NT Tuesday: The Lord’s Day Pt. 2

But we sailed away from Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days we came to them at Troas, where we stayed for seven days. On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight. Acts 20:6-7 ESV

I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet. Revelation 1:10 ESV

Golden Gate BridgeLast week we looked at the nature and characteristics of the Lord’s day from scripture.

I would like to consider some additional thoughts on this subject, however, I suppose it is safe to say that these thoughts will be more musings than commentary on scripture.

Let me be clear, we need to be governed by the truth contained in Colossians 2:16-17 – “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.” But I also think we would be wise to take before the Lord how He would want us to live on the Lord’s day– as well as, every other day.

If the Lord’s day is supposed to have a characteristic that reflects that Jesus Christ is Lord, then what does that day look like?

I think it is fair to say that we ought not to be indifferent towards the Lord’s day. If the Lord required obedience to the Sabbath based on Law, then out of love, in response to grace, we ought to look upon the Lord’s day in a serious way. Do we use the Lord’s day for spiritually profitable things or for a “day off”, recreation, amusement, errands, work, etc? If there was value for the people of the former dispensations to set aside one day, would there not be value in the people of God in this dispensation to also set aside a day – out of love, not law?

Of course, we won’t find real rest even by voluntarily, in response to love, setting aside a day for the Lord and unto the Lord. We will only find real rest in the person of the Lord of the Sabbath.

I am not trying to be legalistic, just contemplative, even purposeful. I think we would do well if we seriously considered our use of the the Lord’s day and whether it reflects the Lord and His priorities or whether it reflects our own selfish desires and priorities.

Until next week, press on and enter into the rest that comes only from Jesus Christ.

 

[photo credit]

 

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Introduction to First Corinthians

 

 

Paul called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both their’s and our’s: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 1:1-3 KJV

First it’s all going well but after a while problems crop up. It’s like this in every day life and it’s certainly true in church life. How do you deal with these problems? How do you make sure people get on? Is it right to take a fellow Christian to court? Are there any sins that bar you from church fellowship? Are my motives right and does it matter?

All of these questions and many more are dealt with in this letter to an new church in the ancient city of Corinth. The answers are timeless and relevant to 21st Century Christians.

Join us on this journey through the First Epistle to the Corinthians.

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This is the 1st video in a series of teaching videos on the book of First Corinthians.

Jump to the next video in this series…

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NT Tuesday: The Lord’s Day

But we sailed away from Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days we came to them at Troas, where we stayed for seven days. On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight. Acts 20:6-7 ESV

I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet. Rev. 1:10 ESV

Wheat and SkyWe’ve been considering what the Scriptures say as it pertains to the Sabbath and the Christian’s response to it (part 1 here, part 2 here). We rightly understood that the Sabbath is no longer a day, but rather it is now found in Jesus Christ.

Now we are going to consider what the Scriptures say about the Lord’s day which is the first day of the week (not to be confused with the ‘Day of the Lord’ which is an entirely different teaching found in the Scriptures). Interestingly, many early Christian manuscripts, written prior to AD 170, refer frequently to the first day of the week as the Lord’s day.

The Lord’s day is not the day that was sanctified by creation rest, nor is it the day of law which the law commanded Israel to keep.

From a grammatical standpoint, the term “Lord’s day” does not involve the possessive tense. Rather, the word “Lord’s” is actually an adjective and it describes the nature and purpose of the day.

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Jottings – Honesty in the Church

Jottings

“There is a desperate need for honesty in the church today. ‘Speaking the truth in love’ is God’s standard (Eph. 4:15). If we practice love without truth, it is hypocrisy. But if we try to have truth without love, it may be brutality. Jesus always taught the truth in love. If the truth hurts, it is because ‘Faithful are the wounds of a friend’ (Prov. 27:6).But keep in mind that humility must come before honesty. A proud Christian cannot speak the truth in love. He will use a brother’s faults as a weapon to fight with and not as a tool to build with. The result will be only greater disharmony and disagreement.The first internal problem of the New Testament church was dishonesty (Acts 5). Ananias and Sapphira tried to make the church members believe that they were more spiritual than they really were. They lied to themselves in thinking they could get away with the masquerade; they lied to their fellow Christians and the church leaders; and they tried to lie to the Holy Spirit. The result was judgment and death. God may not kill every hypocrite in the church today, but hypocrisy certainly helps to kill the church.The second internal problem (Acts 6) had to do with people being neglected. The members and leaders faced this problem with truth and love, and the result was blessing. It takes both truth and love, and both must be used with humility.”

Warren Wiersbe, Be Loyal: Matthew. Electronic ed. (Quickverse.)

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A Christian Response To Tragedy

As virtually the entire world knows by now, Newtown, CT, a previously quiet little town in western Connecticut experienced an unimaginable tragedy this past Friday morning. What is the ‘proper’ Christian response to the sudden and unprovoked slaughter of 26 people ~ most of whom were only 6 or 7 years old?

I’m not so sure there is a simple answer to this question ~ or even just one ‘correct’ answer. However, I have been moved by the gracious and loving response of the New Testament patterned gathering of believers in Newtown, CT. Through their website the assembly offers to the community their love and concern.

Below is a screenshot of their open letter to the residents of Newtown. As you think about this recent tragedy please remember to include the Newtown Christian Fellowship in your prayers as they navigate through this difficult time and shine the light of hope that only the Lord Jesus Christ can give.

 

Newtown Christian Fellowship Letter to Newtown offering sympathy and support after the tragedy

 

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NT Tuesday: Superstorm Sandy

Superstorm Sandy Fifth Avenue Chapel 01

Fifth Avenue Chapel, 5th Avenue & B Street, Belmar, NJ

 

As the northeastern US is recovering from Hurricane Sandy (or Superstorm Sandy), I can’t help but think about the reality of the “one another” verses. Over the last few months, we’ve looked at a number of verses from the New Testament where the Christian is instructed to behave in a certain way towards other Christians.

I have suggested since the beginning, that these “one another” verses are, in fact, New Testament principles. And, as New Testament principles, they should govern how we relate to one another and react to certain circumstances.

So, with that being said – how did we, as believers, do in response to Sandy? Sadly, I am not sure how to respond to it because, to my shame, I really haven’t been able to participate in a significant way in helping others. It’s been frustrating, but it’s also been enlightening.

Superstorm Sandy Belmar NJ Fifth Avenue Chapel 02

5th & B St., Belmar, NJ Looking West

Just a little bit of background. My wife and I live north of Allentown. Our house suffered very minor damage during the storm (just to the exterior of the home) and we never (yes, never) lost power. Before we could phone some folks from the chapel, my family moved in. By the end of Tuesday, we had 12 people and three dogs living in our home. (We did have a young man from our assembly who moved in on Sunday). Needless to say, we were “occupied” with that. But, doesn’t an extreme situation require extreme measures? Yes!

There were numerous folks from the meeting in Allentown, PA and a multitude of dear brothers and sisters in NJ and NY who needed basic things – heat, power, food, gas, etc. What could have or should have we done and why didn’t we do it? It’s easy to blame something outside of ourselves – the assembly, the situation, etc. But, part of looking at these “one another” verses is to emphasize that we have an obligation as individual Christians to behave in a certain way.

Superstorm Sandy 8th and Main  Belmar NJ Looking East

8th & Main, Belmar, NJ Looking East

So, what could have or should have we done? My wife and I spoke about this recently and came up with a few things that we should have done. (Just for further clarification – we are currently on a trip to Man O Way, Bahamas where we have the privilege of teaching the Word of God for three weeks to the saints there so we can’t do much about it now). So, from that stand point, perhaps we are more in tune and better mentally prepared the next time this happens.

But the question of “why” didn’t we do more is an interesting one. I think it goes to the heart of what has happened to many of us – certainly to me. We have become complacent as it pertains to our obligations to each other – we don’t think about it, because we expect that the government will help out when someone needs help or the “assembly” will do it.

Superstorm Sandy Belmar NJ 4th and Cst Looking East

4th & C St., Belmar, NJ Looking East

When will we realize that the assembly is a body of individual believers and if we keep saying things like “the assembly should have done this or that” what we really are saying is that “the believers other than me should have done something about it.”

What I have learned is that I am not a very good “brother’s keeper”. Hopefully Sandy has taught us all what it means to be brothers and sisters in Christ and what it means to “love one another” (John 13:34-35) in a biblical and tangible sense.

Until next week, fulfill YOUR ministry!

 

 

 

 

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Disciple Makers

Are you a disciple maker? Now don’t misunderstand my question. I did not ask, are you an evangelist?  The Lord Jesus in His last requests to His disciples gives a very simple command.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Matthew 28:19-20.

What does it take to make a disciple? Well it takes a team. It takes some to plant the seed, some to water and some to harvest. And that’s just to the point of conversion. Then the real hard work begins. As new babies are nurtured, new believers need much care and nurturing. They need feeding, held and yes quite often their diapers changed.

So let me ask my original question in a slightly different way. Who are you discipling? Every one of us are to be a part of the team when it comes to discipling others. It’s not a job just for the elders or “older” believers. It’s something all of us should be doing all the time. So if you are not currently discipling someone then pray about it. Ask the Lord to show you who you could take on and mentor. Maybe it’s a new christian. Maybe it’s a young mother. Maybe it’s a teenager who needs a little help to make it through the tough high school years.

One of the fears that people have (and why they often don’t disciple) is that being a discipler will hold them accountable. It means they have to be an example. One myth about discipleship is that you have to be perfect. It’s just not true.  As you disciple you are constantly growing yourself. You will need to be vulnerable and open and real. That’s not easy for our natural pride to cope with. We like to always look good as if we have it all together.

My challenge (aimed at me first) is for us to be disciple makers. Let’s take up the torch to lead, train, teach and impact others. The church will be stronger for it. And so will you.

 

 

 

 

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NT Tuesday: Bearing & Forgiving One Another

Forgive One AnotherLast week took a week off, kind of, to discuss the concept of modesty as described in the New Testament. This week we will return to the “one another” verses and discuss the practical applications and relevance of following these verses as a requirement for fulfilling our responsibility of being New Testament principle practicing Christians.

This week’s (and next week’s) blog will be on the idea of “bearing with one another” and “forgiving each other.” Paul writes in Colossians 3:12-13 ESV, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other, as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must forgive.

Similar thoughts are also shared in Ephesians 4:1-2 ESV. There Paul writes, “I, therefore, a prisoner for the Lord urge you to walk in the manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love…”

 


Bearing With One Another



 

Let’s first look at the idea of “bearing with one another.” The idea of bearing is based on the word “forbear.” To forbear is to refrain from or forgo exercising one’s rights when offended or wronged. For example, if a police officer stops you when you were speeding, and he chooses not to give you a ticket, in essence, he has exercised “forbearance” on behalf of the state. He had every right to give you (or me) a ticket, but he chose not to do so. If you miss a loan payment, the bank could chose to repossess your house, but it might chose to forbear and allow you time to straighten things out.

Likewise, as Christians, we are often wronged by others and we often wrong others. Not every wrong must be addressed. In other words, we don’t need to demand an apology and confession every time someone wrongs us. In fact, it would be a good exercise to chose to forbear in many, many instances.

Because believers have a sense of what is right and wrong, as defined from the Bible, we are often inclined toward correcting the wrong and making it right. Does God do that to us? Yes, I know, every one of our sins has been forgiven and has been paid for on the cross of Calvary by our lovely Lord Jesus Christ. Clearly, it would be far more Christ like to forbear when offended than demand an apology every time we are offended. In my experience, people who are easily offended are usually people who are not very happy. They tend to cause division in assemblies. They tend to have a lot of broken relationships and they usually don’t add much to the functioning of the local body because they are too busy being offended and demanding that the wrong be made right.

 


Tolerance & Patience Vs. Provocation



 

Another idea of “bearing with one another” is the idea that we tolerate and patient in the face of provocation. The best solution in dealing with each other is being very patient and tolerate each other’s weaknesses (not sins, but weaknesses). Does the Lord bear with us? Of course the answer is YES, therefore, we ought to emulate His conduct, because we are united with Him and walk in newness of life with Him. It’s not our life, but His that we live. Therefore, our life should look like His.

Until next week, fulfill your ministry!

[photo credit]

 

 

 

 

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NT Tuesday: Modesty

Upright LivingAs I was writing last week’s blog and thinking of how we are to honor one another, I thought of the idea of biblical modesty. Now, one might ask “how are the two of these items related?” Truly the connection is obvious. If we are going to show preference to one another, than the first thing we should seek to do is point others to Jesus Christ and diligently avoid doing anything that would cause one another to stumble.

Let’s think on this for a few moments. (I know that a good percentage of the readers are going to be thinking “legalism alert”. Fret not, readers, fret not.)

Paul wrote in Titus 2:9 “…that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire.” This verse is found in context with the glorious idea that the “Grace of God has appeared bringing salvation to all people.” That thought continues with the idea that we are then taught to live righteously and holy anticipating the coming of the Lord Jesus. So, there is an expected form of behavior that results from our salvation – one might even argue that there is an expected way to dress (considering the connection between the verses).

Certainly, Paul thought that there was an acceptable way of dressing for women – “respectable attire, with modesty and self-controlled.” In fact, what he was really getting at is that a woman should be known for something else – not her appearance, not her clothes (whether fancy or plain), but rather “…with what is proper for women who profess godliness–with good works” (Titus 2:10.) In other words, one’s clothes should reflect one’s heart – a woman should be adorned with good works – showing her close relationship with her Lord.

All throughout the Bible, there are instances where clothing is seen as telegraphing a message.

Think of Tamar in Genesis 38:1-30. When she wanted to seduce Judah, she took off her widow’s clothes and she put on clothes that communicated to Judah that she was a prostitute. What she wore revealed what she was communicating or desiring. In contrast, the woman of virtue described in Proverbs 31:10-31, wears clothing that is strength and honor because of her character. Yes, she makes herself clothing that is of silk and purple, fine thing for the times, but she is known for much more than her clothing. You could say that she defines the clothing; the clothing does not define her.

Back in the New Testament, Peter starts out with talking about the inner person and proceeds to talk about the comparison of inner and outer. In fact, Peter goes on to say that a meek and quiet spirit is of great price and is something that should be worn by godly women and that holy women of old adorned themselves with such being in subjection to their own husbands. (Read 1 Peter 3:1-5).

It seems, doesn’t it, that in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, what we wear matters – it telegraphs a message, a message that begins in our heart. Yes, we can become legalistic in defining what we think modesty looks like, but we can also fail to be obedient to the Lord in all areas of our life by refusing to recognize that what we wear says something about our relationship with Him.

Until next week, fulfill your ministry!

 

 

 

 

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Titus 3:4 – The Reason For The Change

This is the 29th video in a series of teaching videos on the book of Titus. You can find the first video here.

Is it possible to change your behaviour and maybe even your personality? After all even the Bible poses the question – can a leopard change its spots? It is possible but only because of the intervention of God coming to earth! Watch this video to learn more.

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