Posted on Leave a comment

Mercy, Not Sacrifice | Discipleship Prayer Day 13

Let love and mercy be the starting point of everything I do.

For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.     ―  Hosea 6:6

Some people see the New Testament as a complete departure and overturning of the Law of Moses and the Old Testament sacrificial system.  However, even in the Old Testament writings we catch glimpses of the heart of God breaking through the words of the ancient writers—mercy, not sacrifice.  It was not thoughtless sacrifice that God desired, but heart-felt mercy; not the aroma from the smoke of burnt offerings floating the heavens, but hearts turned toward the Heavenly Father in all circumstances and situations.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.     ―  Romans 12:1

Paul picks us this theme in Romans when he reminds us that it is because of God’s overwhelming mercy to us that we can then lay ourselves down as living sacrifices on the metaphorical altar. In doing this, we give up our own way for God’s way.  We becomes less so that Christ might become more.  As living sacrifices, we become the pleasing aroma of Christ in the world.

Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.      ―  Luke 6:36

What does mercy look like in our world?  There is no single way to express mercy to others. There not even a menu of acceptable mercy entrees from which we must choose. Mercy look like you, growing in Christlikeness, and responding to the needs of people in your world.

Love those who hate you

Pray for them, too

Return evil with good

That’s what Jesus would do

Help the helpless

Speak for the speechless

Sit with the lonely

Be hope for the hopeless



→ If I must err, let it be in the direction of love… 

Posted on Leave a comment

Agape Love | Discipleship Prayer Day 12

multicolored abstract painting

Let love and mercy be the starting point of everything I do.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love.         ―  1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV)

In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul talks in depth about the spiritual gifts that we use to serve in the church and for the common good of humanity

  • wisdom, knowledge, and faith
  • prophecy, miraculous powers, and discernment of spirits,
  • discernment of spirits,
  • languages and interpretation of languages

Each of these is given by the Holy Spirit and each is needed for the Church to carry out its purpose.  All are good, all are important, and all are essential.  However, at the end of chapter 12 Paul reminds us that the love (agape) poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Rom 5:5) is the most excellent way – more foundational that all the spiritual gifts we have been given.

The New Testament writers understood love to be the foundation and fulfillment of the law (Rom 13:10, Gal 5:14, James 2:8).  In the same way, these spiritual gifts, given by the Holy Spirit to each member of the church (1 Cor 12:17) must be built upon a foundation of agape love.  If not, they are of no good use.

  • I can speak every language, known and unknown…but if I do not have agape love for God and neighbor, my words are nothing more than white noise in a busy, distracted world (1 Cor 13:1),
  • I can prophecy, understand the mysteries of the universe, have unsurpassed knowledge, and even have the faith to move literal mountains…but if I do have agape love for God and neighbor, I am nothing; it’s all meaningless and empty (1 Cor 13:2).
  • I can give everything I own to help the poor and those in need. I can be willing to suffer hardship, pain, and persecution…but if do not have agape love for God and neighbor, then I gain nothing; it’s all for naught (1 Cor 13:3).

Love is not one among many laws given by the Father, not one among many gifts of the Spirit, and not one among many visible marks of the Christlike life.

Love is the law.  Love is the gift. Love is the Christlike life.

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.  Do everything in love.          ―  1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (NIV)



→ If I must err, let it be in the direction of love… 

Posted on Leave a comment

New Creation | Discipleship Prayer Day 11

photo of person s hand with paint colors

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here.

―  2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)

The magnificent diversity of the created world is mind-boggling!  From the smallest ant to the largest elephant, the most delicate flowers to the fortress-like Redwoods, the sweetest strawberry to the sourest lime, not to mention the incredible diversity of humanity.  The artwork of God truly is amazing!

Perhaps most amazing is the fact that all of this diversity is coded into the world with DNA, a molecule found inside every living organism, and consisting of only four molecules – adenine (A), cytostine (C), guanine (G), and thymine (T).  All of that diversity and creativity of God is found in these four simply molecules that become the building blocks of the limitless diversity we see in the world!

“We have the DNA of our Lord Jesus Christ.”     ― Herschel Walker

When we put our trust in Christ we become a “new creation,” with new kingdom DNA!  Our thoughts, words, and actions are constructed with new building blocks – love, mercy, justice, truth, grace, peace, and blessing – and, like the natural creation, are seen an expressed in limitless variations in every place, every situation, and everyone!

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…      ―  Romans 12:2 (NIV)

When we become new creations in Christ we experience the transformation of our hearts and minds. Some of this happens quickly, while other parts of it will take a lifetime of growth. What is important is growth in Christlikness.  We are not the same. We don’t think the same.  We don’t speak the same.  We don’t live the same.

Over the next few days we’ll be exploring these building block of kingdom DNA.  Today, take a moment to thank God for the transforming work of the Spirit in your life, and begin praying that love, mercy, justice, truth, grace, peace, and blessing would more and more become the building blocks of your life!



→ If I must err, let it be in the direction of love… 

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Your Kingdom | Discipleship Prayer Day 10

Let your kingdom rule in my body, my relationships, and my world.

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.      ―  Luke 11:2

When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, the first request is “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” The kingdom of God – the jurisdiction, domain, or administration – is found where God’s will is being done, the purpose and mission of God is being carried out, and the name of God is holy, sacred, and honored.

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”     ―  John 3:3 (NIV)

God’s kingdom is not physical kingdom.  There are no geographic borders; no nation in the world is interchangeable with the kingdom of God.  The border of this kingdom are found in the heart and soul of those who have been born again. Citizenship in the nation of God comes by faith and is seen only by those who have surrendered themselves to the rule and reign of God in their lives.

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,…       ―  Colossians 1:13 (NIV)

When John wrote that “whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16b), he was referencing a rescue operation that takes place when puts their hope and trust in Christ – a rescue from domain of darkness and sin to the city of hope, peace, salvation, and new life.  In Christ we are new people with new priorities and new purpose.  All of this newness shines on our:

  • Personal lives : the way we live — our habits, routines, time, and money;
  • Relationships : the way we relate with people – family, friends, and the people with whom we engage and interact regularly;
  • The World : the way in which we engage the people in our world, locally an globally, particularly of different faith, priorities, and ways of living.

Our citizenship in God’s kingdom touches every part of our life.  As we learn and grow in Christ the right and responsibilities of this citizenship – love and mercy, justice and truth, and grace and peace, will become increasingly evident in all we do.


→ If I must err, let it be in the direction of love… 

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Clothe yourselves in humility (8 of 28)

“We bow before you today in humility, with thankful hearts”

Post 8 of 28

I remember as a child hearing the name “Mother Teresa” but knowing little about her story or her ministry with the Missionaries of Charity.  I remember seeing her on television, an occasional story about her ministry in India among the poorest of the poor, and obvious world-wide fascination—love, perhaps—for the dedicated woman of deep faith.  When she died at the age of 87 in September 1997 in Calcutta, I remember a global outpouring of mourning over the loss of this woman whose life had touched so many others; even those she never met; even those who never came closer to her than a television screen or a newspaper.

 In Colossians 3:12 Pauls tells the faithful of one of the first church plants in history to “clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”  We do this because, as “God’s chosen people,” they were “holy and dearly loved.”

 In the garden, after Adam and Eve have eaten of the forbidden tree and realized they were naked—a clear reference to shame that is quickly understood throughout Asia and most of the Eastern world—God is said to have been walking in the garden.  When this happens Adam and Even—apparently unlike previous occasions—hide from God out of their shame. 

 God immediately knows something is not right, but when God is told what has happened, God does not respond in anger.  No, instead God makes clothes for them, covering their nakedness and shame. God’s solution comes in the form of skins, meaning that a sacrifice of life was needed in order to provide the skins with which the clothes were made.

 Without going too far beyond the scope of the Genesis story, I think we can see that God’s solution for our sin and shame also required the sacrifice of life on the cross.  And in the same way that Adam and Eve put on clothes to cover their bodies, we too are asked to put on new clothes…to put on a new life…to become something new.  We are asked to put on the clothes of…

  • …compasssion
  • …kindness
  • …humility
  • …gentleness
  • …patience

 Mother Teresa is said to have offered a few ideas on how we can practice humility:

  • “To speak as little as possible of one’s self”
  • ”To mind one’s own business”
  • “To accept contradictions and correction cheerfully”
  • “To pass over the mistakes of others”
  • “To accept insults and injuries”
  • “To accept being slighted, forgotten and disliked”
  • “To be kind and gentle even under provocation”
  • “Never to stand on one’s dignity”
  • “To choose always the hardest.”

As we approach the throne of God in humility and gratefulness, we might translate some of these into something more like this:

  • Take time to be still and listen
  • Focus our thoughts on the business of God—God’s plan, purpose, and mission
  • Allow the Holy Spirit access to our hearts and minds—to examine, search, and perform a deep-cleaning where necessary
  • Forgive others and seek reconciliation as quickly as possible
  • Love, pray for, and bless those who would not—and do not—do the same to me
  • Persevere in difficult times of trial, testing, disappointment, and failure
  • Always, and in all situations, reflect the grace, hope, peace, and love of Christ
  • Remember that on my own I am not good enough, smart enough, or strong enough.
  • Be willing to do that which is hard, unseen, unrewarded, and undone by others

 Finally, as we bow before God in humility, we do so in gratefulness to all who shown such humility, grace, forgiveness, peace, and love to us.

“In normal life we hardly realize how much more we receive than we give, and life cannot be rich without such gratitude. It is so easy to overestimate the importance of our own achievements compared with what we owe to the help of others.” 

 ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “Letters and Papers from Prison”

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Perfect in Love (7 of 28)

You are perfect in love and in all your plans and purposes”

Post 7 of 28

[Originally posted September 28, 2020]

Yesterday I woke up to the news that someone I knew—a loving and dedicated wife, mother, friend, and disciple of Christ—died very tragically and unexpectedly while on a mission trip in Africa. I thought about this all day long, pondering the reality that none of us is guaranteed a minimum number of days. My heart broke for her husband, her two sons, and the many, many whose lives were touched by her life of love.

This morning I woke early, preparing for a trip later today, and decided to spend a few moments on this blog entry — You are perfect in love and in all your plans and purposes. Hmmmm….

Many people, in responding to our friend’s unexpected death made comments such as:

  • “I don’t understand God’s plan…”
  • “There doesn’t seem to be any purpose in this…”
  • “God needed her in heaven…”

These are the kinds of things people say, particularly when life ends unexpectedly or when tragedy comes without warning. Did God plan this car accident in Malawi? Was it by God’s purpose that this loving wife and mother was in the car? Or is God weeping alongside her husband and sons at the loss of such a meaningful soul who was touching the lives of so many? Did God not hear the prayers of many for safety and traveling mercies of this ministry team? Or did God ignore the prayers? Does God really need her in heaven more than she was being used in Malawi…and Oregon…and in her home?

These are the kinds of questions we ask at times like this.

These are the kinds of questions that we have so much difficulty trying to answer.

In the context of the Old Testament and its surrounding Ancient Near East culture, everything that happened on earth was attributed to the hand of God—God (or gods) planned it, God (or gods) purposed it, and God (or gods) carried it out. Today, we tend to look to other sources for much of what happens in our world —

  • weather patterns and cycles
  • natural laws of physics
  • cultural assumptions and expectations
  • human sin and disobedience

On a day-to-day level, at least, most of us do not probably attribute every moment as being planned, purposed, and carried out specifically by the hands of God. But when big things happen—those things that have significant and far-reaching consequences, either positive or negative—we still have a tendency to look to the heavens for answers. In such times there are a few common reactionss that tend to emerge. Each has some Biblical and theological foundation; none represent the one and only view expressed in Scripture or throughout Church History.

God caused this to happen —

  • God causes all things from the beginning until now.
  • Everything that has, is, and will happen in human history is by God plan, purpose, and power — this would include human actions, natural events, etc.
  • The “Problem of Evil” — how can we reconcile a God whose name is “Love” with the unspeakable evil, unfairness, and injustice that has been, is being, and will be perpetuated by human beings?
  • There may be comfort in knowing that God is in complete control — “God’s got this” — even when we cannot understand.

God allowed this to happen —

  • God knows everything that will happen throughout the course of human history, but knowing what will happen is not the same as causing them to happen.
  • God does not actively cause things to happen, but God does allow them to happen. This means what happens is still by God plan, purpose, and power because even though God could intervene, God does not.
  • God does sometimes intervene and change circumstances so that certain events do not occur. At other times, though, God seems to do nothing.
  • The “Problem of Evil” is muted, perhaps, but still not eliminated as a God who allows evil to occur is not much different than a God who causes evil to occur.
  • We cannot fully understand why God allows certain things to happen, so we must find peace knowing that we cannot understand.

God knew this could happen —

  • God lives in time with humanity which means, while God knows everything that could possibly happen, God neither causes nor knows the actions human beings, living in time, will make before they make them.
  • God’s nature is love. As such, God always works for the good of those who love God, though that “good” may come about in many forms, including unexpected loss and events that we might not immediately see as “good.”
  • God always works for what is good and best, but God cannot force human beings to do anything; God cannot override their free-will because that is not love. God can, and does, woo, encourage, and lead people to do things that will lead to good and loving results, cannot for such actions.
  • Some reject any concept of a God that is not absolutely and overwhelmingly Sovereign (in control and powerful to do anything). Others find comfort in the this view of God as absolutely and overwhelming Loving, working for good in all things.

Whichever view you lean on, one thing is certain:

“Perfect love casts out fear. It is risky, reckless, selfless, hard, deep, abiding.”

Catherine L. Morgan

The perfect love of God — the same kind of love that God pours into our hearts by the Holy Spirit—is not a safe, soft, temporary, or tame kind of love. It does not call us into safe places away from messiness and mud of this world in which we live. It does not call us to a manicured life of comfort and ease, free of hangnails and callouses. No, the perfect love of God—the same kind of love that Christ poured out during his time on earth—calls us to be uncomfortable and muddy, to get blisters on our feet and scrapes on our knees, to go where others dare not tread, to see what others will not see, hear what others refuse to hear, and touch the lives of those that other dare not touch.

That kind of life is risky and reckless…and sometimes “time and chance” (Ecc 9:11) catch up to those who live that way. And when it does we weep…we mourn…and I believe God weeps and mourns with us.

That kind of life is selfless and hard. In a world that clamors for heroes, worships celebrities, and is fixated on big & shiny personalities…the anonymous life of a servant is an intentional choice…a hard choice. But it’s a choice that brings us close enough to look into the eyes, hold the hands, and wash the feet of those that no one else sees.

That kind of life is deep and abiding. In a world where the grass withers and the flowers quickly fall (1 Pet 1:24), where nothing is permanent and nothing we gain can be taken with us…the slow, personal, meaningful connections between one human being and another become the tools of transformation that last beyond ourselves, beyond our time, and beyond our small corner of the world.

This is God’s perfect plan and purpose—that we would live our lives being perfected in love and reflecting to the world around us the perfect love of Christ that is within us.

My friend who ended her time on this earth in a place far away from her home on the Oregon Coast, lived a life of this kind of love. But this love was not limited only to Africa. Reading through the posts of those who have felt the pain of her loss I saw the pain of…

  • a husband losing a wife,
  • children losing a mother,
  • a church family loving a valued and loved sister,
  • colleagues and friends recalling her dedication as a teacher,
  • former students remembering how, as a teacher, she had made them feel,
  • an atheist who called her “my dearest friend”,
  • African brothers and sisters in Christ,
  • many, many more…

Each of them, in their own way, expressed what C.S. Lewis wrote about the death of his wife in A Grief Observed:

“The pain I feel now is the happiness I had before. That’s the deal.”

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Your Name is Holy (6 of 28)

“Your name is holy and worthy to be praised above all others.”

Post 6 of 28

The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: ‘Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.

—Leviticus 19:1-2

Old Testament “holy” — קָדוֹשׂ (qādôš) — sacred, divine, separate

But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

—1 Peter 1:13-22

Coffee and hello
Hello, my name is holy.

New Testament “holy” — ἅγιος (hagios) — sacred, belonging to God

“Your name is holy” points us back to who God is—God is sacred, divine, and separate from everything else. The very word itself—holy—finds its meaning in God. That which is holy is that which is sacred and divine, like God. In the Old Testament, with its laws and emphasis on sacrifices and offerings, the emphasis of holiness leans heavily on separation, purification, and clearly outlining the difference between the secular and the sacred.

In the New Testament, the sacrificial system as it had been long practiced begins to fade. Holiness becomes more about the Church—the body of Christ in this world—becoming holy. Apparently, our name is also to be holy, too. No longer is holiness defined by specific times and places; rather, “holy” is determined by what we (the Church, these words were not written primarily for individuals) in the places where we exist and with the time that we are given.

In other words, the way we “live” (our words, actions, attitudes, etc) are not determined by the place where we stand (i.e. holy ground or sacred ground), but rather the holiness of the place where we stand is largely determined by the way in which we live as the body of Christ wherever we may be. The same goes for time—a particular time is not “holy” simply because it falls between 12 a.m. and 11:59 p.m. in any given time zone on a day labeled as “Sunday” on the calendar.

I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies…

—Psalms 18:3

Old Testament “worthy” — הָלַל hâlal — Psalm 18:3 could more literally be translated “I call on Jehovah, who is halal. Most of us have at least heard the world halal in connection with Muslim eating habits. Halal food is food with is worthy, appropriate, or not forbidden to be eaten. Just as my Muslim friends are forbidden to eat non-halal food, so we ought not to praise any one any thing above the LORD, who is halal — most worthy, most appropriate, and in no circumstance is ever forbidden to be praised.

Why?

Because God is holy.

———————–

See the prayer from which this post was taken here.

 

Posted on 3 Comments

Triune in essential being (5 of 28)

God in three persons

“Almighty, Triune God”

Post 5 of 28

United Methodist Church “Articles of Religion

And in unity of this Godhead there are three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

Church of the Nazarene “Articles of Faith”

The God who is holy love and light is Triune in essential being, revealed as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Southern Baptist Convention “Basic Beliefs”

The eternal triune God reveals Himself to us as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, with distinct personal attributes, but without division of nature, essence, or being.   

Fellowship of Evangelical Churches Articles of Faith

The one triune God exists and reveals himself as three persons, as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  

My Muslim friends are okay with the Old Testament. To them the stories and names are familiar—Adam, Abraham, Jonah, David—and clearly tells of the One, true God opposing the polytheists and those who dare have any other god but the Almighty Creator. To the casual reader there is no hint of Trinitarian thought that my faithful Muslim friends readily equate with polytheism.

It is the New Testament that offends. The Almighty Creator is God. Jesus Christ is God. This nebulous thing called the Holy Spirit is also God. They are, in Christian thought, wholly God…all the time…in all places…in all ways. “You worship three gods!” they tell me.

“No we don’t”, I quickly reply.

“Of course you do,” they continue, “your belief doesn’t even agree with your own Old Testament where is clearly states that ‘the LORD, your God is one’!”

“Yeah…but….” I don’t know what else to say. Neither do most Christians at this point. Some try out a hopelessly limited analogy of:

  • an egg (one egg made up of three parts—shell, white and yolk)
  • or a woman (one person with three roles—a daughter, a wife, and a mother)
  • or water (one substance with three states—solid, liquid, and gas)
  • or, my personal favorite, a “Three in One” coffee sachet! Surely the 3-in-1 coffee packet is a God-ordained gift to the church, right? The Newsboys even sing about it—”Our God is Three in One!”).

Unfortunately, each of these falls short. None of these things exist as all three parts at all times and in all ways.

“But what?” my friend pushes.

“It’s hard to explain,” are the only words I can convince to pass my lips.

“Yeah, sure is.”

Nabeel Qureshi, in his book Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus tells of his journey to Christ and the nearly insurmountable mountain questions such as these became for him. It was impossible for a man to be God, yet that is exactly what Christians taught… and with great enthusiasm! The idea of the separate entities all existing as one person was simply impossible—it was a “ridiculous doctrine that merited divine retribution,” Qureshi told himself.

Then, one day while sitting while sitting in a undergraduate chemistry class staring at a diagram of a nitrate, the professor ended her lesson by saying:

These drawings are just the best way to represent resonance structures on paper, but it’s actually much more complicated. Technically, a molecule with resonance is every one of its structures at every point in time, yet no single one of its structures at any point in time…it’s all the structures all the time, never just one of them.

—Nabeel Qureshi, “Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus”

Before that moment the very idea of a Trinitarian God—three persons simultaneously existing as one God—was ridiculous. But now, having realized that such a things exists in nature—in the very building blocks of creation—suddenly made the whole notion of a simultaneous 3-in-1 a possibility. It would take a long time for Qureshi to move from “possible” to “probable” to “I believe it to be true.”

The key was in understanding the difference between a BEING and a PERSON. God is ONE being with THREE persons—just as one molecule exists in all of its resonance structures simultaneously. WHAT is God? God is One (and only one). Who is God? God is Father. God is Son. God is Holy Spirit. Each person exists simultaneously along with each of the others as one holy, eternal, almighty, loving Being.

The picture of an atom in my daughter’s chemistry textbook are simple representations of something much more complex, but they are the best we can do. I mean, who can really comprehend the fact that the chair I’m sitting in as I write this is mostly empty space? In the same way, the triune designations of Father, Son, and Spirit represent a reality far more complex than we can really fully comprehend or explain.

It’s good to have people like Qureshi to think about such things as this. In the end, however, I’m not sure how much our One God expects or demands that we fully comprehend. If a cognitive, intellectual understanding of the Triune teaching of the church–that God is Triune in essential being–is necessary for salvation, Church membership, or a seat at the table of Jesus, we all might be in jeopardy.

It’s no wonder so many people only see God as being One. When God sits far away on the heavenly throne so far from the messiness of our human lives, all that can be seen from such a distance is a vague silhouette of oneness. But when God is Emmanuel—with us, connected, personal, unafraid to get his hands a feet dirty by walking with us in the scruffiness of our lives—we can begin to see more of God’s true identity as:

  • not only Father, but Shepherd (Psalm 23:1) and Daddy (Mark 14:36; Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6);
  • not only as Son, but Brother (Mat 12:48-50; Rom 8:29) and Friend (John 15:15; Mat26:17-30);
  • not only Holy Spirit, but Bringer of New Life (John 3:8, Ez 37:1-14), Companion and Guide (John 16:13), Power-giver (Acts 1:4), and Fruit-bearer (Gal 5:16-26)

If you liked reading about how God is triune in essential being, please see the prayer from which this post was taken here.

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Fruit of the Spirit (4 of 28)

The Fruit of the Spirit

Post 4 of 28

“And hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” — Romans 5:5

Paul in his letter to the Romans points to a key identity and role of the Holy Spirit in our lives; and it’s not merely the emotional “good vibrations” that come during times of public worship. Although people will often say things like “the Spirit was present” during such times, it is also relatively easy to elicit similar emotional reactions through a variety of carefully orchestrated “emotive buttons.” When we base the work and presence of the Holy Spirit on an emotional reaction or some other pre-determined set of actions and reactions, we can be can probably assume that what is being observed in not the Spirit at work.

The presence and work of the Holy Spirit is something very different. We should not deny that the Spirit can and does work in the midst of energetic, emotionally charged, and so-called “spirit-filled” times of worship…but we also cannot deny that it is just as likely that ordinary, seemingly mundane, moments are also regularly filled with the Spirit’s presence and work.

The work of the Spirt in the life of the believer is to encourage, strengthen, and empower one to carry out the purpose and mission for which one has been called, both collectively (as part of the Church) and individually (the specific plan that God has for individuals). For Paul, the key to that purpose began with God love being poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. In other words, the Holy Spirit works in our lives as a conduit of God’s love to us as well as being the One who emboldens, empowers, and encourages us to shower the world around us cooling mist of Christlike love.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

—Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)

Love-Joy-Peace-the Fruit of the Spirit

The Spirit is living and active in the life of the Church as Comforter, Helper, and Guide as well as the One who convicts and converts. The Holy Spirit inspired the writing of Scripture in ages past, inspired its compilation, editing, and canonization, and inspires all who read and meditate on it through all time andin all places. But it is love—the same love poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit—that is the natural, spontaneous, uncontrived, not-manipulated, holy fruit of the Spirit that flows naturally from the authentic follower of Jesus Christ. The same love is the beginning of point of every other fruit that Paul gives—joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Where is the Holy Spirit living and active? Follow the trail of fruit.  The fruit of the Spirit.

———————–

See the prayer from which this post was taken here.

 

Posted on 1 Comment

Way, Truth, and Life (3 of 28)

Followers of the Way

“Jesus Christ—Messiah—Way, Truth, and Life.”

Post 3 of 28

The title Christ has the same meaning as messiah so when we say “Jesus Christ” we are also saying “Jesus, the Messiah” or “Jesus Messiah.”  Messiah is a Hebrew word meaning “anointed one” and could be applied to anyone who was specially designated for a particular task or role, such as a king or priest. 

So, in the Old Testament way of thinking messiah was an adjective — describing certain people and the task they were given — but in the New Testament Messiah comes to be used as a proper noun — “the Messiah” or “the Christ.” — describing the person, the work, and the purpose of Jesus, the anointed one.  In Jesus, the long-held hopes of the Old Testament people of God are realized, even if they didn’t realize it at the time. 

In the book of Psalms alone we see this played out time and time again.

  • Let the light of your face shine on us (Ps 4:6)

    The way, the truth, and the life
    In him is our life when we grow in him.

     

  • Look on me and answer, LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death (Ps 13:3)

  • As for God, his way is perfect; the LORD’s work is flawless; (Ps 18:30)

  • For I have kept the ways of the LORD (Ps 18:21)

  • You, LORD, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light. (Ps 18:28)

  • Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths, guide me in your truth and teach me (Ps 25:4-5)

  • Send me your light and your faithful care, let them lead me (Ps 43:3)

  • Never take your word of truth from my mouth (Ps 119:43)

  • The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth (Ps 145:18)

Much like the adjective messiah became a proper noun in Jesus, these three “lowercase” nouns describing three things that come from God — way, truth, and life — become “uppercase” proper nouns in Jesus.  

“Jesus Way”

“Jesus Truth”

“Jesus Light”

———————–

See the prayer from which this post was taken here.