Monday, May 30, 2005

He Gave Gifts

There is a great deal of conversation and comotion in the Body of Christ today about the reality of having Apostles, Prophets, Evangelist, Pastors and Teachers as discribed in Ephesians 4:11-13.

Some say these gifts do not all function today while others believe they are still functioning in the church today but under different names. Your Wineskin (church government and structure) along with the point in history and context of the birth of your fellowship, or church geoup will greatly determine how you understand the meaning and function of these gifts. It is not my objective to argue this point today.

Instead, I would like to look at the purpose or responsibility of these 'gifts to the church' and all who are callled into the leadership of God's people.

These verses when examined in a variety of translations and the Greek in which it was originally written help us to understand that 'the gifts' God has given have the responsibility to 'Equip believers to do the work of the ministry and to build up the believers and bring them into a place of full maturity.'

When we examine the words and their meaning in context we see that a part of this equipping is the mending or making whole of individual believer. We also see that another part of being equipped is to be fit properly into the body of Christ according to ones, gifts, skills, maturty and experience.

Monday, May 23, 2005

What Does Success Look Like at Your Church

When you look at your church and its core values how would you define success? How would you compare the success of your church values with the priorities of Jesus and the teachings of scripture?

One place to evaluate success in the local church is to examine the priorities of Jesus and the New Testament writers.

Another way to evaluate Biblical success is to study the lives of people in the Old Testament who were considered pleasing and favored of God. Scripture points to two specific areas that make a person pleasing to God in the Old Testament.

The first is having 'a heart after God'1 Sa 13:14 But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command." NIV.

The second is obedience to God's Word. 1 Sam 15:22 Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. NIV Jesus also came 'to do the will of the Father' powered by the Holy Spirit. In fact Phil 2:5-11 says that Jesus humbled or emptied Himself. 'Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. NASU'

He operated by the father’s authority and the Holy Spirit's power so that he would be the perfect model for us. Jn 17:4 “I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do. NASU Mt 3:16-17: 16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." NIV
The next two places we need to look are the command of Jesus and teaching of the Apostles. First, to continue His work by making disciples of all nations. Mt 28:19-20, Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."NIV
Second, to equip God’s people. Eph 4:11-13, And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. NASU

If you evaluate what we are doing and compare it with these verses, how is your church doing?

Is the next generation of leaders flourishing among us or is being driven away or held in captivity to our old ways of doing things?

We are commanded to be making, equipping and releasing into leadership the next generation of disciples on a continual basis. We could follow the model of Paul and continue our relationship as partners and co-laborers with the next generation of leaders as we release them to lead and make disciples of all nations.

We will need to allow them their vision and their God inspired methods. New wine needs new wineskins! God is raising up young Davids and Debras. They should be doing Great exploits for God and not starting God's work over again. Can it be said of us that we are equipping the next generation to do great and mighty things and become men and women of valor as they do the will of the Father, empowered by the Holy Spirit in our world today?


Sunday, May 15, 2005

The Way, The Truth and The Life

Power of Prayer Jn 14:6-76 Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him." NIV

I have found that this verse is true not only for salvation, but also as we live each day.

Today no matter what your need is, start with Jesus. He is 'The way, The truth and The life!'

Saturday, May 07, 2005

The Great Creator Equipper

'The Head of God' by Michelangelo.

We know that God the Creator is a spirit and so any picture we would paint of Him would merely be an expression of what we think God would be like based on our understanding of His nature, behavior and character.
One of the things we know about Him from His Word, starting in the book of Genesis, is that He is the creator and that He has made us to be like Him. It is His creative DNA that God has endowed us with and that is being released today in awesome waves, as Christians find new ways to do those things He has both created us for and empowers us by His Spirit to do in accomplishing Ephesians 4:11-13.

We know God does not change, but he does continually work to accomplish His will, in ways that each new generations can relate to and embrace. It is important that we look to Him who is 'the author and finisher of our faith' according to chapter 12 verse 2 of the book of Hebrews, as we examine the 'what and the how' of the Equipping of His people. He is the Great Creator and Equipper!