(July 17, 2021) Robert and Maureen McQuillan again encourage practical Christianity in one’s locale…
Firstly, many thanks to so many friends worldwide who congratulated us on our 60th wedding anniversary last Wednesday. One cheeky young girl immediately asked Maureen how she’d put up with me for so long to which Maureen gave her usual response that she was still working on me!
The reality is that our threescore ‘diamond anny’ journey with its typical marriage challenges (yes, even Christian have them!) owes its success to the Lord!
Good, sumptuous meals
So we celebrated at Hogan’s Hotel, Wallan and were treated as royalty, repeatedly congratulated by helpful friendly staff, expressing that 60 years married is a rarity.
And what meals we were served! Sumptuous, delicious… particularly the unexpected, excellent huge desserts! Our tastebuds were more than satisfied! Thank you, Darren and staff! As we left we again expressed our gratefulness, adding ‘You’ve really blessed us… so we’re believing that you and your staff will be blessed.’
Simple words… but such that get people thinking in these uncertain times, and to which one hears a thank you response, or sees a nod, and sometimes an ‘Amen. You too.’
Speaking of enjoying meals, what a delight to see on Facebook our four-months-old great-granddaughter Avaleigh Grace hungering after solid food. Her latest eating antics are well captured with those cute little hands grasping the spoon from mum Bonnie-Jane, putting it in her mouth ever so eager to feed herself!
Great to see that such longing hunger for solid food at a very young age!
Good spiritual hungerings
There’s another kind of hunger for solid food at any age… spiritual hunger, spiritual food.
In teaching on the Holy Spirit, his ways and his works, over the years we have always pointed out that the depth we move in the Spirit is according to the depth of the longing of our spiritual hunger for him, and of our desire to bless others!
Since even the beginning of covid-19 with church attendance cancelled or limited, we have learned of spiritually hungry Christians ‘finding God directly.’ Unhappy with hype type services and preaching that wasn’t touching their hearts, their souls, they have gone to the word themselves and discovered God in a deeper way. His word has become more meaningful and there has come about a longing to reach the unreached through thoughtfulness and caring… and discovering openings to witness Jesus’ love to the needful at large.
The ‘apostle of faith’ Smith Wigglesworth (right, ministering the Holy Spirit), put spiritual hungering this way: ‘The secret of spiritual success is a hunger that persists… It is an awful condition to be satisfied with one’s spiritual attainments… God was and is looking for hungry, thirty people.’
Such spiritual hunger has led to establishing an intimate relationship with the church’s CEO, the Holy Spirit, getting to know him and his reality, and daring to move in the 1 Corinthian 12 supernatural gifts of the Spirit. And activating that often-overlooked, all-important aspect… the fruit of the Spirit… demonstratable practical Christianity.
Regarding such fruit that the Holy Spirit expects to see demonstrated in the day-by-day living of every born-again Christian, Paul lists nine aspects in Galatians 5: 22-23: ‘The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.’ (See this month’s Questions category explaining of the Greek words Paul used).
But note… in verses 17 Paul warns of opposition, that ‘The flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit…’ Then he goes on to list examples of evils, even in the church(!) that Christians should avoid if we’re going to attain for Jesus!
Good Samaritan attainments
Five great ‘M’ testimonies…
Love (agapeo God-love) is the basis of living out this Galatians 5 fruit.
We think of Mitch, a brother-in-Christ and classic example of having discovered how to express practical Christianity in an uncomplicated way. Longing to be free from what he – and others – are calling ‘church politics stuff below the surface of church life’ he’s making a difference outside of his church.
Mitch accepted our challenge to simply be himself and to know that his kind heart, desire to please God and discovering to trust the Holy Spirit would result in being effectively used by the Lord. Humbly, we would share with Mitch examples of our own experiences of practical Christianity in the neighbourhood, marketplace, locale, and encourage him to be likewise available.
Such as saying a simple thank you for services rendered to checkout personnel who are often treated disrespectfully. Even if such responded by saying, ‘Oh, it’s my job to serve’ to smile and say, ‘I know, but I still want you to know that I really appreciate how you helped by…’ To even dare to say something like ‘Well, you’ve blessed me and I’m believing that you’ll get blessed.’
In the beginning Mitch would look at us as if we were crazy. But later he’d joyfully testified that… ‘It works’ and tell of how he’d had opportunities to not only encourage strangers, or just give them something to think about, but actually pray for them.
One highlight was how he felt led by the Spirit to have a coffee break at a café he’d not normally go to. No one was there, no one was going in and the proprietors looked so despondent. Mitch not only ordered coffee and cake but decided he’d could bless the couple by spending a little more and bought his office staff whom he’d soon be seeing, croissants, cakes and hot coffee.
Still no one else came in and Mitch felt that at least he’d blessed that empty café business with his simple purchases, and he warmly thanked the couple adding a friendly ‘God bless.’ He felt sure he saw a tear starting to fall from the young lady’s eye and her husband thoughtfully nodding.
Oh, Mitch hadn’t led two souls to Jesus that day… but he made a connection and on other occasions has been able to talk spiritually and pray for needs. It had been the beginning of spiritual attainment!
Marty is unique! Delighting to chat, tell jokes and so desirous of being a light in the darkness, he just can’t help himself in his reaching out to bless neighbours. He enquires how they’re going, if there’s anything they need and so on.
And often Marty gets opportunities to talk about Jesus, pray for individuals, challenge folk about eternity, especially older neighbours who may be facing serious, illnesses with no guarantee of recovery.
Just recently the Lord showed Marty a unique way to get neighbours taking and thinking… he deliberately purchased glass bowls in which he arranges a variety of miniature plants he’s been growing in his vast backyard. Then he takes them to various neighbours offering them as a neighbourly gift.
They can’t get over his generosity, his kindness, his ‘love thy neighbour as thyself’ attitude! And repeatedly, Marty finds opportunity to talk about the greater love of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.
The other Saturday we found ourselves in a shopping plaza several suburbs away that we normally don’t visit and decided to have a quick lunch in a busy diner.
As we were about to leave, Maureen surprised me by saying she must first go over to a young man, a downcast-faced stranger, who was sitting alone several tables away. Now, although I hadn’t picked up anything from the Spirit I know my darling of 60-odd years and encouraged her, praying for her as she slipped over to that table.
Later she told me she had simply introduced herself as Maureen and quietly asked if she could share something with him. Although surprised, he agreed, and Maureen then mentioned things about him that he knew she, being a stranger, couldn’t possibly know. Actually they were supernational words of knowledge, about a decision he had to make, spoken with the Holy Spirit’s fruit of love and were an encouragement to do the honourable thing, to make the right choices.
The young man, touched by this blessing, now smiled and nodded thankfully at this out-of-the-blue encounter that gave him direction and encouragement in respect of his future.
We’ve been enjoying the unique Signed, Sealed, Delivered TV series, every episode relating to genuine caring, thoughtfulness, honesty, doing the right thing, going out of one’s way to help someone, generosity, forgiveness, understanding troubled people and referencing scriptures, God and churchlife.
Created by Touched by an Angel‘s Martha Williamson, the series focuses on four Denver postal workers – the POstables – who take it on themselves to track down intended recipients of undeliverable mail. Well thought-out, involved, romantic, funny at times, brilliantly scripted and acted, episodes repeatedly demonstrating aspects of the fruit of the Spirit.
One episode centred around a postal worker declaring, ‘What the use of writing a letter if you don’t post it?’ Our thought here is that although lockdown hinders one actively meeting people, one can still use the postal service and mail an encouraging letter or card (even Skype, phone and Facebook) to bless whoever the Holy Spirt lays on our heart.
Thinking of ‘Christmas in July,’ our intro was the Signed, Sealed, Delivered for Christmas episode which really touched our hearts. God, Jesus, faith, children’s ‘letters to God’ and love for strangers are clearly highlighted.
I (Robert) had an interstate call from an old friend sharing about the heaviness and confusing depression he was under, interfering with his work and sleeping.
Interrupting, I reminded him of Isaiah 53:5 which corresponds with1 Peter 2:24, ‘By his wounds you were healed’ – and Psalm 30:2, ‘Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me.’ I then prayed against this depression, claiming release and healing in Jesus’ name.
And he did! All heaviness left and later he told me he had the best night’s sleep.
Good successful connections
Back to Wigglesworth’s challenge – Don’t be satisfied with one’s spiritual attainments… long for more! God is still looking for spiritually hungry, thirsty people.
When we reach out to neighbours, strangers unsaved or Christian, we’re acting on behalf of Jesus… he’s in heaven awaiting God’s timing to return and we are, as it were, Jesus in the neighbourhood!
The Holy Spirit will back us as we hunger for him, and desire to bless others. We encourage Christians to be good neighbours whenever or whatever opportunity comes along. This is embracing and employing practical Christianity!
But… dare to operate the gifts of the Spirit as you sense his whispering in your heart to do so. Your ongoing spiritual attainments will glorify God!
Dr Robert and Pr Maureen McQuillan’s links are OnlinerConnect@gmail.com and Facebook (Scripture/other emphases in this Onliner ours. Appreciated images/pics: various general sources). Links: The Fruit of the Spirit / Geraldine Brandt’s Abiding in the Vine