Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Church: The Sign of Christ in the World

Ephesians 3:1-12 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles-- (2) if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace which was given to me for you; (3) that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. (4) By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, (5) which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; (6) to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel, (7) of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God's grace which was given to me according to the working of His power. (8) To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, (9) and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; (10) so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. (11) This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, (12) in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him.

Is the church an extra option that is available for believers to participate in? Paul describes the church as something that is "in accordance with the eternal purpose" of God. Does this fact cause you to rethink your view of the church?

How would you describe the church? Robert Webber described the church this way: “The Church is the sign of Christ in the world—the continuing manifestation of Jesus in the world. The church is not primary a building, diocese, or denomination but a people. I am the church; you are the church.” Do you agree with Webber? If we are the church and a sign of Christ in the world, how shall we live? Does this challenge you to live any differently than the rest of the world.

When Paul wrote this he was confirming that Gentiles had equal standing in the church as Jews. This was an astonishing revelation to most. This is not as astonishing to most today. However, are there people within the church today that are not seen as equal before God? Who are the Gentiles within our community that need to hear the hope of the gospel? Are there those within the church that need to hear this message?

Friday, December 18, 2009

The New Self

Passage for Sunday December 27th.
Colossians 3:12-17 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on (clothe yourselves with) a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; (13) bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. (14) Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. (15) Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. (16) Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (17) Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

The above italics are mine.

Earlier in this chapter Paul told his hearers things they are to "put off."
For example: Colossians 3:5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Colossians 3:8-9 But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. (9) Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices

Now he tells us to "put on" or "clothe ourselves." this is important for several reasons.
1. The christian life is not about our best efforts. It is really about God's redeeming work in and through us. Notice the metaphors of Christ working in us: "Put on"; "Let the peace of Christ rule"; "Let the word of Christ richly dwell."
Are there areas of your life that reveal your need to clothe yourself with Christ?

2. The life God has called us to is not about just avoiding certain behaviors. But God is calling us to live our lives in a way that is visibly different from the world. The New Self is stamped with the very image of Christ. All of the things listed here are attributes of Christ Himself. What clothing are you wearing? Have you put on Christ? What do these passages tell us about the local body of Christ?

May God bless us as we dive deeply into His Word. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

Monday, December 14, 2009

May it be done to me according to your word

This weeks passage is in
Luke 1:26-38 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, (27) to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. (28) And coming in, he said to her, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you." (29) But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. (30) The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. (31) "And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. (32) "He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; (33) and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end." (34) Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?" (35) The angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. (36) "And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. (37) "For nothing will be impossible with God." (38) And Mary said, "Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.

Some of my beginning thought s and questions are as follow:
1. Mary is a virgin. This fulfills the prophesy in Isaiah 7:14. It speaks of God's faithfulness and God's miraculous working to bring about His plans in the world. Is God asking you to do anything today that seems beyond the realms of possibilities?

2. Why does the angel say do not be afraid? Is it the his appearance is so great that she is trembling? It seems if this where the case he would have said this first. Perhaps, he is telling her not to be afraid of what is going to happen. What do you fear God is asking you to do? How do the words, "nothing will be impossible with God" comfort you?

3. What holds us back from saying, "may it be done to me according to your word."

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Bearing Fruits in Keeping with Repentance

This weeks passage is copied here below.
Luke 3:7-18 So he began saying to the crowds who were going out to be baptized by him, "You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?8) "Therefore bear fruits in keeping with repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham for our father,' for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. (9) "Indeed the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; so every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." (10) And the crowds were questioning him, saying, "Then what shall we do?" (11) And he would answer and say to them, "The man who has two tunics is to share with him who has none; and he who has food is to do likewise." (12) And some tax collectors also came to be baptized, and they said to him, "Teacher, what shall we do?" (13) And he said to them, "Collect no more than what you have been ordered to." (14) Some soldiers were questioning him, saying, "And what about us, what shall we do?" And he said to them, "Do not take money from anyone by force, or accuse anyone falsely, and be content with your wages." (15) Now while the people were in a state of expectation and all were wondering in their hearts about John, as to whether he was the Christ, (16) John answered and said to them all, "As for me, I baptize you with water; but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (17) "His winnowing fork is in His hand to thoroughly clear His threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into His barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." (18) So with many other exhortations he preached the gospel to the people.

Some of the questions and observations I have are listed here:
1. John seems to indicate that water baptism and confession alone are not sufficient evidence that someone has repented or is following God.

2. What is John's expectation? Does this differ from what we hear in Christian circles?

3. Verse 18 says that John preached the Gospel. What is the Gospel? Did he preach it in verse 16? Is there a connection to what John is saying with Romans 1:16-17 and Romans 12:2?

Please write out your own thought, questions, or examples.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Thinking Together

The writer of Hebrews tells us, "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart".

I would like to use this blog as an opportunity for us to discover where God's word is living and active in our lives today. Each week I will post the text that I will preach from on Sunday. As you read the text I would like you to ask questions to yourself. What did this text mean to the people that first heard it? What is this text saying to a current situation?

Please write any thoughts down that you care to share. Also, feel free to write any questions you may have about the text.

Looking foward to thinking together

Pastor Don