Watch Sunday’s service (including the sermon) here.
Please remember that sermon notes are meant to act as a guide and may not be exactly what was preached.
In Difficult Times
The Word of Truth, God’s Word, tells us in Hebrews 1… I am no fear monger. We have been in the last days since the resurrection and the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost and, as I have told our congregation, I believe that we are witnessing the great Apostasy spoken of in 2 Thessalonians.
2 Timothy 3 tells us that in the last days difficult times will come. We are in the midst of difficult times. We are seeing mankind being lovers of self in the hoarding and greed that is taking place, but we are also seeing communities coming together, neighbor checking on neighbor, and the Church rising up to meet the difficult times we are all going through.
In this time of isolation and fear we must simply and intentionally be the Church! We must seek to be the Kingdom, building community, building relationships, and thereby God will build His Kingdom, His Church.
I speak to you as your pastor, your friend, and as a representative of God. I don’t believe that God sent this plague, I do believe that God will use this time away from what we have prioritized over Him, what we have placed before Him, to open our eyes to our need of Him.
No large gatherings, no sporting events, no movie theaters, no cub or girl scouts, not even a coffee shop to gather into, but we cannot forget our purpose as God’s Church, what God has called us to, no matter the church, denomination, movement, or sect your congregation is aligned with. And that is to love God, love others, and make disciples.
It is the Church that is to be out in and a part of the local community, having relationships with those around us, our neighbors, in order to lead them to Christ and make them disciples.
Recently, the church in the U. S. has seen the closing of over 5,000 of its buildings every year. Some of those people who were a part of a local congregation have moved on to be a part of a bigger one, usually not local, not a part of the local community. Or they have joined those that are done with, or want no part of, any church. These last are the “dones” and “nones” that make up a good part of our communities.
So how do we, as the Dayton Church of God, keep moving forward in building community, relationships, and the Kingdom of God. The last part is really out of our hands as it is Jesus who said I will build My Church.
Since our buildings are now closed, and the buildings were no longer the center of social activity for the community as they once were anyway, it is time for us, the true Church, to be that center where God has placed us. We hear it over and over: it is not about religion, it is about relationship. But what does that mean?
Our relationship in community with God was broken when mankind rebelled at the fall. It is restored in Christ when we, by faith, believe (believing is putting into action the knowledge you have). We are justified in Christ. See Romans 5.
God’s perfect love has been poured into our hearts by the Spirit. We know from 1 John 4 that God is Love and that His perfect love drives out fear. As a Christian, you need to understand that the perfect love of God resides in the heart of a believer, that His presence drives out fear, enables you to overcome the trials, troubles, and tribulations you now face, and since that perfect love is poured into you it is also to flow out of you.
We are to do that first in the church community, in relationship with God. First, with one another in the local church and then with our brothers and sisters throughout the Kingdom. But, as I mentioned last week, the family of God has its problems. However, those problems are no different than those seen in the average family.
We, as the church, with our different names, practices, and teachings need to get past ourselves and be the model community we were created to be in order to show others how relationships work. We are, as the Holy Spirit tells us, One in Christ, “through faith you are all sons of God in Christ Jesus. For those of you who were baptized into Christ have been clothed with Christ. There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female; since you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26-28).
That means we must first and foremost be in communion with God as His Children and then as family with one another within the local church.
Families can be difficult. In any family there are different attitudes and perspectives, with each member having their own unique personality. Among the local congregation, like among families, those personalities often clash.
We have different priorities within the family, we place more importance on some things others could care less about and we become offended when others don’t treat things with the reverence or respect that we would.
But those difficulties can be overcome when we are devoted first to God, then to one another in brotherly love. Is this not the Great Commandment?
That will mean setting aside, letting go of, our past differences, hurts, anger, and disappointments. It will mean investing more time with one another and putting into practice those “one anothers” that we tend to ignore. I have found that in the Church we are very good at obeying the sins of commission, you know the “thou shall nots,” but not so with the sin of omission… not doing the good we know to do, the good we have knowledge of, but ignore, like not to neglecting meeting together (Hebrews 10:24-25).
The “one anothers” are all to be practiced within the local congregation and within the Church. When we put them into action they will help us grow spiritually as we walk in love. Romans 5 told us that we now stand in God’s grace, it is by that grace that we patiently bear with one another in love (God’s love for us and our love for one another) as we are told to in Ephesians 4.
Think of it like this, we are told in John 14:15 that if we love Jesus we will do as He commands, and in Romans 8:28 that all things work for the good of those that love God. So, the local congregation of God’s people, in loving God, obey Him, He then causes all things to work for our/your good.
Are you building a relationship with God? Are you building relationships within your congregation, with other Christians? Are you putting into practice the 50 some “one anothers” commanded us in the New Testament of God’s Word, like Romans 12:10, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love” or 12:16, “Live in harmony with one another” or Romans 15:7, “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you.”
Being the church is easy when we jump from one place to another or run from a hurt or a problem that God has explicitly given us instruction on how to handle, like in how we are to go to the person that offended us in Matthew.
This is how relationships that last are built by dealing with a problem instead of running from it. It is in a community of believers that our strongest relationships should be built. As we are building our relationship with God, in and through the church, we are building our relationships with one another. They both are intertwined, two sides to the same coin, and the world, when they see what we have in the church and as the church, will want what we have in Christ!
And let me tell you, whether you believe it or not, you influence others every day by your actions or lack thereof. People are lonely, in despair, hurting, and looking for what we have lost in our culture. The sense of being a part of something greater than themselves; a knowledge of belonging with others and accepted for who they are as they are. Which I believe can only truly be found in the Kingdom of God.
So, go, build your relationship with God: pray, read God’s Word, and reach out to a brother or sister who is a part of your congregation. Build those relationships so that together we can be the hands, feet, and the voice of God to turn our communities upside down! It is through you who are His that God will Build His Kingdom.
One last thing, if you don’t have a personal relationship with God know this: God loves you, Jesus suffered and died on the cross, for your sins and mine, so that we could be reconciled to God. If you confess your sins, repent/turn from them, God is faithful and just and will forgive your sin. Then you can have a relationship with God the Father through His Son that is empowered by the Spirit. For He (God) says: At an acceptable time I listened to you, and in the day of salvation I helped you. See, now is the acceptable time; now is the day of salvation!
If you have drifted away from God’s Church then I encourage you to find a local congregation to worship and grow with. If you have any questions about today’s sermon or about salvation or joining a local congregation please call the number on your screen.
- How are you practicing the “one anothers” within your congregation?
- To those you may not normally sit with or run with?
- Are you Reaching Out to your neighbor?
Further reading: 2 Thessalonians 2:3, Hebrews 1:1-4, Luke 9:34-36, 2 Corinthians 5:14-6:2, Ephesians 4:2, Colossians 3:13, Romans 15:7, Hebrews 10:24-25, John 14:15, Romans 8:28-29, 1 John 3:4, James 4:17