Commission

Luke 4:18-19

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has annointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lords favour.

Matthew 28:19-20

Go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Soirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

This is very clear in the New Testament. This is our mission. Jesus came with this mission and fulfilled it, along with the wonderful work of reconcilliation He finished on the Cross. We exist yo worship God and to proclaim Him to the Earth with  a purpose.

Most churches have mission statements, and can be long and detailed with many words. Do they contain within them, no matter how ling or short, the mission they exist for? Does the church operate within the mission given by Christ?

The Church is a growing, living thing and changes all the time. Each church changes by generation to generation, Pastor to Pastor, Elder to Elder. As a church grows, it might need to look again at its mission statement, it might need changing or rewriting. Above all, I feel a church needs a mission statement, and it needs to be known by every member and followed from Leadership down. It has to be taken on by all as a personal mission within the community and local areas, and within its own walls. If we start with the words of Jesus and try to follow His ways, we wont be far short of the right paths at any time, but only if we stay as close to Him as we can.

Reliance

I don’t know about you, but there are those weeks I am tempted to wish would go quicker, that there could be nothing else that could possibly be thrown at me! Surely!! Those weeks that are super busy, with no time for relaxation or even I feel quality times with God. Those weeks that feel like you are squarely in the fire line of the devil and that he must have sent all available bad stuff to be aimed at me! Those weeks!

In those times, I know I am probably in the wrong frame of mind, and having a wrong attitude to the things that are going on around me and what I feel are happening to me. In those times, I can feel God’s presence and voice calling me to just take 5 minutes to be with Him, and it is then that I know He is always there with me, always my Rock. In those times, I know I can rely on my God. He shows me even in the quick verse I read on my way to the next meeting, the word that is given by a stranger, the prayers that are answered daily, that He never leaves us in those places where we might feel He is too far away.

My husband read recently,

“Don’t be scared when the devil attacks you,

Be scared when he doesn’t”

I know this is just a quick saying, but it says so much to me. I know more scary stuff, more bad things happen on weeks when our church is praying for revival, when there is an important service we are part of, a prayer for Israel meeting. I know those times are coming now, and so know thst my God is there, and helping me to be stronger in Him, and that He is always Reliable.

I hope you know how Reliable God is too in those times.

Pray or not?

Leonard Ravenhill in his book Why Revival Tarries says,

“The Cinderella of the church today is the prayer meeting. This handmaid of the Lord is unloved and unwooed because she is not dripping with the pearls of intellectualism, nor glamorous with the silks of philosophy; neither is she enchanting with the tiara of psychology. She wears the homespuns of sincerity and humility and so is not afraid to kneel!”

I find it incredible that across most of the Western world, prayer meetings are the least attended meeting in the whole church calendar. It is the forgotten hours during the week, not given much thought and quickly cancelled. I believe that you can gauge the spiritual life of a church by the prayer meeting numbers and quality of prayers given.

How can we expect to see revival in our community when we can’t be bothered to go to prayer meetings and not see that we are in a battle to see souls saved. If our prayers are dead, then what are we?

Ravenhill goes on to say, “Victory is not won in the pulpit by firing intellectual bullets or wisecracks, but in the prayer closet.”

D.M. McIntyre,D.D. has been quoted “Before the great revival in Gallneukirchen broke out, Martin Boos spent hours and days and often nights in lonely agonies of intercession. Afterwards, when he preached, his words were as flame, and the hearts of the people as grass.”

How much more could be done in the spiritual if we spent more time on our knees, pressing into God and His Word. How much would our lives be changed, to become more like Him.

Made for each other

God made us for relationship. He made Eve for Adam because he was on his own and needed someone of his own kind to be in relationship alongside God. We need others in our life, its just the way God made us.
God made us in His image, in His likeness. To be like Him. In the same way, God is not isolated and wants to be in relationship with us and this is the way He reveals Himself to us. He is a triune God. Three in one, and in relationship with all who come to Him from every part of the world.
We need others, and this is how we are made. We need to be involved in healthy, safe, enriching relationships to become more of who God made us to be. To be in relationship with others can be costly, can be challenging, but they can be so valuable.
I have to be able to bring to God and deal with anything that could stop me developing relationships with anyone. Do I need to forgive? Do I need to let go of something? Do I have preconceived ideas of who you are and how you will be? Am I put off by some of the challenging things that I can see? Have you let me down before, and I feel unwilling to let you have another chance? Is it something I did to wrong you? Did I let you down? To relate to you properly, these all need dealing with.
Don’t fight starting or moving forward in relationships with each other. Work with it and don’t let any challenge put you off. Being with church family, friends, family, work colleagues, they will enrich your life and enrich your relationship with God. We are made for relationship, its just the way God made each and every one of us.

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.

First Church, Church First?

I love reading Acts, and learning about the first Church and how they lived and interacted with each other and those who came against them. Most of the early years had believers who had followed Jesus during his time on earth, or who knew him throughout his life and even those who had never met him but knew of him. It was an exciting time for the Apostles as they watched their new baby Church growing each day with converts whose life was transformed by the name of their beloved Christ. They were strong and dynamic leaders who did not shy away from discipline and teaching. There was structure and community and they each devoted themselves to knowing God more and more and encouraged their congregations to do the same. It would be unusual for a believer not to want to know more, not to want to grow and mature.

Acts 2 vs 42 – 47

Fast forward 2000 years to the Church of God today. I know many who would love their churches to be more like the church of Acts, myself being one of them. I know its not possible, and not because I dont think we can do it. We are a different generation and its a completely different world now. The first church was the benefit system for a start. It was a hard life for those who were orphaned and those who were widows. There is a safety net today that was not there then. It does not mean we don’t have an obligation to still look after these precious people anyway, but we don’t seem to think we have to. I know many older people who are using Food Banks while they are members of a church. Why? Because we dont think they are our responsibility anymore. They are. We are still a community whether we lived 2000 years ago or in the 21st century.

The church described in Acts was a healthy growing community. It was devoted to God and each other, devoted to prayer and fellowship. Church is like an organic mass of people. It needs things to grow, it needs structure and support. It got that from prayer, Gods living water and teaching. Strong leadership but not to the point it was suffocated and its voice was drowned out. We need exactly the same things to grow today. We are no different in these ways than then, even if our world is a very different place to live. We might not be able to be the church of Acts in many ways, like living as a community, but we can still care and love each other as Christ loves us. How unlike those in the world around us would we be if that is the attitude we took. If we stop being so concerned about how we look if we pray for our friends and family, the shopkeeper who is having a bad day, the officer handing out parking tickets, the guy who serves our coffee in the cafe. We would start to see change and would be known as a Christian without having to say anything because we would be so different and it would make an impact.

Come let us go up

Isaiah 2 vs 3. “Come, let us go up to the house of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us His ways, so that we may walk in His paths”.

I have already looked at Haggai, and bringing timber to build the house of the Lord. This verse is for when our house is built, our home for our Lord.

The House of the Lord was on a mountain, Mount Zion, and will be there in the Millennial ¬†Kingdom of Christ. As in Israel today and the Old Testament, the Temple of God is high up. To get there, you travel up the mountain. The Temple was a beacon, a light of God’s glory. All could see it and could worship God with sacrifices and drink offerings. The City where God dwelt was sacred. It was where the King of Kings was, where the King of Israel of God lived and worshipped. This city was the most important city in the Old Testament life and worship of those who loved and lived for God. They travelled regularly there to worship and offer gifts to the Lord.

We are the Church of God. We are the beacons now, the Temple. We are to live God-centred lives as a community of believers and lovers of the Most High God. It is through us that the Church grows, through us bringing the Gospel of Christ to others and seeing salvation happen around our local communities.

True Christianity, living for Christ, loving others, having faith, is not religion. We have a relationship with God and He relates to us as His Children. It is this that makes us different. Our God wants to relate to us, to know us fully, to adopt us as His children and give us an inheritance with His true Son Jesus. No other religion in the world has this beautiful relationship to offer. That is the difference that we need to show those who are desperate. Those who have no one. Those who need love. Those who have no purpose. A life of love and acceptance is there ready waiting for them, but what are we doing to show it to them?

If we are the light on the hill, a city shining, what are we showing? Are we showing discord, unforgiveness, dislike, disdain? Or are we showing others love, joy, acceptance, hospitality? Do we love everyone who happens to step through the door of our churches?

I want to go up to the mountain of the Lord. I want to sit at His feet and just be. With Him. He is my groom, I am His Bride. The Church is the beautiful bride. She is the most beautiful bride the universe has ever seen. I dont want to go with stained gowns, with an unloving attitude to others. I want to see my Church family be the very best they can be for their Groom as well.

We are building a Church of people. Millions of us all worshipping and praising God together. Lets keep bringing our timber to the House and keep building a House for God that grows and gets more beautiful every day. This is how we make ourselves ready for Him.

Bring Timber

Haggai 1 vs 8 “Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honoured.”

God was talking to His people about getting on with building a house for Him to dwell in, with His people around Him. They had got distracted by their own affairs and had neglected the work that had been started on the house for God to dwell in. They were acting selfishly and were disobedient to what God had told them to do. To make it even worse, they tried to tell God that He was wrong and made up their own prophesies to compensate!

Haggai 1 vs 2 “The people are saying,’The time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the Lord.'”

God wanted the people to see that the house of God was needed. To see that the place to worship God was necessary. It had to be part of their lives and they needed somewhere to honour the God of Israel.

Haggai came back from captivity in Babylon with those who were rebuilding the Temple. He was there and could see how difficult and almost impossible it was for the people of Israel to rebuild the beautiful Temple Of Solomon. Even when they all decided to build a much smaller Temple, it seemed an impossible task to them. They managed to get the foundations and low walls built but then stopped all building for 14 years! This is when God spoke to Haggai with 26 words over 5 days. He told them that they were suffering loss of crops, money and food because they had stopped working on the House of God.

God is not worried about the size of the house. He is worried about your heart in the house that is built for Him. God fills His house with His glory, and He dwells in the house with His people worshipping Him. We are not more “godly” because we build a house for God. We put our lives right in the sight of God as we build His house, and then we become more and more Christlike, more”godly”. We try to make ourselves look better by how big our churches are, or how much they do on a Sunday. We have to put God first, get our hearts in the right place first with God, and then we will see blessing upon blessing in what we do for Him.

Haggai’s message comes through all these years later. If we are trying to make our lives more comfortable, and forget building the church of Christ, we will hit problems and difficulties. If we put God first and make sure our hearts and minds are fixed on Him, He can use us in amazing ways. Life is not about what is in it for us, it is about living for God, and living right.

Building the Church of Christ is not easy. Reaching the lost is hard work sometimes, and can feel we are not really getting anywhere. God never said it would be easy, but that we don’t give up. The finished product is a house He loves and takes pleasure in. A house that He can call His own, and that He dwells in. Since Christ, we are the church. We are the building. God dwells in us and through us. We honour God by our lives, and keep going up the mountain and working on the timber of peoples lives to bring more and more into a right relationship with Him. This is how we now “build church.”

Praise is my strength

Praise, not complaining. Praise is my strength, my joy, my peace. The Word of God is where my praise comes from. Its where my strength is the written word. The Word is where my God and Saviour is. He is in every letter, every word, every book.
Have you noticed that when we complain or whine, that we seem so tired? It is as if it takes from us. What is the answer to this? The only thing that can change us from the inside out…. Praise to and of our Father God!
God and praise of, and to Him goes before us into any battle we have. It shows itself in how we react to others, how we relate to everyone we have in our life or meet in the street. It shows itself in how we spend our times with God, and even the depths we go in the Word.
God loves our praise, and if we love Him as much as we sing about in church on a Sunday, we will want to do what He loves us to do. God knows what is best for us. He loves us to praise and He knows it brings so much back to us.
There is a saying “dance like no one is watching”…. why dont we praise like no one is watching? No one to judge how we worship. No restraint. No one to laugh or tell us we are doing it wrong. Just praise as if we are in the throne room of our Father. No fear, just praise.

Praise when we dont want to

So World Cup fever has hit again, and there are England flags everywhere I go. My house looks a bit naked as I seem to be one of the only ones fairly disinterested in what happens and who wins. But it has made me think a bit. If England score a goal, how much noise is going to be heard in all the pubs and houses across the country? How happy will the country be? Will I hear my neighbours joyful cries and see tears if they actually win the cup?

If we can do that for a football, then why cant we do that every day to God who saved us from hell and eternal suffering? Isn’t that much more important than a game which will be forgotten in a few days? Isn’t Jesus dying on the cross and saving us with His own blood better than if Wayne Rooney lives up to his name and plays well? I know that some will say I am looking at it wrong and to let them have the fun of watching the World Cup without guilt, that I am taking it far too seriously, but I don’t think I am. I am sorry if I offend those who want to watch the games and scream and shout at the referee and cry if we score or win, but how does it offend your Maker and Father when you can’t be bothered going to church or talking to Him because the game is much more important to you? When at church you dont engage because you had a late night and just want to be back at home in bed? You don’t want to spend half an hour in the Word because you can hear the national anthem and know the match will be starting soon, or you just want to meet your mates down the pub for a few quick ones instead?

This is important.

David prayed and praised for the things God did for him, and for helping him be a good King. He also praised God for the things unseen as well. Praise is so important I can’t stress it enough, and I know very well that life seems to get in the way. Things seem to happen to stop us praying and praising. Kids, work, marriage, friends, stresses, illness, even things that happen the moment we pick up our Bibles or as soon as we get on our knees. The times you read or pray are when the Devil gets worried and he will put as much in our way to stop us as he can. He doesn’t play fair and he doesn’t play nice. He will do anything to get you away from the prescence of God, and out of that close intimate relationship you have with God.

Don’t let him. Don’t let him take your times of refreshing away from you. They might be the only times you feel like life isn’t as bad as it looks, or the only times of peace in your heart you get that day. Why let him take it away? If anything we need to fight harder for those times of praise than for anything else. There is opposition to a Christian who is growing and maturing into the person God wants you to become, and looking more and more like His Son. Keep growing and keep praising. You win a battle every time you do.

 

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