Friday, February 25, 2011

Ministry Emphasis Day 2011 at SMBC

This Sunday is Ministry Emphasis Day at the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church. And I can’t wait!

One of the key factors in my spiritual growth over the years has been the responsibility to serve others that I have been entrusted with. The fact that I am called to serve has been a God-given and built-in means of accountability in my spiritual walk. And I do not want my congregation to miss this important means of spiritual growth.

Mark it down. To come to church and be ministered to week-after-week without ministering to others stunts your growth. What happens if you keep eating without exercising?

So we will be encouraging our members this Sunday to get off the bench and into the game. Representatives from our various ministry programs will be set up around our campus. And we are encouraging our members to hang around after the services to get information, ask questions, and get plugged into a place of service. We will also have listings opportunities to serve members can participate in without making a long-term commitment to a particular program.

I am really looking forward to Sunday. I plan to preach on the greatest reason I know why we should serve one another: Jesus was a servant! In John 13:1-17, Jesus gives us an example to servanthood to follow and even announces divine blessings on those who obey his call to service.

Our volunteers make it happen at Shiloh. We are able to do what we do because of their faithful service. But we still have a long way to go. And I trust that or Ministry Emphasis Day will be a step in the right direction that reminds us that we are saved to serve. May Shiloh increasing become a culture of servanthood that encourages our members to join in the great adventure of Christian service.

My prayer is that 1 Peter 4:10-11 would be fulfilled in and through the body-life of SMBC: “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies – in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (ESV)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Grateful for 38 Years of Life

Today is my 38th birthday.

And I praise God for all his undeserved goodness to me. I am speechless with gratitude for the Lord's favor in my life. He has saved me. He has called me to preach. He has blessed me to marry way out of my league. He has blessed me with three wonderful children. He has given me the privilege to serve the saints of a great congregation.

These blessings are more than I deserve and enough to thank God for the rest of my days. Yet the Lord continually pours blessings and blessing into my life.

God be praised!

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

There Must Be Factions

Pastor, I am having an issue with my mate – or a relative or friend or coworker or fellow church member or whoever. Should I be taking Communion?

Should a church in conflict be taking Communion?

I did not take Communion today because I knew there were things in my heart that are not right. God understands, doesn’t he?

After receiving a series of questions like these, I decided that I should teach on this an after the question officially.

And that’s what I did. I called the message, “When Should I Not Take Communion?”

I will give you my answer to that question another time. This post seeks to make another point.

I sought to answer the question that sermon raised with an exposition of 1 Corinthians 11:17-34. It is a corrective Paul writes to address the abuse of the Lord’s Supper in the church of Corinth.

As I studied the text, something popped out at me that I had never paid attention to. It was in 1 Corinthians 11:17-19 reads: “But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized” (ESV).

Did you see that? Paul rebukes the church for divisions among them (v. 18). Then he concedes: “there must be factions among you.”

The New Testament is clear and consistent in teaching that the church of Jesus Christ is to be marked by spiritual unity. Scripture is replete with prayers and commands and instructions and motivations and celebrations of unity among God’s people. Take Paul’s letter to the Corinthians as an example. Throughout this letter Paul rebukes division and calls for harmony. But 1 Corinthians 11:19 is a remarkable exemption. Paul says, “There must be factions among you.”

Let that sink in for a moment. “There must be factions among you.” It would make perfect sense for Paul to say that must not be any divisions among you. It seems to make no sense that he says there must be divisions…

What does Paul mean? Why must there be divisions among the saints?

1 Corinthians 11:19 says: “for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.”

There are times when there are factions among the people of God so that the Lord may reveal who’s who and what’s what. God hates division among the saints. But he uses it to reveal who he has his hands on. Sometimes disharmony is God’s means of exposing the counterfeit and putting the genuine on display.

The Lord is honored when his people do whatever is necessary to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4:3). But what does it mean when you have done all that you know to do to avoid conflict and it arises anyway? Could it be that there must be factions that so that those who are genuine may be recognized?