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Friday, July 31, 2015

Why Love Doesn’t Just Happen

In review of Deuteronomy 30:20 it says, “That you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”

Bottom Line:
That you would make the choice to love the Lord your God, obeying and committing yourself to what he tells you. For the Lord is key to your life. If you love and obey, He will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your ancestors.

What this means to me:
I need to be completely faithful to the Lord my God, listening to his voice; obeying and committing myself to what he says, for this is the key to life and the length of my days here on earth, giving me what he has promised to the faithful ones before me.

In this world, our culture buys into this myth that love is uncontrollable, that it’s something that just happens to us. In fact, even the language that is used implies the uncontrollability of love. A phrase like, “I fell in love,” as if love is some kind of ditch. It’s like I’m walking along one day and, bam!  I fell in love. I couldn’t help myself.

What I’m learning is that’s not love. Love doesn’t just happen to me. Rather love is a choice, and it represents a commitment.

There’s no doubt about attraction: it and arousal are uncontrollable. But attraction and arousal are not love. They can lead to love, but they are not love. Love is a choice.

Given this, I must choose to love God; he will never force me to love him (Deuteronomy 30:20). I can thumb your nose at God and go a totally different way. I can destroy my life if you choose to do so. God still won’t force me to love him, because he knows love can not be forced.

This same principle is true about my relationships: I can choose to love others, but God won’t force me to love anyone.

This means that if there someone in my life, like a family member, friend, or neighbor, whom I have trouble loving, God can help me love that person if I make the choice to do so.

That doesn’t mean everything will become perfect; it doesn’t even mean that person will accept my love. But I’m the only person who can stop me from loving someone else; because love is a choice I make.

In summary, I need to make the choice to be completely faithful to loving the Lord; obeying and committing myself to what he says. This is key to my life. He will give me what he has promised to the faithful ones before me. Today I also thank you God for your reminder that loving you is a choice I need to make and not something I just fall into or happens. Moving forward, on those types of people I find trouble really caring about, I need to ask God to help me as I make the choice to start loving them.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Why Satan Loves A Detached Believer

In review of Hebrews 3:13 it says, “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”

Bottom Line:
Encourage each other every day, before you can be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

What this means to me:
I am to have others in my life, who can encourage and warn me about sin, as sin can be deceitful and harden me against God.

Having a church family will help keep me from backsliding. I am certainly not immune to temptation. Given the right situation, I’m capable of any sin. The good news is that God knows this, so he has assigned us as individuals the responsibility of keeping each other on track.

The Bible says, “Encourage one another daily … so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness” (Hebrews 3:13 NIV). “Mind your own business” is not really a Christian phrase!

I am called and commanded to be involved in other’s lives. If I know someone who is wavering or having problem, it would be my responsibility to go after him and bring him back into the fellowship.

James tells us, “If you know people who have wandered off from God’s truth, don’t write them off. Go after them. Get them back” (James 5:19 MSG).

A local church can also provide the spiritual protection of godly leaders. God gives this shepherd leader the responsibility to guard, protect, defend, and care for the spiritual welfare of his flock (Acts 20:28-29; 1 Peter 5:1-4; Hebrews 13:7).

I am told, “Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God” (Hebrews 13:17b NLT, second edition).

Given all of this, Satan loves a detached believer, one who is unplugged from the life of the Body, isolated from God’s family, and unaccountable to spiritual leaders, because he knows they are defenseless and powerless against his tactics.

The warning from this verse today is to not let him get a foothold. I need to join and stay connected to a church family.

As I reflect on this verse today, It reminds me that I am to be in close contact with other believers, so that I can encourage others and they can encourage me. I need this daily because sin can be very deceitful and cause me to be hardened against God. Having other believers around me will help me and my thinking patterns. Others can help me realize when my thought patterns and behaviors start to get off-track. I think this verse emphasizes “Today”, because I can easily let fellowship slip in the day-to-day events of life.  It doesn’t take long for isolation to make my mind begin to drift. I thank you God for this great reminder that I need other close Christians that I can encourage and be encouraged by. We need each other to make sure we aren’t going astray. Today, I should consider how I can better get connected to others in the church community I’ve been regularly attending. Once a week on Thursday nights may not be enough.  Also I should consider reaching out to others via phone, text, or email from before I moved as they can also be a source of believers that I can interact with still.  Distance may not be that big of a problem for continuing fellowship.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

How To Love Those Who Seem Unlovable

In review of Philippians 1:7a, it says, “It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart.”

Bottom Line:
Those that we include in our life, have a special place in our hearts.

What this means to me:
Those that I have chosen to include in my life, have a special place in my heart.

I have learned that if people are not on my heart, they’re likely on my nerves. If you I don’t specifically have someone in my heart, they’ll end up getting on my nerves.

This is probably a strong reason why so many marriages are crumbling. They are reacting to each other from their minds rather than their hearts. When someone tells you something, it’s better to listen to them, than to brush it off as an annoyance.

True love from the heart begins with understanding why others feel the way they do. This means I should ask questions, and then listen. I need to hear the hurt, and look for the problems. I need to understand the moods of the people closest to me, and why they act the way they do. If I care, I’ll be aware.

So this begs the question, “how do I love people when, I find them unlovable?”

God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:8 NIV). What I’m learning is that in Greek, the word “affection” is the word for intestines. In Greek society, people thought that the seat of the emotions was in your stomach and your liver.

Rick Warren explained that, “Paul was saying, ‘I’ve got a gut feeling of love for you.’ That is not a natural kind of love. It is a supernatural kind of love. That’s why Paul said it’s not from himself, but it’s the affection of Christ Jesus.” Natural human love wears out and dries up and dies on the vine. The only kind of love that lasts in spite of heartache and difficulty in tough circumstances is God’s love, the affection of Jesus Christ.

So how can I obtain this kind of “gut” love? Romans 5, says “God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5b). God’s love is not something I work up. It is something that is poured into me by the Holy Spirit as I let him live in me day by day.

So in order to keep someone from really annoying me, I need to really learn how to care about them and thus have them in my heart. This morning I thank you Father for the reminder that in order for me to truly love, that I need to take a genuine interest in someone. This is especially true for those who seem unlovable to me. Today I need to consider those that seem unlovable to me. I need to better understand their feelings and thoughts so that I can learn what their needs and concerns are. This will allowing me more compassion for their situation, learn how to pray for them and turn a “getting on my nerves” into a genuine concern for them.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

God Wants to Give Me Life

In review of John 10:10 it says, “A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.”

Bottom Line:
A thief’s purpose is to steal, kill and destroy. Jesus came in order for us to have life, a satisfying life.

What this means to me:
A thief will only come to steal, kill and destroy. Jesus tells me he came in order for me to have a much better, fuller and satisfying life than I could ever dream was possible.

I think some people think that following Jesus means that they would have to become judgmental and legalistic. However, this verse reminds me that Jesus came to give me a rich and satisfying life: “A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of” (John 10:10 MSG).

In reality, it is the enemy, Satan, who wants to “steal, kill and destroy” my freedom and joy.

There are some Christians, who while being well-meaning, end up misguiding people causing some to avoid God because of their fanaticism. Rick Warren points out four the of religious fanatic types he has observed over the years:

Freddy the Pharisee: Rigid, narrow-minded, and legalistic, he has a rule for everything. His favorite word is “don’t.” And it’s only natural for some people to fear they may become just like that if they become a Christian. But Jesus called people like Freddy the Pharisee “blind guides,” saying, “You strain your water so you won’t accidentally swallow a gnat, but you swallow a camel!” (Matthew 23:24 NLT, second edition)

Susie Self-righteous: With a holier-than-thou attitude and judgmental of others, her favorite phrase is, “Thank God I’m not like you!” Jesus told the story of two men praying, one self-righteous and one humbled by his failures: “I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Luke 18:14).

Billy Bible-thumper: He’s an obnoxious and overzealous crusader. His favorite phrase is “Turn or burn!” Yet God’s plan for bringing us home to him is full of love, grace, and sacrifice: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:16-17 NIV).

Pauline Praise-eluia: She can’t speak without religious clich├ęs. Everything is a miracle or the Devil did it. She’s put her brain on the shelf. But God doesn’t want you to stop thinking when you become a Christian; in fact, he wants to give you the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16).

These are all stereotypes, however they represent people who have abandoned their relationship with Jesus to instead embrace a religion. But Jesus says, “I have come that you might have life [not religion] and have it to the fullest!

In summary, Jesus came to bring me a different kind of life, a real and eternal one that is better than I can ever dream of. Anything else I could adopt will end up robbing me from it.  This morning, I thank you Father for saving me from a life that will end up being destroyed and robbed of long lasting joy. Jesus shows me how to have a real and eternal life, one that will be satisfying. In light of today’s verses and the reminder from Rick Warren on the types of religious fanatics, While I’m no means a fanatic, I can see where I can trend in a few of these areas; holding up others against standards and being judgmental without considering I miss the mark all the time as well. All of these are internal thought patterns that keep me from being as loving as I can be with others and showing compassion, and being able to share. I will seek to live my life as a forgiven sinner, no better than anyone else - just saved. It would be my hope that the way I conduct and lead my life will help open doors for others to see what it is like to have a personal relationship with God, using Jesus to lead my life.

Monday, July 27, 2015

How God Helps To Enjoy Life

In review of 1 Timothy 6:17 it says, “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.”

Bottom Line:
We are to let those who are rich in this world, not to be arrogant or to put their trust in wealth which can be easily lost. Rather they should put their hope in God who richly provides everything we need to enjoy life.

What this means to me:
I am to learn and teach others that rely on riches in this world, not to be arrogant about it or even put their trust in it, as it can be easily lost. Rather we should put our hope in God who will always richly provide everything that is needed to really enjoy life.

No matter what might be taking place in life, God still wants me to enjoy life.

He doesn’t want me to live without fun. The apostle Matthew spent three years with Jesus and he wrote, “The Son of Man came, enjoying life” (Matthew 11:19a Phillips).

As a Christian, I can enjoy life because my conscious is clear. I can enjoy life because I’m secure within God’s love. I can have fun and I can enjoy friends and family.

I’m sure there are those who do not want to let God into their lives because they fear God will make them give up anything that is fun. They think that to become a Christian is the same as saying the party’s over, that to be spiritual is to be miserable. People are frantically looking for fun fixes, but that means they operate under the law of diminishing returns. They spend more time, more money, and more energy to get less and less of a thrill. They go around asking, “Are we having fun yet?”

The way you fight fear is with truth and the truth says God “richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17b NIV).

God loves me. I should let him carry my burden, and give him that worry that may be stressing me out. It’s time to enjoy life!

In thinking about this, I enjoy a certain amount of riches in my life, however I should keep from becoming arrogant or allow myself to trust in what I have, as this will prove to be uncertain. Rather my hope should be in God alone who already provides everything I need to enjoy life. I really need to watch out for arrogance or putting my hope in the wrong things. Today I thank you God for providing everything that is really needed to enjoy life. You will always take care of my basic needs, so I should not rely on what I have to make me happy. When things seem slow or boring, I don’t need to go out and spend money or think about spending money to develop happiness. Today’s verse reminds me that God provides everything I need to enjoy life.  Perhaps I should think about how I can fill my life with ways I can serve. This will eliminate the slow or boring times when I start to think about riches to fulfill my life.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Learning How To Respond To Difficult People

In review of Proverbs 16:21 it says, “A wise, mature person is known for his understanding. The more pleasant his words, the more persuasive he is.”

Bottom Line:
A wise person is known for his understanding, the more pleasant his words, the more persuasive he is.

What this means to me:
Good judgement, discernment and common sense prove you are wise. The wise and mature are known for their understanding. The more pleasant his words, the more persuasive he is.

There are a lot of difficult people in this world, and I often encounter them daily. So, the question is, as a follower of Christ, how should I respond in love to the difficult people around me?

Proverbs 16:21 tells me that, “A wise, mature person is known for his understanding. The more pleasant his words, the more persuasive he is” (TEV).

The more pleasant I am, the more persuasive I can be. I’ll never be persuasive if I’m abrasive. Also simple nagging won’t work.

The way I say something determines the way it will be received. If I say something offensively, it’s going to be received defensively. That’s why love is all about my words. Love is truthful, but it is also tactful.

My tact and tone will always go together. It matters greatly the way I say something, not just what I say. I can say something very difficult for someone to hear, but if I say it in the right tone, a loving tone, it has the opportunity to be received much better.

Therefore, a loving response to a difficult person will requires me to be pleasant and tactful. If I want to be below that difficult person, attack them. If you want to be even with them, get even with them. But if you want to respond the way Jesus would, I need to show that person love with the words I say and the way I say them.

In summary, If I am to be persuasive and helpful in a loving way, my words need to be pleasant and come from good judgement, discernment and common sense I obtain from having a relationship with God. The pleasant way I respond will be much better received. Today I thank you god for the reminder that any message is better received if it is delivered in a pleasant matter. A wise and discerning person will know this and handle their communications in this manner. I need to practice what James says in James 1:19-20, “.. You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.” (NLT). My response can get triggered as to retaliate if I feel attacked.  It is always better to think first about my response and the manner so that I can respond the way Jesus would, and show that person love.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Learning How to Love People

In review of Proverbs 10:12 it says, “Hate stirs up trouble, but love forgives all offenses.”

Bottom Line:
Hate will ultimately stir up trouble or conflicts, but love forgives and overlooks wrongs.

What this means to me:
If I harbor hatred toward someone it will only stir up trouble or conflict for me. However if I practice true love, it forgives and overlooks wrongs.

I believe we all have experienced hurts inflicted by others. I don’t think God is telling me to ignore the pain from this and put on a happy face and pretend everything’s great.

So how does God expect me to love a destructive person who would or had hurt me?

What I’m learning is that He doesn’t expect me to ignore it. He’s not asking me to gloss over it or deny it or repress it or make excuses for the people who’ve hurt me.

God doesn’t want me to fake it; rather he wants me to face it, because I won’t be able to forgive until I’ve face the hurt. I’ll need to stop running, and stop blaming.

If I’m to be the loving man that God wants me to be, I’ll have to deal with the destruction someone’s caused, especially if it’s in your past. If I’m still angry with someone about it, I’m allowing that person to control me.

If this I happens I’ll need to deal with the anger. Face it before I can forgive it.

Proverbs 10:12 says, “Hate stirs up trouble, but love forgives all offenses” (TEV).

Ultimately love lets it go and forgives. Because they deserve it? No. Because it’s what God did for me, and it’s the only way to be free.

In summary, hatred will only continue to cause problems, whereas love forgives and brings peace. This morning I thank you God for the simple truth that hate will only perpetuate trouble. Love on the other hand, fosters peace and well-being. In my own life, there are people and lifestyles in the world that really make me react in a judgmental fashion and makes me harbor hate and dislike. This verse helps to remind me that even my own internal thinking, even if I don’t say anything, has an effect in the way I react.  It ultimately stirs up trouble and conflict I shouldn’t really even need to experience.  My judgmental behavior and dislike causes me to not be everything that God wants for me. It holds me back. Even though these behaviors / characteristics I detest are not what God want’s, it’s not up to me to judge them. I am a sinner myself in different ways. I should only know that God has told and shared with me and obey him. I am to live a life that serves and is genuinely interested in others. I am to respect everyone. I am to show my faith by the way I live my life. I can only hope that my life is attractive to others and makes them curious so that I can provide my testimony to them.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Learning To Recognize The First Sign of Spiritual Decline

In review of 1 Peter 2:17 it says, Respect everyone, and love the family of believers. Fear God, and respect the king.

Bottom Line:
Respect everyone, love the family of believers, fear God and respect those in leadership.

What this means to me:
I am to show proper respect to everyone, I am to love the family of believers I part of and Christians everywhere, I am to take God seriously (fear him), and I’m to respect those God has put into leadership over me.

What I’ve learned so far is that the Church is a Body, not a building, and is an organism, not an organization.

This is much like the organs of my body that fulfill their purpose, they must be connected to my body to be useful. The same is true for me as a part of Christ’s Body. I was created for a specific role, but I’ll will miss out on it if you’re not attached to a living, local church. I will discover much about my role in life though my relationships with others.

Romans 12 further points out that, “Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we?” (Romans 12:4-5 MSG)

If an organ is somehow severed from its body, it will shrivel and die. It cannot exist on its own, and neither can I. Disconnected and cut off from the lifeblood of a local Body of believers, my spiritual life will wither and eventually cease to exist (Ephesians 4:16).

A first symptom of spiritual decline is usually inconsistent attendance at worship services and other gatherings of believers. Whenever I become careless about fellowship, everything else begins to slide, too.

This verse reminds me to, “Love your spiritual family” (1 Peter 2:17 MSG).

Membership in the family of God is neither inconsequential nor something I should casually ignore. What I’m learning is that the Church is God’s agenda for the world. Jesus said, “I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it” (Matthew 16:18 NLT, second edition).

As I summarize today’s time I see that I am to continue to take God seriously and respect everyone (including authority), and I am too especially love the family of believers. I thank you God for the reminder this morning about me needing to continue taking you seriously. You want me to respect everyone including authority you’ve placed over me, but I am too especially love your family of believers. It seems God is confirming to me that my wife and I have found the church he would like is to start to commit to. As a result, I need to see what I can do to know start to serve in this body. Part of taking God seriously is to heed a warning and today’s verse is a reminder to be careful, for not plugging in and committing to a local church can quickly turn to Spiritual decline. We need others in our new home area to plug in with.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Could God Love Me More Than He Does Now?

In review of Psalm 89:2 it says, “I know that your love will last for all time, that your faithfulness is as permanent as the sky.”

Bottom Line:
I know that your love will last forever, that your faithfulness is as permanent as the sky above.

What this means to me:
Because of my experience and relationship with you God, I know that your love will last forever, and that your faithfulness will always be as consistent as the sky above me.

Unfortunately in our world human love tends to wear out. Divorce is common and even if some couples don’t divorce they have a hard time loving each other. This is a good reason to have God’s love in my marriage, in all your relationships, if they are going to last. Because God’s love never wears out. God’s love is patient, persistent, and persevering.

It’s great news that God never gives up on me, no matter what I do, his love never gives up. It’s also wide enough to include everybody, and it’s long enough to last forever.

What I’m learning is that God will never love me any more than he does right now. But he also will never love me any less than he does right now.

He loves me on your good days; he loves me on your bad days. His love is not conditioned by my response. God is love, and his love is given freely. It cannot be earned, and it is undeserved.

I need to remind myself to accept his love and to worship him, knowing that his love is long enough to last for all time: “I know that your love will last for all time, that your faithfulness is as permanent as the sky” (Psalm 89:2 TEV).

In summary I hear God telling me thought this verse that his love and faithfulness to me will never cease, it will last for all time and I can count on his consistency as much as I rely on the sky always being there.  Today I thank you God for your unending love and faithfulness to me, the more I walk with you, the more you make this apparent. I just need to remember how much and never doubt that God loves me. I have confidence in this and can be ready to share this with others.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Love Is Always A Response To Love

In review of Ephesians 1:4-5 it says, “Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.”

Bottom Line:
Before everything, God loved us and chose us within Christ to be set apart and faultless before him. God pre-determined this to take place through Jesus. This was his idea and it pleased him greatly.

What this means to me:
Before anything, God had loved me and chose me through Christ to be holy and faultless. This was his decision in advance to adopt me into his family through Jesus Christ. This is what God wanted and in doing so, he gained great pleasure.

Sometime I feel as if I’m not getting very far in my spiritual growth. What I’m learning is that this is not because I don’t love God enough, but rather I need to understand just how much God loves me.

Love is always a response to love. The Bible says, “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19 NIV). If I say, “I don’t love God enough,” it’s because I’m not fully understanding just how much he really loves me.

God’s nature is love. Love is the essence of his nature. The only reason there is love in the universe is because of God. Insects do not love, but I was made in God’s image, so I can love.

The reason I’m alive is because God wanted to love me. The first purpose of my life is to be loved by God! My first purpose is to love him back.

Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure” (Ephesians 1:4-5 NLT).

I should let this sink in: My first duty is not to do anything but just be loved by God.

It is amazing to think and realize that before anything was created God loved me. He took actions to make me blameless in his eyes by adopting me through Christ. This was his plan and it gave him great pleasure to do so. Today I thank you God for the reminder this morning that you love me greatly, even more that I could love you. You loved me enough to had predestined my relationship and ultimate eternity with you. I need to remember that my first duty is to be loved by You and I can love others in return because he first loved me.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Learning To Not Let My Fears Keep Me From Being Free

In review of John 8:36 it says, “If the Son sets you free, then you will be really free.” (John 8:36 TEV)

Bottom Line:
When Jesus sets you free, you are really free.

What this means to me:
Jesus has set me free, so I am indeed, really free.

Our culture tends to define freedom as a life without any restraints, “I can do anything I want to do and say anything I want to say, without anybody telling me what to do.” You may burn everybody else, but you get to do it your own way. You can have your freedom, but only by being totally selfish.

Yet the Bible tells me the only way to true freedom is through Jesus: “If the Son sets you free, then you will be really free” (John 8:36 TEV).

What I’m learning is that real freedom is freedom from fear, where you’re truly free from guilt, from worry, from bitterness, and from death. You’re free to quit pretending because you’re free to be yourself.

The best way for me to get rid of those kinds of fears is by letting God love me! The apostle John teaches that “there is no fear in love; perfect love drives out all fear” (1 John 4:18).

As I learn to recognize how much God loves me, I’ll begin to live in true freedom. In fact, I worship God when I recognize that “God is love.” It is an act of worship to agree that he is a loving, caring, generous God and that I can “rely on the love God has for us” (1 John 4:16a NIV).

In summary, it was God’s Son Jesus and what he did for us that sets me free. This morning, I thank you God for the reminder on how your Son Jesus and his sacrifice for us, allows us to truly be free when we accept and follow him. If I try to live a life without restraints being totally selfish then I won’t interact well with others. I need to keep in mind I was made for fellowship with others and that what Jesus did for me; freeing me from guilt, worry, bitterness, and from ultimate death, really allows me to be truly free, I don’t need to be concerned or be selfish.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Its Not Enough To Just Believe, I Need To Belong

In review of Romans 12:5 it says, “In Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”

Bottom Line:
Each of us makes up part of the body of Christ, we are not our own, but joined to others as part of one body.

What this means to me:
Though I am only one of many, I am to join together with others to form one body, because I am to be joined to others as different parts of one body.

God’s Word tells me that I am called to belong, not just believe.

I was created for community, fashioned for fellowship, and formed for a family, and I cannot fulfill God’s purposes by myself. The Bible knows nothing of solitary saints or spiritual hermits isolated from other believers and deprived of fellowship.

The Bible has lots of references that indicate that I am put together, joined together, built together, a member together, an heir together, fitted together, held together, and will be caught up together (1 Corinthians 12:12; Ephesians 2:21-22, 3:6, 4:16; Colossians 2:19; 1 Thessalonians 4:17).

Essentially I’m not on my own anymore!

While my relationship to Christ is personal, God never intended for it to be private. In God’s family I am connected to every other believer, and we will belong to each other for eternity. This verse reminds me that, “In Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others” (Romans 12:5).

C. S. Lewis noted that the word “membership” is of Christian origin, but the world has emptied it of its original meaning. Stores offer discounts to members, and advertisers use member names to create mailing lists. In some organizations, membership is often reduced to simply adding your name to a roll, with no requirements or expectations.

To Paul, being a “member” of the Church meant being a vital organ of a living body, an indispensable, interconnected part of the Body of Christ. I need to adopt and practice the biblical meaning of membership. The Church is a body, not a building; an organism, not an organization (Romans 12:4-5; 1 Corinthians 6:15, 12:12-27).

God’s purposes for his Church is identical to his five purposes for me. Worship helps me focus on God; fellowship helps me face life’s problems; discipleship helps fortify my faith; ministry helps find my talents; power helps fulfill my mission. There is nothing else on earth like the Church!

In summary, when I follow Christ and join in with others, I help to form one body and belong to the others. Together we can accomplish more of God’s work. Thank you God for showing me your intent this morning for how I am to be involved and become part of a body in the new area I have recently moved to. It is time for me to stop being an observer who is standing on the sideline and to become a participant. Its not just enough to believe, I need to join in and belong.