Archives For Church

Community to Destiny

Ben —  February 22, 2017 — Leave a comment

At times we may find ourselves living individually, relying on our own efforts and seeking the coveted self-made status. But God’s word has a different message on our destiny and purpose on this earth. His word reminds us that we can only become all that He has created us to become, in the context of engraving our life in a biblical community of people called the local Church.

We see this powerful message during the establishment of the local Church [Acts 9:17], where Jesus humbles Paul and makes him reliant on the community around him. It is only then that Paul’s destiny begins to come into fruition. There is lasting change and real transformation in Paul’s life, and he emerges a new man whose destiny and potential are released because of the community around him.

From scripture we learn that the Christian walk is a collaboration, where community is the custodian of our destiny. We as followers of Christ are meant to be in fellowship with one another, sharing life together intimately and not on the superficial level.

As you meditate on God’s word this week, I’d like to share some truths regarding the importance of community. May these reminders encourage you to take the next step into intimately sharing your life with your local church.

  • Jesus ministered in community
  • Your potential is found in community
  • Community is the context for destiny
  • Destiny is a shared commodity; you never have full ownership over it, you are a part owner
  • Your potential is a collaboration
  • Fruit grows in family

I Am the Church

Ben —  February 2, 2015 — Leave a comment

It is vitally important that Christians understand Church. Not just church attendance, but how God intended the Church to function as a community of believers. A majority of the New Testament books are actually letters written to specific churches on how to be a true Christian church. In 1 and 2 Corinthians, the apostle Paul writes to the Church of Corinth. Paul had spent time teaching here, and so was writing to a group of believers he knew quite well. At the time the Church was suffering from immorality, disunity and idolatry, and Paul’s letter was sent to bring clarification and correction to specific problems that arose in church life.

1 Corinthians 1:2 (NLT) “I am writing to God’s church in Corinth, to you who have been called by God to be his own holy people.”

Firstly, Paul calls it ‘God’s’ Church, reminding us that the focus, pattern and vision should always be His, and not ours. Church time should also be sacred and special. Whilst we see all the various ministries running during the service and all the practical jobs that come with it, we are really taking the time out to meet with God, and spend some personal (but not private) time in prayer and worship, as well as genuine fellowship with other believers. You could even consider it a family reunion.

Secondly, Paul addresses the letter to ‘you’, meaning not only the Corinthian church but the Church as a whole – that includes you and me. This letter wasn’t addressed to only the leaders of the church, but to everyday people. We are each called individually, and there is a responsibility associated with that calling. The church is less about the vision statement on a brochure, and more about the personal commitments people make to be a certain kind of church.

Just think – if everyone attended church like you, how many seats would be filled on Sunday? If everyone served like you, how smoothly would a service run? If everyone gave financially like you, how would the church be able to serve the community? Remember – I am the Church. When vision is translated to personal responsibility – something powerful happens and a healthy church will grow.

The Invitation

Ben —  October 30, 2014 — 1 Comment

Have you ever been to a wedding with no guests? Of course not! There are so many elements that go into planning a wedding, but the invitation is the most important element so that the celebration can be shared. In Matthew 22, Jesus tells the parable of the Banquet and the Invitation. A decadent banquet representing the Kingdom of God had been prepared by a King, but none of the guests had responded to the invitation and the hall was empty. Just think – all this work that had gone into preparing the feast and no one to enjoy it! Church can be like this some time. All the work is done – the music is sounding great, the message prepared and the coffee is hot – but we have forgotten the invitation.

We have the highest responsibility in life – those that know God – to extend the invitation to those that are far from God. Church is not just for Christians. We exist to train and equip believers, but we ALSO exist to reach people that are far from God, impact culture and be salt and light in this city and nation. It’s great to say we have a heart for people, but we must actually respond to this principle, by extending the invitation to Church to real people in our lives. We are surrounded by people and the opportunity to reach these people daily. Your invitation to Church may impact someone’s eternity. Extending the invitation is our responsibility, the RSVP is God’s.

The Household of Faith

Ben —  November 14, 2013 — Leave a comment

Many passages in the New Testament refer to the church being like a family household, and its members as brothers and sisters. Just as you are part of your own family, you are part of your church – it’s not something we should feel separated from.

Gal 6:10 (NLT) Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.

As members of our church family we each need to take responsibility for our contribution to it. We can all play a part: with regular, punctual attendance at meetings, prayer and support, giving finances, joining a team, and by helping out in practical ways.

Here is our ‘Job Description’ as brothers and sisters, according to various New Testament scriptures:

  • Act 21:17 When we arrived at Jerusalem, the brothers and sisters received us warmly.

Welcome guests warmly. We are not a closed-off family. This is everyone’s job – not just that of the host team/door-greeters.

  • Rom 1:13 (NLT)…I want to work among you and see spiritual fruit, just as I have seen among other Gentiles.

Grow spiritual fruit. Numbers are not the issue – the focus is on quality growth in the members’ lives.

  • Rom 16:17 …I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.

Be on the lookout for people who cause divisions in the church. Watch out for criticism and avoid getting caught up in it. The enemy can use it to wreak havoc.

  • 1 Cor 3:1-4  Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ.I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it.Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings?

Be spiritual people. Be hungry for more of God in our lives. We need to grow into spiritual maturity, becoming able to encourage others.

  • 1 Cor 14 (whole chapter): 26…Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.

Maintain the order of church services. There are reasons why we do what we do. Be supportive – learn to flow with how things are done.

1 Cor 15:58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Work enthusiastically. Do what you do with excellence and initiative, without needing to be checked up on. Stay motivated.

2 Cor 13:11-12 Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. 12 Greet one another with a holy kiss.

Greet one another with spiritual love. Show care and appreciation for all members. Newcomers will notice! (‘They will know you by your love for one another’)

Gal 6:1-2  Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.

Gently help those who are struggling or going astray. Don’t come down hard and judgemental on people who are dealing with problems. We also need to guard ourselves from getting caught up in the same traps ourselves.

1 Thess 5:12-13 Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. 13 Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other.

Honour pastors and leaders. Don’t scoff at or resist those who have a position of authority – speak well of them; pray for them. Honour unlocks rewards and benefits.

James 2:15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?

Love each other. Put love into action. Don’t say “The church has a program for doing that” – get out and do it yourself. No amount of programs can meet all the needs.

1 John 4:21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

Love each other. Foster connections.

1 Cor 1:10 I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.

Live in harmony with each other. Be united in thought and purpose. Focus on agreement.

Lastly: don’t assume you can ‘pay’ yourself out of responsibility simply by giving financially. Get personally involved in meeting others’ needs.

Something to think about: What would the church look like if every member had the same attitude towards it as me?

Honour in the House

Ben —  November 7, 2013 — Leave a comment

 

Ever noticed how many of us Australians seem more likely to treat our leaders with disrespect and even contempt rather than respect and honour? It’s something to do with our heritage and our tendency to try to bring everyone down onto the same level as ourselves.

But if we’re not careful, this attitude can actually erode many areas of our lives. Sure, we’ve all seen plenty of examples of poor behaviour by leaders, but that shouldn’t stop us giving honour to good leaders. Good leadership deserves to receive honour, especially in the household of faith.

Gal 6:10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

In both the Old and the New Testaments we are given clear patterns of church structure to follow. In the New Testament, the church is often likened to a family. A true family is not just made up of brothers and sisters (children) – it has a Father and Mother who look after the children and manage the household together. So it is in the church – leaders are appointed to help care for and manage the flock.One of the best ways we can help leaders do their job is to cooperate with them and to help build unity amongst the church members.

In the New Testament we are described as brothers and sisters, but it also speaks of Pastors (shepherds), overseers, elders, leaders, deacons and ‘Fathers and Mothers in the faith’. These are all people with a certain level of spiritual maturity whose faith and behaviour have stood the test of time, and who have earned positions of responsibility and authority.

1 Thess 5:12 Dear brothers and sisters, honour those who are your leaders in the Lord’s work. They work hard among you and give you spiritual guidance.

We need to appreciate and honour those in ministry – they work hard to look after us! We expect so much from them. Most are volunteers (i.e. unpaid); and some have made major lifestyle and financial sacrifices to serve in the church. They give their time and energy to make sure the household continues to run well, and to help it move ahead into the future; to care for people, pray for them and their many needs. They may have even put some of their own views or preferences aside in order to flow with the church leadership and help build unity amongst the church family.

Do you honour those in leadership over you? Do you pray for them and their families? Do you look for things you might be able to help them in order to make their job a little easier, or to help free them up so they have more time to do the most important things they should really be doing?

Honour is sadly lacking in today’s society, yet it brings rewards. The only time Jesus was restricted in His ability to perform miracles was in His own hometown, where he had been well known since childhood and people found it hard to honour Him as the Messiah. Does the lack of a sense of honour contribute to the fact that we don’t see too many major miracles in this country?

It’s often those who are in leadership over us who speak into our lives in ways that can bring great benefits and even major life transformations. Let’s build a strong culture of ‘Honour where honour is due’ at Lifeplace.

God can use people who…

Ben —  October 30, 2013 — Leave a comment

I came across this recently:


God can use people who:

Value Him more than any ministry they’re involved in.

 

Have a revelation of what the Church really meant to be, and share a conviction to see the church get built healthy strong and to keep it growing.

Love their church, and are happy to get busy working in it even if they don’t get recognition for what they do.

Are happy to serve in obscurity without and avoid striving for.

Are committed to resolving issues in a Biblical way.

Are not critical of the church and church leadership.

Serve, work, give and live honourably both within and outside the church.

Respond to pressure with a good attitude and don’t get bitter or offended when things don’t go their way.

Placement, Planting and People

Ben —  October 25, 2013 — 1 Comment

 

Eph 2:19 (NIV) Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household.

(NLT) So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family.

As brothers and sisters in the Household of Faith we are on a lifelong journey together. Are you making headway in your journey? Here are some stages we all need to go through as we progress in our walk with God.

1. God’s Placement

Ps 68:6 (NLT) God places the lonely in families…

1 Cor 12:18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.

We need to belong to a specific church family, somewhere we can both receive and contribute, not just be floating around on our own. Somewhat similar to the way we don’t get to choose the family we are born into, we need to accept and embrace the church God has set us in. Whatever route brought you to the church, God was involved the process. He wants us in a particular place for a particular purpose. When we embrace God’s placement we are on the way to finding our God-given purpose.

2. The Planting of God:

Recognising that God has placed me in a specific church family is just the start. We’re a bit like pot plants – the roots can’t go down very deep until they’re planted into good soil. And if you’ve ever planted a sizeable tree, you know it takes quite a bit of work to dig a large enough hole and carefully plant it. It’s only once we’re properly planted in the God’s House that our spiritual lives will really flourish and thrive.

The key: It’s up to each of us to get ourselves planted. There are people who can help us, but ultimately it’s my job – my responsibility – and there’s no one else who can really do it for me! Why do I emphasize this? Because I see the clear, positive results when people get themselves properly planted!

Ps 92:2

People: God connects us with people who can help us grow and who can help unlock our potential. Never underestimate the importance of the relational aspect of a church. It’s about more than attending meetings – it’s about spending time with others. We all need people who are ahead of us on the journey to help us along the way. It requires humility and flexibility. It means allowing other people to speak into my life, and maybe letting them bring some direction and adjustment to help me on my path.

God anoints these connections, and we can learn some of our most valuable lessons by allowing ourselves to be coached and trained by good leaders. When we collectively value and honour our pastors and leaders, there will be a greater flow of God’s Spirit amongst us. The result: you will gain strength, find your giftings and callings, and, in turn, move into areas where you can also help others. And remember – no-one can do exactly what you do quite the way you do it – your contribution is unique and valuable.

Value God’s placement, get yourself firmly planted in the church, and get connected with people who can help you grow in God. As you do, you will reap great rewards – you will make strong growth and bear good fruit.

Have you progressed from just attending church? Are you experiencing vigorous spiritual growth, or is your spiritual life dry and shrivelling up? Recognise God’s placement, get planted, and get connected with people who can help you keep growing with God.