Centrality / Universality (Fellowship Notes) – March 1, 2022 (60/365)

I took down some notes while I attended an online Bible study hosted by Pastor Joedy. I couldn’t pass up on missing today’s session because I’ve been absent for 2 consecutive meetings already, and I missed his perspectives, as well as the points of view of everyone else who joined us on the call.

I respect Pastor Joedy in particular because of his personal experiences with the Gospel, and how the Gospel truly transformed his life. Long story short, during his days as a youth pastor I imagine he was certainly the first one to shout at his congregation regarding how our works and performance are the center of the Christian life. As the years progressed and as he shifted to being a full-on pastor, I’m assuming he kept this as his central theme.

During the early 2010’s Pastor Joedy found out he had a tumor or something in his brain. It was at this point that our senior Pastor Oscar shared a simple message to him, regarding the Gospel of grace. I can testify on his behalf that he was delivered from his sickness as faith arose upon hearing the word of God… It clearly shows when you hear him talk about the finished work of Christ, a complete turnaround from where he was so many years ago.

The first time I attended the online fellowship he headed, I was just so pleasantly surprised to hear how other people from different walks of life were also delivered into the same Gospel… how they were free of fear and delivered from condemnation, how they appreciated the finished work of Jesus Christ preceding anything and everything else in their own lives… It’s beautiful to hear the Gospel coming from such a diverse group – different points of view testifying to the same Christ.

Today we talked about preaching in grace, and while I usually cringe at these sorts of step-by-step methodologies taught and being passed off as sermons, you’ll see why I chose to stay and listen. I mean, I trusted pastor Joedy, of course, but the quality of the message he shared kept me listening.

It was suggested that a preacher may want to seriously consider the following aspects when preparing for a message.

  1. Christ is always the center of every message we should preach.
    • So you see why I stayed. You can talk about methodologies all you want, hell, if you’re bold you can bring it to politics or controversial issues that need to be discussed, but the entire message, not just the end, should stay connected to Jesus Christ and His finished work. I totally agree with this.
    • Instead of being anthopocentric (?), the message should be ‘Christocentric’… now, while I was thinking about this I was imagining, that as Christ is in us and as we are in Him, living, moving, and having our being in Him, we certainly speak and talk in Him as well. I think that our understanding that Christ is with us and moves and grooves in us ought to take away any fear we have that we AREN’T making Him the center. Christ is the Living Word, and as such He is the Life in our words.
    • Other Christo-centric preachers are not competition. We all have our own styles and our own experiences, but we all point to Christ and as such should support each other as different parts and approaches in the same body of Christ.
      • This one hit me hard, because I used to balk at other preachers who had more support than I did, but their messages weren’t exactly on point – or at least I thought that way because part of me was jealous? I don’t know.
    • You build on Christ, that others would build on Christ.
  1. Prepare with Prayer.
    • As you pray, messages and points come into mind. Not that you never not pray; I believe the Holy Spirit continues to intercede for us, on and off, with groanings that we may not be able to understand for ourselves. The way I’ve always understood this is that God reads between the lines, our thoughts, our sighs, what we want to say versus what we mean to say, etc.
    • Always write. Obviously this point resonates with me a lot. I didn’t share this but I’ve always liked that line – Reading makes a prepared man, speaking makes a ready man, writing makes a clarified (sharpened) man.
    • What I did share at this point was, although our radars are ready for what the Lord has to say at any given moment, we shouldn’t be neurotic to record each and every ‘revelation’ as if God would never remind us of anything that He wants us to see or know.
    • The other folks were all about being ready at all times to take down what the Lord ‘speaks’ to them; This is in contrast to what I believe which is since we have the mind of Christ, even our thoughts are laced with Christ. This isn’t to say that all our thoughts are true, but Christ is the Life in our thoughts. I think one of them went a little too far when she mentioned that even the clouds have a ‘message’ from God… well, she may be right, but I’m not that… superstitious, I guess? Maybe just a little bit stitious. IYKYK.
  1. Speak the Word in faith
  • Most people I interact with often know what I think about this. It’s not for us to speak out in faith and get what we expect. And it’s not like God is a genie we can bark orders to. Okay, I’m good.
  • I’m glad Pastor Joedy clarified that we speak His Word, meaning the Bible. That way, I think a better way for me to see and say this is Bible-sourced prayer. Like some of our prayers would come out as spontaneous and from our thoughts, not necessarily accurate word-per-word matches with what the Bible says, while some of our prayers would be literal declarations of the verses we have in mind on our situations.
    • Another mindset I have when it comes to prayer is that you’re doing it for yourself just as much as you are helping the person, thing, situation you’re praying for. I mean, it’s something to the point of praying until you feel at peace with the situation, the burden you’re choosing to bear with your brother/sister in Christ.
  • Pastor Joedy also said, ‘When declaring you’re either planting or watering the seed.’ I guess this is true in that prayer, much like any sort of speech, adds thoughts into minds – ours, and others; if thoughts are not added, they are added-upon, or reinforced.
  • One last point, which sounded pretty fresh for me: Don’t force the issue, let God’s Word do its job. Again, God works in His perfect wisdom and timing, so His Word develops in His perfect wisdom and timing.
  1. I missed the exact point or verbiage here, but it was in the lines of spending time in the Word.
    • Read/Meditate/Study/Relate to the main theme
    • It’s true. How could you speak out Scripture if you don’t read it? Other books reveal small, precious details as you repeat them – With the Bible, you certainly have more than just small details but literally Life jumping from its words right into your brain and being. So it is with the Word of Life – It leads you to understand Christ, the Living Word, so much more, and He adds Life to your words.

And the thing here is, reading the Bible as any other book may not make very much sense to the veiled mind… but to those of us who have sought after the Way, Truth, and the Life and appreciated how Christ found us far before we found Him, we see the Life behind even the most bizarre of verses. As He lives, so we live in this world – as new creations, reconciled fully to the Father; All of Christ and all of us in a beautiful union. So our words and thoughts are generated under the watchful, loving eye of our Lord, with inspiration, and even in failure of delivery, Christ causes all things to work for our good.

Friends, Christ is in the Word. Christ is in our spoken Word, Christ is in our prayers… and if this is true for all of us who believe in general, imagine the power of the preacher when he continues to appreciate the Word of Life, and the Living Word who is with Him and will never leave nor forsake Him.

It is all about Jesus.

March has just begun, and I am excited.

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