Upward, Inward, Outward, Forward: Week 4 Leadership

Upward, Inward, Outward, Forward: Week 4 Leadership

Sharing Leadership

If you knew you couldn’t fail, what is one thing you would try to do for God?

We often think of ourselves as immature or unspiritual in relation to other people. Perhaps you see your small group leader as someone who has it all together and to whom God speaks more than to others. If you see her that way, you are totally wrong. The difference probably has more to do with gifting than anything else. But that doesn’t mean God has not called you to lead, too!

 

Leadership is something God wants everyone to do. But in order to be a leader, you must first be a servant. The Holy Spirit gives gifts to each of us for the common good of all. “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good,” says 1 Corinthians 11:7.

 

Mark 9:35 reads: “Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

To each of us. No one is left out. And each of us is called to humility, grace, and encouragement. Although it may be differently manifest in the several members of your small group, God has orchestrated your group to meet the needs of the individuals in it.

When Paul was addressing the church at Corinth, he reminded them of their humble beginnings. They were uneducated, lacking influence or wealth. Yet he recognized in them the potential to change the world.

“And there are [distinctive] ways of working [to accomplish things], but it is the same God who produces all things in all believers [inspiring, energizing, and empowering them] (1 Corinthians 12:6 AMP).”

What is the difference between a spiritual gift and a natural talent?

God often augments a natural talent with a spiritual gift, but sometimes a spiritual gift pulls the recipient into an area outside her comfort zone. And that’s okay.

A spiritual gift is given for the edification and good of the body of Christ. It is meant to bring God glory.

A natural talent is a temporal bent that is generally used for the glory of the individual.

When the Holy Spirit gives gifts, He sometimes calls the believer to lay down that natural talent so that she can bring glory to God by stepping into the supernatural to benefit the church.

Spiritual gifts do not reveal the maturity of a believer.

The Holy Spirit doesn’t give gifts only to mature believers. He chooses according to His own criteria, and maturity is rarely among them. In fact, spiritual gifts have the effect of maturing sincere believers.

Mature Christians are ones who seek to encourage and give opportunity to others to serve God and His body so that the whole body is made healthy.

“But we have this precious treasure [the good news about salvation] in [unworthy] earthen vessels [of human frailty], so that the grandeur and surpassing greatness of the power will be [shown to be] from God [His sufficiency] and not from ourselves (2 Corinthians 4:7 AMP).”

How can you use your spiritual gifts in your small group to encourage others to step out in faith?

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Hebrew Word of the Week: Wisdom, Understanding, and Knowledge

Hebrew Word of the Week: Wisdom, Understanding, and Knowledge

Word of the Week

Chokhma, binah, and da'at

 

Hebrew

Today’s Hebrew study is ַa collection of nouns that complete each other. They are useful together, but separately only render a part of the picture. They are chakh’mah, biynahand da’atTranslated, they mean wisdom, understanding, and knowledge. They look like this:

חָכְמָה, בִּינָה, דַעַת

“For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding (Proverbs 1:7).”

Wisdom, understanding, and knowledge are like a car.

Chokhma is like a car. It provides the vocabulary of concept. As children, we learn what a car is by seeing a car, then seeing many cars, and eventually internalizing the concept so that a green Volvo and a red Toyota are both cars.

Binah is a driver. He is the one that determines where the car will go.

Only when they are brought together with da’at will the car actually go somewhere.

“The biblical concept of knowledge means joined together.” — Rabbi Immanuel Schochet 

In Jewish thought, the three aspects cannot be separated, lest one loses the application of them.

“Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. Cherish her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you. She will give you a garland to grace your head and present you with a glorious crown (Proverbs 4:5-9).”

This pathway that we walk starts with getting wisdom. We need a vocabulary to build upon so that we can move from concept to knowledge. This happens in three steps.

First, I learn the vocabulary. God’s word became flesh. I hear the words, Messiah, Christ, Anointed One, and I begin to wonder what they mean. If that’s the end, I have gained wisdom alone—there is a Messiah.

Second, I read about Who this Messiah is. I read the Old Testament and learn what the prophets say and then discover that a Man named Jesus (Yeshua) in the New Testament fulfilled the prophecies in the Old Testament.

Third, I join this wisdom and knowledge with my soul, and I receive the Messiah into my heart.

If I stop at any point before this final step, I am not saved. I have the wisdom of the concept, I understand the concept and that this Man is the promised Messiah. But it takes an act of my will to make Him the Savior of my soul, where my knowledge becomes internalized and effective.

So why do so few Jews embrace their Messiah? Romans 11:25 answers that for us. It is so that Gentiles might also inherit the promises and salvation of God. We have become grafted into the root, and not the other way around.

“And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free (John 8:32).”

Jesus knows (is joined to) me, this I love.

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Upward, Inward, Outward, Forward— Week Nine: Sacrificial Commitment

Upward, Inward, Outward, Forward— Week Nine: Sacrificial Commitment

Sacrificial Commitment

You are settled in a small group and have developed intimacy, loving accountability, and group identity. That’s a good thing. That’s what a small group is all about. But God doesn’t want it to remain “just you four and no more.”

In Israel, there are two bodies of water that make a great illustration of this principle. The first is the Salt Sea, also known as the Dead Sea. The Jordan River, which feeds into it, is the other one.

You’ve probably heard the comparison before, haven’t you? But you probably haven’t heard it all.

I prefer to call it the Salt Sea because it is an apt illustration for small groups, which should be life-giving, not dead ends. You’ve probably heard that there is no outlet for the water, so nothing lives there. Here are some things you probably didn’t know:

“They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven (Psalm 107:3).”

The Salt Sea actually does have some life. Microbial life. Extremely small and basic. That’s like a small group that never grows.

Although it is called a sea, it is actually a lake. In scripture, the sea represents death, chaos, evil, and destruction. But the Salt Sea is not even connected to the sea. Our small group isn’t part of all that bad stuff.

The weather tends to be pleasant nearly all the time. People love to sunbathe there just about year round. It’s comfortable and even relatively safe from UV rays that can burn your skin. Small groups can make members feel safe, too, and they should.

The Salt Sea is a haven for healing. With a higher atmospheric pressure, low allergen count, and higher oxygen content 1,400 feet below sea level, it is a literal breath of fresh air.

 

He said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah,[a] where it enters the Dead Sea. When it empties into the sea, the salty water there becomes fresh. Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live (Ezekiel 47:8-9).”

So we’ve seen that small groups contain life and are places of healing. What about the Jordan River?

The Jordan River is a river of life. It represents the life of believers, flowing out of the Temple of God and making everything alive with its waters (the Word of God). The Bible makes reference to the Jordan River more than 200 times. When used in spiritual songs, it represents freedom and was a constant theme in Negro Spirituals.  What makes it different than the Salt Sea is that it flows, a neverending stream that is constantly refreshing and giving life wherever it goes.

The River Jordan represents the living Word of God, flowing throughout the promised land and reviving those who partake of its waters. The Salt Sea represents small groups who contain the water of the Jordan but give it no place to revive those outside the small group.

That’s why it’s vitally important to open your small group and share your spiritual blessings with new members. In the small group setting, new leaders are trained to carry the Jordan’s waters to new places where more and more people can experience the life-giving experience of being part of the body of our Lord.

Yes, sometimes you might be uncomfortable. It might cost you a little bit. But, oh! The joy of sharing the true life of believers with others!

 

Are you ready to share the life of your small group so others may have that life-giving blessing too?

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Hebrew Word of the Week: Hallal

Hebrew Word of the Week: Hallal

Word of the Week

Hallal

Hebrew

Sing praise! Today’s Hebrew word is where we get the English word hallelujah, and it means “praise.”

הָלַל

“Sing praises to God, sing praises: sing praises unto our King, sing praises (Psalm 47:6).”

We think of the angels singing praises in the night sky when Yeshua was born. Hallal means praise—but it also means light!

הלל is a root word that has several meanings. It expresses what lamps and celestial bodies do: shine, radiate light. Although it is a rarely used verb in the Bible, it denotes intensive action. It’s the word used to define the light that “flashes forth” from the sneezes of Leviathan in Job. Isaiah speaks of the “shining one” as he describes Satan’s fall in Isaiah 14:12. There it is a noun derived from the verb and is pronounced helel.

When the meaning is praise, it has three forms.

The masculine noun הליל (hillul), meaning praise or a rejoicing. It occurs only in plural: הלולים (hillulim), literally meaning congratulations or rejoicings (Judges 9:27, Leviticus 19:24).

The masculine noun מהלל (mahalel), again meaning praise but literally a “container” for praise. It occurs only in Proverbs 27:21 where silver and gold are tested in a crucible and a furnace, and a man in his “container for” praise.

The feminine noun תהלה (tehilla), meaning praise, song of praise or thanksgiving or adoration, or it denotes praiseworthy deeds. This noun occurs all over the Bible. HAW condenses the meaning of this beautiful noun as, “the results of halal as well as the divine acts which merit that activity”.

Hallelujah is a combination of two words, hallel meaning praise, and the shortened two-letter version of the name of God. For this reason, some Jews won’t pronounce the word except when reciting a prayer or a biblical verse, but will say hallelukah instead, rather than utter one of God’s names in a profane (common) context.

“This world is full of conflicts and full of things that cannot be reconciled. But there are moments when we can… reconcile and embrace the whole mess, and that’s what I mean by ‘Hallelujah.'” — Leonard Cohen

“Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord, you his servants; praise the name of the Lord. Let the name of the Lord be praised, both now and forevermore. From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised (Psalm 113:1-3).”

In 1741, the great musician George Frideric Handel composed the oratorio “Messiah,” that includes the compelling “Hallelujah Chorus.” It remains today one of the most famous religious musical works ever written. The text was written by Charles Jennens from the King James Bible and its focus was on the

Messiahship of Yeshua. It is, perhaps, the most moving use of the term hallelujah in modern history.

Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready (Revelation 19:6-7).”

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Hebrew Word of the Week

Hebrew Word of the Week

Word of the Week

Nevuah

Hebrew

Today’s Hebrew word of the week comes from 2nd Chronicles 15:8. It looks like this:

נְבוּאָה

and it means prophecy.

“And when Asa heard these words, and the prophecy of Oded the prophet, he took courage, and put away the abominable idols out of all the land of Judah and Benjamin, and out of the cities which he had taken from mount Ephraim, and renewed the altar of the LORD, that was before the porch of the LORD.”

A prophet (נָבִיא) is a person who receives a message (nĕ•vu•ah) from God to give to another.

The King James Bible uses this word only 3 times in the Tanach (Old Testament). It is a word that means a written or spoken prediction. In the other two scriptures, 2 Chronicles 9:29 and Nehemiah 6:12. In the passage in Nehemiah, it is referring to a false prophecy.

“The principle that “G‑d communicates to mankind through prophecy” remains a foundation of the Jewish faith.” — Mendy Hecht

And in a letter to the Jews of Yemen, Maimonides recounts an age-old tradition that “shortly before the messianic era, prophecy will return to the Jewish people.”

When I began the research for this word, I was surprised that with all the prophets (נְבִיאִים) in the Old Testament, surely there must be more references to prophecy. One-hundred eleven times people are commanded to prophesy (נָבָא), and you can see the root letters in the verb prophesy also in the noun derived from it, prophecy (נְבוּאָה).

Jews believe that prophecy is for making course corrections in Jewish society or in society at large. They also see prophecy when it is predictive as God communicating to His people to encourage them or to warn them of judgment if they do not mend their ways. When a prophet gives a message that is not in the Torah, they consider it a “one time only” instruction from God. A prophecy can never annul a law or add one.

In Jewish thought, one can make oneself a prophet. The criteria are these:

• one must be wise

• of a clear and lucid mind

• of impeccable character

• utterly in control of one’s passions and desires

• of a calm and joyous constitution

• one must shun materiality and the frivolities of life

• devoting oneself entirely to knowing and serving God.

But lest we think that we can make ourselves receive prophecy, the Jewish mind does not regard making oneself worthy of prophecy equal to receiving prophecy.

 

Indeed, that is the purvue of God and God alone.

Some will fall by the edge of the sword, others will be carried into all the countries of the Goyim (nations), and Yerushalayim will be trampled down by the Goyim until the age of the Goyim has run its course (Luke 21:24 CJB).”

“I do not want you, believers, to be unaware of this mystery [God’s previously hidden plan]—so that you will not be wise in your own opinion—that a partial hardening has [temporarily] happened to Israel [to last] until the full number of the Gentiles has come in (Romans 11:25 AMP).”

One day, the remnant of the Jews that survive the coming day of God’s wrath will say Baruch haba!

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