I don’t like waiting. I don’t like the lineup at the border. I don’t like waiting at traffic lights. And I don’t like waiting on God. I don’t know anyone who does. Yet there are times when we wait for God. The Bible suggests that we will be waiting on God for guidance (Psalms 25:5), for deliverance (Psalms 33:20), for answers to prayer (Psalms 38:15), for strength (Isaiah 40:31), and fresh assurance of God’s pardon and forgiveness (Psalms 130:5). Those of course are good things to wait for, but still waiting is hard faith work.
The basic truth of the bible on waiting is that waiting on God is not a passive thing; it is an active thing—it is an act of faith. John Owen the 17th century Puritan pastor wrote about active waiting. Owen taught three important aspects of active waiting: quietness, diligence, and expectancy. Today Julie Zimmerman brings us some ancient and well-practiced wisdom on waiting for God.
It is good to praise the Lord – Psalm 92 v1. But it’s not always easy. By speaking to our minds through our hearts we have been given Gods word in the form of poetry and music so that we can engage with God and respond to the situations life throws at us in ways that will be pleasing to God. He wants relationships with real people, not robots.
The psalms help us when we perhaps don’t have the capacity; by their structure, poetry and sheer expression of thanksgiving to a God who is real and alive. We’re going to discover a bit of this by diving into Psalm 92 and give thanks to the one true God.
PRAYING THE RAGGED EDGES OF LIFE: “A Contrite Heart” God is the initiator of all change and transformation—Christians call this “salvation.” We can cooperate (or resist) God’s initiatives—Christians call this cooperation “conversion.” There are many ways to cooperate with what God is doing. One way is to make U-turns in response to God. A U-turn involves making a choice to be on God’s side rather than continue in your own way apart from God. Christians call this U-turn skill “repentance”. Repentance is not a one-time thing but a “Christian life skill” that allows you to grow and mature in Christ. Today, Jenn Ohlhauser, a long term Capper, speaks to us about how repentance changed David’s life [from Psalm 51 and Psalm 32 and 2 Samuel 11] and how we are called to repentance.
PRAYING THE RAGGED EDGES OF LIFE: This August we examine what it means to lean into God in all of life’s ups and downs—times when we are furious; need to change; are thankful; are tired of waiting and reflective—looking back over our lives. The Psalms are perfect for this because the psalms honestly express real feelings of real people in the midst of real life circumstances. Though they were written centuries ago, the Psalms still resonate deeply with us today, giving voice to our thoughts and longings. The other great part of this series is that we bring you the best of Cap’s preachers this summer—Cappers who you know who have something to say from their own life experiences and the Scriptures that will both instruct and encourage. This August’s roster includes Mike Nichols; Jenn Ohlhauser; Barrett Sprowson; Julie Zimmerman; and Shelly MacDonald-Lin. An all-Cap cast!
Today we look at Psalm 58 which is an imprecatory psalm. Psalm 58 calls down a curse on leaders who conceive and carry out evil devastating those whom God loves. How does a Christian deal with rage they feel over evils done? Psalm 58 gives us some guidance.
Everyday life in the Spirit—what now? Today we conclude our series on the Holy Spirit. We’ve stressed that the experience of the Spirit is about lived-out faith; about receiving Christ’s salva-tion. The Spirit is the evidence that God’s great future for his people had already made its way into the present. The Spirit guarantees that God will con-clude what he began in Christ. Thus the Spirit is the foundational to your entire experience and understanding of your present life in Christ. So what now? Walk in the Spirit; engage in the Spirit-flesh battle; give and receive sa-cred words in the community; find your meaning in relationship with others in the community and being conduits of God’s grace to them. Live the reality that to each is given a manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. Focus on building up; encouraging; giving life and love. All this is what it means to be full of the Spirit. Amen?
“Few things are so central to the Christian perspective on discern-ment as the relationship between the inner witness of the Spirit, and the objective, inscripturated wit-ness of the Holy Spirit, namely, the Bible… We cannot know the voice of Jesus unless we are men and women of Scripture, with our minds and hearts informed by truth. Why? Because the inner wit-ness [of the Spirit] will never con-tradict the written witness of the Spirit. Further, we cannot develop our intuitive capacity to recognize the inner witness unless we are women and men who are immersed in Scripture so that the contours of our hearts and minds are ordered and enabled by the Word.” (Gordon Smith, The Voice of Jesus, p.31)
There is a difference between a problem and a predicament. A problem has a solution. With predicaments there are no apparent solutions—just options and the options are in conflict. In my pastoral experience people get really get stuck when it comes to predicaments—really stuck. There is no easy way out of stuckness. There are often unseen reasons why people stay stuck. And there are payoffs for not changing that are strong motivations to do nothing. If you are a friend to someone who is stuck then much of your advice will fall into the “wasted breath” department. The bible is full of examples of predicaments and what breaks the log jam is God speaking into predicament directly or via a human agency or some other means [e.g. Balaam’s ass]. Today we look at cooperating with the Spirit to speak God’s perspectives and God’s word into situations and the lives of those around us.
It is impossible to spend any real time contemplating the person and work of the Spirit without being led to prayer. Similarly, it is impossible to spend much time in prayer without regard to the Spirit. The Spirit and prayer are intimately united. We can’t have one without the other.
The Spirit Of Holiness part 2—Walking. Throughout Christian history Bible teachers and theologians agree that Christian transformation cannot be separated from the work of the Holy Spirit. Wherever you turn in the Bible—to the gospel of John, Luke-Acts, or the Apostle Paul, even the Psalms—you see the prominence of the Holy Spirit imparting the reality of God to individuals and communities of faith.
Individual experience and Christian traditions vary considerably about how one experiences the Holy Spirit. Transformation into Christ is a complex event, so one would expect considerable variety. But what matters for both individuals and communities is this—that we are vitally walking and in touch with the Spirit of God.
In the New Testament, the Spirit is most often referred to as the Holy Spirit. Not the Happy Spirit, or the Missional Spirit. Not the Prophetic Spirit, or the Surprising Spirit. But the Holy Spirit. At one point, in Romans 1:3, Paul even refers to the Spirit explicitly as “the Spirit of Holiness.” Could it be that this is integral to who He is and what He has come to do in our lives?