“Shift the Focus”

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Have you noticed that people who are filled with the Holy Spirit shift the focus from themselves to Jesus? I have. I have noticed that those who are filled with the Spirit are keenly aware that it is not about them but about Jesus.

I see this in our main text: Acts 2:22 (see below). The crowd is fascinated, bewildered, utterly amazed (vv. 6, 7) by the filling of the Holy Spirit in those who had been patiently waiting (v. 4). Some of the crowd sincerely asked how can this be that they are all hearing the praises of God in their native languages (v. 12), and yet some mocked saying those filled  were drunk (v. 13)!

Peter is prompted by the Spirit to get up and briefly explain what is happening (vv. 14-21). By quoting the prophet Joel, he apparently satisfies their question…, but he quickly shifts the focus from the apostles and the other vessels being filled by the Spirit to the Lord Jesus.

Lifestyle worshiper, do you find it sad that many who address this chapter focus on the Holy Spirit, when the Holy Spirit, Himself, is shifting the focus off of Himself and those being filled by Him to the One He came to bring glory to (John 16:13-14)? I do. I wonder if He is sad, too.

In all openness, I actually just saw this truth this morning as I was meditating on this passage. I had been caught up in answering all the various interpretations and positions that have been stirred up over this chapter when the Spirit opened my eyes to see that Peter really doesn’t linger on answering the crowd’s question. Rather, v. 15 records that he dismisses the drunk accusation, and then vv. 16-21 presents prophetic, Scriptural support for this power filling of the Spirit. If I had been the one who had stood up, I would have launched into my “Dump-Truck” effect and given the crowd far more than they wanted—or needed, and totally kept the focus on us and the Spirit.

But instead, Peter followed the promptings of the Spirit and promptly shifted the focus to Jesus. I truly need this reminder this morning. How about you?

Main Text: — Acts 2:22 — 22 Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know  [NIV84]

Additional Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

  Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him — Acts 8:35 (NKJV)

 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you..  —John 16:13-14 (NIV84)

   I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.  — Philippians 3:10-11 (NIV84)

 Heavenly Father, forgive me for being slow in shifting the focus to Jesus. I ask that You make my life a humble example of the filling of Your Holy Spirit as I constantly shift the focus to Jesus. In His Name, Amen.

Pastor Mike

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“Trained By the Pain”

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Date: 9-14-14

(Below are some thoughts I had on James 1:12:  Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.  [NIV84])

One reason we can persevere under the trials (and these are more than slivers; they are crosses), is because of the Joy we have knowing there is a purpose in them. The purposes of a particular trial may have many facets, but one facet is becoming more like Jesus. Because of the Joy set before Him, Jesus endured the cross and scorned its shame and is now seated at the right Hand of the Majesty on High. He is no longer wearing a crown of thorns, but He is now wearing the crown of the King of kings! And when we, too, are trained by the pain, we receive a crown, the crown of life.

Lifestyle worshipers, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23 NIV84).“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18 NASB 95). “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body” (2 Cor. 4:8-10 NIV 84). “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Cor. 4:16-18 NIV 84).

Be encouraged to be trained by the pain. Remember: “A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.” — Luke 6:40 (NIV84)

A Humble Prayer

Heavenly Father, as You teach me to see through the current trial, let the Joy of Your Spirit flood my soul. Guard my heart and my mind with the Peace that passes all understanding: The Lord Jesus Christ, my Prince of Peace. I bless You, in Your Son’s Name Amen.

An Informal Introduction

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Since becoming a believer during the Jesus People Movement, I have had a strong passion to be more like Jesus. My heart still yearns and burns to live a life that is pleasing to Him. For years I struggled in my own strength to produce this Life, but always ended in self-berating defeat. Then I met a wonderful mentor who led me to the understanding that the Lord Jesus Christ is my Life: He is the power to live the Life (e.g. Col. 3:4; & Gal. 2:20-21). Since this time, I have been on a journey to apply this truth to all aspects of my life and to encourage others along their journey with Jesus to do the same.

Thus, the birth of this blog. Since we all see through a mirror dimly and now know only in part, my desire is to get a conversation going about living the Life of Jesus through our human fragility. This conversation may vacillate between the spiritual & unseen and the physical & the very seen. Through this conversation, my desire is to discover balance. This balance is between this spiritual, rather mystical life, and a focus on behavior, which often leads to some measure of legalism, or what I call Behavioral Christianity.

This latter extreme is an attempt to live the Life of Jesus in the power of the flesh, or through  human effort. The other extreme seems to discount that the Lord Jesus valued the humanness of His creation, man & woman. He demonstrated this value:  (1) by being BOTH God AND Man, taking on human likeness; (2) by resurrecting in bodily form, confirming so by eating some fish and letting His disciples touch Him; and (3) by touching; Jesus touched many, not only when He healed them, but when He blessed them, too (e.g. Matt. 8:3, 15 & Mk. 10:16).

Through many conversations over the years I have learned the wisdom of Phil. 3:15-16: “All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained.” At the risk of sound self-adulating and considering myself mature, I do believe that it is through the process of these exchanges we will come to a better understanding of what the Lord is making clear to us. But in the meantime, let us maximize what we have in common understanding: Jesus is the Risen Lord!