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

Signs

The Lord went ahead of them. He guided them during the day with a pillar of cloud, and he provided light at night with a pillar of fire. This allowed them to travel by day or by night. And the Lord did not remove the pillar of cloud or pillar of fire from its place in front of the people.

Exodus 13:21-22 (NLT)

I’m going to be organised today and pull this one apart point by point. There is so much in these two verses we can learn from:

  1. The Lord went ahead of them. Not beside or behind. Ahead. God was in the lead. Israel followed. God isn’t on a leash to be taken out for a walk when we feel He needs to come out to play. He’s not there for us to drag along as a reluctant participant. He’s there to lead. We’re here to follow.
  2. This allowed them to travel by day or by night. We often make the incorrect assumption that God will only call us to move when conditions are optimal. I wouldn’t call travelling at night the best time to travel—especially not how the Israelites were doing it with young and old, wagons and flocks. Can you imaging trying to move not only a million plus people, but all the animals and goods that went with them? The optimal time to move is when God says so.
  3. If you don’t see a sign, maybe you should stay where you are. Now, this isn’t taken directly from this passage, but it speaks from it nonetheless. If you know that God has led you to a certain place and suddenly the sign disappears, maybe it’s time to stick it out where you are for a while. Don’t immediately rush out looking for the next sign. Perhaps God needs you to grow and learn for a season rather than move on to the next one right away.

Daily Bible reading: Exodus 13-15, Matthew 19:1-15

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