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.

 

Reverence in Leadership PIII

Reverence in LeadershipBut to me it is a very small thing that I may be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself. For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord. Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.” 1 Corinthians 4:3-5 

Reverence is about submitting to the Supremacy, Sufficiency, and Centrality of Christ as LORD!

In the universe and in the Church, Christ is Creator and God, He is superior over any idea, philosophy, religion, or mysticism. He is over trends, traditions, and even the Jewish laws that pointed to Him. No one can gain salvation or fullness without Jesus Christ, so why even try? How dare anyone foolishly mislead others with false truths or legalism away from the Truth to seek his own over Him. Thus, we must yield ourselves to what the Church is about, how we are to run and grow our church, so we can be our best for His glory and our opportunities (Matt. 5:13; 2 Cor. 2:15; Phil. 1:27; Col.1: 18; 3:11).

How do I know if I am reverencing Christ properly?

Are we robbing God of the opportunities He tries to give us? Do we mix them up with habits, pride, and traditions?

Do we make grandstand pretenses, showing off our faith while we have a heart full of soot?

Do our attitudes, desires, and passions line up with the precepts of His Word, or express our own selfish agendas?

Perhaps you are thinking that this is about passion. Well, this is paramount, but it has to be grounded in God’s truth, not the ideas and desires of man. We must seek initiative and inspiration from Christ, not from traditions.

What can I do to be better at reverence? Do not practice your faith or lead your church through the filter of traditions or habits. Rather, filter faith through the clarity of God’s Word! Prayer will help us navigate through what is selfish and not right to what is of God and is His plan. It is all about being conformed to Him, not to our ideas or desires.

Think about those times of trouble and stress. How is Jesus your source, substance, and Truth in the good and bad times? How must He be for you to not just survive, but to thrive?

We have to reach out to Him; let Christ grasp you so you are not seeing just the sea of what is in it for me. Or be consumed by problems and the ocean of deluge overtaking the ship of your faith and composure in Him. Yes, this is tough; we all deal with this–certainly I do, even now… I want what I want. When times are confusing and we can’t see where we are going or where God wants us, something to consider and pray about is this.

But take this to heart. God is far more concerned about how we are than what we do or where we go. Our lives are a process and a journey, as is our church. Our Lord’s mission is to transform our hearts and minds, the very core of who we are, so that we can live in the Kingdom of God–a Kingdom with His values and purpose, regardless of any opposition we might have, including the opposition others give us. Then, we can lead others properly with a reverence to His Lordship. We especially need Christ in the dire times of life–the times when we have the best opportunities to learn and grow.

So, if you are stuck in your faith or in the spiritual formation of our church, or moving people where they really need to go. Usually, it is our own opposition that hinders us the greatest and is evidenced by our fears and neglect or lack of active faith.

We have to realize that pleasing ourselves (as so many of us pursue) is not the goal of the Christian life either or how we build a church. Rather, we are to follow Christ and be imitators of His character, letting it transform our character. We are to do this through love and the acceptance of others as Christ did with us, even though we did not deserve it.

Reverence in Leadership PII

Reverence-vs-Relevance became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, …” Ephesians 3:7-8

One of the big buzz words we hear thrown about in church leadership is ‘relevance.’ Make sure your message is understandable and it is targeted to the people you are reaching. Of course, as long as the Message is not compromised or watered-down. And yes, that is important. But, how are we with honoring our Lord?

Consider this, the opposite of discipleship is compliancy as in not discipleing or as Dietrich Bonhoeffer puts it, being “ashamed of Christ.”

As the opposite of maturity is immaturity, as the opposite of wisdom is foolishness, and the opposite of good leadership is well bad leadership and all of this will the result to no direction in life or the church brought on by no effectual learning or discernment to us or our people.

This leads to rebellion against God, why it is to be ashamed of Christ, and an attitude to fight against His godly leaders. We with this mindset that comes from a lack of reverence, will lead others away, as well. We will be leading people in hopelessness and despair, because most people cannot discern the difference. How can they if we the leaders can’t? Thus, it is the Christian leader’s responsibility to know their faith, and apply it with correct reverence, knowledge, based on God’s Word to our personal lives first, then to our administration of church leadership and others lives.

Consider this, Paul was motivated from his sense of obligation, not that he had too, but he wanted. Our causes are rooted in our motivations which are rooted in our ideas and expectations. Our sense of obligation will certainly affect all that we do too, so we have to make sure it is rooted in God and not elsewhere too (Rom. 11:13-14; Eph. 3:1-8)!

We need to know that Christ calls us to change our minds like we change the oil in the car. This is what Romans 12 is about, to be a “devotee” to Christ

In other words, we are to be changed persons so we can be authentic, impacting worshippers so we can be change agents to others. Being a living sacrifice living out real reverence for Christ as LORD, as a key aspect of our growth and maturity in the faith.

The purpose of knowing God’s principles and the study of His Word is not just the knowledge we gain (which is very important), but our supreme goal is what we do with that knowledge. His work in us is to be applied, not just studied, or ignored. Our devotion to Christ must be rooted in our minds, then allow the doctrine to translate it to our feet and the rest of our body in between. Our “impacting” will influence our people, the body of Christ, both our individual human body as well as a body of believers in relation to all those around us. It is our duty as church leaders. If not, get out and get well before coming back.

How do I know if I have a proper attitude of reverence? Look at Paul’s prayerfulness it is an expression of his devotion and zeal. His will was conquered with a sense of gratitude and indebtedness to Christ. Are you totally submitted to God’s ways, do you feel indebted, or do you feel owed?

Being “poured out” is to take the focus off yourself and place it on others, as Christ did for us. Paul spent his life to express it (1 Cor. 6:19-20; Eph. 1:15; Phil. 1:6-9).

Reverence in Leadership

reverence b“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12:28

Proverbs tells us that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. This type of fear is not being scared, or fearful of what will happen, nor is it distrust or terror of God. Rather, it is reverence and awe that fuels our worship and faith.

Why is this so important in church leadership? It is all about Who we lead others to!

Reverence is the understanding of the wonder and majesty of our incredible God, who transcends time and space, and who is bigger than the entire universe He created, yet, He personally knows and loves us with deeper and more love than we could ever comprehend. We need to keep this on the front burner of our mindset as we lead and manage His Church. Reverence to God is how we are to live, lead, disciple and teach the people God brings us! If not we, are being reverent only to ourselves, ideas and goals, keeping Him out of the loop of our lives and church. This is a prime factor for why many churches are in decline. There is no leading to the incredible green pasture of our Lord, just wallowing in the past, pride, apathy and infighting.

Read leading is directing others to a destination, what is yours? Is it to be on the path that Christ has laid out? Is it moving others in the love and care and learning on that journey of faith? If not, what are you doing?

In the Old Testament, the stipulation of this ‘fear’ was put to the Jews so they follow God and stick to the Covenant. The Covenant, we have now is grace; the stipulation is that we accept it by faith. The growth of our fear (awe) is the response with gratitude to His Majesty.  Thus, reverence will enable us to take the incredible knowledge of His Majesty, and applying it to our lives first, so we will walk with confidence in our Lord, and as we lead operate with respect to Him in our teaching and administration, and to the others around us whom He knows and loves.

Reverence leads to real worship and effectual leadership because we can acknowledge whom God is, and respond!

This is the only way we can lead biblically and effectually, to surrender our will to Christ as LORD! As His created being, saved by His grace from a destiny we created and deserved, we have an obligation to give Him all of our honor, all our praise, and all our adoration. This is the reason for the primary purpose of our saved lives–to give God the glory that is rightly due Him.

Why must we? Because He is the Holy, Sovereign, the Creator (Duet. 7:21; Neh. 4:14; Psalm 48:1; 86:10; 95:3; 97:2; 145:3; Dan. 9:4; 1 Cor. 13:12; Heb. 12:28,29)!

Too many Christian leaders have neglected the basics of the faith, replacing it with new teachings and trends, or neglect good teaching all together. They forget who God is, and who we are in Christ. If we do not know who God is and what our call and responsibilities are, then how are we to grow in our faith, in maturity, and in character, not to mention in leading others in the direction of God’s call? We can’t!

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?

The Essentials of real Worship

The changes over the centuries have been momentous, but the basics have remained the same:

1. Honor God by reverence and awe as respecting and honoring His Lordship and sovereignty. As a community of believers, we are to gatherer weekly to mentally focus on God, and pour our hearts out to Him (1 Samuel 15:22: Matthew 15:9: Luke. 11:41-42; John 4:23; Acts 20:27; Galatians 2:20-21; Hebrews 10:24-25; 12:28-29; Revelation 1:10). Ecclesiastes 5:1 says, Guard your steps when you go to the house of God.

2. Praise His Name by singing of hymns/praise songs, prayer and/or liturgy/ Psalter (reading or singing the Psalms)–(Isaiah 6:1-5; Luke 11:41-42; Psalm 19; 29:2; 95:6-7; 150; Ephesians 5:19). The type and style of songs are not as important as the heart and intention of the leader and congregation. The words need to be Biblical and point to the Glory of Christ. The focus is glory and honor; it is never to be entertainment to the congregation. God is the audience and we are the performers to honor Him. It is OK to be creaawtive in worship, such has skits, plays, and various expressions, but not for the sake of entertainment. The question to ask is, does it distract people from the reverence and glory of Christ? If not, it probably is OK. If it does, or could, then save the entertainment for the social times.

3. Confession of sin: We are to acknowledge our sin, and also offer our sincere repentance (Lev 4; 6:24-f.; 7:1-f.; 16:1-f; 1 Kings 17:18; Ps 51:4-6; Isa 6; 53:10, 12; Matt 12:24, 31; Mark 7:20-23; John 1:5; 3:19-21; 8:31-34; 16:8-9; 15:22; Rom. 3:20; 5:12-20; 6:15-23; 7:7-20; 2 Cor. 11:3; Gal. 3:19-24; 1 Tim 2:14). We have to realize the impacting nature of sin, how it destroys, and how Christ paid our penalty for it! If you have any doubt, remember, the outward life is determined by the inner (Matt 5:17; 7:15-17).

4. Prayer must be the focus of the church, with intercession, and thanksgiving, as well as supplication (Acts 2:42).

5. Reading of the Word: We are to never forsake the reading of the Bible; if you do, you have a club and not a church (Acts 2:42; 1 Tim. 4:13; 2 Tim. 3:17).

6. Commentary: The applying of the Word by the worship leader/ pastor is the sermon or homily. In the Reformed perspective, the whole church service should revolve around the ministry of the Word. The sermon is central to the worship services. Everything else is either preparatory to, or a response to, the message from Scripture (Acts 2:47; 20:7-8; Col. 1:25; Philippians 3:3; 1 Tim. 3:2; 2 Tim. 2:24; Tit. 1:9).

7. Fellowship is to build up and honor one another in order to strengthen the church, the people of God (Eph. 4:12; cf. 1 Cor. 14:12).

 

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 Top Ten (10) Trends Affecting Church Health

1. The healthiest churches have an active supportive and trained leadership—spiritual, growing and contented members who are excited about the Gospel.

2. The healthiest churches have a high reverence for the Bible and are involved in discipleship and the multiplication of it.

3. There is a direct correlation between the decline of small groups, those who actually study the Bible, or a decline of quality small group Bible-based curricula (versus a mere book study) and the decline of evangelism, stewardship, spiritual growth, and leadership participation!

4. There is a direct correlation between the decline of personal devotions and personal prayer and Bible study amongst leaders and pastors and the decline of church health, evangelism, stewardship, spiritual growth, and leadership participation!

5. American Christians increasingly tend to be more and more isolated from their non-Christian counterparts, in one’s family, workplace, and secular society in general. The more one is involved as a Christian, the less influence they have to others in the world for the Gospel.

6. Non-Christians, academia, and the media are more and more openly hostile to the Gospel. At the same time, many younger non-Christians (ages 14 to 30) are more receptive to the Gospel message.

7. Less than 10% of Reformed and Evangelical churches (not mainline or Catholic) have an evangelism program or plans for one.

8. The churches that are growing both numerically and spiritually in fruit and maturity have an active missions program and local outreach.

9. The churches that are growing both numerically and spiritually in fruit and maturity have preaching and small groups doing active teaching or expository or exegetical Bible sermons and not simple messages.

10. Younger people, 14 to 30 year olds, are seeking a deeper relationship in churches than previous generations. They want relevant worship, deeper Bible studies, preaching that is centered on the Bible and the glorification of Christ, and practical life-relational helps. The dropout rate of 14 to 30 year olds is at an all-time high—50% to 70%. The primary reason is that they want more and the churches they visit do not offer it! The other 30% to 50% drop out because of apathy and indifference, a loss of hope, and the Church cannot fulfill them anymore.