Archives For Jesus

Community to Destiny

Ben —  February 22, 2017 — Leave a comment

At times we may find ourselves living individually, relying on our own efforts and seeking the coveted self-made status. But God’s word has a different message on our destiny and purpose on this earth. His word reminds us that we can only become all that He has created us to become, in the context of engraving our life in a biblical community of people called the local Church.

We see this powerful message during the establishment of the local Church [Acts 9:17], where Jesus humbles Paul and makes him reliant on the community around him. It is only then that Paul’s destiny begins to come into fruition. There is lasting change and real transformation in Paul’s life, and he emerges a new man whose destiny and potential are released because of the community around him.

From scripture we learn that the Christian walk is a collaboration, where community is the custodian of our destiny. We as followers of Christ are meant to be in fellowship with one another, sharing life together intimately and not on the superficial level.

As you meditate on God’s word this week, I’d like to share some truths regarding the importance of community. May these reminders encourage you to take the next step into intimately sharing your life with your local church.

  • Jesus ministered in community
  • Your potential is found in community
  • Community is the context for destiny
  • Destiny is a shared commodity; you never have full ownership over it, you are a part owner
  • Your potential is a collaboration
  • Fruit grows in family

Jesus, Friend of Sinners

Ben —  December 7, 2015 — Leave a comment

Jesus was called a lot of things and given many titles during His ministry. One of the most striking titles He was given was ‘Friend of Sinners’. Sometimes the message that we as Christians are communicating is actually alienating the people we are called to love. Christians can easily fall into an ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality. Instead of building bridges to those who need Jesus, we can build walls. I love to read accounts in the Gospels when Jesus came across people. In Luke 7, there is a beautiful story contrasting two characters, a pious religious man and a prostitute. Jesus was eating at Simon the Pharisee’s house when a prostitute burst in to present him with an expensive gift of perfume, which she poured out onto His feet while weeping. Simon was offended by her extravagant display, to which Jesus pointed out that for all his religious training and high standing in society, Simon hadn’t even shown him basic hospitality!

Have you ever encountered a similar ‘religious mindset’ such as Simon’s? You feel like you can’t win! A religious mindset is more focused on appearance than authenticity, creates and lives in its own holier category and is highly attuned to spot faults in others while being blind to their own flaws. Jesus was constantly criticized because of who He associated with.

It would be interesting to ask yourself – which of the two characters do you most identify with? The truth was, Simon was also a sinner, just like the prostitute, and in need of God’s grace. Simon’s level of sin was no less than hers, and neither is ours. The fact that Jesus is a friend of sinners is good news for all of us.

The Shepherd’s Search

Ben —  October 21, 2014 — Leave a comment

If you want to understand the nature of God, just look at the life of Jesus. He is God on earth, sharing in our humanity and all of the struggles that come with it. If you want a blueprint for life then see how Jesus reacted to needs, to people, to our problems and to our worries. You’ll also notice this – Jesus was followed by huge crowds, but he followed individuals.

Jesus’ main strategy for reaching people was through friendship and food. Some think his main strategy was miracles, and although He used miracles to respond to a need, he really used relationships to reach people’s hearts. He was eating and fellowshipping with sinners regularly. The religious people of the time had become so arrogant in their intellectual understanding of their faith that they had lost their sense of mission and forgotten about God’s love for lost people. They actually looked down on Jesus and started making accusations about him.

In Luke 15, Jesus shares three parables about three lost things. He is revealing his heart for people that are far from God and he feels so strongly about making the point that he tells the story in three different ways in the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son. From these parables we can take away several powerful truths: God notices our absence when we stray from Him, God will relentlessly be searching for us, God treasures us and God longs for a joyful reunion into his arms.

The Household of Faith

Ben —  November 14, 2013 — Leave a comment

Many passages in the New Testament refer to the church being like a family household, and its members as brothers and sisters. Just as you are part of your own family, you are part of your church – it’s not something we should feel separated from.

Gal 6:10 (NLT) Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.

As members of our church family we each need to take responsibility for our contribution to it. We can all play a part: with regular, punctual attendance at meetings, prayer and support, giving finances, joining a team, and by helping out in practical ways.

Here is our ‘Job Description’ as brothers and sisters, according to various New Testament scriptures:

  • Act 21:17 When we arrived at Jerusalem, the brothers and sisters received us warmly.

Welcome guests warmly. We are not a closed-off family. This is everyone’s job – not just that of the host team/door-greeters.

  • Rom 1:13 (NLT)…I want to work among you and see spiritual fruit, just as I have seen among other Gentiles.

Grow spiritual fruit. Numbers are not the issue – the focus is on quality growth in the members’ lives.

  • Rom 16:17 …I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.

Be on the lookout for people who cause divisions in the church. Watch out for criticism and avoid getting caught up in it. The enemy can use it to wreak havoc.

  • 1 Cor 3:1-4  Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ.I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it.Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings?

Be spiritual people. Be hungry for more of God in our lives. We need to grow into spiritual maturity, becoming able to encourage others.

  • 1 Cor 14 (whole chapter): 26…Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.

Maintain the order of church services. There are reasons why we do what we do. Be supportive – learn to flow with how things are done.

1 Cor 15:58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Work enthusiastically. Do what you do with excellence and initiative, without needing to be checked up on. Stay motivated.

2 Cor 13:11-12 Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. 12 Greet one another with a holy kiss.

Greet one another with spiritual love. Show care and appreciation for all members. Newcomers will notice! (‘They will know you by your love for one another’)

Gal 6:1-2  Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.

Gently help those who are struggling or going astray. Don’t come down hard and judgemental on people who are dealing with problems. We also need to guard ourselves from getting caught up in the same traps ourselves.

1 Thess 5:12-13 Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. 13 Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other.

Honour pastors and leaders. Don’t scoff at or resist those who have a position of authority – speak well of them; pray for them. Honour unlocks rewards and benefits.

James 2:15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?

Love each other. Put love into action. Don’t say “The church has a program for doing that” – get out and do it yourself. No amount of programs can meet all the needs.

1 John 4:21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

Love each other. Foster connections.

1 Cor 1:10 I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.

Live in harmony with each other. Be united in thought and purpose. Focus on agreement.

Lastly: don’t assume you can ‘pay’ yourself out of responsibility simply by giving financially. Get personally involved in meeting others’ needs.

Something to think about: What would the church look like if every member had the same attitude towards it as me?

Household of Faith

Ben —  October 28, 2013 — 1 Comment

 

Knowledge and revelation are only valuable when we actually do something with them – when we put them into action. We are not meant to blend in, compromise our theology, or back off from what God is calling us to do. We need to remind ourselves that we exist primarily for Jesus and His mission – not for ourselves or the world. For the church to reach the coming generations we all have a unique part to play, but it may mean we need to surrender some of our own likes and dislikes regarding how our church should be run. Remember that God has put you in this church for a purpose.

1 Cor 12:18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.

In Acts chapter two we see the birth of the New Testament church – a pattern for us to follow.

Acts 2:46,7 (NLT)  They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity –  47 all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.

The church in Acts chapter 2 was:

Spirit-filled. As they were all worshiping in one accord together, God’s Spirit suddenly came upon them. They understood that their first call was to prayer, worship and consecration.

A church that valued the Word. They realised the scriptures are not simply a collection of wise sayings or a book of tips and suggestions on how to make life better. We need to understand that they are the final authority on everything. They don’t just contain truth – they are fundamental truth. It’s our responsibility to live out the Word daily.

Christ-centered. We must never forget that only through Jesus do we have the answers the world needs. Only He can set us free from the problem of sin and death. Only through His death on the cross can we receive eternal life. We need to constantly remind ourselves of what His death and resurrection mean for us.

United. They understood that in the midst of great diversity, their greatest need was to be working together in strong bonds of unity – in one accord. We too come from many different backgrounds, but the more we can get along and work together, the more freely and powerfully God’s spirit will be able to move in our church.

Relational. They spent time together – not just on the Sabbath, but also during the week in each other’s homes. They got involved with one another’s lives, helping each other out and even sharing around their goods and possessions.

A worshipping church. They knew the power of coming together to give God their thanks, praise and worship.

Generous. They were willing to help meet the financial and material needs of the church and its members. There was a strong sense of community.

A functioning church. They were prepared to get involved with the practical work of helping out wherever there was a need.

An evangelistic church. They spread the word and brought people along.

Just like the early church, we can’t do the job on our own. We need the Holy Spirit to be moving and working amongst us. Only He can save a person’s soul. We need to develop a culture where we all value praying and seeking Him.

And Suddenly

Ben —  December 7, 2012 — Leave a comment

Luke24:49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.

Acts 1:4 …Do not leave Jerusalem, but waitfor the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.

Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

These instructions are among Jesus’ final words to His followers before His ascension. Here’s what happened:

Acts 2:1,4 (NKJV) When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place… 4And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit

This was a new phase. The Church was to become ‘the Body of Christ’, operating as Jesus’ hands and feet and ministering to their entire world. And before they went out to do the work of God, it was vital that, rather than trying to do everything in their own limited strengths and abilities, they spend time waiting and praying for His supernatural power to fill them.

 

To do all God is calling us to, we need more than our own abilities and schemes – we need the power of His Spirit working in us and through us. There is no substitute for this life-transforming force! Not even church activities such as worship, community or any area of ministry can replace it.

 

Are you endued with God’s power?

A Seed of Change

Ben —  December 4, 2012 — Leave a comment

I love the phrase – And Suddenly – in Acts 2. It was the start of something new and exciting. Let’s take a quick look at it:

What preceded the ‘Suddenly’ in Acts 2:4?

  1. Prayer
  2. Unity of heart (they were of ‘one accord’)
  3. Patient waiting
  4. Faith (expectation)
  5. Reliance on God

 

What can a ‘Suddenly’ bring?

  1. The start of a new chapter
  2. A breakthrough to a new level with God
  3. The commencement of a new season
  4. An answer to prayer
  5. The seeds of change
  6. A time of God moving in your life

 

Some areas where we can believe for God to do a ‘Suddenly’:

  1. Divine provision
  2. Divine intervention
  3. Divine protection
  4. God’s sovereignty
  5. Business breakthroughs
  6. Healing
  7. Restored relationships
  8. Dreams fulfilled
  9. Overcoming obstacles: “I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle.  I just wish he didn’t trust me so much.” (Mother Teresa)
  10. Answered prayer
  11. Prophetic  words fulfilled

 

Now is the time to wait on God for a ‘Suddenly’.  As we dare to believe together, we gain encouragement and boost each other’s faith levels. Plant some seeds of change in your marriage, finances, work life, emotions, relationships, prayer life or wherever you need God’s power to move.