Tag Archives: church

Loving Laws or Loving People

Loving Laws or Loving People

For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  Galatians 5:14

Do you know someone that is hyper critical?  I mean, they have a problem with everyone and everything.  “The temperature is too hot.  The music is too fast. The speaker is too loud.  The women are dressing wrong.  The bulletin was not folded right.  The deacons should have a tie on.  The people helping are not doing it the same way I would do it. The van is parked at the wrong place.  The family is too big or too small.”  You get the idea.

Hyper critical people have forgotten the “Who” they should be loving.  Instead of loving God and loving people, they love a “What.”   They love rules.  They love laws.  They love their preferences and personal expectations and project them onto other people in a way that is detrimental to relationship.

If we could learn to love people more than our preferences, programs, and personal pet peeves, then we would show more honor to the Lord.  And in turn actually live out God’s law instead of a human version of His law.

Loving our neighbor does several things:

  1. Considers others ahead of ourselves.
  2. Creates a forgiving temperament.
  3. Causes more healthy relationships.
  4. Casts aside personal preferences.
  5. Calms personal interactions with others.

Music styles in church can have great variety and still please the Lord.

Preaching and teaching styles vary greatly from person to person, and God can use each delivery style in wonderful ways.

Organizational structure, facility maintenance, the next building project, and more need not be a stumbling point for you or for others at your church.  When we love God and love others, no matter the rules we may impose on ourselves, we do not need to let those preferential things divide and hurt relationships.

One terrific example is the Church at Ephesus in Revelation 2:1-7.  This church had pure doctrine.  They withstood persecution.  They even had a good work ethic.  But Jesus said “You left your first love.”  These second generation Christians, with a godly heritage, clung to laws, rules, and preferences to the neglect of loving Jesus.  They loved their “version of Christianity” more than they loved Jesus!

Don’t let rules and regulations or personal preferences stop you from loving your family (or church family) the way the Lord wants you to love them.

Love people more than laws.

 

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An Open Door

An Open Door

And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;  I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.  Revelation 3:7-8

Today as I type this post, the temperature is negative 8.  That is right -8.  Frigid!  Opening the doors for people as they came in today, I opened and shut the door very fast in an attempt to keep some cold air out and some warm air in!

I don’t think I was too successful.

The Lord Jesus is speaking of an open door He gave to the church in the Greek city of Philadelphia in the verses above.   Chapters 2-3 of Revelation are describing the “church age” in which we live.  Each of the 7 churches listed were real places with real people and are also “types” of churches that are found in the church age.  In other words, every Biblical church today is in some way like one of these 7 churches.

As Jesus gives His message to the church of brotherly love, he tells them that He is giving them an open door.  Jesus is holding a door open for them to freely move in and out of and to freely bring other people through as well.  With the Philadelphia church being very weak, they are not able to hold the door open.  It is only a door that Jesus can open.  They do not have political clout or economic power, but they have a responsibility to go through the door and take others with them.

Many Bible students believe this is an open door through which to deliver the Gospel to this lost and dying world.  God is giving His church the opportunity to freely distribute the Word of God and Gospel message.  While the church is diminished in society today and even with the political climate growing in angst against anything Christian, it is the Lord Who is holding open the door for Gospel witness.

Have you noticed how spiritually cold our society has become?  Even this week, the Governor of Virginia is talking about delivering a newborn and then killing it as “OK” in his book.  This following the Governor of New York pushing his love of abortion right up until birth.  We live in a cold, cold climate, not just in atmospheric temperature, but in spiritual temperature.  We cannot hold the door open for people, but thank the Lord, Jesus is holding it open for us!  In addition, as fast as many non-Christians would be to close the door, slamming it shut, it is something that they cannot do.  Only God can open or close it.  That is good news.  We have as much time to witness as God will give to us, but we don’t know how much time that is. Historically in the Bible, the Lord opens and closes doors based on the people’s response to Him.

Today, take a moment and pray for a friend that you can bring to church this Sunday.

Would you invite them to sit with you at church this Sunday?

The door may not be open much longer.

Go through the door with another person while you can.

Learning to Give

The following story provides a good illustration for a person with the good character of giving:  “Marquis de Lafayette was a French officer who provided invaluable assistance to George Washington and the struggling American army. After the war was over, he returned to France and resumed his life as a farmer of many estates. In 1783, the harvest was a terrible one, and there were many who suffered as a result. Lafayette’s farms were unaffected by the devastating crop failures. One of his workers offered what seemed to be good advice to Lafayette, “The bad harvest has raised the price of wheat. This is the time to sell.” After thinking about the hungry peasants in the surrounding villages, Lafayette disagreed and said, “No, this is the time to give.”” (Daniel Loy)

Giving may not be a very natural human response.  In fact, when you think of your own life, it may be that much of what you do is collect, save, and accumulate – for yourself.  Giving is a learned habit for the Christian.  One of the spiritual gifts in Romans 12 is giving.  Romans 12:8 says “…he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.” 

Those with the spiritual gift of giving, give far greater than a mere 10%.  Along with the call and gift of giving the Lord gives the means to give.  The Christian who exercises his spiritual gift of giving will be blessed in material ways because he has been faithful to give to others what God has given to him.

Just because a Christian may not have the “spiritual gift” of giving does not mean that he should not be give.  Even those gifted in other areas have a responsibility to God and their local church to be good stewards of the finances God has entrusted to them.  Giving is something that is learned.  It is a practice that is developed as our faith is developed.

The Lord has much to say in the Bible about giving to spiritual endeavors and the needs of those around us.  Here are several examples:

  • Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.  2 Corinthians 9:7
  • Take ye from among you an offering unto the LORD: whosoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it, an offering of the LORD; gold, and silver, and brass… Exodus 35:5
  • If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother: But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth.  Deuteronomy 15:7-8
  • Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have.  For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.  2 Corinthians 8:11-12

Perhaps we could be like Marquis de Lafayette, who when confronted with becoming more rich, he chose to give to those in need.  After all, in Heaven, the way we use our money – not how much money we have is how the Lord measures our faithfulness as managers and stewards of His provision.

3 Church Priorities in a New Year

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. Matthew 28:19-20

Time goes by so fast!  Hard to believe we are in another brand new year.  Thank the Lord for His mercy in giving you and I another day to live and serve Him!

The above verses are generally known as “The Great Commission” along with Mark 16:15.  Incredibly enough, the all-powerful God has partnered with His followers to deliver the Word of God into this lost world.  So the goal is to see people saved, discipled, and in turn, them making new disciples.  This is paramount.  This goal is #1. And then this cycle is to continue from one generation to the next.

As time goes by, even the most well intentioned Christians, and even whole churches, can lose sight of the main goal.  Our lives get crowded. Our vision of the goal becomes cloudy.  Some merely achieve good things and unintentionally neglect the best things.

As Christians and as a church we must have a heart that is not divided of affection for God, or distracted from the purposes of God for our lives.  With this in mind, my 3 objectives in leading our church this year are as follows:

  1. Salvation and Worship. The first goal is for people to engage in a close relationship with Jesus.  Knowing God truly begins at salvation.  Have you been born again?  Are you saved?  Our Sunday morning services at 11:00 AM will be oriented towards knowing God and learning how to become a Christian.  These will be terrific service to bring friends, relatives, and neighbors so they can hear the Gospel.
  2. Discipleship and Growth is the next area to zero in on.  What kind of follower of Jesus are you?  Will you participate in our Adult Bible Studies?  Small Group Bible study and discussion can cause healthy interaction with the Word with others. The 10:00 AM Adult Bible Studies are a great avenue for spiritual growth and knowing other people along the Christian journey.
  3. Service and Winning.  In what ways will you serve Jesus this year?  How will you serve others?  I am concerned if we only focus on serving the people we know and like.  We need to reach out.  We must show the love of Jesus to the people around us.  If not, how will this world know of their need for Jesus and His eternal life? I believe every saved and growing christian, must use their spiritual gift and find at least one ministry in which to serve in and through the local church.  In addition, no matter what you spiritual gift may be, you are called to be a witness to the lost.  Each of us are capable to telling others about the love of God, the forgiveness of our sin (that He paid for on the Cross), and how to be saved.  We can hand out tracts, help in evangelism outreaches, and invite people to sit with us at our 11:00 AM church services on Sunday.

The terminology and how these goals are articulated are being reviewed and revised as you read this article.  I hope to be able to share very soon a clear path to achieve these 3 goals.  With God’s help, these 3 goals will be restated and repeated time and time again.

Will you help?  Will you worship the Lord?  Will you become a good disciple of Jesus, learning and growing with other believers?  And will you make an eternal difference by finding a way to serve with your church while delivering the Gospel to others?

I believe the Lord will do good things as we keep our eyes on serving God in the entirety “His Great Commission.”

 

 

 

 

 

Letting God Grow You

“Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”   Hebrews 13:20-21

The Lord may use any and every circumstance or situation that may arise in your life to nurture your faith, grow your convictions, or develop your spiritual life.  The good events and the bad events can be orchestrated by God to bring about something good in your heart and life.  Think Job, Joseph, and Paul.  Each of these men endured incredible hardship – and were better men for it.

While we do not like to go through hardship, sometimes the furnace of affliction, the discomfort of pain, and the heartbreak of suffering will cause us to change, and even create more of a desire for the Lord.  A helpful verse is 1 Peter 1:7 “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ…”

The following are the same Greek words for “Make you perfect” from the passage above.  These verses, could be precise illustration and application of how the Lord wants to grow you.

He wants to REPAIR YOUR LIFE. Matthew 4:21 And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets and he called them.

Just like a broken net, rope coming unraveled through means or use, work, and fighting the outdoor elements, our lives are many times broken.  Our purpose, usefulness, and reason for living is sometimes called into question.  Our lives can go through seasons of despair and even disrepair.  We need to Lord to repair what the hardships of life have broken.

He wants to RESTORE YOUR RELATIONSHIPS. Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

Life is full of choices.  The choices have either consequences or blessing.  Depending on the choice, there may be a need for restoration.  Pride is the root source of “people problems.”  While interacting with others, a personal “fault” or sin may be one sided – or only in the other person.  When they confess their sin and repent of it (change their life) we need to be ready to restore.  True restoration results in a relationship not being the same as before – but better than before the sin or issue.

If there is someone that has sinned against you, they may or may not know it.  If there is no sin, but you have bad feelings toward the person, as the Lord for His grace to change your heart – and your thoughts so the relationship can be restored.

He wants to REFINE YOUR FAITH. 1 Thessalonians 3:10 Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith?

Paul prayed a lot for his friends in Thessalonica.  He really wanted to travel to their city and see them again.  But his prayer did not stop for hoping to see them again.  He also prayed that the Lord would grow, or “perfect” their faith.  Paul was asking God to refine the faith of each Christian in the church at Thessalonica.

Is your faith being “refined?”  Are the circumstances you are in just something you complain about?  Or do you pray for God’s will to happen and for the situation to turn out to bring glory to God?

Will you see God “grow you” more in this new year?  Will you allow the Lord to repair, restore, and refine your life?

Remember the classic definition of insanity?  “Insanity is to do the same thing over and over while hoping for a different result.”   We can do better than that from day to day, month to month, and year to year in our Christian life.  Don’t just go through the motions.  Be real.  Have a genuine walk with Jesus.  Let God grow you.

Let Jesus make some changes in your life in 2019.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Simple Life

A Simple Life

But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.  2 Corinthians 11:3

Have you felt overwhelmed lately with the busyness of life?  I am trying to slow down on purpose to be more reflective and thoughtful.  Perhaps you are busy right now.  Us Americans tend to rush to this event then run to that event. We barely make it to work, school, or church on time.  Many arrive late, if they arrive at all.  Depending on your life stage and if there are kids in your home you are running them all around as well.

Why are we in such a hurry?  Why is life so busy?

  1. We have the same amount of time as we have always had. 24 hours a day.
  2. We attempted to crowd more things into those 24 hours.
  3. With the promise of more leisure time, we depend on electronics and technology.
  4. Even with the fluctuation of inflation, and the value of the American dollar, we have more money and resources than any nation or people in the history of the world.

Is it possible that while we may be “getting more done” that we are actually accomplishing less?  The answer to that question’s rests primarily on your list of priorities.

  • When was the last time you began a new meaningful relationship and friendship with a person or family at church?
  • When was the last time you gave a gospel tract to a neighbor or spoke to an acquaintance about Jesus?
  • When was the last time you prayed before the Sunday morning Bible study and church service and participated with gladness?
  • When was the last time you and those in your household opened a Bible and prayed together?
  • When was the last time everyone in your house enjoyed a dinner together around the table with no television or cellphones taking away from the moment?

One of Satan’s greatest and most effective strategies has been to keep good people busy doing good things, so they cannot engage in the more important and best things.  Satan remains subtle in many ways today.  Most Christians do not run after gross and obvious sin.  Adultery, fornication, lying, cheating, are not usually where good people start to drift.  It is in the seemingly small and mundane things.  They go after potentially good things and are so busy the neglect the best things.  Before long, the best is squeeze out of their lives.

Renowned scientist of yesteryear, Albert Einstein said:

“The definition of genius is taking the complex and making it simple.”

I like that thought.

Are you too busy?  Feeling overworked, stressed, and frazzled?  Try taking some of the non-essentials out.  Be sure to continue or start the basic expectations of the Christian life.  The times of solitude in prayer, moments of discussion with family, and the accountability of being with others in church will only refresh and encourage you.

Sports teams, dance and art class, the local school, and the lessons you signed up for cannot replace the simple things that God has given to us – in Jesus.

While Satan is making life complicated and adding new priorities to your list – Jesus is simplifying our life! He wants you to enjoy the simple things and to find meaning in “being with Jesus” not just running around trying to achieve things in so many areas of life.  With all the available “distractions” it is a wonder that anyone goes to church or opens a Bible any more.  Yes, it is that bad for many people.

Learn from Jesus in Matthew 11:29, He said: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”  While Satan wants you to carry your own weight in being busy in life, Jesus wants you to find rest.  Don’t “yoke up” with Satan or this world!  Jesus has a different and better pace of life based on relationship with Him.  It is OK to slow down.  It is good to reassess and refocus the direction of your life.  Take a step back: “Am I running all over when God wants to give me rest?”  Or: “Am I so busy that I no longer have time for God? Family?” Or: “for the things that really matter most in life?”

Find a simpler life in Jesus.  Put the main things in life – first.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Never Takes a Day Off

But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. 

2 Timothy 3:13

Do you look forward to a vacation?  Christmas break? Spring break?  How about the end a work week?  Sure.  We look forward to moments of rest and relaxation.  Jesus even told His disciples to “Come apart and rest a while.”  Rest is good.  While we need physical rest, emotional/relational relaxation, and spiritual renewal, we should never “take the day off” from be vigilant Christians.

We have an adversary who is always on duty.  We have an opponent who never takes a break.  We are in a spiritual battle and at just the right time, a moment of weakness, or unawareness, Satan will pounce.  1 Peter 5:8 says, Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour…

Radio preacher Erwin Lutzer suggested: “No matter how many pleasures Satan offers you, his ultimate intention is to ruin you. Your destruction is his highest priority.”  He is certainly right about that.

Here are several sobering thoughts:

  1. Evil never takes a day off.  Just turn on the news.  Evil is escalating everyday.
  2. Satan never takes a day off.  Like a ferocious lion, he is always prepared to pounce.
  3. Temptation never takes a day off.  Every one of us, everyday, will face new temptations.  Sometimes the temptations are recycled forms of previous temptations.  Sometimes they are brand new.  Whatever the case, the Lord can give you victory over that temptation.

Because Satan, evil, and temptation never take a day off, I encourage you to not become lazy in your Christianity.  Be aware of the score.  Know what is going on in the battlefield.  Pack your “spiritual bags” at church to be more prepared when tempted to sin.  Hear more Bible preaching, not less.  Be filled and satisfied with Bible truth, not with the non-sense entertainment and distractions of the world.  Put on the whole armor of God.  Keep your shoes on to flee from Satan.  Be around spiritual people who will encourage you and challenge you to faithfulness in service to Jesus.  Open the Bible and let the Word of God into your life.  Don’t be deceived! Be an aware believer, engaging actively each day.

Your life depends on it.

Your family depends on it.

Those around you will be influenced by your choices.

Don’t take a spiritual day off.