5 Biblical Reasons to Honor Our Small Group Members

5 Biblical Reasons to Honor Our Small Group Members

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I got a phone call from a dear friend this morning, and I’m sure that God was listening in and guiding our conversation, because we both came away with new lessons for each of our unique situations. She just had heart surgery; I lead a small group.

“Wait,” you say. “How are these the same?”

Well, obviously, they’re not. What was the same, though, was that God cares about both situations. She and I are sisters from the same Abba Father, and you know what? He doesn’t play favorites!

I’m actually not going to discuss what God had for her in this conversation; that’s hers to share or not. But I am going to show you how

she met my need in the moment, even as she dealt with the aftermath of her surgery.

Let me tell you the scenario and then show you how shining the Light of Christ on it taught me lessons God had for me today.

I lead two small groups in my church. One has a messianic focus and one is a creative group. The last meeting to end the creative group for the summer came, and I had anticipated a small party and sharing the results of what we had done over the last five weeks. I had emailed all the members and asked them to consider bringing some goodies to share and to be sure to bring their project with them so we could all see our progress.

But when everybody showed up, no one had brought anything to share and no one had done a single thing with what we had been learning about for better than a month. Swallowing my disappointment, I simply welcomed everyone and we began to share our week. (In both of my groups, I always start off by allowing everyone to tell us how things are going, what they are doing, and enjoying treats, drinks, and lots of laughter. But I’m the one who provides the snacks and beverages, every time.) I guess I had groomed them to expect me to do it all. And why wouldn’t they? I doubt that I ever even one time asked someone else to contribute (although one dear lady in my other group brought something twice, unasked). 

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You know, I tried to forbid the disappointment and it wouldn’t obey the “delete” button. So I sent it to my “examine later” cubby in my brain so I could continue my group without letting the emotion of the moment affect me.

During the course of the group time, one of the participants continually talked over everyone else. Her attitude made people feel as though what they were contributing was insignificant and she was the authority—on everything. At one point, she actually stood up and left the room because another member wanted to show a You Tube video she didn’t agree with.

The poor lady trying to show the video got up, suddenly “remembered” she needed to be at home right then, and walked out the door. Shortly thereafter, the meeting ended and everybody left.

“What just happened, Lord?” I asked. He chose to answer me by shining His light through the gentle words of my friend who called me this morning. Here’s what I learned.

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“Romans 12:9-10 says: Love must be sincere. . . Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”

1. Love one another.

My gracious friend reminded me that before everything else, love. Perhaps I had lost sight of the fact that I had started this group to give women a place to create something that would glorify God. That it was through His great love that we were
being drawn together and if nothing else got done, loving each other was worth the time we spent in each other’s company. When you gather people together, Christians or not, there are bound to be conflicts. The plain fact is, we don’t always like each other’s style. But to honor each other as Christ asks us to, we must allow enough room for each person to grow in their own way. Some of us are daisies, some are roses, and some are mighty oaks. But we all flourish under the same sun. Can I look at that sister who always rubs me the wrong way and realize that she, too, is made in the image of God? That to dishonor her is to dishonor God Himself? Am I content to be quiet when she says something I don’t agree with, or is it impossible for me to not give my opinion? Maybe my opinion is right, and maybe it’s not, but it isn’t always necessary to voice either way. I could just quietly watch God growing her according to His agenda and timing for her, because He is doing the same with me.
“Romans 12:11-12 says: Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

2. Honor each other in prayer.

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My sweet, gracious friend asked me, “Have you prayed for them?” I had prayed for them, but perhaps my prayers could have been more along the lines of “what does she need, Lord?” instead of what would cause the group the least problems. According to God, our zeal—our fervency—is what makes prayers powerful. God is not the quick-fix-man. Snapping out a general prayer for your group members reminds me of the scene in The Sound of Music where Maria remembers who it was she forgot to pray for among the many children and quickly says, “And God bless Hans.”

I don’t want my prayer time to become a ritual. I want to know God’s heart when I pray. In fact, each day I approach Him by saying, “God, please draw me to Your heart. What is on Your heart that You want me to pray for today?” If you pray what’s on His heart, you will definitely be praying according to His will. Pray with zeal, and you release His power in the situation. If you don’t know what words to say, pray a scripture or give the Holy Spirit access to your voice and pray in the Spirit.

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“Romans 12:13 says: Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”

3. Let others participate more.

My main spiritual gift is teaching. Frankly, I lack somewhat in the hospitality area, although I enjoy sharing my home with others. My friend reminded me that allowing others to participate by bringing food was an easy way to share “ownership” of the group. Even better, she suggested that

during the first meeting, I choose someone to keep notes, not like minutes of a meeting, but so that a recap could be sent out to make sure we’re all on the same page. Parameters should be set, such as start and end times, what will happen during that time, and so that I have an easy way to get people back on track if things start off down a rabbit trail. For my situation, if anyone wants to stay afterward and discuss things, that’s fine with me.

Letting other members of the group share their gifts actually fills a need in them. Everybody needs a place to share what God has gifted them with.

Taking on all the responsibility myself was neither honoring to my group members, nor to myself. And you know what? I already knew this. Satan, though, is able to cause blind spots that we don’t see until something goes awry and we wonder why.

Most of the members of this group had been in other groups with me and we had developed a very relaxed manner together. But new people had different expectations, and since this was not a Bible study but a creative class, I should have made the expectations clearer.

“Romans 12:15 says: Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. ”

4. Sharing our hearts.

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Honor others by allowing them to share their hearts. But make it an absolute rule that what happens in group stays in group. Don’t share their stories with anyone they have not specifically told you to share with. (It is so very easy for gossip to be passed off as “I’m telling you this as a point of prayer.” Unless you have been given permission, believe me, girl: it’s gossip.)

An honorable person does not gossip. Don’t allow your members to dishonor others by sharing others’ “prayer needs” unless you know it is okay with the one being prayed for, either.

Honoring others means that what they think, say, and do in your presence is kept private unless they want it shared. All members of the group should understand this and be honoring in what they decide to share, too. Remember, you can’t unsay it!

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“Romans 12:16 says: Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.”

5. Live in harmony with each other.

Have you ever listened to the Gaither group sing? They harmonize so well it makes my soul tingle! At one time I was part of a church choir and sang alto. I love making harmony
with all the other voices.

When we live in harmony, we are like a choir of angels to God, who sees us making beautiful music together. Harmony takes more than a single voice. You can’t have harmony if everyone is a soprano. You need the other tones to blend together to make your special brand of worship rise to the heavens.

Yes, I said worship.

Because when all is said and done, our lives are acts of worship that we offer to God. Perhaps you think you can’t sing, but your life poured out in honoring others is a symphony that our Savior loves to hear.

The Nature of Compromise—Taming Dragons Series Part 1

The Nature of Compromise—Taming Dragons Series Part 1

About the Series

I firmly believe that Jesus is returning soon. All I have to do is look around and see the actualization of what Paul warned us about in 1 Thessalonians 2:3 that says, “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first.” Look up with hope, for He has promised us:  “when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

The Nature of Dragons

When I was a child, I would watch “Our Gang” with great delight. Those of you who are too young to have seen the TV show can still relate to the scene I describe. Two little boys are sitting in a wagon to which they have harnessed a pet goat. Ingenious as these little guys are, they have rigged a long pole to dangle a carrot in front of the goat. When they lower the carrot, the goat goes forward, always and forever to be deprived of his reward. To stop, all they need do is just raise the carrot above the goat’s eye level and—out of sight, out of mind—the animal immediately stops. We tend to think stupid goat, until we realize that we who have considered ourselves sheep sometimes look an awful lot like the goat. Why is that?

Dragons dangle carrots, too.

The chief Dragon has spent millennia studying the behavior of human beings. And it’s his long study that enables him to hitch us to a wagon. Then, without even realizing it, we are following after a goal we never intended to pursue, and our minds are so caught up in it that we don’t even recognize the motivation that drives us. And, beloved, you are no different than the rest of us!

Let’s look at the nature of the dragon. First, it is ever and always a liar (we’ll get to that in Chapter Four). Then, it is corrupt through and through. The nature of the dragon is such that camouflage is, as it were, the skin in which it lives. These things are important to know if we hope to avoid entrapment.

 

John the beloved disciple gives us perhaps the most vivid description. “And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be  set free for a short time” (Revelation 20:2-3, emphasis mine). According to John’s vision, all doubt about the dragon’s identity is removed. And his purpose—to deceive the nations—is also plainly revealed. Deception may well be the most significant aspect of the dragon’s nature. His first encounter with man was to lie about God, and this is still his modus operandi today.
Few would argue with me when I say that our nation is in a downward moral swing. Click To Tweet We have churches today that cater to the itching ears of people all over the country. This is a prophesied event linked to the end times. 2 Timothy 4:3 says: “For the time will come when 
men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear” (emphasis mine).

There is a movement among the churches called ecumenism, which is to bring all religions together so that all may worship together. The problems with that are legion, and many books have been written on the subject. Suffice it to say that there can be no coming together because there is only one God, the God of Christ, who is Christ Himself. All other so-called gods are false, lies from the pit of hell, and what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? Or how can dark remain with light (2 Corinthians 6:14)?

Marriage has been redefined to include same-sex couples, denying that the reason for marriage is not so that the world will recognize the union of two people, but that children might be holy (1 Corinthians 7:14). God established the order in Genesis, saying “For this reason shall a man leave his mother and a woman her home, and the two shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24, emphasis mine).

Things which are evil are called good, and things which are good are called evil (Isaiah 5:20). The Ten Commandments are removed from public view, Bible reading in public is not tolerated (not to mention speaking the name of Christ), and children are taught the fundamentals of Islam in so-called world religion classes while Christianity is minimized or eliminated altogether, despite its importance in the development of the West.

America did not slide into moral decay all at once, just as tooth decay happens slowly, over time. Did you know that sugar doesn’t cause decay in your teeth? Well, actually, that might be splitting hairs. [bctt tweet=”The human mouth is filled with microorganisms; so filled, in fact, that they outnumber the billions of people on the earth.” username=”suziwollman”]

Since bacteria are organisms just like we are, they consume “food” and excrete  “waste.” (Yes, I know that the analogy is disgusting; nevertheless, stick with me here.)

Tooth decay is more properly called demineralization. When acid (the waste the bacteria form) is allowed to remain on the teeth, a “hole” in the wall of the enamel begins to form. Immediately. Although we can’t actually sterilize our mouths, we can resist the decay process by not allowing the bacteria to form colonies. Limiting the amount of time that sugars remain in our mouths and cleaning promptly and thoroughly after consuming sugars and starches can keep the bacteria from doing their work.

Lesser Poland St. Catherine of Siena

Here’s how this analogy relates to our study of compromise. You can easily see that if you could eliminate all traces of sugars and starches you consume, bacteria—although they would still be present—would have minimal impact on your teeth. Demonic spirits, like bacteria, live with us and will have greater or lesser impact on our lives depending on how we choose to combat them. (Please notice that I did not say they live in you. I believe that if we could actually see the demons at work around us, we would have a bad time of it not to panic. You may have seen movies where the demons [or gargoyles, or whatever] are visible 
and the panic that ensues!) This is, of course, an oversimplification of the problem, but it will suffice for our purposes.
I’ve often used the nature of objects to explain holiness. If you hold a piece of paper over a burning flame, the flame will consume the paper. Why is that? Because it is the nature of paper and fire to behave this way. Even if the flame and the paper “wanted” to be together, it would not be possible without changing the nature of one or the other. God is said to be a 

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consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29). He is holy; we are unholy (until we belong to Christ). Uncovered as we are without Christ, we could not enter the Holy of Holies, where God dwells, without being utterly consumed, because holiness consumes unholiness. Holiness is an absolute, and thus cannot change. However, our fallen nature can be changed if we allow the Holy Spirit to convict us of our sin (that which makes us unholy), and ask God to make Jesus’ righteousness our own. At the moment of conversion, we die to our old nature and are reborn with a whole new nature (2 Corinthians 5:17). Something very real takes place here, not something symbolic. For the holiness of God is a very real thing, and if the salvation experience were only symbolic, we would still be consumed in God’s presence. Symbolic salvation would have little value for eternity.

Continued next week…

Would You Like To Know How To Become A Christian?

4 Ways to Deny God

4 Ways to Deny God

How many ways do you deny your Savior?

Have you denied the God who sent His only Son to save you? There are several ways that the Scriptures specifically warn against denying God—are we guilty of them? Let’s look at them, one by one, and examine our hearts in the perfect Light of Christ, who is the Word of God.

“Titus 1:16:  They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.”

 

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You deny God when you say you are a Christian but don’t act like one.

Jesus called the people when He was on the earth “an adulterous and sinful generation.” They were not worse than any generation before or since, except for one thing: He walked among them and they refused to recognize Him. He came to set them free from sin, and they did not acknowledge Him.

Acknowledging Jesus meant many things, but chief among them was that each person was a sinner in need of a Savior. The Pharisees and Sadducees were the religious rulers and teachers. They had the word of God, which they read religiously. That means that every day they sat in the Synagogue, speaking and arguing about what the Scriptures meant. They were so concerned about the letter of the law that they completely missed the Spirit of the law, even when He stood up and spoke before them.

At one point, Jesus called them foolish. He told them that they were so careful to wash the outside of the cups they drank from, not caring that they were filthy inside with greed and wickedness. He said they were guilty not only because they did these things, but because they also prevented people who wanted to know God from doing so.

 

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Can you imagine how angry they were when this Jesus, this carpenter, spoke to them in this manner? How dare He! They considered themselves holier than anyone else, and they lorded this self-righteousness over other people.

What do we think we do when we pass judgment on someone else because they are not meeting God’s standards of holiness? Do we think we are?

 

“Luke 18:10-13: Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’”

One of the worst ways we can deny our God is by denying we need to be saved. Even if we know, somewhere deep inside, that we are sinners just like everyone else, if we act in such a way that people  say we have a “holier than thou” attitude, we are denying that we need a Savior.

Even worse is that we are presenting what it means to be a Christ-follower in a bad light so that we are actually turning people away from Him. Like the religious hypocrites of Jesus’ day, we not only don’t go in ourselves, but we prevent others from going in.

So the next time you feel like cutting someone off in traffic while your fish bumper sticker says you’re a Christian, ask yourself if you are not like the Pharisee who thought he was better than the tax collector.

“1 John 2:22 says: Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son.”

Denying that Jesus is who He says He is.

Jesus once asked His disciples who the people said He was. They responded that some thought He was a prophet, John the Baptist, or Elijah. But when He asked them who they said He was, Peter answered “You are the Messiah.” Jesus told him that God Himself had revealed that to Peter.

The word messiah means anointed one. In the Old Testament, people were anointed with oil as a symbol of being set apart and consecrated for God’s purposes, imbued with the Holy Spirit’s authority and power. God promised the Jews that He would send an ultimate Messiah and confirmed His word with over 300 Scriptures about the coming Savior.

“Daniel 9:2—Know therefore and understand that from the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, a prince, there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time.”
But who did Jesus Himself say He was?  He said that He was God in John 20:28-29. In that Scripture, “Doubting Thomas” sees Him alive for the first time and calls Him “my Lord and my God.” Jesus does not rebuke Thomas, but acknowledges that He is God by telling Thomas that those who have not seen yet still believe are blessed.

In John 8:58, Jesus tells the rabbis that “before Abraham was, I AM.” That was a name reserved only for God Himself, and the Jewish leaders tore their robes and then tried to kill Jesus.

In Matthew 26, Jesus tells the high priest while He is under oath that He is the Son of God, the Christ (Christ is the Greek word for Messiah).

He also declared that He and the Father were one.

People who say Jesus was a good man, a great teacher, a prophet, or anything other than God Himself are denying Him. He will not share His glory with anyone, and whoever makes Him less than He said He is is called “antichrist.” God sent Jesus to be the Savior of the world, and He did not provide any other way for us to be saved.

So if you talk to someone who tries to tell you that Jesus is less than God Almighty, that person is denying Him. The result is that when he stand before God, Jesus will deny him.

“2 Timothy 1:8 says: Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God.”

Being ashamed of the Gospel

Some people would rather others not know that they are Christians. They do not stand up for Jesus when His name is maligned. They don’t necessarily say anything against Him, but neither do they open their mouths to protest, either. They’re the ones who are quiet when an inappropriate joke is told in the office, or who listen to the gossip about someone else who isn’t even present to defend themselves.

The people who daily interact with this person would be surprised to learn that she believes in Jesus, because she never opens her mouth to say anything good about God, even if she never actually says anything bad, either. She’s ashamed to admit that she is a sinner. She doesn’t even acknowledge that there is even such a thing as sin.

Jesus says plainly in Mark 8:38 that if we are ashamed of Him in the midst of a perverse generation, He will be ashamed of us before His Father when He returns in glory.

 

Committing Peter’s sin

“Matthew 26:73-74: A little later the bystanders came up and said to Peter, ‘Surely you too are one of them; for even the way you talk gives you away.’  Then he began to curse and swear, ‘I do not know the man!’

Gerard van Honthorst [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

If we think we’re doing pretty well up to this point—we aren’t hypocrites, we tell others who Jesus really is, and we’re happy to spread the Gospel—we need to open our hearts a little wider to that all-revealing Light. Because this next one is an insidious one.

Maybe you think we’ve already covered this one. But what Peter did—denying Christ—most of us do many times every day. How?

We listen to the lies of Satan in our minds, accepting and agreeing with what he says instead of agreeing with what we KNOW Jesus has said. Those worrying little thoughts, those niggling little lies that tell us we are not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough… they’re from Satan, not our Lord and Savior.

Aligning our thoughts with Satan’s thoughts is saying that we don’t know who Jesus is.

Because if we do know who He is, why do we not believe Him?

This is the worst one, in my opinion, because we hardly ever notice it, yet it prevents us from being effective in God’s plan. When we accept the lies of Satan, we turn over our power and authority to the enemy of our God and the one who desires to destroy our souls.

So the next time you’re tempted to listen to the thoughts you know are not from God, drag them into the circle of God’s Light. Because in that circle, everything made of darkness dissolves.

Make a Tote Bag with a Special Message!

Make a Tote Bag with a Special Message!

These two images show my “Life in the Light” tote in my shop, so if you don’t have time to make one, you can always buy one there!

Everybody needs tote bags. Because everybody has stuff. This tutorial will show you how to make one exactly like you want! (While I was making this one, my husband came in, saw what I was up to, and asked for a custom-sized one for himself. I love it when he gets what I’m doing!)

Although I carry a “Life in the Light” tote bag in my shop, making one of your very own with my motto on it or anything else you want to say is very easy. In this tutorial, I’m going to show you step-by-step how to design and create your very own so that you will have a one-of-a-kind tote you’ll be proud to take with you everywhere you go!

You can watch a video of the process here, or you can download the free pdf here.

Download Here

Would You Like To Know How To Become A Christian?

Binding and Loosing from a Messianic Perspective

Binding and Loosing from a Messianic Perspective

Photo courtesy of Diego on Unsplash

Authority of Binding and Loosing

The church for years (since 1960) has embraced the Charismatic movement which was begun officially by “Father” Dennis Bennett of St. Mark’s Episcopal parish in Van Nuys, California. Included in this revival movement were the gifts of the Holy Spirit as enumerated in 1 Corinthians 12:8-11. These nine gifts are: wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecies, discernment of spirits, speaking in tongues, and interpretation of tongues. None of them includes “binding and loosing.”

So what did Jesus mean when He told His disciples that they would have the power to bind and loose?

“Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven (Matthew 18:18 NIV).”

For many in the church today and stemming back to 1960, it referred to power over spiritual activity here on earth and in heaven.

Jesus did say that the demons were subject to His disciples in His name, as evidenced in this scripture.

Luke 10:17 says: The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”

Notice two things about this scripture. First, it applied to seventy two disciples sent out, not just to the twelve in His inner circle. What He gave to them, He also has given to us.

Second, the demons were subject in Jesus’ name, NOT in any power the disciples had. This is a privilege of true believers who carry the Spirit of God in their hearts. Remember what happened when an unbeliever tried to use Jesus’ name to cast out demons?

Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. But the evil spirit answered them, ‘Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?’ And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded (Acts 19:13-16 NIV).”

Casting demons out of people is something that every believer should be able to do in Jesus’ name. It is only His name that the demons respect, not the words we speak from our own thoughts or even our hearts. Remember that even Michael the archangel did not accuse Satan directly.

Jude 1:9 tells us:“But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’”

So is that what Jesus meant?

Were we to bind and loose spirits on earth and in heaven?

If you take a Scripture in context, you have to look at who’s speaking, who’s being spoken to, how they would have understood the words spoken, and in what setting all this speaking happened.

Remembering that this was a Jewish Messiah speaking to Jewish disciples, it makes the most sense to look at it from a Jewish perspective, does it not?

In the context of teaching His disciples, this scripture is not talking about authority to bind and loose evil spirits. Why on earth would they ever loose an evil spirit? Or for what reason would an angel be bound?

Jesus was discussing the sin in the church right before this verse.

If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector (Matthew 18:15-17 NIV).”

Photo courtesy of Blake Campbell on Unsplash

At the time, rabbis decided issues of Jewish law. The power vested in them through the Torah allowed them to “bind” or “loose” a specific action. The Hebrew word לֶאֱסוֹר (translated bind) means to forbid, and מוּתָר (translated loose) means to permit. These terms in the original Greek are translated the same way, with δήσητε (you shall bind) meaning to obligate, compel or bind and λύσητε (you shall loose) meaning to free, unchain, release, or loose. These were legal terms that the Hebrew disciples would have fully understood. These kinds of “bindings” and “loosings” show up thousands of times in the Jewish scriptures and rabbinic writings. The 

passage below illustrates exactly what Jesus was describing.

“If one sage declared something as bound, he should not ask another sage who might declare it loosed. If two sages are both present and one rules something unclean and the other rules it clean, if one binds and the other looses, then if one of them is superior to the other in learning and number of disciples, follow his ruling, otherwise, follow the stricter view. (b.Avodah Zarah 7a).”

That was then. But Jesus uses the future tense when He says whatever they bind on earth will be bound on heaven, and whatever they loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

So what was He talking about, exactly?

Jesus was referring to the era when He will reign on earth as Elohim, HaMelech (God the King) and He will at that time give the keys of the Kingdom to His twelve disciples along with the authority to bind and loose. In other words, they will rule with Him.

“Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Matthew 19:28 NIV).”

But His words also had an immediate context as well, as did most of what Jesus taught. In the time of the Apostles, they had the authority to make decisions as judges concerning judicial matters of the newborn church. Following Jesus’ teaching, they used their authority whenever and wherever it was needed.

“But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn them to speak no longer to anyone in this name.” Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard (Acts 4:17-20 NIV).”

The Apostles also exercised that authority when some Jews were telling the Gentiles that they had to follow the Mosaic Law and  be circumcised. They “loosed” them from the yoke of the whole Torah even though it continued to apply to unsaved Jews. Nevertheless, they “bound” them in certain restrictions.

“The apostles and elders, your brothers, To the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia: Greetings. We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said. So we all agreed to choose some men and send them to you with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul— men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas to confirm by word of mouth what we are writing.  It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements:  You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. Farewell (Acts 15:23-29 NIV).”

So were they abolishing the law?

Absolutely not. This binding and loosing did not extend to nullifying the commands God had spoken, nor did it authorize them to make new commandments. Jews were still bound to the laws as God had given them, until they became believers in Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah). Even after coming to faith, Jewish believers in Messiah continued following the Torah commandments.

Do some Messianic Jews today observe the old law?

Once again, you need a Jewish perspective on the law. The Torah was not given as a burden. It is a cherished gift from God that shows Jews how to live a life pleasing to God.  Of course, the law also provides punishment for disobedience. So when a Jewish believer in Christ celebrates the Feasts or rests on the Sabbath, he does not think he is garnering favor with God. He knows he is already beloved of God. Instead, he is worshipping God with his entire life.

“So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good (Romans 7:12 NIV).”

Since Paul recognized that the law was good, we should understand that we are not bound by the law of the Torah so that it is a burden, but in thankfulness for the immense gift bestowed upon us by a gracious God, we are loosed to delight in the law and celebrate the Torah and God’s appointed times, whether you are Jew or Gentile!

Photo courtesy of Amos Bar-Zeev on Unsplash

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