6-11-17 From Pentecost to Here (part 2)

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Sermon Notes:  (disclaimer – these are my pulpit notes, so they may seem sparse, but may be of some benefit)

LAST WEEK – I SPENT LOT TIME GOING THROUGH CHURCH HISTORY

WHY? WHY SHOULD IT MATTER TO US – HOW DOES IT HELP US BE GOOD HUSBAND, GOOD FATHER, BE GOOD FARMER, BUSINESS?

OUR VIEW OF OUR PLACE IN GOD’S PLAN, OUR VIEW OF GOD, THE WAY WE THINK HE DEALS WITH US – THESE VIEWS DRAMATICALLY EFFECT HOW WE FATHER, DO BUSINESS, GO ABOUT LIVES

VERY SAD EXAMPLE: JEPTHAH – Judges 10:10 And the children of Israel cried out to the LORD, saying, “We have sinned against You, because we have both forsaken our God and served the Baals!”

Judges 11:1 Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty man of valor, but he was the son of a harlot;

Judges 11:29  Then the Spirit of the LORD… and from Mizpah he advanced toward the people of Ammon. 30 And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD, and said, “If You will indeed deliver the people of Ammon into my hands, then it will be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the people of Ammon, shall surely be the LORD’S, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering.” 32  So Jephthah advanced toward the people of Ammon to fight against them, and the LORD delivered them into his hands and he defeated them…  34  When Jephthah came to his house at Mizpah, there was his daughter, coming out to meet him with timbrels and dancing; and she was his only child.

35  And when he saw her, that he tore his clothes, and said, “Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low!  For I have given my word to the LORD, and I cannot go back on it.”  36  So she said to him, “My father, if you have given your word to the LORD, do to me according to what has gone out of your mouth, because the LORD has avenged you of your enemies, the people of Ammon.”  37  Then she said to her father, “Let this thing be done for me: let me alone for two months, that I may go and wander on the mountains and bewail my virginity, my friends and I.”

39  And it was so at the end of two months that she returned to her father, and he carried out his vow with her which he had vowed.

WHY WOULD HE MAKE SUCH A VOW? SERVED BAALS – GODS OF APPEASEMENT – JUMP THOUGH ALL KINDS HOOPS TO APPEASE, GET THEM TO LIKE, NOT ANGRY – FAVOR, HELP     FOR CROPS, FOR HEALTH, PROTECTION, VICTORY

HOLY SPIRIT ALREADY ON HIM – WHY VICTORY? ANSER TO PRAYER, DIDN’T REALIZE!  MISUNDERSTOOD – THOUGHT GOD HELPED BECAUSE VOW, RATHER THAN JUST BECAUSE WAS LOVING FATHER, ANSWERING CRY OF PEOPLE FOR HELP

RATHER THAN REPENT OF A FOOLISH VOW – THOUGHT GOD BE ANGRIER NOT KEEPING VOW THAN KILLING DAUGHTER – WHAT A VIEW OF GOD!

THIS IS WHY I AM PASSIONATE THAT WE STEP BACK AND TAKE A LOOK AT OUR VIEW GOD!

EAST WEST – WORLDVIEW – WEST – SALVATION – CROSS – JESUS SENT TO APPEASE FATHER

IN WEST VIEW GOD – ROMANIZED:  LEGAL TERMS – GUILT, JUDGEMENT, CONDEMNATION

GIVEN US VIEW SALVATION = REMOVING GUILT

2 VIEWS GOD REGARDING SALVATION – CAN SAVE ALL, CHOOSES NOT TO, WANTS TO, CAN’T

SCRIPTURAL PROBLEMS BOTH! TAKE ½ TRUTH MAKE WHOLE TRUTH = MAJOR WHOLES

EAST VERY DIFFERENT FOCUS:

The Ancient Church taught that knowledge of God [eternal life] comes only through the noetic science of the heart. From the standpoint of Orthodox theology, the mind and logic are not the same thing, since logic functions within the brain, while the mind functions within the heart. Thus, the noetic faculty of the heart is the energy of the mind inside the heart. This important distinction results in the Eastern Church seeing herself not as a religious institution, but rather a hospital of the soul, wherein one comes for therapeutic procedures that restore the health of the soul, and allow for the ultimate goal of union with God (theosis).

Our mishandling of the memory of God [fallen mind] that led to the fall, is now corrected and reactivated through the healing of the “nous” (the eye of the soul), and that memory is restored. This healing is not of a juridical nature whereby an angry God has decided to overlook the guilt and fallen nature of our souls by the bloodletting of His Son, but by the cleansing of the nous that has been darkened, restoring us to health and wholeness. The memory of God is thus restored, and we are again in full communion with the Most High, freed from the permanency of death by the trampling down of the power of death through Christ’s Holy Resurrection.

WESTERN VIEWPOINT – MAIN PROBLEM IS LEGAL – GUILT FROM SIN

EASTERN VIEPOINT – MAIN PROBLEM IS FALLEN MIND, DARKENED SOUL, NOT SEE

JUST LIKE SCIENCE – THERE IS A PROBLEM AT CORE – NEW GENERATION – BIOLOGISTS, ASTRONOMERS, GEOLOGISTS – GOOD SCIENCE – NOT ACCEPTING BROKEN

SAME IN AREA BIBLE STUDY – GENERATION DOING REALLY GOOD RESEARCH,

NT WRIGHT – VERY GOOD EXPLANATION PRBLEMS WESTERN EVANGELICAL FUNDAMENTLSM

NOT TALKING ABOUT A LIBERAL ECUMENSIM – THROW IT ALL OUT, GOD IS NICE

REALLY EXAMINING – RESTOARATION UNDERSTANDING – FULL PICTURE GOD

LIKE SAID LAST WEEK – TAKE ½ TRUTH, MAKE WHOLE TRUTH – MAJOR HOLES IN BUCKET

LIKE JEPTHAH – SACRIFICING RELATIONSHIPS, MENTAL HEALTH, PEACE, MARRIAGES

– ALTARS FUNDAMENTALISM – HAS SOME SIGNIFICANT HOLES – HUMBLE LOOK!

OUR INNER EYE – BEHOLDER – WHY NOT SEE:

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.  1 Corinthians 13:12

WE = US!  CHRISTIANS!  PAUL WRITING NEW TETAMENT INCLUDED HIMSELF!

HELPS Word-studies – 2072 ésoptron – a metallic mirror (not made of glass). Ancient mirrors (merely made of polished metal) only produced an indistinct image (reflection). So, to get an accurate picture (reflection) the viewer had to look from several different angles (“standpoints”). This has profound implications in “doing theology”!

DIMLY =  ainigma   a riddle, an enigma

BEHOLD – 3708. horaó : to see, perceive, look upon, experience, discern, beware.

HELPS Word-studies:   horáo – properly, see, often with metaphorical meaning: “to see with the mind” (i.e. spiritually see), i.e. perceive (with inward spiritual perception).

GOD MADE IT WHERE WE NEED EACH OTHER – LIKE BROTHERS SISTERS NOT SPEAKING

RECENTLY IN ROOM ELDERLY WOMAN PASSING AWAY – ADULT CHILDREN BEEN NOT SPEAKING DECADES – CAME TOGETHER, TALKING, PLEASANT, ACTUALLY ENJOYING BEING TOGETHER

THEIR MOTHER, SO WEAK, HUNG DAYS – WHY? CONVINCED SHE JUST ENJOYING THEM ALL TOGETHER

6-4-17 From Pentecost to Here (part 1)

to download click: 6-4-17 From Pentecost to Here part 1

Sermon Notes:  (disclaimer – these are my pulpit notes, so they may seem sparse, but may be of some benefit)

FROM PENTECOST TO HERE

 ‘YOU ARE HERE’ – AIRPORT – GOING TO NEXT GATE – NEED TO KNOW WHERE YOU ARE

THE CHURCH WAS ORIGINALLY ‘THE WAY’

BUT NOW – TENS THOUSANDS OF DENOMINATIONS – EVERY SINGLE ONE – “WE ARE THE TRUE CHURCH1”

‘WE HAVE IT RIGHT?’ – WHAT ARE THE CHANCES THAT WE JUST HAPPEN TO BE THE ONES?

OR COULD BE WE JUST LIKE ALL THEM – HAVE BLINDNESS TO OUR OWN ERROR?

EASY SEE OTHERS ERRORS – ALOMST IMPOSSIBLE SEE OWN

WE WEST – DO NOT SEE HOW MUCH BEEN INFLUENCED BY LATIN, ROMANIZED LENS

Romanizing the Jesus Movement, Dr. Pryor is founder of the Center for Judaic-Christian Studies

This commentary was first published in the February 2010 issue of The Jerusalem Post Christian Edition

WHAT TODAY is called “Christianity” actually began as a messianic movement within Judaism, which was especially diverse and vibrant in the First Century.

From its inception, the Jesus movement was thoroughly Jewish in its composition and culture. The Rabbi from Nazareth taught in the manner of other Jewish sages, but with uncommon authority and unprecedented claims of Divine identity. Like other esteemed teachers, he raised up many disciples, all of whom were Jewish. He taught them from the Torah and Prophets, never undermining or “abolishing” the Word of God, but filling it fuller with sound interpretation and spiritual implications.

In subsequent centuries, however, the Hebraic foundations of the Gospel in the West were eroded or even excised under the weight of the prevailing Roman worldview. Some of the shifts were seismic, others were more subtle, but together their influence reverberates upon the Christian mind even today.

FOR EXAMPLE, by the end of the Fourth Century, the emperors Constantine and Theodosis had wed the church to the Roman Empire. What began as a persecuted minority sect metamorphosed into a persecuting majority, a triumphalistic State religion concerned more with worldly power than fidelity to the Kingdom of the gospels.

Theological shifts occurred as well. Preoccupation with the individual and the soul’s place in the afterlife displaced the Hebraic orientation of creating a new humanity, a renewed covenant community of people, reconciled to God and one another in love.

The multiple images of atonement found in the New Testament, all drawn from the Hebrew Bible – such as sacrifice, conflict and victory over evil, ransom and redemption, reconciliation, and adoption into a family – gave way to doctrinal “theories of atonement.” Justification and a juridical view of salvation began to dominate, conceived more in categories of retributive Roman law than the relational context of a Torah given in grace. Satisfying Divine justice via penal substitution (Christ dying in our stead) suited the West’s preoccupation with guilt that prevailed from the time of Augustine and his doctrine of Original Sin (in which all stand guilty from birth for Adam’s transgression).

Y/H/W/H, Israel’s gracious God, became re-imaged in the popular mind after the likeness of Greco-Roman deities whose anger had to be appeased.

 

EAST WEST DIVISION – ARE SO AFFECTED – LATIN TRANSLATION REFLECTED MORE THE PREVAILING IMPERIALISTIC THEOLOGY

NT WRIGHT – THE DAY THE REVOLUTION BEGAN – NEW BOOK DETAILING THE WAY THE EARLY CHURCH VIEWED WHAT JESUS DID ON THE CROSS – NOT SAME WAY WE TAUGHT

  ANOTHER EXAMPLE: DIFFERENCE!

There is an important distinction that must be noted concerning the difference between the Western and Eastern understands of how we come to know God. The scholastic approach that places emphasis on the use of logic and reason in the acquisition of the knowledge of God, as seen in the teachings of Augustine of Hippo and Thomas Aquinas, is unknown in the East.

The Ancient Church taught that knowledge of God comes only through the noetic science of the heart. From the standpoint of Orthodox theology, the mind and logic are not the same thing, since logic functions within the brain, while the mind functions within the heart. This important distinction results in the Eastern Church seeing herself not as a religious institution, but rather a hospital of the soul, wherein one comes for therapeutic procedures that restore the health of the soul, and allow for the ultimate goal of union with God (theosis).

EARLY CHURCH FATHERS – KNEW GREEK – SPOKE SOMETHING WE NEVER HEARD OF:

“At the heart of the Patristic doctrine of the Holy Trinity is theosis — the transformation of the human being in the communion of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”

Gregory understood Christian salvation in terms of the larger idea of theosis, the transforming participation in the being and life of God.

The primacy of theosis in Eastern Christian theology is directly related to the fact that Eastern Christian theology is based on the direct spiritual insights of the saints or mystics of the church.  Romanized theology was based to a greater extent on the apparently more rational, judicial thought tradition of the West.

Eastern Christians consider that “no one who does not follow the path of union with God can be a theologian” in the proper sense.

CHANGED VERY WORD MEANINGS OVER CENTURIES:  The words of Christ regarding ‘eonian’ read very differently if interpreted as meaning “of the future age.” But apparently at some point in the Greek-speaking world, the original meaning of aionion was lost and the word almost exclusively came to mean eternal. It should also be noted that when St Jerome translated the New Testament into Latin, he used the word æternum to render aionion. Western Christians never had a chance.

 1 Corinthians 2:3 I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

6 Yet among the mature (perfected) we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. 7 But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory… 10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit… 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. (Or ‘in spiritual language’)

14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

1 Corinthians 3:1 But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, 3 for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife ( a readiness to quarrel (having a contentious spirit), affection for dispute) IN you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? 4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human (FLESHLY)?

5-28-17 The Importance of Remembering

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Sermon Notes:

The Importance of Remembering

memorial:  1:  serving to preserve remembrance :  commemorative    2:  of or relating to memory

HOW IMPORTANT IS ‘REMEMBERING’ ?   MORE IMPORTANT AS GROW OLDER?

TO OUR SPIRITUAL LIFE?  JOY, PEACE?

A CERTAIN KIND OF ‘REMEMBERING – MEMORY OF THE SPIRIT, HEART

Deuteronomy 4:9 “Only give heed to yourself and keep your soul diligently, so that you do not forget the things which your eyes have seen and they do not depart from your heart all the days of your life; but make them known to your sons and your grandsons. 10″Remember the day you stood before the LORD your God…

Deuteronomy 6:4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.  …and when you eat and are full,  then take care lest you forget the LORD, who brought you out of the house of slavery.

THE BIBLE DESCRIBES ONE MAIN EFFECTS OF FALLENNESS – FORGETFUL HEART – LOSS OF ABILITY OF HEART TO RETAIN KNOWLEDGE OF GOD = MEMORY OF GOD

EVER HAD SOMEBODY ASK – ‘REMEMBER WHEN’ – NO RECOLLECTION – SLEPT SINCE THEN

THIS IS DIFFERENT KIND MEMORY – LOSS OF HEART RETENTION

We are anxious and fearful to the extent that we are enslaved to our often, uncontrollable environment. And we are enslaved to our surroundings to the extent that we are not in communion with God Who is both absolutely beyond and ineffably present in our environment. Just as physical life is impossible if the lungs cannot breathe in oxygen and if the heart cannot circulate that oxygen throughout the body, so spiritual life is not possible without the nous breathing and circulating the oxygen of prayer in an analogous way. And just as medical science has uncovered the symptoms of lung disease and heart disease that reveal an underlying dangerous condition, so the fathers have discovered the symptoms of the spiritual disease of the noetic faculty.

The Bible speaks of the human condition of a now normally non-functioning or sub-functioning memory in the heart. When the noetic faculty is not functioning properly, man is enslaved to fear and anxiety.

Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.  Luke 24:45

MIND = NOUS – GET A HEART UNDERSTANDING – “HEARTS BURN WITHIN US”

OUR FATHER KNOWS THIS – WE ALL HAVE A SPIRITUAL LEARNING DISABILITY, DON’T GET IT

Psalm 103 1 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!

2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, 3 who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, 4 who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, 5 who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

8 The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

13 As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.

14 For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. 15 As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; 16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.

17 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.

WORKS PATIENTLY WITH US SLOW LEARNERS – TO RETAIN HEART MEMORIES

Joshua 4 When all the nation passed over the Jordan, the LORD said to Joshua, 2“Take twelve men from the people, from each tribe a man, 3and command them, saying, ‘Take twelve stones from here out of the midst of the Jordan, from the very place where the priests’ feet stood firmly, and bring them over with you and lay them down in the place where you lodge tonight.’” …that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ 7 then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD.  So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.”

 

THERE WAS A GENERATION FORGOT:  Judges 2:10-13 (NKJV)  10  When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the LORD nor the work which He had done for Israel.
11  Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served the Baals;
12  and they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt; and they followed other gods

Memorial Stone  R. Glover:  The first religious act they did was this memorial act; and the first bit of Canaan which they took possession of was hallowed as a memorial site. Is there anything analogous to this which we ought to do? And would there be any advantage in our doing it? Let us see what this action would suggest as our proper course.

WE SHOULD ALL TAKE SPECIAL MEASURES TO REMEMBER OUR MERCIES. For our own sakes SOULS memorial stones are OF GREAT VALUE! Our power of recollection is slight, and innumerable things make their claims upon it. Our misfortunes ask loudly to be remembered. The slights we receive, the injuries we endure, the disappointments we meet with are clamorous in their appeals to memory. While mercies of God, kindness of man, tranquil delights and satisfactions ask to be remembered with only a small still voice which is apt to be drowned in the vulgar din of the other turbulent recollections, there are some memories, as John Foster phrased it, only rows of hooks to hang grudges on. And when memory so weakly yields to clamour, or so morbidly prefers the poorer subjects of remembrance, every recollection is a depressing burden.

We owe it to ourselves to remember all God’s benefits, for the recollection of them is green pastures and still waters when we are weak. It is inspiration when we are depressed. It gives the joyous sense of being loved. It purifies the soul by gratitude. It binds us by the sweetest of all bonds to God’s service. It brightens the future by the radiance which is at once most trustworthy and most sweet. It sends us on our way “thanking God and taking courage.” And a wholesome, gracious memory being of such value, we should take pains to cherish it. We should deal with it as with a garden, not permitting anything to grow in it which intrudes itself; but we should constantly keep down the weeds, and plant, tend, and cherish the flowers of fragrance and of beauty. Keep your heart with all diligence, and especially this bit of it. And to this end special actions, stones of memory, vows of service, gifts, meditations should all be employed.

 

Anxiety and fear seem to be everywhere we look, everywhere except on the faces of the Saints.

WHO REMEMBER

Sacred Icons of the Martyrs even during their martyrdom have not a trace of fear or anxiety. Why is fear and anxiety so present in our world and so absent in a world of genuine and proven holiness? Father John Romanides provides an answer from the position of Orthodox anthropology: “While the brain is the center of human adaptation to the environment, the noetic faculty in the heart is the primary organ for communion with God. The fall of man or the state of inherited sin is: a) the failure of the noetic faculty to function properly, or to function at all; b) its confusion with the functions of the brain and the body in general; and c) its resulting enslavement to the environment.” We are anxious and fearful to the extent that we are enslaved to our often, uncontrollable environment. And we are enslaved to our surroundings to the extent that we are not in communion with God Who is both absolutely beyond and ineffably present in our environment. Just as physical life is impossible if the lungs cannot breathe in oxygen and if the heart cannot circulate that oxygen throughout the body, so spiritual life is not possible without the nous breathing and circulating the oxygen of prayer in an analogous way. And just as medical science has uncovered the symptoms of lung disease and heart disease that reveal an underlying dangerous condition, so the fathers have discovered the symptoms of the spiritual disease of the noetic faculty. Again, Father John Romanides writes, “The patristic tradition is aware of the existence in human beings of a now normally non-functioning or sub-functioning memory in the heart, which when put into action via noetic prayer, includes unceasing memory of God and, therefore, the normalization of all other relations. When the noetic faculty is not functioning properly, man is enslaved to fear and anxiety and his relations to others are essentially utilitarian. Thus, the root cause of all abnormal relations between God and man and among men is that fallen man, i.e., man with a malfunctioning noetic faculty, uses God, his fellow man, and nature for his own understanding of security and happiness.”  According to the fathers, fear and anxiety demonstrate that a human being is not in continuous contact with God. When the nous functions properly, the spiritual heart cries, “Abba, Father” with the same regularity with which the physical heart beats and the lungs breathe, for the soul needs the Lord Jesus to touch her just as often as the heart and lungs need oxygen. It is not possible to fear and be anxious as long as one is in the perfectly safe and secure presence of the most merciful, humble, and compassionate Christ. But it is also not possible to remain in that presence, unless the noetic faculty functions properly through unceasing prayer. Outside of that blessed presence, people seek security elsewhere with the desperation of those suffocating in a smoky room, looking for just a window to bring in some fresh air. In need of security, people then use others, including God Himself, in a selfish, egocentric way. And being egocentric, viewing everything exclusively from the perspective of me means that my imagination begins to swell and to work to find security and happiness in all the wrong places. And so, “ Man outside of glorification imagines the existence of god or gods which are psychological projections of his need for security and happiness.”  Fearful anxiety comes from musing on dangers in the past and projecting them into the future. It takes us out of the present moment.  But it is the present moment in which the heart must beat, the lungs must breathe, and the nous must function through the constant and abiding remembrance of God. In a 1937 sermon offered to his flock in Shanghai, Saint John Maximovitch reminds his children that, “nothing is fearful to him who relies on God.”  And this reliance comes only through prayer without ceasing.

Patristic anthropology describes the human condition quite eloquently. It also provides real hope. Fr. John later writes, “That all men have this noetic faculty in the heart also means that all are in direct relation to God at various levels, depending on how much the individual personality resists enslavement to his physical and social surroundings and allows himself to be directed by God. Every individual is sustained by the uncreated glory of God and is the dwelling place of this uncreated creative and sustaining light, which is called the rule, power, grace, etc. of God. Human reaction to this direct relation or communion with God can range from the hardening of the heart, i.e., the snuffing out of the spark of grace, to the experience of glorification attained to by the prophets, apostles, and saints. This means that all men are equal in possession of the noetic faculty, but not in quality or degree of function. It is important to note the clear distinction between spirituality, which is rooted primarily in the heart’s noetic faculty, and intellectuality, which is rooted in the brain.”

 

We all have a spiritual heart that we can strive to discover through simple repentance and by calling upon the name of our Lord. It will take time for our fears, anxieties, and imaginings to weaken. Remembering God, remaining in the present, vigilantly guarding the heart against the “terrors of the night” by trust in God will help.  Love, we are reminded in Scripture, casts out all fear. Love that is not selfish, but given wholly over to God, does not have the mental space to give itself over to fear.  As I mentioned in a previous blog post, “So too, in our own lives, Jesus is not to be found in death (fear).  “He is not here.”  He has overcome death and cast out all fear, trampling down death by death.  Whatever we fear, whomever we fear has been conquered by the glory of the Cross and Resurrection.  If we have fear ever dwelling in our hearts, we are harming our physical, mental, and spiritual health. Neuroscience, psychiatry, and the Gospel agree on this point. Such fear is certainly not of God. Such fear keeps us chained to illusory and deceptive thoughts that alienate us from God and one another.  Yet, that chain has been broken, Satan has been conquered, fear has been overcome.  We need only recognize this and be glad in Him who has made us a new creation. Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me. Glory to Thee, O God, glory to Thee! Amen.

 

Luke 15:11-18 (NKJV)
11  Then He said: “A certain man had two sons.
12  And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood.
13  And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living.
14  But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want.
15  Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
16  And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.
17  But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
18  I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you,

Revelation 2:4-5 (NKJV) Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.  Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place–unless you repent.

5-21-17 Spirit and Longing

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Sermon Notes:

JESUS TALKS ABOUT BEING BORN OF THE SPIRIT – HOW DO WE KNOW IF WE ARE BORN OF SPIRIT?

CAN WE KNOW?  YES!  ABSOLUTE ASSURANCE:

John 3:8  Douay-Rheims Bible  The Spirit breatheth where he will; and thou hearest his voice, but thou knowest not whence he cometh, and whither he goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English:  The Spirit breathes where he will, and you hear his voice, but you do not know from where he comes and where he goes; thus is everyone who is born from The Spirit.”

VERY CLEAR – WE SHOULD EXPECT TO HEAR HIS VOICE  – WHAT VOICE SPIRIT SOUND LIKE?

Romans 8:26 In the same way, the Spirit also helps our weaknesses, for we don’t know how to pray as we ought. But the Spirit himself makes intercession for us with groanings which can’t be uttered.

OR – the Spirit Himself pleads for us in yearnings that can find no words,

THAT IS HOW HE SOUNDS – BREATHING, SIGHING, YEARNINGS – also HOW HE SOUNDS IN US!

Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.  Romans 8:23

“we ourselves in ourselves groan, sigh”

WE ALL HAVE LONGINGS – IN CHRISTIANS ARE BIRTHED GREATER LONGINGS

WHEN WE BEGIN TO SEE THE BIGGER PICTURE – HEAVEN ON EARTH – WE LONG FOR IT!

WHEN WE HEAR ABOUT ‘GLORIFIED BODIES’ – IT CREATES A LONGING!

WHEN WE HEAR ABOUT RESTORATION – NEW HEAVENS NEW EARTH – LONGINGS

SPIRIT IN US – BIRTHS HOLY LONGINGS – CAUSES US TO REACH STRETCH TOWARD HEAVENLY THINGS

And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.   Revelation 22:17

HEAR THE LONGING HERE?  THE LANGUAGE OF DESIRE?  THE HUNGER OF THE HEART?

James 4:5   “The Spirit which he made to dwell in us yearns jealously”

THE SPIRIT IN US IS PRODUCING THIS LONGING – EVIDENCE OF HIS WORK

IT SEEMS THAT THE SPIRIT PUTS DEEP, SPIRITUAL LONGINGS IN OUR HEARTS THAT CAN ONLY BE FILLED THROUGH HIM – IN HIS TIME!

Psalm 37:3 Trust in the LORD and do good; Dwell (rest, dwell,) in the land and cultivate faithfulness. 4 Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it.…

THIS IS HOW THE LORD WOOS US -HE DRAWS US WITH LONGINGS –

Hosea 11:3 Yet it is I who taught Ephraim to walk, I took them in My arms; But they did not know that I healed them. 4 I led them with cords (ROPES) of a man (ADAM – HUMAN BEING), with bonds (WOVEN ROPE, with which a cart is drawn) of love, And I became to them as one who lifts the yoke from their jaws; And I bent down and fed them.

GENTLY UNTO THEM – BROUGHT SATISFYING – FOOD – MORE – of peaceful enjoyment of results of labour; figurative of receiving consequences of action, good or bad

SO HE HAS PUT IN OUR HEARTS ETERNAL LONGINGS – A LONGING TO BE LINKED TO ETERNAL

Ecclesiastes 3:10 I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. 11Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.

PAUL SPEAKS DIRECTLY – 2 Corinthians

4:16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self (man) is wasting away, our inner self (man) is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

5:1 For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, 3 if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. 4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 He who IS EFFECTNG THIS, IS PRODUCING, DOING THIS IN US prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

And He who did work us to this self-same thing is God, who also did give to us the earnest of the Spirit;

FOR ITS TIME!  IN THE RIGHT TIME
Praise to the Lord, who over all things so wondrously reigneth, shelters thee under his wings, yea, so gently sustaineth! Hast thou not seen how thy desires ever have been granted in what he ordaineth?

ALL THY DESIRES?  THE DESIRES HE GIVES – HE CORRECTS, HE GRANTS

– ALL IN GOOD TIME!

WE ALL HAVE FRUSTRATIONS, EXPECTATIONS -WE CAN HELP EACH OTHER – BE A BURDEN LIFTER, BE A BURDEN ADD-ER

 

 

5-14-17 Spirit – Oneness – Empathy

To download: 5-14-17

Sermon Notes:

SPIRIT UNITY – ONENESS – CO-INHERANCE – EMPATHY

THERE IS A SKILL SOME RESEARCHERS SAY MOST IMPORTANT HUMAN SKILL  –  GREATEST INDICATOR SUCCESSFUL RELATIONSHIPS, CAREER

FOR THE KINGDOM – BUILDING COMMUNITY – REAL COMMUNITY, FELLOWSHIP – CRITICAL!

 

ABILITY TO SEE FROM OTHER PERSON’S PERSPECTIVE – PUT OURSELVES INSIDE THEIR EYES, MIND – SEE WHAT THEY SEE

VERY DIFFERENT FROM SYMPATHY – FOR SORRY FOR, NOT SAME

EXPAND OUR UNIVERSE SEE HOW LIMITED OUR VIEW IS, LIMITED EXPERIENCE

HOW IMPORTANT IS EMPATHY? TRY TO DESCRIBE

EMPATHY IS TO COMMUNITY WHAT OXYGEN IS TO THE BODY

EMPATHY IS THE CRITICAL SKILL TO BUILD COMMUNITY

IT IS HOW THE BODY WORKS:

Ephesians 4:1-4 I entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing up one another in love, making every effort to watch over and guard the oneness (unity) of the Spirit in the bindings of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling…

ONE BODY – A BODY DESIGNED TO BE IN ONE-NESS – ONLY BY THE SPIRIT

THINK – HIT HAND WITH HAMER – WHAT OTHER HAND DO?  HOW – CAN SEE, HAVE EYES?

Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.   Romans 12:4,5

WE WERE DESIGNED TO LIVE AS A BODY PART IN A BODY CONNECTED:  SEPERATION = DEATH  – NOT MADE TO LIVE THIS WAY

SIN CAUSES HIDING, ISOLATION, ALONENESS. SOLITARY CONFINENMENT, TRAPPED IN SELF

ADAM EVE – NAKED & NOT ASHAMED – ONENESS, NO HIDING

DAY SINNED – DEATH – HIDING, ON MY OWN, FORSAKEN, ABANDONED  GEN3:6-10

DEATH = DISCONNECT

SIN = hamartánō (from A “not” and méros, “a part, share”) – properly, having no share in; to sin, which always brings forfeiture – i.e. BEING OUTSIDE THE CIRCLE – NOT HAVING A SHARE IN GREATEST HURTS – REJECTED – – OUTSIDE, NOT IN – UNNECESSARY, SUPERFLUOUS

WORST ALL HURTS DEEP INSIDE, DEEPEST ALL FEARS – DIVINE ABANDONMENT

TRUE DEATH,

THE MOMENT ON THE CROSS HE ENTERED INTO DEPTHS OUR SIN – MOMENT CRIED:

Mark 15:34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

HAD GOD FORSAKEN HIM?  HAD HIS FATHER TURNED AWAY?

DIRECT QUOTE – PSALM 22 –   Psalm 22:1-31 (NKJV) 1  My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, And from the words of My groaning? O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear; And in the night season, and am not silent.

3  But You are holy, Enthroned in the praises of Israel.  Our fathers trusted in You; They trusted, and You delivered them. They cried to You, and were delivered; They trusted in You, and were not ashamed.

9  But You are He who took Me out of the womb; You made Me trust while on My mother’s breasts.   I was cast upon You from birth. From My mother’s womb You have been My God.

23  You who fear the LORD, praise Him! All you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him, And fear Him, all you offspring of Israel! 24  For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; Nor has He hidden His face from Him; But when He cried to Him, He heard.

JESUS ENTERED INTO THAT HUMAN EXPERIENCE CORE ALL SIN – FEELING DISCONNECTED AND ABNDONED, REJECTED AND FORSAKEN

WAS HE?  EVEN PSALMIST – FELT LIKE IT – YET KEEP READING – WAS HE?  NO NO!

HE HAS NOT TURNED HIS FACE AWAY – FEELS LIKE IT – WHAT SIN DOES – FEEL DISCONNECT

WE FEEL AS THOUGH WE ARE FORSAKEN – Isaiah 49:13  Sing for joy, O heavens! Rejoice, O earth! Burst into song, O mountains! For the LORD has comforted his people and will have compassion on them in their suffering.

14  Yet Jerusalem says, “The LORD has deserted us; the Lord has forgotten us.”

15  “Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you! 16  See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands. Always in my mind is a picture of Jerusalem’s walls in ruins.

THIS IS OUR FATHER – REMAINS CONNECTED, NEVER FORSAKES  – REAL EMPATHY – SEES!

Deuteronomy 4:31 The LORD your God is a merciful God, He will not forsake you nor destroy you, nor forget the covenant of your fathers which He swore to them.

Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”

Hebrews 13:5 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

MAJOR EFFECTS SIN = SEPARATION FROM THAT WE ARE SUPPOSED BE CONNECTED

LIFE = CONNECTION, UNION, ONENESS

THIS IS OUR JESUS –  LIFE IN SPIRIT BACK INTO BODY LIFE – TRUE CONNECTION

JESUS PLACED US BACK IN COMMUNITY – TEACHING – BUILDING DIVINE COMMUNITY:

JESUS TRAINS US SEE WITH THE EYES OF THE INNER

Matthew 9:35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness. 36When He saw the crowds, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

ROMANS 12 Let love be genuine. (not phony put on, describing sincere behavior free from hidden agendas (selfish motives)  15Rejoice with (amid, among;) those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

16Live in harmony with one another one another; (reciprocally, mutually).  minding – mutual minding,

phronéō (from 5424 /phrḗn, “the midriff or diaphragm; the parts around the heart,” J. Thayer) – properly, regulate (moderate) from within, as inner-perspective (insight)  This idea is difficult to translate into English because it combines the visceral and cognitive aspects of thinking.  –  to have understanding,

EMPATHY – HE RESTORES US TO BEING BODY – ABILITY TO BE WITH, IN, SEE GENUINE LOVE!

4-30-17 Spirit – Oneness – Bearing One Another’s Burdens

TO DOWNLOAD: 4-30-17 Spirit and Oneness

Sermon Notes:

SPIRIT UNITY – ONENESS – CO-INHERANCE – SUBSTITUTION, COMMUNITY

John 17:20-24 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

THERE IS ONLY ONE WAY THIS HAPPENS – THIS KIND ONENESS –  John 20:19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

JESUS – SOMETHING ABSOLUTLEY NECESSARY FOR THE ACCOMPLISHMENT WHY HE CAME

HIS CROSS & RESURECTION JUST THE DOOR – THE OPENING INTO GREATER REALITY

CLEARING RUBBLE, SIN BROKENNESS – OPEN THIS DOOR – INTO SPIRIT LIFE

PAUL REALIZED SOMETHING:

Ephesians 4:1-4 I entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing up one another in love, making every effort to watch over and guard the oneness (unity) of the Spirit in the bindings of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling…

THE FATHER ANSWERED JESUS PRAYER – MADE US ONE!  NOW TO SEE IT, WE MUST WALK IN THE REALITY OF THE FACT THAT WE HAVE BEEN JOINED BENEATH THE SURFACE – JOINED AT THE SPIRIT LEVEL, NO LONGER JUST INDIVIDUAL – WE ARE PART OF A ‘ONENESS’

THIS FLIES IN FACE OUR RUGGED AMERICAN INDIVIDUALISM, I AM A ROCK, I AM AN ISLAND, I DID IT MY WAY, I GO IT ALONE, I DON’T NEED ANYONE INDEPENDENTLY WEALTHY, MAKE MY OWN WAY, NOT BEHOLDEN TO ANYONE,

I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.  REALLY? HOW’S THAT WORKING FOR YOU?

THOSE TRY THIS END UP ALONE AND HOLLOW – SELF-MADE MEN END UP WITH JUST THAT – THEMSELVES!  THIS IS WHAT I HAVE CHOSEN?

BIOGRAPHIES SHELVES ARE LITTERED WITH STOROES OF LONELY SELFMADE MEN – AND WE READ HEADLINES of DRUGS THAT KILLED THEM

WE BUILD OUR FORTRESSES, CASTLE – CLIMB INSIDE, WE CLOSE THE DOOR (MAKE THE WORLD GO AWAY!)  LEAVE US ALONE!  GET OUR WISH, LEFT ALONE WITH OURSELVES

VERY OFTEN LEARN WE DON’T LIKE COMPANY WE ARE FORCED TO KEEP – SELF!

JESUS OFFERS US LIFE WE WERE CREATED FOR:  LIFE FULL, RICH, SATISFYING!

GOOD NEWS – NOT ON OUR OWN!  NEVER ALONE!  PLACES US IN A BODY!

guard the oneness of the Spirit in the bindings of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling…

God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, 25 that there should be no division in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. 27 Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.    1 Corinthians 12:24-27

MADE TO LIVE IN COMMUNITY

NOT SAYING COMMUNE – NOT WORK EITHER! COMMUNISM – NEVER WORKS (OUTSIDE GOD)

HOW DOES THIS WORK?  THE SPIRIT INSIDE LIVING LIKE CHRIST WITH EACH OTHER

Galatians 6:1-10 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.

2  Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.  (the new commandment of Christ—the royal law of love: cp. Jas 2:8. 3.

LOOK LIKE JESUS!   JESUS – SUBSTITUTION – THE GREAT EXCHANGE: This is the gospel — the good news that our sins are laid on Christ and his righteousness is laid on us, and that this great exchange becomes ours

Isaiah 53:4-6 Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down… he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.  All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the sins of us all.

HE GAVE HIS LIFE FOR OURS THAT WE MAY HAVE HIS LIFE!

AS WE ARE MADE INTO IMAGE OF CHRIST – THIS IS SUCH A FUNDAMENTAL CHARACTER HIS

WE TOO – GIVE OUR  LIVES FOR OTHERS – THAT THEY HAVE IT BETTER!

THIS IS WHAT LOVE IS – John 15:12-13  This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.

I GIVE MY LIFE FOR YOURS – MY LIFE IS MY TIME, MY BREATH, MY ENERGY, MY THOUGHTS, MY HEART, MY AFFECTIONS – GIVE THEM OVER FOR YOU

THIS IS MARRIAGE – THIS IS CHURCH – THIS IS NEW COMMUNION – NEW COMMUNITY

 

BEARING OTHER’S BURDENS

Ro 15:1 — We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.

1Th 5:14 — Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.

Gal 5:14 — For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

THIS IS WHAT THE SPIRIT DOES – “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

LIFTS BONDAGE OF BROKENNES OFF OTHERS!

 

THIS IS POSSIBLE IN DIVINE LIFE:  The Christian doctrine of “Perichoresis,” or the mutual interrelationships among the three Persons of the Trinity—like an eternal dance. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit love one another and enact that love in such intimate community that humans can only make metaphors and mysteries to try to understand it. Add to this the doctrine of the Incarnation, in which Jesus is simultaneously and fully both God and human. These are both mysteries: How can some One be Three and One? How can one of them be dual-natured? Then add to that the doctrine of salvation: Christ’s risen life is in each person who accepts Him; therefore, we can share in the divine interrelationship of the Trinity and live as members of one another. All Christians, in all places and at all times, are members of the one Body of Christ. Another mystery.

 

ENGLISH WORD – CO-INHERENCE. Put simply, it is the idea that human beings are all dependent upon each other.

First, there is the universal human idea that everyone participates in physical exchange. I am dependent on the farmers who produce my food and the people who make my clothes; everyone is dependent upon everyone else via the division of labor; those who go to war die in the place of those who stay home.

The Way of Exchange or The Doctrine of Substitution.

In Exchange or Substitution,  – people can bear one another’s burdens—quite literally, physically, regardless of the nature of the burden. In chapter V of He Came Down from Heaven, Williams claims that the mockery hurled at Christ on the cross, “He saved others, but he cannot save himself,” was actually the rudimentary expression of a universal principle: nobody can save himself, but we can voluntarily substitute ourselves for others and “carry their burdens” quite literally, even though those burdens may be spiritual, emotional, or medical.

Colossians 1:24-27 I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church, 25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, 26 the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. 27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

4-23-17 What’s Next? Theosis!

click to download:  What’s Next – Theosis 

Sermon Notes:

SO WHAT’S NEXT?  WHEN JESUS SAID “IT IS FINISHED” – WHAT DID HE MEAN?  I’M DONE, THERE IS NOTHING MORE TO DO?

OBVIOUSLY THERE WAS MORE TO DO – PREACH PRISONERS IN PRISON, RESURRECTION, ASCEND TO HIS FATHER

HEBREWS – “SAT DOWN”  DONE THEN?

NO – MUCH MORE TO DO – SEND SPIRIT, EVER INTERCEDED, BUILD HIS CHURCH

IT IS FINISHED – 5055 teléo (from 5056 /télos, “consummation, completion”) – properly, to complete (consummate), i.e. finish (qualitatively) the necessary process – with the results “rolling-over” to the next level (phase) of consummation.[This root (tel-) means “reaching the aim.” It is well-illustrated with the old pirate’s telescope, unfolding (extending out) one stage at a time to function at full-strength (capacity effectiveness).]

YES – FINISHED THE SACRIFICIAL SYSTEM, NOT NEEDED – DEFINITELY NOT DONE!

VERY GOOD PICTURE – ‘END OF THE WORLD’  WHAT IS THE END?  STOP? GO AWAY?  NO!

“the consummation of the age”  COMPLETED WHAT MEANT FOR THAT AGE

NEXT AGE, NEXT STEP – OUTPOURING HOLY SPIRIT – Luke 24:49-51  Behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”  And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven.

Acts 1:4 And when they were gathered together, He commanded them: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift the Father promised…

I tell you the truth, it is for your benefit that I am going away. I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate to be with you forever — the Spirit of truth… You do know Him, for He abides with you and He will be in you.…  He will teach you all things   John 16:7, 14:16,17,  14:26

WHY BENEFIT?  WHAT JESUS GOAL? LOOK HIS FINAL PRAYER FEW MINUTES LATER – FOR US:

John 17:20-26  “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word;

21  that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.

22  And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one:

23  I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.

24  Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.

WHAT IS HIS GOAL FOR US? ONENESS – THIS GOES MUCH DEEPER THAN UNITY IN CHURCHES – THIS IS UNION WITH GOD!  ONENESS

‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’ Matthew 19:5

ONENESS – BELONGING, INTERPENETRATION – HEART, MIND, SOUL, BODY – HE GETS ME!

CLOSEST PICTURE WE HAVE IS MARRIAGE – GOES WAY BEYOND UNITY – UNION!

EVERY WEDDING CEREMONY SEE YOUNG COUPLE – KNOW WHY – LONGING TO BELONG, TO TRULY CONNECT, BECOME ONE!  WHOLE PERSON     OFTEN WONDER – WILL THEY MAKE IT?  NOT MEANING JUST NOT GET DIVORCED –  BUT WILL THEY TRULY BECOME ONE?  MANY MARRIAGES DON’T – MAY LIVE AS FRIENDS, MAY LIVE IN UNITY, SIDE BY SIDE – NEVER LEARN TO LIVE AS ONE

THERE IS SO MUCH TO LEARN – LIVE IN THIS ONE-NESS

EARLY CHURCH FATHERS – KNEW GREEK – SAW THIS MEANING

“At the heart of the Patristic doctrine of the Holy Trinity is theosis—the transformation of the human being in the communion of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”

Ignatius of Antioch (c. 35 – c. 108)                         Polycarp of Smyrna (c. 69 – c. 155)                     Justin Martyr (c. 100 – c. 165)                         Irenaeus of Lyons (c. 120 – c. 202)                   Clement of Alexandria (c. 150 – c. 215)         Tertullian (c. 160 – c. 225)                                  Origen (c. 185 – c. 254)                                Athanasius (c. 296 – c. 373)                               Gregory of Nazianzus (329 – 389)                           Basil of Caesarea (c. 330 – 379)                             Gregory of Nyssa (c. 330 – c. 395),

“Gregory understood Christian salvation in terms of the larger idea of theosis, or “divinization,” the transforming participation in the being and life of God.”

The primacy of theosis in Eastern Christian theology is directly related to the fact that Eastern Christian theology is based on the direct spiritual insights of the saints or mystics of the church.  Romanized theology was based to a greater extent on the apparently more rational, judicial thought tradition of the West. 

Eastern Christians consider that “no one who does not follow the path of union with God can be a theologian” in the proper sense.

Flame of Love Clark Pinnock  – Obviously salvation is multifaceted and has many dimensions- conversion, new birth, justification and sanctification – but the goal is surely glorification and union with God. The removal of our condemnation is very important, but this is but a facet of salvation, part of a much larger scenario.  Acquittal before God is only the beginning, not the end of salvation. After being justified, we enter the process of being conformed to Christ and anticipate sharing God’s glory in the new community and new creation.

This has been the emphasis of Orthodoxy: our identity is found in relationship with God. The goal is immersion in the richness of the divine life. Salvation is the Spirit, who indwells us, drawing us toward participation in the life of the triune God. The goal is union with God…

To think of salvation in this way is to recover what early theologians called theosis. This category invites us to think of the goal of salvation as participation in the divine nature,

THIS IS THE BENEFIT – JESUS HERE – SIDE BY SIDE RELATIONSHIP, EVEN FACE TO FACE

FRIEND – COMPANION, TEACHER – BUT IN TRUE UNION – MUCH MORE!

 

MARRIAGE – THAT DAY CHANGES EVERY DAY FOLLOWING!  BECOME VERY DIFFERENT PERSON, THIS UNION CHANGES US VERY PROFOUND WAYS – SAME IN UNION – THEOSIS  THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING!  UNION!  NEVER TO BE DIVIDED AGAIN!

 

Spirit sweeps us up into the love of God. Walking in the Spirit, we become ever better acquainted with the love that surpasses knowledge and are filled with the divine fullness (Eph 3:16-19). The Spirit summons us to a transforming friendship with God that leads to sharing in the triune life. Thanks to the grace of Christ and the love of God, the Spirit dwells in us and unites us to the corporate triune fellowship (2 Cor 13:13)

By faith we take hold of grace and by hope we wait patiently for it, but love is the very nature Of God and therefore the environment of eternity. Love characterizes life in the age to come. We will sit down at table in the kingdom and occupy the place prepared for us (Jn 143; Rev 19:l7). Second Peter 1:4 is not an isolated thought or throwaway line but enunciates a fundamental biblical teaching-what Paul speaks of as being united to Christ and john speaks of as a mutual indwelling in God. Union with God is not peripheral to salvation but the goal.

The purpose of life is a transforming friendship and union with God.

United to Christ in his participatory journey, we are on the path to share in God’s life through death and resurrection. The living flame of love is preparing souls for union with love. Jesus speaks of this oneness: “The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me”

(Jn 17.22-23>.9

Union with God is a state of intimacy, and sexual imagery may be used for it. Paul says that the love of male and female points to the mystery of Christ’s love for us (Eph 831). The reason we should reject prostitution is that we are one with the Lord (1 Cot 6:15-19). Salvation itself aims at a wedding (Rev 19:9). The new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven, is prepared as a bride for her husband.

 

Easter 2017 “I Am”

To Download  4-16-17 Easter I Am

 

RESURECTION LIFE – “I AM” VS “I AM NOT”

Sermon Notes:

WHO ARE YOU?

GOOD QUESTION – ISSUE – WHO?

MOSES – AT THE BURNING BUSH – LORD CALLED – MOSES ASKS VERY GOOD QUESTION – WHO AM I?

JEW?  PRINCE OF EGYPT? MURDERER, FUGITIVE? SHEPHERD?

 

GOD LEADS HIM TO MORE IMPORTANT QUESTION – WHO ARE YOU, GOD?  NAME = IDENTITY

THE FATHER’S ‘I AM’

Exodus 3:13-15 Then Moses said to God, “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?”

14 And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ”

15 Moreover God said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: ‘The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.’  THIS IS MY NAME: I AM!

GREATEST IDENTITY STATEMENT IN UNIVERSE – MY NAME IS I AM!   SELF-EXISTENT ONE, THE SOURCE OF ALL BEING IN THE UNIVERSE – THE ONE EVERY OTHER BEING UNIVERSE NAMED FROM

FAST FORWARD 1600 YEARS – JESUS ASKED – WHO ARE YOU?    JESUS ANSWER?  ‘I AM’

3X – John 6:35 And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. REPEATS 2 MORE TIMES:   51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever;

2X – John 8:12 “I am the light of the world. COSMOS He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”  John 9:5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

2X – John 10:7 I am the door of the sheep.  9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved

2X John 10:14 I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.

John 11:25 “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

John 15:1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.  5 I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

John 10:36 ‘I am the Son of God’   – John 14:10 I am in the Father, and the Father in Me –  the Father who dwells in Me does the works.

 

WHAT GOT HIM MOST TROUBLE THIS ONE:

John 8:56-59 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.”  7 Then the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?”

58 Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”

59 Then they took up stones to throw at Him;

 

JESUS – VERY VERY CLEAR ON WHO HIS IDENTITY – HE KNEW WHO HE WAS –

VERY INTERESTING TIME – AT HIS ARREST:

John 18:4 Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” 5 They answered Him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am.” Now when He said to them, “I am,” they drew back and fell to the ground.

18:8 Jesus answered, “I have told you that I am. Therefore, if you seek Me, let these go their way,”

 

HOWEVER SAME NIGHT – – PETER’S DENIAL OF JESUS:  I AM NOT!

John 18:17 Then the servant girl who kept the door said to Peter, “You are not also one of this Man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.”

 

John 18:25 As Simon Peter warmed himself, they said to him, “You are not also one of His disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not!”

WE ALL – LOT I AM NOTS IN LIFE?  NOT GOOD ENOUGH, NOT SMART ENOUGH, NOT TALENTED ENOUGH, NEVER MEASURE UP MY STANDARD, ANY STANDARD – HOW MANY LIKE PETER FACED WITH REAL QUESTION WHO ARE – KNEE-JERK ANSWE ALSO – I AM NOT

BUT WHEN PETER He denied it and said, “I am not!”   DENYING JESUS OR DENYING HIMSELF?

 

JESUS SAID – Matthew 26:43 “In solemn truth I tell you,” replied Jesus, “that this very night, before the cock crows, you will three times disown me.”   DENY = “ignore, disown, or repudiate”

 

THE QUESTION ASKED – ‘HIS DISCIPLE” = BELONGING TO HIM – WHOSE I AM – BELONGING!

IDENTITY QUESTION = OF HIS – DENY THAT – I AM NOT = DENYING HIM – WHOSE YOU ARE

 

WHAT HAPPENS?  LOSE OUR IDENTITY, LOSE TRUE SELF – OUR VERY LIFE FLOWS FROM HIM

 

Acts 17:28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’    HEBREWS – he sustains all things

 

OUR IDENTITY, OUR LIFE, OUR PURPOSE, OUR HOPE, OUR FUTURE, THE MEANING OF THE UNIVERSE IS ALL WRAPPED UP IN HIM – DENY HIM, DENY OUR VERY EXISTENCE, ALL I AM LEFT WITH IS THIS MORTAL FLESH, THIESE FEW REMAINING BREATHS, THIS PUNY LUMP CLAY

FALLEN, FLAWED, SCARED, ANXIOUS, GROWING MOUNTAIN MISTAKES & REGRETS,

 

HOW IMPORTANT?

John 13:1-5 Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.

2  And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself.

He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel.

 

JESUS KNOWS HOW IMPORTANT THIS CONNECTION, THIS KNOWING OUR TRUE IDENTITY IS –

EVERYTHING WE DO FLOWS FROM WHO WE ARE!

LIVE AS FATHER’S SONS – OR LIVE AS IF WE HAVE TO EARN WAY INTO HIS HOUSE?

LIVE AS IF HE WANTS NOTHING DO WITH US, ABONDONED ON OWN?  VERY DIFFERENT LIFE!

 

SO JESUS RESTORES PETER TO HIS TRUE IDENTITY

JOHN 21:15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.

 

RESTORES – LIFE, CALLING, PURPOSE – SUPERNATURAL IDENTITY!

RESURRECTION LIFE = RESTORATION TO TRUE IDENTITY!

 

THIS HIS PROMISE TO US:

John 14:3  I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.

MORE THAT GOEGRAPHICALLY WHERE HE IS – OUR TRUE IDENTITY – IN HIM!

 

JESUS LAST WORDS PRAYER – FOR US – EXACTLY THIS:

John 17:24 Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.

 

IT’S ABOUT WHO WE ARE

THIS IS WHAT CROSS AND RESURRECTION LIFE ALL ABOUT!

 

POWERFUL STATEMENTS IDENTITY!  NOW TRUE BECAUSE HIM

 

I AM ACCEPTED…  I am God’s child.  I am a friend of Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 I have been bought with a price and I belong to God.

RESURRECTION LIFE IS 1ST ABOUT WHO YOU ARE – WHOSE YOU ARE!

Ephesians 1:3-8 I have been chosen by God and adopted as His child.

THIS IS NOW YOUR REAL NAME – CHILD OF GOD – YOUR FAMILY NAME – THAT’S WHO I AM!

 

THEREFOR:  Hebrews 4:14-16 I have direct access to the throne of grace through Jesus Christ.

 

I AM SECURE…  I am free from any condemnation and I cannot be separated from the love of God.

1 John 5:18 I am born of God and the evil one cannot touch me.

 

THEN – OUT OF THAT IDENTITY – IT IS ABOUT WHAT YOU DO

I am a branch of Jesus Christ, the true vine, and a channel of His life.

John 15:16 I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit.

1 Corinthians 3:16 I am God’s temple.

2 Corinthians 5:17-21 I am a minister of reconciliation for God.

Ephesians 2:6 I am seated with Jesus Christ in the heavenly realm.

Ephesians 2:10 I am God’s workmanship.

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.

 

I BESEECH YOU THEREFOR BRETHREN – DO NOT DENY WHO YOU ARE

– IN CHRIST YOU HAVE LIFE!

– IN HIM YOU ARE FILLED WITH HIS RUACH, HIS BREATH OF LIFE – AT CORE BEING THIS IS WHO YOU ARE – YOU ARE HIS AND HE IS YOURS!

Shanna – Learning to Rely on Jesus

Sermon 7/24/16:

to download right click here: 7-24-16 – Shanna – Learning to Rely on Jesus

Revelation 1:4-7

John,

To the seven churches in the province of Asia:

Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits[a] before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.

The Us-ness of Our Salvation

Sermon

to download, right click here: 7-10-16 Message – The Us-ness of our Salvation

Bruce’s Sermon Notes:

THE US-NESS OF OUR SALVATION

IS THERE ANY BENEFIT OF GOING TO CHURCH? CAN WE WORSHIP JUST AS WELL ALONE?

IS IT JUST MATTER OF OBEYING THE LORD TO GO CHURCH? IS IT JUST A RELIGIOUS DUTY?

Thinking in Terms of “We”  Judaism throughout the centuries has declared that “life is with people.” Religion, in their thinking, is inherently communal. Whereas Christians seek out solitude for drawing close to God, many Jewish prayers can only be recited in the presence of a minyan (min-YAHN), a group that contains at least ten adult Jewish men.  In his article “You Can’t Be Holy Alone,” Ismar Schorsch explains the premise behind this practice: when people gather to worship God, his presence among them sanctifies the place.

JESUS – Matthew 18:19-20 If two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father who is in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

WHY?

ADAM ALONE:  Genesis 2:18 And the LORD God said: ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him…’    

MEN ALONE – MORE HEART ATTACKS, CANCER, MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES, TROUBLE WITH LAW

YET SO MUCH DEEPER THAN THAT

“help meet” – Hebrew words ezer kinagado, which is literally rendered as a helper in front of him. Kinagado comes from the root word neged, which literally means to be before or ahead of something. When used to modify the word ezer, which means a helper, it is a helper who goes before you, who paves the way for you, makes your journey easier.

What is the destination that this ezer is leading man to? Within the context of this passage it could only be a helper that is going to lead man to his final destination with God. Thus the words “help meet” really describe why the woman was created. She was created to help man meet God.

A woman is meant to be a helper to man to aid him in spiritual understanding – they are able to give men a natural understanding of something in the supernatural.

The word in Hebrew for alone is bad. That is not the origin of our English word for bad, it is just a nice little coincidence that the Hebrew word for alone is bad. In this case it was bad for Adam to be alone. There is such a gulf between the natural and the supernatural. Adam was a physical being, and God was a spiritual being. This created a little problem in understanding the relationship God desired from Adam. How could God as a spiritual being explain love, intimacy, tenderness, gentleness, protectiveness, nurturing, caring, passion, and longing to a natural being?

When God created the world He said it was good. Good in Hebrew is tov, which means to be in harmony with something. When He created the world it was in harmony with Him. When He created the birds, animals, and plant life they were all in harmony with Him. Yet, when He created man, He did not declare man as good. He also created woman, and then man and woman were good or in harmony with Him.

Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh. Genesis 2:18, 24

GOD CREATED US LIKE HIM – FOR ONENESS – TO BE IN COMMUNITY

1ST RESULT FALL – DEATH = SEPARATION,ISOLATION – NOT THE WAY GOD CREATED

BREAK IN COMMUNITY, FAMILY – Genesis 3:16 (NLT)  Then he said to the woman, “…In pain you will give birth. And you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you.”

AND SOON FOLLOWING: CAIN & ABEL – JEALOUSY, ANGER, DEATH – wars, abuse, brokenness, disconnect – death!


BUT: JESUS – WHAT DID JESUS DO?

Ephesians 2:1-19 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins … sons of disobedience… and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus,

7 in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God

14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 15 by abolishing in His flesh the enmity… that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, 16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household…

SALVATON – RECONCILIATION – REPAIR THE BREAK = RECREATING DIVINE COMMUNITY

WE NEED EACH OTHER

SALVATION = RESCUE FROM DEATH, GEHENNA OF SOUL SEPARATION

WHAT JESUS PRAYED FOR:

John 17 After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

20 “I ask… on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me… so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

SALVATION = RECONCILIATION = RESTORATION OF COMMUNITY

HUMILITY = REALIZING OUR DEEP NEED FOR EACH OTHER

Who are those who are the poor in spirit, and how do they possess the kingdom of heaven?

The word “poor” is ani in Hebrew, and is also often translated “afflicted,” and often used to refer to groups of people like widows and orphans who were dependent on charity to survive. A person who is “poor in spirit” sees himself as needy and helpless without God, and yearns desperately for God’s presence in his life. Like a recovering addict, he can only survive each day by leaning on God. The opposite type of person is someone who is “great of spirit” who is bold and self-reliant, who has no need of anyone’s help, especially not God’s. He is one who feels that he is “the captain of his fate, the master of his soul.”

God looks with favor on those who know they are inadequate to run their own lives.

JESUS – the Kingdom of Heaven IS OF SUCH – THOSE WALKING HUMBLY, DEPENDANT GOD

OUR PROBLEM – ‘I CAN DO IT MYSELF’ = PRIDE

FRIENDSHIP – is a mirror to presence and a testament to forgiveness. Friendship not only helps us see ourselves through another’s eyes, but can be sustained over the years only with someone who has repeatedly forgiven us for our tresspasses as we must find it in ourselves to forgive them in turn. A friend knows our difficulties and shadows and remains in sight, a companion to our vulnerabilities more than our triumphs, when we are under the strange illusion we do not need them. An undercurrent of real friendship is a blessing exactly because its elemental form is rediscovered again and again through understanding and mercy. All friendships of any length are based on a continued, mutual forgiveness. Without tolerance and mercy all friendships die.

 

The overwhelming importance of the command to “love your neighbor” echoes throughout the New Testament. Paul declared that the whole of the Law is fulfilled by obeying this one command (Galatians 5:15). Peter also exhorted his followers to “above all, love each other deeply” (1 Peter 4:8). And in John’s letters, he wrote that “this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another” (1 John 3:11). James called the command to love your neighbor the “royal law found in Scripture” (James 2:8).  Jesus’ first Jewish followers put this command at the top of their marching orders, devoting themselves to fellowship, communal prayer, and breaking bread together (Acts 2:42–47). The emphasis on community was one of the outstanding characteristics of the Jerusalem church, responsible for its magnetic witness and strength during persecution.  – also remained active in the larger community, joining the rest of the Jewish people in daily worship at the Temple. They didn’t denounce the world around them and cloister tightly with like-minded friends. As a result, they enjoyed the favor of outsiders and daily welcomed new believers.  Even though the early Jerusalem church emphasized community, within only a few centuries Gentiles brought into the church an emphasis on individual piety and private devotion. By AD 400, many Christians believed that the hermit’s utter solitude was the path to God.

Modern Christians, especially American Protestants, still maintain a strong sense of “Jesus and me” individualism, emphasizing one’s “personal relationship with Christ” as the essence of faith.

By contrast, Judaism throughout the centuries has declared that “life is with people.” Religion, in their thinking, is inherently communal. Whereas Christians seek out solitude for drawing close to God, many Jewish prayers can only be recited in the presence of a minyan (min-YAHN), a group that contains at least ten adult Jewish men.

Jewish prayer – typically recited communally. “Heal us and we shall be healed, help us and we shall be helped, for you are our joy. Grant full healing for all our wounds…   these ancient lines that were exclusively framed in terms of “we” and “us” and “our people” (as is the Lord’s Prayer, of course).

Christian worship service – focus MOST songS was on God and me: “I love you, Lord, and I lift my voice” … “Just as I am, without one plea” … “Here I come to worship, here I come to bow down.”

worshiping side by side – pretending to be all alone.

 

MY HEART – THIS ONE MY GREATEST CONCERNS FOR CHURCH