Monday, October 31, 2022

Important Things to Do Today

Monday, October 31, 2022

Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit." Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that." James 4:13-15

Important Things to Do Today

In thinking about time, the next thing we must deal with is the future Our yesterdays are behind us.  Our tomorrows are not yet here.  Indeed, tomorrow never comes When it gets here, it is today. 
It should be said about the future, that it is uncertain There is no guarantee that we will ever see any point in what we call the future.  Our lives could end at any time.  There is no guarantee that we will live to be ninety, or eighty, or seventy, or fifty, or even thirty.  History is filled with talented and gifted people who met unexpected tragedy from all walks of life. Most of us have personally known several people who died unexpectedly at a very early age.  None of us have a guarantee of tomorrow. 

Tomorrow is not even ours anyway. God holds our future in His hands.  This does not mean that we do not think about the future or plan for the future.  We should certainly do both of those things.  We should consider the possibilities for the future and we should also be prepared for what the future may hold.  But we should think realistically about the future if we are to live effectively in the present.

The future can give us hopeThis year is winding down quickly and sadly, the past two years have taught us to fear that the next year will only be worse... again. Life has been unpredictable at best for most of us and many have had unexpected losses due to the pandemic and its aftermath. We have experienced financial loss, loss of loved ones, loss of the general secure feeling of know that tomorrow is a new day - which always held the promise of new and better things ahead. Now - we are not so sure what to think. But there is one future hope we can KNOW for certain that it will come about and it will bring good things, and that is the future hope we have in Jesus Christ. A hope that is secure, and it is not just hope for the future but for now as well. 

The  future can give us a false hope.  It can provide a false sense of security and thereby keep us from living effectively in the present.  By assuming that we do have some guarantee of tomorrow we can postpone many of the things we need to be doing today.  This false hope that we will be able to accomplish something "tomorrow" provides many people with the excuse they want so they can put off the very thing they need to do today. 

I have met so many people who attempt to live in the future.  They are going to do great things when they get around to it.  When they have time, they are going to become more involved in things that count.  When this happens, or that happens, they will then begin.  They will do it later, tomorrow, next week, next month, someday.  The fact is that time never comes, the situation never is right, tomorrow never arrives.

Tomorrow is not promised. Our future is secure in Jesus for eternal life in heaven, but our earthly future is not secure. We only find security in Him and we can have this security no matter what our circumstances are because that hope is not about our circumstances, or a job, or how much money is in the bank account or how many likes we get on social media. The fact that our earthly security is so unknown and unstable, gives us all the more reason to be about our Father's business. We need to be sharing the hope - the real hope that only salvation brings - with our friends and loved ones who are not saved. Time is of the essence. Ask God to place this urgency in your heart for your lost loved ones and friends. Pray and be ready when the opportunity arises.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.  Matthew 6:33-34

Sunday, October 30, 2022

The Church I Want to Belong To Part 6

The Church I Want to Belong To Part 6

Galatians 6:1-16 

While many churches are focused on social needs and discipleship, and doing an outstanding job, our real purpose is to share Christ and His gift of Salvation. The church I want to belong to is the church that keeps Christ as the primary focus.   

The Church I Want to Belong To Is…

The Church I Want to Belong to Prioritizes Spiritual Things v.7-8

A person may say they don’t believe in spiritual laws, but spiritual laws do not exist upon the basis of their belief in it.

God is a God of order, and everything He does is orderly according to fixed laws of operation.

God is not mocked (or deceived), because He looks on the heart.

The problem comes in the interpretation that disregards the words flesh and spirit and exchanges them for good and bad.

Our purpose is found in the Great Commission - to know Him and make Him known – to spread the Gospel.

Physical ministry will seldom produce a spiritual harvest, but spiritual planting will always produce a physicalharvest.

There is no spiritual harvest without spiritual planting.

Friday, October 28, 2022

Jesus’ Example Of Servant Love

Friday, October 28, 2022 

He rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.  John 13:4-5  

This particular passage of scripture was just before the Passover, the first meal eaten with the Lord’s Supper.  We get a very good look at the true nature of Jesus and His love in these verses.  This is a good model for us to model our lives after.
Jesus’ Love was a Servant Love
With great humility Jesus poured out the water and began the menial servant task of washing the feet of the disciples.  It surprised everyone that night, but it shouldn't us who sit on this side of the table. "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." (Mark 10:45) 
The Basin and the Towel teach what it means to be a servant. 
  • Jesus was a servant in spite of His circumstances.  If anyone had a reason to not be around people or to run away, it was Jesus. He was about to endure torture and humiliation to redeem us to Himself. I think the key here is what verse 3 says Jesus knew it was in God's hands. Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God.
How many times do we miss an opportunity to serve others because it is inconvenient or doesn't fit into our schedule? How often am I so wrapped up in my circumstances that I miss opportunities to serve? 
  • Jesus had to get wet and dirty. The scriptures tell us that Jesus got up from His supper and took off His garments. He was going to have to get on the floor and get to the disciples feet to wash and dry them. Same thing happens when we serve others. We get involved in their lives. Our hands get "dirty". There will always be some cost to us when we "take up the basin and the towel." 
  • Jesus was not in a hurry.  He took His time with each disciple while washing their feet. Not only did Jesus wash their feet, He took the time to wipe them dry. He could have had them all line up in a row and pour water over their feet as they stood there, and then tossed them a towel with a "here ya go, fellas!"            What does this mean for us? Serving others takes time and our attention. Proper service focuses on the individual and not just the group.
It is important to know what it feels like to be served before we truly understand service.  Can we understand the humility that is required to receive? Jesus’ Love was a Humbling Love  v.6-9  The disciple who will not humble himself to be served is not fit for service. There is no spiritual relationship without cleansing. Humility is the beginning of holiness.  When you discover what God demands for relationship, how far will you go?  “Lord you can have this and this” does not please God.  He wants all of you. You can do all you can to get right with God – but you still have to humble yourself and let Him wash your feet.  Just thinking of the amazing grace and mercy He shows us is humbling.  He wants us to accept that grace and mercy and to extend it to others but sometimes He wants us to humble ourselves to other people and accept their acts of love.

For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. John 13:15

Thursday, October 27, 2022

What God Does When We Are Unified

Wednesday, October 27, 2022

But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift… And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ. until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. Ephesians 4: 7; 11-16

What Unity Does For You

God gives gifts to the leaders – for the purpose of equipping the saints to do the work of the ministry. The leaders in our church – pastors, Bible study leaders, etc…, have the high calling of leading the lay people in the church. That includes helping them find spiritual gifts and teaching them how they can do the work that God has called all His children to do. 

A spiritual gift is a God-given ability to serve God and other Christians in such a way that Christ is glorified, and believers are edified. This is what leaders do for us and then we go and do the work of God in the world. We are dependent on one another to fully express the body of Christ and perform the work of the church. This is unity in action in the body of Christ. The equipping of the saints is what unites the church for ministry and service. Serving others to glorify God and advance His kingdom is what God gave us our individual gifts for. 

The unity that we find in the Body maintains the balance of the growth of the body. It is a perpetual cycle of growth as we fill up and spill out to others. The cycle keeps going and the body keeps growing. 

What Unity Does For The Body of Christ

Sound in doctrine - As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; Ephesians 4:14

The more we talk about what we believe, and explain to others what we believe, we will better understand what we believe.

Strong in testimony but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, Ephesians 4:15

As we walk in His love and share His love we will become more like God. As we get to really know Him in a deep, abiding relationship, we can share about that relationship and the love we have from Him. 

Strengthened through cooperation - from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part. Ephesians 4:16a

We are gifted individually but work together as a whole. Our gifts compliment each other’s and we are ministered to by each other. 

Service in love causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. Ephesians 4:16b We will learn to love one another as we serve with one another.

As we grow individually and together, we mature individually and together. As we grow in Him and become more like Him, the goal is to reflect His image. It should always be about Him and for His glory, never our own. 

When we seek to mature in our lives, Christ works through us to build His church – not just by numbers but in spiritual growth. Unity is the foundation for a church that will impact the world, but it doesn’t happen automatically. It takes us working individually and together. In unity together we can become equipped and do the work of service to the building up of the body of Christ. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

True Unity in the Body of Christ

 Wednesday, October 26, 2022 Some material taken from The Church I Want To Belong To Part 5

There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:4-6

True Unity in the Body of Christ

Koinonia – a Greek word that means fellowship, sharing in common, communion. It appears 20 times in the Bible because fellowship is a very important part of the Christian walk. We come together to encourage each other in faith and love. This is koinonia. This koinonia is a part of the unity we have together in the Spirit.   

It has been, from the beginning, the desire of God that we be one. Unity is not something that happens automatically because we are all Christians. Unity in Sprit happens when we bond with other believers over our calling in Christ. As we are transformed by Him, we grow together in unity and service to Him. 

In Ephesians 4:4-6, Paul gives us the Seven-Fold Basis for Unity as believers. We have unity because of what we share in common. In Jesus we share one body, one Spirit, one hope of our calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one Father. Alone we are not as strong as we are united into one body on these elements of our doctrine.

Paul’s Seven-Fold Basis for Unity: 

Body – The one Church of the Lord Jesus Christ – one body of which He is the head. Just as a physical body does not function properly without all its parts, the body of Christ is the same. The body can function without some parts, but not to its fullest capacity. However, none of the parts can function by themselves apart from the body. If a hand is severed, it no longer functions as a hand without the body. The body can function without the hand, but not as a complete body. We are unified in Christ as one body. 

Spirit –There is one Spirit from God – the Holy Spirit - to guide and direct the body

Hope – No other thing on earth can provide this hope. This hope is never uncertain as it is when we hope for things on earth. We hope this or we hope that… When we say that there is no certainty. But the hope we have as we believe in the promise of His coming is the hope of our calling. This hope is true certainty for all believers.  

Lord – This is Christ crucified, buried, raised, and exalted. There is room for NONE OTHER. All our unity is centered around Him who He is, who we are in Him, and the sacrifice He made for us. 

Faith – Through faith we receive the Father and follow the Son. The faith we receive is that we believe that God sent His Son, Jesus, who came to earth and took on human flesh. He lived a perfect life and offered Himself on the cross in our place, paying the debt that we owe. He rose from the dead, and is in heaven, but He is coming back. On that day everyone will be judged.  He gifted us salvation by grace alone, which we receive through faith alone, apart from any merit or works on our part.

Baptism – One burial of one whose heart has been purified by faith, who has been crucified with Jesus to that sin, to rise in the newness of life.

God – One who is in all, over all, and through all – this is Gods, personal, transcendent, sovereign, relationship with His creation.

It is our unity in Christ, through the Holy Spirit, that strengthens us and makes us whole – one body. We bond together in work – His holy calling for us – to go and make disciples, to go and minister to the homeless, to go and feed the hungry, etc… Together we are more effective for His Kingdom and His glory. This is His calling for us, together as one unified body, His church. 

If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.  1 John 1:6-7

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Preserving Unity In the Bond of Peace

Tuesday, October 25, 2022 Some material taken from The Church I Want to Belong To Part 5

Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  Ephesians 4:1-3 


Preserving Unity In the Bond of Peace

In the first three chapters of Ephesians Paul has been telling of all that God has done for us because of His grace. He did all this for us because He loves us, not to get anything in return.  In chapter 4 he begins to explain how we can live a life worthy of the calling - the high calling of doing His work. He lays the foundation by explaining just how much He has done for us – and who we are in Him. Who we are in Him leads to what our lives should look like as we walk in Him. In Him we have been called to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which we have been called. 


We will want to walk in a worthy manner, not so God will love us because He already loves us and gave us eternal life when we were the most unworthy. We want to walk in a worthy manner because He does love us. Out of gratitude and love for Him, we walk the walk. Not for our glory but for His. Paul gives five characteristics that should be present in our walk to preserve unity in Him: 

Five Characteristics That Should Be Present In Our Walk - humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.


Humility - We need to strive to be humble “Not get a big head” this done in light of not only God’s greatness but God’s great sacrifice, for our benefit 


Gentleness - To be gentle implies that we bear with one another without irritation or resentment, the faults of others


Patience - “To have a long temper” this is probably the hardest of all, we want what we want, and we want it YESTERDAY!!! (Same quality God has towards us)


Tolerance This is the greatest of all, this is the all-encompassing affection and characteristic for which we should strive.

We need this so that the inevitable wrongs that occur between people in God’s family will not work against God’s purpose of bringing all things together in Jesus – illustrated through His current work in the church. – David Guzik

Difference of opinions is inevitable. We will disagree and we will hurt each other’s feelings. Paul knew this so he wanted to give the church in Ephesus - and us - the tools we need to get through it without getting in the way of God’s work with our human nature. 


Love - The four graces Paul recommends here are all aspects of love, exemplified to perfection in the person of Christ. We can show all these to one another in love when we are walking in Him. 


These are all characteristics that should be present in our lives if we are walking in obedience to Him and showing all these in love for each other, which can only be done in His power, will preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. This ensures that we can do the work God has for us to do as His church.

Monday, October 24, 2022

Serving Others Builds Unity

Monday, October 24, 2022 
For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 15:4-6

Serving Others Builds Unity
We are told in Philippians to Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4  Paul wanted to convey that this is the way to a full life. It is not about what we pour into our own lives, but it is about how we pour into the lives of those around us. Serving others brings abundant life. Paul goes on to point to the life of Jesus.  Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, Philippians 2:5 

Serving others together with other Christians creates unity. It is God in us overflowing to others.  Romans 15 shares that the source of unity is God.  Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another…  Therefore, unity is not an act of man but a gift that comes down from our Father in heaven.  The phrase “of the same mind” translates a Greek word that means to be “likeminded.”  The New Living Translation calls it “complete harmony.”  This means that it is not merely an agreement of thought but of spirit as well.

Picture a group of people all pulling on a rope at the same time in the same direction. You could translate this, “May God give you a spirit of unity so that you will all pull together in the same direction for the Lord.”  This provides great power toward God’s purpose.  It is not that God makes everyone alike but turns their gifts toward the same end to accomplish His will.  The source of unity is God’s Spirit in the life of every believer coordinating them to God’s purpose. Powerful!

The Acts of Unity are Understanding and Acceptance 
Paul continues his discussion by sharing, Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God. Romans 15:7  Unity means nothing unless we are willing to accept other believers.  The Greek word translated “accept” is a long word that is very picturesque.  It means to see another person and to open your arms to take that person to yourself.  It has the idea of taking someone by the hand and walking together as companions. It means to open your heart and your home to another person.  

We are to accept each other as Christ accepted us.  Christ received us as we were and then made us into His image.  Establishing relationship then allows influence.  If we cannot embrace people where they are, it will be impossible to take them to where they can be blessed.  This is a high standard, so high that we will never meet it in our own power. Only Christ himself can give us strength to accept others this way.  

Rejection of those who are not like us may cause them to try to be something they are not to gain acceptance.  People playing roles do not portray the reality of the Christian experience.  Christ has accepted all of us as and where we are and calls us to be the same.  It’s risky to be real, but worth the effort since only then can we truly be accepted and loved.

…with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:2-3

Sunday, October 23, 2022

The Church I Want to Belong To Part 5

The Church I Want to Belong To Part 5 

Galatians 6:1-16 & Ephesians 4:1-12

The fellowship of the church is one of the most special blessings of a believer.  However, it is more than a social relationship, it is a shared partnership built on the unity of the faith. 

The Church I Want to Belong To Is…

A Church Where Unity is Both in Spirit and Service v6

koinonia - communion by intimate participation

Fellowship is never passive in the meaning of koinonia, it is always linked to action, not just being together, but also doing together.

In koinoniaGenerosity is not an abstract ideal, but a demonstrable action resulting in a tangible and realistic expression of giving.

The idea of community denotes a “common unity” of purpose and interests.

While we may belong to various groups, clubs or organizations we are a part of the church. 

Unity Is Preserved by Our Walk Ephesians 4:1-3

If you are a believer, you have been called by God to serve and honor Him in your life.  

Five Characteristics That Should Be Present In Our Walk - HumilityGentlenessPatienceTolerance, and Love

Unity Is Created by God’s Spirit In Us Ephesians 4:4-6

Unity is created as we are not only saved but transformed to be used by God.

It has been, from the beginning, the desire of God that we be ONE!

Unity Is Developed By The Use Of Our Gifts Ephesians 4:7,11-12

We are dependent on one another to fully express the body of Christ and perform the work of the church.

The equipping of the saints is what unites the church for service.

Unity Maintains the Balance of the Growth of the body v.12-l6

The Results of Unity

Sound in Doctrine

Strong in Testimony 

Strengthened Through Cooperation  

Service in Love  

Friday, October 21, 2022

Complete Joy

 Friday, October 21, 2022

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Hebrews 12:1-2

Complete Joy
Believe it or not, one of the greatest experiences of joy we can know is not related to what we can receive but what we can give.  There is no experience that matches being used by God to perform His will.  Many have realized the ecstatic feeling of being a vessel of God to someone in need or the voice of God in comfort.

It does not take long to realize we need the power of Christ to be able to live the Christian life, obey Christ, or serve others.  When serving in His power and wisdom we experience a strange phenomenon.  It is as if we are not in control of what is happening.  There is energy beyond our resource and wisdom from above.  It comes, when we lay down our selfishness and start serving others in Christ, as Jesus Himself has done.  Jesus, our example, was constantly putting others and their needs above His own.  He drew His power and strength from God as He poured out His time and energy for those around Him.  Down to His last breath, He was pouring Himself out for His Bride, the Church; and blessing His Church brings Him joy. 

We can experience the same great joy in our lives when we look past the exhaustion of serving and draw from the strength and power in Christ.  Here is a passage that may not be so familiar but carries a strong message.

For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. Hebrews 6:7 

This speaks to us of the blessings we can receive when we serve others. If we produce fruit from the seed God has planted in our lives and pass it on, we will be blessed in the sowing, watering and reaping.  The labor of service in the Kingdom may be wearisome of body but never the spirit.  While there are many pleasures men can be afforded, there is none like that of knowing you have been used of God to lighten the load of another.  

Joy comes when we are selflessly loving and serving one another.  It helps us get our mind off our own trouble to serve another.  When we focus on a friend’s problems and try to help solve an issue, we tend to see that what we feel is so overwhelming in our own life is not so insurmountable after all. 

Paul shared that his service was an offering to God which brought him such joy he wanted others to experience it as well.  But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all. You too, I urge you, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me.  Philippians 2:17-18  What greater sense of unity is there than for Christians to experience God using them together as one to accomplish His plan and will in the life of another. 

Joy is the byproduct of selflessness, service and submission.  Be filled with joy!

…make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Philippians 2:2-4

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