“I CAN ALMOST SMELL THE BREAD BAKING!”

RECIPE (Scripture Study):  Acts 13, Acts 16, and 1 Timothy 4:11-16.

The simplest bread recipe I’m told only has THREE INGREDIENTS–Flour, water, and yeast.  When combined together you get warm, fluffy, delicious bread.  END OF STORY?  No.  Unless ALL three of these ingredients are modified in some way,  the end results will never be useful.

AFTER HARVEST, the wheat must be threshed, winnowed, and ground into flour.  If one or more of these steps are not completed correctly, the BREAD will fail.

Water must be purified–if too many impurities are found in the water, the bread will have a bad taste and not rise correctly.

Yeast is an odd animal–and yes, it is an animal.  It is a microscopic little critter that changes something chemically.  We don’t know where the first YEAST came from, but historians think the first batch of yeast may have come from natural impurities in the flour and was left in the sun too long.  Bakers would then take small pieces of dough–called LEAVEN–that had already risen and mix it into the new dough that rises well.

IN THE BIBLE, the Israelites are called to make unleavened bread; not adding the leaven to their dough, preventing the dough from rising.

Just like bread making can only be made if ALL ingredients are mixed together properly, Christians must also work together with other believers in order to become something better.

Just like the THREE aforementioned ingredients are needed to make BREAD, also THREE types of people must work together in order to become more mature as true believers.

Let’s take a look at the life of the Apostle Paul and find out what these types of people look like:

PAUL started out as SAUL, a Pharisee, dedicated to wiping out Christianity off the face of the earth.

While traveling to Damascus, he has an amazing encounter with God, changing his life forever.  After this meeting, though, the real fun begins!

Saul is now a CHRISTIAN and began preaching about Jesus in the synagogues of Damascus.  The CHANGE was so amazing and the transformation so complete, the people around him began wondering what was going on.

Eventually, the Jews of Damascus got so suspicious of Saul they began to plot to kill him!  So when Saul heard about this, he gets while the gettin’ was good and escaped to Jerusalem.

Well, things didn’t start much better for him there–the disciples were afraid of him thinking he was trying to trick them.

Finally, A Man Named Barnabas…

Barnabas took Saul to the other apostles telling them his story.

Saul was able to stay with them for a short time, until, more threats sent him away.

Eventually, Saul meets back with Barnabas at Antioch, and they are sent together on a missionary journey covering eastern Greece and most of Turkey.

ACTS 13:4 –  “So then, being sent out by the Holy Spirit. they went down to Seleucia, and from [that port] they sailed away to Cyprus”  (AMP).

Now skipping ahead to VERSE 44:  [44]  The next Sabbath almost the entire city gathered together to hear the Word of God [concerning the attainment through Christ of salvation in the kingdom of God].  [45] But when the Jews saw the crowds, filled with envy and jealousy they contradicted what was said by Paul and talked abusively [reviling and slandering him].  [46] And Paul and Barnabas spoke out plainly and boldly, saying, “It was necessary that God’s message [concerning salvation through Christ] should be spoken to you first.  But since you thrust it from you, you pass this judgment on yourselves that you are unworthy of eternal life and out of your own mouth you will be judged.  [Now] behold, we turn to the Gentiles” (the heathen).  [47] For so the Lord has charged us, saying,  “I have set you to be a light for the Gentiles (the heathen), that you may bring [eternal] salvation to the uttermost parts of the earth.”

Without the INFLUENCE of Barnabas, Paul would have likely died in Jerusalem, and certainly not have gone on to be a MISSIONARY to the Gentiles.

Barnabas didn’t have to vouch for Paul, but he did anyway.  In fact, Barnabas was always looking for someone to ENCOURAGE.

Acts 15, Paul and Barnabas part ways because Barnabas wanted to give someone else–John Mark–a SECOND CHANCE.

This is fitting I think because the name “BARNABAS” wasn’t his given birth name. Actually, he was named Joseph, but because of his repeated actions of encouragement, the other apostles renamed him, Barnabas, meaning “Son of Encouragement.”

We also need a BARNABAS in our lives.

True, Paul had the POWER of the Holy Spirit behind him, but that doesn’t mean that he never made any mistakes.  He was still very immature as a believer and needed a mentor, someone like Barnabas to encourage and help him grow in his faith.

We also need a BARNABAS in our lives–for that’s the FIRST of the 3 Types of people we need to work with.

We ALL need someone who is spiritually more mature than we are to encourage us when our life gets tough and act as a mentor.  This person may be older, younger, or the same age we are but will be further along in their walk with the Lord to help us as we follow the Lord in our own walk.

That brings us to the SECOND type of person needed.

Moving to Acts chapter 16, we see Paul is traveling with SILAS and Luke.

While in Philippi, something amazing happens.  A female slave who had a spirit that was predicting the future, constantly following Paul and his comrades, shouting that they were servants of the Most High God.  She kept this up for so long, eventually, Paul became annoyed, turned around, and told the spirit to leave the woman.  Let’s pick up the story in VERSE 19:

[19] When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities.  [20] They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar  [21] by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.”  [23] The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods.  [23] After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully.

I thought this passage of Scripture was interesting.  This chapter of Acts does something few chapters in the Bible do.

Acts 16:1-10 are all written in the third person–that is, using phrases like “he did this” and “they did that.”

Starting in verse 11, it now switches to the first person–using phrases like “we did this” and “we did that.”  Since the author of the book is usually thought to be Luke–who was actually present here and dutifully recorded everything that happened.  This means that Luke was with them during their encounter with the fortune teller.  In fact, Acts 16:17 says, “She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, these men are servants of the Most High God…”  That tells us that there were more than just Paul and Silas and Luke–but a small group of fellow disciples and followers were there as well.

So why then, would the local authorities only arrest Paul and Silas instead of the entire group?  Because Paul & Silas were their leaders.

Paul and Silas worked together to bring the Good News to the people of Philippi because they were both at the same point in their Christian WALK by constantly encouraging each other and standing up for each other.

A Perfect Example–

Paul is the one who commanded the spirit to leave the slave woman, NOT Silas.  But Silas stood next to Paul in front of the magistrate; Silas went to prison with Paul; and, as we can read in Verse 25…Silas prayed and sang hymns in prison with Paul.

THE SECOND type of person we need in our lives is a SILAS.

We need someone who can walk alongside us as we follow Jesus.  Typically, this person ends up being an ACCOUNTABILITY partner–the person you feel so comfortable being with that you SHARE everything–your deepest doubts, and hardest troubles.  Oh yes, your DESIRES too!

So we need a Barnaba as well, to WALK AHEAD of us and a Silas to WALK ALONGSIDE us.

So, it becomes pretty obvious that the THIRD person needed in our lives–is someone to WALK BEHIND us.

In Paul’s life, that person was Timothy.  Timothy was a native of Lystra, where Paul and Barnabas had healed a crippled man in ACTS 14.  By the time Paul returned to Lystra in ACTS 16, Timothy was already respected–if young– a member of the Christian community.

Timothy joined Paul on his missionary journeys and is even credited as a co-author with Paul to the books of 2 Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, and Philemon.

Paul wrote TWO letters to Timothy giving him advice and encouragement in his ministry–just like Barnabas did to Paul years earlier.

1 Timothy 4:11-16 is some of the most well-known advice given from Paul to a young man in the ministry:

[11]  Command and teach these things.  [12] Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.  [13] Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.  [14[ Do not neglect your gift, which was given to you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.  [15] Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.  [16] Watch your life and doctrine closely.  Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

Paul’s advice to Timothy was good, and Timothy grew to become a LEADER in the church.

When Paul was in prison in Rome, he saw his life approaching an end and called Timothy to him in 2 Timothy 4 for a final visit.

AN IMPORTANT NOTE–

Just because Timothy was younger than Paul doesn’t mean that those we mentor must be younger than us.  It’s entirely possible for a young person to be further along in their Christian WALK than an older person.

THE THREE TYPE OF PEOPLE WE NEED IN OUR LIVES–

A BARNABAS, who walks before us; a SILAS, who walks beside us, and a TIMOTHY, who follows behind us.

If we don’t have all THREE INGREDIENTS–types of people in our life– then we’ll be unfinished, like unleavened bread.

What’s more, though, is that we are not only expected to HAVE all three types of people in our life, but we’re also expected to BE all three types of people for others in our life.  

We are not only expected to be MENTORED to but to be a MENTOR.  We are not only expected to have someone to walk alongside us and encourage us but to walk alongside them and encourage them to encourage them.  In this way, ALL BELIEVERS work together for learning, encouraging, and teaching, to proclaim the Good News, the Gospel, and spread the kingdom of God to the ends of the earth.

So now you have the know-how to put three specific ingredients (three types of people) together in your life.  

So are you ready to smell the FRESHNESS of New Baked Bread?  If you haven’t already, it’s time to start assembling the ingredients first!

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CREDITS –

Photos:  Google Image Search, Advanced Settings.

Bread Making Source for this Blog:  Basic bread making; re-learning traditional skills, Part 1 – the components of a good loaf – Bondant Welsh Food.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP).

 

So, Who Has the Final Say Here?

A STUDY IN COLOSSIANS – (Colossians 1:10-20)

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In preparing for this week’s blog, I came upon this story that illustrated my blog-title.

In August 1994, a Korean Air Jet skidded across a rain-soaked runway, running into a safety barricade while landing in Cheju, Korea.  All 160 passengers escaped safely moments before the plane exploded into flames.  What could cause such an accident?  According to news reports, the PILOT and the CO-PILOT had got into a fist fight…over who was in charge of the landing controls.  I don’t know about you, but I would have thought it would have been covered in the Flight Manual!!!

The main thing I wanted to point out in this story is that NOBODY knew who was in charge…and the CONFUSION that arose, resulted in absolute CHAOS & DESTRUCTION.

So, Who IS In Charge Here?

This question is important to answer in almost every situation.  When we don’t know who has the final say…who’s is ultimately IN CHARGE, we become left with confusion and frustration.

For example…who should be in charge in the CHURCH?

The Bible is very clear with the answer:

Colossians 1:16-18 (Amplified Bible – AMP):

[16]For is was in Him that all things were created, in heaven and on earth, things seen and things unseen; whether thrones, dominions, rulers, or authorities; ALL THINGS were created and exist through Him [by His service, intervention] and in and for Him.  [17] And He Himself existed before all things, and in Him all things consist (cohere, are held together).  [18] He also is the Head of [His] body, the church; seeing He is the Beginning, the Firstborn from among the dead, so that He alone in everything and in every respect might occupy the chief place [stand first and be preeminent].

Now that could sum up the answer to “Who Is In Charge Here?” in just THREE VERSES!  But I want to expound my thought process even further.

Every Church Has Structure –

No matter what the church denomination might be, a CHURCH has structure to it. And every local assembly has people who are so designated to run the day to day affairs.

In Scripture, we can find that the FIRST CHURCH had…

  • Elders–also called Shepherds of Pastors.
  • Preachers or evangelists.
  • Deacons.
  • Teachers (like me).
  • And all kinds of ministries within the church setting.

QUESTIONS:  “That’s all very informative…but who’s IN CHARGE?”

That would be JESUS.

“No…I mean, who has the AUTHORITY in the church?”

That would be JESUS.

“No, no  no…who has the FINAL SAY in the church?”

That again, would be JESUS!!!

Now if you are asking, Who makes the day to day decisions in the local congregation…that would be the ELDERS/DEACONS and…they are to get input from the Lead Pastor, his associates and everyone else within the body of Christ–the Church.

God has given the Elders a very important responsibility –

Their job is to take care of the Bride of Christ (the church)…to protect her from heresy and false doctrine and immorality.

These are the PROTECTORS of God’s family here on earth.  This is why God wanted His Elders to be good fathers and husbands (1 Timothy 3:1-5).  In Paul’s letter to Timothy, he refers to the term “elder,” “bishop,” “superintendent overseer.”  Paul also refers to the Elders at Ephesus as “overseer”, likewise in Titus 1:7.  

So, it seems to be a synonym for the term “ELDER”:  A GOOD FATHER and HUSBAND; one who will have experience protecting their own family.  They should know how to LOVE God’s children.

Since the Church Belongs to Jesus…

The Elders must ALWAYS make their decision based upon what they think JESUS would want–because the church doesn’t belong to the ELDERS.

And the Elders (along with preachers and teachers and other leaders in the church) will be accountable at the day of judgment on how they treated the Bride of Christ.

I am at fault here, by not continually lifting up our Elders in prayer and to encourage them wherever and whenever possible.  I am going to start doing this today!

JESUS IS THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH!!!

I have given you the importance of how the Elders and our church leaders’ needs of keeping JESUS as the head.

BUT, How About the Rest of Us?

How can we know, whether WE have allowed JESUS to be the Head of His Church ?

One ANSWER…JESUS earned the Right!

As Colossians 1:16-18 tells us,  “…in Him (Jesus) all things were created, in heaven and on earth, things seen and things unseen, whether thrones, dominions, rulers, or authorities; ALL THINGS were created and exist through Him…and in and for Him.”

JESUS IS THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH, because that’s His RIGHT!

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But there’s another answer to the question of  “Who Shall Have the Final Say” in the Church?  Who’s in charge?

The ANSWER is, that Jesus being the head of the Church, should always have the final say because that’s the way God DESIGNED the Church to function.

I was reading an article in The New York TimesAltering Your Engine With New Chips, by Jim Motavalli.  It was about a man who owned a Porsche 944 Turbo and wanted to increase the horsepower.  He decided to install himself, a business-card size electronic part–a so-called “performance chip” designed to reprogram the car’s engine control module and giving the Porsche a “power boost”.  And it appeared to do the job–he gained 40 HP at first, but by taking charge of and installing the power boost himself…it all blew up in his face; $7000.00 damage and voided the auto’s warranty.

I saw a poignant parallel between this story and what occurs when we try to alter the performance of the local church, forgetting Who IS really in charge!

It is only when JESUS is the “HEAD OF THE CHURCH” that the church will ever run right.

Just before the apostle Paul introduces the idea of Jesus as the HEAD of the Church, he says this:

That you may walk, (live and conduct yourselves) in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him and desiring to please Him in all things, bearing fruit in every good work and steadily growing and increasing in and by the knowledge of God…that you may be invigorated and strengthened with all power according to the might of His glory… (Colossians 1:10-11; AMP bible).

When Jesus is the One Who Is In Charge of The Church…this is what you get:

#1.  You are EMPOWERED to live a life worthy of your LORD.

#2.  You can PLEASE HIM in every way.

#3.  You can BEAR FRUIT in every good work.

#4.  You can GROW IN KNOWLEDGE of God.

#5.  And be STRENGTHENED with ALL POWER of God.

How often have I tried to FIX things over my life–in the workplace, in the family, and yes, the church as well.  And when I can’t…like the owner of the Porsche, it eventually ‘BLEW UP” in my face; effecting not only my own spiritual life, but those close around me; from my frustration and anger, I was disrupting their spiritual lives.

When we don’t allow JESUS to be the Head of our lives, the Head of the Church, that is UNHEALTHY!

In Galatians 5, we’re told what constitutes SPIRITUAL HEALTH –

“The acts of the sinful nature are obvious…hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy… (Galatians 5:19-21 NIV).

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Against such things there is no law”  (Galatians 5:22-23).

Notice the difference between the “acts of the sinful nature” and the Fruit of the Spirit.”  SINFUL NATURE is filled with ANGER and FRUSTRATION.  But the Fruit of the Spirit has no anger and no strife…there is no contention.

WHY?

Because when we [“I”] bear the Fruit of the Spirit, JESUS is in charge.  He’s our head!

When He is in charge we trust Him to control the situation we are personally dealing with.

Refreshment Is Always A Good Thing!

This week in my study and mediation of Colossians 1, I had to relearn some things about myself– I needed some refreshing.  Okay, not “some”, but a lot of refreshment.

When JESUS is IN a Church–people change.  When He is in charge of my life, your life, we become different…we are transformed by His presence and His power 

Who has the final say in your church and in your life today?  I HOPE it is JESUS!

 


Credits:

Photos:  Google Image Search.

Bible Concordance:  The NIV Complete Concordance by Edward W. Goodrick & John R. Kohlenberger 111.

Bible Translation:  Amplified Bible (AMP), except where noted.