Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Our own families: verse 7

1 Corinthians 3:11 "For no-one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid which is Jesus Christ."
Verse 7 ends by saying, “and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood.” This is more important than first meets the eye. The Lord’s first building block on the earth as He had created it is ‘family’, which came out of the union of Adam and Eve, who were told to go and multiply and take dominion over the earth (Genesis 1:28). In fact in God’s order of priority, Foundations for Family comes even before Foundations for Farming in His building and rebuilding plan.

We are not to get so carried away with the Lord’s magnificent plan for the poor, that we neglect our families because of the urgency of ministry. Looking back Brian can see that in his fervour for the vision, which the Lord has given them, he have sometimes not been ‘there’ for his family at some very important occasions. He regrets this greatly, and he has seen the long term hurt and its consequences that can happen if we get the Lord’s priorities wrong in His building process. We need to consistently keep the Lord’s principles, conditions and priorities, uppermost in our minds.

God made men and women in his image

“God saw all that he had made and it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31). God did an excellent job in creation! When Jesus worked as a carpenter, we can be sure that he made first class tables and chairs. The Bible tells me that I am made BY God. I am not rubbish. “I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm139:14).
More than that, God made us LIKE himself! “God said, ‘Let us make people in our image to be like ourselves’. (Genesis 1:26 NLT). In Genesis 1, people are made like God as the crown of His creation. Men and women reflect the glory of God in a way nothing else in all creation can. We are God made and well made.

God made men and women equal in value
A couple can be seen walking along a road. The wife is struggling to carry a sack of mealie meal on her head. She has a baby on her back and is pulling an older child by the hand. She is pregnant at the same time. Her husband strolls merrily along, whistling his favourite tune, a loaf of bread under his arm. While she is dressed in old, tattered clothes and perhaps a pair of torn tennis shoes, her husband is dressed in smart new clothes.

This scenario suggests that the husband is superior to the wife. Throughout history and in many cultures, people have believed in the superiority of the male. This belief has also been reflected in Christian teaching but it is not what the Bible says. God’s first word about men and women comes in Genesis 1:27,

“God created people in his image;
God patterned them after himself;
male and female he created them.”

The word people translates the Hebrew word Adam. Older Bibles use the word man in Genesis 1:27 and that has often been understood to mean male men only and not women. However, Genesis 5:1-2 makes clear that Adam does not mean male man. The NIV reads: “When God created man (Adam), he made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female and he blessed them. And when they were created, he called them ‘man’ (Adam).” Adam means mankind, human beings or people. The wonderful truth is that both men and women are made in the image of God. We are equal in dignity and in value to God. This is so important in our families. Men and women may have different roles in society but both of us are made in God’s image. Husbands and wives, sons and daughters – we are all equal in worth before our God. Neither sex is more important than the other.

Let us honour one another in our families as people made by God and like God.
We are God made and well made. Praise the Lord!

God's channel of power on earth

1 Corinthians 3:11 "For no-one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ."

For many years Brian has been exhorting the Champions that Farming God’s Way, now Foundations or Farming, must be founded on Jesus and specifically on His humility and unselfishness. The specific mandate that God has given us from Isaiah is to break the yoke of injustice and poverty, hunger and suffering of the people of Africa and the Developing World and in deed the poor in all nations, which the Lord describes as the True Fast to which he will accept.
It is a gigantic task, but we have a much more Gigantic God. This can only happen if we copy Jesus humility and empty ourselves as He did. In this state of humility and unselfishness, which the world would view as weakness, God’s power will flood in behind and through us.

There is no other way of doing this, but by taking up our cross and following Jesus. “Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9: 23). We are to die to everything of the flesh, except for life itself. “Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice, dedicated to God’s purpose and pleasing to Him, for this is the true worship that you should offer” (Romans 12:1). (GNB). All that we must not put to death is what the Holy Spirit has deposited in us. “I have been crucified with Christ, and the life I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.(Galations 2: 20).

When we do this, the power of God will flood in behind us. Imagine if God’s people unified under this banner of the likeness of Christ and His love, and we all trusted Him with all our hearts, and stopped leaning on our own understanding, but acknowledged God in all our ways. What a straight, gloriously effective, yoke-breaking, continent-changing path God would make! (Proverbs 3: 6). These will be the results of the True Fast expressed in the humility and unselfishness of Christ Jesus!

The importance of communication

Communication can build or break our family

“The tongue has the power of life and death.” (Proverbs 18:21). Communication is powerful. People often use kind words and kind actions to their church mates, work mates and friends but speak very roughly with their families. Our words can destroy the people we love in our family. People often become what we say they are. If we say our children are useless, they become useless. If we say our husbands are hopeless, indeed they will become hopeless.

Many families are breaking down because of a negative communication between father and mother or between parents and children. Family members of all ages end up feeling lonely and each one does their own thing apart from the rest of the family. God gave us families so that we can all grow to our maximum potential but the family is often a place where both children and adults are verbally abused.

1. The parents are always talking and never listening to their children. Children are given names that communicate poverty, hatred and anger. When a child is told that they are dull like their late grandmother who never stepped into a classroom, they are totally heartbroken and their chances of doing well at school are limited because the words will stick with them for the rest of their lives.
2. Teenagers think that their parents are too old fashioned and so cannot tell them anything, or they ignore their parents because they are not educated as much as children today. On the other hand parents think teenagers are a wild group who do not know what they are doing, and they are heading for disaster.
3. Wives are treated as objects; therefore anything can be said to them without caring much about how they feel.
4. The husband thinks that his wife is taking sides with children and he feels rejected.

However, the verse from Proverbs 18:21 does not only say that the tongue kills. The tongue also has the power of life! Words can kill or they can give life. Good communication can build and bless our families. If we say good things to our family members they will change for the better and become what we say they are. Let us always guard our tongues and use them to bless others not to curse them. “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”(Proverbs 16:24)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Humility and Unselfishness of Christ

1 Corinthians 3:11 "For no-one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ."

It is important that we take a bit of time to meditate on these precious aspects of the character of Jesus, which is the Spirit behind the True Fast:

We have already mentioned the humbleness of Jesus birth and life, but the contrast of where He came from warrants much emphasis. Jesus had been at the founding and establishment of the universe, of all things seen and unseen. He had the joy of being in the constant and immediate presence of His Father, and resided in a throne-room that must be immeasurably more magnificent than any on earth. He was on the seat of all the power and authority in the universe, surrounded by myriads of angels serving and praising Him.

His Father looked down to earth and saw that the only way to bring the people that He had created back into His presence was to send His Precious only Son down them. To live among them so as to show Himself to them and demonstrate how they are to live out their lives, and then to suffer an excruciating death for them.

So Jesus humbly obeyed His Father and descended from the pinnacle of the glory of heaven, to become a man, a helpless baby, born in a stable to a humble virgin. Then He in the greatest possible humility constantly referred to His Father and obeyed Him absolutely implicitly, even to the point of death on a cross.

In this ineffable humility, he demonstrated supreme and total unselfishness. He emptied Himself of His position, His opinions and preferences, His rights, His comfort, His reputation and His lifeblood. In this state of weakness, surrender and vulnerability, the absolute epitome of unselfishness, He defeated the power of sin and death, and of Satan and His demons. No wonder Jesus told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12: 9).

Value 5: Christ Centredness

Christ centred families welcome Jesus to share their everyday life and to take part in all they are and do. The door of their home is open to those in need. They delight to serve Christ as a family. They are salt and light in their community and spread the gospel together. They know Christ’s joy and peace. Their home is full of fun and laughter. Christ centred families reflect the relationships of harmony and love between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit within the Trinity.
However we will not enjoy Christ centred family life unless our own lives are centred on Christ and filled with his Spirit. This is a call to make Christ Lord of all our lives. We can know the peace of God in our families when we are living Christ centred lives ourselves.

We are on a journey with Jesus…..
As Christians, neither we nor our families are perfect but we press toward that goal with God’s help. Following the example of Jesus, the church invites all to join us on this journey and especially welcomes those whose family situation falls short of these Five Family Values. Accept one another just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God’.

Jesus' heart for the poor

1 Corinthians 3:11 "For no-one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ."

The Father in heaven sent His only Son to be born on earth as a man. He chose His birthplace to be a stable, and His earthly mother and father were from the lower end of society. He was trained as a carpenter by His father, and owned nothing at the end of His life. It is very significant that the King of glory chose to come in this way, so that the very poorest people can truly relate to His message.

Jesus grew up to be a man, and had some years living in and relating to the world, and then when He was thirty years old the Father told Him the time for His great work had come. Soon after this Jesus took out the scroll in the synagogue in His hometown Nazareth to announce the ministry, for which his Father had sent Him, and read from Isaiah 61:1-2, “The Spirit of the sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners…”

We have seen in Africa that poverty is a real captivity and a stronghold. The poor don’t know how to escape from it and such a sense of hopelessness comes over them, and poverty causes so much suffering and broken-heartedness. Praise God that Jesus came to set them free, and to heal them and restore them.

It is also very significant that when Paul and Silas began their great work of taking the Gospel to the Gentiles and the rest of the world, James, Peter and John gave them their blessing, and Paul reported in Galatians 2: 10, “All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.”
What a mandate, what a priority in God’s heart are the poor, that He inspired the apostles, through His Holy Spirit, to remember that the expression and outworking of the Gospel is primarily the good news for the poor, who are the most severe casualties of the sin and fall of man. Surely Jesus humility and unselfishness, and His heart for the poor and His plan for their deliverance compose the True fast!

Value 4: Sexual Purity

God made us men and women as sexual beings and said that all He had made was very good. Within marriage, sex is blessed by God who intends it to be a joy and delight to both partners. Because sexual intercourse is so precious to people and so significant in the sight of God, it is kept for the bond of marriage. This means no sex before marriage and no sex outside marriage.
Jesus also made it clear that sexual purity extends beyond the physical act of sexual intercourse to avoiding lustful thought and behaviour. However the Bible shows that sex sin can be forgiven and God calls the church to keep a balance between God’s justice and His forgiveness.