THINKING OUT LOUD – About The Church

The Church – is God’s people gathered together

God’s people – born again believers / disciples
The Church – is empowered to be a witness
Acts 1:8 … “you shall receive power and be My witnesses…”
The Church – is here to complete the task Jesus began
Luke 19:10; Matthew 28:19-20
The Church – is to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom everywhere
Matthew 24:14
The Church – is to demonstrate that the Gospel is true
1 Corinthians 1:4-5
The Church – is to grow and multiply constantly
Isaiah 9:7
The Church – is an organism and not an organization
1 Corinthians 12:27
The Church – is to be salt and light in the world
Matthew 5:13-14
The Church – is called to be ministers of reconciliation – a priesthood unto God
2 Corinthians 5:18 / 1 Peter 2:9
The Church – is called to be ambassadors of the Kingdom
2 Corinthians 5:20

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The Church Jesus Is Building – Part Twenty-Eight

As we continue to look at the Church that Jesus is building and the current call to be ‘revolutionaries’ we need to understand that change is happening. There are major changes in our world, the society (cultural group) we live in, and in the Church in general. We are in the midst of a series of spiritual transitions. Change is a natural, positive, and irreplaceable part of growth as well as necessary to enable us to continue to exist.

Leaders often remind us that what got us where we are is not the same stuff that will get us where we want to go, so we must change. Psychologists remind us that repeating the same behaviours merely generates the same outcomes, and therefore precludes rather than produces positive change. In other words, to grow we must purposefully alter our routines and approaches. And the Bible is equally clear in telling us that God did not send Jesus to die so we might be comfortable and complacent, but so we might die to self, pick up our cross, and follow the way of the Master. This involves constant change.

The spiritual revolution that is gathering momentum and influence in many nations provides evidence of sweeping changes that are taking place today. Some of the most important trends that are reshaping our society relate to the shift in worldview, lifestyle, and expectations that characterize our younger generations – the Baby Busters, the Mosaics, the Xennals (Gen X), Millennials, Generation Y (Gen Next), iGen (Gen Z), Gen Alpha. In fact, researchers have determined seven particular trends in these generations that are leading to the new church that will facilitate the moral and spiritual revolution that millions of us have been praying for over the past several decades. (see chart below…)

Generation Name Births

Start

Births

End

Youngest

Age Today*

Oldest Age

Today*

The Lost Generation

The Generation of 1914

1890 1915 103 128
The Interbellum Generation 1901 1913 105 117
The Greatest Generation 1910 1924 94 108
The Silent Generation 1925 1945 73 93
Baby Boomer Generation 1946 1964 54 72
Generation X (Baby Bust) 1965 1979 39 53
Xennials 1975 1985 33 43
Millennials

Generation Y, Gen Next

1980 1994 24 38
iGen / Gen Z 1995 2012 6 23
Gen Alpha 2013 2025 1 5

(*age if still alive today)

These seven trends …. 

Trend #1: The Changing of the Guard

The two generations that contain people in their forties, fifties, sixties, and seventies – the Baby Boomers and the Builders – are slowly and painstakingly losing their grip on power in society. It is the two younger generations (and soon the even younger ones) – the Baby Busters and the Mosaics – who inject energy into the economy, social institutions, and even the Church because they understand and embrace constant change and innovation. Over the coming decades, increasing numbers of these younger adults will ascend to positions of power and influence. In fact, we are already seeing this change moving forward rapidly.

As a result of the passing of the torch, Busters and Mosaics are altering the ways in which people relate to each other, the types of outcomes deemed desirable, the procedures used to achieve meaningful results, the values and beliefs that underlie critical decisions, and the role of technology in our lives. These same transitions are radically affecting how people perceive and practice the Christian faith.

Trend #2: The Rise of a New View of Life

Most developed countries are now what is called a ‘postmodern’ society. Postmodernism claims that are no moral absolutes – that is, truth is whatever you believe it to be. That kind of thinking suggests that good citizenship requires tolerance of all points of view and behavioural preferences. The postmodern philosophy also proclaims that the most important element in life in your relationships; that the processes you engage in are more significant than the product of those procedures, which is a ‘means justify the ends’ perspective; and that the most appropriate route to influence is through dialogue, not monologue or the imposition of one’s beliefs or approaches upon others. 

The shift into a live-and-let-live philosophy affects every dimension of our lives, including the ways in which we understand and practice Christianity. Obviously, some of the central elements of this spreading philosophy and way of life – such as its rejection of absolute moral truth – are at odds with being a disciple of Jesus Christ. Other core principles, such as the emphasis on relationships, are consistent with the teaching os the Lord. The threat to the Church lies in the fact that surprisingly few believers are sufficiently reflective about the implications of this shift to critically assess its pros and cons – to know when it is important to take a stand against the encroachment of unbiblical principles. 

Regretfully, as well, a large number of Christians are not even aware that there is a change in the way people are viewing life. They are not aware that they are now living in and relating to a ‘postmodern’ society. Thus, they are still using old thinking and old ways to reach people and are not yet recognizing that they are failing miserable in the attempt. 

The Church Jesus Is Building – Part Twenty-Seven

As we continue our look at the Church relating it to what people are looking for in a local church fellowship we are discovering that the Lord is moving in the hearts of people of all ages causing a serious inner discontent and thus a disconnect from the church as it is today. Those who are responding to this spiritual discomfort are often referred to as revolutionaries.

This is not to bash the Church. Christian churches have an incredible 2,000 year legacy of pursuing God and faithfully doing His work. An extraordinary repository of life-changing results emanates from the Church. The Church is not a perfect group of people or a perfect institution; it is populated by sinners – like you and me – whom God dearly loves, despite our debased nature. And despite its faults and flaws, a spiritually healthy church will always have a valid and valuable role within God’s Kingdom on earth.

The point is simply to recognize that there are some basic and foundational things that need to change within the local church if it is to actually be healthy and if we are to continue to speak to the people of today about Jesus and His Kingdom. 

Also, if we place all our hope in the local church, it is a misplaced hope. Many well-intentioned pastors promote this perspective by proclaiming, “the local church is the hope of the world.” Like most advertising slogans, this notion is emotionally appealing. The trouble is, the sentiment is not biblical. Jesus, and Jesus alone, is the hope of the world. The local church is one mechanism that can be instrumental in bringing us closer to Him and helping us to be more like Him. But, as research data shows, churches are not doing the job. If the local church is the hope of the world, then the world has no hope.

Again, the point we have been making is simply to recognize that there are some basic and foundational things that need to change within the local church if we are to continue to speak to the people of today about Jesus and His Kingdom and if the Church is to, once again, function biblically. Some very big changes.

There is nothing inherently wrong with being involved in a local church. But realize that being a part of a group that calls itself a ‘church’ does not make you saved, holy, righteous, or godly any more than being in a baseball stadium makes you a professional baseball player. Participating in church-based activities does not necessarily draw you closer to God or prepare you for a life that satisfies Him or enhances your existence. Being a member of a congregation does not make you spiritually righteous. 

Being in a right relationship with God and His people is what matters. Scripture teaches us that devoting your life to loving God with all your heart, mind, strength, and soul is what honours Him. Being part of a local church may facilitate that. Or it might not.

Sadly, many people will label this view “blasphemy.’ However, you should realize that the Bible neither describes nor promotes the local church as we know it today. Many centuries ago religious leaders created the prevalent form of ‘church’ that is so widespread in our society to help people be better followers of Christ. But the local church we have come to know and cherish – the services, offices (sacraments), programs, buildings, ceremonies – is neither biblical nor unbiblical. It is aBiblical – that is, such an organization is not addressed in the Bible. 

If you read through the New Testament you will find no allusions to or descriptions of a specific type of religious organization or spiritual form for the church. The Bible does not rigidly define the corporate practices, rituals, or structures that must be embraced in order to have a proper church. It does, however, offer direction regarding the importance and integration of fundamental spiritual disciplines into one’s life. 

Sometimes we forget that the current form of religious practice and community were developed hundreds of years ago, long after the Bible was written, in an attempt to help believers live more fulfilling Christian lives. We should keep in mind that what we call ‘church’ is just one interpretation of how to develop and live a faith-centred life. We made it up. It may be healthy or helpful, but it is not sacrosanct.

The current move of the Spirit, the revolution, is not about eliminating, dismissing, or disparaging the local church. It is about building relationships, commitments, processes, and tools that enable us to be the God-lovers we were intended to be from the beginning of creation.

Revolutionaries realize – sometimes very reluctantly – that the core issue isn’t whether or not one is involved in a local church, but whether or not one is connected to the body of believers in the pursuit of godliness and worship. Consequently, the revolution involves the remnant of believers who are obsessed with practicing the same seven passions that defined the early church, in order to be agents of transformation in this world.

A reminder of what the seven core passions for a revolutionary are (from previous blogs in this series):

1> Intimate worship

2> Faith-based conversations

3> Intentional spiritual growth

4> A place to serve (servanthood)

5> Resource investment

6> Spiritual friendships

7> Family faith

You see, it is not about the church. It’s about the Church – that is, the people who actively participate in the intentional advancement of God’s Kingdom in partnership with the Holy Spirit and other believers. (note the difference between church and Church)

The revolutionary mind-set is simple: Do whatever it takes to get closer to God and to help others to do the same. Obliterate any obstacle that prevents you from honouring God with every breath you take. Be such an outstanding example of the Christian faith that no one will question your heart or lifestyle – except those who see institutional survival as equally or more important than the alleged influence of the institution they defend.

Or, put more bluntly, the revolution is about recognizing that we are not called to go to church. We are called to be the Church.

The Church Jesus Is Building – Part Twenty-Six

As we continue our look at the Church in the book of Acts, what revolutionary believers today are looking for in the Church, and what the current state of the Church is…

5> Regarding Servanthood…

Surveys indicate that in a typical week, only one of every four believers will allocate some time to serving other people. Most of that time is dedicated to volunteering in church programs that serve the believers who attend a local church – and not touching the lives of those who do not know Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. Seriously little effort is invested in serving needy people in their community.

Most churched Christians admit to having seen homeless or hurting people in their community or travels during the past year; a very small percentage says they interacted with any of those disadvantaged individuals.

The typical believer would rather give money to an organization to allow it to do good deeds in society than personally assist in alleviating the needs of disadvantaged people.

A reminder of the early church and what revolutionaries are looking for as seen earlier in this series…

Love is more than a feeling; it is a tangible reality when it is shared with other people through acts of selfless service. The early Church fostered the notion that serving the people was the best means of demonstrating the example that Jesus had set for them. Servanthood also showed the transformation that their faith had wrought within them. Like Christ, they lived to serve rather than to be served.

6> Regarding Spiritual Friendships…

Fewer than one out of every six churched believers has a relationship with another believer through which spiritual accountability is provided.

The most significant influence on the choices of churched believers is neither the teachings from the pulpit nor advice gleaned from fellow believers; it is messages absorbed from the media, the law, and family members.

Let’s compare that to the early church and what it is revolutionaries are looking for…

The Church was all about relationships. These friends of Jesus became friends with each other and revelled in their mutual admiration of Christ in their frequent get-togethers. The friendships they formed provided not only encouragement but also loving accountability for spiritual integrity.

7> Regarding Family Faith…

A large majority of churched believers rely upon their church, rather than their family, to train their children to become spiritually mature.

In an average month, fewer than one out of every ten churched families worships together outside of a church service; just as few pray together, other than at mealtimes; and the same minimal numbers study the Bible together at home or work together to address the needs of disadvantaged people in their community.

The likelihood of a married couple who are born again churchgoers getting divorced is the same as couples who are not disciples of Jesus.

Apart from church-based programs, the typical Christian family spends less than three hours per month in endeavours designed to jointly develop or apply their faith.

Most Christian parents do not believe they are doing a good job at facilitating the spiritual development of their children. 

Again, a reminder of the early church’s life in this area and what revolutionaries are looking for today…

Christian families taught the ways of God in their homes every day. Parents were expected to model a Spirit-filled, Spirit-led lifestyle for their children, and families were to make their home a sanctuary for God. In a very real sense, the home was the early church – supplemented by larger gatherings in the Temple and elsewhere, but never replaced by what took place in the homes of the believers.

It is time for the existing local churches to take a look at their corporate lives and make some serious changes and adjustments to what they are doing. It is simply no longer working.

The Church Jesus Is Building – Part Twenty-Five

We are looking at the Church as it is today and seeing how it relates to the seven passions of those who are looking for much more than they see and experience in the local church today – the revolutionaries.

We saw that the revolutionaries have a number of passions – elements of spiritual life that they are desiring and looking for in the local church …

1> Intimate worship

2> Faith-based conversations

3> Intentional spiritual growth

4> A place to serve (servanthood)

5> Resource investment

6> Spiritual friendships

7> Family faith

Last time we looked at the first two. Let’s move forward from there and look at several more.

3> Regarding Intentional Spiritual Growth…

Only 9 percent of all born again adults have a biblical worldview – meaning that less than one out of every ten Christians eighteen or older believes that absolute moral truth exists, believes that such truth is contained in the Bible, and possesses a handful of core beliefs that reflect such truth. 

Those beliefs include a certainty that the Bible is accurate in its teachings; Jesus lived a sinless life on this earth; Satan is real, not symbolic; all believers are responsible for sharing their faith in Christ with others; the only means to salvation is through God’s grace as revealed through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus; and God is the all-knowing and all-powerful creator of the universe who still rules it today. 

The other 91% of born again adults possess a patchwork of theological views and rarely rely upon those perspectives to inform their daily decisions. 

Although the typical believer contends that the Bible is accurate in what it teaches, he or she spends less time reading the Bible in a year than watching television, listening to music, reading other books and publications, or conversing about personal hobbies and leisure interests.

When asked what constitutes success in life, few believers define success in spiritual terms. Most describe outcomes related to professional achievements, family solidarity, physical accomplishments, or resource acquisitions.

When given the opportunity to state how they want to be known by others, fewer than one out of ten believers mentioned descriptions that reflect their relationship with God. 

A reminder from a previous blog of what revolutionaries are looking for in this regard and what the early church in the book of Acts exhibited regarding spiritual growth:

The Church in Jerusalem endeavoured to learn more about the Christian faith and employ the principles of Jesus’ teachings. Believers exhibited a remarkable attitude toward life and people and acknowledged the presence of the supernatural in their everyday adventures. They placed their faith at the center of their lives and derived their sense of meaning, purpose, and direction from their connection to God and His commands.

It is obvious that born again believers today are falling short of the biblical model when it comes to intentional spiritual growth. And, that the revolutionaries, in many cases, are not finding what they are looking for in the church as we currently see it working today. 

4> Regarding Resource Investment…

Churched Christians give away an average of about 3 percent of their income in a typical year – and feel pleased with their “sacrificial” generosity. Fewer than one out of every ten churched Christians donate at least 10 percent of their income to churches and other nonprofit organizations. More than one-third claim to do so and thus are either self-deceived or lying.

When asked to explain their understanding of biblical stewardship, less than one out of every twenty includes resources such as time, relationships, ideas, or skills in their assessment. And, most believers are unable to identify anything specific they have ever donated money to that they would describe as producing life-changing outcomes.

Again, a reminder of the early church’s understanding of resource investment which is also what revolutionaries are looking for in the church today…

Because we own nothing in this life, it is best to wisely invest the resources we manage for the One who is the true owner of all things. The first Christians defined communal living through their sacrificial sharing of everything they had. Note that the Scriptures specifically tell us that they shared “everything” with those in need, and that they used the variety of resources at their disposal – money, food, clothing, housing, relationships, influence, skills, time – for the benefit of all believers. 

More next time…

Revelations Not Resolutions

We are approaching the start of a new year….

It seems to me that time is moving more quickly than it ever has before

Or, that I am simply moving a little slower than I use to

Maybe it is that time sure does fly when you are having fun…

But then life is not always a lot of fun

As believers, when we look at the start of a new year we should have inside of us a renewed sense of hope Read more

The Church Jesus Is Building – Part Twenty-four

If the Church is God’s answer to our spiritual needs, then why are most churched Christians so spiritually immature and desperate? 

If the local church were the answer to our deep spiritual need, we would see two things: First, people who were most heavily involved in a Christian church congregation would be more spiritually developed than others. Second, churched Christians would increasingly reflect the principles and characteristics Scripture tells us are the marks of Jesus’ true disciples. However, research consistently shows the disconnect between who we are as believers and how Christians live out their beliefs and what the Bible calls us to be and then do. So, the Church is failing to fulfill the mandate the Lord gave to it.

After all, if the local church is comprised of people who have been transformed by the grace of God through their redemption in Christ and the presence of the Holy Spirit, then their lives should be noticeably and compellingly different from the norm lived by non-believers today.

Earlier in this series we saw the seven passions of those we are calling revolutionaries – seriously committed disciples of the Lord, Jesus Christ. Let me list them for you again…

1> Intimate worship

2> Faith-based conversations

3> Intentional spiritual growth

4> A place to serve (servanthood)

5> Resource investment

6> Spiritual friendships

7> Family faith

Let’s see if the same kind of transformation is evident in the lives of contemporary Christians in general (as seen by many recent surveys)….

1> Regarding worship… 

  • Regular attendance at corporate worship services is now seen as two times a month. And, by their own admission, most believers will tell you that this is the only time that they worship God.
  • The vast majority of believers do not feel that they have encountered the presence of God, or experienced a connection with Him, during any of there worship services that they attend
  • About half of all born again believers surveyed say that they do not feel they have entered into the presence of God or experienced a genuine connection with Him during the past year
  • Only one our of every four churched believers says that when they worship God, they expect Him to be the primary beneficiary of their worship. Most people say they expect to get the most from the experience. 

Let me remind you what the early church experienced and what revolutionary Christians today are looking for in the church…

In the early church every believer was expected to worship God every day, both in private and in the company of other believers as they gathered together for common meals. This did not require a “worship service”; it only necessitated a commitment to feel the awe of God’s magnificence, to express gratitude for His love and authority, to acknowledge His control and power, to follow Him with dedication, and to enjoy the miracle of His relationship with us.

2> Regarding Faith-based conversations…

  • The typical churched believer will die without leading a single person to a lifesaving knowledge of and relationship with Jesus Christ
  • At any given time, a majority of believers do not have a specific person in mind for whom they are praying in the hope that the person will be saved
  • Most churched Christians believe that since they are not gifted in evangelism, such outreach is not a significant responsibility of theirs

Let me remind you of what the early church believed and lived and what revolutionaries are looking for in a local church and in their own life today…

We are called to share His love with those who have not yet understood it or embrace it. It is natural to talk about and promote the things that excite us. Nothing should excite us more than the realization that God Himself loves us, wants an intimate relationship with us, and allows us to invite others into that sacred and priceless relationship with Him (see: 1 John 1:1-4). The evangelistic efforts of the first believers were carried out through preaching, low-key/high-impact conversations about truth and purpose, prayer, performing miracles to foster the opportunity to discuss the Source of their power and the joy-filled perspective they had toward God and life that created interest in their lives.

Again, apparently the Church today is not living up to the Scriptural mandate given to us by the Head of the Church, Jesus. 

More next time….

SEEING GOD CLEARLY

The purpose of the birth of Jesus – a birth that we celebrate each year at Christmas time – is to reveal God to us in His fullness
Yes, His birth brought us:
  • Salvation – a personal relationship with God
  • Healing – of the separation between humankind and the Creator
  • Freedom – from sin and the consequences of sin
  • Life – Abundant life as God lives His life through us
  • Grace – because we receive what we don’t deserve and can’t earn
  • Mercy – because we no longer receive what we deserve
  • Acceptance – of who we are and where we are at
  • Forgiveness – of all sin and wrong doing
  • Purpose – joining God in taking the Good News of the Kingdom worldwide
  • Hope – that there is more to life than what we see and experience here
  • Love – unconditional love – no strings attached – always the same

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The Line in Time

If you have been watching the news…
If you have been chatting with people….
You are well aware of the fact that people are finding the Christmas season has become a time when people are emotionally exhausted and seriously spread too thin
The additional activities and events added to an already very busy life
The additional expenses added to an already tight budget taking many over the top into further debt
The feelings of not being able to do or buy everything that seems to be expected of us at this time of the year … failure as a parent / person
The “stress levels” have gone through the roof and many are simply not handling it well
Add to this, as believers…
The fact that Jesus gets almost totally lost in the midst of these secular / worldly celebrations
The fact that we have less time to think, pray, and read the Scriptures
The fact that personal space and personal time seems hard to find
The fact that reflection and contemplation – which are weak at the best of times – almost cease to exist in this season when they should be stronger and more prevalent
Christmas becomes something we don’t want it to be
Something that does not resemble a Christian celebration of the birth of the Christ Child
The Christmas Scriptures:
Luke 2:8-14 “And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
Peace and joy – the two noticeably absent ingredients for most people – believers and non-believers alike – at this very special time of the year
The birth of Jesus saw God the Father, the Creator of all that there is, draw ‘the line in time’
Jesus’ birth forms the line in time between BC and AD
Or, as it is now known, BCE (Before Common Era) and CE (Common Era)
Let me be very clear – there is nothing “common” about Christmas and the birth of Christ
God drew a supernatural ‘line in time’ when His Son was born in Bethlehem
Everything changed forever – never to be the same again
A new Kingdom was birthed upon the earth – “The Kingdom of God”
A new understanding of God as Father was revealed
The end of religion was announced
Rules, regulations, rituals were no longer needed
Religious control and manipulation no longer had any power
People could now have a direct relationship with the living God
No need for a priesthood based on Old Testament principles
The foundation for the Church was being laid in the spirit realm
War was declared against the forces of evil and religion
Let me be very clear – there is nothing “common” about Christmas and the birth of Christ
In fact – everything was / is uncommon
Through His birth
God’s “glory” was revealed (His nature and character)
Grace was released and experienced
Truth was established
John 1:14 “And the Word (Jesus) became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Because of grace – receiving what we do not deserve and cannot earn
We came to understand ‘mercy’ – not receiving what we do deserve
Through His birth (death and resurrection)
Crib – Cross – Crown
Forgiveness for sins became possible through repentance
Acceptance of who we are as we are was granted
Eternal life was received – supernatural ability to have a relationship with God
Romans 6:23b “…the gift of God is eternal life”
John 17:3 “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”
Healing and deliverance were released as basic rights of the believer
The Holy Spirit was released to empower and enable us to share God’s love
The gifts of the Spirit were released to impact the lost, the last, the least
Salvation became available to “whosoever will…”
His birth in Bethlehem was not the beginning of the ‘common era’ – it was the release of the Kingdom of God and the gift of salvation
As a result of His birth in Bethlehem we have come to understand, know, and experience three key elements in the of the Christian – Faith, Hope, and Love
Faith is defined as:
1> Trust in God and in His promises as made through Christ and the Scriptures by which we are justified or born again (saved)
2> Belief that is not based on proof
3> Confidence and trust in a person – as Christians, in Jesus Christ
Faith is “now” and works in everyday life
Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
Amplified: NOW FAITH is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].
To have faith – to believe … is more than head knowledge, it is heart transformation
To believe means to “totally trust in”
Faith is the key to so much that we believe and how we live today
Examples:
We receive righteousness through faith (Romans 3:22)
We are justified through faith (Romans 3:30; Galatians 2:16)
We stand fast through faith (Romans 11:20)
We are children of God through faith (Galatians 3:26)
We are indwelled by Christ through faith (Ephesians 3:17)
We are raised with Christ through faith (Colossians 2:12)
We inherit the promises through faith (Hebrews 6:12)
We conquer kingdoms, enforce justice, and stop the mouth of lions through faith             (Hebrews 11:33)
We are guarded and kept safe through faith (1 Peter 1:5)
Faith – our faith – is based in and rests upon the birth of God as a man … on that first Christmas in Bethlehem
Hope is defined as:
1> To look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence
2> To believe, desire, and trust regarding something in the future
3> Expectancy of future events and changes
4> A longing for something or someone
Hope is for now (like faith) but also focused on the future
Paul writes:
1 Corinthians 15:19 “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.”
We, of course, have hope in the resurrection of the dead and our place reserved for us by Christ in Heaven … not just hope in His help now in this life
Hope leads to boldness (2 Corinthians 3:12)
Hope is in a person (Jesus) and His promises (Ephesians 1:12)
We are called to be people who live with hope (Ephesians 1:18)
We have hope because of what is waiting for us in heaven (Colossians 1:5)
Hope is something that is steadfast within us (1 Thessalonians 1:3)
Without hope we grieve at the loss of a loved one (1 Thessalonians 4:13)
Hope is a more than a heart feeling – it isa head fast (1 Thessalonians 5:8)
Hope comes as a result of the gift of grace (2 Thessalonians 2:16)
Jesus is our hope (1 Timothy 1:1; 4:10)
Eternal life is the result of not losing hope (Titus 1:2, 3:7)
We are to live in full assurance of our hope ( Hebrews 6:11)
Having hope can never be “common” as it is so amazing, so awesome, so supernatural, so uplifting, so needed today and into the future
There is a third major reason why we are not living in a “common era” and that is the love of God…
Love has a number of root words that are all translated “love” and so, in the Bible we need to look at the root of the English word…
1> Philia – affectionate regard as in a friendship
David and Jonathan in the time of King Saul in the Old Testament
2> Eros – Sexual passion
Described in detail in the Song of Songs (aka The Song of Solomon)
3> Storge – Tenderness, affection as towards parents and children
Jesus to His mother Mary as He hung dying on the cross of Calvary
4> Philos – Self-love, love of one’s own self
As in, “love your neighbour as you love yourself”
5> Agape – The unconditional love of God for His children
Love with no strings attached
Love that never changes
Love that accepts and forgives
This love is powerful in the life of the believer and can never be considered “common”…
1> Is seen in the birth, life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus
2> It is a gift from God so that we do not have to fear
2 Timothy 1:7 “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control”
3> Love builds us and others up – never tears down
1 Corinthians 8:1b “… love builds us…”
4> Love controls us
2 Corinthians 5:14a “For the love of Christ controls us…”
5> Every day when we get up in the morning – we must “put on love”
Colossians 3:14 “And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony…”
6> Check your heart (motives) every day so that you keep yourself in love
Jude 1:21a “keep yourselves in the love of God…”
7> God’s love for us is unconditional and never changes
Not based on our performance … but on His grace and mercy
8> If you love the world and the things of the world then you don’t love God
1 John 2:15-16 “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world— the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life —is not from the Father but is from the world…”
9> When we love we will not allow offences to control or destroy our relationships
Proverbs 10:12 “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offences”
10> Nothing can separate us from God’s love
Romans 35 “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?”
Answer: Nothing can separate us from God’s love
11> God’s love will never come to an end
Jeremiah 31:3 “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you…”
12> Helps us to build solid and healthy relationships
Ephesians 4:15 “…speaking the truth in love…”
13> The way we can live with tremendous faith – faith works by love
Galatians 5:6 “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love…”
14> Love never fails or ends
1 Corinthians 13:8a “Love never ends…”
This love is seen IN ITS PERFECTION AND WHOLENESS in Jesus
He came and became one of us – because He loved
He revealed God’s love so we would know the love of God the Father
He died on the Cross because of His love
Jesus said: “there is no greater love than this – that a man lays down his life for his friend” (John 15:13)
He loves us now with an unending and unconditional love …
So, the birth of Christ was God drawing “The Line In Time” and changing the world forever
And, in the midst of drawing the line between the Old and the New Covenant
In the midst of drawing the line between B.C. and A.D. / B.C.E. and C.E.
He made phenomenal changes which can be inadequately summed up in the three words faith, hope, and love
1 Corinthians 13:13 “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
Because God, who is love (1 John 4:8) gave us a love gift on that first Christmas – Jesus
John 3:16 ““For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
And, today we can experience the “great joy” and “peace” that were announced at His birth if…
Let us be very clear – there is nothing “common” about Christmas and the birth of Christ or the time in history that we live in … C.E. or A.D. …
Jesus is the child born in Bethlehem
Jesus is God in human flesh
Jesus died for our sins that we can be forgiven and have eternal life
Jesus will soon return to take us home to Heaven
The crib is connected to the cross which is connected to the crown
Unto us is born a King… who has changed the course of all history and transformed our individual lives forever!!!!!!

The Church Jesus Is Building – Part Twenty-three

As we saw last time those who are revolutionaries are looking for:

1> Intimate worship

2> Faith-based conversations

3> Intentional spiritual growth

4> A place to serve (servanthood)

5> Resource investment

6> Spiritual friendships

7> Family faith

These seven elements of “life” are based on the early Church as seen in the Book of Acts. 

These are part of the fruit that Jesus is looking for in His people. Jesus wants to see evidence that a person’s life has truly changed and been transformed by the Gospel of the Kingdom. He is looking for more than, much more than, simple mental assent and agreement to the message of the Gospel. He is looking for a transformed life that is producing fruit. These seven elements are some of the fruit He is wanting to see.

Jesus made it very clear that the proof of people’s faith is not in the information they know or the religious gatherings they attend, but in the way they integrate what they know and believe into their everyday practices and every day life.

The hallmarks of the Church that Jesus died for are clear, based on Scripture: Your profession of faith in Christ must be supported by a lifestyle that provides irrefutable evidence of your complete devotion to Jesus. The Lord encountered numerous people during His earthly tenure who could quote Scripture or pretend they knew and loved Him. But His reaction to them was always the same: “Show Me the fruit.”

Revolutionaries – true disciples of Jesus – are Christ-followers who refuse to make excuses for their failings; instead they address and overcome those inadequacies. Jesus did not die on the cross to fill church auditoriums, to enable magnificent church campuses to be funded, or to motivate people to implement innovative programs. He died because He loves you and me. He wants an everlasting relationship with us, and He expects that connection to be so all-consuming that we become wholly transformed.

Does something get in the way of your living like Jesus? Then figure out how to eliminate that obstruction.

Does life get so complicated that it is difficult for you to juggle everything and remain Christlike? Then simplify your life.

Arte you unable to find words to describe how you believe God has called you to know, love, and serve Him? Then develop new ways to communicate to others how God is ministering to you and through you to others.

Is society dragging you in the opposite direction from where Jesus calls you? Then acknowledge that your life is part of s spiritual war between God and Satan, declare your side, and get on with it. Admit that you are better off “fighting the good fight” and suffering on earth for the cause of Christ than winning the world but losing your soul for eternity.

Get used to the fact that your life is lived in the context of warfare. Every breath you take is an act of war. To survive and thrive in the midst of the spiritual battle in which you live, seek a faith context and experience (a local church) that will enhance your capacity to be Christlike. This mission demands single-minded commitment and a disregard for the criticisms of those who lack the same dedication to the cause of Christ. You answer to only one Leader and His Name is Jesus. Do whatever you have to do to prove that you fear God, you love Him, and you serve Him – yes, that you live only for Him.

This is the commitment of those who are true disciples of the Lord and live as revolutionaries in the world today.