John Stumbo Video Blog No. 10
May 12, 2014
“Eight days later his disciples were in the house again . . . Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’” If they had understood that the Spirit who had raised Christ from the dead had now been given to them, why were they still huddling behind locked doors? Let’s leave them for a moment, and let me ask us: are we still huddling in some locked place of fear, not fully understanding or experiencing that which the Spirit of God wants to grant to us and do in us?
Welcome back, team. This time I’ve invited you to my home. I love the way my wife has changed this place from just a townhouse and a place that really feels like home for us with her great touch of décor. And I’ve invited you to my deck today, because it’s from this place that a lot of my days start, either on the deck or from a chair if it’s too cold looking out through the windows.
Many of you have been to Colorado Springs and know that behind me is Pikes Peak, one of the many “fourteeners” here in the state of Colorado. Colorado brags of having the most fourteeners of any state in the nation—Pikes Peak being 14,110 to be exact.
And back in the late 1800s, 1893, a 36-year-old English professor on a train trip out to Colorado Springs took a wagon ride to the top, and it was from that scene that the song “America the Beautiful,” or at least the poem “America the Beautiful,” was inspired.
But I’m not thinking of that when I look at the mountain. Often when I start my days with that view, I am inspired by the fact that the Scripture says, “He spoke, and it came to be. He commanded, and it stood firm.” The breath of God bringing this world into existence. So I love having the mountain view, and the thoughts that it inspires, and the place that takes my heart to God.
Imagine my surprise though when I found out that the view just a little lower than the mountain—the rather ugly tennis-court building that’s behind me—imagine my surprise when I found out that was the exact location of the death of our former Christian and Missionary Alliance president, Paul Bubna. Playing tennis with some of the National Office guys one day, he breathed his last breath. Right there in that building.
I loved Paul. I love his children, who still serve among us. But God, for whatever reason, drew us to purchase a townhome right in view, almost within a stone’s throw of the place Paul breathed his last breath. Some might think that is a rather morbid thought, but actually for me, over the course of the months as I’ve sat here many times and looked on that scene—Pikes Peak in the background and breath of God speaking that into existence, the building of Paul’s last breath in the foreground—as I’ve thought of that scene, it’s reminded me of where I first started the very first video blog with us . . . that this is my turn, this is your turn, this is our turn.
Together we have one chance at this thing called “making use of our life to serve the Lord who called us” . . . that this has given me a sense, a greater sense of purpose, of destiny, of urgency. Not in a panicky, fearful, dread kind of way. No, no, no. But with this sense of calling that the God who spoke that mountain into the universe and can speak my life into heaven’s gates at any moment has left me here and left you here for this moment in human history for us to live out this call of God upon our lives, and to do so not empowered by our own strength but to be a people who are dependent upon the Spirit.
So there’s many mornings when I’m here in Colorado Springs I start my day here on this deck or in the chair just looking through the window, and I’m asking that the breath of God that spoke that mountain into existence, I’m asking that the breath of the Spirit, the Spirit of God Himself, would breath through me, would live through me. Isn’t this what we all long for?
You know, I have called us to be a Christ centered Acts 1:8 family. Acts 1:8, Spirit-empowered, and Spirit-sent to the whole world, every segment of human society. For us not to be concocting the energy, creating the energy on our own, but for us to be a people who have welcomed the Spirit of God and are being directed on a daily basis by the Spirit of God. Isn’t this what we long for?
We don’t want to go through life making our own decisions, following our own whims, slaves to our old nature, throwing religious masks of pseudo-holiness over lustful, greedy, impatient hearts. No. We don’t want to just play church or be religious; we want to be Spirit-led, Spirit-filled, Spirit-directed people.
I’m intrigued as I have been reading the New Testament through these eyes of the various references that we have to what the Spirit of God was doing in the Early Church—that through the Spirit, as the Spirit worked in them, they were set apart by the Spirit for missionary service. They were sent by the Spirit, filled with the Spirit. They prayed in the Spirit. They were taught by the Spirit, First Corinthians 2:13. They were to be the temple of the Spirit, bear the fruit of the Spirit, keep in step with the Spirit, to be filled with the Spirit, manifest the gifts of the spirit. They were to preach the gospel by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit who gives life to our mortal bodies and by whom we put to death the misdeeds of our mortal flesh. We are not to grieve the Spirit. We are not to quench the Spirit, but it’s by the Spirit that we say, “Abba, Father.”
This daily life, daily flow of our lives with the Holy Spirit—so from this place as I open the Scripture and spend time with the Lord, it’s one of my daily prayers that the Spirit of God would breath through me, live through me, that I would walk with Him and in Him
I’m actually taping this month’s blog just a couple days after Easter, and so my mind has been in kind of this post-Easter mode, and I’m intrigued by what I find in John, chapter 20. “On the evening of the first day of the week,” that would be the same day as the Resurrection, so it’s late in the day now after Christ has been raised, “when the disciples where together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews . . .” Well they have good reason to be fearful because the rumor had now been spread that they had stolen the body of the resurrected Christ . . . as the doors are locked and they’re huddling in fear, “Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ After he said that, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the father sent me, I am sending you.’ And with that, he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’”
I suppose that we could debate historically and theologically about the difference between John 20 and Acts 2. It’s really not my purpose to do so right now, but there had to be something spiritually significant happening at this moment, as the resurrected Christ—who had promised to them that He was going to send to them His Spirit, that He was going to grant to them His peace, that He comes now in His resurrected, glorified form, shows them His scarred body—proves His Resurrection appearance but then fulfills, or at least if you want to argue begins to fulfill, the promise that has been given way back in Joel 2 and John 14–16 of the coming of the Spirit.
I’m intrigued by this because of what I find just eight days later. John 20, verse 26. “Eight days later his disciples were in the house again. Thomas was with them.” And you know the story. Thomas hadn’t been with them the first time and had doubted the whole story. “Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’”
Here is my simple point. Why if they had understood that the Spirit who had raised Christ from the dead was now, had now been given to them, why were they still huddling behind locked doors? I don’t think they yet had fully understood what Christ was doing and bringing to them. If they understood the presence and power of the Spirit, the breath of God that had been breathed upon them, they would have not still been huddling in fear.
Maybe you will disagree with my understanding of this historical account, or maybe you think I am being too hard on the early apostles. Let’s leave them for a moment, and let me ask us: are we still huddling in some locked place of fear, not fully understanding or experiencing that which the Spirit of God wants to grant to us and do in us?
You have not been given a spirit of timidity or fear, my son, Timothy. You have been given a spirit of power to do that which you would otherwise not be able to do, a spirit of love to care about other people, to care about people you would not otherwise care about, the spirit of self-discipline to say no to things that would otherwise control you.
I’m aware that I have led too much of my life in those locked, seemingly safe kind of places with the disciples, but increasingly in my life, I’m desiring to be open to all that the Spirit has for me—to send me where He would send me, to do in me what He wants to do in me, to reveal Christ through me in an increasing measure. And I’m inviting the whole Alliance family to join me in that soul journey with the Spirit to be this Acts 1:8, Spirit-empowered, Spirit-sent people. Would you pray with me?
Almighty God, Creator of heaven and earth, granter of life, breath of the One who chooses the day of our death, while you give us our breath for life on this earth, thank You that You give us the breath of Your Spirit, the life of Your Spirit. May we fully enter in. May we not fear, or withhold, or draw back. May we not think that our own places are better or wiser, but may we increasingly be a people who experience Christ’s life, because we are being led and directed, filled and empowered by the Spirit, we pray. In Jesus’ name. Amen.