Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

God Is With Us

weekly theme #4 God Is With Us*  

week containing the fourth Sunday of Advent

Immanuel, is a name that means “God with us”.  Immanuel, Jesus, stands near to me, wanting me to accept his love and desiring mine in return.  I would best show my love by going beyond sentiment to worship and obedience.  However, I am overwhelmed with material goods: a house with heat, cooling, running water, clothing, vehicles, books, electronics, and the list goes on.  All these things more firmly plant my feet in loving this world.  Those like me call those who have few possessions “the poor”, but I know in my heart they are not poor.  I am the poor one.  My happiness rises and falls by my possessions and comforts.  When I step back and examine my life, by what standards should I use to measure my riches – comforts or kindness?  Yes, I’m afraid that I am the poor one.

I can’t give what I don’t have.  That appears to be sound reasoning, and I’m sure I’ve used that line myself although I can’t remember when.  (I’m having trouble with my memory becoming slower and less organized, and that leads me to my point.)  Sometimes I can’t give even what I have.  When I consider myself the storehouse for what I can give, it limits my giving by capacity, access, and current relevance.  It seems better for me to connect to the perfect Source, Model, and Provider and let him provide through me.  Remaining a tool connected to the LORD, through the Holy Spirit, allows me to give two things I can never give from myself – everything and anything.

Sometimes I catch myself at the bottom of a page in a book and I don’t remember anything I’ve read.  Sometimes I realize that I have driven for miles and I don’t remember any of it.  I’ve been so engaged in a conversation (or TV show!) that I don’t notice what is going on around me.  Focus.  My focus determines what I sense.  What I sense impacts my feelings and thoughts, which produce actions (or paralysis), and determines my future.  God is with me, but do I sense him?  He has a prepared a pathway for me, but unless I sense him, I will not follow his path because his path is unknown and impassable unless he is with me. (Ephesians 2:10 & Psalm 77:19)

God has been with us since the beginning of human life, but Jesus’ sacrificial birth began a path for me to receive even more.  Through no merit of my own, God is in me.

*A Guide To Prayer For Ministers And Other Servants by Job and Shawchuck provided the scripture references and readings that inspired these reflections.  I found this devotional to be the most heart changing of any I’ve used.  It truly lives up to its title.

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The Kingdom Comes

weekly theme #42 The Kingdom Comes*  

week containing the Sunday between August 14 and 20

What is the Kingdom of God (Kingdom of Heaven)?  Where?  When?  I have held those questions for years, and I’m still not sure I have the answers.  Even more, what will I do with the answers if God shows them to me?  What will they do with me?

The Kingdom of God allows me to participate in its operation, expansion, and development.  In fact, God has entrusted me with important work.  All his children have important work, but it’s only possible to complete when we cooperate with him in action, thought, and prayer.

I think parts of God’s Kingdom are invisible without the Spirit’s insight.  Without his insight, I tend only to see man’s kingdoms, and I lose direction, hope, and purpose.

It seems that truth and worship are consistent indicators of where God’s Kingdom exists.  I know there are other indicators as well, but as I write this morning, I’m struck by these two specific qualities.  I’ve seen the damage done by deception of truth, and I can feel the decline of worship and awe that it causes within me.  Specifically related to worship, I’m particularly sorrowful for how repeated exposure has numbed me to the profane use of the names Jesus, Lord, God, and Christ.  Maybe this is part of deception as well – something so holy being gradually eroded to the level of a curse.

I still have more questions than answer regarding God’s Kingdom.  Is it here?  Is it coming?  I think I can answer both in the affirmative.  In a sense, I’ve seen glimpses of the Kingdom shining through individuals like bright sunlight streaming through a slender opening of the window curtains.  How do I help open the curtain more fully?

*A Guide To Prayer by Job and Shawchuck provided the scripture references and readings that inspired these reflections.  I found this devotional to be the most heart changing of any I’ve used.  It truly lives up to its title.

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Patience

weekly theme #38*

week containing the Sunday between June 17-23

The editors of this devotional didn’t start where I expected, Psalm 37.  I became a little angry when I read verses 25 and 28.  The author of that Psalm, David, says that he has never seen children of the godly begging for bread, and he adds that the Lord loves justice and will keep the godly safe forever.  That is not how I see the conditions around the world!  Yet I admit that this topic, patience, is most relevant when conditions don’t align with how I think they should be.  Patience is hardest when things are the worst.

“Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act.” (Psalm 37:7a)  For a follower of Jesus, there is a connection between patience and trust in God.  Often I think God moves too slow, and I become impatient.  “Too slow” means I have a pace I want to go and God isn’t keeping up.  It is arrogant, and foolish, for me to be impatient with God rather than trusting him.  I heap so many burdens on myself, and others, by my lack of trust in the Lord.  I must work when he calls me to work, but I must remain still, even rest, if he says to wait.  On the other hand, patience may be shown by persistence even when progress seems slow.  Impatience can occur even in the midst of activity.

Patience doesn’t seem to be a stand-alone quality.  Both Paul and Peter name it among other qualities such as mercy, kindness, self-control, and moral excellence to name a few.  I can improve my patience by strengthening surrounding qualities.  In fact, maybe patience is simply a fruit of a holy, obedient life.  Patience is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, thus poor fruit of any type shows a poor connection to the Vine.  I think that connection should be my focus, the fruit is a natural result of the connection.

Some of my impatience is over silly things: a slow line at the grocery, slow traffic, people who don’t do exactly what I think they should, etc.  In the long-term view, is it really worth getting upset?  And the long-term view of God is longer than my lifetime.  My view of mission or purpose is usually limited to my days on earth, but God sees mission or purpose over a period of generations – even centuries.  Nothing I do is a stand-alone success, but it is merely a thread in a tapestry of events.  It is important only as a part of the whole, but in that respect, it is still important.  Without all those individual threads, there is no tapestry.  Patience is being content to be a thread without seeing the final tapestry.

I want to speak these words the next time I become impatient, “Lord, I’m responding with impatience to [event, person, situation, etc].  I give it into your hands.  Your will be done, not mine.”

*A Guide To Prayer by Job and Shawchuck provided the scripture references and readings that inspired these reflections.  I found this devotional to be the most heart changing of any I’ve used.  It truly lives up to its title.

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The Triune God

weekly theme #30*

week containing the first Sunday after Pentecost

 I struggle to write anything about the Trinity.  I find the relationship among Father, Son, and Holy Ghost difficult to grasp, yet I have no trouble believing in a singular God who is manifest in different ways.  Perhaps it’s not as important that I understand their relationship with each other as it is that I embrace their relationship with me and other believers.

Jesus describes his relationship with Father in the fifth chapter of John as “being one”.  In the seventeenth chapter, Jesus prays that his followers would share that closeness with him and with each other.  The path to this unity is through a new way of new way of thinking for me, accompanied by surrender.  Rather than thinking of freedom as me being in control of myself, I can think of freedom as not needing to be in control because God is in control.  I surrender the burden of control because I’m in unity with the One in control.  I am still responsible to take action in obedience to God, but I’m not responsible for the results of my obedience.

As I said, I can’t explain the unity of the Triune God, and my experience of living that unity among other believers has been infrequent, localized, and temporary.  However, the foundational step in that direction is me living in harmony with the Holy Spirit.  If I, as a member of the Body, submit to Christ the Head, it will allow me to be and do exactly what the Body needs.  Unity among the Body begins with my unity with God.

*A Guide To Prayer by Job and Shawchuck provided the scripture references and readings that inspired these reflections.  I found this devotional to be the most heart changing of any I’ve used.  It truly lives up to its title.

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The Church of the Spirit

weekly theme #29*

week containing Pentecost Sunday

“A deep sense of awe came over them all.”  That’s how Acts 2:43 describes the early church.  Seldom do I sense awe, and that is embarrassing to admit.  The Creator of the universe has reached out to me, and he gives his Spirit to dwell within me.  Yet I’m not in awe of this indwelling.  What does that say about me?  I may say that I am so focused on what I am to do that I neglect who I am to be.

I am not to change the world.  God changes the world, and he desires to work through me.  How awesome that is!  And he works through me best when:  1) I allow him to change who I am (my being) from the inside out, and 2) I work in community.  The Holy Spirit is more than feelings.  He is God dwelling within me, and he wants to manifest himself through me if I will surrender my wilfulness to him.  I can live in the illusion that I control my life or surrender my life to the only One who can control it.  I could not follow Christ with the Holy Spirit dwelling within me.  Alone I am too weak to progress against the opposing current of my own bent toward sin, the world’s distractions and opposition, and Satan’s wile and power.  I need to cooperate with the Holy Spirit, making my inner self a welcoming place for the Spirit to reside.  I cannot open the door of my inner self to the very things that oppose spiritual health without damaging the Holy Spirit’s work within me.

The result of my surrender and cooperation is the ability to best function as part of the Body of Jesus.  The Spirit allows clear and continuous communication between all parts of the Body and the Head, who is Christ.  It’s hard to read through the book of Acts and not get focused on the acts of individuals such as Peter, Barnabas, and especially Paul.  Yet the Holy Spirit can move whole churches as well as individuals.  Acts presents the community of believers as an example of how fellowship looks, warts and all, and even in that imperfection the early church is evidence of the Holy Spirit moving people as groups as well as individuals.  The Holy Spirit is key to the unity of believers that I so crave.

I’m afraid that I have minimized, perhaps ignored, the value and role of the Holy Spirit.  Truly, I have been off target, and I have asked for correction.  I’m eager for where the Spirit takes me.

*A Guide To Prayer by Job and Shawchuck provided the scripture references and readings that inspired these reflections.  I found this devotional to be the most heart changing of any I’ve used.  It truly lives up to its title.

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