What Is The Church?

The basic meaning of the word “Church” in the Bible is “Gathering”.

What is the Church - Primary Purpose quote- photofromunsplashchuttersnapIt’s the gathering of God’s children. In Matthew chapter sixteen Jesus explained how He was going to establish His Church.

“He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.  I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it,’” Matthew 16:15-18 (NASB)

The “rock” that Jesus is building His church on is the revelation of Himself and His finished work.

The primary purpose of the Church is to know Jesus and who we are because of Him. Every good work the Church does comes from a revelation of Jesus Christ.

What-is-the-Church-Greater-quote-photofromunsplashjoshuaearle

He fed people, so we feed people. Jesus healed the sick, so we heal the sick by His power. He cared for the poor and so do we. He loved sinners and we love sinners. When we understand who Jesus is, we will do the things He did. We will truly be His Church. We will do the “greater things” that He promised we would do.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father,” John 14:12

How can we do greater things than Jesus?

How can we expand His church so that even hell can’t stand against it?

We can do these things because the same Holy Spirit that lived in Jesus now lives in us. Jesus was all God and all man, but He was one. We are the Gathering of people filled with the Spirit of Christ. We are many people with the same power that Jesus had. This revelation should motivate us to know Jesus even more and do everything He’s called us to do. 

A Room Full of Imperfect People

How does God do such an amazing, supernatural work through imperfect people? 20171212 - A Room Full of Imperfect People - PEOPLE WHO ARE FORGIVEN QUOTE- photofromunsplashneonbrand

One of the most common problems people have with church is the people. They’ll say things like, “That church is full of hypocrites.” They aren’t wrong. Churches all over the world are filled with people who make mistakes.  The Body of Christ, the Church, the House of God is made up of imperfect people: people who fight with their spouse, are recovering from addiction, have been to prison, been divorced, are estranged from their families, and the list could go on and on.

It’s easy to say that churches are filled with hypocrites, but that’s an earthly view of the people that fill the seats on Sundays and Wednesdays.

Our heavenly Father sees us in a much greater way. His Church is not filled with hypocrites, it’s filled with people who are forgiven. It’s filled with people who are perfectly loved by God.

We put our faith in God and His love for us. We accept His forgiveness and He makes us part of the Body.

“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you,” (Colossians 3:12-13 NASB).

A-Room-Full-of-Imperfect-People-Gods-Love-Holds-Us-Together-QUOTE-photofromunsplashtobyhoosThe love of God is what holds the Church together. We receive it by faith and we give it to others.

Churches would fall apart without love and forgiveness. Every failure and sharp word would be remembered and catalogued to use at a later time. Bitterness would build up until we all burst.

We imperfect people are able to live, worship and build the kingdom together because we see each other as God sees us; forgiven. Do we still make mistakes? Of course, but if we have faith that God is working in us, then we have to believe He’s working in others. If we are forgiven of our sins, then other people must be forgiven as well.

When we learn to deal with others in love, forgiving them when they’re wrong and believing in God’s perfecting work in them, we will see the Kingdom grow the way our Father wants it to.

“Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful,” (Colossians 3:14-15 NASB).

FAITH AND FOCUS: Believe and Speak

God is a faith God.

He spoke and things that never existed before were made real. We’ve seen that our faith has the same potential as God’s faith. So, why do we not always see the same results? It’s possible that we do not believe His words the same way He does. God has total confidence in the power of His words.

“The same thing is true of the words I speak. They will not return to me empty. They make the things happen that I want to happen, and they succeed in doing what I send them to do.” Isaiah 55:11 (NCV)

God knows that His Word will not fail. Chances are that when we speak God’s Word over a situation we allow doubt to creep in and knock us off our stance of faith. The smallest thought of doubt can unsettle our faith to the point that it will not work. Doubt can only move in our lives if we’ve left room for it.

This could be discouraging because we know that everyone battles doubt.

Every human being has to deal with weakness in some way. We might think that this means that we can never see our faith work the way God’s works. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth, and Jesus is our proof.

Jesus was all man and all God. This means He faced all the same weaknesses as we do, having victory over all of them, while operating in the fullness of God’s power.

“For we do not have a High Priest (Jesus Christ) who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Hebrews 4:15 (NKJV)

When we read a verse like this, we should see possibility.

Jesus is our example, our forerunner. He came so that we could have the same kind of life He had, by the same kind of faith He has. It’s the faith He used to create the universe and everything in it. Every time He speaks, it’s released. Every time it’s released, it succeeds. This is how our Father wants our faith to operate. He showed us this desire in the words of His Son, Jesus.

“So Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Have faith in God’.” Mark 11:22 (NKJV)

Jesus isn’t just telling us to have faith IN God, but to have the God-kind of faith.

Jesus would not say something like this if He knew it could never happen. He wouldn’t lead us on with puffed up words that had no backing. His words were and always will be the Word of God, so He knew they would succeed.

We should notice that Jesus did not speak these words as a suggestion or a good piece of advice. He gave them as an order, showing us that the God-kind of faith was essential to live a victorious life.

For our faith to work the way our Father’s works, we must believe His Word as He does. God knows that His Word will not fail. When we believe in the absolute authority of His Word, we will see it succeed when we speak it out loud.

FAITH AND FOCUS: Totally Dependent On God

FAITH-AND-FOCUS-Totally-Dependent-Upon-God-Dependent-QuoteFaith is being totally dependent on God.

We often hear statements like that and mentally or verbally agree without letting it truly sink into our hearts. Being totally dependent on our heavenly Father would require laying aside all of our preconceived notions about life.  It requires us to put all our confidence in Him based on what He’s said in His Word.  We would have to lose all confidence in our own ability. This kind of living is obviously foreign to our human mind, but it’s the deepest desire of our born again spirit.

When we accept the love and forgiveness that Jesus bought on the Cross, our once dead spirit is made alive in Him.

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).” Ephesians 2:4-5 (NASB)

Our spirits are brought to life by Christ’s spirit.  He places all of His power, wisdom and desires into our spirits. The desire of our spirit is to be absolutely reliant on God. However, our flesh and mind initially fight against our spirit in this, because they are accustomed to relying on themselves.

“Keep watching and praying that you may not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Mark 14:38 (NASB)

FAITH-AND-FOCUS-Totally-Dependent-Upon-God-Walk-by-Faith-QuoteBefore we allow Christ into our lives we are forced to depend on our own strength and our own intelligence.

So, learning to depend on Him is a process. He doesn’t get frustrated with us in this process, but He also doesn’t want us to stand still. Our Father doesn’t demand perfection, but He greatly desires progress. He wants us to take steps of trust toward Him every day.

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7 (NASB)

FAITH AND FOCUS: The Potential of Faith

FAITH-AND-FOCUS-THE-PURPOSE-OF-FAITH-HEBREWS-QuoteBy faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.” Hebrews 11:3 (NKJV)

Our heavenly Father is a faith God.

What He sees does not affect Him.  Instead, God speaks into being what He desires.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said…” Genesis 1:1-3 (NKJV)

As soon as God started speaking the darkness dissipated and the world, and everything in it, came into being. He had no doubt that He would see what He spoke. We should notice that there’s no verse in the creation story that speaks of how surprised God was when His words actually worked. This is the kind of faith God has given us. FAITH-AND-FOCUS-THE-PURPOSE-OF-FAITH-Our-Faith-Potential-Quote

“…as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith,” Romans 12:3b (NKJV)

The faith we’ve been given isn’t  lesser, weaker or even faith of a different kind.  Our Father wants us to operate in the same power and assurance as He does. He never desires to see us strain and struggle in confusion just wishing our it would work.

However, it can seem this way when we don’t have a good understanding of what faith is, how to use it and how we can strengthen our faith.  It’s not God, or other people, or circumstances that frustrate us; we haven’t learned that our faith has the same potential as God’s faith.

When this revelation roots itself in our hearts, it will bear the fruit of victory.

Order Or Chaos: Finding our Purpose

God created every man and woman with a purpose.-ORDER-OR-CHAOS-Finding-Our-Purpose-Find-Purpose-Quote

This truth begs the question, “Why do so many people spend their lives looking for and never finding that purpose?”

The answer is simple: They do not go to their heavenly Father to find it.

All of our gifts, talents and abilities are given to us by God for the purpose of worshiping Him and serving others.

“Just as each one of you has received a special gift [a spiritual talent, an ability graciously given by God], employ it in serving one another as [is appropriate for] good stewards of God’s multi-faceted grace [faithfully using the diverse, varied gifts and abilities granted to Christians by God’s unmerited favor].” 1 Peter 4:10 (AMP)

Where can we most readily worship God and serve other people?

In the church.

God promised that His eyes and His heart would always be on His house.

“I have heard your prayer and your supplication, which you have made before Me; I have consecrated this house which you have built by putting My name there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually.” 1 Kings 9:3 (NASB)

ORDER-OR-CHAOS-Finding-Our-Purpose-Eyes-and-Heart-QuoteIf all of our natural skill is a gift of God’s grace, it makes sense that we would discover it and use it to its fullest extent in His house.  This isn’t to say that people don’t find and use their gifts and talents in other places.  It means that if we prioritize God’s church we are in the perfect position to discover our purpose.

God is a loving Father and does not desire that we, His children, go through life battling confusion and frustration.

He is ready to give us all the answers that we need.  We should stop searching for God where everyone else tells us that He is. We should look for Him where He promised us He’d always be: in His house.

Order or Chaos: Prioritize Family

Sitting beside someone’s death bed is always an honest moment. ORDER-OR-CHAOS-Prioritize-Family-Refelction-of-Jesus-Quote

They are taking stock of their life: the moments of joy, the conversations and days they wish they could have back, and everything in between. They will rarely tell you of how they wished they could go back and work longer hours or watch more of their favorite TV shows. No, they all wish for more time with their family and close friends.

Keeping Jesus at the forefront of our lives is essential for success in every other area. Our family should come right after Him. Our relationship with our family should be a reflection of our relationship with Him.

Whenever we allow something or someone else to come before our family we invite chaos into our lives and our homes.

The way this usually happens is one or both of the parents make their job a greater priority than their marriage and children. Without having to speak a word we are telling our family that they are less important.

The problem with this isn’t that we spend less time at home or miss our children’s events; it’s that we are showing our family that we value work over relationships. So, while we are verbally teaching them to live by grace instead of law, we are modeling the opposite. We’ll also show them that it’s alright to speak one way and live another.

ORDER-OR-CHAOS-Prioritize-Family-priorities-in-line-QuotePlease don’t read these words as judgment or condemnation. It is important for us to know that if we’ve placed work or anything else in front of our family that the fix isn’t difficult. We simply have to change our minds about what’s important. It just takes rearranging our priorities to line up with God’s Word. We should not take that meeting and go to our son’s soccer game instead. We should pass on that side job and take our wife on a date. Everyday we should question whether we value as our priority our jobs or our relationships and consciously choose our relationships.

As we make this part of our daily routine, we’ll see our family life flourish.

We’ll also notice that we have more favor and creativity at our jobs.  This happens because when our lives are in line with God’s order it allows His wisdom and power to move freely in our lives.  However, all of this begins by consciously choosing to keep ourselves under the authority of Jesus and prioritizing our family.  

Order or Chaos: Rescued From Darkness

Adam and Eve’s sin in the Garden of Eden plunged all of creation into chaos and darkness. 

All of the systems were disrupted and mankind lost his authority over the earth. This darkness is easy to point out in certain places: the media, poverty and hunger, disease and war. However, all of these things are outward. The real darkness is the one inside.

The biggest separation is the one between man and God. The darkness we see in the world is merely a reflection of the darkness in the souls of mankind.  This was not God’s original design for us.  So, He made a way for us to get back and go beyond what He originally intended.

Adam and Eve brought sin into the world and people’s hearts.

We are born with disorder in our souls and have no way to get out of it on our own. We try to cover it or cope with it, and some people just embrace it. What we’ll find is that Jesus is the only real cure for the disconnection in our hearts. Sin broke the connection between God and man, so He sent Jesus to bring restoration.

“In other words, God was using Christ to restore His relationship with humanity. He didn’t hold people’s faults against them,” 2 Corinthians 5:19 (GW)

God’s desire for us is to live a blessed and orderly life, and He knows that we won’t get there by ourselves.

The first step we take is asking Jesus to save us from the darkness we are born into. Before we can begin to live as God intends for us to live, we have to get out of the fallen world’s system and get into God’s kingdom.

“God has rescued us from the power of darkness and has brought us into the kingdom of his Son, whom he loves. His Son paid the price to free us, which means that our sins are forgiven,” Colossians 1:13-14

This is the biggest step we can take to get out of chaos and darkness. We must invite the God of order to change our lives from the inside out, by asking His Son, Jesus, to come live inside us.  

Eternal Freedom or Temporary Relief?

The world has many different versions of “freedom” that only lead to slavery. 

Many versions of freedom are only temporary relief from pain.   Other versions of freedom are an escape from the prison of daily life.  People seek relief in vacations, drugs, shopping, alcohol, other people, etc.   We think if we can just get away for a moment, then everything will be fine once we return.   Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth.   This kind of freedom gives less and less with each experience. In order to get what we want out of it, we have to give more and more of ourselves while receivETERNAL-FREEDOM-OR-TEMPORARY-RELIEF-Dont-need-relief-quote-photo-from-unsplashdawidzawilaing less in return.

The freedom that we can have in Jesus is exactly the opposite.

We believe in Him with mustard seed faith and we get everything we’ll ever need in Him.   In Christ we have the ability to have a life we don’t need relief or escape from.  Jesus saves us and truly sets us free.

“So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law,” Galatians 5:1 (NLT)

We only live this way when we know and believe the truth of God’s Word.

-ETERNAL-FREEDOM-OR-TEMPORARY-RELIEF-quote-photo-from-unsplashjamiestreetWe’re programmed to live like the world and the Word teaches us how to live freely. God sent Jesus not only to save us, but to be our perfect example of freedom.

Our Heavenly Father knows that if we follow Jesus’ example and allow our lives to be transformed by His Word, we’ll live as He intended. The truth of Jesus’ life and words are what set us free.  They are also what keep us free.

“If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free,” John 8:31-32 (NASB)

Patriotism and Hope for Our Nation

Patriotism seems to be on the decline in the United States today. 

PATRIOTISM-a-great-nation-quoteTearing down America has become something of a verbal sport, where the people who find clever and unique ways to insult our nation, its leaders and its people, are rewarded with attention and waves of agreement.  The 24 hour news cycle seems to be a highlight reel of tragedy and the impending doom of our country.  If we paid attention to these people, we would probably abandon all hope.

Even though we are still a great nation, we are not the shining light we once were. This isn’t because of the laws we’ve passed or the 20 trillion dollar debt we have. Things like this are just symptoms of the real problem. The root of the problem is the decreasing influence God has had in our nation over the years.

We were and are a great nation because God has greatly blessed us.

As members of the Body of Christ, we shouldn’t be influenced by the indifference and negativity we see around us.  In the face of apparent hopelessness, we should be beacons of hope, living our lives to glorify God.  We should be allowing His blessing to flow through us.

PATRIOTISM-beacons-of-hope-quote-photoThis truth should also apply to the way we live in our nation.  Many people have said that America will never be what it once was, and that God cannot save us.  Christians must passionately believe that God’s love and power can change the U.S.A.  We should return to the godly principles that helped to make this nation great.

Paul had this kind of passion for the people of his heritage:

“I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh,” Romans 9:1-3 (NASB)

His desire for his countrymen to know the love of his Heavenly Father was so great that Paul was willing to lose his own salvation.  This is how we should love our nation: by having a deep desire for its people to know the love of God.

We don’t need to lament at legislation and movements with which we do not agree.  Let’s recognize that evil and immoral things come from hearts that don’t know Jesus.

We live in a blessed nation.  We should make it one of our goals to continually show people that this blessing comes from a loving God.

Our nation can return to and surpass its former greatness as we put our faith and hope in our Heavenly Father.