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Saturday, July 1, 2023

7-1-2023    Foundations

Natural foundation                     Spiritual foundation

July, the seventh month of the year.  What does 7 represent?   Resurrection; Spiritual completeness; and (in us) Father’s (or Spiritual) perfection.  That is moving into a new life or completing something in which Father has been guiding us.

I prepared this for Bible at church to be presented on 7/2, the 2nd day of the month so what does 2 represent?  Union; Witnessing or division.  For us, this means a deeper union in our relationship with God so we can be better witnesses for His love.  But 2 could also mean division, or the lacking of a third party.  Jesus asks that we be one with Him as He is one with Father so we all can be one (John 17:11).  But didn’t I say ‘third party?  Oh Father, Son and us, right?  Not quite.  The trinity is three.  The number 3 is Divine completeness that is being full or perfect in the Father.  Father, Son and Holy Ghost are one.  It doesn’t get any more complete or perfect than that.  As Jesus said He wants us to be one with Him (and the Godhead).  However two (depending on context) could mean what is left by slipping away (a separation) from the relationship we already have with Father (whoa! That’s is not our goal!).

Paul talks with the Romans about not living in the flesh anymore but living ‘in the Spirit’.  Therefore the body (of sin) is dead because the Spirit (of righteousness) lives within us (Rom. 8:9-17).  Ergo the Spirit of Christ (the Holy Ghost) lives within us making it possible to be one in Christ therefore one in the Father.  Jesus says that if you love Me keep my commandments (John 14:15) so as we love Jesus, we merge into completeness with the totality of God.  So our union becomes Father, Holy Ghost and ‘Son/us’ (because we are in Christ).

Okay so what does this have to do with ‘foundations’?  The fact that we have let Jesus into our heart, cleansing us from all our unrighteousness, our iniquity, our sin, we have not just the hope, but the promise of eternal fellowship with the Creator of all things!  And this is (or should be) what drives us forward in our walk with the Lord, knowing that our name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Rev. 13:8, Rev. 20:12-15).  Yet, this is not the foundation but the impetus, which gives us the reason and the ability on which our foundation is built. 

There are two foundations to be considered.  The foundation of one’s personal relationship

with Father and the foundation of establishing the body of Christ Jesus (a church or fellowship). 

Jesus is the foundation of our faith and Jesus spent 3 ½ years training (especially) His apostles to lay the foundation for the body.  After all, aren’t the twelve apostles of the lamb the twelve foundations of the New Jerusalem, the church (Rev. 21:14)?  Doesn’t Jesus say that the wise man builds his house on a foundation of rock and not sand (Matt. 7:24-27)?  We don’t need a ‘squishy’ base on which our foundation might collapse under pressure, but our foundation should be built on solid rock so it will stand.  Yes?  And Jesus is that rock!  He is the only way to the Father (John 14:6).  

Our personal foundation is not the time when we receive Jesus into our heart as Savior, but the true beginning of the building of our foundation is when we acknowledge Jesus as ‘Lord of our life’!  We can thank Jesus for ‘saving’ us, then curl up and hide in a hole the rest of our lives.  Or, we can follow the example our Lord gives us and start implementing, what He shows us, into our own lives, laying our foundation, then building upon it.  In other words when we start yielding ourselves over to Jesus.  Believe!  Faith without woks is dead (James 2:14-18).  The devils know that God IS and tremble (James 2:19).  We know that God is and grow in Christ Jesus!  Yes?

Believing is good, but now that we’ve professed Jesus, we need to learn and start living the life to which He has called us.   Making that decision becomes our personal foundation!  We need to know who God is, who we are and what our relationship should be and grow into it.

Again, Jesus has asked us to love Him and as we do, keep His commandments. 

So what are His commandments?  To love Father above all else and then to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matt. 22:34-39, Mark 12:30-31).  Just what does this mean?  Set nothing else before God (Exod. 20:3); don’t make any type of handmade images which to bow down before (Exod. 20:4-5); don’t take His name in vain (that is use His name  loosely or in disrespect - Exod. 20:7); remember the Sabbath, all God asks is that we devote one day to Him (Exod. 20:8-11, yet Paul suggests that we have a continual (daily) attitude of prayer (1 Thess. 5:17); now, moving to our neighbor, we honor mom and dad (the promise of long life), then don’t kill, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t lie and don’t desire anything of our neighbor’s (Exod. 20:12-17). 

Along with praying, Paul added to his list to the Thessalonians, respect those who have authority over us,  encourage our brothers, support the weak, be patient with all men,  as Jesus said repay evil with good (Matt 5:38-40), have a joyful heart (Isn’t knowing Jesus our reason for joy?),  give without expecting repayment, thank God for all that He does for us, don’t refuse the Spirit to operate within us (that is quench), don’t despise God’s Word being spoken over our lives (prophecy) , prove all things (God’s love is our standard), don’t do anything that might even connect us with evil (1 Thess. 5:12-22).  God knows our heart (Prov. 21:2) and our intents (Heb. 4:12).  As children of the light we should also not close our eyes to the world’s doings but be vigilant and watch, putting on the armor of God (Ep. 6:10-18), keep our cool and edify one another (1 Thess. 5:5-11).  Father will keep us and sanctify us until He calls us home.  He is faithful to do this (1Thess. 5:23-24).  As we grow in the Lord, He will show us all what He expects of us. 

This list should give us an idea of how to not just build our foundation, but to continue growing stronger in the Lord.  And remember that whatever we do is not just in actions, but from our whole heart, in the love which Father has given us.  Not only should we do these things (and more) but desire to do these things with all our heart (Col. 3:23-24).  Paul reminded the Romans not to conform to the things of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our mind to prove the good, acceptable and perfect will of God for our lives (Rom. 12:2).  As we keep His commandments, Father will bless us (Deut. 11:26-28 – and when we don’t, curse).

Now, for a fledgling church to succeed, the leadership in that fellowship needs to have a solid foundation in Christ Jesus so as to be able to guide those who come into the fellowship after them, helping them to attain that solid foundation. 

Evangelists bring souls into the body of Christ but then somebody has to teach them God’s principles.  Specifically, this is not the evangelist’s job.  An apostle should be laying the basics (foundation) of our faith in our heart then the teachers help us to learn the word deeper and then the pastors help us to apply those principles into our own lives so we can walk closer with the Lord.  Prophets should be a continuing word of encouragement as they speak what Father has in store for us.

When a fellowship begins from scratch, who should be the one laying the groundwork? 

Peter, James and John (sons of Zebedee, thunder), Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James (son of Alphaeus), Thaddeus, Simon (the Canaanite) and Judas Iscariot (the turncoat) were the first apostles called by Jesus to whom He gave power to heal the sick and cast out devils (Mark 3:14-19).  Now don’t forget that after Jesus’ ascension, the eleven (apostles) asked God who should replace Judas.  The lot fell upon Matthias (Acts 1:21-26), bringing the apostle’s number back to twelve. 

God chose Paul to be the apostle for the Gentiles (Acts 9:1-20, v15, Rom. 11:13, Eph. 3:1-12, v 1).  Paul declares to the Romans that God’s Word goes to the Jews first, then the Gentiles (Rom. 1:16, Rom. 2:9-12).  Ergo, by implication, the focus of the original twelve apostles of the lamb was for the Jews while Paul’s focus was towards the Gentiles.  However, we do see examples of both ministering beyond their focus:  Peter ministered to the centurion, Cornelius and his family (Acts 10:1-48) and Paul first went into the synagogues (Acts 9:20), preaching to the Jews before going to the Gentiles (Acts 18:4-6).

Because Luke was a travelling companion of Paul, we get a detailed account of how Paul ministered to the people as an apostle. And, of course we have Paul’s letters to help us with a better understanding.

So, who should found a fledgling church?   

As we look at the example laid by the original apostles, the twelve + Paul, we see that they are the ones who go into an area first (read the book of Acts).  We read where Aquila and his wife Priscilla evangelized Apollos, but no indication they, nor Apollos, started a church (Acts 18:24-26).  It would seem that this task should fall upon the apostle’s.

Again, we might say the evangelist has to be first.  People have to get ‘saved’ before anything else can be done.  Right?  By definition, the evangelist is not responsible to lay the foundation in people’s lives nor the church.  He is not responsible teach people what the Word says nor to explain how to apply it into our lives (that’s what a shepherd does) us.  Nor is he responsible to continually encourage people in their walk in Christ Jesus.  I’m not saying the evangelist isn’t capable of doing any of these things.  I am saying his gifting is focused on bringing souls into the kingdom of God.

What about a teacher?  The teacher’s focus is helping us to know and understand the Word of God so that when we read the bible, we can understand it for ourselves and what it means to us.  After all, won’t the Holy Ghost lead us into all truth (John 16:13)?  The Holy Ghost will confirm what others have taught us.    

The pastor watches over us as a good shepherd over his sheep (John 10:11) and helps us to apply God’s Word into our lives.  The pastor ‘water’s and “feeds” the sheep.  That is he gives us guidance and direction for our lives so we can draw closer to the Lord.

And the prophet?  Again, the prophet’s focus is on bringing God’s Word to encourage or keep us on the right path.

We know that Jesus spent time teaching the people.  We know that Jesus sat down on a mountain near the Sea of Galilee and taught the people for three days.  Because He was concerned for their safety upon departure, He fed them before they left (Matt. 15:29-32).  We know Paul spent three months in Greece (Acts 20:2-3), 1 ½ years in Corinth (Acts 18:8-11), and 2 ½ years in Rome (Acts 28:16. 30).  Point is, neither Jesus nor Paul came into an area and preach for a day then leave.  So what were they doing during that time?  Following Jesus’ example – teaching the people the word of God and how to live in His love.  Knowing that Jesus first sent His apostles out (Matt. 10:1-16) and later sent out the seventy (Luke 10:1-17).  Jesus was training leadership for His church.  So we may conclude that, for the same reason, the apostle, most likely, would be the first into ‘virgin’ (new) territory. 

What would the apostle need to do in establishing a church?

Though the apostle’s primary job is to lay a foundation in lives (man or fellowship), he has to be the ‘jack of all trades!  Where there is not an evangelist, the apostle should be the one to witness (evangelize) to people.  Until someone can be trained to teach the Word of God, the apostle may need to be the teacher.  Until a pastor can be designated to take over the flock, the apostle would be best suited to shepherd (pastor) the flock into growth and that closer walk with Jesus.  And, until one who hears the Word of God and speaks it, the apostle would be the best one to encourage (prophecy to) the people.  It is also the apostle’s responsibility to ask God for guidance in finding and appointing the pastor, teacher, evangelist or prophet and even another apostle who can take over the foundation building (should God call the ‘original’ to minister to others).  Even though a church’s foundation is already lain, who is responsible to lay the foundation in the lives of new Christians who come into the fellowship?  So the apostle has to be able to recognize the gifting in people, to encourage them to follow their calling then train them to fulfill the ministry. 

Now, understand that God can use anyone to do the work of the apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor or teacher, but performing these duties ‘in a pinch’ doesn’t mean that person sits in the ‘office’.  Many people can sing, but only a few can truly ‘sing’, making a song come vibrantly alive.

With these ministries allotted to more than one person it enables the individual to focus on their gift therefore giving it the proper attention.

Are we getting the picture of foundation building?  The importance and need for a foundation in our own personal lives and/or a foundation in establishing and growth in a fellowship!

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion (the church), “Your God reigns!”  (Isa. 52:7).  Because our God reigns in our lives, when we hear the good news, grow and then become able to pass it on, the church grows and becomes more stable.


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