It’s Pentecost

Next Sunday is Pentecost Sunday. It’s about the only time the Church is somewhat focused on the member of the Trinity we really don’t understand. So… we don’t talk about the Spirit much. If you’re Pentecostal, you are defined by the events of Acts 2, but still may not have a grasp on just WHO the Holy Spirit is.

If you’re not Pentecostal, here is a scary thought: If you are Trinitarian… you have to deal with the Spirit anyway!

We are too often defined by what we’re NOT rather than what we ARE.

We need the power of the Spirit in our lives. He does not need to be ignored.

Prayer of Augustine

Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy.

Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy.

Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy.

Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy.

Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy.

Amen.

Joel 2 (CEB)

27 You will know that I am in the midst of Israel,
and that I am the Lord your God—no other exists;
never again will my people be put to shame.
28 After that I will pour out my spirit upon everyone;
your sons and your daughters will prophesy,
your old men will dream dreams,
and your young men will see visions.
29 In those days, I will also pour out my
spirit on the male and female slaves.

Get Away from Sloppy Worship

6 A son honors a father,
and a servant honors his master.
But if I’m a father, where is my honor?
Or if I’m a master, where is my respect?
says the Lord of heavenly forces
to you priests who despise my name.
So you say, “How have we despised your name?”
7 By approaching my altar with polluted food.
But you say, “How have we polluted it[b]?”
When you say, “The table of the Lord can be despised.”
8 If you bring a blind animal to sacrifice, isn’t that evil?
If you bring a lame or sick one, isn’t that evil?
Would you bring it to your governor?
Would he be pleased with it or accept you?
says the Lord of heavenly forces. (Malachi 1:6-8, CEB)

The issue with Israel in Malachi was half-hearted worship. It was probably “no-hearted” worship. It was going through the motions.

When I was growing up, my particular church group loved to make fun of more liturgical churches because they repeated “vain words.” There was no heart in their worship.

It’s easy to point the finger the other way. What we need to realize is that is very easy for ANY of us to come with sloppy worship. We come with “polluted food” by our attitudes. We come with “polluted food” by our lack of preparation as we meet the HOLY ONE.

The very things we would not want someone doing if they came to OUR house… we do going into the house of God. We would be appalled with people coming to see us in our home, and then not talking to us. They would talk to everyone else in the house… all the other guests… but not us.

Imagine someone coming to your house (who you invited) and they arrived with fresh flowers… for another guest. Not you. Or, they arrived with wilted flowers.

“Oh, I bought these off a street vendor the other day and had them on my desk. I needed to get rid of them.”

Come to worship. Worship the One who has sought you out. Worship the One who has loved you with an everlasting love. Worship him. Not with your leftovers. Not with last week’s effort. Love him fully. Give him the present of your presence.

Keeping It Simple: Just Do What He Says

9 The Lord of heavenly forces proclaims:

Make just and faithful decisions; show kindness and compassion to each other! 10 Don’t oppress the widow, the orphan, the stranger, and the poor; don’t plan evil against each other! 11 But they refused to pay attention. They turned a cold shoulder and stopped listening.

12 They steeled their hearts against hearing the Instruction and the words that the Lord of heavenly forces sent by his spirit through the earlier prophets. As a result, the Lord of heavenly forces became enraged. (Zech. 7:9-12, CEB)

Israel’s issue was simple. Keep the instruction of the Lord. And the instruction isn’t that difficult to understand.

— Make just and faithful decisions. Got it.

— Show kindness and compassion to each other. Check.

— Don’t oppress the margins of society. You bet.

The problem was that Israel chose to ignore what was said. They refused to pay attention.

This is our issue. God’s best is in front of us. He wants what is for our good. And we decide… not to pay attention. We know better than God. We’re smarter than his Word. We make all kinds of excuses.

This is not a great position in which to find ourselves. But we seem to be as hard-headed at times as Israel. God isn’t particularly favorable toward those who call themselves his people and they keep ignoring him.

It is simple. Not easy. But simple. And we keep rejecting what is for our good.

Scared Spitless

That means really scared.

Habakkuk had that experience. His small book is look inside his prayer journal. At first, he seems pretty ferocious. He’s upset with God. The wicked are getting away with murder, blah, blah, blah.

“I’m just going to give God a piece of my mind and see what he does with that!”

2 Lord, how long will I call for help and you not listen?
I cry out to you, “Violence!”
but you don’t deliver us.
(Hab. 1:2, CEB)

“So, there! Take that!”

God seems unfazed. Imagine that. We wag our tiny little fingers at him and “rage” at him in our pipsqueak voices… (Come on, even Charlton Heston’s voice sounds like some tiny little mouse from God’s vantage point. Admit it.)

Habakkuk is just so enraged. And God let’s Habakkuk know he’s got this one.

His answer?

5 Look among the nations and watch!
Be astonished and stare
because something is happening in your days
that you wouldn’t believe even if told.
(Hab. 1:5, CEB)

Translation: “Shut up and watch something.”

Does Habakkuk learn? Not yet. He rages on in the latter part of Chapter 1.

Then, in Hab. 2:2-3, God shows up.

“Habakkuk, just watch.”

Whatever Habakkuk witnessed in a vision was enough. In fact, it buckled his knees.

16 I hear and my insides tremble.
My lips quiver at the sound.
Rottenness enters my bones.
I tremble while I stand,
(Hab. 3:16, CEB)

This isn’t the warm and fuzzies. God showed up and let Habakkuk know what was about to happen and it scared Habakkuk spitless.

There are times we need to have THAT feeling come over us. There are times we need the realization that the warm fuzzies is not the entirety of God. We think WE see injustice? When God shows up and gives us HIS view, we need a sense of fear and trembling.

God is ready to do amazing things. But “amazing” isn’t going to necessarily be in our definition. But whatever God does, when he shows up, have a glass of water close by. You just might need it.

Tenacious Waiting and Our Millisecond Attention Span

I will take my post;
I will position myself on the fortress.
I will keep watch to see what the Lord says to me
and how he will respond to my complaint. (Hab. 2:1, CEB)

We often think we are just THE THING when it comes to walking with God. We’re smarter, faster, more “spiritual”…

We certainly know better than the old fogies who’ve gone before us. While they “tarried” in prayer, we can get things done. Plug in the right marketing strategy and BOOM… instant church. Good stuff.

And even when God seems to throw us a curve ball, no problem. We’ll just lodge a complaint. We’ll even sit and wait for his response… as long as he gets back to us by the end of the business day. And we have a RIGHT to complain! There is injustice in the land! And we know injustice. We are trained professionals!

So, we lodge our complaint with God and wait.

And we think, “Let’s just see what he says about THIS.”

What if God just lets us stew there? What if we wait and five p.m. rolls around?

We may be good at complaining… but how good at we at waiting? And more still, how good are we at taking God’s answer?

He basically tells Habakkuk, “If the revelation lingers… wait.”

Habakkuk probably could wait. Some of the “old saints” of the Church could wait. That was the point of “tarrying.” They knew what it meant to “pray until.”

In our day… do we know what it is to have a tenacious pursuit of God? Do we know what it is to latch on and not let go until we hear from God?

There are times we truly need to hear from heaven. I believe we live in those times. We are suffering from extreme prosperity as an American Church and it is killing us. We just don’t know it yet. We are living in an anorexic lifestyle spiritually that is killing us. Yet, we are not wanting to hear from God… at least not yet.

We need to repent of our ADHD spirituality and get back to the call to WAIT for the vision God gives.

Clinging

8 My whole being clings to you;
your strong hand upholds me. (Psalm 63:8, CEB)

We are so self-sufficient. Our rugged individualism sets our course. We don’t want room for errors. We certainly don’t want room for failures.

We need a faith beyond what we can plan! We need a faith that tenaciously clings to the Savior. We need to go out past the safe harbor and throw ourselves into the open waters, trusting the wind of the Spirit to carry us.

Fire in Our Bones

19 Brothers and sisters, we have confidence that we can enter the holy of holies by means of Jesus’ blood, 20 through a new and living way that he opened up for us through the curtain, which is his body, 21 and we have a great high priest over God’s house.

22 Therefore, let’s draw near with a genuine heart with the certainty that our faith gives us, since our hearts are sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies are washed with pure water. (Heb. 10:19-22, CEB)

We have become too easily satisfied. We have settled into propositional truths and contented ourselves with intellectual ascent to being “in Christ.” It has come to a point, it seems, where we care very little about missing something on the personal level of experience.

The instant cure of most of our religious ills would be to enter the Presence in spiritual experience, to become suddenly aware that we are in God and that God is in us. (Tozer, The Pursuit of God)

The great adventure of knowing God is the greatest invitation we have. It is the opportunity to lift ourselves out of our narrow thinking and put us in a place where our hearts can be enlarged by his presence. We need this call shouting in our inner most being: “BOLDLY go into that holy presence!”

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