I want My Church to become the church of others. My Family, My Neighbors, My Friends, My Co-Workers, really all My Acquaintances. I love the church God has called me to be a part of and I think it is a place others can benefit from in this world and the next! I pray daily for our church to be strong, vibrant, powerful in the Spirit and practical in meeting both spiritual & earthly needs. I desire for My Church to be a place that encourages, supports, instructs, stabilizes, and grounds people in the saving & sovereign Christ. "It is not enough that we get somebody in the church, but that the church gets in them." The Church is the Body of Christ, and it is Christ in us that makes all the difference.
The great Apostle Paul had the same thoughts and heart in this matter. He was so intense in sowing the gospel and planting churches and then getting people to assembly so as to grow them up in the faith.
"And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God."—Acts 14:21–22
With that in mind let me share a few things that each of us can remember and apply when it comes to My People ( the people in my life) and My Church! Things we can practice to help confirm others in the faith.
1. My People Need To Be Saved At My Church!
To grow in the faith, one must first be saved. That seems so simple but it is so profound. I think in our churches we may foolishly spend time trying to grow people who have never entered in the faith. Just because someone came or is coming to church means that the Christ is in them. This is why it is so important to make a follow up visit of every visitor to our services with the main intent to ask them if they understand the gospel and have they been saved. Many times I have asked a visitor at the exit door ( in a kind & non threatening way ) specifically of their salvation. Many times after church or at the home visitation I have had the wonderful privilege to lead others to the saving knowledge of Christ.
2. My People Need To Have Assurance Of Salvation At My Church!
We need to take time to explain in detail that God's Salvation. That the new convert has been given eternal life and it can not be lost. That Satan will come and sow doubt in their minds and hearts. To be ready for such. Study with them 1st John 5:13 and John 10:28-29. Get them some study material on the subject. My Church has printed material for such.
3. My People Who Receive Christ Need To Be Baptized At My Church!
Make sure we take time to explain to them the very first thing God commands of His following believers, water baptism. Explain to them baptism , what it symbolizes and why it is so important in a believers growth. Again My Church supplies such material.
4. My People Who Receive Christ Need A Home Church And Perhaps It Is At My Church!
People need Christ and Christians need church. If Christians are going to grow they need a home church. They need to be encouraged a explained to why the Church is so important in their lives. They need a spiritual family, they need taught God's Word by gifted nd called pastors and teachers. They need to develop new habits of making the church of Jesus their hub of life.
5. My People Need Taken In By My Church!
If you want to encourage a new or nominal believer then invite them into your world. Invite them to your Sunday School Class, your small group, prayer group, to a meal and better yet to your home. If you meet a guest at church invite them to sit with you and encourage them to return again and share your pew. Introduce them to several of your other friends who are careful to include them as well in their world. Before long they will not be guests but FOREVER FRIENDS! God calls us to be hospitable ( 1st Timothy 3:2, Romans 13:12, 1st Peter 4:9) so lets work hard in this. I hear so many say they want friends so let me encourage you to hospitality and in time you will have more friends then you would have ever dreamed.
6. My People Need Friends At My Church!
They need people to be friendly but they need friendship desperately. Handshakes, glad you were heres, are great but they really need someone to come along side them and personally become involved in their life finding things in common, doing life together, developing relationships for Gods glory.
7. My People Need Cared And Thought About At My Church!
We need to work hard at knowing people. Knowing their names, where they live and work. Knowing their children. We need to know when they miss church for a few weeks. They need to receive a note from us, a call a visit. Some new Christians or new people to church are not at first faithful but with a little attention they can begin to develop new habits that bring them to faithfulness.
8. My People Need To Be Prayed For At My Church!
When we read the scriptures we find the early church leaders and church members praying for each other. And they prayed seriously and persistently for one another. The world and satan is sure to tempt each of us but those who are new to church are sure to receive a double dose of temptation. May we pray for them as they are being confirmed in God's church. And may we continue to pray for each and every person in My Church!
9. My People Need To Be Taught In Word And Deed At My Church!
New and mature Christians need discipleship. We need to study together as we learn of Christ. We also need to serve together as we learn of Christ. Discipleship is more than just being together it is a process of spiritual maturity. Learning God's word, will and way and then really learning it by practicing what He has said and willed. Much of God's discipleship takes place together in classes, assemblies, support, study , and service groups.
May each of us determine to identify who God is bringing into our lives as MY PEOPLE! so we can bring them to and into MY CHURCH for His glory and their good!
The Bible teaches us over and over that " Jesus is a FRIEND that sticketh closer than a brother"! Like the song says, No One Ever Cared For Me Like Jesus! He is a true friend. He was even a friend to the end for the disloyal and betraying Judas ( Matthew 26:50). Even while being betrayed He called Judas "friend". Jesus was and is a friend of sinners! Jesus declared that Lazarus was a friend and wanted everyone to know. Jesus was not only friendly He was a friend who showed it and proclaimed it. He was such a good friend that He did not smother his friends, but allowed them to have and be friends with others. We have all seen those who want friends but they don't want their friends to have other friends. That is not a healthy friendship nor is it a friendship that Jesus modeled.
A friend is someone who is always there when you need them. And the best friends are those who pattern their friendships after Jesus! After all He is perfect, He is God and while Jesus was on earth He gave us an example of friendship in heaven and friendship in perfection. May we strive to be friends like Jesus!
I heard it said many years ago, " I went out to find a friend and could not find one there. I went out to be a friend, and friends were everywhere." I have found this to be so true. Scripture teaches us to show ourselves friendly and we will have friends. " Whatsoever a man soweth, ( WHAT SHALL HE REAP?) that shall he reap. SOW FRIENDSHIP REAP FRIENDSHIP! Our selfish side is interested in having friends, our Jesus side is interested in being a friend. And thank God each true believing follower of Jesus has a Jesus side, the new nature!
Let me encourage you to read Proverbs 27 today, this week, this month and seek to be more like the BEST FRIEND EVER, JESUS! When you read look for several traits of a true and Christlike friend. Notice verses 2,4,5,6,9,10 & 17 and you will find them. When you do leave a comment and let me know what you found. Hope you have a " FRIENDLY READING TIME!
Today is as bright as the promises of god!
Our days are filled with good things and bad. If you are like me your emotions often attempt to turn your day into DARK One instead of a light one! If we forget god's promises, we will often only endure the day instead of enjoy the day. A lost day is one of life's great losses. may i suggest several promises from god that will help to brighten each of our days!
Promises To make Every day worth living!
God’s presence: “I will never leave thee” (Hebrews 13:5).
God’s protection: “I am thy shield” (Genesis 15:1).
God’s strength: “I will strengthen thee” (Isaiah 41:10).
God’s provision: “I will help thee” (Isaiah 41:10).
God’s leadership: “And when He putteth forth His own sheep, He goeth before them” (John 10:4) .
God’s purposes: “I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil” (Jeremiah 20:11).
God's Comfort: "Be careful for nothing: but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto god" (Philippians 4:6)
God's families: " train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. ( proverbs 22:6)
GOD'S REST: “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
God’s forgiveness: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
God’s goodness: “No good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11).
God’s faithfulness: “The Lord will not forsake His people for His great name’s sake” (1 Samuel 12:22).
God’s guidance: “The meek will He guide” (Psalm 25:9).
God’s sovereign plan: “All things work together for good to them that love God” (Romans 8:28).
God's courage: " fear thou not for i am with thee" (Isaiah 41:10)
Work on applying these bible promises into your daily routines and I am sure you will see an immediate improvement in your life and those around you!
Yesterday at Liberty we preached from Matthew 19:1-12 on Marriage and Singleness. Also we taught about Divorce and what Jesus said about it. In preparation for the messages I was so very aware that most everyone I would speak to have been affected in some way with divorce. Either directly or indirectly. It was my goal to represent truthfully God's Word and at the same time attempt to help people avoid this most painful tragedy as well as help others who have gone through divorce to find God's grace and move forward in a biblical manner. Sometimes life's messes are like SCRAMBLED EGGS, the sinfulness of man can not get UNSCRAMBLED but God in His infinite power can restore and rebuild lives of grace. As I delivered the messages in the morning and evening I was so aware of the many types of people I was addressing. Children, teens, young adults who have not been married yet. Single adults of all ages who have not been married. Young marrieds, middle age marrieds, older marrieds. Some who have been married for years who have mature godly marriages, others who are married but are struggling, and others who have gone through divorce years ago and some presently. Many who are longing for answers, hope and help.
It was my privilege to see God's Word both confront and comfort. I was so blessed to hear comments after the services from people in different situations saying that they were helped in many ways. As I introduced the messages yesterday I said it was my privilege and responsibility to preach on this difficult topic but was by faith expecting the Lord to use His Word. Thank you Lord for speaking to all who availed themselves to hearing God's Truth.
The world has it's ways concerning marriage and divorce but they are not the ways of the Creator God who instituted marriage in the beginning. God made male & female to enter into a lifetime commitment, one which is a union of two who God makes one. God's way of marriage is not just mans' legal regulations it is to be spiritual, a covenant relationship that is to reveal the covenant nature of God to all mankind.
Today I am so thankful that the Lord sought me and drew me to Himself over 42 years ago. He helped me to choose Him and He chose me to be His! I am a part of His church, His bride. And because He is the covenant keeping God I can count on the fact that HE WILL NEVER LEAVE ME NOR FORSAKE ME! He will never put me away. He will never divorce me! No matter what I do or don't do He is related to me in an unconditional way! His love and promises to me are not conditioned, hallelujah.
Today I am thankful as well for my wife Karen who in just a week we will celebrate 40 years of covenant marriage. I thank God that she was a gift given to me by the Lord Himself and I like to think I was a gift to her as well. Seems like yesterday that we were standing at the altar of Union Chapel Baptist on that sunny Saturday evening. 40 years filled with ups & downs, blessings & difficulties, mountaintops & valleys have come and gone, yet our covenant still stands strong. We give God the glory for such. After all we are both sinners who have old natures that rise up against our union of marriage on a consistent basis. But to God be the Glory who has enabled us to love Him and serve Him first and in so doing we have been enabled to love and serve each other through His power. My prayer is that we would continue to follow the Lord's Word and His Spirit in the days ahead so we may finish this HIGH CALLING in marriage to reveal the Glory of our Covenant keeping God. He is worthy to be seen of men & women, may He be seen in our lives and yours !
If you would like to listen to yesterday messages, go here.
Terry has been the Senior Pastor of Liberty for 30 years. He and his wife, Karen, have 4 children, 11 grandchildren, and 1 spoiled dog named Cooper.