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God's Church

Romans 12:4 – 5

“For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”

 

           What is the church? Many people today, including some Christians, believe the church to be some building, on some property, in some location. The church has been described as a place to meet, a place to pray, and a place to worship. But all those descriptions are wrong. The church is not a building, or a property, or a possession. The church is a body of believers who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. The church is a living organism made up of sinful people wanting to worship the one true Holy God. The church is a gathering of people together to worship the Lord but it’s not a building as we sometimes imagine it to be.

 

Biblically, the church can be thought of in two different ways, the local church, and the universal church. The local church is made up of believers who live in close proximity to each other, a local body of believers. The universal church is the body of Christ everywhere. In 1 Corinthians 12:12 – 14 it talks about all believers being part of the universal church, “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free – and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.” Therefore, when people move, they can join a new local body of believers, because we are all part of the universal body of believers through Christ.  This is important that we remember that we all belong together. We are not to separate from each other but rejoice with each other when we are near. 

 

The word ‘church’ translated in Greek is the word ekklesia, which translated means “an assembly” or “called-out ones.” The book of Romans tells us that the church “forms one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” What an interesting description, that Christians belong to each other. What does that mean in the big picture? It means that we not only worship the same God as the children of God, but we use the same biblical lens for seeing the world. It means that every local church has accountability before God and each other. It means that fellowship, worship, accountability, and ministry are all conducted by Christians, not buildings. It also means that we follow the two great commandments set by Jesus.

 

Mark 12:28 – 31

“One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”  “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.   Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’  31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no commandment greater than these.”

 

Love God and love your neighbor, and of course Jesus made it clear that anyone could be our neighbor. 

 

So, what is God’s Church supposed to look like? I believe the church should be a place where anxious, hurting, and sinful people gather as the body of Christ to worship Jesus as their Lord and Savior. It should be a place where we edify each other and encourage each other to go and make disciples of all nations. If this is true, then it sets some standards for the believers in words and actions. The book of Hebrews tells us what some of these requirements should be. 

 

Hebrews 10:24 – 25

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

 

We are to keep meeting together, we are to encourage each other, and we are to spur one another on towards love and good deeds. Sometimes, that hardest people to spur on are the ones closest to us but we must be reminded that “those people” at church with us need us the most and we need them the most as well. Has your life been about love and encouragement lately? Has your life been about spurring other believers on to love and good deeds? Do people see you as a faithful follower of Jesus in your words and your actions? That is what God’s Church should look like! A place where the broken and heavy hearted are welcomed by the broken and heavy-hearted to worship God together. 

Be The Church

The Providence of God

Psalm 103:19

“The LORD has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.”

 

The providence of God is always right and true. God never sees without acting, He is God! The word providence comes from the Latin word provide. Broken down the word provide means; pro – ‘to see forward’ and vide – ‘to see’. Provide means to ‘supply what is needed; to give support.’ The word Providence comes from the word provide but biblically it goes much deeper. Providence in the Bible means ‘providing for or sustaining the universe by God.’ God is not a passive participant in the world He created, He is a provider! A world that exists without God sustaining it would fall apart. So, our Father in Heaven is our great sustainer and provider. Ultimately, we need to understand, God loves and cares for what He has created and that is everything, including you and me.


When the Bible says, ‘his kingdom rules over all’ we need to remember ‘all’ means every aspect of our lives. We have free will to live and to choose God in the moments of our life, but God still rules over our lives. It is God that has given us life, it is God that has blessed our lives, it is God who has given us purpose in this life, and it is God who moves people to be a blessing in our lives. Yes, people in our life are a blessing from God. That means even the messed-up one’s in our life that we feel have more issues than even the ‘Crazy Uncle’ we all have in our families, still serve a purpose, God’s purpose. People teach us things about life and about God. In many ways people teach us about the providence of God in our life. God is not some great hidden puppet master up above pulling strings, but He is a God that is caring, loving, graceful, and providing. He moves in the people around us to intervene in our circumstances. He also uses you to intervene in the lives of others. When we are obedient to God, we are committing to be part of the providence of God. It is this way He uses the lives of those He created for His glory in those around us. 


Providence is a key word to understand in the Christian faith because it does not just mean God has foreknowledge, but rather it means the active governing of His universe. I heard a pastor once say, “Where God patrols, He controls.” God has his hand everywhere. He is the only one that can be all places at one time. He does this because his intervention has a point; to draw people to Him. The Bible tells us in 1 Timothy 2:3 – 4 that, “This is good, and please God our Savior, who wants all people to come to a knowledge of the truth.” Here we see the providence of God at work – to win all souls to him. God is providing and sustaining the universe for His glory that all people would come to Him. This is what the Bible teaches us in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The Bible tells us that we become something different, a new creation. In 2 Corinthians 5:17 it says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”



The Bible shows us that God’s providence has a purpose, and that purpose is for you and me to know Him in a personal loving relationship for eternity. I don’t know about you but having a grace-filled, loving, eternal relationship with the God of the universe sounds pretty good to me! 

Where Gods Patrols, He Controls

Fight the Fear

Isaiah 41:10

“So do not fear, for I am with you;

    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you and help you;

    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

 

 

           At least 60% of adults today admit to having at least one unreasonable fear in life. What do you do when you feel like you have no way out and you struggle with loss, rejection, and failure? Jesus came to give you HOPE in your fears! He came to set you free from the hurt, pain, and struggle of life to find something new, different, and exciting in Him! Jesus came to set you free from fear! As we have begun studying in Scripture what God says about fear and how we should be handling it, one thing that continues to show up in the Bible is, “Do not fear.” The Bible talks about not fearing around 365 times, one for every day! I think God is giving us a glimpse into what life is like with Him. That He is faithful and trustworthy and when we walk with Him there is nothing to fear. 

 

           When we trust the Lord with our life, we are trusting Him with our fears, no matter what they are. Some of us, as we are seeing in our Sunday morning teaching series, struggle with fear of the unknown, fear of loss, fear of regret, fear of missing out, fear of rejection, fear of failure, or maybe many more that are not listed here. All those fears make us focus on worldly things more than heavenly things. God’s desire for your heart is to focus on him more than you focus on the things of this world. When we do focus on him more than the things of the world, our life will be not only more fulfilled, but healthier. The Bible tells us in…

 

John 16:33, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

 

God has overcome the world. Isn’t that a joyful noise to our ears? You know a God who is the creator of all things in the world cannot be overcome by the world. Jesus came to give us peace in Him, not chaos. He is the God of peace. It is the world that rages war against God and His commands. 

           

           Fear causes our bodies to have physical health issues, memory issues, processing issues, and mental health issues. Fear is destructive in a way that plays with our hearts and minds. God wants you to be healthy, stable, and prepared for all things that come in life. When we walk fearfully with the Lord, and not our own fear, we will be ready for all things that come in life. The Bible has given us an antidote to fear, and that’s Jesus. He has overcome the world, He has faced every situation, He has conquered sin and death, and He has given us peace. The Bible tells us in…

 

Isaiah 9:6, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given;

and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

 

           I pray today you remember that God has a plan for your life, and it is not to fear the things of this world but to live in a right relationship with the creator of this world – Jesus!

 

Fight the Fear

Valuing Relationships

Galatians 6:3 – 4

“If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else,”

 

Relationships can be a tricky thing, but the Bible tells us that you were made for them. We were made to be in relationship to God and other people. The Bible tells us the two greatest commandments are: Love God & Love others. How do we get to such a high and lofty expectations when there are people around us that we do not get along with? In many ways we all need to learn to cultivate good relationships by building trust, respect, and grace with each other. We yearn for relationships where we can be honest, open, and vulnerable; where we have people in our lives that speak truth in love, and we know they have our best interest at heart and we there’s. 


But there is a problem in relationships that underlay’s almost every issue. That problem in relationships is you! Unfortunately for most of us, we don’t follow the Bible’s instructions in Galatians 6:3 – 4 where it says, “Each one should test their own actions.” We instinctively love to test everyone else’s actions, but we are called to test our own actions and we will see the truth of our motives. This is where taking the plank out of our own eye before we look at the speck in someone else’s eye comes into play. To value relationships properly we must look at the things God says are stumbling blocks in our way: pride, jealousy, poor communication, bad habits, gossip. For many people we have poor self-reflection in how we look at our own flaws. The Bible tells us to test our own flaws before we look at the flaws of others.


There is also a second issue that needs to be addressed in valuing relationships. It’s not just evaluating our own motives, but we must also look at how we deal with conflict. Is your intent to make the relationship right or to just prove you are right? If your goal is to just prove you are right, then more times than not the relationship will not become right. If I am only trying to jam my view, my feelings, my concerns down their throat then I am not going to rectify the issue. Remember, you may very well be right but the goal is to make the relationship right and how we do that is very important! We must learn to listen as much as talk. We must learn to give grace as much as our opinion. We must learn to speak truth in love as much as truth with facts. Our goal is to restore and move forward in relationships, not just prove we are right in relationships!


Valuing relationships means we put a high precedent on the care of other people. How do we take care of those around us and how do we show them they are loved? Well, the Bible tells us how in John 15:13 where it says, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” Jesus laid down his life for you to give you freedom from sin but also as an example of how we should love others. One of the many great things about Jesus is he never asks you to do anything he wasn’t willing to do himself first! He set the example of being a great friend and building healthy relationships. We should follow suit! 

Right Relationships over Being Right

Faith over Fear

2 Timothy 1:7

“For the spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”

 

Scripture tells us that God breathed life into us – we only live because of his greatness! He has given us a way to live boldly & lovingly towards those around us!

 

What is TIMID?

Means to show a lack of courage or confidence, to be frightened.


We are God’s living and breathing masterpiece – and we are to live accordingly because of that! When you know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior we are to live powerfully.

 

That’s the very next line…

“But gives us power…” – we often think of this word, power, as our physical strength, but here that is not the point. Here, the power we seek is the spiritual power the LORD provides. It's when we can't – there will be a lot of times in your life, maybe this week or next week or sometime beyond that you will go through an experience where you say to yourself, “I Can’t” and that is when God says, “I can.” But what if, even before that moment in your life, the “I can’t” moment, you were already saying God take control of all situations, one’s that I think I can and one’s that I know I can’t and your will be done and not mine. The Spirit of the Lord influences us with His power, that we may be influencers of others around us.

That we may be the influencers and not the other way around. That we may live powerfully and truthfully in other people’s lives.


In this time of fear & frustration…don’t let fear rule your life! Let the power of the LORD influence & direct you to be the influencers to those around you!

 

But then he says ‘love & self-discipline’…

Love is self-sacrificing, generous, unending – LOVE is not just sentiment – it is ACTIONS & TRUTH! We need to be self-disciplined and pursue what is right, just, and loving for the sake of our witness before others. 

 

And we need to LOVE on people right now! We need to share what we’re learning in Scripture right now with others. We need to be more than well-wishers; we need to be authentically loving those around us WELL.

 

2 Timothy 1:7

“For the spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” 

 

Proverbs 3:5 – 6

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths.”

 

Remember this as you move forward in life. We need to be trusting in the Lord & authentically showing our faith over fear to those around us!


God bless,

Pastor Joel

Faith Compels / Fear Destroys

The World Needs Faithful Disciples

I will be the first one to admit, I struggle with what’s going on in the world right now. I grew up learning there are always two sides to every coin and unless you look at the other side with great intent you will never understand what the other side means. This is how I think we are called to look on the events of our life time today. People act quickly and abrasively today in situations. But as I look at the world closely, what I see is a world in need of more disciples. A world that needs to see faithful Christians living out their faith and caring for their neighbors.

 

People today are living in fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of other races, fear of uncertainty in their jobs, fear for their health, fear of death, and many more things. Fear is not something people enjoy, let alone want to spend their lives living in. We as a church have to remember that people outside the church do not believe what we believe. I could quote John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” And call it a day but would this truly help those who are hurting and don’t care about Jesus the way you and I do. Yes, this is a passage of Scripture to remember and trust for Christians, but what about people who don’t know Jesus. For most people, unless they see our love in action, they will never listen to the words coming out of our posts on social media. And what about those posts? Do we really believe by putting up post after post that we are going to change someone from the other side of the coin? Let me just tell you, it won’t. People don’t need to see social media warriors telling them their views, they need to see Jesus followers serving them in their time of need. 

 

You see, Jesus was in the streets, Jesus met people where they were at and Jesus became friends with people that were not his age, sex, race, and creed. Jesus loved people that were not in his social class and Jesus came to serve everyone not just a select few. As a believer, I have to believe that my life should be lived as Jesus lived his, not as America tells me how I should live. Many Christians today, often times myself included, live for the next fun thing, the next trip, the next game, the next meal. But what if we started living for the next soul? What if we started living for the next person to bless and care for? Would those who don’t know Jesus listen then? Maybe or maybe not but one thing I am certain of, they will listen to me more by serving and helping than by me posting something on social media and feeling like I’ve done my service for the day. 

 

We need change in the church…we fight over pews or chairs, light or dark paint, contemporary worship or hymn song but while we argue over things that do not matter – I’m sorry – all of those things do not matter in the way we want them too! The world around us burns and people are left wondering if Christians care more about their church buildings than they do about people outside of them. People need to hear and SEE the truth of the gospel: GOD LOVES YOU, JESUS DIED FOR YOU, the HOLY SPIRIT LIVES IN YOU! Jesus said it best himself in Matthew 22:36 – 40, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law? Jesus replied: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the law of the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” And Jesus taught that everyone is our neighbor, not just those who live next to you or look like you. We need the power of the Holy Spirit more than ever right now. We need to wake up asking the Lord to continue to mature and renew our spirt and grow us in sanctification. We need to worship like we have never worshipped before. We need to let the Holy Spirit move in our lives like never before. We need the Holy Spirit to lead us to help others like never before and lead us to love like never before. 

 

What the world needs, what you need, what I need – is JESUS! To live and breathe the Gospel message to all we come across. Love conquers fear! 

 

·     To not just post what someone else said but to think biblically about what they said!

·     To not just speak but to listen!

·     To not just complain but to understand!

·     To not just be angry but to be compassionate!

·     To not just confront but to care for!

·     To not just stay silent but to speak up when injustice is done!

·     To not just fear but to love!

 

We are called to help reconcile this world to God, not judge this world. We are called to help when others are hurting, not to give our arm-chair quarterback reasons for why they are hurting. 

 

If you have selective outrage over events in the world, then I want to challenge you to care all the time, like Jesus did. I am learning this now more than ever and I’m trying to grow in this area as well. When you read the Gospels, Jesus always had time to stop and talk with people. He was never in a rush and he cared about everyone. Do we have selective outrage now on either side of the coin of what we believe? There is a righteous anger that Jesus showed in the Gospels and it’s time to be angry over the injustices that are happening in the world all around us. We are called to CARE for people, not sit and judge people on social media and other places. It's time to move in to action!

 

Maybe some of us are mad because we see the world has so many issues in it that we don’t even know where to start? You see, if you are this person, then you’re probably like most people. You are realizing the world is burning all around us and you see the government is not going to fix it – it can’t. No government in the history of the world has ever made things better for everyone. The only one that can fix this messed up world is Jesus. His love, kindness, grace, and sacrifice changed things for you and I and it can change things for others as well. I can’t help but think of the fifth and seventh Beatitude right now. I have been memorizing them and they have been really coming to life for me right now in this time. “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” and “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” We do these things because Jesus first did them for us. He was merciful, even when I was in the wrong. He was a peacemaker, even when I was raging war. Other people doing things you consider wrong, should not stop you from doing what is right, and help! It’s like what my parents taught me growing up, ‘Two wrongs don’t make a right.’ I feel like the world has forgotten this and we now make excuses for what we do wrong. Don’t be like the world, be like Jesus! Stand with the hurting, stand with the oppressed, and stand with those who can’t stand for themselves. If I recall, that is what Jesus told us to do!  


Remember these things as we embrace what is happening in the world. The world does not need more social media posts, they need to see disciples of Jesus Christ listen, help, embrace, and care for their needs. They need to see the way Jesus lived as much as they need to hear his words. 


God bless,

Pastor Joel

Faithful Disciples Change the World Around Them

Large enough to serve you. Small enough to know you!