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Your thought this morning?

Will you journey with me to discover how the Holy Spirit conforms us to the image of Jesus Christ this year?

  • 01

    Genesis 1:27

    “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”

  • 02

    Colossians 1:15

    Jesus “is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.”

  • 03

    Romans 8:29

    “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”

  • 04

    Galatians 4:19

    “My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you.”

  • 05

    Me...?

  • 06

    You...?

  • 07

    The Bride of Christ made ready for His second coming.

First Secret: Eutychus Falls out the Window

The starry sky above the facade of the humming three-story villa lost my attention, as a young man slammed into the stepping stones twenty feet ahead. A lifeless sound left him, and my stomach turned. Silence. The body lay motionless. Yelling. The door banged open and men and women in cloaks and shawls poured out, holding oil lamps. I backed against a marble pillar, and a wailing woman threw herself next to him.

            “Eutychus!” she screamed in Greek, others hollered in Aramaic.

            A short-haired man in a red cloak pushed his way through, and his presence stilled the chaos. All stared as he knelt before the young man, embracing him. “Do not trouble yourselves, for his life is in him.”

            Bones popped and the chest moved. “Mitéra?” the young man said, as if waking from a dream.

            Clearly being his mother, the woman hugged him. “Eutychus!”

            I had seen nothing like it—that man was dead seconds ago.

Christlike Christ-bearers

 

Acts 20:7–12: Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight. There were many lamps in the upper room where they were gathered together. And in a window sat a certain young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep. He was overcome by sleep; and as Paul continued speaking, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. But Paul went down, fell on him, and embracing him said, “Do not trouble yourselves, for his life is in him.” Now when he had come up, had broken bread and eaten, and talked a long while, even till daybreak, he departed. And they brought the young man in alive, and they were not a little comforted.

 

A dramatic evening, but we find our secret in the first Christians’ practice of fellowship. The believers approached each Sunday with spiritual preparation, expectation, and fear. When they received the body and blood of Jesus Christ in Holy Communion—the richest channel of grace in their experience—the Holy Spirit formed Christ in their inner man week after week, season after season (Eph. 3:16­–17). Therefore, they lived with astonishing spiritual authority, signs and wonders, because they no longer lived but Christ lived in them, doing His work through them (Gal. 2:20).

            The believers spend much of Saturday reading Scriptures and praying Psalms to cleanse themselves from the past week, often lasting into the night. Their spirits glowed Sunday morning and united with the fiery divine nature of Jesus through the Eucharist. After Holy Communion, the priest—Apostle Paul in the account above—taught the congregation about the gospel of Christ, the Sunday Gospel.

            The eagerness of the first-century Christians to unite with Jesus resulted in a spiritual calendar following the life of Jesus and His work of salvation. They united each week, even each day, to a day in Jesus’ life to enter deep communion with their Beloved and be conformed to His image. They became Christians—Christlike Christ-bearers—in every sense of the word.

Second Secret: The Blazing Mountain

Heat radiated from the rock under Moses’s leather sandals, and he leaned on the top of his staff. Mount Sinai lay behind a hilltop, and the pillar of smoke towered so majestically he lost his footing beholding the sky. Fire glowed in cracks of blackness as the smoke rolled downwards. Lightning and exploding thunder rattled the ground, and he gritted his teeth and closed his eyes.

            The mountain quaked and Moses crouched. “I AM,” he whimpered, knuckles white. “I’m a mere mortal.”

            Far behind panted his brother Aaron—all Moses’s laborious years in the wilderness, shepherding Jethro’s flock, paid off.

            Israel’s leader shook his head. You speak with us, Moses, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die. God came to test His people—but up here, even the very rocks feared Him.

            The world stopped shaking and he climbed his staff. He was terrified of sinning, fearing just a frustrating thought would be the last of him. Moses swallowed, dried his forehead, and continued. A pathway made the ascent easier and he approached a boulder with bluish and golden ambience behind. Around this landmark—Moses remembered—stood Mount Sinai in direct view.

            I AM, I’m your friend.

            Moses padded around the corner, and before him blazed the Mountain of God. The column of darkness moved down its sides, making the rock glow yet maintaining its shape, until the smoke covered the top in a cloud with veins of sapphire and gold. A lightening flared and thunder hit his chest, bringing him to his knees. A trumpet blasted, louder—and louder. Covering his ears made no difference. Louder still. The sound went through his flesh, his bones. Louder.

            “My God!” Moses couldn’t hear his own voice. “I’ll die if You don’t stop!” He lay on his stomach and shouted, “Holy—!”

            The trumpet faded into a voice of metallic thunder: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts! The whole earth is full of His glory!”

Feasts of God

 

Exodus 20:18–20: Now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off. Then they said to Moses, “You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.” And Moses said to the people, “Do not fear; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin.” So the people stood afar off, but Moses drew near the thick darkness where God was.

 

Seven annual feasts were among the commandments Moses received from God (Exod. 23:14–19 and Lev. 23). God knew the sins and idols of the neighboring nations tempted His people and pulled them away again and again. But the feasts gathered His people to Himself, season after season, and reminded them of Whom they belonged. The atmosphere of celebration and remembrance of God’s acts produced repentance and reconsecration, protecting Israel from going astray.

            Later, the early fathers of the church saw how the feasts of Israel are fulfilled in Jesus Christ and thus established a calendar of feasts and fasts related to His work of salvation. They gathered these convocations in eight Seasons of Salvation, based on the actual dates of the events in Christ’s life—Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost, but many more.

            The Christians of the first centuries assembled around an event in Christ’s life to receive its grace. This annual cycle of worship, bible reading, prayer, fasting, and selfless acts reached its climax during Holy Communion on Sundays and feast days. The Sunday Gospel teaching gave revelation about the Holy Spirit’s detailed work during that Season and became the framework for the early church’s colossal spiritual growth.

Third Secret: The Divine Calendar

Christians followed an annual spiritual journey through Christ’s work of salvation since the beginning of the church. Ever felt uncertain about what to focus on, what direction to take, or what to pray in your spiritual life? The Holy Spirit desires to root us in historical spiritual movements and focus on a unique work in our lives through each Season of Salvation, reflecting what Jesus accomplished for us. The Sunday Gospels throughout each Season serves as landmarks, and every Season contains a key, enabling us to enter the mystery of that period.

            In the beginning, we go through subtle changes, but if we stay faithful in season after season, we see how the Lord connects our years to form the image of Jesus Christ in our inner man, redeeming our time.

            “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Eph. 5:15–17).

 

But how can I know about the Seasons of Salvation and the Sunday Gospels?

The 8 Seasons of Salvation

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Sign up to receive this year’s Divine Calendar. In addition, on Saturdays, I’ll email you the Sunday Gospel for that weekend, including thoughts about what the Holy Spirit may focus on during that upcoming week and the current Season—the Weekly Insight.

 

If God can make a donkey speak (Num. 22:28) and rocks shout (Luke 19:40), then may God speak through me as well—especially true when the reader comes with faith and spiritual hunger.

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