A Picture of REMEMBRANCE

Scripture for this blog-Bible study:  Hebrews 10:12-25, Luke 24:13-14

UNITY IN COMMUNION –

COMMUNION, Paul’s term describing the nature of the Lord’s Supper is the term used by many church groups, referring to their CELEBRATION of Jesus’ final memorial supper with His disciples.  Paul used the Greek term “Koinonia” to express the basic meaning of the Christian faith, a sharing in the life and death and more importantly in the resurrection of Christ, which radically creates a relationship between Christ and the believer and of the believers with one another – a partnership of unity.

Hebrews 10:12, 14 (NIV)

[12] But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God…[14] because by one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.

The words speak to the present.  It’s a symbol of our unity, reminding us whom we are to be living for in this life.

  • It reminds us to keep our eyes focused on Him.

It tells us that He is who he said He was and is and we can trust Him today with our lives.

It points to the future.  We proclaim His death…He comes again!  It points to our complete redemption and glorification in Heaven before the Great White Throne.

What does Jesus want for us at this gathering?  Yes, Jesus wants something from us.

When we celebrate, and that’s what COMMUNION should be, is A CELEBRATION, not a ritualistic ceremony.  That’s what worship should be – A CELEBRATION!

WHAT IS JESUS’ PURPOSE?

Let’s together take a walk along the road to Emmaus in Luke 24:13, with two disciples of Jesus who heard the two earlier reports of the Resurrection – Mary’s and Peter’s.

However, because they hadn’t personally seen the evidence, rather, they didn’t want to check out the evidence for themselves, probably because they were afraid of being caught and possibly receiving a death sentence, they decided to pack it in and head back home some 7 miles away from Jerusalem, and go back to their old way of living.

Alright, they gave up on Jesus…but thank God, He didn’t give up on them!

Notice verse 15 says, “Jesus Himself approached and began traveling with them…”.  I especially like the English Standard Version (ESV) of the passage – “Jesus himself drew near…”  The thought here isn’t that these two disciples were simply geographically distant, but that their FAITH was distant as well.

JESUS knew their need…so He DREW NEAR. 

He didn’t say, “Fine!  You want to leave, you want to doubt, and you want to turn your backs on me?  Go right ahead.  Don’t expect me to come to you.  When you clean up your act and smarten up and return to where I am, I’ll consider taking you back.”  Thank God, Jesus isn’t like that.  He knows our weaknesses and struggles.

“I would have never been like those first disciples!”

We think WE would never act the way they did.  Fact is, we would…and we do…and most likely we will.  Our lives can often fog our vision, our understanding, our faith, and our hope…We allow circumstances to overshadow the truth.

  • It’s easy to lose focus.
  • It’s easy to doubt.
  • It’s easy to forget.
  • It’s easy to fall away.
  • It’s easy to reject.
  • It’s easy to take for granted.
  • It’s easy to misunderstand.
  • It’s easy to give up and give in.

THANK GOD…that in spite of:

  1. Our clouded situations and circumstances…
  2. Getting lost frequently along the way…
  3. The times we decide to hit the road again and run away from our difficulties…

…there’s a God who not only comes looking for us BUT…ALSO DRAWS NEAR AND TRAVELS WITH US UNTIL WE SEE AGAIN!  That’s good news!  That’s grace!  That’s Jesus!

He spoke with them for hours.

He spent the day with them explaining the truth of the Scriptures; this wasn’t a 20-minute sermon!  He was there physically with them until the sun was beginning to set.

They saw Him…

They smelled Him…

They walked near Him…

And yet, with all this physical closeness they still didn’t recognize who he was!

Hello, you two.  You are so caught up in your own pity party.”

WAIT!  Before we begin casting more stones here in judgment, we must confess that there have been times, even seasons, when we’ve been distant.  Times when we wanted to throw in the towel and lost hope over a particular circumstance.

It happened with our children – “This is your last chance!”…At our workplace – “It’s no use.  People around here don’t care.  I’m not going to take it anymore…I quit!”  [I’ve been there before!]  At school – “It’s too hard.  I’m in over my head.  I’m going to drop out!”…And even with God, “I’ve been praying for 8 years and you still haven’t helped me!…I’ve asked for patience and I get more problems…I’ve prayed for healing…all I get is sicker by the day.  HELLO, is anyone up there?!!!”

We live in such a fast pace society.  We’ve become so impatient, so “me” focused.  And as a result, we give up way too easily, way too early, and way too frequently.  THANK GOD we are not left alone.  I’m not saying that you’ll never feel alone.  Truth is you will, but that’s not because God has abandoned you, it’s because you’ve abandoned Him!

God won’t go where he’s not welcomed.

If we want to keep pushing God out of our life…if we continue to ignore His Word…if we continue to break His commandments, and I’m not just referring to the ‘BIG TEN’, but all His commandments recorded in the Bible–then what gives us the right to expect Him to “be there” for us?

BUT THANK GOD that where He is welcomed, where there are those who are genuinely struggling with their FAITH, who sincerely want to believe, but because of a lack of hope…just can’t see God in their circumstances, you can be sure that you’ll find Him a lot closer than you might think.  You might even be BLIND to His presence right now, BUT He’s right there sitting or standing next to you…or walking beside you on the road you chose to escape.  Even though we all go through seasons of BLINDNESS, the good news is that sooner or later He will do for you what He did for those TWO DISCIPLES on the road to Emmaus.  Sooner or later you WILL see Him.

You see it wasn’t until He broke the Bread…that finally “Their eyes were opened” and they recognized Him.

Remember Jesus’ words…

“…Do this in remembrance of me…”

REMEMBER ME, DON’T JUST THINK ABOUT ME, REMEMBER ME.

Communion is a very intimate act.  So let’s communicate to our spiritual leaders that we require more than a ‘traditional’, a ‘run-of-the-mill’ type ceremony.  Communion should help us to focus on Jesus instead of ourselves.  It should point us to the One who has been near to us all along.

In this act of remembrance, HE REMINDS US of His constant LOVE and as we break bread we see that He HAS come near.  At least we should!  God wants our eyes to be opened – the eyes of our mind…the eyes of our hearts too.

And that’s why we are to gather at this table…not OUR table but HIS TABLE! 

NOTICE the CHANGE in the disciples’ attitude:

  • From despair to hope
  • From depression to joy
  • From doubt to belief
  • From defeat to victory
  • From dismay to courage
  • From disillusionment to enlightenment
  • From “…stood still, looking sad and downcast…” to “It is true!  The Lord has risen.”

Why the change?

“Jesus drew near…broke bread”!

The next time we gather to CELEBRATE, know that Jesus wants to do something!  And as we remember a historic fact…eat and drink these common everyday elements…we are reminded of ETERNAL reality –

JESUS IS here among us!

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CREDITS :

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

Photo Images:  Google Image Search.

Music Video:  Remembrance by Matt Maher with lyrics – YouTube.

 

HOPE OVERFLOWING!

BIBLE STUDY TEXT:  ROMANS 15:4-13

imagesThere are probably some who are reading this BLOG ON HOPE that is not feeling a lot of Hope in your life right now.  Maybe on different occasions, you have had your Hope built up in things and they let you down.  Trust me, I’ve experienced this almost rehabilitating feeling in my own life in the past.

Maybe you have had your HOPE IN THE WRONG THINGS.

Maybe you have had your HOPE IN GOD, but what you expected God to do, didn’t happen.

Maybe you have lost HOPE or afraid to put your HOPE in anything for the fear of being disappointed.

Hopefully, this Bible Study in Paul’s Letter to the church in Rome will give you or someone you know to live in HOPE, because HOPE is absolutely essential for LIFE and FOR LIVING!

ILLUSTRATION: Wharf Rats Drowning.

I was reading this week about this experiment by some behavioral scientists did once with some rats.  They put some WHARF RATS in a tank of water, observed them, seeing how long they would survive before drowning.  The average time was 17 minutes.  Then, they repeated the experiment, but this time they “RESCUED” the rats just before the point of drowning, dried them off and returned them to their cages, fed them and let them play for a few days, then repeated the drowning experiment.

This time, the average survival time for these same rats increased from 17 minutes to 36 hours!  The scientists explained by pointing out the second time around the rats had hope.  They believed that they could survive this because they had done so before.  [See Footnote [i] ]

HOPE ETERNAL – 1 Peter 1:3-4 (NIV):

[3] Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  In his great mercy, he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  [4] and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.  This inheritance is kept in heaven for you.

NOW THAT IS AWESOME!  Awesome that we have that LIVING HOPE when we receive Jesus Christ as our Savior, believing in Him.

And how can we forget Jesus’ words, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever BELIEVES in him shall not perish but have eternal life”  (John 3:16).

We have this ETERNAL LIFE, not based on what we do, but solely based upon our BELIEF in and receiving of Jesus Christ.

LIVING IN THIS “HOPE” THROUGH HIS WORD!

Romans 15:4 (NLT):

[4] Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us.  And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled.

Through reading God’s Word on a daily basis, we can see and are taught how God has been faithful to His people, even in the middle of difficult circumstances.

God IS Faithful!

In 1985, my family was going through some “difficult circumstances”, in that I had lost my management job due to a company buyout.  Although we had food and shelter, other necessities were going to have to wait until I could get back on my feet with new employment.

The church we were attending at the time had mail slots for each member that hung on a back wall in the foyer.  Special bulletins, upcoming meeting notices, and anything else that needed to be circulated in accordance with church activities.

One Sunday morning, proceeding to check for mail, in the designated slot there was a white legal-sized envelope with our last name on the face.  I curiously opened the envelope and found an unsigned note paper clipped to a hundred-dollar bill that read,  “Buy some clothes for the kids, or yourselves…something personal to enjoy and not on bills!”

It is through reading His Word that our circumstances don’t necessarily change, but that He gives us strength and encouragement to stand in the HOPE that we have.

Earlier in Paul’s letter to the Romans (5:2-5). through His Word, we’re reminded of His PROMISE.

romans-5_2-5

Through His Word, we are told of God’s FAITHFULNESS to past generations.

Through His Word, we can be encouraged to live in HOPE, while rejoicing in our trials and sufferings.

GOD HELPS US TO LIVE DAILY IN HOPE…

Not only does He help us in our HOPE through His Word, but also, God helps us live in HOPE through His church (15:5-11 NIV):

[5] May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had,  [6] so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

[7] Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.  [8] For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, so that the promises made to the patriarchs might be confirmed and  [9] and, moreover, that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.  As it is written:

“Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles; I will sing the praises of your name.”

[10] Again it says, “Rejoice, you Gentiles, with his people.”

[11]  And again, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles; let all the peoples extol him.”

Paul talks about having a spirit of UNITY and the ACCEPTANCE of people as the Lord accepted us.

Sometimes we can confuse being “accepting” with condoning sin.  The Jewish Christians were struggling with the Gentile Christians with what they had to do to be part of the church.

  • Did they have to get circumcised?
  • Did they adhere to the dietary laws?
  • If they didn’t, could they really be part of the community of FAITH?

All these differences could destroy the church in the building up of the believers in HOPE.

But Paul tells the Jewish Christians that God has ALWAYS declared that He would bring the Gentiles to FAITH.

And notice how the apostle quotes from the Historical Books–the LAW, the WRITINGS, and the PROPHETS to make his point to the Jewish Christians that God’s plan was always to include the Gentiles so they should accept them too!

So God helps us through His Word and through His church, reminding us of the HOPE we have, but at the same time, we must remember OUR HOPE is only found in His Son.

HOPE IS ONLY FOUND THROUGH JESUS CHRIST (Romans 15:12):

“The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; in him, the Gentiles will hope.”

Titus 2:11-14

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Standing In That HOPE

I love Natalie Grant’s song lyrics that came to mind while studying the verses:

IN CHRIST ALONE-

In Christ alone, my hope is found

He is my light, my strength, my song.

This Cornerstone, this solid ground

Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.

What heights of love, what depths of peace

When fears are stilled, when strivings cease.

My Comforter, my All in All

Here in the love of Christ, I stand.

GOD gives us OVERFLOWING HOPE through His Spirit (v. 15:13):

[13] May the God of HOPE fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may OVERFLOW with HOPE by the power of the Holy Spirit.

cup-overflowing

It is through the indwelling Holy Spirit that those who TRUST in Jesus have, that our HOPE cannot just help us endure, but that it can OVERFLOW from our lives and we can thrive with that overflowing HOPE!

But you might be thinking, “Isn’t the ‘overflowing’ of anything a big waste?  When I overflow my car’s gasoline tank at the gas station, it always leaves a big mess!”

Not in this case.

As the Holy Spirit FILLS you with HOPE as you grow in FAITH through the Word, through the fellowship of other believers, through having your eyes fixed on Jesus and the SALVATION He has given you now, along with the INHERITANCE that never perishes, never spoils or fades, kept in HEAVEN for you…THAT HOPE you have, OVERFLOWS, spilling on to others around you!

As you interact with others in this world and live in the HOPE that you have, and speak to them of the HOPE that you have, it OVERFLOWS so that they want what you have in their life.

While you endure and persevere in difficult circumstances, the HOPE OF GLORY that the people see will want what you have even if that means their circumstances are not great.  That’s because HOPE is essential to life and to living.

If you have great circumstances in life but no HOPE, you really won’t be living!

All we have to do is look at so many famous people walking down the Red Carpet, who seem to have all kinds of great circumstances, but struggle with LIFE & LIVING.

CONCLUSION –

Do you have HOPE today?  Is your HOPE, an overflowing hope?

Have you trusted Christ as Savior?

If not, then that’s the step into HOPE you need to take!

But if you have TRUSTED Him, and not experiencing the HOPE He gives, then maybe you are not taking advantage of the things He has given us to help us to LIVE in that Hope.

Get in His Word!

Connect with a body of believers, in REAL RELATIONSHIPS, through Bible studies and serving in the community.

And as God POURS OUT that HOPE in you, SHARE that and experience the OVERFLOW HOPE of the Holy Spirit as He uses you and me to SERVE His kingdom.

 


FOOTNOTES & CREDITS:

Bible Translations:  The New International Version (NIV) unless otherwise noted.

Photos:  Google Image Search.

Footnote [i]:  The Remarkable Power of Hope by Joseph T. Hallinan, Psychology Today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A PASSION FOR A “HEART RELIGION”

wg836_desire

IN ROMANS 10:1, the apostle Paul says “Brethren, [with all] my heart’s desire and goodwill for [Israel], I long and pray to God that they may be saved” (AMP).

What is your heart’s desire?  

I think every person has desires in life, and often, intense desires.  I’m not sure its knowledge or wisdom, however, like Solomon asked for in 1 Kings 3:7-14.

My heart’s desire?

There are certain days when I want wisdom and knowledge, especially when reading God’s Word and preparing a bible study lesson.  But for the most part, it is probably not my greatest desire.  I seem to instead, get in my own way with selfishness.

THE “HEART” ( Hebrew lablab/lab, Greek cardia):

The word “heart” occurs over 1,000 times in the Bible, making it the most common anthropological term in Scripture.  It denotes a person’s center–physical and emotional-intellectual-moral activities (See footnote [i] ).

I want to focus here on the HEART as the Center of hidden emotional-intellectual-Moral Activity in this bible study.

  • In 1 Samuel 16:7, the LORD says to Samuel that the Lord looks at the heart.
  • The king’s heart is unsearchable (Proverbs 25:3), but the LORD searches all hearts to reward all according to their conduct (Jeremiah 17:10).
  • In the time of judgment, God will expose the hidden counsels of the heart (1 Corinthians 4:5).

JESUS says that the HEART’s secrets are betrayed by the MOUTH, even as a tree’s fruit reveals its nature (Matthew 12:33-34)–“A wise man’s heart guides his mouth,” says Solomon (Proverbs 16:23).

PAUL’S LETTER TO THE ROMANS –

One deserved criticism tossed at me over the years in my ministering has been not being tactful at times.  But I saw how carefully thought out and tactfully worded Paul was in his letter to the church in Rome.  I’m still learning the lesson.

He spoke of UNITY in the body of Christ, and how we as members of that body belong to one another as he spoke of living in harmony. 

In the land of the Jews, it was the beginning of unrest and ultimately leading to rebellion, the destruction of Jerusalem.

Paul spoke of the different groupings within the Church, as the “weak” and the “strong.”  Some Jewish Christians had problems about what they might and might not eat.  Some kept particular solemn days in accordance with their Jewish traditions.  Paul encouraged the strong to be patient with the weaknesses–the spiritual immaturity of the weak.

Paul made it a point of the IMPARTIALITY of God and His dealings with JEWS and GENTILES.  ALL were under SIN, so what right had one group to feel superior to the other?

I found it amazing to see the passion of Paul in his words; the Apostle to the Gentiles, on behalf of his people Israel.  There was no doubt in his mind the HISTORY OF THE CHURCH bound up with the HISTORY OF ISRAEL.  It was “to the JEW first” that the gospel was preached.  As Jesus said, “salvation is of the Jews.”  

Paul’s own missionary procedure on arriving in a new city was to go first to the synagogue with the gospel and only after that to the gentiles.

However, the other nations would in time take part in the BLESSINGS of the GOSPEL MESSAGE.

Paul spoke of the UNITY of the Jew and Gentile within the church (Romans 15:8-9).

PROMISES WERE MADE –

The PROMISE to Abraham was…in him, ALL the families of the earth would be BLESSED!

In the meantime, Paul saddened by the fact that many Israelites had refused the GOSPEL.  He taught the Gentile Christians in Rome to bear with the infirmities–the shortcomings–of their Jewish brothers and sisters since the CHURCH wouldn’t exist without them.  Paul fervently prayed that ISRAEL might be SAVED!

The TRAGEDY of his people?  

They were seeking their own RIGHTEOUSNESS by the works of the Law.  Yet God’s LAW is impossible to keep; we are ALL sinners and fall short of the glory of God.

We cannot cancel out sin, our rebellion against God by multiplying our good deeds.

The ONLY WAY is….through Christ Jesus, who is “the end of the law” (Romans 10:4).

If we are to be made RIGHTEOUS before God, it’s only through RIGHTEOUSNESS of our LORD JESUS.  We RECEIVE righteousness by FAITH in Him alone!

Moses envisioned a place in time, that the children of Israel would have broken the LAW and been driven from their land.  Yet God still addresses His ancient people by calling them back to Himself, not through WORKS but in the spirit and in FAITH.

According to Paul, the OBJECT of the FAITH can only be the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 10:9-10):

romans-10-9-10

No longer able to fulfill the LAW by works of righteousness, we are called to A HEART RELIGION.

WHOEVER BELIEVES in Christ JESUS will not be ashamed.  

WHOEVER CALLS upon His name will be SAVED!

I’ve never understood why, when pastors ask at the end of a church service for hands raised in accepting Christ, then asks that every head should bow (‘no peeking, please!’).  The bible says, “If you  CONFESS with your mouth”…THAT’S WORDS spoken with lips. 

Perhaps they don’t want the person to be embarrassed.  But if that is truly the explanation–the reasoning–then Romans 10:11 makes no sense:  “No man who believes in Him will ever be put to shame…”

HEART BELIEF –

Heart Belief is a sincere and personal acceptance of the TRUTH which God has revealed.

The WORD OF GOD near to us is in our mouth and in our heart; testifies to our inability to keep the LAW OF GOD; testifies our sinfulness; it testifies that the wages of sin IS DEATH–which is eternal separation from God.

It TESTIFIES of our NEED for a savior…

It TESTIFIES that Jesus Christ is the ONLY SAVIOR of sinners!  He laid down HIS LIFE for our SINS and God raised Him from the dead so that we might live in Him.

Thus FAITH is not merely an arrangement of facts of the Gospel.  Even the demons believe in the TRUTH of the Gospel–and tremble!

SINCERE FAITH leads to public confession of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

It is not an easy CONFESSION to make, as the community in Rome during Paul’s stay can attest to.

On one hand, an opposition of those within the synagogue; on the other, the civil authorities and state religions feeling threatened by claims of Jesus’ Lordship.

CONFESSION OF FAITH strengthens the new believer.

It brings with it the ASSURANCE, the confidence that we are on the side of the Victor.  It’s a clear announcement of intent within the spiritual warfare and it is a challenge to those who hear!

BAPTISM–One way in which we CONFESS our FAITH.

With the waters of BAPTISM, we PUBLICALLY & OPENLY say farewell to our old way of life and initiated into the community of believers.

To be BAPTIZED into Christ Jesus is to DIE TO SIN, TO BE BURIED in His death, and to RISE again in the newness of life (Romans 6:3-5).  

“Behold, the fresh and new has come!”  (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Paul was concerned that the GOSPEL–THE GOOD NEWS was heard by both Jew & Gentile.

FAITH comes by hearing, and hearing by the WORD of God, so it is necessary to proclaim the name of the LORD to the world.  His name is JESUS. (10:17)

canyouhmn

QUESTION:  How can one hear unless someone speaks or preaches?

That question certainly puts a lot of responsibility on us as believers–to make sure what we say in person or what we say on Social Media…is what JESUS would say!

The word translated “PREACH”, evangelizo, is a word with rich meaning.  The word can be translated, HERALD.

A HERALD acted as a public announcer, delivering a message from a King.  The MESSAGE was given to the HERALD from the King and the Herald took the message to the community–The HERALD spoke for the King!  When the HERALD was speaking, it was as though the KING himself was speaking.

But there’s a CATCH!

The Herald was simply to proclaim the MESSAGE he was given by the King. The HERALD couldn’t ADD, SUBTRACT, ALTER OR CHANGE the Message in ANYWAY!

So when we PREACH to others, we are speaking for JESUS, but ONLY when we speak HIS Message.

So are we willing, is it our HEART’S DESIRE to be seen as some’s BEAUTIFUL FEET?

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If no one goes, then there is no MESSAGE delivered.

We are living in a dying world that is depending on YOU to let them HEAR Jesus through YOU!  And that should be our HEART’S DESIRE…OUR PASSION!!!

 


FOOTNOTES & CREDITS:

Footnote [i]:  bible study tools.Dictionary

Photos:  Google Image Search.

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

Bible Dictionary:  VINE’S Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words.

Operating At MAXIMUM Output – PART 1

Well, the London 2012 Summer Olympics; the XXX Olympiad is almost upon us, starting July 27 to August 12, 2012.  Although I’m not personally a TRACK and FIELD guy, the Men’s Decathlon competition is simply amazing to me.  There are a total of ten events over a two-day period, even going into the darkness of night before they’re through competing.  Here are the events:

1.  100-meter run.

2.  Long Jump.

3.  Shot put.

4.  High Jump.

5.  400-meter run.

6.  110-meter hurdles.

7.  Discus.

8.  Pole vault.

9.  Javelin throw.

10.  1500 meter run.

The achievement of completing all ten events in two days is worthy of great honor in the athletic world.  It seems overwhelming to me that the human body functions in this capacity.  Most people can barely get their BODY up out of bed on Sunday morning, ease it over to the chair and sit it down; ease it out to the kitchen and set it down.  Then sit it down in your car, get to church and sit it down there, trying to stay awake.  Then return home and sit it down and take an afternoon nap.  That is NOT God’s intention; not what He had in mind in making our bodies.

Some of us don’t understand what it means, “That we would have strength; renewed like eagles.”  We can’t RELATE to it.  We’re sort of PHYSICAL SPARROWS at best!

What is amazing to me is to see the human body FUNCTION at MAXIMUM output.  It is incredible!  You can only see that kind of specimen in action, to see the POTENTIAL  God has placed within the human body for activity; the capacity and productivity in the Olympiad.  That’s EXCITING.

If only the body of Christ could operate like that.  Every CELL and every MEMBER, every CAPACITY.  What a tremendous influence that would be to the surrounding Church community of your area.

BUT, that is exactly what God intended as when God intended the physical body used to that MAXIMUM OUTPUT.  So does He intend the Church body to be capable of the same?  You say, “But how?”

Well, like the athlete, if he’s going to OPERATE like that; every cell, every muscle, every tissue, every fiber, every capacity in his/her body has to ALL come together from the mental to the physical to operate.  It is the same in the Church.  If the church is going to be all that God intended it to be, to GIVE GLORY to Christ Jesus, as the athlete’s body gives GLORY to himself, then the body is going to have to FUNCTION with every single part.  The body has to be doing what it has to do at MAXIMUM OUTPUT!  that’s exactly where the MINISTRY of the SPIRITUAL GIFTS comes together.

FOR WE ARE A BODY:

“For just as the body is a unity and yet has many parts, and all the parts, though many, form [only] one body, so it is with Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).  For by [means of the personal agency of] one [Holy] Spirit we were all, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free, baptized [and by baptism united together] into one body, and all made to drink of one [Holy] Spirit”  (1 Corinthians 12:12-13 AMP).

The apostle Paul speaks to the Church at Corinth and goes down and discusses the members of the body; how the MEMBERS of the BODY are to COOPERATE  to make the Church function and the way it should function.

Spiritual Gifts Are Vital–If the Body of Christ is to HONOR Christ.

This will happen when we’re WHOLE, FUNCTIONING, MAXIMIZED BODY.  That will only happen when ALL of us are MINISTERING in the area and with the GIFTS of the SPIRIT of God graciously given to us.

When the body functions as it should be, FOUR BASIC things that occur as a result.  They are very IMPORTANT because all of us are RESULT-ORIENTED.  These are FOUR RESULTS when the body FUNCTIONS PROPERLY:

NUMBER ONE–The People Receive The Blessing.

You will be BLESSED when you MINISTER and see the FRUIT of your labor.  God never intended the ministry to be carried on by professionals while everybody else watched.  God intends ALL of us to minister so that ALL of us see FRUIT; ALL of us UNDERSTAND JOY and BLESSING in response to these.

SECOND THING–When Everybody Does His/Her Part, the Body Really Functions.

WITNESS is really DYNAMIC!  When Peter EXERCISED his GIFT of PROPHECY, proclaiming on the day of Pentecost, 3,000 people were saved (Acts 2).  When other believers EXERCISED the GIFT of GIVING, shared what they had, the Lord added DAILY to the church people.  They saw that kind of LOVE and wanted to be a part of it.

There is an illustration all the way through the life of the early Church in Jerusalem in the Book of Acts.  It shows how the MINISTRY of the GIFTS of the believers created response in the unredeemed, non-saved community.

A THIRD RESULT.

Not only that the people receive the BLESSING and the WORLD receives the WITNESS but thirdly, LEADERS are made APPARENT.  In a FULL-FUNCTIONING body of believers, leadership RISES TO THE TOP.  It just emerges!

We have a lot of leadership; “leadership material” available to the Church today because there’s a real NEED for LEADERSHIP.  That’s the GREAT NEED in the Church.  You can’t get people to do what the people ought do UNLESS you’ve got somebody to help them along, show them, work with them.  And LEADERSHIP is a PRIORITY and it’s amazing how the Church tries to find its leaders.

You can go to LEADERSHIP seminars, read books on leadership, find a great amount of material that is simply an adaptation of the world’s system of getting leaders.  Oh when the church says, you know, “We’ve got to EDUCATE our people,” they want to GET A GUY or GAL with an education, a degree in education.  Or the Church says, you know, “We’ve got a lot of problems.  We’d better get somebody with some psychological training to handle OUR problems.”  Or, “We’ve got a lot of young people who have needs.  We’d better find an EXPERT in the youth area.”  And so the Church opts out for STYLIZED LEADERSHIP; what the world offers.

The TRUTH of the matter is that all God ever expected out of leaders were certain GIFTS of the Holy spirit; certain moral and spiritual qualifications.  All these things become manifest in the MINISTERING COMMUNITY.  As people MINISTER, they simply EMERGE as LEADERS.  Spirit-filled leadership ALWAYS emerges rapidly when God is freely at work in His body, the CHURCH.  That is another one of the benefits.

And FOURTHLY, One of the Other BENEFITS of a FUNCTIONING BODY is When UNITY DEVELOPS.

When UNITY develops there is a beautiful LOVE and wonderful FELLOWSHIP in the body.  And this fulfills our needs and reaches out, touching the lives of those who would like to have the same.

So these BENEFITS, resulting in the body is the KEY to making it function in the use of these spiritual gifts.  All of us have received them; we’ve talked about them in endless details in Church circles, so I will move away from that point for now.

Ephesians 4:11 Terminology:

This passage discusses the GIFTED MAN; the apostle, prophet, evangelist, teaching pastor, teacher.  These five individuals are the gifted people given to the Church by God and empowered by Holy Spirit to lead the Church.

The Edifying Gifts.

There are TWO CATEGORIES presented in Scripture that are permanent, edifying gifts.  Look at 1 Peter 4:10:

As each of you has RECEIVED A GIFT (a particular spiritual talent, a gracious divine endowment), EMPLOY it for one another as [befits] good trustees of God’s many-sided grace [FAITHFUL STEWARDS of extremely diverse powers and gifts granted to Christians by unmerited favor].”

Whatever your GIFT is, most likely it is a combination of the various enablements that makes up your gift.  But as you receive the GIFT, so “EMPLOY it for one another.”

USE your gift, this is vital as good stewards of the multicolored GRACE of God, literally.  If you’re a steward, minister your gift!

Now then he divides the GIFTS into TWO CATEGORIES in 1Peter 4:11:

“Whoever SPEAKS, [let him do it as one who utters] oracles of God; whoever RENDERS SERVICE, [let him do it] as with the strength which God furnishes abundantly, so that in ALL THINGS God may be glorified through Jesus Christ (the Messiah).”

Speaking Gifts and Serving Gifts.

You can have “speaking gifts” and serve also; these are but general categories.  Again, these type of gifts are mentioned in either/or one of them in both passages; Romans 12:6-8 and 1 Corinthians 12:8-10:

Having gifts (faculties, talents, qualities) that differ according to the grace given us, LET US USE THEM:  [He whose gift is] prophecy, [let him prophesy] according to the proportion of his faith;  [He whose gift is] practical service, LET HIM GIVE himself to serving; he who teaches, to his teaching;  He who exhorts (encourages), to his exhortation; he who contributes, let him do it in simplicity and liberality; he who GIVES aid and superintends, with ZEAL and SINGLENESS of mind; he who does ACTS of mercy, with genuine cheerfulness and joyful eagerness”  (Romans 12:6-8 AMP).

“To one is given in and through the [Holy] Spirit [the power to speak] a message of wisdom, and to another [the power to express] a word of knowledge and understanding according to the same [Holy] Spirit;  To another [wonder-working] faith by the same [Holy] Spirit, to another the extraordinary powers of healing by the one Spirit;  To another the working of miracles, to another prophetic insight (the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose); to another the ability to discern and distinguish between [the utterances of true] spirits [and false ones], to another various kinds of [unknown] tongues, to another the ability to interpret [such tongues]”  (1 Corinthians 12:8-10 AMP).

In PART 2, Operating at MAXIMUM Output, I will try to convey the meanings and the usages of the specific gifts in the Church today.  You might AGREE with my findings and you may DISAGREE, and that’s okay too.  My emphasis is for you to not just identify your particular gifting but to be Operating At MAXIMUM Output through the POWER of the Holy Spirit.