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Perilous Presents

Many people have heard the story of Gideon and his victory over the 120,000 terrorists of his day utilizing only 300 men, torches, and trumpets.  Most people, I would venture to say, have never heard “the rest of the story.”  (Pause for Thought:  Read Judges 8:22-9:56)
 
Gideon was offered the opportunity to be a hereditary king over God’s people, but he declined the offer.  Instead he requested a portion of the plunder taken from the Midianites he and his army had defeated.  With the gold and various other items, Gideon made an ephod and presented it as a gift to his hometown of Ophrah.  An ephod existed in the town of Shiloh, as prescribed by the Lord, for the Levites to use in the inquiry of His will for the Israelites.  The ephod in Ophrah would become the center of false worship (Baal idolatry) and would lead to the downfall and death of many Israelites, including Gideon’s sons.  (Pause for Thought:  Why did Gideon refuse the offer to be king over Israel?  How did Gideon’s acceptance of the gold and his giving of the ephod contradict his refusal and rationale for being king?  How did Gideon’s gift lead to the estrangement and destruction of the people?)
 

Generosity is often displayed by refusing to give or receive a gift that would harm (spiritually, soulfully, physically) the receiver and/or giver.  We live in a society of instant gratification and have the means to fulfill every pleasure, so it is important to consider our gifts and the consequences of giving them—especially to our children. In kindergarten I received the gift of a comic book from a fellow classmate because he knew I enjoyed superheroes.  When I showed my parents the present, they requested I graciously return the comic with the explanation that the comic’s main hero was the son of Lucifer, and we, as a family believed Christ to be our hero over Satan.  Devastated, I did what they instructed me to do.

A few weeks later I was shopping with my mom at a department store only to hear about the pending arrival of my favorite superhero—Spiderman—over the loud speaker!  I received a free comic and photo with Spiderman, and my mom bought me the 45 record of the Spiderman TV show theme.  Needless to say, I was the hero at the class’ next show-and-tell when I revealed my new Spiderman gifts and listened to the theme song.  “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish will give him a snake instead?  Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?  If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in Heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”—Luke 11:11-13   (Pause for Thought:  Have you ever received a gift that brought you closer to the Lord?  Have you ever been given a gift that distracted you in your relationship to Him?  If so, what did you do with it?  How are the gifts you are planning to give your children this Christmas going to help/hurt you and your children’s desires to follow Christ Jesus?)

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Make Room

Read the story of the Shunammite Woman in II Kings 4:8-37; 8:1-6

In a day and age when God’s people had rejected His directions and those who supplied them, a woman maintained the divine order of hospitality by inviting Elisha to eat and relax in her and her husband’s home.  Not only did the Shunammite woman provide meals and conversation, she also made a room within her household for Elisha’s learning and teaching of God’s eternal principles.  This resulted in the blessing of a son–by her increased faith, the loss of her hopes–in the death of her son, and a victory over death, corruption, and sin–by the resurrection of her son and the re-establishment of her faith-filled legacy.  Her faith became surrender as the Lord’s influence through Elisha invaded her home.  (Pause for Thought:  Why did Elisha appreciate the room the Shunammite woman gave him?  What made the Shunammite’s household different from other Israeli homes of the time?  In what ways was the Shunammite’s household blessed by the presence of God’s prophet)\
 
Israel had stopped hosting the Lord’s servants during Elisha’s time.  Prophets were considered outlaws who had become outdated and unwanted.  As a consequence, the people had become disconnected in their relationship with their Father to the point of killing His ministers and rejecting His decrees (In his pride the wicked does not seek Him; in all his thoughts there is NO ROOM for God–Psalm 10:4)
 
While growing up, my mom and dad would often host missionaries, gospel singers, and preachers and their families as they remained away from home to minister to our church family.  This provided my sister and me an opportunity to have extended or one-on-one conversations with these ministers of the faith resulting in great worship, testimony, and witnessing.  I asked my dad why our family hosted these people so often.  His simple reply has remained in my soul for my entire life—“We sometimes entertain angels without knowing it”.  (Hebrews 13:1-3).  I believe what my father said is true, and I have confirming results.  My marriage is a direct result of my aunt and uncle’s faithful hospitality to my then future wife and mother to my son.  Their generosity connected with my parents’ desire to see their family and family friends come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ as Lord and savior resulting in Renee’s and my engagement to each other.  I’m a blessed man because of a legacy of hospitality and making room for Christ.  (Pause for Thought:  How has hospitality benefited you as a host?  How has it benefited those you’ve hosted?  How has your hospitality blessed others within your family?)
 
Faithful hospitality is what Mary and Joseph displayed when they made room for God’s only Son when He left home.  Like the Shunammite woman, Mary and her family would know first-hand the blessing, loss, and victory when providing room for the Lord.  “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered.  “May it be to me as you have said.”  Then the angel left her.—Luke 1:38  (Pause for Thought:  How will you and your family be demonstrating hospitality around Christmas this year?  What do you want your children to learn and know through your and their hospitality?  How can and will Christ be the influence as you make room for Him?)
 

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Thanks & Giving

Anna had been a witness to much in her 84 years of life.  A devoted follower of God, with a spirit to match, made her a beautiful wife (Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.—Proverbs 31:30) for seven of her early years, but the death of her husband and the loss of her nation’s independence would cause Anna to consider what she had and what to do with it.  (Pause for Thought:  What has the Lord given you and what has the Lord taken away?  When you have been given blessings, how have you responded to God?  When given difficulty, how have you responded to the Lord?  Who has witnessed your responses?)
 
In her lifetime, Anna witnessed, or would have heard about, king and high-priest Jannaeus’ contempt for Israel’s religious leaders, and his defilement of the sacrifice during the Feast of Tabernacles resulting in the slaughter of 6,000 Jews in the temple courtyard and a civil war that would last decades.
 

Anna saw the end of the civil war as Roman general, Pompey, would massacre 12,000 of her countryman and desecrate the Holy of Holies at the temple in Jerusalem, leading to Judea’s rule by Rome.  This was happening all the while Anna remained at the temple worshiping and praising God for the promised Messiah.  (Pause for Thought:  “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”—I Thessalonians 5:16-17.  What promises are you giving God thanks for this week?  How can the giving of your time, talent, resources—self, be a fulfillment of these promises?  How is your family helping God’s fulfillment of these promises in others?)

Anna’s proximity to tragedy never impaired her devotion to God or her faith in Him—“she never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.  Coming up to them (Mary & Joseph), she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child (Jesus) to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Israel.”  Her thankfulness led to and was a service of instruction and realization for others in recognizing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. (Pause for Thought:  Read the story of Simeon and Anna in Luke 2:21-38.  How well does your family live out their thankfulness?  How will you use this Thanksgiving to instruct your children about thankfulness and giving?)
 
Anna had been a witness to much in her 84 years of life.  A devoted follower of God, with a spirit to match, made her a beautiful wife (Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.—Proverbs 31:30) for seven of her early years, but the death of her husband and the loss of her nation’s independence would cause Anna to consider what she had and what to do with it.  (Pause for Thought:  What has the Lord given you and what has the Lord taken away?  When you have been given blessings, how have you responded to God?  When given difficulty, how have you responded to the Lord?  Who has witnessed your responses?)
 

In her lifetime, Anna witnessed, or would have heard about, king and high-priest Jannaeus’ contempt for Israel’s religious leaders, and his defilement of the sacrifice during the Feast of Tabernacles resulting in the slaughter of 6,000 Jews in the temple courtyard and a civil war that would last decades.

Anna saw the end of the civil war as Roman general, Pompey, would massacre 12,000 of her countryman and desecrate the Holy of Holies at the temple in Jerusalem, leading to Judea’s rule by Rome.  This was happening all the while Anna remained at the temple worshiping and praising God for the promised Messiah.  (Pause for Thought:  “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”—I Thessalonians 5:16-17.  What promises are you giving God thanks for this week?  How can the giving of your time, talent, resources—self, be a fulfillment of these promises?  How is your family helping God’s fulfillment of these promises in others?)
 

Anna’s proximity to tragedy never impaired her devotion to God or her faith in Him—“she never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.  Coming up to them (Mary & Joseph), she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child (Jesus) to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Israel.”  Her thankfulness led to and was a service of instruction and realization for others in recognizing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. (Pause for Thought:  Read the story of Simeon and Anna in Luke 2:21-38.  How well does your family live out their thankfulness?  How will you use this Thanksgiving to instruct your children about thankfulness and giving?)


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The Appeal of Joy

November 15 marks the opening day of firearms deer season in Michigan.  I used to celebrate this day by sitting for endless hours on a 5-gallon bucket while my toes froze or rain dripped from the brim of my hat.  I don’t have the chance to participate in this Michigan tradition any longer.  I miss the venison being in the freezer from my own natural inclinations, and I miss the black-capped chickadees.
 
Chickadees have the God-given ability to turn the most frigid, lifeless morning into a time of praise and worship.  They also have the ability to turn the end of a luckless day into a bright expectation for tomorrow.  The chickadee isn’t colorful.  In fact, its plumage is downright plain.  But what the bird lacks in visual pizazz, it makes up for in its joyful social interaction and song.  Many is the time a chickadee has perched on my knee or hat and looked into my face as if to say, “Isn’t this day great!”  The “chickadee-dee-dee” song of this bird inspires life in a leafless, still, woods.  As I would watch this bird and listen to its joyful notes, I remembered that those whose life of service is filled with joy often have their life’s appeals listened to and answered to their highest-good.  (Pause for Thought:  “Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”—Philippians 4:4-7.  How joyful has been your service to the Lord lately?  How joyful has your attitude been in the parenting of your children?  How joyful is the attitude of your children while they are serving the Lord?  Is it time for an attitude check in your family?)
 
While I don’t have chickadees, anymore, to remind me of my heart condition and attitude, God has given me a family to be a reflection of my very soul, and, at times, inspire and point my soul’s outlook to something much higher than our current circumstances.  (Pause for Thought:  “Children, obey your parents IN THE LORD, for this is right, ‘Honor your father and mother’—which is the first commandment with a promise—‘that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth’.  Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction OF THE LORD.”—Ephesians 6:1-4.  Who do you rely on to be a “reflection” of your attitude?  How often do your children approach you with a joyful spirit?  How often do they approach you with a complaining spirit?  Have you instructed them in and about God’s goodness and grace and their responsibilities in loving Him?)
 
If the black-capped chickadee is the opening day cheerleader, the red squirrel is the harbinger of gloom and doom.  I would always try and beat the awakenings of the red squirrels in getting to my deer blind in the morning.  Once I was set and still, the red squirrel’s complaining bark and guttural hiss would indicate the approach of anything moving near me.  It never seemed joyful in regards to another’s presence or its current circumstances.  The last deer I shot on opening day was due to the bitter oversight of a red squirrel in the tree under which I was sitting (sleeping).  If that squirrel were to have been gracious, like a chickadee, I wouldn’t have awoken, and the buck sneaking around me wouldn’t have died.  (Pause for Thought:  “Do not be misled:  ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’  Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some ignorant of God—I say this to your shame.”—I Corinthians 15:33-34.  How does the relationship you have with others influence your joy?  What relationships are affecting the attitude of your children today?)
 

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The Umbrella of Authority

Once there was a man who witnessed great injustice and found himself in a unique position to do something about it.  His miraculous birth and life during an awful time of persecution, not to mention his subsequent education and rise to authority, placed him in a special place and time to come along his earthly authority to fulfill his Heavenly Authority’s will to free an entire people.
 
Unfortunately for Moses, he placed himself outside of the umbrella of his authorities, took matters in his own hands, and started a precedent of death and destruction.  (Pause for Thought:  Read Exodus 2:11-15.  What precipitated Moses to think it was all right to kill the Egyptian?  How could have Moses appealed to his earthly (Pharaoh) and Heavenly (God) authority regarding the situation, so a person wouldn’t have to die?  How do you want your children to appeal to you in their time of distress?  When and where will you hear them out?  Will you explain your expectations and reasoning to them?)
 
Moses would once again, under God’s grace and authority, find himself in a position to free his people.  God’s timing and preparation of not only Moses, but also Pharaoh, would have to take place, so God’s ultimate authority and might could be on display for an entire people.  The Israelites, from day one, would never get over Moses’s original willfulness to place himself outside of God’s Heavenly authority and the earthly authority He established.  Even Moses’ own family questioned his ability to be an authority over them for a generation.  (Pause for Thought:  Read Exodus 14:10-12; Numbers 12:1-2; Deuteronomy 31:27-29.   What authority(ies) do you find yourself under?  How do your responses to their instruction influence the way your children view authority?  How well do you appeal to your earthly authority? Heavenly authority?  Do your responses to those you are “under” meet the expectations you have for your children’s responses to you?)
 
Ultimately, Moses found himself at the threshold of God’s promised land.  A generation of those who started to follow Moses authority would perish in the wilderness due to their inability to appeal to their earthly and Heavenly authorities and remain under God’s umbrella.  Even Moses was denied entrance into the Promise Land because he had withdrawn himself from under God’s authority throughout his life’s journey.  Joshua, filled by God’s spirit, would be the authority God used to build a nation.  (Pause for Thought:  Read Deuteronomy 33:51-52; 34:4,9)
 

I often wonder how this story might have ended for Moses and the Israelites who first left Egypt had Moses remained under his authorities’ umbrella, and not killed the Egyptian out of his own arrogance.  I often wonder about our children’s journey and ending in this life as they serve their authorities, including the Most-High Authority—God our Father.  (Pause for Thought:  Is there something or someone causing your children distress?  Have you given your children a time and place to appeal to you for advice, and if appropriate, your correction/solution to the matter?  What/Who will you pray about with your children this week?)


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For Crying Out Loud

I just learned this week the euphemism for “For Christ’s Sake!” is “For Crying Out Loud!”  I have said “for crying out loud” many times in my desperation and exasperation, but had no idea I was invoking the name, power, and expectations of my Lord and Savior.  It caused me to think about those who consciously called on the Name of the Lord and were saved.  My first thought was of David the shepherd boy who would be King of Israel.
 
As a tender of sheep, David cried unto God to save him and his family’s welfare from marauding lions.  David, the young warrior, would invoke his Savior’s name to defeat giants.  As the spiritual, military, and political leader of Israel, he cried out loud the name of the Most High to overcome evil enemy kings. (Pause for Thought:  “I cry out to God Most High, To God, who vindicates me.  He sends from Heaven and saves me, rebuking those who hotly pursue me—God sends forth His love and His faithfulness.”  Psalms 57:2-3.  David wrote this as King Saul pursued his life into a cave.  David had this sung to a tune called, “Do Not Destroy”.  Have you ever cried out loud to God, “Lord Save Me!”?  If so what was the result?  Why don’t people call on the name of the Lord in their initial distress?)
 
Based on the many times David cried out to God for salvation, and based on the different Hebrew words used for “cry out”, David was vocal in his pleas—some were murmurs and some were shrieks from terror. (Pause for Thought:  “In my distress, I called upon the Lord, and cried out (shava=high pitched shout for help) to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, and my cry (shava) came before Him, even to His ears.”  Psalm 18:6; “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry (shava).”  Psalm 34:15.  Why does a vocal response to our danger invoke such power from God?  Have you been vocal in your distress in front of your children?  Who or what have you called upon to save you?)
 
I’ve read and heard how the name of Jesus has stopped gunmen in their tracks, stalled the motors of machinery poised to do damage, and even thwarted kidnappers and carjackers.  David is proof of how a life lived consciously in the presence of our Lord and Savior can manifest that presence by crying out loud for rescue.  Unfortunately for David, he did not pass this beautiful truth and skill on to his daughter, Tamar.  (Pause for Thought:  Read II Samuel 13:1-22.  During her pleading with Amnon, why, do you suppose, Tamar didn’t voice out a cry for help to God?  Based on what we know concerning David’s crying out, what could have been the results of Tamar’s crying out to God?)
 
As parents, we tell our children, “I’ll always be there for you” and, “I’ll never let anything happen to you” all in front of a backdrop of Stranger-Danger, ALICE training, and JUST SAY NO.  Are the promises we’re making true? (Pause for Thought:  As it concerns the privilege of voicing our cry to ABBA FATHER, what can you tell and teach your children about danger and alertness?  Are you willing to practice crying out to the Lord with them this week?  What fear is stopping you from crying out or teaching your children to do so?)
 

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The Rigidity of Bitterness

Forced, under threat of physical harm, we freshmen boys were made to serve our senior masters by waiting on them and their tables.  We considered how our first week of high school misery might play out for the remainder of our tenure.  During one of our brood sessions, one of my fellow sufferers offered “hope” to us in his statement he couldn’t wait to be a senior, so he could impose his oppressive authority on some unsuspecting freshmen boy.  This kind of hope for justice didn’t seem right to me, nor did getting “even” with my senior tormentors seem righteous.
 
The rigid cycle of bitterness and the foolishness it brings rages on in our lives no matter our age or circumstance.  (Pause for Thought:  A foolish son brings grief to his father and bitterness to the one who bore him. – Proverbs 17:25; Read the story of Amaziah – II Chronicles 25; How did Amaziah’s foolish quest to get “even” cost him his authority and integrity?  How should have Amaziah dealt with his bitterness over his father’s life and death and the circumstances in his own rule over Judah?)
 
Bitterness’s vicious cycle is founded in the pride that leads to a fall.  Unfortunately, after we fall, the bitterness can be, and often is, picked up by our children for them to repeat the same mistakes and display the same foolishness.  Jesus’ ways of getting even and providing hope through bitter times is much different from the world’s ways.  (Pause for Thought:  But I tell you:  Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. – Matthew 5:44; Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.  – Romans 12:14. What enemy is causing your bitterness today?  In what ways has the bitterness impacted you, your family, your children?  How will you choose to deal with the bitterness if front of your family this week?)
 
We freshmen boys decided we did not want to perpetuate the bitter tradition we were suffering through and leave a legacy of foolishness.  I’ll never forget the disbelieving, but joyful, faces on the freshmen boys as we served them and their tables at lunch for the first week of their high school lives.  (Pause for Thought:  How can you get “even” by abolishing a rigidly bitter tradition/cycle by your service to your family or children this week?  Why does service result in our ability to be flexible and less rigid?  Can you name examples of how Jesus’ service to another lessened bitter rigidity and brought flexibility?  If you can think of some examples, share them with your children this week.)
 

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No Mere Mortals

In the beginning the earth was without form and void and darkness was over the face of the deep. In these dark and ancient times there were no selfies. Yes, once upon a long ago, camera technology had not advanced enough to be able to turn a phone around to take of picture of oneself. Thankfully, we live now in an enlightened age.

 

What are we really doing when we take a selfie? What are we trying to capture? A moment in time? Our essence as an individual? An image we’d like to represent us? For better or worse, our selfies do capture some part of us.

 

Once upon a time when there truly was nothing, the immortal, invisible, and incalculable God of the universe chose to create mankind in His own image; to capture a sliver of His nature in frail, fallible, flesh. In the midst of creating hedgehogs and eagles and platypi (or is it platypuses?) God set about to create a creature that represented some essential elements of His character. In doing so, He made something different, something unique from all the other forms of life.

 

The Hebrew word used to describe humankind being created in the image of God is tselem and is used elsewhere to talk about stone and wooden idols made to represent false gods. While Jesus represents the nature of God fully, in some mysterious and completely undeserved way, we also represent the character of the Lord. Understanding this, author C.S. Lewis wrote: “There are no ordinary people. You have never met a mere mortal.” 

 

This unique status has a litany of implications but perhaps the primary is that we are not mere accidents of biology or simply the most intelligent of animals but rather purposefully designed creations mysteriously molded after the fashion of our Creator. This fact alone should give weight and purpose to our being and a great deal of responsibility as well. In the same passage in which God describes His intention to create humans in His image, He also decrees that they would have dominion over the earth.

 

While we most often think of the word ‘dominion’ in the context of abuse (think domineering) or as an excuse to mishandle the resources given to us, a fuller understanding is one of authority AND responsibility. A king presides over a kingdom but he is also responsible for what goes on within. The Lord has dominion over every aspect of the universe. Similarly, we are to have dominion over the earth. 

 

Our dominion is not limited only to earth’s physical resources (for which we are both entrusted and accountable) but also in creation, innovation, and progress. All humans are the product of an infinitely creative God. We express this imbued creativity when we create are (which author J.R.R. Tolkien called ‘imaginative sub-creation’), express skills, and develop technology which seeks the betterment of the human race.

 

Our status as image-bearers gives our life a divinely defined purpose and authority. We exist not by chance but by design and are entrusted to rule with wisdom over the resources, both physical and spiritual, not for ourselves with selfish intent but for the betterment of all. In doing so, we reflect the creative nature of our most excellent and boundless Creator.


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And Such As We Are

The funny thing about children is that Jesus says that we’re supposed to be like them. When some of his disciples tried to stop some kids from coming to Jesus, He rebukes them saying, “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter in at all.” All the disciples were probably trying to do was to keep a little order (anyone who’s been around children can appreciate the effort) and all of a sudden Jesus is threatening them.

 

He tells them that they must receive the kingdom of God like a child. Why?

 

Children are not what they will be. By very definition, children are not adults. They’re works in process. We have an intrinsic understanding of this. We don’t treat children the same way we treat adults (for better or worse). We don’t hold them to the same standards.

 

Children recognize and accept their weaknesses.

 

Children acknowledge and accept their need for help.

 

John, writing from exile, tells his readers, “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are.” We are God’s children. If we are children, we need a parent to rely upon. We need to live in a perpetual state of humility, honesty, and dependence. To embrace this identity is to run to Jesus with arms wide without fear or pretension.


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People of Purpose

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Eph 2:10)

 

While the first portion of this verse from Philippians focuses on state of our identity, the second instead speaks to implications of that identity, namely, that we are created for good works. The God who shapes us and knits us together in our mother’s womb has preveniently assembled deeds for us to participate in.

 

Throughout the early Church as chronicled in the book of Acts, there is one actor who features prominently— the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is consistently described as the motivator for action, evangelism, and conversion. The text assumes the Spirit’s role so strongly in fact that there are times in which it almost de-emphasizes the actual actions of people, such as when it states that, “the Lord added to their number daily those that were being saved.” The Spirit was seen as the impetus for action.

 

One encounter illustrates this trend particularly well. Philip, chosen by the apostles to continue the ministry, was making his way from Jerusalem to Gaza at the instruction of an angel. As he walked along the road through a desert area, unbeknownst to him, an Ethiopian official was also passing through reading the scroll of Isaiah.

 

Philip is again prompted by the Spirit to run and join the official. He complies and finds that this official just happened to be reading a passage specifically about the Christ and proceeds to tell the man about Jesus, salvation, and the man responds by getting baptized before the Spirit speaks again and Philip is led away to preach the gospel elsewhere.

 

What we see vividly in this story is the Holy Spirit orchestrating events and leading Philip into positions to exercise his obedience; a divine conspiracy into which Philip is invited to participate.

 

The inescapable conclusion drawn from the history of the early Church is that the Holy Spirit leads believers into ministry. The book of Acts assumes this involvement. If we are truly God’s workmanship and our identity rests in being created in the image of God, then we must also come to fully accept the second half of Ephesians 2:10. We believe that the God who draws us to salvation also prepares good works for us to complete. We must learn to believe this and live in constant expectation of the Spirit’s leading. I think this is part of why the early Christians experienced so vividly the movement of the Spirit: they were expecting it. We can never realize the potential that God has prepared for us if we don’t understand that we have been given a directive. While our specific directives will vary circumstantially, our overarching purpose is the same one given by Christ to His disciples before His ascension: to be His witnesses. Intentionality is key however for without it the Christian life becomes mere passive assent. That is not the example lived out in the lives of the early Christians who lived and often died by the prompting of the Spirit. 

 

If we are to realize and accomplish the good works the Lord assures He has for us we must train ourselves to live in expectation. Have you ever bought a new car, driven it off the lot, and only then realized how many other people are driving the same model? This is what our lives can become once we make ourselves alert for the Spirit’s prompting. If we watch and listen for it, we will hear it. When we take the additional step and act on it, we will truly be living out our identity as God’s workmanship.


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