Saturday, 31 July 2010

Tools from the Toolbox

I have just returned from our annual Bible Camp in Stafford and have been both challenged and thrilled by the word of God and the display of His power in miracle sign and wonder. On Tuesday we met as elders and leaders from the various churches to hear from our senior Apostle, Keri Jones, who encouraged us in the word and directed us clearly to be both inspirational and practical in our preaching and teaching in the year ahead. He particularly encouraged us to place great emphasis on equipping the saints in our care for the work of the ministry, and this I am always keen to do.

In Ephesians chapter four we read that the goal of Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers is to "Equip" the body (church) for acts of service (ministry). In other words, every person in the church to be trained to live a victorious life and be a blessing, not only to the rest of the church, but also in the world. So over the next twelve months as a church we will be looking at twelve key tools that every Christian needs to have in their tool kit.

1. The word of your Testimony (Revelation 12:11)
2. The Power of the Blood of Jesus (Hebrews 10:18-20)
3. Speaking in Tongues (Jude 20)
4. The Power of your Confession (Hebrews 4:14)
5. The Power of Agreement (Matthew 18:18-19)
6. The Name of Jesus (Acts 3:6)
7. The Power of Blessing (Luke 9:16)
8. The Power of Prayer (James 5:16)
9. The Promises of God (2 Corinthians 1:20)
10. The Word of Prophecy (1 Timothy 4:14)
11. The Power of Faith (Hebrews 11:1)
12. The Power of a Good Conscience (Hebrews 10:22)

It will be an exciting time of growth and challenge for each one of us. For some of our newer brothers and sisters these topics will be revolutionary. For others it will mean a sharpening and a greater clarity in these wonderful truths from God's word.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Building up the Church

Everyone who is “born again” into the family of God is destined to work in the family business. That business is to see the whole earth released from the bondage of sin and satan, and living under the lordship of King Jesus. God has decreed that this great mission will be accomplished through the church (Ephesians 3:10). That means that as the church becomes all that she should be, the world will see the glory of God and His kingdom will increase.

The church is described as the building (1 Corinthians 3:9) where God dwells; therefore it is not just a pile of unrelated bricks. Each brick should be in the right place and joined to the other bricks around it. This means not simply bringing in more bricks to add to the pile, but making a priority of helping each brick find its place in the building and therefore fulfilling its purpose.

So while it is important to see numerical growth in the church, unless we are seeking to see the people in the church built up and everyone growing, maturing and functioning, we will be nothing more than that unrelated pile of bricks.

How will it be accomplished? We first need to be devoted to fellowship (Acts 2:42-47). That means placing a priority on meeting together with the purpose of encouraging others and being shaped and encouraged ourselves by the ministries that God has placed in the church. Secondly we need to be open to God to use us. We have received the gift of the Holy Spirit and need to understand that that gift is not only for us, but is to be used for the building up of the church. (1 Corinthians 14:5) It’s time to start thinking like a builder. Can we do it? Yes we can....(Sorry, couldn’t resist)

Monday, 19 July 2010

The Mature Christian

Hebrews 6:1 (New International Version)
Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity,

The goal of every believer should be to progress in their faith and knowledge of God, pressing on to become mature Christians, who can themselves train others. This doesn’t happen by accident, there is a process involved and steps to be taken, to reach the ultimate goal of being like Jesus. Where do you think you are right now on that journey? Here are some things that God is looking for in the mature Christian.*

1. He/she accepts himself/herself. Not thinking too highly (or too lowly) of oneself, but having a correct measure and assessment of one’s gifts abilities and challenges. (Romans 12:3)
2. Characteristically submissive in attitude. Being able to receive reproof or correction from others without anger and resentment. (Matthew 11:29)
3. A balanced character. Self controlled and not given to extremes in mood or behaviour. (1 Peter 1:13)
4. A real friend. Someone who put’s more into fellowship and relationship than they seek take from it. (Proverbs 17:9)
5. Able to cope with frustrations, misunderstandings and depression. Doesn’t go down the tubes when things go wrong. (James 1:2-4)
6. Can take the strong meat of God’s word. Has moved beyond the vary basics of the gospel and is now able to discern good and evil and teach others also. (Hebrews 5:12-14)
7. Steadfast and dependable. Doesn’t give up easily, but presses on and is reliable in heart and service to God and others. (Philippians 3:12-17)

It’s always good to check our own progress. If you see areas that need to be addressed (and we all will), then why not seek out and observe a more mature believer who displays the area (or areas) that you are lacking, and imitate them as they imitate Christ.(1 Corinthians 4:16) Let us press on together towards maturity.

*(With thanks to Hugh Thompson. Restoration Magazine, March 1975)

Saturday, 10 July 2010

The Necessity of Faith

One the most bizarre questions I have ever been asked was; “Are you in one of those ‘faith’ churches?” This was closely followed by “... so you actually believe the Bible?” What amazed me about both these questions was that they were asked by someone who called himself a Christian. My response (unsurprisingly) was along the lines of, “if you are not in a ‘faith church’ what kind of church are you in?”

The Bible tells us that it was “through faith” we were saved (Ephesians 2:8), and that without faith it is “impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6). Faith is the most fundamental ingredient in the Christian life. Faith means not only believing that God exists, but that He “rewards” those that diligently look for Him. Faith is the ONLY way that Christians can access the promises that God has made towards them. If you have been saved, it didn’t happen by accident, it was an act of YOUR faith in GOD’S word. It was by BELIEVING (Faith) and RECEIVING the benefits of what Jesus has accomplished for you that you became a Christian in the first place. What is faith then? It is quite simply, believing in the character and nature of God as a person and in the integrity of His word.

But it doesn’t end there...The plan of God for you was that faith was to be a lifestyle, not merely a one off event (2 Timothy 3:14). In other words, faith is something that you practice, continue AND grow in every day.

So to go back to the original question... Am I in a “faith church?” Absolutely! What is the alternative, a doubt church? Do I believe in the goodness of God and the integrity of His word? Absolutely! To build your Christian life on any other foundation would be complete folly, and only lead to a life of uncertainty and failure (Matthew 7:26)

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Reach the world from your living room

Matthew 9 10 Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners.
(New Living Translation)

Whenever Jesus went to a house people wanted to be there, because they knew that their lives would be changed and enriched when they came into contact with Him. As you read through the gospels and the acts you will notice that the house was often the base for the church to reach the world with the gospel, not the synagogue or the temple. When Jesus sent out the disciples across the region He told them to base themselves in houses in each place they went to, preaching, healing and casting out demons. (Luke 10:7)

In the same way our homes can and should be places where the life of Jesus is evident, and people can encounter His love and His power. So how can we start to reach our friends and neighbours with this good news?

1. BE hospitable. Invite people in for a coffee or a meal. Look out for the lonely or the needy in your area and show them practically how much Jesus loves them.
2. BE consistent. People are looking at your life all the time, especially if you profess to be a Christian. You can’t live one way on a Sunday morning and be someone else when you are at home.
3. BE bold. Take a step of faith and tell someone about Jesus and what He has done for you. If they are sick or facing a difficulty, ask to pray for them and expect a result. Jesus said don’t hide your light, let people see who you are.

Your home can be a fruitful place, where miracles happen every day, and lives are changed.