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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The unseen strength of deep roots

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6And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. 7Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.  Colossians 2:6-7

When I walk through the North Shore forests or even the Pacific Spirit Park here at UBC I am often in awe of these trees.  They are massive. They have been here longer than I have been on the earth. And they will likely be here after me.

Supporting that massive biomass is a system of roots extending deep into the ground. For the most part I cannot see these roots. But I know they are there.

So it is when we see a person who is persisting in their faith with Jesus. When you see a person who is bearing fruit in their life both in their Christian maturity and their ministry know this: they have deep roots into Christ Jesus. He is their life. He is their source of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Jesus is the source of the ministry fruit: encouraged hearts, changed lives, people coming to know Jesus, people considering the existence of God. He is the source of their wisdom in leadership at home, work, school, business, community or even their nation. He is the source of their courage. He is the source of their gratitude even when life seems to be serving up difficulty.

Get rooted into Jesus. Time. Never underestimate the power of daily driving your roots down into Him through dry times, through storms, and even in the days of plenty. Meet Jesus daily through His Word and in prayer.

Love can’t be hurried. Authentic Stewardship, Part 2.

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9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Romans 12:9-13

We have a giant plastic box at home. And depending on the occasion we all have reached into it. Its the costume box. We have hats: firemen hats, cowboy hats, pirate hats, clown hats, robin hood hats. We have capes: merry men, zorro, and all kinds of super heroes. We have wings and wands and brooms. We have… Ok you get the picture!

No actors allowed.
At a moment’s notice we can be someone else! When we put on these hats and capes we get to pretend to be someone else with different powers and personas. But this is not how we are to live as followers of Jesus.The Apostle Paul is clear — those who have received the mercy and grace of God through Jesus Christ are done with pretending. He writes, “Let love be genuine.”
The phrase here is more like a heading: The Love Sincere. The love without hypocrisy. No play-acting or pretending here! This is how we are to steward the grace of God given us and residing in our bodies and our fellowship.

With that introduction Paul is off to the races. He races through a list of commands illustrating real love in a world of great challenge. In the first five verses of this list of love we see that maturing, genuine love empowered by Jesus gives His people a subtle and pervasive strength. What real love can do, the people of Jesus begin to do.

What love can do; and how Jesus’ disciples are being changed.
Love can differentiate. So, they know the difference between what is evil and what is good. (v. 9)

Love has brotherly affection. So, they maintain boundaries in relationships. (v. 10)

Love honours. So, they can show honour to others without fear of loosing themselves. (v. 10)

Love takes personal responsibility; So, they perennially engage in the disciplines generating enthusiasm for Jesus. (v. 11-12)

Love sees what is needed; So, they enter into the lives of others and allow others into their own. (v. 13)


Make it personal.
In these five verses we are confronted with a dynamic vision of the soul who loves. Jesus shows me the God who loves, and shows me that I am loved. Such knowledge changes everything in my relationships with people and the stuff of earth. Authentic stewardship is love in motion. I know a transformation is required! But it cannot be hurried. There is no mask to put on that will make me love like Jesus. There is only a work to be done from the inside out.

Put it on! You’ve got a whole new wardrobe!

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10…and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. 12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Colossians 3:10-15

You have a new spirit in Christ, but the body and soul must be submitted to the redemptive work of the Gospel ‘till we are fully united with Christ Jesus. We can’t see your new spirit. But like fashion, the old nature and new nature is what is seen by others. When Paul speaks of the traits and qualities of the old nature and the new nature he uses the language of fashion: “put it off” and “put it on.”

For the Believer who has received Jesus Christ as Lord, the work of salvation is the renewal of the spirit. Once you were dead in your sins, but now you are alive in Christ. (Ephesians 2:1-10) You are a new creation; you have a new self, the old is gone and the new has come. (1 Corinthians 5:17) In Christ Jesus you also have a whole new wardrobe accessible in the new you that can be seen by others.

You have now become a participant in your total makeover through the Holy Spirit, God’s word, and the new community called church. Our daily responsibility is to put off the old nature and then to reach into the new wardrobe gracefully outfitted by Christ Jesus. We are to put on the new nature so that the life of Christ occupies our body and soul. This change is dynamic, not static, and it is a continual process of growth and maturity in Christ Jesus.

The new nature is so relational! Its ours because we are “God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved.” Its so relational because we have been brought into the new community where race, religion, culture, and status are not determinant. Instead Christ Jesus is all. And its Jesus who gives us a new wardrobe. We can put on:

Compassionate hearts

Kindness

Humility

Meekness

Patience

Forgiveness

Love

The peace of Christ

Gratitude

There is no place where these qualities are not required of the Christian. As we will see later in Colossians Paul envisions the new nature being expressed not only in the fellowship of the church, but also in the home, and in the workplace. Each of these settings has a way of showing the deficits in our character.

We may be frustrated that the new nature is not automatic! But Christ’s healing and His power for life comes with the daily and seasonal work of prayer, Scripture memory, meditation, fasting, confession, worship, and the grace of receiving connection—knowing and being known, acceptance, forgiveness, and the blessings from others who are also occupied by Jesus Christ. This is how Jesus creates a gospel-shaped life with us, and us with Him.

 

 

Great Expectations

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4 And when a great crowd was gathering and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable, 5“A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it. 6And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. 7And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. 8And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.” As he said these things, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”   Luke 8:4-8

I love Jesus’ parable of the sower, seed, and soils. It generates confidence in the Word of God. And it causes me to wonder about the condition of my own heart. Do I have ears to hear? Could God really do wonderful, fruitful, and productive things in my life?

Jesus’ disciples were curious about the parable too, so they asked Him about it.

9And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant, 10he said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’ 11Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.

Jesus is giving them insight into how God is working. “A sower went out to sow His seed… The seed is the word of God.” God is sowing seed, His truthful word into our lives! God is choosing people! God is bringing people into the fullness of His Kingdom!

Jesus has confidence that His words would accomplish dynamic, life-giving impact in the lives of people. When we speak and receive the Gospel of Jesus we can have the same confidence.