Friday, June 22, 2012


Christ Has Commissioned His Saints To Do A Job

            “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.”  Matt 28:18-20 (NKJV)

            “The Church is the People united by the unity of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”  [1 Cor. 12:13.]

            “The ekklesia is called to embody Jesus Christ, as a bride, a house, a body, and a family. This is God’s Eternal Purpose.”

            Christ the Lord: Jesus Christ received “all power in heaven and on earth.” And what did He do with it? He shared it. He delegated His apostles to extend His Kingdom to all nations, promising to be present with them and to act through them. Jesus makes it abundantly clear that He is the Lord.  Instead of constricting the lives of His subjects through oppression and arrogance, He expanded their horizons.  He gave them a meaning and purpose far beyond anything they could have ever come up with on their own. Through obedience to Christ, these eleven Galileans have become collaborators with the Blessed Trinity, ambassadors of God Himself. Such is the generosity of the one who is our Lord.  [compare 2 Cor. 5:19-21.]

            Making disciples cannot be done in the strength of man, but only in the power of God.  The Christ raised up from death is the power in our Christian life and mission.  His Resurrection is not past/future, but NOW - always present with us and in us!  Note Paul: “always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.”  2 Cor 4:10 (NKJV)

            How ironic was it that the chief priests and Pharisees, so eager for glory and influence, passed up the chance to be given such an exalted role! Having closed their eyes to Christ’s light over and over again, they ended up blinding themselves completely to the truth. They refused to accept even the very sign they had twice asked for – the sign of Jonah [Matt. 12:38-40].  “But you will not come to Me that you might have life.”  [John 5:39-40.]

            Christ the Teacher: The Incarnation was God’s saving invasion into this fallen world. The Church is the extension of that invasion throughout all time and space. Christ came to reunite God and men, to lead us back into communion with the holy joys of the Christian life.  “That the world through Him might be saved” [John 3:16-17].

            By putting His power behind the Church’s effort of baptizing, teaching, and making disciples, Jesus teaches us the proper scale of values.  Christ is focused on building His Kingdom, which consists of human hearts united to God through friendship with Him. And where human hearts are united to God, they will also be united to one another.

            If building that Kingdom was and is Christ’s primary concern, it needs to be ours too. “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”  Matt 6:33 (NKJV)   When He puts His power behind the mission of the Church, He is practicing what He Himself preached.

            Christ the Friend:  Baptism inaugurates the soul’s life of grace, its life of intimate friendship with God. When we are baptized, we inherit individually Christ’s promise to be with us “until the end of the age.” When fire penetrates iron, the iron becomes fiery hot without ceasing to be iron.  Just so our human nature, body & soul, in its union with Christ becomes like God without ceasing to be human.

“Spirit of adoption” [Romans 8:15-16].  He sustains us throughout our difficult and wonderful earthly pilgrimage. He is with us through his Scriptural Word. And He is with us by being always within us. We have become temples of the Holy Spirit, as Paul put it [1 Cor 3:16].  God has taken up His dwelling in the very core of our being.

            Jesus is saying: “I will not leave you comfortless.  You never have to be alone. I am the one who knows you better than you know yourself and loves you with an infinite, crucified, unconditional love, and I am your constant companion. None of the restrictions of human friendship (time, space, disloyalty, miscommunication, selfishness, etc.) apply. You are wholly mine, and I am wholly yours. The perfect family of the Trinity has adopted you into our midst; such is the love of your incomparable Friend.”   [compare John 15:15-17.]

            Christ in My Life:  “Lord, I believe in Your presence and Your power, and I want to walk in Your light. I want to be the saint You made me to be. Only saints do anything for Your Kingdom, and only Your Kingdom will last forever. Show me, Lord, the way I need to go. With the knowledge of Your heart, make my heart wise…building up the Church, expanding Your Kingdom, leading others to Your friendship… You have given me a share in this mission! Thank You for calling me to follow You. Teach me to put things in this perspective.  Lift up my eyes from the mud of the earth. I hope in You, Lord, my Savior and King…”

Church - The Bride of Christ

The Bride of Christ - Forever Young

      Jesus told His disciples to “wait for the promise of the Father” (Acts 1:4-8).  The soul of the Church of the Gospel is God’s Holy Spirit.  She is clothed with His power, sustained by His vow of fidelity.

   “Therefore He says: "Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light."  Eph 5:14 (NKJV)

   “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.”  Eph 5:25-27 (NKJV)

   “Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready." And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, "Write: 'Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!' " And he said to me, "These are the true sayings of God."  Rev 19:7-9 (NKJV)

   “Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away."  Rev 21:2-4 (NKJV)

1.      First, “The Church is alive… and the Church is young!”

   Unlike merely natural organisms, which grow to maturity, flourish, and then slowly decay and die, the Church continues to grow. The [One Spiritual] Church as a whole never grows old, never stops branching out, bearing fruit, and expanding. The Holy Spirit is the Soul/Bishop of the Church, and the Holy Spirit constantly surges forth from within the heart of the Church and gives rise to new saints, new fellowships, new outreach efforts, new faith communities, new religious faith and apostolic institutes… This is the history of the Church, and this is the present moment of the Church, and this will be the future of the Church.  The life of the Church is not bureaucratic, but organic. The ever-flowering newness of the Church flows from within, like new branches growing from the trunk of a tree or a new season of fruit ripening on its limbs.

2. The Holy Spirit Will Never Contradict Himself

   “Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.”  1 Cor 12:3 (NKJV)

   “By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God....”  1 John 4:2-3 (NKJV

   a) The Holy Spirit will never contradict Himself.

   Private devotions, apparitions, new congregations and associations – if these are truly from the Holy Spirit, they will harmonize with the life and history of the Church.

   b) Times of being shaken and poured.   Titus 3:6

   “See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, "Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven."  Heb 12:25-26 (NKJV)

   New movements of the Holy Spirit within the Church may arrive as a new [renewed] experience of God’s grace more quickly than some in the Church can approve them. But an authentic new movement or devotion will always be recognized, before its official approval, through its obedience to the Church’s legitimate authority. It will always submit to that authority, throughout the entire process of investigation, because that authority is also an expression of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit’s guiding action within the body of the Church, and the Holy Spirit will never contradict Himself.

   c) Growth brings Change brings Renewal.

   “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.”  Hebrews 5:12 (NKJV)


I believe in the sun even when

night or fog covers the earth.

I know that the sun is there!

My hope is kept alive by faith.

That is enough, and I am assured.

The Holy Spirit of God reaches far beyond

my field of vision, the things I can see.

He - The Spirit - gives life to the Church.

He is at work at the heart of the world.

When things seem to be hopeless,

HE is the hope!  Come Lord!

Fathers - Bless Your Children

Fathers - Bless Your Children

1. Jesus The Example.

   “Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart.  And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”  Luke 2:51-52 (NKJV)

   “This verse contains the history of thirty years. It describes the growth of our Lord as a natural, human growth (compare Luke 1:80); for, though Jesus was truly divine, he was also perfectly man. To try to distinguish between the divine and human in Jesus, is to waste time upon an impracticable mystery which is too subtle for our dull and finite minds.  His life expanded like other human lives. He learned as other boys; he obeyed as other children. As he used means and waited patiently for growth, so must each individual Christian, and so must the church. Though the latter is a mystical body, and animated by the Holy Spirit, it must nevertheless make increase of itself before coming to the perfect man—Eph 4:16.”  —McGarvey, Four-Fold Gospel

   “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  "Honor your father and mother," which is the first commandment with promise: "that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth."  And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.”  Eph 6:1-4 (NKJV)

   “If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?  But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.  Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live?  For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness.  Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”  Hebrews 12:7-11 (NKJV)

   “Speak blessings upon your children.  Of all the tools God gave you to raise a child, the most powerful is your tongue.  Use it for good.”  Hayford

   “The power of words is not evident just when God uses them in creating.  It is also evident in His ways that teach us how to live within that creation.  All the Father’s laws are essentially God’s guidelines for making life “work” in the realm He has created for man’s fruitfulness and fulfillment.”  Hayford

2. The Many Ways to Bless

   The first order of blessing is reflected by the simplest things we might do, which, though seemingly ordinary, carry an immense weight in telling children they are loved, cared for, valued and being “looked over” (rather than overlooked).

   Remember those childhood experiences when you simply sensed the approval or care of a parent or loved one? We can learn from the ultimate Father by noting how He blesses us with His attentions in distinct ways that parallel our warmest memories as children when someone blessed us in simple yet affirming ways:

   An arm over the shoulder or an embrace in a time of disappointment or fear (see Deut. 33:27)

   A pat on the back or a firm steadying hand at a crucial moment (see Ps. 139:5)

   A whisper in the ear, giving quiet assurance or secret instructions (see Is. 30:21)

   A snug tucking in bed when surrounded by the darkness of night (see Ps. 127:2-3)

   A kiss on the cheek or being dandled on a parent’s knee (see Ps. 103:13; “pities” is translated from the Hebrew word rawcham, which means “to tenderly love or caress”).

   However, the most affirming are those blessings that come in words:

(1) words that affirm and approve;

(2) words that commend and compliment;

(3) words that specifically speak love and affection;

(4) words that invoke hope and self-confidence; and (5) words that answer pain and disappointment with support and faith.

   The fountainhead blessing in the Bible is found in Numbers 6:24-26. This is the blessing God ordained that the priests of Israel use to speak blessing in His name over His own children, whom He called “the children” of Israel.

   “And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying:  "Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, 'This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel. Say to them: "The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace."  "So they shall put My name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them."  Numbers 6:22-27 (NKJV)