Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!

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Holy Spirit Power

Reading: John 16: 14-15

I think the same fears that gripped the disciples also grips us.  Without Jesus in their midst, how would the work continue?  Without Jesus leading the way, how do we have the power to do it?  Without Jesus, how do we know what to say or where to go?  They were full of doubt and questions.

Jesus closes out His earthly time by reassuring the disciples that He is not leaving them alone.  He promises them the gift of the Holy Spirit to answer all of their questions and to ease all their fears.  In essence, Jesus is giving them His continued presence in the form of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus assures them that in the Spirit they will find both Him and God.  The coming of the Holy Spirit into their lives will bring them the courage to do the work, the direction on where to go, the guidance on the words to say, and – most importantly – it will be the power of Jesus and God in them.

A frequently asked question on journeys is, “Are we there yet”?  On our journey to complete the great commission the answer to this question is obvious.  If Jesus has not returned yet, we are not there yet.  Until He comes again in glory, our work must continue.  Each follower of Jesus Christ must continue to be at work to bring the good news to all people.

The same fears that gripped the first disciples still grip us.  We ask how, what, where, when, and why questions all the time.  Our answer is the same as theirs was.  Through the power of the Holy Spirit, with God and in Jesus.  We too are called to trust in the presence, guidance, and power of the Holy Spirit.  We too can cast aside our fears and can go out to bring Jesus to the world.  May we go filled with the power of the Holy Spirit and with His light shining out from within!!

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The Plan

Reading: John 16: 12-13

In His time on earth, Jesus began a great work: the salvation of the world.  In His limited time He of three years He brought many to faith.  But more importantly, He laid the groundwork for God’s master plan that continues to reach out, bringing the good news to all nations and to all people.  Jesus began with a small crew and taught them what it looked like to love sacrificially and to love God above all else.  He planned for His work of saving the world to continue on by sending the Holy Spirit.  For the disciples there that day and for us continuing the mission today, the Holy Spirit guides us, speaks into our lives, and empowers us to follow Jesus’ example.

The Spirit empowers us today so that we can continue to do the work that Jesus began.  The unfinished plan continues to draw closer and closer to completion, day by day, new believer by new believer.  Each and every one of us plays a role in the plan through the working out and living out of our faith.  Our lives tell the story of loving God and loving others more than self.  This is a radical and countercultural story.  In our day to day lives we must live as both salt and light.  As light we shine God’s love into the darkness of people’s lives and as salt we bring the aroma and taste of Christ to those in need.

As we are part of the plan, so too will others be a part of the plan.  There are many who have not heard the good news of Jesus Christ.  Many have an inkling of who God is and have heard of Jesus and maybe of His message.  But it is a superficial understanding at best.  As His witnesses in the world, we must enter into the lives of the lost and walk alongside them so that they can come to know the love of Christ.  The love of Christ is life changing once you have really experienced it.  He makes us into a new creation.  May we each carry Jesus Christ to the lost so that through the power of the Holy Spirit, all may come to truly know Jesus as Lord and enter into true life in Christ.

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All of the Time

Reading: Psalm 8: 2

Even though God and His creation draw praise and worship from some, others do not see the beauty and majesty of His creation or acknowledge His power and might.  Instead of lives that steward and protect His world and all He has created, some choose to abuse the earth and its inhabitants for their own gain.  Some even go so far as to murder, to wage war, to pillage the land for its resources.  They ignore or deny God’s existence because it eases their consciences.

In nature we also find occurrences or events that seem to fly in the face of God and His love.  Tsunamis and earthquakes destroy property and kill scores if not hundreds of people.  Disease strikes and takes innocent lives, often too soon or too young.  Individuals or groups carry out heinous crimes or spew hate and we shake our heads.  There is much pain and death and sorrow in this world.  But God does not cause these things to happen.  Violent storms are part of nature; disease and death come to perishable and frail human bodies; and, at times, mental illness occurs or Satan’s plans occasionally win the day.

We can ask where is God in the midst of all this.  We can ask why God doesn’t intervene to keep all harm from His children.  These are hard questions.  But we know the rain falls on the just and on the unjust.  God loves the sinner just as much as the saint.  God does plan good for our lives.  He blesses us with gifts and talents and often with many resources.  He seeks to be in a personal relationship with us.  In the midst of our trials, God sheds tears right along with us.  He seeks to be our rock in the storm, our comforter in the pain.  Simply put, God seeks to be present to us all of the time, in the good and in the bad, not just on some days.  May we too do the same.

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Reading: Psalm 8: 1-4 and 22-31

God’s wisdom calls out to us, seeking to fill us with an understanding and awe of God.  Wisdom calls out from many places to all of mankind.  There are many worthy things she wants to share with humanity.

Wisdom has existed since the beginning – she was there before the formation of the earth and before time began.  Before there were oceans and land, mountains and sky, wisdom was there.  She saw the creation of all things, therefore she understands God’s power and might.  This is part of what wisdom desires to share with us.

Wisdom also wants us to be filled as she is, day by day delighting in God’s presence and power.  Day by day wisdom rejoices in His presence and marvels at His creation.  Day by day she delights in mankind, made in God’s image.  Wisdom recognizes the power and might of God and offers her praise and worship.

This day may we also draw upon wisdom, seeing the power and might of God in the creation and in each other.  Through this, may we too offer our praise and worship.

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Such a God

Reading: Psalm 8

The psalmist writes, “when I consider your heavens, the works of your fingers”.  As we imagine the vastness of the universe we are amazed that God created it all.  But scripture also reveals that God calls each star by name.  It is humbling to be in a relationship with such a God.

When one looks at the relatively small slice of the universe that is planet earth, again we see a complex, widely varied, and stunning creation of His hand as well.  The human mind cannot begin to wrap itself around the intricacy and detail of our world.  Again, it is humbling to think of being in a relationship with such a powerful and huge God.

Add to His creative magnificence the order that is layered over the top of it all and one is left speechless.  If earth were just a fraction closer to or further from our sun, the earth would be radically different.  Life might not even exist on our planet.  So many things function and just are in our world, seemingly moving along on their own.  But we know from the Word that God continues to watch over the plans and mechanisms that He set in motion at the beginning of time.

The psalmist goes on to ask, “what is man that you are mindful of him?”  It is again so humbling to realize that God chose mankind to be over creation.  He placed humanity just under the heavenly beings.  What a special place to occupy in the created order.  And what a task!

In spite of all the wonder of creation, still more amazing is that our God knows each hair on our head and calls each one of us by name.  The God who made and knows billions of billions of stars by name and set this vastly complex world into motion also knows each of us by name.  Not only that, but He also seeks and desires to be in a personal relationship with each one of us.  Our response?  To bring Him praise and glory and honor in all we do.

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Peace, Justification, Mercy

Reading: Romans 5: 1-2

Our faith brings peace with God, a status of being justified, and an outpouring of His grace.  Once we have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord of our life, we are made into a new creation within our new relationship with Him.  Through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which we celebrated yesterday on Pentecost, we are forever changed.

Instead of living with the fears and worries of the world, we now walk in God’s peace.  We walk here because we know that as a new creation we are a child of God.  We are now in His hands.  Our hope rests secure.

The Spirit of God works in us to justify us or to make us right before God.  Through the act of taking on all of our sins on the cross, Jesus paid the price for those sins.  Justice has been administered so we do not need to live under the weight of our sins.  Because of His blood that was shed, our sins are atoned for.  All we need to do to be justified before God is to repent and to confess our sins.  Then we again can walk in His ways.  We bear no punishment; the price has been paid.  Therefore, once we seek His forgiveness, we are again justified before God.

Through faith in Christ we go one step further: mercy.  Forgiveness says our sins are not held against us.  Mercy says they are forgotten.  This is a big step.  As humans we tend to forgive but not to forget.  But not so with God.  There is no giant Rolodex of our sins in heaven.  Once we repent and confess our sins to God, His mercy kicks in and for God our sins are no more.  This demonstrates the depth of His love for each of us.  Nothing we can do lessens His love for us.  For the peace He brings, for the justified relationship He offers, and for the mercy that makes us pure as new fallen snow, we simply say thanks be to God.

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Pentecost Ripples

Reading: Acts 2: 1-21

On the day of Pentecost the Spirit came and began to fill the hearts of the believers.  Like a stone that is thrown in a lake, the ripples spread slowly but steadily out from the center, out from Jesus, out from Jerusalem.  The power of the Holy Spirit is shown in how far those ripples went: to the ends of the earth.  As His followers today we continue to be a part of this motion; we continue to go out and faithfully follow the Holy Spirit, bringing good news to all the corners of our world.

On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit entered in a new way.  With this new entrance, God began a new creation.  God is all around us.  Jesus the man came and lived among us.  The Holy Spirit comes and lives inside of each of us.  This is a different relationship, a different dynamic.  Like the ripple in the water, the Spirit is inside of us, seeking to radiate out in all directions.  The infinite love of God dwells in the heart of each believer, making them a new creation.

On the day of Pentecost, those first disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to change the world almost immediately.  The Word of God was spoken and many were baptized and came to know Jesus as Lord and Savior.  On this day of Pentecost, the Spirit continues to fill the hearts of all believers, old and new, eager to move in and through them.  On this day of Pentecost, may we too be filled with the breath of God, allowing the Holy Spirit of God to move in and through us.

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Spiritual Life

Reading: Psalm 104: 24-34 & 35b

In the Psalm today we see the timelessness of the Holy Spirit.  The psalmist writes of the Holy Spirit coming and breathing life into all of the creatures of the earth.  We see a similar giving of life in Ezekiel 37 where the dry bones are covered in tissues and flesh but require the Breath or Spirit to come into them to give life.

At Pentecost, the life given is a spiritual life, not a physical life.  When the Holy Spirit descended on those first believers, they were physically alive.  But when the Spirit entered them they were born anew, not of flesh and bone, but of the Spirit of God.  They were each made into a new creation as they were filled with a power and presence unlike anything before.  The living and active presence of God was now here to dwell in the hearts of all who call on Jesus as Lord and Savior.  The physical sign of the flames that descended on each there that first Pentecost demonstrated that the Holy Spirit is not limited to one place or time and is not limited in its presence.

Just as the Spirit breathes physical life into all things, the Spirit can breathe spiritual life into all of humanity.  Just as the power and presence empowered the first disciples to take the message of Jesus to Jerusalem, Samaria, and across the known world, so too does the same Holy Spirit enable us to take the same good news out into the whole world.  Just as the first disciples allowed the Holy Spirit to set them on fire for sharing the good news, may we also be lit ablaze with the light and love of Jesus Christ as well!

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The Gift of the Holy Spirit

Reading: Romans 8: 14-17

At Pentecost the gift of the Holy Spirit changes us in two ways.  First, with the daily presence of the Spirit in our lives, the connection to God is constant and direct.  It allows the Spirit of Jesus to be in each of us all of the time.  So as He was in the Father and the Father was in Him, so are we in the Father and the Father is in us.  It is because of this new connection that we live as heirs in the kingdom and, as such, are now God’s children.  As Christ’s brothers and sisters, we are now able to share both in His glory and in His suffering.  Our identity is now in Christ.  We become bound to Him, not to the things of this world.  We pursue Christ, not power or wealth or fame.

The second change is in our connection to one another.  With the daily presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we are connected to one another as well.  We are brothers and sisters together in Christ.  The importance of this relationship cannot be overstated.  As we continue on our journey of faith, we walk together.  Instead of feeling alone, isolated, or scared, we feel fellowship, bonds of love, and encouragement.  Instead of stumbling in our sin and wondering how we will get back into a right relationship with God, there is a hand of a brother or sister reaching out to help us to get back on track.  Instead of looking around and worrying about what others think of us, we are surrounded by the community of the faithful, who know we are all broken and sinful, yet love us unconditionally anyway.

Once we enter into the family of God, our future is secure.  We no longer worry about the things of this world.  We no longer chase after things that do not last.  Our goal and our focus become growing in our faith and in our relationships, both with Christ and with one another.  Each day becomes a gift back to God, seeking to honor and bless Him in all we do.

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Ever Closer

Reading: John 14: 25-27

When the Holy Spirit comes into our lives, we are made a new creation.  We are born again, not of flesh and bone but of the Spirit.  When we can claim this new birth, offered and paid for through Christ’s work on the cross, we are justified.  Being justified or made right with God means that the punishment we deserve for our sins is forgiven.  Once we are justified we are now part of God’s new creation.  Through the power of the cross, and out of God’s unending and unwavering love for us, His forgiveness is given over and over again.  Just as His mercy is new every morning, so too do we become new creations each day.

As our new selves we are freed from the chains of sin and death so that we can begin to grow into the new creation.  We are no longer tethered to the things of this world so we can begin to grow daily in our relationship with Christ.  We can start to become the person God created us to be.  We learn more and more who Christ is and who He calls us to be as we grow in our faith.  To do so we need to be taught and guided and redirected at times.  To help us on our journey, the Holy Spirit comes into our lives.  When we proclaim Jesus and Lord, the Spirit enters into our being and becomes our teacher.

Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would do two things.  It would first teach us all we need to know and that it would bring us peace.  On our journey to become more and more like Christ, there is much we need to learn.  The Holy Spirit is our constant companion, revealing, reminding, correcting, guiding, and teaching us as we move along the path to spiritual maturity.  On this journey we also come to understand better and better that God’s love for us never fails.  We come to know that we can do nothing to make Him love us more or to love us less.  This brings peace.  Peace to know that when we struggle and even when we fail, He still loves us.  His mercies never fail.  This day may the Spirit draw us ever closer to Jesus, the perfector of our faith, the one true way.