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Father, husband and currently in-between jobs. Just relocated to Michigan from Nebraska and am on the hunt for work! These are my musings about life so far and what I've done.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Callings of the Believer: Fellowship

It's so easy to lose focus on what fellowship really is and implies. Accordingly, fellowship has been redefined many times. The definition of the word means a companionship, association or even membership. In the Scriptures, it is very closely connected with the word communion. Broken down, the etymology of communion means a union with others, a coming together as one.

One of our first calls as believers, is to have fellowship with Christ. Jesus commands His disciples to "abide in me, and I in you," (John 15.4), for the purpose of bearing fruit. Abiding can indicate a substitutionary action. Because of the Cross, our sins abided in Christ's sacrifice. After our salvation, Christ's Spirit now abides in us.

But this is a little more than justification. Other passages more specifically state to abide in Christ's words. We see how this is tied in to personal discipleship with God in John 8.31: "So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples."

We have to actively walk with God to have fellowship with Him. In 1 John 1.5, 6, John writes, "This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth." It is impossible to fellowship or commune with God while we still practice sin and wickedness.

And then we discover a commonality with other believers. 1 John 1.7 says, "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin." Our fellowship with other Christians is based on our fellowship with God.

Fellowship, or unity with our brothers and sisters in Christ, is meant as an encouragement. True fellowship is not only based around the Cross, but also points to the 'Day' when the work of Christ is brought to a completion at the Second Coming. Paul says in Hebrews 10.24, 25 to "let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." We need to be stirring one another up to love and good works when we're fellowshipping.

Seek fellowship with God first and then fellowship with other Christians will be more encouraging, rewarding and fruitful!

God bless,

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Callings of the Believer: Discipleship

Callings of the Believer: Discipleship

By definition, a disciple is a follower or student of someone and their teachings. But it goes much deeper than simply a scholastic approach. In Jesus' day, a disciple not only studied the doctrines and lessons of his teacher, but he also strove to imitate the teacher's life and adhere to the applications discovered. The disciples would often travel with their teacher and stay constantly by his side, attentively soaking up all his words and following his example by doing exactly as he did. Ideally, the best teacher, of course, was one who perfectly lived out what he taught.

As Christians, we are discipled to Christ. If we believe and love Christ, then we are commanded to adhere to His teachings. Jesus instructed his disciples that:

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. If you love me, you will keep my commandments. (John 14.12-15)

In verse 11, Jesus tells his disciples that 'I am in the Father and the Father is in me.' If we believe, obey and imitate, then God will work through us just as He worked through Jesus. Only then can we be true disciples of Christ and be fully used as God's instruments to do His will. When Jesus left, He gave us His Spirit as a 'helper' (John 14.26) to instruct us:

These things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. (1 Corinthians 2.10-12)

Here we see that God has given us all that we need to understand and learn about the commandments of Jesus. Even beyond this, God has distributed the gifts of the Spirit by His will (Hebrews 2.4). Jesus also teaches that 'whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit.' We are called to exercise our gifts in obedience to Christ's commandment. When we do this, we will 'abide' in Him.

We need to be listening to the Word of God every day, hanging on every single word and soaking it up. King David writes (Psalms 119.10) about seeking God 'with my whole heart' to the purpose that he might not 'wander from your commandments.' And in Psalms 119.11, he says, "I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you."

John writes a serious warning to believers in 1 John 1 and 2 about walking in darkness while claiming to have fellowship with God. John talks about a sign by which we can know if we are abiding in Christ (1 John 2.5, 6), "But whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked." We need to follow Jesus' footprints as closely as possible.

In these ways can we fulfill the call of Christ to be His disciples. Our salvation may not be on the line, but the testimony to God's love for us is. Jesus says in Matthew 3.8 to, "Bear fruit in keeping with repentance." The command is clear. How are you being a disciple of Jesus?

God bless,

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

I fell when I tried to carry on without You...

I'm just a little tired...

Tired of being angry,...

....getting upset over small things...

...and saying things that I know I'll regret because I said them in anger and haste...

Tired of shoving my foot in my mouth because I didn't think before I hit 'send.'...



Sunday, March 2, 2008

Luck, Coincidence, Providence and Heart Attacks.

I found myself thinking about the concept of 'luck' a few days ago. The main ideas behind it indicate either some mysterious force that controls good and bad, ie., 'fate', or a throw of the dice, ie., pure chance and the combination of circumstances. These ideas don't really take into consideration the concept of God, though.

If something happens that we worked on turns out all right, that's more of a coincidence than luck. The word 'coincide' comes from the prefix 'co' and the root word 'incide'. 'Co' means "together" and 'incide' means "to fall upon". When added, the word means "to fall together," "to correspond," or "to agree". Because I believe in a sovereign God, I know that God is always working for the good of the saints. When a situation comes out all right, it's our plans falling together with God's.

Now, when our plans don't seem to meet up with their happy endings, it's usually because we aren't seeking to coincide with God's desires, but our own. Even though we don't always seek to please God, He always works everything out the way He intended to. This is providence. It isn't necessarily what we had in mind when we started out of the door, but it's what God had in mind even before we woke up.

Everything that God does in our lives will be for our ultimate benefit in some way. The more we adhere to the plans God lays out in His Word and trust Him, the more we see that 'luck' disappears entirely and what we called coincidences before now becomes completely providential. So I recommend that when you think of something as a coincidence, stop and consider that if your plans coincided with God's all along, then it was His faithfulness and sovereignty that brought the results.

In case some of y'all aren't as familiar with my habits, I have a tendency to make up little phrases and sayings that help me remember concepts. My latest buzz word is 'heart attack'. Now the concept behind a 'heart attack' is simple, but simply profound. *grins* When God really speaks to me through His Word, or someone else's words and the Holy Spirit convicts me of the issue, I call it a 'heart attack'.

Jesus speaks about heart issues in Matthew 15.18, 19: "But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander." If something is wrong on the outside, it's because it goes back to their heart. Jesus refers to this later in a confrontation with the Pharisees in Matthew 12.33: "Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit." If God's Spirit is talking to you about something that isn't matching up with true repentance and faith, He's essentially attacking your heart with the truth. John the Baptist gave this commandment: "Bear fruit in keeping with repentance." (Matthew 3.8)

Paul speaks about returning to the things of the world after tasting the Heavenly gift in Galatians 4.9: "But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?" Remember, we used to have heart disease, but God saved us from death through the cure of His Son's atonement. If you're not having heart attacks, then you need to check your vital signs and make sure that you're in God's Word every day, in communication with your Great Physician and in fellowship with healthier believers.

God bless, y'all!

Grace and peace be with you,