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/

 

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/

 

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!

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The Book of Revelation and Church Leadership, PX

 love lost bRead Revelation 2: 1-7 

Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.”  Revelation 2: 5

How would you appraise your church from this letter to the church in Ephesus? What is your church doing right as listed here, and what is it doing wrong? 

Keep in mind as you read Revelation, it was a letter written to the Seven Churches of Asia Minor, which is now modern, but has implications and applications to our church and lives today Turkey (Rev. 1:4, 11). 

The church in Ephesus was both good and bad. They were doing some good because of their endurance in persecution. They did not tolerate false teaching or those with bad agendas that were contrary to God’s precepts. They were doing so well, most people in their busy-ness who would go to a church like this might not have noticed anything was missing. Or, perhaps they would be the victim of the ugly that happens when a key component of doing Church is left out. They had discernment, but had trouble with loving.

They lost the most important thing about being in Christ-the Fruit of His Love flowing through us so it touches others.

No amount of sacrifice or good teaching can make up for a lack of love! People see Christ by how we exhibit character and love, and this church was not doing that. Then, Jesus passionately challenged them to get back to Him, get back to loving. To solidify His point and the importance of love, He warned them that if they refused to love, they would be refusing Him, and that they would be judged for it.

I hold this against you… first love… Forsaken. They had forgotten the most important aspect of a church! This may also mean they had bad attitudes, too, that they were once enthusiastic but now are apathetic. They stopped the love that they had for Christ and for one another. They abandon, as in abandoning a child. There, love was left out. Sound doctrine without love and care is like salt poured in dirt; it is useless (Jer. 2:2; 1 John 4; Rev. 2:19).

Repent. Jesus is calling them back to His love. He asks them to remember who they are and Who He is, to hold on to Him and to dwell in Him.

When we slip, it is gradual and we do not notice; sometimes, we do not care or see this as a problem. Thus, to call us back, Jesus sometimes must threaten judgment unless we start running our churches as they and we have been called to do. Like yelling at a child running into the street who is not looking or listening. This is serious business! If an unloving church repents, it can be saved and rebooted to serve and glorify Christ. If not, it will close and be a rotten memory to the community and to Christ! So, deliberate with our leadership how is your church at loving?

Who are the Nicolaitans? They were a heretical group that venerated Jezebel and Balaam with their horrible demeanor, false teachers, and manipulators. They also were experimenting with Gnosticism, believing that their Christian liberty gave them the freedom to practice sin, idolatry, immorality, and engage fully the pagan culture while remaining Christians (Acts 6:5). What angered Jesus further is that they taught they were “improving” Christianity by teaching people to compromise their faith so they could join in the culture and avoid persecution. ”

So what does this come down to?

Does this sound like the new liberalism infesting the church today to tell us to compromise on Biblical principles?

Nicolaitan” means conquer the people. Apparently, this church also micromanaged and lorded over its people just as a cult does today, which is also very bad and ugly (Matt. 21:20-27; 23:1-12; Acts 6:5).

The Spirit means hear the Word of God. It refers to the vision of the prophecy and perhaps the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, too (Amos 3:1; 4:1; 5:1; Rev. 1:10; 14:13).

We are told that we can conquer like winning an athletic event or military campaign. To persevere in the face of adversity and being better for it. This does not mean we earn our salvation nor have any effect regarding it; rather, it means to be faithful.

Reflection

Our growth in Him demonstrates our faith; it is our growth in Christ that keeps us here on this earth. No matter what is facing us and no matter what we have experienced, what we go through in life is meant to form our character and maturity. What we learn is what we carry into eternity. When we fail and do not overcome, it is disappointing in our Lord’s sight. Being faithful is the key that opens to us the door to living in the New Jerusalem (John 13:34; 16:33; Phil. 1; 1 John 4:20; 5:4-5; Rev. 2:11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21; 21:1-22:5).

What can you do to carefully and seriously examine your own church so you are all doing your best for His highest? What would it take to make the needed improvements? How would the people in your church handle some examination?

“My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God” Psalm 84:2.

Does your Church have Love or Relevance at its Core?

 church loveThe principal factor that grows our churches and glorifies the Lord is not chasing a numbers paradigm or the latest trend. Rather, it is all about how we love with the impacting Gospel of our Lord that is preached uncompromised with the power of the Holy Spirit.

Then we bring it with the conviction of the true Truth of God’s Word, and the clarity of the reverence and relevance of our Lord moving in our lives. These are the precious items we bring to build our church in God’s Way!

Love is. The primary Greek word is Agape, which means “self-giving” and “sacrificial,” that is more concerned with others than self. It was used in Classic Greek literature to refer to someone who was generously favored by a god. It conveys the idea of a person giving all his or her love, or favor, to someone else rather than to self. It is a love that is not earned; in contrast, it is relational and given freely. The word “Love” also refers to parents giving all of their love for their child.

In the New Testament, agape love was used to make a similar point, as God gives to each of us all of His love.

Real love goes deeper and further, as a deep adoration that is bestowed without expectations of a response from the other. Agape love is also the most common word used both as a noun and a verb in the New Testament. The greatest example of agape love is what our Lord Jesus Christ did when He died for our sins.

Consequently, God’s agape love gave us His forbearance and rescue from the punishment that we deserved. Rather than receiving what we should have, we received His favor without earning it.

(Deut. 6:5; Joshua 24:14 -15; Isa. 44:9-20; Mark 12:28-31; John 3:16; 21:16; Matt. 22:34-40; John 3:16; 13:1, 34-35; 14:1; 15:9; Rom. 1:31; 5:8-10; 8; 12:10; 13:11-14; 1 Cor. 7:32-35; 13; 2 Cor. 1:21-22; 5:5 Gal. 5:5; Eph. 2:4-7; Phil. 2:2; Col. 1:1-6; 3:5, 12-14; 1 Thess. 1:3; 2:8; 3:6; 12; 4:9-10; 5:8-13; 2 Tim. 3:3; Heb. 10:24; 1 John 4:7-12).

All men will know that you are my disciples. When we love one another, we prove and exhibit Christ!

This is our “mark,” the prime characteristic that makes us friendly and connectable to others, and how we are to be known-by what Christ does with us and calls us to. We are to love one another-period! No strings attached! This is the mold for the form that we use to display God’s love to the world (John 13:34-35; 15:13-17; 2 Cor. 5:20; Gal. 5:22; 1 John 2:10; 3:14-16)!

How do we know if this is working? This is exhibited in the form of the example from Whom our Lord is being lived out in the leaders lives. Then we can examine our practice with this question, “do you use people, or do you serve them?” Remember, Jesus was God, who came to this earth to love and to serve (John 13-14; 18:15-27)!

Thus, we do not aim at our people with numbers or manipulate them to whatever the latest business model or schema, we present the Gospel of God’s true Truth in love by teaching it and by living it out. Then we grow our churches, God’s Way.

What is real love? How is it shown by the fruits of it, like humility and service?

We Are To Have the Attitude of Christ! P4

Read and study, 1 Peter 4: 1-11

“Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”1 Peter 4: 9-10

Does Hospitality cover your church? Do you use it to help others? 

We are to be fueled and empowered by God’s love, and this includes its fruit of Hospitality, for those who come to our church. If not, we are not getting it. We are not getting what church is about, we are not getting what God’s call is or our purpose in the community.

Let’s look what this means. “Hospitality” specifically refers here to taking in travelers with generosity-not grudgingly or with complaining. In general, since we have Christ’s love flowing in us, it should flow to others around us.

This means we are to be willing to give preference to others, to look out for and look after one another, and to share, with discernment, what God has given us, including our family, home, finances, and food. In the church setting, this means we get beyond “the church is mine” mentality.

“Hospitality” is an attitude of stewardship where we do not own anything because we are merely the caretakers for the real owner, God. He desires us to share His stuff, and we comply out of reverence and gratitude to Him. Thus, as we come along side others, we are to welcome them and act out our faith in real, helpful kindness, generosity, and deeds. This includes providing help and lodging to fellow Christians, helping those who are being persecuted, and helping out in our community (Matt. 25:34-43; Luke 10:30-37; Rom. 12: 3-8, 13: 16:33; 1 Cor. 12:1-7; 1 Timothy 3:2; 5:10; Titus 1:8; Hebrews 13:2; 3 John 1:5-8).

“Use whatever gift” means to practice your spiritual gifts, and realize that the diversity we have is beneficial for one another. It also means being charitable or generous to others with what Christ has given you, and to serve Him without being held back by fear, time, or lack of talent.

“Very words of God” refers to Scripture, the words that God has spoken to us. This means to be careful how you speak and minister as we sometimes speak for God as He uses us!

Hospitality is the turning of our backs on our ‘ownership’ of the church, thinking it is mine and just my self-concerns and facing our neighbors. This will take the surrender of our will to Christ’s. If Hospitality does not take us beyond our pride and ownership mindset, then we have only a club of pride, not a real church infused with God’s love.

Hospitality must be our model for church life. It must flow into us from Christ, and in return, flow out from us to those around us. God’s love is the ultimate power for the Christian. Love is more than a feeling; it has segments and characters to it (John 13:1; 15:13;1 Corinthians 13:3; 1 John).

Love is also a choice, a decision that must be perused and worked on!