Posts Tagged ‘Church

19
May
17

Heavenly Wisdom

James, in chapter 3, verses 13-16 talks about the earthly and demonic “wisdom” of selfish ambition and bitter envy. It creates strife, disorder and evil practices. Then he says:

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness. – James 3:17-18 (NIV)

Heavenly wisdom is all about using God’s gifts to bring about peace. Too often we use what God gives us to our advantage in order to get ahead. Instead, we need to use the gifts God gives to us for others. Imagine if we used our time, talent and treasure to make the world a better place. If we invested ourselves in living for Jesus and living for others, what could we accomplish? This is the challenge for us in the church today. Let us commit ourselves to using what God has given to us to show His love and grace to everyone.
09
May
17

A D.O.A. Kind Of Faith

Good Tuesday morning to you! James, in writing about faith and deeds, gives an example of a fellow Christ-follower who is in need. He says:

Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

We can talk a good game about loving God and loving people, but if our actions don’t match our words, do we really love them? We can say that we believe until we’re blue in the face, but if we don’t put hands and feet to our faith, do we really believe in the One who served and sacrificed for others? If we don’t do something about our brothers and sisters in need, our faith is dead on arrival. In the church, we must not neglect the poor and needy among us. There will be those who struggle and we need to help them. It’s the proof that our faith is more than just talk.
09
May
17

I Can Be A Christian Without Going To Church

The latest message from Griffith First Christian Church in Griffith, Indiana. This is the final message in our series, “Fake News & Alternative Facts” and is based on Hebrews 10:19-25.

03
May
17

The Royal Law Of Love

James tells us that we are not supposed to play favorites in the family of God. He says that it is really the opposite of how we should treat each other. We have to ask ourselves how we’d like to be treated and then love accordingly. James wrote:

If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. – James 2:8-9 (NIV)

Jesus said that this commandment was the second greatest commandment in the entire Old Testament. When it comes to favoritism in the church, we are not loving others the way we want to be loved when we love some more than others. If we play favorites, we are guilty of sin, says James. If we choose to love some more than others in the church, we are guilty of sin. Praise the Lord that He sent Jesus to die for our many sins. Let’s work on the loving our neighbors thing today by not playing favorites in the church and instead, loving others equally and unconditionally.
16
Mar
17

Peace In The Body

Good Thursday morning to you! As followers of Jesus, we are to work together for peace in the church. Too many churches are known for splitting and fighting and it ruins our witness. If Jesus is the Prince of Peace, why can’t we all get along? Paul wrote:

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. – Colossians 3:15 (NIV)

If the peace of Christ isn’t ruling in our hearts, there will not be peace in the family of God. The peace of Christ is amazing, though. It can bring so many different and unique people together in one place to worship the Lord and to encourage one another. People of every color, age, male and female, Democrat, Republican and Independent all coming together for one purpose – to honor God and to testify to His goodness and love. In a world filled with violence, hatred and discord of every kind, how much does a peace-loving church stand out? A group of people working together peacefully can change the world through the power of Jesus’ name.
11
Jan
17

What’s Wrong With The Church?

What’s Wrong With The Church? (from January 2012)

I’ve been a pastor for nearly 20 years.  I was ordained in May of 1997 at the tender age of 23.  I’ve had many, many good times and a few rough times along the way.  I have met so many wonderful people and have served with people who really love Jesus and His church.

One thing that I have noticed over the past few years is a growing disillusionment with the church.  People are ditching the church in favor of Lone Ranger Christianity.  This is not the way it is supposed to be, though.  The church is Jesus’ body as Ephesians 5 tells us:

…a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church.  He is the Savior of His body, the church. – Ephesians 5:23 (NLT)

I remember hearing Bill Hybels once say at a conference at Willow Creek Community Church that he believed that the local church was the hope of the world.  I think that he is right.  When the church is being the church the way Jesus intended it to be, then it really is the hope of the world.  So what’s wrong with the church?  Why are people fleeing rather than flocking?  Why are so many body parts suffering?  What has happened to Jesus’ prayer for unity in John 17?  What happened to Hebrews 10:25?

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (NIV)

It’s time to take back the church!  It’s time to be the answer to Jesus’ prayer and strive for unity.  It’s time to get back to doing church the way the early church, under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, did church.  Acts 2:42 (NLT) talks about 4 keys that ensured the success of the early church.  They were devoted to:

  1. The Apostles’ teaching
  2. Fellowship
  3. Sharing in Meals (including the Lord’s Supper)
  4. Prayer

In 2017, we must commit ourselves to these very same principles:

  1. The Word of God
  2. Unconditional love and forgiveness within the family of God
  3. Sharing our lives with one another (not just pot-lucks, but sharing everything with each other)
  4. Prayer

We can’t make it on our own, but we can do it together!  It’s still Christ’s body and it’s still holding forth the hope of the world.  Let’s recommit ourselves to making the church be what God wants it to be.

PRAYER: Father God, we pray today that You would energize Your church for which Christ died.  We pray for revival in Your church. Raise up leaders who will lead well in Your church. Thank You for Your church. Help us to be all that You would have us to be and to do all that You would have us to do so that Christ may be glorified and people may be saved. In Jesus’ name, amen.

29
Dec
16

The Church Needs To Look More Like Jesus

John 7:14-24 (NIV)

Not until halfway through the festival did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach. 15 The Jews there were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning without having been taught?”
16 Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me. 17 Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.18 Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him. 19 Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?”
20 “You are demon-possessed,” the crowd answered. “Who is trying to kill you?”
21 Jesus said to them, “I did one miracle, and you are all amazed. 22 Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a boy on the Sabbath. 23 Now if a boy can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing a man’s whole body on the Sabbath? 24 Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.”

Jesus’ words here go back to John 5. Jesus healed a paralyzed man on the Sabbath. Verse 16 of John 5 said that the Jews persecuted Jesus because He healed the man on the Sabbath. Verse 18 said that they were trying even harder to kill Him. It wasn’t just because He healed the man on the Sabbath, but because He was calling God His Father, which according to John 5:18 meant that He was making Himself equal with God. In other words, in their minds, Jesus was guilty of blasphemy.
I believe that Jesus teaches us a vital principle of the Kingdom of God here in chapter 7. People matter more than rules. He was calling the Jewish leaders who were trying to kill Him hypocrites because they would work on the Sabbath in order to not break the law of Moses regarding circumcision, but were trying to kill Him because He compassionately healed a man on the Sabbath. Their hypocrisy ran deep and their compassion was shallow. They loved rules more than people.
I think that God loves people more than our self-imposed rules. The 21st century church has to get back to the heart of Jesus’ ministry and that means loving people more than our man-made rules. We have to care about people more than our by-laws. I’m not talking about watering down or disobeying the Word of God. The Bible is God’s Word and it is the authority for our lives and how we do church. But when we elevate our man-made rules to the level of Scripture, we’re on very thin ice. I am convinced that God doesn’t care about our membership rolls as much as He does about lost people. He doesn’t care about who gets to use our buildings as much as He does about who we exclude from our fellowship because they don’t quite look like “us.” God only cares about our budgets when they don’t reflect His heart that beats for the broken. If we will not love like Jesus loved and care like He cared, then God wants nothing to do with us. When we are more worried about being “right” than we are about helping people get right with God by His grace, then we are wrong.
PRAYER: Father, forgive us when we don’t love like Jesus. Forgive us when we don’t reflect His compassion to a lost and dying world. Forgive us for our callous attitudes toward those who don’t know You yet. Have mercy on us, O God. We have wandered so far away from what Jesus wanted His church to look like. May we look more like Him in 2017. Amen.



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