Being Saved

Two of the words that have been translated “salvation” or “saved” in the New Testament writings are “sozo” and “soteria.” Both are translated in a variety of ways, including “health,” “salvation,” “deliver,” and “save.”

It is important as we think about the salvation offered by the Lord, that though He did come to save or deliver us from sin, He didn’t come to deliver or save us from problems. He seems to set us up for them, in fact. He arranges situations in which we must need a healer, or a warrior, or a comforter, so that we come to know Him in real ways as the Answer to those needs.

He gives us opportunities to grow more like Him by responding to difficulties in His power. When we answer difficult situations with the fruit of His Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), we are experiencing His presence in ways that change us and the people around us. He wants us to mature in His character and His mind.

The devils around us with the brass brushes and steel wool are here to clean off of us everything that is like them but not like Him. That isn’t what they think, but it is what they do. Stop fighting with them until after you submit to Him, and the warfare will be more effective (James 4:7). Stop fighting the process and the change and start asking Him what He is doing and how you can co-operate with Him and your maturity will improve rapidly.

Taking Things Personally

In his book “Leaders Eat Last,”* Simon Sinek told a story about a former undersecretary of defense who came to a revelation about the differences between personhood and position.

The man was invited to speak at a large conference. He was met at the airport, escorted to his hotel room where he had already been checked in, and picked up the next morning to be carried to the conference. He was taken to a waiting room and offered a cup of coffee in a beautiful ceramic cup. These things happened while he was still undersecretary of defense…

The next year, he was invited to speak at the same conference. This time, he was no longer undersecretary. He caught a cab from the airport to the hotel he was going to stay in. He checked himself in and went to his room alone. The next morning, he caught a cab to the conference venue. He found his way back stage and asked a tech if there was any coffee. The man pointed to a coffee maker on a table against the wall. The former undersecretary took a styrofoam cup and poured himself some of the coffee.

He realized that the previous year, he had not deserved the ceramic cup any more than he did when he got the styrofoam cup. The ceramic cup was given to the position that he was in – not to him.

Jesus told some people He was preaching to one day to honor the seat of Moses that the leaders of the synagogue sat in, but not to honor them or follow their lives as examples of how to live (Matthew 23:1-3). He also said that His disciples would be hated because He was hated (Matthew 10:22).

We shouldn’t be hurt by taking attacks personally. Nor should we be puffed up by taking honor personally. We should walk where He leads us, and receive from Him the honor prophesied in Psalm 91:

Because he is lovingly devoted to Me,
I will deliver him;
I will exalt him because he knows My name.
When he calls out to Me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble.
I will rescue him and give him honor.
I will satisfy him with a long life
and show him My salvation.
(Psalm 91:14-16 Holman Christian Standard Bible ®©)

(* ©2014 SinekPartners LLC, published by Portfolio / Penguin NY NY)

Right Living

Love must be without hypocrisy. Detest evil; cling to what is good. Show family affection to one another with brotherly love. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lack diligence; be fervent in spirit; serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer. Share with the saints in their needs; pursue hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep. Be in agreement with one another. Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Try to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes. If possible, on your part, live at peace with everyone. Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for His wrath. For it is written: Vengeance belongs to Me; I will repay, says the Lord. But

If your enemy is hungry, feed him.
If he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
For in so doing you will be heaping fiery coals on his head.

Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good.

(Romans 12:9-21 Holman Christian Standard Bible ®©)

Look Back

Look back and see
How the kingdom you came from
Surrendered to your God.
Look back and see
How the blood of the lamb saved you
From the grip of death.
Look back and see
How the water that saved you
Destroyed your enemies.

But don’t look back very long,
Or you’ll return to being a slave!
Don’t look back very long –
You must look forward to get home!

Look back and see
How your God gave you water
That came from a rock.
Look back and see
How He fed you and clothed you
And healed you from disease.
Look back and see
How you’re now a holy nation,
A royal priesthood.

But don’t look back very long,
Or you’ll return to being a slave!
Don’t look back very long –
You must look forward to get home!

Look back and see
How He called you to be part of
A pure and spotless Bride.
Look back and see
How the fruit of His Spirit
Has changed who you are.
Look back and see
How the gifts His Spirit gives you
Destroy the devil’s works.

But don’t look back very long,
Or you’ll return to being a slave!
Don’t look back very long –
You must look forward to get home!

© 2000 Douglas Thomas

The Creeds

I just read a pile of creeds. The list included the Apostles’, the Nicene, the Niceno-Constantinopolitan, the Athanasian, the Westminster Confession, the United Methodist, and the creed of Eusebius. The only mention of the Kingdom of Heaven was in one, and it’s statement was to say that the Kingdom is eternal.

The Kingdom is pretty close to the only thing Jesus talked about. What a stark contrast. He instructed some people once to seek His Kingdom before anything else, and to seek His righteousness. In that position of pursuit, they would find all they needed.

It seems that we should be taking notes instead of sharing notes. Show us the Way, Lord.

Leading Like Mountains

Mountains are exposed to all the harshness nature can offer. Wind, sun, rain, snow, ice, earthquakes, meteorites, and lightning batter them before moving on to the lower targets.

The valleys between the mountains benefit from the damage sustained by the mountains, which are sometimes simply laid bare and broken. When we are called to leadership, we are thrust out into an open place that can make us earlier targets than many other believers. The responses we have to that exposure should become blessing to those we are called to lead and others who see our lives.

Sometimes just being a disciple of Jesus will make us targets.

Then a large crowd of the Jews learned He was there. They came not only because of Jesus, but also to see Lazarus the one He had raised from the dead. Therefore the chief priests decided to also kill Lazarus, because he was the reason many of the Jews were deserting them and believing in Jesus.
(John 12:9-11 Holman Christian Standard Bible ®©)

Mustard Bush

He presented another parable to them: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It’s the smallest of all the seeds, but when grown, it’s taller than the vegetables and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the sky come and nest in its branches.”
(Matthew 13:31-32 Holman Christian Standard Bible ®©)

The Kingdom started in the earth as one Man. When He was sown in the earth, He multiplied and the Kingdom has grown and will continue to grow. It isn’t important looking if we don’t have eyes to see it. As Jesus told Nicodemus (John 3:3), if we haven’t been reborn, we can’t see it at all.

We can see it, though! We need to be about tending it; it needs water and sun and fertilizer. It needs annoying bees to pollinate it so that it bears fruit. Ask the Spirit what your responsibility is for tending the garden. He wants you to know, and to be successful at your part.

Good Listeners

“Now My soul is troubled. What should I say—Father, save Me from this hour? But that is why I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name!”

Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again!”

The crowd standing there heard it and said it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to Him!”

Jesus responded, “This voice came, not for Me, but for you. Now is the judgment of this world. Now the ruler of this world will be cast out. As for Me, if I am lifted up from the earth I will draw all people to Myself.” He said this to signify what kind of death He was about to die.
(John 12:27-33 Holman Christian Standard Bible ®©)
We need to learn to listen when Jesus is trying to tell us what’s next, or what we need to be doing.

Then the disciples came up and asked Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?”

He answered them, “Because the secrets of the kingdom of heaven have been given for you to know, but it has not been given to them. For whoever has, more will be given to him, and he will have more than enough. But whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. For this reason I speak to them in parables, because looking they do not see, and hearing they do not listen or understand.”
(Matthew 13:10-13 Holman Christian Standard Bible ®©)
We need to ask the Spirit to explain things to us when things don’t make sense. It is supposed to make sense, because He wants to give the secrets of the Kingdom to us.

Pursuing Peace and Holiness

Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness—without it no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no root of bitterness springs up, causing trouble and by it, defiling many.
(Hebrews 12:14-15 Holman Christian Standard Bible ®©)

Holiness is being set apart to someone or something. If I am set apart to Yahweh in all I do, then when someone is nasty to me, I might want to presume that that person, needing Jesus, has been put in my path so that I can manifest Him to them and introduce them to Him.

When things are going well, it should also be a testimony of the fact that my life is set apart to serve Yahweh. The Root of Jesse should spring up, blessing many, because I am present:

“And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse,
Who shall stand as a banner to the people;
For the Gentiles shall seek Him,
And His resting place shall be glorious.”
Isaiah 11:10NKJV

Growth and Impact

Jeff Christopherson, in his book, “The Kingdom Matrix” lists these four marks of a Kingdomcentric church:

  1. New Believers
  2. New Disciplemakers
  3. New Communities of Faith
  4. Transforming Communities

Knowing both the differences between and the relationship between the Church and the Kingdom changes the way we think and do and interact and can give us greater understanding of our identities and our purposes.

The book is available by clicking here if you would like to read it.