Sunday, July 12, 2009

Spiritual Growth, Part 2

The service today had a refreshing "unplugged" quality about it this morning. No choirs or electric instruments, no overheads or videos streaming from laptops. Just a simple gathering of believers in the presence of the God, here to worship Jesus and to hear a message from the Word. Despite the simplicity of the service, the message Brad delivered was especially plugged in as he conveyed some extremely important truths about who Jesus is and the work of the Holy Spirit.

Pastor Brad welcomed us with his usual warmth and presented his theme. What potential is there for change in our lives? Can we change, or is it a meaningless pursuit that will only leave us disappointed in the end? Brad affirmed up front that there is indeed great potential for change with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Two important announcements were shared. First, that on August 2 there will be an all-church picnic at the Cresman's after the service. Bring bathing suits and an appetite. Be sure to sign up after next week's service so we know how many to prepare food for.

Second, there will be two final photo sessions for the purpose of creating a church directory. If you have never moved or changed churches, you may not realize how invaluable church directories are for helping us connect to one another and for new people to connect to us. If you've not had your picture taken, July 26 and August 16 there will be photos taken right after church.

After a time of worship Leonard read to us from the Scriptures.
Psalm 24
Ephesians 1:3-14

Spiritual Growth: Part 2

Brad got a laugh when he opened with the question... "How many of you would say there's at least one thing I would like to change.... (pause) about the person sitting next to me?"

When we're totally honest, we all know that we have weaknesses, personality issues, bad habits, attitudes or behaviors in our lives that we want to change. But do we believe it will happen? Many people feel discouraged and resigned about ever changing. That's why so many say, "You have to accept me the way I am. What you see is what you get."

Do you think you can change? The question is very important because if I'm not capable of personal transformation, I should beware of getting my hopes up.

The key, Brad said, lies in understanding the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of Jesus. But first, we need clear understanding of who Jesus is.

Historically there have been two primary heresies regarding Jesus, who is fully God and fully man. The first error, common in our own time, is that Jesus was a man and not really God. He was enlightened, but not really the Creator of the Universe.

In the earlier part of church history the more common heresy was that Jesus was not human, but only played the role of being human. The word "docetism" was used to describe this heresy, based on its root word "to seem." Jesus was God but only seemed human. He was play-acting.

Brad compared this view to the Superman character of comic book and movie lore. Superman would take on the role of Clark Kent, mild mannered reporter, to give the appearance of being one of us. But underneath he was really a being from another planet, with X-ray vision, the ability to fly and other extra-ordinary powers. The problem with this view, however, is that ordinary people could never aspire to become like Superman.

The reality is that Jesus put aside his Godhood and truly became a man. When he was a baby, he cried like a baby. In Luke 2:52 the Gospel states that he "grew in wisdom." He was not all-knowing and just pretending to be a boy. He got tired, he bled, he got thirsty knew anguish and even cried, like all of us.

So where did Jesus get His power? In Luke 4:1 we read, "Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert where for forty days he was tempted by the devil." This was just after He was baptized in the Jordan, the time of Jesus' anointing.

In the Old Testament we see many instances of God's anointing people for exceptional service, set apart for a mission. Typically a prophet or representative of God would take pour oil from a container of some kind onto the person's forehead as a way of indicating that person has a mission from God. Oddly enough it usually came upon people who did not expect it.

When Samuel anointed Saul, the reaction was, "How can I be king? I am from the smallest tribe in Israel." Likewise, David was the most unlikely candidate, a shepherd and the youngest of many brothers. Each of these were special moments historically, but Israel looked forward to that day where a Messiah would come and express the full anointing.

Many don't realize that Christ is not Jesus' last name. Rather, it is a title or designation, "one who is anointed." And in our Lord's case this designation was affirmed by His Resurrection (Romans 1:3-4).

But the anointing doesn't end there. In I Corinthians 1:21-22 Paul writes, "Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come."

We have been anointed for a purpose. We are on a mission from God. Every day, including when you go back to work tomorrow, you will run into opportunities for service, evangelism or expressing compassion.

Each of you, each of us, has been anointed. Jesus is not just a forgiver, He is not just our rescuer and we are not simply forgiven. Jesus is the supreme example of what human life can become when lived fully under the Spirit. If you've ever wondered what God had in mind when God said "let us then make man in our own image" then just look at Jesus. That's what God had in mind.

He was guided and given power from one moment to the next all through His life by the Holy Spirit and lived a rich, interactive life with God. And now that anointing He's given to you and me.

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