Penticost 2023

Red Couch Theology

Sermon Conversations with Alex and Aaron

There’s only so much we can cover in a Sunday morning gathering!
Each week, you’re invited to tune into our podcast at 11 am on Thursdays – recorded (and sometimes prerecorded) for later, online viewing.

What can you expect? Pastors Alex, Aaron, and the occasional guest having a casual conversation, diving deeper into ideas related to last Sunday’s teaching.

Ask Questions about the Sermon Series, PENTECOST – “Jesus (Working) Through Us”
by texting 720-316-3893 prior to, or during the “LIVE” Thursday podcast.

Blog sites:

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLCWnNSTN-6XA7oYy6TBfS0LAxqxPvxVjH

Apple Podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/guys-drinking-tea/id1616539767

Red Couch Theology2023-06-10T10:06:25-06:00

Jesus Prepares the Disciples for Change

What Jesus was doing in what is called His “Upper Room Discourse”, was to prepare the disciples for what would happen soon: the Holy Spirit would be working with and in them, then through them as they witness to the truth of Jesus’ gospel, preaching Jesus’ teachings in the world. But as they sat there listening to what he said, I can only imagine their response to what would have been unthinkable for them then.

Change! I think this word brings up mixed feelings for most people, and I’ve no doubt that what Jesus did and said in John 13-17 roused very mixed feelings in each of the disciples who heard or were affected directly by what was done and said.

For Peter – see John 13:6-10, 36-38.
For Judas Iscariot – see John 13:26-30.
For Thomas – see John 14:5-6.
For Philip – see John 14:8-10.

Again, all of my scripture quotations will come from the Amplified Bible.

I have told you these things while I am still with you.” John 14:25

You heard Me tell you, ‘I am going away, and I am coming back to you.’ If you [really] loved Me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going [back] to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.”

I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does take place, you may believe and have faith [in Me]. I will not speak with you much longer, for the ruler of the world (Satan) is coming. And he has no claim on Me [no power over Me nor anything that he can use against Me]; but so that the world may know [without any doubt] that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father has commanded Me [and act in full agreement with Him].” John 14:28-31a

This series has focused primarily on The Gospel of John chapter 14 which records Jesus telling them of the change coming in their relationship to him and the relationship they will have with his Father in the future. Also, he begins to tell them about the Holy Spirit of Truth who will come to live in them.

What the disciples really heard Jesus say at that time is covered in John 13-17, where he teaches about abiding in him and uses abiding as a branch in a grape vine as an example of what he means. He also explains more of who the Holy Spirit is and what and how he would help the disciples remember, learn and adhere to his teaching. Jesus also warns them of the consequences, of how the religious establishment would treat them, that they would grieve while other people would rejoice — but Jesus’s own joy will be in them. Then he prays for the disciples and for all of us down through the centuries who come to believe in and love and follow him.

Take some time and read through John 15-17. Try a different version if you have one, or check out some of the online Bible apps that make a variety of versions available to you. If you are familiar with John 13-17, see if the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit help you see something you haven’t seen before.

Jesus Prepares the Disciples for Change2023-06-12T06:29:32-06:00

Peaceful Holy Spirit

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27 NIV

What do you think Jesus meant when he said “I do not give ‘Peace’ to you as the world gives”?

My NIV text note on this verse says:

The term (peace) speaks, in effect, of the salvation that Christ’s redemptive work will achieve for His disciples – total well-being and inner rest of spirit, in fellowship with God. All true peace is His gift, which the repetition emphasizes.

The world Jesus lived in during His ministry (around 30-35 AD), was a world at peace, in that there was no world war. It was a time referred to as the “Pax Romana”. Worldly peace usually means no war, or if there just had been a war, then the conquered people were either enslaved or eliminated. Winning a war or conflict is NOT like the Peace Jesus gives us.

Notice the two words or phrases that are repeated in John 14:1 and John 14:27. Jesus mentioned twice that He gives us “peace” and also says in both of these verses “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” I believe these two thoughts are linked to each other. If my heart is troubled: if my thoughts are racing to every possible horrible conclusion in any given situation, then I certainly am not at peace and I am not experiencing the peace Jesus promised in John 14:27.

One of the Holy Spirit’s roles is to give us peace in the midst of any and all circumstances. The last part of John 14:1 is the key – “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.” Trusting in God, in all and every circumstance we encounter in our lives is the way to experience the peace He offers us. But it requires a surrender on our part.

Only God can give us this kind of peace – the kind that sustains us in every kind of difficulty.

I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:8 NIV

The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace. Psalm 29:11 NIV

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Colossians 3:15 NIV

I personally have found such comfort, help and encouragement most of my life from a group of verses in Philippians. But, after our son went home to heaven, I found that these same verses became even more meaningful – as a means of bringing peace instead of turmoil in a grieving heart. It is the Holy Spirit’s role to give us peace, but we have our part to play as well. I encourage you to read Philippians 4:4-9 in a version you enjoy. Look for the word “peace”; look for the commands given to us – things we are to do and the things we are NOT to do. I promise you, if you put into practice these commands, you will experience God’s peace. Remember the words from the hymn “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” as you listen to:

O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer

Peaceful Holy Spirit2023-06-10T09:21:11-06:00

His Peace — Despite Circumstances

If you could have one wish for yourself, what would it be? Maybe you’d ask for freedom, romantic love, security, family, a safe home, friends, a career, education, or financial security. What if your wish could be granted, but you could not experience peace? This was my experience freshman year in college. I had all
that I had been working toward: a generous scholarship to a prestigious college, good grades and friends. Because of anxiety, I wasn’t able to enjoy any of my good circumstances or accomplishments.

Without peace, even what we dream of cannot be fulfilling. Some circumstances are more peaceful than others, but no circumstance can guarantee perfect peace.

Sometimes a desire for peace can even lead to the opposite condition. Anyone who has lived many years knows this to be true. Jesus’ promise to His disciples, that the Holy Spirit could grant unfailing peace, is so surprising and revolutionary. When Jesus is about to leave His disciples he tells them they can depend on having peace through the gift of the Holy Spirit:

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
John 14:26-27

This passage is brief but it contains so much important guidance.

— The Holy Spirit is part of the Trinity. The Spirit’s guidance will always be congruent with Scripture and Jesus’ example.
— The Spirit can have a constant presence in our lives as comforter, teacher, and defender.
— Jesus is the The Prince of Peace. He has all access to peace and power to grant it. When He says that He will leave us and give us peace
during his absence, we can count on Him.
— Unlike the peace we experience in good circumstances, the peace Jesus gives us cannot be taken away.

I became a Christian a few months after my freshman year in college ended and experienced the most amazing peace. I clearly remember the moment
when I went from extreme anxiety to the perfect peace of Jesus. This was a peace that I had hoped and prayed for, but I did not make it happen — that was 100% clear to me. Only God could have given me that peace. The Holy Spirit had a lot to teach me after I had that experience, and I had so much to learn.
Finding consistent peace was a process. The Holy Spirit has been a faithful and gentle guide throughout the many years since that time.

(Note.  Seeing a doctor about recurring anxiety has also been a tremendous help for me, The Holy Spirit can work through a variety of means!)

His Peace — Despite Circumstances2023-06-12T06:14:05-06:00

Holy Spirit as Teacher

Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. John 14:22-24 ESV

In this passage Jesus re-establishes the principle that our obedience to his words undergirds and seals us into the relationship God originally intended for us.
We must guard Jesus’ words rather than reduce them to slogans or let them lie fallow. Here’s another way of saying the same thing:

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. James 1:22-25

To avoid looking at these words as just another pep talk, continue reading the next two verses of John 14:22-26

These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. John 14:24-26 ESV

Here Jesus provides our “want to” for obedience. He also answers this question: How on earth can we faithfully translate Jesus’ words into our daily experiences? Thankfully he has provided the Holy Spirit as teacher giving us the capacity to process into everyday terms what we learn from scripture about
the sovereignty, character, and words of Jesus.

The indwelling Spirit also enables us to overcome our own shortcomings as we live out Jesus’ teachings. The following scripture motivates us to seek mutual encouragement and support from others who live by the Spirit so we can persevere in trusting Jesus when we experience “obedience failure”. Jesus has left us a most competent teacher who (very conveniently) lives inside each of us who trust him.

Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Galatians 6:1-4

The Spirit not only conveys and applies the words of Jesus for us but reveals mysteries that were not yet clearly understood before Jesus was glorified.
Here’s one of the insights from Paul about his life in the Spirit:

When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. Ephesians 3:4-10 ESV

The Holy Spirit always aims to teach us what he is able and willing to do through us as we submit to him now and in our glorious future. Our real strength is revealed when we submit to the words of Jesus and allow the Spirit to show his power.

As you read scripture this week, ask the Holy Spirit to teach you what you need to know to accomplish the will of Jesus in your realm of influence. In addition, meditate on this song, because what he asks us to do requires more strength than our own.

Holy Spirit as Teacher2023-06-10T08:43:21-06:00

Red Couch Theology

Sermon Conversations with Alex and Aaron

There’s only so much we can cover in a Sunday morning gathering!
Each week, you’re invited to tune into our podcast at 11 am on Thursdays – recorded (and sometimes prerecorded) for later, online viewing.

What can you expect? Pastors Alex, Aaron, and the occasional guest having a casual conversation, diving deeper into ideas related to last Sunday’s teaching.

Ask Questions about the Sermon Series, PENTECOST – “Jesus in Us — So Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled
by texting 720-316-3893 prior to, or during the “LIVE” Thursday podcast.

Blog sites:

Youtube:  https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLCWnNSTN-6XA7oYy6TBfS0LAxqxPvxVjH

Apple Podcast:  https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/guys-drinking-tea/id1616539767

Red Couch Theology2023-06-08T09:16:27-06:00

Mystery of the Trinity

During Jesus’ “Last Supper” with his disciples, they celebrated the Passover meal, a remembrance of the supernatural Exodus of the people of Israel from Egypt. The ceremony is brimming with symbolism meant to lead participants into an appreciation of God’s faithfulness and power as well as an expectation of his tangible presence. During this extraordinary commemoration, Jesus spoke these mysterious words to his disciples:

“…. And I will pray to the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.”

“A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” John 14:16-21 NKJV

His words reveal a life-changing truth about our connection to the unseen world. His words are simple, yet complex and difficult to grasp. They disclose that Jesus will enable his disciples to more fully experience the relationship they have observed him enjoying with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit.

So, does our daily experience of inclusion with his life turn out to be as straightforward as these words suggest? Hardly — all Christians are perplexed by and marvel at the mystery of the Trinity. Daily interaction with God as more than one person is rarely crisply delineated in our experience. For that reason, familiarizing ourselves with this mystery is worth pursuing.

Indulge me as I share this story:

When I lived in Washington DC, I had a close friend who lived with her parents. The interior of their home disclosed a mystical world crowded with ancient tapestries, paintings, religious icons, and samovars. She told me these objects were inherited from both sets of her grandparents who were exiled along with other Czarist associates during the Communist takeover in 1917. Her family continued the Russian Orthodox practices of their ancestors. During one visit, she explained that Orthodox icons were not idols, but images designed to bring the viewer into a worship experience. At the time, I was skeptical of her claims.

In subsequent years I’ve developed appreciation for ancient Christian practices that hold rich symbolism (such as the Passover meal). I’ve asked myself, “was my friend right to hold that icons serve a greater function than being admired for their aesthetic beauty?”

Spiritual Practice:

I invite you to explore aspects of an Orthodox icon with me as a way to further appreciate the mystery of the Trinity. This icon entitled “Holy Trinity” was painted by 15th Century Russian Orthodox monk Andrei Rublev. It depicts Abraham’s three visitors from Genesis 18. Since today’s text is about our participation in the Trinity, try using this icon to help you reflect on the words of Jesus in John 14. Here is a 17 minute audio narrative explaining the purpose of icons in general along with ways you might incorporate the Rublev icon in your contemplation of the Trinity. Another illustrated explanation of the layout of the icon itself as well as its intended position in a church building provides additional insights.

Mystery of the Trinity2023-06-05T15:02:00-06:00

No Orphans in the Kingdom

For this devotional, which has been a hard one for me to write, I have used the Amplified version of the Bible, because it includes the different ways that other versions describe or expand on what I hope to share here.

Jesus, in the upper room, is talking to his disciples, and because we can read what he said, he is talking to us, too. In John 14:18 he says, “I will not leave you as orphans [comfortless, bereaved, and helpless]; I will come [back] to you.”

As an adult, I have learned to understand what Jesus was saying, but as a child who was an orphan, I didn’t. I have written in former devotionals about my father dying when I was four and my mother dying when I was eleven. I’ve also written in more detail about the various places and family members I lived with as I was growing up. The ten years from when my mother died and my 21st birthday when I moved out on my own were particularly difficult.

“Do not let your heart be troubled (afraid, cowardly). Believe [confidently] in God and trust in Him, [have faith, hold on to it, rely on it, keep going and] believe also in Me”. John 14:1 AMP

There were many times I was afraid in those years and definitely cowardly in my fear. The only help was that our neighbors took me to church, and, though the aunt and uncle I was living with didn’t go, I was allowed to. It was there that I found a “safe place” for a while each Sunday and sometimes other times in the week.

“And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby), to be with you forever—the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive [and take to its heart] because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He (the Holy Spirit) remains with you continually and will be in you”. John 14:16-17 AMP

“Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby)—the Spirit of Truth.” In 1953, there were no people available, either in the church or out of it, who could be any of these descriptions for a grieving, lonely, emotionally and sometimes physically abused orphan living with blood relatives.
My aunt enlisted some of her friends to remind me how grateful I should be that she and my uncle took me in when I had no one else who wanted me.

I was thirteen when I gave my life to Jesus and, as I describe it, “He welcomed this not-so-docile lamb into His fold”. My circumstances did not change, in fact, my aunt got more verbally abusive, but I was still allowed to go to church. Since that time, I have slowly begun to understand and live in his comforting message:

“After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. On that day [when that time comes] you will know for yourselves that I am in My Father, and you are in Me, and I am in you. John 14:18-20 AMP

How about you? In your life story, have you been able to see how God (Father, Jesus and Holy Spirit) are working in you in ways you were not aware of at the time? Take some time to ponder all of John 14:1-31 and ask Him to bring his truth into your life, your mind and heart.

No Orphans in the Kingdom2023-06-04T17:51:14-06:00

Who is the Advocate?

Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high. My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; on behalf of a man he pleads with God as a man pleads for his friend. Job 16:19-21 NIV

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever–the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. John 14:16-17 NIV

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense–Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. I John 2:1-2 NIV

Our current sermon series is focusing on the Holy Spirit. In John 14:16 Jesus called the Holy Spirit our Counselor (Paraclete). This Greek word Paráklētos, can also be translated as helper or advocate. While our son Joshua was alive, my husband and I had many opportunities to be an advocate for him. Our son was non-verbal, so could not express his wants and needs in the same way other children could. Our son could communicate, with sounds and facial expressions, but in meetings with school staff he needed us to be his advocate, to speak on his behalf, to ensure that his needs were addressed and were taken into account.

But take a look at I John 2:1-2 above. In these verses John told us that Jesus speaks to God on our behalf, that He defends us before God the Father. So, is the Holy Spirit our advocate or is Jesus? Perhaps they both are, in different ways.

Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died–more than that, who was raised to life–is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Romans 8:33-34 NIV

For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men–the testimony given in its proper time. I Timothy 2:5 NIV

These verses tell us that Jesus intercedes for us and because of the cross, is the mediator between us and a Holy God.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will. Romans 8:26-27 NIV

But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. John 14:26

The Holy Spirit also intercedes for us, especially when we have no words to express our grief, pain or distress. The Holy Spirit’s role is to teach us God’s truth revealed to us in His Word, to help us appreciate and appropriate the truth already revealed in the Bible.

Who is the Advocate?2023-06-03T15:10:52-06:00

Receiving the Spirit in the Lord Jesus

In John 1:1-13, the Apostle John introduces Jesus to the world as the pre-existent “Word of God”, and in 1 John 1:1, as the “Word of life”, whom the apostles “have heard…seen…touched” — as a man. John has also revealed to us that the Word was the life that was “the true Light which enlightens every [person]…“


11 “Unto his own he came and His own people did not receive Him.” 


12 to all who did “receive him”, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born…of God.
John 1:11-13

Maybe these are the passages where we got the clue that Jesus was meant for us.

Maybe you first heard about Jesus as you sang “away in the manger”? Later, you might have memorized John 1:12 in Sunday school like I did, along with
John 3:16. Did these verses open the door to your heart that showed you that you can sing, “Yes, Jesus loves me”?

After you received Jesus, did you wonder as I did, whether it might not be such a free gift. I certainly was too “bad” to be worthy. If it would depend on me,
I haven’t even come close. How about you?

So, is the gift of the Spirit contingent upon our obedience and not really a gift? Or does the Spirit actually empower obedience, when we first receive the gift, the promise of eternal life, as he then continues to empower us as we submit to Jesus in faith? Read Galatians 3 to inform your belief:

Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?

Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith — just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”? Gal 3:2, 5-6 ESV

In this passage, Paul confirms that when we receive Jesus (repent of our sins, believe in his substitutionary “gift” of forgiveness and accept him as our Lord),
we are baptized into Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection by his Holy Spirit.

For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Galatians 3:27

Then we go on living in his Spirit as he abides in us.

The Holy Spirit is always actively involved in promoting the promise of the Gospel, convicting the world of unbelievers of our need for a savior.

“…. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come [at Pentecost], He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. John 16:7-11  (Emphasis added.)

So when Jesus emphasizes righteousness, what does he teach us about why we are accepted by him?

Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” John 6:29

During his farewell address to his disciples, Jesus shared how he will be our companion even when he is with the Father:

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
18 “I will not leave you as orphans (comfortless); I will come to you.  John 14:15-18  (Emphasis added)

Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?
Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.  John 14:22-23 KJV (Emphasis added)

So when Jesus said “[he] will come to [us]” (John 14:18), and “we will come unto him, and make our abode with him” (John 14:23): he is referring to abiding, through his Holy Spirit, in any who believe. And this is Christ in us:

“…to make the word of God fully known, 26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. 27 To whom God would make known the glorious riches of this mystery among the nations, who is Christ in you, the hope of the glory. See, Colossians 1:21-28 (Emphasis added.)

This mystery is revealed in us who believe. Meditate on the miracle of the Holy Spirit living in you, revealing Christ to those around you.

Receiving the Spirit in the Lord Jesus2023-06-04T23:45:40-06:00
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