Sunday, June 30, 2019

Hope Deferred

Read Proverbs 13:12

Any Proverbs veterans here this morning.  In 2013, we spent most of a year going through the Proverbs.  I exhorted the scriptures and you still came back for more the next week.

At the conclusion of this extended series, I gave you the Cliff’s Notes, if you will.  I guess they were the Tom’s Notes.  There are two ways—God’s way and everything else.  Chose God’s way.

I wasn’t sure that after giving you this very brief synopsis that I wouldn’t get stoned.  I mean in the biblical way not the Rocky Mountain way. 

Wow.  All of those proverbs and it’s condensed to God’s way and everything else.  That is an oversimplification as we note with today’s verse.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.

The Good News Translation puts it this way.

When hope is crushed, the heart is crushed, but a wish come true fills you with joy.

I am not a fan of substituting the word wish for the word hope—the world does this a lot—but the author of this proverb makes a valid point nonetheless.

So what is hope?  Let’s begin with the memory verse that has been a part of most of the previous month’s messages.

It was a defining verse for faith. 

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Things hoped for—we have been talking about hope for several weeks as well.  We have been saying that faith puts substance to those things that we desire so much.  Think of Bartimaeus once again.  His desire was to see. His faith put substance to that desire in an encounter with the Son of David.

So what is hope?

The Hebrew word is תִּקְוָה (tik-vaw').  In its basic form it means cord.  It means construct. It means absolute.  And it means a whole bunch of other things that use the world hope in the definition of the word we most often translate as hope.

The Greek word is ἐλπίζω (el-pid'-zo).  It translates most often to hope or expectation.  It is to expect what we have taken on faith to be fulfilled.

Hope is one of those words that you can’t quite fully grasp with language.  Our hearts grasp this word but our language seems to only be able to approximate it.

When hope is used as a noun, it seems to be the thing that we are longing for.

When we use is as a verb it is the process of expectation of this thing in which we hope.

It’s more than a wish or wishing, for we have certainty in our hope in God, in salvation, in his ways, in his love.  Hope is a lot like faith but the terms are not fully interchangeable.

Paul counseled us to continue in faith, hope, and love.  These three strands make a powerful cord.  At any given time, any one of these three strands may be what we need from the whole cord.

The psalmist makes analogy to the deer that longs for a stream from which to drink.  So, we too long for and hope for the provision and providence of our God.

Hope beckons us to move beyond learning the basics time and again.  We hope in what God has in store for us next.

Hope helps us realize the fullness of our salvation.

Hope gives us a forward-looking perspective.

Hope is about always being in our race of faith.

Hope is a little tougher to define than faith, though they are surely brother and sister in many regards. 

Let’s consider what life is without hope.  It’s illness and sickness and emptiness.

I can believe in God and in his sovereignty, Jesus and his sacrifice, and truth, justice and the American way but without hope, I feel empty.

I don’t feel complete.

I’m not 100%.

To truly live, I must have something to hope in, hope for, long for, desire, pant.  As the deer pants for the water, so my soul longs after you.

Maybe the composer hit the nail on the head.  We must have this longing for God and the things of God.

We can say:

I hope I win the lottery.

I hope we don’t get hit by a tornado.

I hope the Cowboys or Sooners have a great season.

These hopes are more like wishes, but when we hope in the things of God, we expect them to be realized.

The things that we hope in precipitate our faith. 

We have faith that in the age to come:

God will wipe away our tears—every one of them.

We will have no infirmity.  By his stripes we are healed.

Our name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.  When the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.

These things that we cannot see or touch now but in which we have faith are our hope.  Our longing for them produces faith from our hope. 

We hope in no more tears, no infirmity, life everlasting, and so much more.  Faith puts substance to our hope.

A life without hope is a pitiful thing.  It runs contrary to the design specifications.  It makes us sick and sickly.  We are crushed without hope.
I hear so many people say what they will put off for another time.

I’ll tithe when I make enough money.

I’ll pray when I have more time.

I’ll study God’s word when the mood hits me.

I’ll put my gits and talents to use for the Lord, when I am a little more comfortable with the congregation.

I will leave an inheritance for my children’s children when I get around to it.

So many defer so much these days.  It’s not just a little procrastination here and there.  For some, deferring God’s wisdom for another day is just an everyday thing.

There are, of course consequences, for deferring God’s wisdom.  Each surely eats away at this thing called abundant life.

But consider the impact of deferring hope for a day.

I think of the number of suicides in our country alone.  I think of the number of veteran suicides each week.  These numbers are staggering and incomprehensible.  Men and women who have survived a year in a hell hole where so many want to kill you, somehow give up hope when they come home.

How do people give up hope?

By putting it off for one day, then another, and then another.  They sink deeper and deeper into a sickness that comes from not having hope.

But regardless of the situation, we do not abandon or defer hope for a single day.  We must not defer hope for a single day.

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;  persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

We learned that our trials strengthen our faith, but what about for the person who has no hope?  Every day trials become insurmountable mountains. 

We must not put off hope for a single day.  For one day can become two and then three.  We have love.  We have faith, and we must not defer hope.  Hope must be a part of who we are.

Faith and love are powerful forces, but to operate at full strength, they need the third strand—hope.  As people of God, let us never let go of hope.

As disciples of Christ, let others see our hope as well as our love.

As people of faith, let us continue in hope.

Let us be people of hope, every day.

Every day!


Thursday, June 20, 2019

Cheap Grace?

We continue our exploration of faith, so let’s begin with what should be a very familiar defining verse from the King James Version.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

I don’t do much hell fire and damnation.  Jesus talked about heaven, hell, the kingdom of God, love and many other things, but scaring someone into believing in a God who is love was not his modus operandi. 

It’s also not very effective.  People scared in to confessing Jesus is Lord think they have reached the finish line an are ill prepared for the race of faith ahead of them.  They are not ready to step out from the starting line of discipleship.

Therefore, fear is the least used item in my repertoire. The proverbs says that the fear of the Lord is a good starting point, but surely not our destination.

So many preachers today focus on the condemnation of sin.  Would my brethren really mock God in this way?  God condemned sin on a hill named Golgotha two millennia ago.  Did he not do a good enough job?

Most of my messages are targeted to the saints, hoping to spur them on to acts of love and discipleship. 

While most of the time we have a hymn of initiation near the end of the service, I know that I am talking mainly to people who have already responded.  We know grace.

That said, consider the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  He lived in the time of Adolf Hitler and all of the atrocities that accompanied this age.  Not quite 75 years ago he was killed in a Nazi Concentration camp.

Here is his provocation for us today.  He uses a term that might and perhaps should get under your skin.  It should be a might prickly for all of us.

Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.

Cheap grace is perhaps the number one selling item on the Christian Shopping Network.  Who doesn’t want grace?  Who doesn’t want all of their sin washed away?    Right now for three easy payments of zero dollars, you may receive grace.  You are forgiven.

The question is, are we preaching God’s grace as it came to us?  Are we preaching the truth?  Have we maintained fidelity with the truth?

Should we first proclaim to the world, “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand?  Should repentance not precede grace?

Is grace available for the one who will not turn away from the world?  Can you have grace and still not seek God and his kingdom and his righteousness first?  Can the unrepentant heart still receive grace?

The truth is that Christ died for all, but some will desire the world more.  Some chose to continue in rebellion.

Is that our burden to carry?  No.  Ever since God has been sending messages and messengers, people have ignored what God has to say. 

Some heard.  Some responded.  Some are blessed.  Some are redeemed but many reject the truth.  Many make a pact with death.

Many reject the cornerstone that is Christ Jesus our Lord.

But these rejections are not your burden.  You are to proclaim the truth in season and out of season, and when you think about that, truth is always in season for the disciple of Christ Jesus.

We speak the truth and in that truth is good news.  God does not want to condemn anyone but he will not tolerate rebellion. 

God has forgiveness that we did not and do not deserve.  That’s called grace.

God did it all.  The blood of Jesus took away our sin.  Jesus paid it all.  All to him I owe…

We receive this gift of grace by faith.  We receive it by faith not works, not our own righteousness, and religion.

Up to the point where we repent of our sin and profess Jesus as Lord, we are under a death sentence.  The wages of sin is death.

Once we have received grace, sin has no power over our eternal destination.  It can sure mess up our abundant life in the here and now but it does not impact where we spend eternity.

If we who have received grace sin, we confess, and we receive the promised pardon.  We understand that we are a regenerated, redeemed, and eternally loved by our God.

In this state of favor and grace, confession is our new first nature when it comes to sin. It’s not guilt.  It’s confession. Repentance is a real thing and we don’t want anything to do with that which is not pleasing to God.

Having received grace and now living in God’s grace, confession is our first nature when it comes to sin.

Our history tells us that we were a sinner saved by grace.  That is our history.  It is a true story but do not confuse our story with our identity.  Our story is that we were a sinner saved by grace but our identity is as a child of God and a brother or sister to Christ Jesus.  We are set apart by God’s truth.  Our identity is that we are wholly owned by the God of love.
So, what do we do with this incredible disposition?

We respond in love.  We love God.  This love is manifested mostly in obedience to him—known to us personally mainly by his Spirit—and know to us by his word, some of which is in black print and some in red.  This love is manifested in three words we know so well, love one another.
How does this response of love and obedience relate to the saints—those gathered here who have repented of the ungodly patterns of the world and received the gift of grace that we know in Christ Jesus?

Our example for sure.

How do we respond?  How about in what we share with others?

Do we speak the truth?  Perhaps we speak Mary Poppins truth.  Do we sugar coat it just a little so it is easier to swallow?  A spoon full of sugar, helps the medicine go down…

So many won’t get the Mary Poppins reference because the sugar is already in the medicine these days.

Do we preach to itching ears?

There are a whole bunch of people in today’s world that don’t want to know what God thinks or has to say about anything.  Putting your head in the sand is considered a viable course of action today. 

But we are called to preach the truth.  We are called to speak the truth in love, which is an indication of our Christian maturity.  We are called to share the truth.

So how do we reach the world with good news that what God has in store for us is so much better than the world’s offer?  How can the world—this temporal, temporary world make an offer that so many cling so tightly to?  How do we reach people who only want cheap grace?

How do we connect with people who want to be saved from death but don’t want to turn away from their sin?

With love.  Our motivation is love, not hate or condemnation or self-righteousness.  We must speak the truth in love.  Some mistake sugar coating for love but love will not allow itself to be sugar coated. If you can sugar coat it, your motivation is not love.  Love must be our central motivation.

What does that look like?

There are a whole bunch of things that God has told us that people don’t want to hear these days.

We could make signs and cite chapter and verse.

We could yell at them. 

We could ignore them.

We could just feel superior to them.  A little self-righteousness can’t be that bad can it?
We could post more “You’re going to hell Facebook Memes.”
Here’s a short rabbit trail.  Where do you think that most of America is learning its theology?  Seminary?  Study groups?  Individual Bible studies?
I have no documented research on this but I can post in online and may it true.  It seems that most of America is learning its theology through Facebook memes. 

Why not?  You don’t have to consider sourcing or context.  The full biblical witness meant actual study time.  A couple zingers and a cool picture and you have a theology.  If you can make it appealing to what people want to hear, then you’ve got something.

It has the depth of Granny’s Pimento Cheese recipe on Pinterest or the video of Squirrels Playing Banjos on Instagram, but it will get a lot of likes and a couple hundred hearts.

Maybe the meme approach isn’t the best for those who have truly repented and want to reach the lost.

Here’s something.  We could speak the truth in love.  We can preach the truth in season and out of season.  We can be the feet of those who bring good news.

But here’s the thing.  The truth and good news that we deliver must be God’s truth, not some sugar coated, twenty-first century friendly, itching ears brand of the truth which is just another form of deception.

Faith comes through hearing the message and the message is heard through the word of Christ.

If you are thinking about sugar coating or watering-down the message, ask yourself this simple question.

Who would you cheat out of grace by sugar coating the message?  Who would you tell that this thing is that God says is sin is not sin?  That makes the conversation much easier but the repentance and transformation so much more difficult.

Would you be like Jonah who did not want to go to Ninevah because the people might actually repent and God forgive them?  Who do you not want to repent and receive a message of life?

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?  And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

You are sent!  You are sent with the truth.  You are sent into a world that doesn’t want to listen.  You are sent out as sheep among wolves.  You are sent and counseled to be as innocent as doves and as shrewd as snakes.

None of us are alive in this rebellious age by accident. We may not understand what God is thinking, but he did not make a mistake with us. We belong to Christ Jesus.  We are God’s messengers.  We have received the truth.  We are commissioned to deliver it.

So many talk about how bad things are getting.  Hell in a handbasket and end of days are phrases used more and more but have we stepped up our game?

If this were a baseball game, we would have our rally caps on, be shaking the fence, getting the fans fired up, and doing whatever it took to get on base.  There is nothing like a ninth inning rally.  But, sometimes it seems we are still in our pregame warmup.

We are charged and commissioned to take the truth—the good news of salvation in the one name given to us—to this rebellious generation.

God did not make a mistake.  You are alive in this time and place on purpose.  In a time when apathy and ambivalence generate more interest than the truth, you are to take the truth, speaking it not in condemnation but in love, to people who don’t really want to hear it but need it more than they can imagine.

On occasion, I have been asked to speak to the teachers and faculty in our school system at the beginning or end of the school year.  There’s a challenge for any speaker.  Everyone there wants to be somewhere else, doing something else, and the last thing that they really want to hear is another That will fill an hour guy when they don’t want to be there in the first place.  They have others things to do!

I know what it’s like to talk to people who didn’t come to hear me on purpose.  I do my best to make it worthwhile whenever I’m invited.  But you have a message from God.

People may not want to hear that message.  They may not want the truth, but they need it.

Don’t water it down.  Don’t sugar coat it.  Don’t twist it to suit anyone’s comfort zone.  Speak the truth.  We  are told that the truth will set your free.
What is it exactly that I am to say?

Repent and believe the good news.
Repent and believe the good news.
Repent and believe the good news.

This is our message.  Can we do this?

How can we respond in faith if we have not repented?  How can we not respond in faith when our repentance is genuine?  Take this world and give me Jesus.

How can we truly forgive our brother or sister without a genuine response of love?  The unrepentant heart still wants vengeance.

How can I forgive twice, seven times, seventy times if my unrepentant heart still wants to get even?  My words say, “I forgive you.”  My heart says, “I’m doubling down on karma.  You will get what’s coming to you.”

How can love fulfil the law if we still desire religion—rules and regulations for right living over the Spirit of the living God living within us?  We must surrender all in our repentance.  I surrender all.

How can I love those who don’t love me, if I have not repented—turned away and left behind for good the ways of this world?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer coined the phrase cheap grace.  It’s a good provocation.  I think it’s good because it really is an oxymoron.  There is no such thing as cheap grace.  Grace was very costly and it cannot be cheapened.

I think what we have today is cheap or pseudo-repentance. 

People don’t really want to let go of who they are in the world.  Their response to the truth is on them but our delivery of the truth is on us.

We must speak the truth when people just want their ears tickled.

We must speak the truth without making it look like something less than it is.

We must speak the truth not in condemnation but in love .  Love must govern our delivery of the truth.

The truth is that God loves you so very much and wants all to repent of their loyalty to the gods of this age and return to him.

The truth is that those who have not received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior stand condemned already.  God wants them to change their status from CONDEMNED to In a Relationship.

The truth is that what God has in store for us is so much better than anything this world can produce.

Repent and believe the good news.

Repent—turn away from the garbage this world has sold you.  Make a wholesale exchange—mind, body, soul, and spirit—for the ways of the Lord.  Come home to God whom we have come to know in Christ Jesus and who continues to dwell within us in his Holy Spirit.

Let’s deliver this message as people who have genuinely repented, received God’s grace and favor, and can’t keep this good news to ourselves.

We cannot contain the good news within us.

How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!


Friday, June 7, 2019

The Holy Spirit comes at Pentecost

Read Acts 1-2

This morning we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.  We mostly take our scriptures from Luke’s second chapter in Acts, but the story begins in the first part of the first chapter.  It’s something of a prologue to what happened on that glorious day.

In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen.  After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.  On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.  For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

In Johns gospel, we see and extensive discussion of Jesus leaving this world and the coming of the Holy Spirit.  Those who listened to Jesus were not yet ready to hear.  In fact, even the resurrection left the disciples stunned and struggling.  Only the coming of the Holy Spirit would take them from confusion to clarity.

These followers whom would soon be called apostles, were obedient but still not quite sure what was coming.  They were familiar with the Holy Spirit.  Who wasn’t?  This Spirit of the Living God hovered over a formless earth at creation. 

They knew that it was the Holy Spirit that spoke through the prophets and even from perhaps their most revered king, David.

But how would this Spirit be known to them?  How would the Holy Spirit impact their lives? 

What could they do?  They could stay together and hang out in Jerusalem as directed. They could pray all the time and they did. Oh by the way, while they were just chillin’, they selected Matthias to replace Judas. 

Then the Day of Pentecost would come.  Pentecost is not a New Testament revelation.  Pentecost goes back to the Passover, Festival of the Unleavened Bread, and the First Fruits offering, sometimes called the Wave Offering.  
There would be worship services on the first day and last day of the week. 

There would be food offerings all week.   Nobody is eating of their new crop until this First Fruits Offering.  It is this wave offering—the first part of the First Fruits—from which we count 50 days.  The Wave Offering begins on the day after the Sabbath and so we count seven Sabbaths—seven full weeks—and then the next day begins a series of offerings from grain and bread to live animals for sacrifice.

All in all, it was a period of 50 days that the Hebrew people knew as the Feast of Weeks.  The Greek language provided a modern name for this 50th day, Pentecost.

By all that had been given to God’s Chosen People in the law, Jerusalem should have been a very busy place.  The town should have been full of Jews from all over and it was.

These followers of Jesus were all in one place and there came a sound like a violent wind.  Imagine hearing the sound of a tornado encircling you without getting picked up and blown to Kansas.

Now imagine this fireball with flames—tongues of fire to keep the original description—that separate and go to rest on each believer.

They were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in languages that they did not know.

Evidently, they went outside because a crowd had gathered, perhaps in response to sound of a violent wind.  It sounds like there were a bunch of Okies in Jerusalem.

That sounds like a tornado over there.  Let’s go check it out.

We don’t get the whole logistical picture but we know that these men filled with the Holy Spirit started speaking to people from all over the region in their native languages.

We know that there were Jews from all over.

Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs.

We know that there were a bunch of people.  How do we know this?  Because without a change in geography, at least 3000 would come to believe in Jesus as the Christ and as their Lord.  So later when Peter gave his first ever altar call, we don’t’ know if everyone responded or just 10% but we do know that there were 3000 who did.

These apostles had 40 days with their risen Savior.  Jesus comforted and affirmed what he had told them before, but they were not ready for what he had in store for them.

They had another 10 just waiting to see what was next.  Then came Pentecost.  Then came the Holy Spirit.  Then there was no delay.

The church based upon the profession that Jesus is Lord, that he is the Christ, was being constructed.  The church began in Jerusalem just as directed by the Lord. 

At first, some tried to dismiss what was happening.  Galileans speaking in languages that they did not know could only be because they were drunk.  That must be it.  I know that I speak other languages so much better if I am inebriated.  Not!

But this explanation turned into a provocation and Peter stepped forward and responded. 

First, he said that they are not drunk at this hour of the morning.  Come on guys.  Be real.  This is what the prophet Joel prophesied.  God’s Spirit has been poured out.

Then he said, let’s talk about this Jesus.  He had some good credentials.  You should have recognized them as being from God—miracles, wonders, and signs.

But you didn’t.  Instead you handed him over to wicked men to be killed.  This happened to be necessary but Peter did not dwell on this part at the time.

He jumped to the fact that God raised him from the dead.  He appealed to the crowd’s biblical knowledge of David.  David had long since passed but his descendant would sit on his throne forever.  David’s body had long since turned to dust but Jesus was raised from the dead.

Peter made sure the people understood where they stood.  This man called Jesus whom you killed was the Messiah that you have waited for so long.  You killed him.  God raised him from the dead.

The people responded, “What do we do?”

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

With many words that we do not have and with these that we do, Peter beckoned the people to be saved.

Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.

Many came.  The Covenant Community was formed.  The family of faith was formed.  Believers took care of each other.

We could use that same altar call today.  Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.

As directed, the gospel was witnessed to many in Jerusalem.  By the witness of the many who had come from all over and by the apostles who would soon go out in so many directions, the mission to call people out of the world to follow the Christ would begin.

Do you know the word ekklesia?  It means being called out and gathered in an assembly.  We are called out of the world, set apart from the world and made holy, and sent back into the world with good news.

The coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost is a story that bears repeating, at least once a year.  People were being called out of the world to be one people in God’s name.  It was indeed quite the kick off event for this new church.  These apostles belong to the same church that we do.  They lived the same commission that we have—take the good news to your neighbors and then start working outwards.

We have the same commission that they did but it seems that we don’t have the same passion.  It seems that we have grown comfortable with being surrounded by the lost and the disconnected.

It might be that we have never had flames dancing on our heads.  It could be that I had to learn a foreign language the old-fashioned way.  It could be a lot of things.

Today, I will proffer that we are not quite ready to surrender to the Spirit of the one true God who dwells within us.  We are not quite ready.

There is nothing in this world that is holding us back.  It’s all us for God’s Spirit is living within us.  So, what do we do?

We have repented.

We have professed Jesus is Lord.

We have been baptized.

What do we do?

We get out of the way.  We let God’s Spirit start the day.  We let God’s Spirit prioritize our lives.

We make time just to be in the presence of God.  Remember, Be still and know that I am God. 

We pray and pray some more.  We maintain an ongoing conversation with God.

The Day of Pentecost was described from the outside.  Powerful sounds and fiery images.

Our spiritual growth comes from within and may not be instantaneous, but we must surrender to God’s Spirit if we are to live to the full and our lives are to be pleasing to God.

If we don’t back off and we don’t give into fear, we will realize the power of the Spirit that lives within us.

We probably won’t preach to a multitude and see 3000 come to profess Jesus in a single event, but we each may reach 3000 people with the good news.  One here.  Two there.  Three at the ball game.  Four in Walmart.  Another on the phone.  Another with a short conversation while delivering a bag lunch full of love.

We don’t show up with a script.  We travel with the Holy Spirit who will gives us words when we need them.

We don’t have to give people a card or wrist band but these are good tools for this century when people forget so easily.

We do need to have a heart ready to surrender to God’s own Spirit.

We do need a teachable spirit.

We do need to have daily and intimate conversations with God.

We do need to trust God.  Trust in the Lord with all of our heart.

We do need to live by faith.

We do need the desire to obey God and his commands are not a burden.  We need to want to do what he wants us to do.

We do need love to govern our choices.  We must not be dissuaded by our own understanding.

We must desire none to perish.  God’s heart must overwhelm our heart.

We must long for inclusiveness for those who are lost.  We must have a heart to call them home.

We reach out to the lost not to join them but to call them to the abundance of living in community.  Think of the community that emerged so quickly after the coming of the Spirit.  We are not all going to live in Jerusalem or even in the same town, but we are all part of the same covenant community.

God’s Spirit is alive within us.  We don’t need tornado sounds and images of fire.  We just need to be the new creature that we have been made in Christ Jesus.

We should not compare ourselves to the apostles with fiery heads but to those with whom Peter taught.

And you will receive—today I will say that we have received—the gift of the Holy Spirit.  The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

We have received God’s Spirit!

We just need to get out of the way.  We just need to live by the Spirit within us.  We need to quit resisting the Spirt that lives within us.  We must do the work of the church rooted in our profession of faith and propelled into the world by the Holy Spirit working in us.

Let God’s Spirit take charge of your life!