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.

 

The Importance of Discipleship and Growth P5

 

“Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.” Psalm 37:5-7

Obedience will override our feelings so that we will remain steadfast and secure. 

We are all called to put our faith into practice. We can now take the relationships, mentoring, and learning, and carry them out in daily life. This is often expressed in service projects and missions, but that is only a small, although necessary aspect of service. Service is how we daily live our lives, modeling His character to those around us. When we are in ministry, we need to realize, it is not what we do, but whom we can equip. As we practice by reciprocating what we have learned to others, we will also be built up. We are called to build a network of relationships so we can build one another up in the faith through friendship and mentoring.

The Word must touch who we are and transform the very core of our being.

We cannot lead others to Him when we do not know the way, and, in order to know the way, we must have knowledge. Knowledge comes from experience, and experience comes from discipleship. The will of God is that we study His Word which will change our behavior.

A real impacted Christian, especially a leader in the church, must have the knowledge and experience to put into practice the work that needs to be done. The disciple will be studious so that the Word nourishes them. They must study and apply the Scriptures, not just read them occasionally, like a novel. The Word must touch who we are and transform the very core of our being. This is the knowledge that leads and transforms.

From the character of Christ comes the conduct of Christ-if we choose to follow Him.

Then, the values of our daily walk, those which drive our behaviors, will, in turn, influence others. You cannot lead where you have not been, or when you do not know the direction to go. This is why discipleship is so essential to the aspect of being a Christian, especially a witness.

We are called, not to just visualize faith and discipleship, but to do it, not to just read about it, but to do it, and not to just talk about it, but to do it. One cannot just think about dinner and satisfy hunger; the meal has to be gathered, prepared, and then eaten. The effective church will take Scripture and the call of our Lord seriously, gather, prepare, and then put it all into practice so we partake of His feast.

What do you consider to be the key to finding and developing faith?

A worship-centered heart will help create a church that grows because it is also poured out to Christ and effective in the community, a lighthouse of God’s love and care through prayer and action to the world. 

Some passages to consider: Psalm 119:89-90; John 3:30; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

The Importance of Discipleship and Growth P4

How Important is discipleship in your church and teaching?

“But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” Matthew 13:23

In Matthew 13:23, we see two key words that strike at the foundation of our complacency, Hears… and does. He calls us to wake up and do something with our faith, not to just sit in a pew and complain, or lay on a couch as life drifts by. A call is pronounced. An action must take place to secure that His precepts will cause an impact.

We cannot just hear; we have to obey. Obedience is not in words, but in deeds that demonstrate our words through practice and action.

This is not about our salvation; it is about our response of worth and our impact. Our salvation by faith alone may secure us, but what is the impact if we do nothing with it? As His elect, whenever we read and/or hear the Word of God, we will have the desire to heed the call and put it into action.

I have been in pastoral ministry as a profession since 1982, and was in lay-ministry for several years prior to that. I can tell you absolutely that the one thing that keeps most people from accepting Christ as their Savior and being born again is that they do not want to admit their need; they do not want to be convicted. They do not want to admit that there is something basically wrong with them. They still cling to the idea that there is some good thing about them that God should accept, and if they do more good than bad, He will have to let them into heaven.

I do not think anything has been more destructive in the whole realm of theology and what is preached in so many churches than the idea that we are O.K. as we are. No repentance is necessary.

Come one, come all! But, the Bible says we cannot come to Him; He comes to us.

Christ will save us if only we will acknowledge our need and accept Him as our Lord and Savior; yet, so few will. It is the same with Christians who lack the motivation to witness; they do not want to admit that others have a need. It is not an official Christian policy by any imagination; rather, it is a rationalization we make because of our fears, complacency, or indecision.

Despite our best efforts, we are not fulfilling God’s law. We are not able to do so.

People desperately need a Savior! So, carefully consider any barriers in your thinking that blocks you from this core truth and reality of life:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16.) What is the barrier that holds you back from giving this proclamation of love to others? We all need to find and remove it.
Some passages to consider: Psalm 119:89-90; John 3:30; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

God is more concerned with our obedience than our knowledge.

All too often, Christians only see God’s Grace. How does knowing that God is a God of judgment, as well as a God of holiness and righteousness affect your faith and obedience?

Obedience is so essential for us to understand and apply! Knowledge is important, but, what we think we know pales in comparison to who Christ is and what He does for us. When we feel we are wise, we are like a four-year-old thinking he knows better than his parents. How far can a four-year-old carry himself in life?

How far can we carry ourselves in life without Christ?

We may think we are doing well, but when we look back, with eternity as our guide, our ways are revealed as very pathetic indeed! We need to allow God’s truth to reign in us, and hold on to that reign with trust and obedience. When we do this without worry, and with trust, we grow, and real wisdom will flow into us, and through us to those around us. Just be aware that God will not give you wisdom or gifts until you have mastered what He has already given you (Luke 16:10; 19:17; John 7:17; 14:12; Heb. 12:6)!

The more knowledge you have, the more responsibility you have to use and practice it.

That is why Moses was not let into the Promise Land; he disobeyed God. He knew better than anyone who ever lived not to do that! Fortunately, today we have Grace! Even though Moses disobeyed God in a relatively minor matter in our perspective, God was still gracious, and showed him all that would come. What God sees as important, we sometimes skip. Remember, Moses knew better. And, when we sin, we know better too! Thus the offense of striking the rock was bad enough for him to be excluded from entering the Promised Land. Moses had been face to face with God, and knew his duty and call. His anger broke the trust he had with God, resulting in grave consequences.
Fortunately for us, we have Grace to further protect us (Ex.17: 6; Num. 20:8-11)!

What happens to a Christian’s growth and faith when all he acknowledges is God’s grace, and not the rest of His attributes?

The more knowledge you have, the more responsibility you have to use and practice it.

What does this mean to you and your church? Consider your gifts and opportunities. How have you used them?

What can you do to take to heart in a deeper way that God is more concerned with your obedience than your knowledge?

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

Is Spiritual Maturity Important in the Church?

Look what we at the Schaeffer Institute found: 

We are called to spiritual growth—that is, the formation of the investment of faith Christ gives us that we give back to Him in dividends. This is a deep conviction of our faith, a practiced submission that shows our obedience, and a life of personal and relational maturity. We have to listen to God; if not, we will not learn and then we will not grow and then we will not have a life of transformation and growth. Instead, we experience a storm-tossed sea of life, wayward in every perspective because our eyes and ears are not upon our Lord (Hebrews chap 1-6; James 1). 

Eighty-three percent (83%) of the church leaders and pastors surveyed said their people were content in their Christian faith. 

Eighty-one percent (81%) of the church leaders and pastors surveyed said they had no regular or effective discipleship program or effort to mentor their people at their church. 

Eighty-one percent (81%) of the church leaders and pastors surveyed said there was no primary teaching from the pulpit to challenge or deepen their people’s Christian formation (spiritual growth and biblical application) at their church. 

Seventy-eight percent (78%) of the church leaders and pastors surveyed said they either are or will focus on new trends or ideas to try fix something they feel is not working right. Seventy percent (70%) stated this is where their primary time is spent, whereas only 22% of those sought answers for their church problems from God’s Word, good theological sources, or going to more trained and experienced pastors for advice. 

More here:

http://www.churchleadership.org/apps/articles/default.asp?articleid=44952&columnid=4545

Moving Away From the Cornerstone

 

The problem is that many churches have fallen so far, they are apostate and others are on the verge of the same betrayal against our Holy Cornerstone. Understanding that He is our Cornerstone gives us a navigational rendering on how to lead and manage our church in a healthy, biblical way. Understanding that He is our chief cornerstone means

Jesus is the Chief, the Head of the corner. It means our Lord is our All in All—we can trust in Him (1 Cor. 15:20-28)! How wonderful and comforting to be able to allow Him to be our haven of rest, our continual comfort.

At the same time, a warning is given in Scripture to those who reject the Living Stone in the Bible. They will stumble and fall. Stumble, meaning disobedient, refers to condemnation and judgment because a person is so “self willed” and prideful, he or she is not willing to acknowledge God as his or her Lord (Mal. 2:8; John 11:9; Rom. 9:33; 14:20; 1 Cor. 10:32; James 3:2; 2 Peter 2:8).

Fall in Romans and Matthew refers to Isaiah (Matt. 21: 33-46; Isa. 8:13-15; 28:16). Peter and Paul both used this image (Rom. 9:33; 11:11; 14: 4, 21; Heb. 4:11; 1 Pet. 2:6-8), that those who reject Jesus as the Messiah will be judged. God’s Kingdom is portrayed as a rock, and we will be cursed by it if we fight against it (Dan. 2: 34-44; Matt. 16:27; Rom. 2:6; Rev 20:12-13; 22:12).

He still gives us His grace—until it is too late and we are called to account. God gives us ample prevision and time to turn from our evil and wayward ways to His True Word, His best Way (Jer. 23:22-23).

He patiently accommodates us (to a point) to give us the time to realize our disobedient conduct, gives us the room to make mistakes, and still calls us back into His arms of love and care. Do not be the one who rejects the Living Stone and causes your church to run askew and away from His call and purpose! We are called to allow our faith to empower our obedience because obedience is what pleases God. Disobedience, from a lack of faith, is detestable to Him and causes us to be lost over dangerous ground. This comes down to “apostasy,” which is the abandonment of one’s religious faith, or skewing it far away from its core precepts.

We are falling away from the Truth and are rebelling against Him when we continue to do this without repentance. We are betraying our Lord and deceiving the ones we are supposed to be leading further into His depths!

The problem with this situation is that most of the leadership in these churches who are failing do not realize that they are, nor do they comprehend that their decisions and the things they chase are moving them away from the Cornerstone and into apostasy. The plumb line from which to gauge where we are is His Word. I am not just talking about moving away from essential Christian doctrine, although this applies. Rather, I am pointing to our not communicating doctrine in love and care and not discipling others so they can know Him more. It is just as bad to have good doctrine and not communicate it as it is to reject good doctrine. The end result is the same玆a Church of Perfidy. Then the person in such a church will not know truth, His will, His call, or recognize opportunities and precepts so he can then act upon them. We become the church of the “pew-sitter” who not only does nothing in a church, but also gets nothing from the church.