12 It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning. — 1 Cor. 5:12
A few generations ago, when someone in the church membership was known to be living a lifestyle of sin and that fact was affirmed by two or three witnesses, that person was first warned and counseled by the leaders of the church. If he/she refused to change their ways, they were brought before the congregation for disciplining. When they were found guilty and refused to repent, they were asked to leave the church. It is not only scriptural for us to do that but it is our responsibility to do it. First, we must make sure that there is no yeast in ourselves and then we can judge those of the household of faith. It is not our responsibility or business to judge non-Christians, that is God’s business and He will take care of it in His own time. A church body with sin in it is a weak body and it will not attract unbelievers to Christ. In fact, outsiders will turn away from that body because of the hypocrisy. We, as church bodies, don’t do this much anymore. I believe that is one of the biggest reasons for the decline in church memberships and that fewer people attend church. Let us be sure that we are not living a lifestyle of sin ourselves and then make sure that any yeast or leaven is removed from the church body. No one wants to be around a body that is going through the process of putrefaction. We need to clean it up and shine for our Lord and Savior, that light will attract others to Christ.
73 You made me; you created me. Now give me the sense to follow your commands.
— PSALM 119:73
This verse is a prayer that I need to pray every day. When I find myself getting irritated, I need to pray this verse so that I do not hurt others with unkind words. When I find myself judging others, I need to pray this verse. When I find myself criticizing, I need to pray this verse. When I see someone in need and I don’t take the time to help them, I need to pray this verse. When I feel the nudge of the Holy Spirit to speak to someone about Jesus and I refuse to do it, I need to pray this verse. When I spend money for things that I don’t need, I need to pray this verse. When God says “no’ or “wait” and I run ahead of Him, I need to pray this verse. Most of all, I need to pray this verse when I think that Jesus has done something or allowed something to happen in my life that is not for my benefit. Because that thought violates the highest command to “love the Lord your God with all of your heart”. You get the idea, I need to pray this verse a lot. Hopefully, the rest of you are better at allowing the Holy Spirit to control your thoughts and words than I am, if not, then just join in and pray this with me, “Now give me the sense to follow your commands”.
7 It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.
— 1 Cor. 3:7 NLT
Paul compares our salvation to a seed that is planted. When a seed is planted in dry ground, it must be watered regularly and continually. When we accept Jesus as our Savior, He plants a seed of His love in our heart. For that love to grow, it needs to be watered by the washing of the Word on a regular basis. The soil needs to be exposed to the sun so it will be warm enough for the seed to germinate. The seed that is planted in us must be exposed to the Son for it to germinate. If we spend time in the Word, God the Holy Spirit will cause that love to grow. Our hearts will become more tender toward God and our fellow human beings. How fast this change takes place depends on how much time we spend taking in the food and the water of the Word. If God is the one who makes the seed sprout and grow, then doesn’t it make sense that the seed has to be exposed to God on a regular basis. We do that by spending time alone with God. While the names of the people that we allow to plant and water the seed are not important, their words and messages are very important. Be sure the seed is good (only the name of Jesus) and that the water does not contain impurities that will hurt the young plant.
13 I will lift up the cup of salvation and praise the Lord’s name for saving me.
— Psalm 116:13 NLT
If God never did another thing for us after giving us the gift of salvation, it would be more than sufficient reason for us to praise Him forever. Yet, He just keeps on giving and giving. Every breath is a gift. “Every good and every perfect gift is from above”. Those gifts come from the Father in whom there is no variation. He has always been a giver, He is a giver now and He has no plans to change. He is the Solid Rock, whatever good there is comes from Him and that will not change. Every day is a day that He has made just for us. He doesn’t need day and night, they are a gift for frail humans whose minds are too small to grasp an eternity with no seams. He gives us “a time for all things”. He is never more than a thought away from us. He is our constant companion so that we are never alone. If we were in heaven with Jesus, we would be praising Him constantly. Yet, here on earth we live every day in His presence and spend little or no time praising Him and offering up thanks for all that He does. We should praise the Lord daily for saving us and tell the world about our salvation. Our tongues should be like the “pen of a ready writer” and tell the story over and over. “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
1 Not to us, O Lord, not to us,
but to your name goes all the glory
for your unfailing love and faithfulness.
Our purpose while we are here on earth is to praise the Lord and to give all the glory to Him. Why does God deserve and expect all the praise? Because it is His “unfailing love and faithfulness” that has saved us and kept us safe this far. We have nothing else to offer God. There is nothing that God needs from us but He desires to hear our praises to Him and to fellowship with us at all times. Our God is the only true and living God. Others worship gods that are lifeless, unable to love and unable to communicate. Others have to go to their gods while our God is with us all the time. He is our foreguard, the One who goes before us. He is our armor and our present help, the One who provides for us and surrounds us with His love and protection. He is our rearguard, the One who washes away every stain from our past. He was with us in the past, He is with us now and is already ahead of us preparing the way. No religion has a god that can make such a claim. Our every thought, word and action should let the world know that “our God reigns” in majesty and in love. Our lifestyles should magnify His glory. As John the Baptist said, “we must decrease so that He can increase” in our lives.
13 And I will also give you what you did not ask for—riches and fame! No other king in all the world will be compared to you for the rest of your life! — 1 Kings 3:13 NLT
When we go before the Lord to pray, do we jump right into our lists of things that we “need” and/or want or do we first acknowledge who God is? Do we allow Him to influence our prayers in any way? Do we truly pray that His will be done in our lives or are we more concerned that God should answer our prayers the way we want them to be answered and when we want them to be answered? Do we ever consider what God might want us to ask Him to give us? Do we often pray prayers that actually grieve the Holy Spirit because we don’t allow Him to help us pray? It might be helpful right after we have prayed to think back through what we have just asked God to do for us. Do we pray prayers that have eternal consequences for all of God’s Kingdom or are our prayers just about us and our present situation? We should bring our specific requests before God at all times, but our prayers should not always be limited to “we four and no more”. God says no to our requests when we “ask amiss”. When we allow the Holy Spirit to lead us in our prayer times, we can be sure that God will be pleased with our prayers as well. When He is pleased with our requests, He answers “Yes” to those requests and adds bonuses that we did not even consider or imagine. When we pray, our focus needs to be upward and outward as well as inward.
5 May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus — Romans 14:5 NLT
Romans 13:1-7 NLT
As the years pass, the percentage of people attending church on a regular basis declines. Instead of growing stronger and influencing the society around us, the body of Christ grows weaker and weaker. Jesus warned us that a house divided could not stand. Yet, we have allowed satan to come in and use the differences in our denominations to divide us rather than focusing on our common ground and encouraging each other. Paul told us over and over how important it is for Christians to stand together as one body, the body of Christ. We are no longer able to stand because we refuse to stand together. Instead, the body of Christ is ripped apart from the inside because of our lack of love for Christ and each other. When we disparage and discourage our brothers and sisters, we violate the two greatest commands. The commands to love our Lord with all our hearts, mind, and strength and our neighbors as ourselves. Is it any wonder that the outsiders look at the Church and decide not to become a part of the family? We must show the world the love of Jesus and the peace and the joy that comes with that love rather than the image of a torn and decaying body. We get enough of that from the society around us. As long as the foundation is the name of Jesus, Jesus alone, no other name and no other way, the houses can be different and still compliment each other.