All Posts Tagged: Matthew

Second Touch – Partners in Growth


For God is at work within you, helping you want to obey him, and then helping you do what he wants.
Philippians 2:12-13


We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything
to work toward something good and beautiful
when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan. 

From the distant past, His eternal love reached into the future.
You see, He knew those who would be His one day,
and He chose them beforehand to be conformed to the image of His Son
so that Jesus would be the firstborn of a new family of believers, all brothers and sisters.
As for those He chose beforehand, He called them to a different destiny
so that they would experience what it means to be made right with God
and share in His glory.
Romans 8:28-30

 In the process of growing to be Jesus-like, (those who would be His one day, Father chose them beforehand to be conformed to the image of His Son) we are not on our own. We have a partner whose singular purpose is to help in our development. “God is at work within you, helping you want to obey him, and then helping you do what he wants.” This is precisely what Jesus promised before his crucifixion. (John 14:15-18I will ask the Father and he will give you another Helper…. The Helper is the Spirit of truth. (Mentor of Life)  He lives with you, and he will be in you. I will not leave you all alone like orphans.” (John 14:15-18) Note,In our progression we are never alone.Remember, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) The basic task of The Helper is to facilitate our becoming like Jesus. He employs three fundamental methods: coaching, counseling and correcting.
 
The Spirit has unlimited scope In His operation. “We can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.”  (Romans 8:28)If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us ALL THINGS? (Romans 8:32) Yes, that includes everything we classify as “BAD.” We might even think/say: “What good can out of this!” Well, absolutely nothing is beyond the Spirit’s power to transform it for our good! Now then, we must remember what Jesus said about the Holy Spirit. Only God’s Spirit gives new life. The Spirit is like the wind that blows wherever it wants to. You can hear the wind, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going.” (John 3:8)
 
 What’s “the good” as stated above? There is but one primary purpose in the Spirit’s operation. “He chose them beforehand to be conformed to the image of His Son! Put a set of glasses on. The glasses will determine the way by which you see everything. If the glasses blur your vision, you will see everything indistinctly. That’s the way it is. Without the glasses of the Spirit you will have no clarity about the events of your life. In partnership with your decision “to live according to His plan” the Spirit will correct your vision so that it’s 20/20.

The Vineyard – Resources for the Branch

Stay joined together with me, and follow my teachings.
If you do this, you can ask for anything you want, and it will be given to you.

Show that you are my followers by producing much fruit.
This will bring glory to my Father.
John 15:7-8

Until a baby is “full term” her existence is wholly dependent on the life connection to her mother: the 25″ umbilical cord. “The umbilical cord serves as a source of nutrients, including calories, proteins, fats, as well as vitamins and nutrients.” (“Three Functions of the Umbilical Cord“) By the way, the length of the cord allows baby to move freely, exercising.

When we are called to follow Christ, we are summoned to an exclusive attachment to a person.” (The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer) Jesus emphasizes that truth here. “Stay joined together with me and “follow my teachings.”  To those who maintain this connection, unlimited resources are available, If you do this, you can ask for ANYTHING you want, and it will be given to you.” Paul got the message. “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly BEYOND WHAT WE CAN ASK, according to the power that works in us.” (Ephesians 3:20) Everything, absolutely everything,  got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment. (Colossians 1:16) Everything has its root in the creative power of the Creator! In other words everything is at His disposal!

Today, the average church is busy with a plethora of activities, all of which generally focus on the church itself. Little effort in time, talent and treasure is expended on that which Jesus identified as “the main thing!”  As Rick Warren wisely said: “Never confuse activity with productivity.” (Rick Warren) The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. (Stephen Covey If you doubt this, note the similarity between “producing much fruit” and “go and make followers in all nations..” (Mathew 28:28:19-20Above every and any activity, though it be good, this is the main thing!

This verse is often taken out of context by those who believe “the prosperity gospel”, “the name it and claim it: crowd.”  Paul experienced this misappropriation in the Galatian Church. “I am surprised at you! In no time at all you are deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ, and are accepting another gospel. (Galatians 1:6) Cherry picking words out of context is extremely dangerous. Here the obvious context is remaining so as to produce fruit! Jesus repeated this imperative just before parting the early scene. “Go and make followers of all the nations. (Matthew 28:19-20)

Apparently the eleven believed the Master. “The asking for anything you want” produced resources more than adequate to accommodate the task of making disciples “of all nations” In one century the church had conquered the Roman Empire with the Gospel. Not a bad track record! Little wonder that the religious leaders couldn’t “take their eyes off them when they realized these two were laymen with no training in Scripture or formal education. They recognized them as companions of Jesus.”(Acts 4:13)

Money of Life – The currency of Jesus

 

It’s like a man going on a trip. He called his servants and loaned them money to invest for him while he was gone.”  Matthew 25:14

 

The belly button marks the place at which the nutritional “life line” from your mother was attached to you. This permanent scar is a reminder of a profound truth: life is a GIFT! Grace is given to us through Jesus (the umbilical cord) (Means of Life) so that we are enabled to achieve the purpose for which the Creator designed us. (Maker of Life)

Fundamentally, Father loans you three commodities: Time, Talent and Treasure. “It’s like a man going on a trip. He called his servants and loaned them money to invest for him while he was gone” (Matthew 25:14)

TIME! How many days will you live? Obviously, you don’t know! What you do know is this: when you wake up in the morning, your “aliveness” is a gift. You neither earned nor purchased it. So, “teach us to use wisely all the time we have” ( Psalm 90:12)

TALENT! Consider your unique personality and talent mix. Did you purchase it/them at Niemen Marcus? Here’s what the Manual says: “You shaped me first inside, then out; You formed me in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13)

TREASURE! Much advertising appeals to our sense of entitlement. “You’ve work long and hard! You deserve this!” However, a smidgen of honesty reveals the truth. Yes, we work hard; but with the time and talent that have grace-fully been given! “Every good endowment that we possess and every complete gift that we have received comes from the Father above” (Psalm 139:13)

Sometime later the master returned and called them to give an account of how they had used his money”. (Matthew 25:19) As with any financier, Father wants a return on His investment. How’s your account in His portfolio?

Movement of Life – The ministry of Jesus

 

As the Father sent me, so I am sending you.  John 20:21

 

 

 

The church is like a wagon wheel. It is people (spokes) attached to Jesus (hub), kept in alignment with Him and each other by the Mentor (the outer rim). A wheel is designed for movement!

As the Father sent me….” Jesus was on A Mission from God. When He called His twelve friends, He gave but one instruction: “Come, follow Me!” (Matthew 4:19Whenever and wherever Jesus went, the twelve followed (it’s estimated that Jesus walked 3,125 miles during His three years of ministry). Most likely He originated the song, On the Road Again.
By the way “Jesus never once said ‘worship me’ but he often said ‘follow me!'” (“Breathing Under Water”, Richard Rohr)

So I am sending you.” The church is a movement of people not a monument of bricks and mortar! Minutes before He was beamed up Jesus described the scope of the movement. You will tell about Me … to the ends of the earth”. (Acts 1:8)

God showed His love for us when He sent Jesus … to give us life (1 John 4:9). Jesus was the Father’s Emergency Medical Service, dispensing the Medicine of Life: healing the dis-eased (physical, mental, spiritual, relational), rescuing the lost, mending the broken, embracing the outcast, clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, befriending the lonely, promoting justice for those falsely accused, mourning with those who grieve, liberating those demon possessed, freeing the imprisoned, offering hope to those in despair.

So I am sending you.”  “The person who trusts Me will not only do what I’m doing but even greater things, because I, on My way to the Father, am giving you the same work to do that I’ve been doing. Whatever you request along the lines of who I am and what I am doing, I’ll do it” (John 14:12-14)  The church is nothing less than a movement of ministry, doing the stuff Jesus did, so that people experience “life that is full and good!” (John 10:10)

The Manifestation of Life – The community of Jesus

 

You are together the body of Christ, and individually you are members of Him.  1 Corinthians 12:27

 

The story line of the The Ten Commandments is from the Bible. God miraculously delivers the Jews from 400 years of bondage for one reason: “They’ll realize that I … brought them out of Egypt so that I could live with them  (Exodus 29:46). After liberation the Jews are immediately instructed to build a transportable tent: “The people must make a Tent for Me, so that I may live among them.” (Exodus 25:8)  When construction was complete, God moved in: “The Glorious Presence of God filled The Dwelling.” (Exodus 40:34) Then God said: “The twelve  tribes of Israel are to set up camp around My Tent.” (Number 2:1)

What was vaguely illustrated in Exodus was fulfilled in Jesus: “The infinite Life of God took shape before us.” (1 John 1:2) and “fixed His tent of flesh among us; and we saw His glory. (John 1:14) That’s why Jesus was called “Immanuel,” which means “God is with us.” (Matthew 1:22-23) After Jesus “moved into the neighborhood” (John 1:14) “He chose twelve  disciples to be with Him” 24/7. (Mark 3:14)

 

 

 

Imagine a wagon wheel. There are twelve spokes imbedded in a central hub. The rim unifies the spokes in the hub. The twelve disciples (spokes) were connected to Jesus (hub). The Holy Spirit (outer rim) brought unity by keeping the dissimilar members in alignment. Note: there are no Lone Ranger followers of Jesus! If Peter wanted to follow Jesus, he had to relate to eleven other followers: “You are together the body of Christ, and individually are members of Him.” (1 Corinthians 12:27)

You’ve just been introduced to the CHURCH as designed by Jesus! It’s a Community of Life; liberated persons connected to and camped around Jesus 24/7.