Get out a piece of paper and write down on it the 10 people you would go the farthest for? I’m doing it too. I don’t know where we’re going with this, we’re on a ride here with the Holy Spirit. Don’t read on until you have 10 and ONLY 10.
Why this question?
In looking around the blog world the other day, I stumbled on a blog by Michelle Lesley. It is well written and thought out but definitely not in line with how I interpret the teachings within Timothy’s. No problem, 1 John 4:1 tells us to “not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to determine if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”. I’m not saying Michelle is a false prophet. I am saying that I (we) are to test what we read and hear against God’s word. Not to challenge it or argue against it, but to ensure we are believing, following, sharing, teaching and preaching the right message.
Christ himself gave us an example of how we are to have this conversation in Acts 19:8 when he entered the Lecture Hall of Tyrannus: “Then he entered the synagogue and spoke boldly over a period of three months, engaging in discussion and trying to persuade them about the things of the kingdom of God.”
In a nutshell she was discussing the role of women in the church, which is not what we’ll talk about today. In a brief exchange between us, I asked “If you believe 100% what you have written here, then you believe 100% what you have taught, proselytized, preached (different people will apply different words to what we bloggers do) here. How does your work here not go against what you have said the Bible does? ” Her response took me back, “The instruction is that women are not to preach to, teach Scripture to, or exercise authority over men in the church. A blog is not the church.”
What is Church?
A quick survey of a variety of versions of the Bible show that the word church shows up a little over 100 times in the New Testament. When God talks about the church with us, He is not talking about the man made denominations we’ve created, He’s talking about His people. In the Old Testament, church did equal the Temple and people were expected to gather there for sacrifices and teachings (the men anyway). But in the New Testament, Christ changes this format. The Bible does give references to congregations, but those are congregations of cities or communities, not a physical institution. So, what is church?
For the purist among you, the word church comes from the Greek word ekklesia meaning ‘assembly’ or ‘called out ones’.
First of all, we need to understand that the church is Christ:
“He is also the head of the body, the church;”. Col 1:24 (HCSB)
Then we need to understand that church is a place of gathering, but it is a place where two or more gather.
For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there among them.” Matt 18:20 (HCSB)
Some would argue that the Holy Spirit being present can be counted as one since He is a participant in prayer; I don’t think this supported biblically but can understand the argument when Christ gives us examples like the Garden of Gethsemane.
Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and He told the disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” Matt 26:36 (HCSB) also Mk 14:32
And when we’re instructed to privately talk with Abba, one-on-one; two are present.
But when you pray, go into your private room, shut your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret. Matt 6:5-6 (HCSB)
Christ first mentions the work of building a church in Matthew, but He is not talking about the confining walls of a building, but The Church (of Jesus Christ) full of people.
And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the forces of Hades will not overpower it. Matt 16:18 (HCSB)
To truly understand what the church is, we must go to the Book of Acts and recognize some major shifts in societal and physical behaviors. One of the largest is the clarity of the message that no one is excluded.
The Disciples were baptized by The Holy Spirit and received His power (Acts 1:8).
Women were included in acts and in gifts. (Acts 1:14, 2:17,18)
Pentecost brought the time of speaking in tongues so the Word of God would be heard by so many more. (Acts 2:4)
One expectation was laid out for followers, REPENT. (Acts 2-38-40)
A picture of church is presented, people who devote themselves to learning, gathering, breaking of bread (eating) with a joyful and humble attitude, and praising. (Acts 2:42,46)
With all of this, we can now go to the question, are we on this blog, a church? Are we discussing, teaching, preaching, sharing, learning and supporting each other in the name of Christ? Are we asking questions to ensure what we learn is true? Does this technology allow us to find God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit? I believe so and I believe I am responsible for each person who reads or shares this.
What I do not believe is that this makes me the head of a church or places me over any man who may be reading this. Just as women were including in the act of praying in the upper room, teaching in homes throughout Acts and receiving calls directly to guide others, they were not the head of their churches; they were answering God’s call to teach, proselytize, praise, whatever their gift was.
After Michelle and I chatted, I searched out many more blogs and websites hosted by women Christians and I was astonished at how many did not accept responsibility, most saying (in various ways), ‘I can not control who reads what I write’ and ‘if a man chooses to read my writings that is on him’. Really? How is ones accountability for what one shares with one gender any different than the other?
I stand in my conclusion that, I am a Disciple and it is my humble prayer that God uses me, through the Holy Spirit, to reach out to anyone who knows or does not know Him who saves us all, and provides either encouragement or hunger for their own walk with the Triune God. I know I am challenged when I sit down and do this blog for fear of false teachings [2 Peter 2:1]. I humbly pray if any of you ever feel I am guilty, you hold a conversation here with me so we all may grow.
FYI: Those of you that have followed me for a while know I use a multitude of versions of the Bible. I do this for two reasons; one, some versions have wording that is easier to understand and two, to help show that although the words may be in a different order, the meaning is the same. Currently I’m using The Apologetics Study Bible (Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)).
What wonderful creatures dogs are! I have two; and, ironically enough, one is a guide and one is a herder. They are loads of love unless they think there’s a problem and then they are on high alert and ready to attack! I have no doubt these two understand this is a home they are safe in, they’ll be fed in, and they’ll get the brushing and ear rubs they enjoy. I also have no doubt that if the walking dead was to happen today, these two would do all they could, include giving their lives, to keep me safe as we wander around.
What one word describes a dog? Faithful. In fact, there is an attitude within Christianity stating that dogs represent faithfulness. (Sherman, Josepha (August 2008). Storytelling: An Encyclopedia of Mythology and Folklore. Sharpe Reference. pp. 118–121. ISBN 978-0-7656-8047-1.)
Faithful. We are told repeatedly that God is faithful in His Words.
Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. Deut 7:9 (NIV)
God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 1 Cor 1:9 (NIV)
We are also repeatedly called to faithfully follow God, faithful does not mean blindly but that’s another topic.
For if you carefully observe every one of these commands I am giving you to follow—to love the Lord your God, walk in all His ways, and remain faithful to Him— Deut 11:22 (HCSB)
He follows My statutes and keeps My ordinances, acting faithfully. Such a person is righteous; he will certainly live.” This is the declaration of the Lord God. Ezek 18:9 (HCSB)
But how do we do this? Life is hard! Temptation is everywhere! Morals and standards, reality and fantasy are confused! How do we remain faithful?
We LISTEN. “Anyone who has ears should listen!” (Mt 11:15, 13:9, Mk 4:9) (HCSB). We turn our emotional, biased, learned hearing off and listen to the purity of God’s words, through the Bible, prayer and faithful guidance from the Holy Spirit.
We DO. We worship God (Mt 2:8). We recognize Jesus Christ as His One and Only Son (Jn 1:14). We turn to the Holy Spirit to guide and goad us minute by minute, giving us courage when we decide to step away (Jn 14:26).
What does any of this have to do with dogs? When we CRY OUT, our faithful dog comes running, no matter the situation, just like the Holy Spirit. When we LISTEN and walk through the world around us, our faithful dog guides us (leads) or goads us (nudges from the back side to get our attention), so we avoid the ‘bad’ people, and find the ‘hurt and suffering’ ones. Then, we DO, and our faithful dog does with us; if he’s like mine sometimes it’s more licks than help but that’s help too.
As we struggle to understand God, His Word, and His Ways, it helps if we keep things simple and place things in terms people understand. I’m not calling the Holy Spirit a dog by any means, but my dogs do help me remember the Holy Spirit when I falter and don’t know where to lean.
Deb Williamson wants to read this Plan with you.
Source: Deeper Into Scripture: 1 Timothy
This short study (6 days) has started, but it’s not too late to join in! I invite all to click the link above and participate. Timothy has so many hidden jewels to find.
Every person has these – a spot. They may be a spot, see a spot, have a spot or get a spot. Life evolves with them; ooh, dirty word, evolution, but life does change and so do our spots.
When conceived we are smaller than the top of a pin head and we look like a spot.
As we grow, we look like a lot of spots hanging out together in a round thing that looks like a spot.
Perhaps one day that mother wakes up and finds a spot of blood she wasn’t expecting. Could be nothing. Could be the beginning of the end.
If not the end, those spots grow into shapes and the mother gains one large spot hanging out in front (temporarily at least); and then, in a moment of time (a spot) you are now outside the womb. Her spots are gone, yours have morphed into a person and your becoming your own person.
Bear with me, I do have a point with all this. You grow, play outside, find brown spots on your face and nose, freckles! They tell a story of your life! You love to play outside. They help you remember those fun times. Teachers have you read books like “Time for Bed Spot” and “Spot’s Tummy Time”, the spot a dog, but still a warm memory you will always look back on.
As you grow, you win or lose spots on teams or in organizations. Maybe with schools or places of employment. You win or lose in love, that spot or moment in time you that you had it. Obviously I can go on. But then, there are the other spots. The black spots. The spots that shouldn’t be there, at least as far as we people are concerned.
The spot in your life when you realized you couldn’t pay your mortgage and you lost your house and had to change your lifestyle.
The spot in your life when you found drugs, alcohol or pornography in you child’s room and knew you had to address it.
The spot on your spouses shirt you did not understand and knew you could not wash away until the explained the late night and where it came from.
Those spots you so loved when you were younger, well, the doctor just told you one or two have become cancerous and require surgery. The moment with the doctor changing some of your sweetest memories.
The spot found when returning for a wellness check after beating cancer, once or twice or even three times, and being told it needed to be checked into.
The spot in your life when you realized you were mortal and you would die one day and maybe, just maybe, you hadn’t gotten life just right.
Newsflash – Everything is a spot:
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace. Ecc 3:1-8 (HCSB)
The time between spots for us may seem like an eternity; but God, our ABBA, has been here since before (mans) time existed and will continue after. It is not the spots in our lives that matter, but what you do with those spots.
Lord, do not withhold Your compassion from me;
Your constant love and truth will always guard me.
For troubles without number have surrounded me;
my sins have overtaken me; I am unable to see.
They are more than the hairs of my head,
and my courage leaves me.
Lord, be pleased to deliver me;
hurry to help me, Lord. Psalm 40:11-13 (HCSB)
Sometimes, like now for me, your life becomes full of spots. Family members with spots that won’t go away or keep coming back. A Sister-in-Christ fighting those pesky freckle spots while other sisters are fighting other spots. It seems from my perch, every person has their own spot that is touched by so many other spots, a.k.a. Network, yet we don’t or won’t take the time or energy to reach to them, to call them be name. Take the time today to take a knee and call them out by name to God and lift them up. Don’t worry how long it will take. That spot of time will disappear in a flash.
However, if my people, who are called by my name,
will humble themselves,
pray, search for me, and turn from their evil ways,
then I will hear their prayer from heaven, forgive their sins,
and heal their country.
My eyes will be open, and my ears
will pay attention to those prayers at this place. 2 Chron 7:14-15 (GW)
Be blessed today, be filled with hope.
History is divided into two parts: B.C. (“Before Christ”) and A.D. (from the Latin Anno Domini, “in the year of our Lord”). As a Christian, you have a B.C. and A.D. life. There’s the person you were before you met Jesus and the person you now are after coming to know the Lord Jesus Christ. Just because you’ve declared yourself a Christian though, that does not mean life is easy.
Before and after really applies to all of life doesn’t it? Before you’re an adult you are a teenager; before a teenager, a child; and before a child, a baby. Each stage of life has its responsible points and its irresponsible points, there is not a single person who can deny that. Granted, some of us may make more irresponsible (bad) decisions than others. Some seem to not learn from what they make.
This last Sunday the Sermon message was “What Have I Got to Lose?“ by Reverend Jon Gruen at #BSLCMO. What an awesome question! I don’t care what the topic is, it’s a great question, because unless the answer doesn’t show the value you place on the topic, it requires you reevaluate your sincerity.
Let’s start simple – you want an apple. The vendor wants 50 cents. You are willing to pay (lose) 50 cents for an apple. Any form of payment equals loss.
Your friends want to go to the casino Friday night. You have saved $200 dollars towards furniture you need for your first apartment. You know if you go with them you could bring home more money for the much needed furniture. Are you willing to risk the $200 you have AND the time it will take to save it again when you lose it?
You meet THE ONE. Your eyes locked, the moment was magic, you date for months and you decide its time to propose. But wait, if you do that, that means not having a place to yourself, freedom to eat, sleep, keep the place the way you want. You won’t (shouldn’t) be able to date, or have sex with, anyone else! Am I willing to lose this? But if I don’t seize this moment, will I lose the gift of a lifetime with the one I love? Which after am I wanting?
So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed. That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:17-24 NIV
But they were silent, because on the way they had been arguing with one another about who was the greatest. Sitting down, He called the Twelve and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” Mark 9:34-35 HCSB
Summoning the crowd along with His disciples, He said to them, “If anyone wants to be My follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me and the gospel will save it. Mark 8:34-35 HCSB
Be Still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10
Today’s world is insane! It is no wonder that almost every single person feels overwhelmed by the world. Between social media sites, tweets, instant picture postings and 24×7 news, sport, entertainment and financial alerts and access. The average person is bombarded with information constantly. And this is not an American thing, this is a world-wide person thing. With the distribution of networks, internet routing, smartphones, laptops and tablets, people all over the world have instant access to almost anything. Or maybe, just maybe, I should say instant distraction. I will confess that even now as I write this posting God has prompted me to write I have my television on and am distracted by the show Quantum Leap.
What does all this have to do with worship? Merriam-Webster defines it as “to regard with great or extravagant respect, honor, or devotion“. Worship is so much more than going to a church service called service. It means that the person gives God all of their adoration and attention. Their whole focus is on who they are worshiping, not the boy ahead of them or the grocery list or the ball game or the latest beep, tweet or buzz from your device.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Phil 4:8
If there is anything worthy of praise, what could be more worthy of praise? Or of our time and attention.
Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matt 6:31-33
One last thought, so much of our teaching, preaching and evangelizing, things we are all called and qualified. (Romans 8:30) It’s what others see that shows them the truth. When we share our music, our life, our focus, our definition of what God means to us and what we mean to Him; AND, what we allow to distract us from Him.
Dear Jesus, Help me to remember what really matters in life. Help me to remember that when I work, I do it for You. Remind me to be generous with my money, my time, and my love because You are always generous with me. Amen.