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He Dwells Here

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The Holy Spirit. The all too forgotten component of the Christian life. Maybe because it’s the unseen. Maybe because grasping the concept feels a lot like an adult trying to understand Minecraft. Maybe because as earthly beings we feel a bit whackadoo talking about a spirit or other dimension to this life. But oh how real it is. If we, as believers, could understand and embrace the Holy Spirit, I believe our world would be blessed in abundance. When we operate from the place of the Holy Spirit in us, instead of our own desires, urges, needs…we look like Jesus. He is present in us. He changes things. Not us.

 2 Corinthians 4:6-7  “ For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.

 We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure.  This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.”

It is a common rhetoric to hear that God is being removed from our schools, our government buildings, our social climate. If that is the case, it is our fault. They cannot remove God from me. He is God with us. We are promised the power of the Holy Spirit. At all times. So if God isn’t present in my school, at my work, in the grocery checkout line, it is because I did not allow Him to work through me. It is because of my own disobedience or lack of knowledge that He is within me. I understand the comfort that seeing the Ten Commandments may bring or a cross on a Christmas tree or the outrage it stirs in your heart if someone wants to take it down, but do not mistake a symbol of Christianity for the ever present love of Jesus. And if the love of Jesus is absent from the life around us, we need to ask ourselves some serious questions and quit pointing fingers.

“If we’re going to impact our world in the name of Jesus, it will be because people like you and me took action in the power of the Spirit. Ever since the mission and ministry of Jesus, God has never stopped calling for a movement of “Little Jesuses” to follow him in to the world and unleash the remarkable redemptive genius that lies in the very message we carry. Given the situation of the Church in the West, much will now depend on whether we are willing to break out of a stifling herd instinct and find God again in the context of the advancing of the Kingdom of God.”  Alan Hirsch, The Forgotten Ways

My husband works in manufacturing facility and when he started his career there 14 years ago, he was amazed at the crass language he commonly heard and how generally people spoke to and about one another. I have been with my husband for over 23 years and have never heard him say a cross word about a single person and never heard him curse. Never. In 23 years. Stubbed toe? Nope. Idiot in traffic? Nope. Nail to the thumb? Not then either. Not that I think everyone cusses but I do think most people have let one fly here or there once in their life. Anyway, I digress. We would pray that He could represent Christ in the way he carried himself. That the Holy Spirit would work through him. And he did. Gradually the conversations around him began to change. When his staff would come to him to complain about another he would ask if they had spoken to that person about it first. When another manager started cussing in frustration over a project, my husband told him that he was happy to talk with him when he calmed down and was respectful. Then he simply walked off.  Sometimes my husband is blissfully naïve to the reactions around him. When he told me what he’d done, the reactions played like a short film in my head. Some ending in tragedy and other’s comedic. He would ask his employees about their family, encourage and support them. He treated them like they mattered to him. The point is, the way my husband carried himself, with the presence of the Holy Spirit, led by the Holy Spirit, in those instances and others changed the environment around him. Each of us have that power. Each of us, through the power of the Holy Spirit, have the ability to impact the world around us.

I am the mother of 5. My mood sets the tone in my family. Sometimes it doesn’t feel fair and is burdensome but what a responsibility God has entrusted to me. The days I allow the Holy Spirit to lead me are the days we work well. The days there is joy in my home, love, patience, goodness.  The days I do things on my own, out of my emotion, mind, my own free will…the result is what some might call #momfail. I cannot love my family well depending on my own faculties. I have to tap in to the power of the Holy Spirit. I have to be in prayer and tuned in.  My children will not have a relationship with God because they saw their Dad study the Bible or because we forced them to church every Sunday. They will not love God because of the lecture we give or because they aren’t allowed to watch R movies. They will love God, they will know God because they felt Him in our home. Because they saw the Holy Spirit filter in forgiveness, redemption, mercy, grace, love.  Not because their parents are good. Because God is good.   “In a very real and sobering way, we must actually become the Gospel to the people around us-an expression of the real Jesus through the quality of our lives.”   Alan Hirsch,  The Forgotten Ways  

It is impossible to watch the news and not feel an overwhelming sense of sadness and absence of Jesus. Don’t even start to read comments on social media to any news article or you will lose faith in humanity for sure.  It may scare you or even anger you. I get that. But friends, we are the answer. We are God’s plan. Christ in us is the hope of the world. It is up to us. If we want Jesus in our world, we better bring Him. Colossians 1:27 “ To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. The Holy Spirit is alive in you. He dwells here. Allow Him to get to work. Our world depends on it.

 

~Jen Harris

Other scripture studied:

Galatians 2:20  My old self has been crucified with Christ.[a] It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Ephesians 3:17  Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.

Posted by Jen Harris with

Balance in the Whole

At the dawn of a new year one has a tendency to make resolutions and set goals. These resolutions or goals seem to always focus on an aspect of our life that we felt like we were lacking in during the previous year. We may place a spotlight on one part of our lives with the hope that one thing will bring about the enrichment of our lives as a whole. This is not a bad thing. Often a goal in one branch of our life does bring growth in others, but it can also leave us shortsighted and un-balanced. It can be like a body-builder who only trains their upper body. In the end you get the massive arms with chicken legs. I believe when we strive for balance in all aspects of our lives we truly begin to see amazing results. This is especially true in our relationship with God and his church. We each have a unique gifting but when we focus solely on that we cease to grow in other areas. We lose sight of God’s entire perfect vision for his church and we break it down into smaller departments and pieces. We can miss the forest for the trees.

In the very early stages of my coming to know Christ it became very easy to inadvertently define the process by focusing on certain things that I needed to do in order to become a good follower. I needed to pray more, stop doing certain things, read my bible as much as I could. And while these are good things on the surface they missed the true meaning of knowing Jesus. The why aspect was very vaguely understood but never completely grasped. These are the things that a Christian does so this is what I must do to know God. A Christian spends time in prayer and reads their bible. They help others and tell them about Jesus. Some day they eventually go on a mission trip. Looking back, it was a very compartmental, extremely basic surface level understanding of what a Christian is. Later thanks to the grace of God I gave myself to Christ and the faint surface level understanding began to fade away. This new living relationship put the pieces together. All of these conditions were pieces of the whole. The understanding came from knowing that I was loved so much by God that he gave his only son. That I could walk with God because I had been reconciled through Jesus. That missions, prayer and bible study weren’t simply departments within the church but an all-encompassing relationship with our creator.

Paul speaks of this exact reconciliation in 2 Corinthians  5:17-19.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.

The old has passed away; behold the new has come.

All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave

us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ 

God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses

against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.”

The message, vision and hope of the church is within these lines. God the father has propitiated us through Christ. Our relationship with Christ is a blessing of reconciliation that becomes our mission to the world. It is our way of life. The small pieces of the whole come together and begin to fit together supporting each other. We no longer simply look at different aspects of our relationship with Christ we see the relationship as a whole.

This follows in our church life as well. We no longer only focus on the separate aspects of the church but we see it as a whole. Each piece fitting together supporting each other to reflect God’s message of reconciliation to the world. We find our balance not in looking at the pieces, but in looking at the whole.

Posted by Chris Taylor with

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