Sermon December 16, 2006 : Ephesians 4:7-14
- Presenter: Dr. Roberto Miranda
- Date: December 16, 2006
- Location: Congregation Lion of Judah, Boston MA
Welcome to our service tonight, it’s good to see you and some new visitors who are coming. That’s wonderful. We’re so happy to have you here tonight and we bless you and we are rejoiced to see some additional new elements coming into the church and kind of coming and blessing us with your continued attendance for as long as the Lord would have be in fellowship with us. That’s wonderful.
I tell people many times, come as a missionary endeavor. Come as an investment in the Kingdom of God, to help this vision for this congregation to become grounded and established in a, how should I say, in a tenable sort of way, that could continue. You know, like little children when they’re very young and they’re in the their infancy, they need a lot of care and they need a lot of vigilance because, you know, they’re very fragile. Now, as they get older and become more self sufficient, then you kind of let go and so on. And so those first few months are so key, both in the just the maintenance of life as a whole, but also in the formation of the identity of that baby. Those first influences are so powerful in later life. And it’s like that with a congregation as well.
You know, what you put into the congregation those first few months, those first couple of years, both in declaring the word of God, in the people who come, the kind of ministries that begin to be established . They will probably influence that congregation for the rest of its existence. So this is a crucial time, so we encourage you to continue coming regularly, bless us. You don’t know how it blesses my heart, how it encourages me and all the ones who are working in the leadership of the church to see you here tonight and may the Lord continue giving us more and more of you.
So, again, as I say, see that as a missionary investment in the Kingdom of God. And you know, before I begin in the substance of the text, and I was talking to John, by the way John, thank you for leading us and accompanying us with the keyboard and blessing us in that way and the worship team, did such a wonderful job also bringing us closer to the presence of the Lord.
And, you know, I was speaking with them before the service began about the vision of this church and you know, people want to know, well, what’s this church about? What are some of the governing values that this congregation that is beginning to be found has as its basic values?
So, let me just quickly before, just, if you ask me, what Roberto, what do you think this church should be like and what do you seek? If you could tailor-make this church, if you could place an order in the Kingdom of God to the king of congregation that could be here ten years from now, in the English speaking. And it’s not very different from the congregation in Spanish, by the way. But I’ll give you some of the things that you might remember and I’ll just throw them out them.
What kind of qualities? What kind of distinctive should we seek for this church? We hope that this congregation becomes a spiritual congregation, emphasizing the gifts of the spirit, emphasizing the dynamic, spirit filled life, the vibrancy, the relevance of the Holy Spirit for today. The gifts of the spirit are not just something for you know, the year number one or year number 30, you know, 2000 years ago. It is for today. The gifts never stopped working and they’re here for us today.
We hope to have a church of balance and one might even say tension. A church that keeps opposites in place, whether it’s holiness and grace, spirit fullness and program and balance and institutionally that is. You know, institutional coherence and planning, and strategizing. So, sometimes those are in tension. So, you know, balance as a congregation.
Number three: a church of excellence. A church that we do, we want to do it well. We want to plan for good services, good solid preaching, good facilities, excellence in the physical aspects of the congregation, excellence in our finances and the way we administer and manage our church, excellence in everything that we do. You know, just because you’re spirit filled and charismatic, you don’t have to be shoddy or disorganized by any means.
And we want a church that will have a community social impact, that will be a presence. We just don’t want to be a church that just raises a lot of dust inside the four walls and nobody knows about it outside. We want a church that is impacting the community and making the presence of the Kingdom of God felt, and having a transforming influence on the community.
We want a church that is evangelistic as well, that has a passion for souls, that it’s not just people coming and you know, studying the word and getting full of the word, and you know, a lot of Greek and Latin and Hebrew, but also seeking souls and growing through conversions. Passionate for souls, I mean, hunting down souls, bringing them into the Kingdom of God.
Also a church that emphasizes holiness, a church that doesn’t compromise the word of God, doesn’t compromise the call to holiness. Holiness is a very complex word, we don’t have time to develop it, but holiness is both consecration to the kingdom, is being set apart and for. Many churches in the desire to see souls come in, I think, sometimes we are tempted to compromise the preaching of the word of God, the vertical explanation of the word of God, God’s holy commands. God is a holy God and we want a church with people that understand the moral standards that God sets for us. We’re going to preach holiness for the world out there, we must live it here as well.
We want a church that is biblical and Bible founded, I mean, it’s preaching. That’s why I’m doing this expository type of preaching, you know, in the beginning. I think it’s a prophetic act, that I’m saying the word of God matters, it’s not just nice themes that help people feel good and so on. You know, we want meat and again, in the tension balance side, even as we preach the fullness of the Holy Spirit anointed, worship, dynamic, flowing in the spirit, we need to be founded on the word of God and we’ll always be a church that emphasizes the teaching of the word of God with excellence, with clarity, with a lot of study and understanding the word of God, Bible literacy from the pulpit on.
We want a church that is diverse. Diverse in several ways, diverse ethnical, even now in this small group, we are a very diverse group right here. It’s a diverse community and I want this multiplied by hundreds. That’s the idea. So, we want a church that is diverse ethnically and racially. We want a church that is diverse socio economically. We want rich people, some of them will be saved you know that, and they can do a lot of good for the kingdom if they are spirit-filled and kingdom-minded. So, God has nothing against money, believe me. God loves people that are prospered. I mean, prosperity is distinctive of the Kingdom of God.
But we also want people who are working class. I mean, we are passionate, God deliver us from a church that is just upper middle, upper middle class, or upper class. God deliver us from that. We want a church that is working class, middle class, upper middle class, upper upper class, I don’t care. If Bill Gates wants to consecrate himself to the Kingdom of God and come here, we will welcome him. But we will also welcome a working class, a labor, a union man, I would be delighted. We would welcome people who are homeless, people who are in transition in their life. Praise the Lord for them. We want a diverse, because each other of them has something to give to the other.
We can all be blessed because God has given a fifth to each of those groups. So, we want a church that is ethnically, socio economically, age wise. I just don’t want a bunch of twenty something, or thirty something. I love them, praise the Lord for that. But I would feel alone. So, I want to see older people here: thirties, forties, fifties, sixties, seventies, eighties, nineties and a hundred if the Lord allows to have a few of those. Diversity age wise, because again, different ages they bless each other. If we only have one age range, oh, man that’s dangerous. We don’t even want to think about that. So, we want diversity age wise as well.
And we want diversity in the spiritual background. People who come radical pentecostal background, but also people who are exploring the gifts and you know, who are more mellow and quiet and we don’t have to be all rowdy Pentecostals. I mean, there are individuals who are more interiorly oriented and praise the Lord. Let them praise and worship quietly. Some will be more evangelical in their outlook. Praise God, let them feel good here. But also those who want to be a little rowdier and you know, flow in the spirit, we want those as well. So, we want a diverse church even also in spirit backgrounds.
We want a church that has worship, that is spirit-lead and dynamic. I pray that the Lord will allow us in the future to have longer periods of worship, flowing in praise and prayer and intercession and anointing, and ministry to the needy, and to the sick and to those who need healing. You know, that will come in time, as we learn to worship the Lord more effectively as we grow numerically and as the dynamic of the spirit itself calls for more, we will give more. But it has to be organic and it has to be called for by the spirit.
Last Saturday we had an amazing spirit-filled time at the end of the service and even before, during the inte4rfcession want. We didn’t plan for that, the spirit did it and we acknowledged the presence of the spirit and so we gave more. And we just, you know, said, forget about the 7.30 limit, let’s just stay and worship as long as necessary. It is a church that will revel and enjoy worshiping the Lord in a dynamic, spirit-filled way.
And then, I’m going to an end, we want a church that has a transformational emphasis, that you come into the Kingdom of God to be transformed. You don’t come into the Kingdom of God to form the Kingdom of God according to your presuppositions, that you had in the word. No, you come to the Kingdom of God to confront you, break you and change you into a follower of Jesus Christ. So people should come into the church expecting that they’re not going to leave the same way that they came.
Everybody needs transformation. That transformative ministry means that we will emphasize discipleship. We will emphasize the formation of disciples, followers, devout followers of Jesus. We will emphasize teaching that points to the need to change or temperaments, our life experiences and that we will become radically committed to the Kingdom of God. Transformation also in the sense that people will see that they need to serve the Lord. I’m going to speak a little bit about service tonight, but you know, that the Christian life is a life of service, that is a life of healing in all dimensions. We all come into the Kingdom of God deformed and traumatized and misshapen and we come to be set or reset in our brokenness and so, this church should be a place of healing, where people be healed emotionally, mentally, physically, intellectually, healed in every sense of the word: from demonic oppression, from sickness, from financial disease and from physical disease as well, all the implications of healing a nd salvation and wholeness in the Kingdom of God. We will emphasize that.
And finally, consecration to the Kingdom of God, radical consecration. I don’t live for myself, I live for the Kingdom of God. And what I have, what I own, what I am, my gifts, my energies, my body, it all belongs to the Kingdom of God and I’m just an instrument for the grace of God to flow in this world. My vacation will be go to heaven. I’ll have thousands and thousands of years to enjoy rest. While I’m here I’m going to dry myself up, giving myself to the Kingdom of God and I’m just an instrument for the Kingdom of God. And that’s the kind of thing that we need to emphasize. So that’s all on the transformational ministry.
And finally, again, what I’m talking about is radical Christianity. We want a church that emphasizes radical commitment. Radical comes from the Latin word meaning root, you know, it is a church that is rooted, people who are rooted in the Kingdom of God, radically committed in their foundations, in their very essence people who are committed to the Kingdom of God. These are dangerous people, with fire in their eyes and foam in their mouths, saying where’s that giant, I want to cut his head off and anything that stands in the way of the Kingdom of God we will have enmity with it, we’ll be sworn enemies of darkness, of death, of disease, of anything that militates against the abundant life that Jesus Christ has come to declare upon creation, we will be enemies of that. We will go against it, whatever form it takes. That’s radical Christianity. We want radical Christians.
So, you get an idea of the church that we’re looking for? I’m announcing that prophetically tonight in the name of Jesus and we will repeat that every once in a while for myself, my own benefit as well, and for yours. Well, these are some of the elements that we hope will be the distinctive of this congregation.
All right, you guys are ready to go home by now, right? No, but I just want to share a few thoughts with you. Go to Ephesians, chapter 4 and we spoke about unity two Saturdays ago. Last Saturday we had a wonderful time with Abram Gillespie as our guest preacher. So tonight I want to continue in our study of Ephesians and you know, we’re going closer to the end, praise the Lord for that. There’s so much in the Bible that we can explore, be excited about.
I spoke about unity and I stayed mainly in verses 1 to 6 in chapter 4 of Ephesians, about the unity of the body of Jesus Christ. Now, I didn’t have a chance to continue but I want to look at these other verses in the light of service. As you will read this, think about service and see how these texts, these verses have point us toward the concept of service and Christians being oriented to being servants of the Kingdom of God and servants of each other and servants of others outside of the kingdom.
It says in verse 7: “… But to each one of us grace has been given….”
Notice the word giving will appear two more times in the next few verses.
“But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it –that means as Christ distributed it- this is why, it says, when he ascended on high he lead captives in his train –not that there were trains in that time, that is following him, that is following him- he lead captives in his train and gave gifts to men.”
By the way that’s from psalm 68, verse 18, if you want to take a look at that psalm. It’s interesting psalm 68:8, there’s a change in …. It’s not exactly the quotation that is in psalm 68:18, but that was what he was alluding to.
“What does ‘he ascended’ mean? Except that he also descended to the lower earthly regions. He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens in order to fill the whole universe. It was he, who gave –there’s the word again, third time: gave gifts to men; grace has been given; and now it was he who gave- some to be Apostles, some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the son of God and become mature attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Then we will no longer be infants –you see, what follows in verse 14 on is sort of the behavioral manifestations of what has been described in the previous verses, verse 12, as you prepare people for works of service, the body of Christ will be built up in unity of faith and in the knowledge of the son of God, maturity. Then, you know, that manifests itself in daily life in this way, we will no longer be infants, that’s one thing –toss, back and forth by the waves –that’s how infants, he’s not talking about chronological infancy, he’s talking about spiritual infancy, immaturity would be a better word, ok?
“…. No longer be infants tossed back and forth by the waves and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, -this is the positive alternative of how this will be manifested, this maturity- speaking the truth in love we will in all things grow up into him who is the head that is Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every support8ng ligament grows and builds itself up in love as each part does its work.”
Paul loved the metaphor of the body, he inserted it everywhere he could and he did a great job here. I mean, he must have consulted with Luke about the whole ligaments joined with the bones. There’s something about, remember that…. It just occurred to me now that there’s a little, it’s not a limerick really but about the bone joined to the ligament and the ligament joined to the muscle and so on and so forth, people who study anatomy.
You know, he’s giving an anatomical imagery here of the structure of the body in all its intricacy but working coherently, a system of pieces interlocking with each other and working harmoniously towards a given end.
So, you know, I’m impressed when I read this about the complexity of the body of Christ. You know, when you look at the human body you see the same thing. The human body is the most marvelous, not machine, you can call it organism, call it the most marvelous structure, system that was ever devised. It does so many different things, so fluently, so harmoniously and you know, so dynamically. It’s the same like the planetary system, where planets are circulating around the sun at thousands of miles an hour staying within their orbit, not clashing with each other and sustaining life and these things they function there are holes, there are systems but inside they have such powerful dynamic and speed and complexity. And when I see the Apostle Paul, lead by the Holy Spirit meditating on the nature of the church, I always see that great dynamism combined with great coherence and order.
A diversity of pieces brought together in harmony with each other. So there’s a lot of stuff going on but it goes on in such a way that it is orderly and it moves toward a given end in an efficient sort of way. And so, you know, I see that when he speaks about…. Every time, even in other apostolic meditations, the Apostle Peter and others, it’s interesting that when they speak about unity as they speak in the previous verses that we started a couple of weeks ago, immediately somehow diversity comes into play as well. So th4e unity of the people of God is the unity that is somehow made possible by the Holy Spirit, by Jesus Christ being the center and it doesn’t suppress diversity. On the contrary, unity requires diversity. And so, you know, what we need to seek as a church is not everybody thinking the same, it’s not everybody being the same, it’s not everybody having the same gifts, it’s not everybody having the same spiritual temperament, but rather everybody in their own gifting, their temperaments, their own preferences, their own backgrounds, their own personalities, somehow coming together in harmony, united by the power of the Holy Spirit, united by a common doctrine, united by a common purpose, united by a common spirit and understanding of the Kingdom of God, each of us like one planet rotating around the same sun, doing our own work, having our own gifting but all of it oriented to advancing the Kingdom of God and bringing people into the saving knowledge of the Jesus Christ and building up the church.
So each of us is different, each of us has a gifting, each of us has a different perspective, a different specialty if you will, and we all work together for the same thing. So, we salute each other on the road and one is doing one thing, the other is doing another, and we acknowledge each other, we are all part of the same kingdom. The church of Jesus Christ should be one big bee hive with working bees, with queen bees, with warrior bees, all kinds of different bees humming and buzzing and all working to keep the bee hive alive and producing honey for the Kingdom of God.
And so, you know, that is the vision, that Paul…. It’s a dynamic thing. It’s a structural thing. There are so many metaphors here of structure, the body being built up, for example, the different offices, pastors, teachers, Apostles, evangelists, prophets. These ligaments, the whole body joined, held together by every supporting ligament, growing and building itself up in love. It’s a very dynamic universe that is somehow presented before us through these verses and that is the way the church should be.
The church is dynamic, the church shouldn’t be boring. Church should not be bored. If you’re bored you’re missing the whole point of being a Christian, I’m telling you right now. If you’re bored and you are, you know, yawning in the service and yawning at being a Christian, you have missed the train. Find out where you are and where the train went, and ran after it and get back on it because you’re not in the Christian train. The Christian life is exciting, it’s dynamic, it’s demanding, it’s heroic, it’s adventurous, it is dangerous. Praise the Lord for that. It is risky, it is agonizing. It’s heroic and you know, because we enter into a very dynamic universe that demands a lot of us. And so that’s what I see here.
Now, you see that this all comes from Paul saying ‘I urge to live a life worthy of the calling you have received’, verse 1, 4:1. One of the ways that we live a life worthy of the calling we have received is by serving the Lord, by being committed to serving God. I am telling you, if you are not serving God, you are living an unworthy Christian life. You’re missing it. Every believer should be doing something for the Kingdom of God, every one of us.
The thing I see time and time again in scripture is this insistence that each of us has received a portion of faith, a portion of gifting, a portion of grace, each one of you and me. Do not tell me that, oh, I’m too incapable, I’m too impotent, I don’t have an education. You know, my parents traumatized me when I was young. It doesn’t matter. You have been gifted, you have been gifted. If you are a child of God, if the have the Holy Spirit inside of you, you have been gifted to do something, you have the presence of the Holy Spirit. You have a portion of God’s power in you. It is a p…….., vibrating, brilliant piece of energy that is somewhere inside of you seeking to manifest itself in concrete acts of service.
This is why he says here in verse 7, “…but to each one of us…” Please say, each one. That means you and I. It doesn’t say to some grace has been given as Christ apportioned… No, each to each one of us, you have a gift and therefore you have a calling and therefore you have a duty and therefore must serve.
So, when you come into the Kingdom of God, once it dawns on you, that you are part of the Kingdom of God immediately you should be compelled to ask, what can I do? How can I serve? How can I give up myself? How can I spend myself in the Kingdom of God? I do not believe in passive Christians.
Passive, comfortable Christians are an abomination before the Lord, I’m telling you. The only way you can grow, the only way you can develop, the only way you can experience the passion of being a believer, the only way you can experience the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the only way you can feel affirmed in the Kingdom of God, the only way you can experience the abundant life of the Kingdom of God that Jesus Christ says that you will have, is by serving the Lord, by giving yourself, by spending yourself, by investing yourself. In the Kingdom of God you cannot conserve, you cannot conserve, you cannot hoard. If you hoard you’re in trouble. You must become simply a channel through which God’s grace, gifts, resources, flow and they stay a moment inside of you but then they must go on and bless somebody else.
If God gives you money, praise the Lord. If he gives you the faculty of making money, praise God, but that money belongs to the Kingdom of God. It’s not for you to go every day and visit the ATM and rejoice at how many more thousands of dollars you have in your account. It’s for you to use that money to serve others, bless others, and in the process you do bless yourself. But as you give, you receive more.
If you have received the gift of counseling or of wisdom, or of intellectual development, or of developing good social relationships, charisma, whatever you call it, those gifts are not for you to go around like a peacock showing them off and becoming famous through them or getting a lot of ego boost on it. No, you use these things for the Kingdom of God. You bless others with it. If you are a great intellectual and you’re writing books and being influential, make sure that you are at the most powerful apologists for the Kingdom of God as you do these things.
It doesn’t mean that you cannot develop scholarly excellence. You should and if you have the mind of Christ you can be the best scholar in the world. But you better be using it for the Kingdom of God. Don’t tell me this stuff about, oh, my political life, my intellectual life is one thing and my spiritual life is another. That two tier mentality is another abomination of God, it’s a lie of the devil. You know, the Kingdom of God and the human reality, human history are all one. The Christian world view permeates every aspect of life.
Politics, economics, law, media, art, philosophy, the Kingdom of God is a leaven that penetrates everything until it fills everything with its power and its life. So, if you have intellect, that intellect better be permeated by the spirit and the values of the Kingdom of God. If you have money, that money better be permeated by the values of the Kingdom of God. If you have political influence, you better manifest the values of the Kingdom of God.
So don’t tell me you’re a senator, by day you’re a pagan and then on Sunday when you come into the church, somehow magically you become a Christian. No, you’ll be 24 hours a day a Christian senator, or a Christian teacher. It doesn’t mean you have to carry a chip on your shoulder announcing, ‘Christian teacher’. No, you will find ways to manifest the Kingdom of God through your teaching. Even as you manifest excellence in your teaching and you’re the best teacher in the school, you also somehow exude and express the values of the Kingdom of God and you influence your students and your environment for the Kingdom of God. That’s what, you know, when you are called to serve, when you are called, you are called to serve, in other words and you have received the gift for service, and you have received a gift. I could take time here and prove it to you through several texts.
And it’s interesting that there’s always this emphasis here, to each one of us grace has been given… Why grace? Why the concept of grace here? Grace, caris, caris, it means gifting, gratis, it means free. Gracious, graceful. It’s the idea, God gives these gifts because he is loving, because he is merciful, because he is gracious, because he is generous, because unilaterally he feels out of his bountiful provision, he says, ‘I’m going to give of my gifts’. I have the gift of intellect, I will give that. I have the gift of creativity, I will give that. I have the gift of prosperity and creation of material things, I will give that. I have the gift of counseling and healing of emotions, I will give that. God gives out of his grace and we receive.
My gifts are not my own, my gifts are mine as long as I use them for the Kingdom of God. The moment that I use them in other ways for gain, or personal gain, or in a perverse sort of way, for whatever purpose humanly I conceive, I’m dead in the water. The gifts are conditionally given for the use of the Kingdom of God.
Now, they can be misused, but I think that the way that they flow in all their authenticity and beauty and blessing and life affirming influence is as we use them knowing that they’re not mine. They’re not for my benefit. They come from God, they belong to God and God gives them to me for a moment for me to flow in them. And as I flow in them I am blessed.
And so, he says, “each of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.” That’s an interesting qualification there. As Christ apportioned it, in other words, as Christ distributed, divided it, in different portions to different people.
You remember the parable of the talents. He gave a certain amount of talents to one, some to others, and some to others. He didn’t give to everybody the same amount of money for investment. So, to some God gives, you know, very powerfully, very publicly, very universally in influence. To others he gives local influence. You’ll see that in the different offices that he manifests here, Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, you know, Apostles were at the top of the chain, the food chain, in other words, spiritually speaking. Apostles had universal influence, you know, these Apostles that we see in scripture and throughout history I think God has raised Apostles, are people who have a gifting for encompassing influence. They have authority and they are gifted accordingly, in terms of perception, authority, linkage to the wisdom of God, courage and all kinds of other things that they need to be Apostles, theological acumen and perceptions, so that they can rule the church in the positive sense of the word, at a universal encompassing level.
Now, you have pastors and teachers who exercise their influence at a congregational level. A teacher teaches a class or mentors a students, or disciples two or three people. It’s much more localized. But just as beautiful and just as influential. Apostles need pastors. Pastors need evangelists and prophets. Prophets need pastors. God do they need pastors, they need to be pastured. Their prophetic insight is only good for certain things, but when they get out of their prophetic insight and they’re very tempted to do that many times, they’re lost, clueless and they need pastors with their wisdom to come and bring them back into prudence and wisdom.
So, it’s a body. You know, these different people, but they interesting thing is that each of them has different levels of gifting according to what is required for them to carry out in the Christian economy.
So, as Christ apportioned it. To some he have gave huge amounts of provisions, a Billy Graham, you know, was given mounts of stuff, I mean, God opened a couple of extra windows and just threw on him the evangelistic gift. And there are others who have a more localizes evangelistic gift, but the thing is this; that nobody can say, ‘I didn’t get a thing’. That’s the key. Everybody has something and what you have is exactly what you need and you should rejoice in it and not be lusting after the other person’s gifting.
Read Romans chapter 12. If God has given you a gift to teach, teach. If he has given you a gifting to preside, that is to exercise leadership, exercise leadership. If he’s given you a gift to distribute and share wealth, share it simply, generously, without strings attached and give. See. That’s the idea.
So, you must flow in the gifting that you have received, but you must flow. If you do not flow, you will become stagnant. And you know what happens to water that becomes stagnant, it smells bad. There’s a lot of Christians who smell bad because they do not flow, they do not do anything.
You know, I go back to my original insight which was this: we are called to flow. If God gives you something, flow in it, share it, give it away. You know, more and more in my life I see that. I cannot afford to be conservative in the way I live, conservative mentality is the mentality of death. You know, winter comes, 4.30 pm it’s dark outside, what do you want to do? You want to go inside your house as soon as you get from work, you rush and you take your coat off, drink a nice cup of tea or whatever and start heating up that television so that when you cook dinner you bring your tray and you sit before the television and enjoy being this warm place, looking at those poor, dam souls walking outside through your window. And they say, oh, come to church or come and take a discipleship class or go evangelize, and you say, no, tomorrow I get up at 5 am and got to prepare to go to work and I’ve to protect myself, I’ve got to go to bed early and you know, I got to get my rest and I got to get my lunch prepared in the morning and all this stuff and you’re conserving. You’re thinking, ‘I want to live a comfortable life. I want to protect myself. I want to protect my privacy. I want to protect my body. I want to protect my sleep. I want to protect my energy’.
And you know what? Paradoxically, ironically, sadly the very opposite of what you’re seeking happens in your life. You’re continually tired. You’re continually grouchy. You lose sleep, you’re anxious. Money doesn’t somehow enable you to make ends meet. Why? Because you’re stagnant. Because you’re not flowing. And you’re depressed and you…. oh, all the problems that I have in my life and all this.
And start giving. Stop caring about yourself. Stop thinking about yourself. Stop protecting your energies. Give to the Lord in the spirit in the name of Jesus Christ and God will give you more and more and more. The depression will leave, the anxiety will leave, the ‘achaques’, How do you say that? The pains in the body will leave because sometimes the pains in the body are lack of lubrication, you’re so stuck that your joints become moldy and rigid. As you flow the gifts, the lubrication of the spirit and you’re blessed. There is nothing like living life for the kingdom and for others.
Magically, beautifully you are blessed, you are prospered, you are energized. You receive more. The Bible says that those who have will receive more, those who don’t, even what they have will be taken away from them. Yes, or no?
As you move in the spirit by faith. Some people say, I’m too poor, I cannot give. Well, because you’re too poor you must give, because as you give you’ll get more. People say, no, I got to wait until I have to give. No, if you have a penny, give that penny. If you have a quarter, give that quarter. Whatever it is invest it in the kingdom and as you give it will become magnetic, it will attract more. That’s the power of flowing in service, flowing in the spirit.
Many people experience lack in their life, whatever manifestation of that lack is, because they’re not flowing, they’re stagnant. So, if you want to revolutionize your life, if you want to get out of the pit, start moving and start giving. Forget about yourself and give to the Kingdom of God. Serve. Forget about the pains and the sorrow and stop licking your wounds, start caring for others. Start giving to others and the healing will take place magically, beautifully. As you start walking the sea, the river opens before you and you cross it dry. That is the magic, that is the mystery, that is the secret of a fulfilled abundant life in the Kingdom of God.
A personal little, I’ll stop here, because there’s so much, but you know, I’m celebrating, we’re celebrating as a family the fact that Abby, our daughter just today, before coming to the service, received the letter, early decision acceptance to Boston College and praise the Lord for that. And this is why I tell you this: that was her first choice, that’s where she wanted to go. And you know, I’ve been concerned because she’s been traveling an hour and a half from home to school because the school she goes, the Christian school Boston Trinity Academy moved far so we haven’t been able to take her in the morning and it’s an hour and a half each way. It’s taken a toll on her and it’s been difficult but tonight when she told me that she was going to come to the service to do the transparencies, it was like fiveish, no, it was fourish, like 4 o’clock something, you know, a little pin went through my head, you know, I said, ‘maybe she should stay home and study’. That’s the human reasoning. That’s the carnal, the natural mind, see, saying she should conserve, she’s got to be careful because she was applying for early decision and grades, and these last grades… I was an admissions officer so I know what I’m talking about, you know, I know how admissions officers look, they’re thinking of the last minute thing. They’re going to look at those grades so, you know, I could have seen it perfectly ok, you know, conserve, stay home, stay away for a few weeks from church even and dedicate yourself to your studies. You know, that’s the natural way.
So, I was blessed when today, when she was walking out to go to the train station, her mother was going to carry her, I get a call about 30 seconds later, ‘Dad, pick up the phone, pick up the phone. I got accepted into Boston College’. She got the later when she was walking out to come to church of acceptance. And I think that’s a prophetic thing.
See, always in my life I have always said, if I serve God he’s going to take care of me. I don’t care if I have an exam tomorrow morning, a final exam, if there’s somebody who needs me for a counseling session, I practice that, I say this just you know, for the glory of God, whether at Princeton, at Harvard or wherever. I always said, first, serve the Lord. Even when I was living like a pagan, a bit in other ways, but I always had that thing of serve God and serve others, and God always blessed.
And today my ethics is ‘Father, take care of my family, my daughters, my wife, my finances, my health, and I will take care of your kingdom. Just take care of the things that I love and that I need and allow me to dedicate fully to serving you.’
When you live like that God blesses. When you live for the Kingdom of God. When you say God has gifted me, God has given me and I’m going to spend my life serving him and not going to worry about preparing this whole mountain for me to dwell in, but simply I’m going to serve the Lord, I’m going to give, I’m going to flow and he will take care of me. As I take care of his kingdom, as I seek first the Kingdom of God and all its justice, God will give me all the desires of my heart, those things that people burn themselves to acrispt to obtain and to deform themselves and misshape themselves. God will give them, I mean, at the end I’ll be nice and fresh like a lettuce because he will have done it. That’s the key to happiness: serving the Lord.
That’s how you live a life that is worthy of the calling that you have received by service. And God commits himself to empower you to gift you, that’s the idea. That’s why he begins saying, Jesus Christ gave, because you know, he doesn’t serve me like a slave that has not been fed or clothed or given rest. No, God says, I’m going to give you rest, I’m going to give you gifts, I’m going to give you energy, I’m going to give you power. Now, in that power, serve me.
How easy can it be? And then as you serve me, I will give you more and the more you serve me, the more I’ll give you, the more I’ll bless you. I mean, that’s a great deal, if you ask me. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to say, that’s a great deal, and that’s what’s implicated in this whole chapter. We don’t have time to go deeper into it but I think the Holy Spirit is emphasizing that dimension of his word tonight, flowing service, give yourself, spend yourself. Do not be concerned about how will I replenish, where will I get the next tank of gas? He knows, he will find it for you, don’t worry about it. Your call is to serve. Your call is to flow in the gifting that you have received and as you serve him recklessly, hilariously, he commits to giving you more and giving you that happiness, that fulfillment that you’re seeking. How many can say amen to that tonight? It’s the word of God, it’s not me. It’s the word of God, the spirit of God speaking to your life right now.
Let’s stand. Father, we say yes, we say amen to your revelation tonight. We say amen to your calling. I thank you, Father, because I do not deserve a thing from you, and yet you unilaterally, sovereignly, generously decided to open up your extreme reserve and drop into my life gifts that bless me first, bless my family and now can bless others as well.
Lord, we want to be worthy of your calling. We want to be worthy of your investment. We want to be worthy of your expectations. May your word come and impregnate your people tonight. May this call to service become a radical, repetitive, insistent presence in each of our lives. And Father, I cast this word into this congregation, those who are here and those who will come, and those who are not here tonight, who consider themselves a part of this body. And I pray that this value, this governing value of service, radical service, radical giving, holiness, consecration to your kingdom will be a distinctive quality of this congregation for as long as it lives, of all its leaders, of its ministers, of every person who is a part of this congregation, now and in the future.
I preach this message prophetically, Father, in your spirit and I cast it out into the essence of this congregation. I send it out, Father, to impregnate and vibrate, and inform everything that we do in the future. And may it stay in us first, Father. Thank you for the fact that you have first gifted us and then you ask us to serve you in that gifting, and then you promise to bless us. We receive that promise and we bless your name in the name of Jesus we pray. Amen. Amen. Amen.
|Sermon delivered by Dr. Roberto Miranda taped December 16, 2006 at Congregation Lion of Judah||Listen|||||View (100K)|||||View (400K)|
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