Will The Church Please Stand Up!

As I go through Facebook statuses this morning, there is a message developing. It began with this thought: the church is suppose to change you, you are not suppose to change the church. Then, by the Spirit’s prompting, I saw just how wrong this statement is.

First, let’s rightly establish what a church is. Here in America, we’ve come to believe that the church is the meeting house that devout folks go each week. Well, if the church is a building, then that building certainly has no power to change a human life.
There are so many people who begin attending a place of worship and after several months have a list of what they want to change about the way it is operated. They want to change how services are conducted, what songs are led, what the pastor preaches on, etc. How is it possible for Acts 2:1-4 to be accomplished and for Acts 2:41 to occur if we who are in the building don’t come together in prayer with one goal of heart? There maybe some things that should change in our places of worship — but maybe the biggest change should be in US.

So, what is the church if it isn’t a building? According to my concordance the Church is “the called out ones,”, and the term is applied to the body (group) of Believers (1 Cor. 12:27,28), the Body of Christ (Eph. 1:22,23) — and it tells me that we are ONE body (1 Cor. 12:18-24).
So, if people who have been reconciled to God through faith in Jesus are really the ones who ARE the church, and if Christ is the Head of the church, His body, then it is only Christ who can transform us from who we once were into a people after God’s own heart.

When people who are not part of the body come into our services they see and hear things that are meant to edify the body. So, they don’t understand what they see and hear and they want to change things to make it more ‘user friendly’. Are we only edifying ourselves in our services or are we also speaking in a language that those outside the body can comprehend?
The way I read Acts 2 is the Body of Believers were gathered together in a house and they were all praying and believing for a common goal. Scriptures says that where 2 or 3 of you are gathered in My (Jesus) Name, there I am in the midst of you. So, while they were praying, the Spirit of God came and lighted on each one of them, and those in the house could see what was happening. This part was for their own edification. But, then something else happened. They began speaking in the languages of the people who lived in Jerusalem and the surrounding area. These folks were not well-schooled students, and they must have been fairly loud, because they began to draw a crowd. When the crowd heard the Good News message being spoken in their own languages, they were amazed. They didn’t know it, yet, but God had orchestrated this part for their salvation. And many that heard the Words of Life received the message with gladness and were added to the body of Christ that day.
I don’t believe those believers were shut up in a house, behind closed doors and drawn curtains. Nor do I believe the people outside actually walked into the house where the Believers were. I believe what began in that house, spilled out into street where thousands, who were gathered in Jerusalem for the Feast, heard the wondrous works of God. The kicker is that when Peter stood up among them and began to preach, it wasn’t a “feel good” message. No! In fact, the writer of Acts records that when the people who gathered heard Peter’s message they were cut to the quick and asked, “what must we do?” And Peter told them to “repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:37, 38
Romans 10:14-17 says, “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘how beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!’ But they have not all obeyed the Gospel. For Isaiah says, ‘LORD, who has believed our report?’ So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

“There is a way which seems right to a person but in the end its ways are death.” Proverbs 14:12 “In other words, do not let yourselves be conformed to the standards of this world. Instead, keep letting yourselves be transformed by the renewing of your minds; so that you will know what God wants and will agree that what He wants is good, satisfying and able to succeed.” Romans 12:2

Do you ( I ) want change in our houses of worship? If so, then we must allow Christ, who is the Head of the body, change us. If we continue to try to change things to suit us or to draw others, we are going to continue to look and act more and more like the world we are sojourners in. However, if we allow Christ to transform us from the inside out, then as the Spirit of directs we can go outside the building with wondrous words of life for a lost and dying world. But let me leave you with this today: 1 Cor. 12: 31 – 13:1, “but earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way. Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels but have not love, I have become as sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.”

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Which Group Do You Fall Into?

Within every company there are 4 groups of people.

1. You have people who have a job but they don’t really want it, do as little as possible, complain about everyone and everything, take more allowances than they have coming, pass off they’re work onto others and leave what they do half finished. They are not team players and they are the rule breakers. They push beyond limits to prove they can get away with it. They are the last in the door in the morning and first out when it’s time to go home. They never give anything extra, but complain about how little they pay they get, how the boss never shows them any respect and how the co-workers plot to make them look bad. These guys seem to get a lot of attention, but really, the company has to do a lot of damage control because they are good at making the company look so bad. Too many people outside the company know about these guys and it causes them not to want to do business with the company, even though this group only makes up a tiny portion of the company and certainly does not reflect the practices of it. Those outside the company make fun of this group and tend to see the company as a joke because of them. These people never keep their job because they have really never gotten away with anything like they thought, and they always act so surprised when they are fired.

2. You have people who need the job so they do it, but they don’t like it. They would gather be doing something else, but they gotta put food on the table. They rarely make waves or rock the boat, but there is always a hint of a chip on their shoulder, so their attitude makes them difficult to work with. They do what is required but their heart isn’t in it, and it reflects in the quality of their output. They follow the rules outwardly, but if they can get away with fudging a little, they see no harm, no foul. These people never advance and grow in their position, and they rarely recommend the company to others because in their heart theres strife and envy. People outside the company hear about this group of people too. Even if they believe in the company’s product, they refuse to do business with it because they confuse the bad attitude of this group as the attitude of the company itself. They continually judge the company based upon this group’s attitude and refuse to believe any good reports they hear. If this group isn’t fired because of their attitude, they usually quit because anything done only as a duty they increasingly feel unappreciated in and give up on.

3. This group is the most under-acknowledged. They are educated, likable, and usually have a good attitude. (Everyone has a bad day now and then). They know they don’t have all the answers and they are willing to listen to instruction and continue their education so they can grow. They aren’t perfect, they make mistakes, but they are quick to correct them and make amends. It is more than just a job to them; they aren’t working out of a sense of duty. They believe in what the company does and their heart is in it, so they produce quality work. They talk to folks about the company, but most folks just bring up the bad behavior of the 1st two groups and make fun of this group for staying. Because these guys follow the rules, do a great job and aren’t controversial, most folks outside the company have never heard of them. But company management knows them by name and they are well rewarded.

4. This is a very small group indeed, and it can be divided into 2 smaller cells. Both have moved up the ladder and are considered the elite of the company. Most of them have advanced to the point of having their own franchises. The one cell is very tiny and has all the characteristics of Group #3. They are not perfect, but their integrity and that of who they work for is extremely important to them. They do all they can to keep themselves from controversy and squabbles while upholding the values and standards of the company in the face of harsh ridicule. Remember that their franchise also has workers who fit into one of the first 3 groups. They are highly praised within the company, but those outside are always looking for any reason to point an accusing finger with the mindset that it’s just a matter of time before they show their true colors.
The second cell is probably more hurtful to the company than any other group. Like the first cell, they advance up and usually have their own franchise because for many years they were in #3 Group. They are very charismatic and the spotlight seems to shine on them. Then, something happens. Either they become careless or they believe they can do what they want and hide behind the company’s reputation — I’m not sure. But the end result is always the same. They fall, and how great is their fall! And they take the company’s reputation with them. They become a laughing stock and so does the company, along with everyone who works for it.

Now, apply this to the Christian Faith….

Titus 2 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
1 But you, explain what kind of behavior goes along with sound teaching. 2 Tell the older men to be serious, sensible, self-controlled and sound in their trust, love and perseverance.

3 Likewise, tell the older women to behave the way people leading a holy life should. They shouldn’t be slanderers or slaves to excessive drinking. They should teach what is good, 4 thus training the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure, to take good care of their homes and submit to their husbands. In this way, God’s message will not be brought into disgrace.
6 Similarly, urge the young men to be self-controlled, 7 and in everything set them an example yourself by doing what is good. When you are teaching, have integrity and be serious; 8 let everything you say be so wholesome that an opponent will be put to shame because he will have nothing bad to say about us.
9 Tell slaves to submit to their masters in everything, to give satisfaction without talking back 10 or pilfering. On the contrary, they should demonstrate complete faithfulness always, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Deliverer more attractive.
11 For God’s grace, which brings deliverance, has appeared to all people. 12 It teaches us to renounce godlessness and worldly pleasures, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives now, in this age; 13 while continuing to expect the blessed fulfillment of our certain hope, which is the appearing of the Sh’khinah of our great God and the appearing of our Deliverer, Yeshua the Messiah. 14 He gave himself up on our behalf in order to free us from all violation of Torah and purify for himself a people who would be his own, eager to do good.
15 These are the things you should say. Encourage and rebuke with full authority; don’t let anyone look down on you.

First Things First

What I’m about to type is not an original thought:
There cannot be a Resurrection without there first being a Crucifixion.

But let’s explore this out a little farther:
There cannot be a Crucifixion without there first being an arrest, mock trials, slander, insults, accusations, mocking, and a beating.
There cannot be an arrest and mock trial without there first being a betrayal, a time of agony, prayer and alone time with the Father.
There cannot be a betrayal without there first being a bittersweet meal-time together with quarreling loved ones, a degrading servant’s role that promotes unity, the breaking and sharing of bread, and drinking from a cup of sorrow.
There cannot be a “last supper” without there first being a time of teaching throughout a city and surrounding areas, a time of pleading for Jerusalem to be gathered as a hen gathers her chicks under protective wings, a calling out of false teaching and teachers that create stumbling blocks. There can’t even be a “last supper” without the breaking of an alabaster box, the anointing for burial, a contrite heart, and the adoration of one who’s been forgiven so much that it doesn’t matter if everyone in the room casts an ugly eye, as long as the One whose feet you are weeping at and drying with your hair loves you beyond measure.
And there cannot be a time of teaching in the city and surrounding areas without there first being a triumphant entrance into the city on a donkey’s colt with its inhabitants crying out with great joy, “Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the LORD!”

And here we are today. Are we waiting and expecting His return, shouting out “Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the LORD”? Or are the rocks crying out because we refuse to? Just as He suddenly came into the city that is rightly His earthly throne, so He will return and take possession of what is rightfully His. All those who do not rightfully belong to Him will be left behind.
But here’s the thing, He went through all the emotional hurt, the pain of rejection and betrayal, and the anguish of separation and crucifixion death and RESURRECTION so that you can rightfully belong to Him and never be left behind and alone again.
Just as God created the earth and all that is within it in and finished all His work in 6 days and rested upon the 7th, so His only begotten Son finished all His work in 6 days and rested on the 7th….
But early in the morning, on the 1st day of the week, WOO! when the women came to finish the burial procedure for Him — HAHA! Glory to God! the stone was rolled back, grave clothes were crumpled, and He was NOT there!
How do we know that He wasn’t stolen away? Read the Acts Chapter 1. The Lord’s story didn’t not end at an empty tomb!
As much as we can, let’s try to walk through this holy week, putting ourselves in positions that we point to Jesus’ sacrifice for the sake of mankind.

Can We PLEASE Begin To Look At It This Way?

Bad behavior, unlawful acts, criminal intent, and actions taken to obtain things that do not belong to you, or cause fear, intimidation, suffering, pain, loss, injury, or death SHOULD NOT be over-looked and/or mishandled because of race, ethnic origin, religion or creed. You can complicate this if you want, but that only adds to the problem. RESPECT YOURSELF. Carry yourself in a respectable manner, and show respect towards others.

Galatians 5:19-23 (CompleteJewishBible)
And it is perfectly evident what the old nature does. It expresses itself in sexual immorality, impurity and indecency; involvement with the occult and with drugs; in feuding, fighting, becoming jealous and getting angry; in selfish ambition, factionalism, intrigue and envy; in drunkenness, orgies and things like these. I warn you now as I have warned you before: those who do such things will have no share in the Kingdom of God!

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, self control. Nothing in the {Law} Torah stands against such things.

1 Peter 3:13 – 17 CJB
For who will hurt you if you become zealots for what is good? But even if you do suffer for being righteous, you are blessed! Moreover, don’t fear what they fear or be disturbed, but treat the Messiah as holy, as Lord in your hearts; while remaining always ready to give a reasoned answer to anyone who asks you to explain the hope you have in you — yet with humility and fear, keeping your conscience clear, so that when you are spoken against, those who abuse the good behavior flowing from your union with the Messiah may be put to shame. For if God has in fact willed that you should suffer, IT IS BETTER THAT YOU SUFFER FOR DOING WHAT IS GOOD THAN FOR DOING WHAT IS EVIL.

The Truth Will Set You Free

The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob — He is the LORD. The One who said, “Let there be light” and “Let Us make man in our image” — He is Maker of heaven and earth and the Breath of EVERY living thing therein. I promise you that you do not need Hollywood’s version or any person’s vivid imagination about the God of the universe. There is a Book written about Him and His fantastic, amazing works and acts among us that no Movie Land Magic can come close to upstaging. What is even more amazing is that, since He is the same yesterday, today and forevermore, He wants to give you your own personal, private showing of His great works, beginning in your heart. Here is your personal invitation to come to learn the truth about the one God that everyone is talking about in one way or another. He wants to show Himself real to you. You have to choose to throw out all the fairy tales, myths and lies and read the Book that was written about Him and what He has done for us.

What “New” Thing is This?

Isaiah 52 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

52 Awake! Awake, Tziyon! Clothe yourself with your strength! Dress in your splendid garments,
Yerushalayim, the holy city! For the uncircumcised and the unclean will enter you no more.
Shake off the dust! Arise! Be enthroned, Yerushalayim! Loosen the chains on your neck,
captive daughter of Tziyon!
For thus says Adonai: “You were sold for nothing, and you will be redeemed without money.”
For thus says Adonai Elohim: “Long ago my people went down to Egypt to live there as aliens,
and Ashur oppressed them for no reason.
So now, what should I do here,” asks Adonai, “since my people were carried off for nothing?
Their oppressors are howling,” says Adonai, “and my name is always being insulted, daily.
Therefore my people will know my name; therefore on that day they will know that I, the one speaking — here I am!”

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     Jerusalem – Zion – is being promised by God that anyone who doesn’t claim the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob will not enter the Holy City anymore. Because of the verses to follow, I believe “uncircumcised” and “unclean” mean those hardened in heart and those who are not washed in the Word or His Blood.
Because of a drought, the children of Israel went to Egypt (Ashur) as guests, but were later enslaved without much fight or resistance — “sold for nothing”. They were not just physical slaves, but they had abandoned the God they knew for the more “sophisticated”, metropolitan, forward thinking, progressive, “I can become a god” way of thinking. Even after the mighty deliverance and Exodus (redeemed without money), they were still in chains of bondage to the deception of false gods.
**********But the day is coming when you (My People) will know MY Name, “because on that day they will know that I, the One speaking–here I AM.” {I AM Yahweh and I AM Emmanuel, God with us}. …so then I said, “Here I am! I am coming!” In the scroll of a book it is written about me. — Ps. 40: 8(7)**********

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How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, proclaiming shalom, bringing good news of good things, announcing salvation and saying to Tziyon, “Your God is King!”
Listen! Your watchmen are raising their voices, shouting for joy together. For they will see, before their own eyes, Adonai returning to Tziyon.

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     Oh! The beauty of the feet that walked on the mountains of that Holy place, bringing the Good News from His Father that we can be reconciled to God! That we can have peace with God! That we have salvation from our one true Adversary! That our God is King! Oh Zion, look! Your watchmen are shouting for joy! Look at Simeon and Anna (Luke 2:21-38)! Look at the people welcoming the True King to His rightful place with joy and with zeal! (Mt. 21, Mk. 11, Lk. 19:28-40, Jn. 12:12-54.) If they do not cry out with joy, the rocks will do it for them! Do you see the strength and might of the Obne who says, “Here I AM? He, the LORD, has bared His holy arm (and His back and His heart) in the sight of ALL nations. There is no one who will be able to say, “I did not see, no one told me or showed me” the salvation of our God, the King. There is no excuse, for He made a public display of His love for us — of the lengths He will go to for us.

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Break out into joy! Sing together, you ruins of Yerushalayim! For Adonai has comforted his people,
he has redeemed Yerushalayim!

10 Adonai has bared his holy arm in the sight of every nation, and all the ends of the earth will see
the salvation of our God.
11 Leave! Leave! Get out of there! Don’t touch anything unclean! Get out from inside it, and be clean,
you who carry Adonai’s temple equipment.

12 You need not leave in haste,
you do not have to flee; for Adonai will go ahead of you,
and the God of Isra’el will also be behind you.

13 “See how my servant will succeed! He will be raised up, exalted, highly honored!
14 Just as many were appalled at him, because he was so disfigured that he didn’t even seem human
and simply no longer looked like a man,
15 so now he will startle many nations; because of him, kings will be speechless. For they will see what they had not been told, they will ponder things they had never heard.”

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See how God’s Servant will succeed? He will be raised up (from the dead and in the eyes of mankind), exalted in position (and in the hearts of mankind), and highly honored by God and by man for His great rescue of us and for His unwavering obedience to His Father’s plan. And in the same way that so many were appalled at how horribly disfigured He was, how utterly unhuman His appearance was, He will startle and shock into reality the nations of the earth. Because of Him, rulers will be flabbergasted! For with their own eyes they will see what they were never told, and they will mull over and consider things they’ve never heard before, or in such a way.