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"Let us reason together…" Isaiah 1:18

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What is in the Vast Space Between Ourselves and Others?

“We do our best work and live our best lives when we charge into the vast space between ourselves and others.”  Joshua Wolf Shenk in Powers of Two: Finding the Essence of Innovation in Creative Pairs.

 

Why do we need to be encouraged to charge into the vast space between ourselves and others?  Inertia, caution and disappointment must be overcome to effectively charge into this sacred space.  To these obstacles we add:

 

  • Suspicion of the other
    • Racism/genderism/ageism
    • Xenophobia
    • Ethnocentrism

 

  • Awareness of lack of human graciousness
    • I will be judged
    • I will be excluded
    • I will be punished or made to pay the price.

 

“The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties . . . but right through every human heart.” (Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago: 1958)

 

What is in this vast space of the human heart?  Colossians 3:5-17

 

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: I might feel
·      Sexual immorality You will take advantage of me
·      Impurity I might lose purity
·      Passion I might lose sight of wisdom
·      Evil desire You see me through the lens of evil desire
·      Covetousness I am a means to an end rather than a person
·      Idolatry I exist to serve you and your false gods
On account of these the wrath of God is coming vs. 6 This is not minor.  God’s wrath is coming on account of these!
In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. These may have been in our past when we were living in them.  Not any longer.  We live a new life in Christ!
But now you must put them all away: I might feel
·      Anger I am the recipient of your outburst of emotion
·      Wrath I am the recipient of your emotion with vindictive action.
·      Malice I am the recipient of your desire to inflict harm and suffering
·      Slander My character is verbally defamed and my reputation damaged
·      Obscene talk I am the recipient of talk that is offensive to morality and decency.
·      Do not lie to one another I never know the truth or what is being said about me

 

Without a spectacular work of God in the vast space between one another, can we imagine the danger of navigating the space between (Colossians 3:11)

 

  • Greek and Jew? The other is of a different nation, ethnicity, language etc.
  • Circumcised and uncircumcised? The other is of a different religious
  • Barbarian and Scythian? The other is of a different civility.
  • Slave and free? The other is of a different social or economic

 

Something AMAZING happens when two people respond to Jesus’ charge into the space of our hearts.  Colossians 3:11

 

“but Christ is all, and in all.”

 

12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, I might feel
·      Compassionate hearts, My best interest is being considered
·      Kindness I am the recipient of grace in action
·      Humility My low estate isn’t looked down upon
·      Meekness I am being treated gently
·      Patience You have time for me to grow and develop
·      Bearing with one another You are lifting me and holding me up
·      Forgiving each other as the Lord has forgiven You extend to me the forgiveness you received from the Lord
And above all these, put on love which binds everything together in perfect harmony Above all……I am loved by you and we are bound together in perfect harmony
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts  
Be thankful  
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly  
·      Teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom  
·      Singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God  
Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus  
Giving thanks to God the Father through Jesus.  

 

Posted on 18th August 2019 in Uncategorized  •  Comments are off for this post
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Burkina Faso Persecution: Awareness Leading to Action

Burkina Faso is populated by amazing, kind, gentle, honest, loyal, polite and loving people.  Into this delightful and peaceful mix of animists, Muslims and Christians, religious persecution has intruded.

Extremists hell bent on maiming and killing anyone who holds views different from their radical Islamic beliefs are methodically, intentionally, and ruthlessly being killed.

I am just one of many deeply concerned fans of the Burkinabe.  But I am one.  I have voice.  With God’s grace I can shout this injustice from my internet rooftop.

My prayer is for information to lead to transformation.

Burkina Faso, having no significant natural resources, minimal GDP (123 of 186 according to the 2018 report of the International Monetary Fund) and very little for which more powerful nations lust, is often ignored at best and abused at worst.

Will you join me in praying, communicating and giving to bring an end to the senseless slaughter of these our sisters and brothers?

Posted on 16th July 2019 in Burkina Faso, Uncategorized  •  Comments are off for this post
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Positive Thinking or A Positive Faith Attitude?

To become a person of fully realized potential I must develop and maintain a positive faith attitude.

 

Pastor Neale Sheneman, founding pastor of MCA Church, read Norman Vincent Peale’s “The Power of Positive Thinking” every year.

The following comparison between negative self talk and positive thinking is from “Positive Thinking: Stop Negative Self Talk to Reduce Stress” on the Mayo Clinic Healthy Lifestyle web site.

 

 

Negative Self Talk

 

Positive Thinking
 

I’ve never done it before.

 

It is an opportunity to learn something new.
It’s too complicated.  

I’ll tackle it from a different angle.

 

I don’t have the resources.  

Necessity is the mother of invention.

 

 

There is no way this will work.

 

I can try to make it work.
 

It’s too radical a change.

 

Let’s take a chance.

 

Our founder loved positive thinking.  Yet he stated regularly, “Positive thinking isn’t enough!  You must develop a positive faith attitude.”

 

There are similarities between Pastor Peale’s positive thinking and Pastor Sheneman’s positive faith attitude.

 

First, both feature the power and effectiveness of one’s thoughts and attitudes.

 

  • Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. Proverbs 4:23
  • Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9

 

Second, both feature positivity and optimism.

 

Optimism is a mental attitude reflecting a belief or hope that the outcome of some specific endeavor, or outcomes in general, will be positive, favorable, and desirable.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Optimism

 

Optimistic people (from the Latin word optimum) are always looking on the bright side.

 

There are significant differences between positive thinking and a positive faith attitude.

 

  • Positive thinking alone is temporary. A positive faith attitude anchored in saving faith is eternal.

 

  • 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. 1 John 2:17

 

  • Positive thinking begins and ends in the human mind. A positive faith attitude begins and ends with God.

 

  • 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. James 2:22-24

 

  • Positive thinking relies on the capacity of the human brain. A positive faith attitude relies on the capacities of the Almighty God.

 

  • 20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us… Ephesians 3:20

 

  • Positive thinking is something you hold. A positive faith attitude holds

 

  • 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35-39

 

We can learn much about Hope (the Christian’s positive faith attitude) in Romans 15:13.

 

 May the God of hope

 

fill you

 

with all joy and peace

 

 

in believing,

 

so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

 

This hope is sourced in God.

 

This hope is God’s and He pours it into you.

 

This hope is characterized by God’s joy and His peace.

 

This hope is God’s response to your believing.

 

You abound in this hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

 

Action Steps

  1. Place your faith in Jesus Christ for salvation.
  2. Determine to live each moment with the God of hope filling you with all joy and peace.
  3. Remind yourself many times each day, “Like Abraham, I believe God.”
  4. Several times each day state, “I am abounding in hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Posted on 6th July 2019 in Realized Potential, Uncategorized, Weekend Talks  •  Comments are off for this post
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30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World: The Kazakhs

The Kazakhs people are both an ethnic group and a nation.  Most Kazakhs live in Kazakhstan, the world’s largest land-locked country.

Though traditionally referring only to ethnic Kazakhs, including those living in China, Russia, Turkey, Uzbekistan and other neighbouring countries, the term “Kazakh” is increasingly being used to refer to any inhabitant of Kazakhstan, including non-Kazakhs.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kazakhstan

We pray for the growing number of Kazakhs Christians to be strengthened in faith, empowered in ministry and united in relationships.

Posted on 11th May 2019 in Uncategorized  •  Comments are off for this post
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30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World: Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina would be blessed by a giant dose of God’s reconciling love.  Following extreme difficulties in 1990, many people there are polarized in cultural/religious groups.  Muslims, Catholics and Orthodox have deep roots and there is plenty of room for misunderstanding.

Let us pray for the gracious gift of God’s love to rule in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Jesus is Lord in Bosnia and Herzegovina!

Posted on 10th May 2019 in 30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World, Uncategorized  •  Comments are off for this post
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Commitment: Are Humans Trouble for God?

As we seek to become people of fully realized potential, we ask a most vital question, “Is God committed to me and to the realization of my fullest potential?”

 

From Heidi Reeder, author of Commit to Win: How to Harness the Four Elements of Commitment to Reach Your Goals, we understand her perspective of the scientific equation of commitment.

 

(Treasure – Troubles) + Contributions – Choices = Commitment

 

When we consider God’s relationship with us through the framework of Heidi Reeder’s commitment equation will we find that He is committed to us?

 

In a previous presentation we determined those who actively trust in Jesus for salvation are treasured by God.

 

I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.  Jeremiah 31:3

 

Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine.  Exodus 19:5

 

“For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.”  Deuteronomy 7:6

 

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.  1 Peter 2:9, 10

 

The commitment equation requires us to subtract from the treasure quotient the degree to which the entity is troublesome.

 

Therefore, in determining God’s commitment to me, it is urgent for me to consider:

 

  1. Are human beings trouble for God?
  2. If so, how does the trouble I cause Him impact His commitment to me?

 

Our Resurrection Sunday teaching highlighted “The Impossible Possibility” as a moniker for Jesus.  Being fully human and fully God, Jesus was both impossible and possible.

 

  • Man can’t be God, but Jesus is.
  • God can’t be human, but Jesus is.

 

In what we might call a Divine Paradox, opposites are both equally true in God.

 

“A paradox is a statement that, despite apparently valid reasoning from true premises, leads to an apparently-self-contradictory or logically unacceptable conclusion.  A paradox involves contradictory-yet-interrelated elements that exist simultaneously and persist over time.”  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradox

 

True Premise One

 

God cannot be troubled.

 

True Premise Two

 

God is troubled by human beings.

 

Christians who are uncomfortable with paradox create ways to remove tension from the Biblical record.  In understanding today’s Old Testament text (Genesis 6:5-8), for example, their belief requires them to remove the tension created by the troubling of God by humans.

 

“The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 7 So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.”

 

Notice what is happening in the heart of God in verse 6 and 7.

 

  1. The Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth,
  2. And it grieved him to his heart.
  3. For I am sorry that I have made them.

 

God’s response to “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” was “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land.”

 

God’s response is not in anger but from His heart of great compassion that was grieved and sorrowful.

 

The vengeance of God is the other side of His great compassion.

 

Since God is totally committed to His creation He must take action against that which destroys it.

 

Since God loves humanity, He must take action against that which destroys humanity.

 

In the Genesis flood, mankind experienced the other side of God’s compassion; His vengeance.

 

Humanity today is no better than the humanity of Noah’s day.  Their rebellion is our rebellion.  Their wickedness is our wickedness.

 

It is truly a paradox, an impossible possibility.  Although God cannot be troubled, you and I trouble the heart of God.

 

Notice the shift in the heart of God following the flood.  Genesis 8:21-22

 

And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. 22 While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”

 

Walter Brueggemann states this change beautifully.

 

What has happened is a change wrought in the heart of God, who will no longer take vengeance.  The move in God’s heart from 6:5-7 to 8:21 suggests that instead of humankind suffering, God takes the suffering as “his” own.  God resolves to turn the grief in on “himself” rather than to rage against “his” creation.  God bears the vengeance of God in order that “his” creation can have compassion.  Praying the Psalms, page 77

 

Since my sin (like Noah’s generation) is troubling for God, how then will I experience the other side of God’s great compassion (vengeance)?

 

In what ways will I experience the anger of God?  The wrath of God?  The judgement of God?

 

Some people will argue, “God is love and He cannot be grieved, filled with sorrow or anger.  He never pours out wrath and judgement.”

 

Richard Niebuhr perceived this view in 1937.  “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.” The Kingdom of God in America, New York: Harper & Row, 1959 [1937], p. 193.

 

God’s great compassion and the other side of His compassion are the same yesterday, today and forever.  This isn’t a new day in which the God of the Old Testament somehow came to His senses and overcame a wrath problem.

 

Jesus’ death on the cross is the new flood.

 

The death of Jesus on the cross is the new ark.

 

I need not experience the vengeance and wrath of God because “Jesus, God’s son, took my place.”

 

On the cross God decisively demonstrated His great compassion for me.  Because He loves me, He destroyed that which would destroy me.

 

On the cross God decisively demonstrated the other side of His great compassion, His vengeance.  Because He loves me, He took His vengeance in upon Himself.

 

Notice the Bible’s revelation of the other side of God’s compassion for those who reject His provision on the cross.

 

Romans 1:18

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.

 

Romans 2:5

But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.

 

Romans 2:8

but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.

 

The Gospel is GOOD NEWS!  God is the Impossible Possibility.

 

On the cross He has given us His compassion and taken the other side of His compassion in upon Himself.

 

In trusting Jesus you and I are the recipients of God’s great compassion.

 

Romans 5:9

Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.

 

1 Thessalonians 5:9

For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,

 

Am I trouble for God?  Yes, in every way.

 

Am I trouble for God?  No, He took my trouble and His response to my trouble in upon Himself.

 

God is committed to me.

 

God treasures me.

 

God’s Son became my trouble.

 

God’s Son contributed His all for me in receiving God’s vengeance and wrath for my trouble.

What must I “take in upon myself” so that my closest friends and my tribe receive God’s compassion through me?

 

My fullest potential is only realized when I place my trust in Jesus’ ministry on the cross and extend this same love and grace to others.  John 15:12, 13

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

MCA LIFE GROUP HOME WORK

Listen – My Story

  • What is the most delightful recent addition to your life story?
  • In what ways did you access Heaven’s Gates and Hell’s Flames for your evangelism ministry?

Learn – Digging Deeper

  • How comfortable are you with Biblical revelation of God’s wrath, anger or judgement? Consider John 3:36
  • How comfortable are you with the Biblical revelation that in trusting Jesus for salvation He takes our place? Read Romans 5:6-11 and talk through the various things Jesus has done for us.

Lift – Prayer

  • How would you like your Life Group to pray for you today?
  • Is there someone you hope receives the wrath of God? Ask God to change your heart.  Pray for them.
  • Do you carry condemnation from something you have already confessed to God in repentance? Pray to trust God’s promise of removing His wrath.

Life – Taking it Home

  • What is the Holy Spirit asking you to add, delete or recalibrate in your life?
  • God’s commitment to you is costly beyond measure. To whom must you reflect costly commitment this week?

 

Posted on 4th May 2019 in Realized Potential, Uncategorized, Weekend Talks  •  Comments are off for this post
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Psalms: Windows and Mirrors

The Psalms:  Window and Mirrors

In the Psalter we have both windows and mirrors.

  • Through them we observe humans in interconnectivity with the Creator and His creation.
  • By them we see deeply into our own humanity.

Immersing ourselves in the Psalms we begin to ask, “Am I reading the Psalms or are the Psalms reading me?”

All the realities of human life are embraced in the Psalms.

To understand the Psalms, one must be interacting in real time with God, God’s creation, humans and the self.

The effectiveness of the Psalms is directly correlated to Biblical self-awareness.

Frederick Buechner accurately states, “The story of any one of us is in some measure the story of us all.”

“Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.”
― Frederick Buechner, Now and Then: A Memoir of Vocation

In listening to the lives of others and our own, we might see a synthesis of Paul Ricoeur’s work as presented by Walter Brueggemann.

“Our life of faith consists in moving with God in terms of:

  1. Being securely oriented;
  2. Being painfully disoriented; and
  3. Being surprisingly reoriented.”

Praying the Psalms, Walter Brueggemann, page 2

 

Being securely oriented Being painfully disoriented Being surprisingly reoriented
Psalms of Praise Psalms of Protest Psalms of Thanksgiving
Psalm 145 Psalm 22 Psalm 103

 

“But there are those (and this is our primary concern here) who have regular access to the psalms of high celebration but have been so numbed to their own experience that the words of the psalm have no counterpart in their own life experience.”  Praying the Psalms, Walter Brueggemann, page 2

The Psalter is a window into the orientation, disorientation and reorientation of others.

The Psalter is a mirror into the orientation, disorientation and reorientation of our selves.

Thus we shake off any and all numbness to our own lives and fully embrace our own psalms of praise, protest and thanksgiving.

Posted on 1st May 2019 in Psalms, Uncategorized, Wednesday Evenings  •  Comments are off for this post
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Becoming People of Realized Potential: God’s Commitment to those in Christ Jesus

Interwoven into the human, by God at creation, is the potential to become.

In God’s providence we are blessed with the opportunity to change.

  • We can move from worse to better.

And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.” 60 But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” 62 And he went out and wept bitterly.  Luke 22:59-62

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. 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”  John 21:17-19

  • We can move from better to worse.

“‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’ Revelation 2:2-7

  • We can move from one type to another.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.  2 Corinthians 5:17

With eternity set in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11) we long to transcend the temporary for the permanent.  In changing from worse to better, better to worse or from one kind to another we are faced with the temporariness of our best intentions and most diligent efforts.

Thanks be to God, He is entirely different than this.

God does not change and is not temporary.  He is perfect in every way (thus changeless) and permanent in every way (thus eternal).

There is no worse in God (he is perfect in every way) to change for the better (there is nothing better than His perfection).

There is no better in God (Being perfect, He is best in every way) to move to worse (perfection removes the option of becoming imperfect).

There is no other for God to become.   To become something other is to no longer be God.

To God, nothing can be added.  From God nothing can be subtracted.

Malachi 3:6 states, “For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.”

Deuteronomy 33:27 features God’s eternality.  “The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”

Notice, in Hebrews 6:17-20, the changeless nature of God is a sure and steadfast anchor for our souls.

17 So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purposehe guaranteed it with an oath18 so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. 19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.

From Heidi Reeder, author of Commit to Win: How to Harness the Four Elements of Commitment to Reach Your Goals, we understand the equation of commitment.

(Treasure – Troubles) + Contributions – Choices = Commitment

Applying the best of contemporary commitment science, we can confidently answer the question, “Is God committed to me?”

With current commitment science highlighting “treasure’ as the first integer of the commitment equation, I must ask, “Does God treasure me?”

When I place my trust in Jesus for salvation, I am adopted into Israel.  In this way, I am part of the “people (clans or tribe) of God.”

Consider Jeremiah 31:1, “At that time, declares the Lord, I will be the God of all the clans of Israel, and they shall be my people.”

As a person in the tribe of God’s new Israel, am I treasured by Him?

I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.  Jeremiah 31:3

Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine.  Exodus 19:5

“For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.”  Deuteronomy 7:6

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.  1 Peter 2:9, 10

These Bible verses place strong emphasis on God’s eternal commitment of love which allows us to become His treasured possession.

To His treasured possessions (Those in Christ Jesus), God is eternally and unchangingly committed.

Yes, God is eternally and unchangingly committed to us.

Therefore, we long for eternal (permanent) and unwavering (changeless) commitment to and from our friends and tribe.

The Apostle Paul reveals his deep longing for his friends and tribe to practice permanent and unwavering commitment.

Do your best to come to me quickly, 10 for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.12 I sent Tychicus to Ephesus. 13 When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments.

14 Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done. 15 You too should be on your guard against him, because he strongly opposed our message.

16 At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. 17 But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.  2 Timothy 4:9-18

May God’s eternal and unchanging commitment to me…

  1. Be reflected in an eternal and unchanging commitment from me to Him.
  2. Be reflected in an eternal and unchanging commitment from me to my closest friends.
  3. Be reflected in an eternal and unchanging commitment from me to my tribe.
Posted on 6th April 2019 in Realized Potential, Uncategorized, Weekend Talks  •  Comments are off for this post
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Personal Revival: Psalm 119:156

Personal Revival:  Psalm 119:156

The Psalmist brilliantly navigates the terrain of his heart and provides for us, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, an example of personal revival.

Eleven times in Psalm 119 the author petitions God to “revive me and give me life.”

Vs. 25              My soul clings to the dust.  Revive me according to your word.

Vs. 37              Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.

Vs. 40              Behold, I long for your precepts; in your righteousness give me life!

Vs. 50              This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.

Vs. 88              In your steadfast love give me life, that I may keep the testimonies of your mouth.

Vs. 93              I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life.

Vs. 107            I am severely afflicted; give me life, O Lord, according to your word!

Vs. 149            Hear my voice according to your steadfast love; O Lord, according to your justice give me life.

Vs. 154            Plead my cause and redeem me; give me life according to your promise!

Vs. 156            Great is your mercy, O Lord; give me life according to your rules.

Vs. 159            Consider how I love your precepts! Give me life according to your steadfast love.

The eleventh personal revival passage of the 119th Psalm is positioned with an abiding personal love of God’s word.

 

97 Oh, how I love your law!
I meditate on it all day long.
The expression here, “O how love I thy law,” implies intense love – as if a man were astonished at the fervour of his own emotion. His love was so ardent that it was amazing and wonderful to himself – perhaps wonderful that he, a sinner, should love the law of God at all; wonderful that he should ever have been brought so to love a law which condemned himself. Any man who reflects on what his feelings are by nature in regard to religion, will be filled with wonder that he loves it at all; all who are truly religious ought to be so filled with love to it, that it will be difficult for them to find words to express the intensity of their affection.  Barnes Notes

 

97 Oh, how I love your law!
I meditate on it all day long.
The law is God’s law, and therefore it is our love. We love it for its holiness, and pine to be holy; we love it for its wisdom, and study to be wise; we love it for its perfection, and long to be perfect. Treasury of David

 

97 Oh, how I love your law!
I meditate on it all day long.
He meditated in God’s word because he loved it, and then loved it the more because he meditated in it. He could not have enough of it, so ardently did he love it: all the day was not too long for his converse with it. His matin prayer, his noonday thought, his evensong were all out of Holy Writ; yea, in his worldly business he still kept his mind saturated with the law of the Lord.  Treasury of David

 

97 Oh, how I love your law!
I meditate on it all day long.
When “thy law,” and “my meditation” are together all the day, the day grows holy, devout, and happy, and the heart lives with God.  Treasury of David

 

98 Your commands are always with me
and make me wiser than my enemies.
Always with me, making me wiser than my enemies.

 

99 I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes. More insight than all my teachers, because I meditate on God’s statutes.

 

100 I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts. More understanding than the elders, because I obey your precepts.

 

101 I have kept my feet from every evil path
so that I might obey your word.
I have kept away from wrong paths so that I might obey God’s word.

 

102 I have not departed from your laws,
for you yourself have taught me.
I have kept on God’s path, because God has taught me, Himself through His word.

 

103 How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Observe, reader, there is such a thing as a spiritual taste, an inward savour and relish of divine things; such an evidence of them to ourselves, by experience, as we cannot give to others. To this taste the word of God is sweet; yea, sweeter than any of the gratifications of sense, even those that are most delicious.   Benson Commentary

 

104 I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path.

 

Avoidance of sinful courses is both the effect and means of increasing in divine knowledge.  Jameison-Fawcett-Brown

 

 

Posted on 27th March 2019 in Uncategorized, Wednesday Evenings  •  Comments are off for this post
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Becoming People of Realized Potential: Your God Will Be My God

Becoming People of Realized Potential

Your God will be My God

One of God’s greatest gifts to humans is the exclusive ability to become.

I am human and I am becoming human because there is more humanity for me to personally realize.

  • My house cannot become.
  • Our dog cannot become.

Only to human beings has God given the gift of becoming.

I am both created in the image of God and into the image of God I am becoming.

  • 26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” 27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:26, 27
  • 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son… Romans 8:29

We have identified the four most important decisions every human being decides for becoming people of realized potential.

  1. With who will I travel and stay?
  2. Who are my people?
  3. Who is my God?
  4. Am I fully committed to these three decisions?

One of the most respected statements in Christian history addresses the decision, “Who will be my God?”

What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God. Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God.

For this reason the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like. We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God. This is true not only of the individual Christian, but of the company of Christians that composes the Church. Always the most revealing thing about the Church is her idea of God.”

–A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy (New York: HarperCollins, 1961), 1.

There are two options on this matter, God or idolatry.

“When a finite value . . . [becomes] a center of value by which other values are judged . . . [and] has been elevated to centrality and imagined as a final source of meaning, then one has chosen what Jews and Christians call a god. . . . To be worshipped as a god, something must be sufficiently good to be plausibly regarded as the rightful center of one’s valuing. . . . One has a god when a finite value is worshipped and adored and viewed as that without which one cannot receive life joyfully.” Thomas C. Oden, Two Worlds: Notes on the Death of Modernity in America and Russia (Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1992), p. 95.

Tim Keller makes idolatry easily understandable.

A counterfeit god is anything so central and essential to your life that, should you lose it, your life would feel hardly worth living.

An idol is whatever you look at and say, in your heart of hearts, “If I have that, then I’ll feel my life has meaning, then I’ll know I have value, then I’ll feel significant and secure.”

Keller, Timothy. Counterfeit Gods . Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition

From the research of Brian S. Rosner, Greed as Idolatry: The Origin and Meaning of a Pauline Metaphor (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2007), Keller states, “The Bible uses three basic metaphors to describe how people relate to the idols of their hearts. They love idols, trust idols, and obey idols.”

Considering the above compositely, we might say, “An idol is anything so central and essential to your life that, should you lose it, your life would feel hardly worth living and it is so central that you love, trust and obey it.”

Becoming people of realized potential, we find ourselves with Joshua and all the tribes of Israel at Shechem.  Joshua 24

With Joshua and all the tribes of Israel, we present ourselves before God.  Joshua 24:1

Then Joshua assembled all the tribes of Israel at Shechem. He summoned the elders, leaders, judges and officials of Israel, and they presented themselves before God.

Second, we recall the vast number of amazing things in our lives that only God could have provided and done.  Joshua 24: 2-13

Joshua said to all the people, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Long ago your ancestors, including Terah the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the Euphrates River and worshiped other gods. But I took your father Abraham from the land beyond the Euphrates and led him throughout Canaan and gave him many descendants. I gave him Isaac, and to Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. I assigned the hill country of Seir to Esau, but Jacob and his family went down to Egypt.

“‘Then I sent Moses and Aaron, and I afflicted the Egyptians by what I did there, and I brought you out. When I brought your people out of Egypt, you came to the sea, and the Egyptians pursued them with chariots and horsemen[a] as far as the Red Sea.[b] But they cried to the Lord for help, and he put darkness between you and the Egyptians; he brought the sea over them and covered them. You saw with your own eyes what I did to the Egyptians. Then you lived in the wilderness for a long time.

“‘I brought you to the land of the Amorites who lived east of the Jordan. They fought against you, but I gave them into your hands. I destroyed them from before you, and you took possession of their landWhen Balak son of Zippor, the king of Moab, prepared to fight against Israel, he sent for Balaam son of Beor to put a curse on you. 10 But I would not listen to Balaam, so he blessed you again and again, and I delivered you out of his hand.

11 “‘Then you crossed the Jordan and came to Jericho. The citizens of Jericho fought against you, as did also the Amorites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hittites, Girgashites, Hivites and Jebusites, but I gave them into your hands. 12 I sent the hornet ahead of you, which drove them out before you—also the two Amorite kings. You did not do it with your own sword and bow. 13 So I gave you a land on which you did not toil and cities you did not build; and you live in them and eat from vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant.’

Third, we fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness.  Joshua 24:14

14 “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness.

Fourth, we throw away our idols and serve the Lord.  Joshua 24:14

Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord.  14

23 “Now then,” said Joshua, “throw away the foreign gods that are among you and yield your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel.”

Fifth, we understand it is of our own free will that we make our god/God selection. Joshua 24:15

15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you

Sixth, we are personally responsible for making this, life’s most important decision.

…then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.

Seventh, we record our decision, with witnesses (water baptism). Joshua 24:26

26 And Joshua recorded these things in the Book of the Law of God.

Eighth, we set up a memorial to remind us and our witnesses of our commitment.  Joshua 24:26, 27

Then he took a large stone and set it up there under the oak near the holy place of the Lord.

27 “See!” he said to all the people. “This stone will be a witness against us. It has heard all the words the Lord has said to us. It will be a witness against you if you are untrue to your God.”

Eight Processes of Destroying Idolatry in Our Lives

  1. With Joshua and all the tribes of Israel, we present ourselves before God. Joshua 24:1
  2. We recall the vast number of amazing things in our lives that only God could have provided and done. Joshua 24: 2-13
  3. We fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Joshua 24:14
  4. We throw away our idols and serve the Lord. Joshua 24:14
  5. We understand it is of our own free will that we make our god/God selection. Joshua 24:15
  6. We are personally responsible for making this, life’s most important decision. Joshua 24:15
  7. We record our decision, with witnesses (water baptism). Joshua 24:26
  8. We set up a memorial to remind us and our witnesses of our commitment. Joshua 24:26, 27

 

Listen – My Story

  • What is one of your favorite aspects of what you are becoming?
  • Do you know a powerful story, either positively or negatively, of someone becoming?

 

Learn – Digging Deeper

  • Pastor Kent taught the great danger of idolatry as seen in Joshua 24. Read Romans 1:21-23.  What is the idolatry in this passage?
  • Read Romans 1:18-20. What is God’s response to this idolatry?
  • Read Romans 1:28-32. What happens in the lives of those living in this idolatry?
  • Do you see Romans 1 in our world of today?

 

Lift – Prayer

Identify one of the Eight Processes of Destroying Idolatry in Our Lives

  • Identify one of the Eight Processes of Destroying Idolatry in Our Lives that each member most wants to improve and pray for each person.
  • Celebrate Recovery (each Tuesday, 6:30 PM, Central Campus) helps many people destroy idols in their lives. Would you consider joining?  Please pray for the effectiveness of Celebrate Recovery.
  • Please pray for a powerful anointing upon Heaven’s Gates and Hell’s Flames, 2019.
  • Please pray for each life group member to boldly move toward becoming people of realized potential.

Life – Taking it Home

  • What is the Holy Spirit asking you to add, delete or recalibrate in your life?
  • Have you been baptized in water? Is this a next step for you to publicly declare your memorial?
  • Who do you know, living in idolatry too, who would be blessed to be included in MCA ministries and Heaven’s Gates and Hell’s Flames?
Posted on 16th February 2019 in Realized Potential, Uncategorized  •  Comments are off for this post