Separation Anxiety

Separation Anxiety

January 19th, 2020

One of the most difficult things we have to deal with, is people leaving our church fellowship. It doesn’t matter what the cause is, when it happens, in almost every circumstance, we find ourselves questioning the reasons why people we hold close to our hearts choose to separate from the body of believers we associate with our own worship.

There are four common reasons for people to no longer seek fellowship within the church body they have shared with other believers.

I find this ironic in the sense that when people leave regardless of what they say upon their exit, in the bulk of cases we tend to think of this action as being divisive by nature. It seems that way because despite three of the four reasons being benign or positive and only one that would appear to be negative; we tend to immediately assume the worst. We instantly think that something bad is driving these people from our congregation.

There is further irony in that even when the reason falls into that fourth negative category, God can and does use that to produce positive effects both on those who leave and those who remain. I’m not saying that this is always the case, but if we objectively look at the departure of someone from the church because of discomfort or dissatisfaction with the church; if people are not convinced that the fellowship, they are involved with is nurturing, engaging, and producing positive growth in their lives; then it is altogether reasonable that they should seek somewhere where they can be fed and grow in their role as a portion of the body of Christ. 

And at the same time, their departure may remove from the church a less that positive influence in the assembly, even if that dissatisfaction is never overtly displayed.

In other words, the one leaving under negative circumstances, may end up somewhere else, where God can grow them.  Furthermore, by their absence, a disruption to growth in the fellowship, may be removed. Both of these are positive results born out of a less than positive event. This is no different than God using flawed people to forward His Kingdom and bring Him Glory.

First let’s look at what scripture has to say in general about this.

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28 (CSB)

We are going to focus around this portion of scripture for the bulk of this devotional. Reason being, when people leave our fellowship, our first tendency is to allow the act of separation, to function as a distraction from our core charge to walk in the Spirit.

I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will certainly not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want.

Galatians 5:16-17 (CSB)

Reflecting back on our typical reaction to news of someone leaving our fellowship, we consider that our most likely reaction is to question ‘why’ with a healthy measure of concern for the situation. ‘What’s going to happen to the fellowship with this person’s absence?’ ‘Who will step into the role this person filled?’ Along with a thousand other questions, all of which are merely a distraction from our walk in the Spirit.

Reacting in this way is our natural (fleshly) reaction.

If we on the other hand, rely on the Spirit’s leading, then this reaction would perhaps result in some concern for those individuals that God’s Spirit guide them on their way. But as far as we are concerned, if we really believe the Words of God then we have to reflect back to what Paul told us in Romans 8; “all things work together for the good of those who love God”.

If we really believe this, when we are faced with the shock of someone leaving, we are immediately resolved that God has a plan that even covers this event, regardless of the cause of the departure, and He will see to it that His Glory is manifested.

The only thing that can sidetrack this is if we yield to the flesh and allow this distraction to be a disruption in our walk with the Lord.

The situation when someone leaves is to be dealt with much in the same way when someone is joining the fellowship or when there is no change. We are charged to walk in the Spirit and if we are walking in the Spirit, then we are going to be looking for every way to show God Grace and Love to our brothers and sisters, to our community, and to the world at large.  Our charge remains the same regardless of the presents or departure of another.

Allowing the departure to be a distraction, is a snare that is laid by the enemy to deter us from our primary mission.

We are to remain in Christ as He remains in the Father. In His absence He has provisioned His Spirit to live in us and to work through us. We are to disseminate His love, His grace, and His compassion to a dying world; making new disciples, teaching those new disciples all that he has taught us, and to spread the Good News to every corner of the world!

Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:19-20 (CSB)

The slightest departure from this edict points to our failure to walk in His Spirit and calls for our repentance and surrender to the Holy Spirit and His Guidance in our lives.

It is then that we will be able to see that Romans 8:28 is more than a promise, it is a directive with consequence. We must place our faith in God’s plan not just for us, but for those we care about who both remain in our fellowship, and those who choose to depart for whatever reason.

If we find ourselves suffering from “Separation Anxiety” as a result of someone leaving our fellowship, it calls for us to consider some self-examination to be certain that we are walking in the Spirit and trusting God will do what He says He will.

In His Grace!
kip…

 

‘Tis The Season

Tis the Season

December 15th

A good number of Christians find themselves a bit frustrated over the way our culture has managed to contort the amazing act of God that is Christmas. The world has twisted the message angels proclaimed, into something totally void of the gift God unwrapped the night Christ was born.

Let’s focus on some points that not everyone considers, when thinking about this annual celebration.

First of all, we celebrate the birth of Jesus on the twenty-fifth of December, not because this was the actual date of the Saviors birth. On the contrary, the scripture doesn’t pin-point the exact date of His birth. Instead, we are given clues from which we can at best make an educated guess.

One thing that is a glaring hint included here…

Now there were shepherds nearby living out in the field, keeping guard over their flock at night.

Luke 2:8 (NET)

These same shepherds were the first visitors to come and witness the newborn Messiah. The first problem we have with a mid-December birth, is the fact that in this region the environmental conditions out in the open fields would not be conducive for grazing the flocks on the local hillsides.

A more ideal timeframe would have put this somewhere between April and June.

Just know that the significance of the date has much more to do with the annual renewal of a new year impending on the earth. The birth of Jesus was certainly an event of renewal, for by His grace the sin-debt of the entire world past, present, and future, was remitted. 

Those who put their faith in the coming Messiah prior to His birth were afforded that grace by faith just as those who as a result of His life and death as our perfect sacrifice purchased that salvation. And all those being forgiven of that debt were given eternal life and adopted into a family, whose patriarch is none other than the GREAT I AM!

In him was life, and the life was the light of mankind. And the light shines on in the darkness, but the darkness has not mastered it.

John 1:4-5 (NET)

He came to what was his own, but his own people did not receive him. But to all who have received him – those who believe in his name – he has given the right to become Godʼs children

John 1:11-12 (NET)

The point of telling you this isn’t to disillusion you at all. The point of it is to realign any misconception about the celebration. The reality of Christmas is it should be celebrated each and every day, not just on December 25th or during the 12 days of Christmas.

God bestowed upon us a gift that constantly manifests itself in the hearts of humanity. This changed everything between God and humanity.

We merely celebrate Christmas on a particular day of the year. The reality is, what we should be celebrating on Christmas day, should be celebrated constantly. But the issue is we seldom really celebrate Christmas for what it represents to believers.

Another thing we need to be cognizant of, is while this is a celibration of new life; the birth of our Savior, the gift of the Father provides to us, means we are cleansed from all unrighteousness and  are presented Holy in His sight, so we can live out eternity with Him.

It’s not just a birthday party. It is the fulfillment of the promise of the Messiah, it is the launch of a 33-year revelation of God’s love to all humanity, because of the birth of Jesus. This revelation encompasses His birth, His life, His death, His resurrection, and His ascension into heaven.

This revealed to us God’s plan of salvation for us to embrace with our faith and trust vested in His Son, Jesus the Christ, Jesus the Messiah.

The final thing to consider is, just who Jesus is. He is God in the flesh, Emanuel, “God with us!”

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was fully God. The Word was with God in the beginning.

John 1:1-2 (NET)

God Himself came to be among us.

The last point I want to make here is that this revelation of the plan of salvation; the Gospel, had an end result folded into it. As Jesus ascended into heaven after his resurrection, He left with us an Advocate.

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and will cause you to remember everything I said to you.

John 14:26 (NET)

Just as Jesus is fully God, the Holy Spirit is fully God in the Spirit. Each and every believer that places their faith and hope in the grace provided by Jesus, is blessed with the presence of the Holy Spirit IN THEM.

This isn’t a varying quantity.  We don’t have more of the Spirit in us at given times, but we do empower the Holy Spirits control of our being by surrender to His will and direction. The more we surrender the more His presence is evident in our lives.

If we are not seeing the Holy Spirit acting in our lives, we can be assured that it is because we have failed to surrender to him, providing him control of our lives. We do this, and it will become evident to ourselves and those around us that something is different about you. The fact is doing so, something is different in you, surrender to the Spirit allows God to direct our path.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding. Acknowledge him in all your ways, and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NET)

The translation I’m using uses the phrase ‘make your paths straight’ but in several other translations this is stated as ‘direct your path’. Surrender to the Holy Spirit is the very definition of ‘walking in the Spirit’.

The point here is as Jesus returned to be with the Father, He gave us something new, just as revolutionary as Him coming to live among us. Jesus coming was Emanuel, God with us. Now as he ascends into heaven, he leaves us with God living IN US!

We may not feel His presence all the time, periods of rebellion will minimize His impact in our lives. He may choose to remain quite at times to teach us important lessons. He is our councilor, our advocate with the Father, teacher and guide. 

Our depth of understanding in the scripture is directly proportional to what the Spirit reveals to us.

As a result of this third point, we have cause to celebrate the gift of the Messiah, Christmas, every day we draw breath. It is more than an annual event, a birth-day. It is our constant rebirth into eternal life with God our savior. And as a result of that rebirth God’s Spirit is with us now and forever!

Like obedient children, do not comply with the evil urges you used to follow in your ignorance, but, like the Holy One who called you, become holy yourselves in all of your conduct, for it is written, “You shall be holy, because I am holy.”

1 Peter 1:14-16 (NET)

So, this isn’t the season to be jolly. It, “Tis the season to be Holy”, as God is Holy, and His Spirit lives in us. It Tis the season, because God came to walk among us as fully God and fully man, living a perfect life, giving Himself for the debt of sin we incur. Tis the season because as a direct result of this gift the season is established to celebrate, God lives in us!

In His Grace!
kip…