Day 3 – Now…Later is Now

John 14:15 (NLT)

If you love me, obey my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. 17 He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.

Love that… “He lives with you now”. I see this as the Holy Spirit being like a member of the family “He lives with you…”, He will always be with us, never leaving us alone. Never do we have to do life alone…ever. What a promise! But there’s more, not only does He live with us, but He will be in us. With and In, are to very different things. In, implies He will be a part of us and we a part of Him. Joined at the hip with the one who helped form the universe, with the one who empowered Jesus and with the one who knows all truth…pretty cool if you ask me. The Spirit of the living God was promised, Jesus spoke about Him and in these verses mentions “later will be in you”. And church, later is now! Later is today! Talk about the Joy of the Spirit-Filled Life…this is it…now. You and I are living in the now of the Holy Spirit. Exciting times!

Day 31 – I don’t want to be a gnarly jerk

II Corinthians 13:11-14 (Message)
And that’s about it, friends. Be cheerful. Keep things in good repair. Keep your spirits up. Think in harmony. Be agreeable. Do all that, and the God of love and peace will be with you for sure. Greet one another with a holy embrace. All the brothers and sisters here say hello. The amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit, be with all of you.

This wraps up our devotion concerning the effect The Resurrection has upon a believers life and these verses help to seal the deal. These attributes listed are the way you and I as born again followers of Jesus should live. Man…if we could just do what is listed…the church would be in great shape. Imagine for a moment being agreeable rather than gnarly. Being loving and caring rather than a jerk. I certainly don’t want to be known as a gnarly jerk, so help me Holy Spirit to understand the extravagant love of God and what an intimate friendship with you can produce in my life. (Our next devotion, starting tomorrow, will look into the awesome fruit the Holy Spirit produces in our life, as we learn to understand Him better.)

Day 30 – Useful to our King

Act 9:32-42 (NLT)

Meanwhile, Peter traveled from place to place, and he came down to visit the believers in the town of Lydda. 33 There he met a man named Aeneas, who had been paralyzed and bedridden for eight years. 34 Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you! Get up, and roll up your sleeping mat!” And he was healed instantly. 35 Then the whole population of Lydda and Sharon saw Aeneas walking around, and they turned to the Lord. 36 There was a believer in Joppa named Tabitha (which in Greek is Dorcas). She was always doing kind things for others and helping the poor. 37 About this time she became ill and died. Her body was washed for burial and laid in an upstairs room. 38 But the believers had heard that Peter was nearby at Lydda, so they sent two men to beg him, “Please come as soon as possible!” 39 So Peter returned with them; and as soon as he arrived, they took him to the upstairs room. The room was filled with widows who were weeping and showing him the coats and other clothes Dorcas had made for them. 40 But Peter asked them all to leave the room; then he knelt and prayed. Turning to the body he said, “Get up, Tabitha.” And she opened her eyes! When she saw Peter, she sat up! 41 He gave her his hand and helped her up. Then he called in the widows and all the believers, and he presented her to them alive. 42 The news spread through the whole town, and many believed in the Lord.

The power of The Resurrected Life started to flow seemingly quite easily for the early church. They witnessed some awesome and inspiring miracles and some jaw dropping signs and wonders. As a result, multitudes of people came to faith and the church grew exponentially. This by the way, was always the plan of God and you know what…it hasn’t changed. God does the miracles, the members of His church are the vessels and unbelievers come to faith by the droves. Boy…do we need a fresh dose of some of that! As we approach Pentecost Sunday – a time celebrating the coming of the Holy Spirit, can we ask God for fresh manifestations of His Spirit and for you and I, to be willing and useful vessels for Him to work through.

Day 29 – Radical transformations

Act 9:19-31 (NLT)

Saul stayed with the believers in Damascus for a few days. 20 And immediately he began preaching about Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is indeed the Son of God!” 21 All who heard him were amazed. “Isn’t this the same man who caused such devastation among Jesus’ followers in Jerusalem?” they asked. “And didn’t he come here to arrest them and take them in chains to the leading priests?” 22 Saul’s preaching became more and more powerful, and the Jews in Damascus couldn’t refute his proofs that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. 23 After a while some of the Jews plotted together to kill him. 24 They were watching for him day and night at the city gate so they could murder him, but Saul was told about their plot. 25 So during the night, some of the other believers lowered him in a large basket through an opening in the city wall. 26 When Saul arrived in Jerusalem, he tried to meet with the believers, but they were all afraid of him. They did not believe he had truly become a believer! 27 Then Barnabas brought him to the apostles and told them how Saul had seen the Lord on the way to Damascus and how the Lord had spoken to Saul. He also told them that Saul had preached boldly in the name of Jesus in Damascus. 28 So Saul stayed with the apostles and went all around Jerusalem with them, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 He debated with some Greek- speaking Jews, but they tried to murder him. 30 When the believers heard about this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him away to Tarsus, his hometown. 31 The church then had peace throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria, and it became stronger as the believers lived in the fear of the Lord. And with the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, it also grew in numbers.

The church had a super hard time in coming to terms with Saul’s transformation. For those who had witnessed miracles, it was almost easier to believe in them than this radical life metamorphosis. Here was this crazed Christian hater, a religious zealot, turned God lover seemingly overnight and they didn’t know how to handle it.  The Resurrection ushered in a new era of power for the freshly minted church and her people were slowly learning to flow with it and understand it. In their minds, it seemed easier to heal a sick and broken body than to transform a hardened and deeply crusted heart. My prayer is that you and I would never question either, but as with the early church, we would learn to not only understand them, but to expect them to manifest all around us.

Day 28 – Standing TALL for Christ

Act 8:1-8 (NLT)

A great wave of persecution began that day, sweeping over the church in Jerusalem; and all the believers except the apostles were scattered through the regions of Judea and Samaria. 2 (Some devout men came and buried Stephen with great mourning.) 3 But Saul was going everywhere to destroy the church. He went from house to house, dragging out both men and women to throw them into prison. 4 But the believers who were scattered preached the Good News about Jesus wherever they went. 5 Philip, for example, went to the city of Samaria and told the people there about the Messiah. 6 Crowds listened intently to Philip because they were eager to hear his message and see the miraculous signs he did. 7 Many evil spirits were cast out, screaming as they left their victims. And many who had been paralyzed or lame were healed. 8 So there was great joy in that city.

When God’s hand is upon a people – any people…they can count on Him to pull them through even nasty situations. Persecution was ramping up in earnest, yet God supernaturally was working through His people. In fact, the greater the persecution, the greater the anointing. Signs, wonders and miracles were flowing through God’s people and many were saved. The church was on the run – the enemy thought they were defeated, but everywhere they went people listened and responded to their message and rather than the church diminishing, it flourished. The Resurrected Life causes God’s people to stand tall rather than cower in fear. My prayer for today’s church is that as times get tough, the tough (God’s people) will stand tall, preach the message uncompromisingly and trust in Him to pull them through.

Day 27 – The church in action

Act 4:32-37 (NLT)

All the believers were united in heart and mind. And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had. 33 The apostles testified powerfully to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s great blessing was upon them all. 34 There were no needy people among them, because those who owned land or houses would sell them 35 and bring the money to the apostles to give to those in need. 36 For instance, there was Joseph, the one the apostles nicknamed Barnabas (which means “Son of Encouragement”). He was from the tribe of Levi and came from the island of Cyprus. 37 He sold a field he owned and brought the money to the apostles.

The Resurrected Life has no concern for coin, because those who have been touched by its power, know that the Lord is their source. To give to those in need and toward the work of the ministry was just what they did, it was no biggy, as they knew they were not giving to man, but to God and it would be God who would look after what they would be in need of. This is the church in action. Not thinking about what is best for the Big 3 – me, myself and I, but what is ultimately best for the advancement of the Kingdom of God.