Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A Community of Faith (part 3)

This is the third part of (a revised version of) a message shared at Crossroads on November 2. An audio recording of the message (with prayer and communion) can be listened to by clicking HERE.   This part of the message led into a celebration of the Lord's Supper. (Click links for the [first] and [second] parts, posted yesterday.)

Let's pray:
Where are our sacred cows, Father? What is there besides our lack of vulnerability, our nature that would want to keep things private, what is there in our midst that needs to be dealt with? What is it, God, that you desire us to do when needs come to us? Will you show us, Lord? Will you help us to get organized quickly so that we can come alongside those who are in need in wise, practical ways? Help us, Lord. Deal with the demons of worry. Deal with our need to cling and clutch.
God cares about how we treat one another, especially about how we treat those who are in need.

In the part of the Bible we read when we share Communion (1 Cor 11:17-33), our Lord reminds us how important it is to treat the poor with honor and respect. It's not okay to go ahead and feast and let others go without. Verse 22 says, in part, "Do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing?" We "eat and drink judgment on ourselves" when we do not examine ourselves in regard to way we honor or dishonor one another in the body. The church is the Body of Christ just as surely as is the bread we share at the Table of the Lord.

One more example to share before we have communion together from "God Cares About People: A Pentecostal Perspective from Luke/Acts" by Craig S. Keener.
Charles Finney, a 19-century evangelist who led perhaps half a million people to Christ, preached on Luke 14:33 at a wealthy church in Boston. In this passage Jesus, explaining the cost of the Kingdom, warned that no one can be His disciple who does not surrender all possessions (14:33). After Finney was done, the local pastor, Lyman Beecher, closed Finney’s sermon by assuring his congregation that God would never ask them to give up their possessions; they simply needed to be "willing" to do so. Finney countered that God can demand of us what He wishes; we do not lose all our possessions at the moment of our conversion (when we come to Jesus), but we do lose our ownership of them.
When you become owned by Jesus, guess who gets all your stuff? Jesus does!

Charles Finney understood that if Christ is truly Lord of our life, He is also Lord of everything we have.

Do we understand this? Are we going to take time to consider these things and apply them to our lives? Or are we going to continue to live as we always have?

We can't leave out any of these teachings and think that we are truly a Community of Faith. If we do not apply them to our lives, we are not really trusting God. **

Sharing communion now from First Corinthians 11:
For I received from the Lord the teaching that I passed on to you: that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took a piece of bread, gave thanks to God, broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in memory of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup and said, “This cup is God’s new covenant, sealed with my blood. Whenever you drink it, do so in memory of me.” This means that every time you eat this bread and drink from this cup you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. It follows that if anyone eats the Lord’s bread or drinks from his cup in a way that dishonours him, he or she is guilty of sin against the Lord’s body and blood. So then, you should all examine yourselves first, and then eat the bread and drink from the cup,
Take a moment for that examination according to what God has said to us today.


** I had planned to share the following quote from Dean Ulrich of Chinese Reformed Theological Seminary on on Nov. 2 (from his sermon on Habakkuk 2:4 that you can download here) but decided to leave it for a later date:
Living by faith involves faithfulness to God’s commands. God calls us to obey his commands even when obedience seems silly or dangerous.

But living by faith is more than obedience. It is trust in the faithfulness of God. This means depending on God for the breath that we take, the food that we eat, and the roof under which we sleep. Living by faith means relying on God for the direction that we take or that life takes us. It means believing that God will work out our mistakes for our ultimate good and redeem the labor of our hands for the advancement of Christ’s kingdom.

The reason that we dare to obey God is because we know, on the basis of what he has already done for us in Jesus, that he won’t let us down. He will care for us even in the midst of great hardship or contrary evidence. We know that God’s kingdom will come and so act accordingly as God’s holy and elect people.

Please pray that we will follow up this message on Nov. 9 in a way that honors all that the Lord desires.

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