Monthly Archives: November 2011

Do You Have A Grateful Heart?

Peninsula Community Church

November 27, 2011

Do you have a Grateful Heart?

Colossians 4:2-6
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the
same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison– that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

Churchill IllustrationWinston Churchill told the story about a little boy who was playing on a pier. All of a sudden he fell off the pier into the water. He did not know how to swim and was in serious danger of drowning. A very kind-hearted young soldier saw this, and he immediately jumped off the pier and swam towards the little boy. He put the boy on his shoulders and brought him back up to the pier quite safely. This young man saved the boy’s life. The boy had been playing with other little boys, but his parents were nowhere to be found. The soldier drove the child to his parents’ home and left the boy there. The young man did not even think of receiving any reward. He was a very kind-hearted person, and he was extremely happy that he was able to save the life of this little boy. A few days later, the boy’s parents came to look for the soldier. Everybody was helping them look for him, because they thought that the parents had come to give him a reward for saving their child. Finally they found the soldier working at the pier. The parents approached the young man, and the father said, “Where is our son’s hat?” The young man was shocked. He said, “I tried to save your son’s life and I did save his life. Now you are asking me for his hat?” “Yes,” replied the parents. They demanded, “What did you do with our son’s hat? What is wrong with you? We want to know where the hat is!”

The Scriptures are replete with encouragements to be thankful and grateful.

  • Psalms 100:1-5 (A Psalm for giving thanks.) Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.
  • Psalm 107:22- And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!
  • Psalm 147:7
    Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; make melody to our God on the lyre!
  • Philippians 4:6
    Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
  • It is important to note that the last five chapters of Psalms all begin with the admonishment to praise the Lord!

 So what are the signs of a grateful heart? Let us look at a couple of things together.

 

1. The first sign of a grateful heart is a humble heart. A humble person is generally thought to be unpretentious and modest. A humble person is someone who does not think that he or she is better or more important than others. A humble person will also manifest a healthy limit of their talents, their ability, and their authority. They do not reach for that which is beyond one’s grasp. When one is walking in humility they do not have to profess their humility. They do not have to let anyone know because those around them will know that one is humble because they will present an attitude that exemplifies their humility. They live out the admonitionLet another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips” (Prov. 27:2). When one is prideful they will present a different attitude. 
 

A government official who came into President Lincoln’s office was startled to find the chief executive shining his own shoes. “Sir,” he gasped, “surely you do not polish your own shoes!” “Of course,” replied the humble President. “Whose do you polish?”

All of this is illustrated in the life of Jesus. “Jesus did not come to be served but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28). If we truly follow Christ’s example, then humility will be a way of life, a habit of submitting to God’s will and a lifelong commitment of devoting ourselves to God’s calling. When one is truly humble there are no private agendas, you know where the other person stands without reservation.

The highest title God ever allows in His church is that of “servant.” Are you willing to serve people as Jesus did? We cannot die for people to save them as Jesus did, but we can “die to self” to enable us to tell people that Jesus died for their sins, and thus serve them in the greatest way possible. Therefore, a grateful person is a humble person and is willing to serve others.

2. A second sign of a grateful heart is a God-centered and others-conscious heart. I suspect that for many of us, our Christian experience is too often influenced by our circumstances. When we are “up,” God is great. When we are “down,” God is distant. If things go our way, we have much for which to praise God. If times come that would test our patience, we are tempted to give up. To be God-centered is to realize that God is at the heart of life. It is God that influences and invades all of reality. Why does this matter? How will this enable me to be a grateful person? Because, our happiness is not dependent on personal experience, but on God’s grace and love for me. Again we hear the Psalmist call out in Psalms 100:1-5Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.”

Grateful people are free to be giving and caring because they are centered on God, and they are centered on others, not on themselves. Grateful people who are God-centered and others centered are loving people who want to bless others. A grateful person is humble and they are God-centered and others-conscious.

3. A third sign of grateful heart is a full heart. No matter how little one may actually have compared to others, a grateful person feels like he is full because he is grateful and full of thanks. A grateful heart brings contentment. One of the problems that exist in our culture is that people are not content with their possessions so they buy things they can’t afford in hopes that it will bring a sense of contentment. So much of advertisement plays on this concept of discontentment. If you buy this car, drink this soda, have McDonalds for breakfast or wear a certain style of clothes and you will be content and happy. Let me make it clear that that this does not mean that we do not desire better things or that we are not to seek improving our current status. It simply means that we must be aware of desiring the things that we can not have or afford. Discontentment is the enemy of a grateful heart. Once again we refer to the words of the Psalmist – Psalm 100:4-5 Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. The grateful person has an unlimited capacity to enjoy God’s blessings, no matter how few or how many they may be. Let me tell you this; we all have many, many, many blessings from God. The grateful person, even in the midst of heartache and loss, is going to feel full. It is interesting to note that while Paul was in prison he wrote the Church of Philippi that he has all he needed.

Philippians 4:18-19 I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. How could he think of himself as full in that situation? Paul had a grateful heart. Even when he was missing some blessings that people would consider pretty important, he felt full because a thankful person always has a sense of fullness. Paul believed that God’s goodness and God’s blessings were so abounding that he goes on in the next verse to reassure the Philippians that there was enough for them as well. Not only is there enough for me sitting here in my prison, but there is enough for you as well. How is your fullness meter? Do you have a sense of fullness or emptiness as you look at your life these days? Could you say with Paul, “I have everything that I need. God’s grace is abounded to me. I am full?” You see, Paul didn’t have “all” in terms of creature comforts. But I’ll tell you what he did have—he had Christ. You may have lost a mate. You may have lost a job. You may have lost a friend. You may have lost the dearest possessions in the world to you. There may be things on your wish list for this year but don’t let your wish drive your success or your feeling of fullness.

Where does God find you with these characteristics? Do you have a grateful heart or an ungrateful heart? Is your heart proud, or is it humble? Is it God-centered and others-centered, or is it self-centered? Is your heart full, or is it empty? The answer to those questions may be seen in whether or not you have an attitude of gratitude. Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.

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Will the Real Church Please Stand Up – Are You Dating the Church

Peninsula Community Church

Will the Real Church Please Stand Up

Are You Dating the Church?

November 20, 2011

 Ephesians 5:21-32 – ….submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.

One of the profound illustrations of the church is found in the marriage relationship. On a number of occasions the New Testament speaks of the symbolism of the marriage relationship in relationship to the church (Eph. 5:21; Rev. 19:7). In the passage we read this morning, we see that Paul is comparing the marriage relationship to the relationship that Christ has with the church.

A number of years of a go in preparation for a membership orientation that I was facilitating I came across a book entitled “Stop Dating the Church: Fall in love with the Family of God” by Joshua Harris. It is an excellent little book that discussed the power of church membership and the value that can be added to one’s life when one joins and fully connects to a local church. I must admit that much of the outline I will share with this morning comes from that book as he expresses these thoughts much better than I can.

Do you remember what it was like when you where dating? Each of us probably experienced dating in different ways. Some of you married your childhood sweetheart and never was in love with anyone else. For some, you may have been very active in your dating career. For me, I remember as a teen, that in the church I attended, there were several of us guys and girls that would hang out together. Many of us were boyfriend and girlfriend but the interesting thing was that at some point we had all dated each other or at least what we called dating. The fact is at that point of our lives we dated but had no commitment for a long range relationship. As soon as there was any significant problem, we would move onto the next girl rather than try and work things out. The problem that exists is when we attempt to move that kind of understanding of life into our other relationships.

Let me preface my statements with these thoughts this morning. First of all I recognize that I am probably speaking to the choir but maybe what is shared will stir something in you to make a greater commitment to PCC and the life of this body. Secondly, let me say that I recognize that the church is not the Savior and that there have been some that have overly promoted the church to the point of idolizing the structure and the form of the church. That is not what we are talking about this morning. Thirdly, the church as an organization is not a perfect institution because it contains imperfect people who have attitudes, preferences and personalities that will not always agree and which often cause conflict. Fourthly, the church has created many of its own problems as it has failed to preach the word and be faithful to Christ’s calling. It has failed to live authentically in a culture that is seeking truth and is seeking answers for their problems because it has majored on the minors and minored on the majors.

With that in mind let us look at some thoughts about dating the church vs. committing to the church. Now I realize this subject matter have connotations that can exhibit all kinds of thoughts but bear with me and hear me out.

You might be a church dater if you are exhibiting any of the following symptoms:

  1. Your attitude toward the church is one that is me-centered. When we exhibit a me-centered attitude we go to church for what we can get out of the social interaction, programs or activities. The driving question here is “what can I get out of church or what can the church do for me?” And, if the church cannot meet my needs I will find one that can. One of the social issues developed by teens today is what has been called “friends with benefits.” Friends get the benefits of sex and love without the responsibilities that go along with such privileges. They are out to get have their emotional and physical needs met without any desire for long-term commitment.
  2. As second attitude exhibited by church-daters is one of independency. We go to church because that is what we are suppose to do but we avoid getting involved too much, giving too much or getting involved with people too much.
  3. A third attitude that is often exhibited is one of criticalness. Too often we are short on allegiance but quick to find fault with the church. We treat the church with a consumer mentality – looking for the best product for the price of our Sunday Morning.

But when you simply date the church and you resist passion and commitment to have a relationship with the church everyone gets cheated out of God’s best:

  1. You cheat yourself,
  2. You cheat a church community,
  3. And you cheat your world.

To understand the value of the local church we must realize that it is in community that we learn to love God and we are strengthened and transformed by the truth of the word. The church is God’s design to help us start over, to grow and to change for the glory of God. It is in the church that we irritate each other so we are forced to live in a spirit of forgiveness. But in that we grow and prosper.

When you stop dating and become an effective member of the church you will:

  1. Join the church – not just in attendance but with your heart. When you join with your heart your will be committed to see relationships grow and become so much more than an acquaintance. Here at PCC we ask our Covenant Members to sign a Covenant Agreement because we are asking you to covenant together to see the work of the ministry go forward.
  2. You make the local church a priority. Now this does not mean that you sell yourself to the institution but we understand that the church and those in relationship to it must make it a priority. If we see something that needs to be done we do it.
  3. You try and make your pastor’s job a joy. I like this one.
  4. You find ways to serve. You see when I married Michelle I began to look for ways to serve her and to make her life easier and filled with joy.
  5. You give. When we tithe we are acknowledging that we trust God and acknowledge that everything belongs to Him. When we give to the local church we are saying that I trust God to direct the leadership to spend and allocate the funds in a way that honors God and puts Him first. As a covenant member we commit to give our tithe and our resources to see this body prosper.
  6. You connect with people. The church is not a building it is about relationship. We find ways to connect with those within the church. I said it a couple of weeks ago if you are not being invited out then you do the inviting. Too often we are waiting for others to take action but if God has that on your heart take action and build relationships.
  7. You share your passion. When I find a great restaurant or I see a movie that is awesome, I can’t wait to share that with others. I want them to experience what I am experiencing. When I am passionate about something it shows through everything else I do.

So in closing, are you dating the church? Are you ready to take the next step and fully unite your heart and make a commitment to stand behind this church and see the future unfold in ways that we can only imagine. Now is the time. If you want to join this church I invite you to join me on January 14 for a Membership Orientation. Maybe you are already a Covenant Member but you need to reestaablish your commitment to this local body do so as we close. Do this between you and God so that He will be your accountability.

 


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Will the Real Church Please Stand Up – Actions part 3

Peninsula Community Church

Will the Real Church Please Stand Up?

What is the Church Suppose to be Doing?

November 13, 2011

Act 2:41 & Acts 9:31 – So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.

We are continuing to look at what actions we are to take in order to be a real church:

So far we have looked at four of these actions and today we will look at two more:

  • Exalt God through Worship.
  • Encounter God through prayer.
  • Encourage others through fellowship.
  • Edify others through ministry and service.

The fifth action to be taken by the church is to expand the Kingdom and grow the church through the proclamation of the Gospel and mission.

The key purpose of the church is to expand the Kingdom of God by way of preaching and teaching the word. We expand the kingdom in the following ways:
 

Colossians 1:28-29 – Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.

Corinthians 1:17 – For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

We must come to the realization that every believer is a missionary: In the New Testament we do not see a Biblical distinction between evangelism and missions. In fact, the word “mission” or “missions” is never used. We are called to share the message of hope to all we encounter that are open to hear the message. For two long the church has waited for the professionals to do the job but every one of us are called to be missionaries.

2 Timothy 4:1-5 – I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

Colossians 4:6 – Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

The fact is you will have a sphere of influence over with other people that I will never have.

We need to build relationships because in building relationships with others people will be more open to hear the message of Christ’s love. So spend some time getting to know others so that trust will grow. Think about how you came to know Christ. Was it not from a personal encounter with someone who loved you enough to share Christ with you? The scripture tells us to “go into all of the world.” It has been said that “People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

We need to love exceptionally because our actions speak louder than our words. Maybe you have become aware of some hardship or simply a project your neighbor or co-worker is facing. Is there some way that you and your family may help in these things? Jesus knew our actions would speak as loud as our message, so he taught us to “let our light shine before other men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

We need to proclaim courageously as this kind of evangelism is different than proclamation evangelism. You may not share the gospel the first time you meet, but be sensitive to the Spirit’s work and when He opens the door of opportunity, don’t wait too long before you lead the conversation to spiritual things and to the good news about Jesus Christ.

The sixth and final action the church must take is that we are to equip through teaching and discipleship.

Ephesians 4:11-14 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.

Hebrews 13:20-21 Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

What we teach must be founded on a Biblical construct that is focused and centered on the person of Christ. Colossians 1:28Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.

  • Too often we teach dogma and the law but they fall short of their purpose if we do not recognize that Christ is the only one that can bring lasting change into our lives. Dogma is what you believe, whether you believe it or not. And law is what you must do, whether it is good for you or not.
  • The problem with the law is that it points to sin but it is powerless to do anything about the sin. But Christ came not to destroy the law but in order to empower people to live spiritual lives dedicated to passionately follow Him.

We teach for transformation and not simply knowledge. Verse 9 – He is the light that has come to enlighten us to understand truth and grace.

  • Romans 12:2 –Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
  • Dallas Willard in his book Renovation of the Heart: Putting on the Character of Christ said this about the need to be transformed; the greatest need of collective humanity is renovation of the heart. That spiritual place within us from which outlook, choices, and actions come has been formed by a world away from God.
  • This transformation is one that changes people from the inside through ongoing personal relationship to God in Christ and to one another. It is one that changes their ideas, beliefs, feelings and habits of choice, as well as bodily tendencies and social relations.
  • Notice that Jesus did not send his disciples out to start governments or even churches as we know them today but they were to establish beachheads of his person, word and power in the midst of a failing and futile humanity. They were to bring the presence of the kingdom and its King into every corner of human life simply by fully living in the Kingdom with Him.

We teach a living Gospel – V. 14 – He dwelt among us. Hebrews 4:12 – For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. This living Gospel has the power to transform our lives.

  • The Gospel of Christ is living because it is Christ.
  • In John 1:4 john noted that life was in Him, life that made sense of human existence.
  • To be the light of life, and to deliver God’s life to women and men where they are and as they are is the secret of the enduring relevance of Jesus.

We teach a liberating Gospel – “Grace and truth” John 8:32If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. The amazing truth of the Old Testament is that its role is to show us the futility of trying to obey the law and fulfill all of its demands. It is impossible. But Christ came not to abolish the law but to fulfill the law and to give mankind power to live out this Christian life.

  • Philippians 2:12-13 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
  • One of the difficulties of modern Christianity is that the church today is that Christianity has not been imparting effectual answers to the vital questions of human existence. What has occurred is that many pseudo-spiritual movements have been created to fill this void. But the Gospel of Christ is what is needed to reach the crying, unmet need of the human soul.

 We teach not to get people to act right but to be transformed in their inner being so that who one is in their thoughts, feelings, dispositions and choices is changed.

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Will the Real Church Please Stand Up – Actions

Peninsula Community Church

Will the Real Church Please Stand Up?

What is the Church Suppose to be Doing?

October 30, 2011

Act 2:41 & Acts 9:31 – So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.

It is easy for us to discuss all that the church should be doing but there is a point where we must put our words in action. It is more about what the church is than what it does because we can fill the calendar with all kinds of activities (not that activities in themselves are bad or wrong) and still not accomplish much for the kingdom of God. But if we become what God wants you and I to be, then we will instinctively do the things we ought to do.

For example, as a pastor there are many things in my role that I instinctively do. For example if someone calls me to say they are in the hospital, instinctively I begin to plan on how I will get there to see you. You see I am a pastor as much as I do the work of the pastorate. While my role is a pastor, I am also called to be a pastor so all I do is with that mindset. I feel I never stop being a pastor.

The following six actions are not something the church should be doing as much it is to be a part of who we are.

  • Exalt God through Worship.
  • Encounter God through prayer.
  • Encourage others through fellowship.
  • Edify others through ministry and service.
  • Expand the Kingdom and grow the church through the proclamation of the Gospel and mission.
  • Equip through teaching and discipleship.

 Let’s take a look at these in more detail:

Exalt God through Worship. To be an active and powerful church we must be exalting God with our worship. This worship is not just what we do on a Sunday morning but it must be the essence of our lives. The question to be asked here is “How do we represent Christ to those we encounter in our daily lives?” Have they been enriched by the encounter or do they leave our presence with a sour taste about who Christ and Christianity is.

Romans 12: 1-2 tells us that our lives our lives are to be a living sacrifice to God which is a testimony to the world of who Christ is and what He claims to be. Paul stated “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

2 Corinthians 2:14- 17 –But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.

A pastor friend of mine related two stories in a message he recently delivered to his church on Long Island. Pastor Gary said that they asked their waitress if they could pray for her which is a common thing they do when they go out for dinner. She refused their prayers because she did not want to have anything to do with Christianity as a result of the way she had been treated as a waitress by Christians she waited on and worked with. She saw those who professed Christianity say things and do things that hurt others. She saw them walk hypocritical lives. She saw them be lazy on the job. Because of this, her view of Christ made up of the belief that Christ pompous, self-centered, rude, demanding and unloving. Thus, she refused to have anything to do with Christianity.

He also related a second story about a young man that was a waiter and was a passionate follower of Christ. He approached Pastor Gary because he felt he had blown his testimony by the way he had acted on the job. He had blown up over a situation that did not warrant that kind of expression. Pastor Gary spoke to him and suggested that he return to work and to ask his co-workers who saw and heard his outburst to forgive him and that he needed to admit that he was wrong. When the young man did this one of the people at that worked with him made the statement that he does not believe in Christianity but if he were to this would be the kind he could believe in.

Why are these two stories important? They are important because to worship God we must exalt Him with our voices, our words, and our lives.

As a church, we desire to worship God. We want to do things with excellence so that God is honored and praised in all we do. Excellence does not mean perfection, it means that all we do we do to the best of our ability so that we might honor and please God. When we come into the church to worship, do we come with the aroma of Christ upon us? When we leave the building do we leave with His aroma upon us? How is the environment effected when we are around?

Encounter God through prayer. Prayer, as we have discussed before, is an encounter with God. This means we must pray. Prayer is our chance to speak to God. The goal is that we are to be consistent and focused in our praying. 

The problem that exists is that too often we only pray when we are in distress and or have a deep need but we must pray without ceasing so that we live a lifestyle of prayer. Can you imagine if the soldiers that are in Afghanistan never trained or prepared for the battle? What if they just showed up on the frontlines and the captain said “go for it, let’s fight.” They would not be very effective would they? And yet we treat prayer the same way. We don’t pray regularly and then we shoot a message to God when everything falls apart and we wonder why our prayers are ineffective. Perhaps if we prayed regularly God would have directed our steps differently and we may have avoided the trial we are in. 

How do we do this? We should begin your day in prayer. At the beginning of your day, invite God to be present with you. Invite Him to guide your heart and your steps. Invite Him to give you divine appointments so that you will be about His business.

How many times have we gone through our day without talking with Him about our day? As a church, we must people of prayer. Let me ask you do you pray for the church, the leadership and the ministries of the church or do you pray about the church, its leadership and ministries. There is a difference. Each of us must have a heart for prayer and each of us must be given to prayer. Let me ask you, do you pray for the lost in your community? Do you pray for the lost you encounter on your job?

Can you imagine what would happen if every member of this body began to pray earnestly for this church and for the lost in this community? What can you pray for? Let me give you a couple of things:

  • Pray that God would pour out His Spirit upon this place so that when people enter these doors they will encounter a real authentic expression of God’s love.
  • Pray that God would provide for every financial need we have here at the church.
  • Pray for the church’s growth spiritually for if we grow spiritually we will grow numerically and financially.
  • Pray that I as the pastor and the leadership team will be in tune with what God is doing here at PCC and in the surrounding community.
  • Pray that God will position you with people who do not know Him so that you have the opportunity to reach them with the Gospel.

To Be Continue

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Will the Real Church Please Stand Up – Actions Part 2

Peninsula Community Church

Will the Real Church Please Stand Up?

What is the Church Suppose to be Doing?

November 6, 2011

Act 2:41 & Acts 9:31 – So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.

Last week we began to look at the actions that are necessary for the church to be effective. The goal here however is not only to do something but to become what God has called us be. You see it is more about being something than doing something.

Encourage others through fellowship. The word used in the New Testament for fellowship is the word Koninia. The Greek term used here literally means to have all things in common. As believers we serve the same God. We have participated in the same salvation and act of God’s grace.

The idea propagated by this word is that they are in partnership together. It carries with it the idea of joint participation with others. We work together, we laugh together, we cry together and we grow together. There is something to be said about what transpires around the table as people eat and enjoy a meal together or a cup of coffee. But this idea of fellowship goes beyond the sharing of a meal but it is the sharing of a heart as well. You see when can have a lot of meals together and yet miss the purpose of this concept. We must have more than a meal we must have a growing of hearts together.

Fellowship is what happens outside the church as much as it is what happens inside the church. We are all responsible for fellowship. I have heard people say “I don’t get invited anywhere.” Well, when was the last time you invited someone to go out with you? When did you take someone a cup of coffee and sat at their kitchen table and just chatted?

The goal of fellowship is to encourage one another and to prod each other toward good works. Can you imagine what would happen in the world today if we looked for ways to encourage one another rather than spending an inordinate amount of time trying to find ways to discourage?

The bottom line in this discussion is that we need one another. Adam and Eve were created with the innate or inborn desire for fellowship. God walked with man in the cool of the day. It is no less true for us today. Someone has said that bars are one of the best places for people to share the cares of life because people listen and lend support. It may not be the right kind of encouragement but it is encouragement.

Can you imagine with me what it would look like if people looked at us as encouragers? What if people felt secure and safe to share their cares of life with us? I believe we have it in us to be a church of encouragers. But let me say this before we move to the next point. In our encouragement we must be able to speak the truth in a way that rings life and hope.

Edify others through ministry and service. The word edify carries with it the idea of encouraging and building up others.

Rom 14:17-19- For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.

1 Thess. 5:11 – Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

How do we edify others? We do so in how we glorify God in our service and the attitude by which we serve God? How do we do this?

  •  We serve God and serve others in love

Galatians 5:13 – For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Ephesians 5:2 – And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

  • We serve God and we serve others without grumbling or complaining.

Philippians 2:14Do all things without grumbling or questioning,

  • We serve God and we serve others without regard to whom will get the credit
  • We serve God and we serve others even when no one will know what you have done

 And whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that form the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ (Colossians 3:23-24 ESV).

To be Continued…..

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