When I first read Hebrews 13 and the notes from a study I had (you can look up The Summit Church or J.D. Greear for his study of Hebrews; the bullet points below summarize part of this study), it seemed this was about worship. It is. But it is also about the character of the church. Or, perhaps part of worship is the character of the church. To start with, what is the church? It is not a building and not where you “go to” to fulfill your duty as a Christian, though that is an important part of your spiritual life. That is a time to fellowship with other believers and worship God, but our act of worship should be non-stop throughout our week and our life. That is a study in itself, but not for this post. What the church is, though is you and me. It is Christ’s bride. It is the body of believers. It is those who follow Him. Continue reading “Character of the Church”
In this world, there is so much that opposes us. As believers, we need to surround ourselves with other godly people and lift each other up. Of course, we need to spend time with those that do not believe and share our faith, but we must be united as a church and strengthen one another and love one another.
The last of the 7 churches that Jesus writes to in Revelation is Laodicea, the lukewarm church. Sounds like many churches in America. We just show up on Sunday, sing some songs listen to a sermon and go home. We don’t pray for others’ needs or help them in their need because we don’t know anyone in our church to know what they are. Prayer requests often consist of someone with physical ailments or travel mercies. Spiritual needs are more important yet the least talked about or prayed about. When we do sing, how excited are we? Are we celebrating God’s wonderful gift of salvation and praising our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ or are we going through the motions? Worship should not be a chore. And, worship is much more than singing and going to church on Sundays. What are our priorities throughout the week? Is God first? Are we too busy to do what God calls us to do? Our lives should reflect the light of Jesus all the time. 1 John says we know we are saved by how we live our lives, obeying God, loving others.
“And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write,
‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’ — and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked — I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Today’s scripture is Jesus’ 6th letter to the churches: The church of Philadelphia, the faithful church. This is one I pray our church can become. One of two that He does not say anything against it. One who is faithful, does not deny Christ and keeps His commandments. God protects those who are His, those who are faithful. Let us adhere to God’s word and abide in Christ always. Christ is our Lord. God is in control. Thank God for that. One day He will reign and evil will be taken away. Until that time, we need to keep our eyes on Him.
“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write,
‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens”: “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie — indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”‘
Continuing on with the letters to the churches, Jesus turns to Sardis, the dead church. So many churches have programs and good things going on to help others or to bring people into their church. Perhaps He wants the works of the church to be about Him, not just to bring people into the church, but to bring them to Jesus Christ. We need to be mindful of why we are doing things. It should always be for the glory of Christ. It is not to gain favor for ourselves or even the church we are a part of. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” and in verse 24, Paul says, “Let no one seek his own, but each other’s wellbeing.” Whatever we do, whether work or play, at home, at work or at church, in a ministry or mission, or just in our daily lives, everything should be for His glory. God loves the humble.
Jesus says, in Matthew 6:1-4,
“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.
That does not mean to hide your faith, though and sometimes you want to share what you are doing, not for your glory, but so that others can see the great work God is doing. Jesus says in Matthew 5:13-16,
“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. ”
May our church be a blessing to others and always give glory to God. Let people see only the work He is doing, not our own. May the peace of God be with you always.
And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, ‘These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”‘