Category Archives: Church

Household of Truth

We are the people who live in Yahweh’s household. We eat at His table. We are welcome at His meetings and gatherings.

I write these things to you, hoping to come to you soon. But if I should be delayed, I have written so that you will know how people ought to act in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. And most certainly, the mystery of godliness is great:

He was manifested in the flesh,
justified in the Spirit,
seen by angels,
preached among the Gentiles,
believed on in the world,
taken up in glory.
(1 Timothy 3:14-16 Holman Christian Standard Bible® ©)

We are the foundation of truth. Yet, we are so undiscerning of truth that we cannot tell who is lying as we read the news. We cannot tell who is in error as we read books by popular writers who lead the Church.

As we continue to build each other up in love, each part doing our part, we will mature to the point of standing beside our Lord and Husband in a unified manifestation of faith and truth (Ephesians 4). We will stand for nothing but the Truth, and the Way, and the Life.

The path to that place of being a foundation may be painful and costly. Brace up!

Angels Seeing You

Angels who have seen the awesome glory of their Creator, with no veil to shield them, not needing it because they have no earthly flesh from an ancestor like Adam, have seen much!

They have seen more than John saw in the Revelation of Jesus that he received. Some of that was shown to him by angels. They have seen judgement after a great war in Heaven. They have known the positions of authority given to some of them over places in Heaven and places in Earth – powers, principalities, world rulerships.

It must have been an incomprehensible mystery to them to see, after centuries of observing humanity, their Master become a human. Having seen, with a few surprising exceptions, nothing but failure and misery and ungodliness in humans, they watched as their God became one. Then, seeing Him be despised and spit upon and beaten, by the humans He joined in their misery, for their sake, must have made their mouths gape open in astonishment.

Now, His servants see us. They see His sons and daughters. They see, in human frailty and failure, the spirits who were given birth by the Holy One. The One Who overcame in the earth. They see a tide of change – sometimes sweeping, sometimes creeping – spreading through the earth to create a new race of humans. Sons and daughters of the King of Heaven and Earth.

Father, make us able to see at least what your spirit servants see – to recognize the Life of our Father in our brothers and sisters. Make us able to honor You as we honor each other. Make us able to discern Jesus as we receive each other in love.

Letting Jesus In

In the Revelation of Jesus that John received, this was the message Jesus sent to the believers called to be the church in Laodicia:

“The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Originator of God’s creation says: I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I’m rich; I have become wealthy, and need nothing,’ and you don’t know that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire so that you may be rich, and white clothes so that you may be dressed and your shameful nakedness not be exposed, and ointment to spread on your eyes so that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and discipline. So be committed and repent. Listen! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and have dinner with him, and he with Me. The victor: I will give him the right to sit with Me on My throne, just as I also won the victory and sat down with My Father on His throne.
(Revelation 3:14-21 Holman Christian Standard Bible®©)

Jesus was not knocking at the door of an unbeliever’s heart, hoping to save her/him. He was knocking at the door of the congregations, or at the home of believers in those congregations in Laodicia, wanting to be welcomed among them. They didn’t know that they were wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. They thought that they were free of needs.

All of us, to some degree, are suffering from blindness to some of our weaknesses and distractions. We are very sensitive to our financial or health needs, but the more important spiritual needs are difficult to discern. We need to have frequent visits from Jesus, during which we ask Him how we are. Even then, we are in danger of resembling James’ description of seeing our faces in the mirror Jesus holds in front of us and turning away unchanged.

A visit from Jesus is sometimes painful, but always beneficial.

Big Siblings

In families, especially at times when family members worked in family businesses or on farms, as the older children grew, they received increased responsibilities. The new duties were not just related to the business, but to the younger children. They taught them the way to live and work.

Many congregations are so relationship resistant that they are more like orphanages than families. Someone who moves to town and joins a congregation is received like a distant cousin whose parents died and left them needing a place to stay – they aren’t really close family, but we have to put up with them as long as they stay.

God, however, likes to set the solitary in families (Psalm 68:4-6). He sees each believer as a son or daughter, born of His Holy Spirit. I believe that He expects each of us to take some responsibility for the brothers and sisters who are younger than us in Him. We don’t have to have a degree in anything to be a big brother or an older sister to some who need that type of influence.

We all need it, and we all are capable of it if we are bearing the fruit of the Spirit. Encouragement, correction, teaching regarding a certain ministry or a certain discipline, such as prayer or reading and meditation on Scripture – these are powerful influences that we can offer those with less time or experience in being believers.

The more we mature in character and service, the more we are likely to be drawn to a level of service and sacrifice that resembles parenting. Even a 5 year old can be a good influence on the life of a 3 year old, though. Invest in someone!

Who’s Preaching?

The Western style of gathering the Church into congregations has a pulpit as the center of activity. Modern versions have, in some cases, replaced the pulpit with a stool and table, but the activity is the same: monolog from a preacher is the main event during meetings.

Most denominations approve of the existence of pastors, teachers, and evangelists. Other ministries, like apostle or prophet or miracles, are a little too weird to allow airtime. If we only pick on the  three popular gifts, having the wrong one in the pulpit can be boring or annoying. A pastor isn’t a teacher. If we make one come up with a sermon at least once a week, it is likely to be sad. Magazines and websites with sermons you can download and read to the congregation are made for these people.

An evangelist is sometimes thrust into the only leadership job in the congregation. This is likely to become tiresome quickly, too. Some denominations teach their people that they need to come back to the altar again and really get saved again this week, so an evangelist in leadership there would be appropriate, I guess. To have an evangelist trying to lead a congregation into discipleship or deeper truths isn’t going to go far, though.

Suppose we looked at Acts and some letters in the New Testament for clues about how to gather. There, a meal is the center. There, pastors comfort the sheep. Teachers teach them. Evangelists are hanging out with unbelievers inviting them to Jesus. Apostles get big pictures to lead with and prophets get timing and correction revelation to lead with.

Paul wrote to Ephesus that those leadership gifts would be in place to equip the Church to do ministry. He wrote that they would be doing that until we all come into unity in the faith and the knowledge of Jesus, and are mature in the same stature as Him. We aren’t there, yet. We still need all of that, in the person of many people. The pitiful one-man-show will be history when we let it be.

Read about that and be blessed: Ephesians 4

The Priesthood of All Believers

“The priesthood of all believers” is a phrase that has been used to allow all believers to pray. It is a contradiction to the idea that everyone needs to employ the Heavenly access that only a person has who has been elevated to the earthly status of “priest,” or their prayers will not be heard by God. This implies that everyone but the priests are just peasants in the Kingdom of Heaven.

When the leadership of the Church came to understand what they did of this truth, it expanded the work of the Church in the earth. Sadly, it was not really an advance, just a restoration of something earlier leaders stole from believers they were misleading.

There is more! We all have something important to accomplish in the earth! “The ministry of all believers” is going to be restored to the Church. This is a contradiction to the idea that there is a caste system in the Church – a class of citizens called “clergy” and another peasant class called “laity.” Clergy means “clerk” and laity means “people.”

Every believer has something important to do. It will take a spiritual gift – some manifestation of the Holy Spirit at work in each of us – to accomplish it. Education helps, but education without a spiritual gift is like having deeds or surveys without actually having property.

Paul wrote in his letter to the congregations in Corinth that we call 1 Corinthians, in a section in which he was declaring that all of the ministries of the Church are manifestations of the one Holy Spirit:

Now there are different gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different ministries, but the same Lord. And there are different activities, but the same God is active in everyone and everything. A manifestation of the Spirit is given to each person to produce what is beneficial:
(1 Corinthians 12:4-7 Holman Christian Standard Bible®©)

Here is the whole chapter.

An Inheritance

What it means in practical terms to “inherit the Kingdom of God” is not spelled out in Scripture as clearly as how to miss the inheritance is. A basic layer to God’s grace to us is that we can be born of Him by faith, transforming our spiritual lives into having the strength to access abundance and the power to overcome evil. We can overcome the evil in our own hearts and lives, and cooperate with Him to overcome evil in the cultures around us.

Just that basic shift – gaining supernatural life by being born of Yahweh – means that our names are written in His book of life, as described by John in the Revelation of Jesus:

Then I saw a great white throne and One seated on it. Earth and heaven fled from His presence, and no place was found for them. I also saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life, and the dead were judged according to their works by what was written in the books.

Then the sea gave up its dead, and Death and Hades gave up their dead; all were judged according to their works. Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And anyone not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.
(Revelation 20:11-15 Holman Christian Standard Bible®©)

Just not being thrown in the lake of fire means that I don’t experience the “second death.” It doesn’t mean that I have experienced the “life” that is implicit in the presence of my name in the “book of life.”

Experiencing that life happens when I am seeking first His Kingdom and His righteousness. That means living in the place where I find His instructions and His ways. Learning to listen to Him and learning to obey what I hear from Him is the access we have to doing things rightly – walking in righteousness.

Not learning rules – developing a relationship with the Ruler. The two judgments are based on two different criteria: one is identity, the other is works. Everyone experiences both. The works judgment is a Kingdom exam. The identity judgment is a Church exam.

The one that ends in the lake of fire is not based on works. Did you gain an inheritance in the Kingdom? Will you be alive to experience it? Will you be alive, but miss the inheritance by being focused on unimportant things instead? Those are the judgments.

Feeding Myself and Others

Now the end of all things is near; therefore, be clear-headed and disciplined for prayer. Above all, keep your love for one another at full strength, since love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. Based on the gift they have received, everyone should use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God. If anyone speaks, his speech should be like the oracles of God; if anyone serves, his service should be from the strength God provides, so that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To Him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.
(1 Peter 4:7-11 Holman Christian Standard Bible®©)

For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one. Now as we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function, in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another. According to the grace given to us, we have different gifts:

If prophecy, use it according to the standard of faith;
if service, in service; if teaching, in teaching;
if exhorting, in exhortation; giving, with generosity;
leading, with diligence; showing mercy, with cheerfulness.
(Romans 12:3-8 Holman Christian Standard Bible®©)

If you are a hand, and you feed a mouth, the stomach will distribute the benefit to the whole body, including yourself. Seemingly unrelated benefits will be experienced when we are all doing our parts. I will bless members of the Body I never encounter directly when I do my part.

When we build each other up, especially when we do it directly, we all become capable of accomplishments that we could never do apart from the rest of the Body doing their parts.

Helping Orphans

From one end of Scripture to the other, Yahweh instructs His people to take care of the widows, the fatherless, and strangers.

A situation when you may be able to help an orphan is when a person becomes a new believer. If you know someone who gets saved, and you don’t see that someone is taking them into relationships that amount to family connections, help them find someone who will care for them and pray with them and mentor them into their ministry.

If they are like over 90% of new believers, they will not find enough professional servants of God to connect with them at that level, and will wander away. Every believer has potential of being part of the family that should receive and take responsibility for raising new children of God.

If all they find is a pew and programs, they are orphans.

Peace Through the Blood

He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

He is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn over all creation;
because by Him everything was created,
in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible,
whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—
all things have been created through Him and for Him.

He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together.
He is also the head of the body, the church;
He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead,
so that He might come to have first place in everything.
For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him,
and through Him to reconcile everything to Himself
by making peace through the blood of His cross—
whether things on earth or things in heaven.

(Colossians 1:13-20 Holman Christian Standard Bible® ©)