A New Command

In John 13:34-35, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Jesus command to love one another is “agape” love and we are called to love in this manner one another with generous, self-sacrificing love. We proclaim God’s love to the world in word, action, and deed. To love one another is a mutual command and speaks of community life. The word community if separated means “common unity” as believers we have one thing in common and that is Jesus Christ and love makes unity possible. May we set as a goal to view each other with the respect and value that Christ has place upon each of us. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son , that whosoever will believe in Him will not die but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

Amazing Grace

It never fails, about the time I have God somewhat figured out he does something so marvelous it astounds me. This week I did a funeral for a dear lady who was like a mother to me and her kids are the best of friends. But as far as I know this family never attended Church of any kind or had any instruction of any Church denomination. But she came down with a lung disease and before her passing asked for me to help her prepare her for the transition. What astounded me was she had no doubt of God’s love for her nor of Christ’s redemptive power to save her as she and her husband made a confession of faith in Christ. But did have reservation of the Church and its conduct. With in a few days she passed and I marveled how sometimes its not how we start the race of life, but how we finish such as the thief on the cross (Lk. 23:42-43). How much God the Father loved her and waited for her to turn to Him for help now she has the security of the eternal love of God.

But the next thing that came to mind was that she personally asked for me to minister to her in this time. I have always said that sometimes I stand at a loss how our savior would have used somebody like me to proclaim His love and grace to humanity. It seems to me that after 29 years of ministry my community is looking to me more and more for answers, reassurance and leadership in spiritual matters. I don’t say this in any bragging fashion but only to make an statement of God’s amazing grace and to encourage someone starting out that God can and will utilize everything about your life as a proclamation of His redemptive power.

The other thing was simply this if we make ourselves available to His Grace, God will place opportunities for you to be an instrument to the nations, tribes and tongues of humanity. Its the most overwhelming experience to have a part in someones salvation and the thought that someone will spend eternity in God’s love and not in Hell is a emotional rush.

Acceptance of One Another

A few years ago, I served on a pastoral team with two other men of God for 14 years; it was unique experience as we blended gifts, personalities, weaknesses, talents, and strengths for the kingdom of God. Now I am working with a new group of pastors and the process starts over once again. Romans 15:7, “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” What does that mean? The Greek word for “accept” literally means “to receive,” or “to take to one’s self,” as into a home or heart as an act of kindness.

Within this is a command to “stop passing judgment on one another”, Paul rebukes the early church in Rome for judging one another over issues of clean and unclean foods.

“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men. Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” Romans 14:11-19

Within the community of God, there will always be weak and strong and the standard for acceptance and approval is spiritual faith, not human endurement, maturity not works. We are not to use our knowledge, experiences, or maturity to please ourselves and puff ourselves up. No, we are to become the servants of all and accept and build up the weaker brother.

We the community of God are to accept others in the same way that Christ has accepted us, with love, grace and peace. Allowing the Holy Spirit to work in the individual’s personal life, as we love and care for one another. Our acceptance by God is through no righteousness of our own, but totally upon Christ and His grace, purchased through the Cross. This brings praise to God and a testimony of His love to all. Shalom

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Repentance

It is hard to let old beliefs go. They are familiar. We are comfortable with them and have spent years building systems and developing habits that depend on them. Like a man who has worn eyeglasses so long that he forgets he has them on, we forget that the world looks to us the way it does because we have become used to seeing it that way through a particular set of lenses. Today, however, we need new lenses. And we need to throw the old ones away.–Kenich Ohmae

Does God Care How We Do Church? “Does it matter to God how we serve Church, or are we free to do Church as we see fit?” “Are there boundaries or limits that we dare not violate by the way we do Church?”, “How serious an offense is it if we ignore or set aside the teachings of scripture which instructs us as to how we serve church? The Holy Spirit is awaking the Church to place Christ as head of the Church and restore authentic New Testament practices and principles.

The Greek word for “Repentance” is metanoia, and means “change of mind.” I have been pondering about this on the subject of biblical community and have come to the conclusion that most of us have adopted a world philosophy of community life. We need to change our thinking, to recover what it means to gather together and not as individual consumers. The Church is a “holy nation,” a community redeemed by the blood of Christ who come together in mutual submission to Jesus as Lord. Unlike other religions, Christ calls us into a relationship with Him and others that he has “called out.” Within this community we begin to nurture our life together, forming authentic community that looks more like Christ and not like the world. Spiritual growth is impossible to do alone and the assumption of the New Testament is that we are walking out our faith with others or discipleship apart from the Church.

The “one another’s” of the New Testament describe what the Church should look like when believers gather in authentic community.

Romans 12:5, “In Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”

Authentic Community

Hey guys …..I have come across abook called,”Authentic Community”. This really dives into the one anothers of the scripture and speaks to the heart of community life in the Church.

Consumer Base Christianity

When most folks are out looking for a Church you here things like, “I like the music,” or “the preaching,” and another would be “they have a good childrens program.” In other words does it meet my needs. We do the same thing when going to Woods Supermarket we like a certain aspect of the store its location, meat section, produce section or something that attracts us. But here lies a deceptive problem with our habits of thinking and patterns of practice. We have become the consumer and consumers seek commodities. So this becomes the problem do we view God and Church as a commodity, if so then we have lost relationship because everything becomes about “me”. We would never say this but its the truth. We talk of building the Church, but are we really looking to attract folks who share our same tastes and interests. We have made Churches into one stop malls today to meet every “I,me and mine need”. Many Churches today spend millions of dollars on buildings to promote the selfish desires of this consumer mentality, yet never touch the lonely, hurting and stressed everyday lifes of regular people.
Philippians 2:3-8 states,”Do nothing our of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness . And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled and became obedient to death even death on a cross!” What a marvelous conception of authentic Church and the demonstration of Christ like character to the world. God calls us into relationship with Him and with one another in order to change our desires. He desires us to alter our thinking and act about ourselves and others. This requires us to live in community, holiness only comes out of relationship with God and others to be practiced.
Its sad but true, that we are forming selfishness, not godliness within our churches today and we don’t realize this until a conflict or crisis arises.
James 4:1-2, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within You? Let us repent and move back to authentic relationships and church.

Biblical Community

Recently I have been pondering on the topic of community. It seems to me that every Church will say yes we have community. But is it New Testament Community or just another Worldly display of community life in the Church. Biblical Community is about being genuine with yourself and others, knowing that you are excepted and can admit weakness and doubt without being judged by others. Where unconditional love, trust and fellowship with God and others can grow up in Christ. The question arises are we/I living an authentic life of community in Christ and with a group of believers.