Thursday, March 25, 2010

Love One Another As Brother's

Mark 1:19-20 - When He had gone a little farther from there, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the boat mending their nets. And immediately He called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went after Him.

James and John, brothers through and through, that’s what they were. They were called to follow together and are rarely mentioned apart in scripture.

So what does it mean to be brothers? Apart from being siblings or born of the same family, what does it mean to be a brother to someone? I know that some brothers in a family can be close and others are not but what would God require a brother to be like?

I Peter 3:8 – Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous.

We are to be of one mind, what else are we to be according to Peter? What does it look like to love someone as a brother?

Do you have a brother or sister? Are you tied you to them emotionally? There is something about a sibling that goes beyond a friendship. You are tied to one another by blood and the bonds run deep.

I had a little brother, his name was Kristopher. I was eight years older than him, so was always very protective of him. Oh, how he irritated me through the years of growing up. I got onto him, picked on him and at times made his life completely miserable. But I always loved him, if for no other reason than he was my brother.

As I grew into my teens and eventually moved away from home, he was still very young. We became more distant as the years went by and he grew older. Suffering from a debilitating disease called Trigeminal Neuralgia from the age of 14, he was in constant pain. After years of pain medication he became addicted. The decision became, be in constant pain or over medicated. In July of 2006 he made the irrevocable decision to take his own life and leave this world.

I miss him. I miss his smile and his dry wit. I miss everything about him. How I wish I had just one more day to talk with him and try to give him the encouragement he so needed. I would tell him that I care, that he is my brother and I would do anything to help him.

I guess what I am trying to make you understand by telling you this story is we need to love our brothers and sisters now while we have the chance. Because you never know, there may not be a tomorrow. There are no more chances for me to show my brother what my heart fells for him. There is day to spend time with him and show kindness to him now. My chances are over even though I long for one more. There is no tomorrow, now is the time to love one another.

Jesus talked a lot about loving as brothers. Not just as siblings born of the same family, but as the body of Christ being brothers and sisters. Just as our family of origin, when born into the family of Christ we become brothers and sister with one another. We have a family born of Spiritual connection, which should be stronger even than our physical family. This family will last not just while here on this earth but into eternity.

The message Jesus wanted us to get is, that we are all now brother’s and sister’s in Christ, so love each other like you are!

I John 2:10 - He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him.

If we love our brother, we abide in the light and don’t cause him to stumble. We are to take great care not to hinder the walk of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Wait, you mean instead of judging each other, being jealous of one another or pointing out someone’s flaws we should love each other enough to lift one another up?!? What a concept!

If you honestly evaluated your own love for others, how are you doing? Is there anyone you need to go talk with and mend your relationship?

There is nothing Satan wants more than to divide the body of Christ. He knows that if he can divide believers they will be less effective for the great commission. If we are busy fighting amongst ourselves he knows we won’t be out doing damage to his kingdom. He knows that believers that band together are a powerful force to be reckoned with.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 – Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Matthew 18:20 – "For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them."

The third cord represents Jesus. When we bond together with one another and Jesus is included, there is extraordinary strength to draw on. When two or more believers gather in Jesus’ name, He says He is with us. He even takes His promise further.

Matthew 18:19 – “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.”

Jesus tells us that when we get together and start working towards Gods will, we can call on the Father and He will hear us. Not only will He hear but He will act. That’s pretty powerful! Satan doesn’t want us to be unified for the cause of Christ. This is exactly why! When we are unified and calling on God, people come to the saving grace of the gospel and leave Satan’s world behind.

When we love one another as brothers, we will be of one mind, pursuing the things of Christ. To follow as we are called is not on a road all alone. It is with brothers and sisters in Christ. We need one another. We are called to travel the road together, united by a common cause. All as one body but each with our own part to play. Bonded together in love, kindness and compassion for one another.

That is our journey as followers of Jesus, travel behind Jesus, go where He goes, but take a few brothers or sisters along with us.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Transformed Life

Today’s topic is exploding within my heart. I can hardly contain myself! Today we get to talk about the glorious power of God! We get to see the transforming power that happens when we accept Jesus Christ as our personal Savior and are given the gift of the Holy Spirit. I can’t wait any longer, so lets get started.

In previous posts we have seen Simon Peter as grateful and eager but still very impetuous. His behavior was unpredictable at best. Although he had the best of intentions, his follow through left much to be desired. His heart was in the right place but it didn’t stop his flesh from causing him to fail.

Several posts ago we saw Simon Peter fail greatly while denying Christ. Then we saw the grace that restored his faith and set him back on the right path. Today we look at the man God promised he would become. Today we see exactly what Jesus meant when he called Simon Peter the “rock”.

When the day of Pentecost came, all the disciples were together in one place. Suddenly, a sound like rushing wind came down from heaven and filled the whole house. Divided tongues of fire sat upon each of them and they were filled with the Holy Spirit. They began to speak in different tongues. Those standing near them, people of all kinds of dialects, heard their own language being spoken.

The crowd was filled with confusion. They were all amazed and perplexed. They began asking one another what this could be. Some believed it must be the wonderful work of God. Others began to mock, claiming them to be drunk with wine. Here is where we see our friend Simon Peter’s new nature. We see the beginning of his new life as a Spirit filled, transformed believer. No longer the wishy washy, all over the place person he once was. A new power had been given to him and a new life was set in motion.

Get your bible out and read Acts 2: 14-39. (I know, I know, it’s a long passage of scripture. Humor me and do it anyway!)

First Simon Peter rebukes the crowd and denies the accusation. "These are not drunk, as you suppose!" This was Simon Peter’s response. Can you imagine his anger boiling right below the surface? How dare they mock the power of God!

He then proceeds to quote the prophet Joel who had prophesied about the last days. "And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God. That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men see visions, your old men shall dream dreams." In the end the prophet Joel says that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Simon Peter, our unpredictable man, begins a bold testimony of faith about the one who truly saves, Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Finishing his speech with a strong declaration, Simon Peter says this, "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."

When the crowd heard his testimony, the people were cut to the heart. They asked the disciples "what shall we do?"

Have you ever been cut to the heart by the knowledge of your own sin? Have you had that kind of feeling of regret and remorse set in? It takes hold of you. The gravity of what shape you are in causes the beating of your heart to become deafening.

I can picture their response as they spoke the words, what shall we do? The horror, we have just killed the one true Messiah, what shall we do?

Simon Peter's response to the crowd was the same response we need now in our own acknowledgement of sin. "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

What a bold statement made by someone who had earlier feared being connected to Jesus. Simon Peter with the filling of the Holy Spirit was transformed and forever changed. He was given the power to stand up for what he knew to be the truth.

That day, from that speech, about three thousands souls were saved and became believers in Jesus Christ. Simon Peter wasn’t finished though, John going with him, he proceeds to the temple at the hour of prayer.

Seeing a man lame from birth at the gate, Simon Peter gives this man something more precious than the money he was begging for. Instead, he takes his hands and says “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” Rising up to walk, the man entered the temple with them, walking, leaping and praising God.

All the people ran together to hear this man speak who had healed the lame man they had seen in front of the temple everyday. Simon Peter let no grass grow under his feet as he once again testified to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Two thousand more souls were saved and became believers.

The temple abuzz and believers coming to Jesus Christ did not go unnoticed. Soon the priests, captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, putting them in custody until the next day. Simon Peter does not cower, but instead addresses the rulers, elders, scribes, the high priest Annas and Caiaphas. With bold testimony he speaks with the power of Holy Spirit.

Acts 4: 8-12. Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers of the people and elders of Israel; "If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the 'stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.' Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."

What does Simon Peter call Jesus? He calls Him the stone which was rejected by the builders. But instead of that stone being tossed aside, God used it as the chief cornerstone of salvation. Rebuking them, Simon Peter points out that they had crucified the one God had chosen to be the stone; they indeed were the builders who rejected the stone. Then he goes on to proclaim the only way to be saved is through that very man, Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

Are you beginning to see the power of the transformation that occurred in Simon Peter’s life?

Here was a man who wanted to do the right things, who wanted to be strong and bold but could not. Not until he had the Holy Spirit within him, could he stand so strong for the Jesus he loved so dearly.

Beloved, it is the Holy Spirit within that carries the power to do the unthinkable. So often we try and try and try, only to fail and fail and fail. We proceed, doing things in our own power, not drawing on the one that can really change things.

Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.

The fruit belongs to the Spirit not us. His fruit is all of these wonderful things listed in this scripture. If we want this type of fruit in our lives, we must live empowered by the Spirit. The transformation that occurs is dramatic, and overwhelming if we let it change us.

Living within us, making His home in us is the Holy Spirit, the third part of the trinity of God. This is not something to be looked upon lightly. We can be over comers. We can be strong and powerful for our Lord Jesus Christ. But it won’t be us that does it; it will be by the yielding to the Spirit that it happens.

Transformation is ours if we want it. The power lives within us and wants to be the life force that guides us if we let Him. The question is will we let Him?