Category: Basic.Who Is God?

Basic.Who Is God? — Holy Spirit

Before I begin this post let’s take a moment to read Acts 1:6-9

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 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.  And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. (ESV)

Think about it.  You are one of the disciples.  You have spent the last three years with him and have seen him do some amazing things.  But then he’s crucified. He’s dead.  The Romans are still in power and it looks like they always will be…  Then Jesus comes back.  He’s… not dead.  He really is God!  “ALL authority in heaven and on earth has been given tohim. (Matt. 28:18)  You are jumping up and down with excitement.  He said, “ALL AUTHORITY!!”  “Does that mean we can pound some Roman skulls now?” someone asks. (Probably one of those sons of thunder. They’re always getting carried away.)  But what is Jesus’ response?  “Oh yeah, about that.  I’m not sticking around.  At least not physically.  I’m asking you to change the world, but you can’t do that with me sticking around, but don’t worry. You’ll have help.”

What would your reaction be?  You, an uneducated fisherman, are being asked to go out and change the world.  What?!

Now fast forward to the present.  You’ve never physically walked with the flesh and bones Jesus; never enjoyed a cup of coffee with him or a weekend fishing out on the lake.  You’ve only read about him, heard about him, and believed in Him through faith.  He’s never verbally told you to go change the world.  You’ve only read his statement to the disciples. (And that statement applies to us too.  Let’s not try to weasel our way out of it.)  I don’t know about you but, “I’m capable” is not the thought that would be in the forefront of my mind.

We’d never grow in our walk with Him if he was always physically here holding our hand.  He also knew that if we went out and tried to be like him we’d fail miserably.  So when we read Matthew 28: 20 we see that he never really left us. “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  He sent his Power in the form of the Holy Spirit, not so we could go out and try to be like him but actually be him to the world.

“Whether we base it on our own experiences, our theological “camp,” our churches, or whatever, we all hold certain views of how the Holy Spirit does and doesn’t work. So what are you’re expectations of how the Spirit might choose to work through you? Does scripture back these up? Do you think you should broaden or let go of these expectations?

Communitas: Love, Labor, Live


Basic.Who Is God? — Follow Jesus

Before I begin this post let’s take a moment to read Luke 14:25-33

Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. (ESV)

A lot of times when I’ve heard this passage of scriptures read, the talk is some 5-step sermon on how we should plan out our lives for our “best life now.” But when I read this, that’s not what I see.  Imagine your pastor coming out on stage to deliver his message and looking at a packed house and thinking to himself, “Man, these are A LOT of people.  Do they even know why they’re here?  I think I need to get rid of some of them,” and then proceeding to make his message as uncomfortable as possible.  The next week there is an obvious smattering of empty seats.

This is in effect what Jesus was doing.  He looked out at the crowds and knew there were some people out there following him for the wrong reasons, but even more people who hadn’t even really considered why they were following him and what that would mean for their lives.  So he gave them a hard message.  He told them they had to HATE everyone… even themselves, to follow him.  He told them they’d have to carry a cross.  He was telling them to abandon what was most culturally important to them and to embrace that which was most humiliating to any living, breathing person.  He did this because he loved them; he told them the Truth.

All of us, in different stages of our lives, at different points of decision will always be counting the cost of following Jesus.  We will wake up everyday and, consciously or not, decide.  Even today I’m pondering what it will cost me to follow the One True Way.

Two years ago I was standing at one of these points of decision.  I was in a relationship.  I was destroying it.  I was destroying myself.  I remember at one point near the end of the strain I was causing, she asked me if I should go see a Pastor or Christian counselor.  My response was something like this, “I don’t know if you want me to do that.  If I go see one of these people and allow God to do what is necessary to change me, you may not like who I turn out to be.”  I knew the cost.  I knew it would change me completely.

I wasn’t willing.  Jesus let me decide. And Jesus loved me still.  He let me destroy myself and then picked me up when I collapsed helpless in the dark, horrible and suffocating pit I had dug for myself.

He said, “If you’re gonna come to me you’re gonna have to hate even your own life.”

I had counted the cost. I hated my life.  I was ready for His.

Communitas: Love, Labor, Live

Here’s preview of what we’ll be discussing this next Thursday as we continue in our Basic Series.

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