Daily Bible Reading

Power to the people

As a church leader, it always surprises me when I hear Christians say that they have no need of the local church. They’re good to worship God alone in the privacy of their own home. I don’t disagree with private and personal worship, but I strongly disagree with individuals distancing themselves from the group that Jesus himself ordained.

Reading through the Book of Acts, I am more and more convinced of the benefit as well as the need for Christians to be a part of a local body. In an article titled 4 Reasons Christians Need the Church, the following reasons are given:

  • We need other Christians. If you want to know what you believe, listen to what your friends say. The more time we spend around people who ridicule God, the more we allow their attitudes to affect our thoughts and attitudes. The more time we spend with God’s people and in His presence, the more like Jesus we become.

  • We need opportunities to discover our spiritual gifts, Every one of us has a skill God wants to use to help others know Him and follow Him. We will never uncover what God has equipped and called us to do if we don’t get involved.

  • We need authority. We don’t have to believe anything anyone tells us about God. He appointed men and women in the church to lead us and to teach us. God gave us the Bible and the church so we can know what’s from Him. Through the church’s authority structure, we can test and see what’s of God and what isn’t when we can’t tell on our own. When we’ve prayed, read the Bible and still aren’t sure what to do, the church is where we go for advice.

  • We never stop needing grace. Church people are not perfect people. No matter how long we’ve been following Jesus, we are going to screw up, fall short and sin. And when we do, we need a place where we can come to be healed, restored and renewed. That place is the church.

I believe there are a few other reasons why Christians need the church.

  • We need to see signs and wonders. That I can find, the Bible has no record of a single person going around performing miracles with absolutely no support system. Miracles, signs and wonders are always tied to a group of people serving God. When we see God move, our faith is stirred to see Him move in more and greater ways.
  • We need accountability. Try driving your car down road a dark night with no moon or stars, and no headlights to light your path. How long are you able to stay on the road? Our church family is there to help keep us on the road. Do we always like to be corrected? Certainly not! But it doesn’t mean we don’t need it. By walking out our faith together, we keep each other on the right path. Alone, people have the tendency to wander and get lost.

And finally:

  • There is great strength in numbers. Study revivals. Study the great evangelists of the modern era. When people gather with a common purpose, God moves in mighty ways. When God moves mightily, people will come to watch. Soon those people have been added to the Church and more people will come to see what’s happening. Yes, the church can grow by individuals discipling individuals. In fact, we need mentors. But we also need numbers. The Great Commission is not a solo project. It is a global project.

Meanwhile, the apostles were performing many miraculous signs and wonders among the people… And more and more people were brought to the Lord—crowds of both men and women. As a result of the apostles’ work, sick people were brought out into the streets on beds and mats so that Peter’s shadow might fall across some of them as he went by. Crowds came in from the villages around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those possessed by evil spirits, and they were all healed.

Acts 5:12-16 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Esther 1-3, Acts 5:1-16

Daily Bible Reading

Share

We’re told all our lives that we need to share. Share your toys. Share your snacks. Share your room. Share the car. Share your office. Share, share, share. We’re told so often as we grow up that we have to share that when we’re all grown our response is often, oh good, I don’t have to share anymore. Sharing is something that we did because we had to not because we wanted to.

I believe that an attitude of generosity is something we could all use a little more of. I don’t necessarily mean in the way of finances, either. Money isn’t necessarily what someone in need actually needs.

The very first church in the Book of Acts grew by leaps and bounds in its first days. Was it because of the stellar preaching? I don’t think so. Many of those who joined up with the apostles had already seen and heard Jesus speak. I’m not sure anyone could teach better than Jesus. Was it because of the incredibly modern and up-to-date facilities? What facilities? They started with 120 people crammed in someone’s upper room. There was no church building to meet in.

Peter has just finished speaking his first message to the new church and here’s how the people responded:

Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church—about three thousand in all. They joined with the other believers and devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, sharing in the Lord’s Supper and in prayer.

A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together constantly and shared everything they had. They sold their possessions and shared the proceeds with those in need. they worshipped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity—all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their group those who were being saved.

Acts 2:41-47 (NLT)

Note that they didn’t start all sorts of programs. There was no men’s ministry or women’s ministry or kid’s ministry. There were no outreach programs or missions teams. The church worked and lived together as a community and God did mighty things in their midst. Notice that nothing they did specifically added to their numbers. And each day the Lord added to their group those who were being saved. The church did their thing and God did His thing.

There have been moments in my Christian life when church looked like this description in Acts. We did all sorts of things with other church members. We did life together. We saw the miraculous and we saw our church grow. But that seems to be the exception, not the rule. I long to see my church as well as the Global Church live and grow together—without division and without selfishness.

Whether you attend a small church or a large church, this example in Acts can serve as something to strive for. They started with a modest 120 and grew by three thousand that first day! And from there their generosity grew along with their numbers.

The world is looking for community, what better way to find it than in the church?

Daily Bible reading: Nehemiah 4-6, Acts 2:14-47

Daily Bible Reading

Very hungry

Have you ever gone grocery shopping hungry? Do you then come home and, as you begin to put your purchases away wonder how on earth you came home with all those extra items?

Temptation is a tricky thing. We skip one meal and suddenly our cupboards are full of cookies and chips. In Luke 4, Jesus went on forty days without food. I think I’d be tempted to buy an entire farm by that point.

But Jesus taking off into the wilderness wasn’t a whim. It wasn’t an act of being out and about and suddenly realising that you need to pick up a few things on your way home.

Now Jesus, full of [and in perfect communication with] the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days, and when they ended, He was hungry.

Luke 4:1-2 (AMP)

When I think about this account, I tend to imagine that Jesus had been wandering alone for forty days and then the devil shows up. But if you read the verse, there is a strong indication that the devil was there the whole time. For forty days, Jesus resisted the devil. For four minutes, I’m not able to resist a chocolate bar. Or a bag of chips. Or that pepperoni stick. Snack foods are so trivial and it goes to show just how much Jesus was able to draw on the power of the Holy Spirit when he was tempted with the thought of bread or authority over all the kingdoms of the earth.

If you take anything from this passage (aside from a hankering for some munchies), think about the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus went into the desert right after being baptised. Right after the Holy Spirit had descended upon him and God spoke from heaven claiming Jesus as His Son. He didn’t go around touting this fact. He went off by himself to be proven.

I believe that, aside from His death and resurrection, this is one of Jesus’ greatest acts. What about the miracles? Sorcerers and magicians were able to perform similar feats (I am in no way making light of the incredible things Jesus did). But no one else was able to stand up in the face of the devil and say, no. Miracles came easy. Resisting temptation did not.

Daily Bible reading: Joshua 11-13, Luke 4:1-32

Daily Bible Reading

He’s out of his mind

Does anyone in your family think you nuts? A little bit off? Maybe they wonder why you do the things you do. They don’t understand your faith. Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

Even Jesus’ family thought he was nuts.

When his family heard what was happening, they tried to take him away. “He’s out of his mind,” they said.

Mark 3:21 (NLT)

It could very well be that those closest to us, are the furthest from understanding.

Jesus knew what he was all about. He knew what his mission was an the apostles with him, knew Jesus and trusted in him.

But Jesus’ family, the people who should have been the most understanding, thought he was crazy. When the miracles were so numerous that the crowds surrounding him got so large, Jesus and his disciples were unable to find a place to sleep or even eat, Jesus’ family tried to put a stop to it.

They didn’t see the Son of God, they saw the man who forgot to eat. They didn’t see the miracles, they saw the crowds closing in. They didn’t see salvation, they saw a man pulled in every direction.

The point is this: if we wait until everyone around us fully understands what God has called us to do, we’ll never do it. Read your Bible—rarely, if ever, does God’s way make sense to everyone else and sometimes not even to the person doing it.

This isn’t a message to shun your family and break all ties, but it is a word to you to know the One who has called you. This is why Paul said to Timothy, for I know the one in whom I trust. We don’t have to know the what and the why if we know the Who.

Daily Bible reading: Number 1-2, Mark 3:1-21

Daily Bible Reading

I want to

Faith comes in all shapes and sizes. Some have great faith – the ability to believe for big things without needing anything more than the Word of God to stand on. Others have great faith, but need some additional action – they need the prayer of another to join with them or hands outstretched toward someone or something. Some yet have the faith to put their faith in others – while their own prayers may not seem enough, to have someone else pray over them will surely bring a miracle to pass. And some struggle with their faith – they know the truth of God’s Word yet still find it difficult to believe.

What does your faith look like?

Reading Matthew 8, we see examples of faith in many forms.

Suddenly, a man with leprosy approached Jesus. He knelt before him worshiping. “Lord,” The man said, “if you want to, you can make me well again.” Jesus touched him. “I want to,” he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared.

Matthew 8:2-3 (NLT)

The leper had enough faith to stand before Jesus and request his healing. All he needed was a touch.

When Jesus arrived in Capernaum, a Roman officer came and pleaded with him, “Lord, my young servant lies in bed, paralysed and racked with pain.”

Jesus said, “I will come and heal him.”

Then the officer said, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come into my home. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed!

Matthew 8:5-8 (NLT)

The Roman officer had great faith in Jesus. This man needed no physical assurance, but because of his own position as a man with authority, he knew that Jesus’ word would be enough.

Suddenly, a terrible storm came up, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went to him and woke him up, shouting, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”

And Jesus answered, “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” Then he stood up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly all was calm.

Matthew 8:25-26 (NLT)

One would think that those who were closest to Jesus, the ones who were with him day and night for years, would be the ones to be able to exercise great faith. Often, though, it’s those who are the closest to the situation who cannot see it clearly. Jesus’ disciples had just witnessed many miracles by the hand of their Teacher, yet they didn’t have the faith to weather the storm.

One thing is common with every kind of faith we see here – Jesus was willing. He said to the leper, “I want to.” In none of these examples did Jesus hum and haw over what He would do. Even the weakest faith produced a miracle.

So don’t lose heart. Don’t lose your faith – even the smallest measure moves Jesus. He wants to move on your behalf.

Daily Bible reading: Genesis 23-24, Matthew 8

Daily Bible Reading

REACH293

Since purchasing our building over four years ago, Chilliwack Victory Church has been working hard to see a big vision come to fruition. For a small church, it was no small feat to make the big decision to purchase a building that could seat over three times our regular attendance.

Like many churches making a move, a large number of those who heartily agreed to support the church in attendance and finance didn’t make the move with the us and we were left with a small crowd in a large room and even larger building. I’d only been a member of the church for a few months at that point, but I could see glimpses of the vision that Pastor Morris Watson was putting before the church.

Since then we’ve seen many ups and downs, but now we’re going up.

On October 2 of this year, we are going to fill every seat. All 293 seats (we tried for 300, but they just wouldn’t fit!). It’s a big vision for a congregation that’s held an average attendance of 60 over the summer.

There are some in the church who may say we’re biting off more than we can chew. They are probably the same people who said the same thing when we took over a behemoth of an ageing building. Look where we are now. Where orange was king on nearly every surface, a little paint and a lot of sweat equity has changed the physical atmosphere. Now it’s time for  the spiritual atmosphere to change.

Where there is no prophetic vision the people [are discouraged].

Proverbs 29:18 (ESV)

I firmly believe that October 2 and the weeks leading up to it will serve as a catalyst for growth and change in our church. For those of us who can see the seats full and the building in constant use with classes and community enrichment programs, we will see the miracles, signs, and wonders promised in Mark 16:17. For those who cannot grasp the vision, they will be like those in Proverbs who see nothing but discouragement in a room full of empty seats.

Will you see with me? Will you ask God to open the eyes of your spirit to see the great things He has planned not only for Chilliwack Victory Church, but for every other church in our city, in your city?

And when we see, we can stand. If the church doesn’t stand up for herself, who will? It’s time Church. It’s our time. Now.

Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

2 Corinthians 6:2b (ESV)

Daily Bible reading: Proverbs 28-29, 2 Corinthians 7

Uncategorized

Do it again

Yesterday, we discussed knowing Jesus’ voice. That, even if we don’t recognise him in appearance, we should know his voice and trust in it.

But what if we don’t recognise him or his voice?

Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.

John 21:4 (ESV)

Here were men who had just spent the better part of three years with a man and, even though he was only a hundred yards off, they did not recognise him.

Then the man on the shore tells the disciples to cast their nets on the other side of the boat – this after they’d been fishing all night and caught nothing. Does this sound familiar? A strangely similar situation happened back in Luke 5 when Jesus first called his disciples to follow him. Now here he is again telling them to cast their nets one last time. And, as with the first time, the nets came up full of fish.

When the disciples experienced something at the command of Jesus that they’d already seen before, they recognised him for who he was.

That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!”

John 21:7a (ESV)

So if you don’t recognise Jesus by his appearance or by his voice, at least know him for his works.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday today, and forever.

Hebrews 13:8 (NCV)

If Jesus is the same, don’t you think we’ll see the same things happen again and again? Are not sick still being healed? Blind being made to see? Lame being made to walk? Dead made to live? All of the things Jesus did in the Gospels are still happening today. We can still see his fingerprints on the miraculous.

So if you’re not in a place where you can see his face. If you can’t hear his voice, look for the things he’s doing. If you look for him, you will find him.

Daily Bible reading: Ezra 6-8; John 21