Those who love God’s name will dwell in it

Sleeping, Bible, LoveHow do you dwell in a name? How do you stay there when it is uncomfortable, oppressive, against your own will? How do you stay inside something that you cannot see? 

What keeps you coming back for more? This name that may or may not have been revealed to you. This place that draws you in. You may not know the name, but He knows yours. Could you love and be attracted to a God that you do not know and you cannot see?

For all the reasons to read the bible, there is one for me above all the others, because He lives there.  We may not understand or see clearly or know exactly what is going on, but we will definitely not know anything if we don’t read at all…

People want answers from God. They want signs. Their bibles sit with dust in their homes or maybe they don’t have a bible at all, those are for the weird folks. You want God to walk into your house and give you an answer. You want him to hold you. You want Him to comfort you and tell you everything will be ok…But don’t dare open a bible. That thing is outdated, inapplicable and wholly unreadable. You have errands to do. Doesn’t God know how busy you are? How many children you have? What demands your job brings you? How could He ever expect that you would be seen purchasing one of those old books let alone reading it!

Which reminds me of the story of Naaman. ..

Naaman was the commander of Syria’s army and suffered from leprosy. He had an Israelite servant girl who suggested he go to the prophet Elisha to be healed. So Naaman goes to Israel to seek out Elisha. When he gets there, Elisha does not come out himself but sends a message to go wash in the Jordan river seven times in order to be healed. Naaman is in disbelief that this is the answer and rattles off what He thinks Elisha should have said and done. After his servants ask him to reconsider Elisha’s advice, he decides to wash himself in the Jordan river seven times as Elisha had instructed him. He was completely healed. And he then acknowledged the God of Israel as the true God.

I tell you this story from 2 Kings because it’ ridiculous. It sounds ridiculous. The instructions given by Elisha, a prophet of God are too simple, and sound ridiculous. Naaman couldn’t believe that this is all that it took. And at the end of the day, he knew he had no other option. And the outcome was an outcome glorified in the Lord, in His name.

But I wouldn’t have known that or got that message had I not been familiar with the story. Had I not accepted the ridiculous proposition that a 2,000 year old book had any kind of answers in it. That I was not excluded as a Jewish person from the promises of Christ, but rather He came for me FIRST. That there would be days of direct answers to prayers in the most ludicrous of ways through the words of those pages. That the words somehow would transform themselves to speak to me; that they had breadth and depth, even on the days I did not understand them. That my medication would be found in this book, that the book knew the correct dosage, that all I had to do was ask for Him to dispense it. Ludicrous…

“My written Word is your daily fortification to guide the decisions of your heart.” From the devotional “Talk to me Jesus” by Marie Chapian

Common Unity

WelcomeThe first use of the Greek term koinonia in the New Testament is found in the book of Acts 2:42,44-45, where a description is given of the everyday life shared by the early followers of Jesus:

The community continually committed themselves to learning what the apostles taught them, gathering for fellowship, breaking bread, and praying. There was an intense sense of togetherness among all who believed; they shared all their material possessions in trust. They sold any possessions and goods that did not benefit the community and used the money to help everyone in need. They were unified as they worshiped at the temple day after day. In homes, they broke bread and shared meals with glad and generous hearts.

Koinonia is a word complex and rich with meaning, difficult to translate into English. Yes, it is community; but it is so much more.

It is sharing of tangible goods so no one has need. It is sharing of self, the forming of relationships such that self – opinions, agendas, positions – never come first – in fact are never at issue. God and others’ needs come first always. There is an ease and joy of generosity, of giving grace, of encouragement. It is an active community, forming common unity. It is inviting everyone to the table, ensuring no one is left hungry or thirsty; no one is left standing outside the door.

What is this Common Unity? Christ’s love.

How is common unity afforded? With the intention to promote dialogue and discussion, not dominance, drama or disapproval.

With the commitment to provide safety inside the all-embracing covenant of Christ.

With an invitation to take a seat at the table, particularly if you have played musical chairs in a religious arena where there are never enough chairs to go around.

There is something missing from koinonia. There is no finger-pointing, no condemnation, no gossip. When Scripture is read or studied, it is for the uplifting message it brings.

When you see or hear Bible verses I pray you never, ever see or hear them used as weapons. Ever. They are not intended to be used as rules or regulations. They are intended to be written and spoken as reminders of the voice of Jesus; the voice of love, mercy and grace. Because that’s how Jesus read them. That’s how he intended them to be used. That’s what his parables were all about.

It was Jesus who said, “Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’”

Jesus interpreted for the priests what God had told the Old Testament prophet Hosea: mercy is more important than following religious rituals or law. Community and relationship; love, mercy and compassion are always more important than the letter of law.

True koinonia embraces what Jesus embraced. True koinonia welcomes all with hospitality and grace. True koinonia understands we have each been made a masterpiece, by God, and He will continue to perfect us and love us unconditionally until we see Him face to face.