Sermon January 12, 2014: Year of consolidation (Part 3)

Posted in Sermons
[Dr. Roberto Miranda]
  • Presenter: Dr. Roberto Miranda
  • Date: January 12, 2014
  • Location: Congregación León de Judá, Boston MA

Ley us begin our meditation this morning. You've already read this moment where Abram after coming from Egypt gets to Bethel, offers an altar to the Lord that he already had established there and blesses the Name of God, and kind of consecrates himself, and worships God which I've said it's almost like a new beginning, a new journey after an interlude in Egypt.

And that we ourselves find ourselves in a kind of interlude as we have finished our new sanctuary and now are entering into a new stage of the journey, and we need to also come to a place of looking at what has happened, what has transpired, consecrating ourselves thinking about where we come from and then looking forward to what's ahead.

We have said that it's important for us to consolidate what has been achieved, what has been spoken about, what has been dreamed in envision and to affirm it and root ourselves in it, and make sure that we are clearly established in the things that we have undertaken and learned, and heard from the Lord, and now then we go on after that into a new stage of things having consolidated our relationship with the Lord and things He has imparted to us.

Last time I spoke about some of those elements that constitute the vision of the Church, the guiding values if you will of the Church, the foundational principles that found us as an institution, as a community. We spoke about supernatural mentality, this way of parsing the world which is not just according to reason and logic, and common sense but according to the principles of faith and of the Word of God that are sometimes counter-intuitive, and not counter rational but supra rational, they go beyond reason as a matter of fact. So we wanna be a supernaturally oriented Congregation.

We spoke about the need to be a Congregation that is avid and hungry for the manifestation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We are a pentecostally oriented Congregation, we respect any other group that maybe doesn't see the world, my apologies to John McArthur and others, but at least we here, we are a pentecostal Congregation. We believe that the gifts are for today, God didn't call a moratorium on the gifts, maybe you did, please let me see your Bible because maybe it is different from mine but in the one that I have I see continuity. So you know, we are a supernaturally and gift oriented charismatic Congregation.

We need to continue cultivating that. We don't come just to visit and casually come to the Church, we come to struggle and to wrestle, and to, you know, what's the word? contend if you will with the angels so that we are blessed like Jacob was. We wanna incarnate excellence, we wanna represent excellence, prosperity, intentionality in the way we do things as a Congregation. A people that mixes wisdom with knowledge and science.

We are both, we are both instinctive and lucid, we are both general in the way we see things and also specific. We want to be a Church that seeks transformation not just maintenance, we come to be changed, we come to be transformed, we sang that: "Change my heart and renew me" or something like that?

You know, we come to be changed, we wanna be agents of change in the city. We don't want to just maintain the structures of injustice and immorality, and you know, of decadence in all different manifestations that we see in society; we wanna be leavening, we wanna be salt, we want to be a preserving element in the city.

We spoke about harmony and ethnic harmony, racial harmony, culture harmony, even among diversity. We are not seeking uniformity, we are seeking harmony within diversity which is not the same thing. We come here and bring all of our cultures and the beauty of our different races and histories, and we enrich each other and we complement each other; we preserve the beauty and we learn, and you know, across-pollinate each other.

We wanna be a radical people, radically committed to the Kingdom, that's why when we speak of the tight, the tight is a radical thing. You gotta really believe God in order to tight. I'd rather not have a very oppressive oppressive Pastor that forces you to do it even when you don't want to, but if you give to the Lord joyfully and radically committed, probably, I could spend time with that let me just say, I'll forget about that.

Anyway, radically committed. In these next few months and as a life-long commitment we wanna be evangelistic people as well, we wanna bring others to the Kingdom of God. Yesterday I had an interesting, impacting encounter with a family and it just reminded me of how important it is to be evangelistic, how important it is.

You know: many times I do wanna say that because it is an important element. Yesterday I had a graphic illustration of how important it is. You know, you see people in the street all the time and you don't know really what is in their life, you see them in the neighborhood, across the street from you and you don't know what is in the heart or what needs they have. And if you know if it's the last time you are going to see them, because this situation involved someone you would have never expected to hear died, and then you say: Lord, if only I had known. But you never know, we gotta be bold sometimes and appropriate while reaching out to people about the Kingdom, ok?

So these are elements of consolidation, things we need to continue looking at in the future and continue again, building on those things, ok? So let me say something, what I've said before, as Abram comes to Bethel, you know he must have in mind the fact that the Lord blessed him and promised him certain things, he had gone through Egypt, he had gone through the land doing recognition of it, now he gets back. So that place is a place of again, stopping for a moment and thinking about what has transpired, like we are thinking about what has transpired, you know, these past three and a half years, almost four years of construction.

You know: the more I think about it and the more I read and analyze this Bethel significance I realize that Bethel is a place of reconsecration. Consecration. Jacob for example, very clearly and stately, he comes to the Lord and says: Lord if You get me out of this jam that I put myself in and You bless me and you return me to my house of origin blessed and prospered, and safe I will give You my heart, my life, You will be my God and I will give You one tenth of everything that I received, that will the sign of my commitment to You.

So it's a place of reconsecration, we need to reconsecrate ourselves as a Congregation. Always before great beginnings comes a moment of consecration, like Joshua before people entered into the new land of Canaan, God says: bring the people to me and circumcise them as a sign of commitment and consecration, bring the men to me because of all the complexities of Old Testament, so on and so forth.

But you know, the men were consecrated as a sign of the entire people being consecrated and then now, entered into the new land. It's always those moments, you know? we need to do that, I hope that this year, this coming year we will have times of really seeking more of the Lord.

We are like before the new land right now and like Joshua and the hebrews we are not looking, contemplating something that is opening before us and that's why we cannot go into that just kind of headlessly and head-on, we need to really do it soberly and stop, reconsecrate ourselves, seek the blessing of God, consecrate the sanctuary and then entering to the journey. So it's a place of reconsecration.

Bethel is a place of new beginnings as well. For Jacob Bethel is a time of new beginning and a new identity. This guy who is a cheater and a manipulator now needs to become a spiritual elder, now needs to become a man of God, now needs to be broken, he needs to spend twenty one years being cheated by his uncle who himself is a cheater, just like Jacob is a cheater and a deceiver, and he needs to become a new man; he needs to be fashioned in a new way and he needs to learn how to deal with diversity in the Power of God. And so it's a place of new beginnings.

And we need to do that also as a Congregation, I feel that whatever the Lord has for us in the next stage just like with Abram as well, when Abram leaves Bethel he enters into a new stage of his journey, lengthy to discuss. But you know, we as a Congregation, we are seeking a moment, we are. I think the Lord is going to fashion us as something different, new and stronger and so we need to reconsecrate ourselves and begin again, it's almost like a new beginning.

It's also a place of reconfirmation of what God has promised. Bethel is a place of reconfirmation of promises that have been received in the past and an identity that has been imparted in the past that now needs to be renewed and reconfirmed.

Bethel is the place where Abram comes and he has already been reached by God in a previous encounter and God promised him prosperity, blessing, truthfulness, spirit of authority and then Abram goes into the land, goes to Egypt, comes back to Bethel and God again visits him there and says: I will do this, and this and that as He had told him before. It's a place of reconfirmation.

I think God has blessed us with many promises that are in my heart, in your heart with things He has promised we will achieve as His people, and we say: when? when? like Abram: hey You've been telling me this for a long time, when are You gonna do it? I'm getting old here, I'm prying up like parchment and You haven't yet blessed me, and God says: no, I'm gonna do it, I'm gonna do it and Bethel is the place where God reconfirms the promise.

And I think if you look at Jacob it's the same thing, Jacob experiences the same blessing and the same promise that God gave Abraham. So it's a place of reconfirmation and we are in this moment of reconfirmation, this year is part of that, we are revisiting God's promise.

You got that Star Trek thing Katherine? yes, you know in Star Trek you have this thing where you know, the Star Ship is traveling very fast but still at an acceptable speed, but all of a sudden it goes to warp speed and it like goes into another dimension, it disappears, boom. How many confess you have seen Star Trek? I'm a Star Trek fan. Miguel I know for a fact that he's got, you've got the whole library man, I know.

You know, so I think God has been incrementally bringing us higher and higher as a Congregation over the years but I think there is a point, maybe because I'm a romantic but I do believe there is a point where God is going to take us into warp speed, and He has just been promising and promising and I say: Lord, when are You gonna do it? come on, I know what you have said before, You don't need to remind me of it but God has reconfirmed that in reconsecrating His blessing.

And then finally it's a place to renew pact, it's a place to renew covenants with God just like Jacob does, just like Abraham does so we need to reconfirm the covenant that we have established to be special people unto the Lord this year. We need to sanctify ourselves, we need to be separated, we need to be different; not for our glory but for the mere glory of God even as we acknowledge our outer sinfulness.

So reconsecration, new beginnings, reconfirmation of bless, or promises and the renewal of covenants, these are things that we need to be doing this coming year. You know Bethel is also a place of, remembering lived experiences and to prepare for the continuation of the journey.

You know, you cannot continue living life just accumulatively without reflection. We need to always take time in our life periodically, to look back and to examinate the things we have lived and experienced and to then place them in the proper folder if you will of the totality of our being. People mess up in life so many times because they don't spend enough time organizing their experiences of life and looking at them, and taking time to learn and to grow through this proper organic placement of what they have experienced.

Most people they are just living to get up, they have a cup of coffee, they listen to the news, they get in the car and they go and they work, they come back, they watch a couple of movies or Monday night football and then they get up the next day and do the same thing. And some barely change the routine: they go to play basket, by the groceries, clean the car and on Sunday they come to Church and do it all over and over again until they die. Very depressing don't you think?

But we need to experience, we need to reflect on the things that we have lived just like we need to do as a Congregation. We as a Congregation need to reflect on what has happened, I know I do. I'm yearning to take some time but I kind of think: you know all the things that have happened and to reflect, and put this in the proper place. So we need to experience, as a Congregation we need to do that these next months.

We also need to meditate from where God has extricated us, where He has taken us from, from the pit, from the danger of the journey and the fight and where we would have fallen if God would not by His sheer mercy had taken us out of that pit.

You know: when you do that, when you meditate where God has taken you from sometimes in your life, I don't know about you but I find myself in pits sometimes in my life and that's why Psalm 42 is such a precious Psalm for me: "He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he put my feet on a rock. He gave me a new song" oh praise the Lord I feel the Spirit coming on right now.

You know: when the Lord takes you out of the pit and you find yourself: wow when you look at the abyss, I could have fallen in there, when I was in there the Lord took me out, that increases your sense of gratitude, of humility, of reverence before this great God who wants to touch your life and to extricate you that you yourself got into many times.

And you know, it's important to live life with that oh!, that sense of death before God. It's important, Abram was in Egypt, this king could have cut his head off because he lied to him and a lot of other dangers. Jacob himself, when he is there in Bethel he says: "My God I didn't know what this place was" it's nothing but the house of God and a portal to the Heavens.

You know sometimes we live life and we do all kinds of things and great things happen around us, God does incredible interventions in our life and we just go blindly along our way like little bunnies jumping in the prairie and we don't realize that we live in a magnetic universe where everything is big and dangerous, and beautiful and mortally threatening, and we need to live life with that intentionality but if we don't take time to think where God has extricated us from we can just live like very superficially.

So it's a place also, it's also a place of examining where we have experienced and to extract spiritual lessons that are necessary, to seal those lessons before the Lord in prayer and to integrate them into our life and behavior and this is a source of growth.

You know I have learned so much in the past few months and I have seen so many things that it would be an absolute waste and an act of almost irresponsibility and sheer superficiality if I didn't take time to think about all the things I have learned and God has done in my life, and not use that for fuel for the future.

Finally it's also a place for giving thanks for the Lord for liberating us from great dangers, and bringing us out safe and sound from our battles. It's always good, you know to take time and to point out specifically and mention the ways that God has intervened in our life.

Psalm 105 we have an example of that. In the Psalms we have many recountings of what God has done, very specific. The whole Psalm 105 is an enumeration of what God has done one by one, it almost sounds like redundant but the Psalm is delighted in mentioning one after another the things that God has done, so look for Psalm 105:5 to 6.

Psalm 105:5: "Remember His marvelous works He has done, His wonders and the judgments of His Mouth all seed of Abraham the servant, you children of Jacob, His chosen ones." And then he goes into this specific recounting of the journey of Israel through Egypt and the desert, look at verse 13: "When they went from one nation to another, from one kingdom to another people He permitted no one to do them wrong. Yes He rebuked kings for their sakes saying: "Do not touch My anointed ones and do my prophets no harm." Moreover He called for a famine in the land, He destroyed all the provision of bread."

You see this guy delighting in simply mentioning the specific things that God has done and you know, we need to do that as a Congregation in the next few months with all the different things that God has done in our life, they need to be mentioned specifically.

You know the things God has done in your life, whatever it is you need to take time and say: God thank You for doing this specifically, mention it with great luxury of detail; take time to expose before the Lord this blessing that you have received and hit the lights in listening. You recount His marvelous, gracious interventions, that delights the heart of the Lord. We need to be grateful people and always through life and also people, if we have offended the Lord we take time to say: yes Lord I did this, I did that, I shouldn't have done that, I shouldn't have done that, I said this thing. Take time not to be masochistic but rather to bring glory to the Lord as we recount these things, it's very important to be specific.

Now I finish with this just very quickly recounting some of the specific activities and things we are going to be undertaking this year that I see our energies being dedicated to. I've spoken about this total conceptual framework, this abstract foundation but let me be very specific.

I know I have been running like a hundred miles an hour forgive me but there is so much stuff I wanna share with you. So what are some of the things, what are some of the specific activities, efforts that we are going to be undertaking? in the light of those greater principles that we have enumerated here. Number one: we need to continue with this commitment to Evangelism that we initiated in a very specific way last year. We didn't achieve all the things we wanted to achieve last year.

We achieved many wonderful things last year but we need to continue, the English Ministry needs to continue being evangelistic, we need to be inviting people to come to the services, so you need to continue bringing growth and prayer to see the Lord move. Magaly this morning introduced me to this wonderful lady who came for the first time to the Church and it's great when we do that, bring people to Church.

Don't necessarily invite them to make a commitment to Christ, bring them to Church first, take them slowly through the process and people are willing to come, you know? they are willing to see something new, different, they are bored to death at home; so bring them to Church and then slowly introduce them, you know? to the Kingdom.

So let's continue: we are going to be doing more things evangelistically, we are going to continue preaching evangelistic sermons and we are gonna continue seeking ways. So Evangelism, we wanna continue doing that.

Also, we wanna establish ourselves solidly in our new sanctuary and to learn how to use it adequately, the mechanics and the specifics of this physical place. We are learning every day new things about how to use this place better, how to take our kids the new space, how to deal with the English-Spanish dynamic and when we do what which each group and so on and so forth, this takes time. So this year will be a year of learning and retooling and learning everything from a projector and how it works, how it works better; our new sound system, by the way we have a beautiful sound system that we just installed this weekend, what a blessing of God and I thank Bruno and all those that worked to make that possible, Javier, Bruce and others, Gonzalo and Marlene and so on. But we need to learn how to use these things.

Number three: we need to beautify and decorate this sanctuary, we need to turn it into, you know: it's like when you move into a new home and you buy a new picture, curtains and you know, the furniture and you turn your house into a home, no? we need to do that. There's a lot of stuff that needs to be done: look up there and thank the Lord you know, we don't have any chairs but we do have chairs and I'll tell you why.

You know it's such a blessing, one of our sisters here said: Pastor: why don't we have the chairs up there, why are we talking about that, why can't we have our own chairs up there in the balcony? so a group of people who make those lunches on Sunday got together, they did a weird thing among themselves, they got $12.000 and they are going to be paying that among themselves in the next few months and we are gonna be buying those chairs and putting them up there.

But we will be doing all kinds of stuff. You know the Women's Ministry on the Day of the Retreat back there in Lombardo's, they raised an offering of $6,000 and with that money, incredibly enough we have been able to finish the sound system and also buy this projector, this new projector; it's not new, it's very, very well preserved they say and also a new screen that's gonna be coming very soon. All of that so each time we improve, we increase the beauty and the adequacy of this wonderful base, we need to keep doing that.

You need to continue being committed, we all need to be committed, continue giving onto the Lord. A sister came to me this week and said: Pastor you guys stop taking out the amount of money that I committed to in the bank as part of my offering because I have finished my commitment and it is true but you know what, I want to renew my commitment for another $500 dollars and I said: thank you, that's wonderful; it came out of her and if anyone wants to experience the same kind of joy that she is experiencing I invite you to do so as well. So again we have to beautify and improve greatly our new sanctuary.

Number four: we need to strengthen the foundations of prayer and the search for the Power of the Holy Spirit. You know we need to have more vigils like we have on Fridays and more encounters and services of healing that we have sometimes here, and even in our Sunday services, our service needs to be increasingly anointed and we need to take time to seek the blessing and the Presence of the Lord so we will be dedicating more time to that and to strengthen the foundations, spiritual foundations of the Church.

Fifth: sometime in Spring, probably early Spring we need to have our inauguration services, we are not simply using the facility but we will formally inaugurate them, invite the community, invite churches, thank the Lord publicly and really celebrate as a Congregation, we will be doing that this year. This year also formally, you know entering into this new journey of being here.

You know this is a very important thing: We need now to learn to function as a Congregation without the startling influence of being in construction like we have been and you know, money needs and matters, continually asking the Congregation to give a bit more and volunteers, and you know all these different things. We have been building, I told people since 1993 non stop, first one building and then now this one full fledged, a multi million construction; always building, always asking for money but it's an incredible investment in the future of the Church, God has blessed us with an incredible physical plant and we thank Him for that.

It has been arduous but it hasn't been wasted. I mean we are able to do incredible things like few congregations have been able to do with the facilities that God has given us but we also need to say now: hey, let's rest and let's now take some time to live a normal life and enjoy what God has given us.

So you know since April of last year we began paying full payment, great mortgage of all this three buildings and all the construction cost of this building and we have a short term debt that we have been paying like almost $30.000 extra per month which we hope to consolidate now with the bank and that would give us immense financial relief, but we also received some very generous loans from a limited number of members of the Congregation that might commit us to begin significantly paying that back.

And that means that you know, we still have this year as a year of effort to get that because we have a load of paying significant mortgages of all these three buildings and the construction of this building, a short term loan that is huge, all the materials of construction, all the personnel of construction, all of this stuff has been on us and every month we have to like invent about $15.000.

And you know these people who have been so generous to lend us that money, my goal is to return that money as soon as possible so then we can rest as far as that is concerned but we need your support and we need your commitment. So you know, we are there in one way but we need to also do other things so this is one of the goals that I have this year, financially strengthening us as a Congregation into health, those debts. So we need to continue giving. You know I have so many things to say that I have like three things coming to my head simultaneously, I wish I had three mouths to speak all three at the same time.

So you know, as a Church we need to, because what happens is that we have seen this lack of balance where we keep growing numerically but for new people it takes time for them to enter into the mentality of giving, and so what happens is that this Church keeps growing numerically but financially we do not grow at the same rate. So the difference it's been that what we have financially and what we, and the demands of the new people who now need to be married, need to buried, need the children you know, presented before the Lord, need more space, need more care, expect greater excellence than before; you know, this is a very demanding culture so people come to Church, they see all this and they think: I want more, I need more.

I need more services, I need more services for my kids, we need more teachers, we need better pastoral care but where are the resources to make that possible? There is a level at which you need more finances and so we need to do more, we need to continue healing ourselves financially, strengthening our financially.

And then two more and that's it. We need to learn how to be a multi-ethnic Church, I've said that before but we need to learn how to tweak our services, the bilingual nature of the things that we do, the translation resources that we have, the mentality of equivalence from here when people lead, we need more lingually able people and we also need to have consistency in the things we do in English, the things that we do in Spanish, the things that we do in both languages, it takes time to do the mechanics, we always offer because of that and we need to learn how to be a multi-ethnic Church, not just bilingual but multi-ethnic as well.

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