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.

Would You Like To Know How To Become A Christian?

Why I Believe The Rapture of the Church Will Be Soon

Why I Believe The Rapture of the Church Will Be Soon

MANY PEOPLE don’t believe in the Rapture of the Christian Church, and more have no idea what it is. So I thought to tell what it is and why I believe it is destined to happen soon.
The word “rapture” is not in the English translations of the Bible, that’s true. But in the Greek translation, the word where we get our terms for rapt and rapture is there. It’s the word rapio, which means caught up. In Hebrew the word is harpazio.
jesus returns to the fatherBefore the Seven year Tribulation which is coming on the whole world arrives, the Church–Jesus’ body–will be “caught up” to meet Him in the clouds. This is spoken of in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 where it says, “Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so we shall ever be with the Lord.” It is God’s deliverance from His wrath, for it is written: “For God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ” ( 1 Thessalonians 5:9). In Nahum 1:2, we are told that wrath is reserved for God’s enemies. The Church is His Bride, not His enemy.
Using a Jewish wedding as an analogy, the bridegroom proposes to the bride and then leaves her for an indeterminate amount of time to build her a house and prepare for her a home, which his father oversees. When his father determines that the home is ready, he sends the son along with the groomsmen to get the bride. Meanwhile, she has been busy preparing to meet her new husband. The bridegroom returns for her at an hour she does not know, but normally when it is dark, and the groomsman blows a trumpet to mark the groom’s arrival. The bride will have been watching for him and will have her lamp trimmed, ready to meet him when he gets there. Then he returns with his bride to the new house he has prepared for her, and the two of them disappear inside for seven days. Meanwhile, the rest of the family and friends rejoice and have a grand party.
Jesus told His disciples, ” And if I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:3). If the Church is His Bride, which we are told she is in Ephesians 5:25-27, her duty while she waits for Him to return for her is to remain faithful and prepare. This is the point the Church is at today.
Now, as for why I think it will happen soon.
In the Jewish year, there are seven feasts, four in the spring and three in the fall. These feasts are called moedim, or appointed times. They are spread out over seven months. The first of these is Passover, the remembrance of the day in which lambs were slaughtered and their blood spread on the door posts of the Jews’ homes in Egypt so that the Angel of death would “pass over” them as he went about killing the firstborn in every household. It was on the day of preparation for the Passover meal in the evening that Jesus was crucified at the exact time that the lambs were being slaughtered. Sinless, Jesus became the perfect Passover lamb with whose blood the sins of the world are taken away.
The next feast is called Unleavened Bread. It commemorates the day that the Jews left Egypt, taking unleavened bread, as they did not have time for it to rise. Leaven is also symbolic of sin, so when the Jews fled into the wilderness, they symbolically left their sin behind in exchange for freedom. The perfect unleavened bread was Jesus Himself. He told the people, “I am the bread of life” (John 6:33). He also told them that as a kernel of corn must die and be buried in order to produce fruit, He, too, would die and be buried, which is what happened on that very feast day.
Three days after Passover is the Feast of Firstfruits. On this day, Jews celebrated the new crops and brought offerings of first fruits to God. Jesus was resurrected on this day, a kind of Firstfruits from the dead, or the first of the great harvest that will occur at the end of the age. This is the time that Christians celebrate Easter, although it does not always fall on the correct day and is always celebrated on Sunday.
Fifty days after Firstfruits is the celebration of Pentecost, the very day that the Church was born and the Holy Spirit was poured out on the believers. The Church started that day with 3,000 people and has not stopped growing since.
The next feast in line is the Feast of Trumpets. This is the day that many think Jesus will return (I am among those who so believe). This feast is always accompanied by a loud trumpet call, just as the return of the bridegroom for his bride is also accompanied by a trumpet blast.
After that is the Day of Atonement, a very solemn occasion when the Jews make restitution for their sins. This would be the time of the Second Coming, when Jesus will return with his Bride (the Church) to judge the nations.
Lastly is the feast called Tabernacles, where the millennial reign will start, Jesus dwelling with His people forever.
Now we live in a dark world where every prophecy necessary for Jesus’ return to Rapture His Bride has taken place. Since the beginning of the Jewish State in 1948, things have been ready. The only thing still to be fulfilled is when that last gentile to be saved has been saved. When will that be? No one knows. Some people say we cannot know the timing of Jesus’ return, because He, Himself, said that no man knows the day or hour, not the Angels, nor the Son Himself, but only His Father in Heaven (Matthew 24:36). Yet at that time, Jesus was referring to the Feast of Trumpets. This was a common adage which His disciples would have well understood. Because the Feasts of Trumpets is the only feast that begins on a new moon, there were to be two witnesses as to the sighting of the new moon. Now not just anybody could be a witness of this fact, but only men of great import. Since the month had 29-1/2 days, and two witnesses had to be together, they spread the feast over two days. “No man knows the day or hour” specifically referred to that feast.
Our world can’t get much darker without annihilating ourselves. Remember that the groom came in the dark with his trumpet blast? It could be this Feast of Trumpets, which occurs on September 14 and 15 of this year, or it could be in 2016, or it could come in the distant future. But I think it’s far more likely that it will be soon, just based on the condition of the world and that we’ve been privy to so much prophecy fulfillment in our time. As I said, nothing is left to be done.
And I believe that we will be that generation that does not pass away until all these things be fulfilled (Matthew 24:34).

A Christian Seder

A Christian Seder

The original Seder

MY FAMILY is Christian, although my husband is a Messianic Jew. We don’t often celebrate the Jewish holidays, but sometimes we enjoy doing it. There is no Biblical mandate for Christians to keep the Jewish feasts and fasts, as Christ came “to fulfill the law” (Matthew 5:17), but there’s no reason not to if you want to. This year, we will hold a Christian Seder meal to celebrate Passover, which falls in 2015 on Easter. Resurrection Day is my most favorite day of the whole year, when our salvation was secured over 2,000 years ago.
Passover is a commemoration of the time when God freed the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt and brought the famous ten plagues down on Pharaoh who refused to let the people go. You probably know the story, but if you don’t, now would be a good time to read up on it. You’ll find the story in Exodus in the Bible. The story includes the favorite part of Moses parting the Red Sea so that the Israelites could cross on dry land, and then bringing the sea crashing down to drown Pharaoh’s army when they tried to follow.
Here’s a cheat sheet to the order of the Seder. I hope you decide to join us this year and remember the roots of our faith as we celebrate the deliverance of God’s people from slavery to Egypt and slavery to sin.

A traditional Seder table.

Seder service order
KADESH – the Benediction
With the first of four cups of wine, we recite the kiddush. We are reclining to eat the whole meal.
Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who brings forth the fruit of the vine. Amen.
URCHATZ – Purification
Our hands are washed in the ritually correct way, but without reciting the blessing. This is because the next step is dipping the karpas, which is done without utensils.
KARPAS -the Appetizer
Although it may not seem particularly appetizing, a piece of boiled potato or onion are the appetizer, which we dip in salt water, after saying the blessing over the vegetables.
Praised are you, Adonai, Ruler of the Universe, who brings forth the fruit of the earth. Amen.
The salt water symbolizes the tears of the Jews in Egypt.
YACHATZ – Breaking the Matzah
Three pieces of matzah are used during the Seder. They have piercings and stripes on them which remind us of the pierced hands and feet and stripes on the body of Jesus. Two pieces are left whole and one is broken in half, symbolizing Jesus’ body, broken for us. Half of it is hidden inside a napkin, symbolizing Jesus’ burial. It is saved to become the afikoman, or last morsel eaten.
MAGGID – the Haggadah
At this point, the Seder tray is moved aside and the poor are invited in to join the family. A second cup of wine is drunk.
Now comes the most interesting part of the Seder ceremony, the haggadah or telling of the Exodus story. The story includes a brief history of the Jews, the time of their slavery in Egypt, the plagues and the miracles God did on their behalf.
Traditionally, the youngest child asks four questions about why the family is celebrating this day in this particular way, and you must know the story to answer the questions. This is how the traditions were passed from generation to generation, as each child at one point is the youngest. Here are the four questions:
1. On all other nights we eat leavened or unleavened bread; why on this night do we eat only unleavened bread?
2. On all other nights we eat all kinds of herbs; why on this night only bitter herbs?
3. On all other nights we do not dip our herbs even once; why on this night do we dip them twice?
4. On all other nights we eat either sitting up or reclining; why on this night do we all recline?
The answers to these questions can be found in Exodus 13:14.
ROCHTZAH – the Washing before the Meal
After the second cup of wine is drunk comes the traditional washing of the hands, along with the customary blessing in thanks for bread.
Blessed are you, King of the Universe, who brings forth bread from the ground. Amen.
MOTZI MATZAH – the Eating of the Matzah
Hold all three pieces of the matzot together, with the broken one between the two whole ones. Let the bottom matzah fall back onto the plate and recite the special prayer over them.
[God] who has sanctified us with His commands and commanded us to eat matzah.
Then, breaking off at least an ounce of each matzah, eat them together.
MAROR -the Bitter Herbs
Break off at least an ounce of the bitter herbs and dip it in charoset, shake it off, and eat it while standing. This symbolizes that the Jews had to be ready to flee in a moment, that there was no time to sit down to a meal (which is also why the bread is unleavened, besides the fact that leaven represents sin). Bless the herbs by saying [God] who sanctifies us by His commandments and has commanded us to eat bitter herbs.
KORECH – the Sandwich
Once again reclining, break off at least two ounces of the bottom matzah and make a sandwich with the bitter herbs between the one ounce pieces of matzah and eat it.
Now the feast begins, starting with hard boiled eggs dipped in salt water. This is a festive time and many delicious foods are served. Next week, I’ll post a list of recipes for your Seder meal.
TZAFUN – Finding the Matzah
After the feast, the children search for the afikoman, the half matzah that an adult may have hidden for this part of the Seder, or it is taken out of the napkin wherein it was wrapped, and eaten. This half of the matzah represents the risen Christ. (In Jewish culture, it represents the sacrificed Passover lamb, which Christ is!) It is the last thing eaten, and nothing else will be eaten or drunk except the last two cups of wine.
Here’s where the Christian Seder departs from the Hebrew one, because the last two cups of wine are drunk in anticipation of Elijah and the Messiah. Since Jesus said Elijah had already come in John the Baptist and Jesus is Himself the Messiah, we drink the wine in anticipation of Christ’s return, saying blessings and ending our feast with singing praise songs to God.
Next week I’ll post some Passover foods, and the week after suggestions for decorating. The final week, I’ll post children’s games and crafts.