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And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth…” Genesis 1:28a

God, in this verse, echoed a command he’d already given to the birds of the air and fish of the sea. So, is this God simply commanding people to have babies?

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After the flood, only eight people survived and as they exited the ark, God repeats the command, “Be fruitful and multiply.” Again, is this just a command to populate the planet?

Before we can fully answer this, we need to see God’s purpose in creation.

Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars! Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the Lord! For he commanded and they were created. And he established them forever and ever; he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away. Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all deeps, fire and hail, snow and midst, stormy wind fulfilling the word! Mountains and hills, fruit trees and all cedars! Beasts and all livestock, creeping things and flying birds! Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and rulers of the earth! Young men and maidens together, old men and children! Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above the earth and heaven. Psalm 148:3-13

God’s creation was to magnify his glory and character. It would praise him and glorify his name, and God loved it and said ‘It was good.’

So, when God commanded Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply, he was just telling them to have babies. BECAUSE they were blameless and holy. They walked and talked with God in harmony and unity. If they had never sinned, their children would have automatically worshiped and enjoyed God as well.

But they disobeyed the Lord.

Now having children just brought sinners into the world. People that were separated from Himself and having no desire to serve Him. (Psalm 14 & Romans 3:10-18) Sin became so grotesque and violent, God destroyed the whole world with a flood. HIs grace was still evident and his plan unchanged as he saved Noah and his family. He repeats his command, “Be fruitful and multiply.” But God wasn’t interested in them simply making babies for each child would be born as a self-worshipper.

Sin had to be dealt with. Death, the consequence for iniquity, had to be paid. God chose to create Israel from whom the Savior of the world would be born. Through this nation, blessing for the nations could be restored. (Genesis 12:3) They were to be a light for the nations, that God’s salvation may reach to the end of the earth. (Isaiah 49:6)

And God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; no longer shall your name be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.” So he called his name Israel. And God said to him, “I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply.” Genesis 35:10-11a

Jesus, the Messiah, comes. God Himself in flesh. He lives without sin but dies sin’s death on the cross. The God-Man raises from the grave defeating sin and death once and for all. Through his sacrifice and believing in Christ, sinners now have an opportunity to be born again, recreated to be how God initially intended. Holy and blameless, able to enjoy a relationship with their Creator.

Because God’s intentions hadn’t changed from Eden.

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. John 4:23

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Each redeemed life, now able to do what they were created to do. And to each saved person (the church) he gives a command.

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. Matthew 28:19-20a

These disciples were to bear fruit (John 15:16 & Galatians 5:22) and as more disciples were made, the church multiplied. (Acts 2:47, 6:7)

God never desired just a populated planet, but a world of worshipers. Genesis 1:28, because of sin, is replaced by the Great Commission. No longer can we create worshipers from mere procreation. But we must evangelize and disciple a fallen and depraved world. And that’s something everybody can do; male and female, old and young, married and single.

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Imagine receiving an invitation to have a personal conversation with the President of the United States. No matter your partisanship, this would be a great honor. Time would be spent preparing. What am I going to say? How am I going to behave? What am I going to wear?

Now imagine, you’ve received a personal invitation to have a conversation with Almighty God. How would that preparation differ? Would it require more thought or less?

We forget so often as the kids yell from the backseat and the car creeps 15 miles an hour over the speed limit just to make it to church on time, that God has called and invited us there. Church is not about seeing friends and “catching up” although that is enjoyable. It is first and foremost to meet with and have a conversation with God.

What am I going to wear?

A few years ago, churches began pulling in many people with their “Come as you are” mottoes. Suits and ties were out, t-shirts and holey (not holy) jeans were in. Dresses were replaced by sweatshirts and yoga pants. Pastors stood behind the pulpit on Sunday morning declaring the word of God dressed in Saturday afternoon attire. All so “others” would feel more comfortable and not as intimidated to attend.

Jesus certainly did say, “Come as you are.” But he was speaking to the weak and the burdened. Come with your anxiety, your doubts, and your guilt. Come to me with your concerns and worries, and I will trade them for rest and ease. This verse does not refer to clothing.

Now I believe every church should be ready and open for anybody to walk in the doors. From the lady in her finest gown to the beggar man in smelly rags. Our arms should be open and they should see and feel the love of Christ overflowing through his people. They should be allowed the best seats (which in most churches is the back pew). God rejoices when a sinner comes as they are, and his church embraces them and points them to the cross.

The problem started when the church members began dressing the same way. They came as they were, interpreting this to mean as casually as possible. And this is where I have a problem. But before you count me off as a legalistic, here me out.

From the beginning, God has always required our best. Cain’s sacrifice was not acceptable to the Lord because he didn’t give what God had commanded. Malachi condemned the Jews for their giving by saying, “When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? says the Lord of hosts.” Today we are to offer ourselves as a living sacrifices offering to the Lord a sacrifice of praise.

So what is our best? Do we find ourselves “thrown together” Sunday morning, mouthing words of songs between sips of coffee as we check for a message on our phone? Do we choose what is comfortable over what is appropriate?

We wear nice clothes at funerals out of respect for the dead. We dress up for weddings in respect for the couple. We even wear our best to parties at times out of respect for the host. And yet, as we struggle to dress up for church, what is that saying about our respect for God. What we wear says a lot about our attitude, regard, and courtesy for the circumstances, place, and people involved.

Most of us worship weekly. And after a while it becomes mundane, ordinary, and customary.

But it doesn’t have to! Meeting with God is an honor, not a right. It’s a privilege, not a duty.

But we must prepare every week to meet him. And that includes our clothes. Everybody’s “best” is different but the outward can be a sign of the inward heart. I don’t mind if people show up to church in casual attire. But when somebody becomes a member, actively involved, and maturing as a Christian, so should their wardrobe.

The President would frown upon a man in cut-offs and a tank top walking into his oval office. God requires his worshippers to love him with all of their heart, mind, and soul. And I truly believe that when we regain that awesome wonder for his glory and majesty, we wouldn’t dare walk into his presence in anything less than our best.

Church Shopping Network

September 25, 2013 — 4 Comments

churchbuilding

So many people today are “church shopping.” I despise this term. Christians are visiting different places of worship every week in hopes of finding the perfect church. They treat this task the same as if they were buying curtains or a new vehicle. Current fads, style, and design take center stage as they take notes from the pew.

All sin is grounded in selfishness. Unfortunately, many who search for a church, though it seems like a good thing, do so in sin. Its all about me. It’s what suits me. It’s what makes me feel comfortable. It’s what meets my needs. Me, me, me, me….

Enough!

Take this or leave it, but here is my suggestions in how to search for a local church body to join.

What to search for:

1) A church with correct doctrine and theology. This is of the utmost importance. If this point is not met, move on. Correct teaching from the Scriptures must be priority. Primarily the teaching of Jesus, the Scriptures, and salvation. Many churches have websites now and their doctrine of beliefs are available. If not, don’t be afraid to ask the pastor or church leader for a written statement of belief. This must be solidified first and foremost.

2) A church that practices the Great Commission. Evangelism and discipleship must be the focus. Every ministry should have purpose, either to reached the unsaved, or build up the saved. The gospel should be preached from the pulpit. (Yes, that means mentioning sin, death, and hell.) All members should be strongly encouraged to disciple others while continually being discipled by another.

3) A church that overflows with love. Jesus said the greatest commandments are to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, and mind, and to love your neighbor as yourself. Faith and hope are great. But love exceeds them all. No true worship can flow from an unloving heart. No true ministry can occur without it being grounded in love. It’s a beautiful thing to see a body of Christ that would sacrifice themselves for each other. Money shifting pockets as needs are presented. Time spent with each other in sweet fellowship. Prayers rushing to the Lord for other peoples’ struggles. Selfless, pure, and righteous. The way God originally intended it to be.

4) A church that has a place for you. A believer in Jesus Christ is commanded to serve. Unfortunately, too many look for a place to be served. As we search for a body of Christ, we should be keeping an eye out for a ministry to join. We’ve all been granted spiritual gifts, and we should desire to use them to God’s praise and glory. So when we scan over their list of ministries, we are NOT looking to be taught, served, and ministered to. We are striving to find a place that we could benefit the mission of the church.

What not to search for:

1) A church with lots of ministries. Lots of ministries simply means the church is really busy. The question is raised, are they effective? A local body with two main ministries could be more obedient and successful then a megachurch with two hundred. This goes back to the fulfillment of the Great Commission and the heart of love.

2) A church with good music. Now realize that this comes from a worship leader. I can’t stand when people switch churches because they found another with “better” music. Worship is an attitude of the heart. And if somebody can only worship to a certain genre, sin is present, and worship is hindered. If our love for God outpours from our hearts, we should be able to sing a cappella and praise him. But no. We have to have a full praise band, the latest Powerpoint presentations, and room up front to bounce up and down.

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Or on the flipside, we must only have hymnals in hand and have an organ accompany the song.

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This is SIN!! No matter what is played in church, you CAN worship to it. It’s not about the music. It’s about the Lord. You can listen to your favorite styles and genres all the rest of the week. But whatever is played during the service is not important. What is important is the truth of the lyrics and the focus of the worshippers.

3) A church building that looks good. The first church in Acts met in homes. Some worshipped in prison cells. Enough said.

4) A church with a well-known pastor. We like sheep have gone astray, each of us to the most popular church in the city. There are some great pastors and teachers out there. Some have written books. Others have TV shows. But it doesn’t mean you need to be there. God may want you in a small country church because he could use you best there. Don’t follow names. Follow God. Even Paul was glad he didn’t baptize people because he didn’t want to hear people bragging that they were “of Paul.” It’s all about Jesus.

I’m sure there are reasons I’ve overlooked but I don’t want this to drag on. My point is this. Church is not about serving ourselves. It’s about serving Jesus and his people. Find a church that you can do just that in spirit and in truth. Happy shopping!

churchsteeple

“I read in a newspaper article this week that the economy is doomed by 2020. If this is true than we better get on our knees. God wants us happy, but if this occurs, none of us will be. His will is for all of us to-“

Boom! Boom!

The lull of the sanctuary shattered. Two of the elders’ eyes shot open, and group of elderly women gasped. The intrusive banging on the front door paralyzed all inside the building.

“Is John Calvin here?” joked the youth minister in the back pew. Shallow, forced laughs followed. They barely cut the nervous silence.

Pastor Pete continued, “As I was saying, if we don’t pray for our nations economy, our happiness is in serious dan-”

Boom! Boom!

Every person now sat up straight. Mothers pulled their children closer into their side. The mounting tension brought the service to a halt.

Eventually, two deacons arose and made their way out of the room towards the front door. Fearful glances followed them.

“Don’t they know you can just come in?” one whispered.

Through the glass doors, they spotted a man, average height, dark hair, and sharp nose. His deep brown eyes watched them approach.

One of the deacons cracked open the door. “You need something, sir?”

The man smiled. “Yes. I was wondering if I could join you today?”

The door was opened completely, and they greeted him, shaking his hand. “Of course, sir. Everybody is welcome. There is no need to knock.”

They took his jacket and hung it up. “There was a reason,” the man chimed in. “I wasn’t welcome.”

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The deacons both smirked and motioned towards the congregation. “That’s crazy,” one of them chided. “We’ve never turned somebody away. What is your name, sir?”

The visitor looked him in the eyes. “My name is Jesus.”

“Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”

This verse has been used countless times to preach the salvation of a sinner. A patient, lonely man standing outside waiting to be asked in to one’s heart. Paintings of this event are now classics as most have come to accept this view as Biblical.

But that is not the context. The door is not to one’s heart. It’s to the door of the church.

The angel is rebuking the church in Laodicea for it’s lack of passion, love, and dedication to Christ. They were going through all the right motions, but the heart was missing. A lukewarm church brought no joy to their Savior. And although they looked like the church, Jesus wasn’t involved. He stood outside hoping to be invited in once again. So instead of commendation, they received condemnation.

How many doors is Jesus knocking on today? Today is the day to stop acting like a Christian, and start being one.