Holy Desires (Part Seven)

2 Timothy 2:22

Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart (NIV).

The Lord directs us to grow up our desires among the fellowship of his followers. Notice the words along with those. We must eliminate the “lone ranger” approach to growth in grace. When Christ saved us, the Spirit put us into the Father’s family and Christ’s spiritual body. God wants us to walk the walk of faith with other followers of Jesus. Consider the many “one another” commands and exhortations in the New Testament Scriptures. (See a previous post on that subject.) Certainly, we need to walk with God personally, but that walk must include our spiritual partnership with other believers. Fellowship with other believers will helps us mature, because of what believers are by God’s powerful grace.

Observe how believers are described here. We are focused on the Lord; we are those who call upon the Lord. We are people known for prayer. A Christian prays. Two aspects of prayer to consider:

  • We worship God; we recognize his worthiness. God uses our words of praise and of confession of the benefits of walking in his ways and teaching about God’s significance to stir each other to live in conformity with his reality. There is something encouraging and convicting about hearing another Christian say in a small group, “The other day I experienced this in my walk with God.” We spur each other on when we share how the living God is presently at work among us.
  • We seek help from God; we make bold requests to our Father in heaven (cf. Luke 18:7). God uses the heart cries of others to draw our hearts together to him. In this day when local church prayer meetings have disappeared, we ought to join together in prayer in every small group meeting.

Believers are a pure people; we call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Our hearts were purified by faith in Christ and his saving work. See how the following verses make that plain.

  • He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith (Acts 15:9 NIV)
  • Who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good (Titus 2:14 NIV)
  • How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! (Hebrews 9:14 NIV)

We strive to maintain purity, because moral filthiness is disgusting to us, who form the pure bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:27). This begins with a continuing reliance on Christ and his finished work. If we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say, “We have no sin,” we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:7-9 CSB). The reality of Christ and his work in the gospel provide practical motivation to keep a pure heart. Consider Paul’s example: I have the same hope in God that these men have, that he will raise both the righteous and the unrighteous. Because of this, I always try to maintain a clear conscience before God and all people (Acts 24:16 NLT). Are we maintaining pure hearts together?

Grace and peace, David

Grace Thinking

Romans 12:3

For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one (HCSB).

“God uses purposeful community to transform our hearts. The gospel, in the context of a community trying to do something, challenges our hearts and lives. This happens because we are placed in a situation where we are called to repentance, faith, and obedience. This is the process many of us disregard when we isolate and live for ourselves” (Watson, Sent Together). An example of what we ought to do is found in a great chapter on the Christian way of life, Romans twelve.

In verses one and two of Romans twelve, the Spirit of God sets forth the transformed way of life that God desires for his dearly loved people. Next, the Spirit gives specific teaching about the way the transformed people act in local gatherings (12:3-8) and in love (12:9-21). The Spirit does this through Paul the apostle, who asserts his authority to speak for God by the phrase by the grace given to me. At the same time, this phrase provides a model for the way we are to act (cf. 12:6). God’s people have been made rich by grace, and we are to serve God and others in conformity with the grace given to us. This includes the times we correct each other, as Paul was led by the Spirit to correct the Roman Christians in this letter.

In this paragraph, there is instruction about the correct usage of spiritual gifts in local churches. It begins with the right attitude in each member of a gospel partnership. Yes, each member, because this instruction is addressed to everyone. Each one of us must have a correct evaluation of himself or herself. An easy trap to fall into is to assume that others have attitude problems and we do not. “He has a big head,” or “she is in love with herself”. That might be correct, but it turns our attention from the point of the text. You and I must seriously ask ourselves if we are thinking too highly of ourselves. Do we see that we have received mercy in many ways (12:1), or have we become infatuated with who we suppose we are?

At the same time, we must have a sensible or sober-minded assessment of who we are in Christ. Called by grace to be sons and daughters of God, we have received the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts to follow Christ together. Therefore, we must not act less than we are. We can do what he has equipped us to do. Whether it is building up one another or reaching out to those away from the Lord, we should not be paralyzed by the not sensible opinion “I can’t to this!” God has placed you in life with the people around you for you to radiate the Father’s glory. In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16 HCSB).

God has given each believer in Jesus a measure of faith. Faith is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8-9; etc.), and so we can trust in the Lord for what we need to build up the body of Christ and to win people for the Lord. This weekend in your local church, you should seek to help others on their journey. Part of this might involve listening to someone you have not listened to previously. You might be able to encourage someone who is weak. Your prayer might stir someone’s heart, and your kindness could refresh another’s heart. Look at others with the eyes of God’s love, and then act in love. Do not hold yourself back. Love one another.

Grace and peace, David

One Another

img_3141When the Lord gives us the new birth from above, he calls us individually to himself. However, he does not save us to be individuals, but to belong to his people, his new family. In this way, our lives are forever intertwined, not only with the Triune God, but with each other!

The idea of “one another” is at the core of the true Christian way of life. We are to express this partnership in many ways. Today, I decided to provide a list of the twenty-seven various kinds of one another relationships everyone who follows Jesus should be developing with others. The actions listed below make up a very significant part of what it means to follow Christ. To neglect these actions is to miss what the Christian life really is!

  • Love one another (Jn 13:34-35; 15:12, 17; Rm 13:8; 1 Th 3:12; 4:9; Heb 13:1; 1 Pt 1:22; 4:8; 1 Jn 3:11, 23; 4:7, 11, 12; 2 Jn 1:5)
  • Encourage one another (Rm 1:12; 1 Th 4:18; 5:11; Heb 3:13; 10:25)
  • Be devoted to one another (Rm 12:10)
  • Honor one another (Rm 12:10)
  • Live in harmony with one another (Rm 12:16; 1 Pt 3:8)
  • Instruct (admonish) one another (Rm 15:14; Col 3:16)
  • Greet one another with a holy/loving kiss (Rm 16:16; 1 Cor 16:20; 2 Cor 13:12; 1 Pt 5:14)
  • Agree with one another (1 Cor 1:10; Ph 4:2)
  • Serve one another (Gal 5:13)
  • Bear with one another (Eph 4:2; Col 3:13)
  • Be kind to one another (Eph 4:32; 1 Th 5:15)
  • Be compassionate to one another (Eph 4:32)
  • Forgive one another (Eph 4:32; Col 3:13)
  • Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs (Eph 5:19)
  • Submit to one another (Eph 5:21)
  • Spur on one another (Heb 10:24)
  • Offer hospitality to one another (1 Pt 4:9)
  • Clothe yourself with humility toward one another (1 Pt 5:5)
  • Wait for one another (1 Cor 11:33)
  • Have equal concern for one another (1 Cor 12:25)
  • Build up one another (Rm 14:19; 1 Th 5:11)
  • Confess your sins to one another (Js 5:16)
  • Pray for one another (Js 5:16)
  • Think the same thing with one another (Rm 15:5)
  • Accept one another (Rm 15:7)
  • Bear one another’s burdens (Gal 6:2)
  • Consider one another better than oneself (Ph 2:3)

Comments on the above list:

  • Some of these “one another” imperatives and exhortations can be done in large public gathering, but only in a very limited sense.
  • Most of these require you to be an active part of a small group or accountability group or one on one situations in order to fulfill the expectations. You cannot do these alone!
  • As you can see, the practice of these one another imperatives and exhortations will transform our church experiences. They will become much more than sitting in a big room with others. We will share a rich and joyful experience of life.

Grace and peace, David

Build Each Other Up

img_31421 Thessalonians 5:11

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing (NIV).

I worked four years for a general contracting company. Our focus was primarily residential, building all types of housing from single family homes to apartments. One of my favorite memories of that time is standing on the second floor of a newly framed house and looking out at the blue summer sky through the newly framed white 2×6 walls. Day by day, the construction would continue till it was time to clean up the house for the owners-to-be. Taking the construction trash to the town landfill was not as fun, especially if it was ninety-five degrees on a summer day, but it also was a necessary part of the task of building a home.

Every follower of Christ is to participate in building up other disciples. This is something we all are do, whether we are young in the Lord, have been a believer for a few years, or have walked with Christ for decades. We all have something to contribute; that is, we will have something to contribute as we grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen (2 Peter 3:18 NIV). This should stimulate us to action. We are able to make significant contributions to the spiritual health and prosperity of others. Here are some observations.

  • The Holy Spirit is not simply giving us good advice in this exhortation. He wants our way of life to include this spiritual activity. One of the tragedies of contemporary Christianity is the lack of the practice of the “one another” passages in the New Testament Scriptures. Too many people assume that godliness is not doing a short list of prohibitions. (You know, the stuff that the elders of your local church might decide to make you the subject of “church discipline”, if you do them.) Certainly, we ought to avoid the practice of what the Lord tells us to avoid. But we must understand that true godliness involves the ongoing practice of what the Lord wants us to do. A major part of true godliness is acting for the benefit of others, as the Spirit directs us in this text.
  • To build others up, you need to know them. This is one of the glaring weaknesses of what I have called the “edifice church” concept (the idea that “church” equals “building”). People assume that sitting in a building on Sunday morning means that they “have gone to church”, and so have pleased the Lord. However, the church is not a building but a gathering of followers of Jesus Christ. When you gather with people that love the Lord, your primary topic of conversation is not about your families, your jobs, your hobbies, and your sports teams. It is about the new life that you share in Christ. Your joint focus is on him. You care about the spiritual struggles and battles of each other. Going to church is not about seeking an hour of personal, spiritual solitude while the worship team sings and the lead pastor delivers a clever talk. Instead, going to church is about being with the Lord and his people and knowing one another. See 2 Peter 3:18 quoted above. It is impossible to build up another person made in God’s image apart from a real sense of who they are and where they need help. You cannot gain this knowledge simply by sitting in a big room for an hour with others. I have learned this through sixty some years of being in big rooms with others.
  • To build others up you need to know what a mature follower of the Lord Jesus is supposed to be. This requires investment of time in the reading and study of the Bible. My advice, besides general reading of the whole Bible, is to read much and to think deeply on a couple selected books of the Bible. Start with Matthew. Besides telling the story of God’s glory in Jesus, it also presents many ideas about following Christ. If you’ve been a Christian for a couple years, Matthew should be one of your “old, dear friends”. Yet I find many in edifice churches resist the plan of reading the Gospel of Matthew again and again. “It’s too hard to do it.” What? It’s too hard to read daily about your Lord and Savior? Perhaps you can conclude 2016 by reading it three times: once each in October, November, and December. You will reap huge benefits for your own soul and for being able to build others up in the Lord. I also recommend that you read deeply, to start, one of the following books: Ephesians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 1 Peter, or 1 John. Perhaps I’ll write another article someday about my reasons for this selection. Plan on reading one of these letters every day for a month. Yes, that means you’d be reading them thirty or thirty-one times. You will learn much about how to build others up, as you listen to what the apostles did.
  • In order to build people up, you need to develop your spiritual friendships. This will require you to be either in a house church or a small group that is part of a larger church. I will not direct you in either direction. But if you are in a larger church, you will have to be a catalyst for change. You must devote yourself to seeing your church develop true friendship and brotherhood. Sadly, many larger churches are not interested in this. But you and I must be! It is very exciting to see the Lord change you and others in your group. Everyone knows the others really care and pray for each other and help one another. The group itself and the members of the group get built up together. It is a taste of heaven on earth.

My dear friends, I plead with you that building others up will become a vital part of your journey of faith. You will experience the joy of helping others, and the joy of others strengthening you! Take that first step this weekend into a deeper experience of your new life in Jesus Christ!

Grace and peace, David

More on Meeting Together

20140916_160521Hebrews 10:25

Not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching (NIV)

After thinking about the desire that the Lord has for his people to gather together as a church (assembly, cf. 1 Corinthians 11:18), next let’s think about the reason. The writer might have mentioned a reason such as the worship of God. Or there is the opportunity for a gospel witness to friends that do not yet know the Lord but are willing to come and observe a loving and caring church that proclaims hope (confident expectation). Or, thinking of the passage already cited from First Corinthians, a church needs to gather for a meal to remember the Lord together. These are all good reasons to meet together.

However, the writer of Hebrews concludes this great passage with another reason. We are to meet together to encourage one another. While the Holy Spirit has come to encourage us, the Lord wants his followers to encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11). “Encourage one another” is one of the basic differences between an edifice church and a sharing of life (koinonia) church. Those who attend an edifice church are very concerned about the “service” that will happen there. By the service, they mean the public program that is presented. In various edifice churches this means different actions, whether the observance of rituals and sacraments, or a strict order of service that is planned to the minute (that is no exaggeration), or a musical performance (dominated by the worship leader, band, and singers), or listening to a long, carefully constructed doctrinal sermon, or an evangelistic message that is followed by an emotional invitation (altar call), or some sort of combination of the above. The important matter in the edifice church is to have the best possible performance of the desired program. Before and after the program, there might be some chitchat about sports or children or politics or vacations. But to encounter personal encouragement is rare.

To meet together in a sharing of life church is to be involved with people, not a program. Yes, such churches will have worship, music, prayer, a message from the word, etc. But the concern is not to get through a program and then to evaluate how well the leaders lead the program. The Lord and people matter in a sharing of life church, because the Vine gives life to the branches, and he wants them to love one another with his kind of love (John 15:1-17). For this reason, there is a lot of time invested in talking together about the Lord and our lives in our families, job places, neighborhoods, and activities. Another time we will go into more detail. But the difference is the focus is on the Lord and people, not on any program. The Holy Spirit is in control, not an “order of service”.

When you are not in your local gathering of believers, your place in the body is vacant. Often when we meet together, it’s like being without a finger, a foot, an arm, or ears. You can’t contribute and the body is crippled. “My oh my, where is our ‘liver’ today?” Someone answers, “Oh, don’t you know? The ‘liver’ is off doing something or other with the ‘knee cap’. And by the way, the ‘back muscle’ is grumpy today, so be careful what you say!” You are at liberty to think that is a crazy illustration. But please listen to this. The exhortation to meet together to encourage one another is not merely “good advice”, but it is God’s will for your life. And this exhortation is addressed to people who have every reason to comply with it. The writer addresses those who are forgiven, those cleansed by the blood of Christ, those who may approach God boldly, yes, to those who are in covenant with the living God. As a person loves God and his family, he or she desires to be at family gatherings.

When we gather together, we must encourage each other.

  • Encourage one another to believe, to hope and to love. Notice how faith, hope and love occur in this paragraph (10:19-25), as well as many places in the New Testament Scriptures.
  • Encourage one another to grow in knowledge of God, of the word he has given, and in the Christian way of life.
  • Encourage one another to endure. It is tough to live for Jesus Christ in a world that hates him. Loving words of hope in the Lord’s resurrection victory can be greatly used by Spirit to strengthen each other in spiritual warfare.
  • Encourage one another to do good (1 Peter 2:11-15). The writer said this in 10:24, but we forget too easily that we are to do good works, so that others might see them and glorify our Father in heaven.

The writer adds a solemn motive. The Day is approaching. “The Day” means the “Day of the Lord”, which is the time when he will act openly in the greatness of his glorious power. The result will be salvation for his people and judgment for his enemies. Are you ready for Christ’s coming? Believers look for the dawning of that Day. We are watching for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. This requires us to grow in grace in the light of that Day: “all the more”. Since every day brings us one day nearer to the return of our Lord, we ought to be better prepared each day. For this reason, meet together regularly with your brothers and sisters in Christ.

Grace and peace, David

Putting the Spurs to Each Other

IMG_0966Hebrews 10:24

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds… (NIV). All followers of Christ Jesus need to grasp the core of this responsibility. What is the how of stirring others in your local gathering toward love and good works?

Consider first the general concept. To “spur on” means “to provoke” or “to stir up”. The word used “has a startling sound. Christians are to be roused, provoked, but to love” (Westcott). It seems strange that those who have received God’s love should need to be provoked to love others. But this is a sad fact stemming from the sin that still hinders us. We become lazy at best, and more often self-absorbed and unkind. Something must be done. The NIV translation is picturesque. You can see the rider in the Old West urging his horse on with his spurs. So every one of us has times when we need to be spurred on, some more often, some less. But this is one of the many “one another” encouragements that we need to grow in grace.

Here comes a difficult action. This involves changing from a self-centered to an one another-centered view of the church, which is a gathering of Christ-followers. We simply cannot live godly in Christ Jesus without this mutual action of stirring up each other. Yet too often professing Christians approach a church with a crass materialistic concept. “What can I or my family get out of this church?” This is not something that has happened only recently. Listen to these words from Postmodern Times, by Gene Veith, Jr. and written in 1994. “Christians, like everyone else in today’s economy, are consumers, but they dare not apply consumer values to God. Notice the implications of the phrase ‘church shopping’. Surely, shopping for a church in the same way we shop for a major appliance is dangerous. Instead of looking for a church that teaches the Word of God, we sometimes look for a church that ‘fills our needs.’ The church does not exist to provide its members ‘services’; rather, it should challenge its members to engage in ‘service’ to God and to their fellow human beings. When we think like consumers, we put ourselves first, picking and choosing what best corresponds to our desires” (p. 118-119). To me, that sounds like exploiting or plundering a church. Where is the love of Christ in such an attitude? Whatever happened to “what can I contribute?” or “how can I help?” and especially, “How can I serve God and one another?” To say this another way, the true Christian is not only concerned about his own salvation, but also about the salvation of others (cf. 3:12-13).

But let us move on from general observations to specific applications. Here are ten examples of people who need to be spurred on (listed in alphabetical order)

  • Disabled – those who are physically challenged or shut in or sick
  • Disadvantaged – those with a previous lack of correct teaching (Some think that because they heard an effective communicator that they heard good teaching. But truth is a matter of substance not style.)
  • Disagreeable – those who seem determined to object to something
  • Discarded – those who are no longer welcome in their former place of worship through no fault of their own
  • Discontented – those who are not content in their present situation (because they don’t like their job, etc.)
  • Discouraged – those who are losing hope in their situation
  • Dismayed – those who have fallen into depression, spiritual or otherwise
  • Disorderly – those who are not obeying the will of the Lord Jesus Christ
  • Disregarded – those who people pay little attention to
  • Dissident – those who disagree with the opinion of the majority

I think you will have little problem finding people like this that would benefit from your personal concern and love for them. We have only to open our hearts and eyes to see them.

Are we ready to minister to one another? To serve, we need a servant’s heart, an attitude like Jesus Christ, the Servant of the Lord. Read Philippians 2:1-11. I’m sure you have seen offices—each worker shut up in his or her tiny cubicle. Most people in our postmodern culture have a “cubicle attitude” toward life. They move from one tiny cubicle to another, avoiding contact with other humans as much as possible. Are we willing to reach out of our small life cubicles and interact with other people? This will require a profound change of attitude, but it must be done if we are to fulfill this directive from the Holy Spirit: And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds… (NIV).

Grace and peace, David

Healthy Hearts (Part One)

IMG_0242Proverbs 15:13-17

The Bible uses the word heart as the center of the human personality—the inner person in contrast to the body. It is the spiritual side of the person, and it has three aspects: the mind, the emotions and the will. While we all share these three aspects, God has formed our personality and the events of and people in our lives style it, so that we are all unique people. But regardless of our individual form, God tells us truths that he intends to transform our inner person increasingly into his moral likeness. In other words, God wants to perfect the variety that he has designed in the womb and develops through the events and people of our lives. So let’s examine what he tells us about human hearts from this passage.

The Lord tells us the effect of a healthy heart (15:13). Every human is a functional unity of the outer person (the body) and the inner person (the heart or soul or spirit). Contrast this text with Psalm 42:3-5, where we see the depressing influence of a downcast heart. Depression leads to inactivity that breeds more depression and inactivity. It is a downward spiral.

Since we have this functional unity between the inner and outer parts of our humanness, the Lord encourages happiness of heart. In the words of John Trapp of long ago, “The heart sits smiling in the face and looks merrily out of the windows of the eyes.” However, we must clarify the Lord’s intent. The Lord wants us to have a happiness of heart that is based on proper principles (for example, Psalm 32:1-2). The Lord wants us to express our inner joy wisely and with a regard for the life situations of others (Romans 12:15; Proverbs 27:14).

Consider how the heart can create two very different effects. First, a happy heart will make you appear cheerful, and that shows up on your face. I recall two songs from years ago that sought to get this point across: “Take that frown off your face, put a smile in its place, let the love of Jesus Christ show through!” And, “Smile a while, and give your face a rest, raise your hand to the One you love the best, then shake hands with one nearby and greet them with a smile!” Those who are part of a local body of Christ should learn to read each other’s faces, and then prayerfully, boldly and gently seek to serve each other in love.

But second, heartache crushes the spirit—a person loses the desire to continue. What are some causes of heartache? Events like unfulfilled expectations, untimely or unexpected separation, and betrayal by one you love. Such happenings can pile up quickly, and we can feel shattered.

The way out can be difficult and long. The Lord Jesus Christ has provided ways to help you. He speaks to us through his word, providing us his perspective and counsel. For example, read out loud and listen to Psalm 119. It is a great prayer of a person enduring affliction. Let its words soak into you, and then pray them back to God our Father. Jesus has given us his Spirit, who desires to produce his fruit in us (Galatians 5:22-23). Think of each of those qualities, and ask the Spirit to refresh your heart with them. Christ has also placed us in groups of people who know him and love one another (1 Peter 1:22). You are with them to share life, and since they belong to Christ, they are equipped to help you (Romans 15:14). The Lord is forever faithful. Draw near to him; he wants you to have a healthy heart.

Grace and peace, David

A Place for You (Part Three)

IMG_02321 Corinthians 12:7-26

Every believer, every part of the spiritual body of Christ is needed (12:21-26). We must accept each other in his body and value the contribution of each person (12:21). Every local church has a unique gathering of individuals, and these groupings might not seem to offer much promise for friendships at first glance. For example, one person might not be able to approve of much another does. The second might not particularly want a third as you’re their close friend. But for Christ’s sake we must accept one another in love and spur one another on to love and good works. Let me say some things to push us all to consider the actual condition of our local gatherings. In order to make progress, we must see one another as “in Christ” and realize that we are members together of one body. I think most will claim, “Of course we believe this and do this!” But I ask, “Is your assembly (church) really this way? Or are many being rejected in subtle or not so subtle ways (James 2:1-4)? Toleration is not the same as reaching out in friendship.

There is a place for “other-esteem” in the church. We must see each other with the Lord’s eyes. Yes, we will see failures and weaknesses, but we should also see the grace of the Lord, and seeing that, prize each other highly. If a local church is more like a social club than the body of Christ, worldly distinctions like ethnicity, education, economic level will abound. In some churches, people are valued above others because of their attainments in doctrinal knowledge. In other churches, it is because they are skilled social mixers. However, we ought to prize one another because each one is “in Christ”.

Everyone in the body must have a concern for everyone else (12:25). What about special friends? People can be drawn close to one another in surprising ways. Close friendships are not a problem as long as the friendship is holy. Then they become very beneficial to the whole body. You probably will feel closer to some than to others, but do not neglect the whole for the sake of the few. Move out of your comfort zone and seek out fellowship with others that you suppose are unlike you. (You see yourself as an eye or ear, and see others as knees and elbows.) My friend, show some loving concern for those members that you suppose are beneath you. This requires ongoing, special effort; it doesn’t simply happen.

The local church is a spiritual body, and it only develops as the parts of the body enjoy spiritual fellowship with each other. Local institutional churches grow for many reasons: a good location, enthusiastic inviters, an upbeat, contemporary music program, a watered down message that offends no one, or they grow for the fact of being large enough so that those attending can do nothing but attend and enjoy the big crowd, or because they promise healing and prosperity to the faithful, etc. A few actually grow because they are faithful to the Lord, according to the light they have! But we need to ask: what is developing—a gathering of disciples who make disciples who make disciples, or is it merely a weird kind of social club?

The spiritual health of each part affects the spiritual health of the whole body (12:26). Your holiness and sinfulness affect more than you. Your spiritual condition affects all of us. The best course of action is to walk with the Lord in holiness, love, joy and peace and share these blessings with others. If you are taking steps toward heaven with the Lord, why not share that journey with others?

Grace and peace, David

P.S. Yesterday, Sharon and I went all day to the Philadelphia Flower Show, which was the reason for no new article. We had a great time, and we will feature some pictures from our excursion there. For today, a flower from a few years ago.