Thursday, March 15, 2007

"GROWING TOGETHER" by Dr. Jim H. Savage

One of the key phrases that I have read recently comes from I Thessalonians 5:11; "Encourage one another and build each other up". Here we find a "commandment" from Paul. We often do not think of verses like this as commandments, but it truly is a great one. What would happen in the life of The Church, the world-wide body of Christ, if we truly began to encourage each other? What would happen if fellow church members truly accepted this challenge, and stepped up to the plate? What would happen if people in the community heard about an incredible love and acceptance in our church and in every church around the world? This verse also reminds me of our Riverchase UMC "Vision Statement" of the call of Christ to offer "Biblical-Radical Hospitality". If we start within our walls, but do not stop within our walls, then nothing can ever stop us. May the God of encouragement touch our hearts and change our lives forever. I pray that we will find ways to build up one another, and work hard to eliminate the ways we tear each other down. We can start by catching ourselves, and stopping ourselves each time we start to give a "put-down" to another human being. We can be honest with each other with being truly rude, crude, insulting, jealous, and angry. Sometime honesty can sound like a "put-down" by the other human being, but if we place our comments in the middle of all the positive things we can thing of about the other human being, then we can remain friends, and respectful of one another.

PRAYER FOR ANY DAY: "Gracious God, grant me Your peace, and the saving grace of Jesus Your son that He might truly be my savior, and my Christ, with myprayer that the entire world might come to know him. Grant me Your strength that I may strengthen others, Your courage that I may help others to take heart, Your joy that I might share a laugh with one who is down-and-out, Your insights of another's positive points, that I might have an opportunity to list them with love, and grant me the fullness of Your Holy Spirit that I might encourage all Christians that I meets, and build up all the souls around me.

The next part deals with "The Church" also and is submitted by Frank Jones

The Church - Ephesians, Chapter 1

In Ephesians 1:22,23; Paul states "And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him (Jesus) to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way." (NIV).

In his commentary on the book of Ephesians, Chapter 1:Verses 15-23, William Barclay states that "Jesus is bit by bit filling all things in all places, and that filling is being worked out by the church." Barclay goes on to say "This is one of the most tremendous thoughts in all Christianity. It means nothing less than that God's plan for one world is in the hands of the Church."

Barclay tells about a legend which tells how Jesus went back to heaven after his time on earth. The angels were talking to him and Gabriel said; "Master, you must have suffered terribly for men down there." "I did," said Jesus. "And", said Gabriel, "do they all know how you loved them and what you did for them?" "O no," said Jesus, "not yet; just now only a few people in Palestine know." "What have you done," said Gabriel, "to let everyone know about it?" Jesus said: "I have ask Peter and James and John and a few others to make it their business to tell others about me, and the others still others, and yet others, until the farthest man on the widest circle knows what I have done." Gabriel looked very doubtful for he knew well what poor stuff men were made of. "Yes," he said, "but what if Peter and James and John grow tired? What if the people who come after them forget? What if way down in the twentieth century people don't tell others about you? Haven't you made any other plans?" And Jesus answered: "I haven't made any other plans. I'm counting on them."

Barclay follows the telling of the legend by saying "To say that the Church is the Body means that Jesus is counting on us."

Barclay goes on to point out what the church should be like. "It's unity comes not from organization, or ritual, or liturgy; it comes from Christ. Ubi Christus, ibi ecclesia, Where Christ is, there is the Church. The Church will realize her unity only when that she does not exist to propagate the point of view of any body of men, but to provide a home where the Spirit of Christ can dwell and where all men who love Christ can meet in that Spirit."

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