Acts 16:6-7 …having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. When they had come opposite Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them…
Don’t be discouraged when the direction in which you are trying to go is either interrupted or changed. Everyone is not going to be ready for what you have to offer. The spirit of Christ will reveal the direction in which you need to follow. The challenge is having the patience to listen so that we can hear what the spirit is saying. The Apostle Paul tried several times to preach in the province of Asia but the Holy Spirit wouldn’t let him. While he rested it was revealed to Paul that the people of Macedonia were crying out for him and his disciples to come to them. Paul changed his course and it was this journey that led him to a group of women at the river eager to listen and become disciples of the risen Lord. In the same way that God opened the mind of Paul and the heart of Lydia and the other women at the river, he will open our heart and mind to hear him so that we will always know the way to go. We may not always know God’s vision but God always knows ours.
In the Hebrew Scriptures, the gift of the spirit was specifically anointed on certain people. Not until the New Testament is the gift of the spirit poured out on the world both Jewish and Gentile. In retrospect, from a human point of view, making the gift of the Holy Spirit available for anyone seems to me a huge risk on God’s part. For those who believe in its power and authority, such a gift in the wrong hands can prove devastating to the one who possesses it, if not properly used. Certainly in biblical times there were many who did just that, using trickery, and false witness to convince others of their authority thus causing people to turn away from God’s truth. (And) Even now when storms, distractions or disillusionment happens we become vulnerable to the trickery, and false witness of this day as well, and we turn away from what God has promised. But what about God’s point of view? Though we can’t presume to know God’s thoughts, the fact that Pentecost occurred and given the gift of the Holy Spirit through his son; who does such a magnanimous, and some would say awesome, philanthropic act as to make available a free gift with such power and authority? I have to ask of myself, how is it that a gift so generously given, when received is either selectively used or used with severe abuse? Surely God already knew at least by that point that the risks were at best 50/50, some believing, while others just shrug it off. As time moves on, of course the risks become greater as some, believers and non-believers, now claim to possess the spirit without evidence of really having it. Surely today with all of the distractions and disillusionment of what we see and what really is; the thought of the Holy Spirit reconciling our hearts to the mind of God in the midst of struggle (storm, distractions, doubt, fear etc.) seems like an overwhelming task, yet clinging to the hope of this ultimate goal continues to live on today. As the world turns and we become more attached to tangible things, our journey toward reaching the intangible seems harder and longer to reach. Perhaps however, in God’s way of thinking, abandoning this hope even if only for a few was never an option and it seems that Pentecost (the gift of the Holy Spirit) perhaps, is not God’s ultimate act towards his creation. Otherwise, what would be the purpose of taking the risk?
In you, O Lord, I seek refuge;
do not let me ever be put to shame;
in your righteousness deliver me.
Incline your ear to me;
rescue me speedily.
Be a rock of refuge for me,
a strong fortress to save me.
You are indeed my rock and my fortress;
for your name’s sake lead me and guide me,
take me out of the net that is hidden for me,
for you are my refuge.
My times are in your hand;
deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors.
Let your face shine upon your servant;
save me in your steadfast love.
In our own lives, deliverance in the midst of the struggles always seem to be longer than we would like it to be. However, when it comes, it I liken it to an avalanche almost without warning because we don’t know when it is going to happen but we do know by faith that it will happen. We then realize that by God’s love we are safely guided atop the landslide and not left buried beneath it. Our lamentation and our praise does not go unnoticed. Christ’s Resurrection is our blessed assurance.
1 Peter 4:1-8The end of all things is near; therefore be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers. Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins.
When you look at me what do you see? I want you to see the color of my skin. I want you to see the red hues that emanate as a result of my Cherokee heritage on my father’s side and the lightness in my eyes from the German ancestry on my mother’s side. I want you to see the dryness of my crinkly locks and yet feel the fineness of its touch. I want you to see the fullness in my lips and the roundness of my hips, it’s the way you created me. I had nothing to do with it.
When I look at you, I see everything as an expression of my love and a vehicle for my glory. Everything I create is a variation of the same theme like a symphony of life that plays over and over again. Purposely, the color, texture and depth change, but the rhythm remains the same forever connected to its composer. Each phrase is uniquely different. Each phrase is uniquely beautiful. Each phrase is uniquely mine, all culminating to its highest level of authority, greatness and power.
When God looks at each of us he sees pass the obvious.
John 9:1-3As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him.
Mark 1:40-41 A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, ‘If you choose, you can make me clean.’ Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, ‘I do choose.
John 8:1-11The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, they said to him, …what do you say?When they kept on questioning him, he said to them, ‘Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.
Lent: Day 6 – To those who claim to know a little bit about everything, does that include your knowledge of Christ? If so, where does that really place you in the larger scheme of things, among the foolish or the wise? Consider the eleven sons of Israel (Jacob), who thought they knew God’s plan for their lives, without realizing their devious participation in their own destiny. Ponder the first four disciples Jesus called to follow him. They were fisherman, who as Mark tells us, left the one thing they knew in depth, to pursue the one thing they knew only as a promise through scripture. However great or small, what ever we know about God through Christ, must take precedence over everything we think we know in this world. God’s word not only has power, it has ultimate authority. Our knowledge is challenged everyday. Do we have the courage to accept what we know about God in Christ, great or small, and allow that knowledge to lead in every situation of our lives? Do we have the courage to believe that surely God’s plan for our life throughout this journey is far greater than anything we could foolishly or wisely design for our selves? Perhaps, now is the time to increase that knowledge of Him, for no plan is greater than God’s plan.
Genesis 37:12-24So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, …and they took him and threw him into a pit.
Mark 1:14-28And immediately they left their nets and followed him.
1 Corinthians 1:20-31Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.’
Psalm 47For the Lord, the Most High, is awesome, a great king over all the earth.
How often do we look back on the “days of old” and wish for certain aspects of our lives to be possible again? When Joseph and Mary, after a days journey found there son not among the group returning to Nazareth, any parent could imagine the overwhelming fear of having a lost child not realizing that his destiny was beginning to come into fruition. Having been told the prophecy on his life, surely not at such a young age would they have to accept that his childhood would be forever changed? I know for myself I loved the infancy stage of my children’s life. However, what is most rewarding for me is seeing the flashes of maturity, as they get older until they reach the fullest manifestation of God’s purpose in their lives. At birth, Joseph and Mary knew that Jesus was, is, and would be today the fullest manifestation of God’s purpose. Yet my guess is, Joseph and Mary weren’t ready and would have thoroughly enjoyed the occasional flashes of maturity. They wanted their little boy along side with them as long as possible. The question for us today is now that we know, are we ready for his return within us? Are we rising or falling on his every word? Can the childhood days of old really compare to the promise of reward in the life of the risen Christ?
There is a difference between going after something because of what you can get out of it and going after something because you believe in its power or authority to change or transform for not only your life but the lives of others. A champion athlete learns through focus and discipline that being the best brings him fame and glory. Not until the champion realizes that focus and discipline also helps to increase self-confidence, positivity, and drive, then uses the benefits of that gift to help others gain focus and discipline, that it may enhance other lives in whatever they choose to pursue. Elijah was anointed with the gift of prophecy, yet he was running away from the people to whom he was to prophecy. God directed him to go back to the “wilderness” that existed in the city of Damascus! God has a plan and a purpose for the gifts he has given each us. He will protect us in his plan and he will guide us in his plan. In the end we will have participated in his greatest reward; that being the legacy of God’s enduring love.
“Christmas isn’t just a day it’s a frame of mind, and that’s what’s been changing.” Miracle on 34th Street (1947) kind of reminds me of what it might be like if Jesus himself decided to physically pay earth a visit just before the rapture in an effort to save a few more people, and I found that one of those persons was me! As people get wind of his presence there is both excitement and fear. Immediately, the plot to discredit his existence is put into full motion. Where might Jesus find me in this story? Will I be the child who has been told there is no Christ? Will I be the mother who has been hurt by past relationships and now has difficulty accepting anything that is “intangible” without tangible proof? Perhaps Jesus may find me as a prosecutor or judge “just doing my job” in spite of the voices urging me not to participate and “wash my hands of the matter.” Or will I be the friend who is ready to defend simply on the basis of believing because “Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to.” I know where I strive to be. I also know that things don’t always work out the way we want but they do work out for good (Romans 8:28). Also, I for one, happen to believe in angels from God. They are the many people God places in our lives who love, encourage, and support us when we need it. They remind us of whom we are in Christ. They are also the people we don’t see, perhaps six degrees of separation, but because God’s Spirit realms over all the earth we reap in abundance because the laborers continually sow. Some call it luck and others call it miracles. I call it God.
There is so much more in this story such as when Santa Clause, out of frustration for a moment gives in, but the lawyer who believes, convinces him that he mattered to those who believe and those beginning to believe. The theme reminded me of God deciding to not go with the Israelites into the Promise Land, and Moses speaks with God on behalf of the people (Exodus 32). God does in fact honor Moses request, but that’s another blog for another day. View the movie for yourself. I am sure you will find some interesting themes as well.
For nothing will be impossible with God (Luke 1:26-38). This is a message for all ages and for ages to come. Yet in this age, one week before we celebrate God’s greatest act of love, there are many who do not believe. How can this be? They do not believe in the possibility of God. They do not believe in God’s possibilities. Really, what is life without possibilities, especially the ones we would never (not that we couldn’t) imagine? Here am I, the servant of the Lord was Mary’s response to the Angel Gabriel. What would be our response if we could know beforehand that something impossible were to be made possible? Would we then believe? What would have to happen to really make us believe that God’s plan really is far greater than anything we would accomplish on our own? Mary’s encounter with the Angel encourages us that even in the face of what may seem to be a discouraging time, we don’t have to limit all the possibilities faith in God has to offer. Lord let it be with me (too), according to your word.
Psalm 89:1-4I will sing of your steadfast love, O Lord forever; with my mouth I will proclaim your faithfulness to all generations. I declare that your steadfast love is established forever; your faithfulness is as firm as the heavens.
I lift up my eyes to the hills—from where will my help come (Psalm 121)? You know it’s never too late, and there is no “right” time to care. Any day is the “right day” for the one who has nothing to lose and everything to gain. This of course is the time of year when you don’t have to look too hard to find a really good human-interest story. Sometimes, I can’t help but wonder; “What if one day I awoke to find that I am the human-interest story?” When I lift my eyes to the hills, whose face will I see?
Matthew 25:31-46“Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me” …“Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”