Live like an exile: Live Engaged!

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4“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. 6Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease.  Jeremiah 29:4-6

God addresses the Israelite captives in Babylon as people who are to live under Him and in His covenant no matter where they live. He has sent them. And now He commands them to engage in life there. Their temptation may have been to “keep their moving boxes” rather than unpack and settle down.

Build houses. Live in them.

Plant gardens. Eat the produce.

Take wives. Have a family.

Expand the family.

Multiply.

We are tempted to turn Christian discipleship into a perpetual retreat from life. Instead we are to engage in the activities of a good life as people under the graceful rule of Jesus the King. Our life together as the church includes engagement in the productive aspects of city and community life. Building, planting, forming relationships and creating family.

Are you living well?

Living well for a Christian is to somehow engage in the economy of Great Commission disciple-making. I really can’t read Jeremiah’s letter to exiles  through the lens of Jesus’ commands without taking hold of His call for the church to multiply disciples. Following a Mark 4 view of the Kingdom, we are to be a people who plant our lives in community, plant the Gospel in the lives of people, make disciples of those whom Jesus calls, and gather them into the church He is building. Exiles have longings. We are longing for Him to be fully revealed and in doing so we are becoming the people who reveal His Kingship… no matter where we live.

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Generosity Ripples

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11You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. 12For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. 13By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, 14while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. 15Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!  2 Corinthians 9:11-15 

Throw a pebble on a pond and watch the ripples spread. Grasped between the fingers and flung to the middle, that single stone reached its target and sank, but the affect went to the edges. Like a pebble on a pond, money given may meet a temporary need but the generosity makes lasting  waves. Generosity ripples.

Paul inspires the church in Corinth by showing them the multifaceted impact of their financial gifts. When we take the stuff of earth and leverage it for the work of the Gospel and the life of the church we make waves.

  • God makes our generosity possible… over and over.
  • Our generosity produces worship and thanksgiving toward God from the immediate beneficiaries and from the people who benefit from the life of the church and her servants in Great Commission labour.
  • Our generosity is a ministry serving God and the church.
  • Our generosity flows from and drives us deeper into the Gospel of Jesus.
  • Our generosity produces affection, prayer, and appreciation of God’s grace.
  • Financial giving is only a small ripple of the awe produced by God’s most awesome gift for us — Jesus Christ.

What a privilege! Generosity ripples into eternity! Let’s make waves.

Who are you thanking?

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1 Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! 2Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble 3and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south.  Psalm 107:1-2

 

You can watch a whole stage play and never see the director. But at the end she is brought forward, applauded and thanked. Her leadership helped make all the moving parts come together in a glorious production.

Likewise you could live your whole life without knowing the Living God until the end. For the Christian Thanksgiving is our rejection of a life lived without acknowledgement of God. In fact its our chance to say “We are not really the stars of this production; its God. God is the director and the star.”

Experiencing the rescue redemption of God brings Him to centre stage in our lives. When the church gathers as the redeemed from all walks of life and nations under the banner of Jesus, we give thanks.

We give thanks to our Lord, for He is good and His steadfast love endures forever!

Our Code for Kinship

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3that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. 1 John 1:3-4

“Koinonia.”

That’s Greek.

Koinonia is to share something in common: Common person. Common mission. Common work. Common interest. Common cause. In the New Testament the word “koinonia” came to represent the common life shared by followers of Jesus. This common life emerged from the Gospel and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.

For John sharing the Gospel of Jesus expands fellowship. Our most common vision of fellowship is The Fellowship of the Ring. Could a more disparate “band of brothers” have been created by their common cause?

Yes. The Church.

The church is the Fellowship of Jesus. We are united by our common union with God through Jesus. We have been gracefully brought into the communion of God. And the product is joy. We have become family in Him. People united by Jesus the King and turned into kin. Brothers and sisters not by our choosing but by His. Our usual lens for such non-familial relationships would be friendship, but here’s the thing: we choose our friends. When I see the church I see a family I was born into by the will of God.

Consuming Community

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14For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. 16But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh…

22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

 

How is your family (organizational) culture today?

Fussy? Filled with fights?

Does jealousy lurk just below the surface?

Do your structures promote pride and leverage selfish ambition?

Community that consumes is common.

 

Such dysfunction abounds when fear, shame, and guilt have their way among us.

 

In Christ Jesus we have been given another way.

 

The Apostle Paul, writing to the Galatian churches, is concerned. He knows what happens when we our old nature runs into the old nature of another person. Unchecked by the Spirit of God, the old natures rises up and shows its conceit, its ungodly joy at provocation, and its festering envy over another’s good fortune. This kind of community is the kind that devours people and spits them out. Its always looking for the top of the pile. Its a consuming community.

The community that consumes has nothing to do with the Spirit of God and the fruit that is borne of a community surrendered to Jesus. Spiritual leadership in Jesus’ name will yearn for and create the environments that seek maturity that displays Jesus’ love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Then we will catch glorious glimpses of The Communing Community of God, Father, Son & Holy Spirit.