All Things Freely Given

“…he leased it to tenants…”  Matthew 21:33-46. At the time of offering in our service, we say a familiar Davidic phrase, “All things come of thee O Lord and of thine own have we given thee (1 Chronicles 29: 14).”  In this parable, David’s understanding of his blessings is quite clear. That all blessings are given to us by God is often forgotten, particularly when we are asked to give back. The landowner leasing the land reminds us that the Word of God freely given, is not intended solely for our selves and there is an expectation that something is to be given back in return. Our relationship with God should reflect this willingness to give to others according to God’s Word, as freely as it’s been given to us. It’s how we build the body of Christ.

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The Measuring Line

“For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”   Matthew 12:43-50  Building the body of Christ often must go beyond the usual relationships. Although the old city of Jerusalem is known for it’s walls, we do not have to be within those walls to experience God’s presence. Christ has broken down the barriers and the measuring lines now over extends in order that all who do God’s will are included in his Kingdom. Let us not cut ourselves off by drawing our own line and building those “walls” back up again.

Inside Job

‘It is only by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons, that this fellow casts out the demons.’  Matthew 12:22-32  When someone criticizes another for doing or being something positive, my young friends call that person a “hater.”  I remember some years ago the first time I heard the term and it got me thinking about the many facets of hate. I’d always thought of it in terms of prejudice or bigotry which can be quite blatant and deep seeded. I realized in a competitive world, such as ours, even in believers, hate can be displayed in more simplistic forms like discouraging words or disrespecting people who are not like us. It becomes like an inside job that divides us and fools us into thinking that if it is not behavior with a strong aversion or intense passionate dislike, that it is not hate, but rather just a difference in perception or even judgment. Perhaps herein lies the problem. We focus to much on our own perception rather than God. I don’t believe God created us to be “haters”. He gives us gifts to encourage and build up one another. Let us use those gifts according to God’s will and to the glory of his name and not be a body divided against itself.

Sticks And Stones

If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household!  Matthew 10:24-33  We used to teach our children that sticks and stones may break our bones but names will never hurt. From a physical point of view it was only partially true. Further, unless the child has had a broken bone this philosophy can be confusing because broken bones heal, and soon regain full function of the body. Yet to be called out of someone’s name has the potential to break the spirit. Healing of the spirit can take much longer than any broken bone and full function of the spiritual gift within can take even longer. As believers, Paul encourages us to be adult in our thinking (1 Corinthians 14:12-25); to be aware of the spirit and the mind in what we say and what we do, in order that we may build up the church. In this way, those who come to us broken in spirit shall find healing in the functioning fullness of the Body of Christ.

Light In Darkness

…let your light shine before others… Matthew 5:11-16 The only division that makes sense in this world is that between light and darkness. They can not exist in the same place. A small kindled flame may stand alone in the darkness, but the darkness will never consume it unless we choose to put it out. Our hope is like that kindled flame. If we find it dwindling, we may have to go through the darkness in order to be strengthened with other light, yet others will see and so too give glory to God. For light that is seeking light is never extinguished but endures forever.

Building The Body

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose, and each will receive wages according to the labour of each. For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field… 1 Corinthians 2:14-3:15  Gifts of the spirit are given to build the body of Christ and divisions are self-defeating and contrary to God’s will. Don’t be deceived. Those who are spiritual discern all things… (1 Cor. 2:15)One God – One Purpose – One Reward.

Maintain Your Peace Which Builds And Protects

I had a very interesting weekend and by all accounts quite enjoyable. However, it never fails that principalities against God’s will, that being peace and unity is confronted with an otherwise disengaged event, which only serves to disrupt the joy in the spirit that God desires us to have. In my case after considerable thought as to what I might learn from this encounter, I relate it to several scriptures which help to remind me that throughout this journey, in the same way God uses us as vehicles to build His kingdom here on earth, the enemy attempts to use God’s creation to break it down. Yes, even within the “church” meaning the body of Christ, we must always be conscious of being under attack. One cunning strategy is the use of scripture to justify adverse behavior. It is not only important to know the word of God but to study it. Most times it makes sense to simply walk away from what seems to be a misinterpretation or misunderstanding of the scripture. Other times for the purpose of the Gospel, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, you will need to stand firm and having done all that you could do, give it over to God and then move on in peace.

Matthew 4:5-7 Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, “He will command his angels concerning you”, and “On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.” ’ Jesus said to him, ‘Again it is written, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” ’ 

Romans 12:9-21 If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

Matthew 18:15 ‘If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one.

Matthew 5:23-24  So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.