Are You The Real Thing?

Are You The Real Thing?

The Authentic Life

We covered communication with God in the first six weeks of this Bible study. Now we’ve moved on to learning to live an authentic life with a small group of other believers. But what does it mean to be authentic? Merrian Webster defines it this way:

  1. worthy of acceptance or belief as conforming to or based on facts
  2. conforming to an original, so as to reproduce essential features
  3. made or done the same way as an original
  4. not false or imitation; real, actual
  5. true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character

I especially like definition three. We are made in the image of God, so we ought to conform to His image in all its essential features as our humanity allows. Obviously, we are not omnipotent (all powerful), omniscient (all knowing), or omnipresent (everywhere at once). But we can be truthful, faithful, loving, charitable, compassionate, and strong in His might.

Authenticity in small groups is what will draw us together—and sometimes drive us apart. Each person is a unique expression of God. Where our beliefs, opinions, and personalities clash, we must learn to be humble and respectful. This is best accomplished in a small group setting.

Our memory verse today says:

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective (James 5:16 NIV).”

When we are authentic, we want to make things right with those with whom we have relationships. That includes both friends and family members. If you have (intentionally or unintentionally) offended someone, go to that person, get eye to eye, and repent for your offense. True humility will deepen your relationship, and that’s what small groups are all about.

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 2:1-5, that he came not with eloquent speech in an attempt to impress them with his own wisdom, but with the simplicity of the message of the Gospel.

Within our small groups are diverse gifts like pieces of a puzzle, as the Holy Spirit sees fit to give them. No one gift is better than any other, just as no part of your body is not needed. As part of Christ’s body, we are called to authentically be that part. I’d rather have an  

I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power (1 Corinthians 2:3-4 NIV).”

authentic heart than pretend to have one. Pretense cannot come through the storms that small groups will inevitably face. Encouraging each other to weather such storms builds character into our group that will empower us to help each other and those others that God brings across our path.

Giving to each other without authenticity is like giving counterfeit money. It may look real, but it has no power to purchase anything. Authentic love, then, shared with your small group, is indeed powerful. It taps into God’s resources and meets needs with solutions that are real.

This week, anytime you think, say or do something that is not who you truly are, take note of it. Ask God to change that aspect of your character that clings to false images of yourself. Instead, ask Him to let you see yourself through His perfect, revealing light.

 

Then share who you really are with your small group members.

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Hebrew Word of the Week: Lekh Lekha

Hebrew Word of the Week: Lekh Lekha

Word of the Week

Lekh lekha

Hebrew

This week in Hebrew WOW we are going to learn about an expression that means “go to you.”

לֵך לְךָ 

לֵך לָךְ 

The top word is the way it is spoken to a male, and the bottom to a female. They are pronounced, respectively, like this:

לֵך לְךָ lekh lekha

לֵך לָךְ lekh lakh

Don’t forget that the “kh” sounds like the end of the word “Bach.”

But what does “go to you” actually mean?

As believers in Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah), we recognize that God has a perfect plan for our lives. The Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) has gifted each of us in some way (or several ways)  to edify, encourage, and exhort the church, first to the Jew and also to the Gentile.

While there are many “find your spiritual gifts” webinars, books, and blog posts out there, ultimately the Holy Spirit Himself is the best revealer of what our giftings are. Although I have availed myself of some of those spiritual gifts assessment tools on occasion, I really believe that those giftings will become evident if God takes the preeminent position in our lives. (Nevertheless, if you are interested, I have listed at the end of this article a couple of places where you can research your own gifts.)

You have probably studied the attributes of God. Attributes like “faithfulness” does not mean that God shows faithfulness, but that He embodies it. It is who He is, not what He does. Well, since we are created in His image, there are attributes we have that personify who we are in Him.

In modern-day America, when meeting someone for the first time, we might ask, “And what do you do?” We are actually asking about how they define themselves. And we are accustomed to defining people according to their vocations. People are generally most happy when working in the field that makes use of their spiritual gifts and without (perhaps) knowing exactly why, they tend to identify themselves with what they do for a living. Others chafe under the collar with frustration or anger at the work they do that doesn’t allow them to reveal their giftings. It is written on our hearts, and our souls long to be whom God has created us to be.

To ask a Jew what they do, you are asking what kind of actions he takes in day-to-day life. That is because Judaism accentuates action above faith. (Christians are more concerned about faith than action. God is concerned with both, but belief in His Son is paramount.) In all 613 laws found in Judaism, the only one that might be seen as exhorting faith is in the Shema:

Hear, O Israel! The Lord thy God, the Lord is One. And you shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy strength (Deuteronomy 6:4-5).”

Yet even in that, the greatest prayer in Judaism, it is actually more of an  acknowledgement that God demands that they do something: love Him. As we have studied before, love is an action, not a feeling.

So let’s tie these two concepts together to understand what lekh lekha means. How exactly do you “go to you”? The answer is a simple one: you are to do the thing for which the Holy Spirit has gifted you. You are to be fully who you are called to be.

There’s a reason we’re called human beings and not human doings. And it’s all wrapped up in this one scripture: So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them (Genesis 1:27).”

We each have a part of the incredible attributes of God, because He made us so. And then He gifted us with certain gifts to enable us to become the attributes of God, to live passionately before Him, and to have faith in His will for each of us.

So now, my friend—lekh lakh (lekh lekha for men): Go forth and be the very best you that God created you to be!

Here are just two of many, many places to assess your spiritual gifts. I have included these because they vastly differed in what they say my gifts are. It’s all in the phrasing of their questions!

https://gifts.churchgrowth.org/ – I found this one to be extremely accurate.

https://spiritualgiftstest.com/ – I felt that this one did not accurately describe my gifts as well.

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The Prayer Paradigm

The Prayer Paradigm

the prayer paradigm

W hat does prayer mean to you? Is it something you do when you’re in trouble and have run out of ideas to fix the problem? Do you pray when you want a new job, a new house, or a parking space closer to the mall? Many people seem to look at God as some kind of genie in the sky who is obligated to do for them or give to them whatever they say, so long as they start out with “Dear Heavenly Father” and end with “In Jesus’ name.”

Somehow along the way, we have forgotten that God is GOD. He’s the one in control, not us. He made us and He gets to call the shots. We ignore His will in our lives to our own peril. Instead of asking God what His will in a situation is, we tell Him what our will is and expect Him to line up with it.

But that’s not how prayer works.

We’re going to look at several verses in the Amplified Bible to see if what we’ve decided to apply actually is what was meant. As we read through these scriptures, remember that our Creator desires our fellowship. He never signed up to be Santa Claus.

2nd Corinthians 13:11 in the Amplified Bible brings out the truth that we must be walking closely in fellowship with God in order to enjoy the benefits that ensure peace, love, comfort, and like-mindedness.

The Hebrew word shalom really sums up the result of remaining in fellowship with God. It means peace, harmony, wholeness,

2nd Corinthians 13:11 says: Finally, believers, rejoice! Be made complete [be what you should be], be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace [enjoy the spiritual well-being experienced by believers who walk closely with God]; and the God of love and peace [the source of lovingkindness] will be with you (AMP).”

completeness, prosperity, welfare and tranquility. If you look carefully, you’ll discover that everything you pray for is found in one of those areas.

[bctt tweet=”Delight yourself in the LORD, not in things of this world.” via=”no”]

In this scripture, Paul is admonishing the community at Corinth because they were not behaving as believers should. He calls into question their very salvation if they refuse to obey, cautioning them that they need to examine their hearts to see if they are truly in the faith. That’s because those who are will do the will of the Father.

Jesus told the disciples that if they loved Him, they would obey Him. Just before that scripture, He told them that whatsoever they asked in His name He would do for them.

I assure you and most solemnly say to you, anyone who believes in Me [as Savior] will also do the things that I do; and he will do even greater things than these [in extent and outreach], because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in My name [as My representative], this I will do, so that the Father may be glorified and celebrated in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name [as My representative], I will do it. If you [really] love Me, you will keep and obey My commandments. John 14:12-15 (AMP).”

When taken in context, this verse doesn’t mean what modern Christianity has led us to believe it does. It does not mean that Jesus will cater to our whims and selfish desires. Quite the contrary! Instead of Him doing our desires, what this text means is that we represent Him in our relationships and work. This scripture is about doing God’s will, not our own.

Now that in no way means that we should not bring our desires to God for His consideration. We are told to “delight yourselves in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4).” So we need to look at what that scripture is telling us. Right off the bat, going to church on Sunday is not “delighting yourself in the LORD.” Understanding this scripture is paramount to knowing how to approach God.

Delighting yourself in the LORD means finding peace, fulfillment and contentment in God Himself.

When God is your delight, the desires of your heart begin to align with His desires.

Now let’s look at a companion verse in Matthew. (See sidebar).

Desiring gain in wealth or prestige will never satisfy you. Once walking along this pathway, you find that contentment is never fulfilled. You always want more.  On the other hand, “Godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6).

 But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also.” Matthew 6:33 (AMP)

Do not love the world [of sin that opposes God and His precepts], nor the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust and sensual craving of the flesh and the lust and longing of the eyes and the boastful pride of life [pretentious confidence in one’s resources or in the stability of earthly things]—these do not come from the Father, but are from the world. The world is passing away, and with it its lusts [the shameful pursuits and ungodly longings]; but the one who does the will of God and carries out His purposes lives forever.” 1 John 2:15-17

The world can never satisfy our deepest longings. But seeking God’s heart when you pray will be sure that your prayers are heard and answered. He always hears us when we pray, but like the good Father that He is, He doesn’t give to His children whatever they ask for. He always knows what’s best. Trust Him.

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