“Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:38
A king was once traveling through his kingdom. He came upon one of his subjects who was carrying a sack of wheat, produced through much blood and sweat. “Give me some of your wheat.” The king said. The farmer thought carefully and reached into his bag and removed a single grain of wheat which he fearfully handed to the king. The king took the grain. He then reached into a bag of his own and pulled out a single gold coin and handed it to his subject and rode off.
Can we doubt that for the rest of his life the farmer wondered what would have happened if he had given the king the whole bag.
How are we giving to the Lord, in resources and talents? By the grain, by the handful or by the sack?
This isn’t a prosperity concept. God could give us a whole bag any time He wanted. But like any other endeavor, we are limited by what we are willing to invest.
Isn’t it time to give Him your whole bag?
“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything.
1 Corinthians 6:12
What are you going to do today? Because of Jesus, the possibilities are endless.
We live under grace of God and not under the law. We’ve been completely liberated from legalism!
As a believer in Christ, you’re committed to a greater calling: to follow Jesus Christ. There is more responsibility in that than in being bound by rules. And “whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
What are you going to do today? Will it bring God glory by night fall?
Those of you who joined us last Sunday Night for Being the Church will recognize that I have summarized that session during our daily devotionals this week. I apologize to those who attended last Sunday night for the repetition; but I believe the teaching is worth repeating. I also believe it is worth a wider audience.
What’s more important than Being the Church? It’s our purpose.
This Sunday night we will discuss Faithfulness. I believe we will look at it in a way most of us never have before. I look forward to seeing all of you who were there last week. The rest of you are now caught up so you can join us without missing a beat.
See you Sunday night at 6 p.m. and Be blessed.
So what are the purposes of Church? Why have church? What should we be doing as the church?
I think this list pretty well covers it; but I would list them in a different order. I think some purposes are more basic and form a foundation for the others.
PRAYER: Prayer is foundational. No successful ministry exists without it. It should be the first thing we learn and our most common exercise. After all, it’s the method for our change and the source of our direction.
FELLOWSHIP: I think this is next. We have to learn to “play well” with others and it is by the love for each other that we demonstrate that we are His.
DISCIPLESHIP: Founded on our prayer life and love for each other we desire to grow more like our Savior. If we’re not moving forward, we’re moving back.
MINISTRY: As we grow, we desire to serve. The Lord identifies the gifts among us and puts them to use.
OUTREACH: Our service to each other, grows into a service outside our walls to bring others to Our Lord and into our Fellowship.
WORSHIP: Most churches believe they worship. But worship is a lifestyle and it flows from our prayer, fellowshipship, discipleship, ministry and outreach. As each of these matures so does our worship.
Many try to focus on one of these purposes without a stepped foundational process. But the result is imperfect. God can still use it, but it’s not all it can be. Many churches never get even into prayer or fellowship. There is always so much more with God. Where are you? Do you have a rich and developing prayer life? Do you enjoy the fellowship of believers or do you prefer to be “left alone” in your pew? Are you growing and helping others to grow? How are you ministering and reaching out? Is your worship all it should be?
Step forward and be blessed.
Acts 2:42-47 (New King James Version)
42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.
46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.
If we seriously want to be the church that Jesus intended it seems wise to look at what the first recorded New Testament Church looked like. Consider the verses above. Do they remind you of any church in existence today? I can’t think of one. In fact, these verses seem to describe what we would consider to be a cult, not a church.
The first century church was radical. It obviously wasn’t a Sunday morning thing. They did church 24/7. Many of the elements of “church” today can’t be seen. No committees or altar calls or worship bands or international organizations. Yet they were successful. They were glad, praised God, had favor with all the people. Most importantly, the added to the church daily those who were being saved. Sadly, that doesn’t sound like church today either.
Maybe we need to rethink our ideas of what church is, radically rethink.
Be thinking and be blessed.
Matthew 28:16-20 (New International Version, ©2010)
The Great Commission
16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
The church must never forget that it has a commission. It isn’t just to have weekly services and to do church; it’s to make disciples of the world. Wow, what a mission statement. As the church, our vision is never too large. Jesus gave us the world. Sometimes we minimize this commission. We summarize it as “getting folks saved.” But the mission is much greater. We are to take people further to complete obedience and discipleship.
Obviously we can’t make disciples who practice complete obedience unless we are obedient disciples.
How are we doing church?
Not very well I’m afraid.
Maybe we need to try harder.
Mark 12: 28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
Jesus began the answer to this question in a way with which his questioner was very familiar. Loving God above all was a concept well known to Jewish thought. But loving your neighbor as yourself was something new. Jesus was all about love. He lived it in his incarnation; He made it eternal by His death on a cross. In His answer he ties together love of God and neighbor. He advises that there is no commandment greater than these, the two together. Love of God is our source, played out daily in our love for each other. It forms the basis of His church. Love, acted out between men, is the very sign of discipleship. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:35.
When we consider the church, how it should operate and how it must be identified, we must begin with love. Not just a spiritual cloudy kind of love, but a love acted out in the real world between men.
If you’re not loving, you’re not His and you’re not His church.
Love and be blessed.
The church isn’t a building or organization. The church is the body of believers. It spans many denominations, races and nations.
Carefully considered, this is a pretty radical concept. It confers authority, and responsibility, to individuals. If we are unhappy with the state of “the church” we need to look in the mirror not at a priest, pastor, or other leader. If we believe the church should be doing a better job of being “salt” and “light, ” preserving what is good in the world and casting light into corners of darkness, we need to get salty and brighten up.
The church isn’t perfect, because it’s made up of imperfect humans. But it’s pretty good because it consists of individuals changed into new (and significantly better) creatures by their faith in Christ. And, by the way, it DOES NOT include everyone who calls themself a “Christian” or “Church Member.” We know who we are. We don’t get to vote on the membership of others, but He does.
Come on Church. Let’s get moving. There’s much to be done.