This article is just the beginning of a series designed to provide hope for the smaller church and hopefully the church at large.
My wife came across an interesting sign that asked the question, “What if you woke up tomorrow with only what you thanked God for today? After we shared Communion tonight I began to ask myself, “What if next Sunday we only had the people for whom we thanked God for today?”
Maybe our church and yours would have a lot less empty seats if we wete grateful for one other rather than complaining. ( I confess to being one of those!) Maybe if we began to truly appreciate the people who do come to our services God could help us to grow and then He would get the credit!
1 Thessalonians 1:2 We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers.
I would be willing to bet big money that when the apostle Paul visited the folks couldn’t wait to get to church! When was the last time you couldn’t wait to get to church? I am taking the thankfulness challenge this week. Anyone care to join me? Let’s give thanks for as many people as we can remember starting tomorrow. Let’s give thanks and ask God to have His way in their lives and ours, then wait and see what He will do!
I have other sheep too who are not of this sheepfold, I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice and there will be one flock with one Shepherd. John 10:16
When someone calls our name, even in a crowd we automatically stop and look to see why. Jesus is telling his disciples that they are not the only ones. He has people of every kind who will also be his sheep. Our unifying factor is not our race, language or family background. What makes us all one is that we have one Shepherd.
Maybe one reason that our churches are struggling to grow is that we haven’t yet gotten Jesus message. Can it be that Sunday morning at 11 AM is the most segregated hour of the week? Jesus says one flock with one Shepherd. Can you hear Him now?
The church is something we may often take for granted. Maybe we grew up sleeping on the pews and know every detail of every member’s life. The church may have become so commonplace to us that it is easy to forget that the church was not man’s idea. She is not some social club we somehow qualify to belong to. The church is something far grander than her four walls hint at or the attendance rolls reflect.
God’s church is more than a cruise ship built for sailing to exotic destinations.
God’s church is more than a tiny sailboat designed for calm and sunny days.
God’s church is not just a ship in a bottle meant to be put on display and admired.
God;s church is a mighty ark of safety, whose designer and builder has planned for any storm, for every foe, and to arrive at the destination which He has chosen – guided only by His hand.
…upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Matthew 16:18
We went to a sweet wedding recently. The couple had a simple ceremony outdoors in a park. Though the surroundings were beautiful the greatest loveliness lay in the love that the bride and groom offered one another. First, the bride spoke about how her bridegroom had lifted her up and given her wings to fly. He was her lover, her companion and her best friend.
After she had finished her open love letter, the best man came up and handed a small acoustic guitar to the bridegroom. He awkwardly grasped it in his large hands then fell to one knee and sang a song he had written just for her.
Today, just like our that touching moment, Jesus is waiting for His people, at the altar of heaven. He has paid the full price for His bride and he waits anxiously for the music to begin to play and for that time when he will be united with her forever!
The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. John 3:29
So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” Mark 2:28
This interesting story about Jesus and the disciples walking through the corn or wheat fields is recorded in three of the four gospels. Though we may have never once heard a message preached from these verses, Matthew, Mark and Luke each considered it so important that they included it among the highlights of Jesus’ teaching.
My personal belief is that our own ignorance of the Sabbath and the treasure that God intended it to be is one of the great losses of the present day church. God’s Sabbath came not only before the law, Sabbath came even before sin. Sabbath was built into the matrix of the universe. To put it into literary terms God’s Holy Sabbath was His denouement : “the final part of a play, movie, or narrative in which the strands of the plot are drawn together and matters are explained or resolved.” Without understanding Sabbath in fact we will never be able to fully understand God’s story.
When the Pharisees started cluck-clucking about the disciples rubbing some grain in their hands on the seventh day, Jesus had finally had enough of their cold analytical hypocrisy and proceeded to give them a Sabbath lesson. In that lesson, Jesus made it clear that the very central purpose of the Sabbath was for it to be a day of healing and blessing to man. God had not created man so the Sabbath could be observed, but He had created Sabbath to be a day of healing and blessing for man.
I fear we, the modern-day church, have gone far beyond just losing the gift of Sabbath; I believe we are losing even the last vestiges of memories of what it is. Sabbath is a precious gift and unless we battle to take back God’s Sabbath blessing
then we may one day run down like an unwound watch.
We once visited for several days a small village in Switzerland, On the Sunday morning of our stay, I left our hosts’ home and went for a long walk up through some of the most beautiful hill country I have ever seen. On my walk I found a wonderful ancient church and as I watched a man drove up, unlocked the door and went in to ring the bells. How lovely they sounded as they peeled over the valley. It was an almost perfect picture. But then as he finished his duties, he left the church, locked the doors and drove away.
That image still lingers in my memory. Is that what we have become? Do we just go about our duties, ring the bells and go home? Do we ring the bells and no one any longer hears? Do we remember vaguely that it is God’s day but barely pause long enough to catch our spiritual breath? There will be a price to forgetting God’s Sabbath because it remains a blessed part of the creation from before there was sin. The Sabbath is built into not only the universe, but also into who we are as men and women. Sabbath rest, worship and prayer are the breath, the life and the foundation and basis from which we go out to do all the work which God has called us to do.
If we will choose to remember then God has a promise that we will look into on the seventh and final day. Stay tuned!
He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. Ephesians 5:27
We were looking at the Bible picture of this church at prayer meeting last night and the question came up as to just who this perfect church might be. Is there such a thing as an imperfect church – and if so- what will happen when the Lord Jesus returns?
God is not at all afraid of our questions, in fact without a question, there will never be an answer. In my brief stint as a teacher I came to the conclusion that in fact there is such a thing as a stupid question: that is the question that is asked when the questioner doesn’t want to know the answer. (Not that I could say that in class!) God loves for us to ask so here is my question today:
Can there ever be a church that is holy and without fault in this world?
In that case back the question up a half a step and ask, “Can I ever become holy and without fault in this world?” Because as believers in Jesus Christ we are considered members of His body: The Church. If there is a single imperfect member, then there can not be a perfect church. So then, in light of the statement of Paul, that he did not consider himself to be perfect and that even the other apostles including Peter had struggles, conflicts and doubts, how are we ever going to get to the place where we are pure enough for Christ to claim us as His bride?
There are times when we use the phrase “He has fallen from grace” or “I feel like I’ve fallen away from God’s grace”. But the Bible doesn’t say that when we sin, we fall from grace.
You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. Galatians 5:4
It all comes back to the blood. It all comes back to faith. When I first became a Christian we used to sing a camp meeting song that I still love titled “Are You Washed?”.
Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing power
Are You washed in the blood of the Lamb
Are you fully trusting in His grace this hour?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
So whether you attend the largest church in your city or if you are a member of a little country chapel, it all comes down to faith. Not faith in our best efforts, in our religious affiliation or the accolades of our friends. The only spotless thing in all God’s universe is the Blood of Jesus Christ! Your were paid for and washed only by the blood!
But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.1 Peter 1:19