What God Is Building

Relativity by M.C. EscherI love the drawings of M.C. Escher. But some of his sketches are clearly optical illusions we all know couldn’t work in the real world. We don’t have to be architects or engineers or builders to know that for a building to be functional it has to have (1) a solid foundation, (2) it must be built with quality materials, and (3) it must be constructed by someone who knows what he/she is doing.

The Apostle Paul tells us that (1) Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of the sure foundation, (2) you and I—God’s saints—are the quality building materials that are being used, and (3) the Holy Spirit knows exactly what He is doing as He joins us together.

A cornerstone is the first stone set in the construction, the reference point for all other stone, which determines the position of the entire structure. Christ Jesus Himself is the cornerstone of His Church (Ephesians 2:20b). Orientated to that cornerstone we have the foundation of the apostles and prophets (2:20a).

This foundation is the Word of God (2 Peter 1:19-2:3 and 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5). We dare not try to replace, nullify, update, or change His Word. Not would this cause the foundation to crumble, but there are dire consequences for the one who tries to do so (Revelation 22:18-19).

Our foundationOn this foundation, God is constructing three things, each one growing in its level of intimacy with Him and with the surrounding saints:

  • God’s household (Ephesians 2:19)—this Greek word means a family home.
  • the whole building (Ephesians 2:21a)—this is a specific part of the family home used for prayer and fellowship.
  • a holy temple (Ephesians 2:21b)—this is the same word used for the Holy Place and Holy of Holies in the tabernacle.

God’s Presence dwells in us individually, but collectively we make a more powerful statement (1 Corinthians 3:16). There is a far greater testimony to the world when individuals willingly and actively allow themselves to be built together; when Christians give up their personal agendas to say, “I want to be a part of something bigger than me—I want to be a part of we.”

We must study God’s Word to make sure we are building on the same foundation. We must allow our lives to be quality building materials. We must allow the Holy Spirit to build us together through prayer and fellowship! This becomes the fulfillment of the prayer Jesus Himself prayed for us (John 17:20-23).

This was the last message (for this time) in our series on the Book of Ephesians. I hope to be able to continue this study next year.

Links & Quotes

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“May we have none of our own-manufactured graces about us. May we have nothing but that which is minted in Heaven, and is therefore made of the pure metal. May we have no grace, pray no prayer, do no works, serve God in nothing except as we depend upon His strength and receive His Spirit.” —Charles Spurgeon

“Above God, there are no higher courts. If God is the One Who acquits you—declares you righteous in His sight—no one can appeal, no one can call for a mistrial, no one can look for other counts against you. God’s sentence is final and total. So hear this, all who will believe on Jesus, and become united to Christ, and show yourself among the elect: God is the One who justifies you. Not a human judge. Not a great prophet. Not an archangel from heaven. But God, the Creator of the world and Owner of all things and Ruler of the universe and every molecule and person in it, God is the One Who justifies you [Romans 8:33].” —John Piper

Here is a very nice article about the En Gedi Youth Center, the organization for which I have the privilege of serving as the director.

“It is very possible that if we were more thoroughly Christians the world would more heartily detest us, and if we would cleave more closely to Christ we might expect to receive more slander, more abuse, less tolerance, and less favor from men.” —Charles Spurgeon

[VIDEO] Amazing time-lapse pictures of solar activity from NASA—

Thursdays With Oswald—Concealing And Revealing

Oswald ChambersThis is a periodic series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Concealing And Revealing

     One of the most delicate issues in the history of the human soul is that of concealing what ought to be made known and of making known what ought to be concealed. When concealing is a great relief, question it; when revealing is a great relief, question it. The only guiding factor is obedience to the highest we know. The wriggling we indulge in to escape from being humiliated prevents our being right with God.

     For instance, you have a wrong attitude of mind towards another, and the Spirit of God tells you to put it right between yourself and that one (cf. Matthew 5:24), and you say—No, I will put it right between myself and God. You cannot do it; it is impossible. Instead of deliberately obeying God, irrespective of what it costs, we use the trick of prayer to cover our own cowardice. It is a very subtle subterfuge to prevent ourselves being humiliated, but God will bring us into a place of humiliation externally, and others will see we are humiliated. If, on the other hand, there is something between yourself and God, and you feel it would be an enormous relief to tell someone else about it, don’t. “Immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood” [Galatians 1:16]. It is never a question of giving an explanation to someone else, but of maintaining obedience to the highest we know at all costs. [bold font added by me for emphasis]

From Not Knowing Where

Enough said!

Links & Quotes

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10 facts on the great commissionJeffrey Kranz from The Overview Bible Project has a nice post called 10 Things I Wish Everyone Knew About The Great Commission.

“The purpose of the salt in the steak is to do its work so quietly that it changes the nature of what it invades without calling attention to itself. … Salt must get into something in order to have effect, where it indelibly stamps its own character upon what it invades.” —George O. Wood

Good counsel for my fellow pastors: “One great and general rule is, ask advice of Heaven by prayer about every part of your preparatory studies; seek the direction and assistance of the Spirit of God, for inclining your thoughts to proper subjects, for guiding you to proper Scriptures, and framing your whole sermon both as to the matter and manner, that it may attain the divine and sacred ends proposed.” —Isaac Watts

Culture’s Big Lie About Marriage addresses head-on the way culture wants to bend and redefine marriage.

February 27 is the day to shine a light on slavery and sex trafficking around the world. Check out the END IT movement and mark your red “X.”

“I hope the doctrine that Christians ought to be gloomy will soon be driven out of the universe. There are no people in the world who have such a right to be happy, nor have such cause to be joyful as the saints of the living God.” —Charles Spurgeon

Links & Quotes

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For my pastor friends: “A growing church is a work of God. We, His servants, matter only to the extent that we are faithful in our callings.” —T.M. Moore

“Maintaining doctrinal purity is good but it is not the whole picture for a New Testament church. The apostles wanted to do much more than simply ‘hold the fort,’ as the old gospel song says. They asked God to empower them to move out and impact an entire culture.” Read more from Jim Cymbala’s post His Hand Of Love.

“Read whatever chapter of Scripture you will, and be ever so delighted with it—yet it will leave you as poor, as empty and unchanged as it found you unless it has turned you wholly and solely to the Spirit of God, and brought you into full union with and dependence upon Him.” —William Law

Pastor Chilly Chilton has an important reminder: Being Mean Is MEAN.

If you are fasting during Lent, or if you simply fast on a regular basis, this post is helpful: Kingdom Fast: Caffeine.

Very helpful: Want To Get Your Dream Job? Do These 4 Things.

Ever been here? How To Pray When You Don’t Feel Like It.

Thoughtful words from Seth Godin: Kicking And Screaming (vs. singing and dancing).

Funny, but true, from Truth Facts

Tax forms

But Now

But nowRemembering our past is so important. Forgetting where we’ve come from can make us insensitive to the feelings of others, it can make us falsely proud of what we assume we’ve accomplished for ourselves, and it can make us fearful that God cannot handle what’s coming next.

So God want us to remember two things: what we were, and what we are. In Ephesians the verb tense Paul uses literally says, “Keep on calling this to mind; keep on keeping it fresh in your thoughts” (Ephesians 2:11 & 12).

Keep on remembering what you WERE:

  • separate from Christ
  • excluded from citizenship
  • foreigners to the covenants of the promise
  • without hope
  • without God in the world (v. 12)

And then come two amazing words―BUT NOW (v. 13) keep on remember what you ARE:

  • brought near through the blood of Christ (v. 13)
  • able to access to the Father (v. 18)
  • no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people (v. 19)
  • members of God’s household (v. 19)
  • a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit (v. 22)

Constantly calling this to mind should produce three attitudes―

  1. Thankful to God for His grace gifts to me.
  2. Graceful to others who are separated from God now like I used to be.
  3. Hopeful of the help Christ can bring through me to others.

We are continuing our study of the Book of Ephesians this coming Sunday. Please join us!

10 Quotes For Pastors From “Living A Prayerful Life”

Living A Prayerful LifeAs I mentioned in my book review of Andrew Murray’s A Prayerful Life, this book was written as a response to pastors who were concerned about the lack of effectiveness in their ministry. Pastor Murray called out the sin of prayerlessness as the main factor in their struggles. Here are some quotes from this book specifically to pastors.

“The enemy uses all his power to lead the Christian—and above all, the minister—to neglect prayer. satan knows that however admirable the sermon may be, however attractive the service, however faithful the pastoral visitation, none of these things can damage him or his kingdom if prayer is neglected.”

“The pastor’s highest calling is not preaching, or speaking, or church visitation, but it is to cultivate the life of God in himself daily, and to be a witness of what the Lord teaches him and accomplishes in him.”

“Here on earth I may expend my time in exchange for money or learning. The minister exchanges his time for divine power and the spiritual blessings to be obtained from heaven. That, and nothing else, makes him a man of God and ensures that his preaching will be in the demonstration of the Spirit and power.”

“Many pray for the Spirit that they may make use of Him and His power for their work. This is an entirely wrong concept. It is He Who must use you. Your relationship toward Him must be one of deep dependence and utter submission. The Spirit must have you completely and always and in all things under His power.”

“When the Lord promised the apostles that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them, and commanded them to wait for Him, it was as though He said: ‘Do not dare to preach without this power. It is the indispensable preparation for your work. Everything depends on it.’”

“Little time in the Word together with little prayer is death to the spiritual life. Much of the Word but little prayer yields a less than healthy spiritual life. Time spent in prayer with little time in the Word yields life, but without steadfastness. A full measure of the Word and much prayer each day produces a healthy and powerful life.”

“The preacher must come to see that his preaching is comparatively powerless to bring new life until he begins to take time for prayer.”

“All you who long for blessing in your ministry, He calls you to abide in Him. Let it be the greatest delight of your life to spend time with God; it will be the surest preparation for fruitful service.”

“As a minister of the gospel, have you ever considered why you have a salary and a place to live, and so are freed from the need of holding a regular job? The reason is so that you can continue in prayer and the ministry of the Word. These will give you the necessary wisdom and anointing for your work. And that is the secret of a fruitful ministry. No wonder there are often complaints about the ineffective spiritual life of a minister and his congregation. That which is of prime importance—perseverance in prayer—does not occupy its rightful place.”

“The great question is: Shall we earnestly set ourselves to win back again the weapon of believing prayer that satan has, at least in a measure, taken away from us? Let us set before ourselves the serious importance of this conflict. As far as each minister is concerned, everything depends on whether or not he is a man of prayer—one who in the inner room is clothed each day with power from on high.”

To read some of the other quotes I shared from this book, please click here. And to read my full book review of Living A Prayerful Life, click here.

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