Monday, January 31, 2011

Synergy- Working With One ❤

One of my favorite sections of the Bible is John 4, especially 4:21-24.
Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
A Samaritan woman met Jesus Christ and despite cultural separations and distinctions, he talked to her and blessed her beyond measure. Judeans looked down on the Samaritans. They were considered by the Judean culture to be mutt Judeans, if Judeans at all. Jesus Christ was not bound by culture. He was interested in her life and saw her heart. She got so excited and ran back to town and brought back others.
John 4:39- 40 And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did. So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days.
Is it any wonder that Philip the evangelist headed back up to Samaria when persecution hit the disciples in Jerusalem in Acts 8?  Philip preached the Word in Samaria and  people were receptive so much so that when Peter and John (who had been with Jesus in John 4) heard they decided to go. How exciting that was for Peter and John. They must have been so blessed to hear the news of Philip. Can you imagine their conversation as they headed down to help to Samaria. God worked in the heart of Philip, Peter and John in a new dynamic way. What great unity based on what God was working (see sunergeo link to see 'sunergeo' from where we get the word 'synergy') in them! Unity is certainly not based on uniformity, but on how God works the big spiritual picture utilizing a group of individuals who believe. The culture of the disciples was changing as  they were growing and maturing in their walk with God.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Here's The Point!

Hey! Don’t let challenges intimidate you! (Nana version of Philippians 4:6) There is a tendency under duress to condemn oneself and think privately God is not going to help you cause you think you are such a dork in His book. God’s word says all men have sinned and come short of the glory of God and there’s a really long story to go along with that. God’s Word says that God doesn’t look at you with that in mind. Drag those thoughts to the trash and hit 'delete'!

Thinking like that is how we fall short of the glory of God (Hey! Who turned out the lights?). Read the whole Bible. He is amazing! Start in Genesis 1! Ok if you don’t have time to read the whole thing today, read just a section in Abraham’s life (The first use of the word ‘healing’ is written in an event in his life). How about reading about Moses, Joseph, or David? They all had weakness, their strength was trusting God! Just open any section in the gospels and see what Jesus Christ’s day was like (every day was D-day [Deliverance day]). How about Paul? The Ethiopian Eunich? The Bible is full of deliverance. Now open your mental diary or any place where you have recorded what God has done for you. (If you haven’t done that; DO IT! You may realize you are a walking miracle!)

When a challenge comes up, go ‘to the wall’ with it (check out Hezekiah). Going to the wall means:
Philippians 4:6-7 Be careful{anxious} for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
“For nothing” is pretty definite. Just give it to God (thank God we have that privilege!). That doesn’t mean we don’t do anything, we make our requests known to God, we put one foot in front of the other and walk. It may not be your ordinary tiptoe through the tulips but you will be able to handle it. Make a list of things involved and take it step by step. Prayer is simply being thankful and saying God is our sufficiency for every detail. Prayer is not, however, a ‘To Do List’ for God.  By no means do we ignore the challenge. It takes work to give it to God. We can make a list of things that have to be handled and then we cross them off as we get them taken care of. We do our best but we know that God is very much involved and that is why we have peace.
God is so big! There’s a lot written about God’s glory. He is not a glory-hound, he just wants people to see how big he is so he can bless them. There will always be something or someone around to dim the lights. We just don’t let that happen. 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

What's the Point?

If you want a quick summary of the OT check out Stephen's take on history in Acts 7.  Stephen gave a big picture view of the battle between belief and unbelief throughout the Bible. The whole point was that God intended to have a spiritual relationship with man. Stephen not only talked about it boldly, he also boldly lived it.

There has always been opposition to this and it usually comes from uptight religious people. Of course in that time they accused people like Stephen of being blasphemous against God,  Moses, the temple and the law even to the point of lying about him. Their arrogance and desire for control and power had them running around frothing at the mouth to be the ‘spiritually elite’.

In the Acts period, the Sadduces were a group of religious leaders who nixed any mention of resurrection.  There  were also the Pharisees who were very zealous of adherence to the law, both oral and written.  Then along came Jesus Christ who not only was the end of the law, but also rose up out of the grave!



Stephen's recorded response in Acts 7 is a focused history of the Old Testament tension between the great men of God and those who just could not get out of idolatry (especially about themselves) and who returned habitually to the quicksand of the senses understanding of things. This is always the battle in every situation. It is the tension between spiritual knowledge and the knowledge that comes by way of the five senses. It is not that we can't learn through the senses, it's just that it is incomplete and deceptive at times. What appears is not always what is. That's the point.

To illustrate this, take for example, my Bible opened on the table. It looks, feels, smells, tastes and sounds like a book when read. It has 4 columns across, is written in King James English and to the average eye is unmistakably a Bible. The Bible can be described with senses knowledge. What really lies within the Bible is God’s heart and the true spiritual knowledge accessible when it is read and digested by someone who desires the truth. For someone who reads it for other reasons, it may be an example of literature, history, something to fill a drawer in a hotel room, a dust magnet on a coffee table or it may even be used to twist its words to manipulate power in the religious world.

The Bible is not on the best seller list for everyone, only to those who believe.  That's a no brainer!
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (American Standard Version) Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness. That the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work. 
'Furnished completely' doesn't mean piously pure or obnoxiously arrogant, it simply means up to the task of doing good stuff, energized and inspired by the God of the universe! (Sorry " Secret"-readers, he's not a genie! He's God!)
Acts 7:8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.
In the Word that he spoke, Stephen rightly divided the Word to expose the truth. His knowledge of the Word  is readily recognizable.  He was very skillful as he laid it on the line  to his accusers.  He was a man of boldness and believing.
Lowliness, humility and meekness mean rising up to God’s vision of ourselves rather than bringing God down to our level.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Denominational, Non-denominational, or Otherwise?????

The Free Online Dictionary defines denomination as:
1. A large group of religious congregations united under a common faith and name and organized under a single administrative and legal hierarchy.
2. One of a series of kinds, values, or sizes, as in a system of currency or weights
3. A name or designation, especially for a class or group.
Cash has denominations, stamps have denominations and yes, non-denominations have denominations.  So many people categorize themselves as non-denominational. This label for churches has become a category in and of itself. What do they mean? It can mean a lot of different things. Maybe their church doesn’t belong to one of the mainstream, mainline denominations. Maybe they don’t like organized religion. Many non-denominations are organized. Some people call themselves non-denominational so they can remain as free agents floating around forming and absorbing  a belief system as they go.

Acts 6 is an interesting chapter in the growth and maturity of the first century church. It is important to understand that the apostle Paul was not yet on the scene; at least he is not named. It is also important to note that large numbers of people had  listened to the apostles; first about 3000, then 5000. People who had come in to Jerusalem for Pentecost decided to stay and see, some decided to go and tell at home.

With those who stayed and lived in Jerusalem in Acts 6, we start to see somewhat of an organizational structure developing. In the first few verses do we can detect a combination of a denomination with a little bit of a hierarchy developing and a non-denomination flavor in which autonomous people were involved in helping to make some structural decisions. A new denomination was forming or was it? Was it a new synagogue? This question is an interesting one to follow throughout the book of Acts and into the seven church epistles to see what God had in mind.

Those early disciples of Jesus Christ certainly were passionate individuals that made the choice to get together with other passionate individuals, to learn from those who had been with Jesus Christ and accept the life of a new administration where each individual had been hot-wired to God. Of course the Sadducces (not too fond of resurrection talk) and the high priest were crashing in indignation all over the place. The new Christians were emboldened by the spirit of God residing in their hearts that they assertively declared all that they had seen and heard.

A new administration was taking root. Stephen in his brillant sermon in Act 7 declared:
Acts 7:48-50 Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? Hath not my hand made all these things?
The disciples had met the Messiah, some personally and some through the teachings of the apostles. The new church was to be God’s church based on the cornerstone of Jesus Christ and filled with the spirit of God. The written Word was not available like it is today.  Actually some of the Word was being newly laid down and it was quite a departure from the Judean religion of that day. The church was not static and its leaders were bold, believing and growing. In the very next chapters of the book of Acts there was a 'scattering abroad' of the disciples to other regions of the world at that time and  the conversion of Paul. Things continued to grow in a dynamic way. Looking at the big picture of Acts in its entirety, it is really heard to stick a label on what was happening.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Assertiveness

There is a difference between assertiveness and aggressiveness. In Acts 5 there is a great example of both in one incident. In Acts 5, the apostles boldly were speaking about Jesus Christ. They were healing and helping people to see the great freedom that is available through that name.

They were assertive in speaking boldly about the truth.The reaction on the part of some of the religious leaders at that time was aggressive, they wanted to suppress and control, so they threatened them and
threw them in prison.
 Acts 5:17-20 (The Message)Provoked mightily by all this, the Chief Priest and those on his side, mainly the sect of Sadducees, went into action, arrested the apostles and put them in the town jail. But during the night an angel of God opened the jailhouse door and led them out. He said, "Go to the Temple and take your stand. Tell the people everything there is to say about this Life." Promptly obedient, they entered the Temple at daybreak and went on with their teaching.
The apostles continued to speak life-giving words with boldness (check out this link, the word study is gorgeous!). They were not battling for dominion over the religious leaders, they were boldly declaring God's love. The Sadduces and the high priest continued to move aggressively against them trying to squelch their passion, but as Gamliel said:
Acts 5:38-39:And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought:But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.
The apostles were fortified with a unique strength that only comes from God. We have to be assertive, not aggressive in boldly declaring the Word. The difference is that we speak words that build the Word not overthrow it.


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Honesty and Integrity



God offers to every mind its choice between truth and repose.  Take which you please - you can never have both.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

It is certainly true that honesty and integrity involve work to which there are no shortcuts. These are qualities that help us grow. When they are absent we remain small and weakened. When present they make us strong enough to be able to topple whatever  giant darkens our path. How much easier it is to slide by on a false facade than own up with an honest heart or stand up for what you believe in. Yet the rewards are beyond comprehension when one carries the heart expressed in:
Psalm 119:104-105 With your instruction, I understand life; that's why I hate false propaganda. By your words I can see where I'm going; they throw a beam of light on my dark path.(The Message)
The integrity necessary to understand life is found in God's Word. We have eyes to read and see it, ears to hear it, a mouth to speak it and talk about, and certainly a brain to coordinate, direct, think, decide, remember and utilize it. We also have been given the free-will right to choose.
Truth, like milk, arrives in the dark
But even so, wise dogs don't bark.
Only mongrels make it hard
For the milkman to come up the yard.
~Christopher Morley, 
Dogs Don't Bark at the Milkman