Active Waiting

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Photo by Michelle Pearson

Active Waiting
1 Corinthians 1:4-7

In my 30+ years in the business management world, I have had to go to more seminars and watch more training videos than I can count. I have seen Tony Robbins, Zig Ziglar, and even Robert Schuller. These guys talked about everything from management styles to team building, but one thing that most of them talked about was active listening. I’m sure you’ve all heard someone talk about this. Not listening passively, but really getting in there, commenting about what they are saying, responding with phrases like, “what I hear you saying is…”
Well, Paul starts out his letter to the church at Corinth by telling them to practice active waiting. Right after his usual greeting of grace and peace, Paul says this, “4 I always thank my God for you and for the gracious gifts he has given you, now that you belong to Christ Jesus. 5 Through him, God has enriched your church in every way—with all of your eloquent words and all of your knowledge. 6 This confirms that what I told you about Christ is true. 7 Now you have every spiritual gift you need as you eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 1:4-7.
Notice in verse 4, he doesn’t just say that he thanks God for them, he says that he always thanks God for them. We need to be thankful for other believers, even if they don’t belong to our denomination, and we need to do this always, not just every now and then. We also need to be specific when we thank God for other believers. Paul says that he thanks God for the gifts that He has given them. Spoiler Alert…Although Paul does genuinely thank God for their spiritual gifts, he will be reprimanding them later in his letter for their misuse of those same gifts, so this is somewhat of a setup.
In verse 5 he talks about how God has enriched their church through Christ Jesus in every way, and he says God did this with their eloquent words and knowledge. So, what Paul is doing here is reminding them that all their eloquent words and knowledge come from Jesus. This is important for all of us to remember, especially those of us who are pastors, or leaders of any kind. Remember what we read in James 4:10, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.” And, what does 2 Samuel 22:28 say? “You rescue the humble, but your eyes watch the proud and humiliate them.” Believe me, you don’t want God to humiliate you, so humble yourself before Him. This is just a couple of verses, there are dozens of verses throughout scripture that remind us that God opposes the proud.
In verse 6 Paul reminds them that all these things, their knowledge, eloquence, and spiritual gifts, are just testimonies that what he told them about Christ was true.
Now, look at what he says in verse 7. He tells them that, in Christ, they have every spiritual gift they need to await Christ’s return eagerly. We need to expect the second coming eagerly. Friends, if you haven’t noticed, it won’t belong. So, what does he mean by eagerly wait? The Greek word used here is, ἀπεκδέχομαι apekdéchomai, ap-ek-dekh’-om-ahee, and it means to expect fully. We need to fully expect the second coming of Christ in our lifetime. We need to live every day as if we knew that Jesus was coming back today.
Eagerly Waiting or Fully Expecting isn’t a passive thing. As Christ followers, we must be actively waiting and expecting the second coming. Michelle and I are doing research right now which will be coming out in an upcoming book. We are co-writing this one, and it will be called, Life as We Knew It, One Couple’s Awakening.” What we have been uncovering is a staggering amount of corruption and just pure evil in our world today. It is steeped in U.S. and world politics, in Hollywood, and in the media. Not only that, it is throughout our schools of higher learning, science, and even the general public. It is an evil world we live in, worse than the days of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all Christ followers must be awakened to it, so we know what we are up against.
We can’t just live our lives with our heads in the sand, we need to wake up and stand together. If you have been reading my blogs, you know that I talk a lot about the importance of unity within the body of Christ. The only way that we can be effective against the evil of this world is if we stand together as one body! We must put aside all our denominational differences. There is only one doctrine that should divide us, and that is salvation by God’s grace and through our life-changing faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! Literally, nothing else matters! So, it doesn’t matter if you are a Calvinist, an Arminian, or anything else, as long as you are straight on the issue of salvation, you are my brother or sister.
Look at the New Testament. There were no denominations, many churches were making up one body, with Christ as the head. Now, look at 2 Chronicles 7:14, “Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.” I’m sure most of us have read this verse and heard multiple sermons on it. But, look at that word, “wicked.” The Hebrew word that was translated as “wicked” is the word, רַע raʻ, rah, which means; bad, disagreeable, malignant, evil, and divisive. So, this verse is telling us that we believers must be humble, pray, seek God’s face, and turn from our wicked and divisive ways, if we want to see God heal our land.
We must join together as one body and actively await the coming of Christ. Let’s pray for a great revival in our land, a great awakening if you will.

Imitate God

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Photo by Michelle Pearson

Imitate God

Matthew 28:19 tells us, “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” Notice it doesn’t say to go make congregations or go make audiences. The word disciple was coined by the Pharisees. A disciple was a student of that Pharisee but was much more than that. They would follow the Pharisee around everywhere and imitate exactly what they did. If the Pharisee was studying the Torah, the disciple was studying the Torah, if the Pharisee was eating, the disciple was eating, if the Pharisee was going to the bathroom…well, you get the picture. So, when Christ said go make disciples, He was telling us to go make imitators of Him. If we are truly a disciple of Christ, we do everything that He would have done. Remember those WWJD bracelets and shirts? Of course, like everything else, it became more religion, just another Christian fad, but that is a true disciple. A real disciple would ask themselves in every situation, What Would Jesus Do?

So, it’s no surprise that Paul starts out the 5th chapter of Ephesians by saying, “Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children.Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.” Ephesians 5:1-2. Notice he doesn’t say to imitate God in some things, he says to imitate God in everything we do. Remember what he said in 1 Corinthians 5:31, “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” We must glorify God in everything we do, even eating and drinking.

Paul even goes on to tell us why we should imitate God, he says at the end of verse 1 that we should want to do this because we are His children. Remember back to Ephesians 1:5 where Paul says, “He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,” Notice he specifically says that we were adopted as sons. He doesn’t say sons and daughters, but that we are all, male and female, adopted as sons. The reason he says this it that at the time this letter was written to the church at Ephesus, the male child got all the inheritance. So, what he is saying here is that we are all equally adopted with full benefits. You see, there might have been some chauvinism among the people of that day, but not with God. Paul laid it out even clearer to the Galatian church when he said, 26 For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. 28 There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.” Galatians 3:26-29. You see, people can be prejudiced, sadly even God’s people can get that way, but God loves us all equally.

Verse 2 of our passage goes into the theme that is throughout the New Testament, the theme of Unity of the Body of Christ. I know this particular verse doesn’t say to be united directly, but that’s what this message of love is all about. Remember what Jesus said when the Pharisee asked Him what the most important law was? Matthew 22:37-40, 37 Jesus replied, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” If we love God and love each other the way that God loves us, we won’t be breaking the commandments. We talked a lot about love in a previous blog titled “A More Excellent Way.” Love is the one spiritual gift that all of us can have and the only spiritual gift that we can take to heaven with us because it is the only one we will need in heaven. Think about it, we won’t need prophecy because we will know things the way God knows us. We won’t need tongues because we will all be speaking the same heavenly language. We won’t need miracles because there will be no sickness or disease. And, as far as gifts of teaching and admonishing and service, we will be learning at the feet of Jesus…is not that beautiful?

Paul tells us to follow Christ’s example. He says that Christ’s sacrifice was “a pleasing aroma to God.” Jesus selflessly gave His life as a sacrifice for our sins. He left the perfection of heaven to come to earth, be born as a man, live 33 years all the while being ridiculed and persecuted, then died on a cross for the forgiveness of our sins. Paul says this was a pleasing aroma to God. The Old Testament talks a lot about the sacrifices being a sweet-smelling aroma to God and Paul is saying that Jesus, the perfect sacrifice, was a pleasing aroma.

He goes on to say that our love for each other is a fragrant aroma to God. Look at Philippians 4:15-20, it says, 15 As you know, you Philippians were the only ones who gave me financial help when I first brought you the Good News and then traveled on from Macedonia. No other church did this. 16 Even when I was in Thessalonica you sent help more than once. 17 I don’t say this because I want a gift from you. Rather, I want you to receive a reward for your kindness. 18 At the moment I have all I need—and more! I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me with Epaphroditus. They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God. 19 And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. 20 Now all glory to God our Father forever and ever! Amen.” You see, the gifts that the Philippian church sent to Paul were a sweet-smelling sacrifice to God. By loving others, by helping others, by imitating Christ, we can present a fragrant aroma to God.

To sum it up, Imitate God, Love Others, and take what God has blessed you with, and use it to bless others.

Just Do Right!

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Photo by Michelle Pearson

Just Do Right!

In our last 3 blogs, we talked about what a pastor’s job is and then what will happen when he does his job. The Bible tells us that, once the pastor trains us to do the work for ourselves, we will become mature and will not live like the heathens do. Paul finishes Ephesians chapter 4 by summing up what will happen once we all fall in love with Christ and spend our days studying His Word.

He starts out in verse 25 by saying, “So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body.” This is one of the 10 Commandments, “Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness Against Thy Neighbor.” So, don’t lie to, or about your neighbor. Remember the name Christian means, “Christlike.” We are to be like Christ and love our neighbor as ourselves. Did you know that the Bible tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves 10 different times? The first time was in Leviticus 19:18, “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against a fellow Israelite, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.” Then we see it all throughout the New Testament. Remember in Matthew 22 when Christ said that the most important commandment was to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” He then went on to say that the second most important commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself. Christ finished this in verse 40 by saying, “The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” You see, if we love God and love our neighbor like we love ourselves, we will be keeping all the commandments.

In Ephesians 4:26-27 Paul goes on to say, 26And ‘don’t sin by letting anger control you.’ Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 for anger gives a foothold to the devil.” The reason “don’t sin by letting anger control you” is in quotes is because it is a quote from Psalm 4:4, “Don’t sin by letting anger control you. Think about it overnight and remain silent.” When we go to bed angry we are laying there stewing on the thing or person we are angry about. What did Jesus say about this? Matthew 5:21-22, 21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.” Jesus didn’t mess around, He is saying that if you hate someone in your heart you are guilty of murder. Have you ever caught yourself saying, “I wish they were dead?” Then, you are guilty of murder. He goes on to say the same goes for adultery. If you lust after someone in your heart you are guilty. Christ said all this to show us that we can’t get to heaven by keeping the law because the law is impossible to keep. Paul goes on to tell us throughout his writings, as you can see in Romans chapter 8, that the law was never meant to save us, it was meant to show us our need for God. That was just a side note…no charge. But, the point is that we shouldn’t go to bed angry, it will lead us to sin. So, if you are angry don’t hold a grudge, take care of it before you go to bed. You may be tired in the morning, but you’ll feel a lot better.

The next thing we see in our passage is “If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need.” Ephesians 4:28. Paul doesn’t pull any punches, he hits it with both barrels. There’s no need to explain this one, just don’t do it!

The next verse is tough for a lot of Christians today. Many believe that it’s okay to use foul language as long as they are not taking the Lord’s name in vain. I have been told by many people who claim the name of Christ that the Bible never says not to cuss, it says not to take the Lord’s name in vain. These are people who haven’t read much of the Bible. Ephesians 4:29 tells us, “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” In fact, Jesus talked about it in Matthew 15. He said in verses 10-11, “Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. ‘Listen,’ he said, ‘and try to understand. 11 It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.’” Then, after Peter asked what He meant by that, Jesus said in verses16-20, 16 ‘Don’t you understand yet?’ Jesus asked. 17 ‘Anything you eat passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer. 18 But the words you speak come from the heart—that’s what defiles you. 19 For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. 20 These are what defile you. Eating with unwashed hands will never defile you.’” The pastor I grew up under always said, “Your life may be the only Bible some people ever open” and that is so true. We are defiling ourselves before the world by claiming the name of Christ, then talking like the world. And, by the way, you can take the Lord’s name in vain without ever opening your mouth. If you are claiming to be a Christian and living like the world, you are taking the Lord’s name in vain. In fact, the next verse in our passage says just that, “And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.” Ephesians 4:30.

Paul ends this passage by saying, “31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. 32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:31-32. Look at this list. He says to get rid of ALL bitterness, ALL rage, ALL anger, ALL harsh words, ALL slander, then he says that while you’re at it, just get rid of ALL evil behavior.

What does Paul end it with? He says to just love each other and forgive each other the way that God has forgiven you. Bob Jones Sr. said it best when he said, “Do right until the stars fall.” Just Do Right!

My Book is Here!

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Available on Amazon

Well, it’s finally here. My book has been published and is available on Amazon in both paperback and electronic versions. My book is the same title as this blog and, although there will be some of the same content, it is different.

This book compares the early church we see in the New Testament to the Church today and looks at where we went wrong as well as what we can do to get back to where we should be. Together we are His house. Cathedral Made of People is a book to the Church and for the Church. Have you ever wondered why the Church today isn’t world changers like the early Church was? When studying to plant my first church, God led me to compare the Church today to the early Church of the New Testament. As I did this, I began to see vast differences that answered many questions for me. The first Church fought against religion, they focused on unity and were world changers, while the Church today is religious, divided, and largely ineffective. It is my goal through this book to awaken the Church to seek to be more like the Church of the New Testament.

Please read it and share it. If you are a pastor, share it with your church, if you are not a pastor, share it with your pastor. This is a message that we all need to hear and changes we all need to work on.

You can buy a copy by clicking on the link above, or contact me and I will ship you a copy. Also, and most important, pray for me and this book that the message will spread across the country and the world.

What’s a Pastor to Do?

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Photo by Michelle Pearson

What’s a Pastor to Do?

Have you ever wondered why God gave us Pastors? Well, let’s look at Ephesians 4;11-12 and see what the Bible has to say about them. It says, 11 Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.”

So, the first thing this tells us is that Christ Himself gave the Church 4 gifts; Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, and Pastors. How often do you look at your Pastor as a gift from Jesus? If you don’t, maybe it’s time you start…just a thought. Anyway, let’s take a minute to look at these 4 gifts.

  1. Apostles, these are special ambassadors of God’s work, they provide a foundation for the Church as described in Ephesians 2:20, “Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself.”
  2. Prophets are also here to provide a foundation for the Church, as we just saw in Ephesians 2:20. The Prophet is defined in the Strong’s Concordance as: “One who, moved by the Spirit of God and hence His organ or spokesman, solemnly declares to men what he has received by inspiration, especially concerning future events, and in particular such as related to the cause and kingdom of God and to human salvation.”
  3. Evangelists are specifically gifted to preach the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ.
  4. Pastors and teachers (or, pastor-teachers; the ancient Greek clearly describes one office with two descriptive titles). The role of a pastor goes far beyond just teaching, the word literally means shepherd. The shepherd is responsible for the wellbeing of the sheep.

These gifts of the Spirit are given at the discretion of Jesus, working through the Holy Spirit, as we see in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11.

So, what does this passage say the pastor’s job is? We all know that he is to shepherd the Church, but what is his specific job? Verse 12 gets right down to the brass tacks, it says, “Their responsibility is…” that’s pretty clear, right? So, what is it? “to equip God’s people to do His work and build up the church, the body of Christ.” So, the pastor is a trainer for a bodybuilder, the Body of Christ. He makes sure we have the proper equipment, and that we know how to use it. But, even if the bodybuilder has all the best equipment available, and has been taught how to use it, but doesn’t put any work into it, he won’t be effective. Like in the movie Central Intelligence, Kevin Heart’s character asked Dwayne Johnson’s character, “What did you do?” referring to his muscles, and Dwayne’s character said, “I just did one thing…I worked out six hours a day, every day, for the last twenty years straight.” You see, the pastor is not there to do the work for us, he is there to equip us and make sure we are doing the work properly. And, by the way, that work can never end. I once saw an interview with Arnold Schwarzenegger, and he was asked if he will ever stop working out. His answer was that if he stopped, it would kill him. He said that he would have to keep working out for the rest of his life. We can never stop doing the work. One of my favorite stories was told by a former pastor of mine, Terry Larimore. He was talking about a visit to his 92-year-old grandfather, who was a retired pastor. He said that when he walked into the room, his grandfather was sitting at the table reading his Bible. He looked at Terry and said, “Come here Terry, let me show you what I learned today.” You see, we can never stop doing the work, we can never stop learning, we can never stop growing.

The next thing it says is, the pastor will keep doing this until we are mature and can measure up to Christ’s standard, and after that, we won’t be swayed by false doctrine. We will be so immersed in the Scripture that nothing or no one will be able to move us. We will be so filled with the Word of God that when those false teachers come, and they will come, we will speak the truth in love, and in every way, we will grow more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body…we will become Christians, Christ-like. I love the way he ends this passage. In verse 16 he says, “He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” Christ, being the head of the body is the glue that holds us together. Then, after we are mature and held together in Christ, we will work together to be healthy and grow and full of love. Did you see that? We are training so that we can work together as one body to become more like Christ. And, notice he is very clear that we all are different parts of the same body. As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 12:17, “If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything?” So, we need to celebrate our different Spiritual Gifts and grow together in Christ.

You see, we were not called to be spectators, we were called to be doers of the word, James 1:22, and we were called to be disciples or imitators of Christ, Matthew 28:19. If we all would set aside our preconceived beliefs and what we have been taught by people, and study the Bible, in context as a whole, we wouldn’t need all the different denominations. If we all did this, I genuinely believe we would all believe the same things. Now, of course, we are human, and we will probably have some minor differences, but overall, we will see eye to eye. Overall, we will be united, we will be one body.

Infinitely More!

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Photo by Michelle Pearson

Infinitely More

There are many prayers recorded in the Bible. When we look, we find the Prayer of Jabez in 1 Chronicles 4:9-10, the prayer Jesus prayed before going to the cross in John 17, as well there are many prayers in the Psalms and more than ten of Paul’s prayers printed in the Bible. But, the one we want to focus on this week is found in Ephesians chapter 3, Paul again tells us what he prayed for the Church. He says in verses 16-19, 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.”

He starts out his prayer by asking God to empower us. A more literal translation is “that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man.” We have seen this word he uses for power before. It is the Greek word, δύναμις, δυνάμεως, ἡ; dynamis; (dü’-nä-mēs) From the Strong’s Concordance: (from Homer down); the Sept. for חַיִל, גְּבוּרָה, עֹז, כֹּחַ, צָבָא (an army, a host); strength, ability, power; a. universally, “inherent power, power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature, or which a person or thing exerts and puts forth”: Luke 1:17; Acts 4:7. This is an inherent power, it is innate within God, and it is the root word for our word, dynamite.

So, Paul is praying that we can be strengthened with this power. If you remember, this isn’t the first time that Paul prayed this. Back in Ephesians 1:18-19 Paul said, 19 I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power 20 that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.” Paul is praying that God would strengthen us with the same innate, explosive power that raised Jesus from the dead and seated Him at the right hand of the Father…Wow!

But, he says that he wants us to be strengthened by the Holy Spirit in the inner man. We all know the importance of strengthening our outer man, but it is equally important, actually more so, that we strengthen our inner man. The only way we can strengthen our inner man is to spend quality time studying the Word and praying. And, He’s not going to just give us some of this power, He is going to give it according to the riches of His glory…that’s a lot!

He goes on to say that as we gain this power, then Christ will make His home in our hearts and our roots will grow deep in God’s love to make us strong. The Psalmist also compared us to a tree. He said in the first chapter of Psalms that those of us who delight in the law of the Lord and meditate on it all the time will be “like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.” Again, we strengthen that inner man by delighting in the Word of God and meditating on it day and night.

In verse 18 Paul says that through this power we may be able to understand the length and width and depth of God’s love, but then in verse 19 he says that we could never fully understand it. Once we have gained that power and understood His great love, to the extent that we can, we will be made complete. You see, that is the only way we will ever be made complete because without Christ we can never be complete. There is a hole in our soul that only Jesus can fill.

Now, let’s check out the end of his prayer. In verses 20-21 Paul says, 20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.” Not only can this Dynamis power strengthen us and empower us, but it can accomplish INFINITELY more than we could even ask for. In fact, this power can do more than we could even imagine. Now, I have a pretty good imagination, but God’s Power can do more than I can even dream up…that’s a lot.

This isn’t just the end of this prayer, it is wrapping up every blessing spoken in these first three chapters. God can do all of this because He can do far beyond our ability to ask or think. One translation says that God can do “exceeding abundantly” above what we can ask or think. Charles H. Spurgeon had this to say about that phrase, “He has constructed here in the Greek an expression which is altogether his own. No language was powerful enough for the apostle, – I mean for the Holy Ghost speaking through the apostle, – for very often Paul has to coin words and phrases to shadow forth his meaning, and here is one, ‘He is able to do exceeding abundantly,’ so abundantly that it exceeds measure and description.” In Jeremiah 32:27 God said, “I am the Lord, the God of all the peoples of the world. Is anything too hard for me?” The answer is a resounding NO!

Paul ends this prayer by giving praise to God because, at the end of the day, that’s why we are here.

Cathedral Made of People

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Photo by Michelle Pearson

Cathedral Made of People

Everyone loves the title of my blog, which is also the title of my upcoming book, but I can’t take credit for this title, Cathedral Made of People is the title of a song by the group, Downhere. The song lyrics say:

If they shut down the churches
Where would you go?
If they melted all the
stained-glass windows
Replaced every sanctuary
with a condo
Where would you go?
Where would you go?

We are a cathedral
made of people
In a kingdom that
the eye can’t see
We’re a house, we are the bride
Where God’s Spirit lives inside
And nothing ever
can stand against her

It goes on to ask questions like, “If they burned every Bible, what would you know?” And, “If they declared your devotion to be criminal, what would you know?” This has been the theme of everything I have written for the last four or five years, we are the body of Christ. Your church building isn’t your church, your church is you and your local group of believers, no matter if you meet in a building, in a park, or on a street corner. We must get this through our heads, we are the called out ones, “you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession.” 1 Peter 2:9.

The passage of the Bible that best describes this phenomenon is the last few verses of Ephesians chapter 2. Paul has just talked about tearing down the walls of division and has said that there is no division in Christ, no Jew or Gentile, no bond or free, no male or female, we are one in Christ. He ends this passage by saying this, 20 Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself.21 We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. 22 Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit.” Ephesians 2:20-22.

What does Paul mean when he says we are “built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets?” He is saying that our foundation must be the word of God. A building is only as strong as the foundation it is built on and there is no foundation stronger than the word of God. I remember back in the 80s when we were living in central Florida, I was managing a hotel which is located at the entrance of Cypress Gardens in Winter Haven. Right across the street, they were building this high-rise condominium building called The Marlborough. We watched for months as the workers were building it, it was huge, and the top floor was all one penthouse condo for the owner. Months had gone by and they had already presold many of the units when one day we came to work and noticed that the building was leaning drastically to the right. They had to tear down the building and the owner went bankrupt because they didn’t build it on a firm foundation. So, I need to say this, if you are attending a church whose foundation is not on the word of God, you need to get out and find another church because that is not a church, it is a social club.

We see more about this foundation in the book of Matthew. He chronicles many of Jesus’ teachings and parables throughout his book. In chapter 5 Matthew tells us about the sermon on the mount and then goes on to give many of Jesus’ sermons all the way through chapter 7. The last in this list is found in Matthew 7:24-29 where he says, 24 “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. 25 Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. 26 But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. 27 When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.” 28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29 for he taught with real authority—quite unlike their teachers of religious law.” Again, Christ is telling us that we must be built on the firm foundation of the word of God.

Paul goes on to say, in Ephesians 5:20, that Jesus Himself is the cornerstone. So, what is the significance of a cornerstone? According to Wikipedia, “The cornerstone (or foundation stone or setting stone) is the first stone set in the construction of a masonry foundation, important since all other stones will be set in reference to this stone, thus determining the position of the entire structure.” So, our foundation is on God’s Word, and Christ is the stone that determines the position of the entire building. Christ makes sure we are always positioned right.

Paul goes on to say that we are “carefully joined together in him”. We aren’t just thrown together, we are laid carefully right where God wants us, and we are joined together in Christ. This might be a good time to go back and read my blog titled, “In Christ” and remind ourselves what it really means to be In Christ. Paul goes on to say that through this process we are becoming a holy temple for the Lord. Remember, your church building isn’t the temple of the Holy Spirit, you are, in fact, Paul told us in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, 19 Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, 20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.”

He ends the passage by saying that, through Christ, we Gentiles are made part of God’s dwelling. Remember what we talked about the last couple of weeks. The big racial divide in those days wasn’t what we deal with today. It wasn’t about the color of their sin; the big racial divide back then was between Jews and Gentiles. Now, don’t get me wrong, the Jews were God’s chosen people, but because of religion, they believed that if you weren’t Jewish, you weren’t anything. God never told them this, their religion did. So, Jesus tore down that wall of religion and built a new building for His Holy Spirit to live in, a Cathedral Made of People.

How Do We Stop Division?

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Photo by Michelle Pearson

How Do We End the Division?

A few weeks ago, we looked at how the Gentiles were separated from God by religion, then last week, in my blog titled “Let the Walls Come Down”, we talked about ending division in the body of Christ. Okay, so if we are going to end this division, how do we do it? The beauty is that, just like with salvation, Christ has ended it for us and all we need to do is accept what He has done.

Let’s pick up where we left off last week and look at the next two verses. Ephesians 2:15-16 says, 15 He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups. 16 Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death.”

Paul starts out these two verses by letting us know that the first thing Christ did to stop the division was to end the system of law. You see, the law did nothing but divide the Church. The Bible is clear that the law was never meant to save us, it was meant to show us our need for God. If we try to keep the law, we will just end up sinning. Take a minute to read Romans chapter 7, Paul explains it very well in that chapter. We also read in Romans 8:3, “The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins.” So, the Jewish people of the Old Testament were not saved by the law as some will try to tell you, they were saved by God’s grace, through their faith in the coming Messiah. If you question that, read Hebrews chapter 11, now take a close look at everyone mentioned in that “Hall of Faith”; Able, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, the people of Israel, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, and Samuel, every one of these people lived before Christ, they all lived during the Old Testament times and were all saved by their faith.

So, Christ ended division, first by ending religion. You see, the religious people of the Old Testament times were the ones who made salvation about keeping the law, just like the religious people today often do. Religion is manmade and always tries to make it about us. But, the truth is, we can’t save ourselves, without the death burial and resurrection of Jesus, we have no hope.

Paul finishes verse 15 by saying that Christ was able to end the division between the two divisive groups, “by creating in himself one new people from the two groups.” He made us all one body. I believe I showed you these verses last week, but they are worth looking at again, Galatians 3:26-29 says, 26 For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. 28 There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.” So, what exactly is this saying? It says that once we are in Christ, ALL division is gone. He says there is no more racial division, there is no more sexism, there is no more class envy, and why is that? Because we are all one in Christ!

So, Christ ended religion, He ended racism, sexism, classism…He ended all the isms. The reason we don’t see denominations in the New Testament is that Christ ended them when He died on the cross.

Verse 16 goes on to say that he brought us together as ONE BODY. So, how did He do that? As this verse goes on to say “Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross” Christ’s death on the cross ended denominations, it ended division, it ended religion. Religion and division were hung on the cross with Christ!

Paul ends this passage by saying, “and our hostility toward each other was put to death.” Friends, if you belong to a church group who are hostile toward anyone, you need to leave, it’s that simple. And, it’s time to ask ourselves, “has my hostility towards others been put to death?” If the answer isn’t a resounding YES, even if you had to hesitate for a moment to think about it, then you need to take care of that right now. Lay the burden of hostility, hate, and division at the feet of Jesus. As it says in Psalm 55:22, “Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.”

Here’s the thing, it’s not really our doctrines that divide us, it’s our pride. You see, we have developed these doctrines and will fight for them to the death. Many of which were contrived by taking scripture out of context, or even worse, someone came up with an idea and then took scripture out of context to back it up. I’ll say it again, the only doctrine that matters is salvation by God’s grace, through our life-changing faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ…absolutely nothing else matters! Paul told the church at Corinth in 1 Corinthians 2:2, “For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified.” Again, nothing else matters!

Let The Walls Come Down

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Photo by Michelle Pearson

Let the Walls Come Down

Far too often people accuse Christians as being racist, prejudiced, or sexist and sadly that is often the truth. I have even heard pastors and other people who identify as Christians try to take scripture out of context to defend their bigoted beliefs. Ephesians 2:13-14 tells us, 13 But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ. 14 For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us.” You must realize, at that time Jew and Gentile were the big racial division, Jews hated Gentiles and vice versa.

Do you see what it says in verse 14? It says that “Christ himself has brought peace to us.” Then, it goes on to say that He united all races on the cross. It says He broke down the walls of division. By now you know that I love music and there is a song from the 90s that I love. It’s by the artist, Steve Green and the song is called, “Let the Walls Come Down”, the song says:

All throughout the spirit realm a fearsome battle rages
The fates of men and nations hang suspended in the fray
Walls designed by Satan in the twilight of the ages
Now stand as great divisions all across the world today

Walls not born of government nor strife amid the nations
But walls within our churches and between denominations
Stones of dry tradition carved in fear and laid in pride
Become a dismal prison to those withering inside

Chorus:
Let the walls come down
Let the walls come down
Let the walls that divide us
And hide us come down
If in Christ we agree
Let us seek unity
Let the walls
Let the walls come down
Let the walls
Let the walls come down

Here’s the thing, Paul said in Galatians 3:26-28, 26 For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. 28 There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.” How much clearer could he be? There is NO division in Christ!

We see this again in Paul’s letter to the Church at Corinth. In 1 Corinthians 12, he is comparing the Church to a human body. He is talking about how we all have different spiritual gifts and abilities and how each of these gifts represents different parts of this body. In verses 26 and 27 he says, 26 If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. 27 All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.” I want to be clear because I never want to look like I’m taking anything out of context. This passage is talking about the gifts of the Spirit not different races, but these two verses apply to both. We are all different parts of the same body; no part is better than the next and no part is dispensable. If one suffers, we all suffer and if one is blessed, we are all blessed.

In 1 Corinthians 1:10, right at the beginning of the letter, Paul pleads with the Church to get along, he says, “I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.” Do you see that? He says there is to be NO division in the Church!

I’m going to move away from the topic of racial division for a minute. I’ve said it before and I’ll keep on saying it. If you are a Christ follower, you are my brother or sister. The only thing that should divide us is, do you believe in salvation by God’s grace, through your life-changing faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ? Absolutely nothing else matters! If the Church is going to survive, if we are to make an impact on our world today, we must tear down the walls of prejudice, racism, sexism, and denomination. This is the only way we will survive!

As a whole, racism and sexism have been removed from the Church today. Sadly, there are still people calling themselves Christians who are ignorant, and there will always be ignorant people out there. But we must stop the division of denominations! Again, I’m not talking about ecumenicalism. I’m not talking about throwing out all doctrine and standing around a campfire and singing kumbaya.

The problem is that most of the doctrines that divide the different Christian denominations were derived by someone taking something out of context, or even worse, someone coming up with a doctrine, then taking scripture out of context to validate it. I wrote one of my earlier blogs titled, “An Example” on one of these divisive doctrines, that of dispensationalism. I chose that specific doctrine because it was one I was taught my whole life and believed most of my life. But, when I put away everything I was taught by men and took the Bible literally, in context, as a whole, I saw the truth.

When I started writing my book, which should be coming out soon, I asked many pastors why they were part of whatever denomination they belonged to. I kept getting the same answer, they would say, “I am, fill in your denomination, because of how we interpret scripture.” I then would ask them, “Do you believe the Bible is the inerrant, infallible, verbally inspired word of God?” Well, not surprisingly, they all said yes, so I went on to ask them, “Are you perfect?” They all answered no so I said, “So, if you are not perfect, then your imperfect interpretation would make scripture no longer perfect.”

You see, the Bible never says that we are to interpret it. We must start taking the word of God literally, in context, as a whole. The problem is that this approach takes a lot of time and effort and it is easier to believe what other people are telling us. We, that is all Christians, must start doing the work. We must do the hard work as it says in 2 Timothy 2:15, “Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.” The thing is, we should want to. This is the book that God wrote to us, if you love God, you should long to read His book.

It is my belief that if we all were to do this. If we all were to study the word of God literally, in context, as a whole, we would all believe pretty much the same thing, and the walls of division would start coming down.

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