May - 2014

ARTICLES

God Taps You on Your Shoulder
Dr. Mark Nimo
Seven Spiritual Weapons to Battle Pornography
Matt Fradd
Music for God
Anthony Smela
Evangelizing Through the Family
Kristina Cooper
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God Taps You on Your Shoulder

Dr. Mark Nimo

‘God taps you on the shoulder.’ It sounds interesting! Yes, He does it. God does not only touch us as an individual, but our household too. “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:31). God has a bigger vision, than something we do have on ourselves. I had been to 38 countries now preaching the Gospel – why? Because 29 years ago, God tapped on the shoulder and I turned around, then decided to follow him.

“I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God (Eph. 6:19). When we were sealed in Baptism, the life of God was poured into us. Church gave us the opportunity to share in the Divine life; the life of the Trinity, Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. It was that we be filled with the fullness of God. How many of us can contain God? None of us. But God has found it His pleasure to dwell in us.

When God comes to dwell in you, you know what He does? He disturbs you, he troubles you. The result is mentioned in Ephesians 6:20; “Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more that all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

 “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household;” these words were spoken by Paul and Silas. We have to set the context of these beautiful words to understand it better. As they were going around preaching the Gospel, Paul and Silas were attacked. The reason was that they delivered a slave woman of her demonic possession in the name of Jesus. But when her owners saw that their hope of making money was gone, they seized them.

It is common that we get into trouble when we start preaching the Gospel. Don’t think that a life with Jesus is a problem-free life. We read, the crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates had them stripped of their clothing and ordered them to be beaten with rods. After they had given them a severe flogging, they threw them into prison and ordered the jailer to keep them securely. Following these instructions, he put them in the innermost cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was an earthquake, so violent that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened.” (V. 25-26). When the jailer saw that the prison doors were open, he tried to kill himself thinking that the prisoners had escaped. Paul shouted stopping him, ‘we are all here.’ Trembling and falling down on his knees in front of them he asks; what must I do to be saved? Here comes the answer, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

The jailer washed their wounds; then he and his entire family were baptized without delay. He brought them up into the house and set food before them; and he and his entire household rejoiced. I get excited when I hear such stories from the Bible. Because it is about the power of God at work as the Gospel is preached!

Paul and Silas got into trouble because they preached the Gospel and demonstrated the power of God in their ministry. But they were caught and beaten up. I read from a Church bill board once, ‘set backs are always set ups for God’, to demonstrate His power and might. When you go through many troubles one after another on account of the Gospel, it is an opportunity for God to set you up.

I don’t know what you are going through now. Probably you might be going through tough moments in life. Every set back in life points to a direction that God is setting you up for something great and to reveal His glory. We all love our blessed Mother Mary. She experienced a lot of set backs. She was a young girl of about fifteen years. One day an angel came to her and told her, ‘you are going to conceive.’ She was greatly disturbed! We read it in the Bible… It was not an apt moment for anyone to say Hallelujah. She is going to be an unwed mother, probably the punishment of being stoned to death is going to be her fate. But she trusted God. When she had a baby, the crazy king tried to kill the baby. That too was a set back. They had to flee to Egypt. On each and every situation, God was setting them up to demonstrate His power.

“We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28).  All things, not some things. Paul and Silas were singing hymns in the prison. They are beaten up, bleeding but they had been praising God. May be life has beaten you up, but still be ready to praise God. People complain and curse in the midst of troubles. But that doesn’t do anything. In the midst of your set backs, praise God anyway. This is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. In all circumstances give thanks to God. Pray until something happens. Once they praised, the prison doors were open and the place shook. As you begin to pray, things will change and everything will shake. There will be changes in your life and in the lives of whom you love.

The jailer noticed that the prison doors were open and thinking that the prisoners had escaped, he decided to kill himself. Many people go through similar situations in life where they think it is better to give up life. So desperate to end your life…? God taps you on your shoulder and asks you to go ahead. God loves you even in your sin.

God can use any circumstance or anybody to call you and get your way up. St. Theresa of Avila says, ‘Let nothing disturb you, because everything passes away. Only God remains.’ Seeing the power of God manifested in front of his eyes, the jailer asked an important question. ‘What must I do to be saved?’ This question is also repeated when Peter and other Apostles preached. It is very typical of the author of the book of Acts, St. Luke, that he presents the after-effect of preaching the Gospel. The answer is, ‘believe in the Lord Jesus, you and your household will be saved.’

This jailer felt a tap on his shoulder and he responded very quickly. He was on his job. God might find you anywhere, may be the place where you frequently go. Francis Thomson writes of God as ‘the Hound of Heaven.’ His theme highlights that God is coming after us to catch hold of us. We have heard of the GPS (Global Position System). What does it say? When you are on a wrong direction or lost the way, it sounds and warns you; ‘Turn around when possible.’ God has a GPS upon each one of us. God pursues us because we are called and made to have a relationship with Him. Nothing else will satisfy us; no amount of drugs, promiscuous relationship, money, pleasure… God alone suffices. Only God can bring meaning and purpose in our life, only God can satisfy us.

If you are walking down the street and someone taps you on your shoulder, what would you do? You will turn around. This is exactly what happens in the spiritual world. A man or woman walks the way of life with eternal call ringing in his/her ears but unaware of it, suddenly the Spirit of the Lord taps on the shoulder. The word repentance means turn around. This is a call that cannot be ignored, resisted or rejected. We have many worldly calls and numerous voices bidding our attention, some louder and others soft. But the supreme call, the one that penetrates down beneath the physical and material, to our inner most being, to our soul is the spiritual call from Christ.

When God taps you on your shoulder, you must make a decision, you can never be neutral. You must turn around and follow. The other possibility is that you walk deliberately away from him and that costs you much. Going away from Jesus, we walk into unhappiness and despair. But one thing is sure, we would never be the same after He taps us on our shoulder.  

The jailer accepted the call and decided to be baptized. The household of this officer rejoiced. We need that joy of being with Jesus. It comes from the Holy Spirit. We got to be people intoxicated with the Spirit of the Lord. Pope Francis would say of it in his new encyclical ‘the joy of the Gospel.’ He says, ‘there is something new about the good news. If you come to believe in Jesus, you have to be joyful. We cannot just be people who look like as we are coming from a funeral.’ Our smile must make people ask - what does it mean? We must say, I had been with Jesus.
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DR . MARK NIMO serves as Director of Faith Formation at St. Columbanus Catholic Church and St. Dorothy in the Archdiocese of Chicago. He resides in Chicago with his wife, Mercy, and two daughters, Michelle-Marie and Noelle. This article is adapted from a talk given at the Shalom Media USA Night Vigil, held every First Friday in McAllen, Texas.

For reprint info, e-mail tidings@shalomworld.org

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