Our “Exile Moment”

Under the Assyrian and Babylonian empires, the Israelites lived in exile. They were uprooted from their land and the temple; from corporate worship and community. They were separated from their friends, their community, and sometimes, even their own families. Many, if not most, struggled to maintain their devotion to God, their desire for holiness, and their conviction to live out their “way,” which was the 10 commandments. Knowingly or not, many Israelites allowed themselves to be absorbed into the culture of their day. But, some, commonly called “The Remnant,” held fast to their covenant and did not allow themselves to be absorbed in the world culture.

For our churches, our community, and for the communities in the Sword of the Spirit, today is like an “exile moment.” Specifically, communities like ours are built on relationships: loving, urging, caring, witnessing, etc. With our meeting times reduce to phone calls, Zoom meetings, and far less personal contact, it’s more difficult to stay focused on our way of life, which is grounded in the Scripture. It’s more difficult to keep the upward, the inward, and the outward dimensions of our covenant in the forefront of our minds without our communal gatherings and ministry outreach.

I suffer each day knowing that I will not be able to see you all in person. Recent meetings at Jeremy’s house were a real blessing. Saturday, our men’s group met early at Panera Bread—and we have been regularly. These meetings have also been real blessings. But, these times are far too few. Human beings are made for community and togetherness. And, in today’s pandemic, the whole world is struggling to find connection. Our lives are being uprooted. Many are suffering over sickness, job loss, and the death of a loved one.

So, what can we do as a community?

1. A call to for increased personal responsibility.

  • To get in our prayer and Scripture
  • To do our best to live out our prayer, faithfully and honorably
  • To connect with people in our small groups
  • To make it a point to share at our Zoom meetings
  • To do what we can with those in need
  • To pray intercession daily
  • To do soaking prayer!

2. To attend as many meetings as possible.

  • To realize that this is the way it will be for a while with COVID
  • To come to Zoom morning prayer – if schedule allows – because it is a real blessing. We will likely continue these meetings after COVID
  • To invite people to the Zoom morning prayer – people are open
  • To come to the Zoom prayer meeting on Monday
  • BTW, we will try meeting at Blessed Trinity on Nov 2—in a week
  • To come ready to build up your small group when you meet
  • To do as much as you can do for others . . . (Matt 7:12; 25:40)

3. This is a moment for our community to shine brightly

  • Let’s try our best to make time for Jesus each day
    • By setting aside time to worship & worship as a family if you can
    • By repenting for your sins and reading the Word every day
    • By coming to morning prayer if you can
    • By coming to PM with “expectation” – that God will bless us
    • By coming prepared – with Words of Knowledge, Prophecy, or words of encouragement and with personal witnessing
  • Let’s make it a point to increase our love for others
    • By Words of inspiration – peace, inspiration, joy, encouragement – to others
    • By not saying any divisive or negative words to others 
    • By doing acts of kindness to family, friends, and neighbors
    • By inviting other people to come to morning prayer
    • By gifts of money or supplies to those in need
  • Let’s make it a point to be like the remnant of Israel
    • Many Israelites fell into idolatry and worldly ways but the remnant remained faithful to God – even as others tried to undermine their way of life.
    • Like the remnant, each day, let’s wake up and say, I will hold the ground that God has shown me and given to me and to our community.
    • Let’s know that God is with us and he will never forget or abandon us. He is with us forever. Scripture says, “Do not fear, for I am with you for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10).
    • Let’s hold fast to Paul’s final words to the Ephesians “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the Church, which Jesus purchased with his own blood” (Acts 20:28).

Filled with the Spirit; Full of the Spirit; Baptized in the Spirit 

(John 1:33; Acts 1:5, 8)

To the Ephesians

Paul said, “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything” (Eph 5:18-20). 

This is what we do at PM.

The importance of Baptism in the Spirit in the early Church and for us.

We must preach, not serve food at tables so we need to pick 7 men. Criteria for selection: “Select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom” (Acts 6:3).

Stephen was “a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit,” (Acts 6:5).

Barnabas was selected because he was “a good man full of the Holy Spirit and of faith,” (Acts 11:24).

Then Peter, filled with the Spirit, began to teach the Sanhedrin (Acts 4:8).

Then when Peter and John returned from that meeting w/ the Sanhedrin they all prayed and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:31).

Ananias prayed over Paul – God sent me to help you regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 9:17).

After they watched people accept Jesus and be filled – “The disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 13:52).

Being filled with the Spirit is being immersed in the joy that flows within the Trinity, with the very love that they love each other.

May we be filled; may we give away.

A.        Noah (Genesis 9)

You go and fill the earth with your kind. 

I will give you everything you need to fill the earth with your kind.

B.        Abraham (Genesis 17)

I will bless you and make you great. 

You remain faithful to me. You must travel to a new land. You must be a channel through which my blessings will flow to the rest of the world

C.        Moses (Exodus 19ff)

You keep my commands 

I will make you “a treasured possession,” “a kingdom of priests,” and “a holy nation.

D.        Jesus

Jeremiah: Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people”

Ezekiel: For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees. Then, you will be my people, and I will be your God. 

The New Covenant

God will forgive us; God will be with us and in us.

If we believe in Jesus and turn our hearts toward him.

E.         The Spirit of Christ Community

All the covenants say the same thing – Leave the old land (the world) and go live in the new land (the church). And for me, there is no better way to do that then covenant community.

Fr Raniero – Preacher to the Pope: The church is full of the Spirit but its people can sometimes be bound up. The Spirit needs to be unbound – released, fed, watered, nurtured

Baptism in the Spirit – Jesus urged us to receive (Acts 1:5; 8). This experience released the Holy Spirit in my life – and yours. Paul said, You fools, do not go back to human ways now that you know the Spirit (Gal 3)

God is calling us to be true disciples – to have a New Testament Mindset

1 – to give Jesus the first affections of our hearts – and to seek him – The UPWARD

2 – to live a life worthy of the call – with one another – The INWARD

3 — To give away what we have received – The OUTWARD

In closing, I believe covenant community is a movement of grace from the Lord. I embrace the covenant community because I want to live a holy life and having brothers and sisters help me do that better than I can on my own.

Our Calling

  • 1st minute of the Bible Project video on Ephesians 
  • Want to begin by focusing on the “therefore” verse
    • “As a prisoner for the Lord, therefore, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.”
  • For the Ephesians – God called them out of darkness into light, reconciled Jew and Gentile through the cross of Jesus Christ, in order to live for the praise of God’s glory.
    • That’s true for us too
  • For us, we’re a part of a worldwide movement of the Holy Spirit – ecumenical, charismatic communities. The Sword of the Spirit (also including Amy Coney Barrett’s community, the People of Praise + many others)
    • We believe we’ve received a calling to form communities of disciples on mission
      • To witness to the power of the Spirit
      • To model Christian unity
      • To help build and serve the church (which in the West is facing a very powerful culture increasingly opposed to Jesus)
    • Who are we? We are a community of disciples on mission to witness to the power of the Spirit, model Christian unity, and serve the church.
    • We can’t form a cohesive, strong community without a common way of life, expressed in our covenant (not going to go into detail but broad strokes…)

Our Covenant

  • Upward dimension
    • Eph 3:16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
    • Christ dwelling in our hearts through prayer, Scripture, seeking the gifts, coming to prayer meeting
    • Note the communal description: together with all the Lord’s holy people
  • Inward dimension
    • Eph 3:15 Speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
    • Growing in maturity, repenting, loving one another
    • Again, note the body imagery
  • Outward dimension
    • Eph 3:8 Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms,
    • Manifesting God’s wisdom to the world
    • Created to do good works (Eph 2:10) (evangelism, serving the poor)

Our Clarity

  • What was Jesus’ new command?
    • As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 
  • What’s an adjective that can describe how Jesus loves us?
    • Joyfully (Julian of Norwich)
  • Jesus gave himself to us (Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her)
    • CS Lewis said “Nothing you have not given away will ever really be yours”
      • As disciples, we know that to be true don’t we?
      • Let’s give ourselves away, first to Jesus, and to each other. 
  • This is the clarity of community life. Giving ourselves to God and to one another. I think that manifests God’s wisdom to the world.
  • I encourage you to seek God about the clarity of your calling to this community.