Undergroundchurch Blog

Preparing the Church for the future

Posts Tagged ‘Christianity’

Day 53: A Day in the Life of a Branch

Posted by undergroundchurch on May 23, 2011


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We have a bad habit in America of adding layer upon layer of fluff to the Good News as told in the Bible.

When you think “Good News” (a.k.a “Gospel”), you might have visions of love and acceptance and peace… and you’d be right! However, the path of love, acceptance and peace takes us through some pretty rugged roads.  It is not a tiptoe through the tulips, nor is it for the faint of heart. The path the Father has laid out before us is fraught with trouble and pain, and it is the hope we have in Christ that helps us endure.

There are scores of scripture that attest to this… so here’s a quick example:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” – John 15:1,2

A straight-up interpretation is as follows:

  1. God takes care of his garden
  2. His garden is his Son, Jesus, and the branches are the believers that dwell in Christ
  3. He (that is the Father) cuts off every branch that doesn’t produce fruit – in order to preserve the vine
  4. He (that is the Father) cuts back every branch that does produce fruit – in order to produce more

I guess you can summarize it this way, “The Gardener is going to apply the sheers to every believer – both fruitful ones and non-fruitful ones. It’s just going to cut a lot deeper if you aren’t fruitful.

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Day 40: The Baptism in the Holy Spirit

Posted by undergroundchurch on April 9, 2011


It always amazes me how we can cut an paste scripture to fit our liking instead of letting it change us and the way we believe.

Hands down, most controversial teaching in many churches is the teaching on the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.  In fact, it seems to be a primary separation point between many of the “main line” denominations. However, if all denominations were to teach this doctrine with the same care and discipline they teach other doctrines that are based on a lot less few scriptures (tithing for example), we’d all be on the same page. Unfortunately, people either take it or leave it and the church suffers for it.

The Purpose

The purpose of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit lies in Jesus’ own statements:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” – Acts 1:8

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. – John 16:13-14

The Spirit in Us

There are no scriptures that say that the Baptism in the Holy Spirit would ever go away, it was the prime directive of Jesus.  In fact, I’d venture to say that most believers think that Jesus lives inside them when it is actually the Holy Spirit that lives in the believer (Romans 8:11 et al).  We, as believers, are supposed to live in Christ. (Though I may be splitting hairs because they are both God, this is what the Scriptures tell us, yet we are compelled to believe what we want.)

Jesus told us that He had to go away so that he could send the Holy Spirit to dwell in us (John 16:7). Jesus was confined to one body on the earth and, it could be argued, that he is still confined to a single spiritual body since we will one day be as he is now (Philippians 3:21). He had to send the Spirit who could then dwell in each of us at the same time.

The disciples receive the Spirit of God before they were baptized into the Spirit (John 20:22) and were saved before Acts 2:4

There are at least two Old Testament passages that speak to the event that birthed the church… Isaiah 28:11-12 and Joel 2:28-32

And afterward,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your old men will dream dreams,
your young men will see visions.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days.

I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood and fire and billows of smoke.
The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
And everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved.

The Baptism in the Holy Spirit is a first step for every believer to become empowered, emboldened and embossed with the power of God to both live out our faith, preach the good news of Jesus Christ and disciple others to be like Jesus.

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Day 24: How to be Seen as a Christian

Posted by undergroundchurch on January 24, 2011


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Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. – Philippians 4:8

The word for “lovely” is only use here in the Scriptures and come from the root “phileo” meaning “friendly love” and it literally means, “unto friendly love”.  Some translations capture the sense well by using the word “pleasing” or “acceptable” because the idea is that a commonly acceptable thing.

The opposite of this would be “hostile”.  We are not to think in hostile terms but in pleasing, acceptable and lovely ways.

Let me be direct: Church splits occur primarily because people are not thinking in a “lovely” manner.

The source of unity is the Holy Spirit, and He uses the bonding agent of Love and a common purpose to adhere people of different gifts, backgrounds, preferences, etc. into a cohesive organism that can act as the Body of Christ on earth doing the ministry He started.

If we think in pleasing and lovely ways, and allow the Holy Spirit to work into us love, then we begin to put other people’s needs ahead of our own.  We think about how the things we do affect others.  We speak more kindly, act more generously, walk more humbly and love more genuinely.

Jesus wasn’t just speaking to the air when He said, “They will know you are my disciples by your love one for another.” (John 13:35) Love for each other is the mantra of the church.

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Day 23: Purity, Your Mind’s Filter

Posted by undergroundchurch on January 23, 2011


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Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. – Philippians 4:8

“Pure” follows after things like “true, noble and right”. If something pure has an element of impurity in it, it is no longer pure.

The Greek word for “pure” used here comes from the root word for “Holy”, which means, “to set apart”.  It is used as an adjective when talking about a “chased virgin” (2 Corinthians 11:2), which is somewhat redundant.

Since Paul is describing for us in this verse a framework in which we should think, it is obvious that purity must be the primary ingredient.

Water that comes from the tap looks pure, but in our community, there are over 70 chemicals added to that water.  So with all that, I run my water through a softener and reverse osmosis filter to get it to a level that I feel somewhat comfortable drinking, but even then, it is not pure.

If I want to eliminate all impurity, I would need to take that water, boil it and collect the steam (distillation) and then filter it again.  Eventually, after lots of hard work, I might be able to get the water to a 99.999% pure rating, but even then, there would be specs of impurity, causing my water to still be “impure”.

Purity is like the filter to our thoughts.  We need to keep the pure filter on so that the thoughts that pass through our minds are pure, but if the purity filter is dirty, then impure thoughts can pass right through.

As an example, you can’t watch five minutes of TV without having an impure thought pass through your mind.  Seemingly every commercial, TV show and even the news is full of sexual innuendo, violence and other trash that make your “pure” filter less than pure.

There are times when you need to just get away from all the impure influences in order to hear clearly from God.  The best way may simply be to turn off the TV, computer, video games, and any other distraction and just open your Bible and pray.

Try it for a week and see how your purity filter begins to clear up.  You might find out that you like the new thoughts passing through your mind.

 

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Day 22: Thinking Right

Posted by undergroundchurch on January 22, 2011


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Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. – Philippians 4:8

The word “right”, translated as “righteous” in the KJV, comes from a root meaning “judgment”. In a large sense, this word means to “keep the commands of God”, in a more narrow sense, it conveys an idea of “passing judgment”.  Paul may actually be using this word in both ways.

Following God’s commands is paramount to being a follower of Christ. There is no greater act of love you can show God than to be obedient to Him.

At the same time you are positively following the commands of God, you should be judging how you are doing. I guess a better way of saying that today is, “You need to constantly evaluate how you are doing in your obedience and make adjustments accordingly.”

The good thing about the New Testament law is that it is summed up in two commands, “Love God and Love your neighbor”.

The bad thing about the New Testament law is that it is summed up in two commands.

Our dilemma is always going to be, “How do we walk in this?”  It’s one thing to have a rule that says, “Thou shalt…” It’s another thing when the rule is more of a guideline or a framework within which you are to function.  There is a lot of freedom, which can lead to a lot of misinterpretation, so it is critical that we learn how to function within this framework so that we do not violate the command of God.

First, we can draw a lot of insight by reading the Old Testament and seeing the things that made God upset.  Once you find those things, you need to search out the principles behind them and let that redefine your understanding and guide you in applying the understanding to your obedience.

For example, we see several laws built around offerings brought to God and how they should be put together.  Lambs were not to have any blemishes; bread was not to have any yeast, etc.  These tell us that offerings and worship are to be pure.  Jesus tells us that his worshipers will worship in spirit and truth.  The presentation of our worship should be right before we step into worship, meaning that we need to get right before God and others prior to entering into worship.

We should examine our hearts, ask for forgiveness, and repent of sin, before we begin worship.  We need to eliminate the “blemish” and “yeast”, which represents sin, before setting ourselves out for worship.

This is the process of being made righteous.  We allow God to do the work of Christ in us to prepare us for service, worship, prayer, etc.  We are only made righteous in Christ, and to achieve the best possible outcome in our walk, we must allow Him to “keep” us righteous.  It is a daily thing.

 

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Day 16: The Mind of Christ

Posted by undergroundchurch on January 16, 2011


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These are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.

The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. – 1 Corinthians 2:10-11

For me, this is becoming a year of re-discovering the Holy Spirit.  I spent a lot of time over the Christmas season studying the Holy Spirit and quickly discovered again for the first time that the only real way to get the mind of Christ is to rely on the Holy Spirit of God.

Because I am somewhat of a thinker, I usually try to look at something from all angles and then draw a conclusion based on my observations.  While this may be a good study habit, it doesn’t always yield the desired result when trying to understand the mind of Christ.

God is by definition “God”, and we will never understand him because He is sovereign, but we can know the mind of Christ since we are supposed to have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16).

Jesus told us that the Spirit of God would guide you in all truth, and Jesus is the truth.

We get to know more about God the more we allow God, the Holy Spirit, to reveal Christ to us.

This is one of the reasons the Holy Spirit is so vital in the believer’s life.

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Day 14: How Much do You Love Jesus?

Posted by undergroundchurch on January 14, 2011


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We have lost transparency, and that’s one of the main reasons why so many people stay bound. – Lady Eagle 8

Sometimes I hear a message and just one line jumps out, and I can’t let it go.

This line was uttered by a lady that used to be homosexual until she met the power of God.  She was actually told by people in the church that she shouldn’t tell others about what God did…

Say what?!?

I’m sorry… If God delivered me from something that amazing, I’d be jumping up and down!

But what if Jesus delivered you from… oh, say, drinking or drugs or something radical?

Would you be inclined to tell everybody you saw?

What if God delivered you from your debt? Would you testify to God or your discipline?

What if God delivered you from a headache? Would you testify to God’s healing power or Advil?

Jesus laid out a principle in Scripture that defines how much your are willing to testify about Him, which is found in Luke 7:36-50.

Jesus is at a religious leader’s house and while eating, a woman (most likely a prostitute) comes in with anointing oil and begins weeping at Jesus’ feet, putting oil on his feet and wiping His feet with her tears and hair.

Simon, the religious leader, is disgusted.

Jesus proceeds to tell him a story of a lender that forgave two people of their debts. One owed 10 times more than the other. He then asks Simon, “Which one with the debt do you think loved the one who forgave the debt more?”

Simon correctly replies, “The one who was forgiven the most.”

In verse 47, Jesus lays the principle out…

Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.

Principle:

Our love for God starts at the level of forgiveness we realize is lavished upon us.

Those of us that have been delivered from “heinous” sins tend to fall deeply in love with Christ. Those who have not, have a more difficult time mustering that level of intense love. However, might I suggest that all of us have one thing we have been delivered from that, though we didn’t experience it fully, we need to get through our heads so that we too can love as she did?

Our Great Deliverance

Every believer was once dead in their sins and on their way to an eternal hell where there is weeping, gnashing teeth, fire and sulfur and a complete utter absence of the presence of God for EVER!

Whatever life Christ delivered you from pales in comparison to the deliverance Christ brought you when you believed.  Once you set your heart on this fact and understand what he really did for you, your love will begin to grow for Christ like never before.

 

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Day 13: The Seven Spirits of God

Posted by undergroundchurch on January 13, 2011


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John, to the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne… – Revelation 1:4

I always love a mystery. I especially love Scripture mysteries.

Not every answer to a question is clear cut in Scripture, but through study, searching and praying, you can draw some conclusions that can satisfy the soul until the day when we “fully know, even as we are fully known”.

What are the “Seven Spirits”?

In Revelation, we see the Seven Spirits of God before God’s throne (1:4). We see that Christ holds them (3:1). They are associated with the lampstand (4:5) and with the seven eyes of Christ, which go out through all the land (5:6).

This doesn’t tell us much more than,

a)    They are close to God and Christ – even belonging to Christ.

b)    They represent the fire, which burns before God and lights the temple.

c)    They go through the land, either gathering information or drawing men to Christ, or some other function of the Holy Spirit.

If we search out the Scriptures, we will find at least one place where the Holy Spirit is defined seven-fold:

The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might,
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD— Isaiah 11:2

This passage primarily refers to Christ and that the Holy Spirit of God will rest on him and work in him the things mentioned in this verse while on earth. When you look at the various names of the Spirit in this verse, you see that Christ definitely reflected each of these aspects in his life.

The Spirit’s primary mission in our life is to make us into the image of Christ.

As the power of the Holy Spirit grows in your life (this only happens as you decrease and Christ increases), each of these elements of the Holy Spirit begins to increase in your life:

  • Spirit of the Lord – Jesus becomes Lord of your life
  • Wisdom – You begin taking on Godly wisdom and leaving worldly wisdom behind
  • Understanding – The things of God transfer from the head to the heart
  • Counsel – Your steps become more directed by God
  • Might – Your confidence in Christ increases and He can do more through you in the power of the Spirit because of increased faith
  • Knowledge – Only the Holy Spirit can reveal the word of God, to the natural man, the things of God are foolishness.
  • Fear of the Lord – As God grows in your life, you begin to realize that He is GOD and SOVEREIGN! This is probably the first step because the “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom”

The seven-fold Spirit of the Lord works the things of Christ in you to fashion and form you into His image.

 

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Day 9: The Power of Confession

Posted by undergroundchurch on January 9, 2011


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Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity.

I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin. – Psalm 32:5

King David’s writings pre-date the Apostle John’s by about 1,000 years, yet one could argue that they were contemporaries.

John writes on this same matter:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. – 1 John 1:9

The theme of confession runs through the Bible.  It is the foundation of our salvation (Romans 10:9,10) and our forgiveness (1 John 1:9), and even though God required sacrifices, the sacrifice alone did not express a heart of forgiveness. God required the sacrifice to pay the “penalty” of sin, but true forgiveness can only be found when the heart of man goes before the offended God and confesses (acknowledges) the sin.

John the Baptizer’s ministry focused completely on this aspect of confession (Mark 1:5). He didn’t instruct people to offer sacrifices but confess their sin, repent and turn to God.  This set up softened hearts that could receive the Messiah who followed his ministry.

Confession does not stop with our sins and God.  We should…

Confession shows accountability and demonstrates a willingness to accept responsibility.  This first step leads us to a place of humility where God meets the offender and then lifts them up. (Proverbs 28:13, Isaiah 59 (esp. vs 20), James 4:10)

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Day 8: What does God Want Out of You?

Posted by undergroundchurch on January 8, 2011


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“He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” – Micah 6:8

Every word in these verses completely reflects the thoughts of God except one… “Require”.

The word require in our language really fails to convey the intent of this thought.  The Hebrew word used here translates to “seek out”.  It literally means “to thresh out” or “trample with the feet”. This word shows just how to examine or study something out.  Why the big deal?

If God simply required something of you, it would mean that “you better do it first and then He will accept you.”  Instead, God uses the word that brings the thought “to chase after”. The word occurs twice in 1 Chronicles 16:11 where he says of us, “Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek the Lord continually”.

So how does this apply? God seeks in you continually to find these qualities.  He won’t leave you alone to find them on your own, but participates in building them in you if you open yourself to His Spirit.

God want to bring out of you…

What is Good?

Remember Jesus said that no one is good except God (Mark 10:18). Only a Good God can make you good.

To act justly

God’s shows little tolerance for injustice.  He is just, and brings the best means for you to become a just person and in the process, act justly toward others.

Love Mercy

A person who loves mercy seeks to apply mercy wherever possible.  If you don’t love mercy, you tend to only show it when it benefits you, or you show it only after the person needing mercy is beaten down. Mercy needs to come early, even before the suffering begins, and only a heart of mercy, the kind that God has, works.

Walk Humbly before God

If you could obtain all these things God seeks in you without God, you would no longer be humble.  Humility recognizes your inability to do it and yields to the work of God in your life.

 

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