This page belongs to a friend of mine. He’s using my site to get started on a possible future ministry and the thoughts below are his.
“The Church” –( future SupportYourChurch.c?)
Preface- My first story of how God used a good “local Church” to bless me.
When I was a small child, I grew up in very rural Minnesota. I vaguely remember going to any church. The one that I went to a couple of times left little impression on me as I was only between 5 and 8 years old. I do remember strongly believing in a Creator God. I lived amidst beautiful lakes and woods and it was just an undeniable truth to me… these were made by a Creator God!
I didn’t know this God, but later, when I was 13, I was invited to a Bible Camp up near Brainerd, Minnesota – Camp J.I.M. My family moved away from that part of Minnesota to Chicago when I was 9. During the week at camp, I MAY have gotten “saved” (become a true Christian). I say “MAY” because as the years went by there was little fruit (evidence) of being a true Christian. But then comes the “local church” story!
During the middle of my senior year in high school in Country Club Hills, IL., I was invited to this friendly “local church” – Open Door. Never before in my 17 years had I been made so welcome. Never before had I felt that loved. Nor had I ever felt so energized to seek the truth as I did when I walked into that “local church.” Open Door was a diverse collection of Christians of all age groups that all had a purpose and place in that “local Church body.” They met a need in my life; God used them to meet that need. I will never forget that gateway to God which started primarily through that “local church.”
If I was not saved when I visited that church, I later made sure of my salvation as I asked the Lord Jesus Christ to save me and change me … I was changed! So, as I look back in time, at LEAST I knew I was saved and that as a result of God’s ministry to me at that “local church” in 1978. Open Door was an old-fashioned, Bible-believing, Bible-preaching church that was the first to show the love of God to me. I began to love God because of His love which came to me through those people. More to come … How about you? Do you have a story of how God blessed you through a “local church?”
25Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
A. As we grow in Christ, and we are conformed to the image of Christ; we begin to share in the passions of Christ. We begin to love the things He loves. Jesus Christ loves the Church. He loved the Church so much that He gave his life for the Church. In an earthly reflection of that love; we husbands ought to love our wives. Then, if we are becoming like Jesus Christ we ought to also love our church. It is a natural progression.
B. Jesus Christ loved what some call the “Universal Church”; that is the Church worldwide. To us that “Church” may more aptly be called “the Body of Christ.” To Jesus Christ that will soon be called “the Bride of Christ”.
C. Allowing Scripture to explain itself: 25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— 30for we are members of his body. 31"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." 32This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. Ephesians 5:25-32
II. The Purpose:
Foundational Scripture in the early days of “the church” – This Church was in Jerusalem. Acts 1:7-8: 7And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.
8But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
Acts 2:21 - And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Acts 2: 46-47 - 46And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,
47Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. (my note– the Lord added to “the church” that was there )
A. Those truly were the early days of “the Church.” Jesus Christ was leaving the earth, and He would send the Holy Spirit of God to indwell the members of His body; the Church. His “Church” would be “sealed” by the Holy Spirit. Sealed, and promised to be delivered to the “marriage of the Lamb.”
B. The “local Church” is the tangible, physical manifestation of the love of God through a body of believers. In many ways, WE are “His Hands”. God usually shows His love through His people.
C. In the mean time, while we do not truly know the times or the seasons; we know that our reason is to “be witnesses” both in our local church in “Jerusalem,” and our “home mission project” out in Judea, and our “cross cultural” mission work in Samaria, and then as we are able to support missionaries in the body of Christ unto the uttermost part of the earth.
III. The Power of “the Church”
Peter is starting to “get it”- Matthew 16: 17-18: 17And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
18And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
A. “This rock” is Jesus Christ. He said upon it “I will build my Church.” Notice he said “My Church.” It belongs to Him. He purchased it with his blood. Please note that Jesus also said “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” During most of my Christian life, I have thought that “we (the Church)” were on the defense against the onslaught of Satan. Do you also remember during the life of Job that God initiated the test of Job? Do you remember that God arranged that little “show” between hundreds of the prophets of Baal and their like against Elijah? Did not God prepare a shepherd boy name David to go meet with Goliath? I believe that “the gates of hell” are somewhat like those enemies. Who prevailed?
B. THAT is the “good news”!
C. With what I have seen lately through my “eyes of flesh” I would put little “stock” in the future of local churches. On the other hand, with the “eyes of faith” I would rather put my “stock” into something that the Lord Jesus Christ stated “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” more than I would the current rising Gold market.
IV. The Problems of “the Church”
The problems of “the church” are innumerable. Problem # 1 is a lack of faith.
Define faith: Hebrews 11:1- 1Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
God is not pleased by our lack of faith: Hebrews 11:6 - 6But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
Where is a good starting point to get “faith”? I find in Scripture that the Word of God, ALONG with a local God-sent preacher could help you on your way. Romans 10:17 (and the verses prior) - 17So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
A. A “rubber meets the road” example to chew on: a friend of mine told me an analogy something like this…a definition of ‘fear’ could be my reaction to some unseen future event. This definition made sense to me. When I am swimming in the Gulf of Mexico I sometimes ‘fear’ that a shark will have me for lunch. Recently I MAY have actually touched one (or maybe it was a big sea bass?). I know that my blood pressure raised, my heart rate shot up, and my adrenaline pumped. I swam quickly to shore; yet tried to act calm around the other swimmers since I was not bleeding. This was my reaction to some unseen future event. Did I see the shark? No, but like the definition of “faith” in Hebrews 11:1 this thing had some substance…I touched it! Did this unseen future event (me getting eaten) actually happen? NO, I made it back home! Was I in ‘fear’? YES, I made the decision to be in ‘fear’.
B. Now, let’s hear about another layman’s definition…of “faith.” A definition of faith could be my reaction to some unseen future event. Now, rub your eyes for a moment and ask yourself… “self, did he just make a mistake by showing me the same definition to two dissimilar verbs?” And the answer would be – YES! In my shark (er, fish) story I could have made the decision to react in ‘faith’. I will admit that I did not choose the positive ‘faith’ aspect; rather I chose the negative ‘fear’ option. In our lives on this side of Heaven THAT is really quite a bit of what our choices are like. God has it under control. Yet, we make our choice. Quite often we make our choices depending on how much we are reading, and heeding the Word of God.
V. The Program of “the Church”
Well, how about we reference the areas we just covered. Go back to the early days of the Church. Acts 2: 46-47 - 46And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, 47Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
A. I am not espousing “collectivism.” or any sort of Communism. Just some voluntary recognition of purpose. In those early days of the Church those folks were so overwhelmed with what God was doing they forgot about their yachts, their country club memberships, their Sunday football games that they lived their day with “gladness and singleness of heart.” They didn’t even understand the concept of church (Greek: ecclesia – called out assembly.) Most of them were Jewish and still met in the temple.
So, if we consider applying these ideas in 2009-10 “shoe leather;” and we take a look around, we may see many of the prophetic events that Jesus spoke of in places like in Matthew 24: 6-12 - 6And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. 8All these are the beginning of sorrows. 9Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. 10And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. 11And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. 12And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. Please re-read verse 12 – because SIN shall abound, the love of many will get cold!
· We need to repent (turn from our/my current way), and return to our “first love” – the Lord Jesus Christ. Serve God primarily through our local church. Your church is probably weaker right now than it was a while ago; and now it will likely growing weaker, and colder unless God intervenes.
· Together, as we recognize the state of our church, and we turn back to God, and turn back to serving Him primarily through our local church; we will please Him!
· This is the beginning place of the ministry of SupportYourChurch.c(to come)
My personal “ministry-related” resume for this endeavor could include (since 1979):
- 30 years of Children’s Ministry (Jr. Church, Bus Routes, and Sunday School)
- 2+ year’s of Bible College (Hyles-Anderson College, and Liberty University). Other Bible Courses through International Seminary.
- Helping 3 Churches get started (2 are still going and doing well, 1 is not existing)
- 14+ years of serving Churches in their “outdoor Sign ministry”. The first 10 years included Churches all over the U. S.; for the past 5 years primarily in Texas, and Oklahoma. Part of this time I made some Signs for Schools, and U. S. Military. I have been blessed to make Signs for over 1,000 Church Ministries across North America.
- 7 years working as an Account Executive for a local ABC-TV affiliate in Sarasota, Florida. I also list this as “ministry-related” even though most would consider it as a “secular job”. I learned much about media, and communication during those seven years that I tried to portray Christ in the world’s workplace.
* Please do not type in “SupportYourChurch.com” as I have not yet decided if that will be a future website name, and therefore I have not purchased that domain. THANKS!