This past week, an important discussion came up. Which church do you go to? I’m not sure if I’ve discussed this before here, but my ladies Bible Study group is not church-specific. It is compiled of ladies that have come together through networking, a couple of us go to the same church, but most of us don’t. And, one of the things I really love, is that the churches we do attend, are all different “denominations”. Because please believe, denominations were not God’s idea. That is a tool that Satan has used to keep us separate, and sometimes, even pitted against each other. The more I read and understand, the more I see the enemy’s handiwork and understand how’s he’s got some people so twisted. – Anyway, today I would like to discuss the importance of church – in the sense of gathering together and fellow-shipping with others.
Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church. All Church. And we are the Body. Collectively and singularly. The Body. Together we are supposed to be functioning as extensions of the Head, doing all the Body work as combined efforts. And singularly, working as an individual within the Body to further the efforts of Jesus Christ, which means putting our own effort in. So, we are supposed to have a church group where we can “plug in”. You can attend and get fed the Word, fellowship with other believers, and spend time in unified worship of our Father. And, this is what 75% of church-goers are doing. (By the way, that’s 75% of the 38% of Americans that are attending church every week). But then- there’s this whole other step that we’re supposed to be doing. We are not supposed to be going to church – just to go, just to get fed, just to feel better about going? We are supposed to be furthering the Kingdom. The church has WORK to do! The Body doesn’t just lie there, on a big chaise lounge, eating grapes, waiting for the Son to return. Also, Christ didn’t say he was the Head of a building (stationary and ungrowing), or the Head of a tree – that just stays where it’s at. He purposefully picked the Head of a Body. A moving, growing, changing thing that can manage and operate the world that it’s in.
We are supposed to be using our gifts to plug in and help the Church expand and grow. We are supposed to be helping one another and figuring out how to win more souls, how to get more people coming to the Faith – and hopefully coming to Church! We are supposed to be growing as believers and helping other people grow too. We are not supposed to be at church to go through the motions. And, if you are a believer, you should be going to a church. It’s important to have a relationship with Jesus, and read your Bible, but iron sharpens iron. Humans are pack animals, no matter how much some people want to say that they’re loners, we have an inherent sense to be a part of a community – some people just prefer smaller communities. The more we go to Church, the more you should want to go to Church. The more you grow, the more you should want to talk to others about what you’re learning to try to understand the concepts more. Church should challenge you to want to grow. Church should be a place where you can challenge others to grow. A place where you can plug in and be a part of the body, and also find your place within the body to help the body move into new space and further the Kingdom. We were never meant to sit still.
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank You! For all that You’ve done. Thank You for sending Your Son to die for us. Thank You for Your grace, and Your wisdom. That Your wisdom may flow into us, and give us a deeper understanding of Your Word. Bless Us Father. Bless the work of our hands, and our thoughts, and guide us in the way that we should go. Show us Your way Father. Show us where we’re supposed to be and guide us to get there. May we grow ever stronger in You, and may we bring others too, to bask in Your light and love, all the days of our lives. IN JESUS’ NAME!! AMEN!!
History suggests that church planting remains the most effective form of evangelism.
The church is God’s primary vehicle to advance his kingdom on earth. The goal of our evangelism and mission work is to establish new churches and strengthen existing ones. We don’t randomly scatter seeds with the hope that something grows. We strategically plant churches that will become strong enough to plant more. Learn more about EveryNation Church Planting here.
Many moons ago, I talked about how God is Love. God is Love. He is everything that is love, He is all those feelings, He embodies it, He is the definition of it. And love feels so good doesn’t it? To love, to be loved, all the good things that love gives us. And, God himself, is Love. And in John 13:35, it says, And everyone will know you, by your love. Because if we are true believers in Christ, You should be striving to be like Jesus, and if Jesus is God, and God is love. You should also be love.
As a few weeks ago, I was talking about how, if we’re just striving to be like Jesus, then, you will see your fruits. They will just come naturally, as you continue to grow and draw closer to God. One of the fruits is Love. And several times throughout scripture, God tells us to put on love.
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
1 Corinthians 13:1-8
“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”
“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.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’There is no commandment greater than these.”
“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.”
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”
1 Peter 4:8
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
1 John 4:7
“Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”
1 John 4:11
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”
1 John 3:16-18
“Do everything in love.”
1 Corinthians 16:14
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
One of the biggest things that hurts my heart is believers who acknowledge him with their lips and then deny him by their lifestyle. Or deny Him by speaking out in hate against others. Now, don’t get me wrong, I understand that we get wronged and get upset about things that happen to us. But we’re not supposed to let it fester. It’s not supposed to continue to live in us. Even Jesus had righteous anger in the temple against the gamblers and hypocrites, but then he moved on. He didn’t bear that grudge. He didn’t continue to beat them over the heads with how wrong they were, physically or verbally. In the very next verse, he starts healing the sick and goes about his business. Because He was here to do the Lord’s business.
One of the most difficult conversations I have, is trying to explain that I believe in the Bible and am a follower of Jesus Christ, when we have such a bad wrap – because of all these people who obviously weren’t grasping the main point of the Bible and being a believer. We have the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, even the Klan is said to have religious ties. Not to mention all the horrible things that have been done by people throughout the ages, while clinging to the “guise” of Christianity while doing it. It’s hard to make others understand, that those people who did these things were really missing a big point of the Bible. We are supposed to be love. Others should know we are believers, by our love. We are not supposed to seek vengeance, or put others down because of what they believe, or judge them, and we are definitely not supposed to be hurting anyone who doesn’t believe the same things we do.
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.
And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you. 32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full.35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
As I was having this disagreement with another believer at one point. Who had a very strong disliking for a specific group of people who did not believe in the Bible, they were up on their soap box, telling me how immoral it was and how wrong these people were. And, I looked at them, and said, “I understand that, but how are you supposed to win any of those people over by telling them that? By hating them? Who wants to come into a community and a relationship with God, when the example that they have, you, is spewing hate and filth? You know, God created them too, and wants them to be saved too, and you’re not winning any souls with that attitude.”
We have to remember that we hate the sin, not the sinner. We all sin, and in the eyes of God, all the sins are the same. A lie is just as bad as murder. Not one of us is above another, we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. In this century, and the last, and the next to come, the world needs more Love, more God. More of Him, and less of us.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you. Thank You, that you are better than us. That you love each and every one of us so much, that you sent your Son to die for us, every one of us. I ask You today Father, to take out our hearts of stone, and give us hearts of flesh. Hearts like Yours Father. Wash us in Your Word. Remove the logs from our eyes, that we may see the world as You do. Give us supernatural peace and understanding to love one another, to love ourselves, and to love You. To know that You are the Good, Good Father who loves us. To see that we live in a fallen world, and that others should see your light, and know your love, by our love toward others. Bless the work of our hands, and the words from our mouths, and the people in our lives by our love – which is Your love through us. IN JESUS’ NAME!! AMEN!!
A mission finder! Help out here! Spread the Love of God’s Word. This particular mission, is a agency that will connect you where you are. You can go on short trips or long trips, local or the other side of the planet.
I think one of the most powerful things I’ve learned in the past couple years as a new creation in Christ, is that only the devil wants us looking back. Any time, we start to fixate on the past, that’s the devil’s handy-work. Every morning you wake up and you get a new chance to make new decisions. Every day, you get a new chance to forgive yourself and forgive others. And, one of the most powerful tools that the devil has is You. Your own mind. Your own insecurities. Your own anger. You. And if he can keep you in the past, then you can’t live in the now, and you can’t move forward. Sure, you’re still getting up and going places, but where are you in your head? God knows this. Why do you think He gave us the helmet of Salvation? Because some of the biggest battles you face, are going to be with yourself.
I like how the New Living Translation says it, “Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear.” Phillipians 2:12
I know how hard of a battle this can be. I’ve been an addict, an abuser, and been abused. Trust me, there’s been a lot of Salvation to work out. When I was called to write this blog, those were definitely some items that were trying to hold me back. Who is going to believe me? Who is going to want to read my stuff? I’ve been in the lowest of the low places. But, I just have to remind myself that God has forgiven me, and that I’m trying to share his word and bring others to the Faith and have a closer relationship with him. Because if God can forgive Paul (a murderer) who turned out to be one of the biggest advocates for Jesus Christ, He can forgive me, and He can forgive any body else who asks for it. And please believe, I have not admitted some of these things openly before because there are people who read my blog who don’t know these things about me, and could think differently about me because of it. But we all have our own struggles, and I have overcome all of mine. Because God has set me free. And because I serve the one true God who will watch over me and guide me and has been urging me to be honest and open with my audience. Because He has forgiven me, and I have forgiven myself, and I have forgiven others, and I don’t live there anymore. I’m only looking forward. And, now, here I am, a new creation in Christ. And, I’m not special. It’s available for everyone. You just have to work for it.
Sometimes, it’s crazy to think what my life used to be, compared to what it is now. But that’s part of what’s so amazing about your relationship with Jesus Christ. He removes all your transgressions, as far as the east is from the west. He washes you white as snow. If you ask for forgiveness, He doesn’t just forgive some of the things, He forgives ALL of the things. Sometimes Satan tries to sneak in there and tell me that I’m not worthy of God’s love, that I’m not forgiven, that I’m going to suddenly get in trouble for something that happened 10 years ago. But those are all lies. They’re all in the past. I haven’t lived there for 10 years. And, I’m only looking forward. I continually am working out my Salvation with fear and trembling. But, I just reassure myself that I am a child of God, Holy and Beloved. That God only wants good things for me. I have spent a decade becoming a new creation in Christ. I am sad that Satan had a hold of me for so long, but I have spent 10 years being a new person. 10 years growing into this new creation. And, I am looking forward to the next 10 years, because it can only get better. I am a child of the Overcomer.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your incredible love. Thank You that you forgive ALL things, and that we can all rest assured in Your Salvation. That You are the Overcomer, and that You give us the strength and the Salvation to be overcomers ourselves. Thank You Father, that you only want us moving forward. That we do not live in the past. Thank You Father, that you gave us Paul as an example of anyone who seeks your Salvation and your word can be a Child of God. Thank You that you sent your son to die for us. Thank you for all that you’ve done, and may we all continue to work out our Salvation with fear and trembling. IN JESUS’ NAME!! AMEN!
When I was a teenager, I went on a mission trip here to help out for a week. A homeless shelter in downtown Atlanta. Preaching the Good Word and trying to save souls and lives.
I cannot emphasize enough how powerful it is to pray. And yet, one of the most neglected things that we do (or don’t do) as believers. The importance of prayer. I must say, in the growth that I was talking about last week, where I did most of my growing was in prayer. Some of the times, where I was the most fed, was in that sacred time with the Lord. In that time dedicated to prayer. It’s like each step of our walk just draws us in closer, and brings us in to that deeper relationship with the Father. There’s a reason they’re called Prayer Warriors. Because it’s true. And when you meet a true Prayer Warrior, there’s just something about them. But, let me tell you a little secret…. You can be a Prayer Warrior too. Anyone can.
So, I was just like you. Had become a believer, was starting to go to church again, but this time. I had this fire inside me. This aching to make this more, to know more, to understand more. And, so I started reading a little 2 minute daily devotional. And, one of the things this daily devotional focused on, was at least 2 of the days during the week, you would just be praying and meditating on prayer/during prayer. Thinking about what you’re praying about. That was a seed. A seed that started to sprout. I started to realize that this prayer time had something to it. This supernatural feeling. This calm. This peace. This warm and loving glow. This sensation that I just couldn’t get enough of. And, so I started to focus more of my devotionals on prayer. Started reading scripture about prayer. Started studying some of the great people of the Bible, and what did they all have in common? Their prayer time.
David prayed. Moses prayed. Samuel prayed. Jesus prayed.
Did you know there are 222 prayers in the Bible? Here is a neat list I found online. Prayers for every occasion, prayers that can help you anytime, if you don’t know how to pray. Whether you want to follow a prayer, or just need somewhere to start. The important thing is, getting started! I had an interesting viewpoint introduced to me. When you think of how big the Bible is, any time something takes up a lot of real estate, you should pay attention! 222 prayers. There is almost a prayer in every book of the Bible. Some of the books, that’s almost all they are. That’s A LOT of real estate. It’s SO IMPORTANT. It is our DIRECT LINK to the Father. It is part of why Jesus came to gave his life on the cross, to give us the Holy Spirit, that we may TALK DIRECTLY TO GOD!
I challenge you this week to dig into prayer more. How much more can you apply prayer in your life? Prayer continually. When you’re stressed out, stop and pray about it first. When you are about to make a decision, ask God what he thinks. Get up every morning, and THANK GOD that your eyes opened again to give you another day — and maybe even ask Him what you’re supposed to do with it? Dig in, draw closer.
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank You for your many blessings! Thank You that you’ve given us a heart of flesh. That You want to have a personal relationship with us. This morning Father, I pray that you give everyone reading this a heart of flesh, that they may burn for You Father. That they want to draw closer to You. That they start praying instead of worrying. That You Father reach down inside them and give them a sense of peace that surpasses all understanding. That You watch over them Father, and all that they do. That they understand You Great Power and Incredible Love. That You make each and every one of these people A PRAYER WARRIOR after Your own heart. I pray that You change their lives forever. That You give them an insatiable yearning for time with You, and that the time with You bears fruit in their lives. That it changes them from the inside out. That they may feel the same way about Prayer time as I do, more than I do. That You may bless them all the days of their lives and that they grow deeper in Your love and their relationship with You Father. IN JESUS’ NAME!! AMEN!!
Here is a great mission that anyone can do! Because anyone can be a PRAYER WARRIOR!! Here is a group that gives you an opportunity to become a missionary, just by praying! Because everyone needs prayer!! The Gideons. You know, that group that has made it so almost every hotel in the United States has a Bible in the room. The group that dedicates time and missionaries to distributing Bibles all over the world!
I’m sure by this point, all of you have heard at some point or another how important it is to get rest. The importance to going to bed on time, so you can get up on time. The importance of vacations, importance of not packing your schedules so tight that you don’t have time to breathe, the importance of rest. But I would also like to explore the concept of resting in the Lord. Now, I must say, I’ve never really heard a sermon on this, but I do believe it’s important, and it’s really been getting stressed to me by the Holy Spirit, so even though, I had a completely different topic this week… Someone needs to hear this. Which was only reinforced by the story that I was going to use, being used in the sermon this morning…. Oh Holy Spirit, how you move.
So-many months ago, I was reading someone else’s blog, and they were elaborating on the story of Elijah. Not necessarily the one you think of, but another moment, that almost seems like a side-note, but let me tell you. One of the most important lessons that God has taught me, the importance of eating some food and taking a nap. Yep, go ahead. Read that again. Eat some food, and take a nap. So, let’s read the story, then, I’ll elaborate.
Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.”
3Elijah was afraidand ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, 4 while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” 5 Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.
All at once an Angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” 6 He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.
7 The Angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” 8 So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. – 1 Kings 19:1-8
Little context here, so we can understand a little more of this story. In the chapter preceeding, there was a severe famine and drought in Samaria, and Elijah had challenged the phophets of Baal by both offering sacrifices and whomever’s God was real, would set fire to the sacrifices. The prophets of Baal cried out for him to set fire to their sacrifice all night and all day to no avail. Then, Elijah had water dumped on his sacrifice, cried out to God once, and the sacrifice, the alter, and soil beneath were all scorched in flames. Then, all the prophets (all 450!) were slain for their service to Baal. And almost immediately after this, it began to rain….
So, Elijah, had quite literally witnessed this incredible act of God, and favor for his people. And while Elijah is running for his life for killing the servants of Baal, he asks God to kill him. Talk about a rollercoaster of emotion. He goes from witnessing this incredible miracle, and very obvious re-assurement that he was serving the one true God, to just wanting to die. And, that happens to us, doesn’t it? We see God working in our lives, doing incredible things, and then the next moment we’re just ready to throw in the towel. But, look! Look what God does. He lets Elijah rest. And then sends an Angel to give him some food?! Then, lets him sleep again, feeds him again, and then sends him on his way.
God knows we need rest. That’s why there are so many verses in the Bible that talk about finding rest in God. Verses about Him holding you up when you’re weary. He created us to need rest. It’s not a flaw in the design. We were beautifully and wonderfully made that way. We need rest. Accept it. Rest when you are weary. Take the time to re-energize yourself.
I have several stories of how rest and a nap really changed the outcome for the unfolding events that were occurring at the time. Same thing goes for Elijah. Can you imagine if he had continued to push on? He might’ve dropped dead from exhaustion and never met Elisha. His story might’ve been lost forever because he died so suddenly shortly after a miracle. Who knows? What we do know, is that he took the time to rest. And God provided him with food, and let him sleep. Because we are his creations, and he knows our needs. Trust in the Lord, and trust your body, when it tells you it’s time for rest.
I would like to take that one step further. Take time to rest in the Lord too. I personally just went through a huge growth spurt – not in my natural body, but with my Spirit. I have spent the last several years, growing. Growing, growing, growing. Like, I’m pretty sure I have stretch marks. I was hungry. I couldn’t get enough. Podcasts, daily devotionals (multiple), prayer, this blog, Bible Study, Church three times a week. Insatiable hunger. And, now I have entered this period of rest. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still praying, going to church, reading daily devotionals, but I’m not hungry in this moment. I’m just digesting. Taking some more snippits, adding it to what I just digested. But, I’m just resting in the Lord right now. Letting it all soak in. If you think about it, what good does it do you to eat more food when you’re already full? Nothing, you don’t get more nutrients, you don’t feel any more full (except over-full). You have to take time to rest. Let some of the stuff sink in. Understand how it applies to your life. What this means in your walk with the Lord. Sometimes all you need is some food, and a nap. ❤
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank You! Thank You for making us just the way we are. Thank You for designing us to need rest. For making us take the time to rest in You, and to rest our bodies. For making us slow down. To wonder in Your Glory and Honor, to pull in close to you, that you may hold us close, when we need rest. That you are our strength when we have none. That you will all provide our needs, even when we don’t understand them ourselves. Thank you, that You are, the omniscient Great Jehovah! That you are always looking out for us, even when we just need some time to relax. Thank You for ensuring that these 8 verses were here to help us understand that you are the all knowing Father, who completely understands that we need rest. Thank You Father. Thank You! IN JESUS’ NAME!! AMEN!!
This week’s focus… Sleep in Heavenly Peace!! 🙂 This is a missions that’s dedicated to making sure no child in America sleeps on the floor. Here is their “mission statement” – I can’t explain it any better.
“All children deserve a safe, comfortable place to lay their heads. In Idaho and across the U.S., too many boys and girls go without a bed – or even a pillow – to sleep on. These children end up sleeping on couches, blankets, and even floors. This can affect their happiness and their health.
That’s where Sleep in Heavenly Peace comes in. We’re a group of volunteers dedicated to building, assembling and delivering top-notch bunk beds to children and families in need. Our organization has grown steadily over time, and we’re working on opening more chapters in different states to serve more people.”