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THINGS KEEP GETTING BETTER!

An overall ministry progress report

April 2013

Equipping for the Endtime, Part 1

Many of you have attended our Biblical Home seminar over the years. We renamed it the Apostolic Home a few years ago, in case the first name doesn't ring a bell. Since the church is “built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets” (Eph. 2:20), the early church, under apostolic leadership set a precedent for church growth and life.

The first Christians didn't need bigger barns like the church buildings we have today. Meeting exclusively in homes, the 120 easily  absorbed 3,000 converts as the church grew 25x its size in a single day!

All the churches in the New Testament are house churches––not because authorities refused to let Christians build them, but because that’s the way Jesus wanted it. In Luke 9, and again in Luke 10, Jesus told the 12 and then the 70––“Whenever you enter someone’s home, first say, ‘May God’s peace be on this house.’ If those who live there are peaceful, the blessing will stand; if they are not, the blessing will return to you 10:5-6).God has called His people to be a blessing. Those who bless them in return are blessed; and those who curse them are cursed (Gen. 12:1-3). Evangelism begins with receptive people, not with people who need persuading.

Jesus goes on to say in v.7: “Don’t move around from home to home. Stay in one place, eating and drinking what they provide. Don’t hesitate to accept hospitality, because those who work deserve their pay.” Instead of going from house to house, evangelists are supposed to establish one as a house church base of operations. Acts 2 shows how family members living there are far more qualified than outsiders to reach their neighbors. Verses 42-47 say that the 3,120: “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to fellowship, the LORD’s Super, and prayer…Together, they held everything in common…Every day, they met together in the Temple courts, ate the LORD’s Supper in their homes, and gladly shared meals, praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the LORD added to their fellowship, those who were being saved.”

Following the apostles’ lead, Paul raised up nothing but house churches, and the body of Christ limited itself to home congregations until the mid-3rd century. When authorities shut our doors, we will return to this model to finish the Gospel work.

CuppaJ Café Devotional
Exodus 21:4-6

To teach lessons with eternal impact, the LORD either withheld or sent rain, making weather more than a natural process.

The LORD controlled the weather in the ancient Near East. At first, a mist rose from the ground to water the earth, but after the flood, rain fell from the sky to soften, nourish, and ripen vegetation across our planet. Primarily an agricultural society, both God’s people and their enemies relied on rain to plant and harvest crops they needed to live and to make a living. More than a natural process, however, the skies provided rain as God moved to bless His people economically and spiritually. After all, “All things work together for the benefit of those who love God and are called according to his intentions and objectives” (Rom. 8:28). To teach them lessons with eternal impact, the LORD either withheld or sent rain upon the righteous and the wicked.

In the days of Elijah, to teach the people that He, rather than Baal, controlled rain and harvest, the LORD brought a drought on the land and temporarily deprived His people of grazing land plus produce for their long term good.

In the third year of the drought, after Elijah defeated Baal’s prophets in the sight of the people, the LORD punctuated His superiority over the so-called storm-god by blackening the sky with with clouds that touched off a terrific rainstorm and ended the drought.

Under such environmental extremes, farmers and small landowners often found themselves in debt. A drought could worsen the problems of tilling land cursed because of Adam’s sin. Poor harvests that lasted more than one year, could force farm people to sell their land and property and eventually even their family and themselves to pay off debts.

God anticipated this situation by providing both a fair period of service to the creditor and a time limit on servitude for the debt slave. No one could Serve more than six years, and upon release they went out debt-free.

VERSE 4 deals with one of the possible complications of slavery––marriage while working off a debt. The word, "gave" supplies the key to grasping the situation. Apparently, marriage during debt-slavery was a privilege, because instead of taking a wife as a freeman, the slave’s master “gave him a wife while he was a slave.”  So, a slave neither earned nor owned his wife, nor could she come to him without strings attached. Still the property of the master, any woman he married during those six years (and any children of that marriage) could not automatically leave with him. Apparently, the slave still had to reimburse his “master” for the woman and her services, as Jacob served Laban to compensate him for his daughters Leah and Rachel.

VERSE 5. The word “but” presents us with an alternative to separation from the wife. While free to go after serving his time, a slave could waive his right to freedom and opt instead, to stay. The six-year rule may have been a good financial solution for some, some, but without their land to return to, many may have chosen to remain in the service of their creditor or to move to the cities to find jobs or join the military. Verse 5 shows that along with finances, God also anticipated the emotional complications of slavery.

After six years of shared existence, a slave may grow emotionally attached and declare, “I love my master, my wife, and my children.” And instead of a desire to leave, he may understandably announce, ”I don’t want to go free.” The expression “does this” refers to what the slave just did in v.5––announce a desire to stay rather than leave.

VERSE 6 presents us with a hypo-thetical case: “if” or, in the event a slave willingly gave up his right to freedom, then “his master” had no choice––by law, he “must present him before God.” When a slave had all he could want serving the master––a family, a living, and a home––he could express his desire to stay––to his master. But since the LORD limited servitude to six years, it was still up to the LORD whether the slave could remain in the master’s service. In presenting the slave to God, the master not only acknowledged God’s authority in the matter, but he also showed both his own satisfaction with the slave and desire to retain the slave in his employ. “Then,” to consummate the deal, both master and slave participated in a special ceremony.

Entrances were considered sacred and legally significant spots in the ancient world. Hebrews regarded the doorway as the threshold between the home and the world. To show a desire to personally live by God’s commands in private and in public, God’s people were to, “Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gate” (Deut. 6:7-9). The family walked past the entrance of their home, every day, many times a day. To preserve both their continuity of life and a mutually beneficial relationship with deity, they frequently inscribed sacred texts on doorposts––that represented the house itself and its most vulnerable part in need of special protection. Texts that biblically defined the morality of a home were its strongest defense. (See, The Final Point)

Software Monthly Picks

We have arranged for our study family to acquire the Discovery Bible software for little or no charge. Just go to www.helpsbible.com/ and apply for the 21 day FREE trial. Fill in the required fields and let Gary Hill know that you are either a student, donor, or part of Dr. Gugliotto‘s house church in the ”Comments” box. Within 24-48 hours, Gary will send you an email with a download link plus a code to unlock the prog-ram. Send what you can when you can or keep it for FREE.

Grace in time of need
Prayer Journal

Praises

  • The judge reduced payments for David and Krista
  • He has provided for Michelle and Sean
  • Krista will deliver a son in a few days
  • Brett was acquitted of all charges
  • Dori’s niece escaped with minor injuries from an accident that totaled her car at 30 below
  • Matt’s mother has come to Christ and wants to help, in time for his release from prison

Petitions

  • Gail needs to stay in a Christian program that will help break her addiction to drugs
  • April and Becky need better jobs
  • Tia has been admitted to the Mayo Clinic
  • Lee Q. has Parkinson’s
  • Hank still needs carpal tunnel surgery
  • God will lead Jo to the right client for in-home care
  • Kent is battling against further amputation
  • Burl and Dori need relief from chronic hadaches

A Word from a Christian Friend

Seeking God in a private gathering is hardly a new religious endeavor. For millenniums, Jewish families have joined over dinner tables to begin Sabbath observances. Early Christians worshipped secretly under a Roman Empire that regarded them as outlaws. And today in countries where religious minorities face persecution, home-based worship is the norm.
––G. Jeffrey McDonald, CSM

Overall, one out of five adults attends a house church at least once a month. That adds up to more than 70 million adults who have at least experimented with house church participation. On a weekly basis, roughly 20 million adults attend a house church gathering and in a typical month, 43 million adults attend.

––Audrey Barrick, CP

Birthdays/Anniversaries

• Noah Tagliamonte
    BORN, April 4
• Kendal Clifton
    BORN, April 10
• Wendi Chapman
    BORN, April 24
• Dewey vanLeueven
    BORN, April 27
• David Avery Hooven
    WILL BE BORN, April?

CELEBRATE WITH THE STUDY FAMILY. WISH THEM A HAPPY BIRTHDAY WITH  ECARDS, A TELEHONE CALL, OR AN EMAIL.
GET CREATIVE.
GOD BLESS!

From the Vege-Kitchen

INGREDIENTS
2 c. oats
1 lg. apple peeled or sliced
¼ c. coconut
¾ c. raisins
3 c. water
1/8 t. coriander
1/6 t. cardamon
1 t. vanilla
1/8 t. coconut extract
1t. salt

INSTRUCTIONS
Mix all together and bake at 350 F. for 1 hour. This could be prepared the night before and your timer set to start an hour before breakfast

ENJOY!

WE LOOK FORWARD TO YOUR ONGOING SUPPORT