Jesus Our Model for Spirit-Filled Living

“…The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.
JOHN 14:10

Spirit-empowered living is a promise for every follower of Jesus. Jesus modelled for us how to live in the power of the Spirit. When we read about Jesus doing miracles and
living a sinless life, if we are honest, we may think, “Well, he was God; of course he could do all those things and live perfectly.” Yet, Scripture teaches that Jesus, while being fully God, was also completely human. Jesus, in his human capacity, limited himself to live and work in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.

Here are a few examples of Jesus’ relationship with the Spirit:

• The Holy Spirit descended on him at his baptism (Luke 3:22)
• Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert (Luke 4:1)
• The Spirit of the Lord was on Jesus and anointed him (Luke 4:18)
• The power of the Lord was present for Jesus to heal the sick ( Luke 5:17)

Peter summarizes Jesus’ ministry in Acts 10:38: “…God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.”

Jesus had a practice of going to a solitary place to pray. It is fair to assume that in those moments, Jesus listened to the Father’s instructions and submitted to the Spirit. God longs to display his power and glory by empowering us with his Spirit. The model of Jesus living in submission and obedience to his Father and the Spirit invites us to do the same.


1. How does Jesus’ example of only doing what the Father instructed challenge me?
2. Ask God to increase both your dependence on the Spirit and your faith to expect his unexplainable power to work in your context.

Joanne Beach serves the C&MA in Canada as the Director of Alliance Justice and Compassion.

Why There Will Always Be a Church

As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. — 1 PETER 2:4–5 (ESV)

When the apostle Peter was wrapping up the first of his letters in the New Testament, he wrote about his readers being restored, confirmed, strengthened and established by the God of all grace. Who were these readers? They were people who, by coming to Christ, had become “like living stones” and were being built up as “a spiritual house;” at the same time and place, they were also “a holy priesthood.”

Plainly, God’s intention to establish, strengthen, confirm and restore his people has everything to do with them becoming and remaining stones in the walls of a temple where God is properly worshipped; it also has everything to do with them becoming holy priests offering “spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

What we can see in this is that an actual church requires its people to be involved so that the church does not become a temple with gaping holes in the walls, or a temple with priests missing. A real church needs real Christians so that it can be what God, by his grace, has created the Church to be. Real Christians need a real church in order to be the people that God, by his grace, has promised to restore, confirm, strengthen and establish them to be. That is why there will always be a Church.

1. From 1 Peter 2:4–5, in which specific ways do participation in church life and being Christ-centred relate to one another?

2. Can I identify any personal tendencies or points of view that hold me back from a more wholehearted involvement in an actual church?

Mike Wilkins has been the pastor of West London Alliance Church since 1984. He and his wife, Deb, who works for Compassion Canada, have three adult children who live in Tokyo, Los Angeles and London, ON.

Extravagant Devotion


Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.”
MARK 14:4–5

Before Jesus went to the cross, the religious leaders plotted his death, and Judas planned his betrayal. An unnamed woman broke an expensive glass bottle and poured a precious anointment on Jesus’ head, filling the room with fragrance to honour the Messiah.

Some of his disciples were outraged by the disruption and the waste: ‘A year’s wages poured out for nothing!’ They began berating this uninvited guest for pressing her way into the middle of their gathering. Her action was offensive to those with an eye for financial responsibility and a more inhibited idea of how to love Jesus. They missed an important moment.

Jesus stopped them from further shaming her extravagant devotion. He understood the meaning behind her action and told them to leave her alone. This was not wasteful but rather a beautiful thing. Her act of devotion was a final expression of tenderness before Judas betrayed him. This anointing must have been precious to Jesus, as he knew he was soon to experience lashes, beatings, a crown of thorns and nails driven into his hands and feet.

She gave all she had, serving Jesus when others did not. She recognized who Jesus was, and she was willing to take a great risk to demonstrate her love for him.

Standing in contrast to those who plotted and betrayed, and to disciples who did not understand, this woman will be remembered for her so-called “wasteful” act of devotion. Her legacy is the declaration of the importance of love, kindness and care for others, which worship Jesus.


1. Our hearts may struggle to identify with this woman and her brash devotion in the midst of sensible indifference and betrayal. Can we bring our mediocrity to Jesus and ask him for the courage to love as she did?
2. What am I willing to risk to worship Jesus? Reputation? Finances? Popularity?

Mardi Dolfo-Smith is the Discipleship Pastor of North Shore Alliance Church. She is married to Toni, and they have four “almost adult” children.

Image: Worlds most expensive perfume: Clive Christian Imperial Majesty ($215,000)

Jesus the Refugee

When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
MATTHEW 2:13–15

This may be a strange Scripture passage to write a devotion from, but it is a personal reminder for me of the plight of millions of people around our globe. In our North
American context, we often think of Jesus as the Shepherd, the Saviour King, the Messiah and the Healer; how often do we think of Jesus as the Homeless or the Refugee?

I was born a refugee, a child of parents who fled war-torn Vietnam and, through God’s grace, ended up in an internment camp on the island of Hong Kong where my family came to know Jesus.

Today, there are over 51 million people around the world who are forcibly displaced from their homes ( I am thankful that our family of churches is beginning to respond to
the needs of refugees, but there is still a great need to be met. After landing in Canada, many refugees find themselves exhausted, distressed and in need of care and social aid. We have an incredible opportunity to respond as Christ-followers to the needs of refugees who come to Canada, as well as those who remain in refugee camps.

Next time you read Jesus’ birth story, consider Christ’s words “…whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matt. 25:40).

1. Who are the refugees around me?
2. How can my church community be involved in the plight of displaced people around the world?

Thich Truong, his wife Alyssa and their toddler, Elliott, serve at Emmanuel Alliance Church in Ottawa, ON. He is passionate about the Church’s role in justice and reconciliation.

For information on refugee sponsorship, visit:

Image: An Iraqi woman from Mosul carries her son at the Garmava transit camp, which is located near a checkpoint on the road between Mosul and Duhok in Iraqi Kurdistan. The camp will have the capacity to host some 3,000 people
© UNHCR/S.Baldwin

Naturally Supernatural

And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.
ACTS 5:32 (NRSV)

The role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Christ-follower invariably generates conflict in the Christian community. Few biblical subjects are more electrifying and controversial. The witness of the Scriptures, however, is unambiguous. Jesus Christ and his first generation of followers were indisputably energized by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the eternal Gospel
of salvation for humankind. Embroiled in the cosmic conflict between the forces of light and darkness, their lives were conduits of divine power manifested in spectacular and subtle ways. Miraculous signs and wonders in the form of healings and exorcisms were complemented by gentle yet impactful words of wisdom spoken in conversation. Receiving unusual guidance through dreams and visions was normal in a Spirit-filled church culture, which birthed and shaped dynamic faith in the lives of converts.

Expectation of communication between the divine and human pervaded first-century worship gatherings. They were animated by public prophetic utterances and prayers in tongues alongside instruction and common meals. Early Christians lived with extraordinary generosity and prayerful boldness. Their spirituality was naturally supernatural and supernaturally natural. They were elevated above dependence on their natural capabilities and intimately connected to the Holy Spirit from whom empowerment came. They listened confidently for the Divine voice to guide them, trusting for provision and protection in what they were called to do.

The consequences of their risk-taking lifestyle were often unpredictable. Remarkable evangelistic success and excruciating suffering, even martyrdom, went hand-in-hand in the lives of the early church members.

In our time, we will flourish when we listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying to the global Church; through genuine repentance, we will recover a personal and collective inspired, courageous and winsome Christ-centred life only possible in the Spirit.

1. Do I sense empowerment by the Holy Spirit in my life? Am I listening to his promptings?
2. What do I need to learn about the ministry of the Holy Spirit with which I am not currently familiar?

Charles Nienkirchen is a Professor of Christian History and Spirituality at Ambrose University in Calgary, AB.

The image above is a real flower commonly known as the White Egret: a species of orchid found in China, Japan, Korea and Russia.

A Hug for My Sister

Father to the fatherless, defender of widows—this is God, whose dwelling is holy. God places the lonely in families…
PSALM 68:5-6 (NLT)

“When you hug me, I feel in you the family love of my mother, my aunt, my sister….” These words spoken by a new Canadian often come back to my mind. The middle-
aged woman was telling me about her arrival in Canada and how much she missed her family and the warmth of her close relationships. She explained that when other women, long-time Canadians, show her affection, she receives this care as coming from them but also as a welcome substitution for her mom’s, her aunt’s, her sister’s expressions of love.

David used lavish and extravagant language when he wrote Psalm 68. One word picture after another describes God’s power, his justice, his care, his protection. The psalm ends with our only possible response: “…Praise be to God” (v. 35).

The Spirit of this absolutely praiseworthy and powerful God lives in us. It is difficult to wrap our minds around the two opposite realities of this truth: our frail humanity is juxtaposed with our mind-blowing potential for being and displaying his love and power in our world!

When we go to church, we worship God, we learn more about him, and we enjoy his people, but we also have a great opportunity to embrace the lonely into our families. In the foyer after the meeting, we can say by hugging a new Canadian, “You are my sister in Christ; I love you.” When we walk down our street or go to the coffee shop, we can actively look for lonely people and know that God, through us, is embracing them with a smile and, step by step, is drawing them into his big family.


1. At my church, is there a new Canadian who needs to feel the love of a new family? What can we do to embrace them?
2. Every time I go out for coffee, can I make warm eye contact with the servers and notice their name and smile? Can my smile cue me to ask God’s Spirit to draw them into his family?

Myra Brown, a member of Southview Alliance Church, volunteers in Calgary’s immigrant sector. Myra, a former International Worker in Africa, served on the Global Ministries Leadership Team of the C&MA for nine years.

Celebration Sunday

Sundays are not counted among the forty days of Lent because each Sunday represents a “mini-Easter” – a celebration of Jesus’ victory over sin and death.

Celebrate what God has been doing in your life through these devotionals with thousands of others on this journey.

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