Issuu on Google+


© 2013 Jasper Life Publications Inc.

SERIES:

The Building Up of the Body of Christ Title of this volume: The Faith Translated with permission of Editora Árvore da Vida Published by Editora Árvore da Vida in Portuguese, Spanish, Korean, French, Italian and German. All rights reserved by Jasper Life Publications Inc. 725 Viscount Road London, ON, Canada N6J 4G9 Phone: (519) 472-0350 http://jasperlife.com ISSN 1920-8510 Printed in

Bible Quotations All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Other versions of scripture are indicated as follows: ASV                      American Standard Version lit. Literal translation


ENJOY! Individually 1. Meet with the Lord early in the morning. 2. As soon as you rise, before doing anything else, take a breath of life, deeply calling on the name of the Lord, “Oh Lord Jesus”. When doing this, drop all your cares, fears, sadness and sin, and receive the Lord Jesus as life, joy, peace and encouragement. Call “Lord Jesus” several times throughout the day. 3. Read the verses given each day in order to have a complete idea of the subject to be covered. Remember that the Bible explains the Bible; because of this, you will find quotations from many other books of the Bible aside from the one which we are presenting in this Daily Food. 4. Prayerfully read the verse suggested each day. To do this, each word ought to be repeated, emphasized and proclaimed without haste, as if one were chewing. Do not read the verse too fast, but spend time on each word. In this exercise, do not worry about understanding the verse, but “eat” it, taking it by faith as spiritual food. 5. Underline and highlight the phrases and words in the explanatory text that most impress you. Pay special attention to the Key Point. This point will function as a key to unlock the spiritual significance of the text. “Digest” it during the day, repeating it to yourself. In this manner, the text that you read in the morning will be your spiritual food all day long. 6. Share what you gain with those you are related to at home, at school, at work, etc. They need the life that you receive through the word.

3


4

ENJOY! In Small Groups 1. Daily Food is an excellent tool for small groups meeting to study the Bible. These small groups may be informal and be characterized by mutual care among the members. 2. A small group meeting can be formed of household members, relatives and neighbors, friends who live nearby, classmates, or work colleagues. 3. Try to meet regularly with members of your small group meeting in order to read Daily Food together. 4. When together, read the suggested passages for each day and prayerfully read the verse of the day. 5. Try to apply the Key Point to your daily life and its difficulties, and to your personal and professional life. Make the word of God applicable to your living. In this way everyone can actively participate and be mutually edified. 6. Take the opportunity to pray together for individual needs or problems. 7. Whenever possible, bring guests to your small group meeting. Then more people can be supplied by God’s word.

May you all receive life abundantly!

The editors

PS: Don’t forget to look at the Complementary Reading suggested at the end of each week. It is very helpful.


CONTENTS Week 1 – Message 1 Introduction (John 21:18-23) The Ministry Which We Follow and Practice.................................... 7 Whom Do We Love Most?................................................................. 9 Growing to Fulfill God’s Will........................................................... 12 It is the Spirit Who Gives Life......................................................... 14 The Beginning of Paul’s Ministry..................................................... 16 Following the Spirit’s Leading to Carry Out the Work.................... 18 Ceape and Bookafé........................................................................... 21 Week 2 – Message 2 The Present Tools for the Building Up of the Body of Christ (Heb. 2:5-8) God’s Need....................................................................................... 25 Calling on the Lord’s Name Keeps the Work from Ceasing............ 27 The Means and Tools to Preach the Gospel of the Kingdom.......... 30 Opening Our Heart to All of God’s Children.................................. 33 Supplying Life to All of God’s Children........................................... 35 Books as the Focus of the Bookafé................................................... 37 The Bookafé is For Preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom.............. 39 Week 3 – Message 3 The Dispensing of the Triune God (Eph. 1:1-3) The Dispensing of the Triune God is to the Faith........................... 42 Religious Concepts Versus the Dispensing of the Triune God......... 44 Called to Announce the Gospel....................................................... 46 Obeying the Lord’s Will................................................................... 48 Preserved by God’s Sovereignty....................................................... 50 A Wonderful Epistle and a Very Problematic Church..................... 52 Leading the Brothers to Spirit and Life............................................ 54 Week 4 – Message 4 The Faith (1 Tim. 1:3-4)

The Revelation of God’s Plan in His Word...................................... 57 God’s Plan for His Sons.................................................................... 59 Having Acts of Righteousness to be Sealed by the Spirit................ 61 The Two Aspects of Faith................................................................. 63 The Growth of Our Faith................................................................. 66 Being Renewed to Cooperate with God........................................... 68 Exercising Our Spirit That the Faith May Become Our Faith......... 70

5


6 Week 5 – Message 5 Paul’s Journeys (2 Cor. 7:8-11)

Paul’s First Ministry Journey............................................................. 73 Paul’s Second Ministry Journey........................................................ 75 Paul’s Third Ministry Journey and the First Epistle to the Corinthians....................................... 77 The Sorrow Which Produces Repentance unto Salvation.............. 79 The Grace of Offering...................................................................... 81 The End of Paul’s Third Ministry Journey, His Imprisonment, and Fourth Journey....................................... 83 Paul’s Ministry after His Imprisonment............................................ 86

Week 6 – Message 6 Paul’s Epistles (Col. 1:25)

Knowing the Lord and Receiving Revelation.................................. 90 Preserved by the Lord to be More Useful to Him............................ 92 The Completion of the Divine Revelation...................................... 94 Becoming Useful and Faithful to God.............................................. 96 Turning to the Spirit to Practice the Divine Revelation.................. 99 Repenting and Returning to the Practice...................................... 101 Faithfully Carrying Out the Ministry............................................. 103

Week 7 – Message 7 The Constituting Elements of the Church (Eph. 2:1, 4-7)

Grace, Love, and Mercy Have Reached Us................................... 106 The Riches of God’s Mercy............................................................ 108 God’s Masterpiece.......................................................................... 110 The Wonderful Gospel of Grace.................................................... 112 The Gospel is the Power of God unto Salvation............................ 114 Growing and Maturing to Reign.................................................... 116 Being Faithful to the Divine Revelation........................................ 118

Week 8 – Message 8 Walking in a Manner Worthy of Our Calling (Eph. 4:1-3)

Paul’s Calling.................................................................................. 121 The Discipleship of John the Baptist............................................. 123 The Victories and Failures of Paul’s Building Ministry.................. 126 The Dispensing of the Triune God and the Constituting Elements of the Church........................... 128 The Immeasurable Love of Christ.................................................. 130 The Seven “Ones” and the Five Types of Walk............................. 132 A Summary of Ephesians 1-5......................................................... 134


Week 1 – MONDAY Scripture reading:

John 21:22-23; Acts 2:21, 42-47; 8:1; 9:15; 1 Pet. 1:7; 4:12; 3 John 4 Read with prayer:

Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near (Rev. 1:3). Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book (22:7).

The previous series of the Daily Food expounded on the ministry which we follow and practice. In those messages, we talked about the beginning of the New Testament with the Lord Jesus. After that, we saw the positive development of this ministry with the apostles in the beginning of the book of Acts through calling on the name of the Lord Jesus, as well as its decline after they ceased doing so publicly due to a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem (Acts 2:21, 42-45; 8:1). We spoke of how the Lord called Paul to continue His work of expanding the gospel. He was used as an instrument to take the Lord’s name before the Gentiles and kings, as well as to the children of Israel (9:15). We saw how Paul’s ministry of building the churches began and how it was interrupted by his imprisonment, after which he started his epistolary ministry to complete the revelation of God’s economy. We also saw the ministry of Peter in his maturity, whose writings present God’s economy according to his own experiences. He experienced God’s salvation as a fire that burned away the impurities of his soul (1 Pet. 1:7; 4:12).

Introduction

THE MINISTRY WHICH WE FOLLOW AN PRACTICE

7


The Faith

8

Peter spoke of regeneration, of how we become partakers of the divine nature, and that God’s life must develop in us until we attain its full expression: the agape love, God’s love. Finally, we presented the ministry of the apostle John, who was chosen and used by God in his maturity to conclude the gospels, the epistles, and the entire Bible. According to the revelation we have received, his ministry is the last ministry that will remain until the Lord’s coming (John 21:22). After the Lord Jesus answered Peter’s comment regarding John, the Bible says that the saying went out among the brothers that John would not die. Then, in order to dismiss that misunderstanding, John added a note, saying: “…Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, ‘If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you?’” (v. 23). God kept John alive for many years, and his ministry of Spirit and life helped the brothers in Ephesus to practice the Lord’s words. It was this ministry that changed the situation of that church. Rebuked by the Lord (Rev. 2:45), the church in Ephesus became desirable through John’s ministry; that is, it became a church in which the brothers walked in truth and love. In a normal environment, many brothers would go out from that church for the sake of the Lord’s name to preach the gospel in other places (2 John 4-6; 3 John 4). This is certainly the ministry which we want to follow and practice. Key-point: Spirit, life, and practice. My key-point: Question: How did John help the Ephesians to be recovered? 


Week 1 – TUESDAY Scripture reading:

John 21:1-17 Read with prayer: Therefore do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you (Matt. 6:31-33).

Every son of God possesses a specific ministry, for as members of the Body of Christ, each one of us has a function that needs to be carried out (Rom. 12:4-8). However, it is quite easy to be distracted from the commission God has entrusted to us due to our concerns about sustenance. Knowing this, according to His sovereign and loving arrangement, the Lord has provided a way to call us back to His will for us. This also happened with Peter. Although the Lord had already manifested Himself to His disciples twice after His resurrection, Peter was still worried about his sustenance, and decided to return to his old profession, back to what he knew. Peter ended up influencing the other six disciples who were with him. John 21:3 reads, “Simon Peter said to them, ‘I am going fishing.’ They said to him, ‘We are going with you also.’ They went out and immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing.” Despite being professional fishermen, the Lord allowed that situation so that they would understand that their natural ability was not enough to supply their needs.

Introduction

WHOM DO WE LOVE MOST?

9


The Faith

10

They had been called and commissioned by the Lord Jesus to be fishers of men, yet at that moment, they were looking for fish. Nevertheless, the Lord Jesus did not abandon them; rather, He appeared to them and told them where to cast the net. It was based on the Lord’s word that they were successful, catching one hundred and fifty large fish without breaking the net (vv. 6, 11). At the beach, they were met by the Lord’s love and care, who had already prepared bread and fish for them (vv. 9, 12). After feeding them, the Lord spoke to Peter: “So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Feed My lambs.’ He said to him again a second time, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Tend My sheep.’ He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?’ Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, ‘Do you love Me?’ And he said to Him, ‘Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed My sheep’” (vv. 15-17). The practical expression showing that we love the Lord is seen in our love for the brothers in shepherding and feeding them. When we preach the gospel to people, we must feed them with God’s word. This requires us to deny ourselves day by day, depending on the divine life, which is the only way to love and patiently care for those He entrusted to us. As we read this chapter, we must seek the Lord and ask Him to reveal that which usurps God’s place in our heart. It may be our job or school; technology and the time we spend with it; or perhaps our excessive concern for our children, parents, or material goods. Anything can prevent us from carrying out the commission entrusted to us by God. In our


favor, however, is the fact that the Lord does not give up on us. Hallelujah! Let us appreciate this fact and seek His kingdom before all else! Key-point: Loving and patiently caring for those God has entrusted to us. My Key-point:

Introduction

Question: What things can occupy the Lord’s place in your life?

11


The Faith

12

Week 1 – WEDNESDAY Scripture reading:

John 21:18-23 Read with prayer:

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things (1 Cor. 13:11). GROWING TO FULFILL GOD’S WILL

After asking Peter whether he loved Him more than those things, Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish” (John 21:18). This shows that Peter was still young; that is, he did not have much growth in God’s life. Deeming Jesus’ words about him too harsh and probably misinterpreting what He said, Peter manifested his dissatisfaction and asked about John, “But Lord, what about this man?” (v. 21). Peter must have thought, “Why am I the only one that needs to be restricted? Why do I alone have to lose my freedom? Am I the only one who has to obey? What about John?” The words spoken by the Lord to Peter apply also to us all. When we do not have spiritual growth, we seek our own will by doing as we please, and we do not allow the Lord to restrict us, much less when He does it through others. Also, we compare the way which the Lord deals with us with the way He deals with our spiritual companions. This is altogether a sign that we are immature in the divine grace, living according to our soul-life. May we hear the


Lord saying to us what He said to Peter: “You follow Me” (v. 22). The Lord expects that His life may grow in us. We have already been born anew, but we still need to seek to grow in life, which takes place when we deny ourselves. The more we deny our self, the more of God’s life we will have. In this context, the older we get, that is, the more we mature spiritually, the more we will seek the help of others and will accept restriction. Once we are no longer young, we spontaneously will abandon our self-sufficiency and independence to be led by others. Hence, we will have no difficulty when coordinating with others to do the Lord’s will. Key-point: Growing. My Key-point:

Introduction

Question: According to what was spoken to Peter in John 21:18-22, what are the signs of spiritual maturity?

13


The Faith

14

Week 1 – THURSDAY Scripture reading:

John 5:39-40; 14:26 Read with prayer:

It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life (John 6:63). IT IS THE SPIRIT WHO GIVES LIFE

When the Christians were persecuted by the Roman Empire during the first century, the apostles who were more prominent, such as Peter and Paul, were martyred; John’s life, however, was spared by God. Although he was also one of the church leaders, John did not stand out, which meant that he was considered less of a threat by Rome. Hence, rather than being executed like Peter, a renowned leader among the Christians, John was exiled to the island of Patmos (Rev. 1:9). During that time, John was able to learn to live by the spirit. We can also say that John was purified by the fire of the Spirit amid the suffering he experienced in exile, which caused his earthly nature and soul-life to perish (1 Pet. 1:7, 9). Hence, he matured in the divine life and became useful in the work of the ministry. At that point, the Lord gave him the visions unveiled in Revelation. After his exile and having received the visions concerning the condition of the churches (Rev. 2:4-5), history shows us that John traveled to serve in Ephesus. This move was made according to the leading of the Holy Spirit, for John had already matured by then. As he left Patmos, John was certain that the way to help the churches was to lead them back to the beginning: to the Word, life, Spirit, and practice.


John must have read the letter Paul wrote to the saints in that city. If he had merely analyzed it, John would have not been able to help the saints in that city to grow in the divine life and to do the will of God (5:39-40). He knew that it is the Spirit who gives life (John 6:63), which must have led him to ruminate those words in spirit, transmitting them as life to the Ephesians. We also praise the Lord that John also recorded in a book that which the Spirit caused him to remember (John 14:26). Through his writings, not only were the Ephesians helped, but we have also received much help. Based on his ministry, we will see in this new series of the Daily Food the events that led Paul to write to the Ephesians, and also seek to apply the content of this epistle to our daily living, which is essential for our understanding of God’s New Testament economy and for the building up of the Body of Christ. Key-point: Growing in life to be useful to the Lord. My Key-point:

Introduction

Question: What was John’s way of helping the Ephesians?

15


The Faith

16

Week 1 – FRIDAY Scripture reading:

Acts 13:2, 13; 14:23; 15:37-39; 2 Tim. 4:11; Philem. 24; 1 Pet. 5:13 Read with prayer:

And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient (2 Tim. 2:24). THE BEGINNING OF PAUL’S MINISTRY

In the book of Ephesians, Paul speaks of the building up of the Body of Christ in a very detailed and profound way; the ministry of building the churches had been given to him by God Himself. Paul’s ministry began in the church in Antioch. While fasting and praying with a group of brothers who served the Lord, he received a calling from the Holy Spirit: “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them” (Acts 13:2). During their first journey, they left Antioch and visited many cities; they brought along John, also known as Mark. However, in Acts 13:13, we see that Mark returned to Jerusalem while Paul and Barnabas continued their journey and traveled through the Mediterranean region; during that trip their faith was tried as they were met by many difficulties, persecutions, and shipwrecks. As they journeyed on, they would preach the gospel and establish churches in the cities they went through; on their way back, they would revisit those cities to exhort and strengthen the faith of the disciples there. They would also appoint elders in every church (14:23). After some time in Antioch, Barnabas wanted to bring Mark along for their second journey. Paul, however, did not


agree to bringing someone who had left them during the first journey. Hence, there was a great disagreement between Paul and Barnabas, which even caused them to part ways (15:37-39). Despite Mark’s failure, leaving them during their first journey, we believe that Barnabas wanted to help him by giving him a second chance. Perhaps, by being too demanding on that occasion, Paul did not allow it. Then, Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed to Cyprus, and Paul continued on with Silas. With the help of Barnabas, Mark’s character was perfected as we see in that years later, he became an important coworker for both Paul and Peter (Col. 4:10; 2 Tim. 4:11; Philem. 24; 1 Pet. 5:13). This is why we can never give up on brothers who are difficult, nor despise them because of their mistakes. May the Lord have mercy on us by teaching us to be patient with the brothers and perfect them with love, so that they will become coworkers for God. Key-point: Giving a second chance to those who fail. My Key-point:

Introduction

Question: What lesson can we learn from Paul’s attitude regarding Mark?

17


The Faith

18

Week 1 – SATURDAY Scripture reading:

Acts 15:34, 36, 40; 16:6-8, 13-14, 19-34, 40 Read with prayer:

Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them (Acts 16:10). FOLLOWING THE SPIRIT’S LEADING TO CARRY OUT THE WORK

In his second journey, Paul chose Silas to accompany him. Silas, a leading man among the brethren in Jerusalem, and Judas were chosen to accompany Paul to Antioch that they might read the letter written by the leaders in Jerusalem. After they read the letter, Judas returned to Jerusalem. Silas, however, remained there (Acts 15:34) and went with Paul on his trip to visit the brethren in the cities where God’s word had already been announced (vv. 36, 40). During that trip, they did not carry out the work moved by their own will; instead, they were restricted and guided by the Spirit: “Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them” (16:6-7). As they arrived in Troas, Paul had a vision in which a Macedonian man pleaded with him, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us” (v. 9). Being in spirit, Paul’ reaction and that of those who were with him was immediate: “Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them” (v. 10).


Introduction

Once in Macedonia, they arrived in Philippi. After a few days, they went out of the city to a place by a river where prayer was customarily made. There, they found some women and preached the gospel to them (v. 13). One of those women, Lydia, a seller of purple, heard and received their preaching, for God had opened her heart (v. 14). Lydia and her entire household were baptized. After that, she invited Paul and the others to stay at her house. In that simple place by a river, the church in Philippi began, and the house of that seller of purple became a place where the brethren could meet (v. 40). In Acts 16:19-34, we see that Paul and Silas were arrested and whipped because of the gospel. Being filled with the Spirit and in spite of their chains, they remained at peace and were joyful. At midnight, while they prayed and sang praises to God, there was a great earthquake that shook the foundations of the prison, so that all its doors were opened and their chains loosed (vv. 25-26). Although the doors were opened and, perhaps moved by the testimony of Paul and Silas, no prisoner fled. Even the jailer who nearly killed himself received the gospel and was baptized along with his family after witnessing that situation. This shows us that, no matter where we are, the Lord can save people through our testimony and release them from their prisons. In Christian history, for many centuries God’s children have occupied themselves with building great physical temples where the church can meet and worship God. Such traditions have been kept throughout time, influencing Christians even to this day. However, if we take the principle established in the Word, considering the experience in Philippi and others, we will see that the church does not need a great physical structure in order to meet or to be built up (17:24).

19


The Faith

20

May we be sensitive to the Spirit’s leading to understand His will and direction. Let us also be simple not to attach ourselves to the physical structures. Key-point: Following the Spirit. My Key-point: Question: How did the church in Philippi begin?


Week 1 – SUNDAY Scripture reading:

Matt. 16:24; 24:14, 45-47; Heb. 2:5-7; Rev. 11:18 Read with prayer:

For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. And this also we pray, that you may be made complete (2 Cor. 13:9). Then Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him (Acts 28:30-31).

The Lord entrusted His servants with the commission to preach the gospel of the kingdom throughout the whole inhabited earth (Matt. 24:14). We who have received this burden, must renew our vision and be attentive to what the Spirit has spoken to the churches. The gospel of the kingdom cannot be limited by our traditional and systematic methods. If we only wait for people to come to us, we will delay the Lord’s coming. Therefore, the Lord has been giving us useful tools to preach the gospel. At first, the Lord gave us the CEAPE (perfecting center for the propagation of the gospel) where many brothers and sisters can consecrate a period of time to be perfected and become colporters (missionaries who promote spiritual literature intended to strengthen the faith of the fellow servants—Matt. 24:45-47). In recent years, the Lord has given us yet another tool, the BooKafé (a place where people can find books that lead to faith); there, people can find a pleasant environment for reading, reflecting, to have some coffee—all in one place. The

Introduction

CEAPE AND BOOKAFÉ

21


The Faith

22

idea is to have many BooKafés spread throughout the cities, so that we can pray with and for those in need. In the BooKafé, we can also preach the gospel of the kingdom, presenting people with the spiritual riches contained in the books (Acts 28:30-31). We started this project three years ago, and with the Lord’s blessing, there are now more than three hundred BooKafés in all Brazil and another two hundred ready to be opened. Our goal in preaching the gospel is to receive those who do not know the Lord and help them receive the Holy Spirit through calling on His name. For those who have already received the Lord Jesus as their Lord and Savior, our desire is to help them grow in God’s life that they may become mature sons. Regardless of where one meets, we hope that, through the fellowship in the Word and through reading spiritual books, all may be encouraged to seek the Lord and His kingdom, thus being perfected to reign with Christ in the coming world (Heb. 2:5-7; Rev. 11:18). According to chapters 24 and 25 of Matthew, all who have been saved must fulfill some requirements in order to reign with the Lord: they must grow in life by denying their soullife, thus being filled with the Spirit, and preach the gospel, to be found a good and faithful servant by the Lord. Therefore, we must have a heart that is wide and simple, so that God’s love can overflow through us and bring us into fellowship with all of His children by supplying life to one another and by seeking to be perfected for the building up of the Body of Christ in love. Hallelujah! Key-point: Renewing our vision. My Key-point: Question: How can the CEAPE and the BooKafé be used by the Lord?


Introduction

Complementary reading: “God’s Focus: the Kingdom” – chaps. 2-3 – Dong Yu Lan. “Like God in Life and in Nature” – chaps. 2-3 – Dong Yu Lan.

23


24

NOTES


The Faith