Prayer for Community

Ceramic churchBy Stephen W. Hiemstra

Merciful Father, Beloved Son, Holy Spirit,

All praise and honor are yours

for you poured out your Holy Spirit at Pentecost

to create the church–

a pillar of faith in an faithless word,

a light in the darkness,

the aroma of your Holy Spirit in a barren land.

We confess that even as we gather

around your communion table

called out from the world and called to faith

we are broken and sinful and without merit

except for the blood of Christ.

Thank you nevertheless for your place of refuge and strength

amid the confusion of life.

Bind us together in unity;

teach us to follow your ways;

bless us that we may bless those around us (Gen 12:1-3).

In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.

Prayer for Community

Also see:

Books, Films, and Ministry

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter: http://bit.ly/2018_Character

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Sermon: More Caught than Taught

Stephen W. Hiemstra, www.StephenWHiemstra.net
Stephen W. Hiemstra, 2017

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Sermon presented in Spanish at El Shadai, Manassas, Virginia, June 21, 2018. (Sermón: Más Atrapado Que Enseñado)

Prelude

Good evening. For those who do not know me, my name is Stephen W. Hiemstra. I am a volunteer pastor and Christian author. My wife, Maryam, and I live in Centreville, Virginia and we have three grown children.

Today we continue our study about co-workers in evangelism. We are blessed to be a blessing to others. And as Christians we know that we can best bless others when we share the Gospel through our daily lives.

Prayer

Let’s pray.

Almighty Father:

We praise you for creating us in your image and loving us as your children. Be especially present with us in this time and place. In the power of your Holy Spirit, bless our praise and send your Holy Spirit ahead of us as we extend your light in the Georgetown South Community. In the precious name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Scripture

Today’s scripture lesson comes from the Book of Genesis 12:1-3. Hear the word of the Lord:

“Now the LORD said to Abram, Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Gen 12:1-3 ESV)

The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

Introduction

Which of you have had mysterious problems with your computer or, perhaps, your telephone?

This past week as I was writing this sermon, my system began, without any input on my part, to use a different keyboard, the international standard, ISO, when in the USA the ANSI standard is normally used. After three or four hours of research, I could not correct the problem. It is difficult to change the default configuration of this system because at this point I am not an expert in this field.

Because we have complex personalities, we also have default configurations. (2X) It is difficult to change them, even when we do not want to accept our default configurations. Our default configurations consist of our daily habits and hopefully of our Sunday habits (Smith).

In the writing of the Apostle Paul, this is the difference between the new person in Christ and the old person of the fleshly nature. (2 Cor 5:17) Our default configuration is exactly the same concept as Paul’s old person of nature. This was the source of much pain for Paul, as he wrote: Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.” (Rom 7:20 ESV) But, our hope arise because we were created in the image of God and want to become like God in Jesus Christ, our role model.

Today’s Scripture

We are blessed to bless others (2X, McDonald)

We discover this concept of blessings in the covenant of Abram and God in Genesis 12:1-3. This covenant is interesting because Abram needed to leave his family, his tribe, and his country—all the sources of security—at a time when the world was very dangerous. And for the most part, Abram never experienced the promises of God during his life. (2X) He traveled around the Promised Land, observed it, and was buried there. It is like being promised a barbecue to receive only the sweet aroma of it. Yet, “he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.” (Gen 15:6 ESV) We receive the same promises of God through Abram and we need to bless others, exactly the same as Abram.

How do we know this? We know it because we are created in the image of God and Christ has told us: As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” (2X; John 20:21 ESV)

We are blessed to bless others (2X)

More Observations

For many years it has been said that Christianity is more caught than taught (2X). At lease three stories make this point.

The first story concerns the first letter of Peter, where the most famously quoted verse is: always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Pet 3:15 ESV) The thing is that the rest of the book focuses on lifestyle evangelism, as it says.

“Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” (1 Pet 2:12 ESV)

Works like hospitality speak directly to the heart without words. As you know, works speak louder than words alone. (2X)

The second story arose in the fourth century when we see that Saint Patrick was famous as the first successful evangelist in Ireland. His success was not anticipated because Patrick, as a teenager sixteen year old, was kidnapped by Irish pirates and sold as a slave in Ireland. For the next six years he worked as a slave caring for his master’s cattle in the Irish wilderness. Later, he escaped and traveled abroad to study to become a priest. Much later, he returned to Ireland as the church’s first missionary bishop and evangelized the Irish out of love for them. His love of the Irish was obvious and his evangelism focused on offering hospitality. In the end, Patrick and his companions planted more than 700 churches in Ireland (Hunter 2000, 13-23).

The third story is more recent. In the city of Rio de Janeiro  there are many young people caught up in the gangs of the drug culture. In Brazil they call young people with mixed blood (blacks and Indians) as the “killable people.” Many of them die from the violence, but those that survive and are incarcerated by the police also don’t have much hope. In the jails, the police do not feed them or offer medical care. For the most part, the gangs control daily life in the prisons. In this hellish world, there are few visitors, not even Christians, but those that come are mostly Pentecostals who provide food, medicine, and worship services. As a consequence, the gangs respect the Pentevcostals, providing security for their services and allowing young people who really come to Christ to leave the gangs (2X; Johnson)—the only option other than a body bag.

As we have seen, hospitality can be more than just food. In these stories, it can be a faith journey.

Summary

Finally, we are blessed to be a blessing to others. Because our blessing is Christ Jesus, when we share the evangelism in our daily life, we bless others most effectively. After all, the Gospel is more caught than taught.

Prayer

Let’s pray.

Holy Father,

Thank you for your forgiveness and your presence in our daily lives. In the power of your Holy Spirit, grant us strength for life and the wisdom to share your living Gospel. In the precious name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

References

Hunter, George G. III. 2000. The Celtic Way of Evangelism: How Christianity Can Reach the West…Again. Nashville: Abingdon Press.

Johnson, Andrew. 2017. If I Give My Soul: Faith Behind Bars in Rio de Janeiro. New York: Oxford. (Review)

Suzanne McDonald. 2010. Re-Imaging Election: Divine Election as Representing God to Others & Others to God. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. (Review)

Smith, James K. A. 2016. You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit, Grand Rapids: Brazos Press. (review part 1;  part 2 ).

Sermon: More Caught than Taught

Also see:

Blackaby Expects Answers to Prayer 

Christian Spirituality 

Looking Back 

Other ways to connect:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/Transcendence_2018

Continue Reading

Sermón: Más Atrapado Que Enseñado

Stephen W. Hiemstra, www.StephenWHiemstra.net
Stephen W. Hiemstra, 2017

Por Stephen W. Hiemstra

Sermón presentó por El Shadai, Manassas, Virginia, 21 de junio, 2018.

Preludio

Buenos tardes. Para aquellos que no me conocen, me llama Stephen W. Hiemstra. Soy pastor voluntario y autor cristiano. Mi esposa, Maryam, y yo vivimos in Centreville, Virginia y tenemos tres hijos crecidos.

Hoy día continuamos nuestro estudio sobre colaboradores en el evangelio. Somos bendecido para bendice los demás. Y como cristianos sabemos que bendecimos los demás lo más mayor cuando compartimos el evangelio por medio de nuestras vidas de cada día.

Oración

Vamos a orar.

Padre Todopoderoso,

Alabamos que creaste nos en tu imagen y ama nos como tus niños. Sea especialmente presente con nosotros en este tiempo y este lugar. En el poder de tu Espíritu Santo, bendice nuestra alabanza y manda tu Espíritu Santo a ir antes nuestros esfuerzos a extender tu luz aquí en el pueblo Georgetown South. En el precioso nombre de Jesucristo, Amen.

Escritura

El texto de hoy viene del libro de Génesis 12:1-3. Escuchan a la palabra de Dios.

El SEÑOR le dijo a Abram: «Deja tu tierra, tus parientes y la casa de tu padre, y vete a la tierra que te mostraré. Haré de ti una nación grande, y te bendeciré; haré famoso tu nombre, y serás una bendición. Bendeciré a los que te bendigan y maldeciré a los que te maldigan; ¡por medio de ti serán bendecidas todas las familias de la tierra!» (Gen 12:1-3 NVI)

La palabra del Señor. Gracias a Dios.

Introducción

¿Quien de ustedes han tenido problemas misteriosos por tu computador o, tal vez, tu teléfono?

Esta semana pasada cuando empiece a escribir este sermón, mi sistema comenzó, sin cualquiera entrada de mi, a usar un teclado diferente, la estándar internacional, ISO, cuando en USA normalmente se use ANSI estándar. Después tres o cuatro horas de investigaciones, no pude corregir este problema. Es muy difícil a cambiar la configuración predeterminada de este sistema por causa que en este tiempo ya no soy experto en este campo.

Como personas muy complexo, tenemos también configuraciones predeterminadas. (2X) Por que es difícil a cambiarlos, aun cuando no queremos aceptar nuestras configuraciones. Tus configuraciones predeterminadas consisten de sus habitudes de cada día y ojalá de cada domingo (Smith).

En el escrito del Apóstalo Pablo, este es la diferencia entre la nueva persona en Cristo y la vieja persona de la naturaleza (2 Cor 5:17). Nuestras configuraciones predeterminadas son exactamente este mismo concepto de la vieja persona de la naturaleza de Pablo. Por que este fue un causo de mucha pena en la vida de él. Pablo escritó: Y si hago lo que no quiero, ya no soy yo quien lo hace sino el pecado que habita en mí.” (Rom 7:20) Pero, nuestra esperanza viene por que fuimos crecido en la imagen de Dios y querremos estar como Dios en Cristo, nuestro modelo.

Escritura de Hoy

Somos bendecido a bendice los demás. (2X, McDonald)

Encontramos este concepto de bendiciones en el pacto entre Abram y Dios. Esto es interesante por que Abram necesitaba salir su familia, su tribu, y su país—todas las fuentes de seguridad—a un tiempo cuando el mundo allí fue muy peligroso. Y por lo mayor parte, Abram nunca experienció las promesas de Dios durante su vida. (2X) El viajaba rededor la Tierra Prometida, vi lo, y fue enterrado allí. Es como estar prometido una barbacuá para recibir sólo el dulce aroma de la misma. Pero, “Abram creyó al SEÑOR, y el SEÑOR lo reconoció a él como justo.” (Gen 15:6) Recibimos las mismas promesas de Dios por media de Abram y también necesitamos bendecir los demás, exacto como Abram.

¿Para que sabemos esto? Por que fuimos creado en la imagen de Dios y Cristo nos dijó: “Como el Padre me envió a mí, así yo los envío a ustedes.” (2X; Juan 20:21)

Somos bendecido a bendice los demás. (2X)

Más Observaciones

Durante muchos anos se observe que el cristianismo es más atrapado que enseñado. (2X) Al menos que tres historias muestran este principio.

La primera historia aparece en el premier libro de Pedro, donde lo más famoso versículo es:“Estén siempre preparados para responder a todo el que les pida razón de la esperanza que hay en ustedes.”  (1 Pet 3:15) Pero todo el libro enfoque en el viviendo evangelio, como se dice:

“Mantengan entre los incrédulos una conducta tan ejemplar que, aunque los acusen de hacer el mal, ellos observen las buenas obras de ustedes y glorifiquen a Dios en el día de la salvación.”(1 Pet 2:12)

Obras como hospitalidad habla directamente al corazón sin palabras. Como sabemos, obras hablan más fuerte que palabras. (2X) La secunda historia surgió en el siglo cuatro cuando vimos que San Patricio fue famoso como el primer evangelista exitoso en Irlanda. Su éxito no fue anticipado porque Patricio como joven de dieciséis años fue secuestrado por piratas irlandeses por su hogar en Britania y fue vendido como esclavo en Irlanda. Por seis años trabajó como esclavo en el campo cuidando bovinos para su maestre. Después, el escapo y fui a Francia para estudiar a ser sacerdote. Más tarde, regresó a Irlanda como bispo y evangelió los irlandeses por su amor de ellos. Su amor para la gente irlandeses fue obvio y su evangelismo enfoqué por la hospitalidad. Por fin, San Patricio y sus compañeros plantaron más que siete cien iglesias en Irlanda (Hunter).

La tercera historia es más reciente. En la cuidad de Rio de Janeiro hay muchos jóvenes que toda su vida es atrapado en la cultura de pandillas de drogas. En Brasil se llamada estos jóvenes de sangre mezclas como seres matáves(o seres sacrificable). Muchos de estos jóvenes muertan por causa de la violencia asociada de ellas, pero los jóvenes que sobrevivir y están encarcelados por las policías tampoco no tenían muchas esperanzas. En las encarcelados las policías no proveer alimentos, tampoco cuidado medicales y por lo mayor tienen las pandillas control de la vida cotidiarias entre los encarcelados. En este mundo de infierno se encuentran pocos visitantes. Por lo mayor de los cristianos son pentecostales que proveer alimentos, medicinas, y servicios de alabanza. Allí, las pandillas respeto los pentecostales, proveer seguridad para sus servicios y permitan los jóvenes que realmente llegan a cristo a dejar las pandillas (2X)—lo único otra opción para dejar las pandillas es muerte. (Johnson)

Como nos hemos visto, hospitalidad pueda ser más que unos alimentos. En tal maniera, pueda estar un camino a Dios.(2X)

Resumen

Por última, somos bendecido a bendice los demás. Por que nuestra bendición es Cristo, cuando nosotros compartimos el evangelio entre nuestras vidas de cada día bendecimos los demás más efectivo. Por que el evangelio es más atrapado que enseñado.

Oración

Oramos.

Padre santo,

Gracias por tu perdón y por tu presencia en nuestras vidas cotidiaria. En el poder de tu Espíritu Santo, darnos esfuerzo para la vida y la sabiduría a compartir tu viviendo evangelio. En el preciso nombre de Jesucristo. Amen.

Referencias

Hunter, George G. III. 2000. The Celtic Way of Evangelism: How Christianity Can Reach the West…Again. Nashville: Abingdon Press.

Johnson, Andrew. 2017. If I Give My Soul: Faith Behind Bars in Rio de Janeiro. New York: Oxford. (Review)

Suzanne McDonald. 2010. Re-Imaging Election: Divine Election as Representing God to Others & Others to God. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. (Review)

Smith, James K. A. 2016. You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit, Grand Rapids: Brazos Press. (review part 1;  part 2 ).

Sermón: Más Atrapado Que Enseñado

Vea también:

Blackaby Expects Answers to Prayer 

Christian Spirituality 

Looking Back 

Otras maneras de conectar:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/Transcendence_2018

Continue Reading

Prayer for Vindication

Clouds

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Heavenly Father:

Vindicate me.

Argue my case before committees that I cannot attend and protect me from judgmental people who look only for weakness and spin goodness into evil.

You are my refuge; my trusted friend; why does my testing go on and on?

Defend and deliver me cause from the doubts and anxieties that trouble me and leave me weak open to temptations and sins that I choose on my own.

Shower me in your light and truth, led me to your presence, the safe house where I can find rest.

Then, I will commune in your church and find sanctuary for my soul.

Trust in God,  the one who saves and is worthy of praise. (Psalm 43).

Bless me with your vindication that I might vindicate those around me (Genesis 12:3).

In the power of your Holy Spirit and in Jesus’ precious name, Amen.

Prayer for Vindication

Also see:

Prayer for the Persecuted.

Other ways to engage with me online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Read my April newsletter at: http://mailchi.mp/t2pneuma/monthly-postings-on-t2pneumanet.

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Galatians 4: Slave and Free

Pencils by Stephen W. Hiemstra
Art by Stephen W. Hiemstra

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

And because you are sons and daughters, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a child, and if a child, then an heir through God (Galatians 4:6-7).

Aren’t you glad that our relationship with God is not transactional?

What if God were like a Facebook friend who after one “bad hair day” simply unfriended you?  Who would ever be comfortable in their relationship with such a god?  Could you ever really love God knowing that you were constantly being evaluated?  Or, turning the question around, could you ever really love God knowing that your love was purchased with wealth or fame?

Aren’t you glad that our relationship with God is a real relationship?

In Galatians 4, the Apostle Paul describes what it means to be a child of an (unconditional) promise.  When we are promised a gift (like friendship), we need only believe in the promise.  The promise is unconditional.  We do not have to do anything to earn the gift.  That is what the word, gift, implies.  The good news is that God’s grace is a gift.

Law works differently.  Law is a conditional promise.  If you obey the law, then you earn the reward promised under the law.  For example, if you apply to become a U.S. citizen, the law covering citizenship applies.  If you meet the conditions of this law, then you are eligible to become a citizen.  If you do not meet the law’s conditions and you desire the reward of the law, then you are a slave of the law (and your desire) until you meet those conditions.

With this argument concerning conditional (law) and unconditional (grace) promises, Paul is making two points:

  1. Being under law is like kids waiting to be old enough to inherit from their parents (vv 1-3).  Being under law implies immaturity.  Mature adults are under no such restrictions.  What adult would prefer to be a kid again?
  2. Being under gospel implies freedom from law, but it does not imply freedom from relationship.  We are God’s adopted children—children of the promise (vv 5-7, 23-28).  Free people do not behave like slaves because they are in relationship with their parents which includes having an inheritance (v 30).

Paul’s discussion of our freedom in Christ continues into chapter 5.

Paul’s discussion of the relationship between Abraham and his two wives, Hagar and Sarah, has generated a lot of discussion over the years.  Paul argues that being under the Mosaic covenant (the Law of Moses) is like being a slave to law.  Because Hagar was a slave woman, he equates the two (law and Hagar) in his allegory.  This causes heartburn for Jewish interpreters because the Jews were biological descendants of Sarah, not Hagar.

Paul’s argument revolves around God’s covenant with Abraham.  The Jews have not taken to heart the second half of the covenant to Abraham:  And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing (Genesis 12:2-3 ESV).  The covenant with Abraham required that Abraham become a blessing (וֶהְיֵ֖ה בְּרָכָֽה) [to the nations]—which essentially means that the Gospel needs to be told.  The Galatians were like Sarah (and the Jews were not) because they more completely fulfilled Abraham’s covenant obligations.  At a minimum, sharing the love of God has to start with sharing who God is!  Niceness is not enough; obeying the law is not enough (Galatians 5:14).

Our question is:  Are we children of Hagar or of Sarah?

Questions

  1. How was your week? Did anything special happen?
  2. Who attended the Worship Workshop and would like to give a report?
  3. Do you have questions from chapter 3?
  4. According to Paul, how is a child like a slave? (vv 1-3)
  5. What does this analogy have to do with law? (v 3)
  6. What is the role of Christ? (vv 4-7)
  7. What is the “fullness of time” mean? What about “born of a woman”? (v 4)
  8. What is the argument—that was then; this is now—that Paul is making? What transition is he referring to? (vv 8-10)
  9. What is a transition? (beginning, middle, and end)
  10. What is Paul’s fear, as expressed in this rant? (vv 11-20)
  11. What is Paul’s argument here in verse 11?
  12. What is Paul’s analogy to Hagar and Sarah? (vv 22-31)
  13. How is the law like Hagar; how is it not? Why would Jewish interpreters be upset?

Galatians 4: Slave and Free

Also see:

Galatians 5: Healthy Boundaries 

Galatians 3: Law and Gospel 

Christian Spirituality 

Looking Back 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/2zRkNMJ

Continue Reading