Friday, March 2, 2012

Lighten Up

    Lent (which is Latin for "fortieth") is the Christian observance of the season from Ash Wednesday to Holy Thursday.  It is intended to prepare our hearts through prayer, repentance, sacrificial giving, and self-denial. As we enter the annual commemoration of  the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, we recall the profound events of the Passion of Christ on Good Friday, culminating with the most sacred event in history on the Sunday of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

    God gave us His only son, and we..

    ...typically, Christians will "give up something" for Lent.  This can be anything from chocolate to overeating to smoking or drinking.  In the main, much like New Year's resolutions, these soon become little more than guilty memories, leaving little changed.  This Sunday, Pastor Franco led us in a more effective and meaningful direction in his sermon  Responding to God's Glory.  Much like in the blog entry Green Monkeys, Red Monkeys we are advised to not only repent of three sins for Lent, but also to replace them with God's powerful counterparts. This Lent we seek to make the sacrifice of obedience.  

    It is interesting that we concluded last week that to walk out what the Spirit is doing at Cornerstone, we needed to return to the three Eternal things; to faith, hope, and love.  If you listen to this week's sermon, that is the very destination He was leading us all along.


Key Scriptures

  • Isaiah 6:1-13 In the year of King Uzziah's death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. 2 Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings : with twohe covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called out to another and said, "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory." 4And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. 5 Then I said, "Woe is me, for I am ruined ! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips ; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts." 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. 7 He touched my mouth with it and said, "Behold, this has touched your lips  and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven." 8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" Then Isaid, "Here am I. Send me!" 9 He said, "Go, and tell this people : 'Keep on listening, but do not perceive ; Keep on looking, but do not understand.' 10 "Render the hearts of this people insensitive, Their ears dull, And their eyes dim, Otherwise they might see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, Understand with their hearts, And return and be healed." 11 Then I said, "Lord, how long ?" And He answered, "Until cities are devastated and without inhabitant, Houses are withoutpeople And the land is utterly desolate, 12 "The LORD has removed men far away, And the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land. 13 "Yet there will be a tenth portion in it, And it will again be subject to burning, Like a terebinth or an oak Whose stump remains when it is felled. The holy seed is its stump.

  • Romans 8:15  15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba ! Father !"

  • Romans 8:28-31  28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the first born among many brethren ; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called ; and these whom He called, He also justified ; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. 31 What then shall we say to these things ? If God is for us, who is against us?
  • Romans 8:1-9  1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.5 For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, 7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God ; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit,if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.

    So What?

     After seeing Isaiah's response to and transformation by the glory of God, we (the "Sow What?" group), could easily see that proximity to God makes lasting changes in perspective and personality.  We arrive despising ourselves and our sinful natures, and depart cleansed and ready for the first mission He'll entrust us with. We are ready to work for the Kingdom.

      We were called to relinquish fear, and exchange it for faith.  We find the scriptural basis for this in Heb 11, Rom 10:17, and Phil 4:11. 

    We were called to exchange complaining for hope, supported by Rom 8:28-31, Ps. 119, Ps. 36, Is 50:10, and James 4. 

    We we charged to abandon the lies of condemnation,   and walk in Love, prescribed by Rom 5:5, and Rom 8:1-9.

   B.L.U.F. - the keys to actually "Lightening Up" by discarding these habits of darkness and integrating these fruits of His love and Mercy:

1. Fear to Faith - Abandon ourselves to the spiritual disciplines that we learned this summer, to foster the experience of  His glory -- the intimacy with God -- that makes the Isaiah 6 transformation happen for us.

2. Complaining to Hope - stay in relationship with His plan for us via scripture, prayer, obedience, and worship. Express our authentic gratitude to God.

3. Condemnation to Love - by knowing it is not ours to judge, by recalling  where God found us, by remembering who we are in Christ (embracing the Gospel), and by praying in the Holy Spirit to spread His love abroad in our hearts.

4. When we become aware of the undertow of fear, complaining, and condemnation we have 3 courses of action:

     1 - Act against it; do the work to make things right by God's standards
     2 - Make it backfire; determine what the enemy least wants for us to do/think in the situation and do it in the power of the Holy Spirit.
     3. - Ask God for actionable guidance. 

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