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Our Church Identity - Part 5

posted Aug 21, 2012, 7:18 PM by Chris McRae   [ updated Nov 5, 2014, 5:17 PM ]

MBCC IS A HOUSE OF TRANSFORMATION 

Continuing our 5 part series from Isaiah 55….. Those who have come hungry, thirsty, desperate - and have tasted of God’s presence (1-3), have received their new and glorious identity (3-5), have experienced God’s mercy and empowering to change (6,7) and been led into understanding and operating from theways of heaven (8-11) , - now go out, - joyful, powerful, transformed and transforming…..

Isa 55:12 You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. 


Isa 55:13 Instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the LORD's renown, for an everlasting sign, which will not be destroyed." 

This is our destiny (12) – to be engaged and partnering with the Father in His work of transforming the earth and its people to live under the joyful and peace-filled rule of the King of Heaven (Mt. 6:10)

This is our power (12) – to have the very earth, the created order, and everything in it subject to delight and worship everywhere we place our feet (Rom. 8:20,21)

This is our fruitfulness and abundance (13) - so that useless, ugly and painful things like the briars and thorns in our lives, communities and in our world systems become redeemed in the purpose of God and transformed into useful, beautiful and valuable resources that bring Him renown, by testifying of His power and goodness.

This is our identity – transformed and transforming (13) 
Everything God has, it is in his nature to give away (glory, goodness, righteousness, power, authority – all things - even his Son! Rom 8:32) Everything we have received from God, (righteousness, peace, joy, hope, love, power, truth, purpose…) we too have received so that we can give it away. Freely you have received, freely give. Matt 10:8

This is surely how MBCC becomes who God has said we already are… by His grace and transforming power we become like God. Continually receiving our fill from His abundance, we are now able to be an overflowing source of life-giving water – love, peace, hope, goodness – to those around us who come thirsty. As in Luke 15:11-31, the relentless river of the Father’s loving character and purpose is not altered by whether the recipients are wilful, rejecting and unworthy like the younger son, or arrogant, judgemental and entitled like the older one. In the same way, filled with the Holy Spirit-imparted presence and love of the Father, our love will be a relentless river, flowing equally to the ‘deserving’ and the’ undeserving’ – the humble and the proud, those who accept us and those who oppose us. Then it will be truly said of our house….All you who are thirsty, come to the waters, you who have no money, come, buy and eat…and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Is 55:1,2

Our Church Identity - Part 4

posted Aug 9, 2012, 8:33 PM by Chris McRae   [ updated Nov 5, 2014, 5:16 PM ]

Part four - MBCC is a house of Heaven's ways


Having begun by encountering God’s presence (1-3), we receive by faith our new and glorious identity – who God says we are (3-5). In the light of God’s truth and assured of His mercy, we are empowered to change the way we think and act (repent), and live consistently with this new identity (6,7). Now God begins to teach us the ways of Heaven…..


Isa 55:8 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD.
Isa 55:9 "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isa 55:10,11 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.


The ways of Heaven are higher than our ways. We can only come into them by the revelation of the Holy Spirit. Paul encourages the Roman believers… Rom 12:2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. As we spend time with God we begin to think like He does, we begin to see through His eyes, we begin to understand His ways and walk in them with effectiveness to bring about His transforming purposes. God is inviting us to do life and our church community according to heaven’s ways….


We see through spiritual eyes (8,9). There is an earthly, natural way of thinking and acting and seeing. It relies on human wisdom, on getting what you deserve, on paying your way, on performing for love and approval. It sees and judges others by outward appearance and values others according to what benefit they give us. It is selfish, fearful, striving. God invites us to a higher place – to share his thoughts and ways, to see what can only be seen through spiritual eyes. Jesus insisted that without the rebirthing work of the Spirit, people would not even be able to see the things that belong to Heaven. (Jn 3:3-8)


We speak with prophetic authority (10,11) One of God’s ways is to speak things into being. When God wants to do something He only has to speak and it is done. Sometimes it is done immediately (Gen 1:3), other times it happens over time (Gen 15:5 – his promise of a son to Abraham took many years to be fulfilled). But God is so powerful, that his word cannot fail to accomplish everything it contains. Jesus spoke – and blind eyes were healed, demons evicted, and the dead raised - so great is his authority! As his disciples, we too have been given authority to speak to mountains and see them removed (Mt 21:21). As we seek to see and understand what God is doing, we declare it to be so on the earth, and watch the kingdoms of earth align themselves with the realm of heaven… Let your Kingdom come, let your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven….


We partner with Heaven’s principles (10) Seed is given to be sowed, and bread is for eating. We do not bury bread in the ground, or eat the seed that has been saved for the next planting. God is gracious and provides for both our daily needs (bread) and for ‘giving away’ to ensure next year’s abundance (seed). As we learn to discern what has been given for now, and what needs to be generously ‘sown’ into the next generation of believers and leaders, or to meet the needs of believers around the world, God can entrust us with an abundance of Heaven’s goodness and provision. As we learn to partner with the ways of Heaven we find ourselves in a place of rest – no longer striving to make things happen, but simply able to move with the unforced rhythms of grace. (Mt 11:29 MSG)


We rely on God’s word and His promises above our circumstances (11) Another of Heaven’s ways is the way of faith and perseverance. We choose to believe God’s word, His promises, and His prophets, even when our circumstances are discouraging, disappointing or confusing. We rely on the testimony of God’s faithfulness in Scripture, and from the saints, and we believe that in His way and in His time, God will not fail to keep His word to us. We persevere when others give up, and we find that we are those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. Heb 6:12 Remind yourself of one of God’s promise to you today, and ask for God’s help to keep holding on to it.

Our Church Identity - Part 3

posted Aug 9, 2012, 8:30 PM by Chris McRae   [ updated Nov 5, 2014, 5:15 PM ]

PART THREE: MBCC IS A HOUSE OF MERCY

Isa 55:6 Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. 
Isa 55:7 Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.


We begin this exploration of God’s purpose for us by encountering His delightful presence.
In His presence we discover our own glorious identity. From this, we go on to receive His mercy for all the places where we are not yet who He calls us! (Rom 4:17)


As we encounter the presence of God, and discover who He has called us to be, we become acutely aware of all that we are not - all the ways we fail to live up to the ‘new creation’ that He says we are. We discover the many places of selfishness, foolishness, ignorance and fear that lie against the righteous standing we have already been given in Christ. Confronted with our failures, the response of many of us is to flee. To hide in shame and fear, like Adam and Eve in the garden. But the invitation of God is to do the opposite. As we dare to come to him, we discover to our amazement that instead of getting what we deserve:


We are safe to fail (6) God does not despise those who are overwhelmed with a new awareness of their own failures. He does not withdraw in horror as we discover about ourselves, what He always knew about us! Instead He invites us to call on Him while he is near! The scripture assures us that God is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Ps 34:18 


We are empowered to change (7) When we run to God at the recognition of our failure, He empowers all who call on His name to change. (Acts 2:21) We are divinely enabled to put aside our former wicked actions and thought patterns and turn to God for help - to not only avoid these things once or twice, but to forsake them completely and permanently. Shame (I am to bad for God to forgive), pride (there is nothing wrong with me, or I can change myself thanks), and fear (God must be so disappointed in me), have no place in a house of mercy. Humbly calling on God for help is our starting point.


We are forgiven (7b) We experience God’s forgiveness – not because we deserve it, but because of who God has chosen to be – the one who freely pardons. Having received forgiveness freely, we also offer it freely – to those who are undeserving, to the ones who most annoy us, to those who don’t even understand that they have hurt us.

Our Church Identity - Part 2

posted Aug 9, 2012, 8:30 PM by Chris McRae   [ updated Nov 5, 2014, 5:14 PM ]

Part 2: MBCC is a House of Glorious Identity

Isa 55:3 …….I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David. 
Isa 55:4 See, I have made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander of the peoples. 
Isa 55:5 Surely you will summon nations you know not, and nations that do not know you will hasten to you, because of the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor." 

When we spend time in ‘drinking’ in God (1-3) through worship, listening and prayer, we come to encounter with his loving and powerful presence. See Part One 

An encounter with God’s loving and powerful presence changes us. When we begin to see God as He is, we begin to understand ourselves as we are - His dearly loved people. We become what we spend time looking at! (2 Cor. 3:18) So how do we begin to see ourselves? What is our new identity? At MBCC we want to know and walk in the glorious identity God has for us!

We are blessed (3) Just as God made a covenant with David to be with him, make his name great, subdue his enemies, faithfully love him and his descendants, and establish their authority for ever (1 Chronicles 17:7-14), so David’s promised blessing becomes our blessing, since we who are ‘in Christ’ are legally David’s descendants. (Acts 13:32-34, Eph. 1:3, 2:11-13)

Take some time to consider David’s blessings from the Chronicles passage – what would it look like for us to live life thinking that all these blessings are our legal inheritance? How would we view our families, our finances, our challenges if we truly believed that we are rightful heirs of David’s sure blessings? Why not speak to the circumstances in your life right now and command them to come into line with the blessings promised to David – in Jesus’name?

We are influential (4) David was raised up as a leader and powerful voice to the nations to testify to them of the goodness and power of His God. Every battle David won caused people to know the power and greatness of David’s God. (1 Chronicles 18:1-11) In every place that David took over and established his rule of justice and righteousness (14) people came to see and understand more of the justice and righteousness of God. God is raising the people of MBCC up to leaders and people of influence whose testimony goes out to all people concerning the greatness of our God. He is raising up people who are blessed to be a blessing.

We are glorious (5) Its easy to believe that God is glorious – we sing about it all the time. Bur do we believe that we are glorious? Not of ourselves, but because we are indwelt by a glorious God, and endowed with His splendor. When God invites us to spend time in worship, enjoying His glorious presence, it is not because He has an ego problem and needs to be told how great he is. It is because worship is His way of making us glorious, like Him. God is raising MBCC to be a house of His glorious presence – where people encounter Him, are transformed to become glorious like their God, and go out to influence their world with His love and power.

2Co 3:18 And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Our Church Identity - Part 1

posted Aug 9, 2012, 8:28 PM by Chris McRae   [ updated Nov 5, 2014, 5:13 PM ]

FINDING OUR IDENTITY

As a church community, Isaiah 55 has been critical for us in our understanding of who God says we are. I would like us to take a journey of exploration into the land of His word/promise that God has given us. Like the Israelites who were sent in to explore the land they were to inhabit, God has given us His word, and invites us to explore it, dream over it, examine it for riches. Out of this identity we make our decisions, take our stance of faith when circumstances seem opposed to us, set the direction of our vision and efforts. His word over us becomes the divine prophetic invitation to become all that He has purposed for us to become, both as individuals and as a community. (Eph 2:10)

Before you read the thoughts below, why not spend a few minutes reading Isaiah 55 for yourself. Ask the Holy Spirit to highlight His thoughts for you as you read. Underline the words or phrases that stand out to you. Ask God to show you His prophetic vision of MBCC.

PART ONE: MBCC IS A HOUSE OF HIS PRESENCE

Is 55: 1-3
1 "Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.
2 Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.
3 Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.

If God is not present in the house we are building we have no reason to exist. God invites us to come to Him (3) – He and his presence alone make us more than a gathering of do-gooders or a social club.
Here are some things about God’s presence from Isaiah 55:

His presence is inclusive and inviting. All are welcome to come. Ironically, those who are able to receive are those who have come to the end of their own resources and recognise their desperate need for Him. (1)

His presence is gracious, good and deeply satisfying. (2) God knows our deepest needs, and being in his presence will feed and delight our souls.

His presence is a place of listening and promise (3). When we are with God He is not silent. He speaks, and His word to us is sure.

His presence is trustworthy and unconditional love. (3b) To be with Him is to be loved, and to live from our new identity as dearly loved children of the Father.


This is Part One of a five part series – the other parts will go on to examine the rest of
Isaiah 55. Thanks for being part of the journey!!

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