19 April 2011
Many years ago, during the Cold War, Stuart Briscoe traveled to Poland for several weeks of itinerant ministry. One winter day his sponsors drove him in the dead of night to the middle of nowhere. He walked into a dilapidated building crammed with one hundred young people. And realized it was a unique opportunity.Through an interpreter Stuart preached from John 15 on abiding in Christ. Ten minutes into his message, the lights went out. Pitch black. Stuart’s interpreter urged him to keep talking. Unable to see his notes or read his Bible, he continued. After Stuart had preached in the dark for twenty minutes, the lights suddenly blinked on, and what Stuart saw startled him: everyone was on their knees, and they remained there for the rest of my message. The next day Stuart commented on this to one man, and he said, "After you left, we stayed on our knees most of the night. Your teaching was new to us. We wanted to make sure we were abiding in Christ." This is the same expression of adoration we should be displaying each and every day for our Saving King! We come into Palm Sunday and the church should be reflecting on King Jesus the same way as Stuart witnessed after the lights came on. THE QUESTION WE NEED TO ASK OURSELVES IS! Which King are you praising this morning? An earthly King or a Heavenly King? LOOK AT THE TEXT THIS MORNING AND SEE IF YOU CAN PICK OUT WHICH KING THEY ARE PRAISING AS JESUS ENTERS JERUSALEM? The scene is electrifying which is grabbing the attention of the people! The decibel level must feel like if you were at the Stanley Cup finals.
These people are genuinely excited because the King is here to rescue them! It’s so loud! It’s drawing the attention of everyone even the hypocrites! Why do I say that? Look at (v39) Quit these people because it could cause the Romans to get hostile towards us. Quit these people because this is making it harder for us to destroy you..........BUT I LOVE JESUS’ RESPONSE! (v40). Do you realize what this verse is saying! Even creation knows who I’AM! The whole earth is full of His glory and you cannot contain creation as they praise the true King! Ps 98:4-9 “Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises! Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody! With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the LORD! Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who dwell in it! Let the rivers clap their hands; let the hills sing for joy together before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.” Many, who were there, were not praising Him as who came to be! The Messiah.....The Redeemer and Saviour for lost sinners.....John’s Gospel said as Jesus enter the city they were crying out “Hosanna” which means “save us know” See! WHAT THEY WANTED WAS TO BE SAVED FROM THE ROMAN BANDAGE! The Jews had limitations to their surroundings and how they governed their people. They weren’t as free as you and I are today to a certain degree! They were under Roman’s rule and they had to obey and answer to the Emperor and King at that time.When they were crying out save us! What they really were saying was “save us....free us from Romans and take over the throne” I say this because of what John records after Jesus feed the 5000 which happened earlier in Jesus' ministry! John 6:15 “Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.” They weren’t looking for forgiveness of sins or redemption and restoration! They were only looking to Jesus for the physical not the spiritual! ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF THIS IS! John 6:26 “Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.” AGAIN LOOK AT (v37) as Jesus entered the city perimeter road of Jerusalem.
• Jesus was there Genie in a bottle!
• Jesus was there filling for comforts of life
• Jesus was nothing but a man to bring them physical joy and freedom from the bondage of Caesar.
• Jesus was going to be there muscle because He was so powerful to even raise the dead after 4 days
• Jesus was able to heal the blind as John records before Jesus made His journey into Jerusalem.
BUT THIS NOT WHY JESUS ENTERED THE CITY OF JERUSALEM! Jesus wasn’t entering the city to be a King. Jesus was entering this city to be a sacrifice for sinful man and women! Luke 18:31:33 “And taking the twelve, he said to them, "See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise." WE SHOULD REALLY STOP HERE AND PAUSE FOR A MOMENT AND REFLECT ON WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU AND ME! When I read the account of Jesus entering the city:
• I see selfless sacrifice and redemption for my wretched soul.
• I see the King who has delivered me from the bondage of my master Satan.
• I see the glory of redemption entering the city.
• I see the glory of the Gospel as He sits on a colt.
• I see the glory of Heaven displaying its love for sinful mankind.
THIS IS WHY THE STONES WOULD CRY OUT IF WE DIDN’T! The Creator of the universe is coming into the city riding on a colt... which is a humbling display of grace and love towards a people that would later call out His name to be crucified. This is why I can sing with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Job.....and the saints of old that our King is here to deliver us from our sins and to pave a way home to the Father. THIS IS WHY I CAN SING WITH THE PSALMIST......Ps 118:20-26 “This is the gate of the LORD; the righteous shall enter through it. I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation. The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the LORD's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Save us, we pray, O LORD! O LORD, we pray, give us success! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! We bless you from the house of the LORD.” THIS JOYFULL EXPRESSION BY THE PSLAMIST MAKES ME GO BACK TO MY ORIGINAL QUESTION! .........Which King are you rejoicing this morning? Are you saying “save us Lord from the bondage of sin” or are you saying “free me so that I can have my physically desires and comforts met” Is your praises for an earthly King which fills your physical needs or a Heavenly King which saves your soul from eternal Hell? Because the majority of these people were looking towards present gain which will never solve the long term problem that separates us from God because of sin. YOU ASK YOURSELF! Mike, why do you say such a thing? Look at the verses that follow (v41-v44) Jesus “wept over the hearts of the people” Jesus lamented for the people because He knew their hearts and motives. OH! How devastating that must have been for the Jesus to see into the sinful hearts of man and to know what they truly worshipped. Jesus knew what they were going to do in the coming days! Jesus knew the hearts of the ones that would deny Him for salvation, Jesus wept for the souls that were lost! Jesus knew the outcome and the pending dome for His created children! (v43)THIS IS PRECISELY WHAT HAPPENED TO JERUSALEM IN 70AD. Titus seized the city by cutting off all supplies and trapping thousands of people who had been in Jerusalem for Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread.The Romans systematically built embankments around the city and one by one they demolished the city temple....residences, and people. Men, women and children were brutally slaughtered by the tens of thousands. This destruction was God’s divine judgement for their failure to recognize and embrace their Messiah when He visited them. Jesus even went on to tell a parable in Luke 20:13-18 “Then the owner of the vineyard said, 'What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.' But when the tenants saw him, they said to themselves, 'This is the heir. Let us kill him, so that the inheritance may be ours.' And they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others." When they heard this, they said, "Surely not!" But he looked directly at them and said, "What then is this that is written: "'The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone'? Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him." They were cheering for an earthly King. JESUS CAME TO SAVE THE LOST THAT WERE BROKEN SPIRITUALLY! He came to deliver them from the bondage of sin! Not from the bondage of rulers. Kent Hughes said “with the panorama of Jerusalem before His eyes, the Saviour began to weep, not with quit tears as when He wept at the grave of Lazarus, whom He was going to resurrect, but with a loud and deep lamentation. There in the middle of the road, with the great city in full view, the stunned multitude heard the saviour of the world wail over Jerusalem!” We need to look through the eyes of Christ in our own hearts this morning! ARE YOU REJOICING FOR THE RIGHT KING THIS MORNING? Jesus came to be my King by becoming my shame, my punishment, take my place and bare my wrath for sin! So that I could be redeemed from that wrath that is yet to come, restored back to the Father, forgiven for my sin, free from sin and death and to be claimed as His for all eternity. SO HOW CAN WE BE SILENT WHEN HE CAME TO BE OUR HEAVENLY KING......NOT OUR EARTHLY KING? Palm Sunday is a day when we reflect on what Jesus came to do for sinful man and woman. WE NEED TO REFLECT AND ASK OURSELVES THE QUESTION! Who Am I rejoicing and worshiping this morning? The Jesus who will give me what I want so that I can be happy here on this earth? Or the Jesus who saved my wretched soul for all eternity? As Kevin DeYoung says “Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God. Not just another prophet. Not just another Rabbi. Not just another wonder-worker. He was the one they had been waiting for: the Son of David and Abraham's chosen seed; the one to deliver us from captivity; the goal of the Mosaic law; Yahweh in the flesh; the one to establish God's reign and rule; the one to heal the sick, give sight to the blind, freedom to the prisoners and proclaim Good News to the poor; the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world. Palm Sunday is a day we remember of His compassion and love for fallen sinners. As the King of glory comes entering the city to redeem sinful man and sinful woman from the bondage of Satan............... Not! Rome.
14 April 2011
12 April 2011
A Preacher on the Fence
From out of the millions of the earth
God often calls a man
To preach the word, and for the truth
To take a royal stand.
"Tis sad to see him shun the cross,
Nor stand in its defense
Between the fields of right and wrong:
A preacher on the fence.
Before him are the souls of men
Bound for Heaven or Hell;
An open Bible in his hand,
And yet he will not tell
All the truth that's written there,
It haveth an offence -
The joys of Heaven, the horrors of Hell -
A preacher on the fence.
Now surely God has called the man
To battle for the right.
"Tis his to ferret out the wrong
And turn on us the light.
And yet he dare not tell the truth,
He fears the consequence,
The most disgusting thing on earth
Is a preacher on the fence.
If he should stand up for the wrong,
The right he'd not defend;
If he should stand up for the right,
The wrong he would offend.
His mouth is closed, he cannot speak
For freedom or against.
Great God deliver us from
A preacher on the fence.
But soon both sides will find him out
And brand him as a fraud,
A coward who dares not to please
The devil or his God.
Oh God, free us from fear of man,
From cowardly pretence;
Cleanse out the dross and fear of loss,
And keep us off the fence.
Cleanse out the dross and fear of loss,
And keep us off the fence.
11 April 2011
In light of current events and the news that has hit my ears or eyes over the past week. It can be very hard to rejoice and find joy at times like this? TAKE FOR EXAMPLE:
• A close friend sister in-law lost her baby to a miscarriage this past week.
• I visited a brother from this church at the hospital as we discussed funeral arrangements.
• A good friend who I grew up with and love dearly has left the church.
• A close Bible school mate who is faced with the decision to stay at his church or leave because of the terrible fighting that is going on among certain individuals with his pastor.
• Watching my Leafs loose there chance of a playoff spot.
• The struggles that are happening in Libya and throughout the Middle East.
• The aftermath in Japan and the resent earthquake.
• My brothers and sisters around the globe who are murdered and tortured everyday for the sake of the Gospel.
• The terrible story of the young girl who was murdered in British Columbia by two teens.
• The Serial attacker who is on the loose around Toronto where my family lives.
• And to top it off! A screaming baby who is teething (which is probably worse than shoving bamboo needles up your finger nails.)
How can we as Christian’s find joy when this is what we are faced with in a day to day basis? The simple answer is the one we overlook all the time!..................THE CROSS! We forget to look back to what Jesus endured for every single one of us...... the greatest sacrifice He made on the Cross for sinful man and woman. We forget our sinned grieved the Godhead as it once did back in Noah’s day when They said........... “And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.” Gen 6:6. Remember what the Hebrew writer wrote? “.......for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” 12:2. Despite what is happening to His created children.....despite the sin! Jesus found it to be a joy as He sacrificed His life for us. Can you imagine for a minute how Jesus felt when He could see in the hearts of every single person that walked past Him? How could Jesus rejoice when He looked into the eyes of the people who would? Curse His name....Spit in His face.....Assault Him and pin Him to a tree! See Jesus knew that this life wasn’t the end, but a beginning to those who would put their trust in Him. That’s why we should always be looking towards the Cross!! There is joy in the Cross.....There is fellowship in the Cross.....There is healing in the Cross.....There is peace in the Cross.....There is fellowship and unity in the Cross. Remember what D.A. Carson said “What binds us together is not common education, common race, common income levels, common politics, common nationality, common accents, common jobs, or anything else of that sort. Christians come together because they have all been loved by Jesus himself. They are a band of natural enemies who love one another for Jesus' sake.” We can find joy in the midst of struggles and life challenges! We can find joy when we see and hear the things around us! But this all depends on what you invest your joy in; and what it takes to lose it. Joy is a major factor and encourager in the life of a child of God and I’m not talking about entertainment or I centered joy. I MEAN A GENUINE HEART OF WORSHIP THAT ADORES THE GOD WHO CREATED US. I MEAN A HEART OF REJOICING IN THE RISEN LORD. I MEAN IN THE GOD WHO ALLOWS US TO BREATH SO THAT WE GIVE HIM PRAISES FOR OUR EXISTENCE! THE ONE THAT SAVED OUR SOULS FROM ETERNAL HELL AND TORMENT! David said in his Psalm “Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever.” Ps 145:2. What was David saying?..........Despite what You’ve allowed in my life I will always praise your name. The same goes for us today! We will always find joy in the Saviour.....we can always find joy in the Cross and Paul says the same thing here to the church of Philippi as David said in his psalms many decades before him. Paul says the ultimate joy for the church and what Christ had planned for her is in this portion of Paul’s letter.
1. ULTIMATE JOY IS FOUND WHEN WE ARE ALWAYS REJOICING (V4)
This means “rejoice no matter what the circumstance” This is a continual, habitual practice of each Christian. Paul leaves no room for “excuses” or “Buts” or “what if” Look what he says as he repeats this command! “always” which permits no exceptions regardless how painful or trying you situation must be. Again go back and look at the joy that was set before Jesus Christ as He hung on the tree for sinful man and sinful woman. I know present circumstances can make it very hard to rejoice. I know our depravity, sorrow, misery, and death in the world can choke our reason for rejoicing .......but we are commanded by God to rejoice nonetheless. Why? “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matt 5:12
2. ULTIMATE JOY IS FOUND WHEN WE ARE GENTLE TO EVERYONE (V5)
This is what rejoicing provides.........a heart of gentleness....This statement could also be translated “let your softness be known to all men.” This is an outward expression of an inward love that we have towards Christ and his created children. “Gentleness” can also be translated “reasonableness or graciousness” It’s the same kind of behaviour we should be demonstrating when we endure injustice......disgrace........or mistreatment by others. We are to be gentle as doves amongst wolves “to all people” and to the church. We are to be gentle which is a character of Jesus Christ for the church. “Now I, Paul, myself am pleading with you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ.....” 2 Cor 10:1. Jesus said “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." Matt 11:29-30. This should be our witness to the world and to one another! Maybe the church would get along a lot better if we started to show signs of gentleness to one another!Think of the witness we could have if the world could see us walking together in unity! Kent Hughes said “within the church this gentleness or softness or sweet reasonableness will prevent and moderate the kind of rift that occurred between Euodia and Syntyche. Even the surrounding world finds this softness and gentleness winsome and inviting. A rejoicing spirit is a gentle spirit and a healing balm to the church and the world.”
3. ULTIMATE JOY IS FOUND WHEN WERE NEVER ANXIOUS FOR ANYTHING (V6a)
Basically what Paul is saying in a nut shell...the Cole’s Notes “don’t worry about anything, so be happy”. Think about this for a moment! Humanly speaking few things were going right for Paul as he sits in a Roman’s cell......waiting possible execution for the proclamation of the Gospel. Danger was always around Paul throughout his missionary life.......what Paul does “stop worrying about anything.”This is a command that echo’s Jesus’ teaching to His disciples and the same goes for us today! "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? "So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matt 6:25-34. Jesus identifies “worry” as simply pagan “For after all these things the Gentiles seek”..........3 times Jesus forbade His children to worry. Why? Because He is the sovereign......omnipotent God who controls the universe by His mighty right hand...........That’s why! “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?......” Paul also reminded the church this promise in portion of his letter (v5) “the Lord is near” He isn’t distant from you or me.......Nothing is outside of His sovereign control. He knows what you need and what you don’t need. So stop worrying which is sin and turn to Him with praise for His sovereign providence in your life. Worry is unfruitful and anything unfruitful is sin! Matt 13:22 “Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares (worries) of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.”
4. ULTIMATE JOY IS FOUND WHEN WE ARE FELLOWSHIPPING WITH THANKFULNESS WITH GOD (V6b)
This is a vital part that keeps us praising His name. This keeps us to have a gentle spirit to everyone around us. This defiantly keeps us from worry which always steals our victory in Jesus. Be anxious for nothing.....but in everything in PRAYER and making your request known to God! “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Col 3:17. This is where we find spiritual stability when we are faced with life difficulties and trials. Prayer and our request is where we direct our specific attention too....the Lord who sits on the Throne.This is always to be done with thankfulness!
Why? Jesus paved the way for us to come into that personal relationship with the Father through His finishing work on the Cross of Calvary. So instead of worrying which is sin! Were to rejoice with gentleness, by seeking His face with thanksgiving because He is always near! We are to cast all our concerns and anxiety on Him. Remember what 1 Peter 5:7 said “casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”
5. ULTIMATE JOY IS FOUND WHEN WE HAVE A PEACE THAT CAN NEVER BE SHAKEN (V7)
The end result to these commands leads a child of God into “a peace with God that surpasses all understanding”
Remember that peace you experienced at the point of your conversion? “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” Rom 5:1. This is a peace that world cannot understand because of their blindness and ignorance to the Gospel. This is the peace that God provides and gives to His sanctified children. “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27. We are His children and we can experience that inner peace and joy that is only found in Christ! Again everything comes back to the Cross and His finishing work!
When we reflect on His love towards sinners like us.....it’s easier to follow these commands.Nothing on this earth should be able to steal our joy!Not financeS........Loss of job..........Bad news from loved ones or back home........Not even death can separate our love that we have for Christ and His finishing work on the cross.So how can a Christian find joy in the midst’s of: Struggles and adversity......Seemingly dead marriage....Heartbreak.....Death and whatever else that steals the joy that was planted in your hearts on the day the Lord came and saved you from Hell? By a life that reflects Christ’s work on the cross which leads to:
• A life that rejoices always for every occasion.
• A life that is gentle to all people no matter what.
• A life that is never anxious or worried about anything.
• A life that is always in fellowship with God through prayer with thanksgiving.
• A life that is filled with peace! Something this world desperately needs.
When we use these practical commands that Paul wrote the world will look at you and me and say “There is something different about those people”And when this happens you can turn and say “It’s all because of Jesus and His precious Gospel.”
AS FRANCES RIDLEY HAVERGAL SAID IN HER HYMN “LIKE A RIVER GLORIOUS”
“STAYED UPON JEHOVAH,
HEARTS ARE FULLY BLESSED;
FINDING, AS PROMISED,
PERFECT PEACE AND REST.”
08 April 2011
04 April 2011
There is nothing quite like being a part of a large group of people who have the same passion for something! Take a sporting event for example! It’s the finals and your favourite team is playing in the Stanley Cup and they are one game away from holding up the Lord Stanley to display their conquering win.The feeling is electric.....you can almost feel the passion and energy coming off the people seating around you! The excitement is so electric as you participate to see your team win the game. You feed off other people’s excitement and energy for the thrill of the game. NOW! What if we treated the church the same way we do our favourite hockey team or sporting event?What if we put that same passion and excitement into church as we do the things that excite us on a day to day basis? I’M USING HOCKEY AS AN EXAMPLE! IT COULD ALSO BE:
• Fishing or hunting
• Your favourite TV shows
• Going to Disney World
• A song or artist
• Video games
• Dirt bike riding
• Community events and functions
• Hockey team or sporting event
What if we put that same excitement and energy as we anticipate our Lord’s return as a body of believers? What if we had that same passion and excitement for the Gospel and His blessed church? What if we used all our time and energy for the proclamation of the Gospel and our exaltation to the Lord for His sovereign goodness to sinners like us? What if we had the same united passion for His bride and the lost people in our communities? Jesus said that the world would know that we were His disciples by the love that we have for one another.“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:34-35. Paul was a man who had a mission for the church. What was that mission? Have his same passion for the church and to be a unified front to a fallen and broken world. "Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose," Phil 2:2. Next to Heaven with Christ and the Gospel proclamation..............unity amoung God’s children were he found his deepest joy. Paul spoke of this passion.........a passion for unity was Paul’s crowning glory. Look at the opening sentence of His letter (v1).................he gives the church 4 important names of endearment!
1. “my beloved” is the adjectival form of the richest, deepest, and strongest Greek word for love.........This was Paul’s pastoral heart and passion for the church.
2. “long for brethren” this sign of a deep affection.......This being the church of Philippi.
3. “my joy” Paul found a joy in the people he loved
4. “my crown” the church of Philippi were the trophy or headdress of honor for Paul........They were the proof of his effective service for the Gospel.
This is a heart of endearment for the church and it should be our passion as well! We should feel the same way towards one another! Why? We are His sanctified children. He saved us from what we were! Lost and without hope.......but He has brought us together so that we can share in the same passion for the Gospel that saves to the uttermost. Let me ask you this morning! Can you say that about our church? Does this place of worship excite you every Sunday? Can you say with Paul, I love being with my beloved brothers and sisters in Christ? Is the fellowship and the church your crowning joy?.............Not just on Sundays but every day of the week. See we need to understand that unity is a must if we are ever to continue on for His glory and His precious gospel. Disunity only leads to frustration and heartache and worst of all a testimony to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul knew this! He knew the importance of unity among God’s children. Why do I say that? Look at (v2). He says “I implore” he says this not once but twice in same sentence! Implore means “I urge, I beg, I’m pleading” that these two ladies to get over their differences and be restored to fellowship of the church.” This tells us that Paul was greatly concerned for the unity in the church and so should we as a church family. These were two women who were not speaking to each other.........and disputing in the church is very dangerous for the body of Christ! Paul understood that discord and divisiveness create an equally crippling threat to the church. John MacArthur said “even if its doctrine is sound, disunity robs a church of its power and destroys its testimony.” So this is something we need to take seriously AS A BODY OF CHRIST! Why do I say that? It’s interesting that Paul tells the church leaders not to leave these godly saints to themselves to work it out! Look at (v3) We are to come along side one another to help keep the unity among the family of God. We are to keep each other accountable as one body under Christ. I think this is why we have so much disunity in the church today! We really don’t care about the person that is seating beside, behind or in front of you. We really don’t want to take the time to get involved in one another’s life. We really don’t want to come along side one another to encourage or correct a brother or sister.....Think about that for moment! Again going back to hockey! Your team is down by a goal in the third period and your saying to yourself “it’s over there is no way we can win” This is when your good friend outs his arm around you and say “hang in there buddy we still have a chance....don’t give up or be so pessimistic have some faith in our team." Why not do the same in church when someone is having a bad day!When someone has lost their joy or worse caught in certain sin.......This is when the church needs each other! We need to build the body and present it holy to a holy God. Again what Paul said “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Rom 12:1-2. He also said to the church of Ephesus “that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” Eph 4:14-16. Do we realize the church body is so severed that it would take a miracle to sow the pieces back together again? Take this for example: Census Canada said “the church is on a continuation of a long-term downward trend in the population who report Protestant denominations. At the same time, the number of Canadians who reported religions such as Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism has increased substantially.
Over 3800 American churches close their doors annually throughout the USA alone. The reasons for these closures run because of pastoral incompetency, strife, infidelity in leadership marriages, lack of financial integrity, doctrinal discrepancies, power struggles, persecution, congregational distrust or dissatisfaction (only 43% of Christians surveyed say they fully trust their church). If there such a high percentage of people that feel that way about their church how are we to come alongside disputing saints? This can be so damaging to a church body!! How damaging? Michael Tummillo said “Satan can use a church split to spiritually destroy the most vulnerable. For babes in Christ, seeing the world through rose-colored eyes, nothing on Earth can compare to the sweet fellowship from which they've found nourishment. Suddenly, boundaries become obscured. Friends become enemies. Brothers become adversaries. And another church-attender goes down with the ship.” See we stop the ship from sinking! It starts by loving each other despite our quirks and short comings! These two ladies are not in disagreement theologically.....they are not disputing over what colour the carpet or music style we have in the church. They are personally upset with one another and it’s our duty as a body of Christ to do surgery where surgery is needed. We are not to sit by with our blinders on and watch a person or persons get worse with time. The church isn’t a game or a place where I can be selfish and do whatever I want. It’s a place to grow and be used for the ministry outside these doors. THE BIG QUESTION IS............. if we can’t get along in here how are we to reach a lost community for Christ? We have an obligation and responsibility to one another! Why? We are all susceptible to fall because of our sin nature. This is why we must get involved...getting yourself plugged into one another’s lives! WHETHER IT’S: prayer meeting....youth group....Bible study.....small groups...moms and tots......whatever it is.....................GET PLUGGED IN and get involved with the children of God. We need to stop turning a blind eye to the body of Christ and ask the Lord to open our eyes to the concerns of one another. This is your family whether you like it or not! And it’s our duty as the Lord’s children to love each other none the less. Unity and the fellowship of God’s children is vital part to church and to the community! How you treat one another in here, is how you really treat people in general out there! Paul says the church needs “to be of the same mind” which means to live together in harmony! ............This is a must if we are ever to fulfill that command. Again John MacArthur also said “loving unity in the fellowship of believers creates an environment of stability. But discord leaves the church collectively and its members individually vulnerable and unstable. Spiritual stability requires peace and harmony in the church.” Remember what Jesus said in His Sermon on the Mount “blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Matt 5:6. HOW DO WE DO THIS? Simply by the words penned by Paul! “Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel and Jesus Christ.”. IN ORDER TO HAVE A UNIFIED CHURCH WE MUST CONSIDER THESE 4 SIMPLE BIBLIBICAL PRINCIPLES.
1. BE CONSIDERATE OF OTHERS
1 Peter 3:8-9 “Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. Brotherly love (means) loving each other as Christian brethren, Be lovers of the brethren. Tender hearted (means) pitiful of compassionate, sympathetic. We must not look to hurt the brethren with words or actions. We should be ready to spread blessings towards one another. We should be ready to bear and to wish them well and return evil.
2. DON’T INSIST ON PLEASING YOURSELF
1Cor 13:4-5 “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;” Remove your selfish pride! Why? Selfishness always leads to conflict and disunity. In order to preserve the unity of the church we must disregard our selfish desires.
3. DEPEND ON GOD’S WORK IN OUR LIVES
Rom 15:5 “Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus,” Realize that without His enabling grace we will never deny self and please others.
4. BE RECEPTIVE TO EACH OTHER
Rom 14:1 “Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things.” Instead of rejecting one another through argument over differences of opinion let us receive one another in spirit of unity.
Let us overlook our differences over non essentials. The church is the family that God has set apart for His glory!!
This is your family.......................Look around this room because these are the ones God has entrusted by putting them in your life to love......care.......edify.......... and come along side! “To a true child of God, the invisible bond that unites all believers to Christ is far more tender, and lasting, and precious; and, as we come to recognize and realize that we are all dwelling in one sphere of life in Him, we learn to look on every believer as our brother, in a sense that is infinitely higher than all human relationships. This is the one and only way to bring disciples permanently together. All other plans for promoting the unity of the Church have failed.” A.T. Pierson
So it’s time to get busy and love this church. Look at people through the eyes of Jesus Christ and see how you can help someone in the church today. As D.A. Carson said “What binds us together is not common education, common race, common income levels, common politics, common nationality, common accents, common jobs, or anything else of that sort. Christians come together because they have all been loved by Jesus himself. They are a band of natural enemies who love one another for Jesus' sake.” Let’s walk closer together and keeping each other accountable as a body of believers who are saved by sovereign grace. Remember what I said “Godly people will always reproduce other godly people.” We must work together to build a strong foundation....Why? Because............................ "there is joy found in fellowship of unity."