Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

What if Jesus Hadn’t Come?

What if the Lord had not been on our side?
Psalm 124:1a, NLT*

What if the Lord had not?

What if Jesus hadn’t come?

Things are dark, but they’d be so much darker without the Holy Spirit working in and through His followers.

We wouldn’t have His presence with us in the happy and the sad.

Despair and hopelessness would be everywhere – if God hadn’t already brought final judgment.

We wouldn’t know as much of what God is like, or how to walk with Him, because Jesus showed us both. And how could we walk with Him? We’d still be alienated from Him by our own choices. We’d be cut off from Him in our sin, blinded and miserable.

But He took our side – He came – and so we live.

God our Maker, God our Redeemer, God our Sustainer, thank You that “the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.“** Thank You for Jesus’ life, His willing sacrifice and daring rescue, for His rising, His gift to us of the Holy Spirit, and for His coming again. Help us live in praise, gratitude and confidence in Your care. Help us love You in response to Your great love for us.

Here’s “Joy to the World” as done by Third Day.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

** John 1:14, NLT

Thought Adjustment

Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never!
1 Corinthians 6:15b, NIV*

Talk about an odd verse for God to use to correct me! This is not exactly on my list of temptations. But I knew what He meant.

I’ve been thinking lately about Oswald Chambers’ challenge to “keep my conscious life as a sacred place for the Holy Spirit” (Nov. 7 reading, My Utmost for His Highest, updated edition edited by James Reimann) and about the challenge to practice the presence of God throughout the day.

I need the peace of Christ to rule in my heart (instead of allowing anxiety to reign); the mind of Christ to rule my thoughts (to make them obedient to Him instead of dwelling where they shouldn’t) and the grace of Christ to be a guard on my lips (to keep errant thoughts from slipping out in irretrievable words). I’ve made it into a prayer of sorts.

On this particular day I was driving to work, listening to a favourite worship CD and remembering the need to stay close to God. The biggest challenge at that moment was in the thought department:  I was tired and a bit on the cranky side.

Zing went the prostitute verse through my thoughts. I hadn’t even read it recently! But God’s message was clear: what about expecting the mind of Christ to unite with the cranky mind? Was that any different?

The surprise factor did in the cranky nature, and the day came into much better focus.

Holy and merciful God, if I want to cultivate a sacred space for the Holy Spirit to work and rule in my life, I can’t expect Him to share it with the offensive things I bring in. Thank You for Your grace and patience to teach me your ways, and please open my ears to hear and my heart to learn.

Refiner’s Fire” makes a good prayer for us all. This is Brian Doerksen’s rendition.

*THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Stillness and Silence

Stillness and silence aren’t natural to most of us… I know they’re not for me, even when I’m sleeping :-p

But they’ve have been catching my attention lately in a way that points to God.

At Under the Cover of Prayer, Judith Lawrence wrote:

Silence is not a familiar place for many of us but as we seek to be with God silence becomes a sought after and familiar venue. (Adventures of the Spiritual Life — click to read the whole post, it’s worth your time)

This little gem from Oswald Chambers really got me thinking:

I must keep my conscious life as a sacred place for the Holy Spirit. Then as I lift different ones to God through prayer, the Holy Spirit intercedes for them.” (Nov. 7 reading, My Utmost for His Highest, updated edition edited by James Reimann)

I don’t always “get” brother Oswald’s thoughts, since they’re often elevated above my own, but this sacred place in the conscious life… that resonates with me. A still place, a holy place, in keeping with the idea that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit.

I can see this sacred inner place being the basis for Frank Laubach‘s call to “keep in constant touch with God,” echoing Brother Lawrence‘s call to “practice the presence of God.” (You can read some of Frank Laubach’s writing here… just scroll through the page until you reach the excerpt from Letters by a Modern Mystic.) Or you can get hold of a copy of Practicing His Presence, edited by Gene Edwards, which contains the writings of Frank Laubach and Brother Lawrence. It’s a slim book and one I consider a keeper.

I don’t usually include a song on Fridays, but here’s Brian Doerksen‘s Everything. Let it become our prayer. 

A Jesus Prayer Day

When [blind Bartimaeus] heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Mark 10:47-48, NIV*

Into the middle of busy schedules and global crises, Monday brought the news that a young boy in our community had taken his life. He was maybe 15, 16?

How do you pray for something like this? There are words: “comfort the family, send them caring support, help his friends….”

I did some of that, but the need just felt too big. But I remembered reading about the Jesus Prayer in an online-only bonus article in Faith Today.

The NIV has eight references to a people crying out variations of “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.”  Trusting that the Holy Spirit intercedes when we don’t know how to pray, I gave Him the burden by repeating “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy.” Mercy toward family, friends, He knew best.

The peace surprised me, but it shouldn’t. I’d stopped trying to carry—and fix—the problem, and given it to the Master Healer and Builder.

Today I found two excellent links on the history and effectiveness of the Jesus Prayer at the Orthodox Prayer and Concentric Net sites.

The exact wording of the Jesus Prayer is “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” It’s meant for more than forgiveness, for any kind of need. The “sinner” part is to remind us how powerless we are to help ourselves.

With all that’s going on in the world, near and far, we’re pretty helpless. Item 24 in my new gratitude journal is “Thank You for giving me the Jesus Prayer for when I’d need it.”

And thank You for Your great mercy, poured out in our lives. Open the grieving to receive it. Open us all to see our need of it. And I praise and thank You, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, that You don’t leave us as orphans in this world. That You care, and that You give the peace of Christ.

A song that comforts me in hurt is from the group Fee: “The Arms that Hold the Universe”.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Because He’s Near

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
Philippians 4:5, NIV*

Some people go all melodramatic when they’re hurt. Some lash out. Others need to be alone to deal with the pain… or to stoke a martyr complex.

I tend to fall into the “poor me” category. Saturday morning I went to Curves (I don’t happily do Saturday mornings out). After I signed in, I bent to collect my things and stood up—straight into the underside edge of the countertop.

I couldn’t stop a little yelp. The other women were sympathetic, and I could have played it up a bit. I was also tired, my head hurt, and I wanted to slink off and cry a bit.

But today’s verse slid into my mind. That word “gentleness” caught me. When I’m hurt I may exhibit “gentle” but in the beaten-down, defeated sort of way.

Somehow I knew the Holy Spirit was encouraging me to be gentle in the normal way, not the victim way, and to carry on with my workout instead of letting the hurt stop me. “The Lord is near.” That comforted me, said there was no need to look for sympathy from others or from myself. God knew, and He was with me.

In context, Philippians 4:4-7 talks about choosing prayer over anxiety and rejoicing in God’s presence. It’s not about klutzy accidents and self-pity. Or is it?

Father, I praise You for gently caring for me even in the little things of life. Help me be confident that You’ll be just as present in the bigger troubles. Help me keep a gentle, quiet spirit that’s resting in Your will—because I can trust that You are near.

This week’s song is Fee’s “Arms that Hold the Universe.”

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Spiritual Self-Control

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-23 (New International Version, ©2010)*

Self-control. Maybe because the King James Version calls it “temperance,” I’ve always thought of this fruit of the Spirit as “refraining from excess and from bad behaviour.”

Last week my Bible study group talked about the Holy Spirit being the fuel… how much or how little of Him to we make room for? We also talked about quieting ourselves to listen and obey, to do things God’s way.

The next day the post at Other Food: Daily Devos continued the challenge: “My Will or His?

These things made me wonder if this passage about the fruit of the Spirit uses self-control not so much for the outer actions (as important as that is) but to describe bringing our spirits into line with the Holy Spirit, placing them under His direction.

Not in a repressive way, but a submission, a surrender, a placing of self under God’s authority and direction. A making room for His Spirit to shape, develop and refine us.

After pondering and praying about this the following morning, what verse did my eye catch?

“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.” (Hebrews 3:15, NIV*, quoting Psalm 95:7-8)

Lord, help me hear and recognize Your voice. Help me not follow my default pattern of hardening my heart by choosing my way over Yours. Help me to control and quiet my inner self so that Your Spirit within me has room to rise and to develop His fruit in me. To Your glory, and for my own spiritual wellbeing.

Lead Me to the Cross,” by Chris and Conrad, isn’t the old hymn you may expect. Let it minister to your spirit today… especially listen for the line “rid me of myself”.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Hanging Out With Jesus

After this [turning water to wine at the wedding in Cana, Jesus’ first miraculous sign] he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples. There they stayed for a few days.” John 2:12, NIV*

What an innocuous verse to catch the imagination! But think about it: what would it be like, spending a few days hanging out with Jesus?

He’s not crossing words with His adversaries, He’s not offering signs to people who need convincing, He’s not teaching the multitudes.

He’s probably teaching His disciples, but I expect it’s in relaxed conversation. There are probably laughter and jokes. Casual conversation and quiet times.

Whether He’s talking one on one, sitting in companionable silence, speaking in a group, I imagine each one present feels they’re valued by Jesus.

When He makes eye contact, that’s clear. When He listens it’s clear, even if what He says next challenges them to see the familiar in a new way.

I need to think about this as I go through today. What would it be like to hang out with Jesus between the public events?

That’s most of my life: ‘between public events’.

And He’s here. His Spirit lives in me. What might I discover if I tuned in and remembered He’s with me? Some teaching, as He challenges and redefines my perspectives and perceptions. Hopefully a greater sense of His presence, and of the value He places on me and on each one I meet.

Father, there are no words to thank You for drawing me to Yourself, for saving me and adopting me into relationship with You. For valuing me and seeking me out. I praise Your goodness, mercy and love that have placed Your Spirit in me as a deposit, keeping Your promise to never leave me. Open me to His leading, so I can be shaped into who You’ve designed me to be.

This week’s song is the old hymn, “I Need Thee Every Hour”, (Text: Annie S. Hawks, 1835-1918; Music: Robert Lowry, 1826-1899. I really like the way Jars of Clay sing it here.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Hungry for God

…your faith in God has become known everywhere…. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.
1 Thessalonians 1:8b, 9b, 10, NIV*

Last week I noticed that the Thessalonians received the gospel with power, the Holy Spirit, and deep conviction. (1 Thessalonians 1:5) In verse six, Paul adds more to this: “you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.”

Their work, endurance, love and hope after turning to God have become known not just locally in Macedonia and Achaia but “everywhere”. When God gets a hold of people, news travels.

The section of the story quoted in the opening made me stop and think today. These are obviously people who had been hungry for God. They hadn’t known who He is or how to find Him, and their idol worship was all the culture offered. If they’d been satisfied with it, they wouldn’t have jumped ship.

God knew the people were searching for Him, and He sent Paul, Silas and Timothy. Remember how clearly He directed Paul into the region of Macedonia?

He knows the people in our lives who are searching for Him now. This passage reminds me not to judge or make assumptions based on someone’s behaviour. Yes, maybe they’re purposely defying Him. But more likely, they’re getting by the best they can and reaching for Him in ways only His Spirit can see.

Father, my own perceptions can blind me to what You’re doing. Please help me see what You see in the people around me. You love each one, and You know when someone needs a touch or a word. Help me share the hope and the joy that only You can give. Thank You for the freedom Jesus bought for us.

Todd Agnew’s song, “On a Corner in Memphis,” helps us take a better look at some of the unlikely searchers (and some of the folks in church who aren’t searching, but that’s another story!) Todd is my favourite solo artist. His lyrics and passionate delivery frequently stretch me past my ordinary musical comfort zone. This one’s more country than you’d usually see in my playlist, but I’ve really connected with it. It’s from his album, Better Questions.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

The Voice of Truth

This week was my turn to post over at InScribe Writers Online. You can read “The Voice of Truth” here.

Not Breaking Faith

…set your heart to honour My name…set your heart to honour Me.
Malachi 2:2, NIV*

The study notes in my Bible say to read Nehemiah 13 to get the background for the prophet Malachi’s rebuke to the priests and the people of Israel. They’d returned from the Babylonian captivity, but they weren’t honouring God. And the people had broken faith: with one another, with their spouses, with God.

Some of the negatives Malachi said to them resonated with me as positive reminders of how to live.

Daily, we need to set our hearts to honour God.

We need to be like the first Levite priests, who “revered Me and stood in awe of My name.” (Malachi 2:5b)

“So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith.” (Malachi 2:16b)

God’s name is His character. If we know Him, we can trust Him. If we say we’re His but don’t live like it, that gives others a poor example of who He is.

Father God, please grow in me a proper reverence for You, a love for You and awe of You. Help me to set my heart to honour You. Help me guard myself in my spirit, that I not break faith with You or with those around me. On my own I can’t do this, but I praise and thank You for Your grace, that the blood of Jesus has saved me and that Your Holy Spirit dwells in me. He can do what I can’t.

Our music for this week is Matt Redman‘s “Heart of Worship.”

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.