Encouragement From The Word

A muscle you use

Someone wise once said, “Faith is not a pill you swallow, but a muscle you use.”

It’s possible that we might go to church once in a while, perhaps to get a ‘dose of Jesus’ to keep us going for a little while, in much the same way we might take a couple of Tylenol® to keep us going and mitigate the throbbing pain of a headache.  But, of course, the medicine wears off, eventually, since it’s designed to deal with symptoms, but not root problems.  After all, if your headache is caused by having had a whittling knife stuck in your temple, Tylenol® isn’t going to solve that problem – it’s only going to take the pain away for a while.

Faith is not something designed to take the pain away for a while.  Faith is a gift given to us through God’s grace that enables us to deal with the root of the pain – and so much more.   If we just show up to worship once in a while, there might be a temporary ‘high’ we receive that encourages us for a short time, but that’s not what the Christian lifestyle is about.

Faith is, as the wise person once said, a muscle you use.

One of the things I’ve noticed as I’ve gotten older is that my muscle mass is declining.  I see it especially in my arms, which are not called upon to do a lot of heavy lifting.  Periodically, I look at the dumbbells that I have and think, “I ought to start using those.”  Even just a few minutes every day could make a significant difference.

The same is true with faith:  even just a few minutes every day could make a significant difference.  When we read the Bible and pray at home and in small groups, and when we gather regularly with the community for worship and fellowship, we’re using our faith muscle in ways that will strengthen it – something a periodic ‘dose of Jesus’ just can’t do.

Let me encourage you today to make your faith a lifestyle choice.  Engage daily with the basic disciplines of prayer, Bible study and worship.  Engage weekly with the basic disciplines of corporate worship and community.  Use that faith muscle.  As you exercise it, it grows.

Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!
Worship the Lord with gladness.
    Come before him, singing with joy.
Acknowledge that the Lord is God!
    He made us, and we are his.[a]
    We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
    go into his courts with praise.
    Give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good.
    His unfailing love continues forever,
    and his faithfulness continues to each generation. – Psalm 100, NLT

 

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Biblical Messages

No Excuse

There are two kinds of revelation in Christian theology:  general revelation and special revelation.  And these leave us without excuse when it comes to knowing God, and having a relationship with Jesus.  In this message, that’s how we apply Jesus’ trial before Annas in John 18.19-24.  Have a listen, or watch it below.

(By the way, if you appreciate having these messages shared with you every week, our congregation would appreciate your gift.  Click here to make a gift to God’s mission through St. Paul’s Church, Nobleton.  Thanks for your generosity.)

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Encouragement From The Word

Don’t leave it to the professionals

What’s your ministry?

A lot of church people would say, “Ministry?  That’s the minister’s job.”  We pay professionals to teach our children piano lessons, or to bark at us at the gym, so we often assume that ministry is to be left to the “professionals”.  But is that really a biblical model?

The noted Quaker theologian, D. Elton Trueblood, once said, “If you are a Christian, then you are a minister.  A non-ministering Christian is a contradiction in terms.”

Each person who has received the grace to follow Jesus possesses at least one special ability to serve God and build up the church – to minister.  And the word ‘minister’ simply means ‘serve’.  Do you know your spiritual gifts?

Lots of people keep busy in the church, and sometimes, they burn out – not because the work they are doing is not in some way valuable, but because these people may be serving outside of their gifting.  Do you feel burned out?  It could be that you are serving in an area that is not working for the way God wired you up.

If you’re serving in the church and are experiencing the joy of the Lord, as well as seeing spiritual fruit borne, congratulations; you’re serving according to your gifting.  If not, it may be time for a change.  Take a spiritual gift inventory, learn how God has equipped you to serve, and adjust your ministry.

If you’re not doing ministry, though, why not?  It’s not enough to come to church and “be fed”, if you’re not making practical what you’re being fed!  (To get a blunt take on this theme, listen to this clip of one of Amy Grant’s lesser-known songs.)

Do you love Jesus?  Then understand that he has given you abilities to serve him in the church, to minister.  Discern those abilities, those gifts, and put them to work.  Every local church has all the spiritual gifts among its people that are necessary to undertake the work God has planned for that church; we just need to unwrap those gifts!

He makes the whole body fit together perfectly.  As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love” (Ephesians 4.16, NLT).