Quality not quantity?

A very sad and unfortunately normal fact for the Church in the Western world is that it is not growing, and so many churches are closing, being demolished, or being turned into nightclubs or trendy apartments in cities. This is something we should be very concerned about, and we should be being proactive in dealing with head on. How many church mission statements cover this rising trend by saying they are looking for “quality and not quantity” in their congregations.

Acts 2 shows us the wonderful Day of Pentecost, and the growth of the early church was not just in the amazing numbers, but geographically also. The Gospel didn’t just stay in Jerusalem, it went throughout the world within a few years. By the end of Acts, the Gospel had hit most of the Middle East, and even Europe and possibly England itself. What would have happened if the first church had the same attitude as we seem to have in the 21st century? It is possible it would have been a short phase and just fizzled out before the disciples had died.

A healthy church is a growing church, not just in growth of numbers, but spiritually as well. It sees its congregation growing in their walk, in their life and as they change and grow, they spread the wonderful good news of the Gospel to all they meet and live with. They live and relate in different ways to those around them, to the point that people know there is a difference to them, a feel that only knowing God can bring.

A church that only looks inwardly, that only wants to stay as it is, is destined for self – destruction. It cannot sustain itself. It becomes burnt out or it could only take one major incident that could split the congregation to the point of closure. A church cannot survive without growth, or any imbalance in how it is lead or taught.

Teaching and preaching is what we in churches do. That is part of our roles, all of us. Older, mature brothers and sisters mentor the younger spiritual members. Leaders bring teaching and leadership that gives the congregation the strength and confidence in God to go out and live the Gospel and new life they have. We all have a role of some sort of evangelism. I believe there are those with specific evangelism gifts by the Spirit, but we all have a role of evangelist when asked about our beliefs. We have the job to pray and bring those around us before the Lord, to bring the Gospel to them. How are they going to know about the new life God gives if we dont show it, live it and tell them the why and how? Don’t leave confusion of preaching christianity and then not living it. It brings words like hypocrisy into minds where there should be a wanting to know more. It is a sacrifice, it is laying down our lives to God. Its how we live for God. Its a change that happens inside when we truly understand what He has done for us and what He has saved us from.

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Centrality of the Coss

Keeping what is sure and certain through our times of worship is essential. The Word is at the core of how we worship, but also the Cross of Christ.

Matthew 12 v 34. Out of the overflow of our hearts our mouths speak.

The more we take on the Word, the more it will flow not just out in our worship, but in our daily speaking. It affects the way we talk to our kids, fellow workers, our church family and strangers we meet on the bus. If we are taking in the Word and keeping the Cross central, what comes out of us will be based in the Word and the Cross. We will be bringing more and more of Christ into our daily lives.

Worship can lead us to keep the truths of God and His Word close to our hearts. Our minds will never be far away from praise if it full of His Word.

When we let Him arise

As a worshipper, I love to praise my Lord. I love the closeness to Him, and how after I stop singing or praying, I can still feel Him close to me. Its like being in a cloud of light, soft and still. It can carry me through many a bad night when even though there is no sleep, there has been a night of being with my Lord and Friend.

God lives in our praise and worship. He inhabits it. He desires to hear our praise and the worship of His children. He waits for it, and is there with us during our day, still and sure.

Worship is our relationship and intimacy with God. He created Adam and even before Eve was created from her husband, there was a close and intimate relationship between Adam and God. Our Lord was looking for the worship that could restore what was lost when Lucifer was banished. We restore what was broken there, and Christ restores us back to His Holy presence. We can be with Him forever because of Jesus sacrifice for us.

God has a purpose for us all as well as our worship. He has a plan for us. We don’t see the plan if we sit around waiting for it to come to us. We have to make the decision to push the doors to see through prayer, if they are the way we are to go. Just because we maybe can’t see the plan yet, doesnt mean it isn’t there. It is like a seed that is in the ground. Just because we cant see it until just before it gets harvested, does not meant it is not there. We need to position ourselves in Him to see the plan. Prayer, worship and praise bring us in the right place with Him and all He has for us. He wants to bless His children, all of them.

Let God arise in your life. Let Him do His awesome work, and purposes that we cannot even imagine.

My Guide

When we look to Jesus and keep our eyes fixed on Him, we never lose our way or our bearings. He is our guiding light and guiding star in all the darkness of the world and our lives. He shines bright in the murkiness, showing us the right way to go. The safe and straight small lane to eternity with Him.

As we look back over our lives and especially over this last year, we can see how His hand has been on us, our lives and our actions. We can see where the decision we have made has led on to amazing things. The right person to talk to at the correct time. The phone call that has encouraged at the exact time and place we needed. We can see how He has shaped events or our reactions to those events. It gives us an idea of how to live in the future. Looking back and seeing His hand guiding us can help us to nurture thankful hearts.

We need to discipline ourselves to be thankful. Its not an easy in a world that is based on Self and self motivation way of life. Learn to “count your blessings”. At the beginning we may seem childlike or unsure of how to start to be thankful. Start small, and practice. God will honour any attempt even for the small things. Its not something most of us are taught to do. Keep being thankful as much as you can. Nurture it and help yourself grow into new depths with our Lord.

Psalm 100

Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!

Worship the Lord with gladness.

Come before Him, singing with joy.

Acknowledge that the Lord is God!

He made us, and we are His.

We are His people, the sheep of His pasture.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving;

go into His courts with praise.

Give thanks to Him and praise His name.

For the Lord is good.

His unfailing love continues forever,

and His faithfulness continues to each generation.

Victorious

Jesus is Always victorious. He won the battle on the Cross. No matter where we are or who we are, the battle has been won. He walks with us in victory, but how many of us do not live victorious lives? How many of us are battle worn, down or low. We can live a life showing the victory of Christ by walking ever closer to Him. Life throws all it can at us and Satan will use everything in his power to keep us from not living in Christ.

Letting go of the past is one good way of a life full of victory. Every one of us has stuff that lingers from things that have happened. If we allow it to, it will affect us for the rest of our life, and personally I don’t want to let old hurts ruin a future that is God given through His own sacrifice for me. Forgiveness is not as easy as it seems. It is something we are called to do though, and even if it is hard, we are to forgive and love in place of hurt or anger.

Jesus cant fill dirty cups. Our hearts and soul are like cups we hold out to Jesus to fill with His Spirit with blessings and love. If our hearts are filled with dirt and sin, He can’t fill them with His blessings. Our cups need to be washed with love, forgiveness and repentance. Jesus is standing next to us waiting to fill us. Our cups, our hearts get cleaned at the Cross, and cleaned with the most precious treasure we have. His blood.

Dont let things get in the way of who we are in Christ. We are His family. His children. His bride.

Live the victorious life we already have.

One eye on the Future

Wouldn’t it be nice if God gave us an idea of what to expect out of life. A pre-look at births, deaths, weddings and no surprises.

“For I know the plans I have for you”…

He knows the end from the beginning and knows what we are going to go through. He also gives us the strength we need to go through those times of both heartache and joy. We need to be reminded daily that God has great plans and that He has it all under His great control. Life may look chaotic and messy, but He has it all in His hands, and knows how it all ends up. We need to allow our hearts and minds to be open to the plans of God, and to let them be completed His way, not our way.

One of the main things I am looking forward to is meeting Him face to face. Allowing myself to submit myself to His plans and purposes between now and that glorious moment are a bit of an issue. I like to know what is going on and don’t like surprises. Letting His perfect plans for my life have their way is difficult as me letting go of that control is really scary. I know it is the best thing for Him to control things and not me, and so I pray He gives me the strength. 

Maybe I need to sit and reflect on how if I have the control, am I really giving my life over to the Creator God? 

Is it like a potter and the clay? 

The clay can’t demand what form it is made into. So why do we try to tell our Creator who we want to be?

My Creator knows the best form I take. He knows what I am to do way into the future. 

I am looking forward to those days. Really. I hope.

Saying No is Ok….

Sitting on my sofa, snuggled up watching Nascar. I got thinking about some of the stuff I say No to, and why. Sometimes, or like at the moment, most of the time, we have to say No to people we love, friends, church family or others when we are asked to do something. I dont know about you, but after 2 and a half years of illness, I still feel mean about it.

My church family are wonderful in that they dont really ask me to do much, especially if it will make me more poorly, and most of the time they are just as loving if I say No. We as a family, have been called to the church we are at. We are part of a family of believers and we are there for a reason.

Saying No, is very, very Ok when said with love and sometimes the touch of the Lord that we are not to do that something we have been asked. We may feel guilty for saying No or feel that we are being manipulated to change our answer. If you know the answer has to be No, stand your ground, and if still unsure, make sure you talk to the Lord to see if you are still hearing right.

Saying No is ok.

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