“Sermon at the Geneva School Baccalaureate”
by The Rev. Charlie Holt

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Geneva School Class of 2017

The Spirit-Filled Life: All the Fullness of God

The Spirit-Filled Life: All the Fullness of God (Lake Mary, FL: Bible Study Media, Inc., 2015)

THE SPIRIT-FILLED LIFE: ALL THE FULLNESS OF GOD

A study for the season after Pentecost

JESUS GAVE US AN AMAZING GIFT. ARE WE EXPERIENCING IT?

Jesus calls the Holy Spirit a “gift” who will guide us, lead us, and empower us. Yet many believers don’t experience the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives. This unique small-group curriculum provides a space in which we can explore what it truly means to “walk in the Spirit” on a daily basis.

This small-group curriculum centers on a 6-part DVD teaching series examining the life-giving and creative work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

As you walk through this curriculum with a small group or Sunday school class, you will have the opportunity to hear in-depth Biblical teaching and openly discuss what you learn in your group. You’ll also strengthen the bonds of community as you grow together, allowing your lives to be powerfully changed by the truths you discover. It’s time to begin the journey to a Spirit-filled life!

The Spirit-Filled Life is part of the Christian Life Trilogy series.

Spirit-Filled Life

The Spirit-Filled Life devotional book has a Small Group companion Study Guide with a teaching DVD.

Chapters include:
Baptized
Adopted
Transformed
Equipped
Empowered
Anointed

I am the Resurrection and the Life

The stage is set for a climactic revelation of Jesus’ glory through the resurrection of a dead man. The disciples are very much aware that a return trip to Judea could result in Jesus’ persecution and death by stoning. Jesus persists in His determination to return to Bethany in Judea because “Lazarus has died.” Jesus hints at some great sign He will perform “that you may believe.” Thomas has his doubts as he girds up to go and die with Lazarus (and Jesus).

The Raising of Lazarus by Jean Jouvenet

The miraculous raising of Lazarus from being dead three days becomes not only a demonstration of Jesus’ divinity but also of His humanity. “Jesus wept” (11:35), is both the shortest verse in the Bible and perhaps the most profoundly compassionate. When He sees Martha and Mary, and Lazarus’ friends and family all weeping, Jesus is described as being “deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled.” Not only is Jesus acquainted with human sorrows and grief, He shares in them.

Jesus also is the one who can reverse human suffering and sorrow. One day, He promises to wipe away every tear from our eyes. In a display of the “glory of God” (11:40), Jesus calls a three-day-dead Lazarus to “come out!” (11:43)

Here, Jesus utters the fifth of His seven great “I am” statements.

Jesus said to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (11:25-26)

Jesus is God in the flesh; He is the great “I am.” Jesus wept.

He holds the power of life and death in His sovereign hands. He is the bread of life, the only one who deeply satisfies our hungers. He is the light of life who disperses falsehood and darkness. He is the source of living water who heals our hurts and quenches our deepest thirsts. He is the only gate which leads to eternal life. For, He is the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for the sheep.

Do you believe this?

Martha’s response was, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

What is your response? Do you believe this? Today in prayer, offer your “Yes Lord; I believe” to the Lord and Savior of the World.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, where else would we go? You have the words of eternal life. Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.


This post originally appeared on The Bible Challenge here.
Featured image: The Raising of Lazarus by Jean Jouvenet via https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jean-Baptiste_Jouvenet_-_The_Raising_of_Lazarus_-_WGA12033.jpg

The Sheep Hear His Voice

I am the Good Shepherd

Sadly, no matter what God does or says, there are certain people whose hearts are so hard to Him that they will never turn and believe. The root source of such hardness of heart can come from many places: prideful arrogance, greed, lust for vain pursuits.

The Good Shepherd 103 Bernard Plockhorst

So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” – John 10:24

The question and statement at face value sounds like a genuine desire to know Jesus. But as we read deeper into the text we find out He already has told them plainly, and yet they did not believe. By the time we reach the end of John chapter 10, the same questioners are picking up stones to stone Him for blasphemy.

In the opening chapter of the Gospel of John, Jesus is identified as the Creator, the True Light that enlightens all people, the Word made flesh dwelling among us. And yet there is also this concerning line, “He came to that which was his own but his own did not receive him.” As we arrive at chapter 10 in the Gospel, we reach a point of climax with some of the Jews and Jesus. Never has there been a more clear confrontation of the deep rejection by unbelief that Jesus received from “his own.”

Yet in spite of those who do not believe, there are also sheep who hear His voice. They recognize the Good Shepherd. They know that the Good Shepherd would lead them through the valley of the shadow of death to still waters that revive the soul.

The difference between those who reject Jesus and those who hear His voice really truly comes down to matters of the heart. For the hardhearted, no amount of logical reasoning or displays of the power of God will convince them to give their lives to Jesus. But those who are the sheep of the Good Shepherd need only to hear His voice, and they respond by faith. Soften your heart and open your ears to the sound of the Shepherd’s voice.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. – John 10:27-28

Prayer: Heavenly Father, you have promised that those who hear the voice of the Good Shepherd and follow Him will never perish but receive eternal life. Speak to my heart, guide me, open my life to receive the abundant life that you promise to those who follow the voice of the Shepherd. In the name of your Son our Lord, Jesus Christ, Amen.


This post originally appeared on The Bible Challenge here.
Feature image: The Good Shepherd 103 Bernard Plockhorst via https://www.flickr.com/photos/waitingfortheword/5691907434

Why a Donkey?

Jesus and Palm Sunday

So what’s the big deal about the donkey? Why did Jesus ride a donkey into Jerusalem? Why is this such a celebrated act for Christians on Palm Sunday?

Entry into Jerusalem, Hippolyte Flandrin, 1842

It is called the triumphal entry. The scene of Jesus’ entry into the city of Jerusalem conveyed a certain anticipation that something important was happening. The details of the entrance were precisely choreographed and planned by Jesus himself.

The disciples were told to go to a precise location where they would find tied a donkey and her colt. They were instructed to “untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, the Lord needs them, and he will send them at once” (Matthew 21:2-3)

Interestingly, the disciples seem to accept these instructions without question. No one asks Jesus, “Now why are we doing all of this? Doesn’t this seem a little strange?”

Matthew, the writer of the Gospel, anticipates that the reader hearing the story read may be more than a little puzzled.

We who have heard the story anticipate that Jesus is a great leader who will bring hope and salvation. And yet the drama of a person riding on a donkey seems a little anticlimactic, and to put it bluntly, rather normal.

People ride into Jerusalem on donkeys on a daily basis. These were beasts of burden, farm animals. They were the work vehicles of the ancient world.

But the significance of the donkey is found in the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy which provides this interpretive key to understanding Jesus instructions and actions. It reads,

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!

Behold, your king is coming to you;
righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey (Zechariah 9:9).

Matthew, the gospel writer, understands Jesus’ actions to be a fulfillment of a prediction made by the prophet Zechariah concerning the coming of the royal Messianic king to Jerusalem the capital city of Judah and Israel. The prophecy explicitly foretold that when the Messiah comes to usher in the age of restoration, salvation and peace he will enter the city riding on the back of a donkey and her colt.

Matthew doesn’t quote the entire reference from Zechariah. But, if we go back to the original prophecy we would have greater understanding of the reason for the donkey as opposed to some other means of transportation.

I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim
and the war horse from Jerusalem;
and the battle bow shall be cut off,
and he shall speak peace to the nations;
his rule shall be from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth.

As for you also,
because of the blood of my covenant with you,
I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit.

Return to your stronghold,
O prisoners of hope;
today I declare that I will restore to you double (Zechariah 9:10-12).

The donkey is a sign that the Messiah will come as an instrument of peace and restoration and not as an instrument of war and violence.

A Roman king would enter a city triumphantly riding in on chariot powered by a mighty stallion of war. His parade would be long, with battalions of troops with swords and spears, with chariots and war horses. In his train, would be the spoils of battles, trophies in the form of slaves and women captured in humiliation and defeat, treasures galore.

We still use the phrase of the hero riding in on a “white horse” to save the day or rescue the oppressed. Jesus rode in on a simple donkey to save the world.

Here we see the mystery and paradox Jesus intentionally established by his actions. Jesus would indeed ride into the city on the beast of burden enthroned on the praises of a mighty crowd of supporters. Jesus salvation comes through humility and humiliation. Yet would the crowds perceive just how low he would go for them.

The action was public and dramatic.

“Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9).

The story describes how the “whole city was stirred up”. Those who were roused by the activity questioned others in the crowd, “Who is this?” And the crowd would respond,

“This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee” (Matthew 21:10-11).

The question is left for us to answer. “Who is this?” We live in a world that marvels and celebrates the powerful and wealthy. Yes the king of the universe enters our hearts and lives, not with bravado and pomp, but through humble access.

As we embark on Holy Week, humble your heart. Jesus would gain lordship over your life. Submit pride of self to the Servant King. Walk the way of the cross with Jesus, take on his mindset, manifest his character and live his life. The path to true triumph is a humble road.