Christians in the Wild

Podcast Episode

By Alex Walton, Jessica Rust, & Aaron Bjorklund

In addition to our daily devotional readings we also produce a weekly podcast in which we discuss the previous Sunday’s sermon topic. Over the next few weeks we will be publishing our podcast episode on Friday’s here in the Daily. We hope it blesses you. You can find the episode either on Youtube OR on your favorite podcast platform

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLCWnNSTN-6XA7oYy6TBfS0LAxqxPvxVjH
Apple Podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/guys-drinking-tea/id1616539767

Podcast Episode2022-10-29T10:50:28-06:00

Our First, Ongoing, and Final Enemy

Earlier this week, people engaged in rituals around Halloween, All Saints Day, and Day of the Dead. What are the origins of these observances? Among other things, they are acknowledgements that every human being must face the power of Death and its accompanying decay. Death frightens and fascinates us. Many trivialize, marginalize, dramatize, and glamorize it. But God gives his perspective and victory over Death to those who trust him.

Here’s part of the Biblical account of how humans first tasted Death.

… just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—
Romans 5:12 NIV

This passage refers to Genesis 3 and Adam’s gargantuan opening act of distrust and disobedience, granting Death and decay their power to ravage all mankind from that time onward. This cataclysm was worse than any natural disaster, but then:

…if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ! Romans 5:17 NIV

If you’ve experienced the power over sin and Death that Jesus Christ provided through HIS death and resurrection – take a moment to celebrate. We were helpless against Death until he provided his way out of the devastation.

But look at King David’s words in Psalm 44:22 NIV

…for your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.

We battle death and sin daily. Consider the apostle Paul’s counter perspective to trivializing Death, as he declares the value of Jesus’ resurrection life.

If the dead are not raised,

“Let us eat and drink,
for tomorrow we die.”

Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” I Corinthians 15:32-33 NIV

Paul emphasizes if we ignore the power of Christ’s resurrection and adopt a cavalier attitude toward sin and Death, godly character will be impacted.

As Paul continues this letter, he builds to this massive crescendo:

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. I Corinthians 15:51-57 NIV

Do you love these three words: imperishable, immortal, victorious? They become a part of us as we cling to Jesus. Death and decay brought on by sin are diminished and defanged – Death loses its sting and we have the promise it will be forever banished from God’s kingdom. This is not the case with “the dead” (those who cling to decaying, perishable, worldly systems and false gods).

…and each person [in the group God calls “the dead”] was judged according to what they had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:13-15 NIV

Thank God he’s provided our only way to victory over Death in this life and the life to come – the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Think about Death’s final destiny – eliminated from the lives of Jesus’ followers forever. Death will no longer bother us as we revel in God’s full and glorious presence.

If Death seems to hold a winning position in an area of your life, meditate on Romans 6. Ask another trusted Saint to pray that you regain God’s perspective and are able to again rest in the power of his resurrection.

Our First, Ongoing, and Final Enemy2022-10-29T10:39:50-06:00

Our Bodies As “Seeds”

Some skeptic is sure to ask, “Show me how resurrection works. Give me a diagram; draw me a picture. What does this ‘resurrection body’ look like?” If you look at this question closely, you realize how absurd it is. There are no diagrams for this kind of thing. We do have a parallel experience in gardening. You plant a “dead” seed; soon there is a flourishing plant. There is no visual likeness between seed and plant. You could never guess what a tomato would look like by looking at a tomato seed. What we plant in the soil and what grows out of it don’t look anything alike. The dead body that we bury in the ground and the resurrection body that comes from it will be dramatically different.

You will notice that the variety of bodies is stunning. Just as there are different kinds of seeds, there are different kinds of bodies—humans, animals, birds, fish—each unprecedented in its form. You get a hint at the diversity of resurrection glory by looking at the diversity of bodies not only on earth but in the skies—sun, moon, stars—all these varieties of beauty and brightness. And we’re only looking at pre-resurrection “seeds”—who can imagine what the resurrection “plants” will be like!

This image of planting a dead seed and raising a live plant is a mere sketch at best, but perhaps it will help in approaching the mystery of the resurrection body—but only if you keep in mind that when we’re raised, we’re raised for good, alive forever! The corpse that’s planted is no beauty, but when it’s raised, it’s glorious. Put in the ground weak, it comes up powerful. The seed sown is natural; the seed grown is supernatural—same seed, same body, but what a difference from when it goes down in physical mortality to when it is raised up in spiritual immortality!

We follow this sequence in Scripture: The First Adam received life, the Last Adam is a life-giving Spirit. Physical life comes first, then spiritual—a firm base shaped from the earth, a final completion coming out of heaven. The First Man was made out of earth, and people since then are earthy; the Second Man was made out of heaven, and people now can be heavenly. In the same way that we’ve worked from our earthy origins, let’s embrace our heavenly ends. 1 Corinthians 15:35-49 MSG

In my backyard I have an area committed to feeding “my” outdoor wildlife. Each morning I check the bird feeders, put fresh water in the birdbath, and scatter birdseed for the ground feeders and in-the-shell peanuts for the squirrels. As the weather gets cooler, the population increases. This morning there were 11 squirrels and 10 crows having breakfast in the area. The smaller birds usually show up later.

Each summer, some of the seeds sprout and sunflowers appear in several places, and peanut plants show up in some planters where squirrels have buried them. I know what the dead seed looked like, and I rejoice to see the live plants even though I didn’t intentionally plant them.

Paul tried to explain via diverse ‘parallels’ and ‘sketches’ what takes place when a dead human body becomes a resurrected body. For those of us who haven’t seen the resurrected Jesus, it is hard to imagine what it will be like. Paul concedes that what he wrote is only an approach to the mystery and that we need to keep in mind that we will then be alive forever.

For me, I cling to what Jesus said that is recorded in John 14, as well as John’s reminder in 1 John 3. I’ll be praying for you this week as you read the scriptures and devotionals and wrestle with the mystery of resurrection.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me so that you also may be where I am.” John 14:1-3 NIV

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know when Christ appears, we all be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
1 John 3:2 NIV

Our Bodies As “Seeds”2022-10-29T10:16:28-06:00

Jesus’ Resurrection Conquers Evil Forces

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
Colossians 2:13-15 NIV

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. I Corinthians 15:20-26 NIV

October brings many gruesome and scary decorations into yards in America. In a way, it can be a reminder to us that the evil we see in the world is not simply from people making poor choices, but that humans are influenced by evil forces, authorities, powers – then they make poor choices and act on them – this causes much of the evil in our world.

As Christians striving to live in the way of Jesus with the heart of Jesus, what can we do? Where can we gain encouragement in this struggle against the evil forces at work in our world today? First, we need to recognize that Jesus’ finished work on the cross and his resurrection has defeated death, Satan and his demons. Revelation 20:4 “Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire.” We know the ending – death and Satan will be destroyed forever. Second, though we have struggles in our everyday lives that can involve these evil forces, we have a power that is indescribably more powerful than anything Satan can produce.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Ephesians 6:10-13 NIV

In the next few verses of Ephesians 6 Paul gives details of exactly how we can stand firm in our daily struggle against the evil forces in our world. Read Ephesians 6:10-18. Take note of how we can engage in this battle, the actions we can take – notice the power of the Holy Spirit in our prayers. Paul tells us in Colossians 2:15 that Jesus has triumphed over the evil forces in our world, the battle has been won, and we need to remember and live daily in the power of Jesus’ death and resurrection. C.S Lewis’ book The Screwtape Letters is written from the point of view of a supervisor demon instructing a novice demon on how to influence Christians into being ineffective in their spiritual walk. It reveals the subtle ways evil forces can influence our thinking and therefore our lives. Spend some time this week reading and studying Ephesians 6:10-18, or reading The Screwtape Letters.

Jesus’ Resurrection Conquers Evil Forces2022-10-29T09:36:18-06:00

Christ Is Alive – Therefore, We Come Alive

16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.

I’ve been leading worship for most of my life. I have had the opportunity to lead the music on Easter Sunday for about 12 years. I studied theology in college. Still, with all that exposure to the ideas surrounding the resurrection, I missed some of its significance until about five years ago. I don’t recall if it was a sermon, a podcast, or simply scripture reading, but I remember suddenly realizing Easter wasn’t just a celebration of Christ’s resurrection. It is also a celebration that we too will rise again one day.

In verse 23, Paul tells us that Christ is the “firstfruits.” Jesus made the way for all of us to rise again one day. That is why death no longer has a sting. Not even death can overcome God’s forgiving love and our adoption by him. Death is dead. Resurrection isn’t just a thing that happened to Jesus; it is a thing that is promised to each of us who follow him. We, too, will rise again. It truly is good news! I don’t know about you, but that changes my thoughts about Easter. It changes the way I feel about those who have died during my life.

Take a moment to listen to this song:  Glorious Day. Remember that these words are both metaphors and reality. He makes dead things come alive in your heart, but one day he will make your physical body come alive again.

Christ Is Alive – Therefore, We Come Alive2022-10-28T19:58:45-06:00

Podcast Episode

In addition to our daily devotional readings we also produce a weekly podcast in which we discuss the previous Sunday’s sermon topic. Over the next few weeks we will be publishing our podcast episode on Friday’s here in the Daily. We hope it blesses you. You can find the episode either on Youtube OR on your favorite podcast platform

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLCWnNSTN-6XA7oYy6TBfS0LAxqxPvxVjH
Apple Podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/guys-drinking-tea/id1616539767

Podcast Episode2022-10-25T20:55:37-06:00

How We Play Our Part

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13

Take a few minutes and read 1 Corinthians 13.

John 3:16 might be the most famous verse in the Bible, but 1 Corinthians 13 is likely the most famous chapter in the Bible. You might have heard it read at a wedding or a funeral. Jesus emphasized that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord, and the second greatest is to love your neighbor as yourself. This chapter, too, reminds us that love is central to the way of Jesus. Without love, we have nothing.

This week we have learned that “You have a part to play and are gifted with the power to play it.” God has invited his people to participate in his actions in the world. He then supports that commissioning with the power of the Holy Spirit, but this chapter tells us HOW to participate. How do we know if another person or we are playing our part by the power of the Spirit? How do we know if we are on task? The answer is simple; it’s love. There is no law against love. How are you doing?

Even as I write, my shame rises because I know how often I have failed to love. Shame is not the aim of this chapter or this reading. Remember that the only way we can truly show love is by receiving it from God. God loves us first.

Take a moment to reread the chapter, but this time, anticipate the reality that God fulfills this chapter toward you. Let that be your motivation to grow in love for others. That source of hope is the only way to sustain a life of love.

How We Play Our Part2022-10-22T22:17:09-06:00

Are You Using Your Gifts?

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
I Corinthians 12:4-7 NIV

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But eagerly desire the greater gifts. And now I will show you the most excellent way. I Corinthians 12:27-31

The culture in Corinth was focused on status – who was rich, powerful, influential and in charge. It is not surprising that new Christians also were prone to contend for status within the Corinthian church by categorizing certain Spiritual gifts as more important or more desirable. Paul uses two illustrations to talk about different Spiritual gifts – a building and a physical body. Both help to get his point across.

We could also use any organization – the army for instance – to get the same point across. In the army of course there are leaders and followers. There are fewer leaders at the very top of the organization and more followers closer to the bottom. But each person has an essential role or job to fulfill. It may seem that the company cook and the company clerk are not as important as the general, but everyone must eat good food in order to perform their important jobs, and if there was no one to order jeeps, trucks or other supplies, no one would have the essential items required to do their daily tasks.

Paul lists the various Spiritual gifts in many of his letters to the churches. (I Corinthians 12:8-10, I Corinthians 12:27-30, Ephesians 4:11.) He says that each person is to use their particular Spiritual gift,

to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. Ephesians 4:12-16 NIV

Not unlike the different jobs in the army, Christians are to use their Spiritual gifts to build up the church body, benefitting both the individual exercising the gift, and the others who are served by the use of that particular gift. What are your gifts? Are you using them in some way within the church body? Ask God to show you how to use his gifts to you in ways to prepare others for service in God’s kingdom.

Are You Using Your Gifts?2022-10-22T21:56:01-06:00

Your Part

Are you feeling at home in the church you’ve chosen or that it is not quite the right fit? Read this:

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. I Corinthians 12:12-26 NIV

If classical pew-sitting and leaving the instant the Sunday sermon ends (or watching sermons on TV or the internet) has become your habit, the above passage confirms you’re intended to serve our Master as he builds his kingdom in an active, sometimes untidy body of Jesus’ followers, rather than in a pristine cloister.

You must start or start again somewhere.

If you’re unsure of your giftings, grab an opening, even if it seems an insignificant opportunity. Try joining a team with a variety of roles where you can move around as your faith journey comes alive.

Perhaps you’ve served in your community of faith for a while now. Are you in a role you’ve outgrown, and does God seem to be calling you to wrestle with a new challenge? Or maybe you need to take more responsibility in an area where you already enjoy benefiting others.

Some of you might already be established in ministry, exercising your gifts in confidence, the Spirit affirming that you are effective and necessary in your service. Encourage others around you as they develop their ministries.

Some of us don’t have the same energy or capacity we once had to fully operate in the gifts that connect us in the body of Christ. Maybe it’s time to major in mentoring or to ask God to open new ways of building God’s kingdom we’ve never considered before.

Most of all, don’t play dead if it seems the cost of being part of a body of believers is too great. Building God’s kingdom has always had a cost. Remember Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice and the sacrifices of many fellow believers who have paved the way for us now and over the centuries.

Your Part2022-10-22T09:16:48-06:00

Manifestations of the Holy Spirit

Now about the spiritual gifts [the special endowments given by the Holy Spirit], brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans, you were led off after speechless idols; however you were led off [whether by impulse or habit]. Therefore I want you to know that no one speaking by the [power and influence of the] Spirit of God can say, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is [my] Lord,” except by [the power and influence of] the Holy Spirit.

Now there are [distinctive] varieties of spiritual gifts [special abilities given by the grace and extraordinary power of the Holy Spirit operating in believers], but it is the same Spirit [who grants them and empowers believers]. And there are [distinctive] varieties of ministries and service, but it is the same Lord [who is served]. And there are [distinctive] ways of working [to accomplish things], but it is the same God who produces all things in all believers [inspiring, energizing, and empowering them].

But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit [the spiritual illumination and the enabling of the Holy spirit] for the common good. To one is given through the Holy Spirit [the power to speak] the message of wisdom, and to another [the power to express] the word of knowledge and understanding according to the same Spirit; to another [wonder working] faith [is given] by the same Holy Spirit, and to another the [extraordinary] gifts of healings by the one Spirit; and to another the working of miracles, and to another prophecy [foretelling the future, speaking a new message from God to the people], and to another discernment of spirits [the ability to distinguish sound godly doctrine from the deceptive doctrine of man-made religions and cults], to another various kinds of [unknown] tongues and to another the interpretation of tongues.

All these things [the gifts, the achievements, the abilities, the empowering] are brought about by the same [Holy} Spirit, distributing to each one individually just as He choses. 1 Corinthians 12:1-12 The Amplified Bible

It has been said over the years that the Holy Spirit is the forgotten member, the neglected member, the “Cinderella” of the Trinity. At other times, He has been sensationalized, e.g., glorified, in ways that I’ve come to believe grieves Him. I say this because of what Jesus told the disciples what the Holy Spirit would be about. He whom the Father would send in Jesus’ name. (John 14:26, John 15:26, John 16:7-15).

As I read these scriptures along with 1 Corinthians 12:1-11, I see that the Holy Spirit is about enabling us to grow in knowing and loving God the Father and Jesus Christ, His Son. The manifestations given by the Holy Spirit are how we are strengthened to live in the way of Jesus in the church and out in the world.

A book that I have found helpful in learning to appreciate the Holy Spirit is:
The Holy Spirit-Shy Member of the Trinity by Frederick Dale Bruner and William Holden.

Along with reading the 1 Corinthian scriptures this week, also read those from John as a reminder of what Jesus said the Holy Spirit would be and do. I’ll be praying for you this week!

Manifestations of the Holy Spirit2022-10-21T20:08:56-06:00
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