The word Christians was given to the followers of Christ because their lives were Christ-centered. Their lives reflected the teachings of their Lord; their communities were Christ-centered; their love for each other was also evident to outsiders. Sadly, this is no longer the case in our society where the word Christian is thrown so loosely.
Sometimes people wonder why God allows them to go through hardships, storms in life. Sometimes we forget that life on this fallen world guarantees hardships, difficulties. Lots of ups and downs. Scriptures gives us a great outlook to difficulties in life. Jesus told his followers to expect them. (John 16:33) “In this world, you will have trouble, but be brave because I have overcome the world.”
Many attend church, but only a few worship. Worship is one of those things we may hear a lot in church but know so little about. Every Sunday we gather together for a “worship service” or worship experience. Have you ever thought why you come together with other believers to worship God? How would you define worship?
“The Lone Ranger and Tonto; Laurel and Hardy. Batman and Robin. It was Snoopy and Charlie. Friends through thick and thin. Friends to the very end. I think you would agree. That’s how it is for You and me.” Geoff Moore and the distance.
We could add to this list, Woody and Buzz, captain America and Bucky. Frodo and Sam. These characters reflect true friendship. When we read and study the Bible we also find great friendships.
You can be very religious and still not know what you worship. You could be attending church your whole life and still not know Jesus. Not because you go to a church where they talk about Jesus makes you into a Christian. You may attend a church and know the rituals, practices and still not know Jesus.
Jesus himself said that at the end of times, there will be people that have a form of religion, people who thought knew Jesus or had a relationship with him. They will be shocked to find out they will not be with Jesus.
You can be very religious and not know what or who you worship. There are lots of people in our world today who worship something or someone, but they don’t quite know the object of their worship. Then you have people whose gods are made up, they want their gods to conform to their desires. Their gods need to fit in their preconceived notions for them to believe in them. You may have a form of religion and even practice it, but still not know God.
Sometimes, you hear people label churches as contemporary, traditional, purpose-driven; seeker sensitive; fellowship or service driven, charismatic and so forth. People label churches based on what they see happening in those communities. All these labels don’t matter for a church if the community is not centered on Jesus. If you’d like to know what a Christ-centered church looks like, just take a look at the Antioch church in the first century.
Part of being a kingdom person in this world is to be faithful stewards of the resources God has entrusted to us. When Jesus started his earthly ministry; he began to preach “repent, the kingdom of God is near” (Matt.4:17). Jesus taught many things concerning the kingdom of heaven in the gospel according to Matthew. Through his teachings, we can understand better what the kingdom is all about and the role we play as part of it.
It’s been 97 years since women in our nation were granted the right to vote. (August 26, 1920) Soon after this, some religious groups began to predict that the American family would collapse if women began voting and becoming involved in politics. Some believed that the place for women was only the home, not work. It’s sad to realize that there are still people who hold to these beliefs. Even churches still struggle with the role of women in church. Throughout history God has been using people to accomplish his purposes, both men and women. Women have made a mark in history in spite of living in a time where their ideas and efforts would not be acknowledged. They created an impact in the world, even our lives today are impacted by what some women did.
Life is about joy and sadness, success and failure, encouragement and disappointments. Sickness and health. Following Jesus is not for the fainthearted; the enemy will tempt you to stop running your race. You will be tempted to quit and if you have not learned to deal with disappointment you will throw the towel and quit. Serving God will bring you moments of loneliness and disappointments. The apostle Paul can tell us about disappointments in ministry and how he dealt with it. How do we cope with disappointments?
It’s easy to trust God when things go well in our lives. But if you only claim to believe when things are ok in your life, then your faith is weak. It is in the hard times, in times of trouble that you get to realize if your faith is truly solid or not. The measure of your faith is never known in time of peace, but only in difficult times. Whatever you believe about God, about the world, about yourself will be challenged. Will you be able to stand for what you believe?
Peter had made a promise to Jesus that he wasn’t able to fulfill. He promised Jesus to never abandon him even if the other disciples would. That Friday morning, as Jesus was being taken to the authorities. Peter denied Jesus three times. He swore to have never known him. Jesus was killed and all the expectations and dreams the disciples had about him were shattered by a cross. The disciples didn’t expect the resurrection,