Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bound and Determined... in the Holy Spirit

Acts 20:22-24
And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. 24 But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Jesus & Paul

Acts 19:4-11
Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.”
5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. 7 Now the men were about twelve in all.
8 And he went into the synagogue and spoke boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading concerning the things of the kingdom of God. 9 But when some were hardened and did not believe, but spoke evil of the Way before the multitude, he departed from them and withdrew the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus. 10 And this continued for two years, so that all who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.
11 Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul,

So much of this passage hints of Paul continuing and copying the ministry and model of Jesus. Both followed up on the baptism of John. The Holy Spirit was the sign and result of receiving the resurrected Christ by faith. Both began with 12 disciples. Both went first to the Jews in the synagogues in their region. When rejected by the Jews, both turned to non-Jewish people and began teaching in public and private to all who would listen. Both rook their disciples on missionary field trips around their region so that the Word of God spread in scope and power. Both ministries were marked by unusual miracles.

So whose ministry and model am I continuing? Would those entrusted to my care experience Jesus' ministry or mine? Do my results resembles Jesus'? If not, I need to rethink how I go about making disciples of Jesus Christ. I need to walk as Jesus walked in I expect my students to walk as He walked (1 Jn. 2:6).

Father - help me walk as Jesus walked. Make me more consistent to walk with Him each day & may this ministry look more like Jesus. Amen

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Vigor in Evangelism

Acts 18:24-28
"Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. 25He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.27When Apollos wanted to go to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. On arriving, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed. 28For he vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ."

When was the last time my evangelism could be described as "vigorous?" Timid, casual, comfortable, subtle, gentle, yes... but vigorous would be a stretch. I've argued vigorously, forcing my opinion on others. But Apollos reasoned and refuted them vigorously using the Scriptures. His strength and confidence and vigor was not in his own understanding or ability but in the mighty Word of God; pointing to Jesus Christ. And all this he did in public!... unashamed and exposed for his radical faith at a time when such claims were met with violence. So where did such vigor come from? Luke tells us in verses 24 & 25 that Apollos was "mighty in the Scriptures" and "fervent in Spirit," even before he knew the full truth of the Gospel and the person of Jesus Christ. Apollos was a true seeker who hungered for God, devouring his Word and drinking deep the Holy Spirit. I must daily do the same - with vigor, so that I may also share my faith with vigor.

Father - make me vigorous in study, vigorous to listen for your voice, and vigorous to share your Gospel. Amen.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Pointing & Groping

Acts 17:27
so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us;

God has done so much in and around us to force us into a God-hunt. Not only is there a God-shaped hole in each of us... but there are God-shaped things all around us that declare His presence and supremacy. Creation, nature, life , biology, genetics, order, morality, ethics, law, art, truth, relationships, conscience, history, literature, even fantasy... the list of hints is truly endless. God has not been lazy in providing us signs of His presence. My job is to point out just how close He is to each of us. I must find the signs and hints of God and declare His presence "so that they should seek the Lord, so that they might grope for Him and find Him." And I must not be surprised by the clumsy groping of a lost and confused world. Instead, I must point them to Jesus with confidence and prayer that their groping hands might lay hold of Him.

God, help me point others to You.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Grace; the source of joy

Acts 16:25
But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.

After being wrongfully and maliciously accused, beaten with rods, flogged and locked up in stocks in the deepest darkest dungeon of the prison; Paul and Silas sang hymns, encouraging the hearts of the other prisoners. Where does this joy come from? Grace.

When we come to understand the grace of God, the great gift of redemption, the freedom in Jesus Christ - no earthly circumstance can touch us - for we have the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16). Intimacy with God through obedience to Christ, by the fellowship of the Holy Spirit produces full joy (John 15:10-11) that empowers us to love all people sacrificially - even our persecutors (Acts 16:27-34). The source of such love and joy is knowing the amazing grace of God in Jesus Christ - that He has set us free and secured our destiny and promised us His providence and protection.

Is my life marked by such joy? Am I more prone to complain or to sing songs of praise? Do I more often pray or pout? Is my joy contagious; setting others free in the grace of God... or is my joy shackled by circumstances?

Father - help me to know more fully Your grace in Jesus Christ that I may live a life of joy and love each day. Set me free from worldly thinking and give me the mind of Christ. Amen.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Faith + Grace = Salvation + Good Works

Acts 15:10-11
Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.”

It seemed right to James and the other apostles not to burden Gentile believers with works such as circumcision. In agreement with the Holy Spirit(28) and in accordance with Scripture (15) nothing is to be added to faith to activate the grace of God for salvation. The equation is [Grace + Faith = Salvation + Good Works] (Ephesians 2:8-10)... not [Faith + Good Works = Grace + Salvation. We cannot substitute anything for the grace of God. Too many Christians try to add to their faith and pressure others toward the same with things that seem good and right and "Christian." The burden of the Christian yoke can easily be made as heavy as the Jewish yoke. But Jesus yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30). Because His yoke is rooted in grace (charis in the Greek) it is the source of joy and loving kindness and freedom by which good works are born. The burden of Christ is no burden at all. It is not our lifestyle or religious preferences that should be contagious - it is our joy!

Father, may I only burden others with the Joy of Your grace that they may experience Your grace in me and joyfully receive Your yoke. Amen.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Enduring Faith

Acts 14:21-22
And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.”

As the great commission was being fulfilled, the apostles and especially Paul, came to understand the fullness of the commission. To accomplish what they were called to do would mean suffering, sacrifice and persecution. It would demand their comfort, their hopes and dreams, their time (all of it) and their lives! It would require resolve, strength, exhortation, unity and accountability. Tribulation was not an option or possibility; it was the only reality through which their faith would continue. For Paul, easy, cheap faith was no faith at all.
So why do I complain or get depressed when things doing go my way?... forget about tribulation, at times I can't even get over my own attitude or emotions! I feel so weak in faith.

God - strengthen my soul and my faith. Make my faith something of substance - however you wish. Let me see beyond myself and find an enduring faith to both promote and enter into the kingdom of God. Amen.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

As they Ministered to the Lord...

Acts 13:2
"As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said...."

I often wonder why I rarely hear from the Holy Spirit. I ask and pray for His guidance and that I would hear His voice. I spend plenty of time in the Scriptures. My full time job is to minister to the Lord in His church. So what am I missing?
I'm not suggesting that there is a formula that I can follow that automatically unlocks the Holy Spirit. I don't believe God can be manipulated this way. That was Simon the magicians sin in Acts 8. However, there has to be a way to organically and authentically connect with the Holy Spirit of God every day... at all times even. We see this pattern in Jesus and in the apostles here in Acts. They spoke of Him and to Him in such a way that makes me believe that He was right there next to them as much as was Barnabas or Mark or Silas.
In this passage, what strikes me most is the smallest word... "as." These guys didn't set aside time to be pious and meditate. They didn't hole themselves up in the mountains to copy texts, write letters or purify themselves. These guys got dirty connecting with the lost in the synagogues and cities where people most needed the news of the Gospel. They did not avoid the poor or the needy, they ministered! And "AS" they went about the work of the Lord, in prayer, the Word of the Lord came to them through the Holy Spirit.
While there is time and need to get away and alone (as Jesus did) I can't forget that God most often spoke while the apostles were obeying and ministering as God has already commanded. As I get busy with the work of God, ministering, I can't get so distracted by what I'm doing that I don't hear the Holy Spirit redirect me and subtly guide me. As I minister, I am not a problem solver or an event coordinator. I am the very representation and message of Christ to those around me. I must be in tune with the Holy Spirit.

God, slow me down and help me focus on You. Sharpen my ears to hear Your voice as I minister. Make me see opportunities to follow You and lead others to Your grace. Amen.

Unbelievable Answers to Prayer

Acts 12:14-15
When she (Rhoda) recognized Peter’s voice, because of her gladness she did not open the gate, but ran in and announced that Peter stood before the gate. 15 But they said to her, “You are beside yourself!” Yet she kept insisting that it was so. So they said, “It is his angel.”

Isn't it ironic that the followers of Jesus, Peter's friends, did not believe that they had received what they had been praying for all day and all night long?


Acts 11:24
For he (Barnabas) was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord.

I want to have this same reputation.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Those who seek Him

Acts 10:2, 4, 34, 35, 43, 44
2) a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always.

4) And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, “What is it, lord?”
So he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God.

34) But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.

43) To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.”

44) While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word.

Every once in a while I hit a verse or passage that totally taunts my nice little neat box of theology. My friend Keith would be so happy with this taunt! This story challenges the idea that "none seek after God" and there is "no one who does good, no not one" (Rom. 3:11-12). It forces me to reconsider Hebrews 11:6, "without faith it is impossible to please God." There is such a thing as a "pre-christian." God does honor those who seek glory (as in God) by good deeds (Rom. 2:5-11). God loves those who seek Him (Prov. 8:17). And I must believe that the crowd Cornelius gathered at his home put a smile on the face of God. With God's grace I can applaud good deeds and affirm that these pre-Christians are not far from the kingdom of heaven (Mark 12:34, Romans 17::26-28). And if I can put my boxy theology and prejudice aside, like Peter I can point to Christ and to the completion of their faith (10:43) - the forgiveness of sins and the fullness of the Holy Spirit (10:44).

God - help me to lay aside my prejudice and good intention; help me to hear Your voice and follow Your Holy Spirit alone. Amen.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Fear and Comfort

Acts 9:31b
"And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied."

At first read, these two phrases really struck me as odd; "fear of the Lord" and "comfort of the Holy Spirit." What is most odd is that fear and comfort don't often come from the same source. Yet here, the church is balanced in their walk by God's unique blend of fear and comfort, direction and freedom, correction and consolation. It's almost as if God has two hands stretched out alongside of His wobbly church, tipping it back and forth to keep it upright.

Father, help me to discern and receive both Your correction and consolation, to know both fear and comfort. Teach me to walk daily in this balance and enjoy Your increase in Your church. Amen.

Strength in the Holy Spirit

Acts 9:22
"But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ."

When Luke notes that Saul increased in strength he is not talking about physical strength. Saul set aside brute force, the authority of the government and his power to bind believers at the roadside to Damascus. I have to believe that his increase was in the strength of the Holy Spirit. While Saul received the Spirit through Ananias' laying on of hands in verses 17-18, I must believe it took quite a bit of work, if not a while, for him to learn how to discern the promptings of the Holy Spirit which he been resisting for so long (Acts 9:5). His strengthening and toning of his Spirit ears began back in verse 11 as he prayed. He continued to grow as he spend time in the fellowship of the believers at Damascus (vs. 19). Added to this was his worship and testimony for Christ int he Synagogue (vs. 20). And of course this all began with the vary Word of God - Jesus Christ, the risen Lord who had appeared to him on the road (vs. 4-6).
If I want to increase in strength in the Holy Spirit, I must give myself fully to the Word, worship, fellowship and prayer - just as did the early believers of Acts 2:42, just as Saul did here. There is no secret formula - simply discipline to continue steadfastly in the Word, worship, fellowship and prayer.

Father - make me disciplined in my walk with You. Strengthen me in your Spirit that You might use me more fully with each new day. Amen.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Seed planting & harvesting

Acts 8:5-8
"Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. 6 And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. 7 For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed. 8 And there was great joy in that city."

I wonder if Philip knew that Jesus planted a seed at the Samaritan well years earlier? I wonder if the woman at that well in John 4 was still around to encounter Philip and his words and wondrous works? Were the people still focused on the prophet and messiah that passed through their forgotten city? Were they still waiting for His return and triumph? John 4:39 says that many believed in Jesus as prophet and Messiah. Here they complete their faith and take Him as their personal Savior and Lord. And just as Jesus said, the time had come to worship in Spirit and in Truth - no longer was it a matter of public location, alternate sites or general redemption, it was now personal, authentic and genuine.
I wonder how often Jesus Himself has planted a seed for me to tend to... just to watch me pass up the opportunity to water and harvest something miraculous? How often have I let my fear or prejudice prevent me from seeing the harvest prepared for me by Jesus Himself? (John 4:38)

God - give me ears to ear Your Spirit's leading. Give me boldness to speak and faith to know that you have gone before me planting seed. Keep me from fear, prejudice and poor thinking. Let me be lead by You and nothing else. Amen.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Cut to the Heart... hearing the Holy Spirit

Acts 7:54-55
"When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth. 55 But he, being full of the Holy Spirit...."
Acts 2:37
"Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”
Acts 7:51
You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you."

The other time the phrase "When they heard these things they were cut to the heart" is used, in Acts, the people are asking what they must to in obedience to the man Jesus. When the Holy Spirit moves in Acts 2:37 the result is full submission, obedience, salvation. Here, just as Stephen identified in 7:51, the stiff-necked religious leaders violently resist the Holy Spirit and His work. And just to emphasize how thoroughly they resisted the Holy Spirit, Luke contrasts their response by identifying that Stephen was "filled with the Holy Spirit."
It's mind-blowing to consider the vast difference in response and consequence. In both instances the Holy Spirit is speaking and working. The tipping point for each is found in vs. 57; "then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears" Their voice was louder than the Spirit's and their ears were closed off to what He was saying.
It is so evident here in the book of Acts and even within my own life that the Holy Spirit is always at work, always speaking. I must listen - especially more-so when I am "cut to the heart." I must learn to keep my mouth shut and my ears open; to be still.
So do I have the ears to hear His voice and a circumcised heart to be cut and receive His word? Where have I stopped up my ears or hardened my heart? Where have I been moved by His prompting?

God - give me ears to hear and a sensitive heart to receive Your Holy Spirit; to discern His voice and submit to Your will. Amen.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Priority of Prayer

Acts 6:2-4
"Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

There certainly is no shortage of distraction - even good and noble ones - in the life of a pastor or spiritual leader. No one could possibly bear the load of a God-sized ministry alone. We must pick and chose wisely what we will focus on and what we will pass on.
For the apostles, their priority was first on prayer and on the ministry of the Word. From the text, I get the sense that prayer was a non-negotiable and the ministry of the Word was a wise choice. Prayer consistently pops up in the early church and the foundation stages as the strongest calling. Without prayer, the ministry of the Word lacks power. Without prayer, the ministry to the poor lacks discernment. Without prayer, miracles cease to occur.

So is prayer my priority? Is prayer something I schedule and plan for or do I squeeze it in between other responsibilities? Do the people in my care see it as my passion or simply a tool I use to open, close or transition my messages and meetings? Do I set aside tasks, even noble and necessary ones, to spend extended time in prayer seeking God's wisdom, favor and presence? Do I practice the prayer discipline of listening for God to speak back? Is prayer my first priority?

God - make prayer my priority. Not only remind me to pray, but make prayer my passion - give me a heart and dependence on prayer that drives me to your presence daily. Amen.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Worthy to Suffer... for His Name

Acts 5:41-42
"So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ."

I don't fully understand the joy of suffering, mostly because I have not suffered - for His name or any other cause. In itself, suffering is not, cannot be, a good or joyful thing. But the phrase "for His name" changes the experience completely. In suffering the apostles identified with Jesus, feeling honored to follow in His steps. Yet even more than identifying with Jesus in their suffering, their joy came from knowing they suffered for His name. This suffering was not just a response to good deeds or even revolutionary teaching, this was a direct response to their use of Jesus name. This joy and purpose came from knowing that suffering exalted the powerful and authoritative name of Jesus, by which men must be saved and may be restored. Even after the beatings, when they would be asked about their bruises and scars they would be able to exalt His name and tell their story. His name made all the difference.
So why don't I know this joy?
Perhaps if I exalted the name of Jesus more often I would at least give God a chance to count me worthy to suffer and bear His name with joy. They maybe one day I'll understand.

Father - make me bold to speak the name of Jesus Christ, my savior and God. Find me worthy to identify with Him in suffering and worthy to carry with me the scars and joy and story as I exalt Jesus name. Amen.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Name of Jesus

Acts 4:12
"Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

I chuckled out loud thinking about the question exchange between Peter and John and the Jewish rulers. Peter and John must have been thinking, "you want to know what?... really?... Cool! Alright, here goes... you asked for it!"
Knowing that this same group had Jesus crucified just weeks before, they could not help but proclaim the power and authority in Jesus name. Even after being told not to speak Jesus name, they couldn't help but proclaim it! (vs. 17-20).
So why do I have such a tough time with the name of Jesus? I'll say "God," or "Lord," or even "Christ" but rarely Jesus. I'm not proud of it, I'm actually embarrassed. I think its because I associate the name "Jesus" with all the children's' songs and flannel graph stories I learned in Sunday School. "Jesus" seems so juvenile. But exactly the opposite is true, when it comes to the names of God, we have given children the nuclear bomb of names! And for some reason, the older we get, we exchange this powerful name for pea shooters and sling shots. Perhaps if I better understood the power and authority in Jesus name I would speak it more often. There is not denying it - there is unimaginable power in the name of Jesus.

Jesus - fill me with boldness to proclaim your name through the power of the Holy Spirit. Teach me the power of Your name. Amen.

There's Just Something About That Name
Author Unknown

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus
There's just something about that name
Master, Saviour, Jesus
Like the fragrance after the rain
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus
Let all Heaven and Earth proclaim
Kings and kingdoms
Will all pass away
But there's something about that Name.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Power & Faith in Jesus Name

Acts 3:6, 16, 19
-Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”
-And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.
-Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,

Exactly what did Peter extend to the lame man? Faith in Jesus Christ. To the lame man it was faith for restoration - to the crowds it was faith for forgiveness and restoration. To both, was extended the opportunity for faith in the name of Jesus Christ. By faith we are saved and by faith we are healed. Like Peter, I have no power to heal. Healing comes through faith in the name of Jesus Christ. Peter wielded the power of the Holy Spirit to be a bold witness (Acts 1:8) - to call the people to experience forgiveness and refreshing (healing) for themselves... in the name of Jesus! When the name of Jesus is used, it is not to invoke power (though there is a place for this - specifically in spiritual warfare) but to invite others to experience His power through faith in that name alone.
So in my witness, what do I extend to people? Do I use the name of Jesus? Do I invite them to experience the power of forgiveness and restoration found in that name?
I must call people to faith IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST - for the purpose of restoration and refreshing. I cannot shy away from the name of Jesus or the promise found in His name. This is why the Holy Spirit was given, that I may be a witness of His work wherever I go.

God - fill me with boldness to be a witness, to call others to faith in the name of Jesus - to invite them to experience the restoration and refreshing found only through faith in His name. Amen.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Lord and Savior

Acts 2:34-39
“For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself:

‘ The LORD said to my Lord,
“ Sit at My right hand,
Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”’ (Psalm 110:1)

"Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.
Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?
Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”

When Peter calls Jesus both Lord and Christ he is declaring Him to be more than the authoritative Savior, more than an honored man. By Quoting David (Psa. 110:1) declaring the coming Messiah and Lord - Peter was identifying Jesus as God Himself incarnate. Jesus too revealed as much concerning the same passage in Luke 20:41-44. Rejection of Jesus therefor is not simply refusal to follow a good man, wise teacher or even powerful, would-be king - it is rejection of God! He is not merely part of some spiritual equation for salvation, Jesus is divine, eternal God, Creator, Sustainer, Omnipotent King, God! This is why the Jews in Jerusalem were cut to the heart when Peter reminded them of what they did with this Jesus.
I love their response, "What shall we do?!!"
Seeing Jesus for who He fully is demands action, not just belief. Receiving Jesus as Lord and Savior is not merely academic - it's accepting a radical call to action, to live counter-culturally, counter-intuitively, controversially. And it's bringing others along to do the same (vs. 39).
Is this me? Is my life marked by action or simply knowledge? What have I done with Jesus today?

Jesus - remind me of who You are each day. Teach me to revere You and answer Your call to action. Cut me to the heart and convict me when I do not treat you as both Savior and God. Empower me to live boldly as I extend You to others. Be exalted in my life today. Amen.

Monday, September 1, 2008

The Holy Spirit & Jesus

Acts 1:1-3
The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.

I've been more and more often surprised by how the Holy Spirit shows up in Jesus ministry. He was led by the Spirit, driven by the Spirit, discerned through the Spirit, became strong in the Spirit, was filled with the Holy Spirit, rejoiced in the Spirit, prayed in the Spirit, was troubled in Spirit, and taught through the Holy Spirit. Though He Himself was fully divine, He still submitted to the Holy Spirit in full cooperation. This truth leads me to ask, "how much am I influenced by the Holy Spirit?" and "am I living in full submission to and cooperation with the Holy Spirit?" I'm afraid that more often than not, my association with the Spirit would better be defined with words like "quench," "grieve," or "deny." I tend to be pretty dull to the Holy Spirit. This may be due to a lack of understanding, lack of focus, or lack of desire for the Holy Spirit. I like (and find comfort) in things that are black and white, like Scripture - safe, definable, predictable, manageable. The Holy Spirit is far too dangerous, demands such faith and leads to such unimaginable results. I can't define, predict, manage or manipulate the Spirit or His work. Call me a control freak.
But if I am going to walk as Jesus walked I am going to need to invite the Holy Spirit to play a larger role in my life. I'll need to focus on Him and hunger for His intervention. I'll need to give up control and listen hard. I'll need to ask Him to show up.

Holy Spirit - fully fill me today and open my ears to your voice. Teach me to know Your presence. Drive me to the place where You want to use me. Teach me to submit to Your movement and help me to cooperate with You. Amen.