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"Let us reason together…" Isaiah 1:18

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Awaken the Wonder: The Promise of the Father

hsc2018 screen series[2]

Awaken the Wonder of the Holy Spirit For Me

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. Romans 8:26

Awaken the Wonder of the Holy Spirit In Me

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  1 Corinthians 6:19

Awaken the Wonder of the Holy Spirit Upon Me

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Acts 1:8

Awaken the Wonder of the Holy Spirit Through Me

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.  1 Corinthians 12:4-6

In the New Testament, we see the Holy Spirit empowering life and service for God’s mission in the world.

“…a Pentecostal perspective on Spirit baptism is integral to our continued sense of expectation and effectiveness in mission.” Bob Menzies

All believers are entitled to and should ardently expect and earnestly seek the promise of the Father.

  • Luke 24:48-49
  • Acts 1:4
  • Acts 2:33
  • Acts 2:39

This glorious “promise of the Father” is promised in Joel 2:28-32.

  • I will pour out
  • My Spirit
  • On all flesh
  • Prophecy, dreams, and visions.

What did an Old Testament “pour out” look like?  Numbers 11:24-29

  • The Lord came down in the cloud. 25
  • Took some of the Spirit that was upon Moses and put it upon the 70 elders. 25
  • As soon as the Spirit rested upon them, they prophesied. 25

What did a New Testament “pour out” look like?  Acts 2:1-13

  • Suddenly there came from heaven. 2
  • With a sound of a mighty rushing wind. 2
  • Divided tongues of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 3
  • And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Vs. 4
  • And began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. 4

Without a doubt, God has committed the “promise of the Father” to you.

  • We ardently expect the promise of the Father (characterized by warmth of feeling typically expressed in eager zealous support or activity).
  • We earnestly seek the promise of the Father (characterized by or proceeding from an intense and serious state of mind).

We ardently expect and earnestly seek God’s “pour out” of His Spirit upon each and every one of us.

 

 

Posted on 13th January 2018 in Awaken the Wonder, Fasting and Prayer, Intentional Spiritual Growth, Weekend Talks  •  Comments are off for this post
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Future Faith: Fasting, Prayer, and Prophecy

The Bible reveals a solid link between fasting, prayer, and prophecy.

  • Biblical prophetic promises
  • Contemporary prophetic promises
  • Personal prophetic promises

God is speaking His promises in the past, present, and future.  Francis Schaeffer captures this truth in the title of his 1972 book, “He is There and He is Not Silent.”

From my perspective, fasting and prayer accomplishes the following in relation to God’s prophetic voice:

  1. Fasting and prayer, demonstrating humility and commitment, catches the attention of God and He responds by desiring to release His voice to you.
  2. Fasting and prayer, demonstrating humility and commitment, aligns my whole being with the ‘frequency’ of God and I hear what He has already been speaking.
  3. Fasting and prayer, demonstrating humility and commitment, helps silence my competing wills, and aligns me with the will of God and the process of hearing what He is saying about His will.
  4. Fasting and prayer and aligning myself with the will of God to hear the voice of God precedes the actions of God.

2 Chronicles 20

After this the Moabites and Ammonites, and with them some of the Meunites,[a] came against Jehoshaphat for battle. Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, “A great multitude is coming against you from Edom,[b] from beyond the sea; and, behold, they are in Hazazon-tamar” (that is, Engedi). Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. And Judah assembled to seek help from the Lord; from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.

And Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord, before the new court, and said, “O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you. Did you not, our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel, and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? And they have lived in it and have built for you in it a sanctuary for your name, saying, ‘If disaster comes upon us, the sword, judgment,[c] or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before you—for your name is in this house—and cry out to you in our affliction, and you will hear and save.’ 10 And now behold, the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir, whom you would not let Israel invade when they came from the land of Egypt, and whom they avoided and did not destroy— 11 behold, they reward us by coming to drive us out of your possession, which you have given us to inherit. 12 O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

13 Meanwhile all Judah stood before the Lord, with their little ones, their wives, and their children14 And the Spirit of the Lord came[d] upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, son of Benaiah, son of Jeiel, son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, in the midst of the assembly. 15 And he said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s. 16 Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz. You will find them at the end of the valley, east of the wilderness of Jeruel. 17 You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you.”

18 Then Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the Lord, worshiping the Lord. 19 And the Levites, of the Kohathites and the Korahites, stood up to praise the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice.

20 And they rose early in the morning and went out into the wilderness of Tekoa. And when they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem! Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be established; believe his prophets, and you will succeed.” 21 And when he had taken counsel with the people, he appointed those who were to sing to the Lord and praise him in holy attire, as they went before the army, and say,

“Give thanks to the Lord,
for his steadfast love endures forever.”

22 And when they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed.23 For the men of Ammon and Moab rose against the inhabitants of Mount Seir, devoting them to destruction, and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they all helped to destroy one another.

Posted on 10th January 2018 in Fasting and Prayer, great faith, Wednesday Evenings  •  Comments are off for this post
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Awaken the Wonder Holy Spirit Conference Schedule

Pastor Scott Erickson

Dr. Larry Martin Dr. Joseph Castleberry

Awaken The Wonder Ministry Facilitators

Pastor Erickson’s ministry is “Awaken the Wonder as seen in Revelation 3:2-3, “Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.”

Pastor Martin’s ministry will feature “Awaken the Wonder as seen in Church History.”

Dr. Castleberry’s ministry is “Awaken the Wonder as seen in the Book of Acts.”

Conference schedule.

Sunday, January 14 6 PM

Joe Castleberry           20 Minutes

Larry Martin                40 Minutes

Monday, January 15

9:30 – 10:30               Larry Martin

10:45 – 11:45              Joe Castleberry

Pastor’s Lunch            Joe Castleberry

6:00 – 6:45                 Scott Erickson

7:00                              Larry Martin

Tuesday, January 16

9:30 – 10:30               Joe Castleberry

10:45 – 11:45              Larry Martin

Pastor’s Lunch           Scott Erickson

6:00 – 6:45                 Larry Martin

7:00                              Joe Castleberry

Wednesday, January 17

9:30 – 10:30               Scott Erickson

10:45 – 11:45              Larry Martin

Pastor’s Lunch           Larry Martin

6:00 – 6:45                 Joe Castleberry

7:00                              Scott Erickson

 

Posted on 10th January 2018 in Conferences  •  Comments are off for this post
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Future Faith: Diaspora

future faith

The prophet Daniel is key in our study of Future Faith.

Historically, the Jewish people are/were both gathered and scattered.

At times, we find God’s chosen people at home in Jerusalem and greater Israel.  Other times we find the Jewish family scattered throughout various parts of the world.

Today the Jewish people are both gathered and scattered.

  • The largest population of Jews in a city are 3,214,800 living in Tel Aviv.
  • The second largest population of Jews in a city is the 2,028,200 living in New York City.
  • Gathered in Israel and scattered in New York City.

Gaining insight from the gathering and scattering of Israel, we understand God’s newly chosen people (those with faith in Jesus) are both gathered and scattered.

The Old Testament originally written in Hebrew (mostly), was translated into Greek by 132 BCE.  This translation is named, “The Septuagint.” (LXX)

Deuteronomy 28:25

  • English The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies. You

shall go out one way against them and flee seven ways before them.

  • Hebrew 25 יִתֶּנְךָ֨ יְהוָ֥ה׀ נִגָּף֮ לִפְנֵ֣י אֹיְבֶיךָ֒ בְּדֶ֤רֶךְ אֶחָד֙ תֵּצֵ֣א אֵלָ֔יו וּבְשִׁבְעָ֥ה דְרָכִ֖ים תָּנ֣וּס

לְפָנָ֑יו וְהָיִ֣יתָ לְזַעֲוָ֔ה לְכֹ֖ל מַמְלְכ֥וֹת הָאָֽרֶץ׃

  • Greek δῴη σε κύριος ἐπικοπὴν ἐναντίον τῶν ἐχθρῶν σου ἐν ὁδῷ

μιᾷ ἐξελεύσῃ πρὸς αὐτοὺς καὶ ἐν ἑπτὰ ὁδοῖς φεύξῃ ἀπὸ προσώπου αὐτῶν καὶ ἔσῃ ἐν διασπορᾷ ἐν πάσαις ταῖς βασιλείαις τῆς γῆς

The Greek word, diaspora, became the name of the Jewish people scattered.

Maybe the following can be called a word group.

  • Diaspora
  • Dispersion
  • Exile

Consider the three uses of diaspora in the New Testament.

  • John 7:35        The Jews said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we cannot find him? Will he go where our people live scattered among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks?
  • James 1:1         James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations:
  • 1 Peter 1:1         Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia,

This all becomes much more intriguing when we understand the parts of the word, diaspora.

  • Dia – through (an intensifier)
  • Spora – scattering of seed
  • Spora – the root word for sperma, which means seed

Diaspora effectively means

  • To thoroughly scatter
  • Distribute seed widely

“A seed carries life meant to develop into a fruit-producing plant where it lands.”

Peabody, Larry. Job-Shadowing Daniel Walking the Talk at Work (p. 8). Outskirts Press. Kindle Edition.

Daniel is a diaspora seed intended to develop fruit-producing plants wherever he lands.  Daniel 1:1-7

In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the vessels of the house of God. And he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and placed the vessels in the treasury of his god. Then the king commanded Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family[a] and of the nobility, youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king’s palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans. The king assigned them a daily portion of the food that the king ate, and of the wine that he drank. They were to be educated for three years, and at the end of that time they were to stand before the king. Among these were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah of the tribe of Judah. And the chief of the eunuchs gave them names: Daniel he called Belteshazzar, Hananiah he called Shadrach, Mishael he called Meshach, and Azariah he called Abednego.

 

  1. God ‘diaspora-ed’ Daniel into a foreign, oppressive, anti-God, government job and life.
  2. Daniel, understanding God’s diaspora nature, excelled as a fruit-producing plant there. Daniel 1:17-21
  3. The greatest revelation of God’s future action was given to Daniel in his diaspora.

Through observation of Biblical patterns, it is very easy to see (prophetically) that your very near future includes you being gathered and scattered by God.

This gathering and scattering will include being placed, as a seed, in foreign, oppressive, anti-God type settings and situations.

By faith, you will excel as a fruit-producing plant there.

Your greatest revelation from God will come in that setting and in those situations.

Mindset Necessary for Gathered/Scattered Success

  1. This world is not my home. Hebrews 13:14, 1 Peter 2:11
  2. Neither gathered nor scattered is the preferred state. Trusting God’s placement is the preferred state.  Ecclesiastes 11:4-6
  3. Pray for the success of both the gathered and the scattered. Jeremiah 29:7
Posted on 3rd January 2018 in Bible Study, Wednesday Evenings  •  Comments are off for this post
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The Holy Spirit and the Beatitudes

hsc2018 screen series[2]

What happens when we take our theme verse, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:3) and state its opposite?

  • Unblessed are the rich in spirit for the kingdom of heaven is not theirs.
  • Cursed are the proud in spirit for the kingdom of heaven is not theirs.

Pride is of cosmic proportion.

The prophets Ezekiel and Isaiah give insight into the role of pride in early times.

It seems Ezekiel (28) and Isaiah (14) both speak about a natural, human, and earthly ruler.  The King of Tyre, for Ezekiel, and Isaiah speaks of the King of Babylon.

Both prophets seem to move into an awareness that the rulers of Tyre and Babylon are both puppets of the actual king, Satan.

Beginning in Ezekiel 28:11 we see characteristics of this “king of Tyre” that cannot be said of human beings.

  • You were an anointed guardian Cherub. 14
  • You were blameless. 15
  • You were signet of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. 12
  • You were in Eden, the Garden of God. 13
  • On the day that you were created.   13 (Adam and Eve were created, everyone else was born (begotten).
  • Your heart was PROUD because of your beauty. Vs. 17
  • You corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your beauty. 17
  • So I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God. 16

Isaiah, although speaking of the king of Babylon, also states concepts that cannot be the human and earthly king of Babylon.

  • How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of the Dawn (Lucifer). Vs. 12
  • You said in your heart, I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high. 13
  • I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north. Vs. 13
  • I will ascend above the heights of the clouds. 14
  • I will make myself like the Most High. Vs. 14

Pride, in this way, is in the DNA of all opposition to God, God’s kingdom, Jesus, and is the parent of all sin.

Pride is far more wicked, destructive, and diabolical than we can imagine.

Pride is the spirit of everything that opposes God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.

It makes total sense for Jesus to reveal that every pathway toward God’s blessing begins in poverty of spirit (humility).

Humility is in the DNA of all reception of God, God’s kingdom, and Jesus.

This then states the problem.

The DNA of the one who initiated sin in the cosmos is filled with unmitigated pride.

Of course, he then knows only one way to tempt God’s much-loved creation, Adam and Eve.  Remember, his DNA is pride and his tempting will always have his DNA.

Look at the first sinner’s use of pride against Eve.  Genesis 3:1-6

  • For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened
  • And you will be like God
  • Knowing good and evil
  • When she saw that the tree was good
  • A delight to the eyes
  • Desire to make one wise

The DNA of the evil one’s pride is throughout the temptation account.

Eve, the mother of all humanity, then added the sin of pride into every human being’s spiritual DNA.

The great dilemma is that God requires humility but pride is in our spiritual DNA.

Are we hopelessly lost and foreordained to opposition to God?

NO!  God Himself, in the Person of the Holy Spirit, makes the impossible possible by re-coding our spiritual DNA.  2 Corinthians 5:17

Everything God does in the world he does through the Blessed Holy Spirit.

Jesus’ greatest sermon (The Sermon on the Mount) is an amazing revelation of what the Holy Spirit will do in our lives if we will trust Him!

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.  John 16:13, 14

Take Home Practices

  1. I invite the Holy Spirit to guide me into all truth, especially into the truth of the dangers of pride and the blessing of humility.
  2. I invite the Holy Spirit to speak into my life with the authority of Jesus.
  3. I invite the Holy Spirit to declare to me the things that are to come.

 

Posted on 30th December 2017 in Awaken the Wonder  •  Comments are off for this post
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Attention Span and Unexpected Joy

Before we get to the subject matter of the day, I find words, their history and meanings, interesting.  For example, I recently learned that the word “Prom” is short for promenade.

Promenade is defined as, “a paved public walk, typically one along a waterfront at a resort.”

We are thinking through elements of unexpected joy resulting from surprises.  The Jesus life, at first glance, could never produce joy.  Yet living the Jesus life is the most joyful expression of humanity.  The Jesus life produces unexpected joy.

In “Surprise: Embrace the Unpredictable and Engineer the Unexpected,” Tania Luna and Leeann Renninger expound upon the science of surprise.

  • Surprise: our reaction to unexpected and misexpected events. (Is it an emotion? A cognitive state? No one knows for sure. Surprise is mysterious like that.)
  • Schema (plural: schemata): a mental framework for understanding something.
  • Surprise sequence: Freeze, Find, Shift, Share (plug into the moment, get wildly curious, change your perspective, and talk about it with others).
  • Duh Face: the true facial expression of surprise (seemingly dopey, actually fully absorbed in the moment).

When our schema is interrupted, the surprise sequence (freeze, find, shift, share) commences.

Let’s introduce the concept of attention.

  1. Transient attention is instantaneous and involuntary.
  2. Sustained attention requires something consistently intriguing and continuously offering new perspectives.

Jesus’ birth and His call to live the Jesus life TOTALLY interrupts our natural schema.  Surprise!  Luke 2:1-21

The birth of Jesus and the celebration of His birth provides opportunity to focus (transient and sustained) on God and His love of relationship with you.

  • God created us for friendship, relationship, and fellowship with Him and each other.
  • The friendship, relationship, and fellowship was interrupted by sin.
  • Only God can restore the shattered relationship humanity.

Our relationship with God has been paralyzed by sin.  We can’t dance on God’s great dance floor because we are separated from God and paralyzed by sin. Broken friendship, shattered relationship, and fractured fellowship depict our relationship with God.  Until FATHER God steps in.

  • Restoring relationship with humanity required God to become human, thus the birth of Jesus, fully God and fully human.
  • Justice requires human penalty for human sin. Jesus, representing all humans, met the demands of justice by dying through Roman crucifixion.
  • In that moment, there is a dead God and the living Which wins?
  • Three days later, the Living God resurrects Jesus from the dead.
  • All human beings are now able to have eternal friendship, relationship, and fellowship with God and are invited to His eternal celebratory prom. Revelation 19:6-9

Can you imagine the HUGE sense of despair if you were not invited to God’s heavenly prom, called the Marriage Supper of the Lamb?

Our heavenly prom, the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, will have more surprises than we can even imagine and the unexpected joy will be beyond measure.

InvitationSurprises. Unexpected joy.

Jesus’ birth, life, death, burial, and resurrection are God’s loving invitation for you to walk again and that walk is down the aisle with Father God at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.

My favorite sentence of 2017, “I may be having a bad day, but I am having a day.”

2 Corinthians 6:2 states, “Today is the day of salvation.”

Place your trust in Jesus for salvation and you too will walk again now and then down the aisle of God’s great prom (a paved public walk, typically one along a waterfront at a resort}, the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.

Posted on 24th December 2017 in Christmas  •  Comments are off for this post
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Unexpected Joy: His poverty becomes my spiritual wealth

Last week we considered Jesus’ poverty of spirit as reflected in 2 Corinthians 8:9,

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

Although we give every effort, it is impossible to fully fathom the expanse of, “he emptied himself.”

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,[a] who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,[c] being born in the likeness of men. Philippians 2:5-7

Our Christmas series, Unexpected Joy, investigates the first beatitude, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:3

As unbelievable as it is for Jesus to empty himself through poverty of spirit, it is awe inspiring to know He provided the opportunity for you and me to inherit the kingdom of God.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

It boggles the mind to know that people as spiritually poor as you and I can possess the kingdom of heaven. Ephesians 4:17-19

  • Futility of their minds
  • Darkened in their understanding
  • Alienated from the life of God
  • Hardness of heart
  • Given up to sensuality
  • Greedy to practice every kind of impurity

Consider the truthfulness of our poverty of spirit in Paul’s words in Ephesians 2:1-3

  • Dead in trespasses and sins
  • Following the course of this world
  • Following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience
  • Lived in the passions of our flesh
  • Carrying out the desires of the body and the mind
  • Were by nature children of wrath

How does God exchange all of this hopelessness into possessing the kingdom of heaven?

But God! Ephesians 2:4

  • Being rich in mercy
  • Because of the great love with which he loved us
    • EVEN when we were dead in our trespasses
    • Made us alive together with Christ
  • By grace you have been saved
    • And raised us up with him and seated us with him the heavenly places in Christ Jesus
    • So that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

For by grace you have been saved (given the kingdom of heaven) through faith. 2:8

This faith is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  2:9

Jesus’ emptying is my filling!  His emptiness is my fullness.  His poverty is my spiritual wealth.  His death is my life. His wounds cleanse my transgression. His bruises remove my iniquity.  His chastisement is my peace. His stripes are my healing.  His nails broke my chains.  His broken body re-members mine.  His crown of thorns becomes my crown of righteousness.  His cross is my redemption.  His fasting is my feasting.  His manger is the forerunner for my mansion.  His anguish of soul is my peace of mind.  His “it is finished” is my brand-new beginning.  His “He is not here, for he is risen,” is my confidence in resurrection life.  His curse is my blessing.  His “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me,” is my “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” His ascension into heaven is my reception of the Holy Spirit.

In my poverty of spirit, I place faith in the only One (Jesus) who is spiritually rich and by grace He takes my spiritual poverty and gives me His spiritual riches.  UNEXPECTED JOY!

 

Posted on 17th December 2017 in Uncategorized  •  Comments are off for this post
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Unexpected Joy: The Birth of Jesus and Poverty of Spirit

In “Surprise: Embrace the Unpredictable and Engineer the Unexpected,” Tania Luna and Leeann Renninger expound upon the science of surprise.

  • Surprise: our reaction to unexpected and misexpected (Is it an emotion? A cognitive state? No one knows for sure. Surprise is mysterious like that.)
  • Schema (plural: schemata): a mental framework for understanding something.
  • Surprise sequence: Freeze, Find, Shift, Share (plug into the moment, get wildly curious, change your perspective, and talk about it with others).
  • Duh Face: the true facial expression of surprise (seemingly dopey, actually fully absorbed in the moment).

The ways of God (schema) in our world are a mystery.  Ephesians 3:2-3

Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly.

Essentially, the joy of life in the kingdom of heaven is unexpected because it flows from the mysteries of God.  Consider Paul’s personal difficulties in Philippians 4:11, 12 and 4

Let’s call “the administration of God’s grace” the way God manages His household (the kingdom of heaven).   In Ephesians 3:9 Paul has the responsibility to “make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery…”  Paul’s assignment is to make plain to everyone the way God manages His Household (the kingdom of heaven) with gentiles.

Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is a revelation of the mystery of the internal life of citizens of the kingdom of heaven.  Jesus reveals how God manages His household (the kingdom of heaven).

The Sermon on the Mount is an autobiography of the King of the kingdom of heaven.  The Sermon on the Mount reveals the character, morality, and interior life of Jesus and invites us to be like Him in every way.

The Bible highlights, especially in the details of His birth, Jesus’ poverty of spirit.  2 Corinthians 8:9

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

Language is not adequate to capture the enormity of Jesus emptying Himself of divine prerogatives and becoming human.

In the birth narratives, God goes to the extreme to show His Son’s poverty of spirit.

  • Un-married and pregnant
  • Without shelter
  • Wrapped in cloths and placed in a feed trough (No where to lay his head)
  • Announced first to shepherds
  • Immigrant refugees in Egypt
  • The reason Herod slaughtered the innocent children
  • He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrow and acquainted with grief.
  • Beaten beyond recognition
  • Crown of thorns
  • Whipped within one stripe of death
  • Beard plucked
  • Carrying his own cross
  • Nailed to the cross
  • Spear pierced into his lungs
  • Laid in a borrowed grave.

THEN – Unexpected Joy – Matthew 28:1-10

There is unexpected joy in the (schema) mystery of being poor in spirit.

Maybe the 1951 Carol of the Drum best captures our poverty of spirit at Christmas.

Little Baby, Pa rum pum pum pum,

I am a poor boy too, Pa rum pum pum pum,

I have no gift to bring, Pa rum pum pum pum,

That’s fit to give the King, Pa rum pum pum pum,

Shall I play for you, on my drum, Pa rum pum pum pum,

Mary nodded, Pa rum pum pum pum,

Then he smiled at me, Pa rum pum pum pum,

I am bent over as a beggar, penniless and bankrupt of any spiritual asset.

I bring nothing to the table.

My very best amounts to filthy rags.

My only spiritual hope is God.

Unexpected Joy!  For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Posted on 10th December 2017 in Christmas  •  Comments are off for this post
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Unexpected Joy: The Beatitudes are an Autobiography of Jesus

For most people, Jesus the Messiah was unexpected. The Messiah would be revealed, but not now, not here, not like this, not from there.  The unexpected Jesus produced resistance and fear.

A gift you receive for Christmas is wrapped beautifully and delicately.  Upon opening this exquisite package, you discover a completely unexpected gift.  You had hoped for this gift but not now, not here, and not like this. The unexpected present produced receptivity and faith.

In “Surprise: Embrace the Unpredictable and Engineer the Unexpected,” Tania Luna and Leeann Renninger expound upon the science of surprise.

  • Surprise: our reaction to unexpected and misexpected events. (Is it an emotion? A cognitive state? No one knows for sure. Surprise is mysterious like that.)
  • Schema (plural: schemata): a mental framework for understanding something.
  • Surprise sequence: Freeze, Find, Shift, Share (plug into the moment, get wildly curious, change your perspective, and talk about it with others)
  • Duh Face: the true facial expression of surprise (seemingly dopey, actually fully absorbed in the moment).

Tania and Leeann suggest an experience we might call a surprise irony.  “We’re either biting our nails because we don’t know what to expect or we’re twiddling our thumbs because we know exactly what will happen next.”

“Surprise Seesaw: too much predictability leads to boredom, whereas too much surprise leads to anxiety. A balance between predictability and surprise is ideal (but, as any experienced seesawer will tell you, tough to master).”

They state this dilemma powerfully, “We feel most comfortable when we are certain, but we feel most alive when we are not.”

Jesus is too much of a surprise for many people. His teaching on citizenship in his kingdom threw off the predictability of the Jewish religion as it had come to be experience and expressed.

God’s relationship with humanity is filled with surprises.  This was part of Jesus’ teaching to Nicodemus in John 3:8, The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.

Sometimes God’s words in Malachi 3:6 are misunderstood.  “I the Lord do not change,” is a statement about the character of God.  His holiness does not change, keeping His promises does not change, being holy, love, and pure does not change.

God’s interactions with people change regularly.  Ephesians 2:3,4

Jesus is saying, in the words of our supporting authors today, “Embrace the unpredictable and engineer the unexpected.”

We love to proclaim this time of year, “Joy to the World, the Lord has come.”  It is true and is a challenge to the predictable and expected of our lives.

Jesus’ calls us to live differently than we might have ever predicted or expected.

We are learning to embrace the unexpected joy in Jesus’ unexpected teaching.

Unexpected joy and blessing are huge surprises in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.  Every beatitude is seen in the birth of Jesus.

The First Beatitude

  • Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:2
  • And they will call him Immanuel (which means God with us). Matthew 1:23

The Second Beatitude

  • Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
  • And he gave orders to kill all the boys, in Bethlehem and its vicinity…Matthew 2:16

The Third Beatitude

  • Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
  • And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby…Luke 2:8-15

The Fourth Beatitude

  • Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
  • We have seen his star in the east and have come to worship him. Matthew 2:1-2

The Fifth Beatitude

  • Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
  • To those on who his favor rests. Luke 2:14

The Sixth Beatitude

  • Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
  • My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. Luke 1:46-55

The Seventh Beatitude

  • Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
  • Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests. Luke 2:14

The Eighth Beatitude

  • Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
  • And he gave orders to kill all the boys, in Bethlehem and its vicinity…Matthew 2:16
Posted on 27th November 2017 in Christmas  •  Comments are off for this post
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Dilemma’s Resolved with AND

Decisions are often cast in light of either/or.  It is either this OR it is that.  Many times this is a clear set of lens through which to view the options.  Sometimes, however, it isn’t an either/or scenario but both/and.

Beginning theologians struggle from time to time with God’s delight with both/and situations.  “It is one or the other.  It can’t be both.” I hear folks say.  Yet many times it really is both.

Many of life experiences are dealt with, through the power of the Holy Spirit, as both/and.  For example, instant physical healing must often be accompanied by consistent recovery steps such as physical therapy.

Healed and being healed.  Saved and being saved.  Anointed and being anointed.  Guided and being guided.

Both/And.

Recently, I was asked about the recovery model of dealing with hurts, hangups, and habits.  “Does the Bible teach recovery or deliverance?” Is the essence of the question.

Both/And is my reply.

Israel was delivered from Egypt in a matter of twenty-four hours but it was over forty years before they were delivered into the Promised Land.  This demonstrates God’s willingness to deliver instantly and progressively.

Jesus instantly heals a man’s eyesight.  “What do you see?”  “I see men as trees walking.” Our Lord then progresses to the next step by praying again and the man’s sight is fully recovered.  Does anyone think Jesus’ first prayer wasn’t good enough to get the job done? Of course not.  Jesus was flowing in the instantaneous and progressive.

The Apostle Paul would say, in my opinion, “I am saved AND being saved at the same time.”  Thus he tells you and me to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”  Additionally he states that he “disciplines his own body so that after preaching to others he wouldn’t become disqualified.”

Some folks believe that recovery is non-biblical.  “It’s all deliverance!” They proclaim.  Which sounds nice and godly, however, I have never met a person who was free from some area in which they need to recover.

One lady told me, “I am saved, sanctified, and full of the Holy Spirit.  I am without sin!”  “That’s wonderful, except for the sin of pride! And pride is what makes devils.” I replied.  Factually, was she sinless?  Yes AND no.

Was Judas a disciple of our Lord?  Yes AND no.

Through the ministries of MCA Church we pray that those who are in recovery are delivered AND those who are delivered continue in recovery.

EXTRA CREDIT

Is Jesus dead or alive?

Both/AND.  He was, and is, and will be the One “Slain from the foundations of the world.” AND He was, and is, and will be the One risen in victory over death.

Posted on 10th October 2017 in Uncategorized  •  Comments are off for this post