Archive for church

There Shall Be Seven Weeks: Feasts (Pentecost, Solid Food)

Posted in #PaulthePoke, Angels, Pentecost/Shavuot/Feast of Weeks, Prophecy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 19, 2021 by paulthepoke

Daniel 9:25b …there shall be seven weeks…

The context of this series of posts is the course of the Jewish people for the initial 49 years of the 483 year period communicated from the angel Gabriel to the prophet Daniel. The city of Jerusalem has been rebuilt post exile. These events are covered in Nehemiah 8-13. Israel is returning to God’s Law. The focus has shifted to God’s appointed holidays. This week, Pentecost remains in focus. This is the second of two posts on what is known as Shavuot in the Hebrew.

Hebrews 5:12-14 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

The author of Hebrews is addressing believers. God’s word is being equated with milk. Grow up! You are going in the wrong direction. Stop acting like a baby! Babies drink milk. They do not eat food. At this point as believers in Christ, there should be more maturity. These believers should be ready to eat real, solid food and should be getting off of the liquid diet. Moreover, they should be teaching others about Christ.

Hebrews 6:1-4 Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. And this we will do, if God permits. For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit…

According to the text, these are the fundamentals of Jesus Christ: repentance of dead works, faith toward God, instruction about washing and laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.

There is also a reminder. At the time of the writing of Hebrews, Jewish men had been coming to the Jerusalem for over 1,500 years per God’s instruction for Shavuot (Exodus 23:14-17) since the time of Moses. God gave the instructions for Shavuot to Moses on Mount Sinai on this ordained holiday (Leviticus 23).

Shavuot and Pentecost are synonymous. Shavuot is often associated with God giving the Torah, the birth of Judaism. Pentecost is often associated with God giving the Holy Spirit, the birth of the church. Part of the celebration of the holiday includes eating and drinking milk products. The author of Hebrews is equating milk with the holiday as a reminder.

http://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/shavuot-101/

Today, the tradition of eating and drinking dairy products continues with Shavuot. In addition, the book of Ruth is read. There is a reminder to us as well. As believers in Jesus Christ, we have the Holy Spirit of God within us. We are sealed with the Spirit. 

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.

Spread the Word. It is time to get off the teat…

There Shall Be Seven Weeks: Feasts (Pentecost, Beginnings)

Posted in #PaulthePoke, Angels, Pentecost/Shavuot/Feast of Weeks, Prophecy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 11, 2021 by paulthepoke

Daniel 9:25b …there shall be seven weeks…

The context of this series of posts is the course of the Jewish people for the initial 49 years of the 483 year period communicated from the angel Gabriel to the prophet Daniel. The city of Jerusalem has been rebuilt post exile. These events are covered in Nehemiah 8-13. Israel is returning to God’s Law. The focus has shifted to God’s appointed holidays. First Fruits was covered last week. This week, Pentecost is in focus. This is the first of two posts on what is known as Shavuot in the Hebrew.

SONY DSC

Leviticus 23:15-16 ‘You shall also count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day when you brought in the sheaf of the wave offering; there shall be seven complete Sabbaths. You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall present a new grain offering to the Lord.

Other provisions for the holiday include two loaves of bread, sacrificial lambs, a bull, two rams, a goat, and a drink offering of wine. The holiday is also a day of rest with no work (Leviticus 23:17-21).

In the Old Testament and in the Hebrew, this holiday is referred to as Shavuot. The word means: weeks.

Shavuot is one of the three holidays where Jewish men are required to come to Jerusalem (Exodus 23:14-17). The men were to make their presentation and sacrifice before God at the Temple.

As stated in the Leviticus passage, it is seven weeks after the Sabbath. It is a celebration of the completed grain harvest. The holiday is also a celebration of God giving the Torah (instruction or law) to nation Israel. Because of this, Shavuot is considered as the beginning or birth of Judaism.

The Law was given on Mount Sinai roughly 1,500 years before Christ. Nation Israel honored this holiday every year. Eating and drinking dairy products are part of the celebration of Shavuot. Many think the custom of dairy products is in reference to Bible verses in Exodus referring to a promised land flowing with milk and honey.  

Exodus 3:8a “So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey…

http://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/why-dairy-on-shavuot/

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Fast forward to 33 AD. Nation Israel is celebrating and living the holiday. Acts 2:1 When the day of Pentecost had come, they (apostles) were all together in one place. In the Greek New Testament, Shavuot (Hebrew) is translated as Pentekoste (Greek). Per Strong’s Concordance, it means: the fiftieth day; the second of the three great Jewish feasts, celebrated at Jerusalem yearly, the seventh week after the Passover, in grateful recognition of the completed harvest. We have transliterated the word to Pentecost (English).

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This is the day promised by Jesus of the giving of the Holy Spirit. 

John 14:26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.

~

Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance. 

It is seven weeks after the death of the sacrificial lamb, Jesus. Shavuot or Pentecost is also the day God the Father gave the Holy Spirit. Because of this, Pentecost is considered the beginning or the birth of the church (believers in Jesus Christ).

http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Holidays/Spring_Holidays/Shavuot/shavuot.html

Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit…”

Building Trust and Relationships With the Hurting… Christine McDonald

Posted in #PaulthePoke, Christine "Clarity" McDonald with tags , , , , , , on July 10, 2021 by paulthepoke
crop friends stacking hands together
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

The church can make a difference—and indeed, has a responsibility to make a difference—for men, women, girls, and boys who are hurting, victimized, addicted, exploited, and suffering. Jesus Christ came to set the captives free, and Christians have the amazing and humbling opportunity to be His hands and feet in this redemptive recovery. Christ calls us to reach out not only to those who are in physical captivity in commercial sexual exploitation escort services, street prostitution, internet exploitation, strip clubs, and other bad situations, but also to those who are captives in their own minds to the lies of the enemy and a distorted understanding of life formed by terrible experiences in their pasts.

It is a great privilege to get to build relationships with hurting individuals and assist them on their path to recovery. But there is much to be learned and understood in order to be effective and helpful in those relationships. The rest of this section is my attempt to help you process through how to foster a healthy relationship and connect with the individual in a way that is empowering for both of you.

For a person who has grown up in a relatively stable, functional environment, things like the words “I love you,” hugs, and other simple, physical touches are normal and generally accepted signs of affection, compassion, or relational affirmation. But for individuals who have been trafficked or prostituted, or are victims of other forms of abuse, these seemingly innocent gestures take on a whole different meaning.

In order to help these individuals, building a relationship of trust is vitally important. But to build that trusting relationship, you need to understand how these gestures—which might be instinctive and well–meaning for you—may affect the individuals you are trying to help. Then you will be equipped with the knowledge you need to be able to discern when these gestures are appropriate and good, and when they are not.

With victims of trafficking, violence, and abuse, you must first understand that their views on relationships have been distorted by their traffickers, abusers, and the men who paid them for their touch. Traffickers and other abusers have emotionally, physically, and sexually harmed them. They have used physical touch and the words “I love you” to coerce and manipulate. Or, worse, they have used these things to initially build trust in their targets, then shown their true selves and brought harm. Some of these individuals were victimized by family members, who used words like “I love you” while doing it. These words and actions now have a tainted internal value. They no longer convey authentic affection; they are tools of manipulation and harm.

When you are trying to build a relationship with someone you are working with, it is nature to want to extend physical gestures or words of affection and affirming. Oftentimes, the individual will reciprocate because of their preformed responses and learned behavior. You may think they are receiving your gestures well when, in fact, their response is a sign of their hurt and abuse. You could be unintentionally intruding on their space or causing them discomfort, yet they have been preprogrammed to give the expected responses instead of responding in a way true to their feelings.

For an individual who has experienced trauma, disparity, abuse, and other ill−treatment, they often have no clue what their true feelings are. The longer an individual has existed in a dysfunctional lifestyle such as substance abuse, neglect, early childhood trauma/abuse, homelessness, and prostitution, the more distanced they become from authentic emotions. Every bit of passing time adds complexity to the challenge of learning to process their true feelings and build organic relationships with friends, acquaintances, helping professionals, and family members.

Contact Information:
Christine C. McDonald
636-487-8986
Christine.CryPurple@gmail.com

“Love your neighbor, all of ’em.” -Christine Clarity McDonald

Through The Eyes of Grace – Christine C McDonald 

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEj5RbFpuzjx_CuksAqgyXA/featured

https://crypurplemovie.com/

Are You Chosen? Joshua of Ghana

Posted in #PaulthePoke, Joshua Ghana with tags , , , , , , on June 24, 2021 by paulthepoke

TEXT: DEUTERONOMY 18:1-8

Key Verse: Deuteronomy 18:5 “For the LORD thy God hath chosen him out of all thy tribes, to stand to minister in the name of the LORD, him and his sons for ever”

Often, people get themselves into a frenzy when they argue about who is called and who is not. Some people arrogate to themselves the status of “being called” just for the sake of it without doing the duties that “the called” of God are expected to do. It is like confessing Christ but not willing to bear the cross. A lot of people today are only interested in the benefits that accrue from wearing the toga of “servant of God,” without really doing the work.

The tribe of Levi was appointed by God to work as the spiritual servants for the nation of Israel. For this reason, they were given no portion of land, though they were given 48 cities throughout Canaan. The Levites, as God’s ministers were in full-time service and so, it was the responsibility of the rest of Israel to provide for them through their offerings. This tribe was “called”; it was specially chosen for special duties. It would be unthinkable for anyone from any other tribe to have usurped the office.

The passage teaches us that people must stay in their appointed offices. People must not hijack offices that are meant for others. There was no account of envy on the part of others and no one considered the Levites as “parasites” who fed on the sacrifices of others. Other tribes in Israel had their special assignments and God-appointed roles.

Likewise in the body of Christ, roles have been assigned. Believers must stay true to their roles and concentrate so well in order to deliver on their duties.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Know your calling.

The Bible IN ONE YEAR: PSALM 68 – 71

Brown Bag Friday’s… Christine McDonald

Posted in #PaulthePoke, Christine "Clarity" McDonald with tags , , , on April 9, 2021 by paulthepoke

…I sat in a meeting listening to their plans to reach out to the community. At last I had a moment to speak. I asked, “What about the homeless, the addicts, and the prostitutes who exist outside here along this street?” And that’s where it began.

We started Brown Bag Fridays. We took sandwiches, sometimes burritos, and sometimes $1.00 double cheeseburgers. We would drive up and down the streets of the area and ask if they were hungry. Rarely did anyone say no! But in the rare event that they did say no, we would say, “You can always save it for later,” and they would take it.

We expanded, collecting coats and jackets and socks. We would go out on Christmas Eve and pass out goodie bags and food. On Thanksgiving, we would put together a hot Thanksgiving meal and drive up and down the streets, giving out hot meals.

This was my passion, my calling. I knew it. I knew in my heart that these folks needed us. They would at least eat when we came through.

I would often meet up with my friends, the people I had coexisted with on the streets. My journey on the streets, through all those years, gave me an understanding of their lifestyle. I could empathize with them and understand their needs. I had walked in their shoes and had survived. Now I was filling a need, helping these people to not feel invisible, the way I had all those years. How many times had I wished, even prayed, for someone to pull up beside me and hand me food, with no strings attached? How many times had I wished that someone would help me without preaching at me first, not turn me away for having no shoes? Now I had this huge passion for acceptance, to see those people accepted right where they were.

By this point I was totally blind, completely without sight. I heard her voice. It was her, my nemesis. On three different occasions with three different pimps, we had both worked for the same guy at the same time.

I thought, What will I do? I am blind. I can’t defend myself! My heart raced.

She called me, using my street name, “Hey, Ellie! I’m so glad to see you. I’ve been waiting for you. I’m starved.”

I handed her two sack lunches, and she said thanks. Then she hugged me and kissed my cheek, and said she loved me. She thanked me again.

This is what I had seen in my vision. Those were the words I had heard 17 months prior. The church, my church, was the very church where I had been invited in all those years ago, the only one of those three churches that never ran me off or made me feel unwelcome.

Again, seeing it all brought full circle as I look back through the years, I see that God was always preparing a place for me. God knew the journey I would take, and He knew how it would be used for His Glory.

No matter what your story, no matter what your past, God is preparing a place for you. He knows the journey you have taken and will take. He knows how it will be used for
His glory.

Contact Information:
Christine C. McDonald
636-487-8986
Christine.CryPurple@gmail.com

“Love your neighbor, all of ’em.” -Christine Clarity McDonald

Through The Eyes of Grace – Christine C McDonald 

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEj5RbFpuzjx_CuksAqgyXA/featured

https://crypurplemovie.com/

Answers To A Vision… Christine McDonald

Posted in #PaulthePoke, Christine "Clarity" McDonald with tags , , on March 19, 2021 by paulthepoke

Although this all seemed to take forever, the vision was gone as quickly as it had come. I knew deep in my heart my soul that this was God.

I sobbed. I hadn’t gone looking for God, but somehow He had found me.

I realized that God had been with me all along. He was with me through my journey of exploitation, homelessness, and substance abuse. He had been present in all of those experiences. He had brought it all full circle. Here I was, alone in the house we rented, just one block from where I had worked for so many years. We were just a block and a half from the corners where I had prayed for death near those three churches.

It could only be God’s perfect timing. Just thinking about it right now, as I write this—my goodness, the individual pieces required to make this all happen simultaneously fill me with awe!

Moments after my “vision,” I heard a knock at the door as my heart still pounded and tears still flowed. I was scared to open the door, but then I heard a woman say, “Hello! I’m Kris, from the church down the street.” I opened the door and let her in, and we visited. She invited us to church. It was just down the street, on the corner. I agreed. For sure, this was what I needed to continue on my path of growth, away from the streets!

After I started attending the church, I realized it was located right across from my favorite corner, the one where I had worked for years. It was the one with the three churches—one that ran me off all the time, another that had police parked in the parking lot, ready to run me off. Then there was this little one. It was very small, kind of like a little house, located behind Sonic. I had slept in its doorway before, and gotten high in the parking lot. I had even been invited in for service one year by someone who was going into the church on a Sunday morning.

Now, here I sat years later, inside that same church. I asked someone, wanting to make sure I was correct in my thinking about where it was. I was.

Feeling a connection, feeling drawn to attend, I joined that little church and got baptized. When I was taken out of the baptism water, I asked, while wiping the water away from my face, “Can I join your outreach team now?” They agreed, and I started attending the meetings.

Contact Information:
Christine C. McDonald
636-487-8986
Christine.CryPurple@gmail.com

“Love your neighbor, all of ’em.” -Christine Clarity McDonald

Through The Eyes of Grace – Christine C McDonald 

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEj5RbFpuzjx_CuksAqgyXA/featured

https://crypurplemovie.com/

Church on the Corner… Christine McDonald

Posted in #PaulthePoke, Christine "Clarity" McDonald with tags , on February 26, 2021 by paulthepoke

There were two churches on the corner where I worked, one right by where I stood, and the other directly across the street from it. There was a third church just a block away, down the hill.

Three churches, all of different denominations, two of which often called the police on me. I respected them and chose not to stand on their corners on Wednesday nights or Sunday mornings during hours when they had cars and churchgoers. One of these three churches allowed me refuge from time to time, never calling the police or telling me to get away from their property, though they certainly didn’t condone behaviors such as mine, either.

In fact, this little church just off Independence Avenue never once ran me off. One time I was sitting outside of it, getting high, when an individual pulled up. I immediately stopped getting high. This individual got out of the car and smiled at me. I remember looking directly at the ground.

architectural photography of white and green church bell tower under clear sky
Photo by Dan Whitfield on Pexels.com

I’m sure it was my shame that motivated that almost instinctive response to individuals who tried to look me in the eye. She walked toward me and said hello. She mentioned her name, but I don’t remember it now. I was standing by now, walking off the parking lot. However, she invited me in. I remember her saying, “All are welcome.” The other two churches never did that. I knew I was not welcome in their buildings, and no one in all the years from either of those churches had ever said hello.

But this little white church had given me shelter many times. I would huddle by the front door out of the rain and out of the wind. When I tried to seek shelter from rain or snow under the awnings of the other two churches, they were quick to call the police on me.

The church on the corner of Independence Avenue and Spruce knew me well. At least I suppose they did. I was there, after all, almost daily for many years. I began to pray on the steps of that church, “If there is a God, may He hear my request to end my life today.” Simple as it was, I prayed it daily. I believed that my friends who had been murdered had found their out of this life, and that death would be my only out as well. I prayed and prayed, “The next car I get in, let that driver be the one that ends my life.”

The days and nights continued. They seemed endless. I had lost all track of time, even the year. Just endless hopelessness, a very dark place to be. Until something shifted…

Contact Information:
Christine C. McDonald
636-487-8986
Christine.CryPurple@gmail.com

“Love your neighbor, all of ’em.” -Christine Clarity McDonald

Through The Eyes of Grace – Christine C McDonald 

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEj5RbFpuzjx_CuksAqgyXA/featured

https://crypurplemovie.com/

“Christ Born of Mary”

Posted in #PaulthePoke, Culture with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 20, 2021 by paulthepoke

Luke 2:16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.

January 20, 2021, Taibe, Israel: Archeologists have unearthed a Christian settlement near Nazareth. The church has been dated about 1,500 years ago. The church is described as a Byzantine era structure in the town of Taibe. An inscription was discovered on a wall of the church. It states, “Christ born of Mary”.

Churches from the era of the Crusades have been discovered in this region but nothing earlier until now.

“The importance of the inscription is that until now we didn’t know for certain that there were churches from this period in this area,” Israel Antiquities Authority Archaeologist Walid Atrash.

Tzachi Lang/Israel Antiquities Authority
https://www.timesofisrael.com/christ-born-of-mary-1st-proof-of-early-christianity-found-in-galilee-village/

For more details regarding this story, check out the link below from the Times of Israel.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/christ-born-of-mary-1st-proof-of-early-christianity-found-in-galilee-village/

Archeological information continues to pour out of Israel. The message of the Bible and hard, physical evidence from the 21st century are consistent. Jesus has been called the Christ or the Messiah for last 2,000 plus years. The latest example is this find from the 5th century.

What is Christian Giving?

Posted in #PaulthePoke with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 18, 2020 by paulthepoke

First, defining what is not Christian giving is necessary. Christian giving is not tithing. Tithing is the practice of giving 1/10 of one’s income for the support of the Levitical priesthood, tabernacle, and temple system under the law. 

The Mosaic Law was given to the Jewish people and this was their guideline for moral living and civic law, as a nation with God as their “King”. If the Law was not upheld, punishment occurred according to the infraction.

These statutes are noted in the first 5 books of the Old Testament, which are also called the Torah (Hebrew for instruction).

This is defined in Numbers 18:21-32 and restated in Hebrews 7:5.

Hebrews 7:5 And those descendants of Levi who receive the priestly office have a commandment in the law to take tithes from the people, that is, from their brothers, though these also are descended from Abraham.

Under the law, tithing was required of produce and livestock, a currency of the day. Tithing is a statute under the Law. 

Along side the tithing system, Israel also gave “freewill” offerings in addition to their required giving as a form of worship to God (Exodus 35:21, 29; 1 Chronicles 29:9, 2 Chronicles 35:8, Ezra 3:5, 8:28).  This giving was based on “whose heart moved them” and “willingly”, rather than under compulsion of the Law.

Exodus 35:29 All the men and women, the people of Israel, whose heart moved them to bring anything for the work that the LORD had commanded by Moses to be done brought it as a freewill offering to the LORD.

The Law, being given as a part of the Mosaic Covenant, was to be replaced by a coming “New Covenant” as promised by the prophet Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 31:31-34 Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

Therefore, the law is for a specific time period and a code of conduct which ended with Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ instituted this “New Covenant” at the Last Supper (Matthew 26:26-28; Luke 22:19-20; 1 Corinthians 11:24-25) prior to His death & resurrection.

Romans 10 clearly states the end of the Mosaic Covenant in Christ Jesus. Romans 10:4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

Photo: Pinterest

As Christians, we are not required to keep the Law, but rather apply the “Spirit” or the principles laid forth by the Law. 

Romans 7:6 But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.

Christian living is not a checklist of “dos & don’ts”. Nor is Christian giving a specific amount according to a statute to follow. This is legalism.

Romans 7:4 Therefore, my brothers, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, that we might bear fruit for God.

Paul chides the Galatians for legalism.

Galatians 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us, for it is written, (Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree).

A reminder to us all, if you practice the Law, you shall live by the Law (Galatians 3:12). This is a serious standard. Do you really want to go there? Do you even want to try and live by the one standard of a tithe?

Galatians 3:10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.”

Translated another way, you break one, you break them all. This is reinforced by James.

James 2:10, for whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.

We are under grace and not under the Law.

Romans 6:14 For sin shall not be master of you, for you are not under the law, but under grace. 

What is the standard of grace giving? Give as you see fit from the heart. Give in a cheerful manner and because you desire to do as such.

2 Corinthian 9:7 Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver.

Diversity in the Gospel of Jesus Christ… Mickey Sutliff

Posted in #PaulthePoke, Culture, Mickey Sutliff with tags , , , , , on August 12, 2020 by paulthepoke

Revelation 5:9 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation…

What was at first a need to broaden my understanding and create personal value for African American culture and history, I found the LORD was expanding my vision in seeing the Body of Christ in a new and broader glory. As we walked in an intentional cross-cultural church, the LORD opened my eyes and heart to how diversity within the local body and Body of Christ universal reflects the unconditional reach of the gospel and God’s purposes in salvation. Not that I did not understand or know that ‘God so loved the world…’ but how little we actually experience in our local church the reality of this truth that will be our ‘reality’ in heaven and how this reality reflects the glory of our Lord.

Through time spent in Scripture and walking out the Christian life within a cross-cultural church, I began to see a connection between the proclamation made by the ‘four living creatures & 24 Elders before the throne’ in Revelation 5:9 and the whole of redemptive history throughout the Scriptures. Revelation 5:9 reveals the worthiness and glory due to the Lamb Who Was Slain flows from His shedding His blood “for men of every tribe, every tongue, every people and every nation…”

I found the ‘nations‘ at the heart of God’s redemptive purposes from Genesis to Revelation. God’s promise & redemptive covenant with Abraham included not only blessing his descendants but also ‘…all the families of the earth’.

The Old Testament, where Israel dominates the focus of God’s blessings, the incorporation of the nations into His eternal family is interwoven throughout the Psalms & the Prophets.

  • Psalm 96 extols the glory of the Lord and His heart for the nations.
  • Jonah is focused on God’s love & compassion for a ‘nation’ not Israel and rebukes the prophet for his lack of compassion for them.
  • Isaiah 56:6-7 speaks of ‘foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, to minister to Him, to love the name of the Lord… I will make them joyful in My house of prayer, for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples’.
  • Joel 2:28, quoted by Peter at Pentecost, ‘I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh’.   

As I began to engage the LORD in this dialogue about the gospel, the Church and the nations, I began to see in our diverse church family the expression of the unconditional reach and reconciliating power of the gospel. The Church should reflect the redemptive purpose as revealed in Scripture, which will be more tangible when those who gather are not all homogeneous in its make up. Diversity within the gospel reveals more fully the reach of the gospel of Jesus Christ, whether it is cultural or socioeconomic or ethnic diversity. Ideally all of these, Ephesians and James speak to these diversities specifically.

Ephesians 2 speaks to being ‘no longer strangers and aliens, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God… being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord… being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

This picture laid out by Paul, reminds me of Isaiah’s vision of the LORD in His temple, and the seraphim proclaimed, ‘the whole earth is full of His glory’. The Church is His temple, as described by Paul and His glory will be made manifest by the Church. The gospel is not limited to one people group or ethnicity or to those of economic blessing or poverty (James 2:1-13).

God’s people, as revealed in Scripture, reflect the breadth of humanity. Even Jesus’ own 12 disciples were from the broad spectrum of Israelites.

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