INTRODUCTION TO THIS DEVOTIONAL: After his death and resurrection and just before ascending into heaven, Jesus left his disciples with this promise: “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). On Pentecost Sunday, we find the disciples huddled in prayer in an upper room when a sound like a violent wind swept through and they saw tongues of fire come to rest over each of them. They were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in tongues. This is Pentecost - the baptism of the Spirit of which Jesus spoke. While in Acts 2 the story of Pentecost unfolds, to truly understand its richness and depth we must travel back to our Jewish roots. In the Old Testament we see Moses receive the Law from God on Mt. Sinai on the celebration of the Feast of Weeks. Now fast forward to the book of Acts in the New Testament. Pentecost Sunday happened to fall on that same celebratory day of the Feast of Weeks. This paints a stunning parallel between God giving us the Law in the Old Testament and Him giving us His Spirit in the New Testament. In place of rules and regulations, we are given hearts that behold Him. In place of an impossible standard, we are given His power and His peace. Keep this in mind during these next 21 days as we journey to Pentecost together. We are preparing to receive a gift that is the essence of all good things - God himself. DAY 1 Have you ever sat in the line at a drive-through? Ever road-tripped with kids? Waited in a call line at the DMV? If so, you can probably attest to a universal human condition. We’re not inherently good at waiting, at preparing, at journeying. Today marks our first day in a 21-day journey to Pentecost. No, Pentecost isn’t the Christian equivalent of the Super Bowl or Big Dance. It often passes, mostly unnoticed, tucked somewhere into the chaos that composes the end-of-the-school-year and beginning-of-summer season. But consider this, if it weren’t for Pentecost, we wouldn’t know Christmas and we would’ve never heard of Easter. Pentecost is the grassroots of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20: Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.). Perhaps it doesn’t share in the fanfare and hype of other church holidays, but its importance is utmost. It marks our invitation to join in a Greater Story. So today begins our preparation and our travels as we trace back to our birth. But as in any good journey, we must wait in anticipation. Let’s prepare for Pentecost together. Commit to taking time this week to read from the post-resurrection gospels through Acts 2. It’s a short read but will give you good context for the events surrounding Pentecost.
Introduction to Pentecost
June 9, 2019
Love • June 21, 2019
Love. A word tossed around as much as any, but perhaps understood less than most. When something’s been cited as both the starter of war and the motive behind martyrdom, it’s difficult to understand all that it implies. So we know we’re called to live it, but we don’t understand how love should look. I think if God would have us know anything about love, He’d want us to know that He is love. As His adoptive sons and daughters, it is our inheritance and it is our obligation. And our call to love can be summed up in nothing more than seeking Him. Our problem is instead we seek pseudo-love in lesser goods and wonder why dysfunction follows. Pseudo-love seeks feeling loved and goes to any length to get it. Pseudo-love does good with hidden agendas of accolades, amends or satisfaction at the least. Pseudo-love manipulates with kindness and serves self in the name of goodness. We have muddied our legacy of love with our narrow-minded motives. Let us seek the King and His kingdom and, as result, watch love be released on every corner of this marbled planet. Only in faithfulness to the God who is love can we embody it accordingly. Commit to taking a few minutes today to asking the Father to fill you up with His perfect and pure love that you may spill it out to those around.
Intro to Fruits of the Spirit • June 20, 2019
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23 It would be hard to talk of the Spirit and not consider what He makes manifest in our lives. For the next portion of our journey to Pentecost, we’ll unpack one fruit of the Spirit per day, reflecting on why or why not and to what extent each quality may be evident in our own lives. But before inclining ourselves to yield more fruit, we must hear this most clearly: our application of the fruits is not a lesson in behavior modification. Sheer will to do good is sure to fail. The fruits of the Spirit are called fruits for a reason. They are the result, the produce, the product. The fruits are not the objective. They are evidence of the objective. We do not aim for the fruit. We channel our efforts into transfiguration and the fruit is what naturally follows. Our focus, then, should not be on displaying outwardly more fruits of the Spirit, but in permeating ourselves inwardly with the Spirit himself. As in any athletic competition or artistic performance, the results take care of themselves. Our part in the game is to orient ourselves to the process. The more we steep our soul in the Spirit through the Word, through prayer, through journaling or any other means of connecting with God, the more good fruit will follow. For we know that “a good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart.” (Luke 6:45) Commit to immersing yourself in whatever fruit of the Spirit we are studying these next nine days. Focus more on receiving that fruit from the Spirit as opposed to straining to manufacture it yourself.