Thursday, January 14, 2010

Salvation Has Come to This Home

Our household has been experiencing the ups and downs of corporate life and combined living arrangements similar to the many households here in the Village. However these past weeks we have experiencing the delight of being in the center of supernatural God breathed life filling our household members. 

It makes me think of the passage where Jesus comes down the road and Zacchaeus climbs a tree to see Jesus. He is short in stature so he needs a better vantage point. As Jesus moves toward the place Zacchaeus is at, he looks up and sees him. "Zacchaeus, hurry and come down! I must stay at your house today." So, Zacchaeus comes down and was glad to welcome him into his home. But all the people who saw this happen begin to complain that Jesus went into the home of a notorious sinner!

So in defense of himself and to show Jesus he was sincere he stands up and says to the Lord, "Lord, I'll give half of my possessions to the poor. I'll pay four times as much as I owe if I have cheated anyone in any way."

Then Jesus says to him, "Zacchaeus, today salvation has come to this home", because he, too, was a descendant of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost." Luke 19:9-10

Now Zacchaeus must have been a really bad person to get a reputation like that. He may have cheated and lied and did things that made people distrust him and just plain despise seeing him. But Jesus didn't come to save the righteous ones, he came to save the sinners. Zacchaeus was one of those sinners who didn't have a "want to" for God. His "want to" was for himself and what he "wanted to" do.

When he heard Jesus was coming I believe something stirred in his heart. There was an expectancy that began to well up inside of him. An excitement in anticipation of something happening. He started to see the "want to" in himself change from a selfish motivated desire, into an opportunity to experience a new life. His "want to" changed. He embraced what God had to give him and saw with his heart who he was and repented of it. His heart was changed and his "want to" became that of what God "wanted to" do with his life. He was changed.

When you live in a household of people there are many opportunities to express your "want to" in light of what you want individually and the sparks can fly as things get worked out. We have a way about working things out with one another rather than allowing things to separate us from one another. This brings with it a renewal of hope for working out our salvation in a practical way.

It makes the word of God real in the sense that you don't just talk about loving your brothers and sisters, you actually get to practice it with one another. You find out where your "want to" is and where it needs to be with God. There is light and you have to walk in that light which exposes you constantly. The intentions of your heart become apparent to you and to others around you. You are seen for who you really are inside because there is no place to hide.

So it is in the village as we live out our lives with one another each day. There are many people who can say, "I couldn't live with so many people around me constantly and knowing my business all the time." They are speaking the truth because they don't "want to" be exposed for who they really are. They don't want to walk in the light of God and have all the deep dark stuff inside of them removed or changed into righteousness. They want to hide and pretend to be someone that cares about others but really doesn't. Then when they are tired of a person or the going ons of God they can retreat and hide in their room or go away for a while. If that doesn't work then they can always blame others for their reluctance to change and not getting their way.

We have a beautiful house full of beautiful people who desperately need each other to demonstrate God to each other. Each one needs to do their part. Each one needs to see each other as the integral part of their lives. Love is the common bond and it becomes the peace of God as that love is worked out in each one. Unity becomes the strength of their lives as they come together and lean on each other for the daily needs of their lives in God. The bond of peace and the fruit of the Spirit lives vibrantly within each one.

 We have a household that is experiencing salvation each and every day. God is saving us from ourselves and towards one another. He is saving us from the darkness that wants to dwell in us and leading us into the light of his "want to" every day. He is our God and we are his people. He leads the way and we follow.

Where else would we go? Who else would we go with? What else would we do? We know that there is the way of the world but that way is the path that leads to destruction. We don't want that. We have heard Gods voice and him asking, "Who will we send?" and our response is, "Here we are. Send us." We have become one in his spirit and we have no other "want to" than to do His will.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

When Were the Disciples Born Again?

The question posed is "When were the disciples born again?", but can we also ask the question "Were the disciples born again?" I suppose one doesn't normally think about the disciples as born again but I ran across some verses that brought me to ask that very question one day.

I'm not sure why I came to that question now, just wondered, I suppose that if we have to be born again to see the kingdom of God then wouldn't all men need to be born again? That lent itself to the thought that the disciples were men and not some special creation, thereby requiring them to be born again like everyone else that is of the household of God.

Sometimes we think on the surface of a matter only and not inside of it. We taste the outside of the fruit or smell the fruitiness and don't really sink our teeth into it, bite off a hunk and chew on it for a while. When it comes to spiritual matters I like to go a little deeper than the surface and taste the depth of what I read or see. It certainly makes life much more interesting. How about you?

We should know about the story of Jesus and Nicodemus meeting in the evening and discussing the subtleties of Nicodemus's religious questions on Jesus origin and connections to God. Jesus sort of sidesteps him and goes to the point with the famous response, "unless a person is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God" and then discourses about the way that transpires. He refers to the wind blowing where it will and hearing the sound but not knowing where it came from. He says that is the same way with everyone who is born from above.

Remember also that Adam received the life-giving breath of God and became a living soul? He didn't have a water birth nor a mother, but was created by God alone. Yet he received life to live from God as He breathed into his nostrils. He didn't need to be born again because he was a created being and already received Gods breath of life. But we have not received that breath of God as Adam did. We are in need of that breath of God. The disciples were no different. They needed that breath of God to be born again.

So next we look at that time of their lives when they are hiding in fear for their physical lives, holed up in a room in Jerusalem, pretty paranoid to open the door or go outside because they believed they were wanted men. They were, but they didn't realize it wasn't so right then. They have just come back from the tomb of where Jesus was laid, seen the empty tomb and left before Jesus comes on the scene and talks to Mary. She runs back to where they are and tells them about it and they stand there in confusion and utter shock as Jesus appears in the room with them and says, "Peace to you."

He then shows them his hands and side to help them regain conscienceness and come to the reality of Him really being there in their midst. He says to them again, "Peace to you, As my Father has sent me, even so I send you." and then somewhat strangely "breathes" on them as He says "receive the Holy Spirit."

Do you see it? Did they see it? They must have because at that moment they did not hide out any longer, nor did they doubt the person who was standing before them. They "knew" he was the Lord, Son of God, King of Kings. They could now see the kingdom of God on the earth and they never departed from it. There was a divine revelation for them to believe.

Later in Acts we are told that they receive power from above to do what they needed to do there in Jerusalem, bringing thousands to the power of God, in order that they could be saved. Jesus told them to wait for the Holy Spirit before going out as he was ready to ascend into heaven. The Holy Spirit filled them and they spoke in the various languages of the people assembled there to bear witness of the Lord and His power. They fulfilled the commission that they were sent to do by Jesus, in that room where they were first "breathed upon" by Him.

There you have it. The "born again" experience of the disciples, receiving the life of God through Jesus breathing upon them and then the empowerment of their very souls and spirits to go forth and make disciples of all nations.

So, I leave you with this thought from Paul's writings to Timothy as he reminds him that "Every part of Scriptures is God-"breathed" and useful one way or another, showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live Gods way." And I leave you with a question, "Has God breathed upon you?" If not, maybe he will meet you where you are and lead you into the greatest life ever lived, the life of Jesus Christ.

If you have a question or a comment about this subject, please write me or visit our website.

Mr. Chamley, husband and father of six boys, member of a Christian community in west Tennessee, invites you to expand your knowledge about Christian living by visiting This community has been vibrantly growing for over 20 years on the belief that Christian living must be acted upon and not just spoken about. Your lifestyle may just be challenged and you may come to realize that your relationship with God and others needs to be more closely examined.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

He is the Vine, We are the Branches

As we think about the many ways of defining the church and how it functions, we look at many various examples and see many that call us to mind of the connection we have to one another in the life of Christ.

We have the example of the body with all it's appendages and parts working together to take care of the whole. How each member is dependent upon the others for the care of the others. How we are connected by nerves and blood vessels and skin covers us and holds us together. Each part, each cell must function so that the others can exist and do what they are to designed to do.

We have the pictures of multitudes of stars in the heavens, too numerous to count. We have the picture of the family with the father, mother and children in an unending genealogy of historical lineage. We have the picture of the grains of sand on the sea, the fish in it, the birds of the air, the grass and wheat of the fields.

I am partial to the example Jesus gave about the vine and the branches in John 15. He said, "I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman ... As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.  If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit" 

The picture is one that shows how fragile we are in relation to all the things around us that would like to see us destroyed and thrown away, cut off from the source of life. It shows the simplistic form of dependency we have upon the vine and how many branches are able to grow from the one vine. It shows how when a branch is connected to the vine it can produce much fruit and be useful to the husbandman. It shows how even branches that are not from the original vine and be grafted in and produce fruit. It shows how a branch can be broken off and separated from the vine, left to perish if not mended and grafted back in. It shows how the branched that are not producing fruit can be cut off and thrown away. Good only for firewood. It shows the very essence of life as it flows through the vine and into the branches for the production of the fruit. It shows how connected every branch is to the vine so as to make you the whole of the vineyard. It shows how the branch cannot produce fruit on its own without a connection to the vine. There is the dependency of the branch for the production of anything worthwhile.

As he compares this vineyard to us, his followers he goes on to say, "so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full."

There is a rule of life that is present in the growth of a vine and its branches. The branches cannot live unless they are attached to the vine and the life flow of the live passes through the branches. It is a command that the branch receive the life of the vine or else it cannot live. There is an abiding,  a joy, a fullness of that life that springs forth from the branches in the fashion of fruit. In that fruit are seeds of that life that can then be passed on to other soil and grow into another extension of that vine. The passing on of the love of God into the hearts of others. A life and growth of that life taking root and growing into a life filled with the life of the vine.

In the simple practicality of it all Jesus tells us how we should be able to continue with him in this life as branches of the vine. He says' "This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. These things I command you, that ye love one another."

The life that flows from him is the love that flows through the father into him and then into us and then into one another. The overflow of that love is what others see and taste in the fruit of the vine. We become a sweet savor of wine, crushed and pured out for those who would come and taste of the goodness of the Lord.

Feeling a little bit independent and sure of yourself being able to live your own life the way you think it should be done? Well remember the branched that were cut off and separated from the life of the vine. They didn't take root and start producing fruit on their own. They had no vine to receive life from. They died and withered and were useful only for the fire. As will our lives be if we become separated from the vine.

Learn from the vine and the branches story. See that there is a connection to each other that cannot be severed or separated without the promise of death. Take seriously the life that has been given you and grow. The life and love of the vine will produce an overflow of that life blood in the vine. You will produce fruit and be useful for the husbandman to give that fruit to others. A magnificent display of the love and care of God will be produced through you for the rest of the world to know how great is our God!

The Newness of the New Year and Each Day Following

Happy New Year!!!

There is a newness about this time of year that starts me thinking about all the things I need to resolve to do. There is also the thoughts of all the things I resolved to do and didn't do last year. I'm sure all of you have at least had the thoughts of those resolutions and making them. Maybe a few of you have been brave enough to actually write them down and determined to carry them out. 

In years past I have failed miserably at keeping resolutions. Maybe that's because my life didn't depend on the resolution I was making. Maybe I wasn't serious enough about what I was proposing to do. Maybe I was just wanting to feel like I was a part of the resolution crowd and not left out. Whatever the reason was, it didn't work. We would sing songs and entertain friends till the wee hours of the morning knowing that we had a brand new year to look forward to in the morning. We would sing Auld Lang Syne and talk about what we are going to do different next year.

So what does that New Years song "Auld Land Syne" have to do with the new year anyway? Well according to Wikipedia, "The song begins by posing the question whether it is right that old times be forgotten, and is generally interpreted as a call to remember long-standing friendships." So looking forward may mean having to give up looking back to the past so fondly and wishing I were there instead of here, where I am now. Does that make sense? I think it does actually. But there is also the side of remembering the past and finding those that are meant to be in the present and future. God may just want you to look at some of those old friendships and see if there is something there that is worth redeeming.

I also think I have found the secret to keeping all those new years resolutions. Think about this and see if it might help you also. Here is why I think it will help both you and me.

1. Gods New mercies are new every morning.

Lam 3:22-23 It is by Jehovah's kindnesses that we are not destroyed, because His mercies never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.
Because of this I can start fresh new every morning and not have to worry about the fact that I failed yesterday or not. I get a new opportunity to start over each day. Kinda like a new years day every morning. A redemption from the mess-ups I have fallen into or out of. This brings freedom of knowing that if I might blow it today I can repent and start over without believing I am a failure and unsavable. I can know that in the working out of that resolution, I can continue to work towards the high calling of God and continue on with the mercy of God and renewed strength to pursevere through any other failures or setbacks.

2. I have New life in Christ.

2Co 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. Old things have disappeared, and-look!-all things have become new!
Because of the great love of God towards us and through the redemptive power of Gods Son Jesus, I have the opportunity to enter in and dwell in the life of Christ. And that is a life I can live moment by moment. I can live in the now and not the far future or in guilt over the past. I can choose each morning to follow God and live in his love and life each moment of the day.

3. New opportunities every day to do those things that I resolve to do

1Pe 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! Because of his great mercy he has given us a new birth to an ever-living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead
Just because I may have failed yesterday or last year in keeping the resolutions I had made, I don't have to keep seeing my self as a failure. I am victorious over the sin and death of the past through the redeeming power of life and love in Christ. God has made me new again and again as I work out my salvation in him. I have an everlasting hope in the power of God, not my power or will to do something, but in him and his promise of an eternity in everlasting life. I have been given a new birth and a new opportunity to live the life of Christ.

4. New start for my wife and I

1Co 13:4-7 Love is patient and kind; it is not jealous or conceited or proud; love is not ill-mannered or selfish or irritable; love does not keep a record of wrongs; love is not happy with evil, but is happy with the truth. Love never gives up; and its faith, hope, and patience never fail.
Here is where the rubber meets the road for many things in our lives. This is where the true test of love and faith shows what it is made of. Living out the life of God before people I may only see week to week or even more often allows me to live one way there and another before my wife and kids. Behind closed doors many different things can happen. But when I make a resolution to live out the life and love of God everyday with everyone I am in contact with, my wife should be getting the very best I have to offer out of that life. I see the guidelines for that in the true nature of God, who is love. His love is made up of the characteristics I see in this verse and truly shown in his nature living in me. I can resolve to end each day with forgiveness and mercy and love, not recording the wrongs or faults of what I judge to be in others; especially my wife. I can start each new morning in the newness of that life in God as well and find new opportunities to show God and my wife how much I love them.

5. New start for my Kids

Psa 103:12 As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our sins from us.
How many times do I foster a relationship with my children that takes the appearance of a hard nosed ruler of the house who demands respect and obedience? How far does my love and the character of God stretch towards my kids. Do I see them as God sees them? Do I love them as God loves them? If not, I need to get a serious checkup and deal with my children as God deals with me. I need to see my children as future brothers and sisters of the Kingdom of God and treat them with respect. They need to learn how to respect themselves and others. That can only happen when I am leading the way and showing them how to do it. I can only show them how to live that moment to moment life of grace in God by knowing who God is and following him in the love given to me and passed onto them. He forgives and forget our sins as he says he does. Do we forgive and forget the sins of our children. Do we deal with them as he deals with us?

6. New start for my friends

Rev 21:5 And He sitting on the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And He said to me, Write, for these words are true and faithful.
Then there is the opportunity each day to live before my friends, my brothers and sisters in the Lord as I accept Gods love and life. Do I start over with them? Do I give them the forgiveness and friendship that God gives me each day? If not, then I need to find that person and ask for forgiveness myself. I need to see that I have harbored something against my brother and be reconciled to them. I need to find the newness of the life of God in those relationships as well. I can"t be afraid to step up to them and say, "I blew it and I need your forgiveness." I need to find those friends who are past and present and make things right. My love for them needs to be available for them as well. All things can be made new.

So as you start this new year, don't make shallow and empty resolutions that you know you will not have a desire to keep past Valentines Day and find something redeemable to resolve to that has life and love in it. Remember that there is always a new day and a new opportunity in God. His life is available to us new and fresh each morning. Do something with it and keep starting over when you fail. Don't give up! Don't walk around in a could of guilt and feeling of failure. Remember what God has given up his life for. You and I are the object of his affection. Be affectionately filled with the love of God and live it out each and every day.