My heart is overflowing in awe and gratitude to our Heavenly Father. What a year it has been! At times, incredibly intense. A squeeze. Even painful! But graciously and sovereignly the Lord worked out living a dream: Jesus, first – “The Cause”, first – with the ministry of the Gospel continuing in strength…
Amidst it all, like Paul who penned the reality of “light affliction” working an “eternal weight”, I can say that the best part in serving the Lord in one city for 27 years is experiencing the “weight” (substance, eternality) of the Lord’s beauty, power, and plan of God in Christ that has captured and recaptured my heart over and over again. Thank you, Jesus!
Now, on the eve of returning to where I grew-up and where I first came to know the Lord (Los Angeles – 4th most diverse city in the world – 600,000 descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob!). The Lord has graciously taught me what it means to remove my “sandals” in His presence. To wait on Him. To pray and be renewed in strength. And, more clear than ever is “the whole counsel” of God (Romans 1:15-17; Acts 20:37)!
It’s been said, “A text without a context is a pretext for a proof text”. It’s another way of saying that when Scripture is not explained in its context, the meaning is hidden.
There is a context to the Gospel. “The Context” is the City of Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. It explains why Peter exclaimed, “You men of Israel hear these words, Jesus of Nazareth …” (Acts 2:22) Why is this so important to underscore? In short, because “The Context” will clarify “The Content” of the Gospel which will than by nature identify what the trajectory of the church should be. The reality is, without establishing “The Context” in which the Gospel was first communicated, it sets the church in trajectory not intended by the Lord.
For example, when “The Context” is not established …
1) More often the person and work of Jesus is minimized to appeal to a western consumer mindset. God becomes a means to an end rather then an end in itself.
2) The divinely purposed global message intended by God to Jew and Gentile deteriorates; and therefore along with it- the call to endeavor to keep the unity of the unique diversity of the body of Christ in the bond of peace that embody’s God’s “peace plan” for mankind. And yes, God has a “Peace Plan” for the middle-east in Christ!
3) The authority of Scripture is deconstructed because the catalyst of authority, the person and work of Christ is devalued.
4) The scriptures become a literary device to promote moralism and inspiration rather then the weight of the glory of the plan of God in Christ.
5) The core problem of man is mis-diagnosed, wasting time on wrong prescriptions that obscure the genius peace plan of God and the counter-culture to godless culture, the church that Jesus is building.
6) The church is propelled in a trajectory by mis-guided interpretations of “the elect” (which has more to do with Israel) that notoriously waste time, energy and opportunity!
7) In short, the church fails to proclaim the “whole counsel of God” which undermines The Great Commission; and the call of our Jewish friends to be the right kind of “light to the nations” in the Messiah, Yeshua! Not only do Jews suffer from this off-target preaching but the world does as well.
We are closer to the return of Jesus than ever before which means that we are closer to “the fullness of the Gentiles has come in”. This means than that we are closer to when “all Israel will be saved!” (Romans chapters 9-11) History is turning a corner. We live in a global community. The opportunity to even impact a global community within our own local communities is greater than ever because of the diversity of our large cities. It’s all the more reason that we get it when it comes to the “whole counsel” – so the influence of the church is what the Lord intended.
And so …
We’re heading to Los Angeles with joy overflowing …
Humbled by the unique doors that are opening …
Confident that the Gospel is the power of God to salvation for the Jew first than the Gentile ..
With the “whole counsel” of God burning on our hearts!
And remembering 2 Timothy 4:5, “But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”
Thank you Jesus!