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Archive for the ‘unity’ Category

Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. – Colossians 3:11 (ESV)

. . . but Christ is all. . .

Essentially, Christ is all that way we need.

  • He Complements Us:  For all that we are, Christ is the perfect fit for who we need to become.  He is complementary to us in that He offers us something that makes us function better as people of faith.
  • He Confirms Us: Whatever we might doubt or be unsure about, He is our answer.  He gives us confirmation of what is expected of us and what we will not be condemned for despite of how guilty and unworthy we truly are in accordance to his laws, decrees and statutes.  Despite all of that, He still calls us His own, His flock, His dear children.
  • He Completes Us: We need only look to him to fill the emptiness in our lives.  The voids and flaws are no match for His perfection.  Where we have shortcomings and failures, He comes in and completes us.  He makes us whole.  With Him as the head, we are able to strive towards maturing to “the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ,” a perfect man (Ephesains 4:13, KJV).

. . . and in all

The all that we see here is one with a focus on the parts making up a whole, as in totality of each and every part coming together as one.  In essence, Paul said this in a few different ways.

To the Corinthians. . .

For the body does not consist of one member but of many. . . As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. (12:14, 20, ESV)

To the Ephesians. . .

There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith,one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (4:4-6, ESV)

To the Roman. . .

For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. (12:4-5, NASB)

Beyond the emphasis on the body of Christ as a whole made up of many members or parts, there is continual evidence of the Scriptures providing us with more confirmation of our unity in Christ.

There is logic and reasoning that may have some to say that this is too touchy and feels phony, but let’s step back for a moment and evaluate the entire concept with both wisdom and discernment.  Let us look objectively at how this is laid out in the Scriptures, in particular in the New Testament and especially in the letters to the churches.

Gnostics and others like the Hellenists have reason to give heed to their feelings.  They have their own rationale for why they accept the labels that mankind has placed upon the very things that were to be so simple that we have somehow complicated and almost perverted into something else.  It makes sense to some of these folks to embrace something other than what was meant to exist as among us.  Concepts like love, unity, joy and compassion become mere words, losing their strength as concepts for Christian living.  They do not carry the same value when action words lead to little or no action and the descriptive words and phrases no longer fit the description within the profile of a Christian.

So, if logic stands to reason, then we face a sad truth that our very reason for being in Christ is endangered as we try to make Christ make sense in accordance with our own human reasoning.

What is irrational becomes totally rational.  What makes little or no sense is all the more sensible.  What is seen as off beat and way out there becomes our personal mantra of faith, hope and peace.  After all, He is our peace.

 


There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. – Galat
ians 3:28 (ESV)

For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body–whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free–and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. – 1 Corinthians 12:13 (NIV)

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith – Galatians 3:26 (NIV)

For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility – Ephesians 2:14 (NIV)

 

He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. – Colossians 1:28 (NIV)

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But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.- 1 Corinthians 12:31

Paul speaks of a more excellent way.  He does not say it to disregard the gifts provided by God.  He says it as means of teaching others.  He says it as a way to share how believers can show the love of Christ with others and not simply get caught up in the diversity of gifts within the body.

We are all part of a body called to function together.  As we function together as one body, we must be certain to function in a way that allows us to see how God can manifest what He has for us among us. 

We can see the diversity of gifts on display among us, but we are better off seeing God’s love on display among us.  By doing so, we show our compassion for one another and edify one another through the proper usage of our gifts.

God is good to us.  We at least ought to be good to one another due to His love that we share with one another.

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But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.- 1 Corinthians 12:31

Paul speaks of a more excellent way.  He does not say it to disregard the gifts provided by God.  He says it as means of teaching others.  He says it as a way to share how believers can show the love of Christ with others and not simply get caught up in the diversity of gifts within the body.

We are all part of a body called to function together.  As we function together as one body, we must be certain to function in a way that allows us to see how God can manifest what He has for us among us. 

We can see the diversity of gifts on display among us, but we are better off seeing God’s love on display among us.  By doing so, we show our compassion for one another and edify one another through the proper usage of our gifts.

God is good to us.  We at least ought to be good to one another due to His love that we share with one another.

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But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.- 1 Corinthians 12:31

Paul speaks of a more excellent way.  He does not say it to disregard the gifts provided by God.  He says it as means of teaching others.  He says it as a way to share how believers can show the love of Christ with others and not simply get caught up in the diversity of gifts within the body.

We are all part of a body called to function together.  As we function together as one body, we must be certain to function in a way that allows us to see how God can manifest what He has for us among us. 

We can see the diversity of gifts on display among us, but we are better off seeing God’s love on display among us.  By doing so, we show our compassion for one another and edify one another through the proper usage of our gifts.

God is good to us.  We at least ought to be good to one another due to His love that we share with one another.

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 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I  have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. – Genesis 9:12-13 (NIV)

So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.” – Genesis 9:17 (NIV)

God has a way of showing us things.  We might have taken them for granted, but they have real meaning beyond the surface.  There is more to them than what we might think or imagine with our natural minds and our natural eyes.  We have to see that our very own nature can cloud our spiritual discernment at times.  God has meanings that appear as mysteries to us.  He wants us to come into a certain level of understanding, especially when it comes to our covenant with Him.

What does that have to do with coffee? I was talking about covenants with God, right?

We can have coffee and a covenant.  We can sit down and have fellowship.  We can bond over the very things that seem so normal and mundane.  We can have fellowship in His Spirit and through His Spirit.  Since we have His Spirit, we can share such fellowship together.  It is by His Spirit that we have such a bond of peace and unity

We can sit down and have a cup of coffee, entering into a covenant of communion with other believers.  We can enter into a covenant of friendship and spiritual unity.  We can take normal things like a simple cup of coffee and make it into more than just a cup of Joe.  We can truly engage in fellowship under the blood covenant that we have with each other through Christ’s shed blood.

You can have a covenant with a brother or sister in Christ.  That’s real.  In fact, that is necessary.  Yet, our covenant starts with a spiritual sign.  It is no longer flesh cut away.  He has cut away at our hearts.  He seeks a spiritual sign among us nowadays.  Our covenant with Him through His blood allows us to have a binding covenant with other brothers and sisters in Him.

1Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. – Ephesians 5:1-2 (NIV)

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We are all one body, we have the same Spirit, and we have all been called to the same glorious future.
– Ephesians 4:4 (NLT)

One body…

Paul later states in the following verses that there is only one Lord, faith, baptism and God and Father.  That’s simple.  That’s it.

We are not called to become a divided body of Christ.  We are to live as a unified body of Christ.  That was what Chuck Colson was speaking of in his book The Body.  Rick Warren said so when he stated in The Purpose Driven Church: “It takes all kinds of churches to reach all kinds of people.” 

We are one body.  We are to exist together as a single, united force of faith.  We are to go forward in faith together in His name.

Let’s stop getting trivial with traditions.  Let’s keep others from guarding the gates and doorways, keeping people away from the house of faith and playing God.  Let’s be mindful of what we have allowed to divide us and work on building bridges back to the unity.

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46Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
Acts 2:46-47

Christian churches are known for their fellowship.  In fact, it seems like there must have been a daily potluck of sorts after Pentecost in Acts 2.  We see the early church had a common faith that led to a communal fellowship.

In days like today, we need to come together in a similar fashion.  Think about ways that your congregation can share with one another in the joyous fellowship of Christian love and unity.  Let it be casual and comfortable.  Make it just a gathering that allows you to break bread and share praise and praise together. 

Have every family bring a dish with a message of praise placed near it.  Display the messages prominently so that all can see them.  People will not only praise Sister King for her potato salad but also for overcoming the challenge of losing her husband in faith.  They won’t only see Brother Gilbert as an excellent Sunday school teacher but a mighty good barbecue cook as well.  Fellowship together, sharing your praise for the Lord as one.

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“Double Life” is a poem I created and appears in my first work of poetry called Reflections of a Believer.  I was inspired by books like Chuck Colson’s The Body and C.H. Spurgeon’s The Soulwinner.  I recently discovered a copy of the Body at a Goodwill while out of town and was led to post this in its entirety here.  Be blessed.

Double Life

I have some things that I need to admit before the congregation at this time.  First and foremost, I have to admit that I have been living a double life.  No, I am not committed to more than one woman.  And, rest assured, I am not in any relationship with another man.  My double life has to do with church. I have been practicing more than one denomination for quite a while now and it’s becoming increasingly hard to hide it.

As many of you know, I have been Baptist most of my Christian walk.  However, I was taken in when I realized that I have been acting as Jehovah’s Witness because I have witnessed His power in my life.  I am also Unitarian because I believed in the unity and oneness of the body of Christ when I read Paul’s words about the unity of body in Ephesians.  Yet, I must still admit that I am a practicing Methodist because I believe that there is a method to the madness that we live through day by day as saints in His name.  I had sworn to secrecy my Pentecostal beliefs, for I truly believe that the Spirit fell upon men on the day of Pentecost in order to birth the early church.  I keep trying to follow the apostles’ doctrine, so some have felt inclined to label me an Apostolic.  I have had this burning within me to roll with being led by the Spirit, so I have also been called a Holy Roller as well.

It has been difficult trying to hide behind the cloak of secrecy, denying who I truly am all of these years.  I have lied to myself and others, never revealing the full boldness that salvation in Jesus Christ has given me.  I pray that God can forgive and allow me one more chance to live out who He has called me to be in Christ Jesus.  I pray that my faith will allow me to take advantage of the opportunities and set aside all of the obstacles in order to truly experience the freedom of His salvation.

I would pray that you would forgive me as well, but I have sought the Lord with a pure heart in the mercy and grace that He supplies me.  I would ask for you not to cast looks of condemnation upon me. Please don’t shower me with words of sorrow and pity when you encounter me.  I would say for you to not call me any derogatory denominational names like ‘Jesus Freak’ or ‘Born-Again Believer’ (Are those really derogatory?).  I merely pray that God allows you to see me as He sees you, one to be loved by Him with a love so deep that it caused Him to give His Son as a sacrifice for all of our multitudes of sins.  I simply pray that you will join me in the unity of the baptism of His Spirit that is refreshed by the overflowing fountain of His shed blood.

I pray this in His name, the name above every name in heaven and in earth, by which all men may be saved: JESUS!!  Yes, this is my prayer for forgiveness, not forgetfulness.  This is my prayer of openness, not closed-mindedness.  I pray this prayer in the power of him who empowers me to stand here today and admit that I’ve been doing more than two-timing.  I admit it before the whole assembly.  I’ve been living a double life.

Amen to that.

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Thank God that the kingdom of God is not divided into areas for big, important
people and areas for little, unimportant people.
– A.W. Tozer

We have come a long way since Jesus ascended into heaven, leaving His disciples to await the coming of the Helper, the Holy Spirit of God. Yet, we seem to have splintered away from the Way. The early church was rooted in its actions and interactions with each other and the outside world. In fact, it was a known fact among the people that many respected the believers of that time. Nowadays, we have many denominations that it can be hard to keep up with who is doing what and what is going on with whom. Nevertheless, we seize the opportunity to possibly bridge some of the divide that men have created and build bonds on what Christ has established as the head of the church.

We need see Christ as the focus. Our agreement should be on the main thing, and the main thing should be Christ. If we can’t agree on baptism, the Lord’s Supper or the gifts of the Spirit, let us at least agree by faith that Christ is the main thing that we should focus upon.

We can agree that there are works to be done. We may not agree on how they should be done. We may not agree on whether they add to our salvation or not, but we certainly can agree that there are works that need to be done.

There is an enemy. He may take many forms. He do many things within this world. Our particular theology may see him as one thing as opposed to what other brothers and sisters may think, but we can agree that we have a common enemy who seeks to kill and destroy us.

Our nature is sinful. We may not be able to recite the whole five-point Calvinism and various “ministries” of the church based on our particular doctrine with agreement. Yet, we can admit that we need the pure and righteous sacrifice of the Lamb of God to take care of our sinfulness. We should be able to agree upon that much.

In doing so, we will find plenty of work to do based upon our common ground. We should find much to pray about based upon what we have accepted as true and agreeable. We can at least agree that we need to pray, even if we don’t agree on how to pray. Amen.

 

 

 

 

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Believe it or not, Moses would be a pretty tough act to follow as a spiritual leader. He had seen God face to face and spent many days doing one-on-one meetings with God on Mount Sinai. Yet, Joshua was told to be both strong and courageous regarding leading the people of God into the Promised Land. He assured that the Lord was with him. Many of today’s leaders may not hear God’s audible voice in the same way Joshua heard it, but they need to hear from God. They need God’s assurance to lead God’s people into new territory. There’s little to no movement because there’s hardly any confirmation based upon limited communication and communion with God. When you have people trying to speak things into existence and determine their own destinies, there’s not much room left to hear from God. Maybe we should hear from the psalmist’s words first that simply said: “Be still and know that I am God. . .” (Psalm 46:10). Discover your destiny but learning to hear from the Divine.
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John 15:11 speaks of your joy being “full.” You need to know that Christ’s joy is to be present within you. It should be within you and maintained at a “full” level. Imagine what life would be like if you livedwith your joy on full daily. That totally change your outlook on every single day as you operated on full joy.

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