Prayer and Fasting ~ May 2021
Jesus in Real Time
May Scripture Focus
I will send you the Advocate – the Spirit of truth. He will come to you from the Father and will testify all about me…When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not be presenting his own ideas; he will be telling you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. He will bring me glory by revealing to you whatever he receives from me. John 15:26, 16:13-14 (NLT)
Before Jesus died, he made a remarkable promise to his followers. He would provide a never-ending presence – his Spirit, his power. He promised to provide all those who follow with a means for guidance, direction, and power, not just now but into the future to the end of the ages.
Later in May we’ll celebrate Pentecost, the moment we read about in Acts when the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus’ followers and it was clear that he had kept his promise. We will read from Scripture and remind ourselves of the power of this amazing event that happened oh so long ago. I’m all for celebrating Pentecost! But it seems that we’ve forgotten that the promise that was fulfilled wasn’t something that was true only in the past. Jesus’ promise was that he would be real in our lives right now and far into the future.
For many of us, we seem to have forgotten what it means to be in relationship with a living God, a God in the present tense, a God who is with us in real time. A God who offers power for our lives and our world and demands that we follow in ways that allow his power to flow through us. And yet, Jesus in real time is the only Jesus we can truly know. We can know about the Jesus who walked this earth two thousand years ago, but we can only truly know Jesus in real time through the power of the Holy Spirit. This is the Jesus we are called to follow, opening ourselves to his direction for our present and future and showing and sharing his love in the here and now.
There is great power available to us when we open ourselves to the possibility of knowing Jesus in real time rather than just through stories from long ago. It’s the same power given to Ananias, a disciple who lived in Damascus. God spoke to Ananias in a vision and told him to go to a house on Straight Street. When he got there, he would find a man named Saul, whom God had also given a vision of a man named Ananias restoring his sight (Acts 9:10-12).
Now, Ananias was not enthusiastic about following these instructions, because they involved a good deal of risk and took him way outside his comfort zone. Following Jesus in real time, meant that Ananias would come face to face with Saul, the one who had been arresting and persecuting Christians with unbelievable zeal and determination. What Ananias knew about the past made him nervous about this kind of future.
Despite his nervousness, Ananias obeyed. He followed, trusting the real presence of Jesus to direct him into the future. When Ananias arrived at the house, he found Saul, laid his hands on him, and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road, has sent me so that you may get your sight back and be filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 9:17, NLT). Acts 9 tells us that “instantly something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he regained his sight” (verse 18, NLT).
Ananias was a devout follower, but as devout as he was, he needed to experience the presence of Jesus in real time in order to be guided into the future – in order to follow in the way Jesus desired. It is the same with us. We’re able to follow Jesus faithfully and with passion, when we live in the presence of the Holy Spirit. It’s the power of the Holy Spirit that makes Jesus present to us now. It’s Holy Spirit power that channels everything to us that Jesus desires us to know. It’s the Spirit that guides us into the future, outlining for us exactly how we are to follow.
The disciples may have had the privilege of living in the presence of Jesus; but we have the privilege of having the presence of Jesus living in us. This is what Paul was desperate for us to understand when he said, “For this is the secret: Christ lives in you, and this is your assurance that you will share in his glory” (Colossians 1:27, NLT).
Each of us is a temple of the Holy Spirit. The problem for us as we follow Jesus is that we are looking “out there” – beyond us – when Jesus in real time, through the Spirit, is right here within us. But when we experience Jesus in real time, barriers are broken down, gates are opened, relationships are mended, bridges are built. When we allow the power of Jesus to escape the confines of the past, to actually touch us in the present and lead us into the future, lives are changed.
As Christ followers we are called to follow Jesus into the world. The test of our faith is not how it is contained within the church. The test of our faith is whether it can guide our experience in the world, in the here and now. We follow the one who has the power to set us free, to deepen our lives, to heal our wounds, to mend our relationships, to break down the walls that separate us and tear down the barriers that hinder us from loving each other. This is Jesus in real time; the Jesus who wants to be alive within you.
The apostle Paul prayed for his churches constantly, asking God to “give [them] spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that [they] might grow in [their] knowledge of God.” (Ephesians 1:17, NLT) That is my prayer for you as you pray and fast during the coming weeks: “I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the wonderful future he has promised to those he called.” (Ephesians 1:18, NLT)
That light is the light of Christ, the light of Jesus in real time, who has promised you a wonderful future—a rich and glorious inheritance. That light is the light of Jesus, the Jesus who provides incredible greatness of power to all who believe him—the power to love, the power to heal, the power to reach out. May you make that light your own; may you make that power your own.
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