Saturday, October 22, 2011

Correcting back to the vision and mission of the Church

Correcting back to the vision and mission of the Church
S-  Act 15:1-11 (NASB)
1 (A)Some men came down from Judea and began teaching (B)the brethren, “Unless you are (C)circumcised according to (D)the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 And when Paul and Barnabas had [a]great dissension and (E)debate with them, (F)the brethren determined that Paul and Barnabas and some others of them should go up to Jerusalem to the (G)apostles and elders concerning this issue. 3 Therefore, being (H)sent on their way by the church, they were passing through both (I)Phoenicia and Samaria, (J)describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and were bringing great joy to all (K)the brethren. 4 When they arrived at Jerusalem, they were received by the church and (L)the apostles and the elders, and they (M)reported all that God had done with them. 5 But some of (N)the sect of the (O)Pharisees who had believed stood up, saying, “It is necessary to (P)circumcise them and to direct them to observe the Law of Moses.”  6 (Q)The apostles and the elders came together to [b]look into this [c]matter. 7 After there had been much (R)debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brethren, you know that [d]in the early days (S)God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of (T)the gospel and believe. 8 And God, (U)who knows the heart, testified to them (V)giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; 9 and (W)He made no distinction between us and them, (X)cleansing their hearts by faith. 10 Now therefore why do you (Y)put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which (Z)neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 But we believe that we are saved through (AA)the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are.”

O -   The early church faced many challenges for the first time, that we face today.  That is what is so powerful about the book of Acts, in that we can learn from the early church how they handled the problems (not neccessarily how to avoid them).   What is clear to learn from here is that Jesus had spent three years with the disciples and gave them a clear vision of how His ministry was to be run, and what the vision and mission was, yet in the early church there were still forces from within the church that had a tendency to drive them away from the original truth.   What we see here is that some of the Jewish converts, who likely actually received the Gospel and understood it, began adding to it.   They began combining the culture they knew (old testament) and the new testament and thus began choking out the effectiveness of the vision and mission Jesus had set them on.  Thankfully the Apostles took the time to meet and discuss such issues, and the in this case Peter helped correct the church back onto the true path that Christ had set them out on.

A -  The application for me is that in leading the local church, we must make sure we are first and foremost connected to the Gospel in all things, and understand the mission Christ has for His church.  If the church mission is even slightly misaligned with the mission of God,  it will struggle to be all that God has created it to be.    The second application is to understand that with many differing people and preferences in a church, it will be neccessary to have a group of individuals who know the original intent of the mission and vision for the church.  These people need to have the insight into what is going on within the church,  the wisdom and discernment to guide the church,  and the strength and determination to be true to Christ and His mission for the local church.

P -  Dear heavenly Father thank you for today's lesson, may it be sealed to my heart.   I pray Lord that you would continue to speak truth into my life regarding your local church.   I pray this weekend your spirit would guide the New Hope Aiea leadership team in seeking out and connecting with you on our vision, mission and objectives over the next year.   Lord grant us wisdom, humbleness, and strength to be obedient to what you need us to do.  In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Early church fractaling

Early church fractaling
S - Acts 6:1-5 (NASB)
1 Now at this time while the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint arose on the part of the Hellenistic Jews against the native Hebrews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food2 So the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables. 3 Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task. 4 But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” 5 The statement found approval with the whole congregation; and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit 

O -   This passage comes right at a time when the ministry of the early church is really starting to rapidly grow.  They had received the Holy spirit, and were teaching daily in the temple, and performing many great miracles as well as proclaiming the gospel.  The scripture says at least a couple of times that their numbers were growing by increments of four and five thousand.    With increasing numbers became the typically administrative challenges of caring for the flock.  This happended to Moses, who helped set the entire nation of Israel free , but then was burdened with shepherding a large population.    The disciples knew here also, that they were to continuing to preach the Gospel boldly, and likely from the example of Moses they chose men of good reputation to care for the daily needs of serving food.

A - The application is a biblical one in which we see the way to lead a congregation, a ministry, or a team is done by knowing what your mission is, staying focused on it, and building a team of people aligned to support the mission.   The idea of leaders building a team of people focused on mission,  operating in their strengths and gifts,  being edified and equipped,  all the while moving toward a preferred vision of the future is one which I honestly believe is blessed by God, when aligned with His spirit and His vision for His people.

P - Dear heavenly Father, thank you for your daily inspiration and revelation in you word, may this lesson be sealed to my heart. Lord I pray that you would help us at New Hope Aiea to be followers of your spirit and your ways.  Help us like the early church disciples, to be wise in the direction we choose to go, and the people we raise up to lead your people.   I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Discipline to God's commandments in our life

Discipline to God's commandments in our life

 S- Nehemiah 13:15-18 (NASB)
15 In those days I saw in Judah some who were treading wine presses on the sabbath, and bringing in sacks of grain and loading them on donkeys, as well as wine, grapes, figs and all kinds of loads, and they brought them into Jerusalem on the sabbath day. So I admonishedthem on the day they sold food. 16 Also men of Tyre were living there who imported fish and all kinds of merchandise, and sold them to the sons of Judah on the sabbath, even in Jerusalem. 17 Then reprimanded the nobles of Judah and said to them, “What is this evil thing you are doing, by profaning the sabbath day? 18 Did not your fathers do the same, so that our God brought on us and on this city all this trouble? Yet you are adding to the wrath on Israel by profaning the sabbath.”

O - This scripture comes from a time just after Nehemiah and the returning exiles finished rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem and they were correcting back to the commandments which God had given them.  The Levites were not getting the tithe to support them so they were abandoning there duties to go back and earn their own living  and as we see in this passage, many were working on the Sabbath day.    These violations of God's commandments  and the corrections were part of what the people needed to do to correct back to God.    After all they were exiled for over 70 years for being disobedient to the commandments of God, so as they returned it we can see it is man's nature to wander from God, if not for the leadership of men like Nehemiah, and now for us the leadership of the holy spirit in us.

A -  The application for me is again to recognize my own nature to wander from God's ordinances.   It is also to refresh my passion for the absolute necessity and Godly commandment that the Sabbath is.  I can relate to the Israelites that sometime life seems so busy that we are looking for extra time to get work done, an easy target becomes the Sabbath.  The result though in the long term is devastating; weariness, ineffectiveness, and separation from God.  I must under the profound nature and design of the Sabbath rest, and in being aligned with God, especially in times of busyness.

P - Dear heavenly Father, thank you for this mornings devotions, may they be sealed to my heart.   I pray Lord for a refreshing in my Sabbath's, that I would be obedient out of love for you, and respect for your perfect design for my life.  I pray Lord for strength and patience to handle all the tasks of work, the move to CA, ministry at New Hope Aiea, and healthy relationship in my family.  I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Follow the path of the righteous

Follow the path of the righteous

 S -  Psalm 1 (NASB)
 1 How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, 
Nor stand in the path of sinners, 
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! 
2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, 
And in His law he meditates day and night. 
3 He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, 
Which yields its fruit in its season 
And its leaf does not wither; 
And in whatever he does, he prospers.
 4 The wicked are not so,
But they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6 For the LORD knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the wicked will perish.
O - Thank you David for your psalm of wisdom and profound truth.   Thank you Lord for a reminder of the basics of following you and your ways.   When I think of David writing this, I think of a man after God's own heart, anointed to be the great King of Israel that ever lived (until Christ came).  David was a mighty man, of humble faith and though he stumbled and made mistakes he followed God all the days of his life.  The wisdom of this Psalm is perhaps even more profound than any Solomon would later pen, and foundational even to my own faith today.

A -  The application is simply the dissection of this psalm into to actions that I as a follower of God should strive to live, namely:
1.   Do not walk in the counsel of the wicked -  we may find ourselves under leaders, or in environments where the wicked exist, but we must be discerning and ensure we are not taking the counsel of the wicked even if it seems to satisfy our desires.
2.   Do not stand in the path of sinners -  my interpretation of this is that there is a path of sinners and road that head along toward sin, we must look at our own circumstances and ensure we are not even standing in that path let alone heading down that path.   I read that as even as we are witnessing to the world, we are not to stand in sinful circumstances.  Example, we don't go spend the weekends at the strip club preaching the Gospel.

3. Do not sit in the seat of scoffers - to become judgemental and mockers of others is a path not to be taken.  It is much easier to judge, than to trust God's righteous judgement.   The later is the way of the righteous, the former is a slippery slope of the unrighteous.

4.  Do - meditate of God's law -  it is so perfect that as we meditate of God's word and God's law, since we are His creation, formed in His image,  His law resonates deeply with our soul's and we are constantly corrected back to the truth of who we are, God's creation, for God's purposes.

P - Dear heavenly Father, thank you for today's lesson, may it be sealed to my heart.  I pray Lord you would help me to walk the path of the righteous, and avoid the traps of the wicked.   I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Refuting discouragement

Refuting  discouragement
S - Neh 6:6-9 (NASB)
“It is reported among the nations, and Gashmu says, that you and the Jews are planning to rebel; therefore you are rebuilding the wall. And you are to be their king, according to these reports. 7 You have also appointed prophets to proclaim in Jerusalem concerning you, ‘A king is in Judah!’ And now it will be reported to the king according to these reports. So come now, let us take counsel together.” 8 Then I sent a message to him saying, “Such things as you are saying have not been done, but you are inventing them in your own mind.” 9 For all of them were trying to frighten us, thinking, “They will become discouraged with the work and it will not be done.” But now, O God, strengthen my hands.

O - In rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, Nehemiah faced many challenges.  Doubters discouraging him and the workers,  enemies just waiting for a slip up, other kings plotting to bring harm to him.    As the project was coming to a finish, all that could be done was for this detractors was to spread rumors and try and turn what was of God and for God into something that would sound selfish and power seeking.  Nehemiah's response was of God, as He knew where his calling came from.  Previous communications with these kings, Nehemiah had simply ignored them, but here is see in verse 8, Nehemiah s response, to refute the lies, speak the truth, and then turn to God for his strength.

A - The application for me is to recognize in my own callings from God, there will be circumstances and people who will discourage me from working for God's best.   I need to follow Nehemiahs example and speak the truth in confidence (not in anger), and then turn to God for strength to press through the final push to kingdom victory (or victory that Glorifies God).

P -  Dear heavenly Father, thank you for today's lesson, may it be sealed to my heart.  Lord I pray that you would help me press through external discouragements and even my own discouraging thoughts, at work, at home, and in ministry.  I pray Lord that you would renew your vision in my life, and increase my confidence in who you are in me, and give me strength to press forward to the task at hand.  I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Those who receive God's wisdom and revelation, more is given

Those who receive God's wisdom and revelation, more is given
S - Luke 20:108 (NASB) 
 1 On one of the days while He was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes with the elders confronted Him2 and they spoke, saying to Him, “Tell us by what authority You are doing these things, or who is the one who gave You this authority?” 3 Jesus answered and said to them, “I will also ask you aquestion, and you tell Me: 4 Was the baptism of John from heaven or from men?” 5 They reasoned among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say, ‘Why did you not believe him?’ 6 But if we say, ‘From men,’ all the people will stone us to death, for they are convinced that John was a prophet.” 7 So they answered that they did not know where it came from. 8 And Jesus said to them, “Nor will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

O - Men often pretend to examine the evidences of revelation, and the truth of the gospel, when only seeking excuses for their own unbelief and disobedience. Christ answered these priests and scribes with a plain question about the baptism of John, which the common people could answer. They all knew it was from heaven, nothing in it had an earthly tendency. Those that bury the knowledge they have, are justly denied further knowledge. It was just with Christ to refuse to give account of his authority, to those who knew the baptism of John to be from heaven, yet would not believe in him, nor own their knowledge (Matthew Henry Concise)

Jesus had forced the Pharisees either to acknowledge that they had refused to heed a messenger of God, or to expose themselves to popular disfavor. 8. Neither tell I you. Why Should he explain the truth concerning himself when they would not believe the truth about John, who was his forerunner?—Wycliffe Bible Commentary

Scripturally this passage is consistent with the parable of the talens.  To whom who takes what is given and does something with it, much more will be given to them.  But to them that bury the treasure that is given to them, all their treasure will be taken away and given to those who will do something.

A - The application for me is to make sure I am doing something with the revelations God is revealing to me in my life.  I like to believe I have done things with what God has revealed to me, but if I was to dig deeply into the promises he has spoken into my life, I have not walked in trust and faith that what He says applies to me.  I often still worry about provision, and blessings upon things I am doing.  I need to walk in the truth's He has told me and not worry so much about what I can do in circumstances. 

P - Dear heavenly Father, thank you for today's devotions may it be sealed to my heart.  I pray Lord that you would be my vision and I would walk in faith in your truth and revelation in my life.  I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Praise Him in the mighty expanse

Praise Him in the mighty expanse

S - Psalm 150 (NASB)
1 Praise the LORD!
Praise God in His sanctuary;
Praise Him in His mighty expanse.
2 Praise Him for His mighty deeds;
Praise Him according to His excellent greatness. 3 Praise Him with trumpet sound;
Praise Him with harp and lyre.
4 Praise Him with timbrel and dancing;
Praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe.
5 Praise Him with loud cymbals;
Praise Him with resounding cymbals.
6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD!

O - Boy I know this psalm is ripe for controversy amongst Christian church's today.  This does not worry me, as it speaks to my soul and inspires me personally.  The heart of David to Praise God in everyway possible is one that is not lost on me.  I catch his heart to praise God everywhere and to everyone, and by everything, because that is simply put just how great God is, and He is worthy of our praise.   Now David describes music, and dancing as a way to praise God, including "resounding cymbals" (boy would our neighbor at Alvah Scott Elementary not be happy about that).    We see David recognizing even before the Gospel is received that we are not to just be holy on Sundays and while in the sanctuary, but to give praise to God wherever and whenever we are!

A - The application for me is to press forward into myself and those I am leading to seek to praise God in all that He is doing, in all circumstances, and by all means available.    To unashamedly give him credit and praise Him for all he is doing, and to recognize that there is no format or forum that is not worthy of being redeemed for Him.

P - Dear heavenly Father, thank you for all that you have done in my life, I thank you for recent blessings regarding Waiau Garden Villas as well as for the great work you are doing at and in me at New Hope Aiea, and the shipyard.  You are the great creator, the great planner, and the great executor of my life, and I am so thankful for all you are doing to draw me near to you.  I pray Lord you would inspire and equip me to praise you in new creative ways, that redeem what the world has created, all to be redeemed for you.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Law and Prophets - still applicable today

The Law and Prophets - still applicable today

S -  Luke 16:16-17 (NASB)

  16 “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it. 17 But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail.

O - Jesus is speaking to the Jews and Pharisee's here to let them know that the Law and the prophets before him proclaimed truth, and when He came into to world it was to spread the good news of the Kingdom of God.   But part of that news was going to be a shock to some Jews and Pharisee's who have been forcing their own ways in following the letter of the law.  In other words they knew the Law, and judged others to live according to the law while they themselves had unclean hearts and motives, and their way of following the Law did not honor God but themselves.   And thus Jesus says, not one stroke of the letter of the Law will fail, but instead people will be judged against the truth of the Law.  The good news is that reconcilation with God no longer required us to give the sacrifice, as was according to the Law, but since Christ paid our debt in full, we were free to live according to the Law restored to God the Father.

A - The application for me is to recognize that the entire bible reveals God, His law, and His perfect plan for us.  I know I had for many years not wanted to engage in learning from the old testament, or the law.  The freedom of the Gospel for me was freedom from judgement and condemnation.  While this is true, I realize now that God's law was perfect from the beginning and that my obedience to it was not only necessary but possible in the freedom Christ is bringing to my life.   I must continue to check my own heart to ensure I am not rebelling against the Law and the Prophets, but rather submitting to Christ and His leadership.

P - Dear heavenly Father, thank you for this lesson,  I am amazed at your grace and wisdom, especially in leading me.  Lord help me to take this new wisdom and apply to my heart, mind, and hands, so that I might live more fully according to your will.  I pray all this in Jesus name, Amen.