Pointing the People to Christ

pointing to Christ

 

“… That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.” John 3:29-30 Continue reading

Advertisements

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.

 

How is your Churches Unity?

Do you have His Complete unit? See John chp 17!

Where Jesus’ prays for all Christians through all time, that we know Him and make Him known by spreading the Gospel! It is God’s role and work that are empowering and saving; we merely respond. Our faith is a response, not a work; we realize Christ because He is revealed to us. All the blessings and wonder that we have and can have are in Christ and He gives us the faith that we turn into more faith by our commitment and obedience (John 3:30; Rom. 6:12; Gal. 2:20-21; Eph. 2:8-9; 5:15-17; Phil. 3:1-21; Col. 1: 3-6, 10-12, 15-29). 

So we can be set apart and holy for God’s work and purpose of conforming us to the image of the Son, and not to stray from Him. Jesus sets Himself apart to do God’s will and work.

For us, with the image of consecrating priests for God, it is the application of our redemption, of setting us apart from sin. This is the growth we have and do in Christ—in our trust and obedience that He provides. This is not saving action; it is a response action where we become more like Christ’s character. The work of the Spirit is to intercede in us; our response is our progressive growth and spiritual formation in Him. God can use anything to be sanctified, even places and things (Gen.2:3; Ex. 28: 38-41; Num. 18:9; Isa. 10:20-22; Joel 2:32; Amos 9:8-12; Luke 24:26; John 8:31-32; Rom.15:16; Gal. 6:14; Eph. 2:1-10; 5:26; 1 Thess. 4:3; 5:23; 2 Thess.2:13; Phil.2:13, 3:10; Heb. 2:10-11; 9:12-13).  

God calls us as leaders of His Church to carry out His plans and accomplish His mission of reproducing communities of Christ-formed authentic disciples.  

We do this by equipping our people to know and teach Christ’s redemptive reign as missionaries sent by God, to be real and to visibly live and proclaim Christ’s Kingdom to the world. This is the model we are to use to show God’s love to the world, because our unity has an evangelistic intention and example! Our infighting and often bitter divisions destroy churches and create an extremely bad witness. When we do not live as we should, our un-forgiveness becomes malice and actually grieves the Holy Spirit! We should be clear on this. A healthy Christian is one who puts aside the malicious traits of an evil, sinful nature, and embraces others in love. What comes out of love is the release of our feelings of betrayal and hurt. The Christian is called to model kindness, love, empathy, and compassion; out of these, forgiveness will flow. God wants us to get with it, to wake up, and seize the wonders and opportunities He gives us. An unforgiving attitude and its ugly rotten fruits will choke us off from His wonders (John 13:34-35; 15:13-17; Gal. 5:22; Phil. 1:23; 1 Thess. 4:17; 1 John 2:10; 3:14-16)!  

We are called as a church: “May be one.” Unity is a crucial attribute of the Godhood—the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, which is our call as a Church to be unified by His indwelling and the fulfilling of His purpose. This means to be in unity with those outside of our culture and/or our socioeconomic, age, and ethnic standings as we are all one in Christ for mutual survival in an oppressive situation and cooperation for a successful church and the example and work of the Gospel (Psalm 78:3-7; Isa. 46:13; John 10:16; 11:52; 12:20-23; 14:23-24). 

When we receive Christ as Lord and Savior, a radical change and new birth occur. We are no longer of the world; we belong to Christ. However, we will continue to live in the world until we are called home to eternity. So, in the meantime, we become the “salt and light,” the example of the Gospel while not being corrupted by the world’s ways. This also means we do not retreat into seclusion; rather, we engage our culture with the power of the Gospel, good character, and social action, and by being positive influencers (Matt. 5:13-16; 6:19-24; 32; 24:14; Luke 12:13-21; Rom. 12:1-3; 10:18; Col. 1:6; 23; 2:20-23; 1 John 2:15-19).

 

Does your church have e the “Full measure of Joy?”

Full measure or to be filled with Joy. Is God’s outpouring to us!

What we have in Christ is wondrous beyond our thinking or dreams and no one can take away our Lord’s redemption—not Satan, not humans, or circumstances. This also means God’s purpose is complete and will continue from our salvation into eternity with our relationships on earth and our relationship to Him forever. Be aware that our life of contentment is trapped between the walls of experiences and the ceiling of things we desire, while we tend to ignore the door of the Truth. Real joy is found in the practice of our faith; we are to enthusiastically show to those around us this joy and peace that is only found only in Jesus (Luke 24:33-52; John 10:28; 17:13-26; Rom. 6:9-10; Phil. 1:6; Heb. 7:24-25)!  

Joy is our strength from our byproducts of trust and obedience that lead to our inward confidence, contentment, and peace from our harmony with God and others.

 These then lead to expressions of rejoicing and gladness from an attitude and mindset of optimism and delight from God working in us. Joy is not a mood or mere happiness or a fulfillment of pleasure, because we may not be content and pleased with our situation. Rather, joy is hope; it is our hope in Christ. It is not a meager wish, but rather the unshakable confidence in our future in Christ. Our pleasure comes from knowing He is in charge and caring for us! This will allow us to enjoy our relationship with Christ, His creation, others, and our circumstances with Him. We are called to count it joy in James, referring to declaring our situation as happy and fulfilling even when it is not. It is to change our mindset and focus. It is realizing God’s perspective, the sovereignty of God, and that He is in control, even when life seems to be turned upside down and inside out that gives us the confidence and patience to endure anything. To be happy, we first must seek to be holy (Neh. 8:10; Psalm 20:5; 32:7-9; 34:1-8; 51:12; Prov. 15:13; John 4:34; 15:11; 17:13; 2 Cor. 12:9; Phil. 4:10-20; 1 Thess. 5:18; James 1:1-4; 1 Peter 4:12-19; Heb 10:34)!

 

What is wrong with the worship in most Churches?

We, the conservative and Evangelical church, for the most part have forgotten what it is all about!!!

The liberals and mainliners did these decades ago now we are doing it? How? Just as they did, by substituting what we want and throwing out what God wants! We just rationalize it better (well, not really). The prime problem we have is that most of us in ministry should know what worship is; but, in practice, we do not. We ignore the main event and place our emphases on the trivial and unimportant. We focus on our style and music preferences, the techniques and practices of the sound and the instruments, the trimmings and trimming and so forth, thinking we are being practical when we are not. Like in Revelation chapter three, while Jesus is knocking on the door, we ignore Him, too busy; too preoccupied. He is left outside of the Church when He should be front and center as Supreme, exalted, worshiped, and reverenced! While the technicalities are important to a degree, they are not meant to be center stage or even given a place in worship. Most pastors and churches totally ignore Christ in their worship (Rev. 3:14-22)!

The foremost aspect to keep in mind about worship is that it is not about us! It is not about preferences of style, order, procedures, music, who is leading, who is not leading, and so forth. Worship, which is real authentic and practical praise, is all about placing Christ first, acknowledging His Lordship and place, and our response of praise with reverence and gratitude to Him for who He is and what He has done.

The sad fact it most Christians in the pews do not have a clue about worship or praise-and may I go on so far as to say-even most worship pastors. Why? Because, we do not model and/or teach them properly! So, they are consumed with what they want and forget what He wants. We forget that it is about Christ-not about us!

In John, chapter four, we are given some key aspects of what God desires and requires concerning worship through His encounter with an outcast woman. He is seeking worshipers, real Christians giving real, effectual, true adoration from hearts that truly love God, who are grateful for His work, and are dedicated to His true Truth-not to schemes, trends, or feelings. This is also is a snip at the overly traditional church missing the point, both in the pretentious Jewish services then and the ones many of us lead today. The contrast Jesus was making is that there are too many worship services that are merely rhetoric, driven by obligation, meaningless ritual, and liturgy that just spins one’s pride and/or hides one’s heart (John 1:18; ; 3:3; 4;1-26; 14:16-18; Acts 2:33).

Are you ready for Worship?

Is Jesus outside or inside your worship?

 

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.  Revelation 3:20)  

Jesus is beckoning us to come to Him; He is doing this in a church worship service, where the people are doing their thing and He is left out!  He stands at the door of our souls and of our churches and asks us to open ourselves to Him and His ways. The request of Jesus is that the self-deluded and compliant members of a church who refuse to invite Christ into “their” church or be a part of “their” activities and lives are being called out by Him. So, He wants us to hear Him and then obey Him, yet we so often place other things in the way so we cannot hear and thus do not obey. He will come into our church even when it is dead; He will eat with us, and share the ministry, rebooting and rebuilding. It is never too late to acknowledge and grow in Him while we still have breath in us. But, Jesus’ point was that we should not wait, but get busy in Him now! He wants us to be victorious for His glory (Matt. 24:33; Mark. 13:29; James 5:8-9; Rev. 3:11-22; 22:7).   

So, do some soul searching and deep prayer and ask our Lord King, is my worship real, reverent, and practical? Does it honor Christ or draw people to just my place, my church, my ministry, my teaching, and therefore, He is left outside, knocking on the door?

We are given in Scripture a simple and clear proclamation: whatever you do, do it in the name of the Lord. This simply means our actions must reflect our faith. With our lips and lives, all we do must have as a focus the glorifying of Christ and the furthering of His Kingdom. This is a reminder that God is Sovereign; He is our hope and reason, so we must line up our lives to Him. We are not to have a pagan religious service, which means it is about me and not about Him. We are to make sure that our influence is right and our influencing of others is righteous. We are not about the over emphasizing of ritual observances and negated personal holiness. We are to “shape up.” All aspects of our lives must reflect His Lordship over us (1 Cor. 10:31; 1 Thess. 5:8)!  

Then, we can really worship and hold fast to the hope, to be unshakably confident—without doubt or hesitation—in our trust in Christ. The reason is because Christ is faithful, even when our friends and circumstances are not. Thus, our confidence is in Christ, not the people in the church or how we are tested or treated either inside or outside the church walls (Acts 21:26; Rom. 3:24-26; 2 Tim. 2:13; Heb. 3:1-14; 6:18-20).  

How can your church be better at leading others to worship? Better at leading others to a worshipful lifestyle of loving and strengthening one another for His service? Why do so few of us actually do it? What can you do about this? 

Do not force Jesus to stay outside of your church trying to get in!

more here:

http://www.intothyword.org/apps/articles/default.asp?articleid=70204&columnid=3881

The essential way to grow a church is to be faithful with our Fruit!

Remember: Christ did not give up on us when things went from bad to worse with our sin. His grace, forgiveness, and perseverance came to us anyway!

A Fruitless Church is a Big Problem!

One of the main problems I have seen in the churches I have served and consulted for or have researched is the lack of Fruit from its leaders and members. We have to see this as a travesty before our Holy God. It can come from the over-focus on the personality of a leader who is prideful or a preoccupation with a trend, giving no regard to the percepts of the Word, or the basic lack of kindness when you visit such a church. Some churches are good at one or two of the Fruits of the Holy Spirit to the exclusion of the rest of the Fruits. Maybe you will see big smiles from the pastor who is a good teacher, but sometimes impatient and cold—perhaps even smug. This can be from focusing on the Gifts of the Spirit while ignoring His call and Fruit of the Spirit. We have church leaders and pastors concerned about being deliberate and intentional, thinking that “my church is exclusively my ministry; this is all about me.” They are all about building a legacy to themselves and how they want to build their church to and for themselves, something which they rationalize away using statistics, pop psychology, and business trends while ignoring the Word.

How many people, in an average, good church, practice the Fruit of the Spirit in that church? Well, we do not know yet. The initial research is all over the map from a mere twenty percent 20% to a quantity of eighty percent (80%) of church leaders who deem themselves fruitful. In the mean time, those under their leadership show a small deviation; a measly eighteen percent (18%) to an over seventy percent (70%) see their leaders as bearers of fruit. How many practice it at home? How many practice it at work? This is the research we are seeking. When we know what we are doing with our faith and fruit and see what Christ calls us to do, perhaps we can improve our church’s workplaces and our homes!

It seems, from our initial research (our partner the Schaeffer Institute) and experiences, that most Christians respond to their faith with a rear end firmly planted in a pew that goes nowhere near fruitful service or glory to Christ. They hold on to a will that does not allow conviction or change to their routine or life. Thus, church is just a club for comfort and not a “huddle” to strategize and put forward how to play the game of Christian life after receiving our orders from the Coach. We need to know that Christ calls us to change our minds like we change the oil in the car. Look what Romans twelve tells us to do: “devote themselves to him; and avoiding conformity to the world.” In other words, we are to be changed, fruitful people so we can be change agents to others. Not to be infected by the world, but to help it along toward His purpose. We cannot do that when we are poured out to our will and desires only and not to our Lord. Oh, that we can be: “…conformed to his holy will”… “to think humbly”… “to exercise faithfully”… to mutual love, diligence, patience, hope, prayer, hospitality, compassion, and condescension …. “and becoming conduct towards all men”! Our devotion to Christ must be rooted in the mind and then let the Fruit translate it to the feet and the rest of our bodies in between—the body of us as human beings and a body of believers in relation to all those around us, which is our duty (Rom. 12:9-13).