Holy Spirit

Pentecost

 Jewish people commemorate the giving of the Law in the Old Testament on the Feast of Pentecost, 50 days after Passover.  It is still a holiday in Israel, and celebrated by Jewish people around the world.  It is one of seven feasts they honor throughout the year.  I remember discussing Pentecost in a Sunday school class at a Protestant denomination over 40 years ago while I was in Junior High.  We read in the New Testament how the Holy Spirit came upon the Apostles as they spoke to the crowds in Jerusalem.  I did not give much thought at the time what it meant to Jewish believers.  I just knew it as the day God poured out His Spirit into the world.

            This morning I attended a Protestant worship whose liturgy included readings and a lesson concerning Pentecost as written about in the Book of Acts.  Many in attendance had worn red articles of clothing symbolic of the Holy Spirit.  I had taken with me a small burgundy red blanket to drape over my shoulders during communion.  My way of inviting the Holy Spirit into my life; into my heart.  The readings and lesson reflected on the new law that Christ had brought into the world, a law within our hearts. The written law that the Jews had observed for centuries was not to be ignored but a new law as witnessed by Christ had been ushered in.  One that fulfilled the old law so to speak because all the hopes, purposes, intentions and directions that the old law tried to accomplish in bringing the Jewish people into relation with God were brought to greater meaning with the sacrifice of Christ.  God’s desire for his people, the Jews, to be in relation with him had been initiated with the writings of the Old Testament prophets.  After Christ death and resurrection, seven weeks later on the day of Pentecost, all peoples of the world were invited into God’s Kingdom.  Christ promised his apostles he would send his Spirit into the world to those who believed in him.  Long before Christ lived this had actually been prophesied in the Old Testament in the Book of Joel.

            “I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.  Your sons and daughters will prophesy.  Your old men will dream dreams.  Young men will see visions. In those days, I will pour out my Spirit even of servants, men and women alike.”

                                                                Joel 2: 28-29

            The little blanket I took with me to the assembly of believers has some small words embroidered towards one of the corners that reads “Freedom is Not Free.” My Father-in-Law gave the blanket to my wife because he received it as a gift for giving to an organization to help wounded Veterans.  He gives to a lot of charities so he receives a lot of thank you gifts.  I like the little blanket because it not only reminds me of the sacrifice that our Veterans have made for our freedom, but it reminds me of the price our Savior paid for our freedom from sin. Tomorrow is Memorial Day, the day to commemorate those of our nation who died in our wars.  That blanket will be used again tomorrow.  I also use it many times each week in devotional time as I remind myself of the sacrifice others have made for me, including the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus who won the war over Satan and his Kingdom.   

Ancient Temple

Have you ever wanted to explore the ruins of an ancient temple?  That would be a unique experience wouldn’t it?  If you had asked me what comes to my mind when I hear the word temple, I would think of King Solomon’s Temple.  I have been a bible reader all my life so I obviously have given much thought to the ancient Israelite Temple and its significance in God’s Kingdom.  God used the Temple to try and convey the nature of himself to mankind just as he had done with Moses and the Tabernacle.  God was trying to reveal His Holiness to them: His righteous.  His is still trying to do so to us today.  By the way, the following passage popped out at me as I was reading the bible just recently.

“This is the basic law of the Temple:  absolute holiness!”

                                      Ezekiel 43:12

The Mayans had temples, the Greeks and Romans had temples.  There are temples all over Asia.  There are many to visit, but just for the sake of imagination, would it not be an interesting adventure to explore a temple all to yourself, especially an abandoned temple.  A temple no one else has explored, just waiting for you.  But, unfortunately, what are the chances of finding an abandoned Temple?  You may be surprised you don’t have to travel to a distant or remote location.

Ancient Temple

Hindu Temple

Greek Temple

In the New Testament, many times Jesus tried to teach his followers that God does not dwell in Temples or buildings but within peoples’ hearts.  I think this was a challenging concept to his Jewish disciples.  During the time of Moses while the Israelites were in the wilderness God would enter the Tabernacle.  After King Solomon built the Temple in Jerusalem for God, scripture teaches that God chose to indwell there.  But why would the Creator want to enter the hearts of people?  After all, it is not always a safe place to enter.  Greed, envy, anger, lust, deceit: you name it and where does it start?  In the heart.  Unfortunately, to some degree all of us carry some of this dirty baggage.  And yet, amazingly, that is where God chooses to live.  The Kingdom of God dwells in our hearts.  That is where His Temple is.  It is something I think most of us know intuitively, yet something I personally struggle with.

I want God to walk with me on my daily journey but I am hesitant to invite the Lord into my Temple: my heart.  There are too many distractions.  When I sit still and try to pray, my mind wanders; the day’s schedule, bills to be paid, the upcoming football game and so forth.  On a more sobering note, I’m not sure God wants to come into my heart when I have anger issues, some degree of unforgiveness towards those who have wronged me in the past, anxiety over finances, and so forth.  I have shared these thoughts with my wife.  She responded:

“You may need to relax more before the Lord and accept his graciousness.  You may not believe you are worthy enough to invite God, but that is a lie from Satan.  God is always more than willing to engage you when you genuinely seek him, even if you don’t feel up to it at that moment.  Remember , you don’t always have to pray,” she adds.

“What do you mean I don’t have to pray?  I thought that is what I was supposed to be doing during intimate time with the Lord?”  I add, “As a matter of fact I often pace back and forth in the backyard very early in the morning underneath the canopy of the stars in order to reveal the passion of my prayer petitions to the Almighty.”  However, I admit to her, “I have wondered if I am working at it more than just, ‘letting it flow,’ so to speak.  I’m a disciplined hard worker, so it just seemed natural I would pray that way.”

“But that is just it,” she says. “Sit still, try to clear out the distractions in your mind, and rest.  Rest in the Lord.”  She goes on to say, “As I said, you don’t even have to pray.  If you are inviting the Lord into your heart he will know your prayers.  Some days you will feel the presence of the Lord more than others: some days when you are tired you may even fall asleep.  But enjoy it.  The more often you relax and enjoy his presence, it will be that much easier for him to indwell within you.  It will not be long before you earnestly seek to return to this place of rest and the easier it will be.  It won’t have to be in the backyard or in the study, much less a certain time.  It will be a state of mind that is abandoning itself to the Lord.  That is not to say you do not need to engage in prayer, just don’t feel guilty if some days it does not seem to come naturally.  The Holy Spirit will guide you.  There will be days when you are drawn to your knees.  Other times you may want to ‘just sit,’ and peacefully reflect: yet you are still praying even if you are not directly articulating the words in your mind.  And don’t forget, you are made right with God through Christ, because of our faith in Him, He has made us Holy.  We may not feel like we are, but that is his promise to us.    ”

My wife calls it, “Abandonment to God.”  She explains, “We all have experienced the feeling of being abandoned by God.  Yet it those times that provide an opportunity for God to reveal himself or his nature to us: His mysterious ways.  You and I grew up with the word ‘surrender,’ but I like the feeling of being abandoned to God’s providence.  Each of us has a choice to feel abandoned by God or to abandon ourselves to him.”

As each of us journeys through life we will realize more and more our human limitations physically and emotionally, coupled with a spiritual neediness.  I think God encourages each of us to invite him into our hearts as we become Temples of Abandonment. Our exploration is probably the most important search of our life.  Life’s treasures await us all in these temples:  God’s Holy treasures.

 

Abandoned Temple

     

          

Have you ever wanted to explore the ruins of an ancient temple?  That would be a unique experience wouldn’t it?  If you had asked me what comes to my mind when I hear the word temple, I would think of King Solomon’s Temple.  I have been a bible reader all my life so I obviously have given much thought to the ancient Israelite Temple and its significance in God’s Kingdom.  God used the Temple to try and convey the nature of himself to mankind just as he had done with Moses and the Tabernacle.  God was trying to reveal His Holiness to them: His righteous.  He is still trying to do so to us today.  By the way, the following passage popped out at me as I was reading the bible just recently.

          “This is the basic law of the Temple:  absolute holiness!”          Ezekiel 43:12

          The Mayans had temples, the Greeks and Romans had temples.  There are temples all over Asia.  There are many to visit, but just for the sake of imagination, would it not be an interesting adventure to explore a temple all to yourself, especially an abandoned temple.  A temple no one else has explored, just waiting for you.  But, unfortunately, what are the chances of finding an abandoned temple?  You may be surprised you don’t have to travel to a distant or remote location.    

           

  In the New Testament, many times Jesus tried to teach his followers that God does not dwell in Temples or buildings but within peoples’ hearts.  I think this was a challenging concept to his Jewish disciples.  During the time of Moses while the Israelites were in the wilderness God would enter the Tabernacle.  After King Solomon built the Temple in Jerusalem for God, scripture teaches that God chose to indwell there.  But why would the Creator want to enter the hearts of people?  After all, it is not always a safe place to enter.  Greed, envy, anger, lust, deceit: you name it and where does it start?  In the heart.  Unfortunately, to some degree all of us carry some of this dirty baggage.  And yet, amazingly, that is where God chooses to live.  The Kingdom of God dwells in our hearts.  That is where His Temple is.  It is something I think most of us know intuitively, yet something I personally struggle with.                        

         I want God to walk with me on my daily journey but I am hesitant to invite the Lord into my temple: my heart.  There are too many distractions.  When I sit still and try to pray, my mind wanders; the day’s schedule, bills to be paid, the upcoming football game and so forth.  On a more sobering note, I’m not sure God wants to come into my heart when I have anger issues, some degree of unforgiveness towards those who have wronged me in the past, anxiety over finances, and so forth.  I have shared these thoughts with my wife.  She responded:           

          “You may need to relax more before the Lord and accept his graciousness.  You may not believe you are worthy enough to invite God, but that is a lie from Satan.  God is always more than willing to engage you when you genuinely seek him, even if you don’t feel up to it at that moment.  Remember , you don’t always have to pray,” she adds.  

        “What do you mean I don’t have to pray?  I thought that is what I was supposed to be doing during intimate time with the Lord?”  I add, “As a matter of fact I often pace back and forth in the backyard very early in the morning underneath the canopy of the stars in order to reveal the passion of my prayer petitions to the Almighty.”  However, I admit to her, “I have wondered if I am working at it more than just, ‘letting it flow,’ so to speak.  I’m a disciplined hard worker, so it just seemed natural I would pray that way.” 

         “But that is just it,” she says. “Sit still, try to clear out the distractions in your mind, and rest.  Rest in the Lord.”  She goes on to say, “As I said, you don’t even have to pray.  If you are inviting the Lord into your heart he will know your prayers.  Through Christ we are made righteous.  Because of Christ we have the holiness that God wants and therefore He can enter.  Some days you will feel the presence of the Lord more than others: some days when you are tired you may even fall asleep.  But enjoy it.  The more often you relax and enjoy his presence, it will be that much easier for him to indwell within you.  It will not be long before you earnestly seek to return to this place of rest and the easier it will be.  It won’t have to be in the backyard or in the study, much less a certain time.  It will be a state of mind that is abandoning itself to the Lord.  That is not to say you do not need to engage in prayer, just don’t feel guilty if some days it does not seem to come naturally.  The Holy Spirit will guide you.  There will be days when you are drawn to your knees.  Other times you may want to ‘just sit,’ and peacefully reflect: yet you are still praying even if you are not directly articulating the words in your mind.”

        My wife calls it, “Abandonment to God.”  She explains, “We all have experienced the feeling of being abandoned to God.  Yet it is those times that provide an opportunity for God to reveal himself or his nature to us: His mysterious ways.  You and I grew up with the word ‘surrender,’ but I like the feeling of being abandoned to God’s providence.  Each of us has a choice to feel abandoned by God or to abandon ourselves to him.”

         As each of us journeys through life we will realize more and more our human limitations physically and emotionally coupled with a spiritual neediness.  I think God encourages each of us to invite him into our hearts as we become Temples of Abandonment. Our exploration is probably the most important search of our life.  Life’s treasures await us all in these temples…..these abandoned temples………God’s Temples.