Many have asked why I talk about journeys every week….well, every week since Easter. It is a journey of about fifty (50) days until Jesus sends the Holy Spirit into the hearts of all those awaiting His return. This is the celebration which usually comes in June (but this year is celebrated next week on May 19th) and is called Pentacost. So until we arrive back in Jerusalem for the Pentecost event next week, we will be journeying – in our thoughts, in our souls, in our walk with God. So put on your walking shoes and enjoy the hike. We have a few weeks to go before our path ends back in Jerusalem.
I’m going to take you for a walk in the country today. Imagine, if you will walking along a dusty road and see in the near distance an old farm with a shabby barn that really hasn’t been used in years, except to store old “stuff” and keep some very mangy animals. But this story is one of transformation.
“One day a few of the family children, playing in this old barn, discovered a very bad criminal in the hayloft, sleeping. He had fled from the city where his crime was committed and had taken refuge in the barn. The children did not know who he was or what he had done, of course.
“Who do you think he is?” the little girl asked her brother.
“I don’t know . . . Who do you think he looks like?”
“Well, he has long hair and a beard.”
“And he’s about as old as Daddy.”
“And he has sandals on”
“Maybe he’s Jesus!”
“Do you think he could be?”
“Well, that’s what the Sunday school teacher said Jesus looked like!”
“Yes! l bet it is him!”
“Oh, aren’t we lucky to have Jesus come to our very own town!”
The criminal woke up, hearing the children talking. He sat up, startled. He was about to run when he heard the girl calling, “Jesus, gentle Jesus, will you stay and play with us for a little while?”
“We will take care of you!” promised the little boy.
“Yes!” echoed his sister. “We will bring you food and blankets and we won’t tell anyone you are here!”
“Oh please, gentle Jesus, will you stay with us?”
The criminal began to understand what was happening. He thought it over. It seemed like a safe bet, for a while at least. Yes, he would stay.
Over the next days and weeks, the children brought him food and clothing and even wine for him to bless. And with these things, they brought their innocent love and their adoration for the sweet and kind savior.
The criminal felt safe with them, and the weeks turned into months. The children came to him every day and asked him to tell them parables and to bless them and their families.
So he did. As the summer went on he actually began to enjoy playing the role of the Man of Love. It was, of course, only an act, but there was something that felt good about it, something that he had not felt in many years, perhaps since he was a child and his grandmother would tell him stories of Jesus and the children.
As the man basked in the warm love of these children, he learned to love them, too. He began to look forward to the times when they would come, when he would tell them parables about the wonders of heaven’s kingdom and the importance of loving our neighbors. One day he even found himself telling a parable that no one had ever heard, and this made the children so happy to hear a parable directly from their Gentle Jesus, one that was not even in the Bible.
The man’s feelings about people about the world, about life, began to soften, and he became gentle and kind. He read the Bible when he was alone, and something happened within him, something like a long-locked door opening to admit morning sunlight.
One evening he came upon the story of the prodigal son, and he began to weep. “Yes, this is the Truth, he thought to himself. In that moment he realized ever so clearly that it was he who was the prodigal son, and he became aware of how wrong his actions were. He knew, too, that his consciousness could not be cleansed until he made restitution for his crime. So he decided to return to the city and confess.
The next time his beloved children came, he took them in his arms in a gentle hug..
“My dear ones, he quietly began, ‘it is now time for me to leave you.”
“But where are you going?” the little ones asked with tears streaming down their soft cheeks.
He gathered both of them closer to him and embraced them even more strongly.
“I must return to my Father,” he explained, fighting back his own tears. “Then, will you give us something to remember you by, gentle Jesus?”
He looked into their faces and said, “I leave you with the gentleness that you have given to me. This is my peace that I give to you.” And the son arose, and went to his Father.”
This story is from the hit Broadway play “Whistle down the Wind” by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Jim Steinman. It shows what can happen in any man or woman when surrounded and in filled with the love of God.
2 Corinthians 3:18, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”
An artist once drew a picture of a snow scene in black and white. It was a cloudy day. There were no leaves on the trees. There were homes in the background, but it was all dark and gray and dreary. The clouds were in the sky. It was a typical winter scene.
Then with a stroke of his brush, the artist added a bit of yellow paint in one of the panes of the window, showing a light that was coming from inside one of the homes. The whole picture was miraculously transformed. It was no longer gray and bleak. It had hope. The birth of spirituality is such a light into a world that sometimes sees nothing but grays and blacks.
So often in adulthood our lives become clouded. So often our lives no longer see the magic and wonder that a child sees. So often we get too old, too wise to have that love for another human being in our life because we’ve been hurt. We are wise to the harmful ways of the world, and we too often withhold our love.
Yet, every day when we let God’s love in, there is a transformation; there is a light that comes on. But in order for that love to come, we have to allow it to come through us. We have to accept the gift that God is giving to us.
If you have a closed door in your life, know that God is on the other side of that door, knocking, and saying, “Open up. The wonder is still here. The love is still here. The peace is still here. All the good is still here.” If you have become blind to it, you have closed the door. If you will reopen it, you’re going to find that wonder of a child. If we can learn from the child and learn how to ask and reach out the empty hand, we will find it filled by God.
I want to offer you a special gift. Here is what this spiritual package contains. The first item is the gift of Jesus Christ heritage. It’s a very big gift. God says to you, “You are my child. You are heir to all the good that I have, if you accept it.” What joy this gift brings to us.
The gifts of God require action on our part in order for them to work in us. It’s like gasoline in an automobile engine. Gasoline of itself is nothing. It has to go into the engine and the engine has to use its potential.
John 13:13-17, ” You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”
You have been given the gift of f life. You are to use this gift to feel fully alive. You are to give the gift of life to others. How do you do that? You do so by showing and sharing God’s faith coming through you for it has the power to transform others. It has the power to give them true life.
2 Corinthians 11:1, ” Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”
What about for yourself? How about when you are down or even depressed? How about when things do not go well at work? Are you giving yourself the gift of life? Or are you downcast or feeling that life won’t ever get any better? God is with you. You are not alone. The message of Jesus Christ is alive in you today. Yes, life will get better every moment.
That leads to the next spiritual gift – peace. Peace is a gift that was brought by Jesus Christ into a world that had a religion of an eye for an eye-“If you do something to me, I have to get back at you.” This was the religion that existed throughout the world. You can become a peacemaker, just like the hardened criminal did. You can take Jesus’ message inside of you and let it live; let it overtake your life.
What about situations in your job, or your home; where people are not very peaceful? You have a choice. You can go down to the human level, put on your boxing gloves and try to be the last person standing. Or you can take off the gloves and radiate peace to the whole situation and become the living example of the love of Jesus Christ.
Peace in the world begins with you and me. We have God’s peace to take with us into those difficult situations. You will make a difference because of the teachings of Jesus Christ coming through you as you.
Ephesians 5:1, 2 – “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
The teachings of Jesus Christ brought another gift to you – joy. We talked about joy last week and even many times in the past as we journeyed. One of the most important gifts of any religion is that as a Christian you have the right to be joyful. You don’t have to be solemn. You don’t have to carry your burdens. You don’t have to feel like the world is an unjust place and that you must wear your heavy burden. You don’t have to suffer to be a good Christian. In fact, quite the opposite. Being a Christian is JOY!
This day holds a message for you that no matter what is going on in your life presently, God is there. You can look beyond your present challenges and know that God is eternally there. You can have joy in your heart. You do not have to walk around depressed, half asleep, or half dead to your former happiness. You can have Christ awareness well up inside of you. The journey of Christianity is allowing that hope to rise in you. This joy is from the core of your being.
It is your choice. Which do you choose to do today? You can choose to have the full joy of Christianity in you. It is the teachings of Jesus. Those teachings are the teachings of spirituality made alive in you!
Spiritually, you are given a profound knowledge of wisdom because you know that your mind can be a receiver of God’s Divine inspiration.
Your Divine ideas came and continue to cometo you through the power of the Holy Spirit. Just become still in prayer and accept all that God has for you to receive. The ideas and guidance will come to you clearly. You’ll know the way to proceed. It is unfailing, and that gives you profound courage. to stand up in adverse situations.. And those situations could be around any corner. It may be when you need so much of the stuff of God inside of you that you have to call on that; and it comes to you and you can get up again. You say, “Yes! I do have faith because I’m not alone.”
The message of Divine approval came from Jesus Christ. What a great gift is this message. You are a child of God – Jesus Christ tells you that you are a child of God, with the potential to do what he did. He says to you throughout His messages that you are accepted by God; you are an heir to God; and you have Divine approval.
You say, “What about the criminal in the barn? Did he have Divine approval?” Yes he did. Have you ever had a child nearby whom you loved with all your heart, but the child was causing havoc in your home? You did not appreciate what the child was doing at that moment and you would scold the child. You corrected and disciplined the child. But you still loved the child. And inside you had an approval and knowledge for the potential that child could become.
Using the power of God, the criminal went back and said, “I’m here a changed man. I’m here right now, knowing that I am going to have my punishment. I am here because I have been guided by God” How was he guided by God? The first way was through the love of God coming through people/ the children surrounding him. The second way: it was the love of God coming through his own reflections and prayers. The third way: God came through him-through his actions.
If you want spiritual realization, use the power of God coming and slowing through you. Take the attributes and the gifts of God and allow them to become you. You will know quickly about the action, the truth, and the activity of God.
The knowledge of Christ is a continuing gift. We have to make the message a part of our daily life, allowing the message of the messenger in us to be reborn.
It is reborn into the consciousness of human thinking. It is reborn in hospital rooms where others are telling us that we can’t get well. It is reborn into a society that tells us we can’t get work. It is reborn into the lowest of limited human thought. But it is reborn. And like that picture, mentioned earlier, it is a light in our window of hope. We look toward that light and we find our answers.
Nothing could be more marvelous – every gift of God has its invisible source in spiritual realms that are accessible to each one of us.
Romans 8:29, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”
You have a potential that is predestined, to put on the Christ, and wear it for all to see, feel, and comprehend. Go now and know that your potential is constantly being reborn and fulfilled.
God bless you.