Dust to Life

With these words, the priest marks a sign of the cross in ash on the Christian worshiper’s forehead: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

It is a stark reminder that we are sinful, fallen and under the curse of Adam. Ashes are used throughout the Bible as a symbol of our mortality, of our sin and of our need for repentance. In the Bible, people don sackcloth and cover their heads with ashes to tangibly grieve and mourn sins. When Job is humbled before the sovereign Lord he says, “I repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:6). The prophet Daniel’s prayer of corporate repentance on behalf of the people of God is marked with physical signs of grief over sin:  “So I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes” (Daniel 9:3).

Ash Wednesday signals the beginning of Lent. The period of Lent is a 40-day journey of self-denial. Through “self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word” (Book of Common Prayer, p. 265), we are invited by the Church and the Lord to individually and corporately prepare ourselves for the annual celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus during Holy Week and Easter.

The Ash Wednesday service has a tone of solemnity. We begin in silence with a collect:

Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have
made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and
make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily
lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness,
may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission
and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives
and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever
and ever. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer, p. 264.)

The words of this prayer echo Psalm 51, a prayer of repentance from King David after he committed the sin of adultery with Bathsheba. David prayed:

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit (Psalm 51:10-12).

Repentance leads to joy. God longs to restore his people and bring us out of the bondage of sin and death into new life in His son. This is the entire goal of our Lenten discipline—to be restored to the joy of God’s salvation. To be restored, yes, from dust to life.

Ash Wednesday does not leave us in the dust.  The season of Lent invites us to the throne of grace.  We are invited to the table where the Lord has given us another firm reminder—one of grace, redemption, and restoration. In the bread and wine, we mysteriously commune with the body and blood of our crucified Savior.  Through the Sacrament, we remember what He has done for us in bearing in His body the finite and mortal nature of man.  By becoming one of us and like us in our death, God has made it possible for us to become like Him.

Before going to the cross,

Jesus took bread. And when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:19-20).

So, today mark your course in ash and set out in the way of the cross and resurrection of Jesus. Begin a holy Lent, from dust to life.

Faith to Overcome

Faith to Overcome

The last characteristic needed is a certain confidence, we call it faith. No one said that finishing the task that God has put us on this earth is going to be easy.

It’s not going to be easy. In fact, it’s going to require a certain characteristic that will get us through the most difficult of challenges and obstacles that this world. The evil one and all of the forces of Satan that are hosted against God will throw obstacles at the people of God to prevent them from finishing the task that He’s given the people of God to finish.

It will be tempting to give up, to quit. But we have to have a confidence that comes from outside of ourselves, something that will give us the strength to persevere and to have that determination: that single-mindedness; and again, where does that kind of strength come from?

Well, again, the writer of Hebrews, Chapter 12:1-2 describes Jesus as the Author and Finisher of our faith.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. –Hebrews 12:1-2

Jesus is the outside source of strength. It takes enduring faith, not in ourselves as the self-help books will often tell you. “You’ve just got to have faith in yourself. You can do it. Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps.” That doesn’t work.

No, you can’t pull yourself up by your own bootstraps. You need somebody else strengthening you. There’s a stained glass window at St. Peter’s of the Apostle Peter trying to walk on the water and it captures the moment when he looks at the wind and takes his eyes off Jesus. Right then, he starts to sink, but as soon as he brings his eyes back upon the Lord, he rises back up onto the water and he is walking on the water again!

Jesus is our focus, the Lord, His will; we have faith and trust in His Word. Jesus said it this way,

I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me. –John 5:30

If Jesus says “I can do nothing on my own,” what in the world makes us think that we somehow can do life on our own!?!

What is the Father’s work that you have been given to do? It is not your work. It’s not somebody else’s assignment for you nobody other than the Lord. What is the work that God the Father has given you to do? That’s who you have to trust in: the Father. What has He called you to? It’s faith in the Father, faith in Jesus, the Author and Perfector of our faith that will get us through.

I love this little poem about a young boy in a race who keeps falling down, desperately wanting to please his dad:

Defeat! He lay there silently, a tear dropped from his eye.

“There’s no sense in running anymore…I’m out…why try?…
“I’ve lost, so what’s the use,” he thought, “ I’ll live with my disgrace.”

But then he thought about his Dad he’d soon have to face.
“Get up,” an echo sounded low, “Get up and take your place.

You were not meant for failure here, so get up and finish the race” …
He resolved that win or lose, at least he would not quit…

And to his Dad he sadly said, “I didn’t do so well.”
“To me, you won,” his father said. “You rose each time you fell.”

And now when things seem dark and hard and difficult to face,
the memory of that little boy helps me in my race.

For all of life is like that race, with ups and downs and all,
And all you have to do to win—is rise each time you fall.

Quit! Give up, you’re beaten,” they still shout in my face.
But another voice within me says, “Get up and win that race.”

“It is finished.” And the last book of the Bible, there are seven letters to seven churches and in those letters, there is a last point that Jesus makes to every one of those churches. Over and over He says: “To him who overcomes… to him who overcomes… to him who overcomes… and to every one of those who overcome…”

Here is a montage of all of the promises offered to those who overcome:

I will give the right to eat from the tree of life which is in the paradise of God. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations. He who overcomes like them will be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my father and his angels. Hold on to what you have so that no one will take your crown. Him who overcomes, I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my thrown just as I overcame and sat down with my father on his throne.”

Here is the prize promised to those who finish: Paradise of God, the right to eat the tree of life, immunity from the pain of the second death, the gift of some hidden manna!

I am not sure what any of that is, but it ALL sounds awesome!

And there is more: Authority over the nations, dressed in white, never blotted from the book of life, acknowledged continually before the Father and the angels of Heaven, a pillar in the temple of God, the right to sit at the Throne of God with Jesus.

To him who overcomes…“It is finished.”

A Driving Intensity

A Driving Intensity

An example in the Old Testament of one who was a great finisher is a man named Caleb. Caleb was one of the warriors of God who was with Joshua and the other spies when the Israelites first arrived at the threshold of the Promised Land.

It first did not take them forty years to get to the Promised Land. That may be a surprise to read! They got there quickly and crossed over the River Jordan with a group of spies. The spies came back from the Promised Land with a mixed report. Yes, they said, it’s everything that God said it was, a land filled with milk and honey. They brought back some pomegranates and some really great things – but then they also had a little bit of a scary report:

So they brought to the people of Israel a bad report of the land that they had spied out, saying, “The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height… and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.” –Numbers 13:32-33

The fear of the giants spread through the camp. Everybody started to grumble against Moses and Aaron, and said, “What did you do bringing us to this land just to get us killed?”

But two other men, Caleb and Joshua, said, NO. It’s ours. It’s a good land. Let’s go—God is with us! While everybody grumbling and whining about the difficulty of the task—Caleb and Joshua showed the character of finishers. So God sent the Israelites to do forty years of laps around the desert.

In the book of Joshua, you pick up back with the story of Caleb again. The Israelites had started to conquer the land under the leadership of Joshua. But they started to falter in their conquest of the land. Things started to get tough and the tougher strongholds of those groups identified by the spies were holding fast. The Israelites could not vanquish them and so they started to give up on these tougher assignments and these tougher jobs—they started to quit.

Caleb was by then 85 years old. Here is the character of driving intensity (This is all found in Joshua 14):

“You know that what the Lord said to Moses, the man of God, about you and me? Back then I was 40 years old when Moses, the servant of the Lord, sent me to explore the land and I brought him back a report according to my convictions…” Hear the character of determination which Caleb manifest; he had convictions, “… but my brothers who went up with me and made the hearts of the people melt with fear. I however followed the Lord, my God, wholeheartedly, with single mindedness.”

“So on that day, Moses swore to me, the land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever because you have followed the lord, my God, wholeheartedly.” Caleb was saying this: Just as the Lord promised, it’s time for me to claim my promise. That’s basically what he’s saying. He’s kept me alive for 45 years since the time he said this to Moses while Israel moved about in the desert. So here I am today 85 years old and I’m still as strong today as the day Moses set me up.”

Caleb was as vigorous to go out to battle at age 85 as he was when he was 40. Now give me this hill country that the Lord promised me that day!

You heard him. Caleb was a finisher. I love the way the story ends. So Joshua blessed Caleb and gave him Hebron as his inheritance… and there’s this little parenthetical statement at the end of the story here (Now the name of Hebron formerly was Kiriath-arba, Arba was the greatest man among the Anakim.) Not anymore. It is called Hebron, because 85-year old Caleb went up there and defeated the mighty Arba and changed the name! How? Caleb had determination in the strength of the Lord. Give me those hills! Caleb was taking names for the Lord at eighty-five years old!

Do you have a driving intensity like Caleb? Do you yearn to finish what God’s put you on this earth to do! It does not matter how old you are, or how young you are! What matters is that you accomplish your call! What matters is that you have a fire in your bones that says “Give me that hill country!”

A Focused Pursuit: The “It” Factor

A Focused Pursuit: The “It” Factor

Finishing well requires a focused pursuit, or what you might call a vision. Consider Jesus’ phrase:

It is finished

What is the “it” that needed to be finished by Jesus? What is the “it” factor? 

Going back to John 17:4, Jesus says this:

I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.

So what is the “it” for Jesus? The work the Father has given Him to do. Jesus had a calling, a vocation, a task to accomplish. That work would include for Jesus the shedding of tears, stress, denials of friends, bleeding, a passion, an excruciating, painful, and crushing death on the Cross. That was the work that the Father had given Him to do! In finishing that work, He completed a task that would bring redemption and salvation to all the people of the world.

As tough as Jesus vocation was, it was absolutely essential that it be accomplished because if it were not, there would be no redemption, salvation, and atonement for sins. Halleluiah! Jesus could say, “It is finished.”

I want to ask you a very important question. It’s perhaps the most important question you could ever ask yourself with intention to answer. What is the “it” for your life? What is the work that God has given you to do? Do you know? The most important question you could ever answer in your life because if you don’t know what it is—that is, what the work that God has given you to do—you will not be working to its accomplishment and finish it.

Where there is no vision, the people perish… –Proverbs 29:18

If you cannot answer that question you may be leaving the most important thing incomplete. What a sad thing it would be to have died having not completed the work that God had put you on this earth to accomplish!

You might call it single-mindedness. Paul exemplifies this in what he says,

But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. –Philippians 3:13-14

Do we say like Paul: “But one thing that I do” —the upward call of God. I think many of us say, “this is one of the fifty things that I dabble in order to keep myself busy”, but not Paul, not Jesus! The Scriptures do not teach that the key to the Christian life is busyness!

What is the “One Thing” for you? So, if you do not know the answer to that question for you, get to know it. It’s the most important question that you could ask. Ask Him in prayer, “What on Earth am I here for?” And then set your mind on that vision and finish it.

Have you discovered the “it” factor for your life? Again I ask, what is the “One Thing” that you are called to do? What is the race that is marked out for you?

Jesus, focused on the “it”. “It is finished.” You are not finished until “it” is finished!

The Adversary

The Adversary

The evil one seeks to trap you and keep you from being productive in the work that God has called you to do. God is not the only one who has a plan for your life. Oh, we have an adversary, Satan, who has schemes, traps and tricks. He tries to get us off track and prevent us from completing the work that we have been called to do by God.

His primary tool is the temptation of self-sabotage. Remember when the Devil took Jesus to the pinnacle of the Temple and tempted Jesus to throw Himself off? He challenged Jesus to take a suicidal self-destructive leap! How many times do we self-sabotage? The evil one does not change his tactics. He is always trying to move us in to self-destructive behaviors. The problem is that we fall for it.

Some of these temptations come in the form of opportunities, actually. They can be distractions. He tries to get you to do things in improper timing. Remember when Jesus’ mother tried to get Him to do the miracle at the wedding feast of Cana and He had to say, “Mom, it’s not the right time?”

When Jesus was very clear with his disciples what He had to do, the work that He had been called to do? When he said “I am going to suffer at the hands of the chief priest and the scribes. I’ve got to go to Jerusalem. I’m going – I’m going to die and then three days later, I’m going to rise from the dead.”

What did His best friend say? “This should never happen to you, Lord.” In other words, “I’ve got some advice and my advice is that you should just call off the Crucifixion. That doesn’t sound like a good idea Jesus.” Those who love you the most can be like that– they’re looking out for you, but sometimes they can take you off task for fear of risk. Jesus threw Peter’s words off instantly.

Get behind me, Satan.

Yes, Peter was a friend, but at that moment, Peter was a friend speaking the Devil’s sabotaging words into Jesus’ life. His words come in the form of human solutions, earthly kingdoms, quick fixes, and even protective concern. Sometimes Satan’s sabotage comes through our own fears, our own avoidance of pain, hard work and struggle.

He is sneaky and tricky and he wants to tempt us so that he can stop us from fulfilling God’s call in our life, and he does it in very subtle ways. The bottom line for Satan is that he does not want us to finish. Don’t ever underestimate him or deny him. He does not want you to finish, he will stop at nothing to stop you!

“Save yourself,” they said to Jesus on the cross. “Save yourself if you are the Son of God.”

Rather they should have encouraged the One running the ultimate race on behalf of all humanity: “If You are the Son of God, finish the work that You have been called to do! Go Jesus, Go!”

The voice of Satan is always tempting and taunting you to quit. How is Satan tempting you right now to give up on the race that is set before you? What are the things that Satan is using, his strategies, the little temptations to sin in your life? What is he doing to distract you from fulfilling your call?

Let the words of James encourages you…

Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. –James 4:7-8

It is finished, not I am finshed.

It is finished—not I am finished

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
–Hebrews 12:1-2

Consider Jesus as the supreme example of a finisher.

Notice that our Lord did not say “I am finished”. Jesus had that pure undivided heart focused on the joy that was set before Him. He would not be hindered by the “sin that so easily entangles,” but rather was able to say in victory:

It is finished.

Jesus demonstrated a focused heart that would not be sabotaged by His own pain, struggle, weakness or distraction. His deep desire was only to please the Father and win the prize.

Paul called a young leader Timothy to have an undivided heart for God like a soldier whose aim is only to please his commanding officer. “No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.” (2 Timothy 2:4) because Satan wants to capture Timothy to do his will! (cf. 2 Timothy 2:26)

Get rid of all the things that might entangle, especially your own sin.

That’s why the writer of Hebrews describes it as that “the sin that so easily entangles,” it is so easy to get caught up in the weeds of our own untended sin garden. A trait of a finisher is the undivided heart.

How many times have you said: I am finished. I am done. I just cannot do this anymore. I quit.

Having the undivided heart to please only Jesus will free you to see clear to a focused pursuit that never quits. How can you regain that pleases God alone? What sin in your life is so easily entangling your heart? Is it your own sin? Or is it the sin of others? The Lord would hear you say with Jesus: “It is finished.”

Finishing Well

It is Finished

After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
–John 19:28-30

On Finishing Well

I want to explore with you the traits of one who finishes well reflecting on Jesus’ words: “It is finished.”

Don Sweating, the new president of Reform Theological Seminary has a pastor’s heart. His dad is also a pastor like he is only his father is in his 80s. Don went to him and said, “Dad, I want you to write a book.” His dad said, “Oh, I’ve written books.”

Don said, “No, you need to write another book”. His dad had written two books already. One was how to begin the Christian life. The second book, how to continue in the Christian life.

Don said, “Dad, you need to write a third book, finish the trilogy: How to finish the Christian life.” Don’s father said: “Well, I already wrote a book on the joy of getting older,” and Don said, “No, that’s not it. It’s a little too self-help.

Dad, you need to finish the trilogy, “How to finish the Christian life.” Don’s father said: “Well, I don’t even have a computer to do any of that and I don’t know how to use them, but I’ll do it.” So they wrote it together, a great little book, called Finishing the Christian Life.”

Americans are not finishers anymore. We used to be. We used to be very strong finishers. We would finish everything that we started. In these last decades even, we don’t finish well. We don’t finish well like we used to and it’s the great generations that understand how to start things and finish them.

Many of us have a multiple projects that we have started and they just keep growing in numbers, projects that we’ve started that is. But, do we finish them? In Jesus, we see a driving intensity. In Luke’s Gospel we read an interesting verse about the resolve of our Lord:

When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. –Luke 9:51

Jesus is a person of steel and backbone. He would go to the Cross and complete the work that God had given Him to do. He had a determination to do it. If we are to be a person who finishes, we must be like the Energizer bunny. We just keep going and going and going.

The Apostle James calls it “steadfastness”:

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. –James 1:2-4

How do you see the traits of a steadfast finisher in your life? Are you “lacking” anything?

Reunion with God

Reunion With God

My fondest memories of my childhood are of huge family reunions. My great-grandfather Holt was a father of six children. They and their progeny would gather ever year for a massive tubing party down Santa Fe River at my Uncle Manuel and Aunt Virginia’s house. We had great food, fun and fellowship–for me it was a glimpse of the reunion of heaven.

Jesus informed his disciples that the was leaving them to go be reunited with the Father:

Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. –John 14:1-3

Jesus knew that the days, weeks and years ahead for the disciples would be incredibly difficult. Not only was he leaving them, but they would undergo the same persecution–the ruler of the world would marshal his force against them. Jesus said,

“Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.” –John 15:20

In this world there will be trouble, trial, temptation, and tribulation. Jesus has overcome the world in his cross and resurrection. What awaits those who commit their lives completely to him is a joyous reunion. In my Father’s house are many rooms. Jesus is preparing a place to receive us when it is time to be home.

Do you long for reunion? Every Sunday morning, we gather corporately in worship and fellowship for a brief time of union with God and one another. Those moments of gathering are to be times of joy and mutual strengthening as we go through the time of trial.

The Scripture promises that one day we will be reunited in the great multitude of our eternal family. It says that the reunion will be a joyous celebration like Wedding Feast. Only at that Wedding Feast, we will be the ones getting married and will be drawn right into the center of the celebration. Jesus will be united with his Church for eternity in the home where righteousness dwells.

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice:

“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.”

Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?”

I answered, “Sir, you know.”

And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore,

“they are before the throne of God
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne
will shelter them with his presence.

‘Never again will they hunger;
never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat down on them,’
nor any scorching heat.
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 7:9-10, 13-17

The Father’s Good Gifts

The Father’s Good Gifts

I love the TV show Extreme Home Makeover.

Our lives are like a multi-roomed house, a house made disorderly and run down by the sinful destructive forces of the world and our own unhelpful stewardship. God would have us surrender our homes over to him in order that he might give us a spiritual Extreme Home Makeover.

Now, we may let him on the front porch, or even in the front door. It may be that we give him a little latitude to rearrange a few pieces of furniture in some of those more public and unsightly places. But, the Lord purposes an extreme renovation of the whole house beginning with the renovation of the most secret recesses of the heart–the back rooms, the ones where the doors stay shut so no one can see the mess!

The silly thing with our closed doors to God is that He knows the secrets of our hearts. Every Sunday we pray at the beginning of worship: “Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid; Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit…”–BCP, p. 355.

Even though, he sees and knows the secrets, we still hold back huge portions of our lives from his transformational will. Why is it so hard to trust God with ALL of our lives?

It has a lot to do with the pain from a myriad of betrayals of trust by other people, and it has to do with the many experiences with hurt and violations that everyone incurs. People become very guarded after being hurt. Intimate relationship is risky. The issue is control, or should we say, we all have control issues. Letting in and letting go of control of our lives to The Lord, especially the secret places of our lives, is scary, because it opens up to tremendous life change.

Paul succinctly sums the call to completely and totally surrender all of our lives to the will of God and his transformational process:

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
–Romans 12:1-2

God’s design is for us to commit to him alone like a living Sacrifice—total surrender. That is what Jesus models to us on the cross,

Father into your hands I commit My Spirit.

Our natural tendency is to conform to the worldly patters around us exemplified by our friends and family, by the cultural environments we live. He would see us transfigured into his good, acceptable and perfect will.

Will you please trust him with every room of your house? His will is good. In order for you to receive His total transformation, you have to welcome the Holy Spirit of God into the deepest and darkest places of your life–no closed doors to the ugly places. Let him in!

Jesus promises that the Father only purposes to give you good things. He has no intention of killing, steeling or destroying you (that is Satan’s plan for you). Jesus came that you might have life, abundant life (John 10:10)! The key to receiving the life of God is in surrendering our spirit to his Spirit that we might be mysteriously united in the wonderful mystery of his will.

Jesus taught us how when he said,

And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
–Luke 11:9-13

The Father loves you and has good gifts for you, he desires to fill you with his presence—every room of your life transformed! Entrust him with all of your life, today!

The Spirit of Man

The Spirit of Man

In the beginning, when God created man He formed him from the dust of the earth and the text tells us that “He breathed life into him.”

Scientists have never been able to figure out the origin of life. Students of the Bible know the answer: Life comes from God. The Lord is the Author of life. He breathed life into the dust of the earth and the man was filled with the life of God. The word for breath is the Hebrew word ruach. It is onomatopoeia like its English equivalent, the word spirit. It sounds like it is said; ruach, breath, life. When you expire, you give up your spirit.

Your spirit is your life, but that life is derived from a source. It comes from God.

My kids like to tell a little joke. “Is your refrigerator running?” “Yes”, you say. They reply, “Then, you better go catch it!” Have you heard that one?

Here is the truth about your refrigerator. It will not run for very long if it runs too far past the outlet in the wall. That is where the appliance gains its power. The truth is—and this is no joke—like an unplugged appliance, your spirit has no life unless it is tied into the source of life: the Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the Source of all life and being.

Switching metaphors, Jesus compares us to branches needing to be connected to a life giving vine:

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

Apart from unity with Christ, we can do nothing.

We gain our power when we commend our spirits to Jesus. For Jesus it is union with the Father –“Father, into your hands I commend my spirit”– the power, drama, life, resurrection – from that moment on everything is unleashed! He will be raised from the dead. New life – it’s the same for us. In offering of our lives and our spirits to Christ Jesus, New Creation breaks forth! Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation! The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. –2 Corinthians 5:17

Will you commend your Spirit to the Lord Jesus Christ? Unite with him! Pray, “Lord Jesus into your hands I commit my spirit.”