The apostle Paul came across a group of people (about 12) near Ephesus. He asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers.” They replied, “No, we have not heard that there is a Holy Spirit” (Acts 19: 2). They had been baptized with John the Baptizer’s baptism of repentance while waiting for the coming of Jesus. Paul baptized them in the name of Jesus Christ. They immediately received the Holy Spirit, and began using the gifts of the Spirit (Acts 19:3-7).
But the point of the story is clear: Welcome the Master into your life! Trust the Spirit of Christ in God completely! Be open to the touch of the Master’s hand! Receive the Spirit into your heart! Let the Spirit fill you with God’s Word that you may do God’s will.
There is a distinction between being guided by worldly wisdom and choosing to listen to the wisdom of the Master. It’s a big deal!! It’s a huge difference!! It makes a big difference in a person’s life! Now, let me be more specific with these three thoughts.
First, trust in God completely. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a lot of anxieties and fears in many people. Since March 2020, I’ve heard many people discuss how much more anxious they are now than before COVID-19. If you are anxiety-ridden, then you can live in a prison of fear.
But, the opposite of fear is trust in God. We have a choice: we can choose to live in the power of death, which includes living in a cage of fear and anxiety, or we can live in the life of the risen Christ. Throughout Jesus’ ministry, he freed and healed many people of their fears – fear of being seen in society; fear of people judging them; fear of illnesses; fear of their political and religious authorities.
Today, underneath the darkness, I continue to believe God’s hand is somehow at work even when we can’t see it. Every morning, I practice contemplative prayer, and ask God to take away any anxiety and fear. I ask the Holy Spirit to help me trust in God more and more each day. I can reflect back at the end of each day, and discern God’s presence as I put my trust in God.
Second, show love to another. Love is being kind — kind to God, kind to the other and you. Love is being compassionate. Love is self-giving, not being self-centered. Love is being gracious to the other’s needs.
The opposite of love is living in a cage of hate – being envious, being jealous, being resentful, feeling threatened by someone, and then threatening another. Notice that this is part of living in fear.
However, living in a world of loving others is actually trusting in God, and is learning to be faithful to God’s ways of love. God is love. We can actually live more and more in God’s love. Showing love to another is revealing the image and likeness of God.
Third, be strong in God’s victory for you. You already live in Christ’s resurrection and ascension to God. You are already glorified to God. It’s a done deal. Many people begin a project or activity by feeling defeated, and they continue to life in a world of negativity. But God gives you newness of life every day, and helps you be victorious in God’s life. So be positive.
This is one of the greatest promises of the Bible – as Christians; nothing can defeat us, because God is always with us. Nothing – not even death – can defeat us because God gives us the victory! So, trust in God! Trust in God’s faithfulness of always showing love to others. Let God’s song of victory play through you. If any of these three pillars — Trusting in God; Showing God’s love to another; or Being strong in God’s victory – would be out of alignment, God’s song in you would be out of tune. Let God’s song play through you, and let it be in tune!
Rev. Tom Cici is the pastor at First Christian Church of Hoopeston (502 E. Main St). Please go to www.fcchoopeston.org for inspirational sermons and much more.