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Eulogy for Saint John the Baptist

John the Baptizer
John who’d lept in Elizabeth’s womb when Mary came near
John who’d baptized by the River Jordan
John, who when seeing Jesus exclaimed
“Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”
The first Old Testament prophet in 400 years
Calling Israel to repentance
Calling them to look for Messiah
and like Elijah, calling out the sins of the King

John, baptizing Jesus at his insistence while exclaiming
“I need to be baptized by you”
John, who said “He must increase, I must decrease”
Who was thrown into Jail by Herod
John, who asked Jesus
“Are you the one-or do we seek another yet to come…”
John, who was put to death
because of a king’s debaucherous and drunken diversion

Of whom Jesus said
“What did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes! And more than that…”

The powers of this world never understand the anointing of God.
To them they seem foolish, crazy, inconsequential…

Such was John:
Walking about in a rough shirt made of animal hair and eating locusts and honey
Yet the foolish things of God confound the wise
And that which seems insignificant to the world of influencers
is of great significance to the Kingdom of God.
John performed no miracles
Yet his calling to Israel for repentance was truly miraculous

John considered
A Pearl of Great Price
And sold everything to have it.
He considered the Treasure hidden in the field
And bought the farm to obtain it.

He was humble
He was God’s mule
Doing the work he’d been harnessed to do.
He was a dollar in God’s pocket to spend however God saw fit
And God spent him well.

At the same time
the world was not worthy of him as he wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves…
Exclaiming
“Prepare ye the way of the Lord,
Make straight his paths
Every mountain will be brought low
And every valley filled
the rough ground shall become level,
the rugged places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
and all people will see it together.”

John was the forerunner of the kingdom
exclaiming that the messiah was coming!
A herald with a message

And in many ways
He is the example of what the church is to be today…

In a few weeks we’ll begin the season of Advent
We look back to Jesus’ 1st coming
The baby in a manger
Who for us and our salvation
Came down from heaven and became a man
By the power of the Holy Spirit
Born unto the virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate
Was crucified, died, was buried
And on the 3rd day he rose again in accordance with scripture…

In Advent we remember Jesus’ 1st coming
But we also look forward to his second coming
As a victorious King of a Kingdom
Where every wrong is made right
And every tear is wiped away
And where God has made for himself a people
From every tribe and tongue and nation…

And like John
we live in between the times
Of what has been and what will be

And WE the church are like John the Baptist
We are a voice of one crying in the wilderness
“Prepare the way of the Lord”
Make straight a pathway to your heart!

Let’s Pray
Almighty God,
by your providence your servant John the Baptist
was wonderfully born,
and sent to prepare the way of our Lord
by the preaching of repentance:
lead us to repent according to his preaching
And example,
May your church be constant to speak the truth,
Even boldly when necessary, like John,
and patient to suffer for the truth’s sake when necessary;
And may we take joy in proclaiming the coming
Advent of Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
Who will come again.
Keep your church
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The Society of Rage & Saint Francis’ Other Way

Recently my college friend Ed Stetzer, who is at Wheaton College as Exec. Director of the Billy Graham Center, published a book titled Christians In The Age Of Outrage. I’m so glad Ed put this book together, it’s something I, and I’m sure others, have been thinking on and wrestling with for several years now as we watch our society become less and less civil in public discourse. The following is an article I wrote two years ago on the subject specifically exploring how we should conduct ourselves as Kingdom People in a turbulent world.

The Rule of Saint Francis for regular people belonging to a secular order, known as the 3rd order, was first penned in the early 13th century. Third Order Franciscans work their jobs, raise their kids, and live into the Franciscan ideas of generosity, love, and prayer while surround by, and participating in, the world around them.

I first read the rule, around 2005, as an oblate in The Company of Jesus, a blended Franciscan, Benedictine, and Celtic third order now associated with ACNA under the Diocese of the Great Lakes. As I read the rule it seemed foreign and antiquated to me in some places, but also oddly relevant and fresh in others. I felt I had discovered a long forgotten treasure that is vitally needed today.

In chapter 4 of The Rule of Saint Francis, The Way To Serve And Work, we find this:

Let the sisters and brothers be gentle, peaceful and unassuming, mild and humble, speaking respectfully to all in accord with their vocation. Wherever they are, or wherever they go throughout the world they should not be quarrelsome, contentious, or judgmental towards others. Rather, it should be obvious that they are “joyful, good-humoured,” and happy “in the Lord” as they ought to be (c.f. Philippians 4:4). And in greeting others, let them say, “The Lord give you peace.”

Speaking Peace to the World
In a day and age of rage that does not produce the righteousness of God, the Franciscan Rule challenges us to live life in a stark contrast to what we witness on TV, and in the news. Bad news brings good ratings, but good news brings life to those all around.

The spirit of Francis’ words challenge us to be gentle, peaceful, unassuming, mild and humble, being respectful to all. These things bring life and peace in society. To be quarrelsome, contentious, and judgmental can rob society of blessing, shows our own tendency toward hypocrisy, and reveal our own blindness to our unfairness and our sin. Francis admonishes us to speak peace over our world, but that we must be sure to first allow peace to have its place in our own hearts.

The Challenge of Peace
Francis says we should be joyful, good-humoured, and happy. We ought to be. When I remember and center myself on Jesus, and his love for me, I am happy and at peace. It is challenging to live this kind of life, but I know it is also the best way to live. It’s the best way to dismantle the atomic bomb of hatred, rage, anger, and un-peace so prevalent now in our culture.

It is completely counter-cultural in our context to be happy, kind, and nice. It was probably somewhat counter-cultural in Francis’ day too, or he would not have made such a point of it.

Real Power
I confess to you, sometimes I struggle to bless instead of curse the person who is inconsiderate, blindly opinionated, or who cuts me off in traffic. Am I the only one? My challenge is to have peace on my lips, and also in my heart towards that person, as much of the time as I can be mindful to do so.

How about you? This may not sound like real power to the conventional structures of our world, but it is power, first according to Christ, and also according to Saint Francis. It is great power, real power that heals and gives new life. “Pax et bonum!”, “Peace and all good!” is a traditional Franciscan greeting.

May the Lord give you peace as you go, and may you also spread peace to those around you, and to the world!

(originally published at Anglican Pastor dotcom in September 2016)

Despicable Beloved

Great insight from 17th century Carmelite monk, Brother Lawrence:

“I regard myself as the most wretched of all men, stinking and covered with sores, and as one who has committed all sorts of crimes against his King. Overcome by remorse, I confess all my wickedness to Him, ask His pardon and abandon myself entirely to Him to do with as He will. But this King, filled with goodness and mercy, far from chastising me, lovingly embraces me, makes me eat at His table, serves me with His own hands, gives me the keys of His treasures and treats me as His favorite. He talks with me and is delighted with me in a thousand and one ways; He forgives me and relieves me of my principle bad habits without talking about them; I beg Him to make me according to His heart and always the more weak and despicable I see myself to be, the more beloved I am of God.”
― Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God

Go To The Humble Places, Be An Icon Of Christ

Go to the humble places, be an icon of Christ there…

“Some want to live within the sound of church or chapel bell; I want to run a rescue shop, within a yard of hell.”

― Charles Thomas Studd, English missionary

Humbleness and Success
Often people are known, their names are recognized, usually because they are in big, important places, with titles and accolades. Most of us have a desire to be recognized, esteemed, and seen as an important contributor. This is called success, It requires hard work, the right connections are very helpful, and sometimes being at the right place at the right time is crucial.

Humble places require only a willingness and obedience to go and serve. In other words, it requires nothing less than everything (to quote T.S. Eliot), which also includes much hard work. Few desire unacknowledged silent service. Few seem available for the beginning of something when no one is noticing, the small start, the humble place. No one knew who Saint Francis was in the beginning, and he didn’t care. But the order quickly grew to the point that it was ultimately strongly encouraged that he abdicate leadership of the Franciscan Order, the order he had founded. In a real sense, the thing he started was taken away from him. Most of us would not willingly give up our “baby,” but he did, while also praying that the order wouldn’t lose the humbleness it had begun with, now that everybody knew the name of Francis, and knew of the Franciscan order.

Humble Prayers and Small Beginnings
Humble vision is right vision. (Meaning, you have no false imaginations about self, and acknowledge God’s primacy in all things) Humble vision can accomplish great things, if it is following God in obedience and in humility; it doesn’t care so much for acknowledgement, as long as the work gets done.

Talking with the COO at our local homeless outreach, The Community Kitchen, the opportunity presented itself to serve in a unique way. They have very few groups come in to provide spiritual worship opportunities there, so we began a Thursday Morning Prayers & Communion Service at The Community Kitchen. With a box of supplies and a mobile communion kit, we invite the homeless to join us in Morning Prayer in the facility Day Room where everyday social services and various activities still go on. We step into sacred space as we read the psalms and lessons, pray silently and together, and then celebrate communion. About a dozen people come forward to receive that special grace. Afterwards we greet each other, pass the peace, and chat… not “church people” and “the homeless”, just “us”, “we”, all of us together.

A few years ago now, I felt the Lord had given me a vision of the homeless being invited into the work of prayer, the prayers of the people, for the city and for the world. A piece of Saint Basil’s “Urban Monastery” idea, a unique piece, inviting the unlikely into participation in the Prayers of the People. I think God hears the prayers of a Billy Graham, or Tim Keller, or even my prayers, but doesn’t God also hear the prayers of the widow, or perhaps the homeless person, as much? Maybe even more? Yes, maybe.

Icons of Christ in Humble Places
Saint Lawrence, third century martyr, beheld the treasures of the church in the poor. Saint Francis saw in the faces of the poor the brother or sister of the firstborn, Christ. Mother Teresa, and others have seen an icon of Christ in the poor around them, in humble places. In turn, they were also icons of Christ as they served the least and the last. As an Anglican I was first ordained as a deacon, first called to serve. I am reminded that Christ did not fear the humble places, in fact, he sought them out. He sent first the twelve, and then the seventy two to go out to the humble places, to be an icon of Christ there.

What humble place is God sending you to? How does he desire to reshape your heart? Do not fear the humble places, but rather, allow yourself to find Christ there, and let us seek to be an icon of Christ in the humble places, and wherever we go.

(similar blog originally posted on anglicanpastordotcom)

God’s Kindness Heals Me

It’s easy to be hard in this world. It’s easy to be frustrated. It is easy for us to get into a cycle of frantic mediocrity as we go throughout our work-weeks. Have you found yourself impatient and over-reacting to things that are really too small to merit the response given?

This week I have been reminded of God’s kindness, and I have also been praying to be aware of His kindness, and to experience and receive His kindness. God’s kindness heals the deepest wounds I have.

The Expressions Of Faith from The Northumbria Community are a perfect reminder of God’s kindness, and a perfect prayer if you are seeking to experience afresh God’s kindness towards you.

Lord, You have always given
bread for the coming day;
and though I am poor,
today I believe.
Lord, You have always given
strength for the coming day;
and though I am weak,
today I believe.
Lord, You have always given
peace for the coming day;
and though of anxious heart,
today I believe.
Lord, You have always kept
me safe in trials;
and now, tried as I am,
today I believe.
Lord, You have always marked
the road for the coming day;
and though it may be hidden,
today I believe.
Lord, You have always lightened
this darkness of mine;
and though the night is here,
today I believe.
Lord, You have always spoken
when time was ripe;
and though you be silent now,
today I believe.

Sacred Creation and Saint Francis

Creation is so much more sacred than we acknowledge on a daily basis. Every few days it seems there is another headline of ecological tragedy. You don’t even have to believe in global warming to know that we still have a problem with pollution. We poison our streams and rivers without thought.

In light of the hard hits the earth has been taking lately I think it’s appropriated to pause and humbly give thanks for creation. We should also consider how we can get back to our original work to keep and tend the garden. If we do then maybe we can leave the world better than we found it.

Saint Francis Canticle-Giving Thanks for & Celebrating Creation:

Most high, all powerful, all good Lord! All praise is yours, all glory, all honor, and all blessing. To you, alone, Most High, do they belong. No mortal lips are worthy to pronounce your name.

Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures, especially through my lord Brother Sun, who brings the day; and you give light through him. And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor! Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.

Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars; in the heavens you have made them bright, precious and beautiful.

Be praised, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air, and clouds and storms, and all the weather, through which you give your creatures sustenance.

Be praised, My Lord, through Sister Water; she is very useful, and humble, and precious, and pure.

Be praised, my Lord, through Brother Fire, through whom you brighten the night. He is beautiful and cheerful, and powerful and strong.

Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Mother Earth, who feeds us and rules us, and produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs.

Be praised, my Lord, through those who forgive for love of you; through those who endure sickness and trial. Happy those who endure in peace, for by you, Most High, they will be crowned.

Be praised, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death, from whose embrace no living person can escape. Woe to those who die in mortal sin!

Happy those she finds doing your most holy will. The second death can do no harm to them.

Praise and bless my Lord, and give thanks, and serve him with great humility.

Francis in the 21st Century

What does Saint Francis have to do with us in the 21st century? Possibly everything.

We are not, in many ways, that far removed from Francis of Assisi. In his day the church had been tainted with greed, and it was in need of renewal. He saw a need for prayer, for a new kind of monasticism, not cloistered off away from the world, but in the thick of it, in the nitty-gritty-ness of every day life. We must also embrace the outcast, those who are “lepers” in our world, as well as those who are simply wandering lost all around us. Francis seemed to have time for anyone in need. Do we have time or are we too busy?

In his day and age he was an apostle, pretty much as the original apostles had been in the Roman world which they had lived, only with the additional challenge of how do you convert people who already see themselves as “christian” at least culturally?

We find ourselves with these challenges and opportunities: How can we be apostolic in our world? The world is our cloister, therefore ministry can happen anywhere. We can be peacemakers in a violent and changing society; ours is changing, and is also very often violent full of angst, hypocricy, and rage.

Man’s anger does not produce the righteousness of God. Father Francis challenged us to walk in peace. Sometimes we fail, but we are called to be missionaries to our local area, to those who are not “christian”; showing the way of Christ and peace. Also, we are to convert many from “christian” to “follower of Jesus.”

As Francis said “We have been called to heal wounds, to unite what has fallen apart, and to bring home those who have lost their way.” Go.

 

(“Francis of Assisi” by Cook & Herzman may be helpful for your further exploration)

Slaves or Sons: Attitudes and Actions as Heirs of the Kingdom

As disciples in this world we live in the dominion of a reality of what we see and can touch, but at the same time we are residents or citizens of a “Kingdom” we cannot always see or touch which is also a reality. It seems we live among two kingdoms in contrast:

In John 10:10 Jesus says “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” And in Colossians 1:13 Paul explains “He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves…”

So, here’s a real clarification by Paul; one is a dominion (of darkness) and the other is truly a kingdom (of light). The words used here are totally different. A dominion is a power or authority, but a kingdom is altogether different. A kingdom is the power and the authority. Satan has a dominion, but no “kingdom”. He has authority because man has allowed it by falling into deception, but Satan is not The Authority.

We live in a time in between what has been and what will be:

John Wimber,  of the Vineyard Movement often used an analogy of D-day:  Similar to the D-day landing that signaled the end of WWII Jesus’ 1st coming signaled his 2nd coming, and the end of Satan’s dominion. In Jesus’ first coming He set in motion the events that will ultimately end in the final overthrow of Satan’s dominion and initiate what will be. Just as D-day signaled the beginning of the end of WWII, so with Jesus’ 1st coming, it’s the beginning of the end of the dominion of darkness. We’ve begun, but we are not there yet. We live “in between what has been and what will be”.

Slave or Son? So you and I are faced with many “realities” in this world that seek to keep us in slavery. This could be lies of the enemy to keep me down, or many situations to dash hope and make me give up. They pursue you, like in a rear view mirror which says “object in mirror are closer than they appear” the dominion of darkness seeks to over-run you and I, keep us in fear, and keep us imprisoned (even though the cell door is standing wide open)

A great story that clarifies this is found in Exodus chapter 14: The Egyptians—all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots, horsemen and troops—pursued the Israelites and overtook them as they camped by the sea near Pi Hahiroth, opposite Baal Zephon. As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord. -Exodus 14:9-10

So with us; as we begin to step into freedom, the situation, issue or lie wants to come after us and keep us down. Intimidation is always used and objects in the rear view mirror may seem very close to overtaking us. We can easily lose heart and give up. This is the mind-set of a slave.

Fear & Complaining

They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” – Exodus 14:11-12

Human nature is the same no matter what century you live in…

Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” – Exodus 14:13-14

He calms the people and leads, settling their fear and reassuring them to trust God. But then God says something interesting, :

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground. – Exodus 14:15-16

He calls them not only to trust and reliance but also to action. This is characteristic not of a slave, but of a son. They too were in between what had been and what would be. They were no longer slaves, as they left Egypt and slavery they were regaining and reclaiming their place as sons and daughters (though they didn’t comprehend it yet)

Check out what Galatians 4 says:

…When we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world. But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. – Galatians 4:3-5

Attitude & Action- So both our attitude and our actions need to grow to be that of Sons and Daughters, and not that of slaves! The prison door is open and we are free if we will simply walk out of the cell and into freedom as a son!

Galatians continues…Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir. – Galatians 4:6-7

ATTITUDE: That is to be our attitude; not pompous or prideful, not spoiled but never the less a son or daughter of a king and therefore a responsible son who acts like his big brother, Jesus, who didn’t come to be served but to serve and was humble, and took appropriate action as a child of the king.

ACTION: Augustine said “Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.”

God was delivering the slaves from Egypt but all they could see was what was in the rear view mirror. Even after seeing at least 10 miracles that would ultimately set them free, all they could do was complain when what they should have been doing was walking or even running to freedom. Ultimately Moses had to lift his staff, divide the sea and the ex-slaves had to take action to gain the freedom that was already theirs. Slavery behind, the promised land ahead, they were in between what had been and what would be, but their attitude AND their actions had to change.

Frederick Douglass, ex-slave and abolitionist, 1800s, said: I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.

The sailors say: “Pray… and row away from the rocks…”

As ex-slaves who are now Sons and Daughters of The Kingdom what pursues you and wants to overtake you or enslave you? “Pray…  and ____(fill in the blank)_”

When I was diagnosed as diabetic, the first week I was in shock,  I suffered overwhelming depression, I was enslaved. (The objects in the rear view mirror seemed much larger and closer and were overwhelming me) But then my attitude and actions began to change. I believe God will keep me, even heal me because He has before. I still fully trust in him).

As a son I also had to change my actions. I changed my diet, I take my meds regularly, and I am exercising daily. I’m putting legs to my prayers, I’m working as if it depends on me, as a son. I have to. But I also want to.

Always remember “you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir!” – Galatians 4:6-7

Repentance Must Begin In The Church

Something has gone terribly wrong. Headlines of the failures of individuals and institutions shake you and would make you lose heart. We have seen it in bits and pieces for years like looking at the details of a much larger and darker grotesque work of art. In recent history, possibly even your lifetime, leaders of the church have fallen one by one through the many various scandals over the decades. I’ll not name names, they are infamous enough that a simple internet search will produce plenty of tabloid material to choke on.

Francis Schaeffer, in critiquing the church’s understanding of culture said:

“The basic problem of the Christians in this country in the last eighty years or so, in regard to society and in regard to government, is that they have seen things in bits and pieces instead of totals.”

It’s a kind way of saying we’re somewhat blind, but this is also true of the church’s self evaluation. Inside of the church it kind of makes sense, currently speaking, many are disowning the Evangelical side of the family for being too right wing, (for example) or, Protestants have disowned the Catholic side of the family when situations like the Pennsylvania clergy scandal arise. Who can blame anyone for wanting to distance self from these atrocities and say “They are not actually a part of our family” like the weird relative no one really wants to own up to at Thanksgiving. But we’re still looking at smaller details instead of the bigger picture, and the bigger picture is that something has gone terribly wrong in the church, and society, as screwed up as it is, has noticed.

It is a double standard to expect society to be one way and the church to be another. So be it. But all to often the church has conformed her ways in an unhealthy manner to the standards of the world (greed, sex, fame). Sometimes men in the church have held no standards at all. Some men in the church have been simply evil. All too often denominational leaders have valued gifting instead of character, and all too often that is a losing proposition. All too often the church has simply tried to maintain the status quo only to find serial offenders and manipulators taking advantage of people in their midst. It is a tragedy when it is a rogue operator and a travesty when it is systemic.

Setting aside the dark tragedies for a moment, the church in general has tainted herself too much by flirting with the world. Did Jesus eat with sinners, prostitutes, and tax collectors? Yes. Did he come feasting, and drinking wine? Yes. Yet, He was without sin. He did not condemn the woman in the street, he told her to “Go, and sin no more.” To be a disciple is to follow Christ, to call others forward on their journey, and to carry whatever responsibility Jesus assigns to you. Some have outright fallen into sin, and too many are never held to account. In addition the church has been a poor student of what has been given to it; Marcionic with the scriptures, not very prayerful, and not very holy.

What does the world need? For the church to be the church. Don’t expect any thanks for it. Everyone complains when it’s right to complain, no one compliments when you do a good job, but the world desperately needs the church to be the church…to be holy and good and light in dark places. But don’t expect compliments or acknowledgements. If the church is doing its job right it will still be despised, but not for the reasons it is despised for today.

In order for the church to be what it needs to be, the church has to repent. As Americans we have a strong sense of what does or doesn’t apply to us, individually. So, I may say “I haven’t been greedy, I haven’t abused power, I’ve not had an affair… so this doesn’t apply to me…” let me remind you of Ezekiel 22:30

“I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one.”

Stand in the gap means to intercede for the benefit of another. Here, literally to stand in an area where the wall is completely knocked down, with sword and shield drawn ready for battle.

The church needs to deeply and wholly repent, some of us have to start “guilty or not.” Those who seek to faithfully lead the church must first lead by repentance and then by seeking the transforming holiness of God. We need to pray, be literate in God’s word, and return to our post and our work, and be faithful. This is the only answer.

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, – Acts 3:19

For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’ ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.'” -Revelation 7:17

The Church, The Last Days & The Holy Spirit 1

When we hear the term “Last Days” it often conjures up travesty on the evening news, or perhaps some poorly made disaster film.

But if you look in context that’s not all there is, in fact the signifier of the “Last Days” is something different; In Acts chapter 2 we find Saint Peter speaking:

Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

-Acts 2:14-21

Saint Peter quotes the prophet Joel on the day of Pentecost 400 years after Joel spoke those words. Peter said The Holy Spirit being poured out is the signifier of the Last Days.  Joel said Something is going to happen, God is going to do something in the last days… God is saying “I will pour out my spirit on all flesh” all who will receive I will pour out my spirit on sons & daughters, old & young… regardless of age, race, sex, color, background…

In the old testament the Holy Spirit “came upon” people at particular times for particular tasks: Gideon, David, Ezekiel, others. In the new testament, Joel foresaw and was prophecying, there will be a new ability to hear God, to prophecy, to have dreams and visions, this would not be limited but a great and new opportunity.

John the Baptist was the last old testament prophet proclaiming the coming of Jesus. He said “I baptize with water, but he baptizes with the Holy Spirit and with fire!” Jesus said “I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;” – John 14:6

Comforter, “paraclete” in Greek, means ”One called along side of.” Look at Saint Paul’s story: Knocked to the ground, he encountered Jesus then was filled with the spirit after being prayed for.

Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” – Acts 9:17

People encounter Jesus and then encounter the Holy Spirit, I love the fact that Ananias said “so that you may see again  be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

So, in short there are 3 ideas for us to grab this week:

I) The Holy Spirit has been given

  • Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. -Acts 1:4-5
  • The Samaritans in Acts 8:17 – Peter and John laid their hands upon these believers, and they received the Holy Spirit.
  • Cornelius & Co. in Acts 10:44- Even as Peter was saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the message.

II) The Holy Spirit teaches

  • But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. –John 14:26
  • But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true–it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ. – 1st John 2:27

III) The Holy Spirit enables and empowers

  • Peter has a vision up on the roof –Acts ch 10:19-20 While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Simon, three men are looking for you. So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.” The Spirit informed and empowered Saint Peter.
  • The Spirit enables us, we do not direct the Spirit: ‘Prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” – 2 Peter 1:21

The Last Days have begun, God has poured out His Holy Spirit on daughters and sons, and We want to be “carried along” by HIS Spirit as we go.