing. Unconsciously, they say no to God’sgrace at just the point they need it most. Only God’s healing grace enablesus to know who we are in Christ. Grace and healing is the answer to this verycommon hindrance. Having our identity and destiny in Christ completelychanges our self-esteem. If you see yourself in this stronghold, as I have,understand that God only reveals the hindrance in order to bring healing.Press in, beloved, to know the overwhelming love of the Father.Self-centeredness hinders many people from experiencing God’s grace.For some people, their world revolves around themselves. Their ideas,their plans and desires are paramount. The self demands to be protected,satisfied, and in control. Perhaps unconsciously, they live in a worldcentered on their needs. The idea that God wants to be the center oftheir lives is irrelevant at best. Even after we become Christians, we canstill have strongholds of self-centeredness. When we receive Christ asour personal Savior, our spirits are made new in an instant. We are newcreations in Christ. Consider 2 Corinthians 5:17. “Therefore, if anyone isin Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”That is not true of our soul – our mind, our will and our emotions. The
10 From Hopscotch To Holinessprocess of healing of the soul is sanctification, as God changes us fromthe inside out to become more like Him. Consider 1 Thessalonians 5:23.“May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through.May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the comingof our Lord Jesus Christ.” God desires to replace our self-centerednesswith a God-conscious lifestyle. This transformation is the remedy forthis crippling hindrance. Simply recognizing and admitting your selfcenterednessis a good first step in finding healing.A stronghold of fear appears in many people as well. Fear hinders themfrom truly trusting the Lord with every aspect of their lives. Fear leads toworry, anxiety over circumstances, and much striving and stress. Wherefear lingers, grace cannot abound. Too many Christians are still operatingout of a mindset of fear. But there is a remedy. Praying for inner healing,the healing of memories, can often uproot long-standing fear. Make 1John 4:18 your prayer. “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drivesout fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears isnot made perfect in love.” Jesus is perfect love and he wants to perfecthis love in us. God’s healing presence drives out all fear. By the grace ofGod, you can say no to fear today.A spirit of religion is another common hindrance. Unfortunately, somereligious teaching focuses on works righteousness rather than freelyreceiving the grace of God. Many churched people have believed falseteaching about grace. The truth of Ephesians 2:8-9 is not their experience.“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is notfrom yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one canboast.” In addition, I suspect many who are disenfranchised from churchsuffer from this stronghold as well. Therefore they find themselves on anever-ending treadmill of working to find God’s approval, often throughconstant religious activity. Rest and receive are not strong concepts in
Growing In Grace11their vocabulary. They have replaced the delight of a personal relationshipwith Christ with the rules of religion. Because they often have a distortedimage of God the Father, they question the grace of God. A loving Godwho cherishes them completely, regardless of their performance, isforeign to their experience. But again, God always has a remedy. We canfind healing and freedom in Christ. If you see yourself, as I have, needinghealing from distorted images of God you must tear down the lies of theenemy systematically and replace them with the truth of Christ.GRACE FREELY RECEIVEDRegardless of the hindrances we may face, God’s grace is freely availableto each of us. Consider 1 Corinthians 2:12: “What we have received isnot the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we mayunderstand what God has freely given us.” Through the Holy Spirit we cancome to know this free gift of God. This understanding will never comefrom the world; it is imparted to us through the Spirit. This truth aboutgrace is amplified in John 1:17: “For the law was given through Moses;grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” Grace comes through JesusChrist! We no longer live under the law. Because of Jesus’ finished work onthe cross, we can freely receive God’s grace. As grace-given believers, we areempowered to give grace to others. That is our mandate from the Lord.GRACE FREELY GIVENWhat does receiving and giving grace look like in our daily lives? ConsiderMatthew 10:8: “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who haveleprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.” I’mthe first to admit this verse rocks my world. It is a directive from theLord concerning the supernatural ministry every believer should beinvolved in. It is a command wrapped up in God’s grace. Everything wehave received from the Lord, we should freely give to others. Beloved,
12 From Hopscotch To Holinessis that how you live your life? Those that have received freely from theLord should be the most grace-filled givers the world has ever seen.Since God’s grace is limitless, we have unlimited ways to reach out to ahurting, dying world with grace, compassion, love and power. Healingand deliverance are some of the important ways God’s grace manifeststhrough believers. Pause a moment and pray with me. Spirit of the livingGod, fill me and empower me. I want to be a vital witness of your loveand grace in my family, my church, and my community. Lead me by yourSpirit to opportunities to share with others. I commit myself to be fullysurrendered to your will and your way. Make me a conduit of your healingand deliverance ministry. Amen.Grace feely given to others also affects all our relationships with people.Have you noticed how important our attitudes are in building andmaintaining relationships with others? As grace-filled believers we willnot succumb to pride, judgmentalism, or criticism. But the reality is Ioften do just that. My pride can dismiss people before I even get to knowthem. My tendency to judge people can lead to snap decisions aboutthem without knowing any of the reasons behind their behavior. Mytendency to criticize rather than to love people unconditionally shows myneed to grow in grace.GRACE TO OBEYLiving a grace-filled life is a daily choice. It requires a daily surrender, acomplete abandoning of self, to Jesus Christ as Lord of our lives. One keyway to gauge our maturity in Christ is through our obedience. 1 John2:3-6 provides a key understanding of God’s grace to obey. “We knowthat we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoeversays, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and thetruth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for Godis truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him:
Growing In Grace13Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.” Living like Jesusdid can only happen when we are filled with God’s power and his graceto obey. We are powerless in our own strength to obey the Lord. But ifour hearts are actively seeking to obey the Lord, he will faithfully providethe opportunities to demonstrate his grace. Pause and pray once again.By your grace and according to your mercy, empower me, Lord, to beobedient to your will in my life. Come Holy Spirit, fill me that I may bepoured out to a hurting world. AmenGRACE FOR UNANSWERED QUESTIONSFrom my perspective, being obedient to God’s will in our life seems easiestwhen we understand God’s will for our future. Absolute, unreservedtrust in the Lord is an entirely different challenge. Perhaps that’s whyHabakkuk 3:17-18 is so meaningful to me. “Though the fig tree doesnot bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive cropfails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the penand no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in Godmy Savior.” Trusting God enough to rejoice in the Lord even when everycircumstance in our lives would scream otherwise is a choice the prophetunderstood. How do we live like that? We rely on the grace of God.There is grace for unanswered questions. Truthfully, we all have someunanswered questions. When God’s provision seems delayed, whenhis healing is not forthcoming, when relationships dissolve because ofsin or self-centeredness, we all have honest questions for the Lord. Heunderstands. That’s when we need to rely on God’s grace the most.God’s grace enables us to persevere with a heart of thanksgiving and praiseto God, perhaps especially when we do not understand God’s ways. Living alife saturated in God’s grace today gives us hope for tomorrow. Receiving andgiving grace becomes our daily experience. That’s how to live a Spirit-filled life.
14 From Hopscotch To HolinessWINNING AT HOPSCOTCH AND LIFEThere are rules for the game of hopscotch. In order to win the game,everyone must agree to the rules and understand how to win the game.The goal of the game of hopscotch is to be the first to hop all the waythrough the grid. The rules don’t leave any space for grace. The goal issimply to win.In our daily lives, we can also get so caught up in the world’s rules thatwe forget what our true goal as Christians is. Knowing your goal in lifehas real impact on your daily decisions. Have you thought recently aboutyour goal in life? So much of my spiritual life revolves around prayer. So,my first thoughts centered on evaluating my goals in prayer.What is your goal in prayer? That is not an idle question. How you defineprayer will dramatically affect your practice of prayer. Some peopledefine effective prayer by the results they attain. If they pray and receivethe results they desire, they feel affirmed in prayer. Perhaps you’veexperienced that mindset: “I prayed for healing, a new job, a change inmy marriage, etc. and God answered my prayer just as I desired.” I loveanswered prayer as much as anyone. But I choose not to define effectiveprayer in that light. In life, we win or lose by the choices we make. I chooseto define prayer as a relationship with God that grows and matures overtime. The practice of prayer, for me, emphasizes intimacy with God. Imake seeking God’s presence my ultimate goal. When I encounter God inprayer I am always changed and transformed. By God’s grace, I am dailybecoming more like Christ.What is your goal in life? That is a challenging question. I’d answer itthis way. I want to live a life that exemplifies Christ. I want to live likeChrist, love like Christ, and give sacrificially like Christ. I want to be anexample to others that leads them to Christ’s power for their own lives.
Growing In Grace15And ultimately, I want to spend eternity with my Lord and Savior. In otherwords, I want to live a grace-filled life that gives all glory to the Lord.Heavenly Father, we stand in need of a fresh outpouring of your grace.Amen
PERSONAL REFLECTION AND GROUP SHARING1. Discuss the hindrances to receiving God’s grace mentioned in thischapter. What other hindrances have you experienced in your faithjourney? How did you find healing and victory? Where do you needhealing today?2. Everything we have received from the Lord, we should freely giveto others. Beloved, is that how you live your life? Discuss ways youpersonally, or your church together, can better reflect God’s grace toothers. Recall strategies already in place to reach out to others andprayerfully consider other possibilities for growth.3. Discuss how the grace of God affects your relationships with others.4. What is your goal in life? Has it changed as your faith journeyhas matured? How has knowing your goal as a Christian shapedyour ministry?
ACTIVITIES FOR SMALL GROUPSGrowing In Grace171. Prepare a five minute testimony of your own experience of growingin grace. Perhaps it will begin with how you first accepted God’sgrace for yourself and how you’ve come to understand the need toconsistently live in grace. Be prepared to share this testimony withyour small group.2. Study the scriptures outlined in this chapter related to grace.Consider some further study on your own. Luke 2:40, Acts 4:33, Acts13:43, Romans 11:6, 1 Corinthians 15:10 and 2 Corinthians 12:9 areexcellent examples for further study on grace.3. Pray 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 for each other. “Three times I pleadedwith the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My graceis sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, sothat Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake,I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, indifficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Consider sharingwith your small group an area of weakness in your own life where youknow you need the grace of God. Then pray for God’s strength to bemade perfect in the face of your weakness.
18 From Hopscotch To Holiness
Chapter 2Growing InWisdom
20 From Hopscotch To HolinessHopscotch Rules:Instructions: Draw a hopscotch pattern on the ground or usemasking tape on a floor and number each square in order. Eachplayer has a marker such as a stone, shell, etc. There are avariety of grids to choose from.How to play hopscotch: Stand at the beginning and toss yourmarker in the first square. Hop over square 1 (you must skip anysquare that has a marker in it) to square 2.Hop to the end, jump and turn around 180° without leaving thegrid, and hop back.Pause in square 2 to pick up the marker, and hop out.Toss the marker in square 2, hop through the same way, thensquare 3 and so on.WISDOM: good sense; the ability to make sensible decisions andjudgments based on personal knowledge and experience.Hopscotch seemed like such an easy children’s game until I began toresearch all the rules. Maybe that is the way you first looked at theconcept of wisdom. When beginning the game of hopscotch, you mustfirst draw the pattern on the ground. So that’s where we’ll start our studyof wisdom, drawing a basic pattern from the scriptures. Wisdom is notcomplicated as much as it is many-faceted.Wisdom is good sense. Are we born with good sense? I think not. I thinkour ability to make sensible decisions and judgments is shaped by our
Growing In Wisdom21parents, our education, our life experience, and our growth. As we look atboth the Old and New Testament scriptures for clarity and understandingtake special note of the true source of wisdom. Ultimately, all wisdomcomes from God. Consider Proverbs 2:6. “For the Lord gives wisdom;from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”BEGIN WITH JESUSOur journey of growing in wisdom begins with the example of Jesus.Scripture calls Christ “the power of God and the wisdom of God.” (1Corinthians 1:24) Jesus Christ is the wisdom of God. He embodies thewisdom of God in human form because he took on the role of a servant.He was the wisdom of God and yet during his early life Jesus grew inwisdom. Amazing.Scripture tells us only a few facts about the early life of Jesus. We seereferences to Jesus as an infant and then at the age of 12. Mary andJoseph presented the infant Jesus at the Temple according to Jewishcustom. Consider Luke 2:39-40. “When Joseph and Mary had doneeverything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee totheir own town of Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong; hewas filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.” At the ageof 12, Jesus’ family returns to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover.Jesus spends time with the leaders of the temple and they are amazed athis wisdom. Consider Luke 2:46. “Everyone who heard him was amazedat his understanding and his answers.” God’s wisdom was already veryevident in Jesus’ life. Then Jesus returns to Nazareth with his parentsand continues to live in obedience to them. It is during this time that thescriptures say that “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor withGod and man.” (Luke 2:52) I believe there are some life lessons to beextracted from this simple scripture for all of us. Certainly we can learn
22 From Hopscotch To Holinessthat if Jesus grew in wisdom, we should as well. In addition, it is throughobedience to those in authority over us that we often learn wisdom. Itis in living our daily lives, often during mundane circumstances, that Godenables us to grow in wisdom. Jesus’ example gives us much hope forways to grow in wisdom.JESUS’ MINISTRY CHARACTERIZED BY WISDOMJesus’ ministry was characterized by wisdom. However, not everyone wasable to receive his teaching, even when it was accompanied by remarkablemiracles. Some judged Jesus by what they knew of his backgroundand family. The scriptures describe Jesus as a prophet without honorin his hometown. Consider Mark 6:1-3. “Jesus left there and went tohis hometown, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came,he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him wereamazed. ‘Where did this man get these things?’ they asked. ‘What’s thiswisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracleshe is performing? Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and thebrother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here withus?’ And they took offense at him.” God’s wisdom will offend some. Ithappened to Jesus and it will probably happen to us. Some people’shearts may not be open to the truth. Jesus left his hometown amazed attheir lack of faith. I’m sure his heart was truly burdened by their unbelief.I’m sure he prayed earnestly for them. But he then went on to otherplaces where his ministry was received more openly. Perhaps there isa life lesson here as well. When we are guided by the Holy Spirit, likeJesus was, we can expect that not everyone will be open to sound biblicalteaching. Sometimes the Holy Spirit will direct us to stay and sometimesthe Holy Spirit will show us it’s time to move on. By God’s grace we canmove on to other places where ministry will be more fruitful. That’s whatJesus did.
Growing In WisdomEXAMPLES OF WISDOM IN THE OLD TESTAMENT23The Old Testament also gives many examples of God’s wisdom beingpoured out in the lives of individuals. We’ll look at a few scriptures thatclearly show that God is the source of this wisdom.Consider Exodus 31:2-4. “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the sonof Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God,with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kindsof skills— to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze.”Even before the New Testament example of Pentecost where believerswere filled with the Holy Spirit, God poured out his Spirit on individualsfor certain tasks. Bezalel is a great example of the Spirit of God givingwisdom, knowledge and practical skills. Bezalel was chosen to createthe designs of gold, silver and bronze works for the tent of meeting.The Lord gave him everything he needed to fulfill this calling. Beloved,when you are called by God for a task, the Lord will always equip you.Perhaps your ministry will be working with your hands or creating artisticdesigns. Regardless of the task God calls us to, we all stand in need of theempowerment of the Holy Spirit for ministry.King Solomon is a challenging example of someone who was filled withwisdom. He received God’s wisdom because he asked for it. He knewthat the task God was calling him to would require much wisdom andhe felt inadequate for the task. Consider 1 Kings 3:7-9. “Now, Lord myGod, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But Iam only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Yourservant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, toonumerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heartto govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong.”Meditate on this scripture a moment. I see a strong correlation between
24 From Hopscotch To HolinessGod’s wisdom and a discerning heart that is able to distinguish betweenright and wrong. This truth is further exemplified in 1 Kings 4:29 whereit is acknowledged that insight and understanding are aspects of God’swisdom. “God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and abreadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore.”When you need wisdom, where do you turn? Is turning to the Lord yourfirst response? That is a growth step for each of us. Growing in wisdomrequires a daily dependence on the Lord. When we freely acknowledgeour need for more of God’s wisdom, the Lord will freely give us all that weneed. He delights in answering that prayer.Beloved, do the challenges of your life require a fresh outpouring ofGod’s wisdom? Pause for a moment and pray. Gracious Lord, give me adiscerning heart to fulfill the tasks you have called me to and the ability todistinguish between right and wrong. Fill me with wisdom, discernment,and understanding. I need you, Lord. AmenTHE FEAR OF THE LORD AND WISDOMThe fear of the Lord is often misunderstood. However, the scriptures areclear that there is a definite correlation between the fear of the Lord andwisdom. Consider these scriptures. Psalm 111:10: “The fear of the Lord is thebeginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding.To him belongs eternal praise.” Proverbs 1:7: “The fear of the Lord is thebeginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”Let’s take a short side trip to investigate the fear of the Lord with theunderstanding that this study will enhance our growth in wisdom. JohnWesley said, “Fear only God and hate only sin.” There are 131 referencesin the scriptures to fear God or the fear of the Lord. Here are just a fewtidbits to whet your appetite for further study.
Growing In Wisdom25Isaiah 33: 5-6 “The LORD is exalted, for he dwells on high; he will fill Zionwith justice and righteousness. He will be a sure foundation for yourtimes, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear ofthe LORD is the key to this treasure.” Do you want the key to salvation,wisdom, and knowledge? I do! The fear of the Lord is that key.Here are some helpful definitions taken from Vine’s Expository Dictionaryof New Testament Words. The fear of the Lord is reverence for God thatleads to obedience because we realize his power and love. The fear ofthe Lord is reverence for God as the controlling motive of life. In addition,it is a desire to please God because of reverence for who he is and awholesome dread of displeasing him.We can infer from these definitions that fear of the Lord is biblical, healthy,and vital. It will enable us to focus on living a life that pleases the Lord.Another helpful scripture is Deuteronomy 10:12-13. “And now, Israel,what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, towalk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with allyour heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord’s commandsand decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?” From thisadded definition, we see that fear of the Lord includes walking in God’sways, loving him and serving him with all your heart and with all yoursoul. In addition, our obedience to the Lord comes out of love because weunderstand that obeying God is for our own well-being. Understandingthe connection between the fear of the Lord and wisdom will promoteour growth in the Lord.
26 From Hopscotch To HolinessWISDOM NEEDED FOR MINISTSRYWhat is your definition of ministry? In the context of the church,ministry was never meant to be the sole responsibility of ordained clergy.Scripture indicates that every believer is equipped by God for some typeof ministry. Consider 1 Corinthians 12:21-26. “The eye cannot say to thehand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’tneed you!’ On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to beweaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorablewe treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable aretreated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no specialtreatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor tothe parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body,but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one partsuffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every partrejoices with it.” All believers are of great importance in the eyes of theLord. No aspects of ministry should be looked upon as more importantthan others. However, we sometimes stumble when putting this truthinto practice. In the book of Acts we see the apostles dealing with thisissue. They felt called to devote their time to prayer and the ministryof the word. That was their primary calling and ministry. They wereconfident in that leading from the Lord. But they also knew the very realneed to care for widows and oversee the daily distribution of food. Theyneeded others in ministry with them who were called and equipped forthis ministry of service. Clearly, they needed God’s wisdom to solve theirdilemma. Consider Acts 6:2-3. “So the Twelve gathered all the disciplestogether and said, ‘It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry ofthe word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters, chooseseven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit andwisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them.’” Who did they
Growing In Wisdom27choose for the ministry of food distribution? Seven people who werefull of the Holy Spirit and wisdom. Beloved, when you are recruitingindividuals for ministry, even seemingly mundane tasks of service, whodo you look for? What are your criteria for ministry? The lesson fromthis scripture is that every believer needs to be full of the Holy Spirit andwisdom for ministry. Whether up front or behind the scenes it does notmatter. The only way the body of Christ will be healthy and effective inministry to the world is to be filled with the Holy Spirit.Beloved, do you need wisdom for your ministry? Pause a moment andpray. God of wisdom, pour out your wisdom into my life. I recognize thatmy ministry has great value in your eyes. Thank you for using me in thebody of Christ. Lead and guide me with your wisdom. AmenHUMAN WISDOM VERSUS GOD’S WISDOMWisdom comes from many sources. There is wisdom that comes from theworld culture and education. Early in life, Moses experienced this typeof wisdom. Consider Acts 7:22. “Moses was educated in all the wisdomof the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action.” In the world’seyes, Moses was powerful because of the wisdom and training that hereceived from the Egyptians. Human wisdom sometimes comes fromeducation or life experience. But God’s wisdom is in direct contradictionto the wisdom of the world. We know that God humbled Moses in thewilderness and gave him godly wisdom, understanding, and insights thatwould eventually make him a leader God could use mightily. The story ofMoses teaches us that some things have to fall away if we are going togrow in God’s wisdom. Many of us have also walked that difficult pathof learning to rely on God’s wisdom that comes through a variety of trialsand tribulations. While the journey may be challenging, the rewards oflearning wisdom from the Lord are worth every hardship. Looking back, I
28 From Hopscotch To Holinesscherish the life-lessons learned during the most difficult times of my life. Iwould not trade these vital growth experiences. I know I grew in wisdom.I Corinthians 1:22-26 is another great example of the difference betweenhuman wisdom and God’s wisdom. “Jews demand signs and Greeks lookfor wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews andfoolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jewsand Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For thefoolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness ofGod is stronger than human strength. Brothers and sisters, think of whatyou were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by humanstandards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.”According to this scripture, God is always wiser than human wisdom.Tapping into God’s wisdom for our daily lives is the key. We do that byhumbly asking the Lord for wisdom moment by moment. I’m especiallyencouraged that all of us can appropriate God’s wisdom. Few of us areof noble birth, influential, or wise by the world’s standards. But Godpromises to freely give us wisdom that will supersede anything the worldhas to offer.How do we know if we are operating in God’s wisdom in ministry?Perhaps we look more at the results and less at the messenger or therhetoric. Consider 1 Corinthians 2:1-5. “And so it was with me, brothersand sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence orhuman wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For Iresolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ andhim crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling.My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words,but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might notrest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.” Even as a well-educated man
Growing In Wisdom29of his day, Paul did not rely on eloquence or human wisdom. His messagerelied on a demonstration of the Spirit’s power. He had no other plan.Paul was totally committed to ministry that transformed individuals. Andhe knew that conviction, change, healing, transformation, and restorationwere supernatural works of the Holy Spirit. Paul’s teaching was full of God’swisdom and power because of his resolve to know nothing except JesusChrist.What can we learn from Paul’s example? What would it mean in your churchif you resolved to make a demonstration of the Spirit’s power your highestpriority? Would it change how you pray? Would it change how you worship?I choose to make God’s presence and his power my highest priority. Thatunderstanding fuels my prayers on a daily basis. I believe this priority is a keyto the renewal of the church and the transformation of individuals.GOD’S WISDOM REVEALED BY THE SPIRITGod’s wisdom is revealed by the Holy Spirit. The role of the Holy Spiritis to glorify Christ. And the Spirit of wisdom and revelation will lead usto a deeper understanding of Christ. This truth is clarified in Ephesians1:17-18. “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the gloriousFather, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you mayknow him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightenedin order that you may know the hope to which he has called you.” Iwant to know Christ more. I’m convinced I need to grow in wisdom andrevelation. That’s a great reason to make this scripture our prayer. Godof wisdom, I stand in need of your wisdom and revelation. Enlighten theeyes of my heart. Thank you for the calling on my life. Empower me towalk in your wisdom. Amen
30 From Hopscotch To HolinessLESSONS FROM HOPSCOTCH FOR LIFESomeday we may outgrow our desire to play hopscotch; but we’ll neveroutgrow our need for wisdom. In hopscotch the rules are more complicatedthan I first envisioned. In life, wisdom is deeper and more complex than Ifirst realized. There is no “one size fits all” answer to growing in wisdom.We can easily go through life daily growing older without growing wiser.Growing in wisdom involves learning dependence on the Father just as Jesusdid. It means seeking God’s wisdom for all our decisions in life and ministry.Never be confused; God is the source of wisdom. Looking to Jesus ratherthan the world is the answer. God’s wisdom comes to us in the power ofthe Holy Spirit. His wisdom will be many-faceted. It’s tailor-made for ourdaily circumstances. God knows everything we’ll face today and is a richstorehouse of wisdom for our every need.God of wisdom, pour out your perfect wisdom into my life today. Amen
Growing In WisdomPERSONAL REFLECTION AND GROUP SHARING311. Reflect on the ways Jesus grew in wisdom. Are you growing inwisdom? Reflect on the past year. Where have you seen growth?Where do you need to grow?2. “God’s wisdom will offend some.” Have you found that to betrue? Did some people’s response cause you to pray fervently? Givean example where you may have moved on because your ministrywas not accepted. Perhaps God has called you to stay and pray. Givean example of God’s perseverance in the face of offense.3. Moses learned godly wisdom by being humbled in the wilderness.Have you experienced a similar journey? Share how your trial helpedyou learn the difference between God’s wisdom and human wisdom. Atwhat point in your journey did you truly begin to rely on God’s wisdom?
32 From Hopscotch To HolinessACTIVITIES FOR SMALL GROUPS1. Study further about the fear of the Lord. Here are some benefitsof fearing the Lord:• WISDOM—Proverbs 9:10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning ofwisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”• PROTECTION – Psalm 34:7 “The angel of the Lord encamps aroundthose who fear him, and he delivers them.”• PROVISION – Psalm 34:9 “Fear the Lord, you his holy people, forthose who fear him lack nothing.”• HEALING AND REFRESHMENT – Proverbs 3:7-8 “Do not be wise inyour own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health toyour body and nourishment to your bones.”2. Pray for one another to grow in wisdom according to James1:5. “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who givesgenerously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”Share an area in your life where you need wisdom then pray togetherwith thanksgiving for God’s presence.3. Affirm the ministry of one another. Consider 1 Corinthians 12:4-6. “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributesthem. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. Thereare different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone itis the same God at work.” Take time to speak words of affirmationto the members of your small group. Recognize the gifts of the Spirityou see in them. You may be surprised that others see God at workin you in ways you may not even be aware of.
Chapter 3Growing In Favor With GodAnd Man
34 From Hopscotch To HolinessHopscotch RulesHow to play hopscotch: Hop through the grid on one foot unlessthere are two squares side-by-side, then you jump landing withone foot in each square.FAVOR: kind act – an act of kindness performed or granted out ofgoodwill; approval, support, kindness; token of loyalty – something givenor worn as a token of love, allegiance, or goodwill.Take a moment and reflect on the game of hopscotch. Picture yourselfjumping on one foot through the hopscotch grid. Are you wobbly as youjump on one foot? Do you plant your feet squarely in the two side-bysidenumbers on the grid? Practice helps us build balance and dexterityduring the game of hopscotch. Likewise, we can grow in favor with Godand man through practice. Have you ever thought of the events of yourlife as practice for growing? In games, we build physical muscles withpractice. In life, we also need to build our spiritual muscles in order togrow. More than once, I know I complained to the Lord. “Father, haven’t Ilearned this lesson yet?” Looking back, it seems obvious that I’m learninglife lessons with an ever-increasing intensity. I believe that’s a sign ofGod’s favor.God’s favor is an action word, but it is definitely not a game. God isconstantly affirming our love relationship with him. When God shows hisfavor, he is demonstrating his kindness and love for us. But we must beaware of God’s goodness if we are to recognize his favor. It’s at exactlythis point that some of us may need to grow. Admittedly, sometimes Iwobble in my understanding and experience of the favor of God. I know Ido not always walk in confidence, receiving the favor of God.
FAVOR VS. FAVORITISMGrowing In Favor With God And Man35God’s favor is not favoritism. Consider Acts 10:34 from the story of Peterand Cornelius. “Then Peter began to speak: ‘I now realize how true it isthat God does not show favoritism.’” The Good News of Christ is thatGod does not play favorites. What he does for one, he will do for all.Favoritism is often rooted in partiality and prejudice. It is the way of theworld. However, God’s favor is available to all his children. He alwaysacts with righteousness and uprightness. The father-heart of God lovesto display his goodwill to us. Beloved, the Lord approves of you. Receivethat truth as medicine for your weary soul. Find rest and peace in knowingGod’s approval. Allow yourself to meditate on God’s Word and grow inyour understanding and acceptance of God’s favor.FAVOR AND HONORThere is a scriptural connection between favor and honor. ConsiderPsalm 84:11. “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestowsfavor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walkis blameless.”The Lord delights in bestowing honor (respect, admiration, esteem) to hischildren. Sometimes I just stand amazed at the Lord’s favor and goodnessin my life. His love for me is often more than I can take in. My responseto his favor is simply an intense sense of thanksgiving and a desire tolive before the Lord a life that is blameless. All by his grace, my sins areforgiven. I stand before the Lord today blameless because of the blood ofChrist that cancels my debt. I remain under the blood of Christ with a lifestyleof forgiveness towards others and that pleases the Lord. I challenge you tomake this faith affirmation with me today. I am empowered by the Holy Spiritto walk blameless before you. Thank you, Lord, for not withholding any goodthing from my life. I receive your favor today.
36 From Hopscotch To HolinessFAVOR AND THE WORLDYour choice to walk blameless before the Lord will have dramatic effectson those around you. Consider the example of Noah from Genesis 6:6-8.“The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, andhis heart was deeply troubled. So the Lord said, ‘I will wipe from the faceof the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals,the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret thatI have made them.’ But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.”We know that Noah’s desire to please the Lord enabled him to build the arkthat saved many from the coming destruction of the world. Admittedly,there was a cost to Noah. He experienced criticism and derision for hisstand. He was ridiculed and misunderstood by many during the buildingof the ark. However, Noah remained faithful and was greatly used byGod. God’s favor rested on Noah. In our day, where can God use the boldfaith of a Noah to change the course of the world? Everywhere we look,the need is tremendous. I think of many who work tirelessly to rescuethose trapped in human sex trafficking and those who consistently workto eradicate hunger and human suffering due to poverty and disease.Surely the favor of the Lord rests on these precious servants of God.Whatever ministry God calls you to, the Lord will establish the work ofyour hands. His favor is for you! Pause a moment and make Psalm 90:17your prayer. “May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish thework of our hands for us— yes, establish the work of our hands.”FINDING FAVOR WITH GODScripture indicates that there were many individuals who found favorwith God. We can learn much from their example. Here are two briefstories from scripture that highlight God’s favor.
Growing In Favor With God And Man37Ruth found favor with God. Consider Ruth 2:13. “’May I continue to findfavor in your eyes, my lord,’ she said. ‘You have put me at ease by speakingkindly to your servant—though I do not have the standing of one of yourservants.’” Ruth displayed a servant’s heart and a humble spirit. We knowthat “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” (James 4:6)These attributes are keys to finding favor with God. Ruth’s prayer was thatshe would continue to walk in God’s favor throughout her life. We can live alifestyle of humility, while constantly receiving God’ favor.Mary, the mother of Jesus also found favor with God. Consider Luke 1:30.“But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favorwith God.’” Mary was chosen because of her submission to the Lord, aheart attitude that finds favor with God. We also see from Mary’s examplethat even if God calls us to unbelievably new and challenging ministry, weneed not be afraid. God’s favor and grace will sustain and equip us. Marygrew in favor with God as she faithfully lived out her calling and destiny.We can do likewise.FINDING FAVOR WITH PEOPLEThe early church found favor with God and favor with man. ConsiderActs 2:46-47. “Every day they continued to meet together in the templecourts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad andsincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. Andthe Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Thisscripture shows us how God’s favor upon our lives will often spill overinto favor with people. The early church was being obedient to what Godcalled them to do. They were filled with the Holy Spirit and ministeringwith joy and thanksgiving. Awe came upon the church and signs andwonders were prevalent among all the believers. Even their enemiescould not find fault with their ministry. They were enjoying the goodwill
38 From Hopscotch To Holinessof all the people. Their message was being heard loud and clear. Newconverts joined their ranks daily. I want to be part of a church like that.Perhaps our life lesson from this story is also a key to church growth.Grow in favor with God and man.THE YEAR OF THE LORD’S FAVORI believe there are ordained seasons of growth for individuals and forchurches. Isaiah 61 gives us a scriptural understanding of the year of theLord’s favor. This scripture speaks prophetically of the ministry of Jesus.Consider Isaiah 61:1-4. Take special note of the results of proclaiming theyear of the Lord’s favor. “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, becausethe Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sentme to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captivesand release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of theLord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all whomourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them acrown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and agarment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks ofrighteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. Theywill rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; theywill renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.”My short list of transformation that results from God’s favor includesfreedom, comfort, beauty, joy, praise and righteousness. In addition,God’s favor affects communities of faith as well as individuals. Therewill be rebuilding, restoration, and renewal of cities, even those longdevastated. I yearn to be a part of that type of widespread renewal andrevival. Take a moment and pray with me. Gracious Father, enable meto be a conduit of your grace and favor in this world. Use me to rebuildancient ruins, blessing those parts of the church and the communitydevastated for generations. Amen
Growing In Favor With God And ManLESSONS FROM HOPSCOTH AND LIFE39The scriptures say that Jesus grew in favor with God and man. (Luke2:52) Therefore, I have hope for growth and maturity in my walk withChrist. In the game of hopscotch, we grow stronger and more balancedwith practice. Our aim becomes steadier as we continue to play and ouraccuracy increases. We have more joy in playing the game of hopscotchas we experience greater success. Our joy overflows as we interact withothers. These are good life lessons for each of us. May your life be areflection of growth in favor with God and man.Heavenly Father, help us to grow in favor with God and man. AmenPERSONAL REFLECTION AND GROUP SHARING1. Discuss the difference between favor and favoritism. Where haveyou experienced favoritism in the world? How have you experiencedGod’s favor?2. What does it mean to you to find favor with God? How do theexamples of Mary and Ruth help you understand growing in favor?What growth steps do you need to take today? Use the space belowto write out these steps.3. The early church found favor with God and man. How does theirexample compare with the ministry of your local church today? Whatis something you personally, or your church together, might considerdoing differently to grow in favor with God and man? Make a faithdrivenplan in the space below.
40 From Hopscotch To HolinessACTIVITIES FOR SMALL GROUPS1. Pray for one another according to Psalms 90:17. “May the favorof the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands forus— yes, establish the work of our hands.” Ask God to establish thework of your hands.2. Study Isaiah 61 in more depth. Make a list of the ways yourchurch is proclaiming the Good News to the poor, or binding up thebrokenhearted or proclaiming freedom to the captives. Pray togetherasking the Lord to fulfill his kingdom priorities in your church. AskGod to give you his strategy to fulfill this mandate.
Chapter 4GrowingIn LoveAnd Compassion
42 From Hopscotch To HolinessHopscotch rules:Watch out! You’re out if:• Your marker fails to land in the right square.• You hop on a space that has a marker in it.LOVE: adoration, devotion, feel tender affection for, hold dear; God’s lovefor humanity – in Christianity, the mercy, grace and charity shown byGod to humanity.COMPASSION: sympathy, especially for the suffering of others, oftenincluding a desire to help, empathy, concern, kindness.The love and compassion of Christ is paramount to our understanding ofhow to live our lives as believers. Consider Ephesians 5:1-2. “Follow God’sexample, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love,just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering andsacrifice to God.” Do you know, really know at the core of your being, thatyou are a dearly loved child of God? That question cannot be answeredflippantly. Many believers need to grow specifically at this very point.This was certainly an area of growth in my life. I came into faith in Christwith a lot of baggage from my past. I experienced feelings of insecurityand unworthiness that hindered me from receiving the love of Christ. Icertainly did not think of myself as a dearly loved child of the King. ButI learned how to tear down the lies of the enemy and replace them withthe truth of who I am in Christ. Beloved, you can do likewise. Knowingyour identity in Christ is an important key to growing in the love andcompassion of Christ.
Growing In Love And Compassion43The game of hopscotch contains many rules that will put you out of thegame. And the enemy of your soul would love nothing more than tosideline you in life. Hopefully, this study will empower you to say noto the enemy and yes to the love and compassion of Christ in new andprofound ways.IMITATING GODLet’s take another look at Ephesians 5:1-2 from the Message. “Watch whatGod does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behaviorfrom their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company withhim and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was notcautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something fromus but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.”Which comes first? Imitating God or knowing that we are dearly lovedchildren? I contend that we must first come to know, really know, that weare dearly loved children of the Lord. Then, and I believe only then, canwe truly be imitators of God. When we have a healthy view of who weare in Christ we will want to be like our Father, to imitate Him.Imitation is really a high form of flattery. We imitate those we admireand love. We all instinctively want to be like our parents. From a veryearly age, we watch our parents and often we desire to do the things theydo. Did your Dad like to work on cars, for example? If so, you probablywatched him and yearned for the day that you could help him with hisprojects. Take a moment to remember the ways you wanted to imitateyour parents.Our children sometimes imitate us even when we wish they wouldn’t. Badhabits, unhealthy patterns of behavior, are often passed unconsciously toour children. Watch a young child playing house, for example, and you’ll
44 From Hopscotch To Holinessoften recognize how they see your marriage or your styles of discipline.Honestly, sometimes we cringe at those pictures. I know I did. Therewas a time in my life when I had a terrible temper and that temper oftenspilled over into how I disciplined my children. I regret many of thoseincidents. I remember one painful example of losing my temper withmy eldest son when he was very young. His response brought me totears. He simply said, “That’s OK Mom, I’ll pray for you.” And he did. Ibelieve his prayers were instrumental in God’s transforming work in mylife. Praise the Lord.But the good news is healthy choices and loving patterns of behaviorcan also be passed on to our children. If your children see you making achoice to serve the poor, or exercise your body to maintain your templeof the Holy Spirit, or give generously to those in need, they will likelyfollow your example. Healthy imitation by our children is delightful.Do you imitate Christ in the way that you talk? Are you conscious ofbuilding up others rather than tearing them down? Do you ever participatein gossip, criticism, sarcasm, or unhealthy joking? If so, I pray that todayyou will take those habits to the cross. Allow the Lord to change you bythe power of the Holy Spirit.We can also grieve the Holy Spirit when we fail to obey his promptingsin love. Our failure to make that phone call or reach out with love tosomeone in need when we hear God’s whispered directions, makes theHoly Spirit sad. Perhaps you’ve grieved the Holy Spirit with your reactionsto situations. Have you been guilty of anger, rage, or bitterness? Ifyou have grieved the Holy Spirit in any way, the remedy is repentance.Forgiveness will restore you to a right relationship with the Lord. His armsare open wide, waiting for you today.
GOD IS PERFECT LOVEGrowing In Love And Compassion45God’s love is an essential ingredient for everything we do and say eachday. We need to be filled with the character and nature of God, who isperfect love. Paul makes this clear in his instructions to the church atColossae. Consider Colossians 3:13-15. “Bear with each other and forgiveone another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as theLord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds themall together in perfect unity.” Forgiveness, forbearance, unity, and all ofthe attributes of God culminate in perfect love. In this world, only God’slove is perfect. However, we are always growing towards the perfectionof Christ. Let’s consider three important attributes of Christ’s love. Thisis how God expects us to love others.God’s loves is unconditional. Consider Romans 8:38-39. “For I amconvinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neitherthe present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth,nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the loveof God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Nothing can separate us fromthe love of God! That is extravagant love. When you hold up the mirrorof God’s Word, we easily recognize how far short we fall of love that isunconditional like God’s love for us. More often than I’m willing to admit,the love that I show to others has conditions. I’ll love you if; I’ll love youwhen. If you fulfill my expectations. When you love me back. If youagree with me. When it suits my schedule and my agenda. If you cleanup your act, then I’ll love you. I have a long way to go to love like Christunconditionally. How about you, Beloved? God shows me unconditionallove even when I stumble and fail to love. Even when my performance fallsabysmally short of God’s standard of love, my position in Christ remainsunchanged. The Lord continues to affirm our position in him despite myfailures. And amazingly, God loves me enough to provide a way for me to
46 From Hopscotch To Holinesschange. Day by day, I’m growing in God’s love. That’s good news.Second, God loves perfectly. Consider 1 John 4:7. “Dear friends, let uslove one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has beenborn of God and knows God.” True love comes from God. Only whenwe are born of God and know God can we love like Jesus. God’s perfectlove does not bring condemnation. That’s a vital truth. Condemnationmeans censure, judgment, blame, criticism, or attack. Condemnation isthe specialty of the enemy. The Lord is not shaking his finger at us inaccusation. Rather, God’s love brings conviction and his invitation to usto grow up into Christ. Conviction is God’s way of showing us we need tochange. But God’s conviction always comes with hope. Condemnationnever does. Mature love like Christ has for us will make all the differencein the way we relate to others. Take a moment and ask God to evaluateyour relationships with others according to 1 John 4:7. I know I fall short.My prayer is: Help me, Lord!God also loves sacrificially. Consider Romans 5:8. “But God demonstrateshis own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died forus.” The death of Christ on the cross is the supreme demonstration ofhis sacrificial love for us. Amazingly, he was willing to die for us while wewere lost in sin. Jesus didn’t wait for us to clean up our act to love us.Perhaps that’s the greatest lesson of true love for each of us. What wouldsacrificial love look like in your daily life? Are you willing to sacrifice time,financial resources, or personal plans to show love to others? How wouldChrist’s sacrificial love change the way you dialogue with others? I believethe words from our mouth are a direct result of the love or lack of love inour hearts. For me, it’s a true picture of my maturity in Christ.Pause for a moment and pray with me. Loving Father, empower me tofollow your example of extravagant, sacrificial love. Allow all of my plansand decisions today to be saturated in the love of Christ. Allow me to livein love and to speak out of love. Amen
RECEIVING GOD’S LOVEGrowing In Love And Compassion47God’s word seems clear that we are to walk in love and purity. Withoutexception, Jesus always walked in purity and love. Because he was a purevessel, the power of God flowed through Jesus unhindered. How canyou follow Christ’s example? Honestly, how do we do that? Hopefully,by now we are assured that God’s grace gives us everything we need forlife and godliness. Love and purity must come through the Holy Spirit.Romans 5:5 is a powerful scripture and a wonderful example of how toreceive God’s love. “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’slove has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who hasbeen given to us.” Clearly, we receive God’s love by the power of the HolySpirit. I love the imagery of this verse. Visualize God’s love being pouredout into your heart. What does the container look like in your vision?The container the Holy Spirit uses is LARGE. It is big enough to overflowthe heart of every believer. I stand in need of that experience today andevery day. Thankfully this experience of being filled with God’s love isrepeatable. Whenever we need God’s love to overflow into our hearts,we can stand under the fountain of his love. The supply is endless. Andit’s a free gift to be freely received. God’s love is given to us, Beloved.What’s your response to this amazing gift? Open your heart today andreceive a fresh infilling of God’s love.GROWING IN LOVEWe can all grow in love. Regardless of how much we currently understandand receive God’s love, there is always more. Paul understood our need togrow in love as he prayed for the church in Philippi. Consider Philippians1:9. “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more.”Abound is an interesting word. Synonyms are thrive, flourish, prosper,and overflow. God’s love is boundless and only the Holy Spirit can enable
48 From Hopscotch To Holinessus to love others with the love that comes from God. I recognize thatmy own attempts to love others are so shallow and selfish. When I lookat the example of Christ I easily recognize my need to grow in love. Theworld is waiting for a demonstration of true love that reflects the natureof Christ. Only as we are immersed in the Holy Spirit can we live in loveand touch people with perfect love.The reality for many of us is we base our relationship with God onperformance. I know I’ve done that. And sometimes the harder we tryto live the Christian life in our own strength, the more frustrated anddejected we become with our failures. We become convinced that God isscowling at us, turned away in disgust. We become human doings ratherthan human beings. We’re always trying a little harder, doing a little betterto earn God’s approval. That is my testimony. I lived in that predicamentfor a long time. What’s the remedy? The answer is in knowing the truth.Our worth must be established on the truth of who we are as dearly lovedchildren of God rather than what we do. As we experience the indwellingpresence of God through the Holy Spirit and divine healing of our past weare better able to reflect God’s love and worth in our own life. And themore we are assured of the truth of our identity in Christ the more we willlive in a God-dependent relationship with the Father, imitating what hedoes. “Love like that.” (Ephesians 5:2, The Message)LOVE AND COMPASSIONThere is an important connection between love and compassion. I’mchallenged by the definition of compassion that includes sympathy,especially for the suffering of others, often including a desire to help. Acall to action is wrapped up in that definition of compassion. The desireto help must be played out in our relationships with others. We must domore than think about compassion; we must act with compassion. That
Growing In Love And Compassion49means, for me, every day, with everyone, and in every relationship I needthe compassion of Christ. My prayer must be: Holy Spirit, fill me with thefruit of your Spirit which is love. Enable me to show love and compassionto all.LOVE ONE ANOTHERMany times throughout scripture we are admonished to love one another.Romans 13:8-10 is a good example. “Let no debt remain outstanding,except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves othershas fulfilled the law. The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery,You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,’ and whateverother command there may be, are summed up in this one command:‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to a neighbor.Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” It seems so clear. When welove, we are like Christ. When we love, we please God. When we loveas Christ expects us to, we fulfill the law. All of scripture is summed upin love. Loving others is our mandate from the Lord. Consider 1 Peter1: 22. “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth sothat you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, fromthe heart.” This scripture reminds us that purity develops as we obey thetruth of Christ. Even after we’ve grown to sincerely love others, thereis more. Peter is encouraging the believers to love one another deeply,from the heart. There’s always room for growth.We need to continually ask the Lord to teach us to love from the heart,not from the head. Not just with words, but also with actions. Not justwhat shows on the surface, but with every fiber of our being. To knowand embrace God’s love probably means that we have some things tolearn and some things to un-learn. I know that’s true in my life.
50 From Hopscotch To HolinessWho modeled the love of God in your life? All of us have probablyexperienced some healthy examples and several unhealthy examples.If your experience of love did not line up with scripture, you probablyhave some obstacles to overcome. But don’t be discouraged. We areall learning to love from the example of Jesus. There is healing for anyhindrance to love you may face. Ask the Lord today.LESSONS FROM HOPSCOTCH AND LIFEThe game of hopscotch contains many rules that will put you out of thegame. And the enemy of your soul would love nothing more than tohinder your witness for Christ. The enemy cripples you with fear andsidetracks you with hurts and pain in relationships. The enemy hastrapped many of us too long in feelings of unworthiness, guilt, shame,and bitterness from our past. These all hinder us from freely receivingthe love of God for ourselves and displaying that love to others. Beloved,don’t let the enemy win. He’s a defeated foe. Claim your victory in Christ.Allow his love to fill you today.God of love, fill me today with your love. Cleanse me of anythingthat hinders me from living a life of love. I am a trophy of your grace,empowered to love others with your sacrificial love. Amen
Growing In Love And CompassionPERSONAL REFLECTION AND GROUP SHARING511. Discuss Ephesians 5:1-2 from the Message. What insights aboutlove did you glean from this version? How will these truths help you“Love like that”?2. God loves us unconditionally. Discuss some of the ways outlinedin this chapter that we put conditions on love. Where is your greatestfailure? Where is your greatest victory?3. What would sacrificial love look like in your daily life? Discussways you showed sacrificial love to someone this week. Where doyou need to grow?4. Discuss the visualization of Romans 5:5 suggested in this chapter.Share with the group what you saw and experienced. How have youexperienced the Holy Spirit pouring out his love into your life? Whatwere the circumstances that caused you to cry out for more of God’slove?5. Discuss Romans 13:10:“Therefore, love is the fulfillment of thelaw.” Do you see the link between the Old and New Testament in thisverse? How did Jesus fulfill the law?
52 From Hopscotch To HolinessACTIVITIES FOR SMALL GROUPS1. Each of us needs to know that we are dearly loved children ofGod. Share with each other some reasons why this may be difficultfor you. Pray Ephesians 5:1-2 for each other. Ask God to grow you upin love.2. Consider Ephesians 4:32 again. Write out examples of acts ofkindness and compassion that you have participated in. Be preparedto share these with your small group. Spur each other on to lovelike Christ with your testimonies. Use the space below to begin yourtestimony.3. Pray Philippians 4:8, “ Finally, brothers and sisters, whateveris true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure,whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent orpraiseworthy—think about such things.” Practice faith confessionsthis week that will strengthen your understanding of God’s love andcompassion for you. Here are some confessions to get you started.• I am blessed because I am a unique creation of the King ofKings. (Psalm 139:14)• I am loved by Jesus. (1 John 4:9)• I am adopted into God’s royal family. (Luke 15:10)• My past is washed away and I have a completely new identity inChrist. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Chapter 5Growing In Holiness
54 From Hopscotch To HolinessHopscotch rules:Watch out! You’re out if:• You step on a line.• You lose your balance when bending over to pick up themarker and put a second hand or foot down or hop outsidethe grid.• You hop into a single space with both feet.]HOLINESS: sanctity, sacredness, godliness, purity, consecrated or setapart for the Lord.Throughout scripture we see glimpses of the holiness of God. In both theOld and New Testament, the character of God is absolute holiness. Godis worthy of praise simply because he is entirely holy, pure, and righteous.Faith enables us to believe in a God who is always perfect. He never makesa mistake. The Lord far outshines any earthly examples of goodness wemay think of. My heart cries with the scriptures, “Who among the gods islike you, LORD? Who is like you—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory,working wonders?” (Exodus 15:11)BE HOLYOur holy God calls each of us to be holy. Consider Leviticus 19:1. TheLORD said to Moses, “Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say tothem ‘Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy.’” What does thisscripture mean in our daily lives? How do we learn holiness? How dowe grow to be more like our holy God? That is our focus for this chapter.
Growing In Holiness55Take note of the rules of hopscotch included in the introduction. Theseare more rules that will put you out of the game. There are some parallelsfrom these rules of hopscotch to lessons for our life. For example, wemay have focused so much on the things in our life that are not yet madeholy that we are living defeated lives. We’re “out” before we even realize,mostly because of our own unhealthy attitudes. Some of us developa mindset that only God is holy and we can never measure up to hisdesires for our lives. We live as sinners saved by grace, but believe weare destined to sin every day in thought, word, and deed. The idea thatGod calls us to holy living seems so far-fetched. We become self-centeredrather than God-centered. We never think of ourselves as saints (Romans1:7), called by God to live a holy life. We’ve long ago given up the idea ofgrowing into the likeness of Christ. Beloved, that should not be. Saints,you can live a holy life, empowered by the Holy Spirit.LEARNING HOLINESSGod has abundant resources at his disposal to teach us the priority ofholiness. And the Lord will use them all to help us draw nearer to him.Consider Hebrews 12:6. “My child, do not regard lightly the disciplineof the Lord, or lose heart when you are punished by him; for the Lorddisciplines those whom he loves, and chastises every child whom heaccepts.” God does discipline us because he loves us. Much like a faithfulparent chastises a child, God disciplines us. But he never wants us to loseheart. The purpose of God’s discipline is emphasized in Hebrews 12:9-10.“Moreover, we had human parents to discipline us, and we respectedthem. Should we not be even more willing to be subject to the Father ofspirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed bestto them, but he disciplines us for our good, in order that we may sharehis holiness.” God desires for us to share his holiness! The Lord buildsgodliness into our character because he is preparing us to live with him
56 From Hopscotch To Holinessin eternity. But more than that, he needs us to exhibit the holiness ofGod each and every day to a hurting world. As we devote ourselves tothe Lord in worship and prayer, God shapes us with the divine qualities ofour Heavenly Father. The world is eager to see the holiness of God in oureveryday witness.A PERSONAL JOURNEYAs you pursue holiness, have you experienced the discipline of the Lord?Did you sense it was for your good? Those are important questions foryou to reflect on. Each of us has a personal journey with the Lord. Andthe path we take toward holiness may vary greatly. But our pursuit ofgodliness and holiness will invariably contain elements of trials andtribulations. As we are in training with the Lord, we should remember1 Timothy 4:8. “For physical training is of some value, but godliness hasvalue for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the lifeto come.” Especially as we endure trials, we need to ask the Lord for hiseternal perspective. Godliness has great value in this present life and isrequired for eternity. Our mandate from the Lord is to pursue godlinessby allowing the Lord to strip away anything in our lives that does notreflect the divine qualities of God.My testimony is that I resisted God and his discipline often before Iunderstood that the Lord was always working for my benefit. I lookedmore at my circumstances than I did at the character of Christ beingdeveloped in me. Often I allowed grumbling and complaining to seep intomy daily walk. Or worse yet, I sometimes compared my circumstancesto others and became bitter or resentful. I found peace only when Iconsistently asked God to reveal more of his love for me.CONDITION OR POSITIONSometimes I looked at my current condition in Christ and I felt like giving
Growing In Holiness57up. I saw so clearly my lack of holiness that I felt defeated. During that timeI remember hearing some good teaching about the difference betweena Christian’s position in Christ and our condition. At any given time, ourcondition may be that we have sinned. But our position in Christ remainsunchanged. The truth is I have been “chosen and destined by God theFather and sanctified by the Spirit to be obedient to Jesus Christ and tobe sprinkled with his blood” (1 Peter 1:2). I carry the righteousness andholiness of God within me because I have been filled with the very Spiritof God. That is my position in Christ. My condition may change daily, butmy position in Christ never does.THE WORLD’S WAY OR GOD’S WAYLiving a life of holiness and godliness often means laying aside the waysof the world. We are constantly bombarded with choices. And choosingGod’s way will sometimes be a challenge. Consider 1 John 2:15-17.“Donot love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world,love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lustof the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not fromthe Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, butwhoever does the will of God lives forever.” Simply put, we cannot loveboth the world and the Father. The church must be vigilant. It is entirelytoo easy to adopt the perspectives, values and attitudes of our culture.As Christians, we are called to sift everything we think and do through thelens of God’s Word. However, we must admit that the allure of the worldcan be very powerful. The pull to respond with the world’s solutions toproblems can be our downfall. Our culture says stress can be alleviated,at least temporarily, by buying or accumulating material possessions. Theworld invites us to indulge our body’s desires and wants or escape fromour responsibilities with addictive behaviors. Too many carnal Christianshave neglected to follow Luke 9:23. “Then he said to them all: ‘Whoever
58 From Hopscotch To Holinesswants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their crossdaily and follow me.’” However, God offers a remedy. We can live ourlives from the perspective that our citizenship is now in heaven as weeagerly await Christ’s return. (Philippians 3:20) Christ’s way is the answerto living a holy life.JESUS IS OUR RIGHTEOUSNESSOur understanding of holiness must center on Jesus Christ. Consider1 Corinthians 1:30. “He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whobecame for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctificationand redemption.” Jesus alone is our source of righteousness. That is thegood news of the gospel. Any attempts we make to be holy or righteousbefore God apart from the finished work of Jesus on the cross will failmiserably. Beloved, that should free us up from all striving and stress.We must just receive the holiness that comes from the Lord. Only whenthe holiness of Jesus lives within us can we live a righteous life.THE HOLY SPIRIT IS THE SPIRIT OF HOLINESSThe Holy Spirit changes and transforms us from the inside out. Consider1 Thessalonians 5:23-24. “May the God of peace himself sanctify youentirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound andblameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls youis faithful, and he will do this.” Sanctification is the powerful processthat the Lord uses to make us more and more like him. God does thissolely because he is faithful. Take a moment and pray for the work ofsanctification in your life. Loving Father, you amaze me with your graceand faithfulness. Thank you for changing me from the inside out tobecome more like you each day. As I pursue godliness, allow the thingsof the world and the flesh to be stripped away. Empower me to be holybecause you are holy. Amen
Growing In Holiness59The Holy Spirit also refines us with fire. Consider Malachi 3:2-3. “For hewill be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refinerand purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like goldand silver.” The purification process of the Holy Spirit is never enjoyable,but it certainly is necessary. Just like a metallurgist turns up the heat inorder to remove impurities from silver, the Lord turns up the heat in ourlives to bring the dross of the flesh to the surface so that he can removeit. The pain of the process is best overcome by remembering the loveof the Father and his desire to see us become like him. Truly, our Godis a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:29) Beloved, what does he need toconsume in your life? Will you give him the freedom to refine you withfire? Can you trust his love for you enough to totally surrender to theprocess? It is a key to growing in holiness.I remember a time in my life when God put his finger on my life andclearly showed me that I had a pattern of lying. Lying was so entrenchedin my life that I truly was unaware how much I failed to tell the wholetruth. I needed to change, but felt powerless to do so. I needed to knowGod as a consuming fire. I am so grateful for the empowerment of theHoly Spirit to live a holy life. When I first came to know Christ, I hadlittle or no understanding of the person and work of the Holy Spirit. TheChristian life for me revolved around human effort to change and muchdisappointment as I saw myself make little true progress toward holiness.I’m deeply grateful for the Spirit-filled believers God used to teach methe truth of God’s Word and to model the Spirit-filled life. Consider 2Corinthians 6:16-18. “For we are the temple of the living God; as Godsaid, ‘I will live in them and walk among them, and I will be their God,and they shall be my people. Therefore come out from them, and beseparate from them, says the Lord, and touch nothing unclean; then Iwill welcome you, and I will be your father, and you shall be my sons
60 From Hopscotch To Holinessand daughters’, says the Lord Almighty.” God promises to live in us in thepower of the Holy Spirit. That’s why the Lord can call us to be set apartfrom the world for his holy purposes. Sin can and will be uprooted inyour life by the power of the Holy Spirit. God is calling each of us, and thechurch worldwide, to a greater understanding and experience of holinessand submission. These are strategic days in God’s kingdom. The Lordis returning for his church. And he promises that it shall be “holy andwithout blemish.” (Ephesians 5:27) Beloved, make a conscious choice toembrace God’s work of holiness in your life. It’s worth the price. By God’sgrace, you’ll radiate the love and holiness of God every day. Then you willbe ready for his return.HOLINESS AND OBEDIENCERomans 6:17-18 clarifies the connection between holiness and obedience.“But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, youhave come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that hasnow claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and havebecome slaves to righteousness.” Once, before we knew Christ, all of uswere slaves of sin. Sin dominated our lives. Living a holy life was a totalimpossibility. But thanks to our personal relationship with Jesus Christ,we have now becomes slaves of righteousness. We don’t just obey Godout of duty. Instead, we have become “obedient from the heart.” Wenow have an honest desire to obey the Lord in all things and walk in hisholiness. Daily, we’re growing in holiness and obedience.
Growing In HolinessLESSONS FROM HOPSCOTCH AND LIFE61In hopscotch you are out if you lose your balance and accidentally hopoutside the grid. In our spiritual life, we can easily get out of balance aswell. The challenge for each of us is to stay centered in the holiness ofGod. Many forces can draw our attention away from the Lord and causeus to lose our balance. Certainly, that is the goal of the enemy. Andnumerous temptations in the world may cause us to stray from the pathmarked out for Christians in the Bible. We need the empowerment of theHoly Spirit to walk in victory. But even Spirit-filled Christians can get outof balance concerning the role of the Holy Spirit. Scripture makes it clear(John 16:14) that the role of the Holy Spirit is to glorify Jesus. Beloved,pray that you will always maintain balance in your spiritual walk. Thenyou will live a holy life that pleases the Lord and lead others to Christ.Holy God, empower me to live a holy life, centered in the truth of yourWord. Amen
62 From Hopscotch To HolinessPERSONAL REFLECTION AND GROUP SHARING1. What does holiness mean in your daily life? How do you learnholiness? How do you grow to be more like our holy God? Whatspiritual disciplines might add to your growth?2. How have you experienced the discipline of the Lord in your life?Did you feel it was for your own good? Did you experience growth inholiness as a result of God’s discipline?3. Discuss the difference between condition and position for aChristian. How might this understanding help you to grow in holiness?4. Discuss what it means to you to lay aside the ways of the worldand choose God’s way. How have you followed God’s Word to makethose choices? How are we to respond to the world?5. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of holiness. Discuss how the HolySpirit changes us from the inside out. How have you experienced therefining fire of the Lord?
ACTIVITIES FOR SMALL GROUPSGrowing In Holiness631. Pray Ephesians 5: 25-27 for your church. “Husbands, love yourwives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her tomake her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through theword, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stainor wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” Intercedethat you will be holy and blameless at Christ’s return. Ask God forways you might prepare for his return.2. Spend time in prayer worshipping God for his holiness. Use thesescriptures to shape the themes of your prayers. Worship in spirit andtruth will break down any barriers and help you walk in holiness.•“Who among the gods is like you, LORD? Who is like you—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?”(Exodus 15:11)•“Your decrees are very sure; holiness befits your house, O Lord,forevermore.” (Psalm 93:5)•“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full ofhis glory.” (Isaiah 6:3)•“To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, behonor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” (I Timothy 1:17)•“Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving andhonor and power and might be to our God forever and ever!Amen.” (Revelation 7:12)3. Pray Romans 6:17-18 over the members of your small group.“But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, youhave come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that hasnow claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin andhave become slaves to righteousness.” Trust that Jesus will be Lordover every area of your life, making you holy from the inside out.Pray that you will truly desire holiness of heart and life.
64 From Hopscotch To Holiness
Chapter 6Growing In FreedomAnd Healing
66 From Hopscotch To HolinessHopscotch rules:Play until you are “out.” If you lose your balance or put your footin the wrong place, you lose your turn to the next player.FREEDOM: Liberty, lack of restrictions, free will, release from captivity orslavery, right to act or speak freely, absence of something unpleasant.HEALING: Recovery, restoration, wholeness, medical treatment, theprocess of curing or becoming well.Do you think of your spiritual journey more as a sprint or a marathon?When you consider growing into the likeness of Christ, are you tempted togive up or are you committed to persevere to the end? In hopscotch, weare told to play until you are “out.” During the game there are many thingsthan will cause you to put your foot in the wrong place and lose your turn.Most of us hate to lose. Therefore, we play to win. Competitiveness,even in children, will often keep us playing the game. But what aboutwinning in life? What spurs us on to continue to run the race all the wayto the end?In this chapter we’re looking at growing in freedom and healing. Christexhibited total freedom and he walked in divine healing and health.Because of his great love for us, God always desires us to walk in greaterfreedom from our past, from our sins, or from anything that wouldhinder us today. And the Lord is the source for this transformation.In this context, the ability to walk in freedom is given to believers todemonstrate the miraculous power and love of God. As we are set free,we are then empowered to minister God’s freedom and healing to others.Freely we receive and freely we give to others. Therefore, walking in thefreedom and healing of God will always spur us into action. It is a key toour effectiveness in ministry.
WHERE DO WE FIND FREEDOM?Growing In Freedom And Healing67Freedom is found in Jesus Christ. Consider John 8:36. “So if the Sonsets you free, you will be free indeed.” Christ is our source. Often, weexperience freedom as a process that the Lord brings us through. So wehave to trust the Lord in that process and submit to his work in our lives.This is often a growth step for each of us.Freedom is found in the Lord’s presence. Consider 2 Corinthians 3:17.“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there isfreedom.” Through the Holy Spirit’s presence, freedom and healing will bemanifest as we worship and pray and live our lives in passionate pursuitof the things of God. Freedom is a natural by-product of spending timein the Lord’s presence. We are set free from past condemnation. Chainsthat bind us begin to be loosed in God’s presence. We find freedom fromstruggles with our true identity as God’s presence surrounds us and fillsus. We receive a fresh understanding of our worth in God’s kingdomwhile worshipping in God’s presence. We learn what it means to worshipthe Lord in Spirit and in truth. (John 4: 23-24) Worshipping in the Spiritmeans to be led and directed by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit enablesus to worship the Lord unhindered. Jesus continually beckons us to cometo him. Worship sets our thoughts on things above, where Jesus is seated,and opens our spiritual eyes to the very presence of God. From the placeof worship and prayer, we are able to cast our cares upon the Lord andreceive his joy, strength, healing, and restoration. Prayer and worship aretwo vital keys to transformation and walking in the freedom of the Lord.OUR ATTEMPTS TO FIND FREEDOMWe often attempt to find freedom through human effort. For example,the world offers a variety of self-help books, seminars and mentors thatclaim to make our life better. They promise freedom and happiness.
68 From Hopscotch To HolinessUnfortunately, human effort often leads to greater bondage. How doesthis happen? Entrenched self-centeredness and willful disobedienceto God’s ways gives the enemy a foothold in our lives. Human effort tochange is in direct contradiction to surrender and dependence on theLord. God’s way is totally different. True freedom is experienced when weunderstand that we belong to God, the one who sets us free. We willinglychoose to belong to the Lord; therefore, we are free. Romans 6:18 tellsus Christians are now “slaves to righteousness.” True freedom lies in a lifefully committed to God, lived as God originally intended from the exampleof Adam in the Garden of Eden. The paradox is we find freedom in dyingto self. We choose to empty ourselves of selfish thoughts and actions inorder that we might fully depend on the Lord. Consider Philippians2:3-4. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, inhumility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interestsbut each of you to the interests of the others.” Only the power of the HolySpirit can enable us to live out this truth.DYING TO SELFNow consider Philippians 2:3-6 from the Message. “Don’t push your wayto the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside,and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your ownadvantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. Thinkof yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equalstatus with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to clingto that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he setaside the privilege of deity and took on the status of a slave, becamehuman!” Scripture indicates that Jesus set us an example of being aservant. He taught us to do nothing from selfish ambition. Nothing!This word challenges us to set our own needs and desires aside for thegood of others. In order to make this instruction a reality, we must be
Growing In Freedom And Healing69empowered by the Holy Spirit to think and respond like Christ. How areyou doing, Beloved?These probing questions may be helpful in determining your need to dieto self.• How do I react when I am forgotten and neglected?• What is the reaction of my heart when I am insulted or spoken evil of?• Do I rise up with anger or the need to defend myself when mywishes are disregarded or my advice is not heeded?• Have I learned to be content in any circumstance, even when food,clothes, climate, or people may be challenging?When you truly never care to exalt yourself in conversation or experiencethe need for acclamation from others, that is death to self. When youcan see others prosper and honestly rejoice with them from the heart,that is death to self. When you can receive correction from someone youconsider a subordinate and can still submit humbly, that is death to self.Dying to self is an ongoing decision. Yes, we can make a first-timecommitment to the Lord and specifically ask the Lord to purge us of ourselfish, self-centered desires. You are encouraged to do that today. Butwe must also die to self on a daily basis. Every day, we are confrontedwith the temptations of self. Without that realization, we will constantlyfall victim to the enemy’s attacks. The pit of self-pity is always waiting andready for us to fall into. The key to victory is submission to the Lord andhis ways. When the temptations come to exalt ourselves or feel angry oranxious because of our circumstances, we must be quick to cry out to theLord. He will rescue us. He will strengthen us. His power will enable usto fight the good fight of faith. He will give us the victory over the enemy.
70 From Hopscotch To HolinessComing to the cross is the answer.God gives us a new nature which is the result of Jesus’ finished work onthe cross. Our part is simply to admit our inadequacy and accept God’sgift of redemption. Beloved, we need freedom from anything hinderingour fellowship and intimacy with God. Perhaps you see yourself in thispicture. You truly want to know freedom from bitterness, resentment,broken relationships, sinful behaviors, and feelings of unworthiness, butthe cycle of bondage continues. How is our freedom accomplished?Only through total surrender at the cross. And interestingly, when we’vetasted the true freedom that comes from God we will always want more.That’s the process of growth. Then the cycle continues as our growth infreedom spurs us on to more surrender and more growth.STAND FIRMThe process of growth involves standing firm in the victories Christestablishes in our lives. Consider Galatians 5:1. “For freedom Christ hasset us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke ofslavery.” The Holy Spirit enables us to act contrary to our sinful natureand natural impulses. That’s the joy of the Spirit-filled life. When welearn to walk by the Spirit we are released from hatred, jealousy, rage,envy, selfishness and all manner of sinful behaviors. The fruit of the Spiritbegins to grow strong in our lives. However, remaining free is a choice.Slaves can choose to live in slavery even after they are emancipated. I canrelinquish my freedom. How does that happen? By choosing to returnto my old ways. For example, when I insist on being in control, even afterI’ve tasted the freedom of the Lord, I am in danger of becoming enslavedagain. When I revert to self-centeredness, demanding my own way, I amin danger of building walls around my heart that keep God out. Eventhough I have the power to lay aside these encumbrances, I may choose
Growing In Freedom And Healing71not to. Because of Christ, I no longer have to be a slave to sin, to self,or to others. But I must stand firm in God’s mandate to love. ConsiderGalatians 5:13-14. “For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters;only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, butthrough love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summedup in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”God’s freedom is not a release from all restraint. It is not a license toindulge our sinful nature. Rather, freedom is the believer’s opportunityto choose to serve one another in love. God’s love flowing freely throughus will cause us to willingly serve one another. Amazing!Jesus understands our temptations. As long as we live in this world, wewill sometimes fail. God does not accuse us when we fail. The voice ofaccusation belongs to the enemy. The Lord cherishes and accepts us.Because of his unconditional love for you and me, the Lord is constantlyat work to help us live in victory and freedom. Consider Hebrews 2:18.“Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to helpthose who are being tempted.” Jesus makes it possible for us to lay asideour old nature. The Lord wants to empower us to live righteously. One keyto overcoming temptation is to “hide God’s Word in our hearts.” (Psalm119:11) This stores the truth away so that the Lord can remind us of hispromises when we need them the most. When we meditate on God’sWord and allow the truth to saturate our mind we are strengthened inour faith. Then when the enemy sits on your shoulder and screams inyour ear you’ll be ready with the sword of the Spirit to defeat him. ConsiderEphesians 6:17. “Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit,which is the word of God.” God has instructed us in his Word to put on thewhole armor of God. The battle in our thought life is real. But the enemyis a defeated foe. Learn to enforce that victory from God’s Word. It is akey to standing firm in the Lord.
72 From Hopscotch To HolinessFREEDOM IN RELATIONSHIPSFreedom in relationships is another area of growth for many. We caneasily get ensnared in unhealthy relationships where we are alwaysattempting to please people. Consider 1 Thessalonians 2:3-6.“For theappeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor arewe trying to trick you. On the contrary, we speak as those approved byGod to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please peoplebut God, who tests our hearts. You know we never used flattery, nordid we put on a mask to cover up greed—God is our witness. We werenot looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else, eventhough as apostles of Christ we could have asserted our authority.” I nthis scripture, Paul demonstrates freedom in relationships. He did notseek the approval of man, but only sought to please the Lord. He did notuse flattery, hidden agendas or impure motives in his relationships withothers. He was free to be vulnerable and yet intimately involved in thelives of others. Beloved, we can experience that same freedom in Christ.I see a real need in my own life in this area. I am growing in freedom inmy relationships with people. I am no longer paralyzed by my inabilityto please everyone. Negative evaluations do not hold the weight ofdevastation they once did. I am less likely to yield to peer pressurebecause of my need for approval. I am better able to receive my approvaland affirmation from the Lord. I celebrate my progress and recognizethe need to continue to grow in the Lord. Paul also emphasizes freedomin relationships in Galatians 1:10. “Am I now trying to win the approvalof human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I werestill trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Paulconsidered himself a servant of Christ. He laid aside pleasing menand any natural bent to live for people’s approval. Unfortunately, wesometimes live as hostages to other people’s opinions. People’s approval
Growing In Freedom And Healing73can become an insatiable need. Healing may be a process of learningnew ways of thinking and reacting, but we can and must be set free fromunhealthy relationships. Take a moment and pray for greater freedomin your relationships with people. God of freedom, set me free from myneed to please people. Help me to serve and please you, Lord. Change mefrom the inside out. AmenWHY DO I NEED HEALING?Every believer likely needs healing in some area of his or her life. Perhapsyou see yourself in this description of a wounded believer. Your life is aconstant uphill battle. You are legitimately trying to live the Christian lifewithout experiencing victory. You are feeling discouraged and defeated.You are not experiencing joy or peace. You feel trapped. The burden ofliving the Christian life weighs you down.I can identify with that description because I once lived like that. Butthanks to the prayers of many faithful Christians and the Lord’s healingpower, I know greater freedom daily. Denial of past hurts will onlyimpede our progress. We must acknowledge both our losses and ourhurts. Don’t minimize, justify or deny them. Beloved, face them in thepower of the Holy Spirit. My prayer for you comes from Galatians 4:19.“My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christis formed in you.” Paul understood the power of persevering prayer. Hehad introduced the Galatians to Christ. He knew their walk with the Lordand had prayed with them from the beginning. But he was again in “thepains of childbirth” over their need to grow up into Christ. From Paul, welearn that we persevere in prayer until Christ is formed in us and in ourloved ones. How long does that take? Often, a very long time. Prayerand healing truly is the answer. Don’t give up until Christ is formed in youand your loved ones.
74 From Hopscotch To HolinessPRIDE MAY BE OUR DOWNFALLProverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction.” Pride may be ourdownfall. Often, we need healing from the independence and pridethat hinder our walk with the Lord. Pride may be at the root of both aninflated ego and a damaged, frail ego. Pride is so pervasive that eitherway we tend to fall into a preoccupation with our performance. Whenour walk with Christ is performance-based, we will always lack peace inour relationship with the Lord.Consider the example of Peter in Matthew 26 when Jesus predictsPeter’s denial. Peter boldly proclaims, “Even if all fall away on accountof you, I never will.” Before we’re too quick to judge Peter’s pride inthis situation, think about the ways you’ve thought or said, “I’ll neverdo that.” For example, if your family of origin displayed some hurtful,unhealthy behaviors, you may have made a vow, “I’ll never be like that.”Unfortunately, that may be just the place you fall into bondage.Pride can also be demonstrated in false humility. We have a very frailego. Because we’ve been wounded, we find it difficult to receive a truecompliment. Instead, our old self will constantly tell us we’re not valuable.We believe something is wrong with us. We always feel personallyinadequate. Pride is at the root of that thinking because ultimately it isall about me. But we can find healing from the damage done by pride.Healing doesn’t mean the damage never existed. It means the damageno longer controls our lives.I love the honesty of the Scriptures. Remember Moses’ call to confrontPharaoh. (Exodus 4:10-14) Moses had an extreme case of feelings ofinadequacy. He was immobilized in ministry. In addition, consider Paul’squandary in Romans 7 when he bemoans the dilemma of the strugglewith his old nature. In each example, prayer and healing is the answer,
Growing In Freedom And Healing75combined with a true understanding of the power of the Holy Spirit(Romans 8). I find hope in these examples to persevere in prayer “untilwe all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God andbecome mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”(Ephesians 4:13) God is in the business of freedom and newness. Wecan experience Christ’s liberty. Christ offers hope and gives us a burningdesire to be like him.MINISTERING OUT OF RESTHow can we discern if we are moving in freedom and healing? Thereare probably many ways, but one in particular stands out in my life. Iknow I’m experiencing wholeness when I minister out of rest. That hasnot always been my goal or my experience. In the past, I’ve often stayedtoo busy because of my inability to say no. If I’m honest, busyness mademe feel useful and needed. Busyness was also sometimes a means ofmasking my real need for healing. If I stayed busy enough, I didn’t havethe time or the energy to truly seek the Lord in the areas of deep needin my own life. But I’m thankful that the Lord has ways of breaking downthe walls we erect against intimacy with him. God’s rest can be ours. Itcomes as we learn to abide in his love. Abide has the connotation ofputting our roots down deep in Christ’s love. It reminds me to standunder the waterfall of God’s love daily. Then when we say yes to ministryopportunities we’ll have confidence they are truly divine assignments.There is rest and peace in that type of Spirit-directed ministry. From aposition of rest, I can clearly hear and receive the Lord’s guidance. And Ican truly leave the results of ministry in God’s hands.
76 From Hopscotch To HolinessLESSONS FROM HOPSCOTCH AND LIFEChildhood games like hopscotch are more fun when we play with others.Likewise, life is more satisfying and joy-filled when we experience freedomand healing, especially in our relationships with people. God placed us infamilies and communities of faith. And the Lord expects us to grow andthrive in those relationships. Freedom is free. Jesus paid the price. Hemade the sacrifice for your liberty. Let’s commit ourselves to receive thegift of God’s freedom today.Heavenly Father, thank you for paying the price on the cross for myfreedom. Empower me to walk in freedom and healing so that I can touchothers with your love and grace. Amen
Growing In Freedom And HealingPERSONAL REFLECTION AND GROUP SHARING771. In what areas of your life do you long to be free? How would yourlife be different if you experienced freedom in those areas?2. Discuss the paradox of finding freedom in dying to self. Have youever sought freedom through human efforts? What was the result?Evaluate your progress of dying to self by using the questions in thischapter.3. How do you stand firm in the victories of Christ in your life? Whathelps can you offer the members of your group?4. Reflect on your approval-seeking patterns. In what ways doyou struggle in relationships with people? What do you see in 1Thessalonians 2:3-6 that will help you walk in greater freedom?5. Discuss the issue of pride. Have you seen examples of pridecausing both an inflated ego and a damaged ego? Give an exampleof a time when God convicted you of pride. How has the Lord helpedyou learn humility?
78 From Hopscotch To HolinessACTIVITIES FOR SMALL GROUPS1. Pray Galatians 4:19 for the members of your small group. “Mydear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth untilChrist is formed in you.” Share some ways you may need “Christformed in you.” Then intercede for loved ones that may also needthis powerful promise.2. Study further what it means to minister out of rest. Here aresome additional scriptures to get you started.• Deuteronomy 33:12• Psalm 62:1-7• Psalm 91:1• Isaiah 32:18• Matthew 11:28-29• 2 Corinthians 12:9
Chapter 7Growing InSupernaturalMinistry
80 From Hopscotch To HolinessHopscotch RulesContinue the game of hopscotch: When you are “out”, you thenplace your marker in the square where you will resume playingand the next player begins.SUPERNATURAL: unnatural, unearthly, not of the natural world –relating to or attributed to phenomena that cannot be explained bynatural law; relating to deity.MINISTRY: office; work of religious minister; period of service.Hopscotch teaches us to take turns. Many children can play the gametogether, but when there are multiple players you often have to wait along time while others take their turns. In addition, nobody can jumpinto a square with a marker already in it. Sometimes that means youhave to jump a long distance over more than one square. As a child,my imagination often came into play as I was waiting for my turn inhopscotch. I remember thinking I wish I had super powers to help mejump further. That was just wishful thinking. However, I now believethat we need “super powers” to daily live a victorious Christian life andminister in power. Christ is our provision; he has all the power we need.Beloved, we really do have super powers available to us through the HolySpirit that lives within us and ministers through us. In this chapter we’refocusing on growing in supernatural ministry. As we grow up into Christ,more and more we take on the character and nature of God. We willlook like Christ, act like Christ, react like Christ and we will do the thingsJesus did. God has ordained each of us to be equipped for ministry in hisname. Scripture clearly shows that Jesus did miracles, signs and wonders
Growing In Supernatural Ministry81throughout his ministry. Miracles and signs and wonders aboundthroughout the stories of Jesus. Therefore, growing up in Christ enablesus to do likewise. We should expect no less.MIRACLESMiracles are supernatural events or acts of God that cannot be explainedby natural laws. They amaze us because they are outside our naturalworld experience. Scripture says the mark of a true apostle is signs,wonders and miracles. Consider 2 Corinthians 12:12. “I persevered indemonstrating among you the marks of a true apostle, including signs,wonders and miracles.” Paul was following Jesus’ example of supernaturalministry.The first public miracle in Jesus’ ministry when he turned water intowine demonstrated his heaven-sent power and his glory. Consider John2:11. “What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of thesigns through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believedin him.” Throughout his ministry, Jesus restored sight, made the lamewalk, brought the dead back to life, fed thousands with what was athand, and consistently demonstrated the power and love of God. Whenthe early disciples saw Jesus’ miracles they believed. They put theirfaith in Christ. Personally, I consider faith the most significant miracleof all. Faith in God and the resulting transformation of individuals’ livesstands as a true miracle of the Lord. Faith represents a spiritual healingas we understand eternal life. As believers change the whole churchwill also be transformed. When every believer begins to co-labor withChrist in supernatural miracles, the world will be dramatically changed.Unbelievers will come to know Christ. Multitudes will put their faith inthe living God. Personally, I press into that vision for the church and theworld with fervent prayer.
82 From Hopscotch To HolinessSPIRITUAL HEALING AT THE CROSSSpiritual healing is a vital move of God in the life of believers. Have youever thought of repentance as a gift from the Lord? I’m not sure I had.But it really is a gift to be received and cherished. By God’s grace and hisforgiveness, we can truly turn from our sins and live under God’s controlin every area of our lives.Consider Psalm 51:1-12. “Have mercy on me, O God, according toyour unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out mytransgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you,you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you areright in your verdict and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful atbirth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Yet you desiredfaithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secretplace. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I willbe whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones youhave crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all myiniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spiritwithin me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spiritfrom me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willingspirit, to sustain me.”Like David in this psalm we must come to grips with our sin and cry outto God for mercy. David says, “I know my transgressions.” That’s the firststep. David also took responsibility for his own sin. He did not pass blameto others or make excuses. He said to the Lord, “Against you, you only,have I sinned.” That’s also an important step in receiving God’s gift ofrepentance. Then David asked God to cleanse him with hyssop. Hyssopwas the name given to a family of plants found in Israel. Hyssop was
Growing In Supernatural Ministry83used in some of the sacrifices and purifications of the Jews. The priestsused the hyssop branch to sprinkle the items in the Temple as a meansof purification and consecration. The ordinary implements in the Templebecame holy and set apart for God’s use when purified.We also see from this psalm that David had assurance of God’s forgiveness.He knew God was faithful to cleanse him completely. That is vital. Doyou have that assurance? Finally, David prayed beyond forgiveness torestoration of relationship and a return to joy. Restoration and joy wereso necessary in my life. I found them in Christ. Joy and restoration are theresult of the true gift of repentance.For some, we have a love/hate relationship with the cross. As Christians,we readily receive the benefits of Christ’s death on the cross. We love thecleansing that comes to us because of Jesus’ shed blood. But sometimeswe hate coming to the cross. It is a mirror for everything that is out oforder in our lives. If we’re honest, approaching the cross of Christ in aspirit of repentance is often not our first response to sin or strongholds inour lives. Often we prefer denial or delay in dealing with the issues Godwants to highlight in us. When that is our reaction, we often miss out onthe victory over the enemy that the Lord provides.Have you ever thought of repentance and coming to the cross as a signof weakness? Some may think that way. A better way to think aboutrepentance is the recognition that we have a holy desperation for God’sways. When we embrace the gift of repentance we come to the place inour heart where we are desperately dependent on God. Then we come tothe end of our own strength and the beginning of the Holy Spirit’s powerover sin. Those who do not admit their sin, see no need for forgiveness.Those who will not admit their spiritual sickness, admit no need for theGreat Physician. Only those who admit their need for God’s grace cantruly receive it. That’s how God’s power is made perfect in our weakness.And that, Beloved, is supernatural ministry.
84 From Hopscotch To HolinessPHYSICAL AND EMOTIONAL HEALINGPhysical and emotional healings are prime examples of the supernaturalministry of believers. Praying for healing of body and soul is our mandatefrom the Lord. Matthew 10:7-8 is very clear. “As you go, proclaim thismessage: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise thedead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you havereceived; freely give.” Only the Lord can bring someone to wholeness inbody, soul or spirit. Only the Lord can raise the dead. Only the Lord candeliver those in bondage to the enemy. But our part is to engage fullyin this call to action. We cannot pull out certain parts of these versesand embrace them while totally neglecting other parts. I know I’ve donethat. That’s been a challenging part of my own growth in believing Godfor supernatural ministry. Pause a moment and pray for the fulfillment ofthis powerful promise. Jehovah Rophe, we acknowledge that you aloneare the Lord God our healer. Fill us with your power and love for peopleso that we will courageously fulfill all aspects of this mandate from theWord. Manifest your healing, cleansing, freeing power through us today.AmenPROPHETIC MINISTRYProphetic ministry is another example of the supernatural ministryof believers. Prophecy is often defined as a spontaneous speakingforth under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit for the encouragement,strengthening, or comfort of the hearers. Prophecy is speaking forth themind and counsel of God’s word for a specific situation. This gift is thespecial ability to receive and communicate an immediate message of Godto his people through a divinely anointed utterance. Many people lackexperience with prophetic ministry, therefore, they resist what they donot know. However, prophecy is scripturally sound and a vital part ofsupernatural ministry.
Growing In Supernatural Ministry85Ephesians 4: 7-13 includes prophets among those that Jesus gave thechurch to equip believers for ministry. How do those who operate inprophetic giftings accomplish this supernatural ministry? Intimacy withGod is a key to hearing God’s voice and being able to speak forth thesewords under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. From the place of intimacywith the Father, Jesus speaks through the power of the Holy Spirit to us.His words change us, guide us, and sustain us. Therefore, it is imperativethat we learn to recognize God’s voice. By God’s grace, we can all becomebetter listeners, more able to discern the voice of the Lord.Here are two examples of prophetic words given during our AldersgateConference. They personally blessed my life and I trust they will bemeaningful to you as well. I include them to give some specific examplesfor those that may not be familiar with prophetic words.“Beloved children, My love is being poured out on you as you gathertogether to worship Me. It is the power of My love that causes youto shine, that causes your radiance to flow from Me to those indarkness. Fear not the darkness in the world, shine, O church, shine.This is your first hour. Shine on! You will rise up with wings as eagles.You will soar with Me in the power of my love!”“You fear the known, the familiar because you think things cannever change. I desire for you to enjoy your daily life as much asyou do the adventures I take you on. You see your limits in yourday to day and I see all My potential that I want to release even inthe mundane and practical. I am always at work and I am alwaysready to reveal My love, My power and My purpose. Open yourwhole life to Me and let Me show you how vast I am even in whatyou call simple and ordinary. I long to reveal My glory in and throughevery aspect of your life. Open wide every closed or walled place
86 From Hopscotch To Holinessand let Me fill your life with meaning and transform your ordinaryinto My extraordinary.”All believers need to stay open to hearing from God and sharing propheticwords with the body of Christ. Be careful of putting limits on God. Thetruth is Jesus is the Good Shepherd (John 10:3-5) and we are his belovedsheep. That reality is part of God’s covenant relationship with us. Itis not based on your feelings or your circumstances. You can hear theLord’s voice and follow him. Praise the Lord! Have confidence in the HolySpirit’s work in you. Those are not idle words. They are my sincere prayerfor you and a key to your moving in the miraculous.Remember, we are not praying to a reluctant God. Our Lord madehumanity to be the object of his love. God has always desired intimacywith us and he has made that provision through Jesus. We can know themind and heart of Christ, Beloved. Then, we can prophesy effectively.Praise the Lord!Prophecies of today will be consistent with the general principles of theBible, such as the sovereignty of God, the never-failing love of God, theneed for salvation found only in Christ, and living and relating to othersaccording to the teachings and example of Jesus Christ. Of course we arealways called to test the word of the Lord according to 1 Thessalonians5:19-22. “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contemptbut test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.” Youcan continue to pray over and discern the truth of God’s prophetic word.Some parts of the word may speak directly to your current circumstancesand other parts may require more prayer and discernment to understand.We should ask God to confirm the prophetic word through other meanslike counsel from trusted friends and the Holy Scriptures. But whenyou test the word, and if you discern it is from the Lord, you must obey.
Growing In Supernatural MinistryObedience is the only way to see God’s Word come alive in our lives.87I believe one of the major hindrances to moving in prophetic ministry andother supernatural gifts of the Spirit is a fear of failure. We often discern aword from the Lord, for example, and then hesitate to share it even whendirected by the Lord. We can easily succumb to fear, especially thoughtslike “What if I’m mistaken?” The truth is we will all fail sometimes. Buteven if we are mistaken, God will be with us helping us to grow fromthe experience. Beloved, we must not fear failure. Fear will immobilizeus. Instead, God has made provision for us to be restored and to movetoward maturity when we fail. I miss it sometimes and so do you. Don’tgive up. We can use each mistake as a teachable moment. God is usingyou. He will continue to use you.WALKING IN THE AUTHORITY OF CHRISTGrowing in supernatural ministry requires that we learn to walk in theauthority of Christ. Consider Luke 4:18. “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He hassent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight forthe blind, to set the oppressed free.” The Spirit of the living God is onyou today. The Lord has anointed you to walk in the authority of Christ.Believe that vital truth and walk in it today.When that truth takes root in the core of your being, you will be divinelyprepared to see the oppressed set free. Bold prayers for recovery of sightfor the blind (both spiritual and physical) will be common manifestationsin your ministry. God will lead you to those who need to experience ademonstration of freedom. Don’t be surprised when it happens. Thesedivine appointments are all a part of the kingdom work God has ordainedfor you. Walk in the boldness and authority that Christ has given you.Meditate on Luke 10:19. “I have given you authority to trample on snakes
88 From Hopscotch To Holinessand scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing willharm you.” Consider Matthew 28:18. “Then Jesus came to them andsaid, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.’” Allowthese scriptures to motivate and equip you to walk in authority.THE MINISTRY OF CHRIST TODAYJohn Wesley, the founder of Methodism, said, “God does nothing apartfrom believing prayer.” I believe that! It remains true today. Prayer isthe fire that empowers the supernatural ministry of Christ today. Godis stirring an ever-growing desperation for God throughout the church– an acknowledgement that nothing of eternal significance happensapart from Christ and his power. Prayer and intimacy with the Fatherenables us to constantly be filled up so that we can be poured out in theworld. We stand in need of a constant infilling of the Holy Spirit. Thisemphasis on prayer is growing throughout the world. There is a worldwideresurgence in the power of prayer. But we’ve only begun. I believethis intensity of prayer will continue to grow until Christ comes again.God is constantly doing a new thing in our midst. He works in times andseasons and we must be alert to the move of the Holy Spirit in ministry.As leaders of today, we have the responsibility to affect the leaders oftomorrow. One move of the Spirit I recognize today is that God is raisingup children and youth with powerful supernatural ministries. I trust yousee that in your experience as well. My examples come mostly fromour Aldersgate Conference, which is a multigenerational experience foradults, children and youth. I’ve witnessed young people who are fallingpassionately in love with Jesus and their capacity to believe God for theimpossible outdistances many adults. These children and youth are notjust the church of tomorrow. They are a vital aspect of Christ’s ministrytoday. Celebrate that God is on the move and determine in your heart to
Growing In Supernatural Ministrystay vigilant and remain in step with the Spirit.89INTIMACY AND MATURITYPhilippians 1: 9-10 was Paul’s prayer for the church at Philippi and a keyto maturity. “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound moreand more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able todiscern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.”This scripture makes it clear that love, knowledge and discernment growtogether. We need all three to bring us to maturity in Christ.My goal is to be such an intimate lover of Jesus that I radiate his verynature of love everywhere I go. I am a carrier of his presence. That isthe essence of supernatural ministry. Don’t overcomplicate the issue.More happens in a single minute under the anointing of the Holy Spiritthan during a lifetime of human effort and religious activity. We can donothing of kingdom significance apart from God’s presence. In love, Jesusgave his life for the good of others. With his love, I can do likewise.LESSONS FROM HOPSCOTCH AND LIFEHopscotch is primarily a children’s game. And often in life, children willlead the way. Consider the ministry of Jesus. Children seemed to flock toJesus even when many adults did not. He loved the children and blessedthem. Jesus reminded us often of the importance of children. Thatlesson remains so important today. God is calling young people to live alife of holiness, and is using them in supernatural ways because of theirwholehearted commitment to the Lord. Healing, visions, miracles, andmanifestations of the Lord’s presence and power are growing. Churchesthat embrace this move of God are growing tremendously. Churchesthat intentionally teach and disciple children in the empowerment of theHoly Spirit and walking in intimacy with God will be frontrunners in this
90 From Hopscotch To Holinesssupernatural move of the Spirit.However, let’s not leave out anyone. Supernatural ministry is for everygeneration. It’s never too late or too early to begin. All of us are called tosupernatural ministry. Take the leap of faith!Holy God, set me apart for your holy purposes. Empower me to live a lifeof total surrender to you. Teach and equip me to walk in the supernatural.Use me to see miracles in your name. Amen
Growing In Supernatural MinistryPERSONAL REFLECTION AND GROUP SHARING911. Discuss 2 Corinthians 12:12 and evidence of signs, wonders,and miracles in your experience. Where have you seen miracles ofhealing, signs of God’s presence, or supernatural wonders?2. Discuss our need for spiritual healing as it relates to supernaturalministry. Have you seen coming to the cross in repentance as a giftfrom the Lord? Give an example of spiritual healing in your own life.3. Discuss prophetic ministry and your experience of giving orreceiving a divine utterance from the Lord. How do you test the wordof the Lord according to 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22?• “Hold on to what is good.” Does the prophetic word line upwith scripture? Does it witness to your spirit? Do you have asense of peace as a result of the word?• “Reject every kind of evil.” Does the prophetic word bring aspirit of condemnation? Does the word quench the Spirit? Doesit contradict scripture?4. Discuss Luke 4:18 and the importance of walking in the authorityof the Lord. How have you seen the authority of Christ used insupernatural ministry? Do you expect the Lord to use you in healingand deliverance ministry? Give an example of a divine appointmentGod gave you for ministry or one that you have observed personally.5. From your experience, how are children being used in God’skingdom? What might your church do to equip children to betterlisten to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and walk in obedience to theLord? Do you expect children to move in the supernatural? How doyou make room in the church for their ministry to others?
92 From Hopscotch To HolinessACTIVITIES FOR SMALL GROUPS1. Pray Psalm 77:14 over the members of your small group. “You arethe God who performs miracles; you display your power among thepeoples.” Here’s a sample prayer to get you started. Almighty God,“You are the God who performs miracles; you display your poweramong the peoples.” Empower (insert name) to perform miracles,signs and wonders that will cause the world to know you as Saviorand Lord. Father, allow (insert name) to bring you glory today.2. Intercede with power from Hebrews 4:16. “Let us then approachGod’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercyand find grace to help us in our time of need.” Prayer is the fire thatempowers supernatural ministry. Do you approach God’s throne ofgrace with confidence? Here’s a sample prayer to get you started.Heavenly Father, I want to do more than acknowledge the importanceof prayer. I desire to intercede with power on a consistent basis.Allow me to begin today. Equip me to continue daily.3. Study further scriptures relating to prophetic ministry. Here’ssome to get you started. Pray for one another to be used of God inprophetic ministry.• Numbers 24:3-4• 1 Corinthians 12:10• 1 Corinthians 13:2• 1 Corinthians 14:1• 1 Timothy 4:14• 2 Peter 1:20• Revelation 1:34. Take some time to listen to God on behalf of another. Led by theHoly Spirit, speak, or prophesy, being bold in telling what you hearwithout fear of failure.
Chapter 8Growing The Church
94 From Hopscotch To HolinessHopscotch Rules:Hopscotch is a fun game to play with your friends—the moreplayers the better!There are several variations of the grid, but even more can bemade based on length of that grid. There is nothing saying thatthe grid can’t go on for blocks!CHURCH: religious building; religion’s followers as a group.Hopscotch is meant to be played with others. You can even customdesign the grid to expand it a long distance. In life, the church is likethat hopscotch grid that goes on for blocks and the more players thebetter. In this chapter we’ll discuss growing the church. God’s visionfor the ministry of the church has always included growth that extendslike ripples in the water further and further out beyond the walls of thechurch building. The impact of our ministry is designed to reach the localbody of believers, our community, our nation, and our world.Where do we begin? Jesus told the first disciples that when they werefilled with the Holy Spirit they would be his witnesses. Consider Acts 1:8.“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and youwill be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and tothe ends of the earth.” For the church to be faithful to this scripture wemust start with transformational ministry to those around us. It is vitalthat those within the church are discipled to receive God’s power. Theywill in turn affect their homes and their extended families. But we mustnot stop there. The church must then be intentional about outreach thatis guided by the Holy Spirit. Where is your Judea and Samaria? Where isGod calling you in ministry to the ends of the earth?
Growing The ChurchHUNGERING AND THIRSTING FOR MORE OF GOD95Growing disciples in Christ know that the process of growth continuesthroughout our lifetime. Consider Matthew 5:6. “Blessed are those whohunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” We can alwaysbe hungry and thirsty for more of God. It pleases the Lord when we seekmore of him. He will always fill our hearts with more of himself if we arealso willing to allow God to empty our hearts of anything that stands inthe way and cry out to him in holy desperation. Healthy churches providevaried opportunities for spiritual growth that speak to this need. However,it is God alone who stirs the hearts of individuals to desire more of him.Spiritual leaders, no matter how gifted, cannot overcome complacency.That’s the specialty of the Holy Spirit. He loves to set our hearts on firefor him. Pause a moment and pray. Loving Father, I’m desperate for moreof your love, more of your power, more of your peace. Fill me, Holy Spirit!Together, fill my church with your presence and your power. Set us on firefor you. AmenSPIRIT OF REPENTANCEPastors and spiritual leaders are responsible to pray for renewal andgrowth in the church. They set the example for the body of Christ. Godloves to answer those prayers because growth and renewal have alwaysbeen in God’s heart for people. Consider Mark 16:15. “He said to them,‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.’”All of the world needs to hear the gospel. That will definitely requiregrowth! What about renewal? God desires both personal renewal andcorporate renewal of the church. Psalm 51:10 speaks of personal renewal.“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit withinme.” The renewed church will be doing the things Jesus did. ConsiderMatthew 4: 23-25. “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their
96 From Hopscotch To Holinesssynagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curingevery disease and every sickness among the people. So his fame spreadthroughout all Syria.” One of my favorite scriptures to pray for the churchcomes from Habakkuk 3:2. “Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand inawe of your deeds, Lord. Repeat them in our day, in our time make themknown; in wrath remember mercy.”One key prayer opportunity that the church needs to embrace isrepentance. Repentance will always open the way for renewal and revival.Why do we resist a true spirit of repentance? There are probably manyreasons. Consider Isaiah 30:15. “This is what the Sovereign LORD, the HolyOne of Israel, says: ‘In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietnessand trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.’” Perhaps thebeginning step is to ask the Lord to overshadow your church with a spiritof repentance that will lead to renewal and revival. Then spiritual leaderscan also teach about identificational repentance and lead by examplein their prayers on behalf of the church. Identificational repentance isrepenting on behalf of the sins of others. See the examples of Nehemiah(Nehemiah 1:4-11) and Daniel (Daniel 9:3-20) in the scriptures. I havewritten more about identificational repentance in Pathways to a PrayingChurch: a study of corporate prayer. I recommend you consider thisresource for praying for revival by the power of the Holy Spirit.UNITY WITH BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN CHRISTWhen churches make an intentional effort to focus on repentancemiracles will happen. One thing that often happens is God will begin tohighlight areas of disunity. Unity among believers is a priority to the Lord.Consider Psalm 133:1-3. “How good and pleasant it is when God’s peoplelive together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, runningdown on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar
Growing The Church97of his robe. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion.For there the LORD bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.” Unitypleases the Lord; it permeates the church like a sweet-smelling aroma.But there is much more. Unity in the body of Christ is essential for theanointing of God. “There the Lord bestows his blessing.” Are you doingyour part to establish and maintain unity in the church? Unity begins inthe heart of each believer but it extends to the whole body of Christ. OhLord, free us from what divides us. Remind us of what’s really importantin your eyes. Empower us to be unified.THE FULLNESS OF THE HOLY SPIRITWhile spiritual leaders hold a true key to growth in the church, everybeliever has a part in church growth. The church in Jerusalem heard abouta need in Antioch and sent Barnabas to minister there. Consider Acts11:23-25. “When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, hewas glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all theirhearts. He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a greatnumber of people were brought to the Lord.” Can you see yourself beingused this way? I want to be a part of a church that sees great numbersof people brought to faith in the Lord. Our lives need to be full of theHoly Spirit if we are going to be faithful witnesses to the saving power ofChrist. The church sent Barnabas to Antioch. Where can you be Christ’switness today? When you are full of the Holy Spirit and faith God will useyou mightily. The Lord will send us out to witness to others. He can useyou in your home, your community, or around the world.PREACHING CHRIST TO THE WORLDPreaching Christ is an expectation from the Lord for every church.Preaching Christ to the world is a daunting task that can only to beaccomplished in the love and power of the Lord. Consider 1 Corinthians
98 From Hopscotch To Holiness1:17. “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of itspower.” I believe we need to daily ask God to show all of us how to preachChrist not only with our words but also with our actions. Love matters.People can only hear and receive the message of Christ when our wordsline up with loving actions. The church is Christ’s army of lovers. Christinvites us to love those around us unconditionally and intentionally. Loveis the answer. We must make loving others our priority. We need to bethe kind of people who aren’t afraid of the darkness because we knowwe have the Light of Christ that’s so much bigger and brighter than anybrokenness of our world. Nothing can stop this army of God empoweredby his love.THE KINGDOM, THE POWER, AND THE GLORYKingdom, power and glory are words we use often to describe the work ofGod in our midst. So it seems important to define these terms and thinkabout how they affect the church’s ministry in the world. I hunger to be apart of a church where these truths are taught and experienced.Christians acknowledge Jesus Christ as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Asbelievers, we enter his kingdom when we accept Jesus as Lord and Saviorof our lives. Then, we become citizens of heaven who are still temporarilyliving in this world. We are in the world but not of it. The Lord haskingdom work for each of us. We are given his authority to bring his ruleto earth. Jesus instructed us to pray for his kingdom to come and his willto be done on earth as it is in heaven in the Lord’s Prayer. God’s kingdompurposes and priorities grow in us as we continue to submit to Christ asLord and move in obedience to the Holy Spirit. The kingdom rules in ourhearts. God’s kingdom rule is so precious that it is referred to in scriptureas a treasure of great price. Consider Matthew 13:44. “The kingdom ofheaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid itagain, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and boughtthat field.”
Growing The Church99The kingdom is so valuable that we must be willing to give up anythingto obtain it. All the expectations of kingdom living are found in the Bible.God expects us to follow his instructions to live victoriously in his kingdom.Jesus promised us that he would give us everything we need for lifeand godliness. Consider 2 Peter 1:3. “His divine power has given useverything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him whocalled us by his own glory and goodness.” He promised that we wouldreceive power when the Holy Spirit came upon us to be his witnessesin the world. He promised that the work he did we would do likewise,through the power of the Holy Spirit. His power enables us to see thesick healed, those in bondage to Satan set free, and miracles of all kinds.Jesus preached and taught with great power and we can do likewise if weremain obedient to the King. Christ’s power enables us to bind or forbidevil in this world. Anything that hinders the Gospel and destroys people’slives should be bound in Jesus’ name in prayer. Consider Matthew 16:19.“I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind onearth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will beloosed in heaven.” Likewise, anything that is allowed in heaven, like joy,peace, love, and freedom, should be loosed in prayer. Prayer unleashesthe power of God.The manifest presence of God is called his glory. When Solomon’s templewas built God’s glory filled the place where he promised to dwell. Consider2 Chronicles 5:14. “The priests could not perform their service becauseof the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God.” When weworship and honor God we are glorifying him. Our obedience brings Godglory. We are called to arise and shine because we carry the glory of God.Consider Isaiah 60:1. “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the gloryof the Lord rises upon you.” Our lives, our words, and our actions shoulddemonstrate the greatness and majesty of God. The world sees God’s
100 From Hopscotch To Holinessglory through each of us when we are truly anointed and empowered forministry.God’s kingdom power and glory are given freely to us as Christ’sambassadors in a hurting world. The ministry of the church is to call everybeliever to co-labor with the Lord to see his kingdom come and his will tobe done on earth. The King of Kings expects no less.THE ROLE OF SPIRITUAL LEADERSPastors and spiritual leaders hold key roles in work of the kingdom. Werespect them greatly for their calling and dedication to ministry. They alsoshould be surrounded in consistent, strategic prayer. Our spiritual leaderswill be a consistent target of the enemy because of their important rolein the church. Consider 2 Peter 2:19-20. “They promise them freedom,but they themselves are slaves of corruption; for people are slaves towhatever masters them. For if, after they have escaped the defilementsof the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,they are again entangled in them and overpowered, the last state hasbecome worse for them than the first.”I believe it grieves the Lord tremendously when any believers fall prey tosin. But, when spiritual leaders fall prey to entanglements with the sin ofany kind, the magnitude of the problem is intensified. And, the state ofthe church is also gravely affected. I am passionate about seeing everychurch equipped with an intentional, strategic plan to cover every aspectof ministry in the church with fervent prayer. We can survive with no less.LESSONS FROM HOPSCOTCH AND LIFEThe grid for the game of hopscotch can be expanded to grow beyondthe traditional parameters. In life, the church was strategically designedfor growth. Healthy churches grow. Churches that are intentional about
Growing The Church101prayer grow. Churches that embrace the person and work of the HolySpirit will grow.Holy Spirit, grow the church. Enable us to put our roots down deep inyou and grow spiritually and physically. Enable us to reach out to ourcommunities and to the world. AmenPERSONAL REFLECTION AND GROUP SHARING1. Discuss the role of repentance in church growth. How have youseen repentance taught or experienced in the church? Where doesyour church need to be challenged in this area?2. Discuss unity from God’s perspective. What is your part inestablishing and maintaining unity?3. What did you learn about kingdom, power and glory from thischapter? How can these truths help your church to grow.4. Discuss the role of pastors and spiritual leaders in the church.Does your church have an intentional, strategic plan to pray for yourpastor? How might you grow in this area?
102 From Hopscotch To HolinessACTIVITIES FOR SMALL GROUPS1. Pray together for a spirit of repentance in your church. Here’s asample prayer to get you started. Spirit of the living God, fall afreshon me today. Melt the hardness of my heart that resists repentance.Give me a quiet trust in your perfect work in my own life. I want tosee renewal and revival in my church so much. Together, help us tounlock the key to repentance. Make us a true faith community. Inrepentance help us to find salvation and rest. Amen2. Consider how you might highlight opportunities for repentancein your church. Here’s a prayer exercise that could be incorporatedinto a worship service. Everyone will need a black sheet of paper towrite out their prayer of confession. All should be encouraged tobring their prayer forward and leave it in a designated container atthe cross. Then they can pick up a scripture of hope which has beenprepared in advance. The sample prayer might be helpful at the altar.• DIVINE EXCHANGE ACTIVITY. Come to the cross with your sin.Write out a prayer of confession. Receive God’s forgiveness andhis words of hope. Pray at the altar. Sovereign Lord, I praise youfor your victory over sin and Satan on the cross. I come eagerlyto the cross to receive a fresh touch from you. Rescue me frommy “self.” Empower me to live the victorious life you provide.Amen. Provide small slips of paper with printed scriptures ofhope. People are encouraged to leave their sin at the cross andreturn to their seats with a scripture promise of hope.3. Organize prayer stations to encourage participants to cry outfor the church in targeted prayer for renewal by the power of theHoly Spirit. Print the title and scriptures for each topic on the fourdifferent signs. Here’s a scriptural prayer guide to help you getstarted. Encourage participants to visit one or more of these prayerstations during a time of corporate prayer.
Cry out for the ChurchStation 1: RenewalGrowing The Church103Matthew 4: 23-25 - “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in theirsynagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom andcuring every disease and every sickness among the people. So hisfame spread throughout all Syria”• Pray that this church would be empowered to do the thingsJesus did.• The renewed church is a growing church. Pray that God wouldgrow your church in reaching out to hurting people and indiscipleship of believers.Psalm 45:4 – “In your majesty ride forth victoriously in behalf of truth,humility and righteousness; let your right hand display awesomedeeds.”• Pray that the strong and mighty hand of the Lord will bringrenewal to your church.• Intercede for the renewal of the church according to God’struth, humility and righteousness.• Ask the Lord to display His awesome deeds in your church.Station 2: HealingActs 10:38 - “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit andpower, and how he went around doing good and healing all who wereunder the power of the devil, because God was with him.”• Pray that the same anointing that rested on Jesus for healing
104 From Hopscotch To Holinessand deliverance would rest on the members of your church.Acts 3:19-20 – “Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sinsmay be wiped out, so that times of refreshing may come from thepresence of the Lord.”• Pray expectantly that God would heal all divisions and quarrellingthat would hinder your church from fulfilling its God-ordaineddestiny. Expect the presence of the Lord to bring healing andrefreshment.Station 3: UnityPsalm 133:1 - “How very good and pleasant it is when kindred livetogether in unity!”• Prince of Peace, forgive us for failing to be in harmony with oneanother.• Father, make this church a true picture of unity in the body ofChrist.Ephesians 4:15 16 - “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will growto become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head,that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together byevery supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as eachpart does its work.”• Father, forgive us for not honoring Jesus Christ as head of theChurch; forgive us for our failure to grow up into Christ.• Holy Spirit, enable us to be knit together, working as one underYour authority and lordship.
Station 4: PowerGrowing The Church105Psalm 89:13 – “Your arm is endued with power; your hand is strong, yourright hand exalted.”• Praise God for His strong and powerful right hand that desiresto move in your church• Intercede for your church, recognizing that change comesthrough a move of the Holy Spirit.• Ask God to exalt Himself in your church.Acts 1:8 - “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you;and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria,and to the ends of the earth.”• Pray that you will receive the Holy Spirit’s power to be faithfulwitnesses in your church, your family, your community.• Ask God to make your church a lighthouse for hurting and lostpeople. Pray that the power of God would be present to ministersalvation.4. Participate in a concert of prayer together. Here’s a liturgy for aprayer experience that combines seasons of worship with seasons ofprayer. Any style of worship through song can easily be incorporatedinto the concert of prayer. The theme for this concert of prayer isIntimacy with God and Supernatural Ministry. The timing shownin parentheses helps plan the scope of the seasons of worship andprayer. This concert of prayer can be completed as written in twohours. A leader’s guide is included. You can find a wide varietyof other concerts of prayer by looking at the resources at www.aldersgaterenewal.org.
106 From Hopscotch To HolinessINTIMACY WITH GODJames 2:23 Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believedGod, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called thefriend of God.Before the service begins, our worship leaders will be offering music aspeople enter. In these moments, open your heart to join hearts witheveryone assembling in the unity of prayer.INTRODUCTION - Explanation of Concert of Prayer (1)The primary purpose of a Concert of Prayer is prayer! This Concert ofPrayer is designed to help God’s people pray together. All scripturequotations are from the New International Version of the Bible unlessnoted.SCRIPTURE READING AND EXHORTATION: Intimacy with God andSupernatural MinistryPRAYER THROUGH WORSHIP (10)PRAYER AT STATIONS: Return, Reignite, Reestablish (20)Prayer at stations is designed to be individual, silent prayer. You areencouraged to move to the different locations to engage in the topic ateach station. Participants have the liberty to stand, sit, kneel or prostratethemselves as they engage in prayer. You also have the freedom to usethe prayer guide from your seats.1. Return to our first love. To be fruitful in the Kingdom, we need tominister out of the overflow of intimacy with God.2. Reignite a fresh fire. To be fruitful in the Kingdom, we need to bebaptized with the Holy Spirit and stay filled with the Holy Spirit.
Growing The Church1073. Reestablish a priority of intimacy with God. To be fruitful in theKingdom, we have to be intentional to set aside time to deepen ourwalk with God.4. Receive prayer in tongues. A prayer team member will beavailable to pray over you in tongues. This is not a time for prayerrequests or interpretation of tongues.PRAYER THROUGH WORSHIP (10)PRAYER IN GROUPS: MY IDENTITY IN CHRIST (20)Form groups of 3-4. Use the following scriptures to shape the themes ofyour prayers. Pray together as the Holy Spirit directs.Read each Scripture then declare the truth of who we are in Christ.Pray for one another to have a fresh revelation that we are dearly lovedchildren of the Lord.John 3: 29 “The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attendsthe bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hearsthe bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete.”Christ is the bridegroom and I am His bride. I hear His voice and receiveHis joy.Romans 8:33 “Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is Godwho justifies.”I am justified by Christ and I am God’s elect. Satan cannot bring chargesagainst me.1 Corinthians 6:19-20 “Or do you not know that your body is a temple ofthe Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are
108 From Hopscotch To Holinessnot your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify Godin your body.”I was bought with a price and I glorify God in my body. My body is atemple of the Holy Spirit that is within me.Ephesians 1:7-8 “In him we have redemption through his blood, theforgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that helavished on us.”I am redeemed by the blood of Jesus. My sins are forgiven because ofGod’s lavish grace.Revelation 12:11 “But they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamband by the word of their testimony…”I overcome the enemy by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of mytestimony.RESPONSE: COMING TO THE CROSS (10)Following the group prayer, individuals are invited to come to the cross orthe altar and pray individually. This may be a time of confession as youallow God to cleanse you of any false identity from the enemy. Feel freeto write out a prayer and leave it at the altar in the container provided.PRAYER THROUGH WORSHIP (10)PRAYER OF BLESSING (15)Form groups of 3-4. Allow each person to step into the center of theprayer circle and receive this scriptural blessing. Each of us is beloved ofthe Lord!Deuteronomy 33:12 “Let the beloved of the LORD (INSERT NAME) rest
Growing The Church109secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the LORD lovesrests between his shoulders.”CLOSING CELEBRATORY WORSHIP (15)BENEDICTION: You are blessed to be a blessing. Because you are a friendof God, walk in intimacy with the Lord. Supernatural ministry flows freelythrough you.LEADER’S GUIDESCRIPTURE READING AND EXHORTATION: Abraham was called a friend ofGod. He had an unwavering faith that God keeps His promises. Romans4:20-21, for example, says “No distrust made him waver concerning thepromise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God,being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.”I want a faith like that! We build our faith through intimacy with God.In fact everything we need for supernatural ministry is received duringseasons of prayer and intimacy with the Lord. We will only receive ourdivine instructions from the Lord when we are faithfully connected toHim. There is no program or agenda for supernatural ministry. We relyon a moment by moment invitation from the Lord to co-labor with Him.From a place of intimacy with God we also receive God’s heart for people.God’s heart of love is paramount for supernatural ministry.The more we understand that we are Christ’s ambassadors in this world,and the better we know our destiny and calling in Christ, the easier itbecomes to believe that God wants to do supernatural ministry througheach of us.
110 From Hopscotch To HolinessIntimacy with God has been described as being fully known and fullyloved by God. The Lord who knows us best, loves us most. This kind ofintimate friendship with God is only possible when we are assured of ouridentity in Christ.PRAYER AT STATIONS: Prepare signs for the first three stations that includethe title and focus. Participants can be encouraged to pray silently firstfor themselves and then to intercede for the church. The fourth stationis an example of receiving prayer in tongues for churches that are opento that experience. Designate a person beforehand to pray in the Spiritwith anyone who sits in the designated chair. No attempt should be madeto interpret the tongue or prophesy over the participant in this instance.PRAYER IN GROUPS: Participants should use the designated scripturesand together make the faith confessions that are in bold letters. Finally,they are encouraged to pray together corporately for a fresh revelation ofGod’s love for them.COMING TO THE CROSS: Prayer groups will likely finish at different times.So it is wise to encourage participants to come to the cross for the timeof prayer as they finish the prayer activity on our identity in Christ. Youwill need to provide paper for written prayers and a container at the altarfor receiving them. Worship through song will call people back together.PRAYER OF BLESSING: This prayer activity is a very simple example ofpersonalizing a scripture with a person’s name that you want to pray for.Each person in the circle should have the opportunity to both receiveprayer and bless another.Items need for the concert of prayer:1. Signs for stations2. Paper and pens to write out prayers when coming to the cross
112 From Hopscotch To HolinessOther Resources by Margie BurgerSmall Group Bible StudiesLord, Teach Us to Pray:A study of personal prayerEncountering God in ourCelebrations of the Church YearPathways to a Praying Church:A study of corporate prayerUntil He Comes:Living Out the Book of ActsConcerts of Prayer• ARM Concerts of Prayer Booklet on CD or printed copy)• Praying the Lord’s Prayer as Corporate Concerts of Prayer• Concerts of Prayer for the Church YearPrayer Devotionals• Becoming like Christ• The Power of Christ• Renewal of the Church by the Power of the Holy Spirit• Praying for PentecostPrayer Stations (Available on CD)Visit ArmBookstore.org to view descriptions or purchase these resources.