Are you, disciple, part of the Body? Are you committed to the Church and the church?
Bible doctrine teaches us that the Church is the universal Body of Christ. We are joined to her when we are born of the Spirit and baptized in faith. But, we need to do more thanknow this. We need to do this! When we make gathering with our church family a priority, we discover support, fellowship, and encouragement; and who doesn’t need that? So, why don’t more of us find the richness of relationship I’m describing? Because churches are made up of real people, flawed people, who don’t always love well. It takes commitment, patience, and time to create the connections that return the kind of joy promised to those who are ‘in the Body.’ Look what is possible. “If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.” (1 Corinthians 12:26, NLT)
The Bible offers this lofty description of Christ’s Church.“By God’s grace and mighty power, I have been given the privilege of serving him by spreading this Good News. Though I am the least deserving of all God’s people, he graciously gave me the privilege of telling the Gentiles about the endless treasures available to them in Christ. I was chosen to explain to everyone this mysterious plan that God, the Creator of all things, had kept secret from the beginning. God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Ephesians 3:7-11, NLT) God’s plan is to use the church to demonstrate His grace and goodness to Heaven and Earth!
Don’t miss out. Join up! Make a radical commitment to the work of God in your local church. It’s not just about joining a mission! It’s about being ‘in a family.’ Sunday, we’re going to present the vision of “Discovery Groups” a place outside of the church building where we can learn to be the people of the Lord. It’s not about yet another ministry. It’s about a place to belong, a place of grace.
And now the Sovereign LORD has sent me, with his Spirit. This is what the LORD says— your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
“I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.
If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea.” (Isaiah 48:16-18, NIV)
He’s your Dad
For a few days last week I was with my children and grandchildren. Of all the ways I am described by others; friend, brother, Pastor, counselor; none compares to “Dad.” My adult kids love to tease me and can do it so well knowing all the right stories to tell. When one of the little ones approached and said, “Hi, Papa” I literally wept with joy!
Jesus taught us to address God primarily as “Our Father.” We come to Him with open heart and an expectation of acceptance because that’s Who He is. “This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children.” (Romans 8:15-16, The Message)
There are many ways to know and understand our God. He is Majestic Lord, Creator of the Universe, the Divine Warrior, the One who lives in Heavenly Splendor, the Great I Am. And He is our Father, our Abba!
“But, Pastor, if I relate to Him like that, won’t I lose respect and treat His demands with contempt?” No you will not. If your love for Abba is deep and authentic, your obedience will be complete; not fear-based but love inspired. My adult children are self-sufficient, having nothing to fear in me. The respect they give to me has its foundation in love. Love is a much stronger motive than fear; more sustainable, too!
Is God just an idea to you? Is He ‘someone out there, somewhere?’ Pray to know Him.
Receive the Father love He has for you. John says that this ‘love casts out fear.’ If we only fear God we have not yet known the fullness of His salvation offered to us through Christ.
Receive the Father provisions prepared for you. He will meet your needs from His riches!
Receive the identity. A father provides an identity. Long before his children can consciously process thoughts about who they are and how they fit into the world, a good Daddy shows them by his life. His values become theirs. His way of ‘doing life’ is unconsciously adopted. He anchors them in the world. My primary identity in this world was given to me by my Dad and, later by my Heavenly Abba.
Here’s a word from the Word. May this truth go deep and become a rock of stability for us in a world filled with instability. “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.” (1 John 3:1-3, NIV)
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed (revered as holy) be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.” Amen (Matthew 6:9-13, NIV)
There are days when I slip into an entitlement mentality. It goes like this: “I’m a good guy. I’m owed … ” It’s an ugly place and it does not long to go from brooding about how unfair life is to being angry at people for not giving me what I deserve! In that moment, life becomes a very small bundle of ME. Gratitude becomes impossible.
Need to defeat entitlement thinking? Here’s the way. Cultivate gratitude! Practice giving thanks today, right where you are. Thanksgiving inspires worship and faith grows. Consistently offering heartfelt thanks to God breaks the mesmerizing hold of Self. This births a new humility in which we willingly trust and obey the Lord.
Disobedience is always fed by the root of ‘me-ism,’ the insistence that Self must be served above all things – the welfare of others and even God Himself. Look at these examples from the Scripture.
- Eve sinned because she wanted to indulge her desire.
- Moses sinned when he allowed himself to be fed up with serving the ever-demanding people Israel.
- David sinned when he thought he just had to have Bathsheba, and his lust fed an escalating series of sins that led to proxy murder!
The NT tells us to ‘crucify the sinful nature.’ That’s a brutal phrase that reveals the intensity with which we must deal with Self. Give it no place! One way is to offer what the Bible calls a “sacrifice of praise to God.” That means we intentionally stop complaining and give Him thanks. Further the Word urges us to offer this sacrifice “continually, … the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name .” (Hebrews 13:15, KJV)
God cannot bless those who think of themselves as entitled! But, to the humble, who are full of gratitude, He shows abundant mercies.
Here’s the word from the Word. Let it own your heart and mind. It’s His divine prescription for peaceful contentment. “Offer proper sacrifices, and trust in the Lord. Many people say, “Who will show us better times?” Let the smile of your face shine on us, Lord. You have given me greater joy than those who have abundant harvests of grain and wine. I will lie down in peace and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe.”
(Psalm 4:5-8, NLT)
what God is looking for in men and women.
It’s quite simple:
be compassionate and loyal in your love,
And don’t take yourself too seriously— take God seriously.
– Micah 6:6-8, The Message
Here’s a word from the Word for you today. “Then the Lord said to me, “Write my answer in large, clear letters on a tablet, so that a runner can read it and tell everyone else.
I’m pressing on the upward way,
New heights I’m gaining every day;
Still praying as I’m onward bound,
“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”
Lord, lift me up and let me stand
By faith on heaven’s table-land,
A higher plane than I have found:
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.
I want to scale the utmost height
And catch a gleam of glory bright;
But still I’ll pray, ’til heaven I’ve found
“Lord, lead me on to higher ground.”
Higher Ground – Johnson Oatman, Jr.