Friday, May 28, 2010

In my reading this week, I came across a very familiar passage and noticed something new. I love it when the Lord does this. His Word truly is alive, quick and powerful.
In Daniel 1:8 (you would probably think that I would mention something about purposing in your heart, but I'm not going to this time), we read that Daniel "requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself". We see, in this phrase, that humility and submissiveness of Daniel. When many of us might exercise our mouth and say something we later will wish we hadn't, Daniel (realizing that there is a correct way to do these things) requested permission to not defile himself.

The Bible says in Proverbs 15:1-2 "A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grevious words stir up anger. The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness."
Again in Proverbs 13:3 "He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction."

Abraham Lincoln was quoted as saying "it is better to be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt."

The words that we use and the way in which we use them are VERY important. I imagine that if Daniel had gone to the prince and demanded anything, he would have been rejected and possibly would have lost his life. But he went in with graceful "speech seasoned with salt" (Colossians 4:6) and the Lord gave him favor with the prince.

I wonder how often the Lord plans to give me favor with others and I go charging in like a bull in a china shop demanding what I desire. This passage proves the point that it does matter how you do something. Even someone with great intentions and right desires will not get as far as someone who goes forward with the right attitude. Don't give up your principles and convictions, but at the same time, don't be a jerk about it. So often, I fear that we have forgotten to be graceful in our speech.

To be able to control our words and our testimony, we must be Spirit led. To walk outside of the leading of the Spirit and try to be Christ-like is, at best, an effort in futility. Romans 8:8 "So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God."

The key to having the right talk is not to have the right positive mental attitude but rather to have the right influence in your life, the leading of the Holy Spirit of God.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Successful Church

Last week, my son, Andrew was playing GO FISH with my daughter, Renee, and I and he was quite upset that he was not able to win each game we played. He would giggle and get all excited each time he would collect the cards he was looking for, but each time someone would take one of his cards he would begin to pout and (a couple of times) cry. I asked him what was wrong and he replied, "Dad, I want to win. I don't like to lose." He has such a competitive drive.

None of us likes to lose at anything we do. We all want to be winners. Those that have the most success are often lifted up and given places and positions of prestige and honor because we are a people who hate to lose.

Our desire to be successful should never be confined to only our secular life. We ought always to strive to "run well" so that we may obtain a crown in Heaven. The following characteristics are some of those found in every successful church and, since the church is made up of people, in every successful Christian. May each of us, the Lord helping us, be successful in our Christian life.

Ten Characteristics of a successful church

1. Unity Acts 2:1
A local church ought to be completely different from a secular organization through its spirit of Unity. The United States of America has an expression printed on all the currency it produces, E pluribus unum, which means "out of many, one". This should be the motto of every successful church. God takes each of our individual abilities, talents, and personalities and makes one cohesive body for His glory. (1 Cor. 12)

2. Faithfulness Acts 2:1
This was not a Mystical gathering, but it was a time when the people of God left their homes and with a purpose gathered together in a specific place. We cannot be successful, nor can our church be successful, if we are not in our place. Any body that is missing a part is referred to as handicapped. We handicap our local body of believers when we are not in our place. Hebrews 10:25

3. Power Acts 2:4
A church’s power does not come from its methods, nor its men, nor its organizations, but from the power of the Holy Spirit. Without God, the best plans and intentions are all for naught.

4. Preaching Acts 2:14
It is not the preacher, nor his sermon, nor his eloquence, but the Holy Spirit that makes the sermon live and produce fruit. God uses the "foolishness of preaching" to call men unto Himself. 1 Cor. 1:21

5. Salvation decisions Acts 2:41
These people saved in this passage were not saved because the disciples spoke in tongues, but because they heard the Gospel in their own language in which they were born. The power was not in their speech, but in the simplicity of the Gospel. I Cor. 15:3-4

6. Baptisms Acts 2:41
Notice that baptisms occurred immediately.

7. Bible study Acts 2:42
The successful, growing church will be actively invovled in teaching and studying the Word of God. This is something that not only should be done in the church, but also in the homes of the believers. 2 Timothy 2:15

8. The Lord’s Supper Acts 2:42
This is the second ordenance of the church. The Lord's Supper has no part in our salvation. The Lord's Supper is only for those who have already been saved and scripturally baptized.

9. Offerings Acts 2:45
The Jews practiced the tithe, but now we find that those members of the church were giving above and beyond the tithe. This gift was between the individual and the Lord, it was not given by command but according to the desire of each believer.

10. Personal evangelism (Soulwinning)
People were saved. It was not only the preaching of the Gospel from the pulpit, but also the people of the church were testifying and winning souls. This is still God's plan. We are sent out to go door to door, person to person. The decision to receive Christ as Saviour is an individual one. Mark 16:15, Matthew 28:18-20