Thursday, May 31, 2012

Come and See

“Nathanael said to him, ‘Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?’ Philip said to him, ‘Come and see’” (John 1:46).

The power of the invitation is one of the most underrated tools of evangelism. The thrill of being given the opportunity to approach God’s throne in worship can never be contained within the heart that has fully received the salvation that Christ died to manifest in us on the cross. The fire of enthusiasm should be so strong that we grow “weary of holding it in” (Jeremiah 20:9). But we need to make sure that what we are inviting others to see is authentic. Last thing we want people to see in us is hypocrisy. When we invite others to join us in we want them to see Christ in us.

When we invite others to come join us in worship we want them to see people convicted. There are enough people in the world that come to worship just for the outward appearance. When they come to the Lord’s church, we want them to see hearts that have been pierced by the truth of the “two-edged sword” (Hebrew 4:12). We want them to know they are in the presence of the Lord’s blood bought souls (Acts 20:28). We want them to see people who are “doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves” (James 1:22). The church is made up of souls that are truly convicted by the sin that separates and the Savior that suffered to fill that void. We are to be the example to the world of the “true worshipers” that the Father seeks (John 4:23).

When we invite others to come join us in worship we also want them to see people cleansed. Many say they have been saved but still live in sin. God did not send His Son to shed His blood so we can continue in sin, but that we can be cleansed from the stain of sin (1 John 1:7) and walk in a newness of life (Romans 6:4). When people are looking for salvation they do not need to be fooled by the fa├žade of false religion. They need to see people who have died to sin. They need to see people who desire the pleasure of God’s presence, which is life, and not the pollution of sin’s reward, which is death (Romans 6:23). When we invite others to come see the Lord’s church in worship they need to be able to see hearts that are made pure through faith in God.

When we invite others to come join us in worship we also want them to see celebration. It is a blessing to come and worship our Lord, not a burden. David said, “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the LORD’” (Psalm 122:1). This is what people need to see in us while we are worshiping, people who are honored to be with God and not people wanting to be somewhere else. Many are being deceived by satan’s trickery to believe that their bodies in the pew is sufficient for worship, even though their hearts and minds are already at the restaurant or home taking the roast out of the oven. When our hearts are convicted and cleansed then we should be expressing our joy to God for His work in the sanctification of our souls for His purpose. This is only shown through an attitude of gratitude. Our worship should be offered in a way that the people we invite can see our joy. They should see an eagerness in us that proves to them that there is nowhere else we would rather be on Sunday that in the Lord’s presence with His chosen people celebrating his power in our lives. Remember that we were once alienated from the hope that Christ died to bring to our lives. “But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13). We celebrate victories in the physical world all the time. The world needs to see God’s children celebrating the victory of the faith as we come before God in worship if we want to win their souls to Christ.

In His Grace,

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Peculiar Disciples

“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people…” (1 Peter 2:9 KJV).

It takes a special kind of person to be a disciple because of what the meaning of the word entails. If being a disciple was something as easy as simply believing many would rush at the chance to become one. But many will not become one, not because they do not want to, but because they choose not to fulfill all the requirements of being one. Many would like to be a disciple of Christ, but not many are willing to wear the robe of the One they want to follow. Denying the wardrobe of a disciple causes many to be denied: "For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14). To be a disciple, one must be willing to embrace the manners associated with the mentor.

Being a disciple of Christ means more than a simple acknowledgement of His being. It requires a heart-felt decision to allow God to mold you into His image. When God put out the call to mankind through His gospel, His desire was for all mankind to answer and become a Christian (1 Timothy 2:4). But His desire must penetrate the heart of the hearer so he or she will respond in a manner worthy of the call (1 Thessalonians 2:12). His desire is for the disciple to change mentors. Before we become a disciple of Christ we must be willing to relinquish our rights as a human to receive the blessings of being a spiritual follower of Jesus: “However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him” (Romans 8:8-9). Paul makes it clear that a disciple gives up being pulled around by the flesh so they can be led by the Spirit of God.

Being a disciple of Jesus means to become more than a follower, it opens the door to becoming part of His family: “For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother” (Matthew 12:50). Discipleship is a decision to sacrifice, suffer and surrender to the will of God and these are the ones Jesus calls His family. Many would like to be His disciple, but not many are willing to suffer through the surrender and sacrifice associated with the decision: “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:27). Jesus did not say it would be hard to be His disciple if one is not willing to commit to His call, but that this person cannot be His disciple. The desire to be a disciple alone is not enough to become one, it takes devotion, determination and yes, even death to self.

Many folks would like to become many things in life. I know many people that would like to become a doctor or a lawyer because of the wealth that goes with these careers. But not many of these folks are willing to go through the suffering or make the sacrifices that are needed to achieve these lofty goals. And although their desire for these professions may be great, without making the sacrifices required to attain these wealthy occupations, they cannot wear either of these titles. And so it is with becoming a disciple of the Christ, Who has come into this world to show us what it means to be a servant of God. But without embracing the lifestyle of the Mentor, a person, no matter how bad he or she desires it, cannot be made His disciple. Being a disciple of Christ means to be willing to die to the power of self, die to the power of sin and also to die to the power of satan to be made alive through the power of God (Romans 1:16). These three deaths cannot come into realization without the decision to surrender, suffer, and sacrifice your life for the will of God. This is what Christ did (John 4:34), and true disciples follow the Lord at all cost.

In His Grace,

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Energized Christianity

 “[A]nd I pray that the fellowship of your faith may become effective through the knowledge of every good thing which is in you for Christ's sake” (Philemon 1:6).

How often do we feel that the church has no motivation? People just seem to be here physically, but spiritually they are far away. Jesus discussed this matter when He said, “This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me” (Matthew 15:8). In context, Jesus speaks of worshipping God with the wrong heart, but the principle applies to our subject today. Sometimes we are here for worship physically but there seems to be no motivation in the spirit. What are we to do about this unfortunate dilemma? Where should we seek help? This writer will suggest the Bible for answers.

Every one of us needs motivation to get things going. Some might even wake in the morning to a cup of coffee to get the “juices flowing.” We understand that everything we do must be motivated by some kind of energy, especially in association with the physical aspect of life. But what motivates us in the spirit? Philemon 1:6 sheds some light as the word translated “effective” comes from the Greek word we get our word “energy” from.

Our faith is energized by the knowledge of all the good things that come to us in Christ such as our fellowship. When Christians assemble and love each other the way God has taught us to, we energize each other’s faith by uplifting and encouraging one another to “love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24). Worshiping our Lord is done through the energy our love for God generates within us. People know we are disciples of the Lord because we are fully energized by His love flowing throughout the congregation and out to others.

In the church we can sometimes forget how to care for one another. Jesus showed us how to care for one another through love: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Christ’s love is displayed by His willingness to lay His life aside for us. The brethren’s willingness to lay their lives aside for each other energizes the faith that Christ instilled in each one of us. It is our responsibility to share this kind of love so that the church will remain excited about the good things in Christ. If our love is evident to others their spirit is motivated in worship. They become more energized in the things they pray for, in the songs they sing and also their ears are motivated to hear the word of God, and this benefits our worship.

So if the church doesn’t seem motivated or excited we need to look within ourselves to make sure we are providing the “energy” for action. Let us gather around one another and love each other the way God loves us. Sometimes we love the way we are taught by the world and that is not agape love. Worldly love falls short of the love God wants us to have for the brethren (John 15:13). Sacrificial love for each other energizes our faith and energized faith holds nothing back as it offers up worship to God.

In His Grace,

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Gospel Meeting

May 6th 6:00 p.m.
May 7th-9th  7:00 p.m.

The Maryville church of Christ is hosting a Gospel Meeting at its building at 217 E. 6th Street, Maryville, Missouri.  Everyone is welcome to attend.

The speaker is Jason Zaiger from Atlantic, Iowa. 

A link to the audio recording of each day's lesson is shown at the right.  If you have any difficulty in opening or downloading the file, please let us know right away.  We hope you find the lessons encouraging and edifying.