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.

 

 

 

 

Receiving A New Heart and New Spirit to Reach Our Potential

Ezekiel 36:26-27 in the Amplified Bible:

[26] A new heart will I give you and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  [27] And I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you shall heed My ordinances and do them.”

Ezekiel 36:26: A Heart of Stone Transferred to a Heart of Flesh
Ezekiel 36:26: A Heart of Stone Transferred to a Heart of Flesh

For the past month, I have been leading a small group at our home, calling the study Being Gifted for a Purpose.  I am using The 9 SPIRITUAL GIFTS listed in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 as an introduction to the study.

In using my Bible Concordance, listing specific verses concerning Spiritual Gifts, I found some interesting facts in the Old Testament which refer to Spiritual Gifting.  So much so, I decided to write down my thoughts in a Blog-post.

I also learned from God’s Word, I should have presented a portion of the facts found in the Old Testament before launching into the Spiritual Gifts Study mentioned in I Corinthians 12, and Romans 12.  Lesson learned.

Renewal Is Promised–

According to Ezekiel 36:26,27, the hardened heart of man is replaced with a soft heart [“a heart of flesh”], where RENEWAL is promised at this occurrence.  Now compare this with the New Testament verse of being “born again” (John 3:3)–meaning to be RESTORED to what we were created to be according to God’s plan.

What is God’s Plan After Receiving “A New Heart”?

Your specific calling is related to the Spirit’s work in several areas:

1.  CREATION.

2.  REGENERATION.

3.  EMPOWERING BELIEVERS FOR THE WORK IN THE CHURCH & THE WORLD.

The GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT Found in the Old Testament and the New Testament:

Three Basic Areas in The Old Testament:

1.  COSMIC – referring to the Spirit’s role in the CREATION.

2.  INDIVIDUAL – referring to the Spirit’s role in REGENERATION and the SANCTIFICATION (setting apart) of individuals.

3.  THEOCRATIC – referring to the Spirit’s role in EMPOWERING the children of Israel.

A.  HOLY SPIRIT’S WORK IN THE CREATION PROCESS:

In my detective work in Scripture this week, I found a number of biblical passages pertaining to the COSMIC area.

“By His breath the heavens are cleared…”  ~  Job 26:13.

“The Spirit of God has made me,  And the breath of the Almighty gives me life” ~ Job 33:4.

“When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth” ~ Psalms 104:30.

We can look at the GIFTS we’ve expressed throughout our lives; indicating where we are to SERVE in the church and in the world.  BUT, how does this whole process even begin?

B.  Individual: the Spirit’s work in us–

JESUS talks about this process, when He discusses the topic about being “BORN AGAIN” or “BORN FROM ABOVE”:

3 times in a conversation with Nicodemus in The Gospel of John 3:1-10:  “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God”  (verse 3).

In Verse 10, JESUS asks Nicodemus,  “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet do not know or understand these things?”  

JESUS is making a clear point, that based on Nicodemus’ knowledge of the Old Testament, he should have a grasp about the Spirit’s RENEWAL or REBIRTH of individuals.  Ezekiel 36:26 speaks of this language.

Note the new heart and new spirit that is promised–the HARDENED heart is REPLACED with a soft heart.  RENEWAL is promised to take place.

Being “born again” means the beginning process–being RESTORED to what we were created to be according to God’s plan.  Again, this PROCESS includes our gifts.

C.  Theocratic: where the Spirit is, There is POWER–

In some ancient languages, the words for “spirit”, “breath”, and “wind” are identical.

The Old Testament uses two Hebrew words “breath” and “wind”–  

1.  Ruach, refers to heavy breathing, or breathing through the nose with violence.  Exodus 15:8 uses ruach to refer to a “blast” of the nostrils:

“With the blast of Your nostrils the waters piled up, the floods stood fixed in a heap, the deeps congealed in the heart of the sea”  (Amplified Bible).

2.  Neshamah, refers to quiet breathing.

“when the breath (or Spirit) of the Lord” is used, Ruach Yahweh could mean Spirit of the Lord or Wind of the Lord.  In both cases, the idea is POWER.

Holy Spirit gives GIFTS and He can and will…EMPOWER those GIFTS in our lives.

In The Book of Acts, we see an instance where the empowerment is given and the results:

“AND WHEN the day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all assembled together in one place.  When suddenly there came a sound from heaven like a rushing of a violent tempest blast, and it filled the whole house in which they were sitting.  And there appeared to them tongues resembling fire, which were separated and distributed and which settled on each one of them.  And they were ALL FILLED (DIFFUSED THROUGHOUT THEIR SOULS) with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other (different, foreign) languages (tongues), as the Spirit kept giving them clear and loud expression [in each tongue in appropriate words]”  (Acts 2:1-4 AMP).

OUR “GIFTS” ARE FROM THE SPIRIT:

Being EMPOWERED by the Spirit of God is to accomplish the PURPOSE for which they are given.

Empowerment of the Spirit On Display From the Old Testament–

Do the GIFTS of the Holy Spirit really matter in our everyday work, our ministry, our witness?

In the Old Testament, there are a number of gifts the Holy Spirit gives Israel which I found applicable to our life and work today.

Strength and Leadership–

The Holy Spirit EMPOWERED various people in different ways which establish and protected the kingdom of Israel.

GIDEON in Judges 6:34:

“Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon GIDEON…”

The words “came upon” literally mean “clothed”; the Spirit put on GIDEON as a cloak.

JEPHTHAH in Judges 11:29-33:

In a similar way, “the Spirit of the Lord came upon [or “fell on”] Jephthah,” when he was able to win the battle that was rapidly approaching.

SAMPSON:

When the Spirit of the Lord fell on Sampson, he became supernaturally strong.  Now he was strong to begin with, but Holy Spirit used this God-given ability to make him stronger.

“And the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and he tore the lion as he would have torn a kid…”  (Judges 14:6).

Clothed With Power From On High.

“And behold, I will send forth upon you what My Father has PROMISED; but remain in the city [Jerusalem] until you are CLOTHED WITH THE POWER FROM ON HIGH”  (Luke 24:49 AMP).  [I capitalized words for emphasis]

QUESTION:  Why did Jesus choose the word “clothed” ?

He lifted it from the pages of what we call as the Old Testament.

Thinking it all through, it’s plain to see. The Spirit is a spirit; He does not have a body.  Holy Spirit needs a human body to accomplish the works, the gifts listed in Scripture [both in the Old Testament and the New Testament] God wants done on Earth–To SPEAK THE WORDS God wants spoken.

God’s Spirit clothed Himself with Gideon, Jephthah, Samson and the RESULT?:

Gideon’s mind, voice, and hands became tools the Spirit used to accomplish God’s purposes.

REACHING OUR POTENTIAL:

What is POTENTIAL?  The Online Dictionary defines it as,  “latent qualities or abilities that may be developed and lead to future success or usefulness.”

How does the Lord define POTENTIAL?  The Lord takes people who are already GIFTED by His Spirit, causing their gifts which are already present, to reach their full potential.

An Old Testament Example — Bezalel, A Gifted Artist and More! :

“And I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, understanding

in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship

to make artistic design for work in gold, in silver, in bronze, and in cutting

of stones, and in carving of wood, that he may work in all kinds of craftsmanship.”

Exodus 31:1-5

All of your GIFTS are affected by the Fall (SIN).  Holy Spirit can take our GIFTS and cause them to be renewed and energized:

1.  Be directed to His glory.

2.  Unfold and reach their potential.

The Work of Holy Spirit Gives Direction in Our Work and the World–whether in Creation or Regeneration.

The Spirit constantly EMPOWERS us to carry out the CALLINGS God places in our lives.  The examples that I gave in the Old Testament should bear witness for our work in  the Church and the World today.

1.  The Spirit gives us POWER!

Where we have GIFTS of the Holy Spirit given to each one of us as Christians, we have power.  Now we can fail to take ownership; bury them in the ground, fail to fully utilize them from either false-humility or lack of discernment of God’s potential in our lives.  In either case, using these GIFTS is our responsibility, yet in our failure to do so doesn’t deny their potential POWER in this temporary residence we call “the world.”

2.  We shouldn’t separate “natural” and “spiritual” gifts.

It’s wrong to depreciate or separate our natural (created) gifts and our “spiritual” gifts.  Both gifts are from the Holy Spirit.

Although God can give each one of us new capacities at anytime He so chooses, in most cases, He empowers or develops the POTENTIAL from our created gifts; for the use in the Church or the World.

3.  The Spirit helps us reach our true potential.

Both the Old Testament and New Testament, people need the Holy Spirit to overcome spiritual blindness and grab hold of spiritual realities.  People in both testaments needed to be born again, their hearts made anew.  This transformation kindled by the Holy Spirit enables us to develop and reach our potential.

4.  The Spirit can increase our gifts for specific tasks.

God gave people the artistic skill and even more skill through the Holy Spirit, so they could fulfill His plans; building the Tabernacle and fashioning its utensils.

GOD’S PROMISE:

Likewise, God can unfold, redirect, or develop our potential with the Spiritual Gifts He has given each one of us.  That’s His PROMISE to those who have received a New Heart and New Spirit.

This applies to people with a variety of skill sets, not just those with artistic gifts.  And by-the-way, it’s okay to pray that the Lord will unfold the partially developed GIFTS.

Holy Spirit Empowerment
Holy Spirit Empowerment

My Personal Story–

Several years back, I was asked by a pastor if I could come up with an idea for an Easter Play.  One that would include some of the people in church as cast members.

Over the years, I had acquired some acting experience; even came up with an idea for a church choir performing an Easter Musical .  But to write, cast, set-design, and produce an original Christian play…NO EXPERIENCE AT ALL!  NONE!!

With the days passing, with fervent prayer in my spirit asking God for direction, I still found myself at a dead-end.  And then one night, while sound asleep, I felt a touch on my right shoulder.  I turned to see if my wife was still asleep and not standing beside the bed trying to get my attention for some reason. But she was sound asleep.  As I rolled over on my side, I felt another touch, but this time it was more forceful.  Still unaware, I looked at the alarm clock on the bed stand noticing it was 3:30 AM.   The room was dark and still and at that moment, I heard a soft voice:  “Mel, get up! Grab your notepad, a pencil and your Bible and go out to the kitchen table.  I’ll tell you what to write and do.”  I’ve learned from previous experiences, when God’s Spirit speaks, you better listen and do!

Following the Instructions and Directions–

Starting at 4 AM and finishing at 6:30 AM (seemed like 10 minutes and not hours), the play was done: the staged set sketched out on paper, lighting diagram positioned,  and the title:  MERCY On Trial.  My only problem…I had no clue how to write a Script for actors to follow including stage directions.   But I did have HOPE in reaching what God had planned.  I love one definition of HOPE:  “A heartfelt expectation of something with an out-stretched neck.” By, was I ever stretching my neck out, HOPING God’s Spirit would develop my potential.

And then I remembered.  My daughter-in-law graduated from college with a minor degree in Performing Arts.  She could help.  Thank You Jesus!

Later that morning, I called her at work and presented my hopes and the time frame I was up against to have a finished product.  “Can you help out Loretta?”  

Loretta:  How much time will I have?

Dad:  Two weeks?  (holding my breath).

Loretta:  Dad, if you will call me late Saturday morning and present me with your ideas, I’ll see what I can do.  I’m going down to Phoenix on business next week and I’ll take my laptop computer.

Two weeks later, I had a finished Script and had her FAX the 3 Act Play to the church.  On a Monday night, the play was cast and rehearsals began.  God gifted my daughter-in-law’s talented abilities along with my natural desire, to present a Spirit-led prophetic, Resurrection Day drama.  Thank You Father for developing my potential and empowering the both of us for Your glory.

What is your POTENTIAL?  With a new heart and a new spirit, God promises to reveal His plans to you.  It’s up to you to have a willing heart that will be transformed!  He promises!