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Worshipping Who?

I would like to bring together two ideas of current events. We are preaching a sermon series on “Why Church?”. What is the purpose of our church? We have concluded that all churches should have the same purpose. We are to DCOW, right? Discipleship, Community, Outreach, and Worship are the four purposes of all Bible believing churches. Daniels latest message was on worship. We are to worship God, not just on Sunday morning, not just during the praise and worship music, but rather we are to worship God 24/7. Daniels questions in his last blog got me to thinking. The questions are elementary at first glance. What do you have to worship God about? Why do you worship God? What do you have to worship and praise God for? These and the other questions kinda slid through my mind without any real answers.

After some thought, I had to ask myself another important question. Who do I worship? Who do you worship? Your answer and mine is, “God, of course”. What if we would record every word spoken from us today. Record the whole week while we are at it. Now, listening to the playback, let me ask again. Who do we worship? All the complaining, bellyaching, critical, discontented, dissenting, fretting, grumbling, lamenting, moaning, murmuring, resentful, weeping and whining that we would hear! Now I know we would hear some true worship as well, but would it be proportional?

My point is this. Daniel preached on worship Sunday. It is the Christmas season. Can these two thoughts be linked? Read Matthew 2:1-2.

 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem,  2 saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to WORSHIP Him.

Friends, just as the wise men had to seek after Jesus, we must as well. We have to purposely seek after Him daily. We must watch our negative speech and attitudes and be mindful to bring honor and glory to God our Father each day. Each moment of each day! If we aren’t careful, we will be doing just the opposite. We will give credit to the enemy and not our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Let us worship the true King!

“It is a wonder how much time good people spend fighting the devil. If they would only expend the same amount of energy loving their fellow-men, the devil would die in his own tracks of ennui.” Helen Keller

 

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Why Church?

Ephesians 4:11 states that the church exists: for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;

This is clear in its expression for the reason that God has invented the church. The church is to equip Christians for service, that is to say they are to be prepared, trained, resourced and given opportunity  to serve and obey God. The rest of scripture clearly shows that the four areas with which the church is responsible for this equipping are in the broad areas of Outreach, Community (or Fellowship), Discipleship, and Worship. All that the church is to do according to scripture falls into one of these categories. The necessary point, however, is to understand that the church is supposed to equip, not do. The church as an entity is not to worship for the individual but rather equip them to worship. So the church could teach a person about God, and provide a service with music were that person might come to express worship to God with their fellow believers  The church is not to try to make the congregants better Christians (i.e. disciples). But rather equip them through discipleship. That is the church would train, and mentor, provide classes, and service projects where a person might grow in Christ-likeness. The church can’t fellowship for the individual but rather provides opportunities for Christians to gather and build lasting relationships. Most controversially  the church is not to outreach for the Christian but rather to provide them with the training, resources and opportunities to assist them in reaching out as individuals. More on Outreach in Next Sunday’s Sermon. Be sure to invite your Friends.

The big answer to the question Why Church? Is that we are stronger together than we are apart. Yes you can accomplish most of what the church offers as an individual but most will have greater success when people do it together. you will grow more, you will be supported, encouraged  accountable, and serving more when you are building relationships in a healthy, biblical Christian Community.

At New Life we have a Purpose, a Mission, and a Win. The purpose is the same for all churches to equip Christians in Outreach, Worship, Community, and Fellowship. This is the subject of our current sermon series.

The Mission of New Life is our specific calling and gifting from God for our community. New Life is to be a place that reaches the de-churched, and the “but” people to welcome them into an active, accountable, equipping, church community. The de-churched are those that have some connection with church and many of which claim Christ. Some of them are actually saved some aren’t. The reasons they aren’t involved in church today vary as much as the people themselves. Some of them were hurt by the church. Some of them find the church boring, hypocritical, or non-Christ-like. Some simply left a church because they moved or the church died and they never found another church. The “but” is the common expression of de-churched people…”I’d go to church “But”… I know I should go to church “But”… New Life must be a hospital or rehab center for these people where they can come and fellowship and heal from these “Buts”. However, New Life is not called to be a Nursing home where people come and wallow in their hurts. When a person goes to a rehab center they are expected to recover and leave better than they were before. When a person enters a nursing home there is often little hope that they will get to leave, or be better than they once where. The Church is a hospital and rehab center not a Nursing home. So New Life is supposed to reach the de-churched through Outreach, Community, Discipleship, and Worship, and then involve and equip them for these same areas of service. The purpose is the means for accomplishing the mission.

Finally, New Life’s Win is how New Life is able to determine whether or not  and how well they are fulfilling their purpose and mission. The Win at New Life is connecting People with People and People with God. After all what is Worship and Discipleship people connecting and growing in relationship, understanding and intimacy with God. What is Outreach and Community, People connecting and building relationships with people. So New Life is winning in this world when we help in Connecting People with People and People With God.

 

A Tale of Two Men

There once were two men. They lived in the same neighborhood, attended the same church and even had family members that mirrored each other. On the outside they appeared the same.  I say they appeared the same knowing that we judge from outward appearance but God judges the heart. These men have both passed away now. During their sickness and last few days on earth they didn’t have as much in common. One was tormented and questioned his salvation, the other was confident in his security. One man called for the pastor more than once to pray with him the prayer of salvation, never fully convinced that he was forgiven. When the other was asked if he was afraid, knowing that soon the next breath would be his last here on earth, his answer was “No, I’m not afraid. The good Lord and I are right with each other.”

I hope and pray that I will approach death with the confidence that the latter man did. This confidence that John speaks of below is found only in an authentic love relationship with Jesus Christ.

So the question today is this. If you knew you had only a day or just a few short hours to live, how would you react?

1 John 2:28 And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.

1 John 3:21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God.

 
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Posted by on August 3, 2012 in Life, People, Questions

 

Throw off your coat!

Last week at scout camp I needed a coat. I do realize that it sounds crazy with all the hot weather we have been having. We were damp around the edges so to speak and the wind picked up. It was late evening and although we weren’t soaking wet, we were wet enough to be chilled. We decided to build a fire. I remember thinking while I packed that I should carry a pair of long pants and a long sleeve shirt. I didn’t. Hindsight is 20/20.

A coat to many of us isn’t that big of a deal most times. To a homeless person, a coat is of utmost importance though. A coat to a homeless man is his home, his refuge, his protection, and his security. Let’s read of one such man.

Mark 10:46-52

46 Now they came to Jericho. As He went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the road begging. 47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”48 Then many warned him to be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”49 So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called.Then they called the blind man, saying to him, “Be of good cheer. Rise, He is calling you.”50 And throwing aside his garment, he rose and came to Jesus.51 So Jesus answered and said to him, “What do you want Me to do for you?”The blind man said to Him, “Rabboni, that I may receive my sight.”52 Then Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road.

Did you read that bold statement above? He threw aside his coat! When Jesus called, he threw aside his coat and went to Jesus. He threw aside his protection. He threw aside his security. He threw aside the one thing that he owned to go to Jesus. This seems to be a small detail on the surface, yet has deep spiritual impact for us today.

What is your coat? What is your protection and security? What are you hiding under for refuge?

Jesus is calling. Throw off your coat and run to Him.

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2012 in Individual Growth, Questions

 

MADE WHOLE

Do you want to be made well? It may seem like an absurd question at first glance but let’s think about it a while. In the gospel of John chapter five we read of Jesus healing a man at the pool of Bethesda. Many sick people were there, blind, lame, and paralyzed. It seems that whoever got into the pool after the stirring of the water was made well and cured of whatever disease they had. This particular man that Jesus confronted had been sick with his infirmity for some 38 years. Jesus knowing this asked the man, “Do you want to be made well?” I like the King James Version which reads, “Wilt thou be made whole?” Made whole? Of course the man wants to be made whole! Who doesn’t want to be made whole? Don’t we all?

The man answered Jesus and gave two excuses. First is that he doesn’t have anyone to help him into the pool. Second is that he is too slow and others beat him to the water. These may seem like weak excuses or legitimate excuses to you, I’m not sure, but they are excuses. Now I’m not down on this man at all. Day after day he has had to live in his condition. He has watched others be healed while all the time struggling with his sickness. It had to get discouraging. Now here he is, standing before Jesus, confronted with the question. Do I want to be made whole?

Friends, this is the very exact question God is asking you today. DO YOU WANT TO BE MADE WHOLE? God is offering complete healing (spiritual, physical, emotional) today through His Son Jesus Christ. What will be your answer? Many have lived in their condition for numerous years. Many have lived in their condition so long that they forget they are sick. It’s just a way of life. They are comfortable with their life. It isn’t perfect by any means, but there aren’t any surprises either. What excuses are you giving?

Jesus commanded the man to “take up your bed and walk.” This is His command to you today as well. Stop making excuses. Stop settling for life as usual. Take up your bed, trust in the Lord, and walk worthy of the calling you have in Christ Jesus.

 
 

Choose Me!

Daniel’s sermon on Sunday at New Life has a lot of people thinking. He spoke on Isaiah’s call from the Lord in the sixth chapter of his book. Isaiah sees a grand vision of God in all His glory. Seraphim are flying around. One proclaims, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!” The place quakes as fire fills the house with smoke. Isaiah realizes he is in the presence of God and the fact that he is a sinful man not worthy to stand before a righteous God overwhelms him. He knows his sin and realizes that he is the only one not worshipping God. He cries out, “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips…” Isaiah realized his own powerlessness and inadequacy. One of the seraphim touched Isaiah’s lips with a live coal to take away his iniquity.

As you read this passage it all seems strange and unreal, yet it is really simple to understand when broken down. 1- Isaiah saw the Lord. 2- Isaiah realized his sin. 3- Isaiah was purged from his sin. 4-Isaiah is now ready to hear from the Lord.

What does the Lord say? “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” The people of Israel had turned against God and a prophet was needed. Words of confrontation, exhortation, and warning needed to be preached. A man was needed to stand for truth and guide the people to repentance. Then words of hope and promise would come forth. The people needed to know that God desired to save, comfort, and bless them. But who will take this message to God’s people? Who will stand for truth? Who will be the mouthpiece for God?

Isaiah said, “Here am I, send me.” Daniel used the analogy of an elementary grade school child wanting to be chosen to be the head of the line. With arm raised high and waving, the words of “pick me, pick me, here I am, choose me please, I want to do it, pick me!” spring forth. God did choose Isaiah and scripture goes on to inform him of the message that God wanted relayed.

So what is the challenge today? What are a lot of people thinking about concerning Daniel’s sermon?

When God ask you, “whom shall I send?” what is your answer? So many times we say, “Here I am Lord; send Joe or Bob or Sue”. We see the need but we rarely say “send me”. I encourage you today to stand before God, confess your sin, and listen. What is God saying? Are you willing to say, “Here I am”.

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2012 in Church, Individual Growth, Questions, Sermons

 

GRACE AND REVIVAL

Craig Rumbley, a missionary to Belize, brought the message Sunday at New Life. Daniel and I like to ask guest speakers to share when the situation presents itself. Craig shared on Grace, which is a topic that needs to be preached in Belize, the USA, and all over the world. We as Christians often believe that our salvation is dependant on our behavior and actions. We would never say this out loud in an audible voice, yet our actions scream it very loud. Yes, we believe Jesus died for our sins, but once we become believers and accept Christ as our savior and Lord we think we must meet a certain standard to be “good” enough.

The book of Romans is one of the books in the Bible that Paul wrote to the new Christians in Rome. If you will read and study it you’ll be convinced that a right standing with God comes only by His grace and not of your works. The book of Romans literally changed the history of the world. Martin Luther in the 1500s became so sick and tired of religious observances and religious leaders that burdened those trying to follow God, that he fell into great despair. In prayer and Bible study the Lord spoke to him through Romans 3:28. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. This revelation changed Martin Luther’s life and ignited what we now call the Reformation.

Every revival has started with the revelation of God’s grace. Friends, WE NEED REVIVAL! Anyone desiring personal or corporate revival today needs to realize that our own human effort and good works are completely unable to provide right standing with God. It is never the question, “what must we do?” but rather, “what did Jesus do?” What bridges the gap in your life between you and God? The cross of Jesus and the work He performed there is the only way for sinful man to stand with a righteous God. It isn’t through our holiness or good works. God doesn’t just take the “good” people and save them. God justifies and extends salvation to the ungodly (Rom 4:5).

So I ask tonight, are you performing to meet certain standards? Are you depending on your actions and behavior to maintain your Christianity? Or, do you have a true, intimate, love relationship with Christ? A relationship so close that, just like Adam and Eve in the garden, you walk with God daily. I desire revival. I desire that you will take time to do some honest self-evaluation and allow God to usher in revival to your life as well.

 
 
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