“Common Union”

In my research and in my personal experience I have noted that one of the largest accusations against the church is the divisions among us. Sadly, some divisions are rather vicious and cruel. The maturity to agree to disagree agreeably is wanting in many settings. And why? Because “we have God’s approval and I am here to let you know….”

Truly, there will be honest disagreements of how we baptize or celebrate the Lord’s Table, or what songs to sing or not sing. How long to preach, if at all, but I’m sure many of you would agree, especially those who know the Lord Jesus, that we do have a common union in the Lord Jesus. We all agree that He died for our sins in fulfillment of the Scriptures, was buried and rose again on the third day, in fulfillment of the Scriptures (see 1 Cor. 15:3, 4).

And in this common belief we have a common union. From there it seems if we follow Philippians 3:15-16, all will be well: “All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things [i.e. have the same mind as our Lord Jesus as explained earlier in chapter 2:5-8]. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained” [NIV]. I understand “already attained” to mean “already agreed upon, what we already have in common.”

To me, this common union is seen very clearly in the Lord’s Table, the Last Supper, the Fulfillment of Passover. All have sinned and need this Table. All who Love Lord Jesus know this all too well. And we come to the Table humble and yet grateful, knowing the grace that has been offered to us in the act this Table reminds us: “In remembrance of Me”  (Luke 22:19b)

Maybe that’s why we call this Table, “Communion?” To express the Common Union we have in Jesus? Your thoughts?

Main Text— 1 Corinthians 11:19, 23-26 (NIV) 19 No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval. … For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night He was betrayed, took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way, after supper He took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.

Additional Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

Holy Father, protect them by the power of Your name, the name You gave Me, so that they may be one as We are one.— John 17:11b (NIV)

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all … will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.—John 13:34–35 (NIV84)

 But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”— 1 Peter 4:7–8 (NKJV)

Heavenly Father, I put the Lord Jesus Christ on as my Belt of Love. May I see all who claim the Name of the Lord Jesus with the same eyes of Grace, Mercy, and Love You see me. In His Name, Amen.

Pastor Mike

“Houses of Prayer”

 

After reading in My Utmost for His Highest devotion this morning, Chambers sparked some questions in my soul. When Jesus cleaned out the Temple and declared it to be a “House of Prayer,” was He not also declaring that we, as the Temple of the Holy Spirit, are to be a House of Prayer? And in cleaning out this Temple, did not our Master also suggest, by inference, that we, too, need cleaning? And, do we not understand that the we are to pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and petitions (see Eph. 6:18)? Indeed, don’t we know that we can rely on the Spirit to intercede for us with grunts and groanings that cannot be utter, but dare we limit our prayer to the unutterable? And dare I suggest that all believers are to be “Houses of Prayer” since we are the temple of the Holy Spirit? And if I suggest this, does this not also mean that many are in desperate need of being cleaned up and out—including, yours truly?!? The answers seem to be a resounding, “Yes!” don’t they?

So how do we go about cleaning up the Temple of the Holy Spirit? Do we scurry about as Martha did complaining to the Lord that Mary isn’t do her part of the housework? Or do we not become distracted by others and merely clean out the portion of the House for which we are responsible?

I find it fascinating that some of the cleaning in my House of Prayer actually is this very issue of being distracted by others who are not doing their cleaning. But at the same time I’d best not let my house cleaning be spoken ill of either, don’t you agree? What are your thoughts?

Main Text: — 1 Corinthians 3:16 (NKJV)— 16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

Additional Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

And [Jesus] said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’ ”— Mt 21:13 (NKJV)

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.— Colossians 4:2 (NIV84)

If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear.— Psalm 66:18 (NIV84)

Heavenly Father, by the shed blood of Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ and through His power, I confess I have been negligent in prayer. My “House of Prayer” has been so cluttered with too many “distractions.” I ask You, Lord Jesus Christ, to bear the consequences of my actions. Remove the pain and shame I have caused Your name and be that part of my Life that has been disobedient to You. Create a clean hear within me so that I may walk in the Light as You are in the Light, becoming a clean House of Prayer for Your glory. In Your Name, Amen.

Pastor Mike

Repentance is the Key

Allow me to be candid:

Many believe that the LORD is going to judge our nation for its immorality and debauchery. If HE is going to judge our nation, judgment starts with His house (see 1 Peter 4:17 NASB95). But if we judge ourselves, then perhaps the LORD will spare this nation as He did Nineveh those many years ago (1 Corinthians 1:31 & Jonah 3:1-10). To merely judge ourselves is not enough, i.e., “Yeah, we’re doing something wrong. So what?” Once we judge ourselves, we then repent of whatever is displeasing to the LORD. Thus, repentance is the key.

One pattern of repentance is found in 2 Chronicles 7:14: (1) humble ourselves; (2) pray & seek the LORD’s face; (3) turn from our wicked ways. The time for finger pointing and blame shifting is over. (If we do point fingers, it is best to stand in the bathroom and point at the mirror, eh?)

One way to act on this pattern of repentance is to join our church with fasting in the month of October. We begin our fast with an observance of the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). This year it is September 23. We use a ceremony I have had published in the Book, A Solemn Assembly: Gather to Seek the Lord’s Face (A Call to Repentance and Restoration). This book is a collection of scriptural prayers that will assist any follower of Jesus on his/her journey to repentance and restoration, let alone our daily walk. Thus, this book can be used for personal devotion as well as small group or large gatherings.

Though you can repent without any formal plan or ceremony, many have found it helpful to use a more formal tool in their own observance. Further, I note in the 2 Chronicles text that is plural: “If my people.” Truly repentance is a personal and private matter, but also we, as the Body of Christ, can join with our brothers and sisters in corporate repentance as the Israelites did in days of old. I am presenting this book as a tool to all the People of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Yes, as a tool, this book will aid you in answering this call to repentance and restoration. But please note: I am not just trying to sell “my” book. Rather I am presenting it as a means to assist you in your walk with Jesus. This book is available from Amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, iTunes/iBooks or from me. I am able to get group discounts for printed versions if you order soon.

For group orders I can be reached at michaelr05@msn.com or 970-245-0913.

Whatever means or tools you use, at the very least, join us in prayer and fasting for our nation and the church in the month of October.

Peace to you through our Lord Jesus, the Prince of Peace.

Coach Mike

“Lists, Lists, Lists”

Date: 03-07-15

The Big Idea: Lists confirm status and standing.

My Thoughts: Lists, lists, lists. Clipboards, sign-up sheets, membership drives, waiting lists. There are all sorts of lists. Some are good like the No-Call lists and some are sad like blacklists. But when it comes to the Bible, almost all of us skip these lists, like the one in Nehemiah 7, especially because of the difficult to pronounce names. We feel it is like a required course in school, “Why do I need to take this? I’m not going to be using it in the ‘real world’!”

These lists, however, are very important, especially when they appear in the Bible. Not only do they present a sense of belonging and connectedness, they also confirm status and standing. Much like a waiting list or membership list, these lists establish where our standing is with the larger group (i.e. this family signed up before yours), and who has valid status, as demonstrated later in Chapter 7 with several families who were not on the list, as it were (see vv. 61-65).

Lifestyle worshiper, do you balk at lists and sign-up sheets and clipboards? I understand. But don’t you think this passage is telling us that membership really does have its privileges? What are your thoughts?

Main Text: — Nehemiah 7:5-7— 5 So my God put it into my heart to assemble the nobles, the officials and the common people for registration by families. I found the genealogical record of those who had been the first to return. This is what I found written there: 6 These are the people of the province who came up from the captivity of the exiles whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had taken captive (they returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each to his own town, 7 in company with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Azariah, Raamiah, Nahamani, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispereth, Bigvai, Nehum and Baanah): The list of the men of Israel: …”  [NIV84]

Additional Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

These are the names of the sons of Ishmael, listed in the order of their birth: Nebaioth the firstborn of Ishmael, Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam,— Genesis 25:13 (NIV84)

Record my lament; list my tears on your scroll—are they not in Your record? —Psalm 56:8 (NIV84)

A widow may be put on the widows’ list if she is at least sixty years old and has been the wife of one husband. She must be well known for her good actions as a woman who has raised children, welcomed strangers, washed the saints’ feet, helped the suffering, and devoted herself to doing good in every way. But do not include younger widows on your list. For whenever their natural desires cause them to lose their devotion to the Messiah, they want to remarry.— 1 Timothy 5:9-11 (ISV)

  Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.” Amen. —Matthew 6:9b-12 [NKJV emphasis added]

Pastor Mike

“Start with the Obvious”

Date: 02-05-15

Text: — Nehemiah 3:10 — Adjoining this, Jedaiah son of Harumaph made repairs opposite his house, and Hattush son of Hashabneiah made repairs next to him.  [NIV84]

The Big Idea: Maybe it is time to address this and start with the obvious.

My Thoughts: 

As the people of Jerusalem in Nehemiah’s day began to rebuild the wall, they did something rather obvious and simple: The started with the obvious. This “obvious” was right outside their front door (see v. 10 above). When rebuilding the wall, they all worked together doing their part, and many started in the obvious place….

Lifestyle worshipers, many want to serve the Lord in distant lands, and this is very good. We need many, many more to capture this mission. But most of us do not have this burden. And what I have noticed is we will distract ourselves with all sorts of ‘distant’ busyness, and not really repair the walls of relationships just outside our front doors. For whatever fear we distract ourselves, the irony is the rejection has already happened; the hope of ever repairing the relationship eludes us. So what do we have to lose in attempting to fix those relationships that are right outside our front door?

Yes, maybe it is time to address this and start with the obvious? What do you think? Care to share your thoughts?

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”

— Mark 5:18-19 (NIV84)

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

— Galatians 6:9-10 (NIV84)

  Lord Jesus Christ,  instill in me a courage that will overcome my fears of rebuilding the relationships that are nearest to me.  In Your Name, Amen.

Pastor Mike

“The Healing of Confession”

Date: 11-01-14

Text: — James 5:16 — Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.  [NIV84]

The Big Idea: I have found that in the moment of confession followed with “I forgive you,” or “you are forgiven,” there is deep soul healing.

My Thoughts: 

I have found healing in  confessing to others my sin. And as a pastor/counselor I have found that in the moment of confession followed with “I forgive you,” or “you are forgiven,” there is deep soul healing. Have you found this to be so, too?

Lifestyle worshipers, do you connect the “powerful and effective” prayer of v. 16 above to “confess your sins to each other” in this healing process? I do. But to be so vulnerable seems to have its own set of factors and wounds and awkwardness. So as public the sin so public the confession and as private the sin so private the confession. This may dispel some fears and awkwardness, but alas confessing our sins  doesn’t appear to be free of such. Or do you think the promise of healing and freedom overcomes such?

Your thoughts?

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.

— Matthew 5:23-24 (NIV84)

But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”

—Luke 19:8-10 (NIV84)

Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds.

—Acts 19: 18 (NIV84)

Heavenly Father, by the shed blood of Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and through His power, I confess I have been fearful of confessing those sins that need to be confessed to my brothers and sisters. I have sinned against You and denied myself the healing and freedom that comes from this confession. I ask You, Lord Jesus Christ, to bear the consequences of my actions. Remove the pain and shame I have caused Your Name. Be that part of my life that has been disobedient and in bondage to fear. I release myself into Your hands. In Your Name, Amen.

Pastor Mike

“This May Be A Reason”

Date: 8-21-14

Text: Proverbs 21:9, 19 Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife. … Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife. [NIV]
The Big Idea: You get to extend the same grace the Lord Jesus extends to His Wife.

My Thoughts:
As we read through the Book of Proverbs for the third time this summer, I feel the need to talk about this topic, especially since it is mentioned twice in this chapter. Indeed, though it may not be the reason, it may well be a reason the husband is more in the garage, at the bar, in the bowling alley, or at the….
Lifestyle worshiper husbands, you may be blessed to have a wonderful wife who does not nag or quarrel with you, who truly respects you; or you may be blessed to have one that does nag, etc.…
A blessing? Yes, you get to extend the same grace the Lord Jesus extends to His Wife, the church. And I am most grateful He only spent 40 days in the desert, and this was just once, and He was led by the Spirit for a greater good. No, instead, He patiently, graciously hangs around His Bride until she learns to quit quarreling with Him and nagging Him….
So beyond man caves and garages, how’s it going, men? Ladies? Any thoughts?

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with Me. — Revelations 3:20 (ESV)

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.. — 1 Peter 3:1-2 (ESV)

In a similar way, you husbands must live with your wives in an understanding manner, as with a most delicate partner. Honor them as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing may interfere with your prayers.. — 1 Peter 3:7 (ISV)

Lord Jesus Christ, be the husband/wife in my Life my wife/husband needs right now. May I hear Your voice and obey Your promptings as You empower me by Your Holy Spirit. For Your Name’s Sake, Amen.
Pastor Mike