In Godric, Frederick Buechner wrote, “Lust is the ape that gibbers in our loins. Tame him as we will by day, he rages all the wilder in our dreams by night.” Yet in 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 our Infinitely Wise Creator calls us to “abstain from sexual immorality” and “the passion of lust.” In this message we learn why God issues such a counter cultural vision for our sexuality and we discover a way of life that He uses to help us more faithfully manage “the ape that gibbers in our loins.”
After Jesus was resurrected, He appeared to the disciples, but Thomas was absent for this momentous event. He requested to see the physical body of the risen Jesus in order to believe, but his greater question wasn’t about receiving physical proof, it was about whether or not Jesus is God. He asked the same question that we and others have asked of Jesus for the last couple millennia: who are You to me? The answer: He is our Lord and God.
Just as a wildlife biologist exercises appropriate authority in the wilderness for the flourishing of an ecosystem and the enjoyment of it by people, the Apostle Paul exercises spirit-led authority in the epicenter of the “gentile wilderness” for people to flourish with the living water of Christ Jesus like never before. Paul exhibits clear vision, persistence, and responsiveness in developing a team that’s focused, firmly grounded, equipped, and ready to begin a dramatic movement. It’s empowered by the Holy Spirit Himself. When servants of King Jesus capture the opportunities presented to them by the Spirit of the Living God, they exercise authority for a flourishing movement, even (especially!) in the midst of the wilderness. What wilderness are you called into, today?
If you identify as a follower of Jesus (a disciple) do you find yourself growing in a loving and joyful spiritual union with Him? Are you experiencing more of His love, joy, peace and self-control? Are you delighting more in God and trespassing away from Him less? Are you having an expanded capacity to serve others with the gifts God has given you? If so, praise God! If not, this message is a serious invitation to reflect on how your journey of faith in Jesus began. Contractors, engineers and Jesus agree on this – foundations matter. In Acts 19:1-7 we meet 12 men who revisited the foundation of their faith and discovered a significant void in their understanding of Jesus and His Holy Spirit. After filling in this gap these men believed what they were taught, were blessed by God with the indwelling of His Holy Spirit and given a fresh opportunity to begin well in their life with Christ. It will be worthwhile for many today, who consider themselves Christians but lack the fruit listed above, to do the same.
Philip was an ordinary man who had a an extraordinary impact. He sparked disciple-making movements that reached the ends of the earth by impacting one life at a time. Philip was molded by God and then sent by God Himself to multiply his spiritual life. Will you be molded by God so that He can multiply the Kingdom through you? The choice is yours — Bashful bystander or moldable multiplier.
You can sometimes tell a lot about a person, from the way they die. Stephen, the “Jesus is Lord” movement’s first martyr, is one of those cases. The narrative of Stephen in Acts 6 and 7 gives us great insight into someone spiritually mature – someone described as “full of grace and power,” “full of faith and of the Holy Spirit,” and wise beyond his peers. So how is it possible that someone like that would drive the leaders of a nation into a mob frenzy that ends up killing him? The answer is a surprising one: because God was looking for someone to deliver a strong message to his leaders (“your God is too small!”), and in so doing plant the seed of a disciple-making movement beyond the understanding of anyone else living at that time.
Acts 4 picks up the story a few hours after the crippled man has been healed… Peter and John are arrested and detained for upsetting the peace with their “uneducated” teaching, and for convincing people to join the “Jesus is Lord” movement. For the first time, the apostles find themselves in the exact same place Jesus was just weeks prior: in front of the ruling religious council of their day, being strongly questioned. Previously, this environment was the catalyst for Peter’s cowardly denials of Jesus as he observed the hostility and authority of the council to put his master to death. However, in this “second chance,” Peter stays on offense, yet respectfully. Through his response to the council’s intimidation, he provides one of the strongest case studies in the power of the Holy Spirit to transform people fully, into who they were created to be, in the image of Jesus himself.
A question is a window into the inquirer’s soul and an open door for the careful listener to bring a blessing. When Jesus’ disciples declared the wonders of God in various unlearned languages on the Day of Pentecost, those who had previously joined in the murder of Jesus raised a question, “What does this mean?” The former fisherman, whom Jesus had called with a vision to become a fisher of men, brought an unexpected blessing to all the inquirers of his day and ours. Peter declared this phenomenon to be further proof of a most astounding reality – God has made Jesus both Lord and Christ. Did you know that God the Father has given His Son all authority in heaven and on earth? In this message we hear this declaration and are called to turn from our lesser view of Jesus in order to enter the real world in which Jesus is Lord of all.
Throughout the Scriptures God promised to pour his own Spirit into his people. The eternal presence of God would one day come to live in us, be with us and empower us to joyfully tell others about God and his mighty works. While on earth Jesus also spoke of this “promise of the Father.” Then, […]
What should I do with my life? What can I do that could possibly make a difference? Is there some way I could improve the world? Followers of Jesus have the privilege of uniting with Him in the greatest mission of all – to see people in our city and around the world restored to […]