As we launch into this New Year and make all kinds of personal resolutions about what we'd like to do and be within it, here's a little reminder to keep in front of ourselves all year long:
You and I are part of a Kingdom that cannot die because we follow a King who cannot be kept dead. May we take up an indomitable spirit all throughout this year, living by His Spirit, so that all the world may know.
“If anyone wants to follow in my footsteps, he must give up all right to himself, carry his cross every day and keep close behind me. For the man who wants to save his life will lose it, but the man who loses his life for my sake will save it..." Luke 9:23,24
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"With eyes wide open to the mercies of God, I beg you, my brothers and sisters, as an act of intelligent worship, to give him your bodies, as a living sacrifice, consecrated to him and acceptable by him. Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold, but let God re-mold your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity." Romans 12:1,2
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“Everyone has to give up a great deal of life to live anything deeply. But it’s worth it.”
John Dos Passos, Three Soldiers
The ending of 1 Thessalonians 1 (vv. 6b-10), with some thoughts in italics -
You remember how, although accepting the message meant bitter persecution, yet you experienced the joy of the Holy Spirit. And, by the way, the Holy Spirit is joy. No circumstances, no human hardships, trump the Holy Spirit’s ability to invest our spirits with His wondrous and eternal joy! (Test that fact today – and everyday - and you'll see what I mean.)
You thus became examples to all who believe in Macedonia and Achaia. You have become a sort of sounding-board from which the Word of the Lord has rung out, not only in Macedonia and Achaia but everywhere where the story of your faith in God has become known. We find we don’t have to tell people about it. They tell us the story of our coming to you: how you turned from idols to serve the true living God, and how your whole lives now look forward to the coming of his Son from heaven…
Don’t you just love the sentiment of that section? How absolutely wonderful that these believers, simply by believing and loving and hoping in Jesus, have become a “sounding-board” for the whole Gospel to the whole world! Their story needs no telling because the fruit is so obvious. And what joy Paul felt at how his friends were making the name Jesus famous!
And where did the Thessalonian church source its spiritual power? … the Son Jesus, whom God raised from the dead, and who personally delivered us from the judgment which hung over our heads.
And right there is the source of the Early Church’s zeal and steadfastness: their foremost belief in Jesus’ present “aliveness.” Nothing could faze them in the face of a Living Christ. For them, the Resurrection perfectly proved the power of the atoning Cross forevermore and they’d learned to live in this “personally delivered” posture with wild and unflappable joy.
How about us today?
Nearly no one can remember all the "important things" they were doing, say, three weeks ago today. All that day's busyness has now been swallowed up by the passing of time and by today's concerns. Yet if that particular day was bound up with faith, hope and love, its fruit was eternal and, even if we forget all its minutiae, it lasts. That is why our "seeking first His Kingdom and His righteousness" today must be everything; we've already been told that all else will be added to us if only we'll so fully seek.
The eleven went to the hill-side in Galilee where Jesus had arranged to meet them, and when they had seen him they worshipped him, though some of them were doubtful. But Jesus came and spoke these words to them, "All power in Heaven and on earth has been given to me. You, then, are to go and make disciples of all the nations and baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Teach them to observe all that I have commanded you and, remember, I am with you always, even to the end of the world." (Matthew 28:16-20)
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On one occasion, while he was eating a meal with them, he emphasized that they were not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the Father’s promise. “You have already heard me speak about this,” he said, “for John used to baptize with water, but before many days are passed you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
This naturally brought them all together, and they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you are going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
To this he replied, “You cannot know times and dates which have been fixed by the Father’s sole authority. But you are to be given power when the Holy Spirit has come to you. You will be witnesses to me, not only in Jerusalem, not only throughout Judea, not only in Samaria, but to the very ends of the earth!”
When he had said these words he was lifted up before their eyes till a cloud hid him from their sight… (Acts 1:4-9)
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“Great expectations are the proof of great love.”
- Honore de Balzac, The Rise and Fall of Cesar Birotteau
Then Jesus, knowing intuitively that his disciples were complaining about what he had just said, went on, “Is this too much for you? Then what would happen if you were to see the Son of Man going up to the place where he was before? It is the Spirit which gives life. The flesh will not help you. The things which I have told you are spiritual and are life. But some of you will not believe me.”
For Jesus knew from the beginning which of his followers did not trust him and who was the man who would betray him. Then he added, “This is why I said to you, ‘No one can come to me unless my Father puts it into his heart to come.’”
As a consequence of this, many of his disciples withdrew and no longer followed him. (John 6:61-66)
It’s important to note that this whole epilogue to John 6 is addressed specifically to actual disciples of His, not just some curious crowd. It is to us, in essence, that He turns His eyes and says these words:
“Is this too much for you? Then what would happen if you were to see the Son of Man going up to the place where he was before? It is the Spirit which gives life. The flesh will not help you. The things which I have told you are spiritual and are life. But some of you will not believe me.”
Friends, you and I must believe Him. We must ever want more, never less, of the presence of the Living One. May our hearts come to know and experience that yearning that eventually overtook the heart of the Apostle Paul: “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith -- that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3)
Yet to know “the power of his resurrection,” to be able to grasp – as Jesus mentions – the glory of His Ascension, we cannot lean upon our own understanding, our flesh, for, again, they will not help us. Only the Spirit can give life – only the words of Jesus are spirit – so may we allow Him to do His work of teaching us to follow. May we allow His flesh and blood, living right now within us, to do their work in leading us along His perfect Way.
Now after the death of Moses the servant of Yahweh, Yahweh spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ servant, saying, “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go across this Jordan, you, and all these people, to the land which I am giving to them, even to the children of Israel. I have given you every place that the sole of your foot will tread on, as I told Moses. From the wilderness, and this Lebanon, even to the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your border. No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not fail you nor forsake you…” Joshua 1:1-5
Imagine being Joshua and standing upon the brow of a hill, looking into Canaan, with the voice of the Lord speaking whisperingly in your ear, like this. That morning you’d awoken with fear and anxiety about leading His people; now, at sunset, He is narrating the glories of your eternal possession, even as He shows it to you. Perhaps He even lengthened Joshua’s sights in order to see these lengths and breadths of the land He was set to give to his people. But can you feel the power of the Presence that had inhabited the cloud-by-day and the fire-by-night, as He's leaning over Joshua to point the way?
Abraham could certainly relate – both to the Presence and the precise words used:
“The Lord said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, ‘Look around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.’” (Genesis 13)
“On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, ‘To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates — the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.’” (Genesis 15)
For us, it is our own knowledge that He never “fails nor forsakes us,” our remembrance that He’s never “failed nor forsook us,” and our belief that He never will in the future “fail nor forsake us” that gives us the ability – today – to arise, to go, to take, to tread, and to be dauntless in His leading and presence. Immediately, here, as we’re reading the opening words of the 24 chapters that make up the Book of Joshua, we must lift our gaze to examine the steadfast face of Yeshua, our Savior, our Leader, Jesus. For we’re only as good for His service as the measure to which we believe He is good; we must stand intimately with Him, today, as Joshua once stood breath-to-breath with Yahweh.
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of wisdom, of hope, of joy, of courage, of knowledge, of comfort, of counsel, and of power. No matter what our life (or this next New Year) throws at us, we mustn't fall back on our own thoughts or emotions; we must make use of, and become increasingly totally dependent upon, the Spirit of God as our best and only source for the wisdom, hope, joy, courage, knowledge, comfort, counsel and power of Heaven itself.
Let's live up to our privileges, my brothers and sisters, both today and over these holidays!
"This is the reason why we never collapse. The outward man does indeed suffer wear and tear, but every day the inward man receives fresh strength. These little troubles (which are really so transitory) are winning for us a permanent, glorious and solid reward out of all proportion to our pain. For we are looking all the time not at the visible things but at the invisible. The visible things are transitory: it is the invisible things that are really permanent." 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
“In every man there are two hemispheres of light and dark, two worlds discrete, two countries of his soul’s adventure. And one of these is the dark land, the other half of his heart’s home, the unvisited domain of his father’s earth. And this is the land he knows the best. It is the earth unvisited – and it is his, as nothing he has seen can ever be. It is the world intangible that he has never touched – yet more his own than something he has owned forever.” Thomas Wolfe, The Web and the Rock
Clearing Winter Storm, Ansel Adams
"If you obey the royal law, expressed by the scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,' all is well..." James 2:8
And here's one quick thought on this version of the Golden Rule, a basic pattern to remember. When you're trying to follow it, to literally "love your neighbor as yourself," and "do unto them as you would have them do unto you," the first step is not to think of yourself: not to think, "Let's see, I like to pamper myself and love myself and so now I'm going to pamper and love you like that..."
No! First, observe the other person with love and curiosity about what would make them feel loved and, in the spirit of Jesus, and now outside of yourself, you will begin to love the other person with a first-handedness that is how you yourself want to be loved.
I've shared this quote here before, but I love the old writer Henry Scougall's words, "Perfect love is a kind of self-dereliction, a wandering out of ourselves..."
Let's you and I become great wanderers of that sort, my friends! Especially at Christmas, as we seek to prove the Incarnation with our lives!
“Thus I stretch out my arms to my Savior, who, after being foretold for four thousand years, came on earth to die and suffer for me at the time and in the circumstances foretold. By his grace I peaceably await death, in the hope of being eternally united to him, and meanwhile I live joyfully, whether in the blessings which he is pleased to bestow on me or in the afflictions he sends me for my own good and taught me how to endure by example." (Blaise Pascal, Pensees)
"Yes, and I shall go on being very happy, for I know that what is happening will be for the good of my own soul, thanks to your prayers and the resources of the spirit of Jesus Christ. It all accords with my own earnest wishes and hopes, which are that I should never be in any way ashamed, but that now, as always, I should honor Christ with the utmost boldness by the way I live, whether that means I am to face death or to go on living. For living to me means simply 'Christ,' and if I die I should merely gain more of him." (Philippians 1:18b-21)
"Now what use is it, my brothers, for a man to say he 'has faith' if his actions do not correspond with it? Could that sort of faith save anyone’s soul?" (James 2:14)
And without reading any further into the famous "faith & works" section of James' letter, we have to stop right there, because THAT'S THE WHOLE QUESTION FOR US. The question of faith and works has everything to do with what we believe really happens because of "faith" at the level of the individual soul. Or let me put it to you this way: There was a real living person named Jesus, a man from Nazareth in Israel, who lived 2,000 years ago, in the midst of the Roman Empire.
Now what does that have to do with your soul?
(Insert you and I having coffee or talking on the phone this week, right here, because I'd really like to hear you answer that question.)
I think the reason we get into so many arguments and confusions about the "faith & works" question is because we don't really know what we actually believe about "faith." The true Christian faith - at least the one the first believers lived and died for - is that repentance and belief lead not only to salvation, but also to Jesus now living His life inside of you. And imagine questioning whether Jesus Himself would be able to show works and actions like... Himself! I truly dare us to have His presence inside us and to try and stop Him!
Really, the "faith & works" question should be a moot point for us, if we really believe the things we say we believe about Jesus, our soul, and the work of the Holy Spirit. (And I'd encourage you to read the rest of James 2 through the lens of His indwelling: it changes the whole scope of the argument entirely.)
As Jesus went on his way, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at his desk in the tax office and he said to him, “Follow me!” Levi got up and followed him. Later, when Jesus was sitting at dinner in Levi’s house, a large number of tax-collectors and disreputable folk came in and joined him and his disciples. For there were many such people among his followers. When the scribes and Pharisees saw him eating in the company of tax-collectors and outsiders, they remarked to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax-collectors and sinners?” (Mark 2:14-16)
It occurs to me that it never occurred to Jesus not to eat with the tax-collectors and sinners and disreputable folk. He didn't ever even seem to have a second thought about it. Nor was this some "ministry strategy." His actions were ever and always the most natural inclinations of His heart and will: this is the actual heart of God on display. And thank you, Jesus, for that Kingdom of Heaven reality!
The Calling of St. Matthew, Caravaggio
"The Presence and the manifestation of the Presence are not the same. There can be the one without the other. God is here when we are wholly unaware of it. He is manifest only when and as we are aware of His Presence. On our part there must be surrender to the Spirit of God, for His work it is to show us the Father and the Son. If we co-operate with Him in loving obedience God will manifest Himself to us, and that manifestation will be the difference between a nominal Christian life and a life radiant with the light of His face."
A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God
Here's the opening of John 9 (specifically verses 1-5) with some interspersed notes in italics:
Later, as Jesus walked along he saw a man who had been blind from birth... And let’s take a moment to understand what that fully would've meant for this man. At his birth, there would’ve been great rejoicing in his parents’ hearts over the arrival of a son, an heir, and then there would’ve been an equal measure of exactly the opposite when it was realized that this boy couldn’t see. In that culture, as is evidenced by the disciples’ immediate question of Jesus (see below), blindness was seen as a mark against the family and the individual. Even in the Levitical laws, a blind priest was purposefully kept away from the service – it was literally called a “defect.”
Imagine that life. Imagine this man growing up under that cloud and in the darkness of both his blindness and the surrounding cultural stigma. Unable to attend any school and properly learn, he is now sitting near the Temple of Jerusalem, doing the only thing that’s available to him – begging of passersby. He has woken to this day without hope, without standing, without any form of mercy other that the few coins that perhaps will clink in his cup today.
He has no expectation of a visit from God Himself.
“Master, whose sin caused this man’s blindness,” asked the disciples, “his own or his parents’?” A question that our blind friend was probably not unused to hearing. Jesus’ response, however, would’ve had him leaning in…
“He was not born blind because of his own sin or that of his parents,” returned Jesus, “but to show the power of God at work in him. We must carry on the work of him who sent me while the daylight lasts. Night is coming, when no one can work. I am the world’s light as long as I am in it.” May I stop us right here and put a challenging idea in front of you? When we look at these statements of Jesus from outside of them, as readers, not first-hand hearers, I think we should hear His words from a blended vantage-point, as both His disciples and the blind man. We are people who ourselves often struggle situationally - whether they’re huge struggles or little day-to-day challenges - and we are the ones tasked with “carrying on the work of him who sent Jesus.” So, on any given day, as living embodiments of both components of this account - the disciple and the blind man - what should be our first thought whenever we’re confronted with any sort of hardship? Jesus’ words: “He was not [insert your personal struggle here] because of sin, but to show the power of God at work in him.” It reminds me of John the Baptist’s words back in John Chapter 3: “A man can receive nothing at all unless it is given him from heaven.”
But this gets even better!
The word John has Jesus using here for “show the power of God” means, yes, to “make manifest,” but it also can mean “to make famous.” My friends, every challenge, every struggle, every hardship has the possibility – contains the opportunity – to make Jesus famous as we allow Him to do His work! Can we learn to trust Him that way? Do you believe it’s true that even your hardships can give Him great glory?
Oh, may it be so today!
Just this morning, I was reading through Romans 5 and relishing how Paul describes our freedom from the Old and our complete, joyous inheritance of the New through Jesus. And reading the latter half of the chapter, I started realizing the degree to which he was using point- and counter-point analysis to show us what's now ours.
Below, for your reading pleasure are his phrase-by-phrase juxtapositions from Romans 5:15-21. I found it helpful to see it broken out by columns...
This is the story of how good our life in Jesus really is! Let's relish it, and Him, today!
"So Paul warned [the ship's crew], and said, “Men, I can see that this voyage is likely to result in damage and considerable loss—not only to ship and cargo—but even of our lives as well.” But [the centurion] Julius paid more attention to the helmsman and the captain than to Paul’s words of warning. Moreover, since the harbor is unsuitable for a ship to winter in, the majority were in favor of setting sail again in the hope of reaching Phoenix and wintering there. Phoenix is a harbor in Crete, facing south-west and north-west. So, when a moderate breeze sprang up, thinking they had obtained just what they wanted, they weighed anchor, and coasted along, hugging the shores of Crete. But before long a terrific gale, which they called a north-easter, swept down upon us from the land. The ship was caught by it and since she could not be brought up into the wind we had to let her fall off and run before it. Then, running under the lee of a small island called Clauda, we managed with some difficulty to secure the ship’s boat. After hoisting it aboard they used cables to brace the ship. To add to the difficulties they were afraid all the time of drifting on to the Syrtis banks, so they shortened sail and lay to, drifting. The next day, as we were still at the mercy of the violent storm, they began to throw cargo overboard. On the third day with their own hands they threw the ship’s tackle over the side. Then, when for many days there was no glimpse of sun or stars and we were still in the grip of the gale, all hope of our being saved was given up..." (Acts 27:10-20)
I don't think it'd be too literary, or philosophical, or, in writing about this section, self-serving, to say that the series of events that culminates in this moment of complete hopelessness is a pretty good picture of our last century and a bit. At the beginning of the 20th Century, humanity, relatively speaking, was in a period of peace and prosperity almost unrivaled in human history. The century before it - again relatively speaking - had been less punctuated by war; technologies were making great strides in many areas; economies were, overall, booming; "faith" was easy...
Then, over the last 100+ years, it's been as if a great northeaster hit. In fact, to follow the course of Paul's ship, consider a re-rendering:
“The world was caught in this wind of change and since it could not be brought up into the wind humanity had to let itself fall off and run before it. Two world wars, national revolutions, ethnic hatreds, genocides, nihilism, anarchy then resulted. Then, running under the lee of post-war peace, we managed with some difficulty to secure the world’s ways via economic restructuring, better governance, and nominal religious conviction. We used this trio of ties to brace the ship. But to add to the difficulties we were afraid all the time of drifting back toward a humanism that would redevelop into atheism, so we shortened sail and lay to, drifting. The Church drifted right along with the world. The next era, as we were now at the mercy of storms of cultural overthrow, caused many to throw their 'faith convictions' away entirely. Eventually with our own hands we threw Biblical morality, the purifying realities of the Gospel, and the power of the Body of Christ overboard as well. Then, when for many years there was no glimpse of any light and we were still in the grip of the gale, all hope of the world’s being saved was given up by all around us.”
Do I overstate my case? Truly, I don't think so. And so what's required? Let's continue on in Acts 27 with Paul...
"Nobody had eaten for some time, when Paul came forward among the men and said, 'Men, you should have listened to me and not set sail from Crete and suffered this damage and loss. However, now I beg you to keep up your spirits for no one’s life is going to be lost, though we shall lose the ship. I know this because last night, the angel of the God to whom I belong, and whom I serve, stood by me and said, "Have no fear, Paul! You must stand before Caesar. And God, as a mark of his favor towards you, has granted you the lives of those who are sailing with you." Take courage then, men, for I believe God, and I am certain that everything will happen exactly as I have been told. But we shall have to run the ship ashore on some island.'" (Acts 27:21-26)
How different is the posture of Paul when thrown in contrast against the manic fear of everyone around him! Do you understand that that, in the midst of the storms assailing this world, is how we're supposed to appear? Our lives, not just our words, must stand steadfast and say to all:
“Men and Women, you must listen to me and not keep sailing toward this hopelessness and suffering this damage and loss to your eternal souls. Now I beg you, and by my life and action, and my love for you, I impel you, to turn your spirits toward the One who ensures that not one of His is lost, though it cost Him His life. I know this because everyday, this Jesus to whom I belong, and whom I serve, stands by me and says, ‘Have no fear! You must stand for me before this world. And I, as a mark of my favor towards you, have granted you the lives of those around you who will hear my truth from your lips.’ Take courage then, Men and Women, for I believe Jesus, and I am certain that everything will happen exactly as I have been told, and as I have seen Him do before. But this world shall run itself ashore on the rocks.”
Friends, is that an accurate representation of the stoutheartedness of our belief amidst the Shipwreck that is this world?
May it be so!
"It is through the Son, at the cost of his own blood, that we are redeemed, freely forgiven through that full and generous grace which has overflowed into our lives and opened our eyes to the truth. For God had allowed us to know the secret of his plan, and it is this: he purposes in his sovereign will that all human history shall be consummated in Christ, that everything that exists in Heaven or earth shall find its perfection and fulfillment in him. And here is the staggering thing — that in all which will one day belong to him we have been promised a share (since we were long ago destined for this by the one who achieves his purposes by his sovereign will), so that we, as the first to put our confidence in Christ, may bring praise to his glory!" Ephesians 1:7-12
"Yet every advantage that I had gained I considered lost for Christ’s sake. Yes, and I look upon everything as loss compared with the overwhelming gain of knowing Jesus Christ my Lord. For his sake I did in actual fact suffer the loss of everything, but I considered it useless rubbish compared with being able to win Christ. For now my place is in him, and I am not dependent upon any of the self-achieved righteousness of the Law. God has given me that genuine righteousness which comes from faith in Christ. How changed are my ambitions! Now I long to know Christ and the power shown by his resurrection: now I long to share his sufferings, even to die as he died, so that I may perhaps attain as he did, the resurrection from the dead." Philippians 3:7-11
Isn't it interesting that our life in Jesus is the juxtaposition of these two elements: inestimable inheritance and complete cost? Yet what a beautiful, impossible balance it creates within us: our only hope to live it rightly will be He Himself!
"No one had anything to gain in those [early] days from being a Christian; indeed, there was a strong chance that the Christian would lose security and property, and even life itself. Yet, reflected in the pages of [the NT] Letters, both men and women are exhibiting superb courage and are growing, as naturally as fruit upon a tree, those qualities of the spirit of which the world is so lamentably short. To my mind we are forced to the conclusion that something is at work here far above and beyond normal human experience, which can only be explained if we accept what the New Testament itself claims; that is, that ordinary men and women had become, through the power of Christ, sons and daughters of God."
J.B. Phillips, New Testament Christianity
"Every Sabbath Paul used to speak in the synagogue trying to persuade both Jews and Greeks. By the time Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was completely absorbed in preaching the message, showing the Jews as clearly as he could that Jesus is Christ..." Acts 18:4,5
When we read in Acts, and especially in his epistles, we can begin to think of Paul as “a man obsessed,” and in this last sentence we get to see what that obsession actually looked like. My translation read: “Paul was completely absorbed in preaching”; the NIV says, “Paul devoted himself exclusively”; the ESV says, “Paul was occupied with the word”; and the King James reads, “Paul was pressed in the spirit.” That last is actually closest to the Greek meaning. Paul was συνείχετο – his “shoulders were bent in or contracted upon his chest”; he was, we're told, “held together” with the Word.
When you imagine that physical posture – something upon your shoulders, holding you together – what image does it draw up? For me, it’s a yoke. It’s Jesus saying across the years to Paul, across the centuries to us: “Come to me, all of you who are weary and over-burdened, and I will give you rest! Put on my yoke and learn from me. For I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:28-30) And, indeed, if you were to let your eyes wander a few sentences ahead in Acts 18, you would land upon these words:
"Then one night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision. 'Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and let no one silence you, for I myself am with you...'" Acts 18:9,10a
This seeming obsession of Paul’s, this compulsion to preach Jesus that just won’t quit, is actually born out of his shared experience, his wondrous sense of always co-laboring in everything, with Jesus Himself. And it’s absolutely beautiful, if you ask me.
Then on the same day (Easter) we find two of them going off to Emmaus, a village about seven miles from Jerusalem. As they went they were deep in conversation about everything that had happened. While they were absorbed in their serious talk and discussion, Jesus himself approached and walked along with them, but something prevented them from recognizing him. Then he spoke to them, “What is all this discussion that you are having on your walk?” (Luke 24:13-17)
Before Jesus can take over our lives, it seems to me that we must let him overtake our lives. I pray that my and your "Today," every minute of this particular day, may be a personal experience of the road to Emmaus.
Let's keep an eye out, my friends! For here He comes - risen and alive!
“The true inwardness of the Church is reflected, not in the Temple, which Christ said could be destroyed without loss, and not in the synagogue, which He seems to have abandoned with deliberate decision, but in the sending out of the Seventy. The Church is intended as a concrete answer to the prayer that laborers be sent forth to the harvest. The Company of Jesus is not people streaming to a shrine; and it is not people making up an audience for a speaker; it is laborers engaged in the harvesting task of reaching their perplexed and seeking brethren with something so vital that, if it is received, it will change their lives.”
Elton Trueblood, The Company of the Committed
A simple reminder/prayer for today:
Holy Spirit, you are with Him right now and in me. Please tell me what He says for this moment.