Partnerships

Acts 3:6-8

New International Version (NIV)

Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.


Partnerships are characterized by two or more parties coming together with ideas and sharing the benefits of working together.  We form partnerships in school, at the office, on sports teams, and as the church.  We partner with one another to accomplish great and small things. Working together usually makes us feel good and each party walks away feeling satisfied and equally “paid”.

Peter was willing to trust in the partnership and authority he had with God, and in that authority he could do amazing things.  Just like Peter, when we partner with God we get way more than we could ever ask or imagine.  We get His Grace, Mercy, Love, and Holy Spirit.

We get the power to withstand hardship because we have Hope.  We the get the power to show others compassion because we have Love. We get the power of forgiveness because we have Grace and Mercy.  A partnership with God is unbalanced.  God will always give us more than we deserve, and He loves to do it!  He continually grants us His presence and continually guides us.

– God will always give us more than we deserve, and He loves to do it! –

May we remember the partnership we have with God, and let us be people who are willing to listen to His voice, respond, and give Him all the glory.

How will you respond to God this week?

 

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Whistle While You Work

Work!  It is a past time that every adult knows all to well.  It comprises most of our day and awards us with a paycheck to spend how we best see fit.  Work, on some occasions, defines who we are.  It can also determine how other people view us.

So when you think about work what is the first thing that comes to mind?   Do you immediately think about how much you like, or dislike, your current job?  Is there a hint of sarcasm or annoyance?  Do you think about your co-workers?  Or perhaps a past job that you really loved?  When you think about work do you think about God, and how what you are doing can be honoring to Him?

In the Old Testament writings the authors expressed this idea of work is several ways.  In the original language the Greek word for work is ‘Abad, and it simply meant to work, serve, or labor.

‘Abad

The KJV Old Testament Greek Lexicon

Strong’s Number: 05647

Definition:

  1. to work, serve
  2. to labor

“The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” (Genesis 2:15, NIV Emphasis Mine)

The earliest reference of work by man in the Old Testament comes the minute he is placed in the Garden of Eden.  He has been given a position of authority and granted the task of taking care of the creation that God has made.  Work, in this sense, is not a task that Adam fights and dreads, but is one that he accepts as a gift from God.  It is done is service and obedience to God.

Work, however, is not simply viewed in the sense that we relate to it today.  Work is more than a job, it is an act of worship before the Lord.

“Fear the Lord your God, serve Him only and take your oaths in His name.” (Deuteronomy 6:13, NIV Emphasis Mine)

“Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!  Serve the LORD with gladness.” (Psalm 100:2, ESV Emphasis Mine)

When we serve something, we honor it and give it our undivided attention.  When a Christian serves the Lord they must be sure to bring glory to God and not themselves.  We are to focus our attention solely on God alone.

Worship is a ministry of service before the Lord.

We are called to be Christ’s representatives before a lost and broken world.  We are called to worship God in all circumstances and locations.  When we serve God by being faithful, honest, and diligent in our jobs we can have a dramatic impact on our families, friends, and co-workers.

When you work, work for the glory and honor of God!  Be a beacon of Hope in your place of employment.  View your job as a place of ministry!  Let others take notice, and always be pointing to the Lord above.

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Just Want to Say Thank You

In the third installment of our biblical framework construction, we will journey back into the New Testament and look at the attitude of gratefulness and what it means to be truly thankful in the biblical sense.  What does it look like to be thankful?  What images come to mind when we think about what we are thankful for?  Do we think of Thanksgiving and the time we spend with family?  Do we think about our friends and the influence they have on our lives?  Do we think about our jobs, hobbies, interests, teachers, pastors, churches…?  Do we think about God and what He has done for us through His son Christ Jesus?

As we begin to delve deeper into the attitude of gratefulness and explore what it means to express that feeling of thanks and gratitude in a biblical sense, we will begin to grasp the immensity of what is happening in the passage below.

“Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.” (John 6:11, NIV Emphasis mine)

In the Gospel of John, Jesus is using the Greek word Eucharisteo to express His thanks for all that the Father has given.

Eucharisteo

The KJV New Testament Greek Lexicon

Strong’s Number:   2168

Definition:

  1. to be grateful, feel thankful
  2. give thanks

Christ directs His attention to God and gives thanks for the bountiful harvest they are about to enjoy.  He expresses His true gratitude and shows those who are present that God gives gracious gifts and has the power to transcend our human limitations.  Jesus thanks God for what He has given and what He has provided, and we are to do the same.  We are to be thankful for everything that God has gifted us with.

We are also to be thankful for all that God is.  He is the great I AM, He is the ruler over all creation and we are to be thankful that that responsibility is His and not our own.  We are to elevate Him to his Proper place and position in our lives.  In Revelation, I think that the vision that John has of the elders in heaven hits this attitude of ascribing thanks beautifully.

“The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said:

“The kingdom of the world has become
the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah,
and he will reign for ever and ever.”

And the twenty-four elders, who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying:

We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty,
the One who is and who was,
because you have taken your great power
and have begun to reign.” (Rev. 11:15-17, NIV Emphasis mine)

In our lives, we are called to give thanks for what God has given and for who God is.  We are to rejoice in the triumphs and good times that God has granted us with.  We are to rejoice in the trials so that we can be a witness and encouragement to others who suffer.  We are called to rejoice in the God of the universe because He alone(Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) is the ruler of all.

So the next time you begin to be thankful, will you only thanks those around you or will you first thank your God for all that he has done, is doing, and will do and for who He is in your life?

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Credit Where Credit is Do

As we continue to delve deeper into the depths of understanding biblical worship and ways in which it has been expressed, we must begin to recognize the fundamental need for praise.  A need that we have to give praise and adoration.  We all have a strong desire to praise something; whether that something is a spouse, celebrity, an article of clothing or something that surpasses even our own understanding.  As God’s creation, we are designed to praise, direct attention, and boast about the one who made us in His Image.

Our second word that we will be looking at will be the word Halal

Halal

The KJV Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon

Strong’s Number:   01984

Definition:

  1. to shine
    1. (Qal) to shine (fig. of God’s favour)
    2. (Hiphil) to flash forth light
  2. to praise, boast, be boastful
    1. (Qal)
      1. to be boastful
      2. boastful ones, boasters (participle)
    2. (Piel)
      1. to praise
      2. to boast, make a boast
    3. (Pual)
      1. to be praised, be made praiseworthy, be commended, be worthy of praise
    4. (Hithpael) to boast, glory, make one’s boast

It is first seen in Genesis 12:15

“And when Pharaoh’s officials saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh, and she was taken into his palace.” (Gen 12:15, NIV Emphasis mine)

This passage lets us see that Abram’s wife, Sarai, was praised to Pharoah and the officials “boasted” in her beauty.  The official’s were lifting her up before their ruler as someone worthy of their earthly praise.  The wording here suggests that she was set apart from the rest of the women in the region and there was something special about her appearance that made them stop, stare, and prepare to situate her before royalty.

This understanding of praise leads us to the Psalmist’s expressions of authority, dominion, love, and devotion before God in Psalm 150:1-6

“1 Praise the Lord.

Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
 praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with timbrel and dancing,
praise him with the strings and pipe,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord.” (Psalm 150:1-6, NIV Emphasis mine)

In our natural state of ascribing worth and power to a certain person, place, or object we begin to state the position that is held.  In the case of Genesis, it is Sarai who is being upheld before men for her beauty and wonder.  In the case of the Psalm, it is God who is being upheld before men for His character, not His appearance.  The Lord desires our hearts, souls, minds, and our strength.  When we give all that we have to Him and then lift Him to His proper place in our lives, we begin to live the life He intended and begin to walk in the grace He gives.

The next time you begin to praise the Lord, will it be out of obligation?  Or will it be in recognition of what He has done, Is doing, and will do in the lives of His people and the story of His Redemption?

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Oh For A Thousand Tongues To Sing

Acts 2:1-4

New International Version (NIV)

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.


This Sunday is Pentecost.  It is the defining moment that the Church was given the authority and power to fulfill their mission from God.  It was the moment that God broke the barriers of Babel and proclaimed the Gospel in many languages.  It was a foretaste of what was to come.  It was a foretaste of God’s Word being available to all.

Portions of the Bible have been translated into over two thousand languages since it was first put together into one collection.  The Gospel is now more available than every before.  It is in major retail stores, online, in apps, and can be heard on certain television stations.   All this because a handful of men accepted Jesus’ call and followed the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

We have one God, one Gospel, and one mission.  The Church is the light of the world and we have the power and authority to spread that light through our love.

 

Will you allow the Holy Spirit to guide your actions?

How can you share the love of Christ that is found in the Gospels this week?

 

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Faces to the Ground

In order to better understand the term “worship” in its biblical form, we must dive deeper and seek to understand the biblical concepts that have lead to its translation.  We must begin to build a biblical framework to look at the meaning behind several words that are used to describe physical postures and other acts of worship.  The first word we are going to look at is ‘Proskuneo’ and it is first seen in Matthew 2:2

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalemand asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” (Mat. 2:2, NIV Emphasis mine)

The last time that we see this word in the New Testament is in the final chapter of Revelation.

“I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things.And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me.But he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your fellow prophets and with all who keep the words of this scroll. Worship God!” (Rev. 22:8-9, NIV Emphasis mine)

In all, the Greek word Proskuneo is found fifty-four times in the twenty seven books of the New Testament.  As is seen above, It is translated into English as the word ‘Worship’.  There are words that come before and after such as: ‘have come’, ‘fell down’, and ‘at the feet’ that help to describe what is taking place.  However, these words only scratch the surface of the original meaning and intent of the author.  According to biblestudytools.com and the Strong’s Concordance, Proskuneo is defined as:

Proskuneo

The KJV New Testament Greek Lexicon

Strong’s Number: 4352

Defintion:

  1. to kiss the hand to (towards) one, in token of reverence
  2. among the Orientals, esp. the Persians, to fall upon the knees and touch the ground with the forehead as an expression of profound reverence
  3. in the NT by kneeling or prostration to do homage (to one) or make obeisance, whether in order to express respect or to make supplication
    1. used of homage shown to men and beings of superior rank
      1. to the Jewish high priests
      2. to God
      3. to Christ
      4. to heavenly beings
      5. to demon

We now begin to see the immensity behind this word, the complexity that it has historically played.  It is used in reference to kings, nations, Christ, God, and even demons.  In the New Testament, It is used as a way to describe a physical posture of submission and surrender.  When we bow down with our face to the ground, we let go of all self-centered ambition and give all that we have to the one whom we are before.  It is a pledge of service, an act of seeking mercy, a posture of recognition, and a way of hiding shame and acknowledging lordship.

“At the most basic level, suppliants come to him for life and health and even for a place of honour in his kingdom.  At the most profound level, he is to be acknowledged as the one who, in this earthly life, was truly ‘God with us’ and is now the resurrected Son of God.”(87)

– David Peterson “Engaging with God”

The next time you come into the presence of the Lord, will you only speak of Him, or will you fall down surrendering all you have before Him in recognition of who He truly is?

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A Discipleship Kind of Love

1 John 4:21

New International Version (NIV)

21 And He has given us this command:  Whoever loves God must also love his brother.


I know that I would not be here writing this blog post had it not been for faithful and devoted followers of Christ who poured themselves into my life.  I owe a lot to the time that those key individuals spent teaching, mentoring, and taking a chance on me because they saw my potential.

How many opportunities for great people to rise up do we miss because we don’t take the time to invest in their walk with God.  Christianity is a community of believers, and it is impossible to be lived out in solidarity because God is communal by nature.  He has called us to gather, teach, encourage, empower, and love.  It is our responsibility, as believers, to respond.

My encouragement for you is to think about specific ways that you can invest in the lives of others.  How can you begin building up the youth in your congregation?  How can you begin encouraging your high school students?  How can you engage your college students and young adults?  How can you partner with all generations?

The seasoned have great wisdom to share with the novices and the novices have great energy and enthusiasm to share with the seasoned.  When the church disciples(teaches, loves, gives, sacrifices, encourages, empowers, and challenges) one another it builds strong foundations of faith.

How will you impact someone this week? 

What specific ways can you build into a member of your congregation today?

 

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Building a Biblical Framework

The last series discussed the basic principles of worship and presented that biblical worship is rooted in three primary categories:

Reception, Response, and Relationship.

Without the acknowledgment of the these three aspects there will be a disconnect in giving God all glory that He is do.  The foundation of what worship is to look like in the daily living of those who follow Christ has been established, now it is time to build the framework that will allow a deeper understanding to what the bible has laid out through thousands of years.

In the English language, worship is most commonly used to describe an array of emotions, postures, and attitudes.  The Miriam-Webster dictionary breaks down this term as follows:

wor·ship

1: reverence offered a divine being or supernatural power; also : an act of expressing such reverence
2: a form of religious practice with its creed and ritual
3: extravagant respect or admiration for or devotion to an object of esteem <worship of the dollar>
This definition, however, only touches a small portion of this immense word.  In order to better understand the term “worship” in its biblical form, we must dive deeper and seek to understand the biblical concepts that have lead to this words translation.  The Bible is a collection of approximately sixty-six books from a multitude of authors spanning several thousand years.  These books are broken down into two sections based on God’s promises and their fulfillment.  These sections are known as The Old and New Testaments. They are written in primarily two separate languages that used diverse terms to describe the attributes of worshiping the One True God.
In the next several weeks I invite you to the table, where these attributes will be discussed in further detail in hopes to illuminate the caliber of what is meant when God is worshiped in Spirit and in Truth.
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Spirit Led

Luke 24:49

New International Version (NIV)

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.”


Can you imagine attempting to lead someone into a forest, up a mountain, across the ocean, or even through a city you have never been to?  To make matters worse, what if you had to do it without a map, GPS, or cell phone?

Our faith can sometimes feel this way.  We feel overwhelmed by the amount of information that is contained in the Bible.  We feel the weight of temptation and sin everyday.  We struggle to keep denominations straight.  We aren’t quite sure what we should or shouldn’t wear on a Sunday morning, and we shrink back from the thought of sharing our faith or reaching out in love because we don’t have all the answers.

But thankfully God did not leave us blind and Jesus was not content to leave us wandering around without a guide.  In the book of Acts Jesus sends the Helper, The Holy Spirit, to assist HIs people.  The Spirit is always speaking to believers: guiding, instructing, interpreting scripture, and speaking on our behalf.

Our responsibility is to learn to listen, learn to quiet our own desires and thoughts, and learn to follow His promptings.  Have you ever talked yourself out of doing something good like give money or time to someone in need?  How about volunteering?  How about showing love to someone who is a jerk?

Do we rationalize the prompts and move on, or are we open?  The choice to be love, say love, and do love is ours!  We don’t have to have all the answers, we just have to respond.

Are you willing to let the Spirit lead?

How will you show love this week?

 

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Worship: Rooted in Response

Worship is the choice to approach God and respond after we have been called.

“Worship is an active response to God, whereby we declare His worth.  Worship is not passive, but is participative.  Worship is not simply a mood; it is a response.  Worship is not just a feeling; it is a declaration.” (16)
-Allen and Borror “Worship: Rediscovering the Missing Jewel”

Worship is our chance to give back to God a portion, or should I say a small fraction, of what He has given us.  We have been given life: a planet that sustains us, families and friends to support and love us, marriage, children, and the most important gift of all: “God poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”(Romans 5:5 NIV)

In spite of our broken nature, we are to praise God in all that we do.  Some may not have great experiences with the “natural” gifts listed above and that is a result of this world’s separation from God.  Separation from the sustaining love of the Creator.  However, we are still called to respond to God in truth and in love.  Our response in worship is critical, it can lead to surrender and a renewed spiritual life or it can lead us to pride and spiritual death.

Contrary to popular belief, worship is not a passive activity that is done on Sunday morning and left at the church door to be picked up the following week, thus perpetuating the never-ending cycle of misunderstanding.  Worship is our chance to participate, everyday, with what God is doing in and through us.  It is our chance, as his divinely appointed bipeds, to shine His light and show the world what Christ looks like.  Participation is key if we are to grow closer to God.

Biblical worship is more than a mood or emotion, it is more than a tingly feeling that we get when we hear or see something extravagant.  Worship embodies all that we do in reverence of who God is and what He has done throughout history.

We have been called to receive and respond: Will we respond to the cross of Christ and take it to the world?  Will we respond to the Gospel and proclaim it to the nations?  Will we respond to the promise of new life and anticipate heaven?

May we respond to the Word through our everyday worship and preach it through our actions and attitudes.

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Embracing an Inspirational Life

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Tales from the Great Adventure

a journal of living-like-we-mean-it, by Derek Maul