Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:4-9)
On Sunday we talked about the difference between hummingbirds and eagles. Hummingbirds flap insanely working to stay afloat and flitting about from place to place. And soaring eagles spread their wings and and allow themselves to be carried by the wind. And the wind lifts them high into the sky above the flitting wings of the hummingbirds below.
The Holy Spirit of God wants us to soar above the situations and struggles that seem to hold us down. And He wants to lift us there.
I'm gonna post some scripture reflections throughout the week to help us put on wings for soaring.
Today I want to look at Luke 3:16. (Yes that's right Luke, not John)
John said, "I baptize with water, but one is coming who is more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire."
It is often overlooked that giving the Holy Spirit was a primary emphasis of Christ's life. But at the close of His life, Jesus said, "it is good for you that I will go away, because when I go the Holy Spirit will come." Now the Holy Spirit has not been absent in the history of the world. He was there above the waters before God made order of our world. Isaiah recognized that the Holy Spirit had anointed him and was on him. David was so overcome with joy in the Spirit that he danced before the Lord. Jesus was not talking about the arrival the Holy Spirit. He was talking about a new relationship with the Holy Spirit. A relationship of baptism.
The work baptize in its origin simply means "to dunk under." It was not a religious word prior to its use in the NT. It was simply a common verb used for the mundane things of life like dunking the clothes in the rive to wash them. The idea of the word is immersion. Completely covered and filled.
On the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit made Himself known to the disciples in the upper room, He came with the sound of wind and the appearance of fire. (This is a good time to reread our verse, listed above.)
The primary resource in our lives for soaring is the Holy Spirit. In fact the only resource.
To soar on the wind, we must be engulfed in the Spirit. We must learn to recognize His movement, sense His inspiration, identify His gentle nudging, know His care and direction.
An immersion in the Holy Spirit begins with an invitation. An immersion is cultivated by continual seeking through prayer, worship, and obedience. And an immersion is nurtured by reliance. Turn to the Holy Spirit for your information, your transformation, your inspiration, your confidence, your strength, guidance, and direction.
As soon as we choose other sources for our lives, we find ourselves flitting on the small overused wings of a hummingbird instead of the wide-spread wings of a soaring eagle.
Most of us choose the hummingbird because we don't want to slow down long enough to sense the Holy Spirit. So we get busy on our own strength and then we find ourselves worn out and discouraged because our own strength is waning.
Slow down at the beginning instead of dying out at the end.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.James 1:2-8
"God has everything to tell us and nothing to learn from us." Evelyn Underhill
As a Christian I believe that God speaks. I believe He speaks to us and that He seeks to guide us, use us, and express His love for us. I believe He speaks through ordinary experiences as well as extraordinary ones. I believe He speaks through the morning paper and the holy scriptures. I believe He speaks. I believe His voice is powerful. It is beautiful. It comforts and it distresses us.
As I have posted often in recent months, I believe a big problem with this is that our lives are too noisy to hear and see God. You see I have come to realize a couple of realities about hearing God's voice. God is heard by people who want to hear Him. When we want other things more than we want to hear God, or when we have made up our mind about something and want God's blessing instead of His guidance, or when we intend to use God instead of being used by Him, we are not going to hear Him well. Indeed, the most significant distraction from hearing God is our intentions. (see Luke 16:15; Acts 15:8; Romans 8:27)
But, we can hear Him. If we will learn to read the signs and recognize God's current movement. We need to learn from His historic activities, how to recognize His present movements. We need to practice his presence in our activity for Him - as well as in reading about Him, praying to Him and/or singing about Him. If we long for God to do miraculous things when we gather in our congregations on Sundays, we would benefit by being in tune with His supernatural activities all around us throughout the week.
God is also heard by people who obey Him. I think we like to hear God's voice when He says, "you are forgiven." We like to hear Him when He says, "you are loved," "you are special," "you are free," "you are gonna make it." We are not so likely to ignore those words from God's mouth. But I don't think we like to hear (or want to hear) Him say, "go and make disciples in your part of the ends of the earth." I don't think we want to hear Him say, "no." I don't think we want to hear Him say, "sell that and give what you receive to feed the needy." I don't think we want to hear Him say anything about our money, and we're not so keen about what He wants to tell us about the way we spend our time either. I think we seek affirmation instead of guidance and so we don't hear Him.
It is beautiful when the people of God desire to hear Him so that we can understand our lives and times and so that we can obey Him. If we will reject the idea that there are special times for hearing God and hear in continually in the working out of our daily lives there will be a magnificent light in world illuminating God's work and words to us. If we will trust that God's guidance is better than our best idea, our ears will be miraculously unplugged. And if our heart will continually be in the state of asking "what do you want in this matter, in my life, in Your church?" we will indeed hear God.