April 6, 2016.
Some of us find it hard to gather (assemble) with other Christians and even if we do find it difficult to build relationships. God’s intent has always been one to foster family under His guidance and percepts. This starts with our personal blood relationships and extends out to Spiritual relationships. The church is not a building and it matters not to God how magnificent the trappings of the structure is outside and inside. We are the church and cannot avoid the interactions that come from the familiar as well as the unfamiliar experiences of several persons of different backgrounds, cultures, and status. Yet, compared to the amount of hours spent at work, play or other events, most Christians treat going to church no less than a drive through fast food establishment.
Going to church is not about compliance or just responsibility. Yes, some churches surely do not inspire us nor does the pastor or minister. They at times can be boring and always seem to have their hands out for more of your time, efforts and money. Let's face it, the average church, tends just to be that - average and in some ways treated more like a business rather than the citadel of God. This is because the Body of Christ has not taken ownership of the church and all its potential. Where your church is in works and spirituality depends all on you and where the leadership initiative of the pastor and board members is.
Some churches are more cautious about being aggressive with the Word of God and use the commandment of love as the scapegoat for not leading their congregation. Yet, from the early examples of Paul’s leadership, He did speak with love but always was firm on the ordinances of the Word and God. This is no different for a single person much less an entire congregation. The Word indicates our responsibility and outlook on issues are to be firm and from God’s perspective and not that of man. The church is the ground where God’s ways can be demonstrated and manifested, where pastor and congregation are actively engaged in walking and talking these things, equally pulling together for the Glory of God.
Consider these seven things the next time you enter your church doors.
Greeting - As Christians we are to be the most open to conversations and sharing with others. Paul says to do this with love and a kiss and even a hug - 2 Corth. 13:12. For some this can be a major challenge as in their family or even culture this is not the norm. But being Christian is not about being the norm but being a “light” to others - Matt. 5:15. We do this to allow for unity, peace and set the foundation for relationships. It also opens the way for the Holy Spirit to move among the Faithful. Many see as greeting those of status, especially the pastor the only requirement, but Jesus and so must we show all our works equally when it comes to simple things as greeting each other with the love of Christ. The vision here is that we are practising for our Heavenly gathering where no bias will exist.
Seating - Many have reserved a spot in their church regardless if the usher seats them elsewhere. They move to their usual spot because it’s their comfort zone or is ideal for them, such as being near a window or even a power source. Many only sit at the back of the church or only the left or right of the main aisle. This is also related to how we have been trained as young kids having a particular seat assigned to us and being reprimanded for seating elsewhere. The thing is as Christians we are to demonstrate a constant yearning and enthusiasm for change. This change starts in our minds and is expressed by our actions. By sitting in the same spot weekly we really limit our perspective and thought process on not only our personal lives but the church, Christ, and the Word. Most preaching/sermons are similar and before you know it; the hour has passed and we did not receive any new knowledge, understanding or wisdom because our body and mind were in the twilight zone when we go through the motions of things. We ought to move around which will make us uncomfortable as we sit beside unfamiliar faces, gives a different angle not only physically but also mentally to the preaching. The main benefit is our senses are heightened which allows for Spiritual growth. The vision is that when we are before Jesus, who will not want to be close to Him physically and stand out as someone who is willing to change for all God has for them. Who would not prefer the first class seat on a plane much less in the house of God. Our attitude is what makes the difference.
Trash minded - Going to church is the place where we can put ourselves in God/Jesus and the Holy Spirit presence for worship, praise, and revelation of the Word. It is not a dumping ground for all your trials and tribulations or innuendos to be shared with others who are living in love and may not be empowered to deter these spiritual invasions. When entering the church doors leave all earthly concerns outside those doors. Don't worry, they will be there once you leave the church. Take the opportunity to prepare for a move of the Holy Spirit in your mind and Spirit, so that you become more empowered to deal with earthly concerns. Take the time and focus on what Paul says to do, "think on what is pure, lovely and good" - Phil. 4:8. The vision here is that if God was to cut open your skull and look at your brain; would He see more trash or grace.
Make a Joyful sound - Have you ever seen brothers and sisters who are singing but have emotionless expressions on their faces and their body language is as stiff as a pole. Now, I am not advocating we all jump up and roll around on the church floors; and if you are like me keep your voice down because it does not sound quite as heavenly as we would like. Yet, the Word and God is not concerned about these shortcomings but more that we are engaged with Him on a personal level. If we are, then there is no way our faces and body won't show some form of expression. Praising and worship are means of Spiritually entering into God's presence; even if you do not know the words or tune. The vision here is that even though we are in a group setting, as we sing from our heart, soul and spirit; it's like as if an individual was standing before God in His throne room and He is giving each of us personal attention as we sing. For God, all sincere singing sounds Heavenly.
Live the Word - Church at times can be mundane, especially if the Word is not given life by the preacher and I am not talking about ranting and raving with sweat pouring down their faces. Too many Christians depend on the pastor to give life to the Word when we are all capable of doing this ourselves. We must not just follow the bible but listen, wanting to hear a direct revelation of the Word. We do this by placing ourselves as if we were beside the author, not writing the Word but in the very scenario of the event that gave the inspiration to write the Word. Many times it helps to close our eyes, listen to the Word as it is being spoken and then see, hear and feel the circumstances surrounding the Word. Some believe not using the bible but a smartphone or tablet does not give life to the Word. Whereas it is easier for cross referencing with a bible, the Word in electronic form is still the Word, and unless we take them off the paper or screen into our hearts; either source will not benefit us. The vision here is that when We are before God; flesh and blood will not be seen, but the Word coursing through our Spirit.
Fill her up - You can tell the time by some who begin to check their watch or immediately as the preaching is finished bolt through the church doors to their cars. Now, that they have gotten their food; it's time now for some other satisfaction. How can we grow into a true Body of Christ, when the church is treated no different that our favorite fast-food joint. Church is not a place to get a fix or fulfill some obligation of compliance. The church is primary a place for fellowship and this can't be done if many do not take the time to do this. Fellowship only requires an appropriate amount of time and effort and ought to be utilized not only for the snacks provided but even to the point of serving each other physically, mentally and spiritually. It's a time where true Christian values are demonstrated and practiced. The vision here is that God uses individuals but more so groups of people to do greater things now and in the everlasting life afterwards.
No Fruit Baskets - Why we can have Faith in the Holy Trinity is because our trust foundation is knowing they are the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. We all have off days, but regardless of this we ought to be consistent is being individuals for the Body of Christ at church and equally at home, work or play. Trust is the very essence of our church and without it, no building can occur. More importantly, when we have different attitudes and actions from church and home; this brings into question our intents and mindsets to not only fellow church members but also family and friends. The first church is your home because if this is treated with respect, then all the efforts put into the community church will be good seeds and not be hypocritical. The opposite to this is how we treat the community church and it's members is a reflection of how we treat our family. The vision here is that God's family will be the same yesterday, today and tomorrow as He is.
These will have no long term benefit if not done from our hearts and with sincerity. Going to church, fellowshipping with the body and giving full attention to the Word and Spirit is practice for living and sharing within the presence of God. Yes, that’s what the church is there for. To give us the order of greater things to come for those who look beyond the brick and mortar facades. Order is a part of God and will be standard in Heaven. So when we treat church and the works within it trivially; not caring about quality, then this only speaks to our level of reverence and expectations of God and His Works. God is not a boss nor a pastor, but a Father who is more than willing to encourage us into the things that we fall short on. He will not do it for us the things we are more than conquers are capable of - Rom. 8:37.
Flush it Out! - The church is not brick and mortar but flesh, blood, and spirit.
April 9, 2016.
Before the Bible.
Do you ever consider where we would be without the bible as the Word of God to inspire, guide and fill us? For most it cannot be put away from their daily walk and is a constant reminder to us as to why we oppose the world and its ways. The bible is more than just the recording of history and what was is traditionally known as the Old and New Testament. God has said if anyone alters the words in this book is automatically guaranteed the wrath of God - Deut. 4:2; Rev. 22:18-19. You may ask, “what if this person repent for altering the bible; will they be able to go to Heaven.” Persons who are in positions of leadership or that of a teacher, where their actions impact others will be held more accountable for any lost sheep. They will always have the grace for the forgiveness of sin, but the measure of their reward may be drastically reduced. God is always merciful with a repenting heart. But how did men and women act accordingly before the written Word?
It is estimated between Adam and Moses when the Torah; the first five books of the bible was written is close to 3000 years. This would be the beginning of the “written Word” inspired by God. Now, we have to remember the books from Genesis to Deuteronomy covers a lot of time from creation to giving of the Ten Commandments and the arrival into the promise land. It is calculated that twenty-six generations came before Moses. So how did all these people live without the bible? Like most cultures even today without basic writing documentation; their history was passed down through successive generations by storytellers. This in itself is a feat compounded by thousands of years. We as believers have to come to the conclusion this could not be accomplished without the intervention of God through the Holy Spirit. Yes, the Spirit existed prior to Pentecost, just as the Word (Jesus) prior to any formal written word of the bible - Gen. 1:2; Jn. 1:1.
All the men and women who lived prior to Genesis being written would have been led by the Spirit. This is the same Spirit that dwells with us now. Then, why it is Jesus tells us; "He has to leave, so the Holy Spirit can come? - Jn. 16:7. What Jesus is really doing is reinforcing what has been available to all of us since God first began to establish His presence here on the earth. He, Jesus is correcting a mindset in our minds and Spirits that the Holy Spirit is the one part of the Holy Trinity that we all ought to avail ourselves to. Consider these as recorded through the bible before the writings by Moses.
In the beginning; it is the Spirit of God i.e. the Holy Spirit that is over the earth, not the Word (Jesus). Then God spoke the Word and creation happened. This creation did not happen by just God and the Word, but by the Spirit moving. - Gen. 1:1 says, "the Spirit of God was hovering" meaning it was waiting for something to do. As God spoke, the Spirit moved to accomplish His will.
Abraham has the first recorded encounter with God after Adam. The bible records this as a word coming from God in a vision - Gen. 15:1. This is a manifestation of the Spirit. Just like we sometimes have a sixth sense about things; Abraham was being hinted by God through the movement of the Holy Spirit. Abraham would have grown up around stories of God and His Spirit. He also would have been influenced by the Spirit by God's directions to the point he became aware of a personal relationship with God. We must remember at this time, redemption was not available for 1000's of years until the birth of Jesus. So as far as Abraham was concerned, he was blazing a trail without any history or method of becoming in tune with God. All he had was the Holy Spirit.
The first miracle conception is recorded with Sarah - Gen 21:1. Now the bible doesn’t say the Spirit but indicates this as “the Lord visited” meaning the Spirit came upon her as by God’s Word - “as He had spoken”. This is key in understanding that God's agents like angels and the Holy Spirit are able to interact with men and women even though they are not divinely transformed. God, the person cannot interact with what is deemed as unholy.
Isaac demonstrates the practical application of the Holy Spirit around us by following God’s direction and having an expectation from his words for his future wife. - Gen 24:14. Some would refer to this as a fleece, where we do something, expecting a precise outcome, indicating this as Godly ordained. Isaac also evokes God to use the Spirit to give his barren wife Rebekah the ability to conceive. - Gen 25:21, "the Lord was entreated and Rebekah conceived".
Jacob the son of Isaac marry Rachel who is barren but by the Spirit bears Joseph who is a key player for Israel regardless of all the other children by concubines and handmaidens - Gen 30:22. These children form the twelve tribes of Israel, but only the last two is from the union of Jacob and Rachel. With all the miracles births by the intervention of the Holy Spirit the true lineage of our savior, Jesus is established.
Joseph is given a dream (a vision) of his pending appointment in Egypt by the Holy Spirit - Gen 37:5 and receives favour (the movement of the Holy Spirit) from God through his life. He also has the gift of interpretation by the Holy Spirit. Joseph essentially saves the people of Israel and he did this without any manual or instructions but only by the Spirit.
What is significant if we examine the occurrences of the Holy Spirit is that God is refining and controlling His plan for the redemption of His creation and man. God is almighty and has the ability to destroy, but rather than destroying all the wrong works of man and satan, He massages it towards His will. He does this by using the Holy Spirit to influence and direct. Now keep in mind the Word was not written until Moses was an old man and most of his youth and early adulthood was spent with the Egyptians, meaning his knowledge and history would be based on their perspective and not God's. Yet, as we know it the bible is accurate in its recordings. Sure, stories of Adam, Abraham, Isaac and Joseph would have been kept and passed through generations but they would be limited to the main highlights of these individual lives and their accomplishments. It is the Holy Spirit that fills any gaps in the writings of Moses and others. Essentially, without a written Word, men and women of God were moved by the Holy Spirit by their own free will and intuitions.
Before the written Word, the Holy Spirit was an active component in the lives of men and women who looked to God and who God chose for His eternal will. This same Holy Spirit is demonstrated through the rest of the bible. It is by this Spirit; Christians are sons and daughters of God. Yet, for some Christians, they rarely acknowledge the availability, knowledge and use of it. I once was told by someone who even saw the Holy Spirit as a shade of purple whenever they placed themselves available to it.
Now, the term spirit is sometimes cross-referenced with all manner of a feeling we have. This is something all Christian’s should be aware of as we ought not to be led by our feelings as this is where satan looks to influence us. Yes, we should be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit, but are directed to test every spirit - 1 Jn. 4:1. We do this by measuring it against the Word and our own knowledge, understanding, wisdom and by the Holy Spirit which is there to guide us. This is because a spirit does not die or for that matter vaporizes into nothingness. God is a Spirit and so are all His creations based on His image. This would include demonic forces (spirits) which were “good” beings and became influenced by the “dark side” and rebelled against God and His ways. Why is it important to come to the knowledge of the Holy Spirit and its potential for our good? God is perfect in all His ways, so when He created humanity all was provided not only on the physical level but more so on the Spiritual level. Now, to be clear the Holy Spirit does not circumvent God or Jesus but works in harmony as a “body” for Godly things to be accomplished. The Holy Spirit is essential for our blessing, divinity, and grace. When we actively acknowledge the Holy Spirit presence, we place ourselves in the position for divine intervention. We do this as we would welcome God, Jesus or even angels into our homes (hearts) giving them their rightful place. We also must respect the Holy Spirit is a part of God and not abuse it, less we condemn ourselves - Mk. 3:29. Interesting, this is the only thing God says there is no recover from. This indicates that the Holy Spirit has no biases and is akin to the very nature of God.
The Holy Spirit is the “third leg” of the Holy Trinity and has been active in men and women lives fulfilling its role in God’s plans and presence in our lives. It does not overshadow our birthright as heirs to God’s Kingdom and just like angels, need our input to make it active. Like all aspects of God, its best when we develop a righteous relationship with it, utilizing it in conjunction with the Word, angels and our own Spirit.
Flush it Out! - Holy Spirit be my friend.
ChristnMe @ 2013