God Provides in the Midst of Change

I want to take a moment to frame this

entire time that we are experiencing and

what we have just heard here today and

put it in the purpose in the perspective

of the Scriptures because that's really

what we live in every a moment in our

lives should be somehow interpreted in

the light of the eternal words in the

eternal Word of God and that gives us a

the right perspective the right way to

interpret things and allows us then to

celebrate even in moments of a trial and

testing that great Epistle of

Philippians I'm not gonna preach on that

which is a call the Epistle of joy was

written by the Apostle Paul as he sat in

a dungeon unsure of whether he would

emerge alive or not but God allowed him

even in that moment of trial and testing

to exude a joy and a hope because his

frame was okay what advances the kingdom

how is God's kingdom being blessed what

are the purposes of God what mysterious

is what mysterious our results he is

bringing about and accomplishing he was

able to see beyond his own situation and

I know that there are mysteries that it

takes time for us to unfold them

completely and to explain them but the

Word of God gives us the right

foundation to confront these situations

and much as I wanted to escape the

scripture that I left you with when when

I left it seems like an eternity ago

three months ago and the base in the

book of Joshua or the Lord brought me

back to two that to another passage in

the book of Joshua but I yeah well let

me let me just take a moment and I know

that the time is just like flying

through us wait if I had a title for

this sermon I would say be strong and

courageous

Joshua Joshua 1 verses 1 through 9

because we see here a time of transition

as well thankfully it's not like here

the death of a leader but it is a

transition actually

to a greater life and and you know

greater productivity for the kingdom and

we are in a time of transition as a

church as well you know with Gregg's and

Kenny's leaving I mean all kinds of

considerations emerge for us in the

light of this individual who has filled

there's so many spaces in the life of

the church and how do we fill those

spaces and what does God having in mind

ahead just as I'm sure these questions

were floating in or percolating almost

in Joshua's mind as well with the death

of Moses but it says here in chapter 1

verse 1

Joshua after the death of Moses the

servant of the Lord the Lord said to

Joshua son of noon moses 8 Moses my

servant is dead Moses my servant is

going to California

now then you and all these people get

ready to cross the Jordan River into the

land I am about to give to them to the

Israelites you'll remember this theme

when I last spoke about crossing over

into a new time of a realization and of

going from provisional provisions of God

things that were kind of symbolic and

hold holding up holding off until the

true came which was the promised land

the Israelites benefited from things

that were there to hold them while they

were in the desert and now as they get

ready to cross over you know and Greg is

crossing into his own promised land of

whatever God has in his family and we

are also because the God has a plan for

this congregation as well and what he

has in store for us but he says I will

give you every place where you set your

foot as I promised Moses and I declare

that on your lives also that God gives

you every dimension that you will occupy

every challenge that you will face every

thing that you will undertake God get

made a declaration gave him a title a

legal document through his word that

success was what lay ahead

for them your territory will extend from

the desert to Lebanon and from the great

river the Euphrates all the hittite

country to the Great Sea on the west God

was very clear about the borders and the

boundaries of that great land that he

was giving them no one will be able to

stand up against you all the days of

your life and I declare that as well on

their lives as I was with Moses we could

say you know I mean as I have been with

the line of Judah and with Pastor

Roberto and this congregation so I will

be with you I will never leave you nor

forsake you we declare that on their

lives as well and and on you as well in

times of transition God says hey I am

the same people change but I'm the same

one of the great exercises of this

sabbatical has been the fact that we all

have been weaned a bit from each other

you have discovered that you know

Roberto Miranda is you know I mean I'm

relative I'm an instrument I'm a piece

I'm a pawn in God's extraordinary chess

game and that's what we all are

nobody is irreplaceable I'm not

irreplaceable never put your face your

eyes on any man on any Church on any

authority that is human your eyes must

always be said only on God for he never

changes and he's always the same be

strong and courageous because you will

lead these people to inherit the land I

swore to their forefathers to give them

be strong and very courageous be careful

to a boy to obey all the law my servant

Moses gave you do not turn from it to

the right or to the left that you may be

successful wherever you go your greatest

assurance of success will be remaining

absolutely tethered and centered and

founded on God's Word on changing

principles never compromise never

negotiate the Word of God or the

principles of God it is your only

security

your only point of security against the

power of the enemy is the unshakable

unchanging Word of God do not let this

book of the law depart from your mouth

meditate on a day and night so that you

may be careful to do everything written

in it then you will be prosperous and

successful have I not commanded you be

strong and courageous third time do not

be terrified and not be scared of what

lies ahead do not be discouraged for the

Lord your God will be with you wherever

you go and I will leave it there for a

moment so as I say the purpose of this

meditation is to encourage you

encouraged me encouraged our dear

servants of the Lord

Kenneth and Greg too to be secure in the

midst of insecurity to look forward to

look our place our eyes on God and to

put our trust in him he has a plan we

don't know all the pieces of the plan

but he knows I want to encourage us as a

church but also Greg and Kenneth's as

they transition and go on into their own

promised land that God has for them I

want to point as I said our face toward

that faithful providing God that never

fails us when we undertake things in his

name and trusting in him and secure that

we have examined ourselves we have

examined our motives we have examined

circumstances and that we know that we

are pursuing things with a clean heart

and with the desire to see his name

glorified for me that is the guarantee I

can never be sure that I have I'm clear

that I that I'm seeing the way I should

be seeing or deciding the way I should

be deciding but my only concern is how

is my heart as I undertake a new role a

new vision a new project am i doing it

for my own glory am i doing it for the

wrong motives am i doing it to sort of

gratify some aspect of my personality or

am i doing it because I believe that I

have heard from God and that I want to

glorify him and that I want to advance

his kingdom if I can answer in the

affirmative within myself that this is

the motivation that I have

even if I were to be wrong I am sure

that the mercy of God in His grace cover

me and that if I am wrong he will

correct me on the way and that he will

extract glory and blessing even in our

mistakes that we make what a heart has

to be clean our motivations have to be

absolutely focused on him so we must

remember the sermon that I began this

year with January this word that

exploded in my being about the fact that

we were entering into a new time that we

were walking a road that we had never

passed by before a new dimension that

was unprecedented new and and that the

solution as we went into that unfamiliar

territory

thoroughly unfamiliar was what to keep

our eyes fixed on the Ark of God that's

what they told the Israelites keep your

eyes fixed on this Ark that will be

ahead of you with the priests walking in

front of you stay at a certain distance

that you can have the proper perspective

and keep the holiness of that Ark in in

perspective but follow it wherever you

see it going you can imagine a million

people following this distant object

that was showing them how to move and

where to go as they cross the Jordan and

went in the store into this thoroughly

unfamiliar territory and I said God is

taking this congregation into a new time

a new space a new dimension now when I

made that declaration the last thing on

my mind

I assure you was the idea that today

today and that it would be so quick

because I'll tell a little bit about

that in a second that we will be

formally announcing Greg and Candice's

departure that this was part of this

newness now we have been talking about

this and I'll tell you a little bit this

as I say about that but when I preached

I preached in a certain level of

innocence

I didn't factor in this new element of a

major piece of our life as a

congregation our leadership being absent

and having to rearrange many things in

the light of a Gregg's in

ending absence now greg has been

gracious and had had the integrity to

tell me for a long time many many months

ago I remember over lasagna you know we

we talked and he said you know Roberto

I'm I'm feeling now that God is that God

may be calling me to leave Lion of Judah

I have no plans specifically and this

time I do feel that you know this is

something very intimate very personal

that there's a very active purpose in

God doing that so I just want to let you

know I don't have any specific plans yet

or anything like that so we spoke in a

very tentative manner but I thanked him

because he prepared me in many ways and

he has always done that you know over

the years so he perhaps he has proceeded

with impeccable integrity in this

process but you know you know how it is

you can you hear certain things but you

never give it the immediacy that it

requires so that and you know and then

as the time drew near he also you know

as things became a little more specific

he told me but there were some concrete

things that he was considering and

there's some specific possibilities but

there was nothing yet

firm at a certain moment so I want to

release him you know in the sense that

he really but III tell you in my own

innocence I didn't quite when I preached

that sermon that that thing came like a

bolt of lightning into my mind this

thing I'm taking you you're walking

you're gonna be walking in a road that

you have never walked before so when I

was pronouncing these words I did not

have that in mind but indeed it is one

way that this prophecy is fulfilling

itself because this is a new road for us

I mean 20-some years of very significant

ministry where Greg and Candace have

failed very very deep deep spaces in the

life of this church and so many of you

are really he's been more of a password

to you than I have in many ways and so

definitely this is a new territory

uncharted and now we have to remake the

world in many ways and new things have

to crop up and new elements have to come

into play in this congregation but this

is just one of the many ways that I

believe that this prophet

see will be fulfilled just one

significant way there are others

although that was not what I had in mind

but definitely you can see that

aqualified and this is why more than

ever we need to look toward the Lord the

Ark to show us the way as we walk

through this unfamiliar Road the Ark of

God by the way has been made more

complex in my understanding because I

always thought as I saw it as an

instrument of power but as I've looked

into it more in Scripture it is an

instrument of intelligence as well and

in teaching and instruction the the

Bible says that we're the wings of the

Archangels met the cherubim in in the in

the ark as you can see over here in that

point of touching the two extremes of

the wings God would speak to Israel so

it's a speaking instructional instrument

as well as an instrument of incarnating

God's power so God will provide

instructions as we go both to Greg and

his family in their new situation and to

us in ours

that gives me consolation in the moment

of the of devastation that I experienced

I've also felt a strange peace and

that's why you know that's how you know

believers and people of faith can speak

about both have you ever realized that

you can be both anxious and uncertain

and at the same time peaceful that

there's a deep anchor inside of you how

do these two dimensions coexist beings

of faith and we are also emotional

neurological beings our neurology is

fallen it's biological its fleshly and

that neurology can experience

uncertainty anxiety pain all kinds of

things but then our spiritual goes

beyond time and space it is tethered to

the Spirit of God and that knows

everything is okay I've always depended

on that inner voice in my moments of

tribulation and uncertainty it is there

that says it's okay

nowhere yes you're experiencing certain

things but that's just

craziness of your human nature listen to

the other voice so I'm always excited

when I find myself in situations whose

outcome I cannot predict and for which I

don't have a solution because it

represents an opportunity for God to

come through with shining colors I wish

I had more time to just expound on that

I've told you I don't know if I've

shared with you I carry with me I don't

have it in there took it out this

morning I had it hidden somewhere a

little card that I had I had laminated

in a time of many many years ago we're

just beginning our marriage and and

there was a financial crunch that we

were facing and I was walking through

Union Square in Somerville and I don't

know from where I put my hand in my

pocket and I pulled out this card which

I had I I assure you I did not know how

it got into my hands I have no idea to

this day and and that said leave it to

the Lord I wish I'd sits inside my in my

bag leave it to the Lord and God struck

my chest with that word and all of us

also all of us and I knew that it was

all right but to this day I carried that

thirty years ago thirty years that card

because there was a an assurance of the

provision of God God was saying to me

hey don't carry that load leave it to me

and surely enough I mean I don't even

remember what the problem was at that

time God has blessed us beyond our

wildest expectations and he will bless

you and he will bless us as we

contemplate this new time that we have

before us God is a provider hallelu can

you say amen to that God is a provider

yova GA your vajira the Lord will

provide when the time comes he God has

always delighted me with the solutions

and I'm sure this time it would be no

different God never changes he remains

the same in the midst of changing

circumstances this promise of

faithfulness in the middle of changing

circumstances applies both to Greg and

Kenneth who are leaving and facing new

and unpredictable circumstances and to

us

who have to reconstruct many things in

the light of their absence I remember

the only church split it wasn't even a

split it was more like a annan gendered

separation good 25 26 years ago just

actually when Greg came right around

that thing I don't know if you were here

it was right after thank God that you

didn't you know the Lord had been moving

in Our Lives taking us into a new stage

of the the gifts of God we went from

being a traditional Baptist Church into

the gifts of the Spirit and we started

doing all kinds of crazy things in the

church and adding music and all kinds of

stuff by the way when we used to say you

know hallelujah or something like that

we wouldn't say hallelujah or clap will

go like this you know very very decent

very like the Queen of England you know

that was our way of being reverent

before God that changed because the Holy

Spirit visited us and that prompted a

great turmoil in the life of the church

and you know some of the founders of the

church were intimidated and concerned

and offended God started bringing new

people into the church or crazy

Pentecostals who were helping me how to

navigate this new iteration of line of

it was congregation bautista iglesia

Batista central Central Baptist Church

at that time and so you know the Lord

gave me wisdom to engineer a a peaceful

separation if there is ever such a thing

up in churches and unfortunately about

15 to 20 percent of the church left and

went with our founding pastor that I had

invited to come from Florida to take

this over this group that I did not want

just be left out there offended to fend

for themselves and we we planted a

church in Everett and that we got a

building and all kinds of great things

and and they left you know the problem

was that that 20% was the creme de la

creme this is the elite these are the

tithers they were the teachers they were

the solid conservative elements of the

church our whole music ministry went

overnight we had nothing

from having a very lovely worship team

and a choir that was very good and

highly gifted musical people we're left

music lists there wasn't such a word and

there was a time of great great sorrow I

mean for my wife and I and for the

church because I mean we had lost such a

significant part of our church and we

were like a lamb after it's been sheared

you know just we were looking like you

know

where's-where's a wool just just skinned

naked and you know but the funny thing

is that since we were navigating in the

Lord's timing and purpose and we'll and

as I said before when we do things we

have to make sure Lord am I doing this

with the clean spirit and with the

loving attitude for your glory and your

honor

I want to tell you that in a year's time

we not only we had recovered exactly the

same attendance the same number of

people came in to the church new people

we had the same budget the same finances

and from that moment on about you know a

few months several months later God

started bringing some of the most gifted

musicians and that just came unsolicited

to the door of the church and since then

for the glory of God we have never

lacked wonderfully gifted musical people

from Berkeley and from all all the kinds

of places that God has anointed and you

know we have never lacked good worship

and from that time also the revelation

to come into Boston also emerged in my

spirit this dream that I had about the

Lion of Judah and our call into the city

and this vision of coming here and

leaving everything back in Cambridge and

Greg is one of the gifts and blessings

you know of that time and did these

wonderful Christians who left us would

not have had the vision for whatever

reason long story

to come into a crime-ridden place as

this was when we came here they didn't

have the attitude I mean that God gives

people in different ways for and those

things enable them to do certain things

and prevents it from doing others

annoying things are like that

but I know that that kind of separation

was necessary but

my point is that God provided beyond our

wildest dreams and he filled spaces that

I couldn't imagine how he was going to

fill them at that time but this is what

you know awaits us and you as you go as

you move actively in that conviction now

here's a couple of things that will

guarantee a positive outcome in this

present time of challenge number one I

just have intimated it already fixing

your eyes upon Jesus Christ not on men

not in changing circumstances Peter when

he started looking at the waves and the

sea and the storm and took his eyes away

from Jesus as he walked triumphantly

over the waves started sinking because

his two kisses took his eyes off of

Jesus when you look at Jesus as I focus

my hopes and as you do also on this

great provider as you saturate your

spirit with that unchanging gaze of

Jesus that does not falter does not

repent of any blessing that he has

promised you has absolute power to

provide in every situation that gives

you courage hope and his abundance of

capacity is transmitted to you as well

and the blessings and the promise of God

then become activated in your life but

you have to gaze upon him every time our

gaze may be tempted to deviate toward

the absence

that's dangerous turn it toward the

presence wow I should write that down

before I forget it keep it focused on

the Lord and number two let us be

patient as we establish our new normal

and as we go through we neverold

inevitable periods of stress and unmet

needs you know there are there are many

things that Gregg and Kenneth

have done that now you know I know for

us the English ministry you know so many

of you have been

pastured in very significant ways in a

very personal way by Gregg's ministry

and you know you may be wondering who's

gonna who's gonna take over you know

what's gonna happen on and on I could I

can I could stay here the whole time

asking the questions that I'm sure

you're asking but be patient we are

confident that the Lord would be

providing and he will show us the way

the Ark will give us instruction amen

but be patient because it's not gonna be

done overnight

you know processes are like that they

they you know what I mean the

supernatural blessing of God has to land

on human circumstances but be patient

and given give it time

exercise a long time long term vision

and God will do it by the way for your

hope and and comfort my wife just showed

me that my time is running out so don't

worry I'm uh I'm winding this down as

best as I can now number three in the

case of us here not looking so much at

Greg and Kenny's right now let's assume

you must assume the best intentions from

your leaders and authorities and give

them time to find new solutions that's

kind of a collateral of the first one

assume best intentions assume that we

know what the needs are assume that we

know what the voids that are left now

are assume that we are understanding of

the deficiencies that we have and assume

that this English ministry is a

significant and as integral a part of

what is Lion of Judah in its total body

as the Spanish iteration Hispanic

iteration all right please just inject

that into your heart this is not somehow

a second-rate aspect of line of Judah

this isn't a lovely beautiful Wow I'm so

proud of what this body represents

for the glory of God and and you are so

much a part of what God has in store for

this city and so assume that and that we

we will act accordingly and please pray

that God would give us the wisdom to

find the way to affirm you and validate

this ministry we must remember the well

mentioned how many times have you heard

about the fact that in Chinese and I

hope it's true I just say it because

other people say it but I've never

looked at Chinese myself it says that

the the character that in Chinese and

Mandarin expresses crisis it's also the

same character that expresses what

opportunity and I could see how because

sometimes crises are the moment for new

inventions new things to happen new

discoveries it depends how you navigate

crises you you you might navigate them

from a perspective of deficiency and

victimization or you may navigate them

from a perspective of sufficiency and

expectancy and celebration of what can

happen now that things have changed and

so this may be this is this moment

represents create opportunities for both

Gregg and his family and for us as well

even as we grieve the separation

opportunities for what to put to the

test and to confirm God's faithfulness

and provision it's a great opportunity

and three years from now two years from

now we may be laughing our heads off as

to how God provided and Gregg and Ken is

as well we may be watching them on

television you know the next iteration

of the PTL god forbid or something why

not

you know I mean it's just a it's an

opportunity to see God to show himself

absolutely delightfully faithful number

two to bring forth new leaders and new

gifts that have remained undiscovered

until now

sometimes when you leave an open space

that then only can God fulfill in fill

it you know this three months I of

absence you know I hope that they have

enabled all of us to to to need new

people to emerge I saw as a Greg was

saying new new washers here I see new

people coming aboard God do we need you

we need you and I pray that you will see

yourselves as necessary the newcomers

who are here for the first time perhaps

we need people of good heart and Kingdom

mindedness and sacrificial outlook don't

wait for us to assign you a role because

sometimes we can we ourselves cannot do

that ask Lord what can I do for you Lord

what do you want me you know I saw

Elizabeth greeting people this morning

I've seen some of you do that and peg

and others who have taken it upon

themselves just the ministry the unction

of greeting new comers do you know what

that signifies for a church like ours

that's so significant before you begin

the service instead of looking at your

iPad or whatever go and greet two people

and pray for them welcome them into the

kingdom into the church ask them is it

tell them your name asking if you can

pray for them somehow

there's a thousand things you can do for

the kingdom if you own the kingdom and

you see yourself as called to serve the

Lord this is an opportunity now more

than ever

who's gonna call some of you when Greg

might have recalled them before or

somebody else you are anointed you are

gifted of God the the what the only

thing that is required however is for

the people of God to get off their seats

to give up this idea this is my privacy

this is my time

this is my rest and to become roaring

lions for the kingdom of God you'll have

enough opportunity to rest when you get

to heaven you have millions of years to

take a long vacation now spend yourself

here on earth waste yourself here I I

personally don't want to leave this

world anything of my energy when I leave

I want to leave burnt up for the kingdom

of God I don't want one single iota of

energy in this body when I leave because

I would have expended at all for the

advancement of the kingdom of God I

don't live for myself I died already I

can I think I can this this time of

being a way I've committed personally my

life and my family in marriage and

everything to the kingdom of God told

the Lord I everything that I have owned

aspire to that you have invested in me I

want you to extract every measure of

benefit and you got to live like that if

you live like that and you begin to

express it right here in the life of

this congregation you will be a monster

I mean you'll be unstoppable for the

kingdom of God so this is a time for new

kids new ministry to be developed and

it's a time to exercise and expand our

faith only through trials and unforeseen

circumstances do we grow in our trust in

God as we are forced to rely on him and

discover that the principles of the

kingdom when exercised show themselves

to be true and effective I will jump

over many many things that I wanted to

say but I just want to leave you right

now with the words of Jeremiah chapter

29 verse 11 one of my very favorite

theme verses in all of Scripture stand

up and receive it right now stand up and

Greg and Candace as well let's get ready

I'm gonna ask the ushers as we do this

to get ready for the communion supper

just prepare everything this is like

Japanese Kabuki theater make believe

you're not seeing them get this stuff

ready here get yourselves ready because

we're going to celebrate

the Lord supper I would like Greg to

come forward also and to accompany me in

this so the Lord says to you

congregation Lion of Judah to you

Kenneth and Greg to each leader here to

each visitor to myself Roberto Miranda

who travails and suffers more than he

ought to at times for I know the plans

that I have for you I know the plans

that I have for you declares the Lord

plans to prosper you and not to harm you

plans to give you hope in the future

receive that word own it personally I

can't wait to see how that promise would

be fulfilled in this moment in the life

of our congregation in the life of our

dear servants Greg and Kenneth's so

father we thank you because life in use

and adventure life in you is never

boring life in you is never predictable

life in you is the warriors journey life

in you is an epic it is a saga of great

accomplishments and great challenges and

great suffering and great hope and

celebration

you allow us to live heroic lives and we

would not have it any other way

when we put our swords down it's only

for a moment when we enter into our

castles to rest our bodies and our

emotions it is just to prepare ourselves

for the next struggle and the next

challenge and to live an uncommon life

we would not have it any other way the

net do not ever allow us to rest for

more than just a moment and only to

recover the strength for the next stage

of the journey and please allow us to

live like that every day every second of

the existence of this congregation Lord

may we never live in the predictable or

in the generic never we renounce that

privilege right now lord allow us to

live in the blade of the sword every

moment of our lives

for your kingdom for your glory because

we know that you will be with us so

infuse in us right now a double portion

of your spirit of your joy and of your

certainty father and we thank you

because you have such wonderful plans

for us and we already revel in them in

Jesus name