Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Missing Message for Seekers on Sunday Mornings

"Lord, hear me, for You are gracious, and Jesus died; I cry to You as a condemned criminal who seeks a pardon. Deliver me from going down into the pit, that I may praise Your name." (Quote from Charles Spurgeon)
What would need to happen in Church on Sunday morning for a visitor to kneel down and confess such an argument before GOD?

Churches desire seekers to visit their church on Sunday morning.

BUT will seekers going to Churches all throughout America on a Sunday morning FIND what every seeker truly needs?

Why do churches want visitors? Each church, its leaders and members must ask this question; their answer will shape what they provide on Sunday in a service (or mass).

Seekers attend a church looking for something they feel they needs. Why do they go? What do they need?

What is a church? 
According to the Bible it is a called out body of believers, called out because they are "set apart" from all the other people living in the world at that time. 
The church is often thought of as a building on the corner or a congregation of particular believers, but the church is the people -- both a small group here or there and all believers as a whole. In the Bible a church was grouped by the city such as the Church in Antioch. All the believers in the city of Antioch were considered one church. 
This is all good, but what is a believer? Re-read the passage at the top of this post. A believer has cried out this heartfelt confession to God. So what is....

The Missing MESSAGE?

Seekers visiting churches need to hear that God is seeking to help sinners who are condemned. God loved them when they were sinners. God loved them knowing they would sin, sin and continue to sin. God does not help those who are fine with life, who are content with who they are, who have their needs already met and who are looking for a purpose to give their service.

Are you a mess? Is your life falling apart? Do you feel unsatisfied, unfulfilled, empty? Are you deep inside aware that you are hurting, barely hanging on, and causing pain in other's lives because you are weak and incapable of loving selflessly? Are you a sinner? Do you do evil, desire what you should not, live a secret hidden life?

God is ready to help you.

Deliverance - a pardon - is available.

A person who visits a church needs to know they are hurting because of sin, that their life is a mess because they are not living according to God's ways.

Unbelievers have no rights before God; they are not to address Him nor think they can approach Him because of anything they have accomplished. Our achievements are utterly worthless to God; He is not impressed.

God's grace, His unfailing love, is available for the asking.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Jury Duty

Sitting in a pew, not in church.
Packed in. Worship - we do not do.
Roll called, duty served, we the few.
Unknown - brings anticipation.

All stand, given oath, say, "I do."
Names drawn, one by one - lots are called.
Last chair - each filled with average folks.
Voir Dire - reasonable questions doubt.

Presumed innocent, or hung jury.
Bottle is the deadly weapon.
Verdict tells who you believe most.
Truth sought, tossing coin, two sides told.

Threatened, "I'm going to kill you."
You all were concerned, were you not.
People change, when drinking alcohol.
Have you been in a drinking fight?

Assess - Don't touch me - fight or flight.
Cornered - Can I defend myself?
Focus, stand on your own two feet.
Can you fight for your conviction?

Guilty, not guilty - you decide.
Need more than just some evidence.
"How 'bout"- likely is, more like not.
Anybody have issues with that thought?

Wood floors, wood walls, wood doors - enclosed.
Like a casket - I suppose - we stay put.
Innocent 'til proven guilty.
Jury chosen, his fate is dealt.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Yom Kippur - What This Day Means To Christians?

Yom Kippur is the Jewish Day of Atonement; it begins this Friday evening (September 13) at sundown. This is a holy day in which the entire public Jewish sector of Israel essentially shuts down. While today Israel is mostly a secular State, still millions of Jews will humble themselves by fasting for 25 hours of both food and water.

By Wailing Wall by Cyclist on DeviantArt

Kippur in Hebrew means "to cover over; to pacify; to make propitiation; to ransom by means of substitute." It should not be hard for Christians to see that Jesus fulfills the need for Yom Kippur; He is our "Kippur." Going back to Biblical times a goat was slain and its blood was sprinkled on the Mercy Seat in the Holy of Holies. A second goat had the sins of the nation confessed over it and then was led far into the Judea desert and released to "bear away" the sins of the people.

"Then Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats: one lot for the LORD and the other lot for the scapegoat. And Aaron shall bring the goat on which the LORD's lot fell, and offer it as a sin offering. But the goat on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat shall be presented alive before YHVH, to make atonement upon it, and let it go as the scapegoat into the wilderness" (Leviticus 16:8-10).

Of course, Jesus also fulfilled the part of Kippur for He bore our sins on the cross. He became our sin for us and then too the punishment of death for our sins. When we confess our sins, the sins are cleansed and also carried away from us. God choses to not remembers them anymore. He see us righteous in Christ.

By EkStenseth on DeviantArt

The goat that "bore away" the sins of the people was considered damned/cursed. Jesus because cursed for our sins; he died a cursed death on the cross. Today in Israel a common curse word contains "azazel" which is the Hebrew word for "scapegoat." 

In 70 A.D. the second temple was destroyed and the shedding of the goat blood ended. The Jews confessing their sins today simply remember the shedding of the goat blood. A child or seeker might ask, "Where is the shedding of the blood today? How are my sins forgiven or carried away?" 

Hebrews 9:22 states "without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness" 

Christian Jews, after accepting Jesus as Lord, understood the shedding of blood was no longer needed because Jesus shed his blood once and for all --for all people and all time. His was the ultimate sacrifice that fulfilled all of God's need of propitiation; Jesus was, is and forever shall be the our ransom for sin. He was both the blood sacrifice and the "sin-bearer." 

Pray for the Jewish community today and through this weekend that many will ask, "Where is the blood sacrifice?" as they celebrate Yom Yippur. Pray for the Holy Spirit to open their eyes to see Jesus as the fulfillment of this sacrifice. 

In our daily life, we are asked to bear one another's burdens when we pray for each other. I have always found it interesting that the Greek word for bearing burdens can mean two different ways. We can come along side and carry the burden with our friend we are praying for or we can carry that burden away for them and take it to Christ. Occassionally when someone asks me to pray for them, I ask them which way they want me to bear the burden. Some burdens are necessary for growth, to transform us to Christ; others are piled upon us from ourselves, others and our enemy and keep us from doing the kingdom work God desires that will bring Him glory.

As you go throughout this weekend, consider... have I confessed all known sin? Have I released the shame, guilt and sorrow to God? Have I forgiven myself and others? Have I accepted Jesus' clean righteousness in place of my sinfulness? Have I turned - repented - to sin no more in the same way? Aim I only carrying the burdens God wants me to have? Is my life free, and at peace with God, to bring Him glory?

In my own life, I have to continually examine myself with these types of questions. It is a wonderful thing to be focused on God and His purpose for your life. It is so easy to distort and get entangled in the world and sin. Talk with God. Confirm that you are walking in peace with Him and then do the next right thing He wants you to do. 

Have a great day, 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

What is a Strong Church?

Our family has been looking for a church for quite some time. 

We have been watching Charles Stanley on TV and love it. He is such a solid preacher. Still we need a church. Below are the points we were given today. After listening to the sermon we examined the churches we have attended the past month or so and in the past attended. While you will never find a perfect church you should look for a strong church.

By GrimmDreamArt on

Matthew 16:15-20:

15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
20 Then He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ.

These were the points Charles Stanley bought out in his sermon as being what to look for in a Strong Church:

Leadership - Spirit Filled - Living and moving in the Holy Spirit (Gal 5) 

Solid Biblical Teaching - doctrinally sound that meets needs of people, we must read, listen and know the Word.

Uncompromising In Your Convictions - What you watch on TV, How you spend on money, Drinking

Strong Emphasis on Faith and Prayer pray and read God's Word daily, having your own personal relationship

Worship Service - Focus our attention upon God, His Word, Allowing God to speak to our heart, to lift our spirit in prayer, singing and sermon

Faithful Giving - if you obey God you will give motivated by the Spirit of God, to learn to Worship Him in our tithes and offerings

Strategically Organized - to reach goals and meet needs, organization to be reliable and meet needs, beneath service

People Serving with their Spiritual Gifts - Romans 12:6-8, most efficient and happiest

United in Spirit - Oneness, helping each other, meeting needs

Genuine Love for One Another - built church on us loving Him and one another

Vision for the Lost World - getting the message of the church to the world, so everyone who wants to hear the truth can hear it.

Questions we are asked to consider: What are you doing to strengthen your church? If others in the church follow your pattern will the church be strong and fruitful for the Kingdom of God?

Pray for my family that we might find a strong church, and that we may be a strong part of it.