Pentecost Sunday Musing: Holy Spirit Empowerment

Today, Sunday 6/12/2011 is Pentecost Sunday[i]. It is the day that focuses on our being filled with the Holy Spirit. It is also known as the Jewish festival Shavuot.[ii]  In terms of previous thoughts regarding Pentecost please read https://peacebringer7.wordpress.com/2009/05/28/shavoutpentecost-musings/ and https://peacebringer7.wordpress.com/2010/05/23/musings-on-pentecost-sunday-shavu%e2%80%99ot/ in addition to today’s article.  Also please take time to celebrate having God with us and being in-dwelt with the Holy Spirit.

God set aside this day for a reason and a purpose. God specifically directed the disciples to wait. They were not to go off on their own and start sharing the good news about Salvation, they needed what they did not yet have.  See, on this day something happened that had not occurred before. Sure, there were instances of people being empowered by the Holy Spirit including Moses, David, Elijah, Elisha, and others.  But there never had been the moment where God took up residence within the human spirit. It was the day that the following of God’s truth and God’s ways was given the empowerment through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit enabling God with us, every day. It was the day that God’s ways, God’s law started being written on the hearts of humanity and daily fellowship with the creator enabled. 

Granted, there is a lot of ways folks understand and misunderstand the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.  But, God made it clear that there is no fruit and progress without the Holy  Spirit. He directed the disciples to wait, to not go off on their own power to spread the gospel. Something else was needed.  Even then, he directed them to start local and move outward.  There were specific steps for specific times.  Now we may not always grasp or understand. At times we may be waiting, but God does go before us. He provides us what we need, when we need it. The Holy Spirit within us is evidence of this. But God gives when He gives in accordance with His will with what is necessary.  It may not match our viewpoint or understanding at all; for we do not see things clearly, only in part.  Think for a moment to what it would be like to be a disciple and having seen Jesus ascended and being directed to wait without having any idea what was coming.  Then Pentecost comes and the Holy Spirit comes and indwells. What a glorious day but no one could have possibly known what it meant until it happened. 

 

Now note that God still gives what in accordance with His will with what is necessary. It does not always line up or look like we think it should. We are told to listen and follow. We are to wait when directed to wait and we are to move forward when God says move forward. Each step involves trust.  Each instance and circumstance and life is unique.  Too often, each of us can look toward a certain way God moved and apply it broader.  But each circumstance, each person, each life is unique. God works in us all, and those of us who have submitted to God’s way and follow the true path have God with us. It is not a special thing about any of us, it is not a ‘divine spark.’ It is God taking up residence within us, to give us the power and direction to respond to God’s truth and love God and others in accordance with God’s will.  We simply need to trust and obey and be about what God directs each day. We are given power to do so each day, but it requires a daily surrender to the Holy Spirit and a seeking out and following God’s direction but in God’s word and in the prompting of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Doing so makes each day a glorious day and leads us into the path of contentment recognizing that we can do all things through God’s empowerment which is enabled by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Thank God for this day, many years ago that allows me to walk, write, and do what God sets before me when I surrender daily.  It is this that enables us all to be conquerors and empowered to do whatever is ahead. For none of us can do what God directs on our own accord, just as the disciples needed the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, so to we need this empowerment. It starts with surrender and following God with trust and obedience.  He gives the power, we just need to stay in step. When we are obedient and not relying on self, we can know that God will see us through to where He wants us, for He is promised is always faithful and He has given us the means to be empowered for whatever He asks in whatever circumstance.

In Remembrance: Sharing of Memories related to Janie Blake

My thoughts have been many since Janie Blake started her new day and left us behind. It has been hard to focus and write anything, yet there is much to write and process. It is though time to start putting down words that are on my heart. The best place to start is sharing a bit of the impact that Janie Blake had on my life and in the life of others. Yet, for me the sharing of the memories that is the story of Janie Blake and how she touched my life is not easy. See, Janie Blake in my life from the start is a mix of pain and hurt along with blessing and healing. The two really go hand in hand and are hard to separate. The elements of pain are not appropriate to write about as there are other people involved and they need to be considered and honored. So, my sharing of memories publicly is limited. However, the limit is on me being able to share the fact that God did use her in people’s lives to build them up and help them grow in love and truth by sharing love and truth.

Ultimately, the core of my relationship with Janie Blake can be summed up as a mutual sharing of love and truth. No matter what was going on with each of us being who we are, there was love and truth in operation. And honestly, most of the time, most of the memories are just us being who we are, together. This was whether sharing meals, playing games, or just having conversation. There are stark differences in our personality despite sharing that core of interacting in truth and love. Her personality was more active. She would find a way to be involved. She had to be part of the “action.” If there was something going on, rest assured Janie wanted to be a part of it. Now, my personality is one that is more observant, watchful. I want to be where action is but will often be at the edge, watching what is going on, always looking to grow and understand. Recently saw a picture from during my sophomore year on college, it was me as always on the edge, watching & observing. My nature is to meet people where they are and come along side.

Janie’s nature is that of going after someone and pulls them in. It is because of Janie that have met and cared for several people that otherwise would not have. It is even in her active pursuit that the healing, blessing, and growth that occurred in time, happened. She actively pursued with love and grace. Part of the healing pertains to my dear wife. We had a period where she ran from God in response to deep pain and disappointment. One related to a young man dying of brain cancer, the other a disappointment over a hope for job situation. Janie loved her, spoke truth, and pursued her with not knowing anything more than my wife was hurting and angry. She provided an accurate reflection of God’s pursuit, for ultimately God pursued my wife through Janie and others until she returned back to God. Janie was consistent in her pursuit and building up of others, reaching out with love and truth. She was faithful to God’s call on her life and produced much fruit. She lived who she was before God and man. She let her light shine in her actions and deeds and brought Glory to God the Father.

I hope folks take the time to share memories of Janie there are many places to do so. There is the comments section here on this blog article. There is here Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/profile.php?id=828554733. There is my father’s Facebook page as well: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/profile.php?id=1128826601. There is also Janie Blake’s caring bridge site: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/janieblake. There is also the option to share thoughts at the online obituary at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/startribune/obituary.aspx?page=lifestory&pid=147504299. You also may have own resources, but please do share. I may add folks thoughts to comment sections as run across, so please subscribe to the comments in this article. I know there are many folks who have prayed for Janie and did not know her, by sharing others can know and the harvest and impact will continue.

Some principles of God’s provision found in 1 Kings 17

In a previous post, there was a requested direction of prayer for the missionaries in Haiti for God’s provision but natural and supernaturally. The article and request referenced Elijah being fed by ravens and the widow with oil and flour that would not cease. Those stories are found in the Bible at 1 Kings 17. The passage points to certain principles related to God’s provision in the midst of suffering. The suffering in 1 Kings was a drought that was brought on as a consequence of the spiritual condition of Israel and to draw the nation back to God. On examining the chapter, there are a few principles that are applicable to today.

The first principle is that everything starts with obedience to God. In order for God to provide, we need to have two things operating. We need to listen and obey. Before we can obey, we need to be able to know what God desires. Knowing what God desires involves listening to God. It is having a relationship with the Creator of the Universe. Interacting with the Creator cannot just be a once in a moment thing. It has to be ongoing, moment-by-moment. We need to have our ears and eyes attuned to attending to Yahweh. It is in that ongoing relationship that God does make his leading and will known. Once we hear from God, we need to obey. Elijah obeyed God in declaring the famine. He obeyed God in walking in faith and following God’s direction. If Elijah had not gone where God directed he would have missed the provision of being fed by ravens or the source of water that was provided by the brook. If Elijah had not followed God when the brook ran dry, then he would never have met the widow that allowed God to give supernatural intervention. It is also to note, that obedience was not just an action from Elijah. The widow also obeyed God at the risk of her own life. She could not see a possible way to survive if she gave to Elijah her last, but God did provide.

The second principle is that God’s provision comes in many ways. God sometimes works using the natural, sometimes the supernatural. God is capable of providing in ways far beyond what our mind can even imagine. For Elijah God used first natural provision. He provided by ravens and Brooke. Yet, the time of that was limited. When that provision ran dry, God led Elijah to a place where He would provide supernaturally in response to obedience. It is interesting to note that when God intended to provide for Elijah supernaturally, he did so not in a way that blessed not only Elijah, but also in a way that blessed others as well. God’s supernatural interventions are not just for the needs one individual. When God gives supernaturally, it is intended to be used beyond self-interest. His supernatural provision is always done for his greater will and to bring Himself glory and demonstrate His love to others.

It is interesting to note, that even in the midst of God’s supernatural provision events related to the tyranny of suffering connected to the fall of man occurred. The widow’s only son became sick and died. Neither the widow nor Elijah understood that in the midst of His supernatural provision that such suffering was allowed. The widow thought that God was be upset with some sin she had committed. Elijah’s response was to cry out genuinely to God as to why and plead for the child’s life to be returned. God did restore the child’s life. It was something beyond understanding, but God intervened for His glory. His love and provision do not return empty, even amidst appearances, what we can see or understand. There will be times when in obedience and receiving divine intervention that are beyond human understanding. But God is always at work and will bring glory to His name.

The third principle is really that through it all God is the source of life. Ultimately, God restoring the child’s life really demonstrates that God is the source of life. He provided the oil and flour. Yet, God is the source. Now God has frequently used oil connected to the Holy Spirit, and bread in connection to the word of God. We are led and fed by the Holy Spirit and by the Word of God. In our relationship with God, both these sustain us each day. In walking in genuine response to God’s love and reflecting that love to others, the Holy Spirit and God’s word will never run dry. They are fuel to living and interacting with God. God brings us life. In however God’s provides in our lives and for whatever period of time we must remember that God is the source of life.

The fourth principle see at work here, is God’s provision matches our needs. Scripture is filled with God providing at an equivalent to what the needs are at the moment. God’s provision is not over and above what is needed, but rather what is needed, when it is needed. God’s provision here was what they needed each day. The same is true for Israel in the wilderness. God gave them what they needed, when they need it. Too often people teach and look to God to provide in ways over and above the actual needs. The view is that obedience brings prosperity in this world. Yet, biblically the example is that obedience results in provision needed at the moment. Actually, there is a difference between God’s provision and God’s blessings. God’s provision is given but at times he also gives blessings over and above. When he does bless, he does so always to bring himself glory. Yet, more often than not, what we expect is blessing in return for following God’s lead. Blessings come as God sees fit according to His purpose. Often our response is to demand blessings to meet our needs and desires, rather than looking to what serves God’s will and purpose in our lives and the lives around us.

So in looking at those four principles, the basic foundation is that God provides in such a way that serves His will and purpose. We do not always understand or see what is going on around us at the moment. We can easily get wrapped up in self and even expect what is beyond what God intends. He works in ways that we do not understand. When He gets involved supernaturally, it is always for His greater purpose with scope beyond the interests of one individual. Everything starts and stops with God. It is important to stay in the moment and continue to be in relationship with the Creator, obeying and following His lead.   God will provide. What we need to do is respond in obedience and keep focused on God over even our own wants and needs.  It is a walk of faith  to things that we cannot even possibly see a way out.  It is an attitude that will give of our last.  It is an attitude even of receiving others sacrificial giving.   Personally, asking a widow to give of all that she has left would be confusing and hard to walk in obedience, yet both Elijah and the widow obeyed.  God provided at their moment of need with what they needed.  In their obedience suffering still occurred, but God is always in control and brings Glory to his name and turned that of death to life.  He does so  in all our lives, be it in tragic circumstances such as Haiti, or other more personal struggles in our own day to day lives.  God is the same in all circumstances.