The Spirit of God’s grace and mercy in every generation is like new wine in old wineskins (Luke 5:27-39). Old traditions simply burst as they make way for new ones. It doesn’t mean that old traditions no longer have use. That would be like disregarding every good thing our parents taught us. In every generation the Spirit will not be confined, limited or defined. As we live our own lives, the old continues to exist within us to support a renewed understanding of God’s grace and mercy every day.
…for which is greater, the gold or the sanctuary… the gift or the altar? Matthew 23:13-26 Throughout life we are constantly faced with making decisions from the mundane to the critical. For me without a doubt the most difficult ones surround life and death. In terms of a temple or a church, the sanctuary and the altar are physical places of refuge, redemption and reconciliation. It is a gathering place for believers in the one God, who ideally created the Holy in each of us, from the inside out. To have such a place is indeed a blessing. Yet for various reasons so many don’t have or know such a place or can’t get to it. Admittedly, there have been times when I couldn’t get there myself. There were times when Christ could not be found at the temple, but instead alone in a place where God met the sanctuary and altar of the Holy created within him. He was what God wanted other people to see. We are called to build the body of Christ and the Holy created by God within us must become what God wants other people to see for those who have no place or can’t get to it. For which is greater, the gold or the refuge; the gift or the redemption and reconciliation?
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Gehazi, the servant of Elisha… thought, ‘My master has let that Aramean Naaman off too lightly … I will run after him and get something out of him.’ 2 Kings 5:19-27 My thoughts have gotten me into so much trouble! If we are not careful our thoughts will lead us astray. Particularly when they are tied to negative or painful emotions. Even the smallest of such emotions can influence our actions. Our next move is preceded by what we think. What others perceive about us is followed by our next move. In faith, we don’t have to worry about what others perceive about us, only what we perceive about ourselves in Christ and let our actions reveal who we are and to whom we belong. Through Christ perceptions can be changed. Let the unleavened bread of the Holy Spirit empower your thoughts today.
Do you not know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? 1 Corinthians 5:1-8
… and through us spreads in every place the fragrance that comes from knowing him. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing… 2 Corinthians 1:23-2:17 Coffee in the morning always seems to permeate my home. While the presence of it doesn’t necessarily dictate my day, the aroma alerts me to the gift that is morning. Every morning is a another opportunity to be blessed by the Holy Spirit which is poured out by God. Let us this day allow the fragrance of the Holy Spirit to be poured out through us in order that others may be blessed as well.
Divided tongues as of fire… Acts 2:1-21 The gas stove we had in my childhood home sometimes wouldn’t light. So as one might guess the oven required the assistance of lighted of a match. I’d seen my mother do this many times and I was quite confident that I was ready to get the oven preheated as she had instructed me. So when the oven did not light this particular time I preceded to reach for the matches that were kept in the nearby drawer. However, I did not turn the oven off to keep the gas from filling up inside. By the time I reached down and stuck my hand and head in just far enough to see the pilot it was good and ready for a flame. Before I knew it the oven came to life as a coiled tongue of fire lit up and extended itself outside of the oven like a micro-explosion and sent me flying backwards against the wall knocking over a few things in the process. My mother rushed downstairs to see that indeed the oven had been lit and her youngest daughter sprawled out on the floor. My mother realized what had happened and after making sure that I wasn’t hurt, she looked at me kind of funny as if she’d seen a ghost then burst out laughing. I had a halo of singed hair around my face including my eyebrows and eyelashes. Although shocked by the impact, I am here today to testify that tongues of fire will indeed change you.
I am convinced that my own early experience with flames of fire was for the purpose of telling the truth about Pentecost being alive today ready to singe the hair on our faces that we may speak with boldness about the Gospel and live according to it’s message of love in order that others may also come to experience the power of the Holy Spirit! When the believers in Jerusalem were hit with those tongues of fire resting perfectly on each of them – as they opened their mouths to speak in their own language, I believe only one message was being spoken and one message was being heard; God’s deeds of power through Christ to love God and love neighbor as self. Every time we open our mouths to speak we will be heard in any language because of how we love God and love one another – clear indications of who we are as disciples of Christ. Because of Pentecost we live singed by fire and changed by Love!
…he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” John 20:19-31 The Holy Spirit within has feelings. Sometimes our spirit mourns. Other times our spirit rejoices. The Good News – we have a great high priest who has felt the gamut of those emotions, Jesus Christ. We are reconciled with Christ by each an every one of those emotions but now rather than use them as a hindrance, we must use them as our strength to do the work to which God has called us. As we proclaim his death, proclaim his resurrection, and proclaim his coming again; in the hearing, our very breath becomes an extension of his life.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Psalm 150:6
Dance is an art, an expression of creative skill and imagination. It often involves rhythmic movement of the body to music, such as with Ballet, African and Folk, but can also be expressed without instrumental sound such as Step Dance or when telling a story. What better way to communicate the nine fruits of the spirit than with the art of nine ladies dancing? The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23), all attributes that don’t always come so easily except through the Holy Spirit. Thus, may the fruit of the Holy Spirit be an art expressed among each of us this year.
By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. Galatians 5:22-23
Black Swans, rare in most parts of the world, are quite common in Southern Australia. Metaphoric references to black swans have been used in contrast to white swans, long before they were actually known to exist. Black or White – Swans are beautifully graceful creatures. Perhaps we are given seven graces for the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, which, we receive when we allow the Holy Spirit to dwell within us.
The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide by what his ears hear;
After this he went out and saw a tax-collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he got up, left everything, and followed him. Luke 5:27-39
What made Levi leave his livelihood? Physically, Levi wasn’t a broken man. In fact he was rather well off, having the resources to throw Jesus a great banquet in his home. Perhaps we should all have such resources, except that our resources have nothing to do with who or why God calls us to follow him. So, how is it that Christ can affect the lives of both fisherman and tax collectors? Perhaps the answer, is in that with which we choose to struggle and alternatively, that which we choose to yield or give in to. Clearly, God sees what we can not see when seeking out his own. Christ himself says that he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out; “I know my own and my own know me” (John 10:1-16). In the physical life we choose to live, there are highs as well as periods of struggle when the pressure of expectation to produce and provide overwhelms us. But Christ doesn’t necessarily call us out of the physical life. Instead Christ calls us into the Spiritual life, a consciousness that leads us toward a greater presence with God. As the Holy Spirit is eternal, the Good News is that God is always calling us. What remains is whether we choose to follow or choose to ignore it and go our own way.
An entrepreneurial spirit doesn’t wait for others to follow, it just moves on with or without the support of others because it believes in what it was called to do. It is passionate, goal-oriented, disciplined, organized, driven, energetic, positive, and detail-oriented. We are blessed to have this kind of spirit moving on our behalf; the Holy Spirit. In the midst of doing what we believe ourselves are called to do in Christ, we have only to move with it and we too can share in its character. We’ve already been given the best product there is – Love and Service. Thanks be to God!
Galatians 5:25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.