The Bible in Community

by Ross Rohde

Our faith was never intended by God to be a solo affair. He intends for us to be deeply connected to him in an abiding relationship. In addition, part of encountering God in a deep relationship requires having deep, accountable, relationships with other Christians. This, in turn, requires us to be involved in a community of believers. Note, I said “community.” There is a significant difference between a community of believers and a group of Christians who merely get together regularly. For a little more on what that can look like read: Authority: How Jesus Leads a Church, (July 17, 2010).

In my post, Organic Discipleship #1: The Place of the Bible (Aug. 29, 2010) I clearly stated that the Bible is a vital part of organic discipleship. In fact, I suggested a skill I teach new Christians is to read the Bible as a personal conversation with Jesus, and obey what he says. What happens when we take that Bible focused obedience skill and combine it in community? Let me describe what that could be like.

Imagine with me for a moment a small organic church, maybe twelve people. Each has learned to read the Bible as a personal conversation with Jesus and obey. This group hangs out together as much as possible. They do ministry together. They eat together. They spend time in each other’s homes regularly. And, they intentionally meet on Tuesday nights. When Tuesday rolls around (or in fact any time they see each other) their souls are saturated with the Scriptures. This is because they each read the Bible as a personal conversation with Jesus and obey; as part of their love relationship with Jesus. Perhaps one person is reading in Hebrews, another in Mark, others are in a Life Transformation Group reading Genesis. It really doesn’t matter. When they get together, their souls are not only saturated with Scripture, their lives are saturated with obedience to Jesus, based on what they read. They are going to have lots to talk about when they gather.

On Tuesday, Brittney shares a story of how Jesus has been speaking to her in the book of Joshua and how she is putting into practice what she is learning. Jordan and Braden note that this is exactly what Jesus was speaking to their LTG about last week, even though they were in Genesis. As the conversation deepens, Matt and Tiffany point out the obvious; Jesus is not only talking to them as individuals, he is speaking to the church. Tiffany further suggests that they pray to Jesus, listing for his instruction, so they can obey him as a faithful, loving community. Through prayer they realize that Jesus is sending them on a communal ministry project. They prayerfully plan and put the plan into action.

Have you ever had a rich encounter with Jesus in community through the Scriptures? Those moments are worth their weight in gold. For most of us, they are also about as uncommon as a gold coin. But they don’t have to be. If the community learns together to read the Bible as a personal conversation with Jesus and obey; then we just have to gather and start telling stories. If we are open to Jesus leadership and we have learned not to allow any human to control the group. Jesus will use the Scriptures to speak deeply to the community. Then all we need to do is learn to obey. Since Jesus is initiating that action, expect to see fruit, more fruit and fruit that remains.  Also expect to see your relationship with Jesus mature rapidly and become much for satisfying that it has ever been before.

Chosen in him

He hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame.

Ephesians 1:4

I have been told that sometimes when I preach I really worry the Calvinists, but I want to make a point here, and I take the chance of worrying my brethren in the Armenian persuasion.

The recorded acts of Creation in the beginning were not God’s first activity. God had been occupied before that, for He must have been engaged in choosing and foreordaining before the foundation of the world!

Paul told the Ephesian Christians: “[God] hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love” (1:4).

Can I explain how God could have chosen us before the creation of the world? Can I explain the eternal nature of God, the uncreated Being? Can I explain a time when there was only God—no matter, no law, no motion, no relation and no space, no time and no beings, only God?

God was there, and God is not a void! He is the triune God, and He is all there is. Before the Creation He was already busy with eternal mercies and a redemptive plan for a mankind not yet created!

Merciful God, as I reflect upon Your eternal goodness, I am amazed once again at Your resoluteness to save a wayward world at such a great expense—Your only Son.

~ Aiden Wilson Tozer

In The Valley – Sovereign Grace

The glory of the gospel

The glory of the gospel is that when the church is absolutely different from the world, she invariably attracts it.

~ D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Let your kingdom come – Sovereign grace ministries

Wisdom and Thankfulness

from Learning to be Full of Grace and Truth by Dan Ledwith

Have you ever thought that there was a direct connection between being wise and being thankful? Paul did. Look at Ephesians 5:15-20 (NIV).

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The times are dangerous Paul says. What makes the times dangerous? People. All people are sinners, therefore anytime there are people around it is dangerous. True some people are more dangerous than others, but when you get a bunch of people together, the more danger there is going to be, because people are not basically good who sometimes do bad things, but (since we are all sinners) people are basically bad who try to do good things! So we had better be wise so that we make the most of every opportunity.

Therefore, if we want to be wise, if we want to make the most out of every opportunity, we will understand what God’s will is, otherwise we will be the opposite of wise, we will be foolish.

God’s will is that we be full of His Spirit. Wisdom, real wisdom, can’t be had by our own spirit. Our spirit is selfish, self-serving, self-centered, self-glorifying. If we are going to be wise we need to be living in the transforming grace of God’s Spirit. When we by grace submit to the grace and love of Jesus Christ, His Spirit transforms us from selfish sinners into conduits of His grace.

When we are full of the Spirit we are by grace moved from being self-serving to other-serving people who show wisdom by speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit.

When we are full of the Spirit grace turns us changing us inside out from being self-centered to God-centered people who show wisdom by singing and make music from our hearts to the Lord.

When we are full of the Spirit God turns us upside-down by transforming us from self-glorifying to God-glorifying people who show wisdom by always giving thanks for everything.

And there you have it, wisdom is connected to thankfulness. If we want to be wise, if we want to be full of the Spirit, we will be thankful.

 

Read more: http://danledwith.wordpress.com/2014/11/26/wisdom-and-thankfulness/

A Prayer about Overflowing Gratitude

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. (Col. 2: 6– 7 NIV)

Lord Jesus, I want to be a man who gives you the quality and quantity of thanks of which you are so absolutely worthy. Not like a slow drip, a babbling brook, or a meandering stream, but like a geyser— a gospel geyser. I want to overflow with thankfulness, to the praise of your glory and grace!

I have every reason to be like the healed Samaritan leper, who with a stunned heart and irrepressible gratitude returned to give you heartfelt thanks (Luke 17: 11– 17). I return today, and I want to return every day, to express my profound thankfulness.

From the first nanosecond I was given faith to receive you as Savior and Lord, I was fully and firmly rooted in your righteousness and love. Now, completely forgiven, I have no other righteousness than yours. Just as I cannot add one iota to your righteousness, I can never, ever be separated from your love, and your love alone is better than life. You have already set me free from the penalty of sin, you are continually setting me free from the power of sin, and one day you will set me free from the very presence of sin.

Jesus, I want to live in you, reflecting upon your glory with an unveiled face and marinating in the riches of your unfailing grace. I want to be built up in you, maturing by the same grace that saved me, being liberated for the race that you’ve set before me. I want to be strengthened in you, forgiving others as you have forgiven me, forbearing with others as you forbear with me, accepting others as you accept me.

Lord Jesus, I would love to be done with all carping and droning, with all whining and complaining, with all boo-hooing and Eeyore-ing, and with every other expression of ingratitude. So rise up in me, O living water, unto eternal life. Artesian spring of grace, come forth with such compelling and propelling force that my thanks will be not miserly but geyserly. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Scotty Smith, Everyday Prayers: 365 Days to a Gospel-Centered Faith

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