Entries tagged with “Holy Spirit”.

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Friday night David shared from the Old Testament book Nehemiah at Seward Church.  His focus was again on the community found within the Biblical story.

As a community the people listened attentively to Ezra’s reading of the Law (Neh 8:1-3). As a result of hearing the Law the people were grieved for their sin and as a result are making a covenant together to focus on pleasing God – through the law. (Neh 9:38)

I had a little trouble following David this week, but even though the Israelites were very focused on works-based salvation through the law – God had already offered them His radical love and salvation.  Even before they deserved it.  9:9-11 and 9:13

One of the purposes of the law is to create a community.  Whenever one person in the community suffers – the whole community suffers.  When we have an unraveling in our lives it is because our relationship with God is unravelling.  This too can have a negative impact on the community of believers.  Hearing the Word of God stirs something within us – as it did many times throughout the Old Testament stories.  Together and with the Holy Spirit’s help we can live together in community and carry each other’s burdens.  God doesn’t forsake us (9:17) even though we are all sinners (9:27,30) God has enduring patience and mercy.

David’s final point was that we should all continue to PRESS ON TOGETHER with Christ as our center.  Look at last week’s message to see more about God’s community.

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In the midst of Lent and now Holy Week I found this Scripture to be very fitting and thought provoking. It is Ephesian 1:4-14 from The Message. (emphasis added)

Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.
Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.
It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.
It’s in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of your salvation), found yourselves home free—signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit. This signet from God is the first installment on what’s coming, a reminder that we’ll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life.

Thank you for thinking about me and planning a way for me to be free!

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“Has the Messiah been chopped up in little pieces so we can each have a relic all our own? Was Paul crucified for you? Was a single one of you baptized in Paul’s name?” (1Corinthians 1:13) Paul asked the Corinthian church those questions and the Pastor this morning asked us those same ones.

It seems like a simple question with a simple answer, no Christ wasn’t divided up for us all to have our own piece, but His blood was shed so that we all could find eternal life. Rev Dennis Oglesby from Park Ave UMC shared from the wider passage of 1 Corinthians 1:10-18 (He didn’t use The Message but I really like how it reads).

The overarching theme of the message was that we can have diversity through the unity of Christ’s death on the Cross. It was a powerful message looking at the need for reconciliation and restoration within the Christian community. He was very clear in stating the fact that we are diverse and can have our diversity but we need to come to unity under the flag of Jesus – the Cross. We should stand proud under this symbol of suffering and shame, even to the point of “silliness” or “foolishness” (depending on the translation).

Oglesby’s final point came out of verses 17-18 and John 1, that we are all God’s children redeemed through the power of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection.

John 1:9-13 (The Message):

But whoever did want him,
who believed he was who he claimed
and would do what he said,
He made to be their true selves,
their child-of-God selves.
These are the God-begotten,
not blood-begotten,
not flesh-begotten,
not sex-begotten.

Fittingly enough the service ended by singing They’ll Know We Are Christians (by our love) whose chorus goes:

We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
And we pray that all unity may one day be restored
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
They will know we are Christians by our love

We really enjoyed this church, its diversity, and passion. They also have a foundation that is doing good works throughout the community. The full message might be podcasted or posted here.

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One of the benefits of living in the Twin Cities is living in close proximity to John Piper and his Bethlehem Baptist Church. Many of my friends have been very excited for us to go see him. We did some research and found one of the 3 campuses is very close to where we are staying. It was in a high school auditorium, so that was a different atmosphere from what we expected. Because of the three campuses, Piper rotates and speaks live at a different one each week while the others receive a live video feed. We were pleased to actually attend a service he was speaking at in person!

It was a little interesting that we had a conversation on the way to church about Calvinism and Armenianism. We both grew up in Armenian background churches and the message we heard from Piper was quite strongly Calvinistic. I am by no means a theologian so I sometimes miss the subtle nuances, but this was pretty clear about pre-destination and the new birth. You can hear the podcast version or see the full text.

The main text of the message was 1 Peter 1:13-25. I won’t go through the whole sermon but here are some of the highlights:

Imperishable was a big word that Piper spent some time unpacking. It is used three times in the text and refers to our inheritance, value, and seed.
Inheritance – We are “born again to a living hope.” So the emphasis falls on the hope of our new life. It lives—and will not die. It inherits an imperishable inheritance. That’s the emphasis. Our new life in the new birth is forever. We will never die.
Value – The blood of Christ is of infinite value, and therefore its value never runs out. It is an imperishable value. That is how we are ransomed. That’s the price of the new life we receive in new birth. And Jesus paid it for us.
Seed – The seed that comes through the word of God is imperishable, and therefore the life that it generates and sustains is imperishable.

Piper also spent some time unpacking his thoughts about salvation. He says that the Holy Spirit calls us to salvation. We can reject or accept this salvation, but ultimately if God has called us into heaven He will make Himself so irresistible that we can’t reject salvation. This is where Calvin really shines through. It lead to some interesting discussions afterwards!!

I really liked what Piper had to say about the Living Christ is our Living Hope to carry us through each day.

Finally Piper talked about the role God plays and we play in our new birth. He focused only a little time as these are topics for future sermons. Here is the excerpt:

1) He ransomed us from sin and wrath by the blood of Christ and paid the debt for sinners to have eternal life. 2) He raised Jesus from the dead so that union with Jesus gives eternal life that never fades away. 3) And He called us from darkness to light and from death to life through the gospel and gave us eyes to see and hears to hear. He made the light of the glory of God in the face of Christ shine in our hearts through the gospel. And we believed. We embraced Christ for the treasure that he is.

We like much of Piper’s writings so we are going to check out the downtown church to see what the atmosphere is like and see how it compares to other churches we’ve experienced in the Twin Cities. We’ll keep you posted!

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I wasn’t sure what to blog about today, but while running and listening to one of Taylor‘s chapel podcasts from their Relational Enrichment Week the speaker (John Coe) was talking about the heart and how we don’t set out each morning to sin and the many other issues of our heart. He closed by reading from Psalm 139. It is really a great Psalm and worth sharing and reading often.

From the NIV:

Psalm 139

For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.

1 O LORD, you have searched me
and you know me.

2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.

3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.

4 Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O LORD.

5 You hem me in—behind and before;
you have laid your hand upon me.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.

7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?

8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, [a] you are there.

9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,

10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.

11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”

12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

17 How precious to [b] me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!

18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand.
When I awake,
I am still with you.

19 If only you would slay the wicked, O God!
Away from me, you bloodthirsty men!

20 They speak of you with evil intent;
your adversaries misuse your name.

21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD,
and abhor those who rise up against you?

22 I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.

24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

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