Intimacy, love, trust, peace, belonging, community, identity — these are the things our spirits crave — and these are the things the world cannot give us. Jesus spoke to his disciples’ most basic fears and insecurities when he shared his farewell discourse with them.
The incarnate Christ knew about the longings and loneliness that reside inside every human heart.
Jesus offers to banish this emptiness forever.
Jesus promised that, through love, he and the Father will “come to” and “make a home in” the hearts of all who love them.
Jesus offers a similar life-altering factor to his disciples in the form of the Holy Spirit – and this presence makes all the difference in your life and mine.
The Spirit, whom the Father sends in Jesus’ name, teaches us “everything.” The Spirit totally changes our outlook on life.
This Spirit transforms our lives that we become a different people,
human beings who are opened to receive the fullness of God.
With the indwelling of the Spirit, living in us, we experience the final gift Jesus promised to all his disciples –
The Spirit working within us gives us access to a peace that is beyond anything we have ever imagined.
The worldly definition of peace is a negative — “the absence of conflict.”
In the same way, nature can’t leave a vacuum empty, it sometimes seems that humanity is driven to fill every such “absence” of conflict with new eruptions of violence.
Worldly peace is always based on someone:
someone ruling in triumph.
No one in the world can “give” peace to another.
We can only speak of peace being “won” or “declared” or “established.”
The Spirit of the Living God at work in the life of a disciple of Christ transforms the world’s definition of peace.
No longer is peace the absence of something;
peace now becomes the living presence of God in our lives.
Christ’s peace is the unwavering assurance that God has made a home in our hearts.
Ego says: “Once everything falls into place, I’ll find peace.”
The Spirit says: “Find your peace, and then everything will fall into place.”
Norman Vincent Peale once told of a trip he took to Jamaica. In the hallway of his hotel hung an old map of the island. Looking at the map, he noticed some faint words written across an uninhabited portion of the island: “The Land of Look-Behind.”
Peale asked the hotel owner if he knew what those words meant. He explained:
“In the days of slavery, runaways from the sugar plantations sometimes escaped into that lonely and barren territory. They were often pursued by slave owners or other authorities with guns and dogs.
The fugitive slaves were always on the run, always looking over their shoulders.”
So that was where the term came from: The Land of Look-Behind.
Dr. Peale says: “I never forgot that melancholy term, because my years of counseling people have led me to believe that many of them are living in their own private Land of Look-Behind.
They are the ones who dwell endlessly on past mistakes, who let fears generated by old failures rob them of success, who refuse to accept God’s promises of forgiveness of sins.
“When a person lives in the Land of Look-Behind, he or she is really excluding hope from his or her life.
They are also making it almost impossible for faith to operate.
How can faith make an entry into a mind that has lost the buoyancy of hope?”
–Norman Vincent Peale, “The Stupendous Power of Hope,” Plus magazine, May 1995.
Peace that comes from the indwelling of the Spirit of the Risen Jesus.
What if you don’t feel the presence of the Holy Spirit? What if you can’t seem to find peace? What if you don’t feel that God has made his HOME in you?
Often can’t do it alone.
Theologian, Susan Stoderl reminded me this week that one of the reasons that the early church – and even the modern church today has PRAYER MEETINGS is because:
FEELING THE HOLY SPIRIT IS EASIER WHEN THERE IS MORE THAN ONE PERSON SEEKING OR EXPERIENCING THE PRESENCE.
Women’s group. Prayer ministry. Even our worship services.
“Where two or three are gathered . . .”
It is NOT that the Spirit cannot be encountered alone, certainly the Spirit can.
BUT OFTEN THE POWER OF THE SPIRIT WORKS WHEN A GROUP OF BELIEVERS,
WHEN A GROUP OF PEACE SEEKERS
WHEN A GROUP OF PEOPLE SEEKING HEALING AND LOVE
WHEN A GROUP OF PERSONS SEEK TO BE FILLED WITH SOMETHING OTHER THAN THEIR OWN LONELINESS, SADNESS, GUILT OR ANGER.
THE SPIRIT COMES AND BRINGS THAT
PEACE WHICH THE WORLD CANNOT GIVE.
(To be sung by the Pastor)
Oh let the Son of God enfold you
With his Spirit and his love,
Let him fill your heart and satisfy your soul.
Oh, let him have the things that hold you,
And his Spirit like a dove
Will descend upon your life and make you whole.
Jesus, O Jesus,
Come and fill your lambs.
Jesus, O Jesus,
Come and fill your lambs.