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Overflow

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May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. –Rom 15:13

Hope. It’s such a great word, isn’t it? It tells us that though all is not right in the world, things are not always now as they one day will be. You don’t have to look far, though, to notice that hope is something that’s desperately missing in the world we live in. Christ followers aren’t exempt from the hurts of this life either, but we do have a hope that only God can give and a future that only faith can see. It ’s these “intangible” truths that provide the fuel for us to keep going when the going is hard, to keep trusting when the circumstances seem to tell us otherwise, and to keep loving, because in the end, that’s all that matters and love, ultimately, is all that will last (1 Corinthians 13). Since these “intangibles” are the only things that truly last, whether in this life or the next, maybe they’re more tangible than we often think.

The beauty and gift of pain in this life is that it reminds us that this is not all there is. C. S. Lewis said that one of the plights of humanity is that we are far too easily pleased. He says we’re like the child content with making mud pies in the slums because we cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.  When life is “good” we tend to settle. When life is painful, we tend to hope and long for what is better. Paul gives us this encouragement so that the miracle of hope would overflow and be visible to those around us. Hope implies something better is coming. The good news is that we don’t always have to wait for heaven to experience the “betterness” of God. He longs to give us so much of Himself even now. A favorite passage that is often quoted in reference to heaven actually speaks of the life that we can even now begin to experience through the Spirit of God. “However, as it is written: ‘What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived’– the things God has prepared for those who love him– these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.” [1Co 2:9-10]  What could possibly be more “deep” in this life than a peace that passes all understanding (can’t be explained–only experienced), and a hope that is secure? (Heb 6:19)

So let’s join together with expectation of an outpouring of His Spirit that we may all experience the Kingdom that is “now but not yet” in all of the fullness available to us today. We hope, we long, we yearn for that overflow.

Orphans of God

Holy_spiritIn John chapter 13, Jesus had just finished unloading some heavy news to His disciples–His betrayal, Peter’s denial, and in chapter 12, He even tells of His own impending death! This would be heavy news, regardless of the recent surrounding circumstances, however, putting ourselves in the timeline of the disciples, this news also comes on the heals of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem! It only seemed like moments earlier that Jesus was about to take, what many thought should be His rightful place as King and overthrow the oppressive Roman government. We can see from the testimony of Scripture and the events that followed that this was difficult news to process, as nearly anyone could imagine.

Yet, on the heels of all of this, Jesus offers some incredible words to His followers in John 14. In verse 18, Jesus offers them this–”I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”  We can be certain that they did not fully grasp the significance of what all of that meant, but I have a feeling that they could hear and see Jesus’ heart as he says, “Let not your hearts be troubled” as He reminds them that this world is not all that there is. BUT, in the meantime, Jesus’ promise to them and to us is that He would be WITH us through the person of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus knew that there will be times in this world where we may feel alone, abused, beat up, not-measured-up, and simply forgotten. In the fallen world that we call “home” (for now), if we are fortunate to live long enough, we will likely be well acquainted with much of the unpleasantries of this life. Yet, Jesus’ promise to us is that He would not leave us as orphans. Our heavenly Father is the very definition of all that is good and His ultimate concern for us is unwavering. We can take that to the proverbial “bank”.

So, in this fallen world, let’s rest assured that no matter what this world dishes out and regardless of the self-destructive decisions and behaviors that so often betray us, we have a God who will never leave us nor forsake us and even dances over us with joy. He does not remember our past, but sees in us the infinite joy and purpose of the child that He created us to be. As the song made popular by Avalon so eloquently states, there really are “no orphans of God.”

The Holy Spirit and the Federal Reserve

What we believe is fundamental to and acts as the primary influence on our behavior. As I contemplate on my own life and the lives of those that I lead (family, church, and other influences), I can’t help but observe behavior that I find contrary to what I/we say that we believe. Why is that?

I now turn to the current state of the economy to help us flesh this out. I am not an economist (nor am I the son of an economist), however, there are some basic principles of our current financial system that most of us understand (I often wonder about our politicians, however).

Until the U.S. effectively went off of the Gold Standard in 1933, any printed money was simply a “promise to pay”, or promissory note. That meant that you could exchange that printed money for a predetermined amount of gold or “real money”. Prior to 1933, if someone were to hand you a $100 bill, you might say it was “good as gold”. Possessing that $100 bill (especially prior to 1933), could effectively cause your behavior to change, and rightfully so, even though you have never, and probably never planned on seeing any gold. Today, it is significantly more complicated and much more “hi-tech”, but I still dare to say that possession of a $100 bill could still substantially change your behavior.

You see, a true promissory note differs from an IOU in that the lender can effectively call the “note” due at any time and it has no maturity period. It is not necessarily an acknowledgment of a debt but in fact a true promise to pay at any time (at the choosing of the one who holds the “note” or promise). You see, God does not “owe” us anything, but in fact has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness through His Spirit (2 Peter 1:3). His promises to us are spiritual certainties (2 Cor. 1:20), though in our flesh we may not have full understanding or “sight” right now (Heb. 11). He is simply waiting for us in faith to “cash in” on what He has already promised.

I say all this to make a point. Of course any promise of God is far more trustworthy than any denomination of money. However, often we don’t behave that way. The Scripture tells us that if we walk in the Spirit, we will not fulfill the lust of the flesh, and that where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. If we truly believed this, our lives would be much more extraordinary. We would exhibit a freedom and power that this world would find contagious. All that is required is that we have faith enough to “cash in” on God’s promises and put a little more faith in the Scripture than we do in good ‘ole “Uncle Sam”. Our lives and the lives of those around us will be radically changed if we do.

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