Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Touching Base! Part 201

Botox Church 2013, PART 5

(You can find a recording of this sermon here.)

This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

Has anything helped you gain or appreciate another perspective on a particular issue? When I think of this question I think of three factors that help with perspective:
  • Experience: We might not understand what someone is going through until we go through it ourselves
  • Education: Study can help us see things we have not seen before
  • Friendship: Listening to others can help us see things in ways that our own set of eyes might not see
What might you add?

Text: Our text is 1 Corinthians 2:6-16. This is a text that is about perspective. It is about what people see and why some can see what others cannot see.

Big Idea: The Spirit of God uses the Word of God to grow the people of God.

Let’s work through the text together.

V.6-9 The Ground Level
On the ground level we cannot see everything. On the ground level our view is limited and our understanding is dwarfed. As a group, scan these verses and answer the following questions:
What terms indicate that there is a lack of understanding?
How does the bigger context (i.e. Chapter 1) define this wisdom? See 1:24,30
How is this wisdom described?
Where was it hidden? If you need a clue check out Romans 16:25-27
What is the ultimate example that the rulers have rejected this wisdom?

I love v.9. This conveys such child-like excitement. The word that I think catches the mood of v.9 is ANTICIPATION. This is the theme of our Move prayer focus this week (join us at 4pm Sunday for prayer).

When have you been filled with anticipation? Perhaps as you drink your cup of coffee at Tim’s, full of anticipation that as your roll up the rim YOU WILL WIN? This verse is obviously talking about so much more than winning a free coffee.

Note how man is portrayed in these verses - blind, unable to see, hear or conceive what God has prepared (v.9)
Note how God is portrayed as the giver of a great gift. Then notice how God moves us from the ground level to the rooftop (v.10).

V10-16 The Rooftop
How does God the Holy Spirit reveal this wisdom/Christ?

• First we see He has the ability to reveal.
V.10,11 What does the Spirit of God know?
What illustration does Paul use?
What does Paul say about the Spirit of God in 2 Cor. 3:17,18?
How does this help explain why the Spirit of God knows the thoughts of God?

• Secondly, He takes up residence in the Christ follower.
Note the really mind-blowing point Paul makes.
V.12 Who resides in believers and what is His function?
In context, the understanding He brings has to do with the person of Jesus and all that God has freely given us in Christ. Note Paul’s prayer for believers in Ephesians 3:14-19.

• Thirdly, He uses the word of God to reveal the Word (Jesus the Son) of God
V.13Notice how often words are mentioned. What did God use to reveal spiritual truths to Paul? What did God use to reveal this Jesus to the heart of Paul? Another way of asking this is what was Paul’s primary source?
Read the following verses to see what God used.
Texts: Romans 1:1-6, Romans 4:1-4, Romans 16:25-27, 1 Cor. 15:3-5
Note how often Paul talks about the Scriptures. God used the Scriptures which was the OT to reveal to Paul the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Paul preached in synagogues all over the Mediterranean. Each synagogue had its own biblical text, its own scrolls. God used the Scripture to reveal this wisdom to Paul and then Paul, in turn, used the Scripture to reveal this wisdom to his audience.

Notice v.14-15: unless the Spirit of God opens blind eyes, deaf ears and limited minds, they will think the message is foolish. See 1:18.

(A quick explanation of v.15: When Paul writes that the spiritual man ‘is not subject to any man’s judgment’ he does not mean that we cannot be called to account for our speech or behaviour (cf. 14:29), but that the natural man—that is to say, the unregenerate man—is in no position to understand our actions and the motivation of our lifestyle when we live according to God’s wisdom. They might in fact call our message foolish!)

Does God still want to deepen our understanding by his Spirit so that we might understand all that God has given us? Paul certainly believed so. This was not a unique experience for Paul. For many who heard the word, their eyes were opened. Read what he says to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:14-17.

Today the main food group that God the Holy Spirit wants to use to grow us and deepen our understanding is the Word of God. Things have not changed. We are in the privileged position, not only to have the Old Testament, but the New Testament as well. Notice v.16 makes it very clear that our example of what it means to be spiritual is Christ. Having His mind refers to a way of living and thinking.

Here are some questions to ponder:

  • Are you praying specifically for the Holy Spirit to open the eyes, ears, and minds of those who don’t follow Christ? Who are you praying for?
  • Are you, as a Christ follower, feeding on the word? There are no shortcuts to spiritual growth.
  • Is there something you need to take off your plate so you can prioritize God’s word in your life?
  • What community are you part of that helps you understand the word of God?

There is an exercise you can use to help you get into God’s word. I would suggest starting in the gospel of John. Jesus is clearly revealed in John.

If interested in joining or starting a small group contact bethelcommunitygroups@gmail.com

S is for Scripture
Take time reading and allow God to speak to you. When you are done, look for a verse that particularly spoke to you that day, and write it in your journal.
O is for Observation
What do you think God is saying to you in this scripture? Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you and reveal Jesus to you. Paraphrase and write this scripture down in your own words, in your journal.
A is for Application
Personalize what you have read, by asking yourself how it applies to your life right now. Perhaps it is instruction, encouragement, revelation of a new promise, or corrections for a particular area of your life. Write how this scripture can apply to you today.
P is for Prayer
This can be as simple as asking God to help you use this scripture, or it may be a greater insight on what He may be revealing to you. Remember, prayer is a two way conversation, so be sure to listen to what God has to say! Now, write it out.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Touching Base! Part 200

Botox Church 2013, PART 4

(You can find a recording of this sermon here.)

This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

We have all heard of “leadership”, how many of us have heard of “leadershift”? For our purposes in this Touching Base, I want to draw out the contrast between these two words. Leadership in our culture can be very much about the leader and her agenda. Leadership can at times be a position people use to feed their hungry ego.

Have you ever worked under a leader where it was all about him?

Leadershift is all about leading strongly but, ultimately, leading people to a greater cause than just oneself. In a company, leadershift is about leading people to embrace the values and mission of the corporation that will outlast the leader. In the Church, leadershift is all about using one’s gifts to direct people to Jesus Christ. My life becomes a means of deflecting and directing people to Christ.

In our text today we see Paul practicing leadershift.

Text: 1 Corinthians 2:1-4

Big Idea: Leadershift is God-Centered Leadership!

Paul demonstrates leadershift in two ways in our text.

1. He demonstrates leadershift by being authentic about who he is. 1,3,4a

Examine these verses and list the number of ways Paul is being authentic. How is Paul “undressing” in front of them?

To understand the emotion of v.3 read Acts 18, note specifically v.9-11.

What makes Paul’s authenticity really interesting are the following two facts:

A. He is speaking into a context where people are rejecting him and the gospel that he is preaching. He is not sharing this with people who might be kind. In fact they might be kind of mean, and use his weaknesses to further reject him.
How good are you at self-disclosing? How good are you at self-disclosing when you know your audience might use it against you?

B. His deficiencies are in the exact areas that were greatly valued in that culture. The itinerant philosophers and teachers depended on their wisdom and eloquence to gain followers. The city of Corinth was filled with such “spellbinders.” Paul is not buying into their techniques or trying to appear stronger than he really is.

Do you see how Paul is practicing leadershift? He is not building himself up in some way so as to make people think he is THE MAN, he is the hero. Instead, he is very self-deprecating.

Some questions to consider about this kind of person:
  • How does this kind of person handle power?
  • How does this kind of person relate to his/her team that he/she may lead?
  • How does this kind of person deal with others’ failures or struggles? How do you think he/she makes others, who may not have the greatest confidence, feel?
  • How approachable is this kind of person?
  • How does this kind of person process praise or promotion?

2. He demonstrates leadershift by making Christ the focus. v1b,v2,4b,5.

Read and discuss these verses and see how, for Paul, Christ was clearly the focus.

The key verse for me is v.5. The result of his willingness to be authentic and to focus on Christ is that people will not attach themselves to Paul, but place their faith in Christ. Note how he says it in v.1:31.

In the context, what is a demonstration of the Spirit’s power? Verse 5 answers that question. Who does the phrase “God’s power” refer to? Check out v.1:18,24

Note the relationship between humility and being powerfully used by God (v.4).

How is it that Paul could be so comfortable that he could practice leadershift?

I think one of the answers is seen in this text: Paul had an intimate relationship with Christ (note that this week in our Move prayer focus, intimacy is the theme). Notice his passion to know Christ (v.2) and his intimacy with the Spirit in v.4. The result is that people will come into relationship (intimacy) with Christ. This is a man who knew God and as a result he led others to know God.

His confidence came from a deep place that, no doubt, was nurtured over time, thus he was able to self-disclose.

Discuss the following: When you see your worth in Christ you don’t need to prove your worth to people!

The heart of the gospel is not about us, but about God, not about our glory, but Christ’s, not about our work, but God’s superb work, not about our agenda, but God’s, not about our wisdom, but God’s wisdom.

Who are people in your life that model leadershift?

What do you need to do to better model leadershift?

Botox Church is where we make it all about a human personality. Detox Church is where the toxic elements of human ego are set aside and Christ is glorified.

Let me close with the words of John the Baptist (John 3:30): “He must become greater; I must become less.” Leadershift!!

I would encourage you to participate in our Move prayer focus this week. Join us Sunday March 10 at 4pm.

If interested in joining or starting a small group contact bethelcommunitygroups@gmail.com