Worship this past Sunday Morning at Central
This past Sunday we looked at the concept of becoming a contagious church. We want to:
- Connect People with Jesus and His Word.
- Have a Contagious Positive Attitude
- Be United as a Church Family
- Show Compassion – Care
- Work Together for God’s Glory not Our Own.
- Contagious churches are Churches that Sing Praise
- Contagious churches are Churches that Provide Physical and Spiritual Care
- Contagious churches are Churches that Pray
- Contagious churches Reconcile People to God through Christ
But there is more. In our LIFE Group we were discussing these lessons and someone brought up how we can become contagious. They pointed out that as Christians we have God in our lives, that Christ is in us, and we live according to the Spirit that dwells in us. This spurred some thoughts.
Consider these very attractive, well CONTAGIOUS qualities:
In Galatians 5:22-25, Paul calls these the fruits of the Spirit in our lives.
R U Contagious?
A list and a song this morning:
- Start with a SMILE.
- Focus on others above self.
- Value relationships above possessions.
- Be a servant instead of the one served.
- Accentuate the positive over the negative.
- Be active, get off the couch.
- Read a book, turn off the TV.
- Avoid the fake euphoria produced by chemicals (alcohol, drugs, etc.).
- Take a walk in nature and enjoy this wonderful world.
- Sing or whistle your favorite tune. Maybe this one:
Although I posted this a couple of years ago. While looking through the archives, I thought, “Hey, this is worth repeating.”
A while back someone sent me a recipe claiming that you can make a chocolate cake in five minutes. I had my doubts. But the temptation of a chocolate cake in a mere five minutes was tempting me, especially since there was a tub of vanilla ice cream in the freezer and a bottle of chocolate syrup readily available. After a quick search I found all that we had all the ingredients. The cake recipe TEMPTED me and I TRIED it and much to my surprise and delight the recipe worked and I now have a new fight on my hands — the fight to not make one EVERY night!
Chocolate cake and the consumption of it (in moderation) is not sinful – maybe it ought to be. But this wonderful cake and ice cream combination reminds me of the struggles we face as we try to live worthy of the kingdom of God. Most of us – make that all of us – face things in our lives that can and sometimes do pull us away from intimacy with God. These things can be work related, recreation, selfish desires, or anything similar. Paul gives some lists in 1 Corinthians 6, Galatians 5, Romans 1 & 2 that mention specific areas of temptation. But I am not writing to condemn you or me for what we struggle with. I want to encourage us to avoid them. The Hebrew writer tells us to “lay aside the sin” which weighs us down (Heb 12) as we patiently run the race of life. Paul encourages his readers to change their focus to what is “above” and not on what is of this world (Col 3:2) and to focus on the “unseen” yet “eternal” things of God (2 Cor 4:16ff).
A few more thoughts, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. . . . Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (Jas 1:2-4; 13-15 ESV).
PS: Here is the recipe:
- 4 Tbsp Flour
- 4 Tbsp Sugar
- 2 Tbsp Cocoa
- 1 Egg
- 3 Tbsp Milk
- 3 Tbsp Oil
- A “splash” of vanilla extract for flavoring
- (optional): 2 -3 Tbsp or nuts, mini chocolate (or peanut butter) chips.
- 1 large coffee mug.
- Mix flour, sugar, and cocoa in large coffee mug. Add egg and mix thoroughly. Add milk and oil and mix completely. Stir in splash of vanilla and add nuts or baking chips if you desire.
- Cook for 3 minutes on high in microwave. (While cooking, the cake will rise above the top of the mug — this is normal. If your mug is not large enough you will have a small mess in the microwave and on the outside of the cup. I took me a couple of tries to find the best coffee mugs in our collection).
- Remove to plate or bowl. Serve with ice cream.
Why do bad things happen to good people? This may be the most commonly asked question about God. One which some refer to as the “Achilles Heel” of Christianity. Why does a loving, all-powerful God allow suffering in His world?
First this is not the bell toll of death for Christianity that some make it out to be.
Here are my answers:
- We are mortal and live in a diseased and death environment. Mat 5:45b “For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”
- We are foolish and make poor decisions. Jam 4:1, “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?”
- We are connected to and injured by others. Mat 2:16, “Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men.”
- We are vulnerable and suffer from man’s inhumanity to man. Gens 4:8b, ” . . . Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him.”
- We are righteous and darkness hates light. 2Ti 3:12, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
When God’s children suffer, we can trust that God will always do what is right (Gen 18:25). We can know that God will always work things out for the best, not always immediately, not on our time table, but in His infinite wisdom. Remember to “trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding” (Pro 3:5).
Why Does the Church Meet?
Many NT passages refer to churches assembling together for regular worship. The word translated church (Ekklesia) means called-out or assembled. Just by definition I cannot be a part of a called-out, an assembly if I am not there. But why is assembling important? Why do I need to attend assemblies?
- We Assemble to Worship God (Joh 4:23-24). When we understand that we are “saved by Grace” we desire to praise the God Who Saves (Rom 15:9-11). Our mentality changes from “Do I have to come every time?” to “I GET to come worship.”
- We Assemble to Receive and Give Instruction. A chiald of God will hunger and thirst for righteousness (Mat 5:6). She will want to edify, encourage, and build up others (1Th 5:11). When church leaders set times for us to assemble for these purposes, we should participate.
- We Assemble to Set a Good Example. Whether we are older Christians or younger ones (1Ti 4:12; Mat 5:16) we set an example to others. Consider this thought, “If others followed the example I set by my assembly habits, would they learn enough and receive enough encouragement toward eternal life?”
- We Assemble to Follow the Faithful. Paul says to imitate his life in Christ (1Co 11:1). Can you imagine Paul failing to assemble with the church? What would we think of elders or the preacher if they neglected attending? Would Jesus neglect an opportunity to study with others or to worship the Father?
- We Assemble Because of God’s Place in Our Lives. We Belong to God not self (1Co 6:19-20). Christ does not want first place, He is our life when we are His (Col 3:4). Am I willing to rearrange my schedule for the One who saves me, the One who gave six hours on the cross deserves more than just a few hours of my time?
- We Assemble to Prepare for Heaven (Rev 5:11-14). The one thing on earth that will be in heaven is our public worship. It willl be perfected in heaven. But if I do not want to worship now, why would I expect to enjoy heaven?
Buildings, attendance, history, social programs, benevolence programs, outreach efforts, mission events, youth or children’s ministries, and membership involvement opportunities. These are many of the suggestions I read about from church growth experts on a regular basis. Admittedly, each one of these has merit. Yet, even if a church is doing all these things, they could be like the church in Sardis having “the reputation of being alive, but (being) dead.” (Rev 3:1).
Further, as I look at these ideas, I realize a group does not have to be a church to have or do them. They can be a group called, “The Society of People Making Life Better for Others” the SPMLBO. There must be something about being Christ’s Church that should make us unique. There must be something that makes us greater.
What makes for a great church?
- A great church has Purpose; a Great Purpose. That purpose is to make known the good news of salvation through the blood of Jesus the Christ. It is this Gospel message that makes us unique (cf. Act 1:8, 2:21-36, 1Co 15:1-4).
- A great church has Power; the Great Power of God. The same power that spoke the universe into existence. The same power that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. The power that parted the Red Sea, the Jordan, and raised Jesus from the grave is the power of God that He uses for our blessing and benefit so that we can fulfill our purpose. (cf. Eph 2:20-21, Phil 4:13).
- A great church as Passion; great passion to work God’s great purpose. God will accomplish His purpose and willingly provides the power we need, if we have the passion to work His will. (cf. Est 4:13-14, Eph 2:8-10). We need passion to seek and save the lost. We need passion to help those in need. Passion is necessary to keep each other strong. A sacrificial lifestyle takes a strong convicting passion. This is who Jesus was and what He calls us too.
- Will you be part of making the Church great?
This coming Sunday at Central, we will complete a series from 1 Peter entitled, “Christ-Centered Christians.” Of these fives chapters the lesson that stands out to me is from 1 Peter 2 when the apostle describes Christians with these terms:
- a holy priesthood
A certain former child I know, being . . . different.
- a chosen race
- A royal priesthood
- a holy nation
- a people of God’s own possession
- God’s people.
As God’s people, as the Church, God has called us out of the world and into the Kingdom of His Son. God separates us as His children as a special people for a special purpose. As separate we are DIFFERENT!
- Different by Birth. We are “born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;” (1Pe 1:23). So as “newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation,” (1Pe 2:2). Our birth is different. We are not children of God by the right of nationality (Americans or Israelis). We are not children of God through our physical families. But we are His family by obedience to His Word.
- Different by Belief. We believe in the Stone the builders rejected. We believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed of God, God’s Son by birth, and therefore the only hope and Savior of sinful man. (1Pe 2:7). Jesus is more that man or prophet, He is the only way to God (John 14:6).
- Different by Behavior. Look at Peter’s own words, “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” (1Pe 2:11-12). We are different in the way we act. We are to avoid what endangers our soul. We are to conduct ourselves with honesty, fairness, caution, righteousness, love, and in a general Christ-like manner. People will see our difference. We will be a shining light in a world darkened by sin (Mat 5:14-16).
So I dare you. I double dare you. No I double dog dare you to be different. I challenge you to live daily for Christ.