Tag Archives: Matthew

ReThink Church: Pt 1 – What is the Church?

Do you remember this from Sunday School? I thought I’d start with how our thinking had been shaped from a very young age.  So, what is the Church?

I just started a teaching series called ReThink Church.  As I was working on the second segment of this series I realized I had made a statement in a previous post that I said I would follow up one.  The post entitled “Honor“, was about my Granny Hobbs’ 90th Birthday Party.  I had concluded with saying I had experienced the presence of God and and a greater sense of church than I had on many Sunday’s even in my own church.  There were a few of you who commented and were interested in me sharing about that.  So here it goes.

Let me begin by making four observations about what the church is: 

Firstly, the church is organic.  Romans 12:4-5 tells us the church is Christ’s body.  Though this is just one illustration, a careful search of scripture reveals that all the descriptions of the church are living ones.  To list a few, the church is a body, a bride, a family, one new man, a living temple made of living stones, a vineyard, citizens,and a flock.  Therefore, the church is to be relational not institutional.

Secondly, the church is God’s church.  The Greek word for church is Ekklesia, meaning an assembly of people called out.  For the every day person of Jesus’ time, the ekklesia was any group of people who came to gather together.  For the Romans it was the body of people called out into public service.  However, Jesus reveal a new meaning in Matthew 16:18.  He says, “upon this rock I will build My church.”  The emphasis is on “My” not “church”.  He indicates that the church is unique, not because it is called the church, but because it is the assembly of believers who belong to Jesus.

Thirdly, the church is the dwelling place of God’s presence.  Ephesians 2:22-23 tells us that in Jesus we are God’s dwelling place by His Spirit.  Additionally, in Exodus 33:15-16 Moses tells God that if God did not go with Israel into the promised land then he didn’t want to go, because it was only His presence that distinguished them from the rest of the world.  The church is where God’s presence is.

Lastly, the church is the image and reflection of Jesus.  Ephesians 1:22-23 reveals the church is the fullness of Christ, in whom God was pleased to make dwell the fullness of the Godhead bodily.  The church is to be the full reflection of God’s image in the earth.

Taking all these things into account, when we gather with other believers on any occasion, not just Sunday, there is an opportunity for amazing things to happen.  Because the church is God’s people, possesses His presence, reflects who He is and has life; then anytime we get together we should experience the life giving presence of God.  This is the fellowship of the Saints.  This is not a building, a program, an institution or a service.  It’s His people sharing His life.

Quit just going to church and be the church.

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I will Build My Church…

“…I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”   Matthew 16:18

It is easy to miss what Jesus was talking about here, especially if you are in the ministry vocation.  No judgment, just an admission that we can get off track doing good for Jesus.

It’s not so much about our doing as it is what He is doing.  Jesus said, “…whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.”  John 5:19

When Jesus said these words to Peter, He was not talking about the church down the street or a building or even a local gathering of believers.  He was talking about His work of reaching into the world and pulling out rough hewn stones that He would fashion and fit to His use in building a Holy Temple unto the Father that He Himself would dwell in.  A dwelling place of His Spirit and presence, “who is at work in you, both to will and work for His good pleasure.”  Philippians 2:13

Just a few things:

1. It’s His Church.

2. He’s building it.

3. It’s still a work in progress.

4. I can do nothing alone.

5. I must see what He’s doing in order to be doing anything.

6. It must be Him in me doing it.

7. Operating out of intimacy brings Him pleasure.

8. Operating any other way will kill you.

These are just a few things, you can probably think of others.  If so, leave them in a comment.

I’m dying…

The Apostle Paul said in 2 Corinthians 4 that he carried around in his body the dying of Jesus so that the life of Jesus might be manifested in his mortal body.  He said there is a treasure in our body (that is if we belong to Him.)  That treasure is Jesus Himself. 

How is this treasure revealed in our life?

In the Gospel of John 12:24, John tells us that unless a seed falls to the ground and die it will produce no fruit.  It’s still just a seed.When the seeds of Jesus’ Words fall into the soil of my life I have realized that there is a death that has to take place.  If I allow the seed to take good root in me then the Word encounters areas that are contrary and resistant to the Word.  A death must take place where the seed lands in my life.  If it does it will bring forth life and fruit.

In Matthew chapter 5-7 we find the Sermon on the Mount.  Jesus tells us if we look at a woman to lust we commit adultery; bless people who insult us or talk bad about us; we can’t give our offerings if we are not in right relationship with others; we must go the extra mile; turn the other cheek; love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, and the list goes on and on.  At first we look at these things and religiously say, “OK, no big deal, I do that.”  But do we?  Do we show up early for work and stay late with out complaining?  Or do we go the extra mile on our jobs or in our relationships?  Do we give more than we are asked of?  Do we think of kind words to say to those who say unkind or insensitive things to us? 

When the seed of Jesus’ Word truly fall into the broken up soil of our life we see this kind of life is impossible.  Our flesh rises up and say no, it’s my human right.  Jesus said, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.”  This means dying daily.  This means denying self.  As you see when we really allow the Word to penetrate us it causes a dying in us.  Our flesh resists death.  It wants to preserve the life it has. But dying is necessary if we want the life of Jesus (the treasure) to produce life and fruit.  It is an impossible task to follow Jesus with our old life.  j0402208.jpgIt is impossible to embrace the new life the way Jesus commands.  When we recognize the truth of His Word and can admit we cannot do it, we are at the dying place.

Let the Word offend your flesh.  Embrace it.  Die to it.  The result will be life and peace.  It means the manifest presence of God.  When you truly discover the Shepherd in Psalm 23, you will want for nothing else and you will find everything you ever needed.

I’m Dying…but not dead yet…

What do you think?

im-ok-youre-not.jpgI am currently reading a book called I’m OK – You’re Not: The Message We’re Sending Nonbelievers and Why We Should Stop, which I’ll write about after I’ve finished it.  However,  I would like to pose a question that it has raised and see what you think.  Here it goes.  What is more important, to love people or get them saved?  Does the great commandment trump the great commission?  Should we pay more attention to the Great Commission than the Great Commandment?  (Matthew 22:37-39; Mark 12:33; Matthew 28:18-20)  OK, that’s maybe 3 questions or the same 3 ways.  So, what do you think?  Please Comment.