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Archive for October, 2011

We read in James 2:26 that faith without works is dead. Many think of works as working in a food pantry, helping the homeless, being active in a church, maybe doing door to door evangelism etc. These things are all well and good, but I’m wondering if this verse might actually mean something a little different than this.

In this verse Jesus is saying that if we believe in Him, we will do the works that He did, even greater ones. Obviously we can’t do anything on our own, but by faith and the power of the Spirit within us, we can do the works of Christ.

When we think of the works that Jesus did, we think of love, compassion, mercy, giving of ourselves, caring, selflessness, healing and teaching. Jesus did these things on a daily basis, with people He came in came in contact with as a normal part of His day, and usually in ways that were not exceptional or highly dramatic.

I believe we all have different callings and different interests, but each of us as followers of Christ can be daily living in the love of God and doing the works that Jesus did, through faith.

Whether we are out doing a specific ministry, or going about our daily routine, we can by faith let God work in us and through us, and allow the Spirit to work in a way that will touch those we come in contact with and show them the love of God.

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Luke 5:16 — But He Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray…..

This verse says to me how important it is to have personal alone time with our Father God.

Jesus would slip away to a lonely place and talk with His Father. We read numerous times throughout the Gospels how Jesus would go off alone and pray. Now if Jesus needed time alone with Him, I certainly think we need to do the same.

Most of us believers understand the need for prayer and to pray for others. We know we need prayer for ourselves and we know it is right to pray for others and their needs.

What we forget is that personal, alone time with God. When we can sit and listen in silence and hear that ‘still, small voice’ ( 1 Kings 19:12 ). The Holy Spirit will speak to us and guide us, but sometimes we need to sit and listen in silence for a while. We need to pray for others, pray for our needs, praise and worship God for a while, then stop talking and listen for that quiet, soft voice of the Spirit.

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Although my wife and I no longer attend a traditional church, when I used to say I “go to church”, what exactly was it that I meant.

When we mention church today, most people think of an organized religious service that takes place on a certain day, at a certain time, in a set place. This is further divided into various denominations or independent organizations. In this sense, church is a man-made religion made up of various types of organized services, various interpretations of the Bible, and man-made doctrines that we are expected to follow and obey if we are to be ‘good’ Christians.

Is the modern-day church what God intended church to be? Unfortunately it is not. When we have so many different denominations and so much arguing over whose doctrine is correct, which Bible version is the right one, how we should dress, what rules to follow, what we should do, what we should not do etc. Can this be what God intended? Not when we read that ‘they will know us by the love we have for one another’. Chip Brogden, in his book ‘The Church in the Wilderness’ stated that it was said of the early disciples…. people could look at the disciples of Jesus and would notice that they had been with Jesus. Now we look at religious folk dressed up and going out to eat lunch on Sunday and all we can say of them is that they have been to church.

The true meaning of the Church is….people, each believer in Christ who has accepted the free gift of salvation by faith through His grace. No matter which organized religious building you attend or don’t attend, if you are a believer you are part of the Church.

When I said I go to church, I mean I go to a building where other believers gather for a Christian meeting. I look at it as a Christian social event, and what better place to be than with other believers. Going to church is not going to God’s house. God, through the Holy Spirit, lives in each of His followers. We are His house.

When I went to church, I didn’t necessarily go for fellowship. Fellowship is something that takes place on a personal basis in smaller groups of people. This can happen anytime through the week, whether it is in a building, a house, a park, or anywhere that 2 or 3 or more believers come together and talk, discuss their faith, pray, spend time together getting to know one another. This can’t take place in a Sunday morning church setting when we gather with hundreds or thousands of people for a set program and one person doing all the talking.

When I went to church, I enjoyed hearing a message that was relevant for today. A message that the speaker had spent some time in prayer and fellowship with God to get. We need to realize that we heard a brother or sister speaking their opinion or interpretation of the message. There is nothing wrong with listening to others who are truly trying to speak God’s truth, but let’s not put our focus on them. We are to put our focus on the Holy Spirit, who is our guide and teacher of all truth. It seems a lot of us Christians today are to lazy to spend time in prayer, meditation and fellowship with God, listening for the voice and leading of the Spirit. We would rather go listen to someone else give us what they have learned and then get on with our day. We need to listen to the Holy Spirit and let Him lead us and teach us, and not go only by what someone else says.

When I went to church, I didn’t go specifically to get prayed for, or to worship God. That happens at church services, but to think that you have to be in church for it to happen is a mistake. Prayer, worship and fellowship all happen anytime, anywhere. We don’t have to wait until Sunday to get prayed for or to worship God. We do this daily, 24/7.

When I went to church and gave money, it wasn’t giving to God. All the money we have is God’s money and we are to be good stewards of His money every day. We should be ready to give of the money we have anytime, anywhere and to anyone that God leads us to give. If I gave at church, it was to support the organization. It helped pay the pastor’s salary, the mortgage on the building, the utilities and some of the outreach programs that were done.

So it is a bad thing to go to church? Of course not. What is better than spending time with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Of course I truthfully think there are better ways to do this than sitting in a service looking at the back of someone’s head and listening to someone else do all the talking.

The main point is to realize that church is not the end goal, it is not where we go to meet God or to do all our learning. We don’t go to church to wait on God to show up. He is always with us. We can stay away from the organized religious service and yet be in as close of fellowship with our Father as anyone else.

Our fellowship with God depends on our daily walk with Him. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit and God is within us. If we aren’t having prayer, praise, worship and fellowship with God on a daily basis, then going to a church building on Sunday isn’t going to make it any better.

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Romans 6:14 – For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace

This says to me that people who try to fulfill the law and try to earn their salvation by good works are the ones that sin rules over.

Those who have accepted grace through faith are free from the law and now dead to sin. Verse 11 tells us to ‘consider yourselves to be dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus’.

In verse 23 we are told that ‘the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord’. This doesn’t just mean physical death, but can also mean spiritual death. We can be dead to the things of Christ, either by being an unbeliever or by trying to follow the law.

Through grace we can live a life pleasing to God, dead to sin and alive to God. Through grace we enter into eternal life with God in the present.

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Romans 12:18 – If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.

This almost sounds like an impossibility in our world today. To be at peace with all men, including non-believers and especially believers.

With all the different thoughts and ideas, the different denominations, interpretations and beliefs, different religions, how could it be possible to be at peace with everyone?

The dictionary says of peace: freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions; harmony in personal relations.

I think this is what God is saying, that we are to live in harmony with our brothers and sisters in Christ, not allowing any oppressive thoughts or emotions to take control of our feelings towards others. In other words, we live in love. Just because someone doesn’t interpret the Bible the same way we do, or go to the same church we do, or doesn’t go to church at all, we need to realize that in regard to other believers, we are all wanting to please our Father and do what He wants us to do. We need to accept one another in love, and respect the fact that God is working different ways in people and just because it isn’t what we are used to, doesn’t mean it isn’t of God.

In regard to non-believers, we don’t need to condemn them, or force our beliefs on them. We need to let them see the love of God. They don’t need someone beating them down or twisting their arms to get them to believe like us. We are to love them and let the Holy Spirit do the work that needs to be done in their lives.

If we believers could just understand that we are responsible for ourselves in the way we live for God. We aren’t responsible to live the way others do or think we should. We are to allow our Father to work in our lives the way He wants and follow Him on the path He has for us. Our responsibility is to love God and love everyone we come in contact with, accept them for who they are, and pray that the Holy Spirit will work in their lives. Living in this manner would accomplished much more in showing the love of Christ.

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