Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Here are a couple of oft quoted and beloved scripture passages:

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not put out the Spirit's fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil. May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it."

1 Thessalonians 5:16-24;

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."

Romans 12:1-2

Both of these passages instruct us in the life of Jesus. It isn't so much that things things are magical or are requirements of salvation; instead, they are what Jesus did and now that we have His mind and have declared ourselves to be followers of Jesus these are things that should naturally follow through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Out of the love He has placed in our hearts for Him rejoicing, praying, and being thankful in all things should be the natural way of our life. Out of our love for Him we should desire to worship Him always, and that worship involves offering ourselves every moment as living sacrifices, set apart and pleasing to Him. We shouldn't conform to the world; in fact, as Christ's followers we cannot! If we are conforming to the world then we aren't really living as we proclaim to be.

Now, here are some questions that God has asked me about these verse as His Spirit has worked His comfort and conviction in my heart: Do I really seek Him daily? For example, when I was practicing law was I offering myself daily as a living sacrifice asking Him if He wanted me to continue practicing law or if He had a new course set for me? When was the last time you asked God whether you should continue to preach at your church, work at your job, be a member of whatever club, etc.? Have you even considered that He may have a different course for you and desire that you offer that up on the altar of your life?

Should we not pray daily that God will show us where He is leading us? I'm not trying to paralyze us with indecision or a lack of commitment; however, what are we really committed to? Following God or following the path we are currently on? And, how difficult is it to ask Him daily to fill us with His Spirit, to confirm the path that we are on, to enable our lifesong to be completely dedicated to Him?

With those thoughts, I ask you, my friends and fellow workers in the faith, to pray for the Rileys as we consider where God is leading us next. Where are we to GO in 2007? We feel compelled to do some further training in preparation for more missions work, but we don't know where and when that should begin. Thank you for your prayers, your faith, and your encouragement. And, if you have any ideas, words or visions from the Lord, don't hesitate to share them with me at bwriley4[at]yahoo[dot]com or by commenting here.

Furthermore, if you feel that the Rileys might have something worthwhile to share at your church to a Sunday School class or otherwise, let us know. We'd love to meet you if we haven't and definitely are burning to tell the story of what He has been doing in our lives. We are willing servants.


GuyMuse said...

Yes, these are great passages. Don't mean to get into any kind of debate, but interested in your take on what "do not treat prophecies with contempt..." means in one of your quoted passages.

Also, I hadn't realized you'd be moving on in 2007 so, yes, I will indeed pray for you and ask that God make it clear to you and your family the next step He has for you. Keep us posted!

Alycelee said...

I want you two to know I'm watching and also that Guy Muse is a trouble maker :) (Just kidding)
I will be watching for Bryans response as well.

Bryan Riley said...

Our commitment here at the University of the Nations was always for the remainder of 2006, with a further commitment to pray about whether God would lead us back here or to another location for training.

We have only been home for 4 weeks since June and, given the nature of our quick transition and the need to spend some time ministering at home and building support, we need the time in Arkansas to prepare for the next steps of our ministry.

As far as not treating prophecies with contempt or not despising prophesyings, I've never actually studied it beyond taking it at face value in the context of the scripture. I just now did a quick word study and see that the word for prophecy there is the same as the use of the word when the spiritual gifts are discussed in places like Ephesians 4 and 1 Corinthians 12-14. So, I take it simply to say that when people are given prophetic words and visions (a revelation from God, whether of the future or of something hidden but current, etc.) that we should make them out to be unimportant or of no value.

All too often those who walk by sight or who place too much value on the "majority" don't respect a word given by God through the Holy Spirit to an individual, whether a child or an adult, and they make that word of no import. That would be to transgress this command in my opinion. Of course we must read on to the next verse, to test the spirits or prove all things, but clearly, when it is a fact that God has given a revelation to someone we should not discount it.

Now, please let me know what you think because this isn't something I've thought through much previously coming from a background where many taught cessationism (even though I never bought into it fully).

guymuse said...

Thanks for the response. Really, I am not out to debate the matter, just curious to hear your thoughts on the matter. This is just another of the many "charismatic" and "pentecostal" themes that have a dozen interpretations. Who has the truth about what Paul was really saying? I don't know. What you share sounds good to me, but many in S. Bapt. life would disagree with your interpretation.

Keep us posted on things with the Riley family. Blessings!

Bryan Riley said...

I think all too often we make complicated very simple messages in scripture because they don't "make sense" in light of our experience. Of course, faith is something that isn't based on experience/sight. Do we believe God's word or not? Now, those who are cessationists have no problem agreeing with my interpretation I suppose, but say that it is irrelevant today. I don't think those words are irrelevant for today and I find it telling that the word is consistently used in Paul's writing.