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(Part 148)


January 24, 2016

Today’s readings:
Nehemiah 8:2-10
Psalm 19:8-15
1 Corinthians 12:12-30
Luke 1:1-4; 4:14-21

Today’s readings teach us much on how to be an authentic Christian community that can be used by God for His purposes.

First, we must be a people of worship and the Bible. We must be in awe of God and be taught by His word. When all Israel came for the reading of the Torah, “Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and all the people, their hands raised high, answered, ‘Amen, Amen!’ Then they knelt down and bowed before the Lord, their faces to the ground.” (Neh 8:6). We must learn and live out deep worship of God.

Also, we must be a people of the Book, the living word of God, the Bible. We must read it, study it, understand it, and let it change our lives. “Ezra read clearly from the book of the law of God, interpreting it so that all could understand what was read.” (Neh 8:8). What was the effect? “All the people were weeping as they heard the words of the law.” (Neh 8:9c). The people wept, both in lamentation for their transgressions, but also for joy in hearing God’s words. Read and meditate on God’s own description of the Torah in Psalm 19. For us Christians, the Bible is perfect, trustworthy, right, clear, pure, true and just; it refreshes the soul, gives wisdom, rejoices the heart, enlightens the eye, endures forever, is more desirable than gold and sweeter than honey (Ps 19:8-11). We must read and meditate on God’s words in the Bible every day. “By them your servant is warned; obeying them brings much reward.” (Ps 19:12).

Second, we must have servant leaders who look to God and not to secular wisdom or ways. What are some very important elements of this?

  • Desire to be holy. Desire to be rid of sin. “Who can detect trespasses? Cleanse me from my inadvertent sins.” (Ps 19:13).
  • Look to and obey only God, and not to other leaders who are not humble or are set on their own ways and not necessarily God’s. “Also from arrogant ones restrain your servant; let them never control me.” (Ps 19:14a). If God calls us and reveals to us how we are to be and what we are to do, then we must be steadfast in pursuing those. To do otherwise, thus failing to become the instruments God needs us to be, would be grave sin. “Then shall I be blameless, innocent of grave sin.” (Ps 19:14b).
  • Strive to really be God’s instrument -- servant and steward, witness and warrior. Speak God’s word and God’s truth always. Be pure of mind and heart. “Let the words of my mouth be acceptable, the thoughts of my heart before you” (Ps 19:15a).

We must know who Jesus is to us -- our Lord and our Savior. We must always cling to him and surrender our whole lives to him, for he is “Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” (Ps 19:15b).

Third, we must be a community that is united and at peace, and as such be able to make use of everyone’s God-given gifts. How can that happen? We must know the basic realities of God’s call to us to be a community.

  • That indeed we are one body in Christ (1 Cor 12:12).
  • That we all have different gifts given by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:28-30).
  • That we need each other (1 Cor 12:14-21).
  • That we must help one another (1 Cor 12:22-24). Our authentic concern for each other is what will prevent strife and disunity. We look to one another’s well-being, “so that there may be no division in the body, but that the parts may have the same concern for one another.” (1 Cor 12:25).
  • That we are in this together, come what may, in good and in bad. “If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.” (1 Cor 12:26).

We must know that we have been called to be a dynamic part of the one body of Christ, and act accordingly. “Now you are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it.” (1 Cor 12:27).

Fourth, we are to know God’s priorities, and that is to evangelize and build the Church of the Poor. We are about the very mission of Jesus. He said that Isaiah’s words were fulfilled in him (Lk 4:21). “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free” (Lk 4:18).

Jesus and his salvation is the good news. It is to be shared to all, to the ends of the earth. We are privileged by God to be His instruments to accomplish this. He has chosen, called, appointed and anointed us. He has poured his Spirit upon us. He has sent us to bring glad tidings to the poor -- the materially poor and the spiritually poor.

Every year we have a very exciting theme. Every year the Lord teaches us so many new things. Let us know who we truly are to be and what God calls us to do. That is how every year, we can “proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.” (Lk 4:19).

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