The difference of the Holy Spirit

As we have moved through the MULTIPLY discipleship process in the past several months at our church, we have journeyed though the Old Testament and are now finishing up the New Testament. Last week our discipleship and prayer pastor, Vicki, taught on the power of the Spirit. If you have not listened to her message yet, take 30 minutes and listen.

This next Sunday I am teaching on the Early Church and it’s all about the reliance they had on the leading of the Spirit.

Here is what I am developing for the weekend:

Spirit led people. We need to have our ears open to hear the direction the Spirit is taking us. Often what he does is lead us to a place where we may not understand, only to set us up for the next way he will use in for the glory of God.

Spirit taught minds. We have been reading through 1 Corinthians and I am so captured in those first 2 chapters how Paul wants his readers to understand we have ALL we need to live powerful lives. There is a man in our church who is an engineer. His company is always working on new designs for their products, making them more effective for their customers. When he is on a team that needs to work on a new breakthrough, he prays. He does his research, then prays for what the solution might be to the problem. He will get breakthroughs in prayer as the Spirit teaches him how to connect the dots in his learning and it has led to some wonderful innovations in his field. Our minds can be taught by the Spirit. We need Spirit trained minds these days!

Spirit empowered actions. We have to ACT. The title of John Ortberg’s book I read a few years back is If You Want to Walk on Water You Have to Get Out of the Boat. We need to ACT on what the Spirit teaches.

Let us walk in the Spirit in our lives and watch what can happen!

 

 

Why bother?

Here are the BIG questions I am tackling this week as I prepare for Sunday’s message:

Why are you in church?
Why are you calling yourself a Christian?
Why do you claim to follow Christ?

John 6 will be my text. As we continue in our MULTIPLY series, and then with that look toward Lent, these are HUGE questions Jesus has for those who “follow” him.

Stay tuned…

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2016.01.31 – Exile and Return – Pastor Vicki Higgins

2016.01.31 – Exile and Return – Pastor Vicki Higgins

A sermon from Heights Church. More information at HeightsChurchMN.org

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2016.01.17 – The Presence of God – Pastor Brenna Zeimet

2016.01.17 – The Presence of God – Pastor Brenna Zeimet …

A sermon from Heights Church. More information at HeightsChurchMN.org

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The challenge of holiness

Working our way through our Multiply material this week, our small group has come to a sobering conclusion: God really wants our FULL attention when we come to him. He has given us ALL of himself… so we need to take the care necessary to approach a HOLY God with reverence, with attention, with deep awe and respect. He is so worth it. 

15 For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant. (Heb. 9:15)

Lord, I take worship too lightly. I am so concerned about time… weather… temperature… sound volume… I take so little care to ask, “Lord, do I come ready?” Forgive me, Lord. Set my heart on you. For your glory. Amen. 

Holiness… that’s a thing, right?

This week’s reading for our MULTIPLY discipleship is on “Sacrifice and Atonement.” Scripture reading takes us briefly through some chapters in Leviticus.

Leviticus 19 sticks out. It is a call that has been with Israel and still comes to the people of God today… or should. (We’re just not very good at it at times.)

Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: ‘Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.’ (Lev. 19:2)

Holiness was a code when I was growing up. It was how you looked. It was what you didn’t watch, places you didn’t go, things you didn’t smoke or drink, etc. Outward codes. When we read Leviticus, it’s fairly easy to get that initial impression.

That impression leads probably every one of us as believers to push the line on those “codes” at times. We think we’re being “rebellious” or maybe even “truly spiritual” or some other excuse. We’ve pushed some visible boundary and, lo and behold, we have not experienced fire from heaven, or the ground opening up and devouring us!

Holiness has never been just about the outward. The outward may look different at times… but for an inward reason.

Holiness is about “otherness” or “distinctiveness.” It is about something separate from the ordinary or the common.

Here is what I find interesting at this particular point: We are inundated in our culture with the different and we are almost commanded to acknowledge and “affirm” the different, yet when the Church talks about being “different”… we raise all kinds of objections and all of a sudden we want to be “common.” Go figure.

Human nature.

Holiness is about being set apart and there are times that may look different. God is the One who is truly “wholly other” so our call is to heed HIS direction. That may look different from time to time. Behavior may be different.

Holiness is about desire. God is wholly other… and he calls me to himself. Do I desire to listen to that command, or do I desire to keep being absorbed into what I know?

It is, without a doubt, a choice. It is a call. It is an invitation. But if I am to be with God I am called to HIS standards… and that means a choice. Do I desire HIM above all other desires in my life? Am I willing to lay all my life on the table before him so HE gets to make the call? If I am not willing, or if I am making excuses, then I am NOT “set apart” and he is NOT my God. It’s that simple.

It is PAINFUL to think of this, which is why we have moved away from words like “holiness” and “sacrifice” and “atonement.” We crave normalcy… and God calls us to a new normal.

Yet, this is the crux of where we are in discipleship. All that has come before in MULTIPLY has led us to this point. All that will follow has to flow from this foundation.

Am I set apart for God or not?

The Gift of Rest

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. (Ex. 20:8-11)

This isn’t about what “day” the Sabbath is “supposed” to be on. It is not about the specifics of how you “keep it holy.”

This is about trust. Sabbath is trust. The Lord provided a day of rest regularly for a slave nation. They had worked all their lives in every way possible. He then built in other “sabbaths” for them: the land to rest, debts to be settled, etc.

It was all about trust. Could they rely on provision of Yahweh, or did they think the world would stop turning if they didn’t take a day off? Could they trust Yahweh with what they did NOT do as well as what they DID do?

Is there a TRUST in the Father in your life? Or, are you there to “help God out?”

 

The Lord’s Name in Vain

As we journey through Exodus 19-24 this week our MULTIPLY reading, I am walking a bit more slowly through the 10 commandments. It is impossible to unpack that passage in one sermon, so I am jotting some thoughts down along the way this week to spur on more thinking.

What does it mean to NOT “take the Lord’s name in vain?” The NIV says  “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.”

Through the time of deliverance God kept unfolding his name to Israel. As he “unpacked” the power of his name, it was important for Israel to keep recognizing Yahweh was the One who had delivered them. To not revere that fact was to “misuse” his name.

J.K. Bruckner in his commentary on Exodus said this:

This is a direct reference to remembering who had delivered them. God’s reputation was tied to God’s name in the exodus. Its “use” or “lifting up” in a positive way declared God’s works of grace and deliverance. To speak of the Lord after Sinai was also to declare that God’s laws were formative for the new community of faith. To speak of God without reference to the creating law and redeeming gospel could be a vain use of God’s name, that is, God’s reputation.

Remember who delivered you. Remember who redeemed you. Hold him holy. To use his name is to refer to HIM.

May my words truly reflect the holiness of my God!