Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Church - Handle with Care

1 Corinthians 3:16-17 "Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? 17If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple."

D.A. Carson comments on this passage writing, "In 3:16–17, the building, the church of God, becomes a temple. Later on, God’s temple is the individual Christian’s body (6:19–20), but here it is the local church. God loves this building so much that he openly threatens to destroy those who destroy God’s temple. Damage the church, and you desecrate God’s temple—and God will destroy you."

The church is not something anyone needs to mess with or cause problems in. Those who produce divisions or cause unnecessary controversy can destroy a body of believers. People who gossip, hold grudges, or try to gain power can introduce destructive elements that weaken the body.

These influences are like diseases. God will not tolerate them. He will inject a disease-killing treatment to save the body.

That is a sobering thought.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Compassion in Action

Yesterday, I talked about the need for believers to love people and provide compassion. I went long and still had stuff I wanted to share. You can find the sermon here. The good thing is using this technology, you can fast forward it if I start to bore you.

One thing I wanted to emphasize was the gift of serving that goes to those who give. We are to give compassion because God has been compassionate to us, but one of the great by-products of compassion is friendship.

I heard about a guy at church who would come and enjoy worship, but was not one to speak out or do anything that would put the spotlight on him and yet he is dearly loved and honored. This is a guy who would never consider sharing his testimony in church because it would just overwhelm him and yet he has so much love for people and a trail of friends in his wake.

Why? Because he loves people and shows them compassion using his gifts. He is a tool man who can fix things. There are people in the world, like me, who have no business being near a toolbox or a construction project. The fact is I will break what's being built, hurt myself and possibly hurt others.

That's not the case with this man.

Not long ago a neighbor who had not been real open to conversation or connection was working on his house, but wasn't doing well. I feel his pain. This tool man came over with his toolbox and said, "Would you mind if I helped? I love this sort of project?" Desperate and amazed the neighbor accepted the offer.

Within no time at all, the job was done. As the tool man was packing up, the neighbor said pointing to the tool man's tools, "Man that is an awesome set of tools. What is the best thing you've ever made with them?"

The tool man thought for a minute and smiled and said, "Honestly, the best thing I've ever made with these tools are friends. I hope I just made another one." The neighbor held out his hand and the rest is history.

In time the tool man was able to share his hope in Christ and give his neighbor a chance to receive Christ and find a family of friends at church.

That is all any of us can do. Use what we've got to give compassion to others and provide what they need more than anything else - love.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Answer to Life's Problems

I apologize for not posting for such a long time. This has been a very busy time in my life. I have been serving my church by being on-call. The on-call minister responds to all of the emergency and hospital needs for the week. I am on-call for two weeks back to back, so please pray for me.

Although it is a very busy and sometimes difficult time, being on-call is one of the great joys of my job. It is such an honor and a privilege to pray with people and bring them encouragement in the name of Jesus.

This week I have talked with people who are dealing with all kinds of difficulties. Some are struggling financially, some with an addiction, some with a health concern that will last the remainder of their life, some with a health problem that is causing excruciating pain that will be over soon, some are facing mental health challenges, and some are facing death. There are some that are children and some of that are senior adults and many are adults in between.

In any and every case there is one thing that each of these struggling individuals needs. They need love. They need someone to tell them that God loves them and then be shown through the life of one of God's people that they are truly loved.

It is amazing to me the stark difference between those who are being loved by the people of God and those who are not. I visited with people this week who are in a small group, service team, or an adult bible fellowship in our church and it was amazing how much love they received. People were taking care of their homes and families, visiting them, praying for them, and just sitting with them to show them love. They will be cared for long after their visit to the hospital with meals, cards, calls and visits to their home. I have also been with people who are not connected in a church family. Some attend a church, but are not involved in close relationships. Others don't attend church and have no way of having a church family of friends to surround them.

Those who are loved and cared for by a circle of Christian friends have such a peace. There is a confidence I find in them that is inspiring.

Here's the point. People need you and you need people. We all need the love of Jesus reigning in our hearts and living through our lives. We need the power of the Holy Spirit working in us and through us to bring and give comfort. You need people around you who can point you to the Lord and remind you of the hope you have and they need you to do that for them. We all need it. Those who are in the bed sick and those who are standing or sitting by the bed giving comfort need it. We need to be reminded to look to the Lord for our strength.

What is surprising is how much everybody gets out of the experience of sharing life. Those who give the most get the most. Those who provide the care to others gain a joy and even a great happiness. Those who receive the care find peace.

We may not be able to fix people's problems. We may not be able to make them better, but we can give them what they need. We can give them love.

Meditate on this. I will be speaking from this text tomorrow.

Colossians 3:12-16 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

It Is Well

Anxiety is always awful. Our bodies are not built to live in fear. So many times life seems to be falling apart around us, but as believers in Jesus we do not have to be afraid. We can choose to trust the governing power of God to care for us and bring about His perfect will.

C.H. Spurgeon writes:

“We know that all things work together for good to them that love God.”
— Romans 8:28
Upon some points a believer is absolutely sure. He knows, for instance, that God sits in the stern-sheets of the vessel when it rocks most. He believes that an invisible hand is always on the world’s tiller, and that wherever providence may drift, Jehovah steers it. That re-assuring knowledge prepares him for everything. He looks over the raging waters and sees the spirit of Jesus treading the billows, and he hears a voice saying, “It is I, be not afraid.” He knows too that God is always wise, and, knowing this, he is confident that there can be no accidents, no mistakes; that nothing can occur which ought not to arise. He can say, “If I should lose all I have, it is better that I should lose than have, if God so wills: the worst calamity is the wisest and the kindest thing that could befall to me if God ordains it.” “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God.” The Christian does not merely hold this as a theory, but he knows it as a matter of fact. Everything has worked for good as yet; the poisonous drugs mixed in fit proportions have worked the cure; the sharp cuts of the lancet have cleansed out the proud flesh and facilitated the healing. Every event as yet has worked out the most divinely blessed results; and so, believing that God rules all, that he governs wisely, that he brings good out of evil, the believer’s heart is assured, and he is enabled calmly to meet each trial as it comes. The believer can in the spirit of true resignation pray, “Send me what thou wilt, my God, so long as it comes from thee; never came there an ill portion from thy table to any of thy children.”
C. H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening : Daily Readings (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1995), August 5 AM.

This Scripture and this thought comfort me. There is also a hymn that I find coming to mind, when I face things that could bring me fear.

Horatio G. Spafford, 1828–1888
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll—Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, It is well with my soul.
Tho Satan should buffet, tho trials should come, let this blest assurance control, that Christ hath regarded my helpless estate and shed His own blood for my soul.
And, Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight, the clouds be rolled back as a scroll: The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend, “Even so”—it is well with my soul.
Chorus: It is well with my soul, it is well, it is well with my soul.

Today many moms and dads are sending their little ones to school and they are anxious. There are believers waiting to hear a medical report or resting in a hospital bed hoping healing will relieve them. There are financial woes pressing upon people who are not sure what today will bring. In any and all cases those who walk with Jesus can be at peace because God is in control.