Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

Waiting in Harmony

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WaitingHarmony_BSK

The following blog post appeared on Lift Up Your Day and is included below in its entirety. Check out their website to read more encouraging posts from other writers.


If there is one thing we all have in common, it’s that we hate waiting. We despise it. In our fast-paced digital world, waiting is a monotonous waste of time.

And yet right before Jesus ascended to heaven, He told the disciples to stay in town and wait on the Holy Spirit. (See Luke 24:49.) He didn’t tell them exactly where to stay, how long they would be there, or what they should do with their time. Nor did He explain what it would be like when the Holy Spirit came.

He just told them to wait. And then He left His followers behind.

 

The Waiting

Fifty days. That’s the amount of time between Acts 1 and Acts 2. It doesn’t seem like a long time, but it must have felt like forever to the 120 people who put their lives on hold to wait for the Holy Spirit.

But they didn’t wait passively. During those seven weeks, they

  • prayed continuously
  • ministered to one another
  • shared what they had with those in need
  • loved and prayed for one another
  • told stories of Jesus’ life
  • mourned Jesus’ death and
  • celebrated Jesus’ resurrection.

 

The Harmony

“These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer…” (Acts 1:14 NAS). The KJV states, “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication….”

That’s 120 people repeatedly gathering in one room for 50 days. Not fighting. Not panicking. Not seeking their own interests.

They were waiting in “one accord.” The Greek word for this phrase means “with one mind, one accord, one passion.” The expression combines two thoughts, “to rush along” and “in unison.” This creates a musical image, reminding us that a number of different notes must be combined to create a unique harmony.

All of Jesus’ followers were regular people. They had their own backgrounds, emotions, and beliefs about what God was doing. They didn’t check their individuality at the door when they walked into the upper room. But through prayer, they surrendered their own desires and wills to that of Jesus. As they submitted to Him, they were able to live and worship together, in true harmony.

 

The Results

“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place” (Acts 2:1 KJV).

When the big day came….when God showed up in full force…when thousands were gathered together outside… Jesus’ followers were ready! Because a small group of believers chose to be obedient and wait on the Lord, three thousand people were saved that day. And thus the gospel began to spread across the world.

 

Our Turn

As Christians, we still wait on the Lord. Individually, we wait for Him to give us guidance, for healing, and for loved ones to be saved. As a Church body, we wait for fresh movements, revival, and for the second coming of our King.

The great news is that we now have the unlimited power of the Holy Spirit within us! If we will allow Him to move in our lives and within the Church, He will direct us to Jesus—with one mind, in one accord, and in complete harmony.

If 120 people could start the Christian movement, imagine what the Church can do today!

Holy Spirit, help us to focus on Jesus. As we set our sights on Him, help us to live in harmony with You and with one another.

 

A Great Resource

If this topic interests you, I highly recommend the The Centurion’s Wife. This is an excellent fiction book set within the fifty days that occurred between Jesus’ resurrection and the day of Pentecost. It’s the first in the Acts of Faith series by Janette Oke and Davis Bunn.

Carrying Jesus

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Manger Scene (Photo by Ashley Jones)

Manger Scene (Photo by Ashley Jones)

 

Expecting God

 

As we wait expectantly for Christmas, my thoughts turn to Mary and Joseph. I wonder what it was like for them as they waited for their first child to be born, knowing that child was the Son of God. I imagine they would have had a lot of questions:

 

What would Jesus look like?

Would He look fully human, or would He look more like the angel Gabriel – tall with golden skin?

Would He look Jewish?

Would He take after Mary?

 

Would Jesus have special powers?

Would He perform miracles, like heal people and raise the dead?

Would He fly, become invisible, or walk on water?

Would He be super strong or able to run very fast?

Would He need to eat and drink?

Would He feel pain?

 

Would Jesus grow up normally?

Would He grow up like a normal boy, or would He mature quickly?

Would He understand everything going on around Him, even as a baby?

Would He speak as an infant, or learn to speak over time?

Would He learn from Mary and Joseph, or would He immediately begin to teach them?

 

How long would they have Jesus?

Gabriel said He was the Son of God and that He would reign over the house of Jacob forever. Did that mean He would live forever? Or would He disappear from this world and go to be with God?

 

I find it very humbling to think about what it must have been like for Mary and Joseph who found themselves responsible for the most important person in the world, the greatest gift to mankind. I believe the Holy Spirit must have guided Mary and Joseph’s steps every day, giving them comfort and peace about the unknown future. I also like to think that Jesus Himself helped to guide Mary as He grew within her. What strange comfort that must have been!

 

Like Mary

 There are many people throughout the world who venerate Mary, giving her special honor among the saints / Christians. Although I wasn’t raised in that tradition, I can understand it. Mary was so privileged to be the one woman to carry the Christ child! Gabriel himself greeted her as the “favored one.” (Luke 1:28, NAS)

However, it dawned on me today that there is something else going on here that is much bigger than one person. I was thinking about Mary – how she carried the baby Jesus inside her; how He developed over 9 months; and how she delivered Him in a barn because there was no room for them. All of this so that Jesus might live and die for our sins so we can all have a relationship with God.

And then I thought about the rest of us Christians – how the Holy Spirit comes to live inside us when we accept Jesus as our Savior; how His Spirit helps to mature us, giving us guidance and comfort; and how we eventually bear the fruit of the Spirit into a world that does not know Him. And all of this so that we might have a relationship with God and introduce others to Him so they can find salvation in Him, too.

Mary’s miraculous conception of Jesus is an example, a type, a foreshadowing of what we Christians experience today. Just as she carried Jesus, we carry the Holy Spirit. Because of this, we should honor and love each other, as we are all temples of God. (1 Corinthians 6:19)

The miracle of Jesus’ birth over 2,000 years ago is only magnified by our ability to know and serve Him today. As you prepare your homes and hearts for Christmas this week, remember that the story has never ended – it continues even now as folks like you and I carry the message of Jesus throughout the world through His precious Holy Spirit.

Merry Christmas!

Because of Who God Is

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A quiet beach around sunset near St. George Island, Florida. (Photo by Ashley Jones)

A quiet beach around sunset near St. George Island, Florida. (Photo by Ashley Jones)

 

Seven weeks and one day – that’s how long I had been sick. I caught a bug in August, which then weakened my immune system, causing me to pick up every virus in a 100-mile radius. Or at least that’s how it felt.

Questions Answered

Either way, I was having a particular bad night, with my nose running all day. I had fought the good fight for seven weeks, and that night I gave up and receded to the guest room. I propped up against pillows, smeared Vick’s on my nose, hooked my right arm around my trash can spittoon, and clutched a box of tissues in my left hand. Whatever poise and grace I had kept over the course of my illness left me that night. I felt miserable, puny, and lost. So, with a pathetic empathy for poor old Job, I prayed yet again for understanding and healing. This time, I asked God about every type of scenario I could think of…and He answered me:

Q: Is this punishment for something I’ve done wrong? Do I need to ask for forgiveness?

A: No.

Q: Do I need to extend forgiveness to someone else?

A: No.

Q: Have I fallen outside of your grace because I moved too fast on something and failed to seek your will?

A: No.

Q: Is this a spiritual attack from the enemy?

A: No.

Q: OK, then what is it? Please, just tell me so I can fix it, because I don’t think I can take much more of this.

A: Do you notice how focused you are on what you “do” – if you’re doing enough of something or doing it the right way? Don’t you realize that I would love you if you never wrote another word or did anything else in My Name? In fact, if you never get out of that bed, I would still love you the same as I do now.

It was like a rush of wind as God’s thoughts spoke clearly to my spirit. I knew in my head that God had loved me when I was dead in sin. I knew that I was saved because of Jesus’ sacrifice, not because of anything I had ever done. But somehow I think I had begun to do things in God’s name that I subconsciously believed would make Him love me more.

God continued to minister to me with wave upon wave of love and understanding. I even thought about all the disabled people who can’t walk or speak – “vegetables” as they are often called. I felt God’s love for them. It was a beautiful illustration that the love God has for us is based on Him, not on what we can do for Him. We will never know what sweet communion these souls have with God.

In the middle of these thoughts, I was startled as my cat Sue jumped on the bed. But when I opened my eyes, she wasn’t there. I felt peace and calm, and I knew that my guardian angel had settled down next to me. “I am here with you. I am always here, and I always love you.” My frustration (ok, my little breakdown) had ended, and I quickly fell asleep under the watchful eyes of my angel.

Because of Who God Is

The next day, I picked up the book, “Epic Battles of the Last Days” by Rick Joyner. In it, Joyner states the following:

“The religious spirit seeks to have us serve the Lord in order to gain His approval, rather than from a position of having received our approval through the cross of Jesus. Therefore, the religious spirit bases relationship to God on personal discipline rather than the propitiatory sacrifice of Christ. The motivation for doing this can be either fear or pride, or a combination of both.”

Later, Joyner adds the following:

“There are multitudes of men and women whose zeal for the Lord is likewise based on an attempt to atone for sin failure, or irresponsibility in other areas of their lives. But all the sacrifices in the world will not atone for even our smallest failure. To even make such an attempt is an insult to the cross of Jesus, which is the only acceptable sacrifice to the Father for sin.

 Attempting to gain God’s approval by our own sacrifice…is not based on the blood of Jesus, but on an attempt to make our own atonement for sin. This doesn’t mean we should not do things to please the Lord, but we must keep as our motive to be pleasing to the Lord for His joy, not for our acceptance. One is God-centered; the other is self-centered….an attempt to circumvent the cross.”

When I read this, I realized that God was giving me a deeper understanding of what He had shown me the night before. I felt convicted that I had been subconsciously trying to earn God’s love. But God reminded me that He loves me because of who He is, not because of what I do. I knew this in my head, but it’s finally starting to sink into my heart.

Human Love

I also realized that, at times, I had even tried to earn the love of my family and friends.

As a self-proclaimed Type-A personality, I tend to rate myself on what I’m doing. I feel like a better wife if I’ve made great meals and cleaned the house. I feel like a better employee if I’ve solved some problem or worked 110%. I feel like a better daughter, sister, and friend if I’ve gone above and beyond in some way or another.

But over the past few weeks, I hadn’t been able to really cook or clean, much less go grocery shopping. Robby had stepped up to these tasks without hesitation, and he never complained or showed frustration. In fact, for the longest time, I was the frustrated one because I felt bad that he was having to shoulder so much for so long. Now, I realize God was showing me that Robby loves me no matter what, thick or thin, whether I’m a domestic diva or domestic drop-out.

And the same goes for my close family and friends. Even though many couldn’t “do” for me, they checked in on me and prayed for me. It’s a reminder that people love each other for who we are, not for what we can do for one another. (And if there’s someone in your life who requires you to do things in order for them to love you, I have a message for you: that’s not real love.)

Healing

Over the past few weeks, my illness has separated me from work, friends, family, and even my writing ministry. I now believe God allowed this time so I would STOP DOING and just BE STILL and KNOW – beyond a shadow of a doubt, and without any effort on my part – that God loves me and is with me.

Psalm 46:10, NKJ  Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!

Physically, I’m feeling much better now. But each time I start to say, “I need to do this or that,” I make myself stop long enough to examine my motives. Am I trying to please God for His sake, or am I trying to earn His love? Am I trying to serve my family so I can be pleasing and helpful to them, or am I trying to earn their love? It’s a small difference, but what a different outlook!

Final Word

John 3:16, NAS   “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 

Romans 5:3-8, NAS   And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

God loved us so much that He sent His Son to die for us – a perfect sacrifice as the perfect gift. How could we ever think that God could love us more than this?