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November 24, 2017

Awe

by Mark Fulmer

And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Acts 2:42-47 (https://pcpc.us1.list-manage.com/track/click?u=eba67192d3a27da52e93fefb8&id=fd7fc4bf41&e=82a9a8f891)

Darkness had finally fallen. There were no street lamps, or billboards, or headlights. The blackness was thick. But in the distance, where we had hiked an hour before, we could see an unearthly orange glow. Smoke swirled upward as if from a cauldron. The scene was eerie. "What is that?" I asked. "It's creepy!"

"That's the volcano," came the answer, "the one we were looking down on just a bit ago. You just couldn't see the glow in the daylight." I was breathless, overcome with the awe of what I was seeing. That glow, and warmth, and steam was coming from the furnace that is the center of the earth. And in the amalgam that is awe, I felt amazement, and wonder, and a dollop of fear. Light and mist and heat from inside the earth. Awesome!

Think of how many times in Scripture the same thing happens. The unexpected overwhelms the ordinary, as God's power and mercy and love all burst unavoidably into the here and now. Remember those half a million people trapped between the devil and the deep blue sea? And then the leader cried out, "Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will work for you today" (Exodus 14:13). And they crossed the sea floor on dry ground. It wasn't too long before the descendants of those same folks would capture a heavily fortified city with trumpet blasts and shouts. Then years later there would be a crowd of mourners who shared probably the longest pregnant pause in history. The stone had been rolled back, the weeping rabbi friend had shouted the dead man's name, and then, he came out — alive. The onlookers must have been awestruck. "The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them,
'Unbind him, and let him go'" (John 11:44).

The church began that way and still grows that way. When God's people "see the salvation of the Lord," they recognize themselves as part of the eternal history of God's power and mercy and love. And awe comes upon them. Once stony hearts are filled with gladness. These Christ's Ones grow more and more in awe of the goodness God has done in Christ. And Christians want to share. Can you imagine having crossed the Red Sea or marched around Jericho or unwrapped Lazarus' torso and not told anyone about it?

So this week especially, as we give thanks, may God renew our awe, that we may receive our meals with "glad and generous hearts." And may the light and warmth and love of Christ be seen afresh in us.

About the Author

Mark Fulmer
Elder
Park Cities Presbyterian Church

Mark Fulmer is an elder at Park Cities Presbyterian Church, and along with Steve Vanderhill, teaches the New Creations Sunday School class.

 

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God's Holy Fire from Heartlight

God's Holy Fire is a daily devotional about the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
  • Who Can Argue with These Qualities?

    For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too.

    Romans 14:17-18 NLT

    Key Thought

    Who can argue with goodness, peace, and joy? These three virtues are not obtained just by human effort. Yes, a passion to possess these godly qualities is necessary, but the source of these qualities is the Holy Spirit alive in us. Goodness, peace, and joy have their source in God's nature and are made real in us through the work of the Holy Spirit. As we invite the Holy Spirit to reign over our inner being, our character is transformed to be more and more like Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:17-18). So let's yearn for the Holy Spirit to transform us to be ever more like Christ and trust that the Spirit's influence will be displayed in our lives through goodness, peace, and joy.

    Today's Prayer

    Father, don't let me be distracted by, or addicted to, food or drink. I want to be sustained and fed spiritually and emotionally by the presence of your Holy Spirit within me. I specifically pray that your goodness, peace, and joy will become more and more apparent in my life as I seek to honor Christ and yield myself to the influence of your Spirit. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.


    Ⓒ 1996-2018 Heartlight, Inc. This material may not be reproduced in part or whole for commercial use without written consent. The Thoughts and Prayer for God's Holy Fire are written by Phil Ware.

    Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

    Scripture quotations marked MESSAGE are taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

  • Confirmation

    I speak the truth in Christ — I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit...

    Romans 9:1 NIV

    Key Thought

    We often use hyperbole to make an emphatic point about something that is important to us. Hyperbole is an overstatement meant to get other people's attention. The words of hyperbole can even be jarring to help others understand the emotions behind the words spoken. Paul is about to make an incredibly shocking statement about being willing to be cut off from Christ if it would mean that his own people, the Jews, would know Jesus as their Messiah and Lord (Romans 9:1-5). But, Paul has done his own spiritual inventory: What he says is NOT hyperbole or exaggeration. He means it with all of his heart, and the Holy Spirit confirms it. As The Message puts it, "I'm not exaggerating — Christ and the Holy Spirit are my witnesses." Since the Holy Spirit lives within us and works with our consciences to convict us of sin, to help us discern God's truth when it is proclaimed, and to confirm God's truth within us, Paul can speak with assurance that what he says is the truth. We might stretch the truth to each other, but we cannot lie to the Spirit who lives within us.

    Today's Prayer

    Heavenly Father, I want to speak the truth in love. I know that I need the convicting, comforting, and confirming Holy Spirit to be at work in my heart so that my words are true and redemptive. I ask for this grace in Jesus' name. Amen.


    Ⓒ 1996-2018 Heartlight, Inc. This material may not be reproduced in part or whole for commercial use without written consent. The Thoughts and Prayer for God's Holy Fire are written by Phil Ware.

    Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

    Scripture quotations marked MESSAGE are taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.