BE and DO, Prompted by the Spirit

Photo credit here

S (Scripture): Acts 2:38 Peter replied, “Change your hearts and lives. Each of you must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit…” 41 Those who accepted Peter’s message were baptized. God brought about three thousand people into the community on that day.

42 The believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the community, to their shared meals, and to their prayers. 43 A sense of awe came over everyone. God performed many wonders and signs through the apostles.

O (Observation): God’s Spirit comes. Pentecost. In the wake of this outpouring of the Spirit, those touched by God’s Spirit are able to do miraculous things! Healing is the key, and brings folks back from the depths of their despair.

So many baptized…receiving God’s Spirit. What a day!

A (Application): So we do have the Spirit of God dwelling in us. Do we believe it? We all have ample opportunity to express God’s will, but we resist…we doubt. That doesn’t make us less Christian. All Christians doubt at some level. Nothing to be afraid of…just aware of.

So, we gather regularly for mutual upbuilding and forgiveness and encouragement. We can do what God calls us to. Let us simply BElieve. Then, let us DO!

P (Prayer): God, give us discerning hearts and minds. Amen.

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Quit Arguing, Y’all!

Photo credit here (along with some other good quotes about arguing)

S (Scripture): Matthew 12:14 The Pharisees went out and met in order to find a way to destroy Jesus.

15 Jesus knew what they intended to do, so he went away from there. Large crowds followed him, and he healed them all. 16 But he ordered them not to spread the word about him, 17 so that what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled:

18 Look, my Servant whom I chose,
the one I love, in whom I find great pleasure.
I’ll put my Spirit upon him,
and he’ll announce judgment to the Gentiles.
19 He won’t argue or shout,
and nobody will hear his voice in the streets.
20 He won’t break a bent stalk,
and he won’t snuff out a smoldering wick,
until he makes justice win.
21 And the Gentiles will put their hope in his name.

O (Observation): Matthew is known as the Gospel that was most likely written to a Jewish audience. Matthew makes lots of references to the Hebrew Scriptures, helping to interpret the Scriptures to their rightful understanding.

Jesus was the hope for God’s people spoken of throughout the Scriptures of old, such as in the Isaiah text that Jesus quotes here. Jesus is trying to help the people make sense of why Jesus is going to the streets and not just the synagogues (though he goes there, too…it’s a both / and kinda thing). He is also trying to help them see that he is fulfilling the notion that he is not to be drawing by attention to himself by arguing and shouting in the streets.

In the end, Jesus is hope to the Gentiles. The Jews know their God and have salvation…but the Gentiles have nothing in which to hope. Jesus wants to change that. He believes God wants him to change that. So, Jesus brings healing…a foretaste of the feast to come.

A (Application): What strikes me today is the last couple of sentences I wrote in the section above. Obviously, the Scriptures are the beginning of that inspiration, but I believe those last few sentences I wrote help me to open up the purpose of Jesus’ life and ministry, and help me to know my part.

What is our mission? What was Jesus’ mission?

Jesus was not sent to argue or shout…he healed, he preached, he held dominion over demons…and he brought people to wholeness.

He is making justice win.

Jesus brings hope and inspires us to believe in God. For those who have nothing to believe in, consider Jesus as the way to know God. Consider that the Spirit (that love that exists between Jesus and God) is dwelling within us through faith, too! And with that indwelling Spirit, we, too, can heal and bring about peace and hope.

The insight for me today is that God doesn’t need us to argue about who is right (spiritually, theologically, etc.). We simply need to go and do the right things, bringing healing, hope, and forgiveness into the world.

P (Prayer): God, forgive me when I argue too much with you. Help me to be vulnerable to your gift of transforming love. Amen.

But What Did I Do? 

S (Scripture): Acts 3:17 [Peter said to the crowd on Solomon’s Portico] “And now, brothers, I know you acted in ignorance, as your rulers did too. 18 But the things God foretold long ago through all the prophets – that his Christ would suffer – he has fulfilled in this way. 19 Therefore repent and turn back so that your sins may be wiped out, 20 so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and so that he may send the Messiah appointed for you – that is, Jesus. 21 This one heaven must receive until the time all things are restored, which God declared from times long ago through his holy prophets.”

O (Observation):  Having healed the lame man, Peter re-emphasizes that Jesus – the one who’s power made the lame man walk – was the one the people crucified.  Yet he also points out that this was predicted by the prophets.   

Despite the prediction, the people are not innocent of their wrongdoing.  Thus, repentance is in order.   Peter reminds them of the necessity of this repentance.  The joy that comes from this repentance is that Jesus will be coming back for all believers.  

But for now…heaven waits for the right time to release Christ from coming back.  

A (Application):  What culpability do I retain for wrongdoings of the culture around me?   Am I colluding with a culture that causes poverty?  Racism? Sexism? Xenophobia? 

If I was in the crowd, and didn’t say anything for or against Jesus, where would that put me?  

I think I would land firmly in the camp of those needing to repent.   Just because I didn’t do anything overtly AGAINST someone, if I don’t stand up for someone…perhaps the work I’ve left undone calls for repentance.  

Now, we can’t do everything, nor or we expected to do everything.   But perhaps we can repent of what we have done or left undone, and move forward with God’s grace…follow God’s call.  

After all, repentance is not about staying down in the doldrums, but rather, to open up the flood of God’s grace to lift us up and equip us for the work ahead.   

“But what did I do?” was a phrase I used as a kid, when I was lumped in with a guilty group.  And today, I still say that same phrase in my own mind, when I’m feeling guilty about something that harms my neighbor.  Maybe I didn’t do anything wrong, but maybe I also didn’t do something when I could have.  Maybe next time I will act.  

The next time you worhship in a place in which Confession and Forgiveness is a corporate act, pay attention and see that this is indeed a time of Good News for our redemption.  

And if you feel so moved, help out!  With a homeless Ministry.  With an after-school program.   With handing out meals at a local food shelter.  Your blessings will bless others.  

P (Prayer):  Lord, you know what deeds we have done and have left undone.   Be with us.   Redeem us.  Equip us.  Amen.  

KAIROS = God-time

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S (Scripture): John 14:2b [Jesus said,] “I am going away to make ready a place for you. 14:3 And if I go and make ready a place for you, I will come again and take you to be with me, so that where I am you may be too. 14:4 And you know the way where I am going.”
14:5 Thomas said, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 14:6 Jesus replied, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 14:7 If you have known me, you will know my Father too. And from now on you do know him and have seen him.”

O (Observation): Thomas hears that Jesus is changing course again. That is a “kairos” moment for him – a time to listen and pay extra attention to what God (Jesus) is saying. So Thomas chimes in, and wonders how the disciples are to make their way without Jesus?

A (Application): I’m sitting in an airport (as I type), awaiting departure for Detroit, MI, for an ELCA Youth Gathering training event. My flight was delayed a half hour. That was a kairos. A moment that catches my attention.

We all have lots of kairos moments. Sometimes we call it: coincidence, providence, happenstance, chance, aha moments, light bulb moments…I call them Kairos moments.

Kairos is a Greek word that essentially means “God-time.” Every moment that catches my attention is a moment for me to reflect on what God is saying to me, and to reflect on what I should do about what God has said to me.

Being delayed a half hour reminds me that rushing from one place to another is not healthy. “Abide, Michael. Sit. Wait. I have come to sit with you awhile as you write your devotion.” Cool. So I sit and reflect and share with you, now.

Thomas had a kairos. Jesus said he was leaving. “So where to, Jesus? We don’t have GPS. Or an iPhone.” Jesus responds that he is the way.

So maybe Thomas starts to realize (like we do, maybe) that following Jesus is not just a physical journey, but a physical AND spiritual one. That it’s about being shaped in a way of “being” that effects our actions and thoughts and beliefs, wherever we head…like Detroit, or home, or work, or school.

Next time a thought/event/whatever stops you in your tracks…pause…ask yourself, “What is God Saying?” And then ask yourself, “What would God have me do now?”

(Hint: if “what God says” tears you down and demoralizes you…that’s not God, that’s the devil. God brings life. God can bring anger or disappointment, but that message should be to a constructive end.)

Challenge: Share A kairos moment that had today. If you feel really bold, answer the two questions:

1. What is God saying to me? And,
2. What would God have me do?

P (Prayer): Lord, you have spoken to us through the prophets of old. Now you speak to us through your Son, Jesus Christ. Help us to listen to your voice and believe that you have called us to do greater things than “these.” Amen.