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. 

The Purpose of The Body

What is the purpose of being a part of the Body of Christ?

20171205-The-Purpose-of-the-Body-Called-To-Reach-Quote-photofromunsplashclemonojeghuoJesus clearly shared His purpose in Luke. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.” Luke 4:18-19 (NASB)

Jesus spoke these words in the synagogue of His hometown, Nazareth. He was proclaiming His purpose to the people there. Jesus was explaining what He would be doing during His ministry on earth. He was also telling the people what His Church would be doing after His resurrection. This was the proclamation of the beginning of the work of Jesus in the earth. The purpose of the Church, the Body of Christ, is to continue that work today.

The Spirit that was upon and in Jesus now lives in us.

The anointing and gifts we’ve received from the Holy Spirit are for spreading the Kingdom of God. We are called to reach the lost people of the world with everything that God has given us.  This is the point of being in the Body of Christ, because we live in a world full of injured, blind, oppressed people who don’t know that God’s favor is one decision away.

The-Purpose-of-the-Body-Turn-To-Jesus-Quote-photofromunsplashmarkkamalovThe more people who take their place in Jesus’ Church, the quicker we can reach the world.

When we’re all running in the same direction together, doing the work that God created us to do, we will see the world turn to Jesus. We can’t legislate, force or argue people into a relationship with Jesus. We can, however, glorify God with our unique talents and that will draw people to our Father.

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3 (NASB)

Work or Worship?

Our main purpose is to worship God in all that we do.

WORK-OR-WORSHIP-Purpose-quoteOur worship can come in many different forms: singing, writing, how we parent our children, the way we listen to our loved ones.  God’s Word does tell us to sing songs of praise to Him, but our Father doesn’t confine worship to music. We can worship God in the way we work at our jobs, in fact, we’re instructed to do just that.

“Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.” Colossians 3:23-24 (NASB)

We should do all our work to please God and not men.  However, we should never allow work to become our god.  This is the subtle temptation that the enemy will put before us. We spend so much time at our jobs, we can subconsciously make it the most important thing in our lives.  We can begin to think that it’s our source simply because it’s where we get our paycheck.

As sons and daughters of God, we are called to look to Jesus as our source for all things.

“After these things, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, ‘Fear not, Abram, I am your Shield, your abundant compensation, and your reward shall be exceedingly great.’” Genesis 15:1 (AMP) WORK-OR-WORSHIP-Every-good-gift-quote

God told Abram (who would one day be renamed Abraham) that He would be his compensation. He did not say that He would make a way for him to find compensation. These words are just as true for us today. Our heavenly Father wants us to work and work well, and He will help us find the perfect job. He does not want that job to replace Him as our Lord.

Even though we get paid to spend at least forty hours of our week at our jobs, we should not see them as our provider.

Only God can provide everything we truly need.  When we look to Him as our supplier, shield and compensation, we guarantee that whatever we get will always be good.

“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” James 1:17 (NASB)

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.

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)

Live a Life of Freedom

Freedom was God’s original intent for mankind.

LIVE-A-LIFE-OF-FREEDOM-CREATED-TO-LIVE-IN-FREEDOMWe were created to live in freedom, experiencing His love and exercising our authority over the earth. God didn’t fashion us to live under the power of sin and condemnation. However, Adam and Eve’s sin in the Garden of Eden put all of mankind under that power.

God sent Jesus to save us from the authority of sin and an eternity separated from our Father.

“For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.” Romans 6:5-7 (NASB)

Once we are united with Christ we are free from sin and now are carriers of Jesus’ power and dominion.

We can’t lose our salvation or our power, but we can choose to live as slaves of sin. All power, wisdom and love reside in our spirits but can go untouched through our decision to live as slaves.

How do we avoid living as slaves after we’ve been born again? -LIVE-A-LIFE-OF-FREEDOM-WORD-OF-GOD-QUOTE

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2 (NASB)

One of the reasons people choose to live as slaves is they don’t know what to do with their freedom. The Word of God will teach us how to live a free life.

Our lives before salvation are conformed to the world we live in and we bring those mindsets to our new life.  It’s our spirits that are saved and sealed by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13), but our minds are still conformed to the world. The Word of God will reform our minds to think like Jesus, so we can live like Him.

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.

The Abundant Life: The Starting Place of Abundance

There’s no question that all of us want to live an abundant life.Abundant-Life-The-Starting-Place-Plant-a-Seed-Quote-photo

Nobody would say no to having a better marriage, a more fulfilling job, the ability to be more generous and feel satisfied with their life. Every person on the planet wants a life like that – an abundant life.

The most difficult step in living the abundant life is the first one. Some people don’t take the first step out of fear, some out of ignorance, but either way the beginning of the journey is what eludes people and leaves them in their current state.

The first step is planting seed.

If we’re going to reap a harvest, or live an abundant life, we have to plant something. No seed means no harvest.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that we need to plant a large amount of seed to reap any kind of harvest. However, our Father is more concerned with the state of our hearts when we give, than the amount that we give. A greedy heart giving a lot of time or money will still reap a small harvest. A generous heart giving a small amount can reap a large harvest.

Abundant-Life-The-Starting-Place-Luke-16-10Quote-photo“And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent. Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on,” Mark 12:41 – 44 (NASB)

Even though the widow gave a smaller amount she actually gave more because of the state of her heart.

This is the attitude we have to have to start planting. We don’t need to look at the amount we’re giving, no matter how small it may be. We need to have faith that God will cause growth and bring us the harvest He’s promised us.

“He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much.” Luke 16:10a (NKJV)

The Abundant Life: God’s Plan

Living an abundant life shouldn’t just be a dream or a goal; it’s God’s plan for our lives. Abundant-Life-Gods-Plan-Blueprint-quote-photo

God does not randomly hand out blessing and cursing. When you were born God did not say, “I’ve given everyone else a good plan with hope and a future, but it’s going to be different for this one. I’m going to make sure this person never succeeds.”

His plan for all of us is blessing. His blueprint for our lives is abundance.

“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope,” Jeremiah 29:11 (TLB)

We have to build our lives in accordance with His plans.  

Our Father can plan, envision and give us strategies for abundance, but if we don’t accept His plan and use His strategies, we will live our lives wishing for the abundance that’s already ours.

We were created to live a flourishing, growing, productive life.  Everything we touch should come to life.  We don’t find abundance in our marriages, our jobs, or our possessions; we bring abundance to them.

“He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper,” Psalm 1:3 (NKJV)

Abundant-Life-Gods-Plan-Carry-quote-photoWe carry blessing everywhere we go.

When we go somewhere God’s favor goes with us. This blessing should be contagious to everyone around us. 

We were born to live a life that overflows with grace and truth. If it overflows, then it should spill onto those around us.

I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing,” Genesis 12:2 (NKJV)

We should wake up every day believing in and living this blessed life. We have to be conscious of it so it can elevate our lives and the lives of everyone we meet.

Speak Abundant Words

We’ve all had words or phrases “accidentally” slip out of our mouths at the wrong time in a conversation.

Abundant-Life-Speaking-Abundant-Words-words-planted-in-heart-quote-photo-from-unsplashnikmacmillanWe may have been thinking the words, but not had the intention of actually saying them out loud. They just seemed to come out of nowhere. The truth is that they didn’t come out of nowhere; they were planted in our heart at some point and were bound to come out.

What is in us will always find its way out.

For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil,” Matthew 12:34b-35 (NASB)

What’s in our hearts is made up of what we continually see and hear.

It’s the music we listen to and the television shows we watch. However, the greatest impact of words in our lives are those spoken about us and to us and those that we speak about ourselves.  If we aren’t living the abundant life, there’s a high probability that evil words have entered our hearts.  It’s also likely that we’ve allowed them to affect us by agreeing with them. “Evil” may seem like a strong word, but anything that stops us from being who we are in Christ and living in God’s will should be considered evil.

However, if our hearts are filled with evil things and our words are out of line with God’s Word, our Father has given us a simple solution. We just need to change what we allow into our hearts.

“Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God,” Colossians 3:16 (NASB) Abundant-Life-Speaking-Abundant-Words-Richly-in-us-quote-photo-from-unsplashtutrinh

Reading and studying the Bible will do more than help us memorize Bible verses and know Bible characters.

Allowing the word of Christ to richly live in our hearts leaves less and less space for evil. God’s Word will push out the painful, degrading words of others and replace them with words of His love and abundance.

As our hearts are filled with God’s abundance, words of abundance will come out of our mouths. Instead of something we don’t want “accidentally” slipping out during conversation, it will be God’s Word. Instead of speaking evil words of fear, doubt and limitation we will speak words of life.

What lives richly inside of us will richly come out of us.