Monthly Archives: April 2012

The Travels of Paul

This week’s reading continues to introduce us to the movement of the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts.  Having birthed the church in Jerusalem, the Holy Spirit scattered the church through the neighboring regions and world spreading the gospel of Christ.   However, though the church spread geographically, it remain relatively confined within the Jewish community of faith.  That is, until a man named Saul was confronted by the Risen Lord on his way to Damascus.   As he took the message of Jesus to non-Jewish people all around Asia-minor, it could be argued that Saul (later to be known as the Apostle Paul) did more than any person to grow the church, except Jesus!  As you read, I’m curious to know what you notice about how God draws and uses people who we might not otherwise expect Him to use.  How does this influence your understanding of God’s work and movement today? 

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The Church is Born

Our readings this week take on a new twist as they introduce us to the “age of the church.”  This of course continues to be the age in which we live!

When we read the Old Testament we may have wondered what it would have been like to receive the law or hear from the prophets.  When we read the gospels we certainly must have imagined what it would have been like to be alive during Jesus’ ministry on earth.  We do not, however, have to imagine what it’s like to be a part of the progress of Christ’s church because this is indeed what we experience everyday.  It is my hope that this thought will give your reading greater insight this week.

All five readings come from the book of Acts, written by Luke as a sequel to the gospel of Luke.  The formal title of the book is “The Acts of the Apostles.”  However, I think it may be just as appropriate to title this book “The Acts of the Holy Spirit” because the Holy Spirit is really the primary agent in the birth and growth of the church.

As you look for the explicit and implicit activity of the Holy Spirit I encourage you to keep a list of this activity and then go to the blog and share with us your response to this question:

Do you think the Holy Spirit is working in the church today like He worked in the church of the first century?  Why or why not?

 

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The Cross of Christ

The readings this week communicate the message upon which our faith hinges.  If the story of God’s relationship with humanity were imaged as a bell curve, these accounts would mark THE change in the trajectory of God’s relationship with humanity!

Yet, many in the world claim that the events about which we read didn’t really happen.  They contend that Jesus wasn’t crucified, and he certainly didn’t come back to life!  Instead, they commend Jesus as possibly the greatest model for the way we should live our lives; the greatest of all moral teachers.

What do you think about this?  What would it mean for our faith if we skipped this week, moving from the teachings and miracles of Jesus in the past weeks to the birth of the church in the week to come?  How would that change what we believe and how we live?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

For His Kingdom,

Pastor Clint

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The Miracles of Jesus

This week we read about some of the miracles that Jesus did.  The feeding of the five thousand, walking on water, healing disease and the raising of the dead are all miracles that were evidence to the truth that Jesus was indeed divine.  However, there is a paradox that accompanies the consideration of Jesus’ miracles that we should be mindful of.  On one hand, Jesus himself, said that the reason he performs these miracles is so that people may believe that he is God. (….believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.  John 10:37-38)  On the other hand, when some of the religious leaders came to Jesus demanding that he perform a miracle to authenticate his authority Jesus declined.  (Matthew 16:1-4)  Add to this seeming paradox, the statement made in the gospel of Mark that because his own home town did not hold Jesus in honor, “he could not do any miracles there” we might be considerably confused about why and how Jesus went about doing miracles!

As you read about the miracles of Jesus, I’d love to hear what God brings to mind about this seeming paradox!  When and why did Jesus perform the miracles he did?  What would have prevented him from performing them all the time?  Do you think we see miracles today like we read about in these gospel accounts?  If so, in what way?  If not, why not?  Do you think experiencing a miracle first hand would strengthen your faith?

Hope to hear from you!

 

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“The Teachings of Jesus”

This week we sample some of the teachings of Jesus from the gospels.  In a way, these teachings present a grand irony.  On one hand, the teachings of Jesus could be considered some of the least controversial teachings in all of history.  World leaders from nearly every religion and culture have acknowledged Jesus as a great teacher and these statements as “wisdom worth living.”

At the same time, these teachings are extremely controversial.  They were controversial not only in the culture in which Jesus lived (the religious leaders of the day sought to murder Jesus on more than one occasion) but also in each of us individually.  I find my spirit in great controversy when I’m told to “love my enemy,” “endure suffering,” and “turn the other cheek.”  As a result these teachings are often exalted but seldom adhered to and herein lies the irony.

As you read this week, make special note of those teachings you find particularly difficult.  What prevents us from seeking to fully live into Jesus’ teaching?

This could be a great discussion if we can allow ourselves to be a bit vulnerable.  As for me, one of the reasons it’s difficult to obey is I wonder whether I can really trust God.  If I “love my enemy,” “endure suffering,” and “turn the other cheek, etc” I leave myself open to be wounded and I’m not sure I trust God with that.  If I’m really being honest, the only person I fully trust to protect my rights is myself…..yet I’m incapable of protecting myself fully and so this is an act of futility.

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