I Can (With God’s Help)

Philippians 4:13

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

John 15:5 – “I am the Vine; you are the branches.  Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit.  However, apart from Me (cut off from vital union with Me) you can do nothing.”  The Amplified Version

James 4:7 – “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”

CAN

  • Growing up, I learned in English classes the difference between the words can and may.  Repeatedly, I heard “You can if you are able.”  The next time you go through a drive through to order something, note how many people on the other end of the microphone ask, “Can I help you?”  That obviously tells you they did not grasp the correct grammar in English class or the teacher did not teach them properly.
  • I can because I am able.
  • Through Christ, I am more than able.  Not in my own strength, not in my own power, but through the power of Christ Jesus, my Lord, who dwells within.
  • “I may” gives the impression that you may not be able.  There is a doubt in your mind that you may not be able because you are too weak, you will change your mind, you question your ability to follow through.

I WILL IS THE NEXT STEP AFTER WE KNOW “WE CAN.”

  • Over and over in the Psalms we see the statement I will.
  • It was I who determined that I would do these things.
  • It was I who put the plan in motion.
  • Remember the statement about Daniel – “He purposed in his heart.”  It was Daniel who made up his mind and determined within himself that he would be who God had called Him to be.

Psalm 145:1 – “I will extol You my God, O King; and I will bless Your name forever and ever.”

Psalm 145:5 – “I will mediate on the glorious splendor of You majesty, and on Your wondrous works.”

Psalm 138:1-2 – “I will praise You with my whole heart; before the gods I will sing praises to You.  I will worship toward Your holy temple, and praise Your name for Your lovingkindness and Your truth; for You have magnified Your word above all Your name.”

Psalm 144:9 – “I will sing a new song to You, O God; on a harp of ten strings I will sing praises to You.”

  • It is I who must go to God when I need help
  • It is I who must praise God when I want to thank Him
  • No one else can do it for me
  • I must
  • I can
  • I am able

TEN FINGER PRAYER

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

I CAN DO

  • Action word – I can do…move, talk, look, walk, think, eat and breathe and much more…all these things you and I can do without thinking.  How much more do we do with our strength that God has given to us naturally?  .

I CAN DO ALL

  • I can do whatever I want to if I put my mind, heart and energy and will power to the task that is before me.  Nothing then, can stop me…There are no exceptions…With God’s help I can accomplish more than I can even imagine…but lest I get puffed up in my own strength, I must remember that it is God who gives me the strength.

I CAN DO ALL THINGS

  • I can praise God if I want to
  • I can get out of bed if I want to
  • I can help others if I want to
  • I can live a Christian life if I want to

OR

  • I can blame my upbringing, sexual abuse, an abusive relationship, poverty or many other things for the reasons that I cannot go forward to live my life in the way God has called me to live it.

I CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH

  • It’s not me and me alone who is able to do all these things, but it is through the help of the Lord.
  • When your wife has cancer
  • When you have financial difficulties
  • When a loved one dies
  • When you have surgery
  • When you have problems in your marriage
  • When you have problems with your kids
  • In all areas of life…it is God who gives us strength

THROUGH CHRIST (THE ANOINTED ONE)

  • It is He, Himself, He cares

1 Peter 5:7 – “casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”

Jeremiah 33:3 – “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”

  • WOW!  This God that we serve promises to show us great and mighty things but He wants us to call on Him…He wants us to fellowship with Him.  You stay in touch with Him; He will stay in touch with you.  It is in Him and through Him by His anointing power that we have our being, our life, our very existence, our breath, that our heart regularly beats.

1 John 5:14-15 – “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.”

WHO STRENGTHENS ME

  • The same person as the I in the beginning of this verse…I am the receipt of my actions.  I am the one who steps out by the faith God has instilled in my heart and helped me to exercise the faith…I WIN.

Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

John 15:5 – “I am the vine, you are the branches.  He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”

Toward The Goal

Philippians 3:12-16

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.

RIGHTEOUSNESS AND PERFECTION

  • Paul did not count himself as having yet attained; he was not perfect.  We are not perfect and our righteousness is lacking in many different areas of our lives.  We are continually striving toward perfection and toward living a righteous and holy life.  For many perfection is hopeless; righteousness is hopeless.  Holiness is just not going to happen.  That is because those individuals are relying on their own ability and strength to be perfect and righteous before Christ and it is definitely not going to happen.  If we could be perfect and righteous on our own merits, Christ would not have had to go to the cross. 
  • No person ever achieves perfection on this earth.  That fact is so obvious to the thinking of a honest man that it is actually ridiculous to even think about being perfect.  But, at the same time, too many are so closed minded in their thinking that they seldom grasp what perfection really is.
  • Consider the brain and the mind.  It has been estimated that man only uses one-tenth of one percent of his mental capacity.  Imagine how far short this is of perfection.
  • Consider the body.  What would a perfect body be like?  A body that never desired, thought, or did wrong; that never came up short; that never aged, deteriorated, died or decayed?
  • The examples could go on and on.  But, in the beginning, the creation stage of this earth, we find that man and woman were created in the image of God.  He and she had the perfect body and mind because God created perfection.  It was mankind’s desire to be wise as God that brought about the imperfection that we have in our lives and in our world.  Look at the creation story in Genesis.  Every time God created something, it states over and over “And God saw that all was good.”   

Romans 7:18-20 – “For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh.  I can will what is right, but I cannot perform it.  (I have the intention and urge to do what is right, but no power to carry it out.) For I fail to practice the good deeds I desire to do are what I am (ever) doing. Now if I do what I do not desire to do, it is no longer I doing it (it is not myself that acts), but the sin          (principle) which dwells within me (fixed and operating in my soul).  The Amplified Version

2 Corinthians 3:5 – “Not that we are fit (qualified and sufficient in ability) of ourselves to form personal judgments or to claim or count anything as coming from us, but our power and ability and sufficiency are from God.  The Amplified Version

PAUL’S EXAMPLE FOR US TO FOLLOW

  • Paul followed after perfection.  When Paul was saved on the Damascus Road that was just the beginning.  He had been saved to live for Christ and to serve Christ.   He was saved to follow to pursue, like a runner in a race, that perfection that Christ desires in all of us.  Paul was going to do all he could to help the Lord in the Lord’s great task of perfecting him.  Paul was going to do all he could to lay hold of perfection – the perfection for which the Lord had laid hold of him. 
  • There is no such thing as a genuine believer sitting still after he has been saved.  The believer must not become comfortable, complacent, lethargic, or lazy.  The believer should neither waste time nor opportunity.  He should not begin to think he is safe and secure forever.  The believer can not begin to do what he wants to do and give in to his own desires.  The believer must follow, run, and press after perfection – the perfection for which Christ has saved him.  The believer must be active in living for Christ.
  • START WHERE YOU ARE
  • USE WHAT YOU HAVE!
  • DO ALL YOU CAN!

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 – “Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but (only) one receives the prize?  So run (your race) that you may lay hold (of the prize) and make it yours.  Now every athlete who goes into training conducts himself temperately and restricts himself in all things.  They do it to win a wreath that will soon wither, but we (do it to receive a crown of eternal blessedness) that cannot wither.  Therefore I do not run uncertainly (without definite aim).  I do not box like one beating the air and striking without an adversary.  But (like a boxer) I buffet my body (handle it roughly, discipline it by hardships) and subdue it for fear that after proclaiming to others the Gospel and things pertaining to it, I myself should become unfit (not stand the test, be unapproved and rejected as a counterfeit).”   The Amplified Version

Galatians 5:7 – “You were running the race nobly.  Who has interfered in (hindered and stopped you from) your heeding and following the truth?   The Amplified Version

2 Corinthians 4:7-8 – “However, we possess this precious treasurer (the divine Light of the Gospel) in (frail, human) vessels of earth, that the grandeur and exceeding greatness of the power may be shown to be from God and not from ourselves.  We are hedged in (pressed) on every side (troubled and oppressed in every way), but not cramped or crushed; we suffer embarrassments and are perplexed and unable to find a way out, but not driven to despair.”  The Amplified Version

Hebrews 12:1-2 – “Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses (who have borne testimony to the Truth), let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us, looking away (from all that will distract) to Jesus, Who is the Leader and Source of our faith (giving the first incentive for our belief) and is also its Finisher (bringing it to maturity and perfection).  He, for the joy (of obtaining the prize) that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”  The Amplified Version.

WHAT MUST WE DO?

  • Paul worked at forgetting the past.  If we are going to have a good future, we must now, in the present, forget the past.  We must burn bridges if necessary.  We must sever relationships if necessary.  We must change jobs if necessary.  For us to live like Christ intended for us to live, holy and righteous and striving toward perfection, we have to make a change.  The first change must be to bury the past.  Leave the stinking, rotten actions and memories of the sin of your past and never resurrect it again.  If Christ forgave you of wrong doing and does not hold it against you anymore; then who do you think you are resurrecting something that has been forgiven?  It’s over.  It took you down the wrong path the times you were involved in it, and it will again if you resurrect it.  The one thing we must do is forgive ourselves and go on and live our life in Christ to the fullest. 

1 John 3:2 – “Beloved, we are (even here and) now God’s children; it is not yet disclosed (made clear) what we shall be (hereafter), but we know that when He comes and is manifested, we shall (as God’s children) resemble and be like Him just as He (really) is.”  The Amplified Version

All For Christ

Philippians 3:1-11

Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe.  Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation! For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.  But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

BE ON GUARD

  • Rejoice in the Lord – Rejoicing in the Lord places one in the very presence of the Lord – the very best place to be if you want to be safe and protected.

Psalm 22:3 – “But You are holy, Enthroned in the praises of Israel.”  (You inhabit the praises of your people.) 

  • The word inhabit means to sit down, to remain, to settle, or marry.  When we praise God he does not merely visit us, He abides with us and we are partners with Him in a growing relationship. 

Psalm 5:11 – “Let all those that put their trust in you rejoice; let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them.”

Habakkuk 3:17-18 – “Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the field yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls—Yet will I rejoice in the Lord.  I will joy in the God of my salvation.”  Habakkuk 3:17-18

The word for joy, gil, contains the suggestion of dancing for joy or leaping for joy.  The verb originally meant to spin around with intense motion.  This lays to rest the motion that biblical joy is only “a quiet, inner sense of well-being.”  God dances for joy over Jerusalem and because of His people.

Isaiah. 65:19 – “I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in My people.”

Zephaniah 3:17 – “I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in My people

  • His redeemed are joyful in their King; they praise Him with dances, with instruments and singing.

Psalm 149:2, 3 – “Let Israel rejoice in their Maker; let the children of Zion be joyful in their King.
Let them praise His name with the dance; let them sing praises to Him with the timbre and harp.”

  • Pay attention to the Scriptures – If we fail to study and obey the Word of God, we will cave in to the trials of life or to false teaching.

John 14:15 – “If you love me, keep my commandments.” 

John 14:23 – “If a man love me, he will keep my words…” 

John 15:10 – “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.”

Acts 17:11 – “These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.”

Acts 20:32 – “So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.”

2 Tim 2:15 – “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

  • Watch out for false teaching – Remember most false teaching comes with “a little truth mixed in.”  Otherwise, there would be no danger of our being misled. 

 Matthew 5:19-20 – “Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven…”  

Romans 10:3 – “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.”  Romans 10:3

1 Timothy 1:7 – “Desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm.” 

2 Timothy 4:3-4 – “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.”

  • Beware of false attempts to worship God – praying, singing, attending church, giving in the offering, being baptized, joining the church.  These are all things that we do because we worship.  They are the result of our worship.  However, they are not the basis of our worship.  
  • We worship God through the Spirit of God who lives in us. 

John 4:24 – “God is a Spirit; and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” 

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 –  “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you…therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” 

  • We worship because of Jesus Christ. 

 Ephesians 2:18 – “For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.” 

John 10:9 – “I am the door.  If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved.” 

REJECT SELF-RIGHEOUSNESS

  • Privileges of Birth
  • Self-Achievement

Romans 3:20 – “By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight – for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”

Romans 10:3 – “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.” 

ALL FOR CHRIST

  • Count all things loss for God – “Count” is in the present tense; it is a continuous action.  When we accept Christ, we are to continuously – all the time seek after God.  Compared to Him – nothing else should matter. 

Luke 9:23 – “If any man desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.”   

Hebrews 11:6 – “Without faith it is impossible to please Him…..He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” 

  • Know Jesus Christ – In the New Testament know indicates a relation between the person knowing and the object known.  What is known is of value or importance to the one who knows.  Paul’s knowledge of Christ was not merely an intellectual understanding, but rather a personal understanding resulting from his personal relationship with God. 
  • In His power

 Acts 1:8 – “For you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.” 

Romans 1:16 – “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is power of God to salvation for everyone who believes.” 

  • In his sufferings

 Philippians 1:29 – “For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer (to experience ill-treatment, roughness, outrage, to undergo evils from without) for His sake.” 

2 Timothy 3:12 – “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” 

1 Peter 2:21 – “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps.” 

Forward in Christ

Philippians 3:1-4

Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe.  Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation! For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so:

THE CHRISTIAN’S MAIN RESOLUTION:   Forgetting sin and moving forward in the power of His strength and might by the power of His shed blood within us and the Holy Spirit within and upon us.

Simply say NO to sin and YES to God!

  • “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”    —Ralph Waldo Emerson, Poet
  • What is on the inside of us that will stand the test of time?
  • You cannot expect to reap a harvest if you have kept the seed in the barn.
  • If you lay down with the dogs at night, don’t expect to get up without fleas.
  • If you run with the goats on Saturday night don’t expect to smell like a sheep on Sunday morning.
  • We always have time for the things we put first.  What about the things of God?  They are first priority.

Switzerland originally was a part of the German Confederation/Holy Roman Empire, and along with Luxemburg and Lichtenstein are the only three countries that remain intact as countries from WW I.  (I say this about that little bit of world history….they too shall pass away but there is a kingdom that shall never pass away.)  They had proclaimed neutrality.  They remained nations because they did not have to choose sides.  We must, however, choose sides – to live for God or face eternity in a devil’s hell.

Our religious/spiritual neutrality is threatened whenever someone we know well takes spiritual commitment seriously and refuses any longer to play hide-and-seek with the living God. 

GET THIS IF YOU DO NOT GET ANYTHING ELSE FROM THIS MESSAGE – Lethargic, complacent, lukewarm, pew-warming Christians will be expelled from God’s presence. 

Revelations 3:16 – So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.

Footnotes:

  1. Revelation 3:16 NU-Text and M-Text read hot nor cold.

If we as INDIVIDUALS, BELIEVERS, FAMILIES, A CHURCH, A BODY OF BELIEVERS, are going to do something for Christ that will make a difference…the time is NOW.  NOW.  NOW.

  • You think about that and try to fit it into your schedule
  • You think about that and try to squeeze it in to your routine, your day, your calendar
  • It really isn’t too convenient you think to yourself

It was not convenient for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, to leave His Father and home in heaven and come to this earth, live as a man while yet being God in the flesh. 

  • for Him to take the stripes upon His back…
  • for Him to have His beard plucked out…
  • for him to be spat upon, to be jeered at, to be ridiculed, and to be tried as a criminal…
  • for Him to have the crown thrust violently upon His head…
  • for Him to have nails driven into His hands and feet. 
  • for Him to be crucified and have all the world turn against Him.

But, He did.

He did for you and for me.

How dare we even think of looking at our calendar or schedule and debate within ourselves about whether or not we can fit in something God is calling us to do?  How dare we!  We all should be ashamed for we are all guilty of neglecting to do some thing God has called upon us to do.  Maybe it just isn’t convenient.

THE TIME IS NOW TO ACT….THE SONG SAYS…

Souls are crying, men are dying,

Won’t you lead them to the cross?

Go out and win,

Rescue from sin,

Day’s almost done,

Low sinks the sun.

Souls are crying, men are dying

Win the lost at any cost!

Where is the Harvest?

Galatians 6:6-10

Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.  Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

  • We must not grow weary in discharging our responsibility and in obedience to the Lord.

1 Corinthians 15:58 – Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

2 Thessalonians 3:13 – But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good

1 Corinthians 4:1 – Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart.

  • Blessings if we do not lose heart.

Matthew 24:12-13 – And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.  But he who endures to the end shall be saved. 

2 Corinthians 4:17-18 – For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

2 Peter 1:10-11 – Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

James 5:7-8 – Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.

Rev 2:7 – He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.

Rev 2:11 – He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.

Rev 2:17 – To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.

Rev 3:5 – 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.

Rev 3:12 – 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.

Rev 3:21 – 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.

  • In due season

We do not know when the Lord will return or when we will go to be with the Lord by our death.  But we do know that He has promised to return.  In the parable He told about the faithful and unfaithful servants – we must be found sowing the seeds of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Jesus said our prayer should be for reapers because the harvest is ripe. 

Matthew 9:37-38 – Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”

You cannot reap the harvest if the seed corn is still in the barn.  Go and make disciples. 

Grow in Grace and Knowledge

2 Peter 3:10-18

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.  Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.  You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.

  • How should we grow in grace and knowledge?  The Word of God is the best place to go to find direction in all areas of our life. 
  • Growing in my prayers

Philippians 4:6-7 — Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus

  • Growing in my involvement

Galatians 6:10 – Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

  • Growing in my dependence

Philippians 4:13 – I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

  • Growing in my fellowship

Hebrews 10:24-25 – And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

  • Growing in my commitment

1 Corinthians 15:58 – Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

  • Growing in my maturity

Ephesians 4:11-16 – And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ — from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

  • How do we then grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord?  Grow in your prayers, involvement, dependence, fellowship, commitment and maturity.

Christ’s Church – Part 2

Ephesians 2:19-22

Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

For us to understand the purpose of the church, we must first find a Biblical foundation on which our beliefs are based. 

It is Gods’ will for the church to grow.  To grow not just numerically; but first and foremost it is His will for His church to grow spiritually.

If you had a building that would seat 1000 people and that church had multiple services so that each week you had 3000, 4000, 5000 or more total attendance, we would all say “WOW, THAT’S FANTASTIC.”  What are they doing that we can do and get the same kind of growth?   And it is fantastic that many people are in church, that the church has something going that might be worth duplicating.  But let us look a little closer.

 Are all those masses of people committed to serving Christ Monday through Saturday? 

Have all those people made a genuine commitment to Christ?  Have all those people gotten involved in reading their Bibles and praying on a regular basis and seeking to serve God in a greater way? 

If all of them are still baby Christians, that Church has a major problem.   Is the individual life changed?  Are their lives that live different than the week before?   And to take this picture a step further, is this a picture of Christ’s church?

Now, lest you think that I am picking on the large mega-churches, let me bring this same scenario down to churches under seventy people which is the size of the majority of churches.  Are small churches just biding their time till all the dead-wood pass on?  Who will be left?  What are these small churches doing for the sake of the Gospel?  Are they reaching out beyond the walls of their building, their comfort zone?

Are the majority of these small churches just content to come each week and lip-sync a few words of “Amazing Grace”, mumble some of the words of the Lord’s Prayer, fall asleep halfway through the message and then shake a couple of hands on their way out to the car?.    

James 2:26 –For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

Matthew 28:19-20 – Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

Ephesians 4:11-16 – And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

Instead of asking, “What will make our church grow?” we need to ask, “What is keeping ourChurch from growing?”  The church is a body, and bodies grow. It is a living organism and living organisms grow.  Christ, himself breathed on the disciples and said “Receive ye, the Holy Spirit.”  That took place on the Day of Pentecost and the church was birthed.  If your child or grandchild did not grow, you would take them to the doctor; and if the doctor didn’t give you a satisfactory answer as to what was wrong, you would immediately take that child to another doctor.   If your child was growing physically but was still nursing and slobbering all over the place and not potty-trained you would begin to question what was wrong.  Either your parenting skills were terrible, or something was seriously wrong with your child.

I ask you with all the sincerity that I can ask you, what keeps the church from growing?  Am I really a Christian?  Just because I prayed the sinner’s prayer 40 years ago does not mean I have not lapsed back into sin and do not even realize it.  How much time do I spend on my knees?  How much time do I pray?  How much time do I spend studying my bible?  How much do I witness?  We must all do all of these things if we are to maintain our love life with the Lord.

You that are married must go out of your way to maintain your marriage.  Saying “I do” forty, fifty, ten years ago or even last week does not make a lasting and committed marriage.  A marriage demands regular maintenance (the tender affections daily – and even hourly, shown to the other half of the marriage).  If that does not happen the marriage will literally die.  You may still live together in the same house, but the love, the passion, the relationship that God designed for marriage will die.  When God wanted to describe his relationship with the church he used the comparison of a bride and groom.  Why was that?  Because the relationship between husband and wife is the closest to what our relationship should be with God.  Marriage was the first relationship/institution God created – long before government and before the church itself.  God described marriage as two forsaking all others and becoming one.  The church is the bride of Christ.  The church is His.  The love affair must grow day by day or it will die. 

God asked a question of Adam and Eve in the garden.  Is that same question being asked of you on a daily basis?  Is God desiring some fellowship but you are busy at other things, too tired or too lazy, unmotivated, or what?

Genesis 3:9 – Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”

Could it be the reason you are not involved in daily prayer, daily Bible reading, regular witnessing, and regular attendance at God’s house is that you have fallen out of love with God?  Is your love what it was at one time?  When you first became a Christian were you constantly pouring through the scriptures or could not possibly miss a single service or bible study of the church?  Is that desire still the same? 

When Barbara and I first got married I had been by myself for four years and she had been alone for over two years.  At the risk of too much personal information I just want to use us as an illustration.  Our passion for loving each other was enormous.  We could not wait to see each other at the end of the day.  We looked forward to weekends when we could spend all day long together.  I can unequivocally say that that passion is even greater today than ever.  When she was working, I would call her every day at work, not really wanting anything, just to hear her voice.  I would run by her work and bring her a Pepsi or take her to lunch.  She is always doing things to show her love for me.  She loves to surprise me.  One Valentine’s Day she hired a barbershop choir to serenade me with a love song after church on Sunday morning.   Another year she hired a woman dressed as a pink gorilla who brought me candy and flowers after church on Sunday morning.   Passion is much more than just the physical, although it includes that.  But the world has degraded love to nothing more than just a physical encounter.  God’s design for marriage, while including that physical union, includes so much more.

So it is with being a child of God.  Being a Christian is confessing your sins and asking for forgiveness, but it is so much more than that.  Do you have that passion to love the Lord more now than when you first became a child of God?  Has your love waned and you fall into that category of the lukewarm church described in Revelation 3?  Are you cold (backslidden) or hot (on fire) or lukewarm (somewhere in between).

I ask you to grade yourself as to your devotion in several categories – time spent in the Word, time spent in close, intimate prayer with God, time witnessing to others, time helping others in need, time spent in fellowship and worship with other believers.  Be honest and upgrade yourself from one week to the next for the next month and compare your closeness to God from week to week.  If you do that honestly and faithfully you will sense a change in your life.  You will not only sense a change in your life but the church will see a change in you and others and the church as a whole will change and be less self-centered and more devoted to serving God as He tells us to.   

Deuteronomy 6:5 – You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.