Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A People With God: Designed For Community (Part 3)

Christ followers desire to be in God’s presence.

Often when we think of church, we think of wanting to be around people. However, the church in Acts 2 shows us that although it’s great to be in the presence of others, our first priority is to be in the presence of God. The early church understood that if you are getting together for a spiritual purpose, the most important thing that can happen is to grow closer to the Spirit of Christ.
And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. (Acts 2:42 ESV)
And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:46-47 ESV)
The early church prayed, read their Bibles, praised together and grew in their relationship with God…IN COMMUNITY. So, today in the local church we apply the Bible to our lives, we pray for people in our church who need encouragement, and we praise and honor God together. God speaks to us and we do it as the early church did…together! I love what is written in Acts 2:44 NIV, "all the believers were together."

Christ followers desire to grow in their relationship with God together.

Do you find yourself frustrated every time you try to start a devotional with God?
Do you feel dry or empty spiritually? Get involved with God’s people, with the local body of believers. Get plugged into God’s local community, where people will care about your spiritual welfare, where you can have some Bible application and prayer.

Do you want to grow closer to God? Grow closer to His presence by living among God’s community. We desire to know Him…together.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Devoted People: Designed For Community (Part 2)

In Acts 2, we find a church that is dynamic, active and powerful. In Acts, we see the first churches and they were rapidly growing and on fire. The Holy Spirit was moving, but in the midst of this we see a group of real followers that were devoted to true community. Read Acts 2:42-47 and find out what made this church so powerful:
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
This was a people who desired to be together with a spiritual purpose. This church was not a social club; they were not just a group of Christians who were "hanging out." They were dedicated to the things of God.

In his new book, The Spirit-Filled Church, Terry Virgo expounds on this vibrant community:
The early Christians were devoted to fellowship. They were constantly together and relinquished the right to individualism and selfishness by no longer regarding the things they possessed as their own. There was no coercion…. They expressed commitment to one another as a spontaneous outworking of their new life in Christ.
Commenting on God’s design for community, C.S. Lewis states, "Christ works on us in all sorts of ways…. But above all He works on us through each other.”

Monday, August 22, 2011


Worship is to delight in the Lord.

The book "Song of Solomon" is a teaching on the sexual delight between a man and a woman. It could easily be a teaching for marriage, love and romance between a husband and wife. This book is also often thought of as an allegory about Christ and the Church, though it is not referred to in the New Testament as a type of Christ and the Church. However, it could be viewed as both and therefore we can't reject either interpretation.

Regardless of these perspectives, the “Song of Solomon” does reveal how God has made us to long for and to desire delight. This desire and delight is to be directed toward God. As we worship, we take pleasure in God. Not in God's gifts, but God himself.

Worship does bring transformation. Worship changes us. When we worship, we experience the alchemy of transformation. Those taken up with God are changed into His glorious image.

Jesus said God is seeking worshipers. In worship we are changed. All ministry must flow from this center, otherwise it is simply a religious exercise. It is legalism and not the grace of worship. We are ultimately gripped not by an objective assent to an idea, but by a personal encounter with the living God. As John Piper writes in his book Desiring God, “To see Him and know Him and be in His presence is the soul’s final feast. Beyond this there is no quest. Words fail. We call it pleasure, joy, delight but these are weak pointers to the unspeakable experience.” May our delight be found in Christ alone, who is worthy of our worship.

Friday, August 19, 2011

A Lonely People: Designed For Community (Part 1)

A study by the American Council of Life Insurance reported that the loneliest group in America is college students. That’s surprising! Next on the list are divorced people, welfare recipients, single mothers, rural students, housewives, and the elderly.

Americans are some of the loneliest people in the world. We are a mobile society where many graduate from high school, move away from home for college, and then move again for a job. Most people will switch jobs 2-3 times. This contributes to our loneliness, and you couple this with our high divorce rate and that makes for some very lonely people.

Concert attendance has been slowly declining over the last 10 years because people no longer want to go and get lost in a crowd. In contrast, another trend over the past 10 years is that coffee houses are up. One person was quoted in The State Journal’s article on coffee houses, "I come here because I like an atmosphere of busyness, I don’t like to feel like I’m alone."

The popular show Friends takes place in a coffeehouse where friends in New York City just spend time together while trying to make it in life. The popular show in the 90s called Seinfeld was said to be about nothing, but was really about a group of friends hanging out and talking about meaningless stuff.

We live in a society that is extremely lonely and many have experienced this feeling firsthand. Charles Swindoll mentioned a Kansas newspaper ad which read, "I will listen to you talk for 30 minutes without comment for $5.00." Swindoll said, "Sounds like a hoax, doesn’t it? But the person was serious. Did anybody call? You bet. It wasn’t long before this individual was receiving 10 to 20 calls a day. The pain of loneliness was so sharp that some were willing to try anything for a half hour of companionship"

Coffeehouses, being with friends and hanging out will satisfy a need in your life, but it’s not the totality of life experience that God wants for you.

God’s Plan for Community
God’s desire is for you to experience "community." In God’s design of us, He said it’s “not good to be alone.” God created the church as a community of people gathered around Jesus and who are called to be together on a mission. Real community is "hanging out with a spiritual purpose." We need to learn to come together for a spiritual purpose.

Larry Crabb makes the simple statement, "Community matters." That’s like saying oxygen matters. Community is essential in a healthy Church. As our lungs require air, so our souls require what only community provides.

You are designed by God (who himself is a group of three persons living in profound relationship with each other) to live in relationship. How can a person tell if he or she is experiencing true community? Answer this question: “How often during the week do I get together with people with a spiritual purpose in mind?”

In a local church, you can experience community any number of ways.
  • Sunday morning worship: we gather together and edify one another.
  • Become involved in a ministry team.
  • Get involved in a small group.
  • Pray together with others.
  • Encourage spontaneous gatherings with a spiritual purpose.
Feeling a bit lonely or detached? Start hanging out with others and have a spiritual purpose!