Holy Spirit recall.

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Timely advice is lovely, like golden apples in a silver basket.  Proverbs 25:11
I love it when the Holy Spirit brings to mind God’s Word in the moment when I needed it. When I needed encouragement or correction, guidance or wisdom, God’s Word was brought to the front of my mind by the Holy Spirit. It’s a golden word for me, of immense value, and life-giving.

Spiritual formation takes place over time. The formatting of my mind by the Gospel is a work of the Spirit to which we are called. In Romans 12, the Apostle Paul exhorts his listeners to cooperate with the Spirit of God:

1And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.  2Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.  Romans 12:1-2

 

You can be a part of the Holy Spirit’s work by memorizing and meditating on Scripture . Psalm 119 is a celebration of God’s gift of His Word and there the Psalmist joyfully declares, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Holy Spirit recall occurs when you have His Word in your mind available for the right, apt, moment.

Want to get started on memorizing Scripture?

Here’s a set of verses organized around the acrostic, G.L.O.R.I.F.Y.T.H.E.L.O.R.D., to help you get started.

 

 

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From Fans to Followers. Jesus calls us out of the crowd.

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Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. Luke 9:23

 

Its great to blend in and disappear in the crowd sometimes. There is an almost cellular compulsion to just be like the other. Part of maturing is the acceptance that I’m a lot like and a lot different from folks in a crowd. I can be a part of crowd, enjoying the music, the art of another, or the vibe of a public event. Most artists are going to be just fine with that. But, when Jesus gets in front of crowd he calls people out. He doesn’t seem to be content with “fans.” He wants followers.

His invitation is winsom. He truly does assume the best about the crowd. “If any of you wants to be my follower.” I like that. Jesus knew that being about the Father’s love-work would create attraction. You like hanging around together in this movement? So, you want to be a follower? Jesus is actually looking to move people from being “fans” to becoming “followers.”

Jesus also clarifies what its going to take to be a follower. Followers of Jesus have a disruptive calling: “You must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily and follow me.” People who have become fans like to look at and observe The Gospel at work. People who have become followers like to become participants in The Gospel work. It starts in them. Jesus transforms all of life and relationships through HIS life, death, burial, and resurrection. The Gospel changes everything.

I’m naturally resistant to the Gospel changing everything. We all are! We are all infected with this resistance. So it does take the work of the Spirit to move us into a sacrificial, submitted-to-God, kind of life. There is an ease to the Christian life — Jesus said it himself — “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and lowly.”  But there is also a narrowness to the Christian life that does constrain against my selfishness— “Enter through the narrow gate for wide is the gate that leads to destruction and many enter through it.” Selfishness — the desire to be lord of my life when Jesus is the Lord — will be against what Jesus wants. Fans can do what they want. Followers do what Jesus wants. So, when I’m trying to live the Christian life in my own strength because “its what I should do” its really going to be a slog! On the way to the new life that comes from Him, I’m going to have to also attend to the death and burial of a “thing” resisting Jesus. That’s the cross of discipleship — the movement into obedience. There’s so much blessing on the other side of being aligned with Jesus! There’s no other way to be in His joy.

Resurrection People have been disrupted by Jesus.

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5Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. 6We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. 7For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. 8And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. 9We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. 10When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. 11So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.
Romans 6:5-11

 

Jesus is the master of disruption. He disrupts our lives so we can love and connect by first being loved and connected to God through Him. When His disruptions begin we may be troubled by the challenge we feel to our beliefs, behaviours, and attitudes. We may worry — what do others think of us? We may fear — what we are going to miss out on? But surely as we engage faith and become curious about the rumbling in our mind, body, and soul we will see a new day and a new life emerging.

Disruption is required! Its required so we can enter into the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Gospel life is not a life of dual citizenship. Really! Today many countries allow “dual citizenship” and people are walking around with multiple passports. But the Kingdom-life with Jesus is not like that. We must surrender our passport to the “old life” and the “old nature” in order to fully receive and live into the new life of the Kingdom of God. That’s disruptive! We have to die to the old life and its claim on us. Turning over a passport may initially seem limiting and scary if you have retained deep connections, hopes, and dreams fuelled by a residence in the “old country.” But life in the new country, as my father who immigrated from Ireland declared to me, “cannot be lived looking over your shoulder.”

We must reckon with with this truth about the Kingdom of God: it is not meant to be lived looking over our shoulder. Life in the Kingdom of God is meant to be looking forward to Jesus and what He redeems and plants anew in our lives.

Discipleship, then, is a continual process of consideration of our union with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. We are intended to be Resurrection People so we must

“consider [ourselves] to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.”

Why would we bother with the hard work of waiting and wading with Jesus? Because He is the master of disruption; He disrupts death!

“And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. 9We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. 10When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God.”

So now, we too may live for the glory of God as Resurrection People!

 

The making of saints.

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1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,

2To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.
3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, 5because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, 6which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, 7just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf 8and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.  Colossians 1:1-8

 

When Paul uses the word “saints” to address the followers of Jesus he is saying that they are “holy.” They are a people “set aside” for God. That is, they are on reserve, cleaned and like God. When the Scripture speaks of holiness it always has God as the reference of holiness. One important note though, our holiness is not preserved by staying on a reserve shelf, tucked away safely from the world. No, we are also faithful. We are able to engage in life remaining faithful and responsive to Jesus.

Some Christian traditions have identified particularly outstanding Christians in our history as saints. But the New Testament reference of saints is to all the followers of Jesus. We are the saints, the holy ones made so “in Christ.” In Christ we are becoming a “faithful” people. The steady movement of our long obedience in response to Jesus’ grace transforms our character and makes us faithful.

This is who you are, and who you are becoming: A saint. A faithful one in Christ Jesus our Lord!

What are you building your life on?

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Here’s the quote from Tim Keller, in The Reason for God showing how “particular kinds of brokenness and damage” are caused by idolatry. You can also ask yourself, “What am I building my life on?  If I build my life on _____ then I could expect ______.

If you center your life and identity on your spouse or partner, you will be emotionally dependent, jealous, and controlling. The other person’s problems will be overwhelming to you.

If you center your life and identity on your family and children, you will try to live your life through your children until they resent you or have no self of their own. At worst, you may abuse them when they displease you

If you center your life and identity on your work and career, you will be a driven workaholic and a boring, shallow person. At worst you will lose family and friends and, if your career goes poorly, develop deep depression.

If you center your life and identity on money and possessions, you’ll be eaten up by worry or jealousy about money. You’ll be willing to do unethical things to maintain your lifestyle, which will eventually blow up your life.

If you center your life and identity on pleasure, gratification, and comfort, you will find yourself getting addicted to something. You will become chained to the “escape strategies” by which you avoid the hardness of life.

If you center your life and identity on relationships and approval, you will be constantly overly hurt by criticism and thus always losing friends. You will fear confronting others and therefore will be a useless friend.

If you center your life and identity on a “noble cause,” you will divide the world into “good” and “bad” and demonize your opponents. Ironically, you will be controlled by your enemies. Without them, you have no purpose.

If you center your life and identity on religion and morality, you will, if you are living up to your moral standards, be proud, self-righteous, and cruel. If you don’t live up to your moral standards, your guilt will be utterly devastating.

Tim Keller, The Reason for God (Dutton, 2008), pp. 275-276