Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

Dark Places

Living in the Spirit
July 27, 2017

Scripture Reading: Romans 8:26-39

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

 We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family. And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified. –Romans 8:26-30

I do not know about you, but I need the Spirit to intercede for me at times when I have no idea what to pray. Driving home after moving my mother from her own home to a nursing home was one of those times. Clutching the steering well tightly all the way home, I prayed God have mercy; Christ have mercy. There were no other words. Mom fell and broke a rib at my house. The doctor said she most likely had a small stroke in the balance center of her brain and would require 24/7 alert care. She understood what was being said and agreed with the plan, but it still did not seem right. It was a hard transition for her; confused her some. I think she first thought she was staying in a dorm like she did when her church had retreats. She was always a people person though, and she was soon participating in all the activities particularly enjoying the after-school visits of grade school children with whom she did crafts. She definitely loved the Lord and this seemingly bad situation worked out for good in many ways for her.

Hindsight helps when we face such wordless moments. Looking back and remembering the presence of God through the Holy Spirit gives us confidence that God remains with us and never leaves us hopeless or helpless as we face new challenges.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for always being present with us. Give us the courage to step out in faith and be your servants as you have called us to be even in the dark places. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights are reserved.

Breath, Wind, Spirit

Eastertide
May 29, 2017

Scripture Reading: Numbers 11:24-30

So Moses went out and told the people the words of the Lord; and he gathered seventy elders of the people, and placed them all around the tent. Then the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke to him, and took some of the spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders; and when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied. But they did not do so again. –Numbers 11:24-25

The Hebrew word for spirit is ruach, which is used interchangeably for breath and wind. In Biblical literature, the Spirit of God is as ancient as the creation stories. The earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.(Genesis 2:1). We should not be surprised to find it in the book of Numbers. The mysteries of the nature of God abides with us always.

I fear we Christians may limit the beginning of the history of the Spirit of God to Pentecost or the book of John’s report of Jesus breathing the Spirit on the disciples after the resurrection. The book of Hebrews (13:8) proclaims Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Surely this description includes the Spirit.

What does the foreverness of the Spirit mean to us today? What does a relationship with the Spirt mean? I write this to a symphony of wind gales in the background the aftermath of damaging winds and tornados that ravaged the Plains about 100 miles west of my home last night. Many homes were destroyed, people were injured, and one man was killed. We do not take wind lightly in Oklahoma. We should not take the Spirit of God lightly either. A power able to form the earth from chaos can shape us into a powerful Body carrying out the work of Christ in the world today. Let it be so.

Prayer: Come Holy Spirit, move among us making us each whole, together one, and advocates for your justice. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the new Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights are reserved.

A God Thing

Eastertide
May 21, 2017

Scripture Reading: John 14:15-21

  ‘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.’ –John 14:18-21

“ That’s a God thing.” is a phrase I picked up from someone else and I use to explain the obvious presence of the hand of God, in particularly regarding unexpected or at least unpredicted outcomes. We do see God at work in our world today. In little things as well as big. I see it now in people previously reluctant to make their opinions heard speaking out articulately about human need. People with real life experiences are sharing them to raise awareness of the impacts of lack of health care or poor education, and the power of a second-chance justice system to restore wholeness rather than sentencing a person to decay in an overcrowded, understaffed prison.

On a more personal level, the Spirit rescues me from becoming jaded by the negative forces pushing against forming a Kingdom ruled by love. Music is often the balm for my soul, and nothing can replace the satisfaction of the constancy of the Spirit’s presence when I turn to God in prayer. As I pour out my stress and distress, I am cleansed of their residue and refreshed with God’s abiding love.

I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.’—Joshua 1:9

The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each one to his home, and you will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!’ –John 16:32-33

Prayer: Lord, help us each to see your hand at work in and through us and others. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the new Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights are reserved.

Spirit Fed and Led

Eastertide
May 20, 2017

Scripture Reading: John 14:15-21

‘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. –John 14:15-17

Having worked as a social worker for most of my career, I used a business card verifying that I worked for my agency and providing pertinent contact information. When I went to work at a church, I used a business card. After retirement,  I was at a loss for something to take its place as I became independent of a work place and an active volunteer at more than one place. The digital age and card stock allows me to create my own business card,  but what do I include on it? I finally added to my academic identities the title Justice Advocate. It is my favorite job description. It helps shape my understanding of the role of the Holy Spirit as my Advocate.

To whom does the Holy Spirit Advocate on my behalf? Does the Holy Spirit run interference for us when we communicate with God?  According to Romans 8:26, the Spirit does: Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. Mark 12:36 suggests the Holy Spirit protects us from our enemies.  Surely the Spirit is the power that enables us to love our enemies.

As a part of the Body of Christ, we are called to model ourselves after the Spirit advocating for others who either cannot speak for themselves or are never heard when they try.

Prayer: Spirit Divine, I rest my soul in you, free me to serve God without concern for the principalities and powers crowding our world today; strengthen my weaknesses and help me use them to God’s glory; give me the courage to invest the strengths you have graced me with to your justice. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the new Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights are reserved.

Imperishable Love

Eastertide
April 27, 2017

Scripture Reading: 1 Peter 1:17-23

Through [Jesus] you have come to trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are set on God.

 Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth so that you have genuine mutual love, love one another deeply from the heart. You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God. –1 Peter 1:21-23

I saw a news report recently regarding the storage and care of ancient crop seeds so that their contributions to our society will not be lost. Apparently, scientists are working to take from them the natural goodness of the taste and find a way to meld those properties with the stamina and disease and insect resistance of our modern vegetables and fruits. I recently bought some slicing tomatoes that tasted much like the tomatoes of my childhood grown on our farm under the tender care of my mother. Trust me there is a big difference.

Just living in our world requires us to adapt our ways of being to survive and thrive. It can get out of hand when the push to success becomes our only purpose. I believe that God gave us brains to use and God rejoices with us when we use them wisely for the betterment of the world and all that is in it. From creating music to ending wars, we are blessed with much potential. The gift of the spirit is like the melding of those ancient seeds with our progress making our outcomes align with God’s purposes.

Prayer: Lord plant the Spirit’s seed in every aspect of our lives so that we may taste and see that the Lord is good; happy are those who take refuge in him. (Psalm 34:8) Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the new Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights are reserved.

Save Our Souls

Epiphany
February 3, 2017

Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 2:1-16

Yet among the mature we do speak wisdom, though it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to perish. But we speak God’s wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written,
‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
   nor the human heart conceived,
what God has prepared for those who love him’—
these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. –1 Corinthians 2:6-10

Are we still crucifying the Lord of glory today? Are we different from the first-century people who longed for a savior but wanted to be saved on their own terms? God provided us with a Savior and we vex him still today.

How do we mesh together human wisdom and God’s wisdom? Our ancestors in faith left us a wonderful legacy of what it means to live in and out of God’s wisdom in the writings that became the Bible. Studying and learning from their experiences should help us avoid the same pitfalls. As with human history, we do not learn well from God’s history either. Change the places and names in the book of Amos and it would describe our world today.

Studying is only fruitful when our hearts, minds, and souls are aligned with God’s wisdom. Opening ourselves to the guidance of the Holy Spirit is key to coming in sync with God. It may be painful at times. Just like starting a new physical exercise program, re-engaging the muscles of our souls may ache a bit as we realize how far we have drifted from God. Besides being our trainer, the Holy Spirit also provides the balm needed for holy healing.

Prayer: Lord, forgive us when we chase after lesser gods and claim them as savior. Reconnect us with the one who died to save us, Jesus Christ who promised and sent the Holy Spirit to guide us through life’s journey. Thank you Lord for saving our souls. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the new Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights are reserved.

Clean My Heart, O, God

create-in-me-a-clean-heartAdvent
December 4, 2016

Scripture Reading: Matthew 3:1-12

‘I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing-fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing-floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.’ –Matthew 3:11-12

An older woman with whom I once worked suffered discrimination from her supervisor, a man who essentially supported having women do the work, and his getting credit and pay for it. I once said to her about a specific situation, “That is not right.” She replied “There is nothing I can do about it now, but he will face God one day about all he does.” I do believe we are and will be held accountable for both what we do and what we do not do, sins of commission and sins of omission.

Our scripture today may address final judgment, but it also deals with daily cleansing. We all, over time, pick up the clutter of the world and need the Holy Spirit to winnow our lives enabling us to be as whole as possible so we can contribute our fair share of love and service to the furtherance of the Kingdom of God. I grew up in the days of combines, but I understand the principle being illustrated in our scripture today. Wheat, for that matter all grains, is denser and heavier than the chaff that protected is as it developed. At grain harvesting, the chaff is separated from the grain as it no longer serves a purpose. Humans create filters of protection that sometimes are needed and good but after the threat is gone are no longer necessary. We also may create such filters from misperceptions of reality. These filters can inhibit our wholeness when we hold to them unnecessarily.

As we continue to examine ourselves during Advent, let us open ourselves to the winnowing of the Holy Spirit. What inhibitors do we need to release? What do we need to curtail in our behavior?

Prayer:
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my thoughts.
See if there is any wicked way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting*. Amen.

*Psalm 139:23-24

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized 
Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council 
of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights 
reserved.

The Essence of God

Missing puzzle pieceLiving in the Spirit
May 22, 2016

Scripture Reading: John 16:12-15

14He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. —John 16:14-15

The Greek word translated as “glorify” here means:

“Glorifying (1392 /doksázō) God” means valuing Him for who He really is. For example, “giving (ascribing) glory to God” personally acknowledges God in His true character (essence). *

The Holy Spirit comes to help us further understand who Jesus really was and is, and to continually remind us of God’s true character. This is important because I believe I, and my guess is I am not too different from the rest of you, spend a lot of time defining God in my own image, creating a lesser god that thinks like me. One of the Holy Spirit’s jobs is to diligently remind us that it is the other way around. We are charged to have the character of God as was exemplified for us in the person of Jesus.

Most of my life I have been told I look like one of my father’s sisters. As I have aged and my hair turned white resulting in my eyes appearing to be more hazel in color than brown, many people tell me I look like my mother who had pure blue eyes. These two ladies are not related to each other biologically at all. My character is probably more like my mother’s, more introverted than extroverted for example. I must say it is a compliment to be likened to both of these women. Their influence on my life has helped shape who I am.

We need to allow the Holy Spirit to shape who we are and who we are becoming. We exist for a purpose. I believe the world would be one puzzle-piece incomplete without the gifts we each bring, if we do not develop them and send them forth into the world.

Prayer: Lord, as the Holy Spirit’s winds ad fires swirl into my consciousness open my heart and mind to take on the essence the Spirit is sharing with me. Amen.

*Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance see at http://biblehub.com/greek/1392.htm

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized 
Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council 
of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights 
reserved.

Do not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled

Eastertide
May 15, 2016

Scripture Reading: John 14:25-27
‘I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.

I am sometimes sorry about the only time we hear the words of our scripture today is at a funeral or memorial service. While I do find the words appropriate for the grieving and we who are reminded of our mortality at each such service, the words are actually spoken to disciples who are about to go on the adventure of a lifetime spreading the good news of a man who would very soon after speaking these words be killed for the very good news he has commanded us to share.

With all the fear and confusion present in our world today we desperately need to be reminded that God’s peace comes to us through a holy comforter. It is somewhat like the comforting partners in birth settings, allowing the birthing mothers to gripe hands while the partners whisper encouraging words. They are joining together for a very good thing that has already and will continue to challenge them to use every piece of knowledge, skill, and talent they possess.

The Holy Spirit is our comforter as we work to birth the Kingdom of God on this earth.

Prayer: We thank you God for the gift of the Holy Spirit and pray that our lives may be made one through the shared nature of such a gift as this. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized 
Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council 
of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights 
reserved.

Come Holy Spirit

SpiritEpiphany
January 8, 2016

Scripture Reading: Acts 8:14-17

Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. The two went down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit (for as yet the Spirit had not come upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus). Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

The author of the book of Hebrews tells us, Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1) The Holy Spirit is a mystery yet it is so real one can be convicted of its presence. I do not know what happened in this visit with Peter and John and the Samaritans or even the events described at Pentecost. I do know that there exists a power that is also a comfort and a comfort that is also very powerful that can and does engulf our lives sometimes when we least expect it, but always when we most need it.

The Holy Spirit, Our Advocate, God’s promised Comforter is the ultimate gift of God’s love an extension of Emmanuel, God with Us, now and forever with each of us and with all of God’s children as we strive collectively to bring about the Kingdom of God in our world today. Yet we cower in fear at bullies and things that go bump in the night. At least I do. Perhaps it is time that we step forth into the mystery and trust God to lead us as we are called to lead others out of the wilderness of hate and fear and greed.

Prayer: Come Holy Spirit Heavenly Dove and lead us forth into the promises of God’s abiding love. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized 
Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council 
of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights 
reserved.