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Archive for the ‘The church’ Category

Justin Taylor:

I thought it might be helpful to ask some pastors and theologians what they would recommend as sermons or essays that have had a special impact on them, or that they would seriously urge students and pastors to consider reading.

I’m thankful for all of the responses. I’ve tried to add as many links as possible to free versions online:

Click here for “A List of Important Sermons and Articles That Are Worth Reading”

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David shares Ten Reasons to Be Involved in a Church

1. Church involvement is evidence that you’re a Christian in the first place. It also helps keep you from abandoning the faith. According to the author of Hebrews, the antidote to developing an “unbelieving heart” that leads you “to fall away from the living God” is to “exhort one another” (Hebrews 3:12-13) — an activity that occurs most prominently in the church.

2. Gathering with a church encourages believers to love others and do good deeds (Hebrews 10:24-25).

3. A church is the main venue for using your spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:1-31). God has given you abilities and talents intended to help other Christians. If you’re not involved in a church, others are being deprived of what you have to offer.

4. A church helps you defend Christianity against those who attack it. When Jude told the early Christians to “contend for the faith” (Jude 3), he directed his instruction toward a group of believers, not a scattering of lone-ranger Christians. Answering challenges from coworkers, friends and family members is always easier when you can ask fellow church members for help and wisdom.

Click for the rest of Ten Reasons to Be Involved in a Church.

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A word for all you who attend a church this week where the Bible will be preached:

It’s Wednesday, and Sunday is coming.

Many preachers are still recovering from this last Sunday, where they poured out their hearts and souls to present the Sacred Writings – and Jesus in them (Luke 24:27) – for their church families. And now they are preparing for yet another Sunday. They are digging in, pondering the text, writing notes and scribbling pictures, praying for the Spirit to illumine their minds and apply the text to their own hearts and lives. They are looking for Jesus, and his Gospel. They are thinking of how it might apply to their people. They are assembling potential illustrations. They are doing it all in the midst of a dizzying array of other demands upon their time and office.

I wonder, how are you preparing?

So often I think people walk into the meeting place on Sunday morning, thinking that the responsibility for hearing from God in the Sacred Text is the job of the preacher. While there is some truth to that (he must study to show himself approved unto God, a workman that must not be ashamed, rightly handling the Word of Truth), the listener has a grave responsibility.

Now click over to read the rest of Matthew Molesky’s “Let the Word Dwell In You.”

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Joe Thorn speaks to an all too common problem (being late to church). But his real goal is to get people to arrive at church early:

It doesn’t sound like a big deal, and of course this isn’t the sort of thing that brings fire from heaven or church discipline. But being late can have a genuinely negative impact in more ways than one.

For example, a consistently late arrival may contribute to the leadership’s felt need to postpone the start of the service. Or, when a lot of people are arriving late visitors are more likely to feel uncomfortable and isolated. And if you are frequently late to worship you may be missing the opportunity to meet new people. These things (and many more) are true, but I don’t want to come down on people for being late, as much as I want to encourage everyone to get to church early. Why?

Well, if the opening of your worship services feature a pastor flying in on a zip-line, or some such nonsense, feel free to be late. Or find another church. Otherwise, you should be careful to get there on time because the beginning of the worship gathering is not a throw-away of announcements (which you should pay attention to anyway). Rather, at least in our case, the beginning of our corporate worship is thoughtfully put together with the aim of directing our thoughts toward God. From the opening Scripture to the closing benediction every piece of the liturgy is a piece to a puzzle that, when assembled, gives us all a fuller picture of the gospel.

And consider this; if you are frequrently late you are missing something you need: perhaps a reading from a Psalm that highlights the character and work of God as the answer to your own fears and doubts. Why does this matter? Well, scripture is one of the primary means of grace God has given us, and by coming in late you may be missing the very truths your heart needs the most. You may be unintentionally side-stepping the very words from the mouth of God that would address your heart, lift your head, and strengthen your faith. The opening reading and prayer of corporate worship is also what God will use to prepare you to listen, sing, and believe the truth of God that fills the entirety of the service.

So, get to church early, and eager. Who knows what God is going to do in your heart this Sunday?!

More here.

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The words of worship flow so easily from our lips that we seldom stop to think about them: we casually talk about knowing the Lord; we say we talk to God and in one way or another hear from God. We attend churches on Sundays to have, as we say, fellowship with God and each other. There we celebrate the belief that he is our God with songs and hymns, but even these have become so familiar to us that our minds drift to other, more immediate concerns. And when we approach the Lord’s Table, to eat with God as it were, we often do not have enough time to appreciate what it means. In short, our worship services have become time-bound and routine. We have been so successful in fitting God into our important schedules that worship is often just another activity. But it should be anything but routine and ordinary.

After all, this God we say we know is the sovereign Creator and Lord of the whole universe, the eternal and ever-living God, all wise, all powerful, and ever present. Our attention to the Lord must not be an ordinary part of life; our worship of him should be the most momentous, urgent, and glorious activity in our lives.

~Allen P. Ross~Recalling the Hope of Glory: Biblical Worship From the Garden to the New Creation (Grand Rapids, MI; Kregel Publications; 2006) p. 35.

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“The church is not an incidental part of God’s plan. Jesus didn’t invite people to join an anti-religion, anti-doctrine, anti-institutional bandwagon of love, harmony, and re-integration. He showed people how to live, to be sure. But He also called them to repent, called them to faith, called them out of the world, and called them into the church. The Lord “didn’t add them to the church without saving them, and he didn’t save them without adding them to the church” (John Stott).

“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor. 13:7). If we truly love the church, we will bear with her in her failings, endure her struggles, believe her to be the beloved bride of Christ, and hope for her final glorification. The church is the hope of the world — not because she gets it all right, but because she is a body with Christ for her Head.

Don’t give up on the church. The New Testament knows nothing of churchless Christianity. The invisible church is for invisible Christians. The visible church is for you and me.”

–Pastor Kevin DeYoung in “The Glory of Plodding.”

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John MacArthur asks a thoughtful question and then gives a surprising answer:

When you think about coming to church, what aspect do you look forward to the most?

For the sake of this discussion, let’s assume your answer is something spiritually noble—nothing vain or selfish like wanting people to see you dressed in your finest clothes, showing off a new car, or trying to sell goods or services to friends at church. Instead, let’s assume the best—that whatever it is you look forward to most is somehow related to ministry.

Some people might say the teaching keeps them coming back each week. Others would say the music. For some believers, it might be the deep relationships with other Christians they find through their churches—relationships that they can’t cultivate elsewhere. Others might just appreciate the temporary relief from the pressures of life, work, and the world.

But let me suggest something to you: If we really understand Scripture—particularly some specific promises from Jesus—the thing you should look forward to the most is the offering.

Keep reading “The Abundance of Giving” by John MacArthur as he explains why giving ought to excite us!

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