Since I came back from the Philippines, this is the bible passage that keeps jumping out at me.
Luke 4: 16-21 He (Jesus) went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
I especially find that very last statement fascinating; “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Can you imagine being there that day?
This was read by Jesus in a room where pretty much everyone knew what it was about. It was, it is, about the Lord’s anointed, the one who would save Israel. The one marked out to be the messiah. Jesus reads these famous words from the Old Testament and essentially says 2 things:
a) This isn’t some ancient mythology concocted to make us feel better, God is at work, not only right now….but right here.
b) Oh, and one of the reasons I know this is because, well, I’m it. I am the rescue plan. I am what you’ve been waiting for. I am the fullness of God… and I’m in your midst.
Let me tell you something, if you were there that day, it wouldn’t have mattered how big-a-night you had last night, it wouldn’t have matter how tired you were, it wouldn’t have mattered how boring the previous speakers were in fact there are about a million things that would not have mattered anymore. The truth is, as of that moment, you would have been sitting bolt upright, eyes fixed on him. Either in anger or in awe, after a claim like this, you wouldn’t have taken your eyes off him.
I’ll bet you anything that you could have heard a pin drop that day.
And i’ll bet you anything the original audience were not expecting it to turn out like it did.
Have you ever been in a place or a service or gathering where you could almost sense God ‘turned up’?
What did we find in the Philippines? We found God turns up often when you least expect him.
I recall a Wednesday evening prayer meeting on the first week, where to be totally honest, I was struggling. I was next level tired, more tired than I have felt in years, missing Alycia and our boy, beginning to have enough of the heat and humidity and during the first part of the trip, God seemed a little distant.
I was drifting in and out. I’ll tell you a secret, even preachers drift in and out of other’s sermons. I was drifting. But then these words came out of Pastor Felix’s mouth:
“In his grace, God allows us to prove his grace to us in our own experience.”
In one nanosecond I was bolt upright and hanging off every word. The Spirit had addressed me. Even me.
Here’e the irony which I realised in the moment immediately thus making it even more special;
The very point that was being made was in that moment actually being proven…through the proclamation of it.
What I mean is; what greater grace can you experience than to know God is addressing you, in spite of the utter weakness of your flesh? That is grace and it bursts through into our actual experience. I felt a peace and assurance that those words were not objectively addressing but they were taken by the Spirit to gently remind me, that I know of His grace in my experience.
Hence this experience was added to the collection of experiences proving God’s love for me granting me hope and energy to press on joyfully and diligently for the sake of him.
Do you need an experience of God’s grace?
Are you waiting for him to turn up?
Stop waiting, he’s here.
….and live accordingly the proof will come when you least expect it.