One of the biggest changes I’ve experienced when I became a Christ follower was a new understanding of the church. When you begin to understand that you are the message as a believer, you will come to see the church in a whole new way.
Church. What does it mean to you? Is it just a place you go? Or is it something much more personal? The Bible uses many metaphors to describe it – the family of God, an edifice, the body of Christ, the bride of Christ and a royal priesthood of believers.
You can’t help but be amazed when you read the book of Acts with the impact that a small group of about 120 Christ followers had on their world and ours today! Somebody said a mighty oak tree is nothing more than a little nut that wouldn’t give up its ground. These men and women knew, without question, that Jesus Christ had changed their lives!
We’ve been talking about Abraham’s “friendship” with God. His relationship with God shows us what it takes to please God and to be accepted by God. While religion bases acceptance on performance, Abraham’s relationship pleased God not because of what he did, but what he believed. He believed God.
Three times in Scripture, Abraham was called “the Friend of God.” One verse refers to Abraham’s relationship with God as “Your friend forever” in 2 Chronicles 20:7 (NIV), while in yet another verse, God calls “Abraham, My friend” Isaiah 41:8 (NIV) Imagine that for a moment – friendship with God!
“Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before Him, singing with joy.” Psalm 100:2 (NLT) Do you worship with gladness? It’s not the style of worship that matters, but the heart of the worshiper.
What is the most excellent way to live life? The New Living Translation describes it as “a way of life that is best of all.” Many are settling for the “good” life. But, why settle for a good life, or even a better life, if you can have the best life of all?
Would you describe your life as filled with an inexpressible joy? It can be! I’m not talking about a shallow sense of happiness or a fake-it-till-you-make-it disposition, but actual deep-down joy!
Whoever thought of praise as a sacrifice? Sacrifices sound more like painful offerings connected with the Old Testament. Isn’t praise the natural expression of a grateful heart giving thanks to God? When times are good, it is natural to praise; even unbelievers can do that. What about our response when times are bad?
Happiness is a choice. When Paul wrote to the church in Philippi, he was speaking from personal experience. He told them, “Whatever happens my dear brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. I never get tired of telling you these things, and I do it to safeguard your faith.” Phil. 3:1 (NLT)