Leaves were swirling and branches breaking. Looking in our back yard our grill cover had blown off and our Adirondacks were scattered. Running errands, we saw lawn chairs that had blown across the street, construction signs tipped over and debris flying in all directions. Long before a wind advisory warning was ever issued it was obvious that the wind was blowing with a mighty force. As I witnessed the impact of the wind, my mind immediately went to the verse found in John 3, “the wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So, it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” It made me think, when God begins to fulfill the promise that He will pour His Spirit on all flesh, it will be obvious. We won’t have to create it with lights and haze. We won’t need the latest spin from Bethel or Hillsong. It won’t be based on the charisma and personality of a man. It will be obvious. People will stream to altars; baptismal tanks will be disturbed regularly and the outpouring of the Spirit will be so impacting and life changing that it will be obvious that people’s lives have been overwhelmed by God’s Spirit. When God sends the wind, it will be uncontrollable, overwhelming, and there will be no need for a wind advisory to let us know it arrived.
Back to School Service. It’s the day we take time out as a church community to pray over our students. A prayer cloth is given to each student to remind them that God is surrounding them. We hope they leave today knowing that they can be a person of great influence in their school. Though the challenges are great, the God that is with them is greater. This time that our kids are living in reminds me of Daniel. He was a young man, in a foreign land, that faced amazing adversity yet Daniel 6:3 says, “Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him.” What an amazing statement about this young man. In the midst of a dark world, devoid of God, facing the temptation to blend in, Daniel elected to stand out. He was a leader among leaders. While many around him were talented, gifted and intelligent, Daniel stood out because of His excellent Spirit. Where did it come from? His time spent in devotion with God which created a strong faith in God. To every student, stand out! Stand out by having excellent character. Stand out by going the extra mile. Stand out by having the best spirit. Stand out by living out your faith. Stand out and see where God might take you.
The Dukan Diet. The Atkins Diet. The South Beach Diet. The Keto Diet. Weight Watchers. Jenny Craig. Nuitrisystem. So many diets, so many options all because so many of us have become what we eat. Too much sugar, too much starch, too many carbs, the list could go on and on. Our lives have been consumed by diets and fads all because of the fact that we simply need to be more disciplined and need help. Really it should be pretty easy, stay away from processed foods, sugars and eat a lot of stuff that comes from trees and the ground. What is true of the flesh is also true in the Spirit. Paul says all that is of the world is the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the pride of life. Jesus said they that hunger and thirst after righteousness shall be fed. He calls Himself the “Bread of Life” and says that “all that come to Him shall never thirst again.” Basically, God says if we want to be spiritually healthy, if we want to have a right heart that it takes staying away from the world, pursuing Him, reading His Word and spending time. Getting worldly, carnal or feeling spiritually drained? Maybe it’s time to go on a diet. Get in His Word, get on your knees and get refilled with His Spirit.
Throughout the Bible we see the eagerness of God to be with His creation. It was God that came down to heaven in the cool of the evening to be with Adam and Eve. It was God that initiated the conversation with Moses about building a Tabernacle in the Wilderness and when it was finished, God that came down in power the moment it was completed. Solomon and his builders put the final touches on Solomon’s Temple and before there is a dedication or a festival, God comes down with such power that the priest could not stand and the pillars of the Temple shook. Over and over we see a simple principle. Build something for God to live in and He will come. The principle remains the same today. Build our lives, have a hunger and thirst for God, and He will come. He longs to dwell in us. We are called “the Temple of the Holy Spirit,” (1 Corin. 6:19) which means that He longs to dwell in us. Simply make room, build a place in your life for Him and He will come.
There are two moments in the Bible that scare me. It’s not when Pharaoh is pursuing Moses, David is facing Goliath or the Hebrew Children are being thrown into a fiery furnace. The first moment that grabs my attention is found in 1 Kings 22 when Josiah comes to the throne and looks to restore the love for God in his nation. As the priest are going through the Temple they discover a scroll, the Word of God. What we learn is that for years, likely generations, they had been operating in ritual and tradition. They had simply learned how to go through the motion, operating without Gods Word. The second moment that overwhelms me is Jeremiah 3:16; it is the last time the physical Ark of the Covenant is mentioned. Tradition says that Jeremiah was so concerned about the state of his nation and their lack of passion for God that he took the Ark and hid it in a cave. If true, that means for over 600 years those who ran the temple operated without the presence of God. Operating in ritualistic and judgmental tradition without the presence of God. That scares me. What happened in these two moments can happen in any life or society. We cannot afford to ever learn how to do church, live for God without His Word or His presence. Traditional, ritualistic and performance-based religion is the greatest danger we face. Ask God to give you a hunger to know Him.
Reading the book of John, a phrase caught my attention in the second chapter. It was the story about the wedding at Cana, where Jesus performed His first miracle. What caught my attention was the phrase, “Jesus was invited also…” It made me wonder, how many events had taken place where people didn’t invite Jesus. And why hadn’t He been invited? Were people unaware of who He was? Did people feel like He was irrelevant? Maybe He wouldn’t be interested in attending. We don’t know the scenario, the names or relationship but what we do know is someone said, “lets invite Jesus.” What a novel idea. Inviting Jesus. Whether a wedding, a day at the office, into a marriage or any other of life’s events, inviting Jesus is a good idea. Little did the bridegroom know he was going to miscalculate the number of guest and face potential embarrassment. The good news, he had invited Jesus and whether its turning water into wine, healing a blinded eye or forgiving sin, Jesus can take care of the problem. Let’s take the example of this nameless bridegroom and invite Jesus into the everyday events of our life. Who knows when we might need Him and if He’s in the room, anything can happen.
We often look at the failures of well-known people to feel better about ourselves. But if we feel good about the wrongs of others, we don’t truly know ourselves. For example, the Bible doesn’t tell us about the sins of David to weaken our sense of moral alarm, but to put all of us on notice. Though we have accomplished much in Christ, we must always be on guard. Satan is always looking for an opportunity to take us down. When we see the failures of others, it should cause us to be more aware of our own weaknesses and need for the mercy and grace that only comes through Christ. Only when we acknowledge our weakness do we become dependent on the strength of our God. One man said, “the Bible is just like a mirror. It shows me the need of my heart, for in it we see an accurate image, a portrait of me–every part.” As we continue to work on our lives from the inside out, take time to reflect on your life, it’s strengths and weaknesses and then pray that God will help you humble yourself before Him and ask Him to be the strength in your weakness.