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The Holy Spirit helps us to live out the character of Jesus, loving each other with patience, kindness, endurance, encouragement and sacrifice. We are unable to manufacture unconditional love without the Spirit controlling all areas of our mind, will and emotions.
Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would come and empower the disciples to do the things He commissioned them to do. On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit did indeed come and anoint the disciples with power in a very visible and experiential way. This power not only transformed them, but allowed them to impact the world in ways they couldn’t have imagined. That same power is available to followers of Christ today.
When Christians live in sin and are out of fellowship with God, we experience alienation and guilt. However, some of us may be plagued by false guilt--a self-condemning, self-punishing response to things for which we are not and never have been truly guilty. Regardless of how you feel about yourself and how you think others feel about you, you are loved by God. You are totally secure in Christ’s unconditional and unfailing love.
We find in the Bible that people not only lamented about themselves and their enemies, they also lamented about God. Even though our God is King of Kings, He allows His people to express their honest questions, feelings and thoughts, and their doubts and disappointments, even though these may contradict what He tells them and wants them to know. The more open we are with a person about what we truly feel and think, the more vulnerable we become. And, this gives us more opportunity to be closer to the person with whom we are opening up. God wants covenant partners who are able to express what they feel and think. The goal of a lament kind of prayer is intimacy with God.
Many of us have experienced disappointment, hurt, and pain as it relates to our relationships with others. In marriage, we long for the happily-ever-after ending, but sometimes it’s separation and divorce. If we are single, we dream of a perfect someone out there, only he or she never arrives. Parents are not always what we hope they would be. Our friends betray us. We often expect people to meet our core needs and longings, but only God can truly meet these needs on the deepest level.
Loneliness is the pain and emptiness of being alone. We weren't created for it.
We weren't meant for it. What if our loneliness, instead of something to be avoided, might actually be the vehicle to the life of connection and fullness for which we were created? God wants us to pursue finding the source of our loneliness. Discovering what is at the root of it will help us to transform our loneliness into solitude with God.
Anxiety in general is characterized by a persistent, excessive, unrealistic worry about everyday things. But, the presence of anxiety does not equal a lack of faith. Being “better” at being a Christian does not make anxiety go away. We need to consider the idea that God can use our anxiety and fear as a way to tether us more closely to Him. God is the ultimate non-anxious presence, the person who has a calming influence on anxiety.
There are so many people for whom life is not okay. Divorce. Anxiety. Depression. Disappointment. Problems with children. Loss of job. Financial weight. Crushing guilt. So often it's just beneath the surface, and we cry out, "Is there some place I can go where I can admit it's not okay?" Yes, the land of Uz, the place where very bad things happen to a very good man named Job. The central question in the Book of Job is, "Could a human being hold on to God, faith, love, and goodness when it does not seem to pay off at all?" One could, and one did.
So often the Scriptures talk about people being amazed by Jesus. When He taught, the crowds listening were amazed at His teaching. After He cast a demon out and the mute man spoke, the crowds were amazed and were saying, "Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel." While the teachings and miracles of Jesus were indeed amazing, nothing astonished and amazed people more than His resurrection. Can you imagine witnessing His death and then seeing Him walking around Jerusalem three days later? What an amazing thing!
We do not know the outcome of all of the encounters people had with Jesus, some invitations were left open-ended. Ten lepers were healed, while only one returns to give thanks. What of the other nine? Some who wanted to follow Jesus but had pressing business to attend to first were told no business was more important. Did they follow? These encounters with Jesus produce open-ended rather than conclusive finales. Have you been invited by Jesus to follow Him into something new?