…. they were unschooled, ordinary men …. they had been with Jesus …. the crippled man healed standing with them – Acts 4:13,14
What’s the purpose or fruit of greater knowledge & understanding, greater faith & anointing?
Sometime ago, had two interesting experiences which caused me to pause and think.
(…. moments of truth, business speaking).
Here’s the first one …
Was in a foreign city visiting a church with a local friend . We were new to this church, so we arrived early for the Sunday service.
Up on stage and around the stage, we heard and saw people praying, singing, waving arms, kneeling, … each one focused on their own expression of prayer, … with an earnest intensity … for more anointing, more power, more etc
When the service started, and as the worship service progressed, there was a freedom for people to express freely and “do their thing”.
When the service ended … we sat on our seats and took some moments to ponder over the meeting, … as others streamed out.
When the hall was nearly empty,
we left the church,
… perhaps, … socially empty?
The second one, …
Was involved in a comprehensive bible study ministry for a season.
Each week, the faithful members arrived on time, … diligently filled up their bible study guide, ready to discuss the questions with the group.
At the end of the group discussion, there was also a lecture of the lesson, and notes.
When the session ended, everyone would disperse to their cars or trains homebound to the various suburbs, till we meet again the following week.
After a couple months, I couldn’t help notice that the focus was purely on Bible study.
Sometimes, … during the week, by chance I casually crossed path with some members, …however, they somehow didn’t seemed keen to connect.
… perhaps, … out of sight, out of mind?
In situations like these,
perhaps, the village child may spot something
in the emperor’s clothes?
Ok,…Just to balance up with some positive memorable experiences in other groups
Was on a stopover in a city with a local friend visiting a well-known church ministering in a rough neighborhood. At the end of the spirit-filled service, … the multi-ethnic crowd did not leave the hall; everyone was busy chatting with each other, smiling, laughing, connecting with one another. In the sea of multi-ethnic faces from various places, … it felt like a glimpse of heaven, … everyone’s welcomed, accepted, loved … God’s family hanging out together in the Father’s living room.
There’s also another memorable church in a faraway suburb, … whenever I bring a friend there, they are guaranteed to make new friends at church, on their first visit. This church has also pioneered significant mission work overseas.
The people at this sizeable church are just genuinely interested in getting to know others personally.
After a few visits, … I realized …. the pastor is like this too
— a caring shepherd who knows his sheep by name
& remembers their unique concerns.
Proverbs 27:23 (NIV)
Be sure you know the condition of your flocks,
give careful attention to your herds
Simple connections … meaningful relationships, friendships ..
thus, leading others to a friendship with Jesus;
authentic, open, real.
In the gospels, Jesus drew others to Himself by His love & compassion.
Back to the first 2 stories.
Worship and Bible study are both important.
Very broadly speaking, in the church world …
there’s the word-based believers, who relish in order, liturgy, deep theological studies, discussions, discourse, intellectual apologetics, debates, etc
“Lord, more understanding, greater knowledge, deeper revelation … “
then, there’s the spirit-filled believers who relish in spontaneity, anointing, power, miracles, prophecies, spiritual experiences/testimonies, etc
“Lord more anointing, more power, more faith, ….”
Information … or experience ?
Word or Spirit,
Word and Spirit ?
Sometimes, … one group would tease the other,
that their way/experience was the better … or truer one.
Remarkably, … seldom, would either group visit each other’s meetings.
Through … conversations, sharings
and listening humbly & respectfully,
bridges of understanding are built;
we learn to appreciate and learn from one another’s strengths.
Although both groups express their devotion differently,
they do love God,
One evening, while reflecting on the 2 groups (described in the first 2 stories),
felt the Lord dropped a thought that convicted me,
deep down …
at the heart,
both groups are
“Lord anoint me, empower me, use me, ….”
“Lord give me deeper revelation, enlighten me with more understanding, greater knowledge …”
These are all very good, godly desires.
… if we’re not careful,
our desires may become so spiritually focused …
that we sometimes forget the simple & down-to-earth, …
“Who is our neighbor?” … an expert of the Law once asked Jesus.
… people just visiting church for the first time,
others with needs, concerns.
… people dis-similar from us,
Like Jesus, … He came down to earth, He spoke to crowds,
and He ministered one-on-one with all levels of society
including the outcasts …
He blessed children who came to Him.
He spoke in the common language of the people.
Personable, … people focused,
or activity/program driven?
or a community, a family of God?
care, warmth, kindness, compassion are like a pinch of salt
that enhances the flavor of every dish.
Though tiny, whenever its missing
we notice it;
they fragrance a house into a home.
its interesting that our sincere, spiritual desires,
… when taken to an extreme …
can surprisingly become self-indulgent, self-absorbed,
… even, self-centered,
when we lose sight of others around us, beyond our clique & family.
“Me, … my ministry, … my group … my teaching”
ministry or ministry activity can become an end to itself,
a spiritual barometer,
a source of personal validation,
rather than a means of blessing others.
O Lord, help us!
Perhaps, … this may have prompted Paul to write to the Corinthian church,
1 Corinthains 13:2 (NASB)
If I have the gift of prophecy,
and know all mysteries and all knowledge;
and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains,
do not have love,
I am nothing.
know all mysteries, …
mountain moving faith, … insightful spiritual gifts
…. spectacular manifestations,
… deep, profound insight,
do not have love,
I am nothing.
Hence, Paul concluded,
And now these three remain:
faith, hope and love.
But the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV)
Love looks compassionately beyond
… methods, liturgies, affiliation, gifts, deeper knowledge, greater faith, etc …
to Christ, …
and through Christ & His Word,
… to love each unique person He has made;
when the church activity is over,
when we close our Bibles,
still our praise, worship, prayers,
leave our spiritual postures & sanctuary,
take off our “spiritual‘ robes,
“… when the music fades, … and all is stripped away …”
when we step outside,
how’s our daily walk with the Lord ?
John & Paul shares some insights:
1 John 2:5,6,10 (NASB)
5 but whoever keeps His word,
in him the love of God has truly been perfected.
By this we know that we are in Him: 6 the one who says
he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.
10 The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him.
whoever keeps His word, …
in him the love of God has truly been perfected.
the one who loves his brother abides in the Light
walk as Jesus walked,
i.e., be like Jesus,
walk in the love of God
following His word.
By living out God’s word, our hearts are changed.
Galatians 5:22,23, 25 (NASB)
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.
walk by the Spirit.
walk in love,
patience, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness, self-control
Thus, yielding to God’s word and the Holy Spirit in our daily walk;
walking in love.
A change of our heart.
Who is wise and understanding among you?
let him show by
his good life
James 3:13 (ASV)
down-to-earth, simple, everyday life.
In sustaining fruitfulness in Christ,
Peter advised believers to:
1 Peter 1:5-8 (NKJV)
5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence,
add to your faith virtue,
to virtue knowledge,
6 to knowledge self-control,
to self-control perseverance,
to perseverance godliness,
7 to godliness
and to brotherly kindness
8 For if these things are yours and abound,
you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
From faith to knowledge …. to godliness … to brotherly kindness … to love.
As a group/body of believers, how do we practically walk with one another?
Paul commended the believers in Thessalonica
for their exceedingly growing faith
and their abounding love towards each other.
2 Thessalonians 1:3,4 (NKJV)
3 We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because
your faith grows exceedingly, and
the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other,
4 so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God
for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure,
Their enduring faith through persecutions and tribulations,
strengthened by their love and support of one another in the face of suffering, danger and life challenges, … standing together in their faith in Jesus,
was an inspiration to the other churches.
We need one another.
Romans 12:4-6 (NIV)
4 For just as each of us has one body with many members,
and these members do not all have the same function,
5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body,
and each member belongs to all the others.
6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. …
In Christ’s body of many believers,
God has given a rich diversity of gifts, grace and function,
so that each individual member can bless and support others.
As a song lyric says “love isn’t love until we give it away”
Similarly, a gift becomes a gift when its freely given away,
when a spiritual gift of God’s grace
timely meets the receiver’s needs/concerns meaningfully,
and all glory to the Giver of all things — God.
1 Corinthians 12:17,19 (NIV)
17 If the whole body were an eye, what part would do the hearing?
If the whole were an ear, what part would exercise the sense of smell?
18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body,
every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.
19 If they were all one part, where would the body be?
20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
A body of believers, made up of many different parts
inter-dependent on one another,
with diverse useful gifts, grace and function spread across the body,
and not just concentrated or monopolised by a select few.
Also, in the natural, God made each one unique,
God created a multitude of diversity and variety in His creation,
… with differences, contrasts, opposites,
delicately balanced by His hand.
A body of believers bound together by Christ’s love.
Above all else, put on love,
which binds everything together in perfect harmony
Colossians 3:14 (ESV)
Luke 9:48 (NIV)
48 Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me
For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.” “
where the least is welcomed & loved as much as the great,
… welcomes me … as much as welcoming & loving Jesus.
Romans 15:7 (NIV)
Accept one another, then,
just as Christ accepted you,
in order to bring praise to God.
When we gather together,
besides the Word, worship, and the presence of the Lord,
a genuine, compassionate, human touch helps,
as God’s gifts of grace flow freely from each one to bless one another, meet needs,
in a vibrant kaleidoscope of mutual encouragement,
and mutual edification,
resulting in strong bonds of friendships and support
through life’s ups and downs.
(where the rubber hits the road)
1 Corinthians 12:25,26 (NIV)
25 so that there may be no division in the body,
but the members may have mutual concern for one another.
26 If one member suffers, everyone suffers with it.
If a member is honored, all rejoice with it.
If not, … Christian gatherings risk being no different from office meetings, watching a movie, attending a lecture, watching a staged choreographed performance,
Here’s some millenial generation thoughts on church:
* Why millenials are leaving the church (CNN, click here)
* Want Milenials back in the pews? Stop trying to make church “cool: (Washington Post, click here)
We’ll probably not agree with everything that’s shared in these articles. However, its clear that there is a rise in “believing without belonging”, dis-churched believers, … depending on pastor Google, reverend Youtube, church surfing, etc.
Therefore, for authentic, real community:
1 Peter 4:8-10 (NIV)
8 Above all,
love each other deeply, …
9 Offer hospitality to one another …
10 … use whatever gift you have received
to serve others, …
Galatians 6:2 (NLT)
Share each other’s burdens,
and in this way obey the law of Christ.
Colossians 3:12-15 (ESV)
12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,
compassionate hearts, kindness,
and patience, 13 bearing with one another
and, if one has a complaint against another,
forgiving each other;
as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
Jesus sums it all up perfectly,
John 13:35 (MSG)
This is how everyone will recognize
that you are my disciples
—when they see
the love you have for each other.”
Can others see Jesus in us?
John 21:15-17 (NASB)
15 … Jesus *said to Simon Peter,“Simon, son of John,
do you love Me more than these?”
He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”
He said to him, “Tend My lambs.”
16 He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John,
do you love Me?”
He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”
He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.”
17 He said to him the third time, “Simon,son of John,
do you love Me?”
Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.”
Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.”
Back to our title,
deeper knowledge, greater anointing, more faith,
helps us … love Him more
to tend His lambs,
shepherd His sheep,
tend His sheep.
young lambs & older sheep of many shades, size, color, breed.
Richard Halverson, former US Senate Chaplain:
In the beginning the Church was a fellowship of men and women who centred their lives on the living Christ. They had a personal and vital relationship to the Lord. It transformed them and the world around them.
Then the Church moved to Greece, and it became a philosophy.
Later it moved to Rome, and it became an institution.
Next it moved to Europe and it became a culture.
Finally it moved to America, and it became an enterprise.
We’ve got far too many churches and so few fellowships.”
Whatever generation we’re from (X, Y, Z, millenial, baby boomer, iGeneration, etc),
we all live in a high tech, highly conected era.
However, this has not diminished the human need for meaningful relationships, friendships, community
— acceptance, care, …. love,
a listening ear,
sharing daily moments together,
somewhere to belong to.
Messaging apps, social media, crowd sourcing, crowd funding, etc, are all forms of virtual community, global conversation, collaboration tools, instant dialogues.
Even brands & companies try their best
to forge a personal and meaningful virtual connection
with each of their online customers,
anticipating their interests & needs.
Memorable customer experience, customer service, customer engagement,
customer moments of truth,
each touchpoint, an opportunity.
High tech … high touch … relationships.
by 林弟兄, bro Lim
April 30, 2016
Copyright © 林弟兄 bro Lim, Laymanointing, 2014-2016 – All Rights Reserved,
Creative Commons License