Where is Your Wealth?

A17056C3-434B-4E41-AEBA-FD98F73ECA96

Are you aware that wealth does not exclusively involve money or possessions?
The truest forms of wealth are those things which money could never buy. Things like contentment, joy, love, spiritual health and well-being.
Do you realize how valuable peace of mind is? Or the ability to sleep sweetly at night?
Simple pleasures that are so easily overlooked or taken for granted.

When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. (Proverbs 3:24)

This is how someone may outwardly own many possessions, expensive clothing, and a large bank account, but inwardly be destitute.
“For you say, ‘I am rich, I have grown wealthy and need nothing.’ Not realizing that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked.” (Revelation 3:17)

Or how another could seemingly be lowly and in poverty, but truthfully be rich.
“I know your afflictions and your poverty- yet you are rich” (Revelation 2:9)

In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus says,
“Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (Luke 12:15)

A little that a righteous man has is better than the riches of many wicked. (Psalm 37:16)

Better is a little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble with it.
Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a fattened ox and hatred with it. (Proverbs 15:16-17)

King Solomon writes,
Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his labor. This is a gift from God. (Ecclesiastes 5:19)

Notice how it is God who not only provides the wealth and possessions, but also supplies the ability to be able to enjoy them.

This is why Paul writes in his letter to Timothy,
“But godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6)

According to Christ, we are to have a kingdom first mindset.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” (Matthew 6:24)

So where is your wealth?

Jesus Heals the Paralytic

1380799_10152084446704891_1350875498_nHe entered Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that He was in the house.
Immediately many gathered together, so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door. And He preached the word to them. Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying.
When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.”
-Mark 2:1-5

When the scribes heard Jesus forgiving the man’s sins, they asked, “What is he saying? This is blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins!” (Mark 2:7)

Jesus then asked which would be easier to say to a paralyzed man, “Your sins are forgiven” or “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk”?

According to The Wycliffe Bible Commentary:
‘This is an unanswerable question. The statements are equally simple to pronounce; but to say either, with accompanying performance, requires divine power. An imposter, of course, in seeking to avoid detection, would find the former easier.
Jesus proceeded to heal the illness so that men might know that he had the authority to deal with its cause.’

“None on earth has either the authority or the right to forgive sin. None could forgive sin save the One against whom all have sinned. When Christ forgave sin, as He certainly did, He was not exercising a human prerogative. Since none but God can forgive sins, it is conclusively demonstrated that Christ, since He forgave sins, is God.”
-Lewis Sperry Chafer, Founder & President of Dallas Theological Seminary

The paralytic had not sinned against the man Jesus; the two men had never even seen each other before. The paralytic had sinned against God. Then along comes Jesus, who under His own authority says, “Your sins are forgiven.” We may forgive sins committed against us personally, but in no way can anyone forgive sins committed against God except God Himself. Yet this is exactly what Jesus claimed to do. It is no wonder therefore, why the Jewish leaders reacted so violently at these claims Christ made.

Jesus heals the paralytic 2

Resolving Conflict from a Biblical Perspective

Conflict rams 3

Resolving Conflict from a Biblical Perspective

con•flict
noun
a strong disagreement or argument
a state of disharmony or opposition
synonyms: dispute, quarrel, strife, dissension, discord, division

As flawed human beings with a carnal fallen nature, it is inevitable that we will experience conflict and strife amongst one another. Just as the word suggests, conflict is caused by conflicting ideas, goals, motives, opinions, perspectives, values, etc.

Conflicts happen within our families, our marriages, our friends, and our co-workers. As individuals, we don’t always see eye to eye on certain issues and thus, conflicts arise.

Because conflict ultimately causes division- the ultimate goal of resolving conflict should be unity.

re•solve
verb
to settle or find a solution to a problem, dispute, or contentious matter.
synonyms: settle, solve, rectify, amend

Conflict resolution is the process of trying to find a solution to a conflict.

Ideally, conflict resolution is a collaborative and cooperative communication process that leads to an agreement in which both groups or individuals feel satisfied with. When conflict is resolved in a healthy way, it increases our understanding of one another, builds trust, and strengthens the bonds of our relationships.
Conflict left unresolved can eventually grow into bitterness, resentment, and ultimately even hatred. For this reason, it is best to address and attempt to resolve these conflicts as soon as they arise.

Often times, we try to avoid the issue of the conflict in hopes that it will dissipate on its own, given enough time.

However, avoidance only delays the issue, allowing it to boil beneath the surface before future outbursts.

The sooner we begin to resolve the conflict, the easier it will be to resolve.

Therefore, do not wait. Do not allow the issue to grow into something worse than it already is.

In Matthew chapter five, Jesus Himself instructs us, “come to terms quickly with your adversary.” -Matthew 5:25

 So what is the source of conflict?

 In Chapter 4 of his epistle, James presents this question and then provides the answer

What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you?
Is not the source your pleasures that wage war within you?
You lust and do not have, so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask.
You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.
-James 4:1-3

Did you catch the recurring theme in that passage?
Selfishness

Envy and jealousy are two major causes for conflicts, and these both stem from selfishness.

But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving like mere men?
-1 Corinthians 3:1-3

Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth.
This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
-James 3:13-18

A major step in resolving as well as preventing conflict, is by being thoughtful and considerate of others instead of being self-centered.

I believe this is why the New Testament has so much to say in regard to considering others above ourselves.

Let love be without hypocrisy (genuine). Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.
-Romans 12:9-10

Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification.
-Romans 15:1-2

Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.
-1 Corinthians 10:24

Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
-Galatians 5:26

Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility regard others as more significant than yourselves. Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
-Philippians 2:3-4

  Blessed are the peacemakers.

Another key step in preventing and resolving conflict, is through the pursuit of peace.
Peace is the antithesis of strife, which is why we are repeatedly instructed to seek peace with one another.

Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.
-Psalm 34:14 (also 1 Peter3:11)

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
-Matthew 5:9

“Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”
-Mark 9:50

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
-Romans 12:16-18

Therefore, let us pursue what leads to peace and to mutual edification.
-Romans 14:19

Finally, brothers, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.
-2 Corinthians 13:11

Therefore I, a prisoner for the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
-Ephesians 4:1-3

Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome, but kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged
-2 Timothy 2:22-24

Pursue peace with all men, and sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled
-Hebrews 12:14-15

And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
-James 3:18

 Love thy neighbor as thyself.

The truth is- before we can ever honestly learn to act selflessly or be considerate of others, we must first learn to have the correct motivation.
Jesus Christ Himself makes it clear, that our chief motivation is to be love.

One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question to test Him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, ” ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the great and first commandment.
And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
-Matthew 22:35-40

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
-John 13:34-35

“This I command you, that you love one another.”
-John 15:17

Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.
-Proverbs 10:12

Let love (agape) be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love (philadelphia). Honor one another above yourselves.
-Romans 12:9-10

For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor, therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
-Romans 13:9-10

 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
-1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Let all that you do be done in love.
-1 Corinthians 16:14

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
-Galatians 5:13-14

Therefore I, a prisoner of the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, being diligent to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
-Ephesians 4:1-3

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and walk in love, just as Christ also loved us and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.
-Ephesians 5:1-2

Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any comfort from love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, complete my joy by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus
-Philippians 2:1-5

So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against another, just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.
-Colossians 3:12-14

We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater
-2 Thessalonians 1:3

The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
-1 Timothy 1:5

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful, and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good works
-Hebrews 10:23-24

Choosing our words carefully.

As Proverbs 18:21 states, death and life are in the power of the tongue.
This is why we must continually be mindful of how we choose to use our words.
This will play a large part in preventing and resolving conflict.
Our speech can either be used constructively or destructively- for building up or for tearing down.

Words from the mouth of a wise man are gracious, while the lips of a fool consume him.
-Ecclesiastes 10:12

Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.
-Psalm 34:13

The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.
-Proverbs 10:11

The lips of the righteous bring forth what is acceptable, but the mouth of the wicked what is perverse.
-Proverbs 10:32

There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
-Proverbs 12:18

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
-Proverbs 15:1

A perverse man spreads strife, and a slanderer separates intimate friends.
-Proverbs 16:28

For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases. As charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife.
-Proverbs 26:20-21

“I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
-Matthew 12:36-37

“The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good, and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil, for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”
-Luke 6:45

Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.
-Ephesians 4:25

Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
-Ephesians 4:29

Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.
-Ephesians 5:4

But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its Creator.
-Colossians 3:8-10

Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
-Colossians 4:5-6

 God expects forgiven people to forgive.

An essential part of conflict resolution is found in forgiveness.
God makes clear throughout His word, that reconciliation is such an important issue, that peace with Him and peace with others are inextricably entwined.

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother without a cause will be liable to judgment; whoever says to his brother ‘Raca’ (worthless) will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to hell fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”
-Matthew 5:21-24

“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”
-Matthew 6:12

“For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”
-Matthew 6:14-15

Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.”
-Matthew 18:21-22
(Jesus then gives the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant -Matthew 18:23-35)

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
-Mark 11:24-25

“Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”
-Luke 17:3-4

So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other, as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.
-Colossians 3:12-14

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
-Ephesians 4:31-32

 Conflict Resolution According to Jesus

In Matthew chapter 18, Jesus Himself gives us a step by step process for addressing and resolving conflict with a brother (fellow believer) who has sinned against us.

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.
But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.
If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”
-Matthew 18:15-17

The Apostle Paul confronts Peter and publicly rebukes him for acting hypocritically:

But when Cephas (Peter) came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles, but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.
But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”
-Galatians 2:11-14

In some cases, when an agreement cannot be reached by each party, the best solution is a mutual separation

So Abram said to Lot, “Please let there be no strife between you and me, nor between my herdsmen and your herdsmen, for we are brothers. Is not the whole land before you? Please separate yourself from me. If you take the left, then I will go to the right, or if you take the right, then I will go to the left.”
-Genesis 13:8-9

Then after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit our brethren in every city where we have proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are doing.” Now Barnabas was determined to take with them John, called Mark. But Paul insisted that they should not take him along who had deserted them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work. And there arose such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one another, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus. But Paul chose Silas and left, being commended by the brethren to the grace of the Lord. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.
-Acts 15:36-41

What is church?

what is church

What is church?

 Every time the word ‘church’ appears in the New Testament, it is translated from the Greek word ekklesia.

ekklesia 
ek•klay•see’•ah

this is a compound of ek (strong’s 1537) which means ‘out of’, ‘away from’
and kaleo (2564) which means ‘to call’

So the literal meaning translates ‘to call out of, or away from’

The word church appears for the first time in Matthew chapter 16, spoken of by Jesus Himself

 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”
-Matthew 16:15-18

Notice how Jesus says “I will build My church”

So then, because church literally refers to those who are ‘called out of, or away from,’
we understand that the key principle here is a distinction, a separation of God’s people

“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?”
-2 Corinthians 6:14

“Therefore come out from them and be separate,” says the Lord. “Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you will be sons and daughters to Me,” says the Lord Almighty.
-2 Corinthians 6:17-18

I heard another voice from heaven, saying, “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues”
-Revelation 18:4

Jesus says His followers are not of the world just as He is not of the world

 “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own, but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”
-John 15:19

“I have given them Your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.”
-John 17:14

Another word used throughout scripture regarding believers, that illustrates this same idea of being set apart or separate, is the word sanctify.

sanc·ti·fy
to declare or set apart as holy; to consecrate

In John chapter 17, during His high priestly prayer, Jesus prays that we would be sanctified in the truth which is the word of God.

 “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth, Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.”
-John 17:6-19

Jesus instructs His followers to be the salt and light of the world, so that men
may see their good works, and glorify God the Father

“You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden, nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
-Matthew 5:13-16

In the book of Acts, the apostle Paul recounts his personal encounter with Christ,
and the words the Lord spoke to him

“But rise and stand on your feet, for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will show you, rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.”
-Acts 26:16-18

In Christ Jesus, we have been washed clean of our former lives, sanctified, and justified

 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
-1 Corinthians 6:9-11

Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who
are His,” and, “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness. Now in
a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of clay,
some for honorable use and some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from
these things, he will be a vessel for honorable use, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for
every good work.
-2 Timothy 2:19-21

To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours
-1 Corinthians 1:2

Christ purchased His church with His own blood

 Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you
overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.
-Acts 20:28

The church is known as the body of Christ

Now you are the body of Christ, and individually members of it.
-1 Corinthians 12:27

And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
-Ephesians 1:22-23

And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ
-Ephesians 4:11-12

For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
-Romans 12:4-5

For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she would be holy and blameless.
-Ephesians 5:23-27

Therefore in closing, it’s important for us to realize that the church is not merely a building
or a location. But that we, as believers who are in Christ Jesus, are the Church.

“We don’t go to church, we are the church.”  –Canon Ernest Southcott, founder of the ‘home church’ movement in England

Light vs Darkness

light vs dark

And I saw that wisdom excels folly as light excels darkness.
-Ecclesiastes 2:13

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
-Psalm 119:105

The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.
-Psalm 119:130

But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day. The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble.
-Proverbs 4:18-19

This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.
-1 John 1:5-7

   Jesus Christ is the Light that has been revealed to us from God:

In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light.
-John 1:4-8

For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
-2 Corinthians 4:6

Several times throughout the Gospel of John, Christ even
refers to Himself as the ‘Light’:

Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world, he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”
-John 8:12

“I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness.”
-John 12:46

“This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”
-John 3:19-21

So Jesus said to them, “For a little while longer the Light is among you. Walk while you have the Light, so that darkness will not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes. While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light.” These things Jesus spoke, and He departed and hid Himself from them.
-John 12:35-36

Notice the contrasting statements Jesus uses about light & darkness in the passages above.

Scripture testifies that Jesus Christ is the spotless Lamb of God, in whom was neither sin nor deceit:

You know that He appeared in order to take away sins, and in Him there is no sin.
-1 John 3:5

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
-2 Corinthians 5:21

For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.
-Hebrews 4:15

how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.
-Hebrews 9:14

but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.
-1 Peter 1:19

For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in His steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in His mouth.
-1 Peter 2:21-22

And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.
-Isaiah 53:9

If we are unwilling to embrace Christ and accept Him as the Light, i.e. by disagreeing with His teachings, denying His nature, or disobeying His commands, we are actually saying that He is darkness, and that we have the true light already.
And we see that this is exactly what the Pharisees do in Matthew chapter 12:

Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to Him, and He healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons that this man casts out demons.”
-Matthew 12:22-24

By accusing Jesus of casting out demons by the prince of demons, they are saying to Jesus, “You are in darkness, & we are in the light.” They are calling their darkness light, and the true light which is Christ, darkness.
What is it called when someone thinks that they are in the light when they are actually in darkness?
Deception.
To be deceived is to be convinced that you are right, when in fact you are wrong.

In John chapter 7, the Pharisees refer to those believing in the teachings of Jesus as being deceived:

The Pharisees answered them, “Have you also been deceived? Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in Him?”
-John 7:47-48

They are essentially implying that they themselves are the standard of light, & since none of them have believed in Him, He must be darkness.
Jesus warns of confusing darkness with light & light with darkness:

“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”
-Matthew 6:22-23

“Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness. Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness.”
-Luke 11:34-35

The prophet Isaiah warns of this also:

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil, who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness, who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!
-Isaiah 5:20

In John chapter 9, after Jesus heals a man who had been born blind, the Pharisees question him about the experience:

“Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, He could do nothing.”
They answered him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out.
Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him He said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
He answered, “And who is He, sir, that I may believe in Him?”
Jesus said to him, “You have seen Him, and it is He who is speaking to you.”
He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped Him.
Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.”
Some of the Pharisees near Him heard these things, and said to Him, “Are we also blind?”
Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt, but now that you say, ‘We see,’
your guilt remains.”
-John 9:32-41

Additional references from Scripture on the topic of darkness and light:

‘rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.’
-Acts 26:17-18

The night is far gone; the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.
-Romans 13:12

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?
-2 Corinthians 6:14

For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.
No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.
-2 Corinthians 11:13-15

For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth ), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead expose them.
-Ephesians 5:5-11

For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
-Colossians 1:13-14

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.
-1 Peter 2:9

On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true Light is already shining. The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
-1 John 2:8-11

I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.
-Revelation 21:22-23

“Who Do You Say That I Am?”

Image

During the earthly ministry of Jesus, He asks His disciples an important question:

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.
“And I say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
-Matthew 16:13-18 (see also Mark 8:27, Luke 9:18)

 
Three times in the Gospel account, God Himself speaks from heaven endorsing His Son Jesus Christ:

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. But John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and yet You come to me?”  But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on Him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
-Matthew 3:13-17 (see also Mark 1:11, Luke 3:22)

And after six days Jesus took with Him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them, and His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.
Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If You wish, I will make three tents here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.”  And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.
-Matthew 17:1-8 (see also Mark 9:7, Luke 9:35)

“Now My soul has become troubled; yet what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify Your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” So the crowd that stood there and heard it were saying that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to Him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has not come for My sake, but for yours.”
-John 12:27-30

Peter recalls the experience he witnessed while on the mountain with Jesus:

For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to Him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.
-2 Peter 1:16-18

 

Jesus Christ: the Word and Image of God the Father

Word became flesh 2

Jesus Christ is God’s ultimate form of communicating and revealing Himself to us.

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed the heir of all things, through whom also He created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature, and He upholds the universe by the word of His power.
-Hebrews 1:1-3

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities -all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him
-Colossians 1:15-17,19

In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
-2 Corinthians 4:4

For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus
-1 Timothy 2:5

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel” which translated means, “God with us.”
-Matthew 1:23

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and apart from Him was not anything made that has been made.
-John 1:1-3

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
-John 1:14

No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.
-John 1:18

So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing on My own authority, but speak just as the Father taught Me. And He who sent Me is with Me. He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.”
-John 8:28-29

And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me. And whoever sees Me sees Him who sent Me.”
-John 12:44-45

“For I have not spoken on My own authority, but the Father who sent Me has Himself given Me a commandment- what to say and what to speak. And I know that His commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told Me.”
-John 12:49-50

“If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him.” Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.”
Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know Me, Philip? Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own authority, but the Father who dwells in Me does his works.”
-John 14:7-10

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority
-Colossians 2:8-10

What is a disciple?

Image

dis·ci·ple

a. a person who is a convinced pupil or adherent of the doctrines of an individual.
b. one who embraces and assists in spreading the teaching of another.

Synonyms: follower, learner, apprentice, pupil
 
The term “disciple” literally translated from the Greek word mathetes, means to be “a learner.”
 
Discipleship is the process of learning the teachings of another, internalizing them and then acting upon them.
 
To be a disciple of Jesus Christ we must learn what Jesus taught. Then more importantly we must act on those teachings. 
A disciple is not simply an accumulator of information in regards to the teachings of Jesus Christ, but one who bases their lives on His teachings.
This is how we determine if we have truly committed our lives to Christ- if we begin taking seriously His commands and actually putting them to practice in our lives.
 
All those who believed and followed Christ were called ‘disciples’- Acts 6:1-2, 7

Paul originally persecuted the disciples of Christ – Acts 9:1,26

the disciples were first called ‘Christians’ in Antioch – Acts 11:26

Jesus said, 
“A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.”  -Luke 6:40

 The translation ‘fully trained’ is the Greek word Katartizo which means ‘to be made complete, perfect’

 
It is unscriptural to teach that a person can be a ‘Christian’ and not be a disciple of Jesus Christ.

In Luke 6:46 Jesus sharply rebukes those who were incorrectly addressing Him as “Lord” when they were not obeying His words.

 “Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” -Luke 6:46

 
“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” -John 14:15

 “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will manifest Myself to him.” 
-John 14:21

 “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word ; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.”
-John 14:23

 “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” 
-Luke 14:27

Lord, liar, or lunatic?

Image

With the many outlandish, and controversial claims that Jesus of Nazareth made about Himself, which also lead to His death, He must fall into one of these three categories.

 Option 1) Lord: Jesus was who He claimed to be, that is, the Christ, the only begotten Son of God. The spotless lamb who was sent to take away the sins of the world. Who had the authority to forgive sins. The only way to the Father. He & the Father were one.

 Option 2) Liar: Jesus was not who He claimed to be and knew that He wasn’t. This would make him a liar, a charlatan, a counterfeit who deceived many into abandoning their lives, and following Him. He also taught these followers to instruct others in the same teachings. Many of these followers were martyred for these beliefs. Therefore He could not simply could not have been a good moral teacher.

 Option 3) Lunatic: Jesus was not who He claimed to be, but didn’t know that He wasn’t. This would make Him a lunatic, a madman who actually believed all these outrageous qualities about Himself were true.