Monday, 27 January 2014

Covenant: There Is Joy Behind the Definition

"Behold I make a covenant: before all thy people I will do marvels." (Exodus 34:10)

Do you sometimes feel that your faith is somewhat weak? I do. Sometimes it feels like I am only 2% there when it comes to where I want to be spiritually, and perhaps even less when it comes to where God wants me to be. Times like that can be a real downer!

This morning I came across this little blessing:

"Many of us do not differentiate clearly between the promises of God, the accomplished facts of God (His mighty works), and the covenant of God. Promises are given to encourage faith, but often we cannot rise to God's promises. At times we cannot even lay hold of divine facts; appearances seem to belie them. But when this is so we still have His covenant. And the covenant means more than the promises, more even than the mighty works. It is something that God has committed Himself to do. The covenant is a handle given us by God on which faith can lay hold. Morally we have no claim on God. But He has been pleased to bind Himself to a covenant, having thus pledged Himself to act for us, He is - and I say it reverently - bound to do so. Herein is the preciousness of the covenant. It is this that gives strength to faith when faith is at its weakest." (Watchman Nee)

Are you feeling a little down today? Does God seem strangely absent? Be encouraged; God has bound Himself to you with a covenant.

"The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.' Then he adds: 'Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.' And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin." (Hebrews 10: 15-18; NIV)

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers ..." (James 1:2; NIV)

Have a wonderful day. God loves you.

Watchman Nee Source: A Table in the Wilderness

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Intercession: Can We Pray For You?


“Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” (James 5: 13-16; NIV)

“Intercessory prayer is the purifying bath into which the individual and the fellowship must enter every day.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

“If we truly love people, we will desire for them far more than it is within our power to give them, and this will lead us to prayer. Intercession is a way of loving others.” (Richard Foster)

I am going to go out on a limb here and say that there isn’t a Christian alive who doesn’t believe in the importance and the power of prayer. While we may disagree on a host of other things when it comes to our faith, prayer is a non-issue; we all agree that Christianity and prayer go together like bread and butter. Having said that, I would like to share with you something that is on my heart: Intercessory Prayer.
Can we pray for you?
If so, simply leave a comment prayer request on this blog post. You can be as specific or as general as you feel comfortable; as public or anonymous as you wish. If you only wish to identify yourself with your initials, that is fine too; God knows who you are, even if we don’t. Here at Rethinking Faith and Church we will commit ourselves to praying for each prayer request that we receive.

Furthermore, we believe that there are many prayer warriors out there in our eFellowship, and perhaps you’re one of them. If so, we would invite you to consider joining us in praying about the concerns shared here. Please check back regularly for new prayer requests as they may arrive. Peace and Blessings.
As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you” (1 Samuel 12:23; NIV).

Please Note: In an effort to weed out spam, all prayer requests will go through the moderator first. Thank you.

Friday, 24 January 2014

of Forgiveness


"Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive" (C.S. Lewis). Do YOU have something to forgive? And you haven't done so yet because ... why? "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her" (John 8:7). "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (1 John 1:8). Strange how many of us are still casting stones, as if sinless ourselves, in the way we judge one another.

Do we really think that our s**t doesn't stink and that we are somehow better than them? Have we forgotten the moral of Jesus' teaching as depicted in this picture? Perhaps Phillip Yancey was right when he said, "Christians get very angry toward other Christians who sin differently than they do."

Instead of judgment, could it be time to offer a little love and forgiveness instead? Something for us all to think about next time we're inclined to want to compare ourselves with our perceived shortcomings of others.

Something to think about. Peace.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

The Derision of God?


Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed …” (Psalm 2:1-2; ESV)

As I was reading those verses earlier this week, a couple words jumped off the page at me … “rage” … “plot in vain” … “counsel together.”

While this speaks to the “nations,” I began wondering how much of this is true in the church as well. With the church looking so much like the world today anyway, could it be that the church is perhaps sometimes guilty of also raging and plotting in vain as they take counsel together?

What am I getting at?

Consider church splits, internal and external. We’ve become experts at dividing the body over all sorts of silly little things. It is one thing to divide over major key doctrinal issues, although I suppose even that can be debated. But how often haven’t we all seen “raging” in the church over the dumbest little stuff as well? I have actually heard stories of “raging” divisions over the color to paint the church nursery and have personally even been the recipient of a “raging” backlash over the moving of a pulpit. Even church elders do it, ridiculing and “raging” against other church leaders who do not share their theological viewpoints.

What’s worse is that sometimes it almost sounds like a conspiracy as brothers and sisters gossip and promote their disunity. They feed off one another as they take “counsel together” discussing their perceived failures and shortcomings of others. The church has become really good at discussing what they’re against, and thereby slandering others in the process. God calls this a “plotting in vain.” Too bad we’re not as good at discussing what we’re for, or at least that’s the way it seems sometimes.

He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision” (Psalm 2:4)

What is “derision?” It is probably best defined as the feeling that people express when they criticize and laugh at someone (or something) in an insulting way.

I confess that I struggle with such an attitude from God, yet there it is in the pages of the Bible. But then again, maybe it’s good and right when we stop and think about God’s ideal for the church (and ultimately for all mankind) of treating one another with humility, love, respect, dignity, compassion, collaboration, etc. As unloving as it might sound, maybe God does hold in “derision” his children who refuse to treat one another the way God calls us to.

It would serve us right, when we all reach that great Messianic banquet in Glory, to find that we’ve been seated beside the very people we’ve “raged” against here on earth. Perhaps when we look at it that way, maybe ours really is, a “plotting in vain.”

Something to think about.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Cluttered Life? A Prayer ...

Lord, help me now to unclutter my life, to organize myself in the direction of simplicity. Lord, teach me to listen to my heart; teach me to welcome change, instead of fearing it. Lord, I give you these stirrings inside of me. I give you my discontent. I give you my restlessness. I give you my doubt. I give you my despair. I give you all the longings I hold inside. Help me to listen to these signs of change, of growth; help me to listen seriously and follow where they lead through the breathtaking empty space of an open door.

Source: Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

and My People Love it this Way?


Here’s a word from yesteryear that you don’t hear very often anymore: Paraclete.

On October 6, 1872, Charles Spurgeon preached a sermon that he called “The Paraclete.” Over the years I have read several of Spurgeon’s sermons, and I even own a ten-volume collection of some of them. While I confess to being somewhat of a fan, every once in a while I find some nugget attributed to him that raises the eyebrows. “The Paraclete” is one such sermon that did just that.

Not having been known to shy away from potential controversy myself, I share this hoping that it doesn’t ruffle too many feathers, but yet at the same time recognizing that sometimes some Christian feathers may actually need a little ruffling. At the very least, if it gets us thinking outside the box a little more, then maybe all is good, regardless if we find ourselves agreeing with Spurgeon or not.

Having said that, brace yourself; here it is:
“Take care never to impute the vain imaginings of your fancy to Him [the Holy Spirit]. I have seen the Spirit of God shamefully dishonored by persons – I hope they were insane – who have said that they have had this revealed to them. There has not, for some years, passed over my head a single week in which I have not been pestered with the revelations of hypocrites or maniacs. Semi-lunatics are very fond of coming with messages from the Lord to me, and it may spare them some trouble if I tell them once and for all that I will have none of their stupid messages. When my Lord and Master has any message to me He knows where I am and He will send it to me direct, and not by mad-caps! 
Never dream that events are revealed to you from Heaven, or you may come to be like those idiots who dare impute their blatant follies to the Holy Ghost. If you feel your tongue itch to talk nonsense, trace it to the devil, not to the Spirit of God! Whatever is to be revealed by the Spirit to any of us is in the word of God already – He adds nothing to the Bible, and never will. Let persons who have revelations of this, that, and the other, go to bed and wake up in their senses. I only wish they would follow the advice and no longer insult the Holy Ghost by laying their nonsense at his door.”
Wow! Talk about speaking your mind! I can almost hear the objections to this quote already! And yet in all fairness, none of us were there to hear the so-called "Word from the Lord" that Spurgeon claimed people were regularly giving him. Whose to say; maybe they really were "semi-lunatics" after all. If so, however, could the same thing sometimes be said of our generation as well? At the risk of sounding judgmental (which I hope I'm not), are we sometimes "semi-lunatics" as well when it comes to some of the things that we do in the name of Christianity (ouch)? Forgive me, but sometimes I wonder a little bit about that too. The more I sat and thought about this for a while, the more I suddenly found myself reminded of the following verses from Jeremiah:
“A horrible and a shocking thing has happened in the land: The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and my people love it this way. But what will you do in the end?” (Jeremiah 5: 30-31; NIV).
Who knows, but perhaps these verses were on Spurgeon’s mind as well when he preached his message. While no doubt Jeremiah had a time in mind a little further back in history when he penned that, perhaps there is a truth therein that applies to each generation, including ours. Just as "the discerning heart seeks knowledge" (Proverbs 15:14; NIV), perhaps we too need a little more discernment sometimes.

Maybe sometimes a so-called “Word from the Lord” really isn’t. Peace.
“… even now, many antichrists have come.” (1 John 2:18) 
Spurgeon quote source: www.spurgeongems.org, Sermon #1074, Volume 18, page 7 & 8
“Paraclete” defined: Origin: Middle English Paraclyte, from Late Latin Paracletus, Paraclitus, from Greek Paraklētos, literally, advocate, intercessor, from parakalein to invoke, from para- + kalein to call. First use: 15th century.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Need A Motto for the New Year?


“Continue in prayer.” (Colossians 4:2)

Today I would like to introduce you to a friend of mine. He and I go way back.

He is very well known, and somewhere along his lifetime, he earned the nickname, "The Prince of Preachers." Please join me in welcoming guest blogger, Charles Spurgeon to Rethinking Faith and Church. 

Charles has, what I think to be, a timely and relevant New Year's thought that I'm sure he would have wanted shared with our generation, just as much as he shared it with his own. He goes so far as to call it a "motto" for the New Year. Personally, I think it's a great motto. Maybe it's even one that you and I should adopt as our own, assuming that we haven't already.

And without further adieu, here's Charlie:
_______

It is interesting to remark how large a portion of Sacred Writ is occupied with the subject of prayer, either in furnishing examples, enforcing precepts, or pronouncing promises. We scarcely open the Bible before we read, “Then began men to call upon the name of the Lord;” and just as we are about to close the volume, the “Amen” of an earnest supplication meets our ear. Instances are plentiful. Here we find a wrestling Jacob – there a Daniel who prayed three times a day – and a David who with all of his heart called upon his God. On the mountain we see Elias; in the dungeon Paul and Silas. We have multitudes of commands, and myriads of promises. What does this teach us, but the sacred importance and necessity of prayer? We may be certain that whatever God has made prominent in his Word, he intended to be conspicuous in our lives. If he has said much about prayer, it is because he knows we have much need of it. So deep are our necessities, that until we are in heaven we must not cease to pray. Dost thou want nothing? Then, I fear thou dost not know thy poverty. Hast thou no mercy to ask of God? Then, may the Lord’s mercy show thee thy misery! A prayerless soul is a Christless soul. Prayer is the lisping of the believing infant, the shout of the fighting believer, the requiem of the dying saint falling asleep in Jesus. It is the breath, the watchword, the comfort, the strength, the honor of a Christian. If thou be a child of God, thou wilt seek thy Father’s face, and live in thy Father’s love. Pray that this year thou mayst be holy, humble, zealous, and patient; have closer communion with Christ, and enter oftener into the banqueting-house of his love. Pray that thou mayst be an example and a blessing unto others, and that thou mayst live more to the glory of thy Master. The motto for this year must be, “Continue in prayer.”

Devotional Source: http://www.amazon.com/Morning-The-Devotions-Charles-Spurgeon/dp/0310329310
Photo Source: Unknown (via Facebook)