Journey to Awareness Lent Day 38

NIV Acts 2:28  You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.

The above verse is from the Psalter.  It is the ending verse of chapter 16.  The in reality it is the ending thought of a group of four verses:

NIV  Psalm 16:8-11  I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.  Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure,  because you will not abandon me to the grave (Sheol) ,  nor will you let your Holy (faithful) One  see decay.  You have made (or will make) known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

I needed this verse when I set down to write this entry.  In reality, if God was at my right hand tonight God would have notice that my hand most likely was shaking.  And while even as I type these words the above verses are pulling me away from the pity party I was trying to attend.   It is hard, but it is important when doubts and emotions rise to be careful to not let circumstances or the slow unrelenting heaviness of life pull one away from the presence who is always there.

In the verse from Acts list above, Peter is preaching his Pentecost sermon.  God has shown up.  The Spirit of God has descended in power and the small stones are about to become the giant rock.  The church is born.  God will now be more than with us, God will be in us.  This is the gift that Jesus claimed for us in his death and resurrection.

Tonight, in confirmation class, I asked each of the young people present how they knew God was with them.  Three were very confident and positive.  Three did not know.  I appreciated their honesty.  Did I try to get them saved? (slight laughter at myself)  I don’t get anyone saved.  Only one human being has (notice the present tense) the power to “save” and that human being is also the Creator of everything, the author of life, and God incarnate.  All I can do is follow the example of Peter and tell them what Jesus did and why.  All I can do is talk about how amazing a relationship with God is.  All I can do is explain to them the power God has granted them as free (but accountable) sentient beings.  All I can do is tell them what Jesus has done (does and is doing) for me.

We are getting near the end of the Lenten journey for this year.  The real time journey I have been on apart from these posts has been a pretty wild emotional and spiritual ride.  Through it all I have been aware that: You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.  Amen!!!!!

Tonight the church will gather as did the disciples on the night before the crucifixion.  The sacrament of communion will be shared.  The body of Christ and the blood of Christ blessed and consumed.  In the exercise of this duty (that is reality a delight) the joy of sanctify grace will again fill those of us who come.  How could we not but find reason for joy!

The Journey to Awareness Lent Day 37

NIV Acts 5:29   Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than men!

I can see a day coming when those who try to live by and proclaim the Word of God will viewed as being totally out of touch with the world and popular opinion.  I can see a day coming when laws will be passed that will seek to limit the influence of the church.  I can see a day coming when those who preach will be arrest for hate crimes if they call certain behavior sinful.  This day is coming.  We need to get ready.

For hundreds of years before the first advent of Jesus those who were faithful and dependent on the teaching of Scripture often were in the minority even among the chosen people of God.  There is a whole theological construct called “the remnant” that speaks to this issue.

God will always have a witness.  We pray we can give this witness living in times of peace.  However, the faithful of God will give this witness no matter what.  We need to remember that the word martyr comes from the ancient Greek word for witness.

NIV Acts 5:32   “We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”

On this journey of life, to seek to live closer to Jesus, to seek first the Kingdom does allow us to be witnesses (both in eye and in heart) of wonderful acts and revelations of God.  We do have the Holy Spirit to guide us.  We have the presence of Jesus encourage us.  We have the church and the spiritual gifts given to us to build one another up.

May this season of Lent prepare us for whatever the future days may bring.  May our journey make us aware of how our witness is so desperately need now.