Posts Tagged #spiritualgrowth
Read: Deuteronomy 2.7 (NRSV)
Here the long wilderness journey comes to an end for Moses. He looks back forty years and remembers the plagues and the exodus, the grumbling, and the manna. Joshua looks ahead and prepares to enter the Promised Land. Long before I turned forty, I could not imagine looking back more than a month or two. Further along the path, it is now easy to look back to see most clearly points of failure and success on my part, and the abiding presence of God throughout the journey.
The clarity of hindsight carries a powerful perspective for affirmation and for assurance in the presence. Whatever your current age, the point in our journey is vital to stop and learn from our past. It is certain that when we fail to learn from the past, we will indeed repeat our former ills. The current effort to clean-up our history will temporarily give those who rewrite the past power and sense of accomplishment, but our past is one of our greatest teachers. With all the dirty and sin, we must know what we have come through to see the value of what we have and where we are heading.
Before us is a world that is less likely to listen to the church’s message of righteousness and spiritual course correction. Therefore, we must make certain to know how God has guided, blessed, corrected, and empowered the People of God through great trials and suffering. The days ahead are no easier and the call of discipleship is no less important. Seek God in scripture, the fellowship of the believers, and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Action Plan: Look at family photos and count your blessings. Find past photos of your church family and learn from our past. What are some of the hopes and dreams that you once had? Are they still attainable? Will you work to their fulfillment? Have new and better dreams come to fulfillment in their place?
Prayer: The Lord is my shepherd; I shall want for nothing! Amen.
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you. “I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.” [NRSV]
The promise Jesus makes to us as disciples is be connected to the very Spirit of God.
The Holy Spirit is God’s presence in our spirits, our true self.
We are not simply the sum of amassed knowledge that artificial intelligence can replicate. We have an additional dimension to our self. In Christ, this spirit is born. Through Christ we are awaken and reborn as a spiritual – new person.
The purpose of knowing and being connected in Holy Spirit is to that God does not want us to be left out, alone, powerless, or afraid. God remains with us because God is all about the relationship.
The Difference in Knowing About Jesus and knowing Jesus.
In the old standard Interpreter’s Bible there is the story of a student who runs into a previous professor from a decade ago at conference meeting. The student waits in line to speak with the professor, he introduced himself as a “one of your students.” To which the professor looked puzzled, thinking through the thousands of students in his tenure. He replied, “Sir, you may have attended my lectures, but you were not one of my students.”
We can know countless information and proof of the historical Jesus, but we can miss knowing Jesus for all the facts. Do you realize there are no letters or documents signed by Jesus? We have no original copy of the Ten Commandments. We don’t even have original copies of the Bible, not one of them penned by its author, and yet we place our faith in the scriptures and our lives in Christ and our hope in the Holy Spirit? How could we be so foolish or faithful?
The difference is that these resources of our faith lead us to meet the person of Jesus, the witness of God, the movement and strength of the Holy Spirit in people lives. It is not History’s job to prove Jesus, that falls on our shoulders. It is not the Academic Academy’s job to validate our claims and truths, that is the work of God in the Holy Spirit.
Graham Greek writes of a character in “The Power and the Glory” known as the whiskey priest who attempts to describe how God is at work as the Father and the son the Holy Spirit. He alludes to the rural western town where the barber is also the shop keeper and the deputy sheriff, wear differ hats as needed. The divine reality is that God wears all three hats at the same time, beyond all time.
God so longs for our heart/mind/soul/self to be loved, and love in return through all creation that God is working in us in every generation. Scripture is timeless because it God speaking to humanity. A humanity that sins, fails and fall short. Scripture is truth because it reflects God’s guiding those God chooses and those who choose God to tell the Good News of God’s workings. Scripture is power because it is the Holy Spirt speaking through the hearts, soul, minds, and self of the faithful to witness to all generations that God creates us in love, saves us through grace, and empowers and guides us to witness that love and grace to all the world: Father, Son and Holy Spirit are/is with us.
How do know the Spirit is in us?
the On the day that we are born anew in the Spirit, is the moment that we realize God is in Jesus, and Jesus is in the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit is in us, and we are in God, through Jesus in our Spirit.
The ability to make this connection is what the image of God is all about. God’s nature is not limited by physical features; God nature is beyond history, beyond matter, beyond science, beyond time. For God to be all knowing, seeing and loving, means that God is more than our perspective.
For me personally, I grew up hearing sermons, lessons, hymns, anthems, studies, songs, cantatas, programs, devotions and stories of faith in church, outside of church, at home and in my own devotion progress. While I was baptized as an infant, it was not until my thirteenth year, while at the chapel at Camp Glisson did I know in my heart that all these information had a connecting point that included me.
There have been other times that God has claimed and made a stabbing hold on my spirit to mark my journey. It is not only a new birth is the a new life with new milestones.
Today’s passage is about markers in this spiritual journey.
I have learned through thirty-six years of professional ministry that there are those with much less training and practice that have a deeper and more mature journey than my own. But we all share the same spirit. Jesus gives the promise of God’s Spirit to live in us, that we are awakened and born anew, and it comes through a process.
We typically would think it is in reverse. If we had a powerful revelation, our own Damascus Road, or burning bush, or tree in the middle of the garden, or some powerful sign of healing that we would be devoted to keep God’s commandments. But it is just the reverse in Jesus teaching.
- We learn that we are loved by God, not oppressed by God.
- The tree in the Garden was given to make it simple, we misplace trust.
- The law was given to keep us in bounds, but we rebelled.
- The kings and prophets were given to define us, and we devalued our neighbors and enemies.
- Jesus arrives and offers himself as our stand in for our oppression, lost trust, rebellion, pride and separation.
- The Holy Spirit is given as part of our Spirit that we might know God is eternally with us, now and for eternity.
As I looked out my window, I saw the mighty wind blow the leaves and branches and trunks of trees, but I sat safely in my house, climate controlled and secure. Am I so protecting myself that I am not away of the Spirit I see in others?
Being in the Spirit, is being willing to face the winds with God’s help.
If our starting place to find the Holy Spirit is to be in love, we look to God’s self-vulnerability of creating people, male and female, and entrusting us with the possibility to love and trust or to reject and rebel, hoping we would choose relationship and trust in God, who loves us enough to give us that choice.
God loves us.
When we see that God loves us despite our flaws and failures. When we see that we are God’s children, the creation of God’s love, and all people are so created, we see God not only loves me, and you, but everyone. A love that immense is awesome beyond our capacity to express or understand, and yet this is what God has and is doing for us. God loves us. God so loves us that he gave his Son, himself for us, to not only prove that love but give love to our life.
And when see this love is real, the commandment become our response. But our failings continue as the choice to trust God is challenged in everyday.
God reveals his Spiritual Presence. Living, growing and giving witness in our heart, soul, mind, self.
If you have not seen God at work in someone’s life there are dozen in this church who can share with you how God is at work in their life.
If you have heard and seen God in the lives of others but you question about God in your life, this is where this passage speaks to us all. Hear the Good News.
God loves us. Not even evil, death or anything will stop that love, as seen in Christ
And God wants to move in with us wherever we go. The invitation is God’s – let God move you.
God be in me, Let your Holy Spirit feed and guide me. God give my faith life and fuel to burn passionately for you. Be in my mind, in my soul, in my thoughts and in my actions. Come Holy Spirit reveal yourself in me. Amen.