Published: Monday, 15 May 2017 17:45
Written by Don Goulding
Worship God, for the testimony about Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. (Revelation 19:10)
A blast of wind slammed the slate-blue sea. A swell rolled forward but no water traveled laterally as the wind’s energy leapfrogged through the liquid particles. The water rose and fell, circled to where it began, then stayed behind as the wave passed on.
New winds pressed its back, and the wave increased to five meters. The great roller ran two thousand kilometers across open sea toward its destiny. As it met the rising ocean floor, for the first time it hurled water in an open breaker. Kinetic energy that began weeks before, now combined with water, foam, and sand to crash against coastal rocks, and die with a hiss.
The spirit of prophecy is a wave pushed up by the breath of the Spirit. This isn't physical but spiritual energy, and so all the more real. It passes through our tangible existence evidenced only by a circle of earthly powers that briefly rise and fall. Prophecies about sin, righteousness, and judgment mount in indestructible power. For thousands of years the wave has rolled toward the shore of end times.
The spirit of prophecy speaking through Isaiah, Daniel, John, and others revealed that the spiritual energy will turn into physical signs and conflicts. In a final effort, the temporal will cast itself against the rock, Jesus Christ. Everything resolves with Jesus.
Even now the wave has reached the upwardly sloping floor of history. I feel the curl propelling me forward, tumbling me over, casting me at the feet of Jesus.
Prayer: Unstoppable God, carry me by the spirit of prophecy to Jesus.
Published: Monday, 08 May 2017 16:38
Written by Don Goulding
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that remains… (John 15:16)
“Many are called, few are chosen,” a nurse said to me when I was nineteen.
She wrapped gauze around a surfing injury on my foot but said nothing more. Was it a warning against surfing, a prophetic utterance, or not directed at me?
The nurse quoted Jesus as he finished his parable of the wedding banquet. He lifted a finger and pointed to the simple truth that many are invited to the wedding feast of the Savior but few come.
Forty years of contemplating the cryptic words haven’t resolved the mystery. I still wonder in what sense we choose Christ, as opposed to being chosen by him. Many are my theological betters who have stubbed their toes on this question, and I can happily wait until Christ returns for the answers, but perhaps some outer layers of truth are accessible now.
The majority of the world’s population doesn’t profess Christ, or they don’t display fruit to substantiate their claim. So why me? I’m not smarter, more godly, or less self-serving than many who are not saved. I can’t explain why I’m rescued by Jesus, I only know that I am and so I stand with my mouth open, the drool unchecked.
On the other hand, following Jesus requires every ounce of my energy. The treadmill started slow. Admitting I needed a Savior was all the spiritual exercise I could handle. As I got in shape, the speed increased. It’s exhausting work dying to self. Keeping in step with the Spirit saps every calorie, and yet somehow I know this, too, is from him.
It’s not my effort that brings me salvation. Jesus both died for my sin and empowers me to serve him. The only part I have is to say yes.
Mine is a simple, plain choice. I choose him because he chose me.
Prayer: Lord, your love for me is my greatest joy and most profound mystery.
Published: Monday, 01 May 2017 17:20
Written by Don Goulding
For the kingdom of God does not consist of food and drink, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Romans 14:17)
After preaching in Ivory Coast, I was invited to the pastor’s house for the Sunday meal. He led me into a Liberian refugee settlement. We ducked through the doorway into his shack made from scraps of wood and tin. The impoverished people of the earth are often the most generous.
The pastor’s wife served the West African staple of garri. It’s made of cassava roots that are ground, dried, and later boiled into a mush thick as Play-Doh. Garri is tasteless and hard to swallow unless there’s something to dip it into.
My hosts also served a stew of greens with morsels of meat. We pinched off each bite of garri, dipped it in the delicious sauce, and gulp, down it went.
The kingdom of God is about righteousness, peace, and joy, but these staples must be dipped in an anointing of the Holy Spirit. Righteousness is never satisfied with my performance, it sticks in my throat and won’t go down. The peace and joy I generate are so tasteless they never touch me inside. Without the Holy Spirit, the Christian life is impossible.
The reason Jesus cleansed us by his sacrifice was to fill us with the Holy Spirit. We get tangled up over the signs and gifts of the Spirit, but the fruits of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control—can’t be counterfeited. They are living proof that Spirit filling isn’t an optional Christian add-on, it is Christianity.
When I dip righteousness under the Spirit’s leading, doing good tastes marvelous. I crave helping others and practicing honesty. I grow insatiable for truth and self-sacrifice. Without warning, peace and joy fill my mouth.
The kingdom of God is not about food and drink, but it is about staples that taste delicious with the Holy Spirit.
Prayer: Spirit of God, flood my heart with your righteousness, peace, and joy.