Monthly Archives: August 2012

Sunday sermon 26 August – at the feet of Jesus

Readings: Psalm 84:1-12;  Luke 10:38-42

So how do you really evaluate what we do here at church? We have our congregational Annual Meeting today. An AGM often has people scattering in different directions. Many of us don’t really like meetings – and often it is the faithful workers who hang around.  Why do we have meetings? Probably because we have to – it’s in the rules. And they are there for accountability – so that we have properly audited financial statements and a report back on how things are going.

So how do you really evaluate what we do here? I guess we are taking the temperature of the church!

The key word is “do”. We’re a very busy bunch.

I think the real word to focus on is “be”. Not “do”. We are human beings before we are human “doings”.

We should be asking – how do you really evaluate who we are?

Listen to the gospel reading again:

Luk 10:38  As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.

Luk 10:39  She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.

Luk 10:40  But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

 Luk 10:41  “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,
Luk 10:42  but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.

Here’s the question – do we get rid of Martha and keep Mary?

  • Is the one more spiritual than the other?
  • Is the one better at prayer than the other?

And is this just a women thing? Are men bad at all of this altogether? The chores – and sitting at the feet of Jesus? Sitting still at all for some men is a challenge.

I suspect that there is a bit of Martha and Mary in each of us.

And when it comes to prayer – I think that both of them exhibit genuine and real prayer. The “don’t you care” prayer is probably more real actually. It’s no coincidence that they call the western wall of the temple in Jerusalem the “wailing wall”. Much prayer is lament.

I was reading a critique of our songs this week actually – and the writer (Philip Yancey) questioned the use of excessively happy songs, simply because so many Psalms are actually laments.

A lot of the real prayers of the Bible are prayers of struggle and anguish, with doubt and complaint thrown in and the desire to punish peoples’ enemies. Never mind complaining about your sister not doing the chores.

I don’t think Jesus loved Martha any less when she got irritated with her sister. I believe that the key thing was Martha speaking to Jesus about it. That’s prayer – in a nutshell. Mother Theresa put it like this – Prayer is simply talking to God; He speaks to us: we listen. We speak to him: he listens. A two-way process: speaking and listening.

What would have been worse for Martha would have been sitting there sulking about Mary – and not spitting it out.

THE MARY FACTOR

Jesus’s response to Martha is really nice. Listen again:

Luk 10:41  “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,

Luk 10:42  but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

It’s much better sitting listening to Jesus. And it’s a choice really.

It’s all about time with Him. Listening!  About being. Resting in His presence.

And we are not great at this. We need the desire – the yearning. Maybe Psalm 84 is what we lack:

How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

The advantages are huge – this is

  • Jesus the one who made the universe – the one who (from our point of view looking back) has been there and done it.
  • Jesus who has been one of us – understands fully.
  • Jesus who died for us – know what death is like (our greatest fear and challenge really).
  • Jesus who is always with us!

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

It will not be taken away from here because this is what really lasts. All our stuff will not last. There will be no trailer attached to our hearse. Our achievements will be forgotten. What will last is the relationship with Jesus – not even death can separate us from Him.

HOW ARE YOU DOING WHEN IT COMES TO SITTING AT THE FEET JESUS?

I’ve spent quite a bit of time doing this through the last two weeks. Being sick is often the time when God really works his wonders. When you have to stop doing and striving.

He gets my attention and strips me of my self-sufficiency and self-confidence. There’s a tendency for people to expect miracles from me – that I should somehow be the expert at various things. And many of us when we preach or teach come across just like that – the experts. We need to sit at the feet of the actual expert.

Sitting at the feet of Jesus requires

  • Openness
  • Patience
  • Being a lump – like clay ready to be shaped and moulded
  • Teachability
  • Surrender

Why are many men (and women) so unlike Mary? Because we are DO-ERS – people who like to manage and be in control – getting things done.

And at one level there is much to be done. But to grow to be like Jesus we need to become as him – one who listens. Jesus had a prayerful, listening disposition. Mary had one too!

HOW ABOUT YOU?

He speaks into this story in the bible by saying to the busy one: Martha Martha!

I wonder if he is calling your name today? “Only one thing is needed! Choose the better thing!”

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Sunday morning message 19 August @9.00am – The heart of a Disciple-Maker

Preacher: Rev Peter Cheyne

The Heart Of A Disciple-maker

Reading:  1 Thessalonians 2:6-12

In April 1994, Rwanda experienced large scale genocide in the fighting between the majority Hutu on the minority Tutsi people. Between half a million and one million people were killed, two million refugees fled the country and one million people were displaced within Rwanda itself. Rwanda was one of the two centres of the 1930’s East African Revival which is apparently still sweeping East Africa. The revival had made Rwanda a predominantly Christianised country, yet Christians were directly implicated in the killings. When the killings started, the Christians, tended to fall back on their ethnic, not their Christian, culture. One Rwandan bishop remarked, “After a century of evangelisation we have to begin again because the best catechists (lay teachers), those who filled our churches on Sundays, were the first to go out with machetes in their hands.”

In some countries it is said that Christianity is a mile wide and an inch deep; many Christians but little commitment or maturity. What would you say was the situation in New Zealand?

Disciple-making is about depth. An inch deep is not what Jesus intended. The Great Commission commands us to “Go and make disciples.” Our core business is making disciples. The first part of that is “baptising them” which speaks of bringing people to faith in Jesus. The second part is “teaching them to obey everything Jesus commanded.” That speaks of in depth training so that Christians live in obedience to Jesus in everything.

Making disciples is our core business but how good are we in New Zealand at either evangelism or at training converts in faithful, obedient Christian living.

On his missionary journeys, Paul had been to Thessalonica and had preached the gospel of Jesus Christ. Quite a number of people were converted. You can read about it in Acts 17. In Acts 17 it appears he was there only 3 weeks however, we know that he worked to support himself and that at least twice he received financial help from Philippi. Scholars believe he was there for a period of 3 to 6 months or even longer teaching the new converts, but in the end opposition broke out. There was a riot and he was forced to leave. But then he was desperately concerned about how the now converts were getting on because they were persecuted too. He wanted to return to them but couldn’t and it was driving him mad. Eventually, he sent Timothy to find out how they were going.

1 Thess 3:5    For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter had tempted you and that our labours might have been in vain.

In fact, they were doing very well. A large part of this letter to the Thessalonians is rejoicing in the faith and witness of the Thessalonian church.

How had that happened? How was it that these new Christians were standing firm in the Lord despite persecution?  How had they been disciple so well that they had not fallen away?

  1. Firstly, their conversion had been real. Their conversion was the result of a real move of God. Paul says that the gospel came with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction (1:5).
  2. Secondly, Paul had been very intentional about growing them. In this letter, he keeps talking about their sanctification; their maturity, their Christ-likeness, their depth.

 1 Thess 4:3  It is God’s will that you should be sanctified. 

1 Thess 3:13   May [God] strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.

In this letter Paul reflects on his role amongst them as a disciple-maker. He refers to what he did. Paul refers to what he had taught them so we can see that he was very focused on growing them.

He was very intentional. We might ask ourselves if we have that same passion for growing people to maturity.

However, there is another reason that I want to focus on today. Paul was very relational and caring.

In the passage that we read, Paul uses three family images. He says they were like children among the Thessalonians; then he compares himself to a nursing mother and then to a father caring for his children. All of those are very tender images which fit with other expressions of incredible love and tenderness in this letter. He talks about being “orphaned” when he had been separated from them (2:17). He talks about his intense longing for them (2:17) and about not being able to stand it any longer (3:1).

This is a passionate letter. Is that the image you have of the Apostle Paul? Don’t we sometimes think of him as being hard-nosed, demanding, tough. This letter dispels that. Read it later and note the tenderness.

Making disciples is primarily relational. Think of Jesus’ own example. He made disciples by relating to them. Jesus and the Twelve lived together, worked, together, ate together, ministered together, travelled together. It was about sharing His life with them so that they could observe Him and learn from His example. Jesus loved them tenderly and He wanted them to grow in their faith just as Paul later did with the Thessalonians. We tend to rely more on courses and conferences and study groups but disciple-making happens via relationships.

So, let’s consider the three images Paul uses.

In 2:6-7 he says that he and his companions were not looking for praise from the Thessalonians “even though as apostles of Christ we could have asserted our prerogatives.” Paul could have bowled into town and demanded respect. He was, after all, an apostle. He could have demanded their financial support.

But he didn’t. He came like a child among them. That is a picture of humility. He didn’t come as the parent but as the child, submissive to the parents. The great apostle Paul came as a child? Does that sound very likely? Well, remember that they would know if he was not telling the truth. It would undermine his credibility if he claimed things they knew weren’t true. It would work only if they knew it was true.

He humbled himself.

Some people assume that disciple-making (or the more general term “mentoring”) is about the mentor taking a superior position and requiring things of the trainee. We fear it is a top-down relationship in which the mentor teaches the mentoree, setting assignments and requirements. Well, it is true that the task of the disciple-maker is to pass on what he/she knows to the disciple. It is true that one is the teacher and one the student, but the question here is one of attitude – a question of the heart. How is that teaching carried out?

Paul demonstrated great humility. He cared about them. His concern was their wellbeing and growth. He would serve them so as to see them grow. He would come like a child amongst them.

Wasn’t the same true of Jesus? Clearly He was the teacher but what was his heart. He came as a servant. He said that He had come not to be served (even though He could have demanded that) but to serve. He invested His life in the disciples. In the end, He lay down His life for them.

So, first of all, humility.

Then Paul says, “Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you.”

Our second daughter gave birth to our first grandchild last year. It is just lovely seeing the tenderness and love of a nursing mother; the affection, the gentleness, the protectiveness. Paul says that is what he was like with the Thessalonians. The second image speaks of great love.

1 Thess 2:8   Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.

Love for someone means we will want to share the gospel. Love means we want to see that person saved. Love means that we will share the gospel even when that is dangerous. It was dangerous for Paul. His life was at risk. If we flip that around the other way, if we don’t share the gospel, we show we don’t care. That certainly wasn’t Paul’s attitude. He loved people enough to want to see them saved.

But he said that he shared not only the gospel but he shared his life with them. He says he worked night and day to support himself so as not to be a burden to them. Again, as an apostle, he could have demanded that they support him. A worker is worthy of his wages. Instead, he disadvantaged himself so as not to be a burden to them. No one could accuse him of being in it for the money. He worked alongside them, possibly making tents, which was his trade. He lived amongst them and worked amongst them. They could observe everything about him. His life was an open book. He goes on to say immediately…

1 Thess 2:10  You are witnesses and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed.

Again, Jesus did the same. He shared His life with the disciples. His life was an open book.

We tend to live very private lives behind our own fences. By-and-large, we don’t have that same sense of loving people enough to share our lives with them so that they might see how Christians live.

Thirdly, Paul uses the image of a father caring for his children. How does a father deal with his children – a good father? Paul says, “encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God.”

Encouragement is positive and affirming. It means commenting on those things that have been done well and continuing to believe in the person when things have gone wrong. Disciple-making is not about identifying weaknesses and making people feel bad. Encouragement is warm and positive. It literally means to put courage into someone so that he/she feels like going further.

Comforting is very caring. It means sitting with someone who is broken or hurt or sad and doing what? Making them strong again. The “fort” part of comfort means “strength”. Comforting is gentle and caring. Again, maybe this isn’t the image we have of Paul but apparently he was gentle and caring – like a father.

The third fatherly quality is “urging you to live lives worthy of God.” A good father isn’t simply soft and gentle. He also is very intentional. He has a goal. He wants the best for his children. Paul’s goal was that they live lives worthy of God and so He also urges them on. He doesn’t simply congratulate them on being Christians. He exhorts them to go further; to grow, to strive for something more.

So, there is a balance in this father image. The father isn’t simply tender; he also is ambitious for them.  He doesn’t simply comfort; he also pushes them out of their comfort zone because that is where growth takes place. Yes, he encourages and comforts but he also urges.

This is how you get Christians who don’t buckle as soon as there is hardship. This is how you get a Christianity that is more than an inch deep. This is how you get maturity.

Actually, the heart of every Christian ought to be intentional and relational because Jesus has commissioned us all to make disciples. Is it your heart? Are you intentional about making disciples? Do you want to see others follow Jesus faithfully? Can you…

  1. Be humble
  2. Love people enough to share the gospel with them
  3. Love people enough to share your life with hem
  4. Encourage them
  5. Comfort them
  6. Urge to them to live lives worth of God

If you are not a Christian, the questions are different. There was a dramatic change in the lives of the Thessalonians when they chose to give their allegiance to Jesus and to follow Him? Maybe read this book and decide whether you want a similar change in your life.

© www.followers.org.nz. This material may be used in any way that remains faithful to its purpose and that helps make disciples of Jesus Christ. Attribution is appreciated.

Sunday sermon 12 August – signs of redemption

Readings: John 20:19-23 and Ephesians 4:17 – 32

Signs of redemption

So are you a sign of redemption in your community? Your family? At work? And what does that mean?

What is “redemption”?

Something to do with a price being paid for something? Yes – freedom. A sign of hope. A sign that God is at work really.

The main idea of redemption is that a price has been paid to win us back, or set us free. For the Hebrews, they were saved or rescued from slavery in Egypt. Their lives were spared. Why? The blood of the Passover lamb.  A life was given up to win their freedom and to save them from death. That one image is enough. Next week we will celebrate the Christian Passover at communion – the first Passover points us to Jesus our Redeemer – himself the Lamb of God who takes our sins away – who saves us from death as well. We are saved from sin and its consequences (separation from God) and of course we are FORGIVEN when we don’t deserve it. Remember this verse? For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

The readings last week in the Essential Jesus challenge were all about God pointing to the future – to his plan of making things right, of providing, and of loving his people. They were signs that God was at work. That he could rescue them – from slavery, from death from snakes, and in the case of Jonah he was able to save a whole city.

The church is meant to be a community of redemption – set free from the old life of sin. Listen again to Paul writing to the Ephesians:

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds;  and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (verses 22-24).

People of the new self – created to be like God – in true righteousness and holiness!

And of course that means there should be real change. Paul lists the things that should go:  No more lies, no more stealing, no more anger, and no more unwholesome talk. Instead we need to speak the truth, resolve anger, work hard and share what we earn, and say helpful things.

Our parents used to say something like – if you can’t say something nice, then say nothing at all.

More importantly verse 32 sums it up: Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

SIGNS OF REDEMPTION

The video clip we watched in our home groups about being signs of redemption was about a school set up for students who had failed in main stream education – for whom there was no real hope. The teenagers had been thrown  out of schools for various reasons – and could barely read. So this handful of people set up a school for them. The school was a sign of redemption.

Redeemed people are not rescued because they are worthy recipients. We were not worthy recipients when Christ died for us either. It’s about grace – extending grace – to undeserving people BECAUSE they are people and therefore should be treated well.

How we treat them and all other people reflects our sense of gratitude for how we have been treated. So when people take the trouble to spend time with people at the bottom of the pile – that’s a redemptive community at work. It gives people hope. It makes them feel valued when they are often marginalised.

Listen again:

Eph 4:32  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Listen again to the Gospel reading today:  On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.  And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

The default setting of the church is forgiveness. Jesus made that clear when he breathed his Holy Spirit on his disciples and sent them out. In fact in Ephesians today we read about the Holy Spirit being grieved. amongst other things, when our anger leads us to sin, when we let the sun go down on our anger. That sounds to me like the opposite of forgiveness.

Last week we talked about being equipped for ministry or service. Are you? It’s this peace of Christ – God’s forgiveness through Christ – that we extend to others. If you are full of bitterness and criticism, gossipy and slanderous as you pick fault with others and spread stories. If you are angry and unforgiving and look like a volcano on a holiday – always about to explode. Guess what. You are not a sign of redemption. You’re no help to anyone. In fact you are turning away from God – your sinful behaviour is probably grieving the Holy Spirit. Listen to the verses from Paul:

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. (Ephesians 4:30-31)

We should never grieve the Holy Spirit of God – how terrible that we cause sorrow to Him. How terrible that we cause sorry to God’s children and his church, or his anointed ones.

FRIENDLY REDEMPTION

One final comment. If you want to be a sign of redemption – someone attractive for God – you have to actually talk to people as well! So often people focus on being a good example. It’s true. We really need to be friendly! 🙂 Taking an interest in people is half the fun of it. Genuine concern for them and their lives – being friendly and sociable – sounds very much like the kind of person Jesus was. And that means taking risks! Making new friends. Yes even talking to strangers! How scary and un-Kiwi. How very African – where people always greet others as to ignore people is like saying they are not there and they don’t matter!

Go and do it then! Go practice at tea time now! Maybe you just need to stay for tea in the first place! 🙂

And make sure that you determine to be a sign of redemption and hope tomorrow – and each day of the week!

Sunday message 5 August – Equipping the saints – building up the body

Readings: Ephesians 4:1-16; Matthew 16:13-20

Message:

Equipping the saints/ Body Building

Winnie the Pooh once took an evening walk with his friend Piglet. They walked for a long time in silence, but Piglet finally asked, “When you wake up in the morning, Pooh, what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”
“What’s for breakfast?” Pooh responds, “And what do you say, Piglet?”
“I say, I wonder what exciting thing is going to happen today.”

The question today is this – are you like Winnie the Pooh, or like Piglet? Do you see life (in general and in church) in terms of how it can benefit you, or in terms of the adventure of helping others?

Last week Mike made a distinction between office-bearers and ordinary people exercising ministry. That terrible distinction between “officials” and plebs. Or in some churches “clergy” and “laity”. He involved all in the congregation to be part of the prayer ministry for healing and restoration of others by asking people to lift their hands in the direction of those receiving prayer.

Listening to the recording, of course, did not tell me how many actually did that. But the point he made is really important. It is a significant thing to note from today’s reading that we are all in ministry, and that Jesus builds his church. Or wants to if we are willing!

The key verse is in Ephesians  4 – God gives people as gifts –  ‘To equip the saints for the work of ministry” (KJV V11). Or in the NIV which we are more familiar with, from verse 7:

Eph 4:7  But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.

Eph 4:8  This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.”

Eph 4:9  (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions?

Eph 4:10  He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.)

Eph 4:11  It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers,

Eph 4:12  to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up

I’ve always been a bit nervous about titles. My official title is “minister”. I am called “the Reverend Robin Palmer”. Reverend sounds very religious. Rev sounds like an old car struggling up a hill – which is more real to me. Minister sounds exclusive. Like the old church joke about church life – the Minister ministers, the congregation congregates and the organist organises! And boy I have had some interesting organists over the years. Only one of them yelled at the congregation on a bad day.

And “saints” sounds like the description of very holy and almost perfect people! The old TV programme “the Saint” comes to mind – Roger Moore with a halo on his head.

Titles are one thing. Giftings are another. As are functions. The bible talks about people gifts and spiritual gifts. There are four or five GIFTS that Paul tells us about here. They are people gifts.

The picture is of the Risen Ascended Christ in verse 8: (He quotes from Psalm 68:18)

“When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.”

This Jesus, “the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe” (verse 10) – gives gifts!

Apostles – those sent to plant churches. The first apostles were witnesses to the resurrection and commissioned and sent out by Jesus. (Paul is an exception with a different story of course).

Prophets – those empowered to speak his word or message to those churches. They literally “speak forth” God’s word or message.

Evangelists – those who share the good news. They are bearers, literally, of “good news”.

Pastors and Teachers – those who shepherd and train the sheep – the people who have responded to the Gospel work of the first three categories of people gifts.

Like Winnie the Pooh, it would be easy to think: “how nice, these people gifts are there for me!” Remember again the quote I read: They walked for a long time in silence, but Piglet finally asked, “When you wake up in the morning, Pooh, what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”
“What’s for breakfast?”

The primary people gift in the modern church is that of Pastor/Teacher. There is a feeding aspect to the pastor/teacher ministry.

It can be very inward looking of course (feed me Pastor!). We can be stuck like little chicks in a nest crying “feed me” – or be a little like the seagulls in “FINDING NEMO” crying out “mine ! mine! mine!”.

You can watch that clip here. It really is very funny. 

We are not meant to be like that! Our pastoral ministry – the gift of pastor/teacher –  does involves nurture and teaching of the church.

Verse 12 tells us why these people gifts are given. We read from verses 11:

Eph 4:11  It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers,Eph 4:12  to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up

The point of these people gifts – the point of the ministry today (through the pastor-teacher function that we have in our ministry) is to EQUIP THE SAINTS (The church folk) for the work of ministry. These people prepare God’s people for ministry – for works of service.

The ministry – works of service – is the responsibility of the whole church. Many Christians would say that BAPTISM that is effectively the ordination of the people of God to service.

So are you Pooh bear or piglet? Pooh bears first though in the morning is about feeding his tummy. A rather inward thought. Piglet says: “ I wonder what exciting thing is going to happen today.” That sounds a little less self absorbed! A Christian Piglet would say “I wonder what exciting things I can do for God and for others today?” What ministry can I exercise? How can I serve?

So when Jesus says in Matthew 16: Mat 16:17  Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. Mat 16:18  And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.

– he was not talking about an actual rock or referring to Peter’s name(meaning rock)  – but that the church is made up of people whose lives are built on faith in Him! He builds his church with people because people are the church!  And He promises to protect us as we do his work – the gates of Hades will not overcome it!

These people are given gifts to strengthen the body of Christ – the church.

So what is your gifting? How will you serve and use that gifting?

You may have a pastoral or teaching gift. If God calls you to use this to build up the body of Christ – then that’s what you should do.

In a sense all of us are apostolic – sent by God into the world to be witnesses.  Some people do have apostolic ministries in that they are church planters. And all of us should be evangelistic – sharing the evangelion – the good news.  And we should be open to being prophetic – speaking out on God’s behalf.

We don’t have prophets (an office in the church with “Prophet Smith” on the door.) We don’t have apostles formally. We do have evangelists today – and they do reach people (even if we are suspicious of some of the TV types).

The people gifts are there to equip the saints – and build up the members of the body to create a strong church with

  • Maturity  (v 13)
  • Stability (v 14)
  • Community. (v 15)
  • a working body (v16) – 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 are we being the kind of church Jesus wants us to be?

We’re not if we are being like Winnie the Pooh – thinking only of receiving honey in our tummies.

WE are being the church he wants when we are open to be EQUIPPED – or PREPARED FOR WORKS OF SERVICE. What we learn here should help us to BE GOD’S PEOPLE out there in the world.

And of course we need to be united and of one mind as we do this.

HOW DO WE BEGIN? Probably here:

Eph 4:1  As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Eph 4:2  Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Eph 4:3  Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

The impact of our ministry here should be on the kind of lives we live – that they are worthy of the calling that we have received (verse 1).

Are you open to being changed – transformed – and equipped to be used by the Lord in works of service? The end result will be the building up of the body of Christ!

We need depth in our Christian lives – commitment to seek the Lord – sort ourselves out – and open our hearts totally to Him as we allow the Holy Spirit to work in us and through us to minister into the lives of the church – building up one another! It’s an exciting option!

Winnie the Pooh or Piglet – what will it be?

They walked for a long time in silence, but Piglet finally asked, “When you wake up in the morning, Pooh, what’s the first thing you say to yourself?” “What’s for breakfast?” Pooh responds, “And what do you say, Piglet?”
“I say, I wonder what exciting thing is going to happen today.”