Anyone reading the Old Testament as well as the New can clearly see that faith in God is one of the key fundamentals for an effective relationship with God our Father. Paul the apostle said: "For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness." (Romans 4:3) Also, James said: "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways." (James 1:5-8)
But most importantly, let's remember what our Lord Jesus Christ said: "If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you. (Luke 17:6) Then Jesus goes on to say: "However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8) Let's hope and pray that he does find faith my brothers and sisters in Christ, for without it we can't please God.
Now along with our faith in God the Father, prayer is also one of the essentials in our Christian walk. Jesus our Savior "spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint" as did the apostle Paul saying for us to: "Pray without ceasing.” (Luke 18:1, 1Thessalonians 5:17) Jude said to be: "building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost.” as well as James telling us to: "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” (Jude 1:20, James 5:16)
So, by our faith and prayers, we can partner with God and change not only our own lives, but the lives of others as well. On the other hand, our lacking in this can have a negative effect as well. We can see this to be true when the disciples asked Jesus why they themselves could not cast the devil out of a man’s son. For Jesus said: “Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.” (Matthew 17:20- 21) So we can see that the disciples could not cast the devil out because of their lacking in faith and prayer. Thankfully, they had Jesus come to their rescue to deliver the man's son.
Our Lord and Savior Jesus said: “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth laborers into his harvest.” (Luke 10:2) Wow, did you grasp that? Jesus is telling us to ask God to send people out to share the Gospel. Now, does this mean that no one would be saved if we don't pray for this to happen? Also, would we still be unbelievers if others didn't pray for us as? Well, only God Himself knows the answer to that. However, just look out in the harvest fields (the world) and see all the people who need to be harvested into God's Kingdom. We need to bring the gospel message to them so that they may have eternal life as well. (John 4:35-38)
Let's also remember what Jesus said while praying to God the Father: "I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours.” (John 17:9) And then afterward he prayed for us as well when he said: "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” (John 17:20-21) So, Jesus was praying for those who believed and for those who would believe their report. So again, this is a call for action on our part today as well, for we are to share the Gospel with those around us.
We are also reminded of what Paul said to Timothy: "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:1-4) So let's take the time to always be in an attitude of prayer, asking God to work and intervene not only for our own life, but the lives of others as well.
You will find these seven words in James 4:2, the seven closing words of the verse, “Ye have not, because ye ask not.” These seven words contain the secret of the poverty and powerlessness of the average Christian, of the average minister, and of the average church. “Why is it,” many a Christian is asking, “that I make such poor progress in my Christian life? Why do I have so little victory over sin? Why do I win so few souls to Christ? Why do I grow so slowly into the likeness of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?” And God answers in the words of the text: “Neglect of prayer. You have not, because you ask not.”
“Why is it,” many a minister is asking, “that I see so little fruit from my ministry? Why are there so few conversions? Why does my church grow so slowly? Why are the members of my church so little helped by my ministry, and built up so little in Christian knowledge and life?” And again God replies: “Neglect of prayer. You have not, because you ask not.”
“Why is it,” both ministers and churches are asking, “that the church of Jesus Christ is making such slow progress in the world today? Why does it make so little headway against sin, against unbelief, against error in all its forms? Why does it have so little victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil? Why is the average church member living on such a low plane of Christian living? Why does the Lord Jesus Christ get so little honor from the state of the church today?” And, again, God replies: “Neglect of prayer. You have not, because you ask not.” (click here to buy book)
This all being said, how much time do we on a personal level spend in prayer? Or, even on a corporate level as a church, how often do we get together and go to prayer before God? Could it be true that we as Christians put other agendas and activities before prayer? For according to God's word, prayer should not be a weekly or bye weekly thing, but a daily activity for us. This would be true not only as individuals, but as a church as well. For I can tell you from my own personal experience that there is nothing more important than our time in prayer. For even in my own life I felt the results of brothers and sisters in Christ praying for me. And let's remember that it was our prayer to God that first changed our own lives as well.
So, I encourage all of you to go through the bible and read for yourselves the prayers of God’s Saints such as Salomon, Daniel, Hannah, Abraham’s servant, and Nehemiah to name a few. All these changed people’s lives and the course of history through their prayers and faith in God. Let’s also not forget about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ Himself: “Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; "Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” (Hebrews 5:7-9) So we see that Jesus through prayer was heard and was victorious and became the author of our salvation. So, if Jesus needed to pray, how much more do we. Amen
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. (Ephesians 6:18-20)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)
Is your Christian walk displaying all the fruits of the Spirit as listed above? I ask this because even though we may be doing great works for the Lord, those works would profit us nothing if we lack the fruit of the Spirit. For we read: “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-7)
So, everything that we do must be done with a right attitude of love, which is on of the first fruits of the Spirit. And let’s also remember that Jesus said: “Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:21-23)
This is true also in the book of Revelations where we read: "To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, 'These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands: "I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; "and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name's sake and have not become weary. "Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. "Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place--unless you repent. (Revelation 2:1-5)
That is heavy brothers and sisters in Christ. For we can go through life practicing the gifts of the Spirit but possibly miss out by not having love. We see this happening in Judas Iscariot’s life. For Judas being part of the twelve apostles was sent out with the other eleven healing and casting out devils, for we read: “Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick. ... And they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing everywhere.” (Luke 9:1-2, 6)
So, even though Judas Iscariot was doing the works that Jesus commissioned him to do, he failed when it came down to the fruit of the Spirit, which we know is love. For we read in John’s gospel that Judas complained about the waste of the ointment that Mary (Martha’s sister) poured on Jesus: “Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment. Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray him, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.” (John 12:3-6) So, this passage makes it clear that Judas cared nothing for the poor but wanted the money for himself. And we know that he ultimately betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. So, For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew 16:26)
Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. (1 Corinthians 12:4-6)
Now we come to the gifts of the Spirit which is given to us who are in Christ Jesus. “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.” (1 Corinthians 12:7-11) So, we see that these gifts are distributed throughout the church members. This would not only benefit the church as a whole, but those who have not yet come to the knowledge that Christ Jesus is their Savior. For we read: But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all: And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth. (1 Corinthians 14:24-25)
So then, this gift of prophesy has a vital part in the church assembly. Also, these gifts are vital outside the church assembly, for we read: “And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.” (Mark 16:20) Next we read: “For if the message spoken through angels proved to be so firm that every violation or disobedience received its just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was first communicated through the Lord and was confirmed to us by those who heard him, while God confirmed their witness with signs and wonders and various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” (Hebrews 2:2-4) And last of all we read that Jesus said: “If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.” (John 10:37-38) So again, these gifts of the Spirit are a vital part of our ministry in witnessing for Christ Jesus.
For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. (1 Corinthians 13:9-10)
We know that when our Lord and Savior Jesus comes, those gifts that served us here on earth are going to be done away with. I say this because we who are in Christ will be in our perfected new bodies. For we read above that it says: “But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away?” Also, in 1 Corinthians 13:12 we read: “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” (Philippians 3:20-21) And again we read: “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)
So, for now we’re not seeing the complete picture of what we're going to be in Christ, but only a partial image. However, there’s going to be a day when we will see Jesus face to face in our new resurrected bodies and be conformed to his image. For Paul the apostle said: “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” (Romans 8:29-30)
Therefore, these gifts which serve us now will be done away with because there be no need for them anymore. For they only serve as evidence of the wonder working power of God in this current corrupt world system. However, as long as we’re in these bodies and living on this present earth, we defiantly need these gifts just as our Savior Jesus Christ and the early church needed them. Amen.
Now, let’s look at what the scripture says:
So, from these scriptures above, we can see that miracles are not just to heal and deliver people from bondage, but also to validate what we are preaching. If our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ felt it necessary to validate what he was doing with miracles, how much more do we. So, let’s not believe that they're no longer necessary. For in so doing, you would be denying scripture and even the words of Jesus himself. And let’s remember that Paul the apostle wrote with much detail about the gifts of the Spirit. For he knew they would be a vital part of the ministry of the church, not only in his time, but for us today as well. So, let’s step out in faith brothers and sisters in Christ and practice these gifts of the Spirit. And this we must do, going hand in hand with our preaching, amen.
Below are some scriptures on this topic:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)
The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)
If we look at the meaning for the Hebrew word for joy in the passage above, we would discover that it means to get very joyful, even to dance, spin around. Now, we need to remember that this passage is speaking about our God and Creator. Can you grasp the reality of our God and Father singing and showing this kind of emotion over us? Yet, that’s what God does over his creation whom he loves. So, we should do away with the mentality that thinks of God as some killjoy who want to stripe us of all joy and pleasure. For nothing can be further from the truth.
Now, if God shows this kind of emotion over us, shouldn’t we be singing and getting emotional over him as well? We need to be rejoicing over the fact that he is our awesome God and Creator in who's "presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore." (Psalm 16:11) And not only that, but we who are in Christ Jesus our Lord will be spending eternity with God in paradise. Oh, how wonderful that day will be! Yet, do we dare tap our feet and clap our hands? Do we ever show any kind of emotion when it comes to worshiping Him? Oh, what is wrong with us fellow brothers and sisters in Christ? Do not believe the lie that we must be reserved when it comes to worshiping and praising our God. We do need to pray and seek help from him as a church to praise him with our whole being. For we need to holding nothing back as David did who: "danced before the LORD with all his might.” (2 Samuel 6:14) Yes, our God is so worthy, so let's truly get excited over our Awesome God and be in love with him always.
Okay, I know if you totally let loose at your next church gathering, they may escort you out the door. But it only takes a few people excited about God to get others going as well. His joy is contagious and let us pray that everybody would catch it. So, go ahead and be totally obsessed and in love with Him. Because let's face it, living for anything else will only lead you to emptiness and despair.
"The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, 'For we also are His offspring.'
"Being then the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man. "Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead." (Acts 17:24-31)
Over in Proverbs chapter 8, we see Jesus Christ who is personified in the usage of the word wisdom in verse 30 and 31. For we read: ”Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him; Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men." When He completed the world, He rejoiced saying, “my delights were with the sons of men.” Wow, God rejoices and delights in us his creation. I find it so comforting that God loves us and that he does delights in us.
But not only that, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) Our God who loved us so much, sent his only Son to suffer for us and take the penalty for our sins. “But thanks be to God for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who loved us and gave himself for us.” (Galatians 2:20) For it is he that rose victoriously and overcame the grave. Let us also thank the Father for his Holy Spirit who indwells in us believers. (1 Corinthians 6:19) We were bought at a price, so let us set our mind and heart always on God, living a life that totally glorifies him. Amen. (Colossians 3:1-3)
Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me. (Isaiah 49:15-16)
This: ‘I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands,’ quoted above, has obvious and beautiful fulfillment in the nail-scarred hands of Jesus. As Jesus told Thomas in a post-resurrection appearance, look at My hands. (John 20:27) When we see the nail-scarred hands of Jesus, we see how He has inscribed us on the palms of His hands. With such love, how could God ever forget His people?” Quoted By David Guzik.
That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. (John 17:21)
So, in conclusion to all this, let us always remember how much Jesus loves us and in like manner to be in love with him. Let the world experience our love and 9oneness with God and with each other so that all may see Jesus Christ in us. (John 17:21-23) And let us not forget that we are the light of the world, so let the love of Jesus shine in our hearts as we tell the world about him. Our prayer and hope should always be that those who see us would see God in us, those who hear us would hear Christ speaking through us, and those who know us would know that his Spirit dwells is in us, and that they would crave what we have. Amen.
It only takes a spark to get a fire going, and soon all those around, can warm up to its glowing. Thatʼs how it is with Godʼs love, once you have experienced it, you spread His love to everyone; you want to pass it on. What a wondrous time is spring, when all the trees are budding; the birds begin to sing, the flowers start their blooming. Thatʼs how it is with Godʼs love; once you’ve experienced it, you want to sing “Itʼs fresh like spring”; you want to pass it on. I wish for you my friend, this happiness that I’ve found. You can depend on Him, it matters not where youʼre bound. Iʼll shout it from the mountain top – Praise God I want the world to know; the Lord of love has come to me, I want to pass it on. Pend by: Kurt Kaiser
Some Scripture References:
Comments concerning Proverbs 8:30-31 above:
Scriptures on Rejoicing in the LORD:
References to Dancing for Joy:
When you think of someone that’s resting, what example comes to mind? Could it be a person kicking back under a shady tree with a hat pulled over their face? Or even better yet, could it be someone on a vacation getaway relaxing on a white sandy beach on some remote island? Well, even though these may be a good example, the real truth may be just the opposite of what you think. You see, being in that prone position under a shady tree or on a getting away vacation doesn’t promise relieve from any anxieties, feelings of restlessness or fears. Because no matter where you’re at, your problems will still follow you.
So then, true rest is not that outward condition as seen above, but that inward condition which is of the heart. For it can only come from the Holy Spirit dwelling within, given us comfort and hope regardless of our outward condition. Oh, what peace and joy we have in Jesus, for in him we have true rest. So, why not put all your trust in God and let Him lead the way for you. Remember, the Father truly knows best and he will direct all your paths by his Son Jesus as quoted above. Below, you will find some scriptures on this topic of peace and hope.
Below are some encouraging passages from God's word to help you either came to know Him, or help you in your walk with him. God is totally Awesome who made a way for you and me to come to him and receive everlasting life.
Here we have four key bible scriptures that can set you on the right path. First, we must keep our mind on the LORD at all times, trusting him in every situation. For if we will do this, we can be sure that he will fill us with his perfect peace. Second, we must completely rely on him to show us the way and the path we must take. So many times, we can lean on our own theology and depart from the truth of God’s word. And thirdly, it is only through our Lord Jesus Christ that we can find true rest through all of this. We need not struggle and try to work our way into heaven, but allow him to show us the way. For we are “a work in progress,” learning the truth as we walk in the Holy Spirit. So, the more we keep our eyes on the Lord, the more we can't help but fall deeper in love with him, and the deeper we fall in love with Him, the more we can't help but keep our eyes on Him. It's a beautiful snowball effect.
Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)
We as Christians can spend so much time debating and lecturing about this and that, getting caught up in our talk over Calvinism, Arminianism, post- tribulation, pre-tribulation, are we saved before baptism or during, and on it may go. We then build our churches with their own sets of rules, views and traditions, creating denominational organizations complete with their own names of distinction. Well, is this not true? Don't we label ourselves as Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Assembly of God, Nazarenes and Church of Christ just to name a few? And let's not forget about those Churches that consider themselves "nondenominational" but yet are part of an Association of Churches. Even these churches have duplicated themselves with their own name of distinction along with their own set of rules and views.
So, why are we causing such divisions within the body of Christ? Isn’t this making the church look confusing, not only to ourselves, but to the world around us as well? Now, please don't get me wrong. I love my brothers and sisters in Christ who attend these churches. And to make things even clearer, I myself attend or even have attended some of these churches. However, by us continually allowing these names of distinction, we are creating divisions between us and making the church look confusing.
According to the word of God, there is to be no divisions within the body of Christ. We are to be the one true Church, and this would include all our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world. But, as noted above, there are so many church Denominations and Associations that are causing divisions among Christians. And why is that? Could it be because we think we have a better handle on the truth than the fellowship down the street? I do believe so, for why else would we do it? God's word sums it up best where it says: "For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?" (1Corinthians 1:11-13)
Now it may be true that we love our Lord and Savior from the heart. We may also be totally sincere in our faith as Christians, praying and reaching out to the lost and other believers as well. (Mark 16:15) However, at the same time we are building these invisible walls of separation. And the sad part of it all, we do it in plain view of the world who is watching and maybe even mocking. (Romans 2:23-24) Please Note: If we examine most of the early churches in the New Testament, we would see that they were only referred to according to their locality such as a name of the city or of a person who owned the house. So, these types of labeling was not to show a distinction from one another but to aid the reader to understand their locality. (Romans 16:3-5, 1Corinthians 1:11, 16:19, 2 Thessalonians 1:1, Philemon 1:2)
So, God calls us to be one in Christ and to dwell in unity with fellow believers. Jesus prayed for this Christian unity so that the world may see our love for one another and thus recognize that he truly came from the Father and that the Holy Spirit dwells in us. For we read: “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; “that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. “And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: “I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” (John 17:20-23) And this unity can only be truly accomplished if we obey God by breaking down these dividing walls that we have made. Because let’s face it, if we don’t do it God may do it, and that in such a way we could never have imagined.
The Syrian Christians were praying for revival and believing that God would do a great work in their land. They like us had their churches along with their different denominations. And then came the war with its bombings and terrorists. Churches were destroyed and down came their denominational barriers that separated believers. Syrian Christians groups who at one time may have questioned each other’s salvation are now gathering for weekly prayers, asking God to move in their nation and in their churches. Now, these same Christians continue to spread hope in the face of hopelessness, holding high not a political or denominational banner but the banner of Jesus Christ. (see video link in the reference area below)
And let’s not forget what happened when persecution broke out against the early church as described in the book of Acts. For we read that: “As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. Therefore, they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word.” So, we see that persecution doesn’t stop the spread of the Gospel, but only increases it. (Acts 8:3-4)
We cannot put God in our own little theological box. Yes, sometimes we get up on our little “soap box” and act like we know everything, but the truth of the matter is we don’t. (1 Corinthians 8:2) Let’s remember that Gods ways and thoughts are much higher than ours, so let’s just humble ourselves before Him and let God be God. (Isaiah 55:8) So let us quit leaning on our own understanding of things and allow his Holy Spirit to teach us his truths. We must embrace the truth of his word, and take upon ourselves the yoke of Jesus so that we can truly learn from him. For its only when we keep our eyes stayed on him, can we truly be led by the Holy Spirit into all truth. And in all, let us remember what his word says to us: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD (Deuteronomy 6:4)
So, let us put away our own petty differences and all those things that can cause divisions and strife and seek the truth of God's word. For only in doing so can we find true biblical oneness and unity. For we are that one body in the Lord with its many members who are called to function as a whole. (1 Corinthians 12:12) There is a world of people out there who need to hear the gospel and we are to be the salt and a light to them. Isn’t that what we’re called to do? Aren’t we supposed to spread the love of Christ to the lost out there so that they may have eternal life too? So, let us fulfill our Lord's Prayer by being one in Him and fulfill the great commission which is sharing the Gospel with the world. Amen.
Reference from article above:
And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? (1 Corinthians 3:1-4)
Is it an Assembly or a Church?
Some people may think that a church is the building which holds all its occupants. However, a church is not a building but an assembly of people who are gathered together in a house, a barn, a warehouse, or even out in an open field. For the word church in the Greek means a “gathering” or an “assembly” of people. For we read in the book of Acts: “And Barnabas went forth to Tarsus, to seek for Saul, and having found him, he brought him to Antioch, and it came to pass that they a whole year did assemble together in the assembly, and taught a great multitude, the disciples also were divinely called first in Antioch Christians. (Acts 11:25-26) So the word “assembly” in the Young’s Literal Translation is the same word translate as church in the King James translation. So again, whether it’s translated as a “church” or the more understandable word “assembly” (which is found in the Darby version or the Young’s Literal Translation), we see that it’s not a building but we who are gathered together in Christ’s name.
Below are some scriptures of the bible that show that the early Church mainly met in people homes.
The Promise to be Persecuted
When I was first saved, I attended a house church where a sister in Christ gave me a Precious Promise Book that was full of encouraging scriptures. But there was one promise I never recalled seeing and that was the promise of persecution for us Christian? However, they are there, maybe not in that wonderful Precious Promise Book,” but they are in God’s word for sure. So the question is, have you been facing this “promise” of persecution sense you became a Christian? Now, let’s consider the early church. For they didn’t gather in great man-made cathedrals or chapels, but in common places such as homes or in fields, and yes even in underground catacombs (grave chambers). This they did because there were (and still are) those who opposed our Christian faith.
For unlike some churches today which operates mainly like some social gathering or club with their key motivational speaker, the early church was an active group of people who came together to pray and encourage one another. This they did to equip themselves with the tools and strength needed to spread the gospel to the world, even in the face of persecution and death. Because let’s face it, if you’re not being persecuted in one form or another while being a Christian, then you may not be living your life according to the bible. For “indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2 Timothy 3:12)
So, are we seeing and hearing of persecutions in our local churches today? And no, I don’t mean the ones you hear from the pulpit which are taking place in foreign lands, but the ones that are happening within our own congregation. And how many of us Christians came out of church last Sunday being encouraged in word and prayer to continue in the faith and persevere in our sufferings as we preach the gospel, even in the face of death? For I can honestly say, I don’t see that happening. Thus, there must be something wrong with the way we Christian are living our life today. So, could it be that our current assemblies (churches) are watering down the gospel to make it appealing, not only to us Christians, but to the community around us as well?
For if you read through the New Testament, especially in the book of Act, you will get a clear picture of those who are living the Christian life. So, according to God’s written word, you be the judge whether or not you’re in a church which is following the clear teaching of Christ.
Below are a few scriptures that speak of persecution that’s promised to Christians:
Should a Church be Seeker Friendly?
As said earlier, some assemblies today strive to make a comfortable atmosphere for people. And yes, people who are seeking the truth as well as those who feel God tugging on their hearts, should feel welcomed and at home within our assembly. However, we should not compromise the clear truth of the gospel to these same people but to speak the truth in love. (Ephesians 4:14-15) For Peter straight out said to the crowed of unbelievers: Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it. (Acts 2:22-24)
So, we see that Peter didn't pull any punches when it came down to his preaching. Then after they felt convicted and sorry, he lets them know how to be saved by saying: "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38). So, it wasn’t a “God loves you just the way you are” message, but one that said to repent and turn from your sins. And just a casual study of God’s word will make you realize that the messages of Jesus weren’t geared to the lukewarm crowds. For his massages were spoken in such a way that ether you’re going to follow after him, or you’re going to run from him. For let’s consider some of the things he said:
So, we can see that even though Jesus loves all of mankind, he’s only looking for those who are totally for him and in love with him. For let us consider what Jesus said in the book of Revelations: "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were cold or hot. "So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of my mouth. (Revelation 3:15-16) So, we see that Jesus will not tolerate anyone that is wishy-washy or halfhearted when it comes to believing and trusting in him. So no, a church shouldn’t be a place where seekers can feel comfortable with who they are, but a place which makes them feel uncomfortable about themselves and thus want to change. For Jesus said: “He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters.” (Matthew 12:30)
So, why attend a House Church?
Home fellowships are an ideal place for us to come together and focus on personal prayer needs as well as for those around the world. This is something we can't normally do when we're attending a large traditional church on Sunday. For it can be hard to fellowship and get our prayer needs met when things are running on a schedule time limit. Also, House Churches can be a tool to help breakdown denominational barriers by bringing in your neighbors who may attend a different assembly. And if there are any unbelievers living nearby, it could be a good way to expose them to the simple basics of what a true Christian assembly is all about. For even our Savior Jesus met and preached in homes at times. (Matthew 9:10-13, Luke 10:38-42 and more)
Also, encouraging one another in our walk with the Lord helps us to learn and to grow in him, and small home fellowships are an ideal place for this to happen. This is because smaller fellowships take us out of the impersonal and brings us into the personal. Within these smaller groups, we can have group interactions by asking questions as we read and study the Bible together. And just think, no denominational walls, no church overhead to pay for, and no large staff that's relying on money from parishioners. Its church in the simplest and purest form.
Getting Back to Basics
Now, am I encouraging everyone to right away uproot themselves and their family from their current traditional church and find a House Church. Well, even though I believe that would be the ideal thing to do, I also do realize that it may take time to find a home fellowship in your area. So, until that happens, it’s best to remain in the church you’re at. But, even if you don’t find one, you may consider starting one yourself in your own home. My wife and I first hosted one in our home which lasted several years meeting in three different homes. And now that we moved, I’m hoping to either find one that’s already established in our area or start another in our home.
So, if you are one of those who are caught in a mega churches where you can easily get lost in the crowned, or stuck in some traditional church where you hear an hour long sermon and out the door you go, I encourage you to consider finding or hosting a Home Church. For how many churches have you been to that actually practices what Paul the apostle commanded. For he said: “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” (1 Timothy 2:1-2) Prayer is supposed to be the main event within a church, with singing and a short exhortation only to follow. Imagine if an unbeliever stepped into your church and found people weeping and pleading for our family, congregation, community, nation and all the lost of the world. That person is going to realize that God is in this place and these people. So, he’s ether going to fall down in repentance or run straight out the door.
WHAT ARE SOME GOOD FUNDAMENTAL BASICS FOR A HOME GROUP?
WHAT SHOULD WE EXPECT FROM ONE ANOTHER?
WHAT IS THE MAIN BELIEVES THAT THE LEADERSHIP SHOULD STAND ON?
Click on the links below for more info on house churches:
Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus: Who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Salute my well beloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ. (Romans 16:3-5)