His Name, Our Unity

John 17:11   (KJV)   11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.

The Father has given His wonderful Name to the Son. It’s His very same Name that keeps or protects us. And one of the reasons His Name is keeping us is the oneness of His John 17.11 - His Name, Our Unitypeople—the church. The kind of oneness or unity he desires for us is that which is very intimate—as close as the oneness of the Father and the Son.

The unity of the church is very important to our Lord Jesus. It’s something I personally treasure, pray for, and pursue. Churches, preachers, and teachers talk about this, support and uphold this truth. But many of the actions I see seem to be very different.

An attack against the unity of the church is an attack against the Name of the Father. Our Father loves the Son, the Son loves His church—it’s His body. The Lord told us He will destroy those who destroy His temple. That’s completely understandable; we take that seriously. We pray that others humble themselves and honor the Name that protects them. As for us, we’re committed to it. We may not be as numerous as the needed voices, but we’re not silent.

Doing our Part

Ephesians 4:16   (KJV)   16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

There are no misfits in the body of Christ. God put us all together “perfectly.” We all have a part to play. We affect each other. How faithfully or unfaithfully we do our part Ephesians 4.16 - Doing Our Partdetermines whether or not we help each other grow in His love and likeness.

We serve others well; we serve others the best way we can. We don’t serve just for the sake of serving. This isn’t something we do just for the sake of fulfilling our obligation. If that’s the case, we would settle for the easiest ministry in the church. No; we pursue what we believe God has called us to. We seek out the best and greatest way we can serve the church—not for our own personal aggrandizement, enrichment, or popularity, but for the benefit of His children, His kingdom, His Name.

 

Gifted for Service

1 Corinthians 12:7    (KJV)   But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

Every person is a recipient of many gifts from God. No person can live without them. God is the Source of every good and perfect gift. He immensely enjoys blessing us. He’s a very generous God. Believers and unbelievers alike enjoy the graciousness of our God. All of us 1 Corinthians 12.7 - Gifted to Serveenjoy air, sunshine, and rain just the same. Of course, there are special callings, giftings, and endowments that are for believers only. We are definitely and humbly grateful to Him.

God’s spiritual gifts are priceless. They’re gifts; we don’t work for them. He chooses which gifts to give to whom. They are very helpful for our personal growth and ministry. But more than that, we help, encourage, and strengthen each other. Why is it important to be reminded of this? It’s because others easily get carried away and lured by personal interests. This is true even with believers.

We delight in serving the Lord and serving our brothers and sisters. His gifts allow us to go beyond the limitations of the natural. This is so good because there are many problem situations that natural resources can’t solve. We continue to look to our Father; always worshiping Him and giving Him the glory because without Him, we’re nothing. And one expression of our gratefulness is treasuring His gifts and using them, especially in serving His children with all He’s blessed us with.

Nothing to Fear

Luke 12:32   (KJV)   32 Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

Our precious Lord Jesus commands His flock—His children, not to fear anyone but God. One of the most important assurances He gives us is our heavenly Dad’s desire to give us His kingdom—whatever that may exactly mean. But that says a lot. Simply though, He’s luke-12-32-nothing-to-fearsaying we don’t have to fear anything because there’s no reason to. The cause may be material; it may be ideological; it may be social; His assurance is, He’s got us completely and safely covered.

Sure, there are things we don’t know about. We’re not sure how all details of our lives are going to play out, but God definitely guides us in areas where the choice is non-negotiable. There are expert schemers, and deceivers; some people in power may take advantage of us, but God is our vindicator; He’s in control of everything. Some people may succeed in hiding their insidious intents, but God has a way of eventually having their pernicious secrets whispered only behind the closed doors of their hearts to be shouted from the mountaintops for all to hear.

Some of us are threatened with death, but even the worst murderer can only touch our bodies; our God can do worse, and even throw the wicked to hell. Some of us may be threatened with lack, but we’ve never seen the righteous forsaken nor their seed begging for bread. He loves us so much that He makes the resources—even the power and authority of His Kingdom, available to us. We will be persecuted; we suffer the rise and fall of earthly kingdoms, but through it all, we worry not; we fear not; we live in the eternal, inexhaustible sphere. That’s where we wisely invest our treasures in; there’s where our hearts truly are. Our Dad is pleased for now to give us a foretaste of its reality; and even just this glimpse, its power and riches already blow our minds. We can only wonder about its wonders when it comes in the fullness of its power and glory.

Fire for the Lukewarm

Revelation 3:20   (KJV)   20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

It’s always gratifyingly comforting to know that our precious Lord Jesus wants to be constantly with us. He gave us His word: He will never leave or forsake us: He will be with us to the end of the age. People don’t always have the same level of appreciation for this. revelation-3-20-fire-for-the-lukewarmThere are those who don’t believe His existence; there are those who prefer Him not to exist; there are those who pursue morality, but they reject Christ.

Then there’s the church. In the church, we find those who still make wrong decisions and who pursue wrong priorities. Our best will still fall short. God will always be true and faithful; the church wants to be but isn’t always. There are those who lose their steam, their fire, their passion. Somehow, they get taken over by different interests, like material possessions, or even immoral desires.

Ungodliness belongs to the world, not the church. We fall; God knows and understands we will; He knows our frame; He knows our weaknesses. But He’s not pleased when we sit (stay) in the seat of the scornful. He’s particularly clear about this: He spews out the lukewarm. We don’t ever want to find ourselves in this dangerous state; we don’t want to face the Lord and realize that we’re wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked. Our eyes our set on true riches: the Pearl of Great Price. And our feet are set on the straight and narrow.

For those who humbly find themselves in this fearfully risky stage of lingering in wrong priority and desire, linger no more; there’s hope. Jesus, in His amazingly enduring patience and love, is knocking. It’s best to open the door, let Him come in, and let Him take His rightful place seated on your life’s throne. He will kindle the fire of your godly passion once again.

Spheres of Christian Existence

Luke 2:39   (KJV)   39 And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth.

We as believers live in variety of spheres: there’s the personal, the familial, the ecclesiastical, and the vocational, professional, or social. The most important is our personal relationship with God. This is our utmost priority. Next responsibility we have is luke-2-39-spheres-of-christian-existenceour family. This doesn’t take precedence over our relationship with God, but we don’t neglect this. The next is our ministry. This doesn’t take priority over our relationship with God and our family, but we serve our spiritual family and serve in the church. Next is the world around us. This doesn’t take priority over our relationship with God, etc., but we reach out to them and serve them.

There have been quite a few times when I met different people who were very vocal about their spirituality and their knowledge about the Bible. But when I asked them about their spiritual families (their local churches in particular), they told me that they don’t attend church. I’ve also met people who told me that their family is their church. I remember reaching out to a pastor friend of mine because not only has he stopped living out his calling, he and his entire family even stopped attending church. When I encouraged him to keep “pursuing” his call, he told me that he is pastoring—he’s pastoring his family. I explained to him that yes, we do “pastor” our families—they’re our responsibilities—the familial sphere, but he still had to serve in the context of being a part of the body of Christ. Sad to say, he didn’t change. By the time of this writing, it breaks my heart that his children are still lost.

Different spheres, different responsibilities, proper priorities. God gives us time for all of them. We’re not accountable for what we don’t have. We have twenty four hours a day, seven days a week; we juggle through all our complex schedules and indispensable responsibilities. We don’t neglect any of them. With the right priorities, proper balance, and good time management, we enjoy life to the fullest, yet relaxed and rested. We’re not stressed; we love life; people enjoy our presence; God’s pleased. Thank You Lord for a wonderful life.

Care for the Sheep

John 21:17  (KJV)   “He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.”

Those we love, we take care of.  It’s because of God’s great love for us that He takes great care of us; it’s because we sincerely love each other in the church that we naturally take good care of each other. We feed each other—both spiritually and physically. It’s because john-21-17-care-for-the-sheepwe fervently love the lost that we persistently reach out to them—that we willingly help them with their needs, especially their indispensable need for salvation. This is what our Lord Jesus repeatedly commissioned Peter to do as a responsibility that comes with his love for the Lord.

Our dear Lord Jesus loves us. He cares for us so much that He invites us all to cast all our often nerve-wrecking cares, worries, and concerns to Him. One of the interesting things He did with the apostles after His death and resurrection was to feed them and to eat with them. It’s almost allegorical—that’s what He did for three years: feed the apostles, especially with spiritual food.

He didn’t give up; it didn’t matter how many times the apostles failed to understand His teachings, how many times they forgot, how many times they failed; He just kept on caring for them; He just kept on feeding them. This is the pattern; we don’t get tired of teaching our brothers and sisters in Chrsit—repeatedly, continuously. Like physical food: we eat; we get hungry; we get weak; we eat again—the cycle continues.

Just because we’ve taught a certain truth to others doesn’t mean we expect them to go by the power of that one teaching without failing or falling until they meet the Lord. No; we clearly understand that they will get weak; we understand that properly caring for them is an invaluable task we’ll keep doing—without irritation, annoyance, or disappointment. We understand this because we too need and receive the same precious gracious, patient, persevering care. So yes, it’s a wonderful pleasure taking good care of others—again, and again.