Sunday, April 27, 2008

Forcefully Advancing The Kingdom


Both heaven and earth choose aggressive, decisive and determined individuals to lead the defining battles of life.

Key Scripture: Matthew 11:12 "And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. (NKJV)

The New Living Translation says that the Kingdom of Heaven is ‘Forcefully Advancing’ … but that it is under violent attack.

When Jesus spoke His last New Testament words to His disciples from the Mount of Olives just outside Jerusalem’s Eastern Gate, He was giving them instructions on how to advance His Kingdom on planet earth. We know these instructions as they are now called, “The Great Commission”. You can read them in Matthew 28:18-20.

The Great commission demands we:

1. Go into all the world

2. Make disciples of all peoples

3. Extract a covenant commitment from each convert through water baptism

4. Teach observance of the commandments of Christ

5. Remember God is always working with us in all we do till we die.

You see when we serve God’s purposes on planet earth, we are either on coming from our greatest day, at our greatest day or headed to our greatest day and the truth is … its our choice!

Just take one character from the bible, it could be almost any character; Abraham; Joseph; Moses; David; Esther; Ruth; Jael; Daniel; Peter; Paul; Mary or Stephen … the example would be the same. Well for the sake of choosing one, let’s take King David as an example. In Psalms 27:13 David said:

Psalms 27:13 I would have lost heart, (fainted), unless I had believed That I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living. (NKJV)

But David was a King and God’s favored boy … what did he know about forcefully advancing the Kingdom … He had a charmed life … He could not possibly understand what it was to face a bad day, a wrong decision or a costly mistake. What did he mean he almost fainted?

Well review a little of David’s charmed life:

David was: (Not in chronological order)

* Victim of child abuse and neglect (left out with the sheep at night and attacked by bears and lions)

* His adopted/foster parent threw a spear at him

* Was forced to endure demeaning and divisive sibling rivalry

* His motives were continually investigated and questioned

* Recruited to fight Goliath & join the military as a minor without parental consent

* He was conspired against to be killed in battle by his own superior

* His Father-In-Law tried to kill him

* His wife was taken from him & granted a divorce without his knowledge

* His wife remarried one of his war buddy subordinates

* David lost his high paying job & credibility

* He became an unemployed homeless bum

* He was wrongly convicted of treason

* His life choices caused his parents to loose everything

* He began an outcast gang and became a gang leader

* Was a fugitive from justice

* Worked as a secret double agent in a foreign country

* Captured and jailed: offered a plea of insanity & was acquitted but expelled from the kingdom

* David’s best friend died young

* His wife, children & friends were kidnapped and taken hostage

* He ran a political campaign and was not elected

* He remarried his first wife

* His wife was barren

* He was a polygamist

* His daughter was raped

* He became a peeping Tom

* He committed adultery

* There was incest in his family

* He betrayed and murdered a friend and supporter

* One of his sons murdered another one of his sons

* David’s newborn child died

* He had to judge & banish his first born son from the kingdom

* David’s friends betrayed him

* His father-in-law betrayed

* His children betrayed him

* He lost his kingdom, his throne … his job late in life

* He was publicly ridiculed

* He was pelted with rocks

* His wife was raped

* David was old and homeless

* His son slept with 10 of David’s wives in public

* David battled an employee takeover

* His firstborn died in a senseless war

* David’s troops rebelled against his leadership

* God passed over David to build His church house

* David lost the circulation in his body

* He aged and became feeble

* He went through a second attempted take over by a son

* David was forced to choose between his children

* David gave up his throne

* David died


If God was with David certainly He will be with you and take you to your greatest day if only you will give your life to Him and let Him plan your steps. He is bigger than your last or worst problem or mistake.

Both heaven and earth choose aggressive, decisive and determined individuals to lead the defining battles of life.

The Kingdom of Heaven is still under attack but through it all we are still forcefully advancing. We must advance when under attack. Every man must press himself toward God’s goal of Kingdom Expansion.

Every generation has its particular battles. For the first church it was persecution under Emperors like Nero who cut off Paul’s head and crucified Peter upside down, and Kings such as Herod who beheaded James and cast many believers into prison.

In today’s world the church faces the enemies of secular humanism and atheistic ideologies which are set to govern thought and word making it a hate crime for people even to speak out about such acts as homosexuality or abortion on demand as sins against both God and humanity. Don’t get me wrong, we can and should love and have mercy on every person without respect to their past positions or decisions of life, but we can ill afford to promote alternate lifestyles and ongoing sinful choices as acceptable to God, the church or society.

While the 10 commandments can no longer hang in the court rooms of this great nation pornography is allowed to pervade the internet finding its way into the homes and daily lives of underage children left to themselves to surf the would wide web unsupervised.

And yet God has hope. His hope is in us, the church, the called out congregation of Believers in Jesus. Colossians 1:27 says it is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

The church is the Army of God, the Bride of Christ and the Family of God in the Earth. And as such we are called to advance the Kingdom of God under the umbrella of the Great Commission.

It may not be easy, it may not be without costs, even great costs, just as it cost David. However, if the Kingdom of God is going to advance it must do so by forceful measures, powerful demonstrations and awesome signs and wonders.

What powerful forces will it take to advance the Kingdom of God?

This morning I want to give you Seven Powerful Forces it will take to advance the Kingdom of God in your life, your family, your community and communities like yours all over the world. Are you ready? Here they are:

1. Unfeigned Love (2 Corinthians 6:6 – Passion & Compassion)

2. Unwarranted Forgiveness (Matthew 18:22 – 70 x 7)

3. Unrewarded Sacrifice (Luke 6:35 – nothing in return)

4. Unyielding Faith (Romans 4:20 – Abraham staggered not)

5. Unquenchable Anointing (1 Thessalonians 5:19 – Spirit)

6. Undivided People (John 17:22 – Make them one)

7. Unfolding Plan (Revelation 22:13 Beginning & End)

If these things be evident in your life you will not fail to forcefully advance the Kingdom of God even under the most violent of attacks from the enemies of the cross. (2 Peter 1:8)

In conclusion I testify to you that the it will cost you to advance the kingdom of God and the price you will pay will be to act and react more like Jesus in the face of every adversity.

Both heaven and earth choose aggressive, decisive and determined individuals to lead the defining battles of life. So, put on the whole armor of God and resist the devil’s attempts to make you more like him.

God has a plan, He will succeed and You have a chance to participate.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Church Etiquette Series - The Motivation


Behavior is often the result of attitude. How a person feels about someone or something will most likely affect how they act or react towards them in a given situation. It is the same with Church. How we feel about church will affect how we act in and towards church.

Why an individual attends church often determines where that individual attends church and where an individual attends church many times reveals why that individual attends church.

We tend to fellowship with people of like precious faith. (2 Peter 1:1) In other words, we gravitate towards people who believe like we do who have the same purposes and goals in life.

That is as it should be in accordance with the Apostle Paul’s instructions to be of the same mind, speaking and minding the same thing, with one spirit and in agreement. (1 Corinthians 1:10)

This does not mean that there are not some differences in revelation and spiritual application according to personal convictions. Romans 14 is completely devoted to the doctrine of personal conviction and how to handle the differences which do exist within each body of Believers.

I once heard a man say that if you find the perfect church, don’t join it … you will ruin it. I don’t know about that but I do know that we are called, equipped and set into a local church body as it pleases God and therefore it should please us to be where God wants us and while there we should endeavor to complete the work God has given that particular church to accomplish. Our goal is to sharpen others around us with our counsel and countenance and not to dull them with our blunt blows of opposition.

I know you already know these things so let’s look at our:

Key Scriptures: 1 Timothy 3 NKJV

14 ¶ These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly;

15 but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

In part one of this series we discussed the necessity of protecting church doctrine. Why? Not because any one church has the whole truth or that any one pastor or group is given to understand all things, but rather because God has called each person and every church congregation to accomplish specific portions of His purpose.

Just as the ministry of Jesus was broken down into what we recognize as the Five Fold Ministries of Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor and Teacher, so is the whole ministry of heaven broken down into different callings, giftedness and responsibilities and then given to each local church body according to God’s divine purpose and will.

1 Corinthians 12

18 But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.

19 And if they were all one member, where would the body be?

20 But now indeed there are many members, yet one body.

Just as the Children of Israel made up one family, one nation but were yet made up of 12 tribes, thousands of individual families and millions of individual people, so is the body of Christ.

The Church is a many membered body.

And the world wide church of each generation is made up of many denominations, callings, gifting, graces, represented in thousands of local church families and millions of individual church members. Each individual, every church family and all denominations having been given their certain name, calling, gifting, identity, vision and purpose by God as it pleased Him.

So, for one local church or denomination to focus more strongly on one aspect of the Gospel message or experience is totally understandable and necessary to properly outfit them to accomplish the purpose to which God has called them.

While much of the secular world is teaching balance perhaps what we need is a good healthy dose of sharpness and focus, without the envy and jealously of one member or church saying that for some reason they a better than another or that others are somehow less equipped because they are not like me.

Let’s pick up with this thought from two scriptural sources so that we might know how we are to behave in the church of the Living God and as the church of the Living God. Perhaps we can see the motivation behind protecting the teaching, instruction, vision and purpose of each local body and every individual church.

1 Timothy 1 NKJV

5 ¶ Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith,

* The motivation of structure and protected doctrine is not self serving but rather body preserving … from a pure heart of conviction.

6 from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk,

* Teaching from the wrong motivation or competitive doctrine will cause many to stray.

7 desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm.

* Many who are novice or perhaps not responsible for the sheepfold may not understand the dynamics of these truths or the rippling effects sharing competitive or divisive doctrine can cause.

* Each church and every individual should learn from many teachers but from teachers who know, hold, respect and protect the purpose of a church’s doctrine and calling. Otherwise one may be guilty of putting new wine into old wine skins and causing division in the body, loss of focus, vision and strength and ultimately thwart the purposes of God for that church or individual.

* For many years we owned farm animals, lots of them, especially horses. People love horses and it seems that from time to time I would find some well meaning individual horse lover or family stopped by one of my pasture gates feeding one of my friendly, always hungry horses. I would put a smile on my face and walk or drive out to them understanding that they meant well and I, with a kind look and friendly word, would first look closely at what and how much they had fed the horse and move myself between them and the horse, keeping the horse from eating more by holding the horse and allowing the people to pet them or ride them while I answered questions and made friends.

I accepted that they did not understand the complexity of a horse’s digestive tract and just how dangerous it can be to introduce new foods or rich in protein foods, green grasses or foods which cause gas into a horse’s diet. It can and often does cause colic, from mild to severe and at times it results in foundering and permanent disability or death. Some horses are more susceptible to colic than are others. These include the young and the small, the old and the weak … also the very high dollar, well bred for some reason.

People mean well but unless they have owned and had long term care of a horse or received some education they just can’t imagine or understand the danger and the expense and sometimes the years it takes to achieve recovery. And besides this, unless you are the primary care giver of an animal it is best to not feed that animal without the care giver’s knowledge, permission and instructions. Doing otherwise, even from the best of motivations can be disastrous. Unfortunately, even with the friendliest approaches with the kindest of smiles, at times offends people when they are told that their good intentions are causing potentially irrecoverable problems. What is a person to do? Church and even family is really not much different.

* This is one reason it is always a good idea to submit to the lead pastor of a church before presuming to teach doctrine or otherwise feed and instruct people whom God has placed under some else’s spiritual stewardship.

* Remember … the motivation of this commandment to guard what the sheep eat, the doctrine of the church, is love.

Now let’s turn to 1 Corinthians 12 for the body concept.

1 Corinthians 12 NKJV

1 ¶ Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant:

4 There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.

5 There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord.

6 And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.

7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all:

8 for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit,

9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit,

10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.

11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.

12 ¶ For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.

13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.

14 For in fact the body is not one member but many.

15 If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body," is it therefore not of the body?

16 And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body," is it therefore not of the body?

17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling?

18 But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.

19 And if they were all one member, where would the body be?

20 But now indeed there are many members, yet one body.

21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you"; nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you."

22 No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary.

23 And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty,

24 but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it,

25 that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.

26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

27 ¶ Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.

28 And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues.

29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles?

30 Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?

31 But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.

Sunday, April 20, 2008



Key Scriptures: Exodus 3 NLT

7 ¶ Then the LORD told him, "You can be sure I have seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard their cries for deliverance from their harsh slave drivers. Yes, I am aware of their suffering.

8 So I have come to rescue them from the Egyptians and lead them out of Egypt into their own good and spacious land.

We are saved to serve not saved to sit.

Today is Sunday, April 20th, 2008, the first day of the week. According to the Jewish calendar today is the 15th day of the month Nisan in the Jewish year 5768 as recorded since the creation of Adam in the Garden of Eden.

Today is the first day of the feast of unleavened bread which will last seven days in memory of the Children of Israel’s hasty departure from Egypt. They were set free after the tenth plague which occurred at midnight on the night before, the first Passover.

Passover is still celebrated on the same day each year, the 14th of Nisan, which this year began at sundown Friday evening and lasted until sundown Saturday evening, April 19th, yesterday.

Occasionally the 14th of Nisan is on the Sabbath day as it is this year. When this happens there are some specific ordinances and rules that come into play which are of more detail than we need to discuss this morning. However, suffice it to say that yesterday in Israel, and for all the Jewish people, was considered Shabbat HaGadol, the Great Sabbath, or in other words, the most important Sabbath of the year.

Believers in Jesus as Messiah also believe this, recognizing that according to the Jewish calendar, it was on this day in history, just before sundown, when Jesus died on the cross and became the Passover Lamb Whose blood paid for the sins of the whole world.

Lets look at the scriptural account of that first Passover as we turn to the book of Exodus, Chapter 12.

It was somewhere near 1500BC or around the Jewish year 2260, give or take a few years either side depending on whose arguments one considers, when God visited the Egyptians with 10 plagues in efforts to force Pharaoh to “let His people go!”

We join the story in Exodus 12, the night before the tenth and final plague, which was the death of every firstborn male from every family, Jew and Egyptian, who was not covered by the blood of the Passover Lamb.

Exodus 12 NKJV

1 ¶ Now the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying,

2 "This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you.

3 "Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: ‘On the tenth day of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household.

4 ‘And if the household is too small for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next to his house take it according to the number of the persons; according to each man’s need you shall make your count for the lamb.

5 ‘Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats.

6 ‘Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight.

7 ‘And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it.

8 ‘Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.

9 ‘Do not eat it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roasted in fire—its head with its legs and its entrails.

10 ‘You shall let none of it remain until morning, and what remains of it until morning you shall burn with fire.

11 ‘And thus you shall eat it: with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste. It is the LORD’S Passover.

12 ‘For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD.

13 ‘Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.

14 ‘So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance.

21 ¶ Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, "Pick out and take lambs for yourselves according to your families, and kill the Passover lamb.

22 "And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. And none of you shall go out of the door of his house until morning.

23 "For the LORD will pass through to strike the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and not allow the destroyer to come into your houses to strike you.

24 "And you shall observe this thing as an ordinance for you and your sons forever.

29 ¶ And it came to pass at midnight that the LORD struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of livestock.

30 So Pharaoh rose in the night, he, all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house where there was not one dead.

31 Then he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, "Rise, go out from among my people, both you and the children of Israel. And go, serve the LORD as you have said.

32 "Also take your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and be gone; and bless me also."

Application for our lives today:

1. Passover is a Testimony of What God Did. A testimony to the saving grace of our God as He delivered the Children of Israel 3500 years ago with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, not allowing their enemies to win the final victory.

2. Passover is a Testament of What God is Doing Today. For all who sit in bondage today, enslaved to the Pharaohs and gods of this world there is deliverance. As God told Moses, “I have heard the cry of My people and am come down to deliver them.” God is still delivering His Children today. In fact, the Apostle Paul declared it as recorded in Romans 10:13, “All who call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” It might be in your midnight hour when you are awakened to realize that God has truly heard your cry and has come down to deliver you.

3. Passover is a Testament to What God Will Do In Your Future. One day when all the world will be judged by God those who have applied the Blood of the Lamb upon the doorposts of their lives will not fall prey to the angel of death but will be taken to the Promised Land of Glory and there will they live forever in peace and prosperity. Jesus is that Passover Lamb. Ask Him to apply His sacrificial blood to your life today … don’t waste another night in danger … heaven or hell awaits and it might be later than you think.

What do we need to do today?

1. Be thankful for what God has done and tell Him so.

2. Call upon Him … pray to God and He will hear you and He will answer your cry.

3. Live ready with your belt tightened, your shoes on your feet and your staff in your hand. We are saved to serve and not to sit. Be ready for you know not the day nor the hour when the Son of Man comes again … work until He comes.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Kingdom Culture


My goal this morning is the same as always: “To meet you at the place you are in life and take you to the place of prayer.”

Today’s message is specifically designed by the Holy Spirit to reach into your heart and mind and challenge you to change first yourself and then your world.

What we think can change our mind.

What we believe can change our life.

But only what we do can change the world.

Key Scriptures: John 17 (NLT)

21 My prayer for all of them is that they will be one, just as you and I are one, Father—that just as you are in me and I am in you, so they will be in us, and the world will believe you sent me.

22 "I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are.

The earnest prayer of our Lord is that we might become one, unified together, with no divisions in the family.

It takes everyone to make one. Without every puzzle piece in its place no picture is complete. Without each and every part in its proper place, no body is whole. It’s the same with the Body of Christ and each local church in particular ---

It takes everyone to make one.

I. The Melting Pot of Life Demands We Blend Ourselves With Others

A. The Segregation of The Past

1. Centuries and Empires Gone By

2. America’s Past

B. The Present Divisions

1. We Hunger To Be At Peace

a. It will not come through military domination

b. It will not come through forced integration

2. We Resist Being Forced To Blend

a. We draw lines of likeness and circles of sameness around ourselves

b. We fellowship with those of like precious faith

C. The Future Will Be No Different Than The Past Unless We Change Today.

II. Integration (We currently have laws which mandate:)

A. Economic Integration

B. Academic Integration

C. Social Integration

D. However, one cannot mandate Cultural Integration.

Note: I do not suggest that any individual or people group lose their cultural heritage or ethnic identity in order to fit into society’s mold. I do not preach a yielding of the minority to the ways of the majority. However, what I do firmly believe is that we all, from every race, color, creed, national origin, gender and language, the young and the old, reach beyond ourselves, our birth culture and/or life experiences and adopt a new dominant culture … The culture of the Kingdom of God.

There is a culture which is greater than our life’s experiences, greater than our differences and even our indifferences, greater than the injustices of this world, greater than the hurts, pains and fears of those who have just cause to feel unaccepted, unappreciated, uncared for. There is a culture that is beyond this world’s ability to corrupt, beyond the laws of segregationist governments, beyond the manipulations of greedy men who lusts for power.

There is a culture which makes all men equal, grants every person dignity, values each individual’s life and rises above the prejudices of mortal man. This culture I speak of is not the result of one nation’s philosophy or one church’s doctrine. This culture is found in one only one source –

‘The Kingdom of God’ and the ‘Kingdom Way of Life’.

The Kingdom of God is not a place, it is a way of life.

III. Kingdom Culture and The Way of Life (is established when we:)

A. Love God more than we do ourselves

B. Love others as much as we do ourselves

Matthew 22 (NKJV)

36 "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?"

37 Jesus said to him, "‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’

38 "This is the first and great commandment.

39 "And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’

40 "On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."

IV. Our Challenge Today

A. To Love God

1. With all our heart

2. With all our soul

3. With all our mind

B. To love our neighbor as we love ourselves

1. First we must love ourselves as we should

2. Then we can love others properly

A person does not have to lose respect for cultural roots in order to please God however we owe a greater allegiance to the Kingdom of God than to any other culture.

Where our raising, our upbringing, our experience or opinions differ from those of the Kingdom of God, we need to submit to God’s way, not go the other way.

There is none other to whom we can all tune ourselves besides the one true everlasting voice from heaven which is The Word of God!

This was the single aim of Jesus, as I close with Him teaching His followers to pray in:

Matthew 6 The Model Prayer

9 ¶ "In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.

10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily bread.

12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.

13 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. (NKJV)

Adopt a Kingdom Culture by demonstrating that you love God more than you love yourself and that you love others as much as you do yourself.

Establish the Kingdom in your life today.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Church Etiquette – Part One


As best scholars can conclude, it was in about the year AD 51 or AD 52, that the Apostle Paul became acquainted with a young man named Timothy. The relationship birthed between Paul and Timothy has become a prime example of God’s plan for personal discipleship. Many believe that every Paul should have a Timothy in their life in whom they are investing and as well that every young minister should have a ‘father in the Lord’ to whom they are submitted.

At any rate we can clearly see the importance of this life long relationship, a covenant of an ‘until death do we part’ commitment. Late in life when Paul is about to be martyred in Rome he takes time to write to his young son in the faith and commend him as well as instruct him to continue in the faith. The book of 2 Timothy is a moving last will and testament of a spiritual father to a son.

Tonight we begin a series on Church Etiquette, the customs and courtesies or the church, based in part on the admonition Paul wrote to Timothy in our:

Key Scriptures: 1 Timothy 3 NKJV

14 ¶ These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly;

15 but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

It is my hope that through this series we will find opportunity to address how we ought to conduct ourselves in the house of God.

God is a God or order Who has provided us with a written copy of His will. Contained therein are both spiritual and practical elements of conduct expected from God’s children. The bible is full of ‘should(s) and should not(s)’ which serve to give guidance to both individuals and groups. This series will explore these guidelines and provide opportunity for us to examine ourselves and our practices.

So, without further comment, let’s turn to the book of 1 Timothy.

1 Timothy 1 NKJV

1 ¶ Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope,

2 To Timothy, a true son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.

3 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia—remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine,

* No division in doctrine or teaching – one vision, not two …

1 Corinthians 1:10 ¶ Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

* Fluidity of doctrine can cause both individuals and churches alike to drift in the winds of current trends.

Ephesians 4:14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men …

* It is duty of the Five Fold Ministry, Ephesians 4:11ff, to protect the doctrine by equipping the saints to perform the work of the ministry which God has assigned to that body. Each member of the body has its duty, calling, equipping and part to play. Like Judah was given to praise while Issachar were prophets … who is to say what part we are to play except God and He sets them in the church as it pleases Him.

* One goal of the devil is to create dissatisfaction, disunity and discontentment of doctrine, covenant and relationship. In marriage and in ministry.

4 nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith.

* Overly zealous of a doctrine or truth which would be new wine in an old wineskin or otherwise cause dissatisfaction or division.

Romans 16:17 ¶ Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.

* How then do we address change? We come through the door to the sheepfold and not through a window or crack or over a wall.

John 10:1 ¶ "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.

5 ¶ Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith,

* The motivation of structure and protected doctrine is not self serving but rather body preserving … from a pure heart of conviction.

6 from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk,

* Teaching from the wrong motivation or competitive doctrine will cause many to stray.

7 desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm.

* Many who are novice or perhaps not responsible for the sheepfold may not understand the dynamics of these deep truths or the rippling effects of divisive doctrine.

* If you believe it is ok to eat meat or not eat meat, don’t use that to destroy the body of Christ … Romans 14:22