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How to Host the Holy Spirit

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To host means to receive or welcome a guest.  It is possible for us to get really good at hosting worship experiences but not yet have learned how to host the Holy Spirit.  We can be in large worship gatherings and yet not welcome the Holy Spirit.  We can host Bible studies but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the Holy Spirit is present.

Matthew 7:12-14

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

Who you host is determined by how you host.  If you put a Starbucks in a retail store and put tons of kitschy housewares in the impulse buy section, you will attract a certain kind of customer: my wife.  And if you have a Home Depot or Lowes, you will host another type of customer: men who think they can repair things.  

There are four things to keep in mind when you would like to welcome the Holy Spirit into your life, your gathering, or your midst.  I use the acronym H.O.S.T.  

Holiness

We have constructed the image of holiness as wearing three-piece suits, long skirts, and no jewelry.  We’ve reduced it down to an outward appearance.  But Galatians 5:22 says,

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” 

Long skirts and uncut hair don’t indicate holiness.  These fruit listed in Galatians 5:22-23 are the things that indicate that the Holy Spirit is present because these are the fruit of His presence.  

We think that we can host the Holy Spirit through behavior modification.  But if you host the Holy Spirit, He will go beyond simple outward behavior modification.  He will reveal the innermost parts of the heart.  He’ll reveal the trauma that is at the root of the sin so that you can have complete victory over the sin you wrestle with.  

Overflowing Grace 

Philippians 2:13 

For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

If you see anything good in me, it’s God. If I’m a good husband, it’s God through me. If I’m a good preacher or pastor, it’s God through me.  I am who I am because of the overflowing grace of God.  For the Holy Spirit to be present, we need an atmosphere of overflowing grace.  

Sanctification

Deuteronomy 23:12-14

You shall have a place outside the camp, and you shall go out to it. And you shall have a trowel with your tools, and when you sit down outside, you shall dig a hole with it and turn back and cover up your excrement. Because the Lord your God walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you and to give up your enemies before you, therefore your camp must be holy, so that he may not see anything indecent among you and turn away from you.

As you work out your salvation here on earth, some cycles will be broken and there will be sins you won’t return to.  However, you won’t reach a place of perfection until heaven.  Sanctification isn’t the absence of sin, it means having the tools to deal with sin.

When you mess up, get a shovel.  Say to God, “I made a mess again, but I’m going to designate a place for this mess in prayer.  And I’m going to cover it up with the blood of Jesus because I want your protection, provision, and favor on my life.”  

All of the kings of Israel sinned, but some were called righteous and some were not.  What’s the difference?  Some had a shovel and some didn’t.  David had a shovel and when he sinned with Bathsheba and caused her husband to be murdered, he knew that he needed to use his spiritual shovel to cover his sin through repentance.  Saul didn’t do this.  

As Christians, we still make mistakes.  However, we know where to take our mistakes.

Teachable

1 Timothy 4:8

For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

Stay teachable.  Stay vulnerable.  I was in New York City doing a church service just like this. At the end of the service, I told the crowd that we were going to host the presence of the Holy Spirit.  I felt the Holy Spirit nudge my heart and  so I said, “Who wants to receive Him as a father?”   A tall gentleman, all the way in the back, began to wave his arms like he was landing a plane.  I met him after service and asked to hear his story.  

He said,  “I’m a multi-generational Hindu. My father just recently died. In hinduism, the practice is that we watch the deceased body burn for hours as part of our grieving.  The entire time I watched my father’s body burn, I kept thinking about how I would never have a father again.  My friend invited me to church today and when you kept saying God could be my father.”  After that day, this young man went on a discipleship journey with our church, and I saw him baptized.  

The Holy Spirit was present in this young man’s life profoundly because he was vulnerable and teachable.

Host the Presence

The Holy Spirit is welcomed by the type of atmosphere you create for Him.  If you’d like to host Him, create an atmosphere where He is welcome.

Pray with me:

Holy Spirit, I want to host you.  Beyond religion, beyond tradition, beyond a song.  I want to host you, Holy Spirit.  I want to attract your manifest presence in my life like never before. I say yes to you.  Father, I thank you for what you’re stirring here right now God.  I thank you for fanning the flame in my heart.  In Jesus’ name, amen.


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How to Overcome Anxiety

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The infrastructure to diagnose, treat, and medicate anxiety and depression, including pharmaceuticals and medications, is valued at 42 billion dollars.  Anxiety disorders affect 40 million adults in the United States and are considered the most common mental illness in the U.S.  If you find yourself struggling with anxiety, I have good news for you: you don’t have to live trapped by anxiety.  

Two Types of Anxiety

There are two types of anxiety: normal anxiety and anxiety disorder.  Normal anxiety is a system installed in your physical being by God to help keep you alive. For example, if you are in the woods and a predator jumps out at you, you have a system built into your body that tells you you need to decide within milliseconds. Do you run, or do you stand your ground and fight? If you are in college and you have a paper due, it is normal to feel a bit of anxiety and pressure.  Normal anxiety regulates your life and helps you to become successful. 

When we talk about anxiety in this blog, we are not talking about normal anxiety.  We aren’t talking about the minor anxiety you may feel if you wake up at 8:59 am and have to be at work by 9:00 am. We are speaking about anxiety disorders in this blog.  Normal anxiety elevates to the realm of anxiety disorder when it becomes out of order (dis-order).  God himself says He is not a God of disorder but peace (1 Corinthians 14:33).  The peace of God, or His shalom, brings order.  When the order, or the peace of God, enters your life, it begins to set things straight. If you suffer from an anxiety disorder, God has freedom in mind.  

Normalizing Anxiety

We live in a culture that normalizes anxiety because it is all around us.  The more prevalent a problem is, the more acceptable it becomes. The message of our culture is that anxiety levels are exponentially rising around the world.  We have adapted our theology to anxiety and accepted that it is a part of life rather than pursuing freedom.  God gave you a fight-or-flight system, but He did not give you the spirit of fear.  

1 Timothy 1:17 (ESV)
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

As a culture, we have begun to use the personal pronoun “my” when referring to anxiety: “My anxiety.”  God did not give you panic attacks, so don’t take ownership of anxiety anymore!  Your anxiety doesn’t come from God. Instead, he gives good gifts to His children. 

Acts 2:17 (ESV)
And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
    and your young men shall see visions,
    and your old men shall dream dreams;

I want to highlight the portion of this scripture that says, “your sons and your daughters will prophesy.”  Prophecy requires speaking using your words.  If Satan knows that God will cause sons and daughters to prophesy, then strategically, to stop the prophecy, he has to pervert the speech of the sons and daughters.  The devil has had to counter the word of God that says, “I have not given them a spirit of fear.” Instead, his strategy is for them to start taking possession and ownership of that spirit of anxiety and calling it “my anxiety.”

Don’t Take My Anxiety

Nobody likes to have something taken from them. One of the first lessons we learn as children is to share because sharing doesn’t come naturally. We lock our car, house, and possessions because they belong to us. If the enemy can get you to take possession of anxiety and say, “This is my anxiety,” you’ll treat it like the rest of your possessions as something to protect and secure so that it doesn’t get taken.  

If you would like freedom from anxiety, you need to determine that you will NOT refer to the spirit of anxiety as yours.   The first thing that has to happen is to change your words.  You have to take captive every thought that exalts itself against the Word of God.  So the Word of God becomes your standard (2 Cor 10:3-6). So if the Word of God has something to say about how you ought to think, talk, and live, and then a thought comes that starts to elevate itself above the standards, you have to take it captive and tear it down.  These thoughts can come from culture, the medical community, the self-help community, the self-esteem community, secular humanism, or any kind of source.  Tear these thoughts down and say, “No, this is what I choose to believe and stand on instead.”  

The Garden of Gethsemane

Jesus, in the moments before the cross, was in the Garden of Gethsemane praying. During this time, the Bible says that his sweat turned to blood, is a medical condition that happens when you are under severe mental duress.  He was starting the process of facing fear. So not only would Jesus’ body be given for our sins, but His mind also had to go through a preparation process in the Garden of Gethsemane.  

No physical torture or pain had happened yet when he was in the garden.  However, Jesus knew what lay ahead and was instead experiencing the pain of imagining what was ahead of him.  He had to win the battle in His mind in the garden first so that when He said, “It is finished,” on the cross, you could have the victory in your mind. He wasn’t only whipped and beaten so that we could be healed from our sicknesses and infirmities and disease. It started in the garden, where His imagination began to conjure up the thoughts of being attacked, ridiculed, and brutalized in such a great way that his sweat turned to blood.  

Jesus Understands Anxiety

Jesus understands your anxiety, worry, and torment because there was a time that His sweat turned to blood.  He said, “God, if there’s any other way, let it pass.”  That goes to show you how powerful the mind is. The enemy knows Jesus was almost broken in His mind in the garden, so when he is trying to bring you down, where do you think he will fight you the hardest? He’s going to fight you in your mind. 

Steps to Reduce Anxiety

A study by Cambridge showed that women from wealthier areas reported lower anxiety levels than women from poorer regions.  This indicated that those who have the resources to cope with and manage anxiety can lower it to normal levels.  I want to help give you some tools to learn how to cope with anxiety when it comes into your life. The Cambridge study indicates that you can bring the levels into a normal range if you know what to do when you feel anxiety rise.  

Step 1: Know God’s Word

G.K. Chesterton, a famous theologian, said, “Anything worth doing is worth doing badly the first time.”  The anxiety we have in life is often from the fear of being judged by others.  We wonder what people will think about how we speak and look, which increases anxiety.  When we face increased anxiety, we need to draw on the best tool for dealing with anxiety – God’s word.  We remember that, “greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world,” (1 John 4:4) and, “If God be for me who could be against me” (Romans 8:31), and we begin to take back control.  We don’t live and die by the criticism OR praise of people.  We live in response to the voice of God.  

When I speak in front of a large group of people, I can feel so much fear and anxiety in my flesh.  “What are they going to think?”  “Are they going to judge me?”  “Are they going to receive this word?”  But the Holy Spirit reminds me that the Spirit of God dwells inside of me.  He never leaves me or forsakes me and will be with me even to the ends of the earth. Furthermore, he reminds me that I am loved, approved of, and loved even at my darkest. And this causes my anxiety to reduce.  

Step Two: Forgive Yourself

This Cambridge study said that people’s anxiety directly correlates with how much they forgive themselves. If you constantly beat yourself up, you produce anxiety levels that go from average to disordered. Many people who suffer from anxiety disorder constantly think about what they’re doing wrong.  Thoughts like, “Today I didn’t parent as I should,” and “I didn’t get the best grades in my classes,” and “I didn’t read the Bible” plague them. The Bible says, “Therefore there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” It is so essential for you to learn how to forgive yourself.  Science from just a few years ago says if you know how to forgive yourself, you’ll be free from anxiety, which reinforces what the Bible said thousands of years ago! 

Step Three: Do Something For Someone Else

Proverbs 11:25
Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.

The study from Cambridge says doing something with someone else in mind will diminish anxiety.  My brother, a nurse, once shared the acronym PAIN with me.  When a patient feels pain, it’s an indicator that they need to Pay Attention Inside Now.  If your heart begins to feel physical pain, no matter where you are, you will pay attention to your insides and get the help you need because you could be having a heart attack.  Some of the most selfish people are the people in the most pain.  Because of their internal woundedness, they can only think of their hurt.  They aren’t able to think of anyone or anything else.  They want to be generous and help other people, but they can’t take the focus off themselves.  

Put on the Oxygen Mask

When you are on an airplane, the flight attendants instruct you that if the oxygen mask descends out of the top compartment, put your mask on first before you place it on your children. Now that’s counterintuitive because a loving parent wants to help their child first, as the child is their most precious thing.  The problem with that way of thinking is that if you don’t put the mask on yourself first, you will probably pass out by the time you even think about getting it on your kid.  When you study your Bible, spend time in prayer, and go to counseling to address your trauma and wounds, you are, in a sense, putting the oxygen mask on first so that you can go out and help other people. 

If you want to lower anxiety, do something with someone else in mind.  I’m going through my struggles right now, as many of us are, but I am refreshed as I pray for others, preach, and reach out to people who feel alone and forgotten.  

 

God asked Abraham to give Him his son, Isaac.  Isaac was Abraham’s most precious thing in life, a long-awaited gift of God.  Abraham could have been selfish.  But because he was a man of faith, he moved forward with the sacrifice of His son.  And as he did, the angel grabbed his hand, and he knew it was a test.  As you pour out your life, God will refresh you and free you from your anxiety.  

A New Song

Psalm 40:1-3
I waited patiently for the Lord;
   he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
   out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
   making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth,
   a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
   and put their trust in the Lord.

Scripture reprograms your mind scripts re-broke programs your mind.  If you’ve got an old script of anxiety running through your mind, allow God put a new song in your mouth.  When you look back at your life, there is no doubt you can see the faithful hand of God written on every page of your life story. To see your anxiety reduced, stop taking ownership of it.  Know God’s word.  Forgive yourself.  And do something for someone else.  

 


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The Jesus Way | Part 4 | The Third Way

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You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile.

(Matt. 5:38-41; see also Luke 6:29)

Most Christians have no idea what Jesus, a 1st Century Jew under Roman military occupation, meant when He taught this lesson. This very well may be one of the most important sermons you hear.

Let’s start by defining honor. What is honor?

1 Peter 2:17: Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

Romans 12:10: Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

If Martha Steward and Snoop Dog can have a show together, then we can all honor one another and get along.

Dishonor is the sugar that feeds the cancer of disunity. It feels good, but destroys the body of Christ. We aren’t building a culture of agreement, we are building a culture of honor. It’s not “I’ll honor when I agree.” Honor means I value you so much so that even if we disagree, you get to stay powerful in our relationship.

Honor EMPOWERS ONE ANOTHER. Honor allows us to happen in the design God gave us. We don’t have to agree. I punish people who don’t remind me of ME. I love and accept everyone who Jesus gave his life for. I freely receive honor, so I freely GIVE IT.

 

What’s the real meaning of Jesus’ teaching:

  • Turn your cheek 
  • Give your cloak 
  • Go another mile 

Turn your cheek 

The only way to strike the right cheek is a backhand. It’s how you strike a slave, a subordinate. To strike the right cheek first would be a slap with the left hand. Not so. 

The left hand could only be used for unclean practices in Jesus’ Jewish community. 

To gesture with the left hand meant exclusion from the religious meeting and penalty for ten days. In their time, the backhand was used by masters to slaves, husbands to wives, parents to children…it was representative of hierarchy.  In other words, instead of being empowered, a backhand is degrading, or lowering the status of a person. If you teach a 1st century Jewish audience to turn the other cheek, the left one, you’re creating a scenario where the person asserting dominance is forced to fight them as an equal. By turning the cheek, then, the “inferior” is saying: “I’m a human being, just like you. Refuse to be humiliated any longer. I am your equal. I am a child of God. I won’t take it anymore. The way you must strike me now forces you to acknowledge my humanity.” It forces the beginnings of HONOR. 

This is the Jesus way. Don’t fight violence with violence. Fight dishonor with honor. 

Give your cloak 

Jesus’ second example of assertive nonviolence is set in a court of law. A creditor has taken a poor man to court over an unpaid loan. Only the poorest of the poor were subjected to such treatment. 

Deuteronomy 24:10-13 provided that a creditor could take as collateral for a loan a poor person’s long outer robe, but it had to be returned each evening so the poor man would have something in which to sleep.

Nakedness was taboo in Judaism, and shame fell less on the naked party than on the person viewing or causing the nakedness (Gen. 9:20-27). By stripping, the debtor has brought shame on the creditor. Imagine this! There stands the creditor, covered with shame, the poor debtor’s outer garment in the one hand, his undergarment in the other! 

The tables have suddenly been turned on the creditor. A system has been unmasked. 

Go another mile 

Going the second mile, Jesus’ third example, is drawn from the relatively enlightened practice of limiting to a single mile the amount of forced or impressed labor that Roman soldiers could levy on subject peoples.

Such compulsory service was a constant feature in Palestine from Persian to late Roman times. Whoever was found on the street could be coerced into service, as was Simon of Cyrene, who was forced to carry Jesus’ Cross (Mark 15:21)

Whole villages sometimes fled to avoid being forced to carry soldiers’ baggage.

What we have overlooked in this passage is the fact that carrying the pack a second mile is an infraction of military code. With few exceptions, minor infractions were left to the disciplinary control of the centurion (commander of one hundred men). He might fine the offending soldier, flog him, put him on a ration of barley instead of wheat, make him camp outside the fortifications, force him to stand all day before the general’s tent holding a clod of dirt in his hands—or, if the offender was a buddy, issue a mild reprimand.

Normally, soldiers have to coerce people to carry their bags, but this Jew does so cheerfully, and will not stop. Is this a provocation? Is he insulting the legionnaire’s strength? Being kind? Trying to get him disciplined for seeming to violate the rules of impressment?

They have thrown the soldier off balance by depriving him of the predictability of his victim’s response. He has never dealt with such a problem before.

PREDICTABILITY LOSES WARS. Fight or Flight = predictable. 

THE JESUS WAY IS THE THIRD WAY. 

Are we really going to honor ALL people?! Because we’ve been given permission to DIS-empower certain people!  

The wisdom of nonviolent resistance is that when you learn how to love the villain you see in someone else, you’ve begun the path of learning to love the villain in yourself.

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Jesus People: Part 2 | After Easter

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Revival is here! It’s happening online, through phones and tablets. Revival can happen EVERYWHERE.

“Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews. But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists also, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord. So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.” Acts 11:19-26 ESV

 

The Church of Antioch. One of the greatest churches every started by people with no training. The pain of persecution caused believers to move out of Jerusalem into Antioch (and other parts of the known world).

What is the pain of this pandemic pushing you into that you normally wouldn’t have done? How is God causing you to come out of your comfort? 

Jesus asked, “Who wants to follow me?” NOT “Who wants the title of Christian?” We often want a title for prestige or hierarchy, but Jesus solicited ACTION.

What actions can we take as believers right now to expand the Kingdom and take territory?

 

What is a Christian? Is it FANS or FOLLOWERS?

Multiplying the church in our culture = disciples. The spirit of God and the word of God and people are ALL that’s needed.

What is a Christian? The Biblical Definition

Since the Bible is the authority for the Christian faith, let’s see what it says about the word “Christian.” The word is only used 3 times in the New Testament and each instance is referring to the first “Christians” of the early church.

“So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch” (Acts 11:26).

“Then Agrippa said to Paul, ‘Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?’” (Acts 26:28).

“However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name” (1 Peter 4:16).

WHAT ARE THEY LIKE?!

  • They forgive.
  • They are a river, not a reservoir. While everyone else is hoarding, they’re giving.
  • They feel fear, but they don’t surrender to it.
  • When they don’t know what to do, they receive information from the Word.

Jesus said that His true followers are those who have been “born again” by the Spirit of God. When a Jewish religious leader named Nicodemus came to talk with Jesus one night, he declared that God was with Jesus because of all the miraculous signs Jesus performed. Jesus had this penetrating response: “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again. … Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit” (John 3:3, 6, NIV). 

The phrase “born again” in Scripture literally means “to be born from above”–a spiritual rebirth. A Christian is a man, woman, or child who has experienced a spiritual new birth through the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. That new birth is a gift of God, through Jesus Christ, given by the grace He freely offers to all.

Some believe you can be born into a faith. For example, a child born to Muslim parents is considered a Muslim by many people. A son or daughter born to a Jewish mother is typically considered to be Jewish, and someone born into a Christian family is often assumed to be a Christian. No one, however, is ever automatically a Christian by birth. To be a Christian, you must make a conscious choice to turn from your sins–that’s repentance–and by faith believe that Jesus is the Son of God, who loved us, paid the price of our sins on Calvary’s cross, shed His blood and died, was buried, and was raised to life on the third day.

How do we tell if it’s real in our lives? The Bible says, “We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands, … the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:3–4).

A Christian, then, is a person who is born again by the Spirit of God as he or she wholeheartedly trusts in Jesus Christ and seeks to follow Him in obedience.

Jesus never asked anyone “Will you be a Christian!” He asked people, “Will you follow me?”. Christian is a title but following is an action. We don’t want titles, we want movement!

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Jesus People: Part 1 | Palm Sunday

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Passion week is not an obligation, but an opportunity.

John 12:12 : The Triumphal Entry

The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written, “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!”

Traditionally called Palm Sunday, Jesus makes His triumphal entry on the 10th day of the month (Nisan) during the celebration of Passover. On this day in the Jewish calendar, families would select the lamb that would be sacrificed on the 14th day of Passover. And on this very day, Jesus, the lamb of God, is riding into Jerusalem on a donkey.

JESUS IS MORE APPEALING THAN RELIGION.

He was then, He is today.

This was their Passover, when they would have celebrated the deliverance of their forefathers from the bondage of Egypt from slavery and a succession of 10 plagues.

BUT EVERY YEAR IT WAS THE SAME THING.

Same prescribed prayers. Same routes to Jerusalem.

They wanted MORE!

Jesus is in town and they spontaneously start worshipping and crying out: SAVE US NOW (Hosanna)!! 

There was a clash between the old and the new here.

 

His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered these things had been written about Him. The crowd that had been with Him when He called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. The reason why the crowd went to meet Him was that they heard He had done this miraculous thing, this sign. So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after Him.”

JESUS WAS MORE APPEALING THAN RELIGION.

I want my church like I want my coffee– I want it HOT. 

You see a second Jesus movement happening now, it’s those who hate their life that are finding eternal life. 

Religion emphasizes the outward. JESUS EMPHASIZES THE INWARD!

Religion is about what you can’t do.  JESUS IS ABOUT WHAT YOU CAN DO!

Religion is about prohibition. JESUS IS ABOUT DEMONSTRATION OF POWER!

Religion puts up barriers. JESUS TEARS BARRIERS DOWN!

Non-jewish people would be restricted. They couldn’t even get close to the temple. Physical walls kept people out. Jesus said come unto me ALL who are…

Religion requires working your way to God.  JESUS DECLARES I AM THE WAY TO GOD!

Hosanna is spontaneously being declared. Prophetically being declared. Deliver NOW. Save us NOW. 

LISTEN TO THE PODCAST!!

There was another perspective happening. The religious leaders were watching and saying, “Look, the whole world is going after Him.” The spontaneous worship was a threat to their system of religion. 

Ever notice that everyone has an opinion of Jesus? (Caesarea Philippi)

There’s always going to be a lot of chatter around Jesus.

There are four groups of people observing the same event, but only ONE was really following Jesus (the disciples).

  1. The disciples (vs. 16)- They didn’t understand, but they followed.
  2. The eyewitnesses of Lazarus’ resurrection
  3. The group of people who heard the testimony of Lazarus (vs. 18) 
  4. The religious people, the Pharisees 

They all witnessed the same event. They observed. 

In the same way: Some tune into the V1 Church livestream. They hear testimonies. They experience the miraculous.

But who is going to join me in following Jesus, even when we don’t understand the events unfolding? 

We are realizing that we are the religious ones. Having church in our home is awkward because we only believe it can happen in a building. 

We are the spontaneous worshippers who have had these experiences with Jesus but don’t really follow Him.

We are the people who’ve heard stories of what Jesus can do for others, we’ve heard testimonies, but we’ve never experienced who He could be for us. 

Accept Jesus, be like the donkey who held Jesus up so that the world could declare – Hosanna – Deliver now!

The Donkey BY G. K. CHESTERTON

When fishes flew and forests walked

   And figs grew upon thorn,

Some moment when the moon was blood

   Then surely I was born.

With monstrous head and sickening cry

   And ears like errant wings,

The devil’s walking parody

   On all four-footed things.

The tattered outlaw of the earth,

   Of ancient crooked will;

Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,

   I keep my secret still.

Fools! For I also had my hour;

   One far fierce hour and sweet:

There was a shout about my ears,

   And palms before my feet.

The prophesied messiah of  Zechariah 9:9 is on my back and I’m the donkey.

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The Mystery of God’s Voice

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We’ve been in a three part series on how to hear the voice of God. First, we covered methods. Then we discussed motives. This week, we will talk about mystery.

Matthew 16: 13-18

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” (vs.13)

In other words, which disciple can hear the voice of God in an unfavorable situation?  

Who is Jesus in the midst of a global pandemic? Who is Jesus when you physically cannot go to church? How do we answer this question?

Peter answers: The Messiah, the Savior of the World, the KING of the Kingdom. Peter received a revelation from God. He received a mystery of God’s voice. He didn’t understand fully, but received it fully.

Let’s look at some background info on the situation. Caesarea Philippi was a place of pagan worship. There were caves located at the entrance to the district where sexually immoral practices were conducted by the locals in an attempt to lure “gods of fertility” out of the caves. It was believed that their gods of fertility would retreat into the caves and die, and need to be resurrected by the sexual practices of the pagan worshippers. This was a place that no Jewish disciple would have ever approached. Jesus marches the disciples right into Caesarea Philippi and asks the question —-Who do you say I am?

In this passage of Matthew 16, Jesus is referring to the building of His church:

“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (vs. 18)

At that time, Jesus had not yet established His church. In fact, this is the first instance of the word “church” in the New Testament. The word church, as used by Jesus, is derived from the Greek ekklesia, (phonetic: EKLAYSEEYA) which means the “called out” or “assembly.”

In other words, the church that Jesus is referencing as His church is the assembly of people who have been called out of the world by the gospel of Christ. (You are watching this now as the EKKLESIA.

You are the called out ones. The Assembly. 

Bible scholars debate the actual meaning of the phrase “and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” One of the better interpretations to the meaning of this phrase is as follows. In ancient times, the cities were surrounded by walls with gates, and in battles, the gates of these cities would usually be the first place their enemies assaulted. This was because the protection of the city was determined by the strength or power of its gates.

As such, the “gates of hell” or “gates of Hades” means the power of Hades. The name “Hades” was originally the name of the god who presided over the realm of the dead and was often referred to as the “house of Hades.” It designated the place to which everyone who departs this life descends, regardless of their moral character. In the New Testament, Hades is the realm of the dead, and in this verse, Hades or hell is represented as a mighty city with its gates representing its power.

Jesus refers here to His impending death. Though He would be crucified and buried, (a parallel to the death and resurrection of the pagan fertility god worship, like two opposing kingdoms), He would rise from the dead and build His church. Jesus is emphasizing the fact that the powers of death could not hold Him in. Not only would the church be established in spite of the powers of Hades or hell, but the church would thrive in spite of these powers.

The church will never fail, though generation after generation succumbs to the power of physical death, yet other generations will arise to perpetuate the church. And it will continue until it has fulfilled its mission on earth as Jesus has commanded:

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18–20).

It is clear that Jesus was declaring that death has no power to hold God’s people captive. Its gates are not strong enough to overpower and keep imprisoned the church of God.

The Lord has conquered death (Romans 8:2; Acts 2:24). And because “death no longer is master over Him” (Romans 6:9), it is no longer master over those who belong to Him.

Satan has the power of death, and will always use that power to try to destroy the church of Christ. But we have this promise from Jesus that His church, the “called out” will prevail: “Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live” (John 14:19).

WHY would God lead us here? Why would God do this?

In order to establish the church, you have to be willing to step into the places you were told to stay away from. Doctors and nurses are walking into the gates of Hell. The number one need expressed to our church was counseling. Maybe home has been a place you told yourself you will stay away from and now you find yourself at the gates of hell. Quarantined 24/7 with the people you said you wouldn’t spend more than 15 minutes with.

It’s at the gates of hell that Jesus reveals the pure power of the kingdom. 

It’s at the gates of hell that the reality of His promises come true.

This is a gates of hell moment and we need people like Peter to hear the voice of God giving them a revelation of who Jesus is in a quarantine!

https://open.spotify.com/episode/0Vhsb4LeLM1lDyLQGUK8oD

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