The Spirit Poured Out

Might you imagine this wondrous moment on the Feast of the Harvest (Feast of First Fruits) when the Holy Spirit is poured out on every kind of people? What might it have been like for the outsiders to become insiders? For those unable to access God’s presence through the temple worship? To have God’s very Spirit filling, indwelling, empowering them?
As you pause to pray with the text, make space to notice your own longing for God’s presence. How does that longing reveal itself to you?

Acts 2:1-21 NLT
On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place. 2 Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. 3 Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. 4 And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.

5 At that time there were devout Jews from every nation living in Jerusalem. 6 When they heard the loud noise, everyone came running, and they were bewildered to hear their own languages being spoken by the believers.

7 They were completely amazed. “How can this be?” they exclaimed. “These people are all from Galilee, 8 and yet we hear them speaking in our own native languages! 9 Here we are—Parthians, Medes, Elamites, people from Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, the province of Asia, 10 Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, and the areas of Libya around Cyrene, visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism), Cretans, and Arabs. And we all hear these people speaking in our own languages about the wonderful things God has done!” 12 They stood there amazed and perplexed. “What can this mean?” they asked each other.

13 But others in the crowd ridiculed them, saying, “They’re just drunk, that’s all!”

14 Then Peter stepped forward with the eleven other apostles and shouted to the crowd, “Listen carefully, all of you, fellow Jews and residents of Jerusalem! Make no mistake about this. 15 These people are not drunk, as some of you are assuming. Nine o’clock in the morning is much too early for that. 16 No, what you see was predicted long ago by the prophet Joel:

17 ‘In the last days,’ God says,    ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams.

18 In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on my servants—men and women alike—and they will prophesy.19 And I will cause wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below—blood and fire and clouds of smoke.20 The sun will become dark, and the moon will turn blood red    before that great and glorious day of the Lord arrives.21 But everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

For Reflection and Prayer:
What caught your attention-a word, a phrase, an image or emotion-as you listened to the text? Have a conversation with Jesus about what you heard.

Was there a particular feeling you experienced as you listened to the story? Bring that feeling into your prayer. How do you need Christ to meet you in that feeling?

Reflect on your own experience or longing for the Holy Spirit coming to you.

Be still and savor any consoling words or pictures in your prayer.

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Come Holy Spirit

God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:5

Today’s text reminds us of the Father announcing his affirmation and blessing upon his son Jesus at his baptism as the Holy Spirit descends upon him like a dove. However mysterious is the action of the Holy Spirit, it does seem that the Father wants our communities to bear witness to the Spirit’s presence and action in our lives. Sometimes we need others to lay hands on us, pray with us and help us see the Spirit who has been given to us.

Acts 8:14-17 (NLT)

When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that the people of Samaria had accepted God’s message, they sent Peter and John there. 15 As soon as they arrived, they prayed for these new believers to receive the Holy Spirit. 16 The Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them, for they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then Peter and John laid their hands upon these believers, and they received the Holy Spirit.

Acts 8:14-17 (TMG)

When the apostles in Jerusalem received the report that Samaria had accepted God’s Message, they sent Peter and John down to pray for them to receive the Holy Spirit. Up to this point they had only been baptized in the name of the Master Jesus; the Holy Spirit hadn’t yet fallen on them. Then the apostles laid their hands on them and they did receive the Holy Spirit.

For Reflection and Prayer:

Was there a word, a phrase, image, or feeling that shimmered as you listened? Bring it into your prayer with Jesus. Perhaps you want to draw or color your prayer.

Reflect upon how you have experienced the Holy Spirit in your life. Ask the Holy Spirit to remind you where you may have missed the Presence. Journal what comes to mind.

Where are you longing to witness the Holy Spirit at work in your life? Bring this longing into your prayer. As the prayer comes to a close, give yourself some time to surrender in quiet trust that the Spirit is in you and with you.

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Surprised by Christ's Presence

Has Jesus ever startled you? Suddenly showed up in a place or situation you weren’t expecting? Join the disciples behind the locked doors in this passage and experience with them as they behold a living, breathing, healed Jesus. Receive His peace. Feel His breath. Ponder the power of healed wounds.

John 20:19-23 NLT

That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. 20 As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! 21 Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” 22 Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

For Reflection and Prayer:

If something captured your attention - a word, a phrase, an image - let this simmer in you and allow the Spirit to expand its meaning for you.

Notice any place of consolation or desolation that you experienced as you listened and allow the Trinity to minister to you there.

This text is full of tactile and sensory observations. How is it for you to place yourself in this story? Which of your senses are affected? Bring this affect into conversation with Jesus.

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Understanding the Father's Heart

We begin to truly flourish when we come to know the heart of Abba Father in our own hearts. When our lived experience allows us to taste the Father's love and compassion for us we become enabled to see the God's signs more readily around us. Our pain, sorrow and suffering can become gateways to discovering the heart of the Father and we need to be very gentle with ourselves in the process.

John 15:18-16:4 (NLT)
“If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. 19 The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you. 20 Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you. 21 They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the one who sent me. 22 They would not be guilty if I had not come and spoken to them. But now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Anyone who hates me also hates my Father. 24 If I hadn’t done such miraculous signs among them that no one else could do, they would not be guilty. But as it is, they have seen everything I did, yet they still hate me and my Father. 25 This fulfills what is written in their Scriptures: ‘They hated me without cause.’
26 “But I will send you the Advocate—the Spirit of truth. He will come to you from the Father and will testify all about me. 27 And you must also testify about me because you have been with me from the beginning of my ministry.
16 “I have told you these things so that you won’t abandon your faith. 2 For you will be expelled from the synagogues, and the time is coming when those who kill you will think they are doing a holy service for God. 3 This is because they have never known the Father or me. 4 Yes, I’m telling you these things now, so that when they happen, you will remember my warning. I didn’t tell you earlier because I was going to be with you for a while longer.

For your reflection and prayer:
As you listened, was there a word, a phrase, an image, or something else that stood out to you? Notice what it stirs in you. Have a conversation with Jesus about this.

This text might evoke painful memories of hatred. Be very gentle and compassionate with yourself as they arise. Simply ask God for what you need and share the longings of your heart for healing in you or a situation.

Slowly savor any consoling words or images which God gives you in this time of prayer. Simply rest in God’s presence with them.

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Never Alone. Never Abandoned.

Our need and longing for safety and security is real and fully understood by God. The One who faithfully fashioned us knows our craving for belonging and intimate friendship. What a promise Jesus gives in these words. No one else can truly deliver on the promise to never leave us or forsake us. Not for a moment. Be still with these words of Jesus today and allow them to enfold your heart. You are not alone. Ever.

John 14:15-24  (NLT)

15 “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. 18 No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you. 19 Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live. 20 When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.”
22 Judas (not Judas Iscariot, but the other disciple with that name) said to him, “Lord, why are you going to reveal yourself only to us and not to the world at large?”
23 Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. 24 Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me. And remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me.

For Reflection and Prayer:
1. Was there a word, a phrase, or an image that stood out as you listened? Linger there awhile with Jesus.
2. If any experiences of being “led into all truth” come to mind as you listened, consider listening deeper with our Advocate. Rest in any word you receive.

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What Offends You?

Six weeks ago we entered John Chapter 6 which launched us into the miraculous multiplication and feeding on the loaves and fishes. 71 verses later, we are still chewing on the words of Jesus and trying to digest what he is saying. Jesus knows that this is "hard teaching" and he responds with a poignant nuance of the Greek word for "hard" with the question, "does this offend you?". Stepping back from the dialogue we notice at least two responses to being offended - either going away from it or becoming curious and staying present to what the offense might teach us. Be compassionate with yourself as you listen and wrestle with this text. Give yourself permission to hold your questions and keep bringing them into prayer. The answer may not come quickly or easily. 

John 6:60-71 (NIV)
 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”
61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit[e] and life. 64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65 He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.”
66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.
68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”
70 Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” 71 (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)

For Reflection and Prayer:
What did you hear as you listened to the text? Have a conversation with Jesus about what you heard.

Place yourself in this conversation. Who are you? What are you thinking? What are you feeling? What do you want to say to Jesus? What does he in turn say to you?

Savor any consoling words or pictures God gives you. Simply rest in God’s presence.

When Jesus Comes Towards Us

Unexpectedly, Jesus comes towards us often disguised in ways in which we cannot see him. Jesus comes to us in our place of need, yet sometimes we are desperately afraid of our true need. It is hard to imagine Jesus wanting to meet us somewhere we do not want to be. Still, he comes and descends gently upon us through his Spirit. Be still and rest in Christ's presence as you pray with John's testimony of Jesus coming towards him.

John 1:29-34 (NLT)
29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 He is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘A man is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’ 31 I did not recognize him as the Messiah, but I have been baptizing with water so that he might be revealed to Israel.”
32 Then John testified, “I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon him. 33 I didn’t know he was the one, but when God sent me to baptize with water, he told me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that he is the Chosen One of God.”

For Reflection and Prayer:

What did you hear as you listened or read the text? Did something particular catch your attention? Bring it into conversation with Jesus.

Give yourself room for the word to affect you. What are you feeling or sensing? Gently bring this awareness into your prayer with Jesus.

Savor any consoling words or pictures as you quietly rest in God.