When I speak with people about church, they always ask the denomination. Then I say, “Oh it’s non-denominational.” It’s an interesting phrase. There’s different denominations (for example Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, Baptist). Then there’s non-denominational. Those are the churches that claim to not be affiliated with any of the known denominations. After the Early Church that you read about in Acts, things started to break apart. As time continued, groups were formed from other groups. Some churches have so many different divisions in their names, it becomes a tongue twister.
The denominations all came about from a difference of beliefs. This still happens today, hence the reason we have tons of church plants and longer than life names. The reason for the differences of beliefs, and at times, disunity of the church, is because we are a broken people. The church is filled with sinners, many sinners who are saved by grace alone. But we aren’t perfect. Some of us are proud, lazy, quick to speak, discontent, disorganized, agenda focused, bossy, or fable telling folks. We aren’t perfect, so it’s hard for us to all live together in harmony.
Nonetheless, the Bible speaks a lot about unity or harmony. Yes, that’s the vision God has for His Church. The capital “C” Church is the universal church. Broken down, this is all of the denominations and non-denominations. Together, as the big C, we need to be united. Remember, the Church is the body of Christ. The Church is people, not buildings. As the big C, we must remember Who we worship, Who we follow, Who is the Head of the Body. Even so, all of the little C’s need to also be united as separate bodies.
This seems like an impossible task. People can rarely get along. There are bound to be disagreements. Yes. Very true. But with God, nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37). Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). Remember the reason for the Church. Keep running the race. The Spirit will unite us if we allow ourselves to be led (Ephesians 4:3). Don’t be proud. Don’t think you know it all. Humble yourself and seek the best for others (1 Corinthians 10:24). Love. It’s the bond of perfect unity (see Colossians 3:14). Live in harmony.
“Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!” – Romans 12:16 [NLT]
I saw a post today online about the infamous invite-a-friend to church day. It got me thinking about the recent invitations I have extended and the invitations that seem to get excuse after excuse. There are some people I have been inviting to church for years. I get a lot of excuses but the one that goes through me is “I’ll come when I get my life together.” So I guess the idea is that you cannot go to church until you have yourself cleaned up, fixed, repaired, looking good, feeling good, or whatever.
Jesus said He came for who? For the perfect? NO! Firstly, we all have fallen short so no one but Christ alone is perfect (Romans 3:23). Second, Jesus came for the sinners. Luke 5:32 says, “I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent” (NLT). Remember, it’s not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick (see Mark 2).
I don’t care what you have done or how dirty your hands are right now—Jesus can make anyone white as snow. See it doesn’t rest on what you have done or how you appear or where you are at in life. It rests upon the blood of Jesus Christ. His blood is enough. He has paid the FULL PRICE. By His righteousness, we are welcome before the throne of God. So yeah, perhaps you have a sporting event to attend or you must work. But don’t use the excuse of getting your life together first. The only way to get your life together is through Jesus Christ. Therefore the BEST place to be is in His presence and with His people. Come to church. Today. Tomorrow. Come. I have some good news to share with you.
“But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” – 1 John 1:9 [NLT]
Moses was told to take off his sandals for he was standing on holy ground (Exodus 3:5). Joshua was told to take off his sandals for he was standing on holy ground (Joshua 5:15). Holy means set apart or sacred. One of my favorite passages references Isaiah’s commission. Isaiah sees the Lord sitting on His throne and He is in complete awe and reverence as he hears the words, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty.” He knows he is unclean. He knows he is undeserving.
It is important to approach God with fear and awe. The fear is not the fear we consider when we typically speak of fear. When Proverbs 1 speaks of the fear of the Lord being the beginning of wisdom, it doesn’t mean we are frightened as we are when watching a horror movie. Fearing God means that you have a fear of disobeying and displeasing God which would result in judgment and a disconnection from Him. It is about reverence and submission. God is holy and exalted above all. It is approaching with humility.
Yes, the blood of Jesus has cleansed us and when we repent we are forgiven of our sins. Yes, the veil has been torn and we can approach God once again. But it is important that we still approach God with fear and awe. The song says you have a friend in Jesus, and you do, but that is to be treasured not stomped on. When you approach God in prayer, in church, wherever—don’t take it for granted. Focus on Him. Remember He is holy and you too are to be holy. May your heart be filled with a passion and desire to worship, to truly worship Him, with all that you have and all that you are, each and every day.
“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.’ At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. ’Woe to me!’ I cried. ‘I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.’” – Isaiah 6:1-5 [NIV]
There are many people who go to church weekly because it is the thing to do in life. You are supposed to go make your grand appearance each week. Some people believe that going each week means that they are saved. They are making the sacrifice of their Sunday morning. They have done their deed for the week. Some believe if they give to the church they are secure. If they tithe each week, they are good to go and need not worry about anything else.
Today’s passage states that God is pleased more so when we do what is right and just. When we live focused on righteousness and justice at the forefront, the sacrifices will be offered, but the heart will be very different. When you desire to do what is right and just because you love the Lord, the sacrifices mean something. They come from the heart. If you are only tithing because it’s something you are supposed to do, but you fail to even attempt to do what is right and just, what are you really trying to do? It could be seen as trying to buy you security. But you cannot buy security. Security only comes through Jesus.
God is pleased when we do what is right and just. God loves when we walk with righteousness and justice. It is how He created things to be in this world. Doing this is a much better thing than sacrifices. The sacrifices will come but the sacrifices are only true sacrifices when they are coming from a heart for God. If you have a heart for God, you would want to do what is right and just. He would always be your focus and righteousness and justice would always matter.
“The LORD is more pleased when we do what is right and just than when we offer him sacrifices.” – Proverbs 21:3 [NLT]
I have always had the privilege of working with people all of my life—people from all walks of life. Today there was a man who said he wanted to ask a question to a lady who was standing in my line. He said, “If a bear was chasing you and up ahead there was a tree on the one side and a church on the other, which would you choose? The tree or the church?” Quickly she responded, “I would choose the church. I trust Jesus. No matter what, I trust Jesus.”
The question was actually a joke. The man knew the lady would respond “church” and his response was going to be, “I would have chosen the tree. I was taught not to go to church with a bare behind.” (Insert snicker here). What I loved is how quick the lady responded with Jesus and how she said NO MATTER WHAT.
Today I want you to consider the NO MATTER WHAT. Do you trust Jesus no matter what? If there was a bear chasing you – if you lost your job – if you lost a loved one – if you are having difficulties at work – if school is stressful – if your relationship is falling apart – do you TRUST JESUS no matter what?
“But I am like an olive tree, thriving in the house of God. I will always trust in God’s unfailing love.” – Psalm 52:8 [NLT]
A person does not need to be at church or doing specifically labeled ministry work to minister to others. Whether you have considered it or not, everyone can minister from anywhere. There are people ministering in libraries, on the school playground, in bars, and even in the grocery store.
Today at work I was having a conversation with a customer. At the same time, I did not realize that there was another customer listening from out of view. We were talking about serving the Lord, about His blessings and providence, and about His faithfulness and trusting in Him. It was a short conversation. It was an unplanned conversation. I was not thinking about how to minister to a person and I did not consider myself doing ministry work per se. Then the listening customer came around and said she “loved” the conversation she just heard. Without even realizing I was being used to do something, God spoke through me to her.
Too often we think that ministry is simply something done at church or when we put on our ministry caps and run an outreach event or knowingly minister to someone. In reality our greatest ministry is done when most people are not looking, in those uncalculated moments. You probably heard that you could be the only Bible someone will read—today, consider that great responsibility. Don’t confine your ministry. Don’t over think what God can do through you. Simply ask Him to use you and show up for duty. There’s no need to complicate things. God has a great plan. You can make a difference from anywhere. Just do everything in love.
“Do everything in love.” – 1 Corinthians 16:14 [NIV]
I am doing a lesson on Genesis 1 – Creation. I am going to start off showing the children the cross paper and discuss how God knew at the very beginning that we would need a Savior. Then I am going to transition into a discussion on Creation and we are going to cut out our crosses. I am going to read from Genesis 1 and review Creation. As we progress through each day, we will fill in a box on the cross by drawing something that represents what God created on that particular day. After the 6th day, we will fold our cross into a cube and tape it together. Then we will finish with Day 7. Finally, we will split into groups and take turns rolling our cube and sharing something amazing about that day of creation. Afterward, we will gather together and review.
For the cross pattern, simply measure 8 inches by 2 inches rectangular on a vertical sheet of paper. Then draw a line every two inches so that the squares are 2″ x 2″. Then at the second square from the top, put a square (2″ x 2″) on both the left and right side.
When you cut out the cross, fold up the sides at the mid square section and then fold the extra square (the bottom square) up. Use tape to hold the sides together.
This lesson allows the children to use their creativity while learning about Creation.