Posts categorized Realized Potential
We are learning to enter the distance between ourselves and others through relational instruction in the Bible.
“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.
Discovering profound similarities energizes friendship development.
Embracing significant differences fuels friendship maturation.
The late Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States, couldn’t have been more different ideologically. On most matters of law they were diametrically opposed one to the other.
At the same time, Justice Scalia and Justice Ginsburg shared joyful similarities and became best of friends.
On April 15, 1947, with the encouragement and support of Pee Wee Reese, a person very different from himself, Jackie Robinson broke the baseball color line when he started at first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers.
When Jackie took the field for the first time, vitriol, hatred, racism and cruelty poured out of the stands. Jackie was different and not welcomed nor wanted by many.
Pee Wee Reese made a statement to Jackie that has impacted nations, people and families. Jackie and Pee Wee were very different from each other and yet similar.
Consider the importance of friendship similarities and differences in the Bible.
The Jonathan and David’s similarities quickly led to an enduring friendship.
18 As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. 2 And Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father’s house. 3 Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. 1 Samuel 18:1-3
C.S. Lewis hints at the importance of similarities for friendship discovery.
“Friendship … is born at the moment when one man says to another “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .” ― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
Differences are inevitable and essential for relational growth and sustenance.
5 Better is open rebuke than hidden love. 6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy. Proverbs 27:5, 6
17 Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17
The Christianizing of our lives includes the total transformation of who we are and how we relate to God, others and ourselves. 2 Corinthians 5:17
7 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
Salvation, at the core, includes the birth of new ways of relating.
“Charging into the Vast Space Between Ourselves and Others,” is designed to inspire your faith to courageously move into relationships with people who are both similar and different from yourself.
MCA Life Groups are intentionally designed to help you see personal transformation in your ways of relating. Will you develop the courage and commitment to maximize your church’s relational opportunities?
Jesus reframes relationship with God in John 15:15
15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.
From that day forward God and humans are to relate as friends.
How is this possible? God is totally different than humans. There is no similarity between the two.
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14
5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. Philippians 2:5-7
In a sense, Jesus put on our jersey and became human.
The pure Godhead is terrible to behold; we could not see it and live; but clothing Himself with our flesh, makes the Divine nature more amiable and delightful to us. Now we need not be afraid to look upon God, seeing Him through Christ’s human nature. It was a custom of old among the shepherds, they were wont to clothe themselves with sheep-skins, to be more pleasing to the sheep; so Christ clothed Himself with our flesh, that the Divine nature may be more pleasing to us. The human nature is a glass, through which we may see the love and wisdom and glory of God clearly represented to us. Through the lantern of Christ’s humanity, we may behold the light of the Deity shining. https://biblehub.com/sermons/pub/christ_clothed_in_human_flesh.htm
God is totally different than us (Transcendence) yet He is similar (Immanence). Because of this we are invited into a friend relationship with Him.
The most important aspect of Christianity is not the work we do, but the relationship we maintain (with God) and the surrounding influence and qualities produced by that relationship. That is all God asks us to give our attention to, and it is the one thing that is continually under attack. Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, August 4
There are fifty-nine “one another” commandments in the Bible each requiring relationships for fulfillment. In your Life Group you have relationships in which to learn, practice and grow in these “one anothers.”
Relationship with God is possible because God has first chosen you.
16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. John 15:16
S. Lewis points out God’s choosing does not stop there.
“In friendship…we think we have chosen our peers. In reality a few years’ difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another…the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting–any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking no chances. A secret master of ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,” can truly say to every group of Christian friends, “Ye have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another.” The friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
If C.S. Lewis is correct, those in MCA Church are chosen by God each for the other.
May God grant us the faith to put on what is necessary to celebrate the similarities and embrace the differences as we move into the vast space between ourselves and others because it is there we do our best work and live our best lives.
What might the Apostle Paul put on and taken off for the sake of ministry relationship with the Corinthian people?
19 For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. 1 Corinthians 9:19-23
I prepared far too much information for my previous weekend message and only progressed through half of the material. Following are the notes of this presentation. The second message will begin near the middle of the notes.
“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
- 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
|5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you:
||I might feel
|· Sexual immorality
||You will take advantage of me
||I might lose purity
||I might lose sight of wisdom
|· Evil desire
||You see me through the lens of evil desire
||I am a means to an end rather than a person
||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
||I am the recipient of your outburst of emotion
||I am the recipient of your emotion with vindictive action.
||I am the recipient of your desire to inflict harm and suffering
||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
||I am the recipient of grace in action
||My low estate isn’t looked down upon
||I am being treated gently
||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
|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.
Reaching my fullest potential is enhanced by friendships of association, loyalty and affection.
Pastor Clinton Fick, “People mostly need help making friends.”
Often the friendship conversation includes Aristotle’s three types of friendships from Book VIII of The Nicomachean Ethics written sometime around 350 B.C.
Friendships of Utility Friends who are conveniently helpful to your life
Friendships of Pleasure Friends who help you stay light-hearted
Friendships of the Good
“In a friendship of the good, you value who that friend actually is, strengths and weaknesses alike, and there is sufficient trust between the two that the relationship’s quality and depth outshine those of other types of friendship.” Suzanne Degges-White, PhD, in Psychology Today.
Long before Aristotle, the Bible presented friendships in ways that can be loosely affiliated as follows:
In both Testaments the ideas of friend and friendship involve three components: association, loyalty, and affection. There are also three levels of meaning: friendship as association only; friendship as association plus loyalty; and friendship as association plus loyalty plus affection. https://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionaries/bakers-evangelical-dictionary/friend-friendship.html
Friendship as association only.
- When Gideon came, behold, a man was telling a dream to his comrade. Judges 7:13
- Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. Romans 15:2
- There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor? James 4:12
Friendship as association plus loyalty.
- So Hushai, David’s friend, came into the city, just as Absalom was entering Jerusalem. 2 Samuel 15:37
- And when Hushai the Archite, David’s friend, came to Absalom, Hushai said to Absalom, “Long live the king! Long live the king!” 2 Samuel 16:16
- Azariah the son of Nathan was over the officers; Zabud the son of Nathan was priest and king’s friend. 1 Kings 4:5
Friendship as association plus loyalty plus affection.
- I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment. 11 (Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.) 12 I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart.
- 15 For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, 16 no longer as a bondservant but more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother—especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.
- 17 So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me. Philemon
For making friendships of association + loyalty + affection I must overcome:
Inertia There is external, internal and spiritual resistance
Caution Timidity, fear and self-protection must be overcome
Disappointment Longing for perfect friendship, all human friendships have a measure of disappointment.
Let’s learn from Jesus in John 15:9-17.
I charge into the vast space between myself and the other because I am loved by God.
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.
I charge into the vast space between myself and the other with the same love I receive from Jesus.
12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
I charge into the vast space between myself and the other knowing I must lay down my life for the other.
13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
I charge into the vast space between myself and the other knowing I must share my business.
15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
I charge into the vast space between myself and the other knowing this is my choice.
16 You did not choose me, but I chose you…
May God grant grace to overcome relational inertia, caution and disappointment
The sentence, “We live do our best work and live our best lives when we charge into the vast space between ourselves and others,” is from the introduction of Powers of Two: Finding the Essence of Innovation in Creative Pairs, by Joshua Wolf Shenk
My fullest potential in Christ is most realized through a growing positive faith attitude from God.
Confidence in God is one of many components to Christian faith.
For most people studying with us today, God’s capacity, compassion and character are well established.
17 ‘Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you. 18 You show steadfast love to thousands, but you repay the guilt of fathers to their children after them, O great and mighty God, whose name is the Lord of hosts, 19 great in counsel and mighty in deed, whose eyes are open to all the ways of the children of man, rewarding each one according to his ways and according to the fruit of his deeds. Jeremiah 32:17-19
With full experience and awareness of God’s faithfulness, we sometimes still have seasons with low confidence in God.
He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it. 1 Thessalonians 5:24
Being aware of God’s capacity, compassion and character, low confidence in God must be an issue inside the person.
The capacity, compassion and character of God is God’s business. Developing confidence in God is my business.
Let us consider the Apostle Paul’s reasoning for his confidence in God.
But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me. 13 Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14 By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you. 2 Timothy 1:12-14
I know whom
- It is crucial to note that Paul did not say, “I know what I have believed.”
- Confidence in God is deeply personal. Confidence is birthed in the union of my person with The Person.
- Confidence in God results from knowing God.
- A person’s most valuable asset? Knowing Christ.
- A person’s most important prayer? That I may know Christ.
8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
I have believed
- Belief is owned by the person. “I” have believed.
- Belief is not simply a mental statement, but the total placing of trust.
- We might call the John, “The Apostle of Belief.”
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:6-13
If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?
that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.
I am convinced
- I am absolutely persuaded and confident
- My internal decision mechanism is 100% convinced that God is able.
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, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20
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 8:38-39
Confidence in God grows through I know, I believe and I am convinced.
How then do we best increase deep knowing, believing and convincing?
“…that we make our best work, and live our best lives, by charging into the vast space between ourselves and others.” Powers of Two: Finding the Essence of Innovation in Creative Pairs, Joshua Wolf Shenk, 2014, Introduction
This is, in fact, the story of our text today.
Paul’s abiding love for Timothy is the environment which pulls our great text out of Paul’s heart and into writing and into our hearts today.
3 I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. 4 As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. 5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. 6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, 7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:3-7
Confidence in God through knowing, believing and convincing flourishes best within a relationship in which you charge into the vast space between yourself and another.
Becoming people of fully realized potential in Christ requires holding and being held by a positive faith attitude.
A concept in a previous message was, “In making decisions always measure the strength of the “yes” votes not the “no” votes.”
You are, in fact, determining the power of the positive faith attitude not the strength of the negative faithless attitude or even the neutral attitude.
How many of Israel’s mighty warriors voted “no” on fighting Goliath? Only one young man in the entire country voted “yes.”
The Principle of the Positive Faith Yes is beautifully revealed in Numbers 13 and 14 as Israel determines if they can take the land.
|“Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.”
|All of Israel (2,400,000 votes)
With this ballot count, 2,400,010 no votes and 3 yes votes, the decision seems obvious. https://www.gotquestions.org/Israelites-exodus.html
Yet, the wise “reaching my full potential in Christ” decision measures the strength of the yes votes, not the number of no votes.
Caleb, Joshua and Moses are the only three out of approximately two million people who understood the strength of the yes vote.
The large empty box on our ballot count chart above is for Numbers 13:1-2’s revelation that God Himself voted “Yes.”
The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the people of Israel.
God’s intent was for Israel to “spy out the land” to determine HOW to take the land not IF they could take the land.
One’s fully realized potential in Christ is in proportion to having positive faith in the promises of God, His word and His intentions.
And he (Abraham) believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness. Genesis 15:6
4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 2 Peter 1:4
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. James 1:5-8
Notice the negative faithless attitude in the 2,400,010 people of Israel destroys the hope and confidence in God’s promises for almost an entire nation.
- God is giving us the land, “28 However, the people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large. And besides, we saw the descendants of Anak there. 29 The Amalekites dwell in the land of the Negeb. The Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the hill country. And the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and along the Jordan.” Numbers 13:28-29
- God is giving us the land, HOWEVER, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are.” Numbers 13:31
- God is giving us the land, HOWEVER, “So they brought to the people of Israel a bad report of the land that they had spied out…” Numbers 13:32
- God is giving us the land, HOWEVER, “The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants…” Numbers 13:32
- God is giving us the land, HOWEVER, “and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.” Numbers 13:33
Caleb, Joshua and Moses know that a positive faith attitude is all about God, His promises and intentions.
- 9 Only do not rebel against the Lord. Numbers 14:9
- the Lordis with us; Numbers 14:9
- But the glory of the Lordappeared at the tent of meeting to all the people of Israel. Numbers 14:10
- 11 And the Lordsaid to Moses, “How long will this people despise me? And how long will they not believe in me, in spite of all the signs that I have done among them? Numbers 14:11
Let’s look back up at the large empty space in our positive faith attitude ballot box.
Please fill in the first empty space with “GOD” and record His vote as “YES.”
Three people with positive faith in God’s promises and word are more than enough to take the land.
God invites you and me to join Caleb and his positive faith attitude:
24 But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it. Numbers 14:24
How should you vote on personal decisions?
Determine God’s promise and vote with God.
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
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
- 8 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. 9 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
with all joy and peace
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.
- Place your faith in Jesus Christ for salvation.
- Determine to live each moment with the God of hope filling you with all joy and peace.
- Remind yourself many times each day, “Like Abraham, I believe God.”
- Several times each day state, “I am abounding in hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”
People of fully realized potential are aligned with the nature, character and will of God in their spirit, soul and body.
Today’s primary Bible text is 1 Thessalonians 5:23-28.
23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.
25 Brothers, pray for us.
26 Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss.
27 I put you under oath before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers.
28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
Considering the interactivity of the spirit, soul and body, I come to understand the effect the soul has on my spirit and body.
For the sake of our conversation today, let’s view the soul as the inner being of a human. The most common Greek word translated in the New Testament as soul is “psyche.”
Although your spirit, soul and body are one unity, the Bible also reveals there is also diversity between spirit, soul and body.
Everything you allow into your soul greatly impacts all of you, spirit, soul and body.
One loves and laughs and hopes and grieves and thinks and feels and wills in the soul.
We do not need expensive scientific research to know the following are truly possible.
- He worried himself sick.
- She laughed herself out of a depression.
- He died of a broken heart.
- She is so much healthier since she fell in love.
Our founding Pastor, Neale Sheneman, often stated, “It is your attitude, not your aptitude, that determines your altitude.”
In the Old Testament the promises of God are given to covenant keeping people. “If you keep my covenant, I promise to do these great things for you.”
In the New Testament the promises of God are given to those who keep the New Covenant. Hebrews 9:15-18
15 Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. 16 For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. 17 For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. 18 Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood.
God has made almost unbelievably glorious promises to you, if you join His family. Being adopted into His family puts you into His will (covenant). Everyone in His family has the most AMAZING inheritance.
To those in His will (covenant) He gives the inheritance of:
- The pardon of all sin.
2. The merit of His own most glorious righteousness.
3. His own most Holy Spirit.
4. But the most glorious part of the property bequeathed by Jesus to His people is that “inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away,” which is “reserved for them in heaven.” https://biblehub.com/sermons/auth/morris/christ’s_last_will_and_testament.htm
With these glorious things done by God in your spirit, can you imagine the HUGE effects upon your soul and body?
Just as the spirit significantly influences the body and soul, the soul influences the spirit and body. Consider Proverbs 17:22
A joyful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
Joy is fantastic medicine for your soul and body. Joy actively works against disease.
A crushed spirit actively works against health and “dries up the bones.”
What are the skills of developing and sustaining a positive, faith-filled, joyful heart?
- Behold your belief.
- Tackle your troubles.
- Find your funny.
- Hold your happy.
- Rest in your relationships.
Today’s primary text is filled with blessed guidance for our souls.
- The God of peace is making me holy, spirit, soul and body.
- He is making my whole spirit, soul and body blameless.
- I won’t doubt Him, because He is faithful and will surely do it.
- In this process, Paul recognizes the value of praying one for the other.
- He also knows this process is best accomplished in a strong fellowship of God’s love.
- All of this, Paul reveals, is by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Becoming a person of fully realized potential requires embracing the world of possibilities.
What are the possibilities for you when your spirit, soul and body are all in alignment with the thoughts, nature and character of God, in whose image you are created?
What is the nature of the link between the non-material spirit and soul to the material body?
Although limited research into the spirit/body connection exists, we have significant data regarding the mind/body dynamic.
Dr. Ellen Langer is prolific among “Psychology of Possibility” researchers. The research she published in “Counter Clockwise: Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility,” includes a most delightful and interesting project.
To what extent can the mind influence the body? If I smelled a fresh donut and imagined eating it, would my blood sugar rise? Would people fully convinced that their teeth are in excellent condition have healthier-looking X-rays at their annual checkups? Do men who become bald at a young age and thus see themselves as prematurely old test as older physiologically than men their age with a full head of hair? Do women who undergo cosmetic surgery and see a more youthful self in the mirror age more slowly? The questions may seem a bit “out there,” but they were worth asking. Langer, Ellen J.. Counterclockwise (p. 5). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Michelle Gielan, in Broadcasting Happiness: The Science of Igniting and Sustaining Positive Change, summarizes Dr. Langer’s initial study.
The brilliant maverick Harvard professor Dr. Ellen Langer has been designing studies for four decades that prove our mental story affects our health. In a single study Dr. Langer cracked the code and scientifically reversed signs of aging. She did not accomplish this with expensive creams or plastic surgery but simply by telling a different story about aging. This happened almost three decades ago, but it still has yet to be learned by the general public. “Welcome to the year 1959!” Dr. Langer said in 1979, as she invited a group of seventy-five-year-old men to go on a weeklong retreat as part of a large-scale psychology experiment.7 The men had been told one thing only before coming to the retreat: They could not bring any newspapers, photographs, or books from the past twenty years of their lives. Langer and her team took these men twenty years back in time to the late fifties by refitting the retreat center with items recalling the year 1959, when these men were fifty-five years old, such as Saturday Evening Posts and Life magazines. Each man received a badge with his name on it and a photo of himself from 1959. They were told to talk only about their jobs and lives from that time period. Langer had a daring hypothesis: The human aging process was mediated by what we tell ourselves about our life stories. And this seemingly off-the-wall study showed she was right. Langer tested the men for signs of aging before and after the week, and the results were mind-blowing. Gielan, Michelle. Broadcasting Happiness: The Science of Igniting and Sustaining Positive Change (pp. 11-12). BenBella Books, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
Dr. Langer explains the day to day activities of the research group.
Once at the retreat, we met daily to discuss current events such as the 1958 (“last year” in the case of the experimental group) launch of the first U.S. satellite, Explorer 1; the need for bomb shelters; and Castro’s advance into Havana. A talk on communism became very heated, as did a recap of the Baltimore Colts’: 31–16 defeat of the New York Giants in the NFL championship game. We listened as Royal Orbit won the Preakness, watched Sgt. Bilko and Ed Sullivan on a black-and-white television, and shared our thoughts about “recent” books such as Ian Fleming’s Goldfinger, Leon Uris’s Exodus, and Philip Roth’s Goodbye Columbus. Jack Benny and Jackie Gleason made us laugh; Perry Como, Rosemary Clooney, and Nat “King” Cole sang on the radio, and we watched movies like The Diary of Anne Frank, Ben Hur, North by Northwest, and Some Like It Hot. Langer, Ellen J.. Counterclockwise (pp. 9-10). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Michelle Gielan summarizes the results of the research.
After one week of reliving life in their mid-fifties, the men showed, on average, statistically significant improvements in strength, posture, flexibility, memory, and intelligence. Even more incredible, the men’s eyesight improved by an average of 10 percent! Even naive raters—people who had never met the men—viewed pictures of the men at week’s end and judged them as looking an average of three years younger.
Gielan, Michelle. Broadcasting Happiness: The Science of Igniting and Sustaining Positive Change (pp. 11-12). BenBella Books, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
God’s word has much to say about the possibilities that exist in the spirit/soul/body link within the Christian person.
Consider Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” Jesus is I AM in all three. Not so for you and me. I was, I am, I will be.
What I am is not my greatest limiting factor. An inadequate understanding of what I can be is the major limitation.
- My understanding of what I was can limit my understanding of what I can be.
- My understanding of what I am can limit my understanding of what I can be.
Knowing what I am and knowing what I can be are two different things.
What are the possibilities before you when you tune your spirit, soul and body to the frequency of God and His word?
Consider the possibilities of your spirit impacting your body as revealed in Proverbs 18:14.
A man’s spirit will endure sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?
Notice the positive impact the healthy spirit has on the human body with infirmity. Also, we see the negative impact a wounded spirit has on the body.
Look what possibilities exist when you present your body and mind to God. Romans 12:1, 2
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Soak in the positive results of presenting your body and mind to God.
- Holy and acceptable to God
- Spiritual worship
- Discern the will of God
- Discern what is good and acceptable and perfect
What you view as impossible in your spirit significantly impacts your body and soul.
What you view as impossible in your body significantly impacts your spirit and soul.
What you view as impossible in your soul significantly impacts your spirit and body.
I can become a person of fully realized potential when I embrace the world of possibilities of a God aligned spirit, soul and body.
Jesus said, in Matthew 19:26, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
With the Psalmist in Psalm 43:5, let us talk to ourselves.
- “Spirit, with man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
- “Soul, with man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
- “Body, with man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Listen – My Story
- Do you have a personal story of a time when your emotions (soul) impacted your body?
- Do you have a personal story of a time when your body impacted your spirit?
Learn – Digging Deeper
- Please talk about the interrelationships between the spirit, soul and body in the following passages:
- Proverbs 17:22
- Proverbs 15:13
- Proverbs 15:15
- Proverbs 14:30
- Please read Philippians 4:8. What might be the benefits of obedience to this passage for your spirit, soul and body?
Lift – Prayer
- Please pray for the team who traveled from Texas to upgrade the MCA Children’s Ministry Center for the upcoming Champions Club.
- Please pray for the role you will serve in the July 4th outreach event.
- Please pray for the anointing of the Holy Spirit upon the July 4th
- Please pray for things or situations in the spirit, soul and body of your life group members.
Life – Taking it Home
- Is there something you need to add or subtract in your spirit, soul or body?
- What possibility in your spirit, soul and body do you need to encourage today?
We become people of fully realized potential when the Holy Spirit comes upon us (including our body).
We are investigating the complete integration of the spirit, soul and body for purposes of reaching our maximum potential in Christ.
In a previous message we considered the two-tiered philosophy of our day. For example, the SCOTUS determined in Roe vs. Wade that an embryo and fetus are human but not person.
The dangerous two-tiered philosophy may show up in Christian thought in relationship to spirit, soul and body. “I am spirit and soul with no emphasis upon body.”
In this life, I have no potential without or outside my body.
One of the most important, yet extremely difficult things in life is to properly approach the Bible.
We can first hold our beliefs and then read and understand the Bible through our beliefs OR we can first read and understand the Bible and then form our beliefs.
In the first scenario, I force the Bible to say what I want it to say. In the second, the Bible forces me to believe and respond to what God has said.
Let’s lay aside all of our beliefs about our relationship with the Holy Spirit and see what the Bible says and then come back and form our beliefs.
God gives us three primary position terms for our relationship with the Holy Spirit.
The three position terms of our relationship with the Holy Spirit are with (para), in (en) and upon (epi).
The Holy Spirit is With
- 15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. John 14:15-17
- “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. 5 But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me;10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer;11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
The Holy Spirit In
- 15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. John 14:15-17
- 11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:11-14
- 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19
The Holy Spirit Upon
- 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
What happens in the human body when the Spirit comes upon? 1 Samuel 10:1-7
Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on his head and kissed him and said, “Has not the Lord anointed you to be prince over his people Israel? And you shall reign over the people of the Lord and you will save them from the hand of their surrounding enemies. And this shall be the sign to you that the Lord has anointed you to be prince over his heritage.2 When you depart from me today, you will meet two men by Rachel’s tomb in the territory of Benjamin at Zelzah, and they will say to you, ‘The donkeys that you went to seek are found, and now your father has ceased to care about the donkeys and is anxious about you, saying, “What shall I do about my son?”’ 3 Then you shall go on from there farther and come to the oak of Tabor. Three men going up to God at Bethel will meet you there, one carrying three young goats, another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a skin of wine.4 And they will greet you and give you two loaves of bread, which you shall accept from their hand. 5 After that you shall come to Gibeath-elohim, where there is a garrison of the Philistines. And there, as soon as you come to the city, you will meet a group of prophets coming down from the high place with harp, tambourine, flute, and lyre before them, prophesying. 6 Then the Spirit of the Lord will rush upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man. 7 Now when these signs meet you, do what your hand finds to do, for God is with you.
In this passage we see:
- Anointing 1
- Obedience 2-5
- The Spirit Rushes Upon 6
Samuel declares two results of the Spirit coming upon Saul, prophesy and becoming a new person.
When the Holy Spirit comes upon a person, throughout the entire Bible, Spirit inspired speech follows.
- Speech Inspired by the Holy Spirit
- Speech in a language previously unknown
- Speech in a language of the spirit
When the Holy Spirit comes upon a person, the person experiences…..
- Creativity beyond human natural capacity. Genesis 1
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Genesis 1:1, 2
30 Then Moses said to the people of Israel, “See, the Lord has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; 31 and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship, 32 to devise artistic designs, to work in gold and silver and bronze, 33 in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, for work in every skilled craft. 34 And he has inspired him to teach, both him and Oholiab the son of Ahisamach of the tribe of Dan. 35 He has filled them with skill to do every sort of work done by an engraver or by a designer or by an embroiderer in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, or by a weaver—by any sort of workman or skilled designer. Exodus 35:30-35
- Empowered living beyond human natural power. Judges 6:34
But the Spirit of the Lord clothed Gideon, and he sounded the trumpet, and the Abiezrites were called out to follow him.
- The birthing of things of God beyond human natural capacity. Luke 1:26-38
26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
Jesus, our Great Example, experienced the Holy Spirit descending upon Him. Luke 4:18, 19
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Again, notice the connection of the Spirit and anointing.
In this portion of our weekend worship, we will anoint one another with the following prayer.
“As I anoint you with oil, may the Holy Spirit come upon you as He came upon Jesus, those in the Upper Room and millions of Christians since then. May you be clothed with the Spirit’s speech, creativity and power. May new things of God be born within and through you as the Spirit rushes in upon you and you become a new person.”
MCA LIFE GROUP HOMEWORK
Listen – My Story
- When was the first time you heard about the Holy Spirit or your first experience with Him?
- Do you have a favorite Holy Spirit experience? Maybe a time when he was with, in or upon you?
Learn – Digging Deeper
- Pease read Joel 2:28-29.
- Which preposition for the relationship with the Holy Spirit is used?
- Who will be the recipients of the relationship?
- What will these recipients do as a result of this relationship?
- Please read Acts 2:1-16
- How might Peter have known the Acts 2 experience was a fulfillment of Joel 2?
- As God fulfills Joel 2 in your life today, how will you know?
Lift – Prayer
- Please pray for the many MCA folks who are asking the Spirit to come upon them with creativity, empowerment and a longing for new things of God to be born in and through them.
- Pray for those who desire to have Holy Spirit inspired speech and to experience the “rushing in upon” that produces a brand-new person.
Life – Taking it Home
- What in practical day to day things, do you desire the Holy Spirit to do in and through you?
- What do you need to consider changing in order to become more comfortable with the Person and ministry of the Holy Spirit?
We become people of fully realized potential in and through our bodies.
I am me. The human is created by God as a three-part unity; spirit, soul and body.
- Without my spirit, I am not fully me.
- Without my soul, I am not fully me.
- Without my body, I am not fully me.
For some reason, in God’s human trinity, the Christian’s body is often mistreated, abused and neglected even while special care is given to the soul and spirit.
Neither the spirit, soul or body is more important than the other. Consider 1 Thessalonians 5:23.
23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul’s prayer is two-fold.
- For God to sanctify you completely, your whole spirit and soul and body.
- And for your whole spirit and soul and body to be kept blameless.
In 1973 people opposed to God’s total integration of spirit and soul and body won their day in the Supreme Court of the United States with Roe vs. Wade.
Essentially, the Court threw out the entirety of Biblical anthropology (a wholistic view of the human being) with the philosophy “that even though the baby in the womb is human, it is not a person under the Fourteenth Amendment.” Love Thy Body, Nancy Pearcey pre-release.
Maybe this two-tiered “human non-person” concept has infiltrated the western Christian world-view?
It appears many western Christian’s perspective is a two-tiered, “spirit and soul but non-body” concept. Apart from thinking like this, how can we explain the gigantic disregard many Christians give to their human body?
God speaks directly to the world’s low view of the body by honoring the human body.
- So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27
- For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. Psalm 139:13-14
- I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Romans 12:1
- 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:20
- Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? 1 Corinthians 6:19
Becoming a human person of fully realized potential in Christ requires me to embrace, honor and discipline my body.
Righteousness and wickedness require a body. There is no “disembodied” righteousness or wickedness.
Our earlier passage, 1 Thessalonians 5:23 is preceded by many things one might find in the body.
|12 We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle,[c] encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 16 Rejoice always,17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.
23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.
Fainthearted, weak, patient
Do not repay evil but seek to do good
Rejoice, Pray, give thanks
Do not quench, do not despise, but test
Your fullest potential in Christ includes growing and maintaining bodily discipline and control.
24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
In an almost shocking revelation Paul states a lack of personal bodily discipline and control may disqualify me from the imperishable prize.
Even after we have not been disqualified, we will be judged according to “the deeds we have done in the body.”
10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
May we make this a season of personal bodily discipline and control as we pursue our fullest potential in Christ.
MCA LIFE GROUP HOMEWORK
Listen – My Story
- What is your favorite aspect of your God created body?
- In your upbringing, do you recall if the human body was blessed, cursed or ignored? Do you see any lasting impact from that upbringing on your perspectives of the human body?
Learn – Digging Deeper
- Pease read Jeremiah 1:4, 5. At what point in time was Jeremiah a person?
- Please read Psalm 139.
- Does the Psalmist hold to a high or low view of the human body?
- Consider verse 16. Did the Psalmist have personhood prior to birth?
- Does the human body have value according to verse 15?
- What verses come to mind when you think of being more disciplined and in control of your body?
Lift – Prayer
- Please pray for the many MCA folks who are experiencing difficulties in their bodies.
- Please pray for each life group member’s highest “bodily discipline” priority.
Life – Taking it Home
- What do you need to do today to “discipline your body and bring it under control?”
- Who can you add to your circle of influence to encourage you and for you to encourage to be disciplined and personally controlled in your body?