The Foundation of a Great Church

11.2.14

Jesus is described in the Bible as the cornerstone, the door, and the foundation of the church. Peter wrote that we were “living stones…being built into a spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:25). The architectural imagery of the church in Scripture is vivid. There is no question that the foundation of a great church is Jesus Christ. But the biblical imagery of the church also suggests that each member of the church is a vital part of that structure.

There is a sense in which we are all ‘the church’ every day and everywhere we go. We do not put on and take off Christ depending on the situation. Our desire as disciples of Jesus is to bring His presence into the world around us through love, service, and attitudes we learn from Him.

There is also a sense in which we are ‘the church’ when gathered. The community of faith as described in Scripture regularly assembles to encourage one another to show love and do good works.  In the Book of Acts they gathered daily.

I am concerned that in today’s culture the church is seen as a consumer provider. Many may feel that the church is to provide a menu of choices from which we might pick one or two that suit us.  At least, this is what our attendance patterns tell me. The church is so much more than just attendance at Bible Class, LifeGroup, and Worship times … but can the church ever be all it could be without consistent attendance at those times?

Who is setting the agenda for you and your family? When Wednesday night Bible class rolls around we ought to have a packed church. Why? Because we are building a foundation for our family and our own spiritual life to empower our walk the rest of the week. Sunday School should be a power hour for our children. Who is deciding where your children are during Sunday School? Parents? Coaches? Television? A sleepy-eyed child?

In Matthew 7:24-27 Jesus describes building a life on the word of God as building on a solid rock foundation. Trying to build your life without the word of God is to build on sand. When the storms of life come – and they will – you and your children will need a firm foundation to survive.

To build a great church every member will have to make the effort to be present when the church gathers. Otherwise, what are we building?

From My Files: Be Happy

10.20.14

Be Happy  by  Danny Dodd

Everyone wants to be happy! Everyone is searching for ways to be happy. Sometimes people search for a lifetime and never find happiness. But it can be found, if we look in the right place. Real worry-free happiness comes not in possessions, pleasure, power or money. These things are without, and real lasting happiness comes from within – within a strong spiritual relationship with Jesus Christ. Being happy is a Biblical idea (Philippians 4:6) and Scriptures tell us how to find it.

Happiness comes from knowing and doing God’s will. “Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding” (Proverbs 3:13). Couple this with obedience and you have a winning combination. “Happy is he who keeps the law” (Proverbs 29:18). No where else can this happiness be found, but in God’s Book. Know and do what it says and you will be happy eternally. David simply said it this way, “Happy are the people whose God is Lord” (Psalm 144:15).

Happiness is found in service to others. Jesus lived this daily. He served any and all. on one occasion He bent to wash the disciples feet to illustrate this truth. After which He said, “If you know these things, happy are you if you do them” (John 13:17). Do we really believe Him in this “Serve me” generation? Selfishness destroys any chance of happiness. Jesus says to give yourself away in the service of others and true happiness will be yours. Try it!

Happiness comes from “old fashioned values”. Such values are under attack today in many circles. The family has been broken down and redefined so much that many have never seen a true picture of one. But the Bible emphasizes the “old fashioned” family setting, and teaches that real happiness is found there. Speaking of families and children Solomon said, “Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them” (Psalms 127:5). Along with this value, another highly regarded value that brings happiness is the work ethic. “When you eat the labor of your hands, you shall be happy, and all shall be well with you” (Psalms 128:2).  Old fashioned values have their rewards according to Scripture – real lasting happiness.

Happiness is found even in adversity. “But even if you should suffer for righteousness said, happy are you…” (1 Peter 3:14). It is amazing to find happiness here. Amazing, but true. Other passages echo this thought (Matthew 5:10-12; James 5:11; and 1 Peter 4:14). This just reflects again the nature of this happiness. This is an inner happiness that is not affected by outward events. This happiness is secured in Christ Jesus and no one can take it away. Thieves can steal our money, storms can blow away our possessions and pleasures will quickly fade, but real happiness in Christ is forever. Which is why happiness is found even in adversity.

So be happy! There is no good reason not to! Let Jesus Christ reign!

Danny Dodd, March 15, 1992 as published in Good Tidings From Skyway Hills Church of Christ.

doddsDanny Dodd is the minister for the Levy Church of Christ in North Little Rock, Arkansas. He and his wife Terri live there with their two beautiful daughters, Taylor and Jordan.

What Have I Left Behind?

10.11.14

We may not think of it very often, but after every interaction you have with another person you leave something behind. Maybe you’ve experienced it in both pleasant and unpleasant ways. Have you ever felt the sting of unhappiness long after some complaining person has walked away? I’m not sure we realize what we leave behind. 

For to God we are the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. – 2 Corinthians 2:15

One of our conscious thoughts should be that we are an ‘aroma’. Consumers spend billions of dollars a year in the fragrance industry to have a pleasing aroma. Christians, let’s try to be aware that we are to be the ‘fragrance of Christ’. What are you leaving behind that will influence the hearts and minds of people in your path?

To some we are an aroma of death leading to death, but to others, an aroma of life leading to life. And who is competent for this? – 2 Corinthians 2:16

Life or death … sounds serious to me. In some ways we can’t control how others will receive us. Perhaps with great motives and hearts we might still leave behind someone who is perplexed or bothered by us. We can’t do anything about that. But what about the things we can pay attention to … the things we can purposefully use to bring a blessing?

…We speak with sincerity in Christ, as from God and before God. – 2 Corinthians 2:17

We speak” – so much of what we leave behind has to do with our words.

With sincerity” – what we leave behind can relate to our true motives and heart of love for the other person(s).

In Christ” – Is the scent left in the air one that reminds others of Christ?

As from God and before God.” – All of our lives are lived in the presence of our God.

Have words of anger left behind a bitter scent?

Has an attitude of arrogance or superiority soured someone on your witness for Christ?

Has gossip brought about a doubt of the kind of friendship you offer?

Has a double mind caused people to wonder why you act one way in front of some friends, another way in front of other friends?

~ Or ~

When you walk away is someone feeling encouraged and accepted?

When you leave the room, does the presence of Christ remain, enlightening hearts ?

Has a sincere and selfless concern wrapped someone in warmth and the knowledge of being genuinely cared for?

And who is competent for this? … Indeed! Let us ask God to help us be the one who brings a beautiful fragrance of His grace and mercy with us wherever we go. It may begin with a smile.

Thanks for reading,

JD

Free For  Your Kindle Today:

On Sale Now