Advice to students graduating from high school in 2018

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Living and breathing in God

When our heart/mind experiences the love of God through the Holy Spirit, the natural spontaneous response is to offer thanks and praise. The natural response when one is experiencing the loving kindness of God is to love God in return. The more we love God in gratitude, praise, surrender and commitment, the more we are capable of experiencing God’s love to a greater degree. The more we experience God’s love and forgiveness, the more we desire to show that love by loving, serving and forgiving others. The more we express God’s love in service and the more we forgive others, the more we experience God’s love.

We live in a reciprocal relationship of love between God and ourselves and also amongst ourselves and others. When we live this way we are living, moving, and breathing in God.

Our physical bodies live and breathe air. When we live in the Spirit in loving relationship with the source of all Being and others, our souls live and breathe in God.

Thank you God for your loving kindness.
I praise you for your awesome wonder.
Thank you God for your forgiveness. Thank you for helping us to wash our robes.
I surrender to your love.
I forgive others their sins, their debts, and their trespasses just as you have forgiven me.
Help me to discover your kingdom within.

Thank you God for your loving kindness.
We praise you for your awesome wonder.
We thank you God for your forgiveness.
With the help of your Holy Spirit we will sin no more.
We will forgive each other and seek reconciliation.
We surrender to your love.
Guide in those situations where we can be of service to you and to others.
Please give us wisdom and help us to know, experience, and understand the truth as much as we are able.
Let your Kingdom come in the midst of us on earth as it is in heaven.
We are your offspring. You are our loving parent.
Let us live and breathe in God.

Amen

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Praise, gratitude, supplication, and commitment

I added in another verse so this worship song would include Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I was moved when I heard Johnny Cash sing Depeche Mode’s song, “Everybody needs their own personal Jesus, Someone who cares, someone who’s there.” It was a valuable reminder and counsel for me. If you want to open the door to the Father and receive the love and guidance of the Holy Spirit, then humble yourself to Jesus, read his words, and do what he says.

A Song of Praise and Offering

Father

Heavenly Father
El Shalom
Teach us the way of peace

Heavenly Father
El Shaddai
We offer praise to you

We want to be your true sons and daughters
Building your Kingdom on Earth

We want to feel your Holy Spirit
Giving our hearts new birth

Son

Thank you Jesus
Holy Messiah
For showing us the Way

Thank you Jesus
Son of God
In your Holy Name we pray

Teach us to live as brothers and sisters
Sharing the Kingdom within

We want to be your true disciples
Living our lives freed from sin

Holy Spirit

Holy Spirit
Heavenly Dove
Fill our hearts with your love

Holy Spirit
Wonderful Counselor
Send us wisdom from above

We want to be your true sons and daughters
Bringing your Kingdom on Earth

We want to see your bright shining presence
Filling the world with new birth

Refrain

We praise you
We give you thanks
For all your wonder
For all of your power
For all of your glory
For all of your mercy
We offer our lives to you

Conclusion

Heavenly Father
Lord of Love
We give our hearts to you

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A Song of Worship

A Song of Worship

Heavenly Father
El Shalom
Teach us the way of peace

Heavenly Father
El Shaddai
We offer praise to you

We want to be your true sons and daughters
Building your Kingdom on Earth

We want to feel your Holy Spirit
Giving our hearts new birth

Holy Spirit
Heavenly Dove
Fill our hearts with your love

Holy Spirit
Wonderful Counselor
Send us wisdom from above

We want to be your true sons and daughters
Bringing your Kingdom on Earth

We want to see your bright shining presence
Filling the world with new birth

We praise you
We give you thanks
For all your wonder
For all of your power
For all of your glory
For all of your mercy
We offer our lives to you

Heavenly Father
Holy Spirit
We give our lives to you

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The Holy Spirit as Counselor

What is the Holy Spirit?

I am not going to try to answer that question because I do not want to try to confine the Holy Spirit in a definition or limit the Holy Spirit to a concept.

For thousand of years, people of faith have discussed and debated the nature and role of the Holy Spirit. According to a search for “Holy Spirit” in blueletterbible.org, “‘Holy and Spirit’ occurs 216 times in 103 verses in the RSV (Revised Standard Version), including 93 exact phrases…” This includes references to verses in both the Old and New Testaments.

In general, throughout the Bible, there is testimony from many books that the Holy Spirit is real and that God works through and reveals truth through the power of the Holy Spirit. Many Jewish, Christian and Islamic scholars have discussed and debated the nature. identity, and even gender of the Holy Spirit down through the centuries.

In the New Testament, all four gospels, the book of Acts, and numerous epistles mention the Holy Spirit. Every one of these references and testimonies to the Holy Spirit will provide valuable insight enriching the life of faith of those who read them and pray or meditate about them.

In combination, Matthew, Mark, Luke (in his gospel and Acts), Paul, Peter, and Jude provide access to an inexhaustible spiritual treasure house of wisdom and experience regarding the understanding and experience of the Holy Spirit.

Obviously, what is of utmost importance for a person is to experience the Holy Spirit in one’s own life. Jesus promised that those who love God and keep his commandments will indeed experience the Holy Spirit for themselves.

Rather than trying to explore the whole treasure house, I want to look only at one small teaching in John 14 where the Holy Spirit is presented as the παράκλητος (paraklētos). The word means “helper” and is translated in the RSV as “counselor.”

John 14: 16  “And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you.”

John 14:26 “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

These are indeed powerful verses of practical import in our lives of faith.

Jesus here describes the Holy Spirit as the Counselor, the Spirit of Truth, who

  1. dwells with us,
  2. will be in us,
  3. will teach us all things and
  4. will bring to our remembrance all that He has taught.

Amen! Hallelujah!

Once, during a period of time when I had not been reading the Bible much, I was sitting at a picnic table drinking a latte. It was a period of time when I was worried about the future and worried about money.

Suddenly a still small voice said, “Do not be anxious about the morrow for the morrow will  take care of itself. Sufficient unto the day are the troubles thereof.”

I recognized this as teachings of Jesus I had read before. I was astounded at how revolutionary the words were. I accepted them in prayer and thanksgiving and I felt reassurance and peace.

Very simple, the Holy Spirit counseled me by bringing to remembrance what Jesus had taught.

A guide or a counselor does not usually teach us everything all at once. He teaches us what we need to know according to where we are on the path.

It is wise to ask a teacher to teach us what we need to know at any given instance in time. It is wise for a seeker of Truth to ask the Spirit of Truth to teach us as much as we are capable of understanding. It is wise to ask a Counselor what He thinks we should do each day. Then it is wise to do it.

Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God.

Amen! Hallelujah!

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Words from a Heart of Love

Words matter.

Words can teach, uplift and heal, and give life to our spirts. Jesus said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'”

When Jesus asked the twelve disciples if they too wanted to leave him, Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68)

Yet, words can also do great damage. Deceitful words can sow doubt, cause rancorous division, and create disorder, pain, and division.

Adam Eve and the Serpent

In Genesis 3, we see that the words of the serpent resulted in the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden.

James 3:6-8 says:

And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is an unrighteous world among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the cycle of nature, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature can be tamed and has been tamed by humankind, but no human being can tame the tongue–a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

So the words that the tongue speaks can be used for good or evil. In Matthew 12:34-37, Jesus points out that the quality of our words stems from the condition of our heart:

“You brood of vipers! how can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil man out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment men will render account for every careless word they utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Jesus explains further in Matthew 15:18-20

“… what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a man;”

So if we engage in false witness, malicious lies, of slander, it reveals that there is something wrong with our heart. If our heart were pure we would see God. Our heart would be filled with truth, love, and peace and we would speak words of truth, love and peace.

If we speak evil words, our hearts are not full of love, peace and joy. We feel a lack of love, fear, doubt, and perhaps resentment or hatred. We may be filled with false pride, envy, greed, lust, or anger. These feelings are not healthy for ourselves or others. They will bring us down.

It is not easy to control one’s words. It is not easy to purify one’s heart. But with God all things are possible.

Still Waters

Jesus, the sinless messiah, the perfect man, the true Son of God, died for the sins of mankind. On the cross he prayed for our forgiveness.

We need to pray to our Heavenly Father. We need to ask the Father to forgive us for our sins. God in his gracious mercy will send the Holy Spirit to forgive and comfort us. God will send the Holy Spirit to bring us back to life so that we can be reborn in His love.

When we feel this gift of grace, we need to continue to pray that the Holy Spirit will give us power to sin no more. Old habits die hard. We can not change without the help of the Holy Spirit to guide, teach and comfort us. But with the help of the Holy Spirit we can change old patterns of thought, speech, and behavior. We can be reborn and our hearts can be cleansed and purified. Then God will dwell within us and our thoughts, words and deeds will shine with the light of truth and love. We will become the true sons and daughters of God.

We also must learn to forgive others. The Kingdom of God is not a solo flight. It is a family affair. It includes not just our biological family, not just our race or nation, but everyone in the whole world.

In the Lord’s Prayer, we pray, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive others.”

After teaching the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus said in Matthew 6:14-15,

For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Road to the Temple of Peace

Through repentance and forgiveness we can receive the love of God and be born again. Through repentance and forgiveness, reconciliation can occur. Through repentance and forgiveness, God’s Kingdom will come.

If we follow this way, our hearts will become pure and we will speak words of truth, love, and life.

How then do we help those around us who speak lies or engage in malicious gossip and slander?

First of all, do not condemn them, but just as Jesus did, forgive them and pray for them.

The second step is paradoxical and must be practiced to be understood. The second step consists of introspection, self-examination, and purification of one’s own heart.

If we see people engaging in lies, malicious gossip, and slander, we know that the problem lies in the heart. There is a sin problem.

Jesus said in Luke 6:42,

.. how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.

The proud will be humbled and sinners will be brought to repentance. God is a God of both judgement and mercy. It is not our job however to humble the proud and bring sinners to repentance. That is the work of the Holy Spirit.

If we repent, sin no more, forgive others and pray for others, then God will show us clearly what we should do. We will see the power of the Holy Spirit at work and if  God wants to use us the Holy Spirit will guide our words and actions.

There is no one-size -fits-all solution to every situation. That is why we pray for divinely inspired wisdom.

James 1:5 says,

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all men generously and without reproaching, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways, will receive anything from the Lord.

James 3:14-17 clarifies further,

…if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This wisdom is not such as comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insincerity.

So ask God to purify your heart and deepen your faith. Then pray for wisdom. God will guide you and you will see the power of the Holy Spirit at work.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Our Father, who art in Heaven, thy kingdom come.

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Happy Easter 2018

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