How To Find A Good Church Part 1

Finding a Good ChurchFinding a church can be difficult. You likely are looking for people you can connect with and that the sermon and preach can convey and explain the Bible well. Add to the mix an understanding of what the Bible says a church should be then it gets more difficult. Here I want to cover briefly some Scriptures about the Church. Really these could be what helps to define what is really a good church as opposed to what we think as a good church.

Speaking of Pastoral Ministry.

  1. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. Acts 20:27.
  2. And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 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 (Ephesians 4:11-13)
  3. Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. 3 Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. (Acts 6:2-3)
  4. And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. 14 And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
  5. This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.

  6. Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering eaching. 2 Timothy 4:2

In Regards to Worship

  1. speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:19-20)
  2. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. Colossians 3:16.
  3. Then David and all the house of Israel played music before the LORD on all kinds of instruments of fir wood, on harps, on stringed instruments, on tambourines, on sistrums, and on cymbals. 2 Samuel 6:5) This is to say that instruments are allowed even if we have bias against or for certain kinds. A few other verses- 1 Chronicles 13:8, Psalm 150.
  4. [God] has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Savior Titus 1:3 The worship service should have preaching.
  5. Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: 2 On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come. 1 Corinthians 16:1-2. A good reason for church on Sunday and a tithe to take place.

Order in The Church

  1. How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret. But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in church, and let him speak to himself and to God. Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. 30 But if anything is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. 32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.

    Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church.

    Or did the word of God come originally from you? Or was it you only that it reached? 37 If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord. 38 But if anyone is ignorant, let him be ignorant. Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak with tongues.Let all things be done decently and in order. 1 Corinthians 14:26-40. Really this could be the whole chapter.

  2. But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things—that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.
    Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober-minded, in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.
    Exhort bondservants to be obedient to their own masters, to be well pleasing in all things, not answering back, 10 not pilfering, but showing all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things.

Although this is a limited list of texts regarding church it is still a good list of scriptures. If you feel that there are some that are more essential feel free to point them out and I may yet add them to the list. Now that we have a mild list of verse towards what to look for in a church we can see how we go about finding a good church.

The Soul Winner by Charles Spurgeon

Spurgeon is one of my hero’s of the faith. Spurgeon is so marveled by many because of his oratory and consistent preaching that even people who would disagree with him like him today. Pastors have titled him the “Prince of Preacher’s.” So I briefly wanted to point out this book on evangelism. Spurgeon wrote this because he viewed it as one of the most important endeavors. His text comes from Proverbs 11:30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise. The bold is inserted because it is the chief part of the text. Charles Hadden Spurgeon also wrote an auto biography and in it he writes about his personal habit of sharing the gospel both door to door and by track. You could read it C. H. Spurgeon Autobiography: The Early Years, 1834-1859.

I personally like how breaks down this book. He starts off with who is qualified to be a soul winner. Pointing that it is holiness that God uses and not necessarily the most gifted speakers. That God will use not someone who pretends but one who truly strives to honor God. Spurgeon also gives other qualifications that soul winner posses. Again it isn’t necessarily the most gifted person but one who shows sincerity both for the gospel and for the hearer. A person who truly believes what he is saying and deliver it because it is true. That you love people and are genuinely concerned for them. To also show that there is an element of humanity within rather than a more holy than thou attitude. And he also says a seriousness about the subject. If you want someone to take you serious then you treat the gospel with seriousness. I would say that Spurgeon is endeavoring to show us that whom we think God will use may not be whom Godly truly uses.

Finally Spurgeon gives us how to deliver the gospel. Here he tells us about how our message should be in tone. That there should be of interest, with urgency, and as if a friend was to be sent to death and you were pleading with the judge. Yet the actual message isn’t covered until chapter 12. Although I suppose that it is written this way because we should assume that you understand the Bible and salvation enough to tell someone else. Secondly, that his writing was to help his pastors and students to preach the gospel.

If you never have read a sermon or book by Charles Hadden Spurgeon then I would encourage you to pick up a book. His stories and application of Scripture are interesting and thoughtful. I would be worth the read. So I hope you are encouraged to read this book.

6 People to Share the Gospel With

One of the scariest was when I was shot in the head with a BBgun. A kid down the street thought it would be funny to point the gun even at me and friend at close range. He said and thought it was unloaded. Bang and the rest is history. For many Christians gospel witnessing might as well be as life threatening as my moment with a bb gun. Yet let us have courage since the Bible does give a blessing should something go wrong (in our preception) while evangelising. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Obviously this isn’t a sure way into heaven like the Jewish exorcists in Acts 19 or those who preach Christ from envy and strife Phil 1:15. We do want to hear well done good and faithful servant.

Let’s cover six people we should witness.

1) Share with your family. It is likely that you have family members unsaved. Whether this is you brother, sister, mom, dad, wife, children they are an opportunity to share your faith.

2) Coworkers. Most of have people we rub elbows with every day. As time and occurance permit, sharing the truth is worth the time and effort.

3) Your Boss. This is a little different because it might raise a challenge to find a good and contextual moment to share the gospel. But finding opportunities to witness to a boss can be challenging. Using events outside of work or when small talk is brought up to stir it toward heaven. How was your weekend. Great, did this, did that and went to church can be a great opportunity to share the gospel with them.

4) Your neighbors. Many people don’t know their neighbors. But it is a great opportunity to talk with your neighbors in passing. Another might be that if you got save to go bring the gospel to them. Setting aside a day and time to do that would be great.

5) Your Friends. Their are people that you call friends. It is likely that some of those people do not know Christ and they are opporunity to give the gospel to. Invite them to a cup of coffee, over for dinner, or an outing with the chance to share the truth.

6) Strangers. This is can be intimidating but grab someone because together you are likely follow through. Now there are two types of places you can do this. One would be door-to-door and the other in public places. The benefit with door-to-door is that after knocking you are left explaining why you are there. Public witnessing can be tough but I approach the same way I approach door to door evangelism. The reason I am interrupting you.

Making a point to think and pray to share the gospel will help you follow through. Make time to share your faith. Read up on the 6 Indispensible Elements of Evangelism.

Biblical Prayer In Evangelism

Green GO GospelonPrayer is commanded throughout the Bible. It is the habit that every Christian should be in daily practice beyond the table. The Bible gives examples of saints and even Jesus on how we should pray. Yet it has crossed my mind lately that in many cases we likely do not pray rightly. James 4:3 says that “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” Although this is often sinful prayers it probably is applied in the form of me not obeying the great commission. I will say that even if we do pray and not correctly that we have an intercessor on our behalf. I would challenge you pray from a Biblical perspective for the lost.

I find that people pray (me included) when it comes to the lost that God save them. Even if our prayer is for family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors that we pray but with little application. For instance we might pray for say Cindy. “Lord, will you save Cindy? Help her to repent and come to faith in you.” Yet this is hardly supported in the scripture. It might be more easily said Lord help me to share the Gospel with Cindy. Enough of my thoughts lets look at what Jesus says on the subject.

The Lord’s prayer is an obvious choice. “In this manner, therefore, pray:

Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10 Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.”

The Lord Jesus does in deed pray and it seems that it is the Lord’s return soon. So in one sense we might pray for those family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors that the kingdom of God would come to them and that the will God be done in their life. But here is what Jesus says about prayer and evangelism in Luke 10:2; “Then He said to them, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” In Luke He was sending them to preach and while at it pray for more laborers. Why because the harvest is plentiful. There are people who are prime for the truth and God has set them to be saved.

Paul would say that we should pray for boldness. [Pray] “for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” In Ephesians 6:19 Paul is asking for prayer that he would speak boldly in the context of praying. Many supplications and thanksgivings would be made including boldness to preach the word. This might be a bit controversial but look at what Acts tells us.

Both Peter and John pray to God for boldness. After a day of sharing the gospel these two are arrested, beaten, jailed, and then threatened. Now we might look at success as the man who was healed. But say you saw Peter and John arrested that this was a successful ministry. Many would say it is not. But here is what Peter and John prayed. Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus (Acts 4:29-30).” So again it seems that boldness to preach the gospel was the prayer. It seems that even the disciples needed a little prayer to be bold and witness.

It seems that the gospel needs people who are willing to share it. It looks to me that a more Biblical approach to prayer in evangelism is that we should go and do the will of God. Will I completely stop praying for the lost. Not likely. Will I pray more that I or someone would be sent that they would hear and believe. Yes.

Upcoming Shepherds Conference 2012

The Shepherd’s Conference. It is nearly a month away and I can’t help but wait for the fellowship, preaching, and teaching that takes place there. Every thousands of preachers, deacons, and laymen descend to California and receive the encouragement to preach the gospel faithfully. From the promotional video on the site is to preach the Word with sound teaching.

Shepherds’ Conference 2012 from Grace Community Church on Vimeo.

Our church at Beaverton Grace Bible Church sends a group of men to the conference. It always is a good time of fellowship, learning God’s Word, and evangelism. So I would encourage you to go and perhaps meet up with us if you are of like heart and mind.

Shepherds’ Conference 2012 from Grace Community Church on Vimeo.

The line up of the major preachers are:

  • John MacArthur
  • Al Mohler
  • Steve Lawson
  • Voddie Baucham
  • Phil Johnson
  • Tom Pennington

Any case I can’t help but see the ongoing talk about the conference.

Look forward to seeing some friends and meeting some brothers in Christ.

On The Precipice of Temptation

Visiting New York City is an incredible experience. The sheer height of the buildings, the historical locations, and cultural impact this city has on our nation. At considering this view I am amazed to think of that some of the most powerful people and wealth that is hard to imagine is represented here. It is like here that Jesus was tempted.

Jesus Temptation. The first temptation was to worship Satan in exchange of all the kingdoms of the earth.

Luke 4:5 Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him[d] all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6 And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. 7 Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.”

This in the corporate world would be the fast track to the top. Glory for now. Yet Jesus being God is not tempted to worship. There is no desire in Him to worship but only to obey His Father. From a human perspective this power and glory would be so irresistible to our sinfulness that apart from God’s grace we would succumb. For even in the end times it says that: “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect(Matt.24:24).”

Jesus overcomes by the Word of God. After this temptation Jesus rebuked Satan saying: “Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.’” Michael the archangel didn’t even bring a rebuke to Satan except saying the “Lord rebuke you.” By the Word we find that Jesus rebuked Him.

Jesus, an example to our temptations. When we are tempeted to sin we must look at Christ as one who gives us strength to endure temptation. “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” This is not to say that he wanted to sin for “God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone (James 1:13.” But rather He understands the frailty of the flesh having walked among us in the “likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin”(Rom. 8:3). Thankfully we have God who will give us strength to endure temptation.

Friend. I hope for both you and me that if we ever look off a precipice of temptation so high that we would over come the evil one. “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” Rev. 12:11. May we strive against sin lest we fail to win the prize.

That’s My Name And Don’t Wear It Out

I remember using this as child. You would use it when you over heard your name being used. It’s because we wanted to be respected and liked by other people. It’s not like many of us are special but we sure wouldn’t use our name as a curse word. So why do Christians use God’s name as such? God’s name is holy and we should treat it as such.

God’s name is Holy. You know that the Jews for years and to this day don’t use the name of God. It was Holy to the them and YHWH, in America prounounced Yah’Weh, was unspeakable. You can see it in your Bible as LORD to denote when it is used as opposed to Elohim or God. Even when instructed to pray to God as Father that the statement wasn’t to for off that God as Master wasn’t that far off. So God says:

‘You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.”

So I wonder why some Christians use His name in vain. I write to simply encourage that we should see His name as holy. Matthew 12:36, “I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.” So let us be careful on our use of God’s name. May we see it as holy and keep it as holy on our lips.

Heroes of the Faith from Hebrews

Do you have a hero? Someone that is just amazing and deserves recognition. Sports and music seem best at setting up Halls of Fame which we are often amazed by the talent of those individuals. How often do we find those portrayed in the Scripture as our heros of the faith? It seems that most of us don’t think of saints as heroes. The scripture recoignizes these heroes in Hebrews 11.

Heroes for Parents. We get examples of faith no matter what stage in life that you might find yourself. Abraham lived by faith who left his country. He was marked as obeying God. By faith he offered his son Isaac when asked to sacrifice him believing that God would raise him from the dead (Heb. 11:19). Sarah also who believed God that He would provide a child though she was of old age. Moses parents by faith hid their son who escaped the murder of Pharaoh. May these be examples to parents.

Heroes of Faith for Children & Mature. Abel offered a sacrifice of righteousness that God accepted. Timothy was commanded to let no one look down on him but to be example in faith, love and purity. By faith Isaac & Jacob blessed their children and worshiped the Lord which is a great example of finishing strong. Joseph also believed God that the children of Israel would leave Egypt and he gave instructions on what to do with his bones. Are you old or young? Let these be an example to you to live by faith.

Heroes for Men and Women. Abraham, Moses, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Gideon and the prophets are examples of men enduring trials, torture, famine wandering, wars, and even death to receive the crown of life. Rahab and Sarah who believing God one would escape death and another receive the promise of children greater than the sand of the sea.

The unspoken heroes. Even as the scripture says that “time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets” let alone the apostles who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.” (Hebrews 11:33-38)

Let us remember the heroes of scripture. For they are examples unto us as Hebrews 12:1-2 says that “since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Jesus would be the perfect hero!

Who might your scriptural hero be? Share with me those that are examples to you from the scripture.

Meditations From The Book of Zechariah

Last week I spent time in the Book of Zechariah. It really had been some time since I had last read and it was a good refresher in the book. I wanted to look at a few things that I have learned in my short study of Zechariah.

Zechariah both priest and prophet. It is quite clear that Zechariah was a prophet. Statements like “the Word of the Lord came to Zechariah” gives us the assurance that he is a prophet. He has both revelations and words spoken by God to Zechariah for the nation of Israel. Priest is a little less apparent but helps with the whole of scripture like Nehemiah 12:1 that the Levites Iddo and verse 16 where Zechariah was a descendant of Iddo.

The Lord Remembers. This is what Bible scholars say theme of the book is about. It resonates from the start of the book as God calls back Israel to obedience in 1:3,4. In chapter 2 we get that God will come back and dwell in the midst of His people and nations will flock to be with Him. In chapter 3 that He will purge Joshua the priest of sin and nation of Israel from their iniquity. Even in the last of half of Zechariah that we find that God is reassuring that He will dwell in the midst of Israel. That He will defend and rebuke the nations that stood against Israel.

God’s promises yet to be fulfilled. Undoubtedly there are parts in this book that speak strongly about the Lord Jesus Christ. Parts like the BRANCH which we could reference John 15 and Jesus as the Vine. Or the 30 pieces of silver that betrayed Jesus. But when I read things like; “I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.” I can’t help but think that the scriptures are yet to be fulfilled for Israel. Or that all nations will come to keep the feast of Tabernacles in chapter 14 and a curse will be on the nations that do not. God’s promises seem to yet be fulfilled.

I find that Zechariah was an encouraging read. A reminder that though some fall into sin that God yet gives second chances. That He remembers His promises to His people and that the Sovereign God will fulfill those promises. Israel will yet worship the Lord. How is relationship with God? If you find yourself wandering from the presence of the Lord then I implore you to return to the Lord and He will return to you.

How Beautiful Are The Feet

Not many people think that feet are beautiful. I am among that group. Yet Romans 10:15 says “ How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!” I could only imagine how terribly dirty and perhaps marred the feet of Paul were. It is estimated that he traveled over 14,000 miles during his missionary travels. He endured hardships of all kinds. I think he would know something about beautiful feet.

Feet were not like how we view them in our modern society. People didn’t have comfortable shoes with socks, pedicures, and desk jobs that kept them from being on their feet. Dirty feet were common between rich and poor. People would offer water for their guests to wash their feet or have servants do it for them it was so common. I had the opportunity to do some missions in India and my feet were constantly dirty. Every night I would have to wash them before I would go to bed. I didn’t view my feet beautiful nor clean and I am sure neither did others.

Take for example the beauty of the Lord Jesus’ feet.

Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. 46 You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.” Luke 7:44-47

The woman who washed Jesus feet had good news given to her. Her savior forgave her sins and thus she washed his feet. The contrast was Peter who had not offered water even for Him to wash after coming to his house which was the custom.

I would encourage you put on the full armor of God including the feet that are shod with gospel of peace. That we should be joyful at the message of Jesus Christ lest we be under judgement worse than Sodom and Gommarah (Matt 10:14). How beautiful are your feet?