Over 270 searchable teachings on the weekly readings, healing prayer and congregational development for church leaders, home churches and those who want to go deeper in their spiritual life in Christ. Available on Holy Cross Anglican YouTube channel June-August 2021.
The conversion experience of St. Paul
teaches us that Christianity is more about relationship than following
religious practice. Paul was one of the most religious men in history – his
whole life was focused on keeping, teaching and preserving Jewish religious
practice. He had a dramatic conversion experience – an Epiphany moment, when he
realized he had been seduced into an idolatrous tribal religion that was
fighting against God. This Epiphany moment was not the result of study or
teaching. Paul had a personal experience of the supernatural. He was converted
from the darkness and fear of religious control to the light and love of
personal spiritual relationship and freedom. He was dependent on Jesus and
experiences of the Holy Spirit every day of his ministry. The Readings
challenge us to continue to grow daily in our own supernatural relationship
with Jesus – to be naturally supernatural.
Paul’s conversion was a dramatic Epiphany moment
Very few people become serious
Christians as a result of a good sermon or teaching. We are all naturally
convinced of the rightness of our own view of life. Paul needed an experience
of the supernatural:
26.13-14 “I saw a
light brighter than the sun blazing around me and my companions, we all fell to
the ground and I heard a voice...”
could only be Jesus – full of love and forgiveness
realized he had been profoundly wrong in his beliefs
had been fighting against God -persecuting the followers of the long expected Messiah
religious teachers had failed him and become seduced by pride - tribalism and
religious idolatry, legalism and ritual
was overwhelmed by Jesus love and forgiveness
changed from being on a personal holiness quest to urgently sharing the
Good News of God’s healing love and forgiveness in Jesus all over the world
Paul depend on the Holy Spirit every day of his ministry
An ‘epiphany moment’ is a dramatic new
and life-changing understanding of an important idea. It is when we suddenly ‘see’
or ‘get it’ and come to a deeper understanding of an important truth. For
example Isaiah 49.1-7 is a prophecy that Israel will be restored by the words
of by a despised and obedient servant – as opposed to the mighty army of a warrior
king that the people had hoped for. John has a similar Epiphany moment when he
realizes that his humble cousin Jesus, is the long expected Messiah who will
save the whole world from its sin by acting as the sacrificial ‘Lamb of God”.
These Epiphany moments prepare us for our own Epiphany moments as we grow in
our spiritual life.
Isaiah’s Epiphany moment was a prophecy of a divine servant In the Prophecy we are told the
servant will be:
and abhorred by the nations”.
will be like a “polished arrow” with a ‘mouth like a sharpened sword”
of leading an army the servant will be obedient and speak words of great power
The Gospel Reading (Matthew 3.13-17) begins
with an important conversation between Jesus and John the Baptist. John does
not think Jesus needs to be baptized. In fact John says he needs to be baptized
by Jesus. Both statements are true. John, like all of us who want to be in
right relationship with God, does need the baptism of the Holy Spirit that only
Jesus can give him. But notice that Jesus is not thinking about himself. Jesus
is thinking of the Fathers' will that a new covenant be established. This new
covenant of Christian Baptism includes the baptism of water but goes beyond
repentance and forgiveness to include a new personal relationship with God
through the Holy Spirit. The readings help us understand how intimate and
powerful this covenant relationship is to be. Jesus is modeling how we enter
this covenant relationship through our own baptism.
1. Isaiah teaches
us how personal this covenant relationship is
Under the Covenant of Moses God was a remote
figure that put his Spirit on individuals and gave that one person guidance and
Laws for the whole nation. Now God is promising to do something different. God
is promising a "servant" who will establish justice and right
The servant will not be an authority figure like Moses. He will not
do this through "shouting or crying out…"(42.2). There is to be
no violence - not even breaking a "bruised reed" (42.3).
Instead the servant will establish justice and righteousness through
"faithfulness" and not getting discouraged. A dramatic modern
example might be the Civil Right marchers who established right
relationships between colored people and white people in the US through
Jesus is to establish His Kingdom by being ‘faith full’ as opposed
to being ‘faith less’ in His covenant relationship.
Jesus is not alone - just as we are not alone. The Isaiah prophecy
goes on to describe how intimate this relationship is to be. God will be
with the Servant every day. God will call Him, hold Him by the hand and
will "keep Him" (v.6). His plan is to make the Servant a
"…Covenant for the people and a light for the gentiles." (v.6).
servant is not just making a covenant. The Servant is the Covenant.
2. Isaiah teaches
how powerful this new Baptism Covenant is
The Readings (Jer. 31.7-14; Eph. 1.3 and John1.10-18) give us a deeper
understanding of God’s love and plan for humanity. While almost everyone
believes in God, there are very different ideas of what God is like or what God
expects. The Hebrew people of Jesus Day claimed a special relationship based on
their history. From their history they knew that God was the creator and that
God wanted a relationship of love and obedience with His people. God was with
the Hebrews in the sense that their ancestors included kings and prophets who
had spoken to and seen God in various forms. With the birth of Jesus it was
possible to see and know exactly what God would be like in human form. The Gospel
of John begins with an overview of the life of Jesus that is very basic, very
simple and very profound.
1. God was in the world
Jesus presence on earth in bodily form is a historical fact. There is
written evidence from non-Christian sources. There is also a great body of
historical evidence from the Gospel and Epistle writers and from the stories of
the early martyrs. The stories of the martyrs is circumstantial evidence that
something very special was going on after Jesus death. The evidence points to
the conclusion that God the creator was present with the created.
Christianity is not just
someone’s idea of God. Christianity is not a philosophy.
Christianity is a
revealed religion that was revealed historically and is still being
revealed to the faithful. It is about real people, real healings and lives
that were changed. The stories are either true or not true.
Jesus claimed to be the
Son of God in a special way, was condemned for blasphemy and went to His
death believing he truly was God with us. It was either true or a fraud.
Cannot rationally argue that Jesus was just a
great teacher or good man. He was either God with us, a fraud or or mentally
2. God was not recognized or received The Gospels tell us that most people, including most of the religious
leaders did not recognize Jesus as the Messiah. This lead directly to his
execution for blasphemy – for presumably claiming to be god when you are not