A few thoughts today about Baltimore & Nineveh:

29 01 2012

When we look at the story of Jonah & the city of Nineveh we can learn a few things. Take a quick minute to read the story.

Jonah gives us an example of God working to restore a city that is not worshiping him & an individual who doesn’t want to be involved.

Jonah 4:11 “Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals. Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?”

What do we then learn from Jonah, Nineveh, and other examples?

  1. God cares about people & cities.
  2. God cares about our heart for cities.
  3. God wants to redeem.

Here’s a few examples:

Lk 19:41-44 Jesus lament over Jerusalem.

Jer 33:3 “call to me and I will answer you.”  v 6… “I will rebuild the city.”

Joel 2:12 “Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” …thru verse 14 …v15 call the people together for a solemn meeting.”

Most of the occasions of fasting & prayer in the Bible were either a turning to God, or praying that someone (or a group) would turn to God.

Moses Ex. 34:27-28 40 day fast between “God’s DNA” and writing 10 Commandments.

Esther, Hannah 1 Sam 1:7, Joshua, Judah, Ezra, David, Nehemiah, people of Ninevah.

When you find clarity in God, you discover that you exist for others…not in a way that obscures/obliterates your personal indentity, but in a way that fulfills who you are designed to be.

We should ask ourselves:

  • Do you love your city?
  • Have you considered praying for neighborhoods or straight through the headlines?
  • Will you commit to a set time each month to pray for the city?

When I hear the descriptions of the circumstances surrounding a person’s choice to avoid Christianity or leave Christianity, most often there are individuals making selfish decisions involved in the process.

What can we do as individuals?

  1. Ask God for faith for our families, neighborhoods, & city.
  2. Pray for our families, neighborhoods, & city.
  3. Ask God what we can do to serve our families, neighborhoods, & city.
  4. Make room for new people in our lives.

If one of your four family members pulled out of a downward spiral and took a positive direction would it effect the rest of your family?

How would 650,000 Jesus followers change Baltimore City?

Is it worth your time to pray for our city?

What can we do as a “City” Bible Church?

We repent of sin and increase our prayer for the city. Ezek. 22:30

We ask God for more Jesus followers to serve the city & its citizens. Mt 9:37-38

We seek restoration and rebuilding in the city. Isaiah 58:12

We commit to raise up young leaders, to serve the city. Gen 14:14

We work toward active unified relationships with churches that we may affect the city together. 1 Cor 1:10

We pray for new believers to find strength in Bible-believing Jesus-centered churches across the city. Is 58:1

Want fries with that? No? How about some fruit?

21 01 2012

Some would say that in Galatians 5:16-26 Paul is writing about the “Fruit of the Spirit”. But some have made it a list like New Year’s Resolutions. You know, something that you work toward, hoping to achieve some day. I think that’s missing the point.

This passage is talking about results. It is contrasting the difference between the results (ie “fruit”) of us following the desires of our sinful nature with the results (ie “fruit”) of us allowing the Holy Spirit to guide our lives.

It takes time, as you submit to God, for your character (essential nature) to grow into who you are born to be. It only happens by the grace (that good which we do not deserve) of God being given to you. The Holy Spirit guides us through our prayer, Bible reading & memorization, in our active pursuit of a faithful loving God. As you actively receive His grace you become able to exercise self-control out of the love, peace, etc that you are drawing from Him.

Please don’t try this on your own. Instead reach out to your spiritual family (small groups in the context of a local church) for help in prayer, encouragement, and accountability. This is combining the principles we read in James 5 and Galatians 5.

Clarity can be found when we make a decision to follow Jesus. This is an active & daily decision.

The Holy Spirit is here to guide us in following Jesus.

You simply cannot follow if you are living a hurried & hectic life with no time & space for God to speak to you.

We can get into a habit of going about life strictly on the horizontal plane. When living inside myself…I can settle for less…if you fall into that way of living then your God is too small. If you spend all your time envisioning yourself doing wrong you will never do right.

Please set aside time and a place for prayer. You will grow into a lifestyle of prayer, giving, and fasting (Matthew 6) …soon you will see that this can be a blast! Life really can be full of laughter.

Live on the good fruit, not fries!

Here’s a few thoughts on some of the words in Galatians 5.

Gal 5:16-26 Fruit of spirit

v 16 “guide” show the way, direct the motion or positioning of.

V 17 “evil” what is unpleasant, disagreeable, offensive. The word binds together the deed & its consequences. Root: to spoil, to break into pieces.

V 19 “When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear:”

V 19 “immorality” porneia catch all word to describe sexual activity outside of marriage.

V 19 “lustful pleasures” define lust as selfish getting, pleasures.

V 20 “idolatry” to be devoted to anyone or anything more than God.

V 20 “hostility” fighting, warring against. “quarreling” arguing,

V 20 “outburst of anger” sudden release of strong emotion, state of intense anger with passionate outbursts.

V 20 “dissension” not only disagreements that lead to broken relationships, but also fragmentation or discrimination between people (particularly in the context of church) due to social classes.

V 21 “envy” jealousy makes us fear losing what we have, envy creates sorrow that others have what we don’t.

An interesting thing about the words chosen in the above list is that some words are specific to men, some to women, some to people in general, and yet it is all written to “believers” who attend church in particular.

V 22 “produces” (present, active verb) HS at work, make, create, cause to exist, to provide for use of.

V 22 “fruit” the metaphor for the natural product (benefit) of healthy life. He produces.

V 22 “love” agape, “joy” a quality, not simply an emotion, grounded upon God himself & derived from him, which characterizes the Christian’s life on earth, and anticipates the thrill of being reunited with Christ forever.

V 22 “peace” eirene, freedom from worry.

V 22 “patience” God-given restraint in face of opposition or oppression. It is not passivity. Also translated “longsuffering” and defined as long holding out of the mind before it gives room to anger.

V 22 “goodness” besides the obvious, this also refers to the beneficial element of food.

V 22 “faithfulness” trustworthiness, remaining loyal & steadfast, remaining sexually loyal, what can be believed.

V 23 “self-control” Heb version to describe Joseph not taking out revenge on his brothers. Greek version used in literature contemporary to the New Testament used to describe drinking without drunkenness and sexual purity.