DISCERNING THE BODY OF CHRIST

1 Corinthians 11:31-32 – If we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world.

This is a very powerful and important portion of Scripture. Paul helps the church at Corinth to examine their approach to the “Lord’s table.” Every congregation should read and study carefully what Paul writes. Verse 30 answers the question why many are sick in the body of Christ and why some have died prematurely. Paul says it comes from three things:

Eating the bread and drinking the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner
Failure to examine oneself, causing judgment on oneself
Not judging the body of Christ rightly
Close examination of these passages and, in fact, the entire book of Corinthians reveals how they addressed relationships within the body of Christ. When there is broken relationship among believers, it opens the door for the kingdom of darkness, reproach from an unbelieving world, and hinders the Lord’s purposes.

Jesus said, “If you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering (Matthew 5:23-24). The Lord puts a very high premium on relationship within His body. We must examine ourselves regularly to make sure our hearts are right toward our fellow believers. Paul informs us that not “judging the body rightly” causes sickness and even premature death. Our scripture today says that “if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged.” The Father wants His children to learn how to examine their own hearts. The Holy Spirit enables us to do this if we will ask for His help.

“When we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world” (1 Corinthians 11:32). We know that we are sons and daughters because the Lord disciplines His children (see Hebrews 12:5).

A true father disciplines his children. Today, many children have not known the loving discipline of a father. Many are self-centered because of not experiencing a father’s love through discipline. Some have known only anger from their father. The loving discipline of a father helps to produce respect for authority and a respect for others. Father God disciplines His children for their good. The writer of Hebrews says, “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (Hebrews 12:11).

Father, cause me to be discerning about how I treat my spouse, my children, other believers, and those outside Your kingdom. Make me aware when I have offended another and grant me humility to ask forgiveness of the offended one. When You must discipline me, cause me to be open and willing to receive Your discipline, for I know it will produce in me the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

THE FAMILY OF GOD

Ephesians 2:19 – You are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household.

Within the body of Christ, our basic relationships can be expressed in terms of family. We are part of God’s extended family. God is our Father and we are brothers and sisters through Christ. There was a time in each of our lives that we were strangers and aliens to God’s household. Through the power of the Holy Spirit we were born again. He made us “fellow citizens with the saints.” The Spirit is the one who is charged with the work of connecting us in Christ’s body. If you have been born again, you are in the household of God.

As families join to families, a kinship is developed. People from many walks of life are joined together in covenant love. Covenant love is God’s kind of love and happens within committed relationships; Love which is rooted in relationship, established under pressure, and developed through servanthood.

This is God’s plan for maturing His sons and daughters. It all begins as “little children” (Matthew 18:3). Life in Christ grows inward to bring forth a “godly seed.” At the same time, new lives are added from without. While we grow in numbers and organizational complexity, we must also grow in our call to be family. If either of these is ever lost, we have missed God’s purpose.

Jesus said, “Come unto Me all you that labor and are heavy burdened, and I will give you rest.” As each one comes to Jesus, we receive forgiveness and acceptance from the Father. We in turn are to give the same to others.

The chorus of an old gospel song (Words and Music by William J. Gaither Copyright 1970) goes like this:

I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God.

I’ve been washed in the fountain, cleansed by His blood.

Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod,

I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God.

The family begins in God the Father. God the Son has made it possible for you and me to be joined into this eternal family. The Holy Spirit uses the seed of God’s word to join us to the Father and the Son, but also to each other in this incredible eternal plan.

Father, I thank You for joining me to the family of God. I celebrate You as my heavenly Father. I thank You for Jesus, my Redeemer King and my Elder Brother. I thank You for giving to each believer the Holy Spirit, who applies the blood of Jesus to cleanse me, who then nurtures me and reveals that my identity now comes from You.

THE ROLE OF THE SPIRIT

John 14:16 – I will ask the Father, and He will give another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth.

The Father sent Jesus to redeem mankind from the curse of the Law (Galatians 3:13). When Jesus fulfilled the Father’s plan, He then asked the Father for the Holy Spirit to be given to all those who believed on Him. Jesus refers to the Spirit as the “Helper.” Jesus and the Father have not left us alone to fend for ourselves. It is marvelous how the Holy Spirit has been given to indwell each believer. It is incredible to know that the Father and the Son are in us by the presence of the Holy Spirit who was given to be with us forever.

The Holy Spirit is our life source in Christ. The Holy Spirit is the one who continues to reveal the Father to us. It is worth our time to read through the gospels, paying special attention to what the Scriptures teach us about the Father. The more I have learned about the Father, the more I have grown in security, confidence, and faith. The Holy Spirit wants to help us be able to say from our heart, Abba Father or “Daddy, dear Daddy.”

When we learn about the “fruit of the Spirit,” we are learning about the very nature of God. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control all proceed from the Father. Each of these aspects of God is seen in the Lord Jesus. They can now be seen in our life as a manifestation of the Holy Spirit’s work. We know the Father is living through us by the evidence of the fruit. When Scriptures speak about maturing in Christ, they are referring to the development of the fruit of the Spirit.

The Holy Spirit’s role is to draw us to Christ, and then reveal to us the nature of Christ which always points to the Father. Paul says it beautifully. “For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory” (Colossians 3:3-4).

We will be in the presence of the Father and the Son in glory. The Holy Spirit will still be in us. We won’t see the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, just the Father and the Son. “I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple” (Revelation 21:22). Yes, the Holy Spirit is leading us to that day in eternity when we will be consumed by the glory of God. We don’t have to wait for that day. Even now, we can move from glory to glory as we allow the Holy Spirit to reveal the Almighty and the Lamb in an ever-increasing way.

Father, I pray for the Holy Spirit to take me deeper into Your love. As the old hymn declares, “Deeper, deeper in the love of Jesus, deeper let me go – Higher, higher in the school of wisdom, more of Christ to know – Deeper yet I pray, higher every day, wiser, blessed Lord in Your precious holy Word.”

WHAT IS THE FATHER LIKE?

John 14:9 – He who has seen Me has seen the Father

The four Gospels give us wonderful understandings about the Father. Today, we will devote our selves to the Gospel of John and examine what he reveals about the Father through the Son who is the expressed image of the Father.

Jesus is the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14). Jesus is full of grace and truth because the Father is full of the same. The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand (John 3:35). The Father loves His sons and daughters in the same way He loves Jesus. The Father seeks those to be His worshipers (John 4:23). The Father knows that it is through worship we enter into His presence, His liberty, and His peace.

“My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working” (John 5:17). The Father has always been a worker. He worked the six days of creation and then He rested from His work. He created Adam as a worker in the Garden. Jesus relates the Father’s work with His work. He calls each believer to enter into the work of the Father and the Son through the power of the Holy Spirit.

“For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and the Father will show Him greater works than these, so that you will marvel” (John 5:20). It is marvelous how the Father loves the Son and gave Him all things. Here, Jesus tells us that the Father shows Him all things. He also tells us that the Father will show greater things to the Son. The greater things are:

The ability to give life to whomever He wills.
The ability for the Son to have life in Himself.
The Father gave all judgment into the hands of the Son.
We can see by these few verses that the Father delights in His Son and loves to give to Him. Our heavenly Father loves us as well. As we live in the center of His love, He will choose to give us those things from His riches in glory. “My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Now to our God and Father be the glory forever and ever. Amen” (Philippians 4:19-20).

Many have been disappointed with earthly fathers because of their sin and neglect. Our heavenly Father wants to heal any brokenness we might carry from past relationship with a father. Father God will help us enter into His abundant love through His only begotten Son. The Holy Spirit has come to reveal the love of the Father through the kindness given to Christ and now available to all who will believe.

Father, I thank You for Your goodness that was revealed through Your Son, Jesus. Thank You for sending the Holy Spirit to give me the experience of Your love. Your love that forgives me, Your love that grants me eternal life, and Your love that gives me the security of Your grace. You are a good Father!

ONENESS WITH THE FATHER

John 14:12 – Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.

As Jesus partakes of His last meal with His disciples, He shares some of His most intimate thoughts. He knows the events which are about to take place would shake their world to the very core. The chapter begins with Jesus saying, “Let not your heart be troubled.” He points them to His Father as the source of belief. He assures them that He is going to prepare a place for them in the Father’s house. He also assures them that as He goes, He will also return for them so where He is, they might be also.

Jesus assures them that He is the way to the Father. No man can come to the Father except through the Son. He says, by knowing Him one should know the Father. Everything we see in Jesus is what the Father is like. He is full of compassion. He loves the unlovely. He is a provider. He is a protector. He heals and delivers from evil. He forgives the vilest of sinners and transforms their lives.

Jesus reinforces the fact that the words He speaks are not His, but they originate from the Father. He also makes it clear that the works He performs are not His works, but the Father’s works through Him (John 14:10). He gives them two options for belief. “Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me: or else believe Me for the very work’s sake” (John 14:11).

Some have trouble believing the words of Christians because they do not see or experience the reality of those words in the life of the confessing Christian. Jesus modeled how we are to live out the believing life. He modeled this for us by allowing the Father to fill Him with the Father’s life both in word and deed. He gave us the Holy Spirit who is the Spirit of the Father and the Spirit of the Son. This is the greater works Jesus promised we would do. We are not just to model the Father and the Son, but we are to pray for others to receive the Holy Spirit, even as we have received Him.

God did not intend that we should try to be like Jesus in our own effort. He fills us with His Holy Spirit so His life can be lived through us. This is why Paul could say, “We offer ourselves as a model for you, so that you would follow our example” (2 Thessalonians 3:9). Paul was a model to the saints, as we too should be a model for others. Not in our own effort, but by the power of God.

Daily, we need to be filled with the Holy Spirit. It is only the Holy Spirit who can produce the life of the Son and the subsequent life of the Father in us. In the natural, one’s identity comes through their father. The scriptures reveal that Jesus came for a number of reasons, one of which was to reveal His Father to Israel. Their identity was wrapped up in Abraham as their father. Jesus came to reveal the one in whom Abraham trusted. Through the Spirit of God, by faith, Abraham saw Jesus’ day. Jesus wanted Israel to find their identity in the heavenly Father. He wants the same for each of us. Allow the Holy Spirit to reveal more of the Father to you. Let your full identity be in Him.

Father, I believe in You and I believe in Jesus whom You sent. I choose to receive my identity from You. I pray for Your life to be revealed in me, the fruit of the Holy Spirit. I ask the Holy Spirit to make me a model for others, as You did with Paul.

MULTIPLICATION BY CREATING A TIPPING POINT

Matthew 8:29 – They cried out, saying, “What business do we have with each other, Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?”

A tipping point has been defined as “the moment of critical mass, the threshold, and the boiling point.” It is clearly revealed in the New Testament that the enemy knew more of God’s plans than God’s people. The Lord has always given His word so His people could know what He expects, what He is going to do, and how they are to respond. God’s prophets held a special place in revealing God’s works. “Surely the Lord God does nothing unless He reveals His secret counsel to His servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). The prophets had prepared God’s people for the coming of their expected King. The people knew He was coming, but they did not receive Him. “He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him” (John 1:11).

Matthew 8 gives us the story of the believing centurion. Jesus said of him, “I have not found such great faith with anyone in all of Israel” (Matthew 8:10). Jesus found unbelief with the covenant people. He experienced demons giving testimony of who He was, but He would not receive their words. Instead, He drove them out of individuals and set the captives free.

Matthew 8:28 begins the report of Jesus’ ministry in the country of the Gadarenes. There He found two men who were bound by demons. The demons who spoke to Jesus were afraid that He, Jesus had come to torment them. They entreated Jesus, “If You are going to cast us out, send us into the herd of swine” (Matthew 8:31). Jesus said to them, “Go!” Jesus did not cast them into the swine because He did not like swine, but rather for the sake of the man. There was a lot of demonic power there that could have hurt or killed the man. Jesus had mercy on the man.

The enemy thinks out of selfishness and cannot think in terms of eternal love. It was the love of God that created a tipping point in Jesus’ generation. People reacted to the tipping point Christ brought because of their hardened hearts. The tipping point was rooted in love, power, and authority. Jesus brought a critical mass. He brought things to a boiling point. This love has never been duplicated in one man. It can be manifested through multitudes of believers indwelt by the Holt Spirit. Power that has not been duplicated is available to those filled with the Holy Spirit. Jesus had authority which had not been demonstrated by anyone in human history. His authority came from the throne of God. Each believer can operate in God’s authority by the Spirit of God who lives in every son and daughter of God.

Jesus has been given all authority in heaven and in earth. He delegates that authority to faithful believers through His resurrected life. The greater effectiveness of Jesus’ authority is demonstrated through a united church in localities and in regions. No believer carries all authority. The body of Christ is God’s delegated authority in the earth. Each believer can bring a tipping point into their sphere as they are led by the Holy Spirit. A greater tipping point can be created by a united body in each community, as the church is led by the Spirit of God.

Father, I pray to be made a tipping point in my sphere of responsibility. I pray for a united church in my locality which makes it possible for advancement of the kingdom of God. Advanced against everything that resists Your plan and purpose. I ask You for increased love, power, and authority to be manifested in my life.