Grow Up, Grow The Church (Eph 4)

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift… 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ… 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up… when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Walk the walk, don’t just talk the talk. You’re a Christian, you should act like one. Humility, gentleness, patience, love. We should be on the edge of our seats actively trying to keep the church together. There is one Lord, there is one faith, there is one baptism. All roads do not lead to God. Regardless of the sincerity of the individual, only the God of the Bible, only Jesus Christ, can reconcile people to God. The church has been given the church a great gift, the people in it. The apostles and prophets have told us the truth. Evangelists keep the gospel front and center. Pastor-teachers keep the church rooted in the truth of the Bible, and all of these give us everything we need for every Christian to participate in ministry, to build up and expand the church (that’s ministry). We are told we need to grow-up in our theological thinking. We need to know the heart of God so well that when a strange teaching comes along we are not lead astray. We need to be telling each other the truth, Christians should never say of fellow Believers “that’s not my problem… that’s none of my business…” shame on us if we don’t grow up together. It takes EVERY PART WORKING for a church to grow, and we have everything we need to do just that, to the glory of God.

Read along in the New Testament with us. Here is our schedule

Posted in Church | Leave a comment

Christ In Your Heart (Eph 3)

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Paul prays for his people, and so should we. That they (we) will be given strength and power by the Holy Spirit, inner strength. Allow Christ to reside in your heart. Love is the most important thing, real love, not pretend love. It takes a strong person to realize how much God loves us, sometimes He loves us so much He doesn’t save us from the pain that will make draw closer to Himself. Be filled with God, love big, trust the Lord, may Jesus live in your heart.

Do you want to follow along and read the New Testament with us? Here is our schedule

Posted in Church | Leave a comment

Where Are You? (Eph 2)

4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Paul can speak of the reality of heaven because we are already there. We don’t have to wait to “go to heaven” we are seated there in Christ now! That’s how rock solid our promises from God are. It is only by grace that completely helpless people are saved when they cry out to God in faith. We don’t bring anything to the table except our sin and baggage, and he saves us, that’s how amazing God’s great love by which He is loving us. He is the one doing the work, and it’s amazing. He is molding and shaping us so that we can be of good for the kingdom. You have a job to do, you’ve been created for it, God has set them up for you, now get after it. Share the gospel, partner in this ministry with all the Saints in Christ Jesus, display the immeasurable riches of His kindness towards us!

Posted in Church | Leave a comment

How Much Forgiveness Can We Have (Eph 1)

7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace

It would be amazing if God were to look through the portal of time and see all those who would ever be His people and then give us enough forgiveness to cover all of our sins. But that’s not what the Bible says God did. No. We have been bought back (redeemed) from our sin, we are forgiven, not according to the amount of our sins, but according to the riches of his grace. God’s riches are far greater than all the sin there has ever been. I’m reminded of the time when I worked in a sno cone stand. It was in the 1990’s in the North Dallas area and a convertible Mercedes pulled up. Two guys hopped out, and I immediately recognized one of them as Michael Irvin. That’s a pretty big deal for a kid who grew-up watching America’s Team. He asked me “what’s good?” I said “I like Tiger’s Blood” so he responded “that sounds good, give me two mediums.” I made them quickly (and with super high quality as always, shaved-ice is an art, and I was a master) and I handed them over. He tried one and nodded his head “that is good!” then he nodded at his “guy” and said “take care of him” and the other guy handed me $20 and said “here you go, keep the change.” The bill was $5. I wasn’t paid according to the cost of the sno cone, I was paid according to the riches of the superstar who wanted a cold treat on a beautiful North Texas summer day. When Jesus paid for our sins with his blood, it was if he was saying a great cosmic “keep the change.” There was far more value paid by God than was needed to wipe-out every sin ever committed… but that’s who God is. How much forgiveness can you have? All of it. All of your sin. Yesterday, today, tomorrow, forever… paid in full, and then some. There is always more grace, receive it with gratefulness.

Posted in Church | Leave a comment

Slavery in the New Testament (Philemon)

13 I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel, 14 but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord. 15 For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, 16 no longer as a bondservant but more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother—especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.

This little letter is from the Paul to Philemon (a slave owner) on behalf of Onesimus (a slave owned by said owner) whereby the Apostle practically lives out the New Testament teaching on slavery. When we hear the word “slave” we think of the kind of slavery in the Western World from about 200 years ago. The kind of slavery that was present in Biblical times (and for most of the world for most of history) is generally a bit different. Nevertheless, there are parallels. The New Testament teaching on slavery really depends greatly on who’s receiving it. For slaves, the Bible says “do your best to work hard for your master as though they are Jesus, that’s how best to make the gospel look good.” The teaching for slave owners is “treat your slaves well and don’t be harsh with them, that’s how best to make the gospel look good… and if they’re Christians, treat them as a brother, not a slave.” So, here is Paul. One would think, from our context “surely the Bible condemns slavery!” But it doesn’t. But neither does it endorse slavery. Paul’s actions give us a practical example of how we live… an individual’s status is not the primary concern of the Christian life, it’s all about the advancement of the gospel. “But wait, slavery is evil and there’s nothing more important than stomping out slavery/racism/bigotry!” Right? Well, at least according to the Bible, there is something more important, as evil as those things may be, and that’s telling people about Jesus. In other words, if a Christian is more concerned about “social justice” than getting out the message of Jesus, they’re not lining up with the Bible too well. So, Paul doesn’t say slavery is an abomination, or that there should be laws against it, and he doesn’t feel compelled to hide Onesimus because slavery is unjust and thus he had an obligation to fight it. In fact, Paul sends the slave back to his owner and reasons with Philemon to do what’s right on the basis of the gospel. Of course Paul is opposing slavery, but he does so in a way that shows there is something more important than our “pet projects,” the gospel. No, social justice isn’t the gospel, telling people of the death, burial, resurrection etc. of Jesus, that’s the gospel. If we can effect positive change in other areas, that’s wonderful, and we should, but not at the expense of every single Christian telling people about Jesus. That’s hard to understand, even harder to do, yet we should.

Posted in Church | Leave a comment