An Invitation

Then he said to me, "Write: 'Blessed [are] those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!'" And he said to me, "These are the true sayings of God." Revelation 19:9

There's some new Jeremy Camp song out where he starts the chorus with, "There will be a day...." That's really all I have memorized of the song, otherwise I'd share more (and I don't really feel like going to look up the lyrics). Anway, it has really got me thinking about that day when God will wipe away all our tears; the day when He makes all things new; the day when I will no longer have the life I have now.

That day will be an awesome day. Jesus will rule and reign on the earth (it won't be a democracy; we won't get to vote). There will be unprecedented peace. There will be rest. There will be singing and dancing and praising. I will be good at singing and dancing and praising! The worries of this life will be gone.

It's not that I don't like my life now. I love what God is doing in my life right now. But we mustn't lose sight of the fact that we are just pilgrims passing through.

Jesus is going to have a party someday. That's the day when Jesus will be united with His bride, the church. That's us, people. That party will be the party to top all parties. There's no way to describe just how completely and utterly blessed those people are who are called to this wedding supper.

I have my invitation. Do you?


Gifts and Offices

Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, [let us use them:] if prophecy, [let us] [prophesy] in proportion to our faith; or ministry, [let us use it] in [our] ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. Romans 12:6-8

But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit [of all:] for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another [different] kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. 1 Corinthians 12:7-11

And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. 1 Corinthians 12:28

And He Himself gave some [to be] apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers.... Ephesians 4:11

As I was going through Ephesians 4 this evening, I came across that familiar passage about certain positions or offices in the body of Christ. So I went to look up a few other passages and found these from Romans and 1 Corinthians.

As far as I can tell, there are certain offices that the Lord has in the body, and He gives those offices to certain people by His grace. There are also gifts (miracles, healings, tongues, etc.) that He gives as well, which are slightly different than the offices. Here are a few observations about these gifts and offices:

1.) It's the Lord who distributes these gifts. No one takes these gifts for himself.

2.) The people who operate in these gifts/offices do so by His power, not their own.

3.) These gifts are given for the profit of the entire body. We ought to use them with others in mind.

4.) Not everyone has certain gifts/offices. Just like on a football team, not everyone is a quarterback or lineman. Each has his own spot on the team for the benefit of the entire team.

5.) Love should be the over-arching attitude of all gifts and offices.

Another thing I've been thinking about lately with respect to where I'm serving "on the team" is something I read in a book awhile ago. It might be Jim Collins' Good to Great, but I'm not sure. The idea is (in any corporation or the church) that you want to have the right people in the right positions. God puts people in certain positions and gives people certain gifts so that the body can engage in ministry for maximum effect. In keeping with the football analogy, as a coach you don't draft 20 quarterbacks. No, you need certain people with certain gifts in certain positions so that the team can operate optimally.

There's an interesting phenomenon that takes place sometimes called the curse of competence. The idea here is that there are some people who are decent at a lot of things. These are the decathletes...they can be competitive in several different events. The problem is, if they have a gift for a certain thing, it can be hard to detect what it is because these people serve well in a variety of different positions. The curse comes when you just can't step out of the things you're good at to do the one thing you're great at. Sometimes people get burned out serving where they're not very well-equipped to serve. I wonder if this kind of stuff happens quite a bit in the body of Christ.

I've heard a lot of people say, "Oh he's got a gift for this..." or, "she's got a gift for that..." when in reality, that's not even a gift. Maybe sometimes we just aren't very familiar with what the Bible says are gifts and offices. I don't know.



I shared in small group tonight about how the Lord provides for us. We talked about the story of Israel wandering in the wilderness for forty years before coming into the promised land. Each day they were to get up and go gather manna (this bread from heaven that the Lord gave them) for the day. On the sixth day they were to gather twice as much so they had food for the Sabbath.

The interesting thing is, they gathered enough for that day, and they were not to leave any "leftovers." As such, they only got enough food for each day. Every night they went to bed they had no food in the house (or in the tent as it were). They had to trust that God would give them food for the next day.

As things get tight, especially in an economy like this, we must keep in mind that the Lord will provide for each of us, no matter how bad things get. Would it ever get to the point where we would have to look to Him each and every day for food? I don't know. But I know that the Lord will provide for us.


New Cool App

Normally I just post on Bible passages I'm reading. But my friend Scott Engbrecht told me about Twitter. Now I can do status updates to my blog and my Facebook from my cell phone via text messaging. Talk about useless (but very fun) technology.


Two Great Verses, One Great Truth

I read this in Ephesians 2 this morning:

"...even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)... "(verse 5)

It reminded me of one of my favorite verses elsewhere:

"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)

That verse in Ephesians is a great verse. Here Paul is telling us that even though we were wallowing in our own sin, Christ made us alive. This is the wonder of grace. It's not that Jesus waited around for us to straighten up our acts, or to try to clean up our lives a little bit so we would be good enough to save...no, right in the midst of our being dead in our sins, Christ made us alive. I love the parenthetical statement: "by grace you have been saved."

Grace saves you.

It's not works.

Jesus did for us what we could not do for ourselves.


The Law - Our Tutor

Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, "Abba, Father!" Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

Galatians 4:1-7

But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.

Galatians 3:22-25

Paul is explaining to the Galatians the purpose of the law. After having accepted Paul's teaching about Jesus Christ (that He died and rose again for our justification and sanctification), the Galatians were beginning to turn back to the law. He is reminding them that the purpose of the law is to point out sin. Once we come to the realization in our lives that we are sinners, that there is nothing we can do to clean up our own act, the purpose of the law has been fulfilled in our lives. We realize our filth, and we realize we need to go to Someone beyond ourselves for justification and sanctification. Once faith in Jesus comes, we mustn't turn back to the law. We are heirs of God through faith, not through the duty of law. We are sons and daughters of God because of what Jesus did, and not because of what we are trying to do. Make no mistake: faith is all about putting our trust in what Jesus did (past tense); law is all about doing this and doing that, and if we don't, we live under a curse. The law calls us to perfection, which we cannot live up to. Once we realize this, we have been "tutored" to realize that righteousness comes a different way: the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Our being children of God is based on faith, not the works of the law.


The Grace of Christ - Galatians

I started Galatians tonight. What a wonderful epistle! The words from Paul that strike me in this first chapter are:

"I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ to a different gospel, which is not another...."

The grace of Christ is such an incredible topic in and of itself...it is what separates Christianity from any other religion. God loves us aside from our works and showed us this love on the cross. The relationship with God that we can now have hinges fully on what God has done for us, rather than what we try and fail to do for Him.

The Galatians, after having received the grace of Christ, the free, unconditional love of God, were starting to turn back to the law. In other words, they were attempting to relate to God under the terms of the Law. It was so important for them to remember (as well as each of us), that we cannot, CANNOT relate to God under the terms of the law. Under the law, only the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies, once per year. No one else could. No one. That fact is still true. There's a lot more to it than this, but I don't have the time or space on this blog.

Anyway, Paul was saying that they were turning to another gospel, which is not another. In other words, they were turning to another "good news" which really was not "good news." Going back to a performance-based relationship with God is not good news, because we simply cannot live up to the holy standards He desires. That's the whole point of the law anyway: to show us we cannot live up to what He wants. Once we realize that, we are ready (more than ready!) to hear the true good news. The law is there to point us to Christ. Once we are pointed in the right direction, the grace of Christ takes us from there and teaches us how we can have a living, vibrant relationship with God. Those who have received the grace of Christ are welcome to come into the Holy of Holies as much as they want. In fact, we can live every minute there. Awesome!



Continuing to move through 2 Corinthians, I learned something out of chapter 9:

But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. As it is written:

"He has dispersed abroad,
He has given to the poor;
His righteousness endures forever."

Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness....(v. 6-10)

I would say 99.9% of the time we are concerning ourselves with the wrong thing. We concern ourselves with our jobs and making a living so we can provide for our families. Of course we have to go to work and pay the bills, but is this the main focus of our lives? If the point of living is to make a living and pile up money for retirement, then life is meaningless. In this passage it says that God is able to make all grace abound toward us, that we, having all sufficiency in all things, will have an abundance out of which we will be able to give. Wow. It's almost as if God is saying, "Hey look, I will take care of your needs so you can remain focused on taking care of others' needs." Those needs may be physical or spiritual, but either way, we should take this verse to mean that we can remain focused on kingdom stuff while He takes care of physical stuff. This verse goes perfectly hand in hand with that passage out of Matthew: "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." We must keep in mind that work and paychecks are side issues in comparison to kingdom issues.

I guess I stand corrected.