Scriptures: Acts 19:1-7, Acts 1:5, Acts 1:8, Acts 2:4
When we read the Bible we see that it uses many words to express the full experience a person can have with God's spirit.
We are baptized in the Holy Spirit, which means we are immersed, sunken or drowned in it. It's like dyeing a piece of fabric: you have to fully submerge it and then it becomes a entire new color. We are engulfed by His spirit and our life/character take on a new quality.
We receive the Holy Spirit and God gives us access to himself. Receiving relates to our openness, willingness and our own desires to accept Him.
The Holy Spirit comes upon us and we are overtaken with God's heart and mind. His passion burns within us and His quest becomes our own. It's a reshaping of how we perceive this world.
We are filled with the Holy Spirit. When we are filled we experience overflow: we have an abundant resource, as the Word says: 'your cup runneth over."
The Holy Spirit is poured out: its the releasing of His power with a purpose for us. It's like a water dam being opened, when it's released you hear the thunderous sound of water and then water produces energy. Then the energy is channeled. God pours His spirit into us and into our life is release the energy and power of His mighty spirit.
The Holy Spirit falls upon us: to rush upon and to seize. It's the father embracing his prodigal son, the Word says that he fell upon his son. It's the picture of joyful acceptance.
Have you let the Holy Spirit baptize you, filled you, pour on you, fill you and fall on you? Are you ready to receive Him and the power He wants to instill you with?
Scriptures: Psalm 118:1-14
Today we are looking at Psalm 118 where David is writing a song of praise, but we can see through his writing that behind his praise there appears to be a great deal of pain. He says, in verse 5, "in my anguish I cried to the Lord." David was writing about events which caused him much pain: dark periods in his life.
Like David, we all face times of suffering: its a universal condition for all mankind. We have heart breaking moments: losing jobs, losing homes, losing loved ones, divorce, disease, destruction and more. These are times of tears and sorrow; being human we feel hurt, alone and lonely. We feel confusion, anger and then guilt for feeling those emotions. We need a way to transfer our disappointment from our fragile souls to another source, we need someone to carry away our hostiliies.
In these situations we are left with two choices: turn away from God or turn to God for help. When we turn away from God we are choosing the darkness and despair. With this decision we are left with manmade resources and worldly help. When we turn to God we allow our faith to open doors towards hope. With God we have all the resources of the kingdom and the church to lead, help and guide us. Deciding to turn towards God is turning towards the light instead of the darkness.
David was a man that God respected. Do you wonder why that is with all the bad decisions David made? Because David wanted God's approval and guidance even during dark moments. David's praise for God convinced his heart that God was in control, his writing proclaimed: "His love endures forever," "The Lord is with me, I will not be afraid," and "God is my helper and right early." His praise for God pushed back the darkness and opened a window to let in the light. Ask yourself have you been letting the light in to your situation? Have you read your Bible when you are feeling pain and sorrow?
We must remember that our tears and sorrows are stepping stones to our triumphs and victories. Tears and sorrow have a purpose, for David they made him into a great King! What are you going to use your hard times for? Behind this pain God has purpose for your life, but you have to be willing to turn away from the darkness and let His light help you with the pain and sorrow.
"Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that
This life is filled with choices: there are highways going in every direction, wherever you want to go, you can get there. Most people when asked will say they believe they are on the right path in life, but we must remember that life offers many highways.
First we have open highways where people live life pressing the gas pedal: full speed ahead! The journey on the open highway is all about the destination and how fast we can get there; the attitude of this highway is "get out of my was so I can get where I want to be." It's a selfish journey focused on an end result and missing what is happening along the way. Are you so focused on what you want that you are missing the important things along the way?
Second we have the crowded highway: the road with alll the traffic. People see this life option and think "well everyone else is going this way, it must be the right road!" They join with the crowd and get lost in the shuffle. They must keep moving or someone will push them out of the way and take their spot. Are you choosing where your life is going based on where the crowd is leading you?
Third we have seasonal highways, these are roads that in the summer are swamped with traffic and in the winter are scarce. This is when we make decisions for our lives based on what season we are in: we take whatever road fits our emotions at the time. This is living a life controlled by circumstances. This is a life focused on what feels good, not what is good!
Finally we have Heaven's highway, which the Word calls the straight and narrow way. It is a journey of purpose and one constructed by Jesus. The only road where the end destination is Heaven, the only road to eternal glory! We cannot take the highways this world offers and expect to end up here! This world wants to offer all sorts of answers about how we should live and what the journey should look like, but we need to desire the road that leads us to foot of the cross. The cross is the only entrance ramp: its the original place of grace. Jesus makes it easy: He says its one way! This road is not promised to be easy or without commitments: you must pay tolls allow the way with faith, repentance and baptism. You must lef the Holy Spirit guide you to reach this destination, you can no longer just drive how ever you see fit. Jesus said this highway is straight and narrow so that we will not get lost! Once we are on it, we can follow it! His Word will keep us from veering off into the wrong direction.
There are highways going in all directions: the fast track, the way of the crowd or the seasonal highway guided by our emotions. We can chose any of those paths, or we can chose the best constructed highway leading towards the greatest promise mankind has been given" an eternal life with our Savior. This road has no potholes, no traffic, no one is left behind and no one get lost! What highway are you traveling on? Will you be the few who find the straight and narrow?
"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." Matthew 5:4
Scriptures: Matthew 5:4, 2 Corinthians 1:2-4
We have all experienced pain, be it minor or intense pain. Pain is something we would all like to postpone, because pain is never convenient. In Matthew 5:4 we find a statement that is hard to understand: "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." It seems like an oxymoron: happy mourners. But the truth is the pleasure and pain are closely connected.
We usually think of pleasure and pain as being opposites. There is a disease called: Hansen's disease, which is basically leprosy. Victim's of Hansen's disease never feel a thing: as their disease progresses they don't even feel as their body breaks down. This is similar to how many people try to live their life: they try to live without feeliing any emotional pain. We try to block the pleasure and the fulfillment of relationships, by avoiding them all together. Being fully alive brings risk. Being able to feel the warmth of the sun brings the risk of feeling the pain of a sunburn. Making a friend includes the risk that the friendship may end; loving someone brings the risk that you may be separated from the one you love. Happy are they who mourn, but it is a blessing to grieve. If you have something to grieve over it means you have had something to love first.
Jesus tells us that those who mourn will be comforted. To mourn is to share our pain with caring people: God gave us the church to develop relationships with others who believe in Jesus Christ and have experienced for themselves God's comfort. Ask yourself the question: how will God use your suffering to help someone else? 2 Corinthians 1:3 says: "Father of compassion and the God of all comfort." Compassion and comfort begin with God: God does not want that compassion to stop. He wants us to recycle compassion! If we have experienced pain God intends for us to be to a conduit of comfort. Life is full of riddles: it can be hard to understand how that pain and pleasure have a close relationship, but you can experience it!
Scriptures: 1 Corinthians 15: 1-11
Easter is defined by the word grace. Grace is God at work saving mankind. Easter is when God made a move towards mankind's greatest need: every singe one of us needed mercy so God acted!
The message of Easter is a message of grace: Jesus died on the cross because of our sin. Just like the Word says: "the wages of sin is death." Jesus was buried: a sign that our old life and our old ways can be buried under God's great mercy. Jesus rose from the dead on the third day! Like Him, we can be raised into a new life with new hopes, new dreams, new actions and a new fresh start!
Easter is grace demonstrated. On the cross Jesus made a powerful statement: "Father forgive them, they know not what they do." This statement is an unexpected verb tense, because when he says "forgive them" it is a continuous repeated action. He is still calling for us to be forgiven, His sacrifice is still saving our souls! The message of Easter rings through time: God's forgiveness is available to all of us today.
Easter is a message of freedom. Picture going to the circus. It used to be that you could see an elephant chained to a wooden stake. With the great strength the elepant possessed he could easily free himself from the stake, but from the time the elephant was young it had ben chained. It was chained to things like concrete or walls, and it began to accept that there was no escape. It got used to its bondage, so it gave up trying to set itself free! Many of us today allow the same thing to happen to us. We allow ourselves to be controlled by our past sin and are in bondage convinced that it's chains are unbreakable.
Easter is when God broke and removed the chains! Grace reaches the unsuspecting! Grace revolutionizes our lives! Grace explains how a life can change and then God does it! Grace leads to action!
We have a wonderful message: Jesus died and He was buried: through this we can experience forgiveness for our sins! Jesus rose from the grace: He rose so we might live lives full of grace!