Sunday, May 19, 2013

And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. Romans 8: 26-27

I use a small electric fan to keep me cool in the mornings when I get dressed. How do I know it works? I can’t see the air coming out of the fan, but I know when it’s working. I can see the blade spinning on the inside; I can hear the motor softly purring; I can feel the air blowing on my face. While I can’t see the air, I feel the power of the fan.

I can also feel a much greater power – the power of the Holy Spirit. Today we celebrate the Day of Pentecost. The Bible tells us that on the Day of Pentecost Jesus gathered his followers around him just before he was to ascend to heaven. Suddenly, a rush of wind filled the entire house where they were sitting. Just as God had promised, he sent his Holy Spirit to give Jesus’ followers the power to tell others the Gospel. They couldn’t see the Holy Spirit, but they knew he was there. The Bible says they heard the sound of a mighty rushing wind, and they saw what looked like flaming tongues of fire that rested on their heads. They could feel his power as they began to speak in different languages.

The Holy Spirit is still with us today. We can’t see him but we, as Christ followers, know he lives inside us. We see the work he does in us and through us. We hear his voice as he guides our emotions, thoughts, words, and actions. We feel his presence as he shows us the right choices to make.

Since you can’t see the Holy Spirit, how do you know he works? You can see, hear, and feel him.

Just as you can feel the power of the fan, you can feel the power of the Holy Spirit.

God, thank you for sending your Holy Spirit. Help us to listen to him as he teaches us how to live.


Monday, May 13, 2013

I am such an impatient “waiter.” I was in the checkout line at a home improvement store recently fussing and fuming about the man in front of me. He decided to wait until he checked-out to decide he needed another item that the cashier had to send an employee to get. Waiting, waiting, waiting. The line backed up behind me and we watched the next lane checkout person after person. I kept thinking, “Why didn’t this man have his act together? Doesn’t he know this is so rude to make everyone wait!” Finally, his transaction was complete. I moved into place. Just as the cashier was about to finish ringing up my total, she asked for my shopper’s card. In all my fussing and fuming, I had forgotten to have it ready. I had to dig in my purse through all the other dozens of shopper cards until I finally produced the right one. While the delay I caused was minor, it was a reminder not to be so hasty in my judgments of others. It was also a reminder to slow down. I wasted time fussing and fuming and could have relaxed and enjoyed a few moments of rest. I needed to be still.

What does Scripture say about a hurried life?

We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing. Psalm 39:6

God invites us to slow down and live fully in the moment. When we slow down though, it seems we have to wait.

Part of growing up in our faith is learning the art of waiting. We see what author Warren Wiersbe writes about the art of waiting. When he feels tempted to hurry God, he reminds himself to do these 3 things:

1. “Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord.” Exodus 14:13.
We can turn over our worries, issues, to God and then watch how he works iit out.

2. “Sit still… until you know how the matter will turn out.” Ruth 3:18 Take a wait and see approach. Don’t jump to conclusions about what God is doing. Be still until God decides to act. Remember how Sarai rushed God. She had Abraham sleep with her handmaiden Hagar. She rushed God.

3. “Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
There are times when we are just to accept that God knows best. God is sovereign. We can tell God, “You are God and I am not.”

The key word in all three is STILL. Stillness and patience with God are indicators of “growing up” in faith.

Waiting is an opportunity to be still!

Beauty for Ashes

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

How hard is it to give thanks to express joy in the middle of our mess?

We can’t often change our circumstance but we can change how we see them. We can make adjustments. We might have to adjust our perspective on what is happening in our lives. In the middle of our mess we get to choose whether to move closer to joy or away from it. Whichever way we choose, we usually “wear” our emotional conditions!

In the Old Testament days people wore sackcloths when they were in mourning and they placed ashes on their heads. Sackcloths and ashes were also used to show repentance. They also wore decorative clothing for festivals. Their clothing indicated their condition – some suitable for mourning and some suitable for rejoicing.

What would you wear on a daily basis if what you wore symbolized your frame of mind?

We don’t use these Old Testament symbols today to indicate our sorrow, but what are the indicators that people are in despair or hard times of any kind?

Sad faces, bad attitudes, angry retorts, sullenness, withdrawal, on and on.

The Prophet Isaiah prophesied the Messiah would come to heal the brokenhearted. In fact, this Messiah was going to…

give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
that the Lord has planted for his own glory. (Isaiah 41:3 NLT)

Jesus came to turn our ashes into beauty to give us a joyous blessing instead of mourning, to take our despair and turn it into festive praise. He came to make us “like great oaks” planted for his glory.

Jesus wants to take our ugly and make it beautiful. He wants to turn our ashes into beauty. He wants to make us strong like great oaks so that we can live for his glory.

It’s easy to add to express joy when the sun is shining and all seems right with our world. But searching for joy in the hard places is a challenge. We often have to go on a treasure hunt to find the joy. Counting blessings in the middle of our mess reminds us to focus on the good in life instead of the shortcomings.

The next time your emotions begin a downward spiral, consider activating the Law of Exchange. Replace the disparaging, sullen thoughts with joyous ones. You can choose to exchange your bad attitudes for good ones. You can choose to live in thankfulness. In the middle of your mess you can choose to focus on life’s blessings instead of its shortcomings.

Wear joy!

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