Sermon April 25, 2010: Do not reject God's gift

Posted in Sermons
[Roberto Miranda (right) with Gregory Bishop]
  • Presenter: Roberto Miranda
  • Date: April 25, 2010
  • Location: Congregación León de Judá, Boston MA

Second Timothy Chapter 1. The Lord brought this verse up for us during the prophetic time we had together and I really believe that everything that God gave us in prophetic words in our prayer time is directly related to the word I have to share with you today. Second Timothy Chapter 1 Verses 6 and 7, famous, well-known verses. “For this reason I remind you to flare into flame the gift of God which is on you through the lag on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or fear but spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline”.

I would like to have even more time to unpack the central idea that God has put in my heart today. During my trip to Puerto Rico this past week to the city of Arecibo God gave me this word to share with the leaders there in their own context. And as I have come back from Puerto Rico, I have been thinking about the prophetic move of God, the move of the Holy Spirit in churches and why it is so difficult sometimes for churches to really enter into the fullness of what God has for them. And sometimes I think it’s because the gifts of God, the greatest gifts of God sometimes come wrapped in ways that are not that attractive.

We see that this spirit of God that flows to human people and institutions and becomes contaminated by us, by our imperfections, by humanity. For that perfect, pure, Holy Spirit of God to flow in the human experience, it has to travel through some very imperfect human fleshing vessels. We even see that in our belief in reincarnation the fullness of the God and deidity dwell in Jesus who was human, he was a human being with a human, normal body. God limited himself to human existence. We even see it in the Bible which is the word of God. It’s a text that conveys all kinds of very human dramas with all their imperfections and yet we believe that it content is the wholly awesome word of God as today.

We see the heroes of the Bible from cover to cover full of imperfections and failures. I think that if we had a chance to go out for a cappuccino with the Prophet Elias we might leave a little bit disappointed from that conversation. I think that if we even we saw Jesus himself walking down the streets of Jerusalem and we just saw him physically without hearing him talk, we would look and say ‘Is that it?’ The Prophet Isaiah prophesized that the son of men would not be attractive so we wouldn’t be drawn to him. He would be humble and simple and normal in his speaking. So when we see the perfect glorious power of God manifested through very human, imperfect perhaps unattractive people and situations and styles we can find ourselves tempted to reject it.

I have learned that if I am really going to benefit from the move of God in my life and my church that I have to be humble enough to take what God has to give in whatever form He chooses to give it. Second Corinthians 4 verse 7 it says: “But we have this treasure”, say the word ‘treasure’, “in vessels of? clay”. It’s like you take a 3 carat diamond and you put it in aluminum foil. So look at the contrast so there’s a treasure but there are also vessels of clay. You normally don’t put a treasure in jars of clay. You put the treasure normally in a vessel that is worth of caring. What the Apostle Paul is saying, your God is saying is: “it’s like the Gospel, it’s a treasure. It’s something precious and God has put it in frail, weak, human beings”. That’s the context of the verse.

And why is that? He does it so this passing power is from God and not from us. When we see all the scandals and the failures of the church of Jesus, all the atrocities committed throughout history, the imperfection of the universal church of Jesus Christ and our particular church; we think what was God thinking? How did we hear of Him taking something so precious and entrusted to the lives of us? If you have your eyes fixed on people and on human institutions in order to be convinced of the value of God you are destined to be disappointed.

If you are waiting for prophetic words only from people who look good and act perfectly and everything is perfectly in wordy and perfectly presentable it’s just not going to happen. The word of God, the treasures of God come in jars of clay, imperfect forms, in ways that we just don’t expect it. We need to be willing to pay the price, to be humble, complex and understand that God and his wisdom has chosen to work through the complexity of divinity mixing with humanity for Him to work among us. I have never seen any of the gifts promised in the Bible expressed through perfect vessels. Never. And more often than not it happens in ways that if I were just looking at the surface and from a human perspective at the way the gift is being expressed to the person is using it I would be tempted to rid them off.

I have found over and over again that when I humble myself and I’m willing to take what God has to give in the complicated, uncommon forms it comes and also seen as a riddle to be solved of what God wants to say through this way. When I humble myself in that way I’m always blessed. When I humble my intellect and willing to some extent suspend certain types of criticism and just take in a more innocent way what God has to give I come out to be blessed every time. That’s why Jesus said we have to become like children or we are not going to enter the Kingdom of God. Sometimes our intellect and out aesthetics sensibilities so refined, keep us from receiving that God has to give us. Perhaps because it’s imperfect.

Sometimes I get amazing blessings that God uses people that am I not even, perhaps, invite over the house for dinner. Those with bad breath in the mouth, maybe they’re not the best dressed, the split your face when they give you a prophetic message. Maybe they’re not even very well developed in some spiritual ways and they have some character defects that they need to work on. In this church, right here, the people who most blessed me sometimes are those who I had to do without because they have issues we need to hammer out but that doesn’t take away from the fact that God uses them to bless me sometimes more than anyone else. Of course, nobody here. It’s the second service.

So where am I going with all this? So where does all this come from? Recently, someone gave me a video of a preacher who’s a rising star these days, exceptionally charismatic. I saw this person in action. The person who has lent me this video was from a person who doesn’t agree with this preacher who was actually given to me to criticize what this person is doing. And in fact, I agree with the person that lent me the video. When I saw it I didn’t feel affinity with this preacher and I just felt there’s something not quite right here. Sort of false mysticism, kind of emotionalism, lack of Biblical foundation, certain types of words and actions and expressions that I are not part of a servant of God. I even felt that this particular ministry could even be dangerous to the well-being and health of the church.

There’s a whole stream of Pentecostal nowadays which emphasizes the experience, experience, experience just get drunk on the Holly Spirit, don’t worry about what you believe, don’t worry about studying, don’t worry about the Bible, just experience. All those of stories about chubby angels that appear, you know the stories. And it’s dangerous when we say that just because you had an experience you felt sort of drunk in the Holly Spirit that is validating what you say and do. So when I see those things I start struggling because I see that God that’s not you want things to be. And then we struggle, why it has to be so complicated. Why do the gifts have to come in such complicated vessels sometimes? Why we constantly have to be evaluating based on the Bible, what is of the Lord and what is not? Why not just give everything perfect? Why just the gifts don’t come understood?

And there’s nothing new about this. You see this in the Bible in First Corinthians 14, the Apostle Paul talking about all the different manifestations of the Spirit in the church. They were not all appropriate or in the proper order. For example, First Corinthians 14 was written in order to correct certain excesses that were happening in the Pentecostal Church of God. And the Apostle Paul wrote to correct and establish Biblical, solid order for the move of God among the people of God. As he says in Chapter 27 First Corinthians, ‘Do everything for edification’. Sometimes when I look at services that there’s all kinds of manifestations, emotions and enthusiasm and we need to ask the question, but what remains of that when all the dust has settled? Are people loving Jesus more? Are their lives changed to more based on the word of God? Is it a result of all that experience?

And he says “if anyone speaks in tongues, let it be two or three at a time and then have a space for someone to interpret”. Likewise, verse 29 says “Two or three prophets should speak and the others should wait carefully what they say”. The word is to judge, to evaluate, to look carefully and to measure what is being said. We don’t accept everything indiscriminately just because it’s flashy or exciting or emotionally. The devil himself can do miracles, the devil himself can speak in tongues, the devil can heal. He does it to make you more insane, you know how it is. We can’t just let ourselves be carried away by manifestations. But on the other hand, just because something, a manifestation is perhaps unattractive, ugly or even graving sometimes. Maybe it’s not what you expect or doesn’t fit into your expectations in the ways it should be, it does not mean it’s not of God.

And I think it’s all to come when the move of God happens to people that are imperfect in their style or maybe they’re not well developed. In other ways, if there is pride that keeps us from entering in to the benefit of what God has. There needs to be balance, in other words. Just because it’s ugly doesn’t mean it’s not of God and just because it’s pretty does it mean it’s of God either. Just because the prophet is 6’8 cut with blue eyes does not mean it’s used by the Lord or maybe he’s small and rippled and not so pretty but maybe God is using him in a real way. God uses what He chooses, the way He wants. We need to discern in the spirit. There’s a part for us to play in this. So when we come into contact with the move of God we need to evaluate not based on what our eyes see or our fleshy expectations but based on what the word of God says.

Here’s the point: ‘We’ll not reject the move of God just because He is manifesting himself in perhaps unattractive ways’. Don’t miss the Lord when He shows up dressed in humble, unattractive clothing. So coming back to what the Apostle Paul was saying to Timothy, he was saying to Timothy: “Timothy flare in the flame of the gift of God that’s in you”. There was an active part that Timothy had to play. Something he had to do for the Holly Spirit to come alive in his life. God didn’t just do it all and He was passive. The same way we have a role to play if we want the Spirit to be active among us. Sometimes is that God wants us to be vigilant and attentive and attentive to what He’s doing and so we can interact with God’s move among us. Often times it is the moment when you feel least capable, when you feel so out of it those may be the moments when God might send you to pray for someone or to give a prophetic word or to move in His power not yours.

It means that sometimes in a service it might be kind of quiet and just sort of business that is usual to really seek the move of God among us and you really enter in that fancy of flames and God starts moving in special ways among us. It was like among us here just some other days people started getting involved, they do certain things, and things built into flame the move of God among us. It’s like a locomotive engine that needs to break that inercy to keep it rolling. But once it gets going, once that engine gets rolling there’s energy behind it and nothing can stop it. Sometimes the reason people don’t enter to the move of God is that they don’t understand they have a part to play in this.

And sometimes they don’t understand that move of God may and does usually start in small, simple, unimpressive ways. And what it calls is insistence and to persist into those little beginnings and to flow with it and to allow it to build. Sometimes people are asking “God fill me with the Spirit, baptize me in the Holly Spirit”. And He just looks and says “I gave this a long time ago. Here it is. Just let it start flowing”. “God, I want the gift of tongues”. “Just talk, I’m not going to open your mouth”. Start going. So people think that to speak in tongues 32 angels will come around and start moving your mouth. Or maybe you need to be in some sort of mystical alter state of consciousness so you come out of yourself. If I could speak French I can talk it in any time. Si yo puedo hablar francés en cualquier momento.

If you have a language you don’t have to feel over romantic to speak French, it might help, but you don’t need it. You can just speak it, you just have it. I believe that any believer can speak in tongues. But we refuse to open our mouths and say those first words, we feel silly. When people do it like ‘Is that it? I was expecting, I don’t know, some thunderous beautiful voice to come out’. Just two or three simple words sometimes sound kind of silly. But God says “Just go for it. Start with what you have and I’ll build more for it”. Try in your prayer times, you’re alone, nobody is listening. Just get that gift flowing flares of flame. During the worship times the Spirit is moving, you know. Open your mouth, start verbalizing what God gives you. Exercise your gift, loosing your tongue and the next thing, you know, entering to the fullness of what God has.

Many people expect to open their mouths and start speaking in perfect syntax, perfect grammar, a language that is very highly developed. How did you learn to talk when you were a baby? You just started with simple little words and you developed from there. Same thing with the gift of tongues. Sometimes God may speak to you prophetically through a person that you know they have struggles in their lives, you know problems they have family issues and you think “God is not going to speak to me through this person” and then you miss what God really has to say to you because God is using that person.

Treasure in jars of clay so that nobody can boast about that. If God is waiting for perfect people to speak through nobody qualifies for that. God blesses when we humble ourselves enough to recognize ‘God I don’t understand. I know that this vessel is very imperfect but I hear something from you that lines up with the word, lines up with your saying. I’m not going to lose the blessing because it comes in an imperfect package’. Gift of healing, same thing. God puts an impulse in you to feel to pray for a sick person. Maybe the first time you pray for a person with a little cold they catch pneumonia and die. Well, Okay. That’s bad start. Does it mean you don’t have the gift? Keep praying. It’s not your fault.

Maybe someone is sneezing and tears are coming out of their eyes, they’re sick. You pray for them maybe they stop sneezing but they still have tears in their eyes. It’s partial. Oh! If it were God the person would be completely healed, no problems, no symptoms. It could have not been of God. But I’ve seen in many occasions the healings of God are often gradual building, incremental and then there are healings that last because they have been long lasting. We expect often instant service. We want to pray for someone and want them to heal immediately. Sometimes God wants it to be a process. He may want us to have to fight, have to pray. The persons themselves pray over a period of time and it has its own purposes but it means eventually a long term healing.

That’s why so many people stay out of the move of God because they see things being gradual. There has to be effort, it’s messy, there’s inconsistency so they just stay out of what God would have them to enter into. I know Pastor who would really like to see the move of God in their churches. But because these Pastors, many of them, they see the imperfect vessels in which the move of God comes, they don’t want to deal with the messiness, they don’t want to deal with the headache and so they end up being well-intentioned, hungry for it but it never happens. They may celebrate the theory and the theology of healing in the move of the Holly Spirit but they are not willing to get their hands dirty and get into the practice of it which is inevitably messy and chancy.

Question. You are in the desert dying of thirst, your mouth is harsh, dry, dry. You know a few more hours and you’re gone if you don’t get water. Then you end up finding a vessel in the desert with water in. But you see a couple of flies on the rim of the cup. What are you going to say? Ah! There’s a fly on this cup I don’t want to drink this. I’m going to wait to look for a nice bottle of clean, still pure spring water. Would you really just walk by that cup of water? You would drink the water, you would drink the flies themselves. You’d have never tasted such a delicious fly in your whole life. We’re thirsty, we have hunger of the Holly Spirit. We need Him. Just because there are imperfections in the way it’s delivered we are not going to miss the process …

Imperfection mixed with the genuine move of God it’s just true. It’s happened throughout the history, in churches, it has happened in our experience and it’s Biblical also. We can’t let fear, the fear of missing the mark a little bit, the fear of what’s going to happen if things get going keep us from the move of God. We are not going to run the risk of saying ‘Just because the gift is being manifested through an imperfect person I don’t want to have it’. We will not let fear and the complexity the way God moves to keep us from enjoying what God has. Now we see why this verse says this because didn’t give us a spirit of fear or timidity. Maybe you don’t have all the answers, you don’t have everything figured out, you don’t know exactly what it’s going to happen but you’re going to jump in the waters anyway.

Go through your fears. God’s moving, maybe. When He is moving, things are uncomfortable, things aren’t exactly perfect. Don’t be a spectator or don’t be a bystander, push through that and get involved and just see what happens. I’d love to have more time to explain this. If we want the blessing of God we need to pay the price. God has told us there are times when God has moved in such a way that the morning service was just going to fast right into the afternoon one. We want to have the move but it has to be between 9 and 11 and the alarm goes off and no more service. Pastor, prophesize, give us what God has but do it in 15 minutes because I have an appointment, you know.

I was thinking about a Biblical character named Neman. I encourage you during the week to look up this story. It’s in Second Corinthians Chapter 5. Neman was dying of leprosy and he heard there was a prophet in Jerusalem that can heal him from his leprosy. Neman who was in second in commands of the King he had all figured out in his mind, what it was going to be like, how the prophet was going to heal him. He was expecting a Royal reception by the prophet, he was expecting a whole delegation of prophet’s helpers to receive him with dignity. Trumpets, the Great General coming to receive him with funfair. And he expected the prophet dressed like a prophet, you know, with drizzling garments and saying ‘Oh! King, welcome I’ve come to cure you’.

Neman expected to be a great religious ceremony with beautiful liturgy and then the prophet would wait and stand in front of the wounds and oil will flow from his hand and there would be a wonderful, spectacular healing. But when he gets there even the prophet was there for the appointment. There was no temple, there was just bits of a little house. He is received by the maid of the prophet. And the maid, the prophet didn’t even talk to him, it was the maid who said: ‘Oh, yeah, yeah. The prophet has left you a message that if you want to get healed go to the Jordan river and get in yourself seven times and you’ll be healed’.

When Neman heard this he was angry, it wasn’t what he was expecting. It says: ‘But Neman thought he would come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy.’ And to top it off the river the prophet sent him to was a polluted, junky, muddy river and there all kinds of beautiful rivers in the King’s home country. And he said ‘Are not the Adana and Pharphar better than any of the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleaned?’ He turned off and went off in a rage. What God didn’t want just to heal Neman’s body He wanted to heal his pride. He wanted to deal with the attitude he brought to the situation.

As we struggle with the messiness of the process, as we struggle with that that we didn’t expect that rubs us the wrong way in how God has worked in our lives. He is working in us deeply and heals us in ways that are beyond physical healing. We learn faith, humility, patience, tolerance, humility to look at ourselves, to believe by faith and not by sight what we see. And that’s why God sends His packages in vessels of clay for that reason. One of Neman’s servants perhaps a man who didn’t even know how to read and write says ‘Great General if he had asked you to do a great thing you’d have done it! He’s asking you to do this simple thing. Why not? What do you have to lose?’ Again, God is using a humble person to speak to the Great. It wasn’t an angel speaking to Neman, it wasn’t a university professor but a servant who had real lucidity and logic in the situation.

Thank God, Neman humbled himself. He didn’t expect to speak to the prophet directly. He went and he went into that dirty river. But he did what he was told. Maybe he had to remove some garbage, try to make it look at least clean before jumping, hoping nobody from YouTube is getting this into the internet. Last thing I want is my wife to see this back home. And it says that ‘he lowered himself’. Keyword: we need to lower ourselves, lower our expectations, lower our intellect, our rational doubts, our fears, our understandable fears and doubts. He went ahead. He counted himself seven times. Jump yourself into the waters of the Spirit seven times. If the first time doesn’t work, do it again, second time doesn’t work, do it again, third time doesn’t work, fourth time.

It was the seventh time that the miracle happened. All of us have been years struggling and we do it, and we push and push knowing that that answer will come. It says he did this according to the word of the prophet. He didn’t even meet the prophet but he did it according to his word. The Bible says his skin became smooth like the skin of a little child. Brothers, don’t let messiness, don’t let that which is unexpected keep you from really entering the blessing God has and the mood of the Holly Spirit. I’m not saying we chuck our critical faculties into the garbage. It doesn’t mean we blindly have to say everything’s Okay. Everything isn’t Okay. Just because something is strange it means it’s of God. Something maybe a little unusual, a little strange, don’t reject out of here. Take time to discern and see what God has for you. Be humble, simplify, use your gifts, don’t let fear or complexity keep you on the sidelines of what you have to do.

Begin with what you have in your hands. Maybe God has given you one word for speaking in tongues, more is going to flow. Maybe God has given you one fragment or a sentence and if you feel it’s a message from Him, obey. Use it. Use what you have, God will give you more. Maybe God partially healed you of a cold, just take what God is giving and let Him grow in you. I’ll exercise my faith, I’m going to use the gift, I’m going to use it with humility and receive gifts with humility. Amen.

I hope I haven’t ruined anyone’s lunch plans. The word of God, we live by the word of God. Don’t reject the gift. The title: ‘Don’t reject the gift’. Use it, don’t let the spirit of cowards keep you off this. We worship you, we receive your word Lord. Everything you give in this morning. We give you thanks. We bless and adore you and worship you. Forgive our pride, forgive the demands that we put before you, help us to be humble as children. Receive what you give to us and use the gift that you’ve given us, humbling. Using it until it grows with more power, Jesus. We worship you. Thank you, thank you for your gifts. Forgive us for not being more adequate vessels but we declare that your gifts are perfect and we humble ourselves before the mystery of your gifts. That you have chosen imperfect vessels so we give the glory to you Jesus. We want to be a church that uses your gifts, Lord. Teach us how to use your gifts, Lord. We worship and bless You. Alleluia. Give thanks to Lord. Say it: I have it, I’m going to use it until it’s manifested in my life. Thank the Lord.

Sermon delivered by Roberto Miranda April 2010 at Congregación León de Judá Listen | View(100K) | View(350K) | View(1200K)


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I was not planning to go back to church until God dealt with my pride. Its a long story. After reading your sermon I feel God is calling me back and to forgive the imperfect christians who discouraged me. I know I'm not perfect either and your words really build me up in the Lord. Thank you!

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