"...the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them." Acts 16:6
It must have been exciting to have known Paul and Silas and Timothy and the other disciples. They were just so full of enthusiasm and fire to go out and preach. They wanted to go every where! But sometimes the Holy Spirit would stop them. In the 16th chapter of Acts, in both verses 6 and 7, the Holy Spirit did not let them go to Turkey at that time.
Jesus promised in John 14:16 that The Father would send the disciples the Holy Spirit who would NEVER leave them. "He lives with you now and later will be IN you." (v.17) Jesus had to go so we could have His Spirit IN us. When Jesus was on earth, even if we followed Him everywhere, we would have to wait our turn to talk to Him. Now, even if I'm working in my office,I can talk to the Spirit and ask Him to guide me.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, we read that Paul advises us to pray unceasingly. Prayer is a two way street. We should talk to God but we also need to listen to Him. We need the promised gift of the Spirit. As Jesus said in John 14:26, "He will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I myself have told you."
Yes Lord, pour upon me Your gift of Your Spirit! I pray that my life will show evidence of Your Spirit in me!
"...they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God." Acts 10:46
There's a lot of controversy surrounding the gift of tongues these days. Perhaps a lot of people think it is not relevant today, or it passed away, or it's too dangerous a gift to want because it mimics the pagan religions' ecstatic babblings. The gift of tongues is first mentioned in the 2nd chapter of Acts on the day of Pentecost. "Everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other tongues." (v.3) When this happened, people came running to see what was happening, and they all listened avidly to Peter as he spoke to them. Those who believed were baptized. Here the tongues were used, like miracles and wonders, to bring people to the Lord. Jesus did say that believers would speak in new tongues (Mark 16:17).
Should I want this gift for myself? I think we should want any gift God wants to give us. Especially one that would make us stronger Christians, especially one that would help us pray for others. "A person who speaks in tongues is strengthened personally in the Lord..." Saint Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14:4. And in Jude 20 and Ephesians 6:8, we are advised to always pray in the Spirit. How do we get it? First, we have to want it. Then we have to go and look for good Christians who are part of a Bible believing Church to pray over us to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Just like Cornelius did in Acts chapter 10. He asked Peter to come and he had gathered his friends and relatives to hear him. The amazing thing is that the Holy Spirit fell upon them who had not even been baptized in Jesus' name yet! The Jewish believers were amazed that these Gentiles began speaking in tongues and praising God! So Peter baptized them in Jesus name and stayed with them for several days to continue teaching them.
Let us not put God and His gifts in a box. Obviously the wind blows where He wills!
"All this I tell you that...your joy may be complete." John 15:11
One of the funniest exchanges between a Catholic saint and God is this one between Saint Teresa of Avila and her closest Friend, Jesus. She would complain about all the hostility and gossip around her, and Jesus explained, "Teresa, that is how I treat my friends." Teresa sarcastically responded, "No wonder you have so few friends!" But Saint Teresa founded the Discalced Carmelite Order so that Christ would have more friends.
Saint Paul, who wanted to preach to thousands, got stuck in jail for two years. You would think he would be disappointed, disheartened, angry even at God for putting him there. No, he started to write his epistles, and because of that, was able to reach millions!
The other day I was saddened by the news that one of my Facebook friends posted. She said that her husband told her that he wants to leave. "There is nothing left," he said. No more love. She feels unloved, alone, broken, used, betrayed. They have two children, and she feels like her world is ending. There is so much sorrow and hardship in this world, it is true. But like Saint Teresa and Saint Paul we need to look beyond the physical realities of our life. That is where joy lies, when we embrace the promises of God with faith and conviction.
There are many ways to be happy. Buy something you love. Go somewhere beautiful. Be with someone who makes you laugh. But happiness depends on circumstances around you. That's why people always look for the next big new thing. You need to feed happiness. It is never satisfied. Joy is something else entirely. It is internal, rooted in something eternal. In the 1st chapter of Philippians, Paul states that even while he was in jail, he rejoiced. We see he is not fixated on what is happening to him, realizing that God has a greater plan. I know this is hard. We need eyes that see beneath the surface, beyond the worldly things happening around us. But it is not impossible. We just have to hunger for what God wants! That is where we will find a joy that will never be consumed!
"Love one another as I have loved you." John 15:12
The way I see it, love is the masterpiece of the human heart. I have been painting in my faith journal since 2006. Back then, my paintings were awkward and elementary. Just simple and childlike. From painting every day, I have learned how to shade and use colors. I'm no expert, but I practice drawing. For instance, it took me 2 years to learn how to draw hands. It's taking me longer to draw birds.
It's the same with loving. It needs practice. How can we expect to love as Jesus loves? He who gave His life for His friends? He who allowed His body to be broken and mangled just so those He loved would have joy, peace and love, and ultimately, be with Him in heaven? Loving the way Jesus loves takes a choice every day. We need to be conscious that God loves each one of us so much, we will have no choice but to spread that love to others. We have to look at others and see them the way God sees them. Our annoying boss. God knows his heart, God sees his pain. Terror teacher? She has fears too. A father who refuses to be helped. A mother who refuses to be hugged. God sees all our idiosyncracies, our weaknesses, our sins. But He loves us anyway. He doesn't love us because we are pretty, or because we perform well at our work, or because we are always kind and helpful. He loves first. Lord, teach us every day to love like You!
Lord, only You can help us make a masterpiece of our life!
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