Thursday, June 26, 2008
This book puts them in the order in which they were written and gives you some background into what was going on with the church at that time and the reasoning for each of the letters Paul wrote. It really is eye opening to understand the "back story" if you will of each of Paul's letters. There was a purpose for each of these letters being written, a particular issue that Paul is addressing that was occuring in that particular church at that particular time. (The book does deal with the entire NT, not just the letters written by Paul, but these are the ones which for the most part have been arranged by length).
Right now I'm going through a chapter called The Jerusalem Chronicles which is dealing with the book of Acts. There is one quote regarding the beginning of the church that really caught my eye.
It is 30 AD and the Jerusalem church has just been born. Pentecost has come and the Believers have been baptised with the Holy Spirit in the upper room where they were meeting. This "church" following Jesus has now gone from 12 disciples to 120 in the upper room to 3,000 believers.
"The first instinct of these new Christians is to meet and to meet constantly. The Galilean experience of informal gatherings with Christ as the center is now brought to Jerusalem by the Twelve."
That made me think. When Jesus walked the earth he would sit with his disciples and teach them while they shared a meal. He was the center of it all. Now that he had ascended to Heaven and the Holy Spirit had been sent to the Believers, they followed this same pattern. They met often to teach one another, to fellowship and to eat (often was more than just once a week!). In all of this Jesus was the center of these meetings, not programs or anything else. As they did this they came to love one another and naturally the began to care of one another's needs and the needs of the community.
I think today we loose sight of this so often. I'm doing a study right now on Ephesians at work about Walking the Talk you Talk. One of the recent questions was "If a person is going to walk in a manner worthy of his calling as a Christian - or to put it another way, if a person claims to be a Christian and wants to walk his talk - what would he need to do, according to what you've seen in today's study?" (study that day was on Ephesians 4:14-16)
My answer was the first priority we have is to nuture our walk with the Lord as this is the only way we will truly know the Truth and be able to walk with one another in unity. If we continue to nuture our relationship with the Lord (prayer, Bible study, worship, fasting, etc) then the rest, the fruit of love will come naturally. We try too often to produce the "fruit" on our own. It should be there, definitely, but only God can produce it in us, we can not do it ourselves.
I think sometimes this overflows not only into our personal lives but also into church. As a church sometimes we start to focus on doing for others, the fruit. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it does lead to burnout if our focus is on this and we are trying to do it of our own power. As a church (a body of believers) we need to first focus on Jesus, the head of our church. The rest will come.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Lynn at Spiritually Unequal Marriage did a post on this a few days ago that is really good. I recommend you take a few moments to read it - What is in Your Camp? - It IS indecent
After reading her post, the comments others posted regarding her post and reflecting on things I've been seeing and experiencing in my own life and the lives of those dear to me I realized something.
The Enemy is determined to destroy marriage. God gave us marriage as a gift, a beautiful thing to be shared between a man and a woman in which they can begin to experience the relationship the Lord wants with each of us. The Enemy hates that, so he is going to twist this gift as much as possible so we miss the true meaning behind it.
This legalization of gay marriage is not the only way he is attacking marriage. This is just the most recent way he has been doing it. Unfortunately, many of us are so focused on just this one thing that we don't realize as Christians we have in many ways accepted other ways he has set out to destroy marriage. Having and raising a family outside of wedlock, living together when not married, have sexual relations outside of marriage and having affairs has become common in our society. In some cases these things are even considered normal and perfectly acceptable.
Then even if we do recongize these things are distortions of God's true gift, we become judges with no compassion. We start to attack the people who are being deceived by the Enemy instead of loving them and just hating the sin. To be honest this is a hard concept to get and even harder to live out. But with God's help we can do it.
I'm asking that you join me. Not only in becoming politically active to try to turn around our country, but more importantly to join me on my knees. Cry out to the Lord to show us how to take back our country, our world while still showing compassion for those who are being deceived. Those who the Lord loves deeply, who the Enemy is currently deceiving. Help us to see what marriage is really about, a true picture of marriage through God's eyes.
Unfortunately right now, the church's view of marriage is not all that different from the world's view. Our track record is just as bad as those who do not attend church. If we cannot "get it" how can we expect the world to understand what we are trying to tell them? Do we each love our spouses the way the Lord wants us to love them? Do we really understand this gift the Lord has given to us. Are we living it out the way He wants us to? I know if I am honest, I have a lot to learn still and I am far from being an example to the world of what the Lord's gift should look like.
Thursday, June 05, 2008
I'm not sure if we are supposed to go with a particular theme each week on this or not, so please forgive me if I am not playing by the rules.
Today I am thankful for God’s wisdom and discernment. I am thankful that we can ask for God to reveal His Truth to us and we can trust Him to do so. He will not only do it, He does it with joy and is abundantly generous to give us His Truth when we sincerely seek it.
I ask for your wisdom and discernment for all of us. I ask that you reveal your Truth to us, that we may rely on Your Wisdom instead of our own/the worlds. Where we may be reluctant to accept it, I ask that you transform us. Open our eyes to see, our ears to hear, our minds and hearts to understand.
Now if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all generously and without reproach; and it will be given to him.
My son, if you will receive my words and store my commands inside you, paying attention to wisdom, inclining your mind towards understanding – yes, if you will call for insight and raise your voice for discernment, if you seek it as you would silver and search for it as for hidden treasure – then you will understand the fear of Adonai and find knowledge of God.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.
But the wisdom from above is, first of all, pure, then peaceful, kind, opent to reason, full of mercy, and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.