Every Day Roots Jeff Lucas Copyright ÂŠ CWR 2011 Published 2011 by CWR, Waverley Abbey House, Waverley Lane, Farnham, Surrey GU9 8EP, UK Tel: 01252 784700 Email: email@example.com Registered Charity No. 294387 Registered Limited Company No. 1990308 Front cover image: Getty Images/Digital Vision/Yuji Sakai Concept development, editing, design and production by CWR. Printed in England by Linney Print. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission in writing of CWR. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture references are from the Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV), copyright ÂŠ 1973, 1978, 1984 by the International Bible Society.
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how to get the best out of Lucas on life every day
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As we start to think about the roots of the people of TUES 01 NOV God, let’s begin with Jesus – a wonderful place to begin. There’s not much mention of the specific word ‘church’ in the Gospels, and that has prompted some to think that Jesus wasn’t interested. But that’s false. Jesus came as Messiah, not only to the world generally, but to a specific people – Israel. The idea of a Messiah without a people is unthinkable for the Jews. As Peter received BIG PICTURE the revelation that Jesus was the Messiah, it’s entirely Matthew 16:13–20 consistent with Jewish thinking that Jesus immediately John 1:1–3 talked about Messiah’s people: His ‘Church’. In appointing twelve apostles, Jesus was establishing FOCUS ‘And I tell you that you a new ‘Israel’. Just as there were twelve tribes, there were are Peter, and on this rock now twelve apostles. And then Peter hears Jesus pledge I will build my church, to build His Church – His congregation. The Church is the and the gates of Hades only body of people on earth that can make claim that God will not overcome it.’ (Matt. 16:18) Himself is both its architect and its builder. Remember that the One who speaks these words was intricately involved in the ‘building’ of all creation – ‘without him nothing was made that has been made’ (John 1:3). But Jesus’ ‘Church’ is a community that can, uniquely, not only endure the onslaughts of dark powers, but also see the kingdom of God break into territory where evil has previously held sway, smashing down ‘the gates’ of resistance. Being part of the Church is not an option for the Christian; Christianity can never be a solitary experience. The Church is the Messianic community. Grace has named each of us among the Church that Jesus continues to build.
I will build my Church
Prayer: Lord, thank You for allowing me to be part of this family that You are building. Help me to cooperate to see it strengthened. Amen.
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Grace has named each of us …
WED 02 NOV
That ‘church’ word
Matthew 16:13–20 Acts 7:38 FOCUS
‘… on this rock I will build my church …’ (Matt. 16:18)
Church … it’s still God’s idea
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recently I watched a documentary that almost made me despair. It featured the infamous Westboro Baptist ‘Church’, of Topeka, Kansas. Under the ranting leadership of Fred Phelps, this church is infamous worldwide for its raging attacks against the homosexual community, and its picketing of the funerals of American military personnel killed in action. Phelps says that he wishes millions would die, because their deaths would demonstrate the judgment of God. Such vitriol and hysteria are a million miles from the true gospel of Christ, which has at its heart this great truth: God is love. But Mr Phelps and his band of followers could make me want to shrug off the word ‘church’, because they defile it. And when I look back at some of the evil that has been done by the Church throughout history, again I could be tempted to distance myself from it. But ‘church’ is not a word that Jesus made up. It’s a term associated with the people of God in the Old Testament. The Septuagint (the Greek version of the Old Testament) uses the word ekklesia to describe the congregation of Israel, the people summoned together to meet God and to go where God was going (Deut. 4:10; 9:10; 18:16; 31:30; Judg. 20:2). The Old Testament ekklesia was a dynamic group, on the move with the Lord at their head, ‘the assembly in the desert’, as Stephen described them (Acts 7:38). By the first century AD this word was used to describe any regular gathering for any purpose. Church. It’s an idea that’s been distorted and misused. But it’s still God’s idea. Prayer: Thank You for Your idea that is the Church, Lord. Help me to invest in what You have created, as a member of the community of God worldwide. Amen.
As we trace the beginnings of the people of God, let’s start at the very beginning (yes, I know, it sounds like something out of The Sound of Music…) Solitary confinement is one of the most extreme and cruel punishments. Deprive someone of all human contact for an extended time and it will usually result in a mental meltdown. We are fundamentally designed for relationships, which is why absolute social isolation is so painful. It’s obviously an extreme example but demonstrates well the truth that we are designed by God to be social creatures. Laughter, conversation, storytelling, shared tears, even conflict and disagreement – all these are vital components of healthy living. And it has always been so. God’s statement about Adam, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone’ is perhaps primarily about the need for partnership and relationship between male and female. But we are all created for community. And, without it, not only do we become emotionally unhealthy but also spiritually unbalanced. I have seen too many fervent Christians drift into minor or mad doctrinal errors because they are not part of a healthy church, or because they belong to a group of like-minded people who constantly agree with each other; making corrections or rebuke unlikely. Perhaps isolation is looking attractive right now. Someone or something has so upset you that you are thinking of abandoning the Church for good. Think again. It isn’t always great to be together: but it isn’t good to be alone.
THURS 03 NOV
Not good to be alone
Genesis 2:4–25 2 Timothy 4:1–5 FOCUS
‘The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”’ (Gen. 2:18)
Prayer: Thank You for the blessing and benefit of the Christian community. I am not alone – and that is good, even if being part of the Church can be costly. Amen.
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FRI 04 NOV
It’s like a scene of out of Mel Gibson’s film Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. The Tower of Babel episode is the result of a climax of sin, with humanity waving a collective clenched fist in the face of God. The first chapters of Genesis are known as primeval history, and describe the increasing effects of the human lust for independence from God. After the first couple fell, the first murder occurs – and, not long after, plans for Babel are drawn BIG PICTURE up. The Tower symbolised the compulsion to ‘make a Genesis 11:1–9 name for ourselves’ (Gen. 11:4) and construct something Ezekiel 36:22–23 ‘from the ground up’ to the heavens: worship that placed humanity, not God, at its foundation and centre. This was FOCUS ‘Then they said, “Come, a storming of the gates of heaven by humans wanting to let us build ourselves a be in charge of everything. city, with a tower that It was against this backdrop of chaos and judgment reaches to the heavens, so that the ever-patient God chose to activate His ‘people that we may make a name for ourselves and not be of God’ plan. This was the moment for elderly Abraham scattered …”’ (Gen. 11:4) and the unexpectedly pregnant Sarah to discover their remarkable destiny: to be the parents of a people who would ultimately become the carriers and conduits of the big story. And the Church is the continuation of that ‘one people’ plan. When the Church becomes sleepy and even irrelevant, it is important to remember not only its roots but the reasons for its existence. We are called to be a people, not just for ourselves (as Ezekiel prophesied to Israel) or for our own help and comfort. We are nothing less than part of the Lord’s response to the satanically inspired human endeavour to be rid of God. Ours is a big calling.
The humanistic project
Prayer: Mighty God, may I remember that I am part of a people who exist not for their own comfort, but as part of Your plan for the planet. Amen.
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05/06 NOV Genesis 11:27–32 // Hebrews 11:8–12
Supernatural at heart ‘You’re looking slim and trim,’ said the lady. I was delighted – for a moment. ‘I love it when older people take care of themselves,’ she added. This wasn’t so good. Not that there’s anything wrong with being older – I don’t want to be guilty of ageism – it’s just that I don’t feel old. Maybe I’m deceiving myself … The Bible’s description of Abram and his wife Sarah is blunt – they were ‘as good as dead’. God was taking them on an impossible mission – humanly speaking. The very idea that these two seniors would have a child provoked laughter. But it happened as promised, and today one in every 457 people can trace their ancestry back to these two pensioners (okay, I know they didn’t have pensions back then …).
The people of God are a supernatural people
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The people of God are a supernatural people. They are not self-sufficient, but open to the infinite possibilities that exist, as God does what only God can do. Do we see as much of the supernatural as we’d like? No. Perhaps that should nudge us to ask why we lack power. But that doesn’t change this fact: God is mighty, and He is among us. To ponder: As a supernatural people, we don’t see as many evidences of the supernatural as we’d like. Why do you think that is?
MON 07 NOV
Being a blessing
Genesis 12:1–3 1 Corinthians 12:12–31 FOCUS
‘I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.’ (Gen. 12:2)
God has a … role for each of us to play
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The people of God were not just called to bring blessing, to announce it or to pray for blessing for the world – they themselves were to be the blessing. The Hebrew used to describe the call of Abram is quite hard to translate accurately, scholars and commentators say, and the best they have come up with is: ‘Be you a blessing.’ God’s intention is that the world should be more whole, more healthy, more peaceful, and more just – because of the presence of His people. Let’s respond to that as individuals. There’s an old concept in Judaism that comes from the Hebrew word tikkun which means ‘repair’, ‘fixing’ or ‘a task’. We are all unique – we’re God’s workmanship (Eph. 2:10), a better translation is ‘poetry’. That means each of us is unique in our perceptions, skills and passions. We each find ourselves in a set of circumstances that are uniquely specific to us. Nobody else is living your life – even though at times you might wish they were. God has a tikkun, a role for each of us to play. And, as Church, we discover destiny as we realise that we can achieve more together than we can alone. As St Paul put it: we are ‘the body of Christ’. So, when we think about influence, let’s remember that we each have a God-given mission. Just as Abram heard the call, ‘Be you a blessing’, let’s allow that truth to challenge us. Is our community safer, more caring and a better place to live because of the presence of God’s Church, and because of our presence as individuals?
Prayer: Father, show me what my task is in life, and how I fit with Your people to see kingdom change in my community and world. Amen.