The Fullness of God

At the same time that my church began a sermon series on the Holy Spirit, my small group began to study Becky Harling’s Who Do You Say I Am? The pastor based a sermon on the Holy Spirit on Ephesians 3:16-19 and gave us copies of the verses to take home. Becky Harling told us to memorize these verses as we study who Jesus is.

I get the feeling that God trying to tell me something: write this prayer on your heart.

Paul’s prayer packs quite a punch. He prays that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith and that we may have power to grasp how huge Christ’s love is so that we may be filled with the fullness of God.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3:16-19

My psstor noted that Paul did not pray that the Ephesians would have the intelligence or cleverness to grasp Christ’s love. His love surpasses our knowledge!

When Christ dwells in our hearts, we are rooted and established in love.

The love of Jesus grounds me. His love is an anchor in the storms of life. When the world tries to tell me who I am or who I should be, his love establishes my true identity and my true purpose. I am a beloved child of God. I am to love others as he loves me.

Christ’s love is deep and wide, like a fountain flowing, deep and wide.

When I really get this, when I feel the power of God’s love deep down in my innermost being, I may be filled with all the fullness of God.

What is this fullness of God? A commentator described this fullness (or pleroma) as God’s controlling influence on your thoughts, emotions, desires, words, and actions. It is to be aware of God’s presence and to yield to his Spiritual authority and character (his holiness, righteousness, and love). It is to continually walk in the Spirit.

Lord, you put these words on my heart for a reason. I pray that I will be constantly aware of your presence and your guidance. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you. Amen.

The Gift the Father Promised

One day, Jesus told his disciples to stay in the city because “I am going to send you what my Father has promised.” The gift God promised is the Holy Spirit, the person of the Trinity that seems to get the least attention in scripture and worship.

On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.

Acts 1:4

In a sermon on the Holy Spirit, my pastor shared a verse that made me think about why it is for our good that Jesus is not here in the flesh. How could it be good for the disciples that Jesus was leaving them? They were so blessed to see God in the flesh and to learn from him! Oh, how I want to be with my friend Jesus!

But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you

John 16:7

Jesus had to go away because he had to die to atone for the sins of mankind once and for all.

I am thankful that Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to be with us, to guide us, and to be our Advocate. The Spirit empowers us. Lord, let us become more aware of your presence! You are welcome here.

Holy Spirit (Francesca Battistelli)

Holy Spirit, You are welcome here
Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere
Your glory, God, is what our hearts long for
To be overcome by Your presence, Lord
Your presence, Lord

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Photo by 卡晨 on Unsplash

Be still and wait on the Lord

Waiting for God to answer your most fervent prayers is hard. I have learned not to expect an immediate answer because I know that God’s timing is not the same as mine. But when you have been waiting on the Lord for months or even years, you may wonder why he isn’t answering your prayers.

In my last Bible study on The Extraordinary Power of Praise, Becky Harling offered excellent advice on what to do while you wait: worship! Thank God for what he is doing in the background.

Even when I can’t see how God is working in my life and in the lives of others, I know that he is working things out for my good. He is accomplishing extraordinary things that I know nothing about (yet).

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.

Psalm 27:14

When I praise God, I soften my heart to his will. As I wait, God is shaping my heart and my character. He is refining me, making me humble, ridding me of my imperfections and impurities.

Becky Harling said to direct your thoughts to the character of God instead of worrying about the what-ifs. I know that God is good and I know that his intentions towards me are good! I know that he is merciful. I know that he is faithful and he has been good to me!

But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me.

Psalm 13:5-6

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him to give you the desires of your heart.

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Psalm 37:4

Be still. Listen. Stop questioning. Stop doubting. Have faith! God is in control. God is good. God is loving and merciful. He is my ever-present help in times of trouble.

❤️❤️❤️❤️

Photo credit: Mindful Christanity Facebook page.

Into your hands, I commit my spirit

My church has been studying the gospel of Luke for well over a year and we are finally at the end of a very rewarding journey. The focus of a recent lesson on Luke 23:44-49 was the words Jesus spoke before he died on the cross. Luke recounted Christ’s words as a quote from Psalm 31:5: “Father, into your hands, I commit my spirit.” These words are quite different from the last words of Jesus found in the gospels of Matthew and Mark.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
    Why are you so far from saving me,
    so far from my cries of anguish?

Psalm 22:1

Jesus felt both anguish and trust in his last moments. Anguish because he suffered on the cross for the sins of man; trust because he knew that God would deliver him.

My pastor told us that the words of Jesus on the cross were not a prayer of preparation for death but an expression of trust. Jesus trusted the Father with his life. These words – into your hands, I commit my spirit – are not famous last words but famous first words.

Jesus knew the scriptures and committed them to heart.

1 In you, Lord, I have taken refuge;
    let me never be put to shame;
    deliver me in your righteousness.
Turn your ear to me,
    come quickly to my rescue;
be my rock of refuge,
    a strong fortress to save me.
Since you are my rock and my fortress,
    for the sake of your name lead and guide me.
Keep me free from the trap that is set for me,
    for you are my refuge.
Into your hands I commit my spirit;
    deliver me, Lord, my faithful God.

Psalm 31:1-5

What if I were to pray these words daily? Father, into your hands, I commit my (living) spirit. Deliver me, Lord, my faithful God. Deliver me from the challenges I face this day. Deliver me from temptation. Lead me and guide me. I take refuge in you, Father! You are my rock and fortress.

My pastor said, practice makes permanent. When we make reading and praying scripture a daily practice, we will remember it when we need it most. We will all be shaken by difficulties in life. When we are shaken, whatever we are filled with comes out. Fill your mind with the word of God.

Finally, let difficult times draw you near to God, not push you away. Don’t take things into your own hands. Put your life in God’s hands. You can trust him.

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Photo by Ricardo Moura on Unsplash

Who’s the old lady?

Who's the old lady in the mirror
with the frizzy, graying hair?
Her appearance is so unexpected,
she's given me quite a scare.

Who's the old lady in the mirror
with my mama's jowls and eyes?
Her face is so much like my own,
it has taken me by surprise!

Who's the old lady in the mirror
with the waddle in her neck?
She's much older than I feel inside.
I think to myself, what the heck!

I smile at the lady in the mirror.
Her smile matches mine to a tee.
I see the gentle spirit in her eyes;
This old lady is beautiful to me.