From The Archives: ‘Prayer: Plain, Purposed and Powerful…’

For the next few weeks, leading up to our 10th anniversary as a church, we’re going to look back on (and post here) some of the more significant things that we’ve studied…

Many of the posts (like the one that follows) is directly from Pastor Jermin’s notes.

RFBC Meeting Notes: 07/27/2008

Our topic this week is Prayer: Plain, Purposed and Powerful

Part One: We will be studying specific Prayers of Jesus

The High Priestly Prayer of Jesus – John 17
The Model Prayer of Jesus (which we call the Lord’s Prayer)  – Matthew 6:9-13, and Luke 11:2-4.

Analysis of the Lord’s Prayer:

9-After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

9) The acknowledgement of God’s Power, Authority, Position & Holiness

10-Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

10) Let your Kingdom (Righteousness, Peace & Joy in the Holy Ghost as described in Romans 14:17) come upon me, so that I can do your will here on earth

11-Give us this day our daily bread.

11) Provide for my day to day needs. (This so I can concentrate on you)

12And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

12) The tightrope walk: The balance of repentance and forgiveness is where we must stand in order to stay in right relationship with God

13And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

13) The first part is perhaps a reference to Psalm 23, in that the Shepherd leads and protects the sheep, and the second points again to the authority and eternal power of the Father

 

How did Jesus Pray?

John 11:41-43 – Lazarus (Confidence)

41  They took therefore the stone away. And Jesus lifting up his eyes, said: Father, I give thee thanks that thou hast heard me. 42  And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people who stand about have I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. 43  When he had said these things, he cried with a loud voice: Lazarus, come forth.

 

John 12:27-30 – Glorify your name (Meekness/Temperance)

27  Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour. But for this cause I came unto this hour. 28  Father, glorify thy name. A voice therefore came from heaven: I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.

Luke 22:31-32
31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

Could Jesus simply have rebuked the devil for Peter’s sake?
Yes, obviously. Then why didn’t he?

v.32 the word translated as for is: περί  / peri /  per-ee’

which means properly: through (all over), that is, around; figuratively with respect to;

Reading that verse again it says: 32 But I have prayed through, all over, and around;  you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.

What did he pray FOR?: That Peter’s Faith not fail…
How did Peter benefit? How did the rest benefit?
The Word converted there is the greek word: ἐπιστρέφω / epistrepho / ep-ee-stref’-o

meaning; to revert (literally, figuratively or morally): – come (go) again, convert, (re-) turn (about, again).

And the word strengthen in the greek is: στηρίζω / stērizo / stay-rid’-zo

To set fast, that is, (literally) to turn resolutely in a certain direction, or (figuratively) to confirm: – fix, (e-) stablish, stedfastly set, strengthen.

What do we glean from this?

What does it mean to be sifted as wheat?

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat.” (22:31)

Has asked, desires to is the Word ἐξαιτέομαι / exaiteomai   / ex-ahee-teh’-om-ahee  which means; to demand (for trial): – desire.

We sift processed flour to fluff it up before baking, but that isn’t the analogy here.

The word “sift” is the Greek word σινιάζω / siniazo / sin-ee-ad’-zo, which means “to sift by shaking in a sieve.” Here, grains of wheat are being sifted, holding back large pieces of foreign matter while letting the wheat through. The ideas of shaking and separating the grain from rubbish are at the forefront of Jesus’ description.

David Allan Hubbard explains, “The figure of sifting was an agricultural one, and its interpretation hinged on a knowledge of how grain was threshed. The sieve … must have been used to separate the kernels of grain from the trash they had mingled with in the threshing: pebbles, twigs, etc. With its large mesh the sieve would allow the farmer to sift the useful kernels into a pot or sack while the strings of the sieve retained the unwanted trash.”

 

Could it be that Jesus let Satan’s plan happen so that instead of destroying Peter, it would in fact purify him?

And what was the trial he had to endure? Could it have been this:  

Luk 22:33-34   – 33 But Peter said to him, “Lord, I’m ready to go to prison with you and to die with you.” 34  Jesus replied, “Peter, I can guarantee that the rooster won’t crow tonight until you say three times that you don’t know me.”

Luk 22:55-62  – 55  And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the hall and were sitting about it, Peter was in the midst of them. 56  Whom when a certain servant maid had seen sitting at the light and had earnestly beheld him, she said: This man also was with him. 57  But he denied him, saying: Woman, I know him not. 58  And after a little while, another seeing him, said: Thou also art one of them. But Peter said: O man, I am not. 59  And after the space, as it were of one hour, another certain man affirmed, saying: Of a truth, this man was also with him: for he is also a Galilean. 60  And Peter said: Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, as he was yet speaking, the cock crew. 61  And the Lord turning looked on Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, as he had said: Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny thrice. 62  And Peter going out, wept bitterly.

Imagine not only the conviction, the shame, the guilt, the pain that Peter felt, but then Satan (the accuser) comes in, and there is condemnation and fear…

How did denying Jesus shape him?

Who did he become as a result?  – Read Acts 3

How have your trials shaped you? – Could it be that this is the way that the LORD answers your prayers at times?

 

Hebrews 12: 25-29 – Things that can be shaken…

Heb 12:25  See that you refuse him not that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spoke upon earth, much more shall not we that turn away from him that speaketh to us from heaven.

26 Whose voice then moved the earth; but now he promiseth, saying: Yet once more: and I will move, not only the earth, but heaven also. 27  And in that he saith: Yet once more, he signifieth the translation of the moveable things as made, that those things may remain which are immoveable. 28  Therefore, receiving an immoveable kingdom, we have grace: whereby let us serve, pleasing God, with fear and reverence. 29  For our God is a consuming fire.

Deut. 4:24 – For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God


Part Two: What I would like you to consider and share this Sunday are the following:

What are the most important aspects of prayer?

What types of prayers do you pray?

The Prayers I’ve prayed are:

The I’m sorry (prayer of repentance)

The Gimme, you know, the “Lord I NEED” and the “Lord, You Promised in your Word that”

The Bargainer/Let’s make a deal “Lord if you would do XYZ, I promise I’ll Never…”

The Thank You

A: By faith for what we want ( kind of like the gimme)

B:  The aftermath of the gimme

What types of prayers do you pray?

What are the most important aspects of prayer?
The object – Who are you praying to?
The subject – What are you praying about?

The Attitude – The way in which we approach God (ie boldly, confidently, etc)
Honesty – Pray honestly, pray sincerely
Listen- Prayer is after all, a 2 way endeavor

How has your prayer life changed over the past 5 years (if at all)?
What are the benefits/challenges of prayer for you?
Any suggestions that work for you re: your ritual (yes we all have them) that would benefit the fellowship
 

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Tools For The Trial

An transcription of an Old sermon of mine. May it Bless you today:

Abide & Abound, or; Tools for the trial – 05/27/06

1 Corinthians 15:57-58 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

That is easy to read, but Hard to do, isn’t it.

Why? Because:

We have misunderstood the reality of our connection to the church. It is an internal connection not external, and because we fail to understand this, we become anchored to, and enslaved by, the buildings and organizations that we tether ourselves to. Instead of being attached, we become entrenched. Jesus made it plain that:

  • Worship is not tied to a locality, and the Church is not a building.
     – John 4:19-24.
    Paul echoed the sentiment, in that it is not about created things, and God is nigh thee

Acts 17:19-34

People going to church for feelings. Feel Good religion, non-confrontational Gospel.

You know, the all things work, etc. positive confessions, etc.. Focus on Praise. Corporate, modern, sophisticated, church

But the Spirit of the Lord let Paul that this would happen 2000 years ago

 

2 Timothy 4:1-5 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

Recently I shared about the Barna Group website. George Barna has written one of the most startling books of the past five years: Revolution. Reading that book caused me to want to find out more about what he does, so I went to his website.  While on his site, I came across a page dealing with Statistics that his research group gathered re: the Faith of African Americans. I was intrigued, and a bit upset, to say the least, because according to the Barna group’s findings:

Although 75% of us believe that God is the all-powerful, all-knowing, perfect creator who rules the world today, and 83% of us say our religious faith is very important in their lives….

  • Only 10% of us believe moral truth is absolute.

This goes right back to what I keep screaming. Until we teach God’s people to WORSHIP, Until the People of God have an Isaiah 6 experience, Until we as ministers, worship leaders, and whatever else we call ourselves, model Worship in our day to day living, until we teach foundational Bible truth, and Stress the importance and NECESSITY for Worship and Holiness, Our churches will be full of people who believe that:

  1. A) Sin is relative B) Holiness is optional C) Righteousness is tentative

D) Holiness is conceptual at best E) Righteous Ethical living is situational

People MUST know, that charismatic preachers, slammin’ choirs and a Shout and dance DO NOT get you anywhere near the LORD! No matter how many tongues folk speak in.

You want the formula? The Lord says:

Humble yourself and pray, seek my face and turn from your wicked ways. Draw night unto me and I will draw night unto you, but you must clean your hands, and purify your hearts.

– 2 Chron 7:14 – , James 4:8)

Humble yourself in my sight, and I will lift you up, for a broken spirit and contrite heart I will not despise.,  – James 4:10, Psalm 51:17

Study to shew thyself approved, for I need knowledgable workmen that can go forth without fear, because they know me, and my Word. – 2 Timothy 2:15  

Because the hour comes, in fact, it now is, when the true worshippers will Worship me in Spirit and in truth, for I am a Spirit, and I seek these to Worship me.  – John 4:23-24

 

Everybody’s got drama, it is part of life, as Solomon so aptly put it in Ecclesiastes 9:11

 I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.

  • 3 Types of people, many types of Praise. There are only 3 types of people:
    1. Those facing a trial or valley,
    2. Those in the midst of a trial or valley,
    3. Those who are on the way to the next one.

Those of you who are facing or in the midst are probably finding it harder to Praise and Worship. Here’s some perspective for you:

Life is peaks and valleys, but we want to go mountain to mountain. Glory to glory

Why? Because Goliath is in the valley and the Philistines are on the other side.

 

Worship causes you to KNOW your God, and KNOW yourself. Knowing God allows you to have David’s perspective when facing your Goliath. As Daniel put it

Daniel 11:32b  – But the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.1

But how do you get through the valley?

1 Thessalonians 5:16 -18 Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

But how can you do that?

Dr. Roy Blizzard in his book Let Judah Go Up First. Recounts the following story:

In the book of Judges, chapter 1, verses 1-12, Israel is preparing for battle and they inquire of the Lord, Who will be the first to go up and fight for us against the Canaanites? The Lord tells them …Judah is to go. Later, in Judges 20:18 we find, …who of us shall go first to fight against the Benjamites? The Lord replied, Judah shall go first.

There were twelve tribes of Israel. Why should Judah be called upon to go up first? The Hebrew word translated as Judah is used many times in English as PRAISE. So the scripture could be translated as, LET PRAISE GO UP FIRST. This is good advice for us when facing struggles or battles. Let us first praise. This is both an act of faith and submission. Praise God before the battle is entered; anyone can praise when the battle is over and won. Only by faith can we praise at the start.

 

We want to praise and praise accurately. To help us understand what this is about, we will look into some of the Hebrew words translated as praise.

 

  • For us to let Judah go up first is to recognize that our battles are spiritual and must be fought in the spirit. When we let Judah go up first, we confess the attributes of God

2 Corinthians 10:4-5  (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

  • Here are some tools to use, straight from the Word…
  • At all times

GADAL (Gah Dahl) – Often translated “magnify,” it is used as a synonym of praise. In Psalms 34:4 and 69:31, it literally means “to cause to become great.” Gadal calls the worshipper to ascribe greatness to the Lord and His name.

  • As you face the valley

TOWDAH – (To-Daw) -To give worship by the extension of the hand in adoration or agreeing with what has been done or will be. This word is commonly found in connection with sacrifice-applying the giving of thanks or praise as a sacrifice before reception or manifestation. Thanking God for something that I don’t have in the natural. Agreeing with His Word – faith in His Word. This form of praise goes in operation just because His Word is true. “Father, I thank YOU that YOUR WORD is TRUE. As we raise our hearts and hands in praise to the Lord, it involves a sacrifice, especially if one is very sick in body. The carnal mind would fight and ridicule this particular action, but there is great faith in TOWDAH as praise. The lifting of the hand symbolizes agreement. The right hand symbolizes my covenant with my

Father. As I go through the scriptures, God is seen extending His Right Hand to me. That’s the covenant. When He extends His right hand to me, He’s saying to me – ALL THAT I AM IS YOURS, and when I extend my right hand to Him, I am saying “All that I am is yours and I agree with what You’re saying. It is the sacrifice that God honors by His performing of miracles.

 

The ATTITUDE for TOWDAH is: I’m thanking God. I’m agreeing with God that it is as He says. I don’t care what it looks like. I’m agreeing with what His Word says. Example: Father, I thank You that I am healed. Scripture: Psalm 42:4, 50:23, Jer. 17:26

  • In the midst of the valley:

YADAH  (Yaw-Daw) – To worship with the extended hand. The giving of oneself in worship and adoration. To lift your hands unto the Lord. It carries the meaning of absoulute surrender as a young child does to a parent – “pick me up, I’m all yours”.  Scriptures: Gen. 29:35, 2 Chron. 7:6, 20:21, Psalms 9:1, 28:7, Psalms 33:2, 42:5,11, 49:18,

Isaiah 12:1

Yadah in practice – Lift my hands to Him and say how I am surrendering myself to Him. List the ways that I am surrendering to Him. Be diligent. Be disciplined. Be specific. Take the discipline and SAY to the Lord how I am surrendering to Him. With my hands uplifted – surrender unto my God – spirit, soul & body. Totally commit myself to my father.

 

  • The victory cry!

SHABACH – (Shaw-Bakh) – to address in a loud tone, a loud adoration, a shout! Proclaim with a loud voice, unashamed, the GLORY, TRIUMPH, POWER, MERCY, LOVE OF GOD. This word implies that testimony is praise. The phrase “shout unto the Lord” can be understood as the action of SHABACH. It is not just being loud. You should have the attitude of putting your whole being into it, an attitude of being totally uninhibited. Scripture: Psalm 117:1, 63:3-4

 

  • Elder Pointer ministered last week about testing and chastisement, how God sends or allows both, but they are different things for different purposes. I was thinking about that, and there it was, the reason for the valleys…

 

Romans 12:1-3 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

Could the trials, the valleys, could they be to remind us of the one on whom we rely

The one in whom we live and move and have our being? This is why we need to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.

You see when you change your mind, you change yourself! That’s the experience Isaiah had, and the woman at the well had…

I dare you to step back and take a LONG look, a LONG look at your circumstances,

And figure out what you need to change. Then you know what you got to do…

Change Your MIND!

Now I see some of you sisters looking over at your husbands, and some of you brothers looking at your wives. That’s not what I’m talking about.. Amen? Amen!

You’re asking: “How am I supposed to renew my mind?”

Well here’s a simple start. Turn the TV off, and Open your Bible!

Call your cable company, and cancel that playboy channel, start watching the WORD network!

Put down the knife and fork, and pick up your Bible!

Turn off the 50cent, and turn on Fred Hammond!

Hmmm. It’s awful quiet in here… But that’s good. Work Holy Ghost, have your way…

For those that are thinking, None of that applied to me, I’m all right now, why would I wanna change my mind? Well brothers and sisters, the answer is in the next sentence of Romans 12:2

that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God

“Prove it to who Pastor Cyril?”

Well Jesus answered that one in Matthew 5: 13-16

No need to turn to it, just write it down…

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven

You see there is a responsibility in serving God. God has certain expectations of us.

They’ve got to see your good works, yes, WORKS!

You and me, we are employees, you see.

Of Jesus, Inc.  And the boss expects productivity!

Some of us are very productive, out in the vineyard, working. Doing the work, fighting the good fight, pressing on towards the mark of the high calling in Christ Jesus!

Praise the Lord! Others of us got hired, worked for a while, then went on break! I ain’t callin you out, you know who you are. You’ve been in the break room so long that you forgot what your desk looks like! But I’m here to tell you today, I’ve got to pass this message on from the boss:

Break Time is Over! Look at somebody and say Break Time is Over!

Look around you! There is work to be done!

Look at your neighbor and say… “There is work to be done.”

Some of you are on vacation. That’s all right… For a time.

He understands that we get weary, and need to rest…

But some of you are thinking about not coming back to work. Things have gotten too hard. Situations have made you weary…

Like them that’s on leave, but I got a Word for you BENEFITS!

Say Benefits!

Psalms 68:19  Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah.

Psalms 103:2  Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:

Psalms 116:12  What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me?

 

David said this in Psalm 139
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?

 

  • He knows, and he understands. You might be discouraged, you might be beat down, might not want to go on, but remember the benefits, brothers and sisters. Remember the benefits!

Psalm 91
1 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. 3 Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. 4 He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.5 Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;6 Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. 7 A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. 8 Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. 9 Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; 10 There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.
11 For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.

You see, if you stay close, you will abide. You will Abide

Y’all didn’t hear me! You will abide!  Glory to God!

Ok, let me break it down… Help me Holy Ghost….

  • To abide means to:  Remain in a place. To continue to be sure or firm; To endure.

Think about it. If you dwell in the secret place of the Most high God,

You will remain under the shadow of the Almighty!

That’s peace!

You will continue to be sure under the shadow of the Almighty!

That’s confidence!

You will continue to be firm, under the shadow of the Almighty!

That’s security!

You will Endure under the shadow of the Almighty!

That’s power!

When you Abide, Surely he shall deliver thee!

He shall cover thee! under his wings shalt thou trust!

When you Abide, His truth shall be thy shield and buckler!

Thou shalt not be afraid of anything!

 

When you Abide,

A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee!

When you Abide,

Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee!

For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways

You’re gonna abide! Oh somebody Praise Him!! Hallelujah


It’s in your mouth, let it out

For those of you who don’t think it takes all of this:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.  –  John 1:1-3,

If thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the law, and if thou turn unto the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul. For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.  – Deuteronomy 30:10-14

Sing for joy to God our strength; shout aloud to the God of Jacob! – Psalm 81:1

Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.

Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.

For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods.  – Psalm 95:1-3

In that day you will say: “I will praise you, O LORD.  Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me. Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.” With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. In that day you will say:”Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted. Sing to the LORD, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world. Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.” – Isaiah12: 1-6

And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew with the trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for the LORD hath given you the city.  – Joshua 6:16  

But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee. – Psalms 5:11  

Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart. – Psalms 32:11  

Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favour my righteous cause: yea, let them say continually, Let the LORD be magnified, which hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant. – Psalms 35:27  

O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph. – Psalms 47:1

AMEN!

 

The Transitional Importance of The Lord’s Table

Good Morning Family. I am so grateful to be here with you again. God is indeed merciful.

Intro and Example

It is important, when studying any passage of scripture, to seek to know what the original writer meant, what the context of the passage was, the history and the time, and what the original hearers would have heard. Knowing these things leads to greater understanding, and minimizes the misuse of a passage.

It has been said quite that ‘Text without context, is pretext’. Not having context, and authorial intent can be deadly. Literally. History has shown us that.

This has been particularly meaningful, as I have been for the past 14 months, teaching through The Revelation.  Line by line, verse by verse, we have worked our way through it.  In fact, we are going to be finishing Chapter 13 in our gathering later this afternoon…

One of the things that we have learned, to a person, is that our understanding of this letter, which was framed in the rubric of Dispensational American Evangelicalism, is almost completely wrong. It has been sobering, to say the least.

Why you may ask, has it been wrong? Well, because we are taught John’s words, interpreted outside of John’s time and context.

A quick example: Chapters 2 and 3 are individual letters to 7 churches in Asia Minor. Each of them had issues that plague many churches today. That alone is a great reason to read them. In Chapter 3, which contains the Letter to the church at Laodicea, we find two oft-misquoted passages, occurring in verses, 15, 16, and 20:

Verses 15 & 16 say: 15  I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were cold or hot. 16  So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of My mouth.

I have heard that passages taught many times that Jesus was telling us to decisive, to be hot or cold towards him, and that indecisiveness would cause you to be, (and I am quoting King James here) ‘Spewed out’.  When I was younger, I used to wonder just how far God could ‘spew’?

Was it one of those deals where, if he spit you out, 1000 years later, you’d still be hurtling through the galaxy  at Warp 8, doomed to travel from here to the other side of forever…?

What used to bother me, and I never seemed to get a sufficient answer was, why would God want anyone to be cold towards Him? It made no sense, and I understand today that it made no sense because I had no context.

The statement is most like a reference that the church at Laodicea would have easily understand as an ironic chastisement, specific to their time and place. You see Hieropolis, with its invigorating , medicinal hot springs was a few miles to the north, and Colossae, with its refreshing cold springs was just south.

Laodicea, right in the middle, had neither… In fact, some scholars believe that the water in Laodicea was literally tepid, lukewarm… neither hot nor cold.  As such, it was neither invigorating nor refreshing.

Think about that for a moment: A CHURCH, representatives of the Most High GOD, Bearers of HIS SPIRIT and HIS WORD. SALT AND LIGHT in the world, and Jesus calls them Useless…  It is a terrifying thought, both individually and corporately.

How would we, could we understand that today, without knowing the context.  Doesn’t that make a lot more sense now?

And it is this loving albeit harsh admonition that leads to the Grace-filled offer of verse 20, which we all know…

Revelation 3:20 – Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

How have you heard that used? In my experience, it was usually in an altar call situation, imploring unsaved people to come to Jesus. Presenting the knocking, waiting, patient, Jesus… Things of that sort…

But now that we know the subject, object and context of the letter it is clear to see that this is not a general offer or invitation of communion, or salvation. It is specific to the church, the people of God, those with whom there already exists a covenant, an oath: Born of Love, sealed in precious, redeeming BLOOD. It is to US that this offer of communion is made…

Gathered to Celebrate

We have gathered today to celebrate one of the most important events, not only in Christendom, but in the history of the world. The Lord’s Table, The Eucharist, Communion…

In fact the word Eucharist itself is based on the Greek word meaning to celebrate.

The Lord’s table then, is a celebration.  A celebration of what?

A celebration of transaction, transition and transformation…

What do I mean?

Listen to this passage in Luke Chapter 22. Starting from verse 14: Reading from the HCSB

 14 When the hour came, He reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him. Then He said to them, “I have fervently desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”

17  Then He took a cup, and after giving thanks, He said, “Take this and share it among yourselves. For I tell you, from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”  And He took bread, gave thanks, broke it, gave it to them, and said, “This is My body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.”

20  In the same way He also took the cup after supper and said, “This cup is the new covenant established by My blood; it is shed for you.

He says to them that for Him, it would be the Last Until… Yet for them, by telling them to repeat this process in remembrance of Him, for them this was a First.

It was Last for Him, first for them, transition for both of them…

You see, He knew what they didn’t know or understand, even though He had said it numerous times… The son of man must be given over, and be killed… He knew what was coming, and that things would never be the same. The table became symbolic then, not only of what had passed, but of what was to come.

As such, it could be argued (and is argued by some) that the Last Supper, was in fact the First Communion and the Last Passover. We’ll get to that in a minute.

From our vantage point we know now what those who first heard it would understand later:

The Communion was preparation for a transaction that would take place a few hours later on the cross.  The Lord’s Table was symbolic of The Process of transition for Jesus, and the Promise of transformation  for the disciples (and for us).

The First Passover

The first Passover itself was a transaction that was both transitional and transformational.

Think about it. The Book of Exodus records that Israel had been in Egypt in bondage for over 400 years. They had been oppressed and enslaved, and God delivered them by the leadership of Moses through a series of plagues.

The final plague was the death of the firstborn. The angel of death came and killed the firstborn in every family, the firstborn of man and animal unless you had sacrificed a lamb and splattered the blood on the doorposts and the side beams. If there was blood shed, then the angel of death passed that house by.

To be delivered then, requires the shedding of blood. In particular, the blood of a spotless lamb…

In short, there is a principle which is: To be delivered from judgment requires death.

But by Jesus’ time judging by the behaviors recorded in scripture, Passover was for many a mere formality. It was a thing that the people did on a ritual basis that commemorated a long done event, too far removed from the people’s understanding to have any real meaning.

Sadly, it is the same now. The Lord’s table is, for many, merely a ritual exercise, a ritual devoid of meaning. We do not fully grasp that the elements are symbols of Great Love, great cost, great weight, great promise and great value. Let us never forget that.

Jesus Elevates the Passover

So what do we know about The Last Supper? It was a Passover dinner. But what else do we know?

Luke and Paul both speak of Bread being broken, and ‘The Cup’ being drunk. Can we get some more context on this? I believe so… What does current scholarship have to say?

“Near the beginning of a traditional Passover Seder, a piece of matzah is broken in half. The larger of the two pieces is hidden away in linen cloth until the end of the meal. When it is brought back from concealment it is shared by everyone at the table as their final morsel. This broken and hidden piece of matzah is called the afikoman.

None of it is explained in the Haggadah for Passover. Nor is it mentioned in Scripture. The term afikoman appears first in the Mishnah (the earliest collection of rabbinic legal rulings, codified around 200 CE/AD) Although afikoman is written in Hebrew letters, it is actually a Greek word…

Jewish historians disagree why a Greek term entered the Passover liturgical tradition or what it means.

In 1925 an Austrian scholar named Robert Eisler argued that at the time of Jesus,  the afikoman was originally part of an established messianic ritual observed during the Passover. He said the whole piece of matzah held up at the beginning of the meal represented all Israel, while the broken-off portion stood for the longed-for Messiah. When the hidden afikoman emerged from concealment at the end of the Seder, it symbolized the coming of the Messiah in the midst of his people.”

Could it be that it is THIS piece of Bread that Jesus gave to His disciples declaring that this was His Body?

As for ‘The Cup’. What cup is this?

“The Mishnah states that there are 4 cups of wine drunk during the Passover feast. Each time the cup is filled, it has a different name. Opinions vary as to what certain cups actually symbolize. Most agree that the first cup is the Kiddush, which means sanctification. With this cup, the Passover seder begins.

The second cup is called the cup of plagues. The third cup is referred to as either the cup of redemption or the cup of blessing. The fourth cup is often called hallel which means praise, though some traditions call it the cup of acceptance while still others use it as the cup of Elijah.

The New Testament names one of the cups—the cup taken after supper, which is traditionally the third cup. Jesus calls this cup “the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you” (Luke 22:20). The Apostle Paul calls it, “the cup of blessing which we bless,” as well as “the cup of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 10:16,21).

Both Jesus and Paul draw on something from Jewish tradition to provide insights not previously understood. By calling the cup “the new covenant in my blood,” Jesus makes a direct reference to the promise of Jeremiah 31. God had declared that He would make a new covenant because the previous covenant had become “broken” (Jeremiah 31:32). To violate a covenant agreement with God would surely incur His wrath and judgment—a terrible cup! But instead, God promised a new covenant of grace and salvation.” – source jews for jesus

Think about how this must have sounded to those at the Table…

It is apparent then, that Jesus was fundamentally and eternally elevating the nature and purpose of this meal. By elevating the Passover, Jesus makes it clear that it is the blood of the lamb that seals one’s destiny, and not by anyone’s planning, skill or merit, neither by tradition or remembrance, but by grace. What is the principle again? To be delivered from judgment requires death.

 The Communion table then, is a reminder that to be a Christian is:

  • Transactional (there was a cost, the shedding of innocent blood), That it is
  • Transitional (that as John said, we have been given power to become the children of God. Contrary to popular preaching today, everyone is NOT God’s child, and John 1 is clear about that. If you have to become something, then you are not that thing until you become it) and it is
  • Transformational (John later describes the fact that though we have become the children of God , it does not yet appear what we shall be. Shall is future, it is not now. For those of you who are Christians, take a moment to look back over your life… Can you see that you have changed? Right, you are in the midst of a transformation, a process that will continue until He calls you home.

 

Hymns

The Revelation has several hymns in it, and I’d like to quickly share a passage where a couple of them can be found. Chapter Five starting at verse 8, again from the HCSB

8  When He took the scroll, the four living creatures and the 24 elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song:

You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because You were slaughtered, and You redeemed people for God by Your blood from every tribe and language and people and nation. You made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they will reign on the earth.

11  Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels around the throne, and also of the living creatures and of the elders. Their number was countless thousands, plus thousands of thousands. They said with a loud voice:

The Lamb who was slaughtered is worthy to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing!

13  I heard every creature in heaven, on earth, under the earth, on the sea, and everything in them say: Blessing and honor and glory and dominion to the One seated on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever! The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

THE LAMB (The spotless, sinless, sacrificed One) is the Only One worthy to open the scrolls of judgment (the events contained in the scrolls mark transition points) , His Blood redeemed a people for God, (to redeem something is a transaction) and these people, by having become God’s people have undergone a transformation.

When the people of God drink the cup and eat the bread, we understand , just as the earliest followers though culturally Jewish, understood,  that by interaction with the Messiah we are transformed, individually and corporately into something different.

 

Only for the believer

This is why Communion is not for everyone. It is only for those who believe.

Consider the Apostle Paul’s words again: from 1 Corinthians 11:26-29  

Verse 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.

The Apostle is saying what? That this event, this supper, this communion, is a proclamation,  a statement.

A statement of what? The truth of Jesus’ claims, His Death, His Resurrection, His substitutionary atonement, and much more. It is a proclamation of the reality of your Faith.

He continues, in verse 27:

27  Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy way will be guilty of sin against the body and blood of the Lord. 28  So a man should examine himself; in this way he should eat the bread and drink from the cup.

In what way? In a self examining, humble way. In a way that is aware of yourself, your relationship with God, and your place in the community of believers.

Think back to the parable of the tax collector and the Pharisee… What did Jesus say? He said that the Pharisee who came boldly to pray, trusting in his own righteousness… ‘I thank you that I am not like other men, etc.’  went away just as he approached; unchanged, unjustified, far away from God.

But the tax collector, despised among the people, the man who stood afar off, clearly aware of his own sin and unrighteousness, and begging for mercy, went away justified. It is the same here.  And here is the Apostle’s warning…

29  For whoever eats and drinks without recognizing the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself.

Growing up around the way, we used to say, ‘Check yourself, before you Wreck yourself.’

Examine Yourself

So today family, as we prepare to partake of this table; this symbol of transaction, take a moment to examine yourself.

As we come to celebrate this transformational event, especially on this day, that is symbolic  of transition and for transformation, for this Pastor, for this church, for each of us individually, and as a corporate body;  Take the time to examine yourself, honestly, truthfully.

Take time to contemplate, to consider, to look back, to look forward. Take a hard look at you, right now. Consider what you see…

Take time as we sing the Hymn ‘Be Thou My Vision’,  to ask God by His Spirit to show you what you need to see, what needs to change, what needs to be transformed in you, and ask Him for the strength and courage to allow Him to do what He wills be done.

To God Be the Glory. Amen.

A ‘lose lose’ situation…

Several years ago, I was in negotiations to become the ‘worship pastor’ of a local denominational church. I had served there previously in several capacities (choir director, worship leader, and more) in two previous spans.

The situation seemed really good; The church,suffering numerically and financially, was seeing dwindling numbers especially in the key 25-40, and 40-59 demographics, (Key of course since these are the two groups who normally bring both energy and steady income to the church)  and was looking for a way to turn the situation around…

Per the negotiations that I had with the pastor, I would work directly with him on worship planning, service structure, and have responsibility over the music and arts ministries. In that capacity, I was to:

1) Implement training (Biblical, Musical, Theological) for both the adults and children, re: Worship, the use of music, etc.

2) Create/develop a band and choir from among existing membership so that the church would not have to hire outside musicians, (especially those of a different faith as they were doing, which is another post in itself).

Additionally, the pastor told me that he was looking to build what amounted to a ‘two-winged’ system (aka the cell-celebration model) where leaders were trained and empowered, and the cells met and sought to experience/manifest their faith in a much more intimate way, and that he needed my help to do it. I was hooked…

I even agreed to commit to the work for less than one half of what I knew the work was worth in terms of time, effort and value.

Keep in mind that I was going to take this on in addition to my other duties, including pastoring/teaching the Repairer’s Fellowship. (What was I thinking? In retrospect, I’m not sure)

As we went into the process however, things began to change subtly. After a while it became clear that the pastor’s aims/goals and mine were not in alignment.

He wanted Immediate results, performance and pomp, (especially since he was aware of my prior work with a very large ministry of which he is enamored), while I was looking for steady growth, community development, and long-term success.

Additionally, I began to see during meetings that what we had discussed privately was clearly not being communicated to the board members of the church, in particular those whose support would be key, if the endeavor would be successful.

Most importantly  however, I began to see (in these same meetings) that the Theological positions which we seemed to share on key issues must have been figments of my imagination. In short, we were at an impasse.

The last straw was a meeting which I was invited to, which took place a mere 3 days before my scheduled ‘official’ start date. I had been attending events, getting familiar with the people with whom I’d be working closely, some of whom were new to me, some were not. Several things took place at the meeting which did nothing to assuage my growing discomfort with the formerly idyllic enterprise, in fact it was looking more and more like an elaborate gimmick-filled program designed to bolster/rally support for the pastor, at the expense of the people… Then, the coup de grace. I was asked to stay behind after the meeting, and I was told by the pastor and a key board member, that they then wanted me to come in and work for the first couple of months gratis, and then at the beginning of the third month, they would ‘by faith’ be able to pay me…

I told them that I would pray and think about it, and what emerged was the following (edited for names etc.)

Date: —-

To: Rev. ——, and committee

Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I am writing to you because there is much that needs to be said, and it is my desire to be thorough and concise, neither do I wish to be misunderstood, therefore, I ask that you read completely what follows, and then if you’d like to discuss any part of it, I will be happy to at a time that is mutually convenient.

I came out of the meeting that I attended on March xxth, conflicted and concerned for several reasons which I will, if you will indulge me, make clear below. I will first lay out the various situations as I see them, followed by a conclusion…

The liturgical situation:

Clearly we are on different trajectories in terms or our understanding of what it means to be, and function as the church.  As we are all aware, I am not (denomination), and there are many reasons for that. I thought however,  that we could surmount those differences and try to come to a middle ground, but I am now no longer so sure that this can happen successfully.

By nature, due to experience and years of study, I am antagonistic towards doctrines and practices foisted on the church (the people of God) that I do not see Biblical support for. Things that are in my view, destructive to the simple clarity of the Gospel and what it means to be the Ekklesia. Things like Paedo-Baptism, tithing, and consubstantiation to name a few.

I realize also that we have very different ideas about, and definitions of, words like ‘Worship’,’ church’, and ‘service’. I was in error because I thought that we could find a place of agreement, especially when in conversation with Rev. —, I was told that he envisioned eventually the (cell groups) functioning almost like individual house churches. As a house church Pastor, trainer and planter, this appealed to me greatly. But this, like a few other things that we have discussed during this process, I heard (I realize now) through the filter of my definitions and therefore did not hear what was really being said. Again, this is my error.  

That said, I am very concerned about the shape that the (leadership training unit) is taking. I see now that I did not understand the purpose as it has been defined. I thought, (better yet, I assumed) from our discussions that you (church name) were seeking to develop a group of servant leaders, who would, as the Aposle Peter commanded, shepherd the flock which is ‘among them’ (1 Peter 5:2). What I saw the other night instead, was the institution of another level of religious bureaucracy and separation. Another level set in place between the congregation and God, and I am not in agreement with this at all.

Using Exodus 28, Rev. — set up the premise of a level of priests among priests. While this is clearly the way that Israel functioned, it is clear that we are not Israel, we are the body of Christ, a body fitly joined together, where everyone is equally important, with differing gifts which edify the whole. As I say to our group consistently, Pastor is my gift, not my rank.

The spiritual situation:

The essential message of Jesus’ interactions with the Pharisees was that they had put so many things (practices, systems, dogmas, doctrines) in between the people and the Lord that the people’s vision of the true God was obscured, and they were being destroyed because of it.

The ultimate end of what I teach regarding Worship is paradoxical:

  1. The truth that the blood bought believer is a slave. Completely captive to Christ, His will and desire. This understanding shapes everything else in life.
  2. That there is freedom in Christ of the individual, who having come to a place of true liberty can function freely, fully and passionately in the community of believers.

In short, in Christ we are both slave and free simultaneously.

That is what I see in the New Testament, people being set free, as they come into the knowledge of the truth. Simply and sincerely. And those same people becoming willing slaves to the will and purpose of their Master. Utterly and completely…

Instead, in churches all over, we add pomp and circumstance, extra-biblical rituals and forms, and the clever plans of men, which now as then, obscure God from the people, this is why members that I have spoken to recently, identify themselves as (denomination) before they are Christian, if they identify in a meaningful way as Christian at all.

The solution to most all of the issues in the body of Christ (including factionalism, church growth struggles, marital issues, the so-called ‘worship wars’, etc) is quite simple. “Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Jesus”.  Not on our terms but on His. It is not about professional presentation, more complexity in our rituals, new levels of hierarchical structure or worship planning that focuses on entertainment or experience. Rather it is about education and edification.

In John 4, Jesus makes clear that true worship is accomplished not in location, ritual, or tradition, but rather in spirit and truth. Teaching before practice, and holiness unto the Lord which comes from within…

Regarding my ‘rigidity’: I have been at various and sundry times been called that and much worse, because I regard the Worship and things of God as holy, and His people as precious. It is clear that the holiness of God is the primary focus of our Worship, it is clear that worship is for God’s glory and for our benefit. I regard Worship (and its associated events) the same why that you, brother (Rev—) , guard the pulpit.Why? Because God does.

This is the same God who killed his own priests, denied his own chosen man the promised land, killed people in the church gathering, and will deny many who profess belief, access to heaven and his throne. Why? Because He is Holy.

This is the same God who admonishes the shepherds to follow His example and lay down their lives for the sheep, the same one who says that a fate worse than death awaits those who Abuse his children, and promises a harsher judgment for those who claim this gift of Pastor/Teacher. Why? Because His people are precious.. His Bride is precious.

As Paul Washer says, ‘If I knew that someone had assaulted my wife, and that people had seen it but did not help, I would first hunt down and destroy the ones who had assaulted my Bride, but then I would hunt down the ones who saw and did nothing. How do you think that Jesus will deal with those who abuse His bride, and those who see and do nothing?’

I refuse to be on either list…

You see brothers and sisters, for us to think that it is ok to bring people in, or put people up to minister who are at best unregenerate, have doctrinal positions which are not Biblically supported, or at worse, do not follow Christ at all, is dangerously errant, and is ‘strange fire’ (see Leviticus 10) .  For us to have ecumenical services with those who follow different gods or hold heretical beliefs about Christ, claiming that they are ‘brothers’ is ‘strange fire’.

This seems not to be an issue for the folks at (church name), and though I am concerned, I understand why. They have not been taught, and many do not have a clear understanding of the depth of it. Clear Biblical teaching will easily fix that, and those who are given grace to hear, will. That is your task, brother (Rev—), and I pray that you will be up to the challenge by God’s grace.

(discussion of the financial situation redacted)

As such, I hereby remove my name from consideration for the position or Worship Pastor/Director of Worship Arts at (Church name) . It is my prayer that in the coming months,  the Lord will guide you towards the best candidate, even as He prepares you in every way to accommodate he or she at that time

In His Service, by His Grace,

Pastor CT. Jermin

Family Baptism

Colossians 2:11-12 (HCSB)
11  You were also circumcised in Him with a circumcision not done with hands, by putting off the body of flesh, in the circumcision of the Messiah.
12  Having been buried with Him in baptism, you were also raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.

Acts 16:31-34 (HCSB)
31  So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”
32  Then they spoke the message of the Lord to him along with everyone in his house.
33  He took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds. Right away he and all his family were baptized.
34  He brought them into his house, set a meal before them, and rejoiced because he had believed God with his entire household.

 

The Holy City (Part 3)

‘Of Gates and Cubes…’  From Part 56 of our study of The Revelation.

Revelation 21:9-27 (HCSB)

9  Then one of the seven angels, who had held the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues, came and spoke with me: “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.”

10  He then carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, 11  arrayed with God’s glory. Her radiance was like a very precious stone, like a jasper stone, bright as crystal.

12  ⌊The city⌋ had a massive high wall, with 12 gates. Twelve angels were at the gates; the names of the 12 tribes of Israel’s sons were inscribed ⌊on the gates⌋.

13  There were three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west.

14  The city wall had 12 foundations, and the 12 names of the Lamb’s 12 apostles were on the foundations.

15  The one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, its gates, and its wall.

16  The city is laid out in a square; its length and width are the same. He measured the city with the rod at 12,000 stadia. Its length, width, and height are equal.

17  Then he measured its wall, 144 cubits according to human measurement, which the angel used.

18  The building material of its wall was jasper, and the city was pure gold like clear glass. 19  The foundations of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone: the first foundation jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, 20  the fifth sardonyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst.

21  The 12 gates are 12 pearls; each individual gate was made of a single pearl. The broad street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. 22  I did not see a sanctuary in it, because the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its sanctuary.

23  The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, because God’s glory illuminates it, and its lamp is the Lamb.

24  The nations will walk in its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. 25  Each day its gates will never close because it will never be night there. 26  They will bring the glory and honor of the nations into it. 27  Nothing profane will ever enter it: no one who does what is vile or false, but only those written in the Lamb’s book of life.