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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Window view (by Ester)
Ester took this photo through our front door and hanging wreath

"Not One Of Us"

Message summary:
Those who might be smug or sanctimonious about their religious affiliations may very well need to hear the voice of the Master say: "Do not stop him, for whoever is not against you is for you." 

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"Master", said John, "we saw a man driving out demons in Your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us." "Do not stop him," Jesus said, "for whoever is not against you is for you" (Luke 9:49,50).

In my high school years my family lived in Independence Missouri on the western side of the state. Independence was the starting point of the Oregon Trail and has a number of other interesting features including being the home of our 33rd president, Harry S. Truman. I was the president of my 1973 senior class at Truman High School, the time that Truman passed away.

But Independence also has religious significance to several Mormon related religions. There is a small splinter group, known as the Church of Christ (Temple Lot) or "Hedrickites" that has a small white framed building on what they call the "temple lot", where they believe Jesus will return. This group believes they are the one and only true church in all the world, essentially the only one who has it right. All other churches are an abomination in the eyes of the Lord. As published on the official church website history: "There is no other authority to represent the Kingdom of God on the earth in modern times, nor had there been in the churches for 1260 years prior to 1830".

Imagine that in a world with over 7 billion people you are in a tiny religious group that believes you are the only people on the entire earth who have it right. Everyone else is wrong. I'm sure glad that I have never belonged to a church or denomination that believes such error!

An aspect we enjoy about our present ministry is the way we observe God using a variety of people, programs and churches to accomplish His purpose. We meet and hear from people from all over the world. Some voluntarily express their identity with a wide variety of denominational backgrounds. There seems to be leveling in a writing ministry like this.  It's our intent that these daily encouragement messages express Biblical truth that all we who love the Lord hold in common and dearly cherish.

John was puzzled in our daily verse. This was not John the Baptist but the apostle John who would later write the gospel bearing his name, his brief three epistles (letters) and finally his revelation of the end times. But he demonstrates an interesting character quality in today's text which brought about a reprimand from the Lord followed by a word of instruction. The attitude John displayed is common to our day and all through church history.

"Master", said John, "we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us." John (and probably the other disciples) had a hard time with someone working for God that wasn't in his "group". Notice the phrase "not one of us." I assume by this he meant not one of the twelve disciples, who certainly were a distinct group of Christ's followers. However, even during Christ's ministry on earth we have a record of others in service for Him such as the Seventy, he sent out. John probably expected Jesus to commend him for his effort to stop this uncommissioned outsider.

But Jesus said, "Do not stop him, for whoever is not against you is for you."

I've often wondered who was the man that was driving out demons in Christ's name. Had he been a disciple of John the Baptist? Perhaps he was associated with the Seventy. We just don't know.

But Jesus advised, "Do not stop him." Is there a lesson for us here? I believe so. God is working today and not always in ways we understand. We can be like John and wonder why God seems to be working through groups or individuals who might be different in their technique, in their giftings, and they may even vary in their interpretation of the "gray" areas of Scripture.

Let me be clear that we must be in agreement regarding the black and white teachings of Scripture which are non-negotiable. These doctrines are the basis from which we build a common Christian foundation, no matter the name of our denomination or church. But those who might be smug or sanctimonious about their religious affiliations may very well need to hear the voice of the Master say: "Do not stop him, for whoever is not against you is for you." 

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we join our spirits with Your spirit so that the whole world will know that we are one in You.  We unite in purpose and oneness of heart as we go into the world and present the gospel of Jesus Christ to every region and every race.  A people that is divided against itself will surely fall, but a people united by a common foundation, motivated by the same purpose, will be strengthened. We look to You, as our Head, to impassion us with the desire to work together in rescuing the perishing as we trample down the forces of evil. As we exercise the virtue of love our hearts are truly bound together in perfect unity. Amen

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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