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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Discipleship Before Church Growth




Imagine all the time, money and resources that have gone into church growth in the last generation.

Is it naïve to wonder what the world and the church would look like today if all that effort had been invested exclusively in church health instead?

Is it possible that if the church had prioritized health, not as a means to growth, but as an end in itself, we would be in a greater position to represent Jesus to the world?

We’re often told that one of the reasons so many churches remain small is lack of faith. But I wonder… Could it be that the reverse is true? Might our obsession with bigger and bigger churches be rooted in a lack of faith?

Read it all here.


Monday, May 29, 2017

Two Powerful Words: "I Believe"



Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ ( by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Ephesians 2:4-10 NASU

When Satan tempted Eve, she said: “I believe” to his deceit and “I disbelieve” to God's warning. Her attitude of belief towards God gave her paradise with her husband. When by her actions she said: “I believe” to Satan her home was the desert and her husband became a disinherited, worn-out farmer.

When Adam and Eve said to God: “We’re naked!” God responded by giving them the skins of an animal for clothing. The animal’s life was taken thereby, and became a prototype animals being used as a means of reconciling man to God for the forgiveness of sins and worshiping God. Therefor, the reason Abel’s animal sacrifice was accepted by God, and Cain’s was not. For “. . without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” (Heb 9:22), because the result of sin is death. Abel learned from their parents, but Cain was self centered and so substituted his works, i.e., fruit of the ground.

In prophetic type, the sacrifice animal was in principal a type of Christ as the Lamb of God. So as a God given type Able was demonstrating faith in Christ and His sacrificial payment for his sins and sin nature. Even the mentioning of the offering of the fat portions was speaking of reliance on the reserve energy of Christ to carry through what was begun in His death to finish the reconciliation started in the sacrificial death.

“I believe!” is the key to receiving God’s mercy to us, and the key to His work being done in us, so that we become “His workmanship.” This faith is not an arbitrary gift of God that appears without our choice. Faith is a God-given gift through the means He makes available to us in Jesus Christ.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith,. .” (Eph 2:8 NKJV). The vehicle of grace, God’s mercy, is personal faith. It is to say to God: “I believe!”

This is revealed as the obedience of faith (Rom 1:5; 2 Peter 1:4). For as we respond to the stimulus through both the blessings and trials we mature and are transformed (James 1:2-4).

Salvation and transformation by faith comes as we keep our focus on Him by the Holy Spirit’s work: “. . we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” (2 Cor 3:18)

As Hebrews 12:2 describes this responsive sanctifying walk of faith: “. . fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith,” This is the consistent result of saying to God and His promises: “I believe!”

In this way of obedience of faith God’s promises and purposes to and in us will our experience like Paul’s will be:
“Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 3:12-15).

In John 20, we read the account of Doubting Thomas. When Thomas was told that the Lord was alive, he did not believe. Then Jesus appeared to the disciples again and Thomas was there. Jesus told Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed;blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

We must apply two powerful words that change everything: “I believe!”

Monday, May 8, 2017

Melchizedek a Type of Christ (Hebrews 7)

Artist rendering of Melchizedek
For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, 2 and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, the name Melchizedek means “king of righteousness”; then also, “king of Salem” means “king of peace.” (Hebrews 7:1, 2)

I offer praise and thanksgiving for the type of Christ revealed in the person and ministry of Melchizedek. The story reminds me that Jesus is my King of righteousness. I am reminded that in Him I am made righteous, cleansed from my sins. For He took the guilt of our sins and put to death our sinful nature (Rom. 7:23-8:1-9).

Therefore, Jesus is the King of peace as I invite Him live in me (Gal. 2:20). As a believer I am made free from the domination of sin by faith persuasion (John 8:31-35) to walk with Him in the light of His Word (Ps. 119:9-11). Thereby, my character is changed.

Melchizedek’s bringing of bread and wine reminds me of the communion I enjoy with Jesus, our bread of life. His blood brings refreshment and forgiveness.

As Melchizedek came to Abraham after the defeat of his enemies, I am reminded that after the believer’s battle of life is over, Jesus takes us to the glorious place He went to prepare for us, that we might joyfully dwell in God’s eternal presence.

“In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” Ps. 16:11

Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Related reading: Who Was Melchizedek?Praying Hebrews 6; Praying Hebrews 5: The Disciple's Constant Companion; Praying Hebrews 3: Jesus Our Great High Priest; Praying Hebrews 3:6-19; Praying Hebrews 4:1-3; Praying Hebrews 4:5-8; Praying Hebrews 4:4-16; Praying Hebrews 5:1-4; Praying Hebrews 5:5,6: The Disciples' Pattern

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Incarnation of the Son of God




At the heart of the Christian Faith is the reality of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. We may not understand this great mystery, but we may give thanks for it. The conception and birth of the Lord Jesus through the Virgin Mary is according to earlier promises made by God. One of the earliest is found in Genesis 3:15, the Protevangelion. Here we are told that the Seed born of the Woman would crush the serpent's head. Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the promise made to Abraham's ancestors in Eden.

The Incarnation of Jesus Messiah also fulfills a prophetic witness concerning the believer’s High Priest and His eternal priesthood. This is expressed in Hebrews 5:

“So also Christ did not glorify Himself so as to become a high priest, but He who said to Him,

"YOU ARE MY SON,
TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU";

just as He says also in another passage,
"YOU ARE A PRIEST FOREVER
ACCORDING TO THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK."

Thanks be to God for the prophetic witness that He is our eternal High Priest after the order of Melchizedek. Oh, the blessing to all who are persuaded of the adequacy of the salvation we receive through Him!

The balance of the Epistle to the Hebrews details our High Priest's ministry of intercession for us who trust Him to bring us redeemed to the eternal home He has prepared for us.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Jesus Christ is risen!



Jesus is our God risen from the dead as was foretold concerning the Righteous Ruler, the Messiah. He is risen! Hallelujah!

The New Testament speaks about Jesus as the ruler-priest. He is the firstborn from the grave and by his resurrection He delivers to the Father a "peculiar people." He leads us in the ascent to the Father where we receive heavenly recognition because we belong to Him.