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Friday, April 21, 2017

The heartbeat.

As a protestant who grew up in denominations marked by the space they put between themselves and their Catholic forebears, i have never had a great trust of liturgy.  Liturgy becomes rote.  Rote is faith in the freezer.  Hard.  Inflexible.  Cold.  Dead.

As i seeped and simmered, i came to equate rote with religion.  i learned no matter who we are, no matter what we believe about God, we all have faith in something.  We all have a religion.  We are all worshiping something or someone.  We cannot help it.  It's how we're made.

Like a good protestant, i came to understand and say (with no small amount of smugness) it's not religion, it's relationship.  Faith is not in what i do, rote, it's in what HE's done.  i cherished my freedom from all forms of rigidity, i celebrated in a casual style of worship service.  Not quite hippie love-in or quaker meeting, we weren't deconstructionalists or anarchists, we were more libertarian, i guess.

A few more years in the crockpot however and i've come to understand that even as we all must worship, even as we all have faith in something, we all have liturgy.  No, maybe we don't follow a dictum laid down in edicts from Rome, and maybe we don't have a board at the front of the sanctuary telling us what number hymns we will sing in what order and a bulletin that we don't even really need to look at anymore because we know the order of worship by heart, can recite it in unison (a term here meaning that dead, flat, monotone we all speak in during a service as if we were reading the fine print on a legal document instead of the Living Word) but we all follow patterns.  We all have systems.  We all make plans.

We were made for Rhythm.

Even someone like me, as painfully Northern Occidental and genetically, environmentally rhythmically-impaired as i am, have and live and was made for rhythms.  i wake up at a certain time, i eat at certain times, i work at designated times.  Lives, like songs, have frameworks.  Sometimes the beat is fast, driving, energetic.  Other days have a more languid tempo, relaxed, slow, contemplative.  Some days are speed metal, some days are dirges, others yet are reggae, polkas, waltzes, dubstep, hip-hop, country, ballads, blues and even jazz but each day, each year, each life, has a rhythm.  As if there is some outrageously hip angel of God in dark glasses, a pipe hanging from his lips, a soft hat cocked on his bobbing head and the mother of all upright basses in his long, steady fingers, tap, tap, tapping out the sound that was the first sound we became conscious of in the womb.  Life has rhythm.

And so does faith.  God built us for rhythms.  Seasons.  Tempos.  Beats.  Spiritual disciplines, creeds, liturgies are training.  Like soldiers, warriors, drilling certain steps into ourselves until our bodies can react correctly in times of stress and fear and chaos without prompting or conscious thought.  Like sages, we are so deep in Scripture we have the Word for every season, situation and praise.  So our days are not idle, our minds not bored, our worship not empty, our prayers not prattle, our hearts not tempted by desires unfit for our natures as Priests and Kings and Sons of the Living God.  For in our hearts and heads we hear the drums and basses and cymbals and guitars pounding out the steady rhythm to which the kingdom of the God of All Rhythms marches and dances.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

What is the church? Resurrected!

What is the church according to this Day?

"Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, live in him, firmly rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding with thankfulness. Beware lest anyone take you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world and not according to Christ, because in him all the fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you are filled in him, who is the head over every ruler and authority, in whom also you were circumcised with a circumcision not made by hands, by the removal of the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which also you were raised together with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. And although you were dead in the trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, he made you alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, having destroyed the certificate of indebtedness in ordinances against us, which was hostile to us, and removed it out of the way by nailing it to the cross. When he had disarmed the rulers and the authorities, he made a display of them in public, triumphing over them by it."

Saturday, April 15, 2017

What is the church in the time between? Working, watching and waiting...

What is the church in the time between?

"“A little while and you will see me no more, and again a little while and you will see me. So some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this that he is saying to us, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going away to the Father’?” So they kept on saying, “What is this that he is saying, ‘A little while’? We do not understand what he is speaking about!”
Jesus knew that they were wanting to ask him, and he said to them, “Are you deliberating with one another about this—that I said, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’? Truly, truly I say to you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will become sorrowful, but your sorrow will change to joy. A woman, when she gives birth, experiences pain because her hour has come. But when her child is born, she no longer remembers the affliction, on account of the joy that a human being has been born into the world. So you also are experiencing sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy from you."  John 16

You must be prepared for action and your lamps burning. And you, be like people who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that when he comes back and knocks, they can open the door for him immediately. Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he returns! Truly I say to you that he will dress himself for service and have them recline at the table and will come by and serve them. Even if he should come back in the second or in the third watch of the night and find them like this, blessed are they! But understand this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. You also must be ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not think he will come.”
And Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us, or also for everyone?” And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful wise manager whom the master will put in charge over his servants to give them their food allowance at the right time? Blessed is that slave whom his master will find so doing when he comes back. Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions."  Luke 12

Friday, April 14, 2017

What is the church according to the Truth?

What is the church according to the Truth and the Creator of all things who conquered sin and death by his faithfulness?

“This is what the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the originator of God’s creation, says: ‘I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot! Thus, because you are lukewarm and neither hot nor cold, I am about to vomit you out of my mouth! Because you are saying, “I am rich, and have become rich, and I have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and pitiable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from me gold refined by fire, in order that you may become rich, and white clothing, in order that you may be clothed and the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed, and eye salve to smear on your eyes, in order that you may see. As many as I love, I reprove and discipline. Be zealous, therefore, and repent! Behold, I stand at the door and knock! If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, indeed I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant to him to sit down with me on my throne, as I also have conquered and have sat down with my Father on his throne. The one who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”

Thursday, April 13, 2017

What is the church according to the one who has the Key of David?

What is the church according to the one, the only, holy gatekeeper?

“This is what the holy one, the true one, the one who has the key of David, the one who opens and no one can shut, and who shuts and no one can open, says: ‘I know your works (behold, I have put before you an opened door that no one is able to shut) that you have a little strength, and have kept my word, and did not deny my name. Behold, I am causing those of the synagogue of Satan, the ones who call themselves Jews and are not, but are lying—behold, I will make them come and kneel down before your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. Because you have kept the word of my patient endurance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing that is about to come upon the whole inhabited world, to put to the test those who live on the earth. I am coming quickly! Hold fast to what you have, so that no one may take away your crown. The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God, and he will never go outside again, and I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven from my God, and my new name. The one who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

"On that day I will call to my servant, Eliakim son of Hilkiah,
    and I will clothe him with your tunic,
and I will bind your sash firmly about him,
    and I will put your authority into his hand,
and he shall be like a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem
    and to the house of Judah.
And I will put the key of the house of David on his shoulder,
    and he shall open and no one will be able to shut;
    and he shall shut and no one will be able to open.
And I will drive him in like a peg into a secure place,
    and he will become like a throne of glory to the house of his father.
And they will hang all of the heaviness of his father’s house on him,
    the offspring and the offshoot,
all of the small vessels,
    from the bowls to the jars."  Isaiah 22

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened....Enter through the narrow gate, because broad is the gate and spacious is the road that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it, because narrow is the gate and constricted is the road that leads to life, and there are few who find it!"  Matt 7

"Then Jesus said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All those who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep do not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters through me, he will be saved, and will come in and will go out and will find pasture."  John 10

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

What is the church according to the Boss?

What is the church according to the one who owns it?

“This is what the one who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars says: ‘I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, and you are dead. Be on the alert and strengthen the remaining things that are about to die, for I have not found your works completed before my God. Therefore remember how you have received and heard, and observe it, and repent. If therefore you are not on the alert, I will come like a thief, and you will never know at what hour I will come against you. But you have a few people in Sardis who have not defiled their clothing, and they will walk with me in white, because they are worthy. The one who conquers in this way will be dressed in white clothing, and I will never erase his name from the book of life, and I will declare his name before my Father and before his angels. The one who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

How many of our churches are so in name only?

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

What is the church according to the one with the fiery eyes and bronze feet?

What is the church according to the one who sees all, knows all, and judges in complete, inexorable justice and righteousness?

“This is what the Son of God says, the one who has his eyes like a fiery flame and his feet like fine bronze: ‘I know your works, and your love, and faith, and service, and patient endurance—and your last works are greater than the first. But I have against you that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, the one who calls herself a prophetess, and teaches and deceives my slaves to commit sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. And I have given her time in order to repent, and she did not want to repent from her sexual immorality. Behold, I am throwing her into a sickbed and those who committed adultery with her into great affliction, unless they repent from her deeds. And I will kill her children with deadly disease, and all the churches will know that I am the one who searches minds and hearts, and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds. But I say to you, to the rest who are in Thyatira, all those who do not hold this teaching, who have not known the deep things of Satan, as they say, I do not put upon you any other burden. Nevertheless, hold fast to what you have until I come. And the one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, I will give him authority over the nations, and “he will shepherd them with an iron rod; he will break them in pieces like jars made of clay,” as I also have received from my Father, and I will give him the morning star. The one who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

The church is not without false teachers.  The tree shall be known by its fruit.  Which is why we all have a duty to know God's Word, so we may accurately discern what is right teaching from what is wrong. 

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to determine if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God, and this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.
You are from God, little children, and have conquered them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world and the world listens to them. We are from God. The one who knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of deceit." 1 John 4

Monday, April 10, 2017

What is the church according to the one with the double edged sword coming out of his mouth?

What is the church according to the one whose Word is the power of both creation and destruction, able to pierce beyond the division of soul and spirit, joint and marrow and able to judge the reflections and thoughts of the heart?

“This is what the one who has the sharp double-edged sword says: ‘I know where you live, where the throne of Satan is. And you hold fast to my name and did not deny your faith in me, even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan lives. But I have a few things against you: that you have there those who hold fast to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat food sacrificed to idols and to commit sexual immorality. So likewise you also have those who hold fast to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Therefore repent! But if you do not, I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war with them with the sword from my mouth. The one who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers, I will give to him some of the hidden manna, and I will give to him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written, that no one knows except the one who receives it.’

i guess a word here about Balaam and Nicolaitans is called for.  Most of us probably read this and assume it's not talking about us, not about our church.  But Balaam's sin was to draw the Israelites from Yahweh, the true God, their covenant Husband.  God sees all idolatry as adultery.  Anything that causes our hearts to pursue things other than him, to take our eyes off of His beauty and put our desires onto the things of this world, His good gifts rather than the good gifter, is idolatry and adultery and the worst kind of heresy.   Money, beauty, health, sex, children and family, career, a righteousness based on our education and works and right thinking rather than the blood of our Savior Jesus Christ, anything.  It sounds violent, because it is, but we need the Sword from his mouth, His Word, to show us what' in our hearts and divide us from it.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

What is the church according to the first and the last, who was dead and came to life?

What is the church according to the Creator and the Ender of all things, the Reason, the All in All of Everything, the End All-Be All, the one who died yet rose again from the dead?

“This is what the first and the last says, who was dead and came to life: ‘I know your affliction and poverty (but you are rich), and the slander of those who call themselves Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not be afraid of the things which you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison so that you may be tested, and you will experience affliction ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. The one who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will never be harmed by the second death.’

"We ought to give thanks to God always concerning you, brothers, just as it is fitting, because your faith is flourishing and the love of each one of you all toward one another is increasing so that we ourselves boast in you in the churches of God about your patient endurance and faith in all your persecutions and the afflictions that you are enduring, a proof of the righteous judgment of God, so that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, on behalf of which also you are suffering, since it is righteous in the sight of God to pay back those who are afflicting you with affliction, and to you who are being afflicted, rest with us at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with his powerful angels, with burning flame giving punishment to those who do not know God and who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus, who will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his strength, whenever he should come to be glorified on that day by his saints and to be marveled at by all who believe, because our testimony was believed among you, for which purpose we also pray always for you, that you may be considered worthy of the calling of our God, and he might fulfill every desire for goodness and work of faith with power, in order that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ." 2 Thessalonians 1

Saturday, April 08, 2017

What is the church according to the one who holds the seven stars and walks among the seven golden lampstands?

What is the church according to the one who hold its spirit and message in his hand and walks among it?

“This is what the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand says, the one who walks in the midst of the seven gold lampstands: ‘I know your works, and your labor and patient endurance, and that you are not able to tolerate evil, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles and are not, and you found them to be false. And you have patient endurance, and have endured many things because of my name, and have not become weary. But I have this against you: that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen, and repent and do the works you did at first. But if you do not, I am coming to you, and I will remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. But you do have this: that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, things which I also hate. The one who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers, I will grant to him to eat from the tree of life which is in the paradise of God.’

Revelations 2

Friday, April 07, 2017

What is the church? Received.

What is the church?  And what can we liken it to before a risen Savior?

"And I turned to see the voice which was speaking with me, and when I turned, I saw seven gold lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching to the feet and girded around his chest with a golden belt, and his head and hair were white like wool, white as snow, and his eyes were like a fiery flame, and his feet were like fine bronze when it has been fired in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of many waters, and he had in his right hand seven stars, and a sharp double-edged sword coming out of his mouth, and his face was like the sun shining in its strength.
And when I saw him, I fell at his feet like a dead person, and he placed his right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid!"

It is in the West, in this day and age, very easy to succumb to the idea that we are just one religion of many.  That we christians are just following some cultural heritage passed down to us from our father and our father's fathers before us.  That our beliefs and our customs are no different than the beliefs and customs which mark other cultures and are no better or no worse, just separate.  And that would be true, is true for every other culture and religion.

But for Jesus.  If this man really lived and this man is who he said he is then it is INEVITABLE that each of us will one day stand before him just as John did in the passage above.  That is truth.  That is the church's truth.  What will you do then?  The church is not those who will fall at his feet.

"I am Yahweh, and there is none besides me;
    besides me there is no god.
        I gird you though you do not know me,
so that they may know from the rising of the sun
    and from the west that there is none besides me;
        I am Yahweh and there is none besides me...
 I have sworn by myself;
    a word that shall not return has gone forth from my mouth in righteousness:
‘Every knee shall kneel down to me;
    every tongue shall swear.’
‘Only in Yahweh,’ one shall say to me, ‘are righteousness and strength.’
    He shall come to him, and all those who were angry with him shall be ashamed." Isaiah 45

No, all will fall before Him just as all would melt before the Sun, it's just physics.  And here is one greater than the Sun.  

The church are those to whom He will compassionately give His mighty right hand and say, "Do not be afraid." 

Thursday, April 06, 2017

What is the church? Sharers.

What is the church?  And what can we liken it to in John the Revelator? 

"I, John, your brother and co-sharer in the affliction and kingdom and steadfastness in Jesus..."

In our, "Everything I Ever Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten" series, the church are those who share.  Whether you have an unpleasant task and then another comes and does it with you.  Or maybe you have a crushing debt and another comes and helps pay some of it.  Or maybe you are stricken with grief and another comes and sits silently in grief with you.  Or maybe one comes and serves you in your time of need.  Or maybe one picks you up when you have stumbled and puts your pack on their back for a while so you may take a few more steps or maybe they email you when you feel alone and forgotten and tell you they have prayed for you.  Or maybe there is good to be done but there is too much and one comes and joins you in the work.  Or maybe there is praise to be sung and you cannot sing harmony and melody alone.  The point is, the church is many acting as one.  You cannot share the gifts you have been given by yourself.  You cannot share the work you have been given without co-workers.  You cannot be in a family alone.  You could not even have been alone.  It two just to make you.  You may grow a little alone, but you will grow faster and fuller in tandem.  You may bear a little adversity by yourself, but you can bear terrible burdens with more hands upon the weight.  It is God who gives you strength and most often, it is His delight to give it in the form of your brothers and sisters of the kingdom.   

"Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, complete my joy, so that you are in agreement, having the same love, united in spirit, having one purpose. Do nothing according to selfish ambition or according to empty conceit, but in humility considering one another better than yourselves, each of you not looking out for your own interests, but also each of you for the interests of others." Philippians 2

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

What is the church? Kingdom come.

What is the church?  And what can we liken it to in Revelations 1?

"To the one who loves us and released us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father—to him be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen."

As He said to His church in the first covenant, which pointed to Jesus as the second covenant, 
" ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and I brought you to me. And now if you will carefully listen to my voice and keep my covenant, you will be a treasured possession for me out of all the peoples, for all the earth is mine, but you, you will belong to me as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’"  Exodus 19

God is nothing if not consistent.  He never changes.  There is no God of the Old Testament and another God of the New Testament.  He is the same from everlasting to everlasting.  And so are we His church.  A kingdom of priests.  A kingdom which testifies to Him by our every word and deed.  A kingdom which mitigates the relationship between Him and the earth at large.  

This is not license for individualism.  There are no lone wolves in the flock of Christ the good shepherd.  It is an invitation to bear each other's burdens, to hear each other's confessions, to lead each other back to the altar, the cross, the sacrifice, our Savior Jesus Christ, our great high priest.  To bring each other into the very presence of God the Father.  To wash each other's feet in the Word.  To love one another as He has loved us.  To celebrate and rejoice in what He has done, is doing and will do, together!  

Until that blessed day when all the world and heavens are again a single temple filled with His worship and Spirit once again, we are the visible kingdom come. 

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

What is the church? Slaves.

What is the church?  And what can we liken it to in Revelations 1?

"The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his slaves the things which must take place in a short time, and communicated it by sending it through his angel to his slave John, who testified about the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ, all that he saw."

The church are the slaves of God.  Bought and paid for with the blood of His beloved Son, Jesus Christ.   It's a loaded word, full of baggage in our culture but it's true none the less.  As Hosea bought back his own wife, Gomer, so Christ has bought us when we were far from him.  When we were enemies to him.  When indeed, we were as good as dead, slaves of the world, our own flesh and sin, and the devil himself, prisoners and chattel under a cruel master who was killing us, Christ came and took our place, bought us at the expense of his own life and we went free!  And our freedom is to serve in love a new master, a new husband who gives us his own inheritance and feeds us from his hand.  Our obedience isn't forced.  Our goodness and good deeds and generosity aren't to earn anything.  We've already been given everything!  We obey in thankfulness.  We forgive as we've been forgiven.  We share what we have in abundance.  The chains we wear now are the weightless chains of love to a Master who has already showed His love for us.  Thanks be to God!

Monday, April 03, 2017

What is the church? Awaited to be fĂȘted.

What is the church?  And what can we liken it to in Genesis 45 still?

"Come down to me and do not delay. You shall settle in the land of Goshen so that you will be near me, you and your children and your grandchildren, and your flocks and your herds and all that you have. And I will provide for you there..."

i know people who don't get the Old Testament.  They don't like it.  They think it portrays an angry God, so unlike Jesus.  But Jesus is all through out it!  It is the Old, the First, Testament, Testimony!   We are to read it looking ahead, because God was giving hints and shadows and foretastes of all to come in it.  Joe sat down on a throne and from there, through all his sufferings, he had come to a place of humility and love for those who had wronged him.  And when given the opportunity, he saved them!  He loved them!  He brought them to himself, where He was enthroned, and ate with them and fed them and cared for them all the days of his life!  

Not unlike some other guy i know.

"...fixing our eyes on Jesus, the originator and perfecter of faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."  Hebrews 12

"And on this mountain Yahweh of hosts will make for all peoples a rich feast,
    a feast of aged wines, fat filled with marrow, filtered aged wine.
And on this mountain he will destroy the face of the shroud,
    the shroud over all peoples,
    and the woven covering over all nations.
He will destroy death forever,
    and the Lord Yahweh will wipe off the tears from all faces,
    and he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth,
for Yahweh has spoken.
And one will say, on that day,
“Look! This is our God! We have waited for him and he saved us!
    This is Yahweh; we waited for him!
Let us be glad,
    and let us rejoice in his salvation.”  Isaiah 25

The unlike Joe's brothers who had no idea what was coming, we have not one, but two Testaments set before us, the church therefore are those who endure the sufferings and afflictions and shame of their little crosses here for the joy set before them THERE!

Sunday, April 02, 2017

What is the church? Delivered by one we thought dead.

What is the church?  And what can we liken it to in Genesis 45?

 " Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?” And his brothers were unable to answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence. So Joseph said to his brothers, “Come near to me, please.”  Genesis 45

"And he said to them, “Why are you frightened? And for what reason do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, that I am I myself! Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet."  Luke 24

"And he said, “I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. So now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves that you sold me here, for God sent me as deliverance before you."  Gen 45

"And he said to them, “O foolish and slow in heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ suffer these things and enter into his glory?” Luke 24
"Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen me, have you believed? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” John 20

The church are those who thought they had killed their brother and find instead that he has rose from the dead to be their deliverance!

Saturday, April 01, 2017

What is the church? Disciplined.

What is the church?  And what can we liken it to in Judah?

"But Judah drew near to him and said, ...  "For your servant is pledged as surety for the boy by my father, saying, If I do not bring him to you, then I shall be culpable to my father forever. So then, please let your servant remain in place of the boy as a slave to my lord, and let the boy go up with his brothers. For how can I go up to my father if the boy is not with me? I do not want to see the misery which will find my father."

This is Judah now.  Laying down his life for the son of Jacob the other ten are probably most envious of.  The son Jacob spoils now.  The favored child.  The baby of the family and the son of his old age and favorite wife.  But this is not the Judah who about fourteen years before said of the then favored son, "“What profit is there if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, but our hand shall not be against him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.”  This is a changed man.  A man who has been through deep waters with God, who has thought and meditated on his guilt for years.  Who has lost children of his own.  Who has had his self-righteousness shaken and shattered.  Who has seen his father for who he is and loved him as he is, instead of nurturing his self-pity and now would not see the man devastated by the loss of Benjamin.

This is a man whom God has chosen and loved as he is but not left as he was.

"Do not despise the discipline of Yahweh, my child.
    Do not be weary of his reproof
because whomever Yahweh will love, he will rebuke,
    as a father delights in his son."  Proverbs 3

"And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose, because those whom he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he should be the firstborn among many brothers."  Romans 8

The church are brothers, chosen by God, forgiven for our sins and saved by our Father's favorite Son and through trials and discipline, made more and more like our most favored brother, Jesus Christ.