Thursday, 8/22/19 – Discipleship – The Bible

Logos, Rhema, and Graphe!

These are three Greek words often rendered “word” in English Bible translations. This is not due to a laziness in the linguists but rather to a limitation in the language – the English language. Greek is very rich. Many Greek words contain nuances of meaning which similar words in many other tongues do not. Logos, Rhema and Graphe are examples of this.

20190821_143817Logos is God, the Word, the third Person of the Trinity “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.” (John 1:1-4)

The Logos has been expressed (i) creativelyAnd God said, ‘Let there be…’” (Gen. 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26), (ii) prophetically through the O.T. prophets, and lastly (iii) incarnately (in flesh) through Jesus Christ: “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.” (Heb. 1:1-2).

Jesus is the incarnate Logos (Word, God), the Logos (Word, God) in bodily person, the Logos (Word, God) made flesh.

In Rev 19:13 John sees Jesus as a great Warrior riding upon a white horse. The rider is called Faithful and True. His eyes are like fire, on His head are many crowns, and He wears a blood-dipped robe. Who is He? “His name,” writes John, “is the Word [Logos] of God.

20190821_143704Graphe is the written text, the Logos inscribed, the scriptures, the ‘Holy Writ,’ the collected scriptures which form the Bible. In most English Bibles ‘graphe’ is translated ‘scripture,’ but in current usage Christians also call the Scriptures ‘The Word.’ The Bible is unique in many ways, it is like no other writings. It is inspired (in-Spirit-ed). God is its Author using human writers who “were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God.” (1 Peter 1:21 – NLT). We could think of it like this: The Logos (Word, God) gave men the Rhema (Word, Revelation) and the men penned the Graphe (Word, Scripture).

20190821_143740Rhema is the spoken or revealed Word. Have you ever experienced a text “leaping out at you,” perhaps bringing you great comfort, assurance, peace or conviction? That is a clear example of the Rhema of God. Specific Truth from the Graphe (written word) is made alive by the Holy Spirit (becomes Rhema) and applied to the reader’s heart and mind.

My sheep hear My voice,” said Jesus (John 10:27). But “the person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.” (1 Cor. 2:14).

This is why it is important to pray before reading the scriptures, to pray as the psalmist prayed, “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.” (Psalm 119:18), pray that God would grant you spiritual illumination, that He would reveal to you the Rhema you need today from the Graphe of God.

Press on…

Note: If I’ve lost you in today’s blog don’t you worry about it one bit! Just pray, keep reading your Bible, and press on in knowing and loving Jesus!

20190522_065320Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of new life in Christ? Or, perhaps you would you like to know how to begin this journey and take the very first of the First Steps by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

Thursday, 8/15/19 – Discipleship – Priorities

purple sky

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness,
and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matt. 6:33)

When Jesus spoke these words He was not standing in the marketplace referencing the abundant exchanges of goods and cash. He was not standing before the courts of Caesar or the entry of the Synagogue pointing towards the powers of rulers or religion. When Jesus promised “all these things” He was not promising wealth, or fame, or prestige, or political power.

When Jesus spoke these words He was sitting on a hillside, in the barren wilderness of Judea. He had just been teaching on the care and provision of God toward nature.

He had taught that a choice was necessary: “You cannot serve both God and money.” (v. 24) He said. They are opposites. If you love one, you will hate the other.

animal avian beak bird

The one who chooses God, shuns avarice. Nature knows. Unsullied by sin the birds trust; just as there was found a worm today, there will be found a worm tomorrow. For them, tomorrow is of no greater concern than yesterday.

flor flower garden jkakaroto

No flower owns a mirror. It has no need to preen itself upon opening each morning. It merely rejoices in where it is planted, is thankful for the sun as much as for the rain. It pushes its roots deep and takes in all that the Lord provides. God sees to its beauty.

Nature abides confidently in its Creator, but sin has interfered in us.

Oswald Chambers describes our duplicity:

“Even the most spiritually-minded of us argue the exact opposite, saying, ‘But I must live; I must make a certain amount of money; I must be clothed; I must be fed. The great concern of our lives is not the kingdom of God but how we are going to take care of ourselves to live.” (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, May 21 entry.)

Now we must “seek” God…. We must keep seeking Him as our priority. We must “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness.” We must learn again to trust, then, His promise stands, “all these things will be given to you as well.” Like birds and flowers we too may rest in His daily provision of our basic needs. “These things” are all we need, for when we have Him, we want nothing more.

Press on…

20190522_065320Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of new life in Christ? Or, perhaps you would you like to know how to begin this journey and take the very first of the First Steps by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

Thursday, 8/8/19 – Discipleship – Freedom!

woman stands on mountain over field under cloudy sky at sunrise

The Devil would like for the child of God to think that he or she is still in bondage to sin. But sinful desire is no longer the only desire within us. When it was, it was all we knew. We sinned because that was all that we were: sinners!

But now we are being made something new! So certain is the completion of this work of God within us that He sees it as already done. In fact, He inhabits the day it truly will be done just as truly as He walks with us now as we struggle with the unfolding of it.

Some of this great work requires each of us to put his or her muscle to it along with God. Thus, Paul urges the Philippians,

“…continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” (Phil. 2:12, 13).

Some bits are very hard indeed. But nonetheless from where God sits He sees it as a thing already done. That is why Paul can confidently affirm,

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20).

photo of child reading holy bible

This new Life within us will grow stronger and stronger the more we properly feed and nourish it. We do that by prayer, reading our Bible, obeying and worshipping God, being with other believers, and allowing His Spirit to work within us.

Long ago the apostle Paul wrote a letter to some believers in Galatia and explained about this: “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh… walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Gal. 5:13, 16).

baby inside white bathtub with water

Jesus has set us free. He has pulled out from the mud and slime, stripped, washed and scrubbed us, burned those old clothes and given us clean, fresh, newly-pressed ones, perfumed us up, set our hair and polished our shoes. “Now, run along “ He says… “but stay away from the slime and mud!” How shameful for us and disrespectful to Him if we run again straight through it!

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Gal. 5:1)

grayscale photography of man sitting on grass field

Now we are free… free to enter into places that require cleanliness. Let us work hard to stay clean, and when we sometimes get this bit or that bit somewhat soiled—or even fall face forward full in the mud again, let us run straight back to Him, admit our wrong, and he will scrub us new again. (See 1 John 1:9).

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).

Now we have another new nature; now at our crossroads we can choose…

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (1 Cor. 10:13)

Now we are, and are becoming, saints.

Press on…

20190522_065320Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of new life in Christ? Or, perhaps you would you like to know how to begin this journey and take the very first of the First Steps by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

Thursday, 8/1/19 – Discipleship – Assurance

As a new believer in Jesus Christ you must early on learn to distinguish faith from feelings.

man lifting his arms

At the point of your surrender to Christ many things were going on: your mind heard and understood the truth, your spirit sensed the conviction of the Holy Spirit, your will surrendered to the Will of God, and your physical body may have trembled, collapsed, knelt before its Maker. Your emotions may also have been quite active, intense, extreme, or in a place of deep peace and calm, knowing now that you had stopped fighting God, running from Him, or denying your guilt.

But these things in themselves are not the day to day experience of walking with the Lord. Your experience of salvation is merely that: your experience of repentance and commitment to Jesus Christ. Walking in faith from there on in is something quite different. Do not let the loss or changes in your feelings distress you; you are as surely a child of God still. Though the devil would like to convince you otherwise, your soul is secure in Christ.

Hear the testimonies of these great men of God:

“Now that I am a Christian I do have moods in which the whole thing looks very improbable: but when I was an atheist I had moods in which Christianity looked terribly probable. This rebellion of your moods against your real self is going to come anyway. That is why Faith is such a necessary virtue: unless you teach your moods ‘where they get off’, you can never be either a sound Christian or even a sound atheist, but just a creature dithering to and fro, with its beliefs really dependent on the weather and the state of its digestion. Consequently one must train the habit of Faith.” – C.S. Lewis

Screenshot_20190731-073622“The Christian life is not a constant high. I have had my moments of deep discouragement. I have to go to God with tears in my eyes, and say, ‘O God, forgive me, or help me.’” – Billy Graham

Someone came up with this clever drawing that is helpful for every believer to understand early on.

20190731_073715Sometimes what we think is a problem with our faith, or worse a failure of God, is really only a matter of our mistaken expectations.

Jesus pre-warned us:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).

We often need to be reminded of this, as Peter exhorted:

“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” (1 Pet. 4:12)

In fact, we need to be reminded of many truths… we need to nourish our souls with truth.

“We have to be continually reminded of what we believe. Neither this belief nor any other will automatically remain alive in the mind. It must be fed.” – C.S. Lewis.

Fears and doubts result when we feed on the lies of the world, the flesh, and the devil.

“Anxiety and fear are like baby tigers: The more you feed them, the stronger they grow.” – Billy Graham

Get into the Word, pray daily, be with other believers, go to church, share your faith and shun All things impure. Above all else, love God, for you can be assured of His Love for you!

Press on…

20190522_065320Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of new life in Christ? Or, perhaps you would you like to know how to begin this journey and take the very first of the First Steps by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

Thursday, 7/25/19 – Discipleship: The Soon Return of Christ

The Soon Return of Christ

Yesterday’s blog closed citing Heb. 9:27, 28

“And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment, so also Christ was offered once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for Him.”

photography of person walking on road

We have been looking at our essential need to turn from sin and turn to Christ… to acknowledge the evil within us, agree with God’s judgment upon it, to covenant before God to shun it by the cooperation of our will with His enabling power and grace, and to willfully desire Him above all earthly and fleshly allures…. In short, to repent.

The certainty of our death and of the judgment to follow should sober our thinking to see the priority of repentance! And our days may be shorter than we think.

woman wearing blue jacket

Jesus is coming back! He is not coming to receive our repentance; by then the books will be closed… the harvest past… the summer ended (cf Jer. 8:20). He is coming to retrieve His own. “Now,” not then, “is the day of salvation.” (c.f. 2 Cor. 6:2).a

Note again the words, “He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for Him.” (Heb. 9:28).

Now is not the time for playing games with God. As someone recently posted to Facebook:

“Some of y’all be playing hide & seek with Jesus…
And pretty soon He’s gonna say: READY OR NOT, HERE I COME!!!”

bare feet boy child couch

There is no place you can hide from God. Whether by your death or by His return you will be found, and found out.

C.S. Lewis writes, “There comes a moment when people who have been dabbling in religion (‘Man’s search for God’!) suddenly draw back. Supposing we really found Him? We never meant it to come to that! Worse still, supposing He had found us!” – C.S. Lewis, Miracles

But find us He will. After all, if you are “playing hide & seek with Jesus” you are playing in His backyard.

As David writes,

“I can never escape from your Spirit!
I can never get away from your presence!
If I go up to heaven, you are there;
if I go down to the grave,[a] you are there.
If I ride the wings of the morning,
if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
even there your hand will guide me,
and your strength will support me.
I could ask the darkness to hide me
and the light around me to become night—
but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
Darkness and light are the same to you.” (Ps. 139:7-12 (NLT)

woman wearing denim jacket sitting beside metal railings

Do these words strike comfort or dread in your soul? Do you rejoice, or must you repent. Whichever it is, I urge you to do it today!

Press on…

Thursday, 7/18/19 – Discipleship: God’s Will

20190717_185934The science fiction TV series Andromeda aired on the Global Television Network from 2000 to 2005. Set thousands of years in the future the basic storyline follows the adventures of Captain Dylan Hunt and his somewhat reluctant ragtag crew of the Andromeda Ascendant as they set out to rebuild the Systems Commonwealth some 300 years after its fall.

A feature of the Andromeda Ascendant is its ability to utilize faster than light ‘Slipstream’ travel.

20190717_190527Slipstream travel has almost nothing to do with the distance between stars. Travel time between points A and B could take minutes… weeks… or months. It all seems to depend on an odd mix of luck, navigation skill, and intuition. Frequently traveled routes have fewer ‘decision points’ and can be traveled at higher speeds than from remoter areas of, or if adrift in, inter-galactic space.

Slipstream Mechanics
A Gravity Field Generator drastically reduces the mass of the ship and then a slipstream drive opens a slippoint which the ship enters. The ship then catches onto the strings by means of slipstream runners. Once hooked onto the strings the pilot then navigates the series of slipstream “strings” until they reach the desired slippoint where they exit the slipstream. https://andromeda.fandom.com/wiki/Slipstream

It seems to me that navigating the Slipstream is something like neurons navigating their way through the brain. There is this supercharged travel, a search for regularly traveled routes, and ‘decision points’ along the way. It’s an ‘intuitive’ sort of travel, navigating one’s way into that certain ‘zone’ that feels just right. Once found — whether the journey be easy or rough — the Slipstream pilot knows he’s on the right course; it’s like finding that perfect spot to scratch an itch.

So what’s all this got to do with knowing God’s will?

back view photo of shepherd walking his flock of sheep in grass field

Every believer at the point of inviting Christ into their heart has the Holy Spirit resident within them as their deposit and seal and guide. “He will guide you into all the truth,” promised Jesus (John 16:13). And He does. “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27).

“The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice” (John 10:3-4).

photo of pathway surrounded by fir trees

This is the believer’s navigation system — far better than any slippoint or gravity field generator devised by man’s imagination or science. “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’” (Isa. 30:21). “For this God is our God for ever and ever; He will be our guide even to the end.” (Psalm 48:14).

Learning to wait for, listen, hear and obey this inner voice of the Spirit is enhanced through prayer, study of God’s Word, discussion with other mature believers in Christ, and looking honestly at the opportunities and challenges opening before you. When God speaks He will speak with clarity and these factors will align with each other.

You are never alone.

Press on…

20190522_065320Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of new life in Christ? Or, perhaps you would you like to know how to begin this journey and take the very first of the First Steps by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

Thursday, 7/11/19 – Discipleship: Evangelism

white and green door filled with envelopesEvery six weeks or so I get a sheet of coupons in the mail from one of the big burger chains in town. One of these coupons is always a BOGO (Buy One, Get One) coupon. If I but one of their super large burgers at regular price they will give me a second such burger for free. When I buy this burger they give me a receipt and on the back of the receipt is an invitation to complete an online survey for which, if I complete it, they will send me a code to write on the receipt in exchange for which they will give me another free super large burger.

If you’re doing the math here you’ll see that I now have got three super large burgers while only having had to pay for one. A good deal!

ham burger with vegetables

But it gets ever more, um.. delicious! You see I often end up with two of these coupon sheets within the same six week period. Now, you can only redeem these once at the same franchise location, but this particular franchise has more than one nearby location. So…. Now I’m up to six super large burgers every six week period, and I’ve only had to pay for two! That’s like a burger a week at 1/3 price!

I can’t figure out how this chain makes any money! Everything I’m doing is perfectly legit, but the deal just continues to amaze me!

people sitting in front of wooden table

I tell nearly everyone I knows about it. They are amazed too and many want to get on board. What’s more, now the company has added an app…. also with coupons…. And yep, there it is again, my best buddy BOGO bargain! Just download the app, click, and you’re off!

Know any great news like this? If you know the love, mercy and grace of Christ in your heart, then you do. So tell your buddies about Him. No one can dispute your personal testimony (Your story of what He has done and means to you.)

And that, my brothers and sisters in Christ, is evangelism.

Press on…

BONUS: Here’s a brief 90 second video with Bruce Finn, Church Planting Coordinator, Metro Philadelphia Church Planting Partnership, on the topic “What is Evangelism and Why is it Important?”

Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of new life in Christ? Or, perhaps you would you like to know how to begin this journey and take the very first of the First Steps by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.