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Archive for the ‘Holy Spirit’ Category

When a doctor gets sick of sick people, that’s a problem. When a pilot begins to loathe flying, that’s a problem. When a cook becomes disgusted by cooking, that’s a problem. When a teacher starts disliking students, that’s a problem. When a preacher/pastor hates church, that’s a problem. And, when Christians are down on the church, that’s a problem.

So, think with about the church for a minute:

It was Jesus’ idea to form the church, “… I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it” Matthew 16:18 (NLT2). So to think of the church as something irrelevant and unimportant or worse is to call Jesus’ plan for his church a bad idea.

Jesus is the head of the church, “He is also the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He might come to have first place in everything” Colossians 1:18 (HCSB). So, it makes little sense to proclaim a personal relationship with Jesus but have no connection and submission to his church.

Jesus loves and died for the church, “… Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her” Ephesians 5:25 (NLT2). So, how can I claim to love Jesus and love what he loves and paid the ultimate price for?

The church is the body of Christ, “Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit. Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part” 1 Corinthians 12:13-14 (NLT2). So, since the same Holy Spirit who regenerates a sinner at the moment of salvation also places every believer in the body of Christ, I have no business living a life outside of that body.

The church is central to God’s plan and work in our world, “Through Christians like yourselves gathered in churches, this extraordinary plan of God is becoming known and talked about even among the angels!” Ephesians 3:10 (MSG). So being apathetic and disconnected from God’s church also I am not fully participating in God’s plan.

Jesus takes his church very seriously. So, he continually works on it, refines it, confronts it, encourages it, watches out for it, Revelation 2-3, Ephesians 5:26), and should not take it any less serious.

Church, being part of a church, participating in the work of the church is meant to become a habit, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching” Hebrews 10:23-25 (NIV). So, I need to learn to be so involved and committed to the church that I no longer have to think about my commitment to it, my participation in it, my showing up for it.

We live in an I-Me-Mine culture, the Christian life is a stark contrast to this, it is about Him-You-Us-We (which is not to say that God does not care for each one of us individually and in Christ saves each one us personally). Switching from one to the other takes some major adjusting, reordering, rescheduling, and a total commitment to personal holiness and full participation in the body of Christ, his Church.

So, did you notice? This preacher is still high on Jesus’ Church, and the local body he has called me to pastor, hoping you will share the same appreciation and enthusiasm.

So, does your Christian life reflect an understanding of Christ’s church? Are you as committed the church, the body of Christ, as God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit would have you?

To God be all glory. Love you, Pastor Hans

 

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This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”–which means, “God with us.”
When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
Matthew 1:18-25 (NIV)

 Joseph’s reaction and actions were determined by him being a “righteous man. What are you known for, identified as? A patient woman will react and act differently than a woman known for her temper. A generous man’s reactions and actions will not be same as the those of a miser or greedy man. A wise person will make different choices than a fool.

Joseph had a reputation of being a “righteous man.” It is one thing to be righteous in your own eyes (Luke 18:9) and quite another to be called righteous by God, your family, and the people in your town. You can’t get a “righteous’ man/woman reputation overnight, it requires acting righteously consistently over time. But you will never have that reputation if don’t start sometime, like today.

When we meet Joseph in the Word of God (the Bible) he already has this reputation of being “a righteous man.” Notice, it did not protect him from bad news and hurt. His fiancé told him she was pregnant and he knew he wasn’t the father, which could only mean one thing, she betrayed him – ouch! How would you handle that? We know Joseph handled it as a “righteous man.” Which meant what?

  • Right Actions – Regardless of how he felt, he didn’t act in inappropriate, vindictive, ugly, kneejerk, foolish, sinful, and regrettable ways.
  • Right Heart – Her betrayal and his hurt didn’t snuff out his compassion, his dislike of public mudslinging, his love of mercy and grace.
  • Right Reaction – He pushed the pause button, he “considered,” his options, what godliness looked like in this situation, and most importantly Mary, the woman who betrayed him.

Joseph’s righteous disposition, his righteous habits, his righteous heart enabled him to handle the situation in a righteous way. Because he was and acted righteously, he was;

  • Able to hear God – I don’t think it too far fetched to imagine Joseph praying about what to do, bringing his hurt and confusion before God, asking him to help and direct him.
  • Able to believe God – Accepting that your fiancé’s pregnancy is a result of the Holy Spirit’s action is some serious faith.
  • Able to follow God – which meant he would change his plans, marry Mary instead of divorcing her, raise the child as his own, and put his own dreams and needs on hold.

It is a lot easier to be unrighteous than righteous, but it is a lot better to be righteous than unrighteous. Before Christmas we do a lot of wrapping, Joseph had been wrapping himself with righteousness, and what a difference it made.

Merry Christmas. Love you, Pastor Hans

 

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  • Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20 (NASB)

Being a follower of Christ, a Christian means being a disciple-maker, which means leading others to faith in Christ, to follow Christ, and to grow in Christ. It means to go out by the authority of Jesus to reach the entire world with the Gospel of Christ and training all those who turn to Christ for salvation, forgiveness of sin, and eternal life.

Disciple-makers have to, first of all, be disciples themselves, learning and observing all Jesus commanded ourselves, being genuine and committed ourselves. This doesn’t mean you have to wait to be disciple-maker until you have it all down perfectly (you never will), but it does mean we have to be ongoing learners and practitioners all the time and everywhere.

  • “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Acts 1:8 (NASB)

Every disciple of Christ is also a witness of Christ, of the fact that Jesus is alive, that he conquered sin, death, and the grave. A good witness needs two things, a testimony and integrity, truth and credibility. Jesus told his disciples that through the Holy Spirit he would empower them to be his witness. Interestingly the Holy Spirit is called Holy, true holiness includes absolute integrity, it is spotless, The Holy Spirit is also called the Spirit of Truth (John 14:17, 15:26, 16:13). Since he empowers us to be Jesus’ witnesses, we can assume he will continually work towards us embracing holiness and truthfulness, to have a genuine testimony and integrity.

  • So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” John 20:21 (NASB) “For even the Son of Man (Jesus) did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45 (NASB, parenthesis mine)

Every disciple of Jesus, everyone who testifies of Jesus is meant to act like Jesus, to carry out the will of God like Jesus, to be a servant to both God and people like Jesus. We are on God’s, Jesus’ mission.

  • We are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:20-21 (NLT2)

Christians are Christ’s representatives, ambassadors of God’s kingdom. We are meant to be about Christ’s interests, Jesus’ politics, Jesus’ message to the whole world.

  • Disciple, disciple-maker, witness, sent servant, ambassador – GO!

 

To God be all glory. Love you, Pastor Hans

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We were having the time of our lives playing in the sandbox. But it seems inevitable that playing hard will lead to some kind of accident, especially when you are surrounded by a fleet of Tonka heavy equipment and with shovels furiously digging. Sure enough, one of my grandsons lost control over the bulldozer he was operating bonked himself a good one. He cried and I yelled, “Stupid dozer!”

Immediately he shifted gears, quit crying, walked over to me, looked me straight into the eyes, and with a most serious voice scolded me, “We don’t say that Opa!”

“Say what?” I asked.

“You know. It’s a bad word Opa!”

“What word?” I wanted to know.

“I’m not going to say it, but you know, OPA!”

Indeed, I did know, and clearly, I was trying to corrupt my grandson. You have to be careful what you fill little hearts and minds with, because what you fill them with will be what comes out. This is not just true of little hearts and minds but yours and mine as well. Our mouths, our actions, our reactions are an indication of what fills us, “The things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, … For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander” Matthew 15:18-19 (NIV).

It is easier to fill an empty cup than it is to fill one that is already full, that’s why wise parents from the get-go pay careful attention to what goes into their kids’ hearts and minds. A heart and mind that has been filled with bad words, habits, attitudes, ways of thinking and behaving can’t be filled with goodness and godliness until you first pour all that out. Before the Spirit of God can fill you and me with “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control,” we have to pour out what the Holy Spirit wants to replace, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified (poured out and continue to pour out) the sinful nature with its passions and desires,” because the reality of a holy and godly life is only possible by God’s Spirit and making room for all he desires to fill us with, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” Galatians 5:22-25 (NIV).

That pouring out, letting God have complete control of the filling and directing our hearts, minds, wills, plans, desires, attitudes, and habits, is difficult. In our sinfulness, we love to hang on to the sinful, selfish, spoiled, soiled, and same. And, in our perverseness others’ spilling over with what shouldn’t fill us makes us feel a little better. This, our brokenness and sinfulness, is why Christ came and is necessary, only he can help cleanse our hearts and minds and fill us with the Holy Spirit.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” Psalm 51:10 (ESV)

“God, make a fresh start in me, shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life” Psalm 51:10 (MSG)

            

To God be all glory. Love you, Pastor Hans

 

 

 

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This morning I filled my coffee mug twice, my Musli bowl and stomach once, and all my morning hours even though got up way early. This past week we went camping with the family so we filled the truck bed with camping gear, the gas tank with diesel, the ice chests with food and drinks, several garbage bags (to the delight of the raccoons), our bellies with camping cuisine, our time with adventures, and our memories with joy.

Face it, in living life we do a lot of filling up, we have to, we get to, and it makes a difference what we fill up with.

  • It makes a difference what you put into our body, both in how well it functions and what it will crave.
  • It helps to fill up your bank account every now then, you’ll have less stress and you can pay your bills. But it also makes a difference whether your deposit was earned honestly or otherwise.
  • It is inevitable that your time will be filled up, but what you fill it with will determine if it is wasted or used wisely.
  • It makes a huge difference what you fill your mind with because it will establish how you think, what you will dwell on, and how you process life.
  • It is a vast distance between a heart filled with hate, bitterness, pessimism, grudges, and revenge, and a heart filled with love, kindness, optimism, goodwill, and forgiveness.

All of the above the Word of God/Bible addresses because it knows the realities of life, including the constant filling that we are engaged in. As followers of Christ, we are as engaged in these constant filling tasks and activities as much as anyone else, however, if we are going to be wise and godly when comes to this constant filling up in life the following are indispensable:

  • Constantly being filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:17-20). Which means to continually yield control to him in all we do, wherever we are, and in all we plan.
  • Constantly filling our mind and thinking with the written Word of God, the Bible (Psalm 1). Which means taking time to read it, meditate on it, and then trust it enough to apply it to real life.
  • Constantly praying. Which means running everything by God, seeking his will, his wisdom, his guidance, his presence, his glory, and refusing to live without it (Matthew 6:9-16).
  • Constantly living in community with other believers (Hebrews 10:24-25). Which means I recognize that only together with others can we be the body of Christ, and I need sisters and brothers in Christ pouring into me even as I pour into them (1 Corinthians 12-13, Ephesians 5:21)

Most every morning I get up and brew some coffee for Susie and me, filling my mug, usually at least twice. I didn’t always do that, but now I am pretty consistent with it. The same has been true of the four constant fill-ups I need as a follower of Jesus, a Christian. It took me a while, but now my life feels like an empty coffee cup in the morning without them.

To God be all glory. Love you, Pastor Hans

 

 

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Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. Hebrews 11:1 (NLT2)

And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him. Hebrews 11:6 (NLT2)

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20 (NIV)

Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NLT2)

Would you let a doctor in whom you had no faith in and did not trust operate on you? You can go ahead but I won’t, no way.  S/he can snip away on you but I won’t let that scalpel touch me. Misplaced faith never works out well and can be flat out dangerous. Who and what you put your faith in, believe in, trust in makes a big difference in all areas of life, but, because of the eternal ramifications, none more so than in the spiritual life.

Some believe the earth is flat, some believe it to be center of the universe, some believe the holocaust never happened, some believe there is no climate change, and some believe there is no God in whom and through who and for whom all things exist (Revelation 4:11, Hebrews 2:10). But just because some or you and me believe something does not make it so.

Christians are believers in Jesus Christ, God incarnate (in the flesh). We trust him more than anyone else in all matters of this life and eternal life. Thus faith is indispensable for today and for eternity; it will forever be a central part of living in a relationship with God/Christ.  It is neither a misplaced nor a completely blind faith. It is not misplaced because God and Christ really do exist and it is not totally blind because all of the universe, our conscience, Jesus Christ and Spirit of God all testify of his existence, greatness, power, and necessity.

It is impossible to write anything exhaustive about faith in one short pastor’s note, but I want to highlight three that are at the core of Christian faith:

  1. Relationship

We believe it is possible to live in a relationship with God through faith in his Son Jesus Christ. Sinners can be forgiven and be reconciled to God through the person, power, and cross of Christ. God is not an abstract, not a mere religious construct, but real and loving, so much so Holy God made a way for unholy people like you and me to be in an eternal relationship with him.

  1. Revelation

We believe we can trust the promises, principles, laws, and words of God revealed through the Spirit of God and the ultimate revelation of God – Jesus Christ. We believe in, trust in, and follow what he says and shows us.

  1. Right living

We believe in pleasing God through our actions. We have faith in the goodness of God and that in his goodness he means to transform us to live and act more like Jesus, to love ever more selflessly. We believe with James (James 2:17, 26, and entire letter) that real faith shows up in real life, making a difference in how we respond to trials, how we treat people, what comes out of our mouths, how we plan and do business, how we pray, and how we live in community with each other (and much more).

Not going to the doctor when you need one is a bad idea. Putting your trust in an incompetent doctor is not wise. Dismissing all doctors because some are lousy is foolish. Likewise, denying your need for God is a bad idea. Declaring all religion and spirituality equal is not wise. Dismissing God because of religious abuses is foolish (although at times understandable). The eternal God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – has never ceased to be holy, awesome, great, just, faithful, good, and loving. He is worthy of our complete faith in him, we can trust him completely, none who follow him will be led astray, and all who believe in him will be glad.

Put your faith in Jesus. Love you, Pastor Hans

 

 

 

 

 

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Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking,
“Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.”
Matthew 2:1-2 (NLT)

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” Luke 2:8-12 (NLT)

For sure I would’ve flunked the Ancient Eastern Astrological Society’s entrance exam, because my knowledge of the night sky does not extend past the Big Dipper and North Star. I would have completely missed Jesus’ cosmic birth announcement, and would have been a no-show. There would not have been any presents for Jesus if those wise men seeking to worship the King of the Jews would have had to rely on my astronomical skills.

I don’t think the shepherds living out with the sheep saw what the wise men saw either, even though they did spend a lot of time looking at the night sky. They too, just walking distance of Bethlehem, would have missed the birth of Christ.

I wonder how many Magi from the East didn’t make the journey? They saw the same star as the those traveled, maybe they were even consulted, maybe they thought their colleagues had strayed too far from astronomy to astrology? It’s one thing to observe and study the stars, it is quite another to read a divine message, a heavenly invitation out of the stars.

Do you, like me, wonder why God in his infinite wisdom thought it important to inform those shepherds and deliver a grand invitation to them? In fact, they were given the honor to be the first witnesses of the God incarnate, of God in the flesh.

What a contrast between those shepherds and the Magi from the East. Think about it: uneducated shepherds – learned wise men, men spending their nights outside with sheep – scholars sleeping on soft beds in fine houses, simple men who most likely never travelled more than fifty miles from home – men who had both the time and money to travel far, Jews – gentiles, subsistence sheep-herders – wealthy men with gifts fit for a king, men who wouldn’t be allowed to come close enough to smell the inside of a palace – emissaries who got an audience with king Herod on the spot. Yet both were invited to come and have a look, to see, in the flesh, the very Son of God. Neither would have anticipated receiving an invitation from God himself to come, see, know, and worship Jesus the Christ.

God is still inviting people, you, your family members, your friends, co-workers, neighbors, even your enemies, to come and see his Son, Jesus Christ, and follow him, believe in him, acknowledge him, worship him. It doesn’t matter if you have calloused or soft hands, smell like sheep or Hugo for Men™, if you are wealthy or dirt poor, educated or illiterate, rough or refined, important or obscure, religiously engaged or not. God, through the Holy Spirit and the Church (the body and bride of Christ) is still sending out Christmas invitation, The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say (respond), ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost” Revelation 22:17 (NASB, parenthesis mine). And sometimes and invitation to follow, believe in, and worship Jesus looks a lot like a pastor’s note.

Consider yourself officially invited.

Merry Christmas, Pastor Hans

 

 

 

 

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