Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Week in Review

Psalm 133 - A Psalm of Harmony
Show Yourself Friendly Retreat (Part 5)

Living in harmony is life…Dew…Harmony is as refreshing as the dew

* Is Abundant - Dew is numerous in droplets. Therefore our efforts to live in harmony should be numerous. We should be willing to forgive when others hurt us. Not just seven times, but more like seventy time seventy. Our words, deeds and teaching should be plentiful and encourage others so they are like dew upon a tender plant it helps it to grow.

“Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants.” - Deuteronomy 32:2

* Is Refreshing – Standing in a mist is cooling on a hot day. It should be the same with us. We should be able to come into situations and not “heat” them up, but be like the cool mist that cools the scorching heat of men’s passions, and calm down situations and bring a refreshing to a situation. Like the dew that refreshes, our harmony with God refreshes us, allowing us to be refreshment for others.

“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,” – Acts 3:19

* Is Fruitful –The falling of dew contributes to the growth of fruit. It moistens the heart and makes it tender and fit to receive the good seed of the word. Harmony is like dew, which brings forth fruit. It brings new life to the community or the family of God. We become that dew that waters those we have been given to oversee, God gives us charges that we must help grow.

He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. – Psalm 1:3

…as the dew from the Mount Hermon that falls on the mountains of Zion…

Dew of Hermon - a common hill – This is brotherly love in our civil, everyday lives. This is our relationships with friends, co-workers, how we treat people we meet, the lady we sit next to every day at work or the person across from us in class. If we are willing to show ourselves friendly in our common areas we become like dew that pours off the Mount Hermon (our common places) and it falls on the mountains of Zion. What does that mean?

Dew of mountains of Zion - A holy hill – In scripture we see often how the writers say this is the place where God dwells. So this means when we show ourselves friendly first in our common areas that dew that was poured out there can contribute greatly to the fruitfulness of sacred relationships. We are called to show ourselves friendly so that we can be dew upon our unsaved so that that may shift them to being our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are then being called to love both those in our churches but also those that are not part of the family. God requires this because then we become what he wants us to be, those that reconcile the unsaved back to him, just as he did for us. It is important to also understand that both Hermon and Zion will wither without dew. If we do not live in harmony both the relationship in our common places and our sacred places will die.

Harmony brings blessings.…And there the Lord has pronounced his blessing, even life everlasting

* Loving People are Blessed People – “For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.” Deuteronomy 30:16

The proof of the Excellency of brotherly love is that loving people are blessed people. There are blessed of God. Those that live in love and peace shall have the God of love and peace with them now, and they shall be with him forever. One important thing to understand is that we can receive the blessings and provisions of God only when we are in harmony with him. If we do not love our brothers that we see, how can we say we love God whom we do not see?

The LORD shall command the blessing upon thee in thy storehouses, and in all that thou settest thine hand unto; and he shall bless thee in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. deut 28:8 (KJV)

Yet the LORD will command his lovingkindness in the day time, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life. psalm 42:8 (KJV)

The king shall joy in thy strength, O LORD; and in thy salvation how greatly shall he rejoice! Thou hast given him his heart's desire, and hast not withholden the request of his lips. Selah. For thou preventest him with the blessings of goodness: thou settest a crown of pure gold on his head. He asked life of thee, and thou gavest it him, even length of days for ever and ever - Ps 21:1-4


What have we learned from this psalm 133? It is truly wonderful and pleasant when we can live in harmony. God mandates that you and I seek him first so we can live as his friend and no longer as his enemy. He then requires us to seek to love one another. Not a surface relationship but one that is in agreement in our actions and in our seeking the best for each other.

The Week in Review

The Realistic and the Idealistic View of the Church
Written 3/29/07

The author, Gilbert W. Stafford, in his book, Theology for Disciples, gives reference to idealistic and realistic views of the New Testament Church. The question is how can these ideas help bring renewal to the contemporary Church? When these ideas are coupled together, they can be useful for the contemporary church today because they can help better define her goals and to see her areas of need.

Stafford first states that the Gospels are placed at the beginning of the New Testament to signify the priority that the early church placed on discipleship as the basic category for understanding the nature of the church. The church as Stafford points out was called many names, such as the people of God. He explains how these ideas were to be enacted within the body of believers.

His first definition of the church as the body of Christ placed the accent on the church as the ongoing means by which the risen, ascended, reigning, and coming Lord makes himself known in history between his first and second advent (160). In other words, the church is to have a role in the mission of presenting Christ’s redemptive power to the unsaved.

His second definition is that the church is a place where the reconciled come together. Those that are both reconciled with God and with each other. It is the place where God’s presence is on earth. The third definition of the church is as the people of God, with the accent on its vocation.

Therefore, the idealistic view of the church is it is a fellowship of those who trust in Christ. It is the people of the new covenant linked to those of the Old Testament. They are a group of believers devoting to growing in Christ. It is a body of divine grace for the edification of believers and for blessing all. It is an expression of God’s mission to the world. It is also the community of believers waiting for Christ’s return.

This idealistic view however when placed alongside the realistic picture of the church, does not always live up to the idealistic idea. The New Testament church had struggles, corruption and deficiencies within its structure as it attempted to grow and spread the gospel.

While fellowship was important some fell short and problems arose such as those that wanted believers to obey the laws (such as circumcision). There were some devoted to growing in Christ, but there was also a problem for example of sexual sins that Paul had to address that was taking place within the church. The church was to be an organism of divine grace for the edification of believers, but there was a time the church was a stumbling block to believers (for example the debate of eating meat used within idol worship ceremonies). There were problems with gifts and confusion about usage of tongues. The church should have been an expression of God’s mission to the world, but the Asian churches were lacking in missionary zeal.

One of the greatest examples the New Testament church can be to the contemporary church is it was not perfect but it was in the process of growing into what God was calling the church to be. Even in her state of lack, God still added to the church daily. Stafford explains that the view of the idealistic is that the church is pure, spotless, blameless, holy and concerned only with the salvation of people and the glory of God. On the other hand the realist sees the church as too human, harsh, intolerant full of every kind of failing.

Instead, the church today needs to take a blend of both to help the church become what it should be. The church is the body of Christ, but it is in the process of growing and therefore has many shortcomings. The church can however still find comfort in knowing that as she is becoming, God is still adding to the church as he sees fit. It calls for the church today to view itself as a body of believers in need of divine guidance, directing and renewing to continue to grow into what God is calling her to be. The church needs to hear again her purpose, her mission and her calling so that she can continue to be corrected when she goes astray from her mission so that with a loving hand the reality of what is taking place is being joined with the idea of what she can become.