Lenten Meditation: a Word of Family Affection

Lenten Meditation:  a Word of Family Affection

Dear woman, behold your son...behold your mother. (John 19:26)

Jesus has a special love for His own. As we've already seen with His forgiving and saving attitude in the midst of excruciating agony, His concern was not with His own suffering.  Rather His attention was next drawn to His precious loved ones at the foot of His cross, His mother and His beloved disciple John.

What agony Jesus must have seen on Mary's face.

Read More

Celebrating Total "Cardiac Rehab"--It takes a Village...

Celebrating Total "Cardiac Rehab"--It takes a Village...

February is American Heart Month. How appropriate since February is also the month of Valentine’s Day, celebrating the heart’s favorite emotion — LOVE.

Well, "February, American Heart Month" has taken on new meaning because the “love of my life” had a heart attack more than seven years ago.  So this brought lots of changes to both of our lives, but especially his.  And cardiac rehab played a big part in those weeks after.   As many heart patients know, cardiac rehab takes a village

Read More

Total Cardiac Rehab: It takes a Village...

February is American Heart Month. cardiac heartHow appropriate since February is also the month of Valentine’s Day, celebrating the heart’s favorite emotion — LOVE.

Well, these past Februaries,  "American Heart Month" has taken on new meaning because the “love of my life” had a heart attack several years ago.  So the last few years have brought lots of changes to both of our lives, but especially his.  And cardiac rehab had played a big part.   As many heart patients know, cardiac rehab takes a village

It took a village of medical personnel.  There were the paramedics who responded when we called 9-1-1; the doctors who did the heart cath; the nurses who cared for John in the hospital; the physical therapists and technicians who exercised and educated him so he could find his “new normal”…and the list goes on and on.

Then there were the neighbors, family, and friends who prayed, jumped in to help, and emailed, facebooked, called, and sent cards with words of encouragement. There were also fellow heart patients, past and present, who empathized and spurred John on.

It has taken all of these folks using their expertise, gifting, and care to enable John to recover from a “widow-maker” level heart attack.  Now he can live in relative good health for as long as God ordains.  We thank God for the village He’s provided.

All of this makes me think of the village the Lord has provided for our “spiritual cardiac rehab.”

Through our personal heart relationship with the Lord Christ, we have received a new heart and new spirit, so we are complete in Him.

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you….And I will put my Spirit within you…  Ezekiel 36:26-27

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.  2Cor 5:17

But while we are living in our broken humanness on this earth, we need our minds, affections, and wills continually renewed.  And in God’s eternal plan in Christ Jesus, it takes a village…the Body of Christ, the community of believers, His church.

Our minds get darkened by the enemy’s lies.  Our affections get wooed by the “sweet-talkin’” world.  Our wills are weakened and pulled away from God and His ways.  And all of this even while we have the indwelling life of God in Christ through the Spirit.

Oswald Chambers (July 12, My Utmost for His Highest) says it well:

THE SPIRITUAL SOCIETY “Till we all come . . unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:13

Rehabilitation means the putting back of the whole human race into the relationship God designed it to be in, and this is what Jesus Christ did in Redemption… The rehabilitation of the human race on Jesus Christ’s plan means the realization of Jesus Christ in corporate life as well as in individual life.

Jesus Christ sent apostles and teachers for this purpose – that the corporate Personality might be realized. We are not here to develop a spiritual life of our own, or to enjoy spiritual retirement; we are here so to realize Jesus Christ that the Body of Christ may be built up. Am I building up the Body of Christ, or am I looking for my own personal development only?

The essential thing is my personal relationship to Jesus Christ – “That I may know Him.” To fulfill God’s design means entire abandonment to Him. Whenever I want things for myself, the relationship is distorted. It will be a big humiliation to realize that I have not been concerned about realizing Jesus Christ, but only about realizing what He has done for me.

So our growth in Christ not for our own spiritual “pleasure.”  We all need each other for our “spiritual cardiac rehab” on this earth.

How does this work?

  1. Connect to a community of believers who know and love the Lord, His Word, and His people. Today, there are many options:  from small groups to house churches to mega-congregations; from contemporary & casual to formal and even liturgical. The important thing is…where does GOD want you.  No matter what you choose, it won’t be perfect.  As one Bible teacher I know used to say, “If you find the perfect church, don’t join it…because you’ll ruin it.”
  2. Give to & receive from others in the body of Christ. I love the story in John 13 where Jesus washed His disciples feet.  Most of us immediately get the lesson that we are to “wash each others’ feet” by serving them. But tucked in that passage is the added lesson that we need to let our feet be washed by our brothers and sisters.  When Peter protested about the Lord washing his feet, Jesus responded: Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.   John 13:8 It dawned on me one day when reading that verse that perhaps part of what Jesus was saying was…if you don’t let your brothers and sisters serve and minister to you, you are rejecting ME…”no part with ME!”
  3. Use whatever gifts the Lord has given to build up one another and glorify God and His grace. One of my favorite Bible words is “manifold.”  It means various, multi-colored, variegated (like yarn), multi-faceted (like diamonds)…and it’s used in my favorite verses about spiritual gifts: As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1Peter 4:10-11

So each of us is a “facet” in the brilliant diamond of God’s glorious grace when we serve in the fulness of the Spirit in the gifting He’s given us.  What a privilege!  And what a protection as we walk through this sin-cursed world.

Don’t try to do it on your own, dear brothers and sisters.  We need each other in the Body of Christ!  As a friend once said when going through some dark trials in his family, “The Body of Christ is at its best when a believer suffers!”  Why?  Because we are part of each other.   And the Lord’s multi-faceted grace ministers through His people!

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Bible Students:

If you would like to read and study further about spiritual gifts, look at these additional passages:

Romans 12:3-13

1 Cor 12:4-31

Eph 4:7-16

Be sure to note what the goal or purpose (anticipated outcome) of the gifts is in each of these passages.  Our unity in diversity is a beautiful thing to behold!

 

Lenten Meditation: a Word of Family Affection

Dear woman, behold your son...behold your mother.  John 19:26 Jesus has a special love for His own.

As we've already seen with His forgiving and saving attitude in the midst of excruciating agony, His concern was not with His own suffering.  Rather His attention was next drawn to His precious loved ones at the foot of His cross, His mother and His beloved disciple John.

What agony Jesus must have seen on Mary's face. Calvin Miller describes the scene well:

Beneath the tree stood the grieving mother of the heretic.  She was a woman whose face was rimmed by little wisps of silver hair that protruded defiantly from under her mantle; occasionally she trembled with uncontrollable spasms of despair.  Before the tree a young fisherman gazed in blurred glances at his dying friend; his broad arm cradled the head of the convict's mother.  But he was unable to console her.  The man on the cross was her son... Miller, Once Upon a Tree

This was her little boy...her precious son that she nursed and rocked and raised to be a man to fulfill God's plan.  Yes, she had warning of suffering ahead...remember Simeon's prophecy when the baby was presented in the Temple?

This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, but he will be a joy to many others. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword [romphia] will pierce your very soul. Luke 2:34 NLT

Little did Mary know all this sword would entail.  According to Miller, romphia (Greek) was a huge Persian sword that literally skewers its victims in pain.   Jesus Himself knew all this and yet submitted to the Father's plan.

But now He would care for His suffering mama by entrusting her to the man He knew would care for her as his own.

When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.” And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home. John 19:26-27 NLT

Years later the apostle Paul would write to Timothy, his beloved son in the faith:

Michelangelo's Pieta

If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. 1 Timothy 5:8

But this begs the question...where were Jesus' brothers?  Surely, this first-born Son could have entrusted His mother to one of his brothers, James or Jude, or perhaps another close relative.

There was obviously something more going on here...something that includes you and me.

Perhaps a year or so before...

...as Jesus was speaking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. Someone told Jesus, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, and they want to speak to you.” Jesus asked, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” Then he pointed to his disciples and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers. Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!” Matthew 12:46-50 NLT

So by entrusting His mother to His beloved disciple and friend, Jesus was "creating a new family based not on kinship to one another [blood relationship] but solely through their relationship to him."*  Although his brothers were related by blood, they had not yet become related in the Spirit through faith in Him, God's Son and Savior of the world.

And that brings us back to us believers...those of us who are related to Him by faith.  We are His family...children of the same Father:

But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. John 1:12

Jesus the God-Man is our Brother, and we are his brothers and sisters:

In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers … For this reason, he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest. Hebrews 2:10, 11, 17

And Jesus cares for His own with a special love and care:

Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested...So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 2:18; 4:16 NLT

We also belong to one another...brothers and sisters in our Father's and Brother's family.

On the night before He died, Jesus gave us the new commandment, Love one another as I have loved you...

Why? because then the world will know you are my disciples. Why?  because the world will hate you. Why? because in this world you will have trouble.

So we will need each other!

Love each other with brotherly affection, and delight in honoring each other. Romans 12:10

Dear brothers and sisters, ...who is it in your human family that needs your affection and attention? ...who is it in the family of God that needs your brotherly (Or sisterly) affection and attention?

Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone--especially to those in the family of faith.  Gal 6:10

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Bible Students:

Go back to the night before Jesus died (John 13-17). Mark every time that Jesus says love with a red heart. Who is loving whom? Now do this for the epistle of First John. Did you notice that LOVE is John's emphasis? No wonder...He's the disciple Jesus loved.

You may also like this post:  "Love's Abiding Harvest"

The New Testament is filled with "_________________ one another verses." Click here and read through all of them, including the Scriptures. Which ones jump out to you and why? Is God telling you to do something about it...attitude or action-wise?

You may also like this post:"It Takes a Village..."

Activity:

In the center of a piece of paper, write your name.  Around your name, write the names of all the other persons that you consider part of your family.  Those closest to you might be written close to your name, those further away may be written a greater distance from your name. *

Now do the same with your "spiritual family"...fellow believers in your life, whether in your church body, Bible study, family, neighbors, etc.

Then answer the closing questions above...

Dear brothers and sisters, ...who is it in your human family that needs your affection and attention? ...who is it in the family of God that needs your brotherly (Or sisterly) affection and attention?

Lenten Meditation: a Word of Family Affection

Dear woman, behold your son...behold your mother.  John 19:26 Jesus has a special love for His own.

As we've already seen with His forgiving and saving attitude in the midst of excruciating agony, His concern was not with His own suffering.  Rather His attention was next drawn to His precious loved ones at the foot of His cross, His mother and His beloved disciple John.

What agony Jesus must have seen on Mary's face. Calvin Miller describes the scene well:

Beneath the tree stood the grieving mother of the heretic.  She was a woman whose face was rimmed by little wisps of silver hair that protruded defiantly from under her mantle; occasionally she trembled with uncontrollable spasms of despair.  Before the tree a young fisherman gazed in blurred glances at his dying friend; his broad arm cradled the head of the convict's mother.  But he was unable to console her.  The man on the cross was her son... Miller, Once Upon a Tree

This was her little boy...her precious son that she nursed and rocked and raised to be a man to fulfill God's plan.  Yes, she had warning of suffering ahead...remember Simeon's prophecy when the baby was presented in the Temple?

This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, but he will be a joy to many others. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul. Luke 2:34 NLT

Little did Mary know all this sword would entail.  According to Miller, romphia (Greek) was a huge Persian sword that literally skewers its victims in pain.   Jesus Himself knew all this and yet submitted to the Father's plan.

But now He would care for His suffering mama by entrusting her to the man He knew would care for her as his own.

When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.” And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home. John 19:26-27 NLT

Years later the apostle Paul would write to Timothy, his beloved son in the faith:

Michelangelo's Pieta

If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. 1 Timothy 5:8

But this begs the question...where were Jesus' brothers?  Surely, this first-born Son could have entrusted His mother to one of his brothers, James or Jude, or perhaps another close relative.

There was obviously something more going on here...something that includes you and me.

Perhaps a year or so before...

...as Jesus was speaking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. Someone told Jesus, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, and they want to speak to you.” Jesus asked, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” Then he pointed to his disciples and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers. Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!” Matthew 12:46-50 NLT

So by entrusting His mother to His beloved disciple and friend, Jesus was "creating a new family based not on kinship to one another [blood relationship] but solely through their relationship to him."*  Although his brothers were related by blood, they had not yet become related in the Spirit through faith in Him, God's Son and Savior of the world.

And that brings us back to us believers...those of us who are related to Him by faith.  We are His family...children of the same Father:

But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. John 1:12

Jesus the God-Man is our Brother, and we are his brothers and sisters:

In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers … For this reason, he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest. Hebrews 2:10, 11, 17

And Jesus cares for His own with a special love and care:

Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested...So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 2:18; 4:16 NLT

We also belong to one another...brothers and sisters in our Father's and Brother's family.

On the night before He died, Jesus gave us the new commandment, Love one another as I have loved you...

Why? because then the world will know you are my disciples. Why?  because the world will hate you. Why? because in this world you will have trouble.

So we will need each other!

Love each other with brotherly affection, and delight in honoring each other. Romans 12:10

Dear brothers and sisters, ...who is it in your human family that needs your affection and attention? ...who is it in the family of God that needs your brotherly (Or sisterly) affection and attention?

Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone--especially to those in the family of faith.  Gal 6:10

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Bible Students:

Go back to the night before Jesus died (John 13-17). Mark every time that Jesus says love with a red heart. Who is loving whom? Now do this for the epistle of First John. Did you notice that LOVE is John's emphasis? No wonder...He's the disciple Jesus loved.

You may also like this post:  "Love's Abiding Harvest"

The New Testament is filled with "_________________ one another verses." Click here and read through all of them, including the Scriptures. Which ones jump out to you and why? Is God telling you to do something about it...attitude or action-wise?

You may also like this post:"It Takes a Village..."

Activity:

In the center of a piece of paper, write your name.  Around your name, write the names of all the other persons that you consider part of your family.  Those closest to you might be written close to your name, those further away may be written a greater distance from your name. *

Now do the same with your "spiritual family"...fellow believers in your life, whether in your church body, Bible study, family, neighbors, etc.

Then answer the closing questions above...

Dear brothers and sisters, ...who is it in your human family that needs your affection and attention? ...who is it in the family of God that needs your brotherly (Or sisterly) affection and attention?

Total "Cardiac Rehab"--It takes a Village..

February is American Heart Month. How appropriate since February is also the month of Valentine’s Day, celebrating the heart’s favorite emotion — LOVE.

Well, these past Februaries,  "American Heart Month" has taken on new meaning because the “love of my life” had a heart attack a year and a half ago.  So the last eighteen months have brought lots of changes to both of our lives, but especially his.  And cardiac rehab has played a big part.   As many heart patients know, cardiac rehab takes a village

cardiac rehab

cardiac rehab

It has taken a village of medical personnel.  There were the paramedics who responded when we called 9-1-1; the doctors who did the heart cath; the nurses who cared for John in the hospital; the physical therapists and technicians who exercised and educated him so he could find his “new normal”…and the list goes on and on.

Then there were the neighbors, family, and friends who prayed, jumped in to help, and emailed, facebooked, called, and sent cards with words of encouragement. There were also fellow heart patients, past and present, who empathized and spurred John on.

It has taken all of these folks using their expertise, gifting, and care to enable John to recover from a “widow-maker” level heart attack.  Now he can live in relative good health for as long as God ordains.  We thank God for the village He’s provided.

All of this makes me think of the village the Lord has provided for our “spiritual cardiac rehab.”

Through our personal heart relationship with the Lord Christ, we have received a new heart and new spirit, so we are complete in Him.

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you….And I will put my Spirit within you…  Ezekiel 36:26-27

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.  2Cor 5:17

i2 hearts with faces

i2 hearts with faces

But while we are living in our broken humanness on this earth, we need our minds, affections, and wills continually renewed.  And in God’s eternal plan in Christ Jesus, it takes a village…the Body of Christ, the community of believers, His church.

Our minds get darkened by the enemy’s lies.  Our affections get wooed by the “sweet-talkin’” world.  Our wills are weakened and pulled away from God and His ways.  And all of this even while we have the indwelling life of God in Christ through the Spirit.

Oswald Chambers (July 12, My Utmost for His Highest) says it well:

THE SPIRITUAL SOCIETY “Till we all come . . unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:13

Rehabilitation means the putting back of the whole human race into the relationship God designed it to be in, and this is what Jesus Christ did in Redemption… The rehabilitation of the human race on Jesus Christ’s plan means the realization of Jesus Christ in corporate life as well as in individual life.

Jesus Christ sent apostles and teachers for this purpose – that the corporate Personality might be realized. We are not here to develop a spiritual life of our own, or to enjoy spiritual retirement; we are here so to realize Jesus Christ that the Body of Christ may be built up. Am I building up the Body of Christ, or am I looking for my own personal development only?

The essential thing is my personal relationship to Jesus Christ – “That I may know Him.” To fulfill God’s design means entire abandonment to Him. Whenever I want things for myself, the relationship is distorted. It will be a big humiliation to realize that I have not been concerned about realizing Jesus Christ, but only about realizing what He has done for me.

So our growth in Christ not for our own spiritual “pleasure.”  We all need each other for our “spiritual cardiac rehab” on this earth.

How does this work?

  1. Connect to a community of believers who know and love the Lord, His Word, and His people. Today, there are many options: from small groups to house churches to mega-congregations; from contemporary & casual to formal and even liturgical. The important thing is…where does GOD want you. No matter what you choose, it won’t be perfect. As one Bible teacher I know used to say, “If you find the perfect church, don’t join it…because you’ll ruin it.”

  2. Give to & receive from others in the body of Christ. I love the story in John 13 where Jesus washed His disciples feet. Most of us immediately get the lesson that we are to “wash each others’ feet” by serving them. But tucked in that passage is the added lesson that we need to let our feet be washed by our brothers and sisters. When Peter protested about the Lord washing his feet, Jesus responded: Unless I wash you, you have no part with me. John 13:8 It dawned on me one day when reading that verse that perhaps part of what Jesus was saying was…if you don’t let your brothers and sisters serve and minister to you, you are rejecting ME…”no part with ME!”

  3. Use whatever gifts the Lord has given to build up one another and glorify God and His grace. One of my favorite Bible words is “manifold.” It means various, multi-colored, variegated (like yarn), multi-faceted (like diamonds)…and it’s used in my favorite verses about spiritual gifts: As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1Peter 4:10-11

So each of us is a “facet” in the brilliant diamond of God’s glorious grace when we serve in the fulness of the Spirit in the gifting He’s given us.  What a privilege!  And what a protection as we walk through this sin-cursed world.

diamond

diamond

Don’t try to do it on your own, dear brothers and sisters.  We need each other in the Body of Christ!  As a friend once said when going through some dark trials in his family, “The Body of Christ is at its best when a believer suffers!”  Why?  Because we are part of each other.   And the Lord’s multi-faceted grace ministers through His people!

reading the Bible

reading the Bible

Bible Students:

If you would like to read and study further about spiritual gifts, look at these additional passages:

Romans 12:3-13

1 Cor 12:4-31

Eph 4:7-16

Be sure to note what the goal or purpose (anticipated outcome) of the gifts is in each of these passages.  Our unity in diversity is a beautiful thing to behold!

It Takes a Village...

February is American Heart Month. How appropriate since February is also the month of Valentine's Day, celebrating the heart's favorite emotion -- LOVE. Well, this year American Heart Month takes on new meaning because the "love of my life" had a heart attack six months ago.  So the last six months have brought lots of changes to both of our lives, but especially his.  And cardiac rehab has been a big part of these past six months.  As many heart patients know, cardiac rehab takes a village...

It has taken a village of medical personnel.  There were the paramedics who responded when we called 9-1-1; the doctors who did the heart cath; the nurses who cared for John in the hospital; the physical therapists and technicians who exercised and educated him so he could find his "new normal"...and the list goes on and on.

Then there were the neighbors, family, and friends who prayed, jumped in to help, and emailed, facebooked, called, and sent cards with words of encouragement. There were also fellow heart patients, past and present, who empathized and spurred John on.

It has taken all of these folks using their expertise, gifting, and care to enable John to recover from a "widow-maker" level heart attack.  Now he can live in relative good health for as long as God ordains.  We thank God for the village He's provided.

All of this makes me think of the village the Lord has provided for our "spiritual cardiac rehab."

Through our personal heart relationship with the Lord Christ, we have received a new heart and new spirit, so we are complete in Him.

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you....And I will put my Spirit within you...  Ezekiel 36:26-27

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.  2Cor 5:17

But while we are living in our broken humanness on this earth, we need our minds, affections, and wills continually renewed.  And in God's eternal plan in Christ Jesus, it takes a village...the Body of Christ, the community of believers, His church.

Our minds get darkened by the enemy's lies.  Our affections get wooed by the "sweet-talkin'" world.  Our wills are weakened and pulled away from God and His ways.  And all of this even while we have the indwelling life of God in Christ through the Spirit.

Oswald Chambers (July 12, My Utmost for His Highest) says it well:

THE SPIRITUAL SOCIETY "Till we all come . . unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ." Ephesians 4:13

Rehabilitation means the putting back of the whole human race into the relationship God designed it to be in, and this is what Jesus Christ did in Redemption... The rehabilitation of the human race on Jesus Christ's plan means the realization of Jesus Christ in corporate life as well as in individual life.

Jesus Christ sent apostles and teachers for this purpose - that the corporate Personality might be realized. We are not here to develop a spiritual life of our own, or to enjoy spiritual retirement; we are here so to realize Jesus Christ that the Body of Christ may be built up. Am I building up the Body of Christ, or am I looking for my own personal development only?

The essential thing is my personal relationship to Jesus Christ - "That I may know Him." To fulfill God's design means entire abandonment to Him. Whenever I want things for myself, the relationship is distorted. It will be a big humiliation to realize that I have not been concerned about realizing Jesus Christ, but only about realizing what He has done for me.

So our growth in Christ not for our own spiritual "pleasure."  We all need each other for our "spiritual cardiac rehab" on this earth.

How does this work?

  1. Connect to a community of believers who know and love the Lord, His Word, and His people. Today, there are many options:  from small groups to house churches to mega-congregations; from contemporary & casual to formal and even liturgical. The important thing is...where does GOD want you.  No matter what you choose, it won't be perfect.  As one Bible teacher I know used to say, "If you find the perfect church, don't join it...because you'll ruin it."  :)
  2. Give to & receive from others in the body of Christ. I love the story in John 13 where Jesus washed His disciples feet.  Most of us immediately get the lesson that we are to "wash each others' feet" by serving them. But tucked in that passage is the added lesson that we need to let our feet be washed by our brothers and sisters.  When Peter protested about the Lord washing his feet, Jesus responded: Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.   John 13:8 It dawned on me one day when reading that verse that perhaps part of what Jesus was saying was...if you don't let your brothers and sisters serve and minister to you, you are rejecting ME..."no part with ME!"
  3. Use whatever gifts the Lord has given to build up one another and glorify God and His grace. One of my favorite Bible words is "manifold."  It means various, multi-colored, variegated (like yarn), multi-faceted (like diamonds)...and it's used in my favorite verses about spiritual gifts:

    As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

So each of us is a "facet" in the brilliant diamond of God's glorious grace when we serve in the fulness of the Spirit in the gifting He's given us.  What a privilege!  And what a protection as we walk through this sin-cursed world.

Don't try to do it on your own, dear brother and sister.  We need each other in the Body of Christ!  As a friend once said when going through some dark trials in his family, "The Body of Christ is at its best when a believer suffers!"  Why?  Because we are part of each other.   And the Lord's multi-faceted grace ministers through His people!

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Bible Students:

If you would like to read and study further about spiritual gifts, look at these passages:

Romans 12:3-13

1 Cor 12:4-31

Eph 4:7-16

Be sure to note what the goal or purpose (anticipated outcome) of the gifts is in each of these passages.  Our unity in diversity is a beautiful thing to behold!