Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Monday, February 23, 2009

This week in our weekly meeting we were honored by the presence of another group of friends with Oikos Ministries. Kim and Marianne have been involved with the house churches from Oikos Ministries from the inception; and the crowd that usually meets with them met with us also. By the way, this is not unusual for us to do. Occasionally we will gather with another group of friends and enjoy fellowship with people that we don’t see as often.

This past week I’ve been considering the word believe. Over and over the New Testament refers to believing or not believing. In Matthew chapter eight Jesus marveled at a centurion soldier’s faith and told him as he (the centurion) had believed, the thing he had asked was done. In Mark chapter five Jairus comes to Jesus because his daughter is sick and dying. When Jairus is given the news of his daughter’s death, Jesus tells him only believe. Unbelieving comes up a lot too. In Matthew chapter thirteen Jesus comes to His own town and “did not do many mighty works because of their unbelief”.

The scripture that caught my eye on the subject of believe is Mark chapter nine, verses twenty-three and twenty-four. Just to get us “up to speed”, these two verses are the dialog between a father, whose son is afflicted by “a dumb spirit”, and Jesus. In the earlier verses we learn that the dumb spirit “dashes him (the son) to the ground and he foams at the mouth”. It is also made apparent that Jesus’ disciples were not able to help at all. When Jesus shows up on the scene it is clearly chaos and, according to Mark, Jesus drives the dumb spirit out of the boy. Good ending. However, it is the dialog between Jesus and the boy’s father in verses twenty-three and twenty-four that speak volumes about the dichotomy between our belief and unbelief.

Here is the dialog between Jesus and the boy’s father:

23 Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.

24 And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.

The word that Jesus and the boy’s father used for believe is Pisteuo in the Greek. This is the definition from Strong’s Greek/Hebrew Dictionary:

Pisteuo - pist-yoo'-o
to think to be true, to be persuaded of, to credit, place confidence in
of the thing believed
to credit, have confidence
in a moral or religious reference
used in the NT of the conviction and trust to which a man is impelled by a certain inner and higher prerogative and law of soul
to trust in Jesus or God as able to aid either in obtaining or in doing something: saving faith 1bc) mere acknowledgment of some fact or event: intellectual faith
to entrust a thing to one, i.e. his fidelity
to be entrusted with a thing

I would like to take the liberty to offer my interpretation of what may have been said

Jesus: “Are you fully persuaded? Anything’s possible for those who are convinced!”

Boy’s father: “Yes! I am fully persuaded! But please Lord, convince me!”

Sometimes in those moments between our believing and unbelieving there is room for a miracle if we just ask.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Monday, February 16, 2009

I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me

This past sunday we gathered at the home of our friends Ken and Carolyn. Ken asked if we could sing the song "Arms of Love", so we did. Here's the words for those who don't know it:

I sing a simple song of love,
To my Savior, to my Jesus.
I'm grateful for the things You've done,
My loving Savior, oh precious Jesus.
My heart is glad that You've called my Your
And there's no place I'd rather be
Than in Your arms of love.
In Your arms of love,
Holding me still, holding me near,
In Your arms of love
We took some time to go around the room and share what the Lord has impressed on us this week, as we studied His word individually. One of the things shared is out of the Gospel of John, chapter 17. This is the prayer that Jesus prayed before He went to the Garden of Gethsemane on the night He was betrayed. The section that I had never noticed before starts in verse 6:
6 "I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word.
7 Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You.
8 For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me.
9 I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours.
I find it interesting that Jesus would say specifically that He was not praying for the world, but for "those whom You (God) have given Me". Especially in the light of the fact that the same book of the New Testament contains one of the most quoted scriptures in the world (John 3:16) which begins with "For God so loved the world...".

I am not advocating that we cease praying for the world in general. I am not saying that God does not answer such prayers. What I am pointing out (however poorly) is that Jesus' heart was toward those men He was in relationship with. One if His last prayers on this earth was for those men that God the Father had entrusted to Him. If Jesus is our example are we praying for those that God has entrusted to us. Also, are we a faithful people to whom God CAN entrust people.

I have to say that later in this prayer Jesus does pray for the world. In verse 20 Jesus says "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word.". But he did not pray like we do. In His prayer He was sending those He loved best and those He trusted most to the world "God so Loved".

Monday, February 2, 2009

Fun 'n Games

Most of our house church members like to play games. We have frequent 'game nights' and many times we enjoy games on Sundays after communion. Here are a couple of pictures of us playing Bananagrams, (one of our newest games, and very fun.)

Another of our new games is ImaginIff. A sample card is "Imaginiff we were on a sinking boat with only enough time to save one item. Which player would save a blow dryer?" Seven out of eight players said Jacob would save the blow dryer. Seven out of eight players were right, and that only happens when you spend lots of time together. Because of the closeness in relationships, our house church knows things like this about each other. It's very refreshing. By the way, the eighth player that didn't say Jacob, was Jacob!