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Duke University finds that elderly folks who attend church, pray and read the Bible regularly have lower blood pressure than non practicing peers. (Foster Letter 12/10/05)
CICADAS: SPIRITUALLY DEAD
I grew up in West Texas and there were a lot of Cicada insects. They’re not technically locusts but we called them that. During the hot summer days the loud, shrill sound that the males made would fill the air. You would usually see them in the trees. At times you would come across the lifeless shell they had shed. It was just an empty form of the living creature that had once been there. If you put the slightest pressure on that empty form it would crumble. That’s what I think of when I hear the phrase "a form of godliness." It bears some resemblance to the real thing. But there’s no life in it.
Is there a chance that spiritual decline in Israel’s history could repeat itself in Christian churches? Is there a chance today, that people could be faithfully going through a form of religion that bears resemblance to the real thing; but in reality is dead and lifeless?
Fr Mund Cargill Thompson
MOTHERS LIVE FOR OTHERS
We've got all sorts of people here this morning. One thing we have got a lot of is mothers. Some of you, your children are long grown up. But you have the experience of having been a mother. So? Well, every mother lives her life for another. And that is what the church is meant to be like. As former Archbishop of Cantabury William Temple put it, "The Church is the only society that exists solely for the benefit of it's non-members." Or as Jesus put it "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you"
Every Mother lives her life for another. Those of you who have been mothers - for the love of your child you have been through the excruciating pain of labour. For the love of your child you had yoru sleep broken as you wake to feed your baby and change her nappy. For the love of your child, you have massively reduced your social life - think how much more you used to go out before you had your child than you did when your child was young. For the love of your child, you structured our entire day around things like School drop off and School pick up times. And on top of all the practical things you did for your child, you spent your time constantly thinking about what would be best for her or him. Every mother lives her life for another.
Now, not all of us in this church are mothers. I, for example, have never been a mother. And of course there are other forms of self sacrifice too. But the mothers here are an inspiration to the rest of us. Every mother exists not for her own benefit but for the benefit of her children. We need to put that into practice in a different context. Every mother exists not for her own benefit but for the benefit of her children. We need to learn more and more to exist not for our own benefit but for the benefit of our non-members.
Of course - it's easy to romanticise being a mother. Frequently you will have thought "I don't want to do this", "I don't want to do that", "Do I have to?" - especially when it comes to having your sleep broken in the middle of the night. "Do I have to?" Yet for love of your child, you got out of bed, comforted her, fed her and changed her nappy. For love of your child you did not what you wanted but what was best for her. As a church too, there will frequently be times for each one of us when we say "I don't want to do this", "I don't want to do that", "Do I have to?" yet, if as parents we can do things we don't want because we love our child, then as Christians, for love of God and love of those who haven't yet come to faith, we will do not what we want but what is best for them.
“Worship does not satisfy our hunger for God—it whets our appetite. Our need for God is not taken care of by engaging in worship—it deepens. It overflows th...
The Didache, is a first or second century document that relates to us outside the New Testament the teaching of the early church. This document "prescribed two fast days a week: Wednesday and Friday." For early Christians; this was seen as a regular part of daily discipleship.
John Wesley sought to revive the teaching of the Didache and urged early Methodists to fast on Wednesdays and Fridays. He felt so strongly about this matter that he refused to ordain anyone to the Methodist ministry who did not fast on those two days.
Matthew Henry said, "Fasting is a laudable practice and we have reason to lament that it is generally neglected among Christians."
Hudson Taylor the great missionary and founder of China Inland Mission, said, "In Shansi I found Chinese Christians who were accustomed to spend time in fasting and prayer. They recognized that this fasting, which so many dislike, which requires faith in God, since it makes one feel weak and poorly, is really a Divinely appointed means of grace. Perhaps the greatest hindrance to our work is our own imagined strength; and in fasting we learn what poor, weak creatures we are-dependent on a meal of meat for the little strength which we are so apt to lean upon."
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: "I wonder whether we have ever fasted? I wonder whether it has even occurred to us that we ought to be considering the question of fasting? The fact is, that this whole subject seems to have dropped right out of our lives and right out of our whole Christian thinking."
There’s another beautiful picture of baptism given here: “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” Did you catch it? Baptism clothes us with Christ. We’re wrapped up in Jesus and all of his goodness in baptism. We’re clothed with his work and his righteousness. Armani, Gucci, Abercrombie and Fitch – none of those designer labels can compare with the garments we have in Jesus’ name. God “clothes” us with forgiveness and salvation. In other words, he says that these things are ours. They’re real, just like a change of clothes. All who believe that these garments are theirs have what’s needed to be part of God’s family.
The Lord offers a wonderful wardrobe for his people. It’s his Son’s life, death, and resurrection. These are ours to “wear” spiritually. God does have a dress code for his family. This is what identifies the Christian as such. Let’s face it. People often wear the clothes they do because the want to be noticed. Quite often it’s the label or the name brand that supposedly makes a person a “somebody.” Well, you want to be labeled as a “somebody”, then be labeled as one who is wrapped up with Jesus. Be labeled with Christ. Be proud that you are a Christian. Don’t be ashamed of all the Christ has done for you! God has made you part of his family.
Some one has said, there are three kinds of givers -- the flint, the sponge and the honeycomb. To get anything out of a flint you must hammer it. And then you get only chips and sparks. To get water out of a sponge you must squeeze it, and the more you use pressure, the more you will get. But the honeycomb just overflows with its own sweetness. Which kind of giver are you?
Flip Wilson was a popular comedian several years ago, and one of his characters was a Preacher at the “What’s Happening Now Church.” Flip did a Skit where he told about this preacher. He’d shout out:
"IF THIS CHURCH IS GOING TO SERVE GOD IT’S GOT TO GET DOWN ON ITS KNEES AND CRAWL!!!"
And the audience yelled back "Make it crawl preacher, make it crawl!
"AND ONCE THIS CHURCH HAS LEARNED TO CRAWL, IT’S GOT TO GET UP
ON ITS FEET AND WALK!!!"
"Make it walk preacher, make it walk" the audience moaned.
AND ONCE THIS CHURCH HAS LEARNED TO WALK ITS GOT BEGIN TO LEARN TO RUN!!!"
"Make it run, preacher, make it run!"
A church that has passion is a church where "Discouraged folks cheer up, dishonest folks fees up, sour folks sweeten up, closed folk, open up, gossipers shut up, conflicted folks make up, sleeping folks wake up, lukewarm folk, fire up, dry bones shake up, and pew potatoes stand up! But most of all, Christ the Savior of the entire world is lifted up."
The pastor stood before the congregation and said "I have bad news, I have good
news, and I have more bad news." The congregation got quiet. "The bad news
is: the church needs a new roof!" the pastor said. The congregation groaned.
"The good news is: we have enough money for the new roof." A sigh of relief
was heard rippling through the gathered group.
"The bad new is: it’s still in your pockets"