1/19/14

From Gary... Who you know


OK, I have no idea what this church is, because the sign has been blurred.  However, its message is clear and worth remembering.  Not everyone will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  You can't just believe any old thing, you need to have a relationship with Jesus.  A relationship of more than mere words; one of obedience to the teachings of God's son.  Jesus puts it this way...

Matthew, Chapter 7
 21  Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.   22  Many will tell me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, in your name cast out demons, and in your name do many mighty works?’   23  Then I will tell them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you who work iniquity.’ 

  24  “Everyone therefore who hears these words of mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man, who built his house on a rock.   25  The rain came down, the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat on that house; and it didn’t fall, for it was founded on the rock.   26  Everyone who hears these words of mine, and doesn’t do them will be like a foolish man, who built his house on the sand.  27  The rain came down, the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat on that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.”

Simply put: Be wise, listen, learn and obey.  It is the wise thing to do!!!

From Gary... Bible Reading January 19



Bible Reading   

January 19

The World English Bible

Jan. 19
Genesis 19

Gen 19:1 The two angels came to Sodom at evening. Lot sat in the gate of Sodom. Lot saw them, and rose up to meet them. He bowed himself with his face to the earth,
Gen 19:2 and he said, "See now, my lords, please turn aside into your servant's house, stay all night, wash your feet, and you will rise up early, and go on your way." They said, "No, but we will stay in the street all night."
Gen 19:3 He urged them greatly, and they came in with him, and entered into his house. He made them a feast, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.
Gen 19:4 But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, surrounded the house, both young and old, all the people from every quarter.
Gen 19:5 They called to Lot, and said to him, "Where are the men who came in to you this night? Bring them out to us, that we may have sex with them."
Gen 19:6 Lot went out to them to the door, and shut the door after him.
Gen 19:7 He said, "Please, my brothers, don't act so wickedly.
Gen 19:8 See now, I have two virgin daughters. Please let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them what seems good to you. Only don't do anything to these men, because they have come under the shadow of my roof."
Gen 19:9 They said, "Stand back!" Then they said, "This one fellow came in to live as a foreigner, and he appoints himself a judge. Now will we deal worse with you, than with them!" They pressed hard on the man Lot, and drew near to break the door.
Gen 19:10 But the men put forth their hand, and brought Lot into the house to them, and shut the door.
Gen 19:11 They struck the men who were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they wearied themselves to find the door.
Gen 19:12 The men said to Lot, "Do you have anybody else here? Sons-in-law, your sons, your daughters, and whoever you have in the city, bring them out of the place:
Gen 19:13 for we will destroy this place, because the outcry against them has grown great before Yahweh that Yahweh has sent us to destroy it."
Gen 19:14 Lot went out, and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were pledged to marry his daughters, and said, "Get up! Get out of this place, for Yahweh will destroy the city." But he seemed to his sons-in-law to be joking.
Gen 19:15 When the morning came, then the angels hurried Lot, saying, "Get up! Take your wife, and your two daughters who are here, lest you be consumed in the iniquity of the city."
Gen 19:16 But he lingered; and the men grabbed his hand, his wife's hand, and his two daughters' hands, Yahweh being merciful to him; and they took him out, and set him outside of the city.
Gen 19:17 It came to pass, when they had taken them out, that he said, "Escape for your life! Don't look behind you, and don't stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains, lest you be consumed!"
Gen 19:18 Lot said to them, "Oh, not so, my lord.
Gen 19:19 See now, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have magnified your loving kindness, which you have shown to me in saving my life. I can't escape to the mountain, lest evil overtake me, and I die.
Gen 19:20 See now, this city is near to flee to, and it is a little one. Oh let me escape there (isn't it a little one?), and my soul will live."
Gen 19:21 He said to him, "Behold, I have granted your request concerning this thing also, that I will not overthrow the city of which you have spoken.
Gen 19:22 Hurry, escape there, for I can't do anything until you get there." Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.
Gen 19:23 The sun had risen on the earth when Lot came to Zoar.
Gen 19:24 Then Yahweh rained on Sodom and on Gomorrah sulfur and fire from Yahweh out of the sky.
Gen 19:25 He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew on the ground.
Gen 19:26 But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.
Gen 19:27 Abraham got up early in the morning to the place where he had stood before Yahweh.
Gen 19:28 He looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and looked, and saw that the smoke of the land went up as the smoke of a furnace.
Gen 19:29 It happened, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the middle of the overthrow, when he overthrew the cities in which Lot lived.
Gen 19:30 Lot went up out of Zoar, and lived in the mountain, and his two daughters with him; for he was afraid to live in Zoar. He lived in a cave with his two daughters.
Gen 19:31 The firstborn said to the younger, "Our father is old, and there is not a man in the earth to come in to us after the manner of all the earth.
Gen 19:32 Come, let's make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve our father's seed."
Gen 19:33 They made their father drink wine that night: and the firstborn went in, and lay with her father. He didn't know when she lay down, nor when she arose.
Gen 19:34 It came to pass on the next day, that the firstborn said to the younger, "Behold, I lay last night with my father. Let us make him drink wine again, tonight. You go in, and lie with him, that we may preserve our father's seed."
Gen 19:35 They made their father drink wine that night also. The younger went and lay with him. He didn't know when she lay down, nor when she got up.
Gen 19:36 Thus both of Lot's daughters were with child by their father.
Gen 19:37 The firstborn bore a son, and named him Moab. He is the father of the Moabites to this day.
Gen 19:38 The younger also bore a son, and called his name Ben Ammi. He is the father of the children of Ammon to this day.

 
Jan. 19, 20
Matthew 10

Mat 10:1 He called to himself his twelve disciples, and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every sickness.
Mat 10:2 Now the names of the twelve apostles are these. The first, Simon, who is called Peter; Andrew, his brother; James the son of Zebedee; John, his brother;
Mat 10:3 Philip; Bartholomew; Thomas; Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus; Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus;
Mat 10:4 Simon the Canaanite; and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.
Mat 10:5 Jesus sent these twelve out, and commanded them, saying, "Don't go among the Gentiles, and don't enter into any city of the Samaritans.
Mat 10:6 Rather, go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
Mat 10:7 As you go, preach, saying, 'The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!'
Mat 10:8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, and cast out demons. Freely you received, so freely give.
Mat 10:9 Don't take any gold, nor silver, nor brass in your money belts.
Mat 10:10 Take no bag for your journey, neither two coats, nor shoes, nor staff: for the laborer is worthy of his food.
Mat 10:11 Into whatever city or village you enter, find out who in it is worthy; and stay there until you go on.
Mat 10:12 As you enter into the household, greet it.
Mat 10:13 If the household is worthy, let your peace come on it, but if it isn't worthy, let your peace return to you.
Mat 10:14 Whoever doesn't receive you, nor hear your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake off the dust from your feet.
Mat 10:15 Most certainly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city.
Mat 10:16 "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
Mat 10:17 But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to councils, and in their synagogues they will scourge you.
Mat 10:18 Yes, and you will be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony to them and to the nations.
Mat 10:19 But when they deliver you up, don't be anxious how or what you will say, for it will be given you in that hour what you will say.
Mat 10:20 For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.
Mat 10:21 "Brother will deliver up brother to death, and the father his child. Children will rise up against parents, and cause them to be put to death.
Mat 10:22 You will be hated by all men for my name's sake, but he who endures to the end will be saved.
Mat 10:23 But when they persecute you in this city, flee into the next, for most certainly I tell you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel, until the Son of Man has come.
Mat 10:24 "A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his lord.
Mat 10:25 It is enough for the disciple that he be like his teacher, and the servant like his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more those of his household!
Mat 10:26 Therefore don't be afraid of them, for there is nothing covered that will not be revealed; and hidden that will not be known.
Mat 10:27 What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in the ear, proclaim on the housetops.
Mat 10:28 Don't be afraid of those who kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul. Rather, fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.
Mat 10:29 "Aren't two sparrows sold for an assarion coin? Not one of them falls on the ground apart from your Father's will,
Mat 10:30 but the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
Mat 10:31 Therefore don't be afraid. You are of more value than many sparrows.
Mat 10:32 Everyone therefore who confesses me before men, him I will also confess before my Father who is in heaven.
Mat 10:33 But whoever denies me before men, him I will also deny before my Father who is in heaven.
Mat 10:34 "Don't think that I came to send peace on the earth. I didn't come to send peace, but a sword.
Mat 10:35 For I came to set a man at odds against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.
Mat 10:36 A man's foes will be those of his own household.
Mat 10:37 He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me isn't worthy of me.
Mat 10:38 He who doesn't take his cross and follow after me, isn't worthy of me.
Mat 10:39 He who seeks his life will lose it; and he who loses his life for my sake will find it.
Mat 10:40 He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me.
Mat 10:41 He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet's reward. He who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man will receive a righteous man's reward.
Mat 10:42 Whoever gives one of these little ones just a cup of cold water to drink in the name of a disciple, most certainly I tell you he will in no way lose his reward."



From Mark Copeland... Death, Life, And Immortality (2 Timothy 1:10)






                    "THE SECOND EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY"

                  Death, Life, And Immortality (1:10)

INTRODUCTION

1. In Paul's last epistle, written shortly before his death, Timothy is
   encouraged to remain steadfast and not be ashamed of the gospel
   - 2Ti 1:8-12

2. In his words are things that have been of interest throughout the
   history of mankind...
   a. Death, life, and immortality
   b. Upon which the appearing of Jesus Christ has made great impact
      - 2Ti 1:10

[What the coming of Jesus has done in regards to death, life, and
immortality should be of interest to all who have ever contemplated
them.  Let's examine what Christ has indeed done, beginning with
death...]

I. JESUS CHRIST HAS ABOLISHED DEATH

   A. WHICH KIND OF DEATH HAS JESUS ABOLISHED...?
      1. There is physical death
         a. Which occurs when the spirit and body are separated - cf. Ja
            2:26
         b. Which began when Adam and Eve lost access to the tree of
            life - Gen 3:22-24
      2. There is spiritual death
         a. Which occurs when the spirit and God are separated - cf. Isa 59:1-2
         b. Which happens because of sin - Ro 6:23

   B. JESUS HAS ABOLISHED SPIRITUAL DEATH...
      1. Through His death on the cross! - Ro 5:6-10
         a. Providing justification (freedom from guilt)
         b. Providing reconciliation (bringing us back to God)
      2. When one accepts the gift of Christ's death, spiritual death is
         abolished! - 2Co 5:18-6:2
         a. The gospel is a ministry of reconciliation
         b. God was in Christ seeking to reconcile man back to Him
         c. To be reconciled, we must receive the grace of God

   C. JESUS WILL ABOLISH PHYSICAL DEATH...
      1. Again, through His death on the cross - He 2:14-15
         a. Through death He overcame the one who the power of death
         b. Through death He released us from the bondage of death
         c. Thus Christians need not fear death - e.g., Php 1:19-23
      2. But also through His resurrection - Ac 2:23-24; 1Co 15:20-26
         a. God loosed the "pains of death" to raise up Jesus; but
            Christ is only the beginning
         b. When He comes again, He will totally abolish death! - cf.
            1Co 15:50-58

[Spiritual death is abolished when one turns to the Lord.  Physical
death will be abolished when the Lord returns and raises the dead.  This
leads naturally to our next point for consideration...]

II. JESUS CHRIST HAS BROUGHT LIFE AND IMMORTALITY TO LIGHT

   A. IS "LIFE AND IMMORTALITY" A HENDIADYS...?
      1. Definition of 'hendiadys' (No, not some cross between a chicken
         and insect )
         a. Literally, "one through two"
         b. "the expression of an idea by the use of usually two
            independent words connected by and (as nice and warm)
            instead of the usual combination of independent word and its
            modifier (as nicely warm)" - Merriam-Webster
      2. If so, then "life and immortality" means "immortal life"
      3. No way to be sure, so we'll look at both nouns separately

   B. JESUS HAS BROUGHT LIFE TO LIGHT...
      1. This pertains to the "eternal life" or "abundant life", not
         simply existence - Jn 10:10
      2. Jesus has shed light on eternal life as a present possession
         a. The relationship one can have with the Father and the Son
            - Jn 17:1-3
         b. A quality of life that one can enjoy even in this life
            - 1Jn 5:11-13,20
      3. Jesus has shed light on eternal life as a future hope
         a. A promise of an existence we have yet to receive - Tit 1:2
         b. A gift to receive at the end, following the Judgment - Ro 6:
         22-23; Mt 25:46

   C. JESUS HAS BROUGHT IMMORTALITY TO LIGHT...
      1. The word immortality (aphtharsia) means "incorruption,
         perpetuity" - Thayer
      2. The Scriptures use the word (or its adjective, aphthartos) to
         describe:
         a. God - Ro 1:23; 1Ti 1:17
         b. The Word of God - 1Pe 1:23
         c. Our inheritance in heaven - 1Pe 1:4
         d. A meek and quiet spirit, metaphorically spoken of as
            incorruptible apparel - 1Pe 3:4
      3. It is also used to describe the resurrected body of the
         righteous - 1Co 15:50-54
         a. Pagan philosophers frequently applied it to soul, but never
            to the body
         b. This is a 'mystery' the gospel brings to 'light', that one
            day our souls will be given incorruptible bodies (i.e., put
            on immortality)
         c. This will occur at the resurrection, when Jesus completely
            abolishes death!

CONCLUSION

1. The truth about death, life, and immortality has been brought to
   light through the gospel - 2Ti 1:10

2. Jesus wanted this 'gospel' (good news) proclaimed to every one - cf.
   Mk 16:15
   a. That all might benefit from the blessings available through His
      death, resurrection and return!
   b. A new life in Christ now, no longer experiencing spiritual death
   c. A strong hope in the life to come, overcoming physical death
      through immortal bodies

Have you responded to the gospel of Christ in order to receive these
benefits both present and future...? - cf. Mk 16:16; Ac 2:38; Ro 6:3-8

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Jim McGuiggan... HELP ME GIVE IT UP

HELP ME GIVE IT UP



This is a particularly difficult thing to speak about at this time. I don’t need to develop the reason right now other than to say that the body and mind of a very dear friend and a great man of God is under attack. I mention the difficulty of speaking about it only so that you won’t think I’m being glib!

Life is and should be precious to us. We see and feel that truth in a million ways don’t we. And why wouldn’t it be this way for most of us? This means that even Christians who believe in life with Christ after death are loath to leave this place with all its warm relationships and sheer pleasure.

Yes, we cheerfully sing, “This World is Not My Home” but it’s the only home we’ve known all our lives and it is God’s gift to us so how could we not, at some level, regret leaving it. Bless me, even at airports when our beloved is leaving for a longish period there are tears and hugs, almost a refusal to let them go. Should it be surprising that we express the fear of “loss” of them in the feverish way we try to prolong their life when it seems clear they are heading out of our lives.
Still, in our bones we know we can’t put off the day forever. It’s appointed! Wouldn’t it be fine if we (not just the dying one—but the family and friends) were so shaped and assured that we could “give them up” in an assured and glorious way?

Not in a life-denying way, mark you, but doing it after we have (as Robert Browning put it) “earned” our death by living life to the full in joyful integrity. There are things worth dying for and there is a time when it’s okay to “lay yourself down with a will,” as Robert Louis Stevenson expressed it.

In the movie, El Cid lies mortally wounded with an arrow deep in his chest. He’s sure to die but his adoring wife wants to prolong it by mere hours by having the arrow removed even though it will weaken him. He resists her pleas because he must address the army that has lost heart because they think he’s dead and think they will have to face the enemy without him. He keeps the arrow and speeds his death so that he can do something worthy of his having lived—a life he has lived so well and honorably. He tenderly tells her, “You can’t save my life. You must help me to give it up.”

We all need that kind of help. When Death comes calling, and will not this time go away without us, we need friends and family to help us give it up in a way that’s appropriate. There aren’t many scenes more impressive than those where vibrant faith in Jesus Christ is facing death with assured sorrow.

But long before we’re on our deathbeds we need that kind of help. We need people to help us not to hoard the life we’ve been given. We desperately need help to keep us from spending it selfishly on our own ease and we need people around us who will help us to be generous with it.
During a dangerous viral outbreak a husband didn’t want his doctor wife to put their life together at risk by getting involved. Who can’t understand that? But who can’t be thrilled and pleased by her response? She told him, “I love you with all of my heart, my dear, but you mustn’t make it hard for me to do what’s right.”
She was telling him, “Help me give it up.”

And then there was the One who faced the most momentous moment in his life and he called on three of his dear friends to come with him to a garden and help him give it up.


©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.

Many thanks to brother Ed Healy, for allowing me to post from his website, theabidingword.com.

From Ben Fronczek... Grow Up!



Grow Up!


Most people like babies including baby animals, like kittens, puppies, baby lambs, goats and even baby cows. There is just something about them that’s adorable and cute. But something would not be right if babies stayed babies, if puppies stayed puppies, and if baby cows just stayed calves. All living things are meant to grow and mature into something God meant them to be as they grow older.

The same is true for each of us spiritually. After we are born again, after we exit the waters of Baptism we are referred to as a babe in Christ. Not only is our slate wiped clean of all past sin, we know little about being a Christian. Something is expected to happen as time goes on, it is only natural for us to grow and mature into something very special, something God designed us to be.

As I thought about this, I thought about my role here as a teacher and preacher. What is my job here? Is it my job to entertain you each week with a good sermon and Bible study? Is it my job to intrigue you or tickle your ears with something you do not know or have not heard before? Am I just a point man, someone to lead the pack or in this case this congregation?  As I thought about it I realized it, it’s not my job to entertain you or tickle your ears with new trivia, or intrigue you, and I am definitely not the leader or kingpin of this church; that’s Jesus’ role.

So what’s my job here? Yes it is to preach, yes it is to teach, but not to entertain you or tickle your ears, but rather to feed you up to a point, and to encourage you grow and mature and do that which our Lord has so designed you to do as an individual in His Kingdom..

Just like there comes a point in it life where a berry bush brings forth berries and an apple tree bears apples, and a cows produces milk, Christians are meant to grow and mature to a point where they bear some kind of fruit.

Napoleon once pointed to a map of China and said, “There lies a sleeping giant. If it ever wakes up, it will be unstoppable.”  Likewise I could say, “The church in the United States is a sleeping giant. If it ever wakes up, it will be unstoppable.”   Millions attend their different  churches each Sunday, and that is about as far as their faith takes them. There is simply no doubt that if all church members were as active as Christ calls them to be, the church could reshape our world and our culture. Oh how wonderful it would be!

According to a Gallup survey only 10% of American church members are active in any kind of ministry. That’s why I consider the church a sleeping giant. World-wide too many members are sitting on their hands.

Even sadder is the fact that the Gallup survey said that 50% of church members have no interest in serving in any ministry at all. Think about that! Half of all church members say that they simply want to remain spectators. When asked to serve in a ministry, they say, “I just don’t feel led to get involved.”

After I heard those statistics I could not help but consider or think of a couple of possible reasons why this is so – a couple of reasons why Christians don’t want get involved in any way or form. Here is a couple of thoughts I came up with…

#1. These members simply don’t know and love Jesus enough. They want Him as a personal savior, but do not act like He is their Lord. They want what He is willing give, but aren’t moved serve Him and give back in return.

#2. Another reason why Christians may not want to get involved is because many preachers, teachers, and elders or shepherds aren’t doing a good job at what they should be doing. In other words these members aren’t being fed what they need in order to grow and mature in the faith. And even if members are being properly taught, maybe church leaders aren’t encourage their more mature members enough to get out there and do something!!  Like a mama bird pushes it’s baby out of it’s nest to encourages it to fly on its own, over and over the New Testament instructs members to get out and get involved in some kind of ministry.

Read 1 Peter 4:7-11  

7 The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. 8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.”

Peter tells these early Christians to pray, Love each other deeply, offer hospitality. He said, use whatever gift you have to serve others. In doing so you  administer God’s grace to others. In other words, God uses members of the church to personally bless others when we use the abilities He gave us.

Each of us have God given abilities. You may not be able to teach or preach, but maybe you can cook, maybe you can make or fix things, maybe you entertain, or visit, or maybe you like to talk on the phone, or maybe you are good at listening. Everybody can’t do what you can do. God gave you those abilities for a reason. And not only that, God gave us the ability to learn new talents. Many of those talent and abilities were given to you not only for your own benefit, but also for the benefit of others, and to glorify our God.

Now I want to read to you from Romans 12:3-11    

3 Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us] 4 Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, 5 so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.  6 In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. 7 If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. 8 If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly. 9 Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. 10 Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. 11 Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.”

Strong word here from Paul! Don’t get a big head because we are all part of the body, the church, and we belong to one another. Just like a family should depend on one another when in need, so too we have a responsibility to help one another if the need arises. Like Peter, Paul said we are to use our abilities, or talents or gifts to serve others. If it is teaching, teach, if it is encouraging, encourage, if it is leading, lead etc.. He ends this sections by saying what? That we should not be lazy but work hard and serve our self and make lots of money? No! He told Christians to work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. God has so ordained that each Christian should us those talent He has give us to His glory  Special note: Don’t judge others because they can’t do something as well as you ro what you consider easy. That just may be your gift and not theirs.

I would like to read to you another verse from Ephesians 4:11-16    

11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors(or shepherds)  and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. 14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.
15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”

So from this verse do you see what my job, and what our responsibility as Elders is? Very specifically, to equip you for works of service.

The Amplified Bible puts it this way:  

11 And His gifts were [varied; He Himself appointed and gave men to us] some to be apostles (special messengers), some prophets (inspired preachers and expounders), some evangelists (preachers of the Gospel, traveling missionaries), some pastors (shepherds of His flock) and teachers. 12 His intention was the perfecting and the full equipping of the saints (His consecrated people), [that they should do] the work of ministering toward building up Christ’s body (the church),”

I believe that beyond God’s intention to save us by the blood of His one and only Son, He wanted to bring us into a nurturing body of believers to be trained and equipped so that we could in turn grow up and mature.  Then as Peter puts it in chapter 2 of his first letter, we are then to become a “holy priesthood, offering up spiritual sacrifices and service acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (Each of us are to become one of His ministers.)

I feel like I’ve done my best over the years to teach what I feel is some of the most important things I’ve learned in scripture in addition to the Saving work of Jesus. And that is to trust in our Lord with all your heart, to trust in His love for you, and to believe that God has promised that He will work all things out for our best interest. And also the fact that we have no need to be afraid, because God is so near to us, watching over us, ready to guide us. He wants to commune with us.   The Christian religion is not just about feeling like you have to go to church and do this or that, rather, the Christian religion is all about the close relationship you can have and enjoy  with our God, as we walk together and serve one another.

So my challenge for you this day as a teacher and preacher of God’s word, and as an elder, is to look at yourself and consider how God has blessed you. Consider what talent or abilities you have and then consider how you can start serving Him. Don’t be part of that 90% who choose not to get involved and serve in any way or form. I guarantee, if you look for the open doors of opportunity God will show them to you.  I just hope that you love Him enough to serve Him. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to jump out of the nest little bird and see what it is like to fly and soar with Him.