The Builder, chapter 2

Jesus is the builder of His church and He is after your heart.  He began the plan through teaching His disciples.  In light of Peter’s confession, Matthew (another disciple of Christ) writes, “From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes and be killed, and on the third day be raised” (Mt. 16:21).

The purpose of Jesus’ coming is to win your heart.  This is accomplished on the cross.  Your heart and mine are broken, enslaved to the sin nature.  Sin, seen in our evil acts, leads to death.  This eternally separates us from God.  In the New Testament, Paul (an apostle of the early church) exhorts his reader to grasp the magnitude of the cross,

“We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4).

What does Christ’s work on the cross have to do with building the church?  Everything.  Those who place their trust in His work identify themselves in His death, burial, and resurrection.  Throughout Paul’s letters he weaves in this understanding.  The work of Christ is the most important part of our faith (1 Cor. 15:1-3).  Peter understood this as well,

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.  By His wounds you have been healed” (1Pet. 2:24).

Paul continues in Romans 6, explaining that we are no longer slaves to sin, we have died to sin (Rom. 6:5-10).  Like Peter, Paul writes, “So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom 6:11).  The work on the cross accomplishes peace between man and God (Eph 2:14).  The work frees us from sin, making us alive in Christ (Col. 2:13).  Secondly, Christ’s work removes the demand and condemnation of the law.  Paul uses the word “abolish,” “canceling,” and “nailing” regarding the law’s condemnation in light of the cross.  I encourage you to read Ephesians 2:14-15 and Colossians 2:13-15.  The language of these passages describes the blood and sweat work going into building of His church.  The disciples understood Jesus was building something.  It is not a temple made of hands.  The church is owned and built by Jesus.  His shed blood is the beginning work in calling out the gathering of His church.

Advertisements

The Builder, chapter 1

On various occasions Jesus warns his followers about the “yeast” of the Pharisees.  He points out their hypocrisy in obeying law simply for self.  The issue contrasts the heart versus the action.  The Father is not interested in how one carries out a task when your heart is full of self.  Jesus is in pursuit of your heart, and this is where He begins in building His church.

Entering the region of Caesarea Philippi, Jesus asks what others are saying.  He turns to his disciples,

“But what about you? Who do you say I am?” (Mat. 16:15)

The bold disciple, Simon, speaks up, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” (Mat. 16:16).  Simon identifies Jesus with a common title from the scriptures, “the living God.”  The Jews hold firmly that Jehovah is the living God, this in contrast to idols such as Pan–the god of the underworld.  In Caesarea, a temple and statue of Pan is worshiped.  Jesus responds to Simon’s answer.

“Jesus replied, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.  And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Matthew 16:17-18).

Jesus points out, to Simon Peter, he did not come up with the response on his own.  This revelation is given by the Father.  God’s grace reveals, to Simon, Jesus’ true identity.  Jesus continues and remarks that upon this revelation of the Father to Peter he will build his church.  The word for “church” is a transliteration from later Germanic translations of the Greek word, ekklesia.  The word means gathering or an “assembly” of people.  Jesus takes ownership and responsibility as the builder.  This gathering of people is built by Jesus.  This church is not a building, but a people called out of slavery from sin.

PSALM 256

Oh that I run from the one who gives life!

I am ignorant of my Creator

My heart is callous to His love

Feeding these desires with temporal things

He alone can only fill 

Truly, I do not recognize my own sin

Yet He waits at the bidders’ table

He waves His hands to bid

Crying out with the highest price 

Can I not hear Him?

Will my feet be weighed down by pride?

He has left His throne to seek me

Yet, I run away all the more!

He will not stop pursuing 

He will never forget my need

He will always be willing to forgive 

Oh wretched heart, believe!

PSALM 249

 when prayers seem like air

I will praise you

even though the door stays closed

your love is loyal still

although no water is parting a way

my spirit longs for you

while mountains stubbornly remain

my hope rests in you

cold and pain i feel

but your love is sure

may it be my always desire to trust you

allow my voice to sing your praise

keep the hope of your loyal love in view

may i always reach out to you

your love is loyal

PSALM 242

Am I so like Israel?

Impatiently reaching for fulfillment

Thirsting but never satisfied

Yet in my own strength

On my own terms

I am like Saul presenting sacrifices for approval

This while harboring disobedience and distrust

You allow the system of the world to press me

The Spirit of Joy seems limp within me

I am broken

No longer can I hold onto to this dream or that desire

All I can want is your rescue

Be the grace you display to your faithful

Allow my voicing prayer be whispered in the halls of your council

Is there an ear listening?

May my heart be still to wait, I am broken

 

 

PSALM 235

                                                                                             It is you who sees the beginning and end

You are the all knowing one

You are also all powerful

I know you can hear me

Let these words not land outside those ears

I have a running desire

Like rivers which ebb up and down in flow

I desire to be where I was two years ago

This year marks the beginning of three

I can now only imagine the growth of my heart,

the experience gained, and the relationships made

It is only an imagination though

It is not real

I desire not to be where I am now

Is this desire wrong of my heart?

Then, Lord, pull it out!

Why allow me to wrestle with it?

Do you wish I wrestle and battle, so that I steal, kill, and covet?

My desire seems two faced

Honorable in its intention, but loathsome when unfulfilled

Grant my thirst in your water, not my blood thirst

Grow in me another desire to persevere

Allow a spirit of contentment to rule

Be a spirit of willingness to stay

May peace reign, not chaos

Submit my desires to yours

Let grace move my actions

Not let pride smear the way

It is you and only you

May not the desire undo it

 

PSALM 228

You are almighty and sovereign

It is you that can move the hearts of men

It is you who determines the way

You have taken the unknown and made it known

You have called out the quiet and made it loud

Consider then where I am

Do not the limits of life rise like a tide?

I hear winds threatening that again I will be treading water!

Would not anyone else give up?

Yet I am holding!

Have I fallen enough that you can use me?

Will you use my lack of perception to clear the conscience of another?

Grant me your wisdom, where I lack it

Give me boldness to speak and passion to live it

Prove yourself faithful where I see little return

Increase my belief in your power, thus I will share it

Lord, you alone can move me.  As you see, I am embolden

 

PSALM 221

You alone Lord are Almighty, it is you who shapes and forms man

I confess that I struggle to connect this truth to my heart

It is my heart that cries out against you.  Shaking its fist like Israel

The clay shouts why have you made me, this life, in this way?

Oh how I have forgotten that you are the potter

I am like Israel, stiff necked and blind.  Remind of me of your mercy and grace–break off these chains that I slip back on every day!

I forget that you, Lord, give what you desire and withhold in accordance to your will

Grant me the peace to trust you in that.  Do not let my heart be harden, drifting away from your presence

It is you who calls the sun up and lets the rain come down.  You alone call for the stars to guide us in the sleep of day

Holy Spirit, do not let distrust and pride keep me from you.

Draw me to yourself, grant the longing and thirst for your Word.  Be near, O God, be all so near

I fear that I wonder in the dessert, as you wait for my trust to connect to faith.  I fear that the promise land is a dream unfounded

Speak into my heart your love that redeems.  Remind my spirit your righteousness is given by the grace of the King

Compel me to believe that you have more for me.  Build hope that I may cling to your promises.  You are love, the great priest of my salvation

You alone are spirit who takes my weakness and builds a kingdom.  It is you who imprints your words on the hearts of men.  May I be a vessel of your righteousness, a voice calling others to you

May it be that you turn my heart to your holiness and energize the work of my hands

To you be the glory for ever and ever, Amen

PSALM 214

Once I longed to serve her

Once I got a taste

But it was only a taste

I can not help but drive by now

The routine of going and being is innate

But I have to let her go

It pains me to see her move on

voices of sermons persuade me to move back

yet this is no longer my roll

books and  ideas draw me to work

yet what does engaging them accomplish?

my surrounding envelopes me like a cruel trick

letting her go is not my wish

my heart is heavy under these groanings

what is God’s plan for all this?

the pressure of life looms large and loud

my ears are deafening to all the sounds

walking away, settling for the now

help my heart be satisfied

let my mind be quiet with no answers

somehow allow me not to lose my grip

hold me Father, hold me for now

PSALM 207

Do you God not see?

You witness my pain, frustration, and need!

Is not your Holy Spirit within me?

What action have I done to grieve your Spirit?

Can I not hear your whispers?

The vision I once had is but steam that has blown away

What now do I do?

What of the desires that lay dormant in the floor of my soul?

Can you not raise them?

Surely you can raise them!

For you raised your Son from the dead!

You O God of Israel, are the one whom I seek an answer

You O God are the light that shines in darkness

I beg for that light to shine in me

May you correct my faulty wiring—transform this adulterous heart!

Bring a new vision, restore your desires within me

Only you—the Almighty can save me

Save me then from the confused well of self

Break the lies that sow distrust and unbelief

Cause my heart to be yours

Surely it is what you desire for me

Be glorified then in me—be seen in me

May it be that you are known

Let my thoughts be aligned with yours

May my heart be preserved by yours

Forever Almighty and Always God, the Risen One, be praised