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Friday: Further Thought ~ Ministry in the New Testament Church — 4 Comments

  1. In lesson such as these where we are encouraged to think about the poor, needy, vulnerable, disenfranchised, and forgotten in our community, it is all too easy to fall into the trap of saying things like, "The Church should be doing ..." and hiding behind the shelter of collective responsiblity. While the cynics among us are inclined to think that the lessons are a rather overt ploy to get us church members to give more money to Church organisations dedicated to the task of helping the needy, there is a deeper principle being expressed in these lessons that we need to engage with.

    If we have come this far in the lesson study this quarter, you may have noticed that there is a recurring message that God's chosen people have indeed neglected the needy. Overlooking or abusing the vulnerable is condemned along with idolatry and seeking after other gods. In one sense the neglect of the needy is a personal sin. If we neglect the needy near us, how do we expect the Church or state to do any better.

    Here is the challenge:

    How many of us are friends with a needy person? I am using "needy" in a wider sense than just being financially poor. I can think of a couple of people within my own sphere of influence who while financially sufficient, have other needs.

    How much time have we got to give to persons in need? Are we time selfish, reserving our time for ourselves rather than spending time with those in need. Do we find it easy to give money to an organisation to salve our conscience, but refuse to spend time with "the least of these".

    As a teacher I learned that you don't teach classes, you educate individual students. These lessons this quarter are not for the church, but for me.

  2. Reshaped - Christianity is the only religion which allowed all to be treated equal regardless of the stature.
    Transformation - Where there is no transformation of the heart, rebellious behavior is inevitable
    Disciple - A disciple is simply someone who believes in Jesus and seeks to follow him in his or her DAILY life.
    Give - Once you see the matter of giving is centered in this lovely word grace, it lifts the whole act away from mechanics, from pressure and duty, from obligation and mere legalism.
    Sincere - If you're not sincere in the end Jesus will say I never knew you.
    James “the Just” - How can we become Newbegin "the just"?
    Unselfish liberality - Unselfish liberality of members of the Adventist organization allows for education, and medical facilities around the world.

    The special offering taken on August 3, 2019, at the 2019 Adventist-laymen’s Services and Industries (ASi) International Convention will be used to fund outreach and evangelistic initiatives around the world, leaders said.
    At the end of the worship service at the Kentucky International Convention Center in Louisville, Kentucky, United States, board member Deborah Young reported that the annual offering amounted to US$1,521,035, surpassing the goal of US$1,250,000.

    It's only a drop in the ocean - but the ocean wouldn't be the same without that drop.
    Mother Teresa

  3. "Spurred by Jesus’ commission and the power of the Holy Spirit, the disciples and the early believers set out to share the message and mission of Jesus as widely as possible."

    I would propose that the disciples were 'spurred' (ie motivated) by far more than Jesus few words in Matt 28:18-20. Jesus 'commission' was a momentary culmination of having spent 3 years with the disciples where He demonstrated and taught that how we live our daily life determines our eternal destiny - and can potentially also influence the eternal destinies of those we come into contact with.

    Jesus life was His message and His message was his life - a concept that John captures beautifully in Jn 1:4. And that is what we see in the disciples as we follow their journey into the book of Acts and beyond. Their lives were their message and their message was their lives.

    Unfortunately (due to the successful efforts of an adversary) since the time of the disciples, an artificial distinction and associated disconnect has crept into 'Christianity' and even Adventism whereby our lives and our 'religious activities' have essentially become two distinct entities.

    As Maurice has mentioned above,

    "If we have come this far in the lesson study this quarter, you may have noticed that there is a recurring message that God's chosen people have indeed neglected the needy".

    I believe that a failure to appreciate how - in actuality and therefore practicality - there is in fact no difference between my everyday life/living and true 'religion'/Christianity has contributed significantly to the outcome that Maurice is referring to.

    I would propose that Jesus knew this and that this is what spurred/motivated all aspects of His everyday interactions with others. I would similarly propose that as a result of their time spent with Jesus, the disciples eventually got this too and that this was also what spurred/motivated all their aspects of their everyday interactions with others.

    Have I realised this yet and is it impacting all aspects of my everyday life - because I actually want/deeply desire it to (as opposed to because I feel/believe it 'should')?

  4. "How can your church community become more like the one described in the first few chapters of the book of Acts? What might be some practical steps your church leadership could take to encourage the church in this direction?"

    I would like to propose something for consideration by your Sabbath School class this Sabbath.

    The Acts community was a group of individuals who each went out each day living their daily lives in a way that touched the lives of those around them. Then these individuals came together at the end of each day to 'regroup' in preparation for going out again the next day, and the next, and so on.

    In many of the Sabbath School classes that I get to participate in as I travel around, I see individuals who already are living out their faith/self-renouncing love in the activities of their daily lives and are positively impacting others for the Kingdom of God - just like the first century believers. What if your Sabbath School class, instead of trying to work out how as a class you can start some new project to positively impact your community for God, your class tries to identify how it can support its members who are already doing this? Therefore, when hear a member of your class incidentally sharing how they are going about their daily lives and incidentally ministering to others, why not ask them what your class can do to support them in what they are already doing?

    I am not saying that it is wrong for a class to plan and carry out new projects - if that is what the class members themselves wish to do. But what I am raising is the risk of overlooking what is already being done on individual levels and thus 'failing' to support and therefore further enhance something that is already in existence.


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