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Monday, August 17, 2009

Church news, 8/18

It's one thing to know the Will of God, but another thing to understand it, Fr. David pointed out in this week's sermon. The sermon was based upon Ephesians 5:17 'Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.'

He said,
"The will of God is summed up in the two 'greats' -- the Great Commandment and the Great Commission" . The Great Commandment: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind", and "You shall love your neighbor as yourself"(Matthew 22:37-40). The Great Commission: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations..."(Matthew 28:19-20).

"We know the will of God (at least in general terms), but we also need to understand it. So the larger question is, can we know the mind of God, even though we are finite and imperfect and God is infinite and perfect?" Fr. David asked.

For the answer, he directed us to I Corinthians Chapter 2:9-12, where St. Paul writes:

as it is written: “ What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love Him.” God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For what person knows a man's thoughts except the spirit of the man which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God, that we might understand the gifts bestowed on us by God.

Paul makes a striking analogy: The human will is understood by the human spirit in the same way God's Will is understood by God's Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit understands the depths of God and transforms us into beings with renewed minds and hearts, willing to obey God's Will and also able to understand it (within the finite limits of our nature).

God wants us to know His Will through our getting to know Him better. God will certainly help us to understand His Will to the degree that we are willing to apply His Will. "If we are first willing to obey God, and then ask for His Will to be done in our lives, He will honor this," Fr. David explained. With our willingness to apply His Will affirmed, "Then we can do what King Solomon did, pray for wisdom. God will honor this. As we are learning to apply/do the Will of God (put His Holy purposes into practice in our lives), we'll come to understand His Will better in the process of living into His Will.

A further point was made: We need to be careful not to be self-serving as we seek God's Will. As we grow, we recognize that this is about God first and that understanding His Will is not a pursuit that is just for ourselves, but for the Church also. As we are willing to be vessels for God's Holy Will to be done in and through us, then the Holy Spirit will fill us more fully with renewal, power, and even understanding."

Indeed, we were reminded: as we 1) open to God spiritually, with 2) our minds being renewed through faith and with 3) our willingness to obey God's Will as we understand it and 4) as we pursue His Will not just for ourselves but for Him and His Church, then we will understand His Will, even coming to the place of having the 'mind of Christ' as stated in 1 Corinthians 2:16!

NOTES: The Women's Book Group has chosen their next readings: Why Faith Matters by David Wolpe, the chapter on Mary Magdalene in Twelve Extraordinary Women by John MacArthur, and viewing of the Ben Stein documentary Expelled, which is about the Intelligent Design vs. Darwinism debate. The next meeting will be in October, date and place to be announced.

There will be two after-service events next Sunday, 8/23. During the fellowship hour there will be a half-hour video presentation on alternative "Green Houses" eldercare in which seniors live in a caring group home environment rather than a larger institution. Then we will adjourn to the Sanders', 3092 Culver Road, for a dish-to-pass picnic. Parking is available in Culver-Ridge Plaza, then just cross Ridge and walk north a few doors on Culver.

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