Scripture: "And I heard a great voice from the throne saying, 'Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with Him and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them." (Revelation 21:3 RSV)
Scripture: "The time is fulfilled. The Kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the Gospel." (Mark 1:15 RSV)
Scripture: "When you pray, pray then like this: Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." (Matthew 6:9-10 RSV)
Scripture: "But you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth." (Acts 1:8 RSV)
May the grace and peace of the Holy Spirit be with you always. I have been praying for you all, that "The God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him, having the eyes of your hearts be flooded with light, that you may know the hope to which you are called in Christ Jesus." (Ephesians 1:18) It is no surprise to anyone that, in this season, we need all the extra wisdom and revelation to get through so many unchartered waters in front of us. There's tons we don't know, but what are some of the things we DO know?
We know that God is good, and His faithfulness and love do not change. We know that His Heart's desire has always been to have a relationship with His children. We know that Jesus came to open the doors to heaven for us, and to show us the Heart of the Father. We also know that Pentecost brought the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Apostles, with the promise that the Holy Spirit would now be given to all of us. "And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams...And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below..." (Acts 2:17-19) Here's the question: How does knowing this change your life?
Who is the Holy Spirit, and who is He to YOU?
Jesus knew that His leaving would be a challenge for his disciples. Until then, they had been operating under His authority and His anointing. Now they would need their own. He told his disciples that His Father was sending them a Gift, the promised Holy Spirit, but not to leave Jerusalem until they'd received it. (Acts 1:4) "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:8) Why did He tell them not to leave Jerusalem until they'd received the Holy Spirit? Because they weren't yet equipped! They would've been operating in their little human strength, and no matter how gifted we are, our little human gifts are not enough for the massive hurts, needs, the brokenness in our worlds...sometimes in our own families.
Jesus knew that they needed to be filled with supernatural power. He knew that their ordinary gifts needed to be saturated, infused with extraordinary power to complete their mission. His promise that, "He who believes in Me will also do the works I do," (John 14:12 RSV) would be utterly impossible without Jesus' very LIFE and SPIRIT infusing His disciples. He knows we need the same.
We all know the story of Pentecost. It can be found in Acts 2. The Holy Spirit came in such a mind-blowing way that the people in Jerusalem thought the Apostles were drunk. They'd never seen anything like it. The words flowing out, the healings happening, the hearts converted in a moment- everything changed in an instant. And it wasn't just power gifts of healing and miracles that they witnessed. The Apostles and a growing number of disciples suddenly demonstrated a supernatural wisdom and courage, an ability to explain deep Kingdom truths, a powerful love that made no sense and a hope that could not be extinguished. Three thousand converted in one day! Nothing had changed in the natural, but everything had changed. There was still horrible persecution, but in the midst of that- Heaven touched down. We tend to read these stories and believe that that happened a long time ago and that's that. Very few believers today EXPECT to see healings or miracles. And even fewer believe that God could use any of us. And yet look at our world right now. Have we ever needed God to show up more?
Jesus came to establish the Kingdom "on earth as it is in heaven." One of the most incredible verses I know is, "Eyes have not seen, ears have not heard what God has ready for those who love Him." (1 Corinthians 2:9)
Although this is a very popular funeral verse, it's intended for NOW. Our Father's intention is to invade earth with heaven NOW. How? At Baptism, Jesus literally pours His Spirit into us. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that Baptism makes us adopted sons and daughters, partakers of His divine nature, and co-heirs with Christ, temples of the Holy Spirit. (1265) And if this is so, then by Baptism we share “in the priesthood of Christ, in His prophetic and royal mission." (1268) This is NOT something perfunctory that we do. We believe that Baptism is necessary for salvation. But that's not all. Through Baptism we have become children, co-heirs with Jesus, and we share in His priesthood and His mission. This is not some blasphemous comment. This is our Gospel (and Catholic) mandate!
We are living at this time in history as this generation's apostles and disciples. We, filled with God's own Spirit, are equipped, as were the first apostles and disciples, to carry on Christ's mission. We too have been given the “Great Commission" in Matthew 10. "And He called to Himself His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every infirmity...and Jesus sent them out charging them, 'preach as you go, saying the Kingdom of God is at hand.' Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give." (Matthew 10:1, 7-8) Jesus gave them the authority and the power to bring heaven to earth. He gives us the same. What does this mean? It means YES YOU! And yes ME! This is our Baptismal calling. This is our mandate as believers. We pray and pray and say, "Jesus, our world is a mess. What is Your plan?" He has a very clear answer: YOU ARE! We are His plan. We, His co-heirs to heaven's treasure store, are to be bringing Him to every person or situation we encounter and release Him, and His Kingdom, so that people can receive freedom, hope, love. He is the healer, we are not. We have clear marching orders in Matthew 10. We are not responsible for the outcome, just for our obedience to Jesus' command. He doesn't suggest we pray for the sick. He says to go heal them. We get stuck in our inability. And that is correct. We, apart from Jesus, have no ability. But He is living in us with ALL ability. He just needs our cooperation. He knows what He wants to do and who He wants to touch. We just need to be tapped in to His leading and do what He says!
If we really understand our identity, we know that our lives are mission. We don't have a mission, we ARE one. Sometimes there will not be a physical healing, but a heart finally being freed of self-hate or unforgiveness. Sometimes the person will experience God's love for the first time in their lives. All of these things are fulfilling our calling. I asked you earlier, how does knowing this change your life? I pray it seeps down into our "insidest insides" and changes EVERYTHING. We, my precious friends, are God's answer to the incredible challenges in our world today. This is not some pompous declaration. This is Biblical truth. His Word and His calling for each of us. The Holy Spirit was and is continually given not only to empower us and be with us each moment, but to help us make sense of what God is asking and what He is saying. Expect Him to use any number of unexpected ways to reach us and to reveal Himself in unexpected places. Test every spirit. Seek spiritual direction, and if it doesn't go against Scripture or the teachings of the Church, you may well be surprised at where God is choosing to reveal some powerful truths in our day.
There is a real enemy, (although newest statistics say that 83% of Catholics believe satan is just a myth,) who wants to trap you in minutia and head games to keep you from being about the Father's business. We simply do not have time for that. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Know who you are in Christ. Listen to His commands. Choose to obey Him. "The Kingdom of God is among you." (Luke 17:21) We have the great privilege of bringing Jesus to each person and situation in our lives right now. Stay close to Him and to each other. And let's be about our Father's business with a singleness of purpose that scares the heck out of the enemy!
We give ALL glory, praise and honor to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Come Lord Jesus and "flood the eyes of our hearts with light that we may see the hope to which we are called in Christ Jesus." (Ephesians 1:18)