Sunday Morning Service, 3/21/11
– Pastor Thomas
We could take this time to say how much we hate the weather and the winter season, but hate is very powerful. It’s very negative. You don’t hate hate something and go back to it. If we complain; if we grumble; if we’re always telling somebody what we don’t like, we’ll never bless anyone. They will want to get as far away from us complainers as they can be.
- Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.
- Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.
A lot of people want these really powerful, spiritual gifts, yet they can’t edify the person sitting beside them. The Bible says to seek these gifts, but it’s more important to be able to edify the church. Our mission statement is:
Our number one purpose is to evangelize. The most important thing we do is to get the word out.
After that comes educate. If we’re going to teach and educate people, knowledge alone doesn’t do the trick. You can have lots of knowledge and zero understanding, no practical application. Therefore it is our duty not only to educate the church with knowledge, but to build them up with understanding.
- Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.
Edify. Comfort yourselves individually: over the phone, in emails, in all your communications. Nothing replaces a handshake, an embrace, a hug. It can’t. It says, “wherefore comfort yourselves together.”
I started a Bible study one time with a thousand and three scriptures, but I only had thirty minutes to give it, so it took me a week to narrow it down. Today, I thought it was important to cover all the aspects of edification.
To Edify means To Build Up.
How do we build up the family of God? We need to see people get saved, and help them learn about God, who he is, and how to please him. IF they do that, they’ll naturally go out and evangelize; take it to the next step.
Have you ever ate at a bad restaurant? I had a dream about that. There was a real fancy restaurant that opened up with a maitre d’ and everything. But a lot of people going to that restaurant got food poisoning.
In the church, the poisoning comes in through bickering, through having cliques that make people feel unwelcome. It can come in many forms.
Channel 10 went out and covered the world’s worst restaurants. They showed how some restaurants actually poison people through improper food handling. The thing that bothers me is I used to eat at one of those restaurants, and enjoyed it. But most of those restaurants are closed today.
People should know that they can come to this church and know they’re not going to get poisoned; they’re going to get edified.
- Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.
What are we supposed to draw near to? To God. Paul said that the first thing a believer should do is draw near to God.
- Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
- Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)
The hardest part of the driving test is parallel parking. When we first flew an airplane, the hardest thing to do was to taxi. My first taxiing was all over the place. My second wasn’t much better. But after a while, I was able to go straight down the center of that runway. How many of you (don’t raise your hands) drive while texting, combing your hair, touching up your lipstick, or setting your GPS, yet you complain when you see someone else on their cellphone.
Clarence Willis isn’t spending his summer vacation doing nothing. He’s studying his material, preparing his notes, and getting ready to edify the children when school starts. Some people wait until they get to church to start edifying. Should I expect to draw people to church because of the life that I live, or because I bribed them?
> Oh, we’ve got a great choir; we’ve got a great band; we’ve got coffee and refreshments.
- And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
Some people don’t need encouragement so much as a poke in the right direction. Have you ever gotten a pebble in your shoe? While you’re walking, it feels like a boulder. But when you stop and take off your shoe, you only find a tiny pebble. That was enough to cause the irritation and make you do something about it.
We’ve got to provoke each other to love and good works, not irritation and frustration.
You can’t edify one another unless you yourself are in the body of Christ.
Sometimes we get the cart in front of the horse. Sometimes we get the “meet” backwards. We don’t come here to serve God; we come here to get encouraged and to be an encouragement to someone else. We don’t have to be here; your Mom isn’t not here to pull you by the ear and bring you to church.
We don’t come to church to meet people we like, or stop coming to avoid people we don’t like. But if Bill Blackwell frustrates the fire out of me (he d
To Edify means To Encourage One Another
Last week we learned about a “Paraclete”, who is someone who is called to be alongside another. That’s what we’ve got to do as a church. We all must be this Paraclete.
How many of you know that you’re called?
> (Lots of hands)
You are called to encourage one another, to bring courage and counsel to each other. How do you counsel one another? Through the gospel of Christ.
Have you ever come back from somewhere and nobody noticed? It makes you feel pretty lousy, doesn’t it? Edifying one another means getting involved in each others’ lives. We’ve got to become family to each other.
Some families just don’t hug. You come up to hug them and they go stiff as a board; they don’t know how to react. My family is the most hugging family. We may not see cousins for years, but the first thing we do is go up and embrace them. There was never enough chairs, so we were “chair-sharing”. You had two butts in one chair. We didn’t mind sharing. Is that the way we are as a church?
There are specific ways you can go about edifying:
- And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
What did the early church do? They continued steadfastly teaching what Jesus Christ said to teach. They did things together; they ate together; they had all things common. I hear some people say, “I don’t see why I have to come to church.” It’s not the building; it’s coming together with your brothers and sisters. Bible studies and outings and grass cutting and music practice and all these other activities are vitally important, not for their own sakes, but to promote fellowship in God’s church. Too often we’re just here to grab a meal.
Prayer is vital to the church.
We need to pray for one another. We need to pray that God would bless each other; bless Pastor Ulysse as he goes to Haiti; bless our brothers and sisters as they go out on deployment; pray for me as your pastor; pray for Pastor Paine as the leader of our international ministry. You’re to pray for every aspect of our ministry. We’ve got to pray for each other. If not, how can we expect to work with each other?
So the early church was consistent in their continuing in the apostle’s doctrine, in their gathering together, and in their edifying one another.
- From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
God has put us here with our varying ideas and talents and gifts and abilities. He wants us compacted together, not separate. And while we’re compacted together, he wants us to edify one another.
How many have seen the movie “300” about the Spartans at Thermopylae? They were mean people. They were brought up to be mean, the elite of the elite of fighters. And those 300 held off the enemy long enough to allow the rest of the army to do what they needed to do.
So this guy was visiting Sparta, and he heard someone boasting about “the wall of Sparta: nobody can penetrate our wall.” The guy said, I don’t see any wall. Show me. The king pointed down to his soldiers and said, “That’s our wall. Their dedication is the impregnable wall of Sparta, that no enemy can penetrate.”
It takes devotion and discipline to be that kind of a brick in a wall. We together make up the church, and God is building up his church, one Christian at a time. Have you ever played with blocks as a kid? If you stack them straight up, they fall down. But if you layer them so that no brick is directly above another, so they overlap seam by seam, they make a strong wall. God builds his church that way.
- And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
- In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
- In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
So God is using all of us to build a church together, and he is also using you as an individual to house his spirit within that building. God wants you to be a temple of the Holy Ghost, and he wants all us temples to come together and build one big temple.
Have you seen one of those pictures that look good from a distance, but when you get close, you see that it’s made up of a bunch of little pictures? That’s what the church is supposed to be like. Each of us make up a part of the big picture.
- Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
Can you say that while we are here, what you are thinking about is offering to God something that he will accept? We’ve got to be doing things while we are here that build up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God. I’m asking here in the church, but you’ve got to be the same way at home and at work.
To build up an acceptable sacrifice takes relationships. God put Pam and me together to accomplish something, and God added to that, Pat Mahoney, Jeff Wiedenhoeft, Bruce Wilson, Alan Jepsen, Carol Mahoney. God brought us together to build a ministry. You can’t say that any one person did it, because one person can’t. If you’re a leader and nobody is behind you, then you’re not a leader.
I heard a story about a guy named Bill who inherited a hundred million dollars, and his aunt only got fifty million. Their bickering was famous in New York. He had a huge house, but his aunt had a bigger one. So Bill tore down his house and built a hotel. His aunt said, “He is not getting away wit that,” so she tore down her house and built a bigger hotel. Bill was going to do the same, but his building manager said, “Both of you are wasting money. Why don’t we join the two properties together? You’ll both make money instead of spending it, and you can split the profits down the middle.” That building is known as the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York.
When Jesus Christ was taken away, he said “I am going to prepare a place for you.” The Bible says that in that place, the masses will be gathered together around the throne. How can we look forward to that if we can’t get along with each other down here? How can we look forward together if we’re always complaining about what we don’t like about each other? How can we worship in eternity if we don’t get in practice down here? This is like practicing for the Olympics. Are you prepared to worship the King forever?
> (Silence, with Pastor holding his cupped hand around his ear.)
Are you prepared to worship the King forever?
God knew how important his relationship with Adam, so therefore he made Eve. How important is our relationship with God? So important that he died on Calvary to make it possible. Our relationships with each other should also be important.
Fellowship is relationship-building. Fellowship is building a relationship with each other. I need to know how Todd is doing so I’ll know how to pray for him. I need to know how Deborah Epps is doing so that she knows she can call me. We need to build relationships with everybody in this room. (Guys, I’m not specifically talking about the girls.)
Has anyone ever participated in the Boston Marathon? There are a lot of hills in the last part of the race. The last hill is only 0.4 miles from the end. By the time you hit that hill, you are running on pure will-power. During one of these runs, a young man was having a lot of difficulty. He looked like he was going to quit. An older gentleman slowed down beside him. paced him, and helped him finish the race.
Church, we have a lot of “heartbreak hills” (that’s the name of the place) as Christians. The Bible says to not be weary in our well-doing. How can we do that? We are using everything we’ve got, and we reach the point where it’s a struggle to continue. That’s where someone else comes in and edifies. That’s what the church is supposed to do: work together to accomplish what God wants. God wants a unified church that people can look at and know: “That’s God’s church.”
We can look at what builds up a church, but we also know what tears down a church, and that’s gossip. There’s a story of a church in Tennessee, called “The Left Foot Baptist Church.” This guy was curious about it, so he asked, “Why is it called that?” They used to be a foot-washing church. Every service, they used to wash each other’s feet. There arose an argument about which foot you should start with, the left foot or the right church. And the argument grew so heated that they separated, and that’s the “Left Foot” church.
Sometimes the arguments within the church get so heated that the people lose focus on what God has for them, because they’re too worried about what they don’t like about each other. We don’t need any more “Left Foot Baptist” churches. In every church there is always someone who is a know-it-all. When my grandkids start arguing, I ask them, “Are you the mommy now?” They say, “No…” So I say, “Then quit arguing with each other.”
It was sin that stopped the relationship between God and Adam, and it will be sin that will stop the relationships within the church. We need to put sin behind us.
- Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.
Peace and edification go with each other. We are to have love, edification, and peace in the house of God. We are to have peace when we gather together. It’s not easy, but this isn’t a suggestion from God; it’s a commandment. We need to pursue peace. Paul included himself in that; he said “let us.” When we came to God, we found peace from our sin; we found peace in ourselves in our relationship with God. And now the Bible says we should have peace in our relationships with each other.
Nobody pursues the Boston Marathon with the intention of quitting. The point is to finish the race. But the phrase in Romans is present tense; peace isn’t something we do once and then it’s over.
- Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Notice that he doesn’t say “blessed are the peacekeepers.” God didn’t put you here to enforce something.
- Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
- If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
- Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.
If our iron isn’t sharpened, then we can’t sharpen each other. All we’re doing is beating each over the head.
- Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.
We can’t be passive about peace.
The picture on the screen is form America’s Redwood Forest. Some of those trees are as much as two million pounds. That’s two million pounds, pressing two hundred feet down into their root systems. Have you ever pulled a stump? Man, that’s hard work. Most trees have a tap-root that goes straight down. But the biggest root is only one foot in diameter, and they spread out as much as eighty feet in diameter. Now, how can that one tree have roots that spread out eighty feet when there’s another tree right beside it? Their root systems work together; they’re intertwined. So when the wind comes, their root systems all work together, to hold each other up.
That’s what God wants the church to do. When Satan comes to tempt us, God expects us to all work together to reach out and encourage and build up and pray for one another. We stand together in doctrine; we stand together in fellowship as a team against all that Satan can throw at us. If you fall in sin, you weaken the brothers and sisters around you. You weaken the church because your interlocking faith is now a void. Just like the Spartans, God is going to put someone in your place when you fall, but you don’t have to fall. God wants us to work together to keep that from happening.
- Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
- So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.
Church, we’re going to have a tough time in this world, but you don’t have to answer to God for failure to reach out to one another. Your roots of faith can help each other to stand. That’s what God wants us to do. God wants us to edify one another.