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June 2017

 
 

paSTOR`S PAGE

June 2017

 

June 4

 

 

After Moses came down from Mount Sinai, God commanded him to build the Tabernacle of meeting, a house of God, a mobile sanctuary in which the presence and glory of the Creator would come down during their travel to Canaan. Then, in the book of Leviticus, in approximately 1450 BC, God gives laws, ordinances, and celebrations for His people through Moses. In Chapter 23, God establishes the celebration of Pentecost, 50 days after Passover – the celebration of the exodus from Egypt during which they sacrificed the salvation lamb.
Approximately 1480 years later, “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” is sacrificed for the salvation of humanity from sin and all who believe in the atoning blood are saved and come out from under the authority of sin and death. 50 days after His death and resurrection and 10 days after His ascension to heaven in the midst of his disciples, the Holy Spirit of God comes down upon the first harvest - the twelve disciples, Jesus’ family, the families that accompanied them, and the approximately three thousand newly converted at Peter’s sermon.
In the book of Acts, the filling with the Holy Spirit of born-again believers becomes a way of life. And so in this book we find eight different expressions that explain this spiritual experience: “to baptize with the Holy Spirit”, “to fill with the Holy Spirit”, “to be clothed with power from above”, “ to fall upon”, “to pour upon”, “to come upon”, “to receive”, “to give”. The first filling of the Holy Spirit has the evidence of speaking in another tongue; we call this the BAPTISM or the FILLING WITH THE SPIRIT and it is unrepeatable. The other fillings that follow we call REFILLING WITH SPIRIT and they are repeatable. The filling with the Spirit is a commandment of the Lord Jesus who empowers us to be efficient witnesses, assures us of the power of personal sanctification and the gifts of the Spirit for ministry, and raises our consecration and worship for God and the love of people. In the book of Acts we find five experiences of baptism with the Holy Spirit (there are many experiences of the filling):
1. Jerusalem (Acts 2:1-21) – the external manifestation was the sound of a powerful wind, tongues like fire, and speaking in other tongues. The method used by God was devotional; in other words, they were in an atmosphere of prayer.
2. Samaria (Acts 8:14-25) – the external manifestation is not explained but is present because Simon the sorcerer saw it and wanted to buy the power in order to do the same manifestations. The method used by God was ordination, in other words, the laying of hands by the apostles.
3. Damascus (Acts 9:10-22) - the external manifestation was healing and speaking in tongues; this is talked about in 1 Corinthians 14:18. The method used by God was ordination, in other words, the laying of hands by the apostles.
4. Caesarea (Acts 10:44-48) - the external manifestation was speaking in tongues and glorifying the name of God. The method used by God was circumstantial, in other words, the atmosphere of listening to Peter preaching the Gospel.
5. Ephesus (Acts 19:1-7) - the external manifestation was speaking in tongues and prophesying. The method used by God was ordination, in other words, the laying of hands by the apostles.
Approximately 2000 years have passed since then, but the gifts sent by God- the Bible, The Savior Jesus, and the Comforter Holy Spirit - are in us and among us. Being deified, empowered, and sent by God, “what kind of people ought you to be (ought we be)? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of the Lord and speed its coming” (2 Peter 2:11-12). One day we will speak in past tense of the coming of the day of the Lord, but there is a great risk that we will not all be there

 

 June 11

 

The diaspora confronts immigrants with new provocations, opportunities and risks in the social, cultural, intellectual, material, familial, and spiritual domains. An ethnic group is defined as a collective in the midst of a society or state, having origin, language, religion, tradition, a historical past, a common culture, blood ties, and a typical physiognomy.
Similarly to any other nation, Romanians have certain cultural tendencies: they are hardworking and skilled, frugal, ambitious, sacrificial, adaptable and resourceful, knowledgeable with professional abilities, most are non-practicing religious people, they cook at home, they enjoy festivities, and they are drawn to their own families. Evangelical Romanians brought with them their spiritual-moral heritage: fasting until evening without water and coffee, decent clothing, church services that are complex and spiritual, strong families, modest worship, obedience and honor of parents, entering into marriage through wedding, perseverant prayer for the Holy Spirit, respect for the elders, good manners….
The tendencies of Romanian evangelical church members are: intense fellowship, charity, tenderheartedness, helping each other in need, hardworking, hospitable, with a sense of ownership – they have built large homes and churches, traditionalist, inclined towards formalism and legalism, inhospitable at church services, inclined to judge others around them, minimal interest in local evangelism given the context of their immigration in the United States.
There are several theories that explain the complexity of the integration of ethnic groups:
1. The multiculturalist theory, present in the United States, Canada, and Australia. Ethnic groups benefit from equal rights in all areas of society, keeping their ethnic identity.
2. The assimilation theory, found in France and Belgium. Ethnic groups are assimilated in society as citizens of the state, without the ability to keep their ethnic specificities.
3. The theory of formal inclusion, practiced in Germany and Japan. Ethnic groups are not generally accepted since national identity is generally constructed on the basis of “blood ties”.
Any ethnic group that establishes itself as immigrants elsewhere experiences three phases of the process of grafting in the country they’ve relocated to:
1. Accommodation – getting used to a new way of life. Accommodation does not assume integration.
2. Integration – incorporation, inclusion, embedding into a whole. Integration assumes the acquisition of language, but does not assume cultural assimilation.
3. Assimilation - denationalization, resemblance to another group of people by renouncing their own culture. Assimilation involves learning the language and accepting the culture.
Among the difficulties that are specific to immigration, we find:
1. Bilingualism. Language is instrumental for identity, communication, connection and socialization. “’Brothers and fathers, listen now to my defense’. When they heard him address them in Aramaic (their native language), they became even more quiet” (Acts 22:1-2).
2. Biculturalism. The cultural element is very important, being the sum of all we are (values, customs, traditions…). Behind every language there is a culture and every culture has its specific particularities. “I told them that it is not the Roman custom to hand over anyone before they have faced their accusers and have had an opportunity to defend themselves against the charges” (Acts 25:16).
3.Bi-liturgical. Specific forms of worship, more conservative or more liberal, more introverted or more extroverted.
The greatest difficulty is the coexistence of the components of the two cultures, Romanian and American, in the same church. The price of this unity is a balanced vision, a lot of wisdom, patience, and maturity.

 

  June 25

 

The Sermon on the Mount in one of the most celebrated speeches spoken by the Savior, surnamed “The Principles or the Constitution of the Kingdom”. The narration in the book of Matthew chapter 5 mentions, “Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them” (Matthew 5:1-2). It is essential to remark that God gave His Son, and the Son gave us teaching. For the last approximately 2000 years God’s counsel has been available to humans. The people who lead the planet make coalitions, they arm themselves, and promote politics that keep people far away from God’s counsel. They propose happiness based on humanism, economics, and politics. God offers happiness based on holiness.  The mass of people who heard the Sermon on the Mount represented the social classes present at that time in Israel. But surely, the Sermon on the Mount is dedicated to all people in all eras and in all places. At the same time, back then and in the present, certain points from the sermon apply better for certain categories of people. 1. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). In the mass gathered on the mount there were many people who were poor, panhandlers, and homeless. 2. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (verse 4). Perhaps during the time when the Savior was saying these words, many desperate people and many children thirstily wept in the arms of their mothers. 3. “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (verse 5). One of the 12 disciples at that time was Simon the Zealot, a member of the Zealots group. The members of this group were nationalist fundamentalists and the fanatics of the time, inspired by the example of Judas Maccabee, under whom the Jews had rebelled hundreds of years prior. 4. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (verse 6). While the Savior was addressing people who were suffering from hunger and thirst, he was strongly accenting the hunger and thirst for righteousness. 5. “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (verse 7). In the crowds, there were many rich people that had the resources to care for many who were downtrodden. 6. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (verse 8). The priests, Pharisees, and Scholars, whom the Lord constantly accused of hypocrisy and malice were present, listening to the sermon about the clean heart. 7. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (verse 9). Two of the disciples were nicknamed “sons of thunder” and were hidden in the crowd, surprised at hearing the plea for a peaceful life. 8. “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (verse 10). The Lord’s disciples, like the Lord, were hunted by the Roman political authorities and the religious authorities in Jerusalem their entire lives. In fact, most of them were martyred for their faith in Christ. 9. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (verses 11-12). It is worth noting the fact that two of the promises are in the present (verses 3, 10) and the rest are for the future (verses 4-9, 11). The kingdom is now ours, we can be sure we are saved.  The escape from trouble, hardship, and loss will be in the future, when the Kingdom of God will be on earth. If here and now the Kingdom of heaven has us, then and there we will have the Kingdom. Joy it is, and joy it will be!

9. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (verses 11-12). It is worth noting the fact that two of the promises are in the present (verses 3, 10) and the rest are for the future (verses 4-9, 11). The kingdom is now ours, we can be sure we are saved.  The escape from trouble, hardship, and loss will be in the future, when the Kingdom of God will be on earth. If here and now the Kingdom of heaven has us, then and there we will have the Kingdom. Joy it is, and joy it will be!