January 26, 2014

Serious Christians Are Naturally Supernatural (Feast of St. Paul)

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.

 1. 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:
  •          Acts 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...”
·         Voice could only be Jesus – full of love and forgiveness

·         Paul realized he had been profoundly wrong in his beliefs

·         He had been fighting against God -  persecuting the followers of the long expected Messiah

·         His religious teachers had failed him and become seduced by pride - tribalism and religious idolatry, legalism and ritual

·         Paul was overwhelmed by Jesus love and forgiveness

·         Paul 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

2. Paul depend on the Holy Spirit every day of his ministry
Jesus taught his follower how this should work in the Gospel Reading - “...For it will not be you speaking but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”(Mt. 10.20). Paul became the greatest teacher of the Christian Church. With the exception of one 2 week visit to Peter he had no instruction or supervision by the leaders of the Christian Church in Jerusalem. Paul learned everything he taught from his supernatural relationship with Jesus and the Holy Spirit:

·         That Jesus would not abandon him when he was in trouble

·         That Jesus would guide him in where to go – Asia / Turkey

·         That the Holy Spirit would give him the strength to endure hardship – shipwreck, beatings, imprisonment

·         Give him words to speak in dealing with opposition

·         In May I spent 2 weeks on a student tour of Turkey, Greece and Albania – I was overwhelmed by Paul’s courage

3. Readings challenge us all to become naturally supernatural
Many people have difficulty believing the Biblical stories of supernatural physical and spiritual healing – it’s part of the Kingdom

·         I had a vision of light for our time here

·         Jesus healed people to demonstrate the in-breaking Kingdom

·         We are surrounded by people who are desperate for physical, spiritual and emotional healing – sadly go to other churches

·         We are afraid of this ministry – it is dangerous, hard to control

·         Bishop invited me to give a teaching on healing to clergy

·         Good News is that some Anglican Churches in England are in revival as a result of supernatural healing experiences and people inviting the Holy Spirit into their lives on Alpha Courses

The Bishop of Calgary has the same humorous conversation with many parishes he visits. He asks them what God wants to do in that place. They tell him what they want to do. He repeats the question and asks them to consider what God wants to do in that place. Today, on the Feast of St. Paul, (at St. Paul's on St. Vincent) let me challenge you all to become naturally supernatural and consider what God wants to do in this place.

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