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Celebrate Freedom in Christ

Celebrate Freedom In Christ

Romans 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. 

What are these two laws? They are found in the physical man (body) and spiritual man (spirit) with the soul acting as servant to the leading law of the spirit.

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

You are free to choose which law you live under.

Romans 8:5-14 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. 10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. 12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.


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Be Filled With the Spirit . . . Speaking

Be Filled With The Spirit… Speaking

In the New Testament, God indwells His habitation.  The Holy Spirit who was with the OT disciples would be in the NT disciples.  Scripture consistently bears this out after Jesus was ascended: Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit

Acts 4:8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit

Acts 4:31 And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit

Acts 8:17 Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

Acts 9:17 And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

Acts shows the infilling.  The epistles teach the doctrine and command the activity:

Ephesians 5:17-19 17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord,

Continuous present tense indicates, “Be being filled.”  Notice it is “be filled with the Spirit, speaking.”  Let us look again, in this light, at the scriptures we already saw: Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.


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Taming The Tongue

Taming the Tongue

James 3:1–12 1 My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. 2 For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. 3 Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. 4 Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. 5 Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. 8 But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? 12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.

James uses three different word pictures to describe the need for controlling the tongue – the bit, the rudder and animals being tamed. Each of these words in Greek gives an understanding of both restraint and direction.


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Beatitudes

Beatitudes

The Sermon on the Mount in Mt. 5-7 follows 4:25 with “great crowds.”

Matthew 5:1-2 And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. 2 Then He opened His mouth and taught them…

Jesus separated His disciples for a conference on why folks are blessed or not.  Halfway through Chapter 7, the masses return and Jesus goes back to teaching salvation.

Chapters 5 -7 are progressive: 5 – recognizing and isolating sin; 6 – doing good things with wrong motives; 7 – pride and judging others.

The progression is: Hearing the Word (intake) = knowledge but doing the Word (output) = wisdom

The beatitudes are also progressive, from taking in to doing outwardly:

Matthew 5:3-12 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

These are paradoxical statements on how the Kingdom of Heaven invades to turn the world upside down to make it right side up.


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wolves-sheep-horses

DISCERNING WOLVES, SHEEP, AND HORSES IN A CHURCH OR ORGANIZATION

The Bible uses certain animals as metaphors to depict various kinds of people in the kingdom. Pastors and leaders of organizations need to discern at least three kinds to effectively lead. It is inevitable that every growing organization or church will attract all three of these kinds of people simultaneously. Following are some of the main characteristics of wolves, sheep, and horses.


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Becoming A Reproductive Believer

Becoming A Christ-Centered, Reproductive Believer

A disciple is an obedient follower of Jesus Christ who is actively engaged in reproducing disciples by teaching obedience to everything Jesus commanded.  A disciple operates in self, family, congregation, neighborhood and every other sphere of influence given by God.

God gives each and every believer tools to make disciples. Here are ten for you to work on your sphere of influence in self, family, congregation, neighborhood, and beyond:

  1. Love.  It should be clear to every believer that love reigns supreme as a disciple-making tool. Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.  The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no commandment greater than these.” 
  2. Prayer. We faithfully pray for the work of teaching obedience to our self, our family, our congregation, and our neighbor.  “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places to pray.” 
  3. Truth.  We share biblical truth with our self, our family, our congregation, and our neighbor.  Jesus explained, “If you continue in my word, then you are my disciples indeed, and you will know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”
  4. Righteousness.  We identify the blatant and subtle sins in our lives and know that, while God loves us, He hates the sin barrier that blocks true communion between us. However, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”  Righteousness through confession and repentance increases our disciple-making effectiveness.  
  5. Faith.   “According to your faith it will be done,” Jesus promised.  Faith in the truth always calls for the work of putting its principles into practice.  
  6. Obedience.  “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  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, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age.'”  To disciple our nation, we begin with teaching obedience in myself, my family, my congregation, and my neighborhood.  
  7. Wisdom.  The biblical definition of wisdom is knowing and doing what is right.  Knowledge by itself is a dusty, lifeless book on a mindless shelf.  Doing by itself is unfocused energy expended without direction or effective result.  The active expression of wisdom is knowing and doing what is right in the sight of God.  
  8. Work.  In prayer Jesus said to his heavenly Father.  “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.” (John 17:4). The work Jesus had just completed was that of making 12 disciples.  Lovingly and patiently He had invested three years in the task of teaching His disciples to obey all His commandments.     
  9. Commitment.  I am only one, but I am one – I cannot do everything, but I can do something.  What I can do, I ought to do.  What I ought to do by the grace of God – I shall do!  
  10. Accountability.  “By their fruit you shall know them.”  (Mt. 7:20)  Our Heavenly Father is holding each believer accountable for making disciples of himself, family, congregation and neighborhood.  A disciple is an obedient follower of Jesus Christ who is actively engaged in making disciples by teaching obedience to everything Jesus commanded in self, family, congregation, neighborhood and beyond.

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Parables an Overview pt.2 of 3

Parables – An Overview (Part 2 of 3)

We saw in Part 1 that the definition of parable is “to place beside; to cast alongside”. Vine’s: “signifies a placing of one thing beside another with a view to comparison”. It’s an earthly story with a heavenly meaning, a picture of life set in the mind for instant playback. The heavenly is revealed in the earthly, Divinity in humanity, the invisible in the visible, and the unknown in the known. 

And the purpose of the parables was: 1) to conceal from the hard of heart; 2) to reveal to disciples “the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven”.  God will only reveal the secrets of His kingdom to humble and trusting persons who acknowledges the need for God and for his truth.

The parables will only enlighten us if we approach them with an open mind and heart, allowing them to challenge us. If we approach them with the conviction that we already know the answers, we, too, may look but not see, listen but not hear or understand. If we listen with faith and humility then each of us will understand what the Lord wants to speak to our hearts.

Jerome, an early church father and biblical scholar remarked: “The marrow of a parable is different from the promise of its surface, and like as gold is sought for in the earth, the kernel in a nut and the hidden fruit in the prickly covering of chestnuts, so in parables we must search more deeply after the divine meaning.”


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Parables Overview 1 of 3

Parables – An Overview (Part 1 of 3)

As Jesus went about preaching and teaching, He frequently used parables. More than 1/3 of His recorded teaching is found in them as are His most often remembered sayings.

Definition of Parable – a transliteration of the Greek “parabole” (para-bow-LAY) meaning “to place beside; to cast alongside”.  Vine’s: “signifies a placing of one thing beside another with a view to comparison”, thus, a yardstick, a story placing one thing beside another for the purpose of teaching. 

A parable is usually a story or narrative drawn from nature or human circumstances from which spiritual lessons can be found. It’s is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.  It is a picture of life, used by Jesus as a way of recording on the mind for instant playback. The heavenly is revealed in the earthly, Divinity in humanity, the invisible in the visible, and the unknown in the known.  Christ as Creator made the things in His parables and defines their truest meaning. When He says, “Consider the lilies”, He then shows the thought of God. 

The purpose of the parables was to reveal to the truth-seeker but to conceal from the hard of heart.


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Servanthood Volunteering Apart From Ego

Servanthood – Volunteering Apart From Ego

Jesus gave the supreme example of servanthood when He washed His disciples’ feet, showing an act of serving someone else in something dirty and devoid of honor. Then He said:

“I have given you an example that you may do as I have done to you.”

We do not serve only because there is much work to do, but because servanthood is being conformed to the image of Jesus and His godly character. This is a goal of discipleship, willingness to serve in the dirty details. We can’t be like Him without it.

Most people think of ministry as a combination of service and ego fulfillment but ministry means “service”.  God wants to separate our service from our pride and ego.

The only way this can be done is to serve someone else’s vision. You will never know if your pride is separated from your “ministry” until you serve someone else’s. It is the necessary instrument of separation.

Luke 16:12 If you are not faithful in what belongs to someone else, who will give you what belongs to you?

Most people who come to “help” at a ministry, say, “God has given me this vision or plan. Will you bless it?” However, the language of a true servant’s heart speaks differently. It says simply, with no strings attached, “How may I help you?”

The biblical pattern for fulfilling God’s vision and calling in life is: vision – death of a vision – rebirth of a vision. Joseph spent 13 years in jail before his started to be fulfilled. Moses had a vision of saving Israel but spent 40 years in the desert before it was fulfilled! 


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Will We Have a Culture of Accountability?

WILL WE HAVE A CULTURE OF ACCOUNTABILITY?

Pastor Jim has been teaching all year on the qualities and disciplines of a growing believer.  He recently spoke on accountability and servanthood, qualities that are needed for each of us as individuals and all of us as the local Body of Christ. 

In the corporate life of the Body, you can draw a link between the results we are achieving and the level of accountability we see manifested throughout the organization. Knowing how to create and sustain a culture of accountability for most groups is a great challenge. Groups that are operating with a high level of accountability are organizations that have been able to:

  • Clearly define their results
  • Create alignment around those results
  • Instill accountability needed to deliver those results
  • Sustain change

How do successful organizations enable their people to take ownership for delivering on their intended results? Finding practical answers to how to create higher levels of ownership often drives better results and increases the value and growth of the group. To be truly effective in today’s environment, leaders must be able to help find ways to create higher levels of ownership and joint accountability for achieving key results.


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