Tuesday, January 26, 2010

All Things Common

In Acts 2:44 sits a beautiful gem. It's the phrase 'all things common' speaking of a quality in the first century church right after the unfolding of the magnificent day of Pentecost. This phrase is not about communism, socialism, denominationalism, non-denominationalism, undenominationalism or any other 'ism'. It is about life!

We read in Acts 2:42 that there was a great multitude in Jerusalem gathered around the big event of the outpouring of the holy spirit. They were gathered there for a 'religious' feast called Pentecost celebrating the 50 days from the weekly sabbath at Passover time. Pentecost is the feast of the first fruits or wheat harvest. In this particular year of Acts 2:42, Jesus Christ had gotten up from the dead 50 days prior to this day. He was the Passover lamb that year.

The apostles were in the temple at the time of this significant event. Many people had come in from far and wide and were witnesses to the apostles speaking in tongues and to Peter's wonderful teaching about what was happening. It's recorded in Acts 2.

In Acts 2:42, the Bible says
'they continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine and fellowship'(koinoneo)...
Notice it doesn't say the evangelist's doctrine or prophet's doctrine. Apostles are sent by God to teach people about the  things of God. The doctrine that the people 'continued steadfastly in' was about what Jesus Christ's life, his death, his resurrection AND his ascension meant to them. This doctrine applies to us today. It means that we can have the very nature of God in us too by way of Jesus Christ.

In Acts 2:44 they had 'all things common'(koinos) E.W. Bullinger defines common as: " pertaining equally to all, i.e. common; in a Levitical sense, not bound, not forbidden; hence not sacred…."
Acts 2:43 And a sense of awe (reverential fear) came upon every soul. (Amplified)
Many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. They all shared the respect for God and for each other. As they learned, applied and lived life together with the power of God, they abundantly shared that power as they fellowshipped together and had full participation in the church. That's 'all things common'! They were so thankful to God and sharing His grace. No wonder people were added to that group daily (Acts 2:47) It was a powerful church!

Friday, January 15, 2010

God is not a bean counter!

God is not a bean counter! Acording to The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, the word 'bean counter' is a slang word that refers to a person, "such as an accountant or financial officer, who is concerned with quantification, especially to the exclusion of other matters."

Look at the bean counting in Matthew 23:23! Jesus Christ calls the pharisees and scribes hypocrites! In our culture today we hear the term 'pharisee' and we have no problem with them being called 'hypocrites'. In the Biblical culture the pharisees were respected and thought of as those who were devoted to God. But in their devotion they had gotten off into the dark side of religion focused on the quantification of devotion rather than the reality of helping people see what God's heart really is all about. Jesus Christ was well-acquainted with the heart of God.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
The point here is that they couldn't 'see the forest for the trees'. It was not that giving was wrong, it was that the broader scope of God's heart was being missed. We can do the same thing today. We can condemn others on the basis of isolated passages of the Bible while totally violating huge principles of God's love and our equal standing and access to Him.

The pharisees wanted to make converts and they did do that, but what did those people learn? Bean Counting? Our privilege today is to to help people see the lush green forest of God. The way in is by Jesus Christ, whom God made Lord, not to mention getting him up from the lifeless state of death. Read Romans 10 in its entirety, it is beautiful! God is no respecter of persons. It is available to anyone and everyone. Now there's a weightier matter, the equal standing of all believers in Christ!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Plants can grow in the dark. In my biology class, our first experiment was about the scientific method. Together we designed an experiment with the proper elements such as an hypothesis, materials, a control, steps, and data charts etc. We used light as the variable. All the plants got the same nutrients, water and air; but half of the plants were put in the dark and half of the plants grew under a light that simulated the sun. It was always a surprise to my students to see those plants in the dark grow. They were odd plants. There are plant hormones called auxins in a plant that help it grow upward out of the soil to find light (a process called phototropism). These plants in the dark grew very tall and spindly. They also remained white. Eventually because their stems were so thin, they bowed over with their own weight. They grew leaves but they were small. Leaves are supposed to be broad and flat, uniquely designed to obtain maximum light to carry on the process of photosynthesis whereby plants provide their own nourishment. The plants that grew in the light had nice strong stems and beautiful green leaves. But these plants did not like 24 hours of light, eventually, we realized that plants needed time to process and carry on other vital activities that the plant couldn't do while photosynthesis was going on. At night, plants take the products of photosynthesis, utilize the energy gathered during the day, and expel the waste products. This is called plant respiration.

In Genesis 1, it is interesting to me that on the third day God brought forth plants . Then, on the fourth day the sun and the moon were put in place thereby providing seasons, days and years. Plants are a unique lesson in themselves. Jesus Christ knew this when he said in Matthew 6:28-29
28And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow (auxano- in Greek as it is used in the Bible, it means growth from within without compulsion); they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

What would it be like growing up in a world without light or in the shadows. What would life be like without the light of God's Word. James 1:17-18 says
17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning (trope in Greek). 18 Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures

We need the light of God's Word and we need the time to process that light in our own lives so that we grow in the abundance that God truly wants for us. It doesn't mean that there still aren't aphids and blight and frost, but sturdy plants endure and adapt. As we take in the rich nourishment of God's Word and make it our own, we grow from within and blossom as unique individuals in the body of Christ.