Be reminded of what we have and who we are

2 John 5-6 walk as Jesus

And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.” 2 John 5-6

Passages to ponder: 1 Peter 1:3-5, 13-16; 4:12; 5:10-11; 2 Peter 3:17-18; 1 John 1:5-7; 4:10-16; 5: 11-13; 2 John 5-6; 3 Jude 21-23

These early Christians needed to understand that knowing God was not a one-time event.  Knowing God is a continual and continuing relationship in which we constantly rely on Him.  He alone is the Hope we have.  He alone gives us grace and peace.

Our place and security is in Heaven to come; our joy can be declared and lived out. Christ is sufficient for faith and salvation; there is no other and there will never be.  Yes, we do have hope beyond hope.  If our place is secured in eternity-and, it is; if we have a Savior in Whom we can have faith and trust-and, we do, then we can lead lives of endurance no matter what is thrown at us.  These are things we cannot accomplish by our own means; we need Jesus.  He needs to be placed first!

Christ is our living Hope that will never fade away!

We will face the sufferings and trials; we will even be persecuted for following the faith and being good witnesses.  How we grow and what we learn through the trials is what matters to God and is the value to us.  Jesus, being fully God, suffered on our behalf; we live in a world of sin that suffers due to the consequences thereof.  Jesus bore our sins and took away our ultimate, deserved suffering.

We are chosen by God and by God alone!  The Holy Spirit sets us apart.  

We are able to hear and receive His Words of grace and life.  We need to be reminded of what we have and who we are in Christ.  If not, we will soon forget and replace His guidance either with our frailty or with the ways of the world. Our Lord modeled for us how we are to deal with suffering (1 Peter 1:16-21; 2:21, 4-25).

The key to the Christian life and spiritual growth is our faith that develops our trust in Christ, and our submission to His precepts which produces character and maturity (1 Peter 2:12; 5:10-11).

These early Christians were oppressed, confused, and struggling.  They are seeking to live for Christ in a world that not only does not understand but also persecutes those of the faith.  In the midst of the oppressions of the world and family, others come along who seek to deceive and entice them to live in sin and not for Christ.  Thus, the need to be encouraged, challenged, and hope to remain in Christ.  We need to be aware and be on guard to live for Christ, putting on His virtues and not the world’s.  These epistles are as relevant today as they were 2000 years ago; what they experienced, we experience!  The early Christians needed hope and encouragement just as need these today; the Truth is for all for all time.

False teachings, mysticism, empty philosophies, legalism, and bad traditions also threatened the health and well-being of the Christians and their evangelistic opportunities.  Sound familiar?  The Christians were under siege by prideful men seeking sensationalism and mysticism rather than Christ as Lord.  Christ’s Deity was being challenged and rebuffed for more so-called “clever and newer” ideas (Acts 19).

© 2016, 2017, R.J. Krejcir, Ph.D., Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development www.churchleadership.org/

 

Advertisements

The Epistles were written to a Church under siege

Church under siege

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.  To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 5:10-11

Passages to ponder: 1 Peter 1:3-5, 13-16; 4:12; 5:10-11; 2 Peter 3:17-18; 1 John 1:5-7; 4:10-16; 5: 11-13; 2 John 5-6; 3 Jude 21-23

The siege was both internal and external with bitter conflicts and schemes from within the church and attacks from militant pagans and some hostile Jews.  Thus, the Apostles write to encourage how to cope with and prepare for the worst that would come-even more heinous persecutions. The encouragement is this:  Heed Christ as Lord, His Truth, and fight against anything that comes against this!  Be on guard and fight against heresies and false doctrines while being vigilant building faith and the Church.

The church was in a difficult place-surrounded by a Greek and pagan culture, they were having birthing and growing pains.  They were being negatively influenced and confused by the spectacle of cults and false religions that surrounded them.  They needed the Truth; they needed a Savior.  They could not just retreat inward or run away; they had to fight with faith and model the love of Jesus for those who did not understand or want it.  This was written for the early Christians; this is written for us.

Christ is our Redeemer who is our living hope even when we are hurting!

Jesus offers His forgiveness and grace; by, with and through Him, we are enabled and empowered to live holy lives.  He, indeed, has a plan and a purpose for us!   Life here-now-is preparatory and temporary.  Our citizenship is to come in a glorious, wondrous eternity!  Our God is in control and totally sovereign.  He gives us the faith and the ability to face whatever comes our way, so we do not become the hurting who hurts others (1 Pet 1:3).

We are called to set your hearts.  This means to have understanding, to think, and to have a desire for real, bona fide faith as well as Truth.  We are to think about Christ and consider what we have in Him to experience our new lives. Truth is something we want to learn for triumphant lives and effectual churches, something we want to live in.  As long as we are in Christ, our connection to purity is maintained; thus, we should not sin and live as we please.  We have no right to sin deliberately, and we have no right in thinking, “I am already forgiven so it is OK to sin” (Col. 1:9; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 1 Pet. 2:2)!

We are called to set your mind.  This means to place Christ first.  Bad thoughts and actions lead to bad lives, so we are called to purposefully focus ourselves on Christ, His precepts, and His presence.  When we focus on Christ, our attention is off other things and distractions–even sin!  Heavenly values will translate into earthy values when we are centered on Christ, allowing His work in and through us (Matt. 6:33; Rom. 8:5; Phil. 1:23; 4:8; 1 John 2:15-17).

We are urged to put Christ first and move on to spiritual maturity.  This creates a healthy church, prevents false teachings, and facilitates a mutual faith and hope that is contagious and effectual.  We know His Truth, and we can still be triumphant in Him in the time we have here on earth.  In so doing, we need to be known for who we are in Christ, not for just what we are against.

© 2016, 2017, R.J. Krejcir, Ph.D., Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development www.churchleadership.org/

 

How far is your church’s reach with kindness and truth?

DEARCHURCH

 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade…” 1 Peter 1:3-4

Passages to ponder: 1 Peter 1:3-5, 13-16; 4:12; 5:10-11; 2 Peter 3:17-18; 1 John 1:5-7; 4:10-16; 5: 11-13; 2 John 5-6; 3 Jude 21-23

These early Christians who were grateful for Christ, placed Him as LORD, realized we need to guard His Truth so to live in truth and love.  How are we doing with that?

The people God brings you, that is the ones in your care need to know the importance of our relationship with God and with one another.  If you are not doing that you have a gaping hole in your church!

Realize the people are given to you for stewardship, but they are not yours, they belong to Christ! You are to minister and train them up for Christ’s glory. And in the character and precepts of Christ. In this way, we can be positive with those who do not know Christ.  And not manipulative or controlling or hateful or embrace those rotten fruits…. Let’s take it where the Church today is lacking…. We must be known for who we are in Christ, not just for what we are against.

In so doing, we must show kindness and patience–the key characters of love–to those we ‘feel’ we must hate.  We never will reach others for the Gospel by our negativity or argumentations.  Our reach is effective by our kindness, by holding on to Truth, not compromising Biblical theology, and mostly by being patient with those who are ignorant or even hateful of the Truth, the Word of God.

In the calls of Scripture, we are encouraged to remain faithful, live a life of submission, purity, godly living, and be steadfast and faithful even in persecution.  

Grace and truth, the covenant that God has with humanity and His steadfast purpose to keep and fulfill it.  The truth is that there is no guarantee of happiness as a Christian; our salvation only by faith in Christ Jesus is the guarantee.  Our living hope is our new birth in Christ.  Things will not always be what we want.  In a fallen world, there will always be suffering.

There is Truth!  There is ABSOLUTE Truth.  God’s Word-the Truth-remains unchanged and inerrant even when you may not feel it or when others proclaim otherwise.  

We are called to learn and know the Truth and be on guard against false truths.  He also reminds Christians to be faithful and prepare for the coming persecutions.  Be diligent to live out and guard God’s true Truth!

The early Christians were positive with the Gospel and the call to love our fellow believers and enemies.  They exercised kindness with one another and with outsiders.  They were patient with the decadent society and persecutions they were in.  However, they had to guard the Truth from those who come into the church, not seeking Christ, but who sought to destroy, wreak havoc, and to distract others with a prideful disregard for all that is Holy and Right and True.

© 2016, 2017, R.J. Krejcir, Ph.D., Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development www.churchleadership.org/

 

Reverencing Christ

awe-of-god

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God…” Colossians 1:9-10

We must understand the importance of our reverence to Christ. We come before a holy God.

Jesus is not just a pal or friend or guide, He is our Savior and our Lord (2 Cor. 5:16; Rev. 2-3). A healthy church is all about who Christ is and what He has done. He is not just a Savior and/or best Friend; He gives us life, holds our lives, and will judge our lives. He is the One who overcame life and death for our benefit, and when we seek to run His church our way, we embarrass and dishonor Him and His Way. He has the keys in His hand, as the door to knowing Him and making Him known is only locked from our side. We have no need to fear our future when He is our Light, Guide, and Lord!

This understanding of Who Christ is will help us truly worship Him, and be people who are humble and be a church that, lives a life worthy, that He can use. 

One of the central themes of humbleness is if we do not do it, God will. God asks us to “humble yourselves” for the essential reason that if we do not, He will, and when that happens, it may just be too late. If we do not start to reform our churches to be as they were designed and destined to be, then it will be too late. The doors will close just as has already happened in most parts of Europe. The church once flourished there, but apathy and disease took over and now her pews sit empty in the midst of a confused and decadent culture. We cannot just visualize what a healthy church can and should look like; we must act on it to make it happen.

A healthy church is not just a question of believing in Christ, but being filled with the knowledge, of doing what He has called us to do with trust and obedience.

A healthy church is not about our comfort or what we can experience, but about being people of faith and maturity, bearing fruit, and being what we can be for His glory.

If you have spent any time at all observing churches, then you have seen what takes place. And, if you have spent any time in the Scriptures, then you know what Christ has called us to do. Many times, these two are in conflict. I have personally seen the results of what happens when we do, and when we do not follow our Lord, when we do not humble ourselves. So, the choice is up to us; we are given choices in life, options to follow. We can see for ourselves in the church that is worshipping the Lord, caring and loving one another, steeping itself in prayer, and reaching its neighborhood and world for Christ. Conversely, we can see the church that is full of strife and conflict.

The church that has given up its call to be in Christ and substituted it with their own inclinations and agenda results in people leaving the church, bitter and disillusioned. Too many Christians have traded their election of grace for advertisements of hostility, thus they have forgotten the main thing. As a result, the disillusioned world has confused the strife of Christians for the care of the Lord, thus seeing an uncaring God by seeing His uncaring people and leaders.

 

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. 

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?

Are we His sheep? Do we hear His Voice?

masters voice

“…to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.” Ephesians 1:10

If so, do we respond and follow? God calls us to Himself and to love Him and one another with the love of God. God calls us out of our self-love pride that mutes our effectiveness and purpose and changes us so we are effective and purposeful for Him. So, we need to ask ourselves how is my love life? How is our love for our Lord and the response of love we are to have for one another? We are the sheep of the Lord, and He has given us endless love and care. He gives His sheep endless life and abounding fellowship with Him. He gives us His perfection and His protection, gathering us in to the fold of His wings, as a hen calls her chicks. Giving us the confidence and support for us to stay away from the dangers of the world, protecting us from Satan’s grasp while we engage the world for Christ. Christ perseveres in us, modeling to us how to persevere in our walk with Him and our call to one another.

Our shepherd desires for us to be true and faithful because He is that way with us. This is our call to be true and faithful in our love, in our care, in our walk, and in our talk.

So, are we hearing the voice of God?

Are we practicing the centrality and supremacy of Christ? Are we? If not, where is the call? What do we need to do to build His kingdom church? As Christ bore witness to the Father, so we are called to bear the care for one another and bring it back to Him. We cannot be as the so-called “expert of the law” and debate whom our neighbor is, thus excusing us from our responsibility. Nor, can we ignore the sheep in our care, ignoring our Lord’s call. Yet, so many churches do.

Consider this: how we see others, whether it is a spouse, child, friend, boss, or stranger, will be the measure of how we see our Lord and how seriously we take our faith. What if we were measured by how we see others? What if this is how Christ sees us? Not a very pleasant prospect, is it? Fortunately, grace covers us¾His amazing and loving grace for which we could not venture to do anything to earn it, be acceptable, or receive anything eternal except damnation.

We are to forsake our pride, arrogance, and selfish nature and receive our Lord with joy and eagerness so we can help build His church as He has called us to do!

Remember, the doctrine of Scripture and the call of our Lord will cut “against the grain” of our pride and will. We are fallen, but He will lift us up, as our Lord is our shepherd, guiding us His way and showing us the way of the shepherd, the way of love and care.

Too many Christians only see the church as a consumer entity, which becomes “what I can get out of it.”  But, are we reciprocating that care or are we just catering to our clique and ourselves? We cannot expect others do be the “doers” while we sit comfortably in a pew. We cannot even expect a return on our investment (money given to the church) for personal gain of some sort. The consumer church will become the demise of the church before Satan even has a chance at it. We can utterly eliminate ourselves and achieve total annihilation without any external help from below. God calls us out of the “consumer” mentality and into His reality. Ask yourself if you only see the church as what it can do for you or what you can get out of it.

We do need to be in a church that will take care of us. It is our attitude and determination that will set us apart to either be fully used by Christ, or sit in a pew for our selfish gain and receive our judgment later. I know I do not want that to be me; do you?