Church, come near to God!

come near

 “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.” James 4:7-9

A healthy church is one that is filled with His presence, is motivated to serve Him, and has a love for “one another.”

It is about the Lordship and supremacy of Christ. A healthy church is not about gaining numbers, or even great programs, services, location, facilities, amenities, conveniences or even theology (as long as it is biblical). A healthy church is purposely directed to glorify Christ and Him alone. It is a place where people are growing in Him and allowing His impact to invade their will and desires so the Fruit of the Spirit flows into His Church and His people.

We are called to come near to God as a church. So why do we forget and not hear this vital call?

It has been my observation that the causes of marriage failure are the same as with church failure. The two relationships have the same parameters for what works and what destroys. The church is a community of relationships, with one another, with the world, and most importantly, with our Lord. That sometimes forget what it is all about.

The process begins with love and excitement for the ministry, the new birth to the new Christian, or the new church start for the seasoned Christian. It can happen being in a healthy church, or being in a non-healthy church, never having experienced anything else. But, at some point, the committed Christian who has received the faith of our Lord, trades in that first love for a “lemon” of sin. Somehow, the love and passion slowly dwindle away as other things creep their way into the place of that excitement. And these “things” are the diseases of apathy, gossip, pride, legalism, slander, the list can go on and on. These form the relationship killers of bitterness, criticism, condescending attitudes, defensiveness, and withdrawal.

These are the sins that take the joy away from others; it is, in fact, stealing from God Himself.

These were not the precepts that the church was founded upon; these diseases were not in the vision of her planters, just as the divorce court was not on the wedding planner of the couple getting married. Yet, it happened, and it keeps happening.

We may have started to come near to God, and we received the promise that He will come near to you, but we decided to engage in a process that caused us to let go of what we had. We have let the double-minded mindset take over the plan and purpose that God gave us. We must recapture the call of that first love, with all of the excitement and vigor, for our Lord.

We must humble our pride before it is too late. God is not the One who always holds us back; it is usually our refusal to reach out for the faith He has given us and build it up so we can seize the opportunities He gives. It is we who refuse to exercise our faith and grow.

 

Place this Stethoscope from Scripture to Your Church’s Heart


Stethoscope

Place this Stethoscope from Scripture to Your Church’s Heart

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:42-47

The first church was, “devoted to the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, prayer; and everyone was filled with awe.”

This stethoscope is used to hear heartbeats from your church devotion, teaching, fellowship, and breaking of bread, which means community and doing it all in love.

What does the stethoscope “hear” from your church?

What is your church devoted to?

What and where is your awe and wonderment?

These will be the questions, and if answered honestly, will be the measuring rod to the health of your church. This passage in Acts gives us the purpose, vision, and call of the Church, both as a whole and individually. Not just a certain church down the street, but your church, and all churches together as one body. The healthy church looks like Acts 2!

This means we look like we are devoted to Christ and His callwe are teaching effectively, we are in fellowship and community with one another, we are forgiving and honoring of one another, and doing all we do in love. We also look like people who are focused on prayer and our growth in Him. It is not just what we look like, it is because we are. And we do this, with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. The healthy church can be your church; perhaps it already is, or maybe it needs to be reformed. So, strive to catch that AWE, that passion and devotion to our Lord and the reason for our being!

            Most churches that are failing did not wake up one day and just decide, “Hey, let’s fail.” They did not start off with “me first” intentions, ignoring our Lord’s call.

They probably did not choose a purposeful direction of being critical and condescending to one another, and especially not with non-Christians. They did not write their mission statements with a “how to do a disdainful disposition,” or hold seminars on modeling attitudes of puffed-up pride! Or let’s chase a meaningless trend and forget about God’s Word. There was a process that led up to the point of decline and apathy from a starting point of new birth and excitement. There was a point where the first love became clouded, and other dispositions took over the role of the church. Just as the divorcing couple did not go into their wedding with the vision and plan for the divorce, or say in their vows, “say, in five years, let’s become so miserable that we will divorce and live frustrated and disillusioned lives.”

Here, too, was a process that went from the love and excitement of newlywed bliss to bitterness, criticism, patronizing, defensiveness, and withdrawal, and finally, the decision to end the relationship.

How? By losing focus on Christ. By not being in the Word. By weak and irrelevant teaching with no Bible or application. By leaders who are not growing in the Lord. By tracing trends and not Christ as Lord. By accepting the ways of the world and not His Way?

dead sermons

Do not ‪give ‪up ‪on ‪the Church!

Revitalize your Church b

“…we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:13

Too many Christians have given up on the church, and this is too bad. Yes, it is imperfect and full of problems; so, what relationship is not? But, we can overcome all that and grow to do what Christ has called us to do. It means we surrender to win, as we are not only to give of ourselves, but also freely receive gifts and love and care from others without our pride getting in the way.

Our living faith that God gives and builds on along with our efforts are hinged on each other–not in our salvation, but in our personal growth.

Even the private aspects of faith building require mutual efforts and support, so we need church to keep us growing. We can’t build an effectual faith on our own without a church family.

Scripture warns us against negating our spiritual development or neglecting what God gives. If we refuse to allow His work, then our faith and the future He has for us will not be received.

If we leave the Church, our salvation (if it was for real in the first place) is still intact, but we limit our sanctification and cut ourselves off from God’s reward for being faithful. We will fall to bad or natural consequences for refusing His guidance or the fellowship of others (Psalm 137: 5-6; 147:2; Isa 62:5; Gal. 6:24; Heb. 10:10; 13:9-25; Rev. 21: 2-4, 9-27).

The challenge for us is to be mutual effort to our purpose of presenting who we are in Christ, personally and mutually, telling what He has done for us, and responding to Him with passion and conviction, letting go of the fears that hinder us.

We must be excited so when the alarm clock buzzes early on Sunday morning, we jump up, eager about what lies ahead. When adults are energized, it usually becomes contagious to the kids; then, the tyranny of the morning becomes a bounding and fun time looking toward the worship, learning, and relationships ahead. The early church gave us a map for what we can do even in the face of tremendous odds-like the three hundred Spartans heading off the attack of the two hundred thousand plus Persians or our American Alamo. We have the God-given ability to shake off our fear as Gideon did; then the mundane will give rise to excitement, boring will develop into fun, and dread will turn into service.

Then, we can go beyond our pedestrian level of the Christian walk into a transformed, heavenly walk that infects those around us.

Then, the disease that causes division and hurt will cease and the damage and fears that keep us from growing and serving are removed. 

Pastor’s Survey

Help us with the Pastor’s Survey, Part 1 (Parts 2 and 3 will be sent out in the coming weeks)

Greetings! We at The Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development are conducting new research on current church trends to compare such trends against those which Dr. Schaeffer wrote about in his book, “True Spirituality.” Research includes this brief survey of church leaders regarding life in their respective churches and congregations. Please take 2 minutes to complete the survey as your feedback is an invaluable component of our study. The collected results will provide important information that could benefit those in church leadership positions and congregations.

Just 10 short questions,

 

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/MCML62V

Remember we do not deserve His love and grace, yet it is given to us anyway.

Our own motive must be the restoration of God’s people from sin; we are not to do the work of the Holy Spirit, but we are to heed our call of being constructive and providing solutions, not more strife. Our call is to extol people, that is, to come alongside them with comfort and help. We are to help one another grow in relationships with God and with one another. And, with this motive in mind, we are to sheepdog people onto the right path when they veer off, as a loving parent does with a child.

When we have the knowledge and trust of God’s goodness, and His right of judgment, we will refuse to be hypocritical. We will use His goodness as a guide to see the sorrow for our “miss-actions” and have compassion toward others for theirs (Psalm 136). As God is generous with His grace, so we should be generous toward each other and be thankful. And, finally, as we see His goodness in a much deeper way, we are truly transformed, renewed, and we turn away from sin (Romans 12:1-3).

When we refuse to see Christ’s goodness, and keep judging, we model the ultimate contempt to our loving Lord!

http://www.intothyword.org/apps/articles/default.asp?blogid=3844&view=post&articleid=31695&fldKeywords=&fldAuthor=&fldTopic=0

Our Devotion Must be to Christ and not to Ourselves

Prayer

Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it.” James 4:11

 

The biblical model for our church is clearly laid out in Scripture. We may not agree with one another on how to implement His call, or even how to do our government. We may not agree on how we worship or on the subtle aspects of pre-millennial, post-millennial, pre-tribulation, or post-tribulation doctrine. However, those things we must agree on and what we must do cooperatively are found in His Word. It contains the big picture and call to the essentials of what a church is to be, which is acknowledging His supremacy in all that we do.

Understanding His supremacy means understanding His holiness. Yet, holiness is not a part of a lot of churches because we have forgotten why we are there and what the true role of the church is.

We have forgotten that the Lord of the universe has called us out and has set us apart for His use. We have replaced His holiness with our own experiences because we have forgotten our call, our definition, and the real biblical purpose. We have been placed in a church for a reason, and one of the main reasons is to be set apart for His purpose and not for our own. This is holiness. We have forgotten our adoption into His kingdom and the vision of what our church should be. We have replaced it with gothic cathedrals with magnificent stained glass pictures and architecture that screams, “God is holy,” yet the pews are empty; the teaching and discipleship are forsaken. We have moved the church so close to the consumer we have forgotten what we stand for. We have printed out ideas and motions as “core values” with Scripture that we think rivets His plan to a purpose, yet the people go untaught and continue to spread the disease of gossip and malice. Lust, greed, and power have taken over when peace, grace, forgiveness, and love are to be the route taken.

Well thought out functionally unhitched to the basics of why we do church misleads its members and community and displeases God! Even if the church grows, it is unhealthy church growth and misses the point of who and why we are.

We must see our unworthiness and inadequacy before our holy God and seek His forgiveness and restitution. We must not let our sin replace the call of the church to holiness. We must allow His grace to work within us and through us so we can be the church that is healthy, vibrant, and filled with love. The goal is to have His love and our love, all working together and all surrendered and poured out to holiness and purpose that is not forgotten. The church is about us as the Christians who are in Him, worshiping Him. It is not about our petty needs and us. The church was created for us to house His plan in our lives, to come together in community for worship, fellowship, teaching, and outreach. It is about us because it binds us together for Him. It is not about our replacing His desires and plans for ours, or putting the focus upon us. We are not the main characters in God’s drama of redemption, Christ is.

Thus, we must realize that the church is about our Lord Jesus Christ and His plan for redemption. It is about our coming together and modeling His character. We are the supporting cast of actors and extras that make the story come alive to those around us. The church is not a place for grandstanding our desires and personalities.

We need to depend on the cross because we fall way short of the expectations, obedience, and the law. Now, with grace, we can go through life empowered and indwelled by the Spirit. When we have a growing relationship with Christ, we can go through life without fear; we can have the comfort of His presence and help build His church as healthy, vibrant, and effective. Our response is passionate devotion and obedience. We cannot be devoted to principles or even doctrine if we are not devoted to the person and work of Christ. Our church is not a cause; it is a Person, the God and Creator of all things who loves us, who indwells in us, who empowers us, and who guides us according to His purposes.

Our devotion must be to Christ and not to ourselves, not to a principle or to an idea, and definitely not to trends.

We cannot pour out our lives for false passion and conviction for a goal that has no eternal purpose, one that does not glorify our Lord. When we run our churches by our personal agenda and principles, we go astray because our principles are not in the Lordship of Christ, they are within us. We become in “breach of the contract,” of His covenant of love and acceptance, rejecting it for self-interests that lead us nowhere! We need to receive the love of our Lord from the Holy Spirit, and not allow anything to get in His way!

Remember, your church can be healthy. The question is, what are you willing to do about it?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,146 other followers