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August 2023

Nudgings #48 - Aug. 30 "Who are you?"


Who are you?

The evil spirit replied, “I know Jesus, and I know Paul, but who are you?” (Acts 19:15, NLT)

I’ve taken my fair share of “selfies,” some with important and popular people, some in exotic places, and scores with friends and family. Honestly, I do it to make memories, but . . . at times, there is a little part of me that wants to be “known” as one who visits cool places and hangs out with the in-crowd. (Ouch! The blessing and bane of social media … and my pride.)

In Acts 19:13-16, there is a group of Jews called the Seven sons of Sceva who were trying to make a name for themselves (be “known”) by going around and casting out evil spirits. They were amassing huge crowds and getting lots of attention by name-dropping . . . "in the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches.”

And it worked—up to a point.

The Sons of Sceva looked good doing and saying what the people wanted. They were casting out evil spirits and garnering lots of “likes” and “followers.” But in the end, they were humiliated when one evil spirit they encountered called them out as posers—attacked them, beat them up and exposed them as frauds saying, “I know Jesus, and I know Paul, but who are you?”

The evil spirit knew Jesus was the Son of God, the Creator of the universe, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, and the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world . . . and he trembled (James 2:19). And surprisingly, the evil spirit knew Paul too. But why? It’s because Paul’s claim to fame was this: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20, NIV).

Paul took the words of Jesus seriously when He said, “If any of you wants to be “known” as my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)

Paul was doing the work of the ministry in Ephesus, but Paul was not the one doing the miracles. It was Jesus who was breaking the strongholds, healing the sick, casting out evil spirits and releasing the captives—and He was doing it through Paul.

Paul knew that all the power and glory belonged to God, and he knew that the only way to really be “known” was not to be seen in scores of “selfies” in this world, but rather be found in a “die-to-selfie” with Jesus.

May we all be "known" in this way.

Nudgings #47 - Aug. 5, "Engagement Ring"


Engagement Ring

When you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him. (Ephesians 1:13-14, NLT)

Thirty-six years ago I asked Dina to marry me and when I did, I gave her an engagement ring. It was a token of my love that symbolized my commitment to her and ultimately—to us. The ring was a tangible sign of my future intentions.

At the time, the engagement ring came at a significant cost to me. I was still in college and literally counting my pennies to get by. I did some odd jobs, saved up some money and was finally able to buy the ring. It was expensive … it cost me $100, but it was worth it! The ring represented so much more than dollars and cents. It was an investment in my preferred future—Dina and me together!

Much to my delight, Dina wore the ring proudly as a declaration of her current and future identity—it was a statement to everyone around her that she was loved and cherished by someone (me). It represented a sincere promise, a future hope and a dream fulfilled. It spoke of my love for her, my intentions toward her, and my dreams that included her. The ring on her finger affected both of us, as individuals and as a couple. It changed the way we saw ourselves and the way that we interacted with the world around us.

In Ephesians 1 Paul tells us that the Holy Spirit is the promise of God to His people. It is God’s divine pledge to the bride of Christ—earnest money down on the guarantee of our eternal life with Him. Essentially, the Holy Spirit is our engagement ring from Jesus. It predicates a now and future reality—an already but not yet promise of God’s Kingdom, love and life in our midst. It clarifies our identity, sets our purpose, and represents an integral union as we live and move and have our being in Him. It sings aloud, “I am His and He is mine.” Commitment, self-sacrifice, faithfulness and love are inherent to its encircling presence in our lives. Jesus gives us the Holy Spirit and we wear it—encompassed in His essence and power—we walk, talk, work, play and live our lives.

The ring I bought for Dina cost me a $100. The engagement ring that God the Father bought for you and for me cost Him the life of His Son. Receive the gift, walk in the Spirit and wear it proudly, joyfully and hopefully. It is a sign to the world that you belong to Him.