Because He First Loved Us

Do you love Jesus Christ? Isn’t there a part of your heart that not only accepts the truth of Christ’s death for you but, in response, actually loves Him for the price He paid? Don’t you love His Word, even when it hurts; and don’t you appreciate the many times He’s rescued you, even from battles caused by your own sin?

For too many people, however, knowing Jesus is superficial; it goes no deeper than agreeing to the historical fact of His existence. Loving Him is a distant, almost unnatural reality for them. Some even take His name in vain or anger.

For you, however, the very sound of His name, Jesus, calms the troubling in your heart. You often cry at movies that reverentially mention His name. Even if you fall short of your own spiritual aspirations, still you love His righteousness.

The fact that you possess love for Christ, even if your love is imperfect, proves something vital about you. The very existence of your love has been cultivated and awakened by God’s love for you. The living Christ has actually approached you. You love Him because He has revealed Himself to you. As it is written, “We love, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

Christ, Our Source of Unity
Today, Christians argue about doctrines and divide over perceptions of end-time events. Yet, let us look at the deeper issue: Do we each love Jesus Christ? If so, our love for Him is the result of His love for us. Even if we disagree with one another on minor doctrines we should treat each other with reverence, for Christ has personally loved us.

You see, the proof that we truly know Jesus Christ is not measured by the degrees we post on a wall but by the degree of love for Him that burns in our hearts.

Do you not love Him? Your love is a response to the relentless warmth of God’s love for you, and His love has proven itself irresistible. He says, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you” (John 15:16). Again, He says, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (John 6:44). Even our coming to Him is a product of His love for us.

When I say, “I love You, Jesus,” it is because at some point long before I knew Him, before I could discern His voice or recognize His influence in my life, a power born of His love was drawing me to Him. Yes, I know I am not worthy, but still Christ loved me. True, I have no righteousness of my own, but I imagine there was a moment in Heaven when the Son turned to the heavenly Father and said, “I love Francis. I will bring him to Myself, show him My ways, and become the strength of his life.”

Behold How He Loves Us
Our capacity to actually dwell in Christ’s presence is based upon knowing the true nature of God. If we see Him as a loving Father, we will draw near; if He seems to be a harsh judge, we will withdraw. Indeed, everything that defines us is influenced by our perception of God.

If we do not believe God cares about us, we will be overly focused on caring for ourselves. If we feel insignificant or ignored by Him, we will exhaust ourselves seeking significance from others. Once we accept the profound truth that God loves us, that He desires we draw near to Him, a door opens before us into His heart. Here, in the shelter of the Most High, we can find rest and renewed power for our souls.

Our Lord is not distant from us, for He is actually “touched with the feeling of our infirmities” (Heb. 4:15 KJV). He feels the pain of what we experience on earth. He participates in the life we live, for “in Him we live, and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28 KJV). He is not removed from our need; we are His body.

The truth is, we are never alone in our battles. However, if we believe we are alone – if we accept the lie that God does not care – our darkened thinking will isolate us from the eternal commitment of our heavenly Father. Beloved, even in our times of sin or rebellion, the heart of God is not far. Consider the Lord’s relationship with Israel. Though Israel had sinned and was suffering oppressive consequences, we read that, when the Lord “could bear the misery of Israel no longer,” He raised up deliverers (Judg. 10:16; Neh. 9:27). God wasn’t distant; He was with them, actually bearing them and their misery!

At Lazarus’ tomb, the Bible tells us that Jesus wept. Of course, Jesus knew He was going to raise Lazarus; He knew it six days before He raised Lazarus from death. He wept because those He loved were weeping. The Spirit of God feels our heartache. He is with us in our conflicts and fears. At the tomb of Lazarus, some suggest that Christ’s weeping was actually over the unbelief of His disciples. I think not. When the Lord wept over Lazarus, those who saw Christ saw a man touched by the sorrows of others, and they marveled, “See how He loved him!” (John 11:36).

Our healing comes when we behold how He loves us. We are raised from the dead when He comes to the tomb of our spiritual failures and pain (Eph. 2:4-5). He calls us out of death by name.

You see, we must accept the personalization of God’s love. He gave His Son for my sins, He enlivens His Word for my guidance, and His Spirit is with me as my helper. If the Almighty is for me, who can be against me?

Never wonder if God loves you. Rather, look at your heart. Do you love Him? If so, your love for Him is proof of His love for you. We love because He first loved us.

Dear friend, with wide-eyed wonder, let us behold how He loves us, and be healed of our aloneness.

Heavenly Father, help us to pause, to absorb into our consciousness the impact of Your purposed love for us. Let this wondrous love influence everything we think and all that we do and become: I am my Beloved’s and He is mine. Your banner over me is love. Let my life be flavored by Your unfailing mercy until, with all my heart, I love You, even as You have loved me.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The preceding message is adapted from a chapter in Francis’ book, And I Will Be Found By You. This book is available at www.arrowbookstore.com.

When Passover is Fulfilled in God’s Kingdom

“Easter” Or “Passover”?
We all know that the early church did not celebrate Easter with jelly beans, chocolate bunnies and marshmallow chickens. Their children never went on Easter egg hunts. Of course, the death and resurrection of Jesus stood above all the cultural trappings, but it was Passover not Easter, that the early Christians honored.

The word Easter actually comes from the Anglo Saxon Eastre, the goddess of spring. As Christianity spread, it became church policy not to undo pagan holidays, but instead inject Christian meaning into the celebrations. Although I enjoy eating chocolate bunnies, I recognize that the colored eggs, rabbits and chickens were originally symbols through which the locals paid homage to the “gods” that governed sexual fertility.

Although most Christians, myself included, still refer to the season of Christ’s resurrection as “Easter,” in my heart I look past secular traditions and into the reality of spiritual truth. Indeed, even when I am with one who celebrates Easter with eggs, etc., I overlook these cultural traditions and call everyone’s attention to the great miracle: the resurrection of Christ.

Church Celebrated Passover
While we can forgive and cover unbiblical traditions in love, it remains important that we steadfastly pursue the truth of God’s Word. Thus, we should recognize that the early church did not celebrate Easter as we do in modern times. They celebrated the Feast of Passover. This annual tradition was not only commemorative; it was also prophetic in nature. Additionally, we would expect that the Jewish disciples would celebrate Passover, but so also did the Gentile believers. We see this clearly in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. He wrote, “…Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the feast” (1 Cor. 5:7-8).

These Gentile Corinthians were urged by Paul to celebrate the Hebrew Feast of Passover. True, they did not celebrate the Old Testament ritual as did the Jews with unleavened bread, etc. Rather, they approached the feast from its spiritual perspective, focusing on “the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (v. 8). Indeed, the Christian Church kept the Passover, not in remembrance of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt, but in remembrance of what Christ—their Passover—fulfilled in delivering mankind from the penalty of sin and judgment.

Listen again to the Lord’s statement to His disciples. He said, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God” (Luke 22:15-16).

Jesus desired to eat the Passover, not looking back, but looking forward in prophetic anticipation of Passover being fulfilled on a whole new level in the Kingdom of God. Through Christ’s sacrifice, a new Passover would be established far greater than that of Israel’s deliverance from Pharaoh. This Passover would affect the entire world. While it would still be a type of Passover, it would be kept “in remembrance of [Jesus]” (v. 19).

Hebrew Passover Versus Christian Passover
The Old Testament Passover, for all its powerful intrinsic and literal value, was actually a shadow of what Christ would fulfill on behalf of the world. Therefore, let’s look at this first Passover.

The Hebrew Passover occurred in ancient Egypt when the Israelites were slaves. We are familiar with the story: God had sent Moses to bring deliverance to His people. Each time Pharaoh refused, divine judgments fell upon Egypt; the last and most decisive judgment occurred the night before the Israelites left Egypt. The Lord commanded the Hebrews to kill a lamb and put its blood on the doorposts and lintels of each house. That night, as the angel of death went forth and killed every first-born male in Egypt, he “passed over” every home whose exterior door was covered by the blood of the lamb. From this “passing over” comes the term “Passover.”

Yet, the Israelites were required to do more than put lamb’s blood upon their doorposts. They also had to roast the lamb they’d slain and then eat it entirely; any remains were to be burnt. It was to be eaten with bitter herbs, and eaten in haste with their loins girded and a walking staff ready. They also had to remove all leaven from their dwellings and bake unleavened bread for their journey into the wilderness. The next morning the entire nation of Israel along with their sheep and cattle were victoriously delivered from their time of bondage. Every year from then on the Israelites were required to commemorate God’s great deliverance. This commemoration was also known as the “Feast of Unleavened Bread.” It lasted for eight days and was considered a mandatory feast for all of Israel.

When Christ came, one of His singular purposes was to fulfill the Law and the Prophets (Matt. 5:17). This mission to bring fulfillment included Israel’s feasts; in a profound way, the Passover would become central. Remember also, the feasts were shadows of something greater than themselves. Paul said their “substance belongs to Christ” (Col. 2:17). It is absolutely remarkable that, of all days in the calendar year, Christ, the Lamb of God, died on Passover. As the high priest was offering a lamb for the sins of the Jews, on that day God was offering His Son for the sins of the world! It is Christ’s blood that protects us today in the same way the blood on the doorposts symbolized God’s protection for Israel in Egypt.

But let’s take the Passover further into its great, end-time fulfillment. During this last Passover celebrated by Jesus, I believe He not only had the forgiveness of the world on His mind, but also the great, end-time fulfillment of Passover – an event which is yet to come. Thus, as He ate that last Passover with His disciples, He said, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God” (Luke 22: 15-16).

Jesus said that the Passover will have yet another great fulfillment when He eats it with us “in the kingdom of God.” After that last supper Jesus did not again celebrate Passover. His statement refers to something yet to come, something that will unfold at the end of the age. When Jesus speaks about the Passover being fulfilled in the kingdom, He is saying that there will be yet another fulfillment to the Feast of Passover, a time when those who are truly Christ’s, who have “eaten” the Lamb’s flesh and partaken of His blood covenant, are divinely protected during the time of the end. So regardless of whether you believe in a pre-, mid- or post-tribulation rapture, God has not destined us for wrath. The Kingdom Passover, fulfilled by the Lamb of God, positions us in the eternal protection of the Almighty.

In whatever manner Jesus’ words shall be fulfilled, let us require of ourselves to partake of the whole Lamb and not merely nibble at the comforting verses. Let us diligently apply the Lamb’s blood over the doorways to our hearts, as well as over our families and loved ones. And even as the world around us continues its rush toward sin and judgment, let us instead press into God’s kingdom. For during these very days of shaking, we shall receive a “kingdom which cannot be shaken” (Heb. 12:28).

Beloved, let us live in holy expectation of that day when Christ shall return and we shall eat the Passover with Him in the Kingdom of God.

The Power of Blessing

“Blessed be the name of the Lord from this time and forevermore.”  Psalm 113:2

As Christians we use the word “blessing” more than most words. It is commonplace for us to talk about the blessings of our day, our family, our church, etc. We love to pray blessings upon those we love and upon ministries that are doing powerful works. We often make our exiting statement to one another a blessing by saying “God bless you.” We even will stretch our faith and “bless our enemies” at times. Though we do this, I wonder how many of us understand this act. 

Among the Jewish people, there are hundreds of blessings that are a part of their synagogue service.   They make it a practice to bless all that they enjoy as a part of their daily lives and corporate gatherings. Hebrew blessings can be easily identified because they all begin with the phrase, “blessed art though” (birkhot atah). This is often called the Shem umalkhut, which means, “The Name and the Sovereignty”. This recognizes Adonai as King over the entire universe.

The Name and The Sovereignty

A number of years ago one of our children began a relationship with the opposite sex that my husband and I completely disagreed with. When I went before the Lord to seek counsel on how to handle this situation, I heard the Spirit say, “I want you to bless them.” I immediately began to rebuke this voice since I was sure that the Lord did not want to bless this unhealthy relationship that was budding. I went back to prayer. Once again I heard, “I want you to bless them.” 

Thoroughly confused, I decided to go to my husband to hear what he was sensing. When I told him what I had heard he began chastising me! But, no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t hear anything different. The next day we went to our local ministry team and shared with them the situation and what I had heard. They went to prayer and heard the same thing.   Although this went against everything we thought to be proper and righteous, we began to pray blessing upon them. We even spoke a blessing over them. 

After doing this we began to see God move sovereignly in their lives. We had not spoken agreement with the unhealthy aspects of their relationship, but we had released “The Name and The Sovereignty” of God over their lives and relationship. The reality was that we had—without realizing it—invited the Holy Spirit to begin to move the way He wished in the situation.  

Initially we had taken a firm stance against all aspects of this relationship because of what our eyes could see and because of our beliefs on the subject of “dating”, but God didn’t want us to stand against what was happening; He wanted us to stand in agreement with His Kingship over their lives. We stopped standing against “flesh and blood” and began standing with the King and His sovereignty. The Lord had humbled us and moved us out of His way. This act of “blessing” began a life changing process in both of these young peoples’ lives that continues to this day. 

Blessing Your Enemies

It is easy to bless what we agree with and what we view as good, but to release a blessing upon someone who is doing wrong or leading a life that is full of things that we don’t agree with can be very difficult. We often look at blessing  as agreeing with the person that we are releasing it upon. But, Jesus spoke of it as agreeing with God to have His way in their lives.   

“But I say to you who are listening, love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who are cruel to you. If anyone slaps you on one cheek, offer him the other cheek, too. If someone takes your coat, do not stop him from taking your shirt. Give to everyone who asks you, and when someone takes something that is yours, don’t ask for it back. Do to others what you would want them to do for you. If you love only the people who love you, what praise should you get? Even sinners do that! If you lend things to people, always hoping to get something back, what praise should you get? Even sinners lend to other sinners so that they can get back the same amount! But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without hoping to get anything back. Then you will have a great reward, and you will be children of the Most High God, because he is kind even to people who are ungrateful and full of sin. Show mercy, just as your Father shows mercy.” Luke 6:27-36

Doesn’t this truth make blessing your enemy far easier? You are agreeing with God for His sovereign power to begin to move in their lives! We spend so much time and energy trying to figure out our next move, thinking of strategies to see our enemies confounded or how to get the prodigal children to return home, when perhaps we just need to bless them! I think we spend a lot of time trying to give the Holy Spirit counsel on how He should move and what He should do. 

I have personally heard parents pray misery on their children so that they would stop having an appetite for sin. But, why not leave the work and the “how tos” up to the King of the universe who made them and knows their every thought? Let’s begin to bless our children who are astray, so that God’s Name and Sovereignty would be made known to them. Let’s bless our enemies, bless our governments, bless our leaders, bless those we don’t agree with…even bless ourselves just in case we are the ones who are in need of His sovereign work in our lives. 

Bless Your Nation

I am often dumbfounded at how I hear some Christians speak about our president here in the United States of America. I have heard derogatory nicknames given to President Obama—jokes, anger and even curses over his life. How does this help? Once again, you do not have to agree with the actions and beliefs of an individual to bless them. We need to begin to stand in a posture of blessing as we speak about our leaders and our government. Let us release God to be sovereign in our nation and in our government. 

Many nations are facing warfare in their governmental structures. Begin to bless your enemies (which could be an opposing party or leader). How about those who promote terrible injustice? Should we curse those who stand up for pro-choice? Maybe we should try blessing them so that God can change their hearts. When you hear a believer speaking curses or making jokes about someone or something they disagree with, don’t hesitate to tell them about the power of blessing. 

The experience that Jeff and I went through involving our child was one of the hardest choices that we ever faced. This person who had entered our child’s life was a threat to their destiny, their walk with God and their relationship with us. If we had stood against the two of them, we would have lost them both; by blessing them we gained another child. Could it be that if all believers in our nation began to bless our leaders maybe we would gain people after God’s own heart? 

Luke 6:36 says to show mercy. Let us make a commitment today to “show mercy, just as our Father shows mercy.” Let us love, bless and pray for those that need mercy. May it begin to rain mercy and blessings over our homes and over our nations. May the heavens begin to be filled with the sounds of God’s people speaking blessings. Let us saturate our nations, our families, our churches and our cities with the chorus of blessings. 

The LORD said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them:

“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”

So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.” Numbers 6:23-27

Let us put His name upon our leaders, our families, and our nations so that the Lord can have His way and move in their lives. 

I speak a blessing over you and your loved ones!

Kathi Pelton
jkpelton@sbcglobal.net  

www.compassionarise.org

Be Humble and gentle

“Go into all the world, and preach the Good news”

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love”

Ephesians 4:2 NIV

Paul wrote this Epistle to the Church at Ephesus during the early part of his imprisonment in Rome. The Epistle itself was written right after his letter to the Church at Colossae and there are many resemblances between the two letters

. This particular church while doing okay however was exclusive in its membership requirements. Might call it an old boys club; Paul was telling them that they needed to be in unity and to those whose walk did not mirror what they expected, well they needed be included. They needed to accept the poor and the hungry and the destitute. They needed to change the way they looked at other people. Those people who did not fall into this mould they had come up with. They needed to embrace not only the Jew but also the Greek or the alien. They needed to embrace the widow and the orphan.

Now we fast forward to the present day and age. Are there churches like the Church at Ephesus? Exclusive in their membership, catering only to a certain race, wealth, or other rules that are not God breathed…

I recall as I was first getting on my feet after leaving the treatment centre, and my residence was a house with four other men who were in various stages of early recovery. Some of us had been in a treatment center, other had not. My hunger for the word of God deepened daily. I had been attending a Salvation Army Church for about year and now wanted to move on, while I had no regrets for the time spent , if my heart I was searching for something more. The Salvation Army had run the treatment centre and for me it was time to move on

Each day as I would walk I would pass various churches, and there was one that was a stone’s throw from my back door. The local transit stopped right in front of this church and each day I would read their board. The excitement began to build, reading about the upcoming, Alpha program, the men’s breakfast, and various other things this church was up to. Gazing in the window, me at 45, excited, praying that God would give me the courage to go. Then finally, getting the nerve, I got a haircut, found my only tie and the cleanest and newest clothes this recovering alcoholic could find, a little threadbare, however as I look in the mirror , I knew God would be pleased

The service commenced at 9:45 and I arrived right on time. What a beautiful church, my mind was racing about how great it would be to be part of this fellowship. The sanctuary was something out of good housekeeping, it was immaculate.

(Maybe that should have been a sign)

Finding a seat in a padded pew a few from the front, watching the fellowship arrive. I must have picked the wrong pew, for no one sat in the pew I was in, no one sat in the pew in front of me, nor behind me. Looking around for a friendly face or some eye contact there was none. As the service went on they stopped for a time of greeting your neighbour, I will admit I was nervous but I sat up and look for an opportunity to shake a hand, but alas none were offered. Feeling like such a fool, my heart was broken. The preach just droned after that, finally it came to an end. Rising from my seat I had to walk past people to leave, there was a reception, where coffee and cake were served, however I did not feel welcomed and just wanted out.

I never went back, subsequently I found a church where I stayed for 6 months and then I found another where I have been for the last 11 plus years.

The Church at Ephesus was in many ways a church that was to itself. It did not start off like that however many of the early converts were from rich temples in what was a rich port city…

Jesus came to save the poor, the destitute…yet sometimes it gets lost. I spoke to a preacher once. He told me he like everything the church did except welcome the poor or the destitute. He said he thought this was a waste of time and energy. It is funny he is no longer in the pulpit….

I met an older couple one time that had a small ministry to single moms. They would pool resources and buy groceries. She told me once she got hold of 7 cauldrons of industrial soup. It was good and need to be distributed right away… she phoned 14 churches and 7 of them were angry that she would think that they would have anything to do with the poor.

Amazing

James 1:27
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Paul told the church to be humble, gentle and patient and to bear with another in love… this message is the same today as it was then. We need to stand together in unity and in Love. We need to help each other in times of need. How can we preach the good news with our mouth, if we show no actions with our hands?

Mark 16:15-18

15He said to them, “Go into the entire world and preach the good news to all creation. 16Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well

Poem – A Call to Unity

Our Lord beckons us with outstretched Hand,

Come together in unity as before Him we stand

Each member finding their own special place

Part of His Body and filled with His grace

Proclaiming, ‘we are the bod of Christ in this place’

Living-stones made up of many unique parts

Build together with love and the joining of hearts

Dependant on each other and our Father above

Marching forward united under His banner of love

Declaring: ‘It’s Jesus, the Christ we’re taking hold of.’

by Marie

Abba Father – A devotional from Patrick

God hears the prayer of he who humbles himself before he gets down on his knees

Romans 8
15For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. [1] And by him we cry, “Abba, [2] Father.”

In Paul’s Letter to the Church at Rome, he shared this. Once you were afraid, however you have now been born with Christ and in that there is no fear.

The reason that you need not fear is because you are one with Christ and therefore in your trying times you can call out to God. He used the term Abba, which is an affectionate term. It is like calling God, Daddy

So Paul is telling us that despite your fears and anxieties, you may call out to your Daddy (God, Father) at any time. This is the power of prayer, never turn from this knowledge, (God does not sleep, he does not have an answering machine, the line is never busy) when you pray he hears you without delay.

When Daniel prayed, the archangel told him that his prayers had been heard right away.

Daniel 10
12 Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.

Yes friends, this is the good news, Daniel prayers were heard before he even prayed. As soon as he set his mind to humble himself, his prayers were heard. He had not done anything, except to have a thought and make a decision to pray. He had yet to open his mouth, or to formalize his prayer request. He had just begun a thought and began to make a decision.

Remember in times of hardship and stress, set your mind on God, not only in affection but in complete dependence, like a child…who cries out “daddy” for this is the love our heavenly father has for us. Also this is the proper positioning for prayer of complete dependence.

A solid prayer life…

Daniel prayed three times a day. Formally I pray at least once a day; however I am always in prayer. And friends, I knew that in my day of darkness, and in my time of extreme peril, I cried out “Abba” and my life changed forever

When I am in constant prayer and meditation my thoughts are always on God… Therefore in just a second God hears my prayers, this is the key to a dedicated prayer life. We need to be focused on Jesus Christ and understand we are as close to him as a thought, a desire to pray…

Bless you

Father God

We thank you for all you compassion and mercy. We ask that you continue to refines us. Help us to know that like a child we may come to you anytime. All we need to do is make a decision, and cry out Abba

Amen and amen

Brushstrokes & Bodyparts

For awhile now I’ve been struggling with the gift of prophecy.

Life has been good these past few days, not in the sense that everything is perfect because it’s not at all, but in its imperfection it’s been the way life was intended (in post-adam and eve context of course): full of tension. And why is tension a good thing, well because as I learned last week, all truth lies within the balance of tension. See, God doesn’t just want answers to be right there for us, he wants us to search out His beauty, His majesty, His mystery, the things that don’t go according to our preconceived notion of who He is.

In 1 Corinthians 12:28-31, Paul does a great job creating what I think is some extra tension (just in case there wasn’t already enough) to a subject that is at the bottom of a deep well in the heart of God, overflowing with complexity. I mean really dude, did you not know that I was going to struggle with this, could you not do the whole rhetorical-but-not-so-rhetorical-question-that-really-needs-a-straight-and-honest-answer thing, come on! Give me a better answer so I can tell people how wrong they are!!!

Lets begin:

Romans 12:4- wherever you want (I know we all know this)

We’re one body in Christ. Individually, we have different roles in the body (we’re different body parts). Cool

Sometimes it feels like we’re forced into being something we’re not. Us ‘penties’ (As Dan Connelly would call us) seem to expect everyone to fall in line with all the nuances of the supernatural experience.

Speak in tongues!

Shake!

Laugh!

Cry!

PROPHESY!

Man we’re missing it. All these things are so good, so pure, but they are not all for every individual. We’ve been blessed to have access to them, as they come with the Holy Spirit whom Jesus said we could kind of hang out with till he comes back. All these things, the gift of Prophecy, the gift of tongues (which is another touchy subject), the presence of God and how it makes us feel individually and corporately, are things that aren’t going to look the same from church to church, and even from Christian to Christian. Why? Duh, because we’re not the same.

In verses 6 to 8 of Romans 12 Paul starts to differentiate some of the different roles, pretty much saying you should use the gifts and perform the roles that God’s given to you, because that’s who you are (I added that last part):

Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophecy in proportion to our faith;

or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching;

he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

Pretty self explanatory, right? Do what it is that you do. Don’t try perform someone else’s role unless that someone else’s is the role that you’re called to (you following this because I’m finding it hard), don’t try to be someone else, you are who you are and you’re called to what you’re called to because God knows how best to use you (stay with me).

And even in the different roles, you’re never going to perform that role the same way someone else who performs that role does. Because you being an individual in Christ have a whole different expression of God, for we are in Him as He is in us, right? So check it, I hear so many people (aspiring musicians, worship leaders, speakers, kids) talk about how they want to be like Person X. “If only I could sing like Kim Walker, then I’d be a good worship leader.” “If I played guitar like Graham Ord, people would listen.” FALSE, they got there by being who THEY are in Christ. Lets stick on the worship leader role as an example (I mean I’m at a worship school hello, not to mention this is who I am). If you want to lead honestly, you have to be yourself, you have to be expressing who you are in Christ, otherwise you’re just being some dude, on stage doing cover songs. Churches want, scratch that, churches need honest leaders. And how can you be honest if you aren’t being who God made you to be.

A painter uses multiple different brushstrokes to create a painting. How much more could God use us to make something beautiful if we let him take control and do with us as He wills (on earth as it is in heaven). We do this by “offering our bodies as living sacrifices… [as] our spiritual act of worship,” to express our love for Him, individually and corporately, by being who He’s made us to be, in Him.

So Here’s my point:

Be the brushstroke that God made you to be in whichever part of the body He put you in. I dare you to see what He does next…

Life Is Good

(By the way, if you have any comments, insight, queries, rebukes I’d love to hear them. Concerning latter, I may or may not smash you in the face like any good Christian boy would)

Love

http://mutungu.wordpress.com/2010/06/28/brushstrokes-bodyparts/