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GROWING THE CHURCH BY LOVING GOD AND ENJOYING YOURSELF

By on September 18, 2018

You want to be used by God. You want your life to count. You want to change, grow and make a difference. You want to be able to make a difference in other people’s lives.

You need to know that what you say and do really counts. And, you know that, until you know these things, you’ll never be truly happy or fulfilled. There is nothing more miserable than an unhappy, unfulfilled Believer.

So, what can you do to get more happiness, more OOMPH, more juice in your life? What can you do to help your friends find the only One who can fill their inner emptiness? How can you make a difference in the lives of your friends?

First, keep excited about life. One of the first things that helps you to help others is for you to demonstrate that YOU have been helped; they want to see that it works in YOUR life, before they want to get what YOU’VE got.

Jesus had a lot to say about this, about keeping full of wonder. It’s part of what comes from walking close with God every day. When you walk close with Him, life isn’t drab, boring or “same old same old.” Jesus said in Revelation 21:5, “Behold, I make all things new.”

In Matthew 18:3, when he said, “Except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.” See, most people aren’t thrilled about their lives anymore. They’re tired, bored, scared and disappointed. They need to have the seeds of Heaven panted in them so they can become child-like again.

Part of the childlikeness that Jesus was talking about included the friendliness that comes naturally to most small children. It’s only as we get older that we become self-conscious, anti-social and withdrawn.

Many Christians and most churches have lost this quality of childlike happiness and exuberance. In fact, in my experience, ALL Christians and churches THINK they’re friendly. Actually, they’re just marginally friendly, and even THAT’S just to each other! Jesus said that even the publicans, tax gatherers do that.

The moment we become “same old same old,” we’re drifting away from God. It’s a sign that we’re not being renewed, not being transformed, but that we’re conforming to the world (Romans 12:1-2).

If ONE person is left without God, then Jesus says we still have work to do. It’s only NATURAL to share good news and new discoveries. We all like to tell others when we get a new car, or discover a new restaurant. If you’re not telling people how great Jesus is, you must not know.
When you meet Jesus as Lord and have Him in your life, amazing things begin to happen. You always have SOMETHING going on that He’s doing! And, you’ll naturally find yourself telling other people!

The only way to keep a church full of people like this from growing is to get them to be unfriendly and cold. That’s the ONLY way!
God wants our church to keep growing. There are six things to do. None of them are very hard.

First, YOU begin to REALLY believe the Gospel and apply it in your own life. You’ll be trans-formed! Then, you’ll be energized, enthusiastic and caring.

You’ll find that participating in the services, the Men’s Ministry, the Women’s Ministry, Sunday school and other gatherings, are so life-changing, that you won’t WANT to miss them.

You’ll discover that, through your participation, you’re having a hands on opportunity to change someone’s life. That’ll get you feeling alive again.

Remember Andrew, one of Jesus’ first disciples? He got so excited after hearing John the Baptist that he went and got his brother, Peter. Peter ended important disciples.

What generates this kind of enthusiasm? It’s when what’s happening is so life-changing (not just fun), so meaningful, that you want to come back. Your needs are met. Or, you see a real change in someone else. Even if nothing happens to YOU, just knowing it’s happening for someone else makes you want to come back. If you know that you can contribute to someone else’s life, you’ll get excited.

According to 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, and Romans 12, EVERYBODY has some sort of ministry. Giving of your time, energy, effort and money to benefit someone other than yourself will actually cause you to grow closer to God and help you to be happy and fulfilled in life.

We have a name for those who just want to get fed, fed and fed. We call them gluttons! That’s not what the Kingdom of God is about. There are no free loaders in the Kingdom!

Second, PRAY for God to send growth. Matthew 9:28, “Pray ye therefore to the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth laborers into His harvest. (Also, part of that prayer is being willing to BE one of those laborers!)

Ask God to show YOU opportunities to make it grow. It’s not praying, “God, send twenty visitors this week. It’s more like, “God, guide my mouth.” Pray for the Pastor, the teachers, the programs, the worship – for them ALL to meet the needs of people.

Third, PREPARE yourself to receive new people. Ask God to remove pride, selfishness and even territorial feelings…”Hey, that’s MY pew!” These pews, and these different jobs in the church aren’t OURS, they’re GOD’S.

Fourth, LOOK around you. Are there any little things you CAN DO, or that the church can do to neaten things up? To make it more inviting? To make it the kind of place a person could feel at home in?

You probably already have some of the answers, and just haven’t realized it. You might be like the little boy doing his homework. He’d been adding on his fingers and getting the right answers, until he came to 10+2. He asked his dad how to do it. His dad said, “Use your fingers.” The little boy says, “I can’t.” Dad, “why not?” Little boy: “Because then I’d have to have 12 fingers!”

Fifth, SUPPORT the church with your faithful attendance and participation. Support the church financially. The only way to get the excitement of serving God is to serve!

You’ll NEVER know the songs and newer hymns if you’re not here enough to get to KNOW them! You’ll never know the thrill of how God is working in people’s lives, unless you’re here and getting to have relationships with finances of the work, until YOU have a heavy investment in it. “Where your treasure is, your heart will be also.”

People in the community really don’t care about our theology (WE do, they don’t.) They care about this: “What do I feel when I come into this congregation?” A recent nationwide survey shows: 1 come because they like the Pastor. 15 come because the Bible is preached. 75 come because they like the ATMOSPHERE in the church. What makes up the atmosphere? YOU do! See what an impact you can make, just by being one of those who are faithful?

Six, ENJOY watching your church grow, and knowing people’s lives are being changed.

Here’s a true story I heard, I think it was reported in a Colorado paper. Chippy, the parakeet, had an accident. His owner was vacuuming the cage, and got a phone call. While on the phone, she heard a “slurp,” and looked at the cage. No Chippy! She got off the phone, opened the vacuum bag, and there was Chippy.

He was alive, but dusty, and looking stunned. So, she ran him over to the sink to get him rinsed off. Of course, the water out of the tap was cold, and Chippy started shaking and shivering. To warm Chippy up, the owner got her hair dryer to blast him dry.

The reporter who covered the story called Chippy’s owner a few days later to check on how Chippy was doing. She said, well, he sits there in his cage, but Chippy doesn’t SING much anymore!” Do you ever feel like Chippy?

Jesus wants to renew you and fill you with His joy and love. Love for God, love for God, love for yourself and love for other people in your life. Then, you can be one of those who makes a difference, a real difference in the lives of others…and in the life of the church!

TOUCHING THE HEM OF JESUS’ GARMENT AND BEING MADE WHOLE

By on September 11, 2018

What does it take to get the Lord to meet your needs? How come some people get their needs met regularly and others are in constant frustration? Does it have to do with how smart the person is? Or, is it all just based on how much faith each person has? We’ve all known people who had a lot of faith and whose needs weren’t met. There has to be more to it than that. Or is it that some are just better at praying?

There’s another trait you need that really makes the critical difference. You’ll find it in action in the life of the woman with the issue of blood. Her story is found in Luke 8:43-48.

The Bible tells you that this woman had an incurable disease. She had an unstoppable hemorrhage of blood. She had it for years and had spent all her money going from one doctor to another. Her disease drained her not only financially, but it took her energy, and ruined her social life.

This disease also wrecked her spiritual life because it kept her from going into the Temple, to worship God. In the Bible days, a person with a running hemorrhage was considered unclean, because of the germs and diseases that can be carried in blood. So, people who were hemorrhaging weren’t allowed in the Temple, and weren’t invited to parties or other social gatherings.

Her problem took her health, her money, her strength and her social life. And, it produced in her the vital trait for getting blessings from God. Through her problem, she developed the trait of desperation.

She had also learned about what was really important in life. It helped give her the edge that she needed when she came to Jesus.

Specifically, she was totally aware that she was dying day by day. That’s a good knowledge to come in. see, most people don’t really think they’re EVER going to die. Even a lot of Christmas are like this.

They live as though earth was their home. They give their time towards foolishness are spend their strength on things that are useless as far as eternity is concerned. That’s why they never have the desperate enough to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment.

The second thing this woman had learned was this: money can’t buy what you really need. Again, most people still think that most of their problems can be solved if they can just get their hands on some more money.

Multi-millionaire Ted Turner said, “Millions don’t count for much anymore. A dollar is worth about one hundredth as much as it was when I was a youngster. Money becomes worthless. According to Jesus Christ, money is worthless. It won’t buy you anything in Heaven…it might not even get you in.”

Guess what? Money won’t EVEN get you in the door to Heaven. But, loving it and letting it come between you and God, or you and your worshiping at the House of God WILL wreck your spiritual life.

God says in Isaiah 55:2, “Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? And your labor for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently unto Me, and eat that which is good, and let your SOUL (instead of your flesh) delight itself in fatness!”

Third, she learned not to let anybody or any circumstance come between her and her walk with God. We tend to let just about any excuse or any person hold us back from Him. We’ll let out of town company keep us from the House of God. We’ll let the fact that we’re on vacation from work keep us from attending a Gospel preaching church on Sunday morning, when we’re out of town.

We’ll let the boss’ request for putting in overtime keep us away from the House of God. Someone said that Judas required thirty pieces of silver; Americans require time and a half!

This woman had learned through her struggles that she needed to be focused, obsessed and desperate for God to move in her life. Most prayers aren’t answered because they’re prayed so half-heartedly that it doesn’t even seem like we care much whether God answers them or not.

The woman “came from behind Him and touched the hem of his garment.” This is proof of her determination to get to Jesus. There was a dense crowd of people between her and Jesus. There was no way she could just walk into His presence, like you and I can.

No, she had to find some other way to get into the presence of Jesus, or miss her opportunity forever.

The next obstacle she had to overcome was the attitude of the disciples. At this stage of Jesus’ ministry, the disciples spent a lot of their efforts on crowd control. They made sure that Jesus wouldn’t be overcrowded or crushed by the crowds that thronged Him.

Sometimes, you need to overcome your fear of the attitudes of the disciples – those people who have known Jesus longer than you have! If you let them, they’ll make you feel too bad, too dirty or too unimportant to come to Jesus! But she was coming to come to Jesus who said, “He that cometh to Me, I will in no wise cast out (John 6:37).”

The third obstacle for her to overcome was just the importance of Jesus, and her own insignificance. Here He was with so much to do and so many people who needed Him. And here she was, a no body. She was sickly, poor and outcast. But still, she pressed on to touch Jesus.

You have to decide what is most important to you, what the people think, or getting into the place where Jesus can meet your needs. That means putting aside those other people, interests and distractions. There’s no hope for you in mankind or in the things of this world. What your soul needs is the present and very real hand of Jesus in your heart.

She knew that touching Jesus Christ would make her whole. “…and as many as touched Him were made whole (Mark 6:56).” And, when she touched Jesus, virtue went out of Him and into her point of need. Her deliverance came by her contact with Jesus.

He said in verse 46, “Somebody hath touched me, for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me.” What is virtue? In the Bible sense, virtue is “the power of good; life –giving substance; that which imparts power and life.”

When you touch Jesus, the power that you need will flow from Him and into your life. Power to overcome anger; power to overcome bitterness, jealousy and depression. Power to overcome drugs and alcohol. Power to live upright and godly in this present age.

This woman exercised greater faith than the healthy ones around her. There were many who were closer to Jesus, but they didn’t exercise their faith. Lots of people surround Jesus, but they don’t use their faith. Jesus was sensitive to her faith, and He is sensitive to YOUR touch.

Her testimony touched others. The woman then realized that Jesus saw her, and she couldn’t hide. Trembling, she told Jesus why she had touched Him, and she declared to the crowd what had happened.

Her words are the only ones that have been recorded in God’s book – her words of testimony. When she touched Jesus, she became able to touch others.

Hebrews 4:13 tells us that nothing is hidden from God, but that all creatures are manifest in His sight. He sees you and all that you’re doing. And, he’s sees your struggles, your hopes, your efforts and your fears. He sees your heart, and what you really mean, when you do some of the things you do. He sees your pain, your loneliness, your guilt and uncertainties.

What’s the issue in your life? Jesus will release the “power of good” into your situation. For you, it might be the power of forgiveness and the hope of new life. Or, it might be the power to lay aside that sin, or to overcome that habit. Maybe it’s the power to walk in total obedience that you need, or the power to be a better spouse, parent or family member.

Push your way past the obstacles and touch the hem of Jesus’ garment, and…be made totally whole!

HOW COME WE DON’T REACH OUR FRIENDS? HERE’S WHY.

By on September 4, 2018

In the early church, bringing other people to Jesus was just a way of life. It wasn’t something that was so much taught, as it was something caught. When you found Jesus and what He could do in your life, you simply found yourself telling others about Him.

He had taken away your guilt, frustration, pain and emptiness, and you didn’t want your friend to have to live that way even one more day. So, you told them the best you could, and pulled alongside them, imparting into your life what He had imparted into YOUR life.

So, how come it’s not like that NOW? Partially because we live in self-centered society. We’re brought up thinking about ourselves, our feelings, our pains, our hurts, our dreams, our disappointments, our fears and that’s about it. Even the other people in our lives tend to be there because of how they make US feel about ourselves!

By being so self-absorbed, it becomes almost impossible to have true feelings for others. That’s why it’s common nowadays for young teenagers to not only kill other teenagers, even their friends, but to show no remorse at all! All they think about is themselves and their feelings. No feelings for the other person, their family, their friends, the fact that they took someone else’s life. Most of the insensitivity in our society goes back to the self-absorption taught.

Thinking that the problem in society come from low self-esteem, we’ve turned our schools into self-esteem clinics instead of centers for education. Each child is told, taught, rehearsed and tested on the fact that he or she is special, very important, and that all of his or her demands are meant to be met. Then, we wonder how come they only think of themselves!

This is the root of the insensitivity that has gripped the modern church. Two thousand years ago, the ancient world was amazed by the Christians’ courage and caring. Today, the modern world is assumed by the Christians’ self-centeredness and carnality.

We don’t reach out like we should, because we’ve gotten insensitive to the other people around us. God was sensitive enough that He, as Jesus, came to earth, died a hellish death to purchase for us a new life and forgiveness. He did this because He believed in us. He believed in Hell. He believed in Heaven. He wanted no one to go to hell, but that everyone who wanted to, could go to Heaven.

Due to the levels of self-centeredness we’re surrounded with, and taught, we’ve become as insensitive in many ways, as the rest if the world. Jesus said in Matthew 24:12 that, “because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax (become) cold.” Our love for people grows cold; we become unfeeling. Our love for people grows cold; we become unfeeling. Our love for God becomes again, we’ve lost the ability to really feel.

There is so much crime, so much pain, so many problems screaming for our attention, that we just don’t have the compassion that we used to have. We’ve gotten insensitive to the pain, the emptiness, the lack of meaning in peoples’ lives. We don’t pick up on their loneliness and their lack of connection to God.

We’ve also gotten insensitive to God, and how HE feels. We don’t realize how much He hurts over the emptiness and self-destruction that are operating in the lives of those whom He cares so much for.

Instead of feeling love and compassion for people, we allow envy to come in. That’s the only way, we cannot be troubled when someone else has problems. In Matthew 27:18, it says that this is why the Pharisees wanted to have Jesus crucified: “For He knew that for envy they had delivered Him.” Their hearts had gotten so cold, they couldn’t receive the love that Jesus had for them.

Remember when the man with the withered hand came to Jesus to be healed? The Pharisees didn’t want Jesus to heal him. They just wanted to keep their religious rules, but had forgotten how to care about people. Jesus looked at them with anger, because of the hardness of their hearts. We need that hardness of heart broken off.

We can also get self-deceived. We think that other things are more important than reaching other people and helping them. We think our own personal growth is more important, or fellowshipping with other Christians. We get to thinking that the most important thing is praising and worshiping.

The number one thing is reaching other people. Like Jesus said in Matthew 20:28, “Even as the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”

People CAN go to Heaven without growing or fellowshipping very much. They can go to Heaven without leadership training.
If we’ll reach out to other people, God will supply the training, since we’re bringing in the people.

2 Corinthians 9:10 says that God gives seed to the one who will sow and multiply the seed we sow. And, he gives bread for food. If we’ll sow the seed, the Gospel, He’ll provide the bread; the trainers, the teachers, the leaders with heart. We don’t want stale bread! We sow the seed, and God will give the bread.

Some of us are great on tithing, but we need to have also compassion. Jesus told the Pharisees, “You pay tithes, and you’ve omitted the weightier matters, judgement, mercy and faith.” If we pay attention to being compassionate, faithful and exercising sound judgement, the money will come in!

Self-deception takes the form of having a zeal for teaching and instruction, but then not doing much about it. James 2 talks about this. We don’t need more knowledge and instruction. We need to DO what we already know. It’s the DOING of the Word that brings the changes, not the HEARING.

Our society, and our generation of Christians are caught up in the worship of the Tree of Knowledge. “If we only had more education!” The real movers and shakers never have been the scholars, the PhD’s. The real movers and shakers have always been the doers!

Think of it this way: How much teaching, training and instruction did Jesus give the disciples before sending out the first group of seventy? He sent them out to heal the sick, cast out devils and preach the gospel. He said they’d LEARN BY DOING.

They’d been WATCHING Jesus do it for over a year. But, it wasn’t until they did it that understanding came, and then they came back rejoicing! As long as they were watching, as long as they were only spectators, there was no joy and no power. They had no real understanding. They knew it worked for Jesus, but they never knew it would work for them.

If we don’t go and do, we begin to withdraw. If we’re not ACTIVELY involved in reaching people who are lost hurting, we begin to withdraw. We think we’re doing the will of God by clustering around other believers. We’re the salt of the earth, and we want to cluster together in the saltshaker. That’s not what salt is for.

After withdrawing, we move into another area: Fear. Fear of rejection, fear of reaching out, fear of failure. Proverbs 29:25 says, “The fear of man bringeth a snare.”

How do we deal with this? “Perfect love caseth out fear (1 John 4:18).” We need to get back to being truly loving, caring and compassionate to people. We need to not be able to just sit back and watch someone fall – and have it not even touch us at all!

We know enough theology. We have enough songs memorized. We need to get some “knee-ology” and have God’s priority become OUR priority. It’s not about us feeling good and learning how to nurse our little wounds and hurts. Let Jesus do that!

When we get to where we truly have heart for others, and have heart for God, our petty little problems will work themselves out, and our needs will be more than abundantly supplied.

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