The title above is a question posted on my Facebook page every day at 3 pm, and the comments are growing and the private messages are interesting. There have been requests from family, friends, acquaintances and even friends of friends I do not know. Each request is important because someone needs prayer in their life.
Many times, people complicate religion and its actions, when many times they are very simple. The question, “How can we pray for you today?” is a simple question, but it can bring powerful results.
I started asking the question because there is a need for more prayer in our world. While Paul tells us to make our supplications and requests known to God (Philippians 4.6), we can also petition him on behalf of others:
- Prayers for those who persecute and mistreat us (Matthew 5.44; Luke 6.28; Acts 7.60)
- Prayer for the sick (James 5.16)
- Prayer for other Christians (Ephesians 1.15-21; Hebrews 13.18-19)
- Prayer for governmental leaders (1 Timothy 2.1-2
As God’s lights in the world, our lives should be filled with prayer (1 Thessalonians 5.17; Ephesians 6.18; Luke 18.1). Prayer is our communication with the Creator to share our joys, praises for Him, our woes and our burdens as well as requests for others.
I challenge you to ask others how you can pray for them. It might be a Facebook post, a text message or a face-to-face question, but ask them who you can pray for them. Who knows, it might lead to many powerful opportunities.
Maybe you can ask the question on Facebook, Twitter and other social media as well.
Just some thoughts,
My name is Mandy Heard. I am thirty-eight years old. I have been a member of The Lord’s Church since I was fifteen. However, recently I began to second guess my baptism. Did I do it for me, or for My Lord? Was it because I thought I was earning my salvation by going through motions? To remove all doubt, I made my way down the aisle and was baptized a second time. This time, it wasn’t done out of fear of hell’s fire. It was done out of love and appreciation for My Jesus and the desire to be identified as His Church. Which leads me to the purpose of this article…who or what is the blood-bought Church, and what do I love about it?
First of all, the word “church” comes from a Greek word “ekklesia” which is defined as “an assembly” or “called ones.” So you see, the Church is not a building, but a body of believers.
Now, I mentioned to you already that I have been a member of the Church for a long time. I have grown up being taught from these Biblical principles. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t struggled with identifying who the Church is.
You see, my friends are from many different denominational backgrounds. My friends and I pray together. We have attended Christian based conferences and events together. I do my best to encourage them, and they most definitely encourage me. I do consider my friends to be believers, and I know they love Jesus just as I do.
People often ask, “What’s the difference in the Church of Christ” and other denominations. Most people first recognize that we have no instruments. Others may notice our weekly participation in The Lord’s Supper. And while these are noticeable differences that others may recognize, I have noticed something else that has begun to decrease my confusion regarding who The Church is.
I have recognized in most denominational churches; there seems to be some disagreement or confusion about how they operate. They are usually based off opinions, ideas, or what they’ve learned from other organizations. There seem to be issues that arise based on change. Hebrews 13:8 reminds us that Jesus is the same, yesterday, today and forever, so why would we expect His Church to be different?
While these opinions and ideas are not always bad, they can make things quite interesting. They can draw others in; they can make things fun and exciting but eventually, comes conflict and confusion. Why? Because they are ideas of “good people,” but not from God The Father. Only God has the authority to direct and lead The Church. Any other assumed authorities will fail. It’s not a matter of if, but when. It’s coming.
Only what God authorizes will stand.
Matthew 16:18- “…upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.”
You see friends; God is not the author of confusion. The meaning of The Church wasn’t meant to be complicated.
1 Corinthians 14:33- “…for God is not a God of disorder…”
We have all that we need to fulfill our purpose within The Church. We are equipped. We don’t have to figure out the right way and the wrong way. We just have to know God’s way.
Hebrews 13:21- “…”may he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.”
We have been given an example by the early church. Why fix what is not broken?
We don’t have to add to it or take away from it. Simply follow it.
My husband and I have been blessed with two amazingly wonderful, yet hormonal teenagers. Now if you’re a parent, you understand the need for boundaries and rules. What would happen if there were none? Anything goes. Stay out as long as you like. Eat what you want. Go ahead, if it feels good, do it. How long would that last? Eventually, our family would crumble. Wouldn’t it?
Guess what? So will the Church.
Often, the Church of Christ is accused of being legalistic. I’ll be real with ya. I’ve struggled with believing this myself at times. But a few weeks ago, my favorite preacher helped me understand this a bit better. Legalism comes about when we act on our own behalf. In other words, it benefits us in some way by following the rules…but, obedience is when we act out of love, honor and for the Lord’s sake. You see, our salvation has been bought and paid for with a price we can never repay. We don’t work for our salvation, but because of it.
So to sum things up, I guess I love the Church because My Jesus first loved me.
May God bless you and keep you!
Mandy Heard is married to Jamie Heard. They have 2 teenage children, Anslee and Cain. Mandy is a home health nurse and considers her job to be an opportunity for ministry. She enjoys sharing with others how Christ has changed her life. She is a member of Roanoke Church of Christ.
I love the Church of Christ because of the beauty and simplicity of the doctrine which comes directly from the Bible. To understand my love for the Church, one would have to understand my conversion.
I grew up a staunch Methodist. My mother raised me that way as did her mother. Anything I could do, I did. I was not a lukewarm Methodist. It was my intent in college to attend seminary and go to Liberia in West Africa to be a missionary. I had two other roommates in college. One was the son of a Baptist preacher and the other was from the Church of Christ. Baptist and Methodist were the dominant churches in the area and I knew nothing about the Church of Christ.
We were good friends except when we got on each other’s nerves. One thing we did regularly was to sit in the commons room and discuss religion. It is the intent of most men to win religious battles and I was no exception. The question that stumped me the most for my roommate from the Church of Christ was: “Where do you find that in the Bible”? For example, “Where do you find Christians partaking of the Lord’s Supper quarterly and on special days?” After all, the Bible says in Acts 20:7, “Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread…” When did the disciples break bread (have the Lord’s Supper)? On the first day of the week which was Sunday. Which Sunday? Every Sunday. So on the weekends when I came home I would wear a trail to my preacher’s house which was next door and we talked about this topic. “Well”, he would say, “That’s the way they did it back then in the Bible but as Methodist we have specific days to have it.” Check one for the Church of Christ for biblical accuracy. But I was determined to win the war.
Our next battle would be over titles like Reverend. Here we go again. “Where do you find that in the Bible?” he would ask. So there I went to my preacher for the answers. “Well”, he would say, “They didn’t use titles like we use them today. It’s a Methodist thing to help distinguish between the different roles.” “Humm”, I thought. “It’s not in the Bible but we use them today?” I found it interesting that not even the apostles were called Reverend. Check two for the Church of Christ for biblical accuracy. But still I was determined to win the war.
The next battle would be fought over special clothing and the clergy / laity system. Here we go again. “Where do you find that in the Bible?” I could not think of any place but surely my preacher would know. “No, it can’t be found in the Bible” he said. “All the special robes and the clergy / laity system kind of evolved over the centuries to what you see today.” So I’m thinking to myself, “All of this is not in the Bible but we are doing it today?” I’m starting to see a trend. The only thing I could reason is that the system developed that way to elevate some above the masses to make them feel special, superior or more holy than others. I remembered in Acts 10:25-26 where it says, “As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I myself am also a man.” I think men and women like the lofty positions that the religions of today have made for them. Check three for the Church of Christ guy. But I was still determined to win or at least put a chink in his armor that would close his mouth.
Other battles were fought and months passed by but the biggest one was over the importance of baptism for one’s salvation. Finally, I thought. At least this was one point that we would agree upon. After all, I was baptized (sprinkled) when I was several months old. I even had the card from it and it said “Baptism” on the outside. Then came the question “Where do you find babies being baptized in the Bible.” This time I had an answer for him from the Bible. The Bible says in Acts 16:15, “And when she (Lydia) and her household were baptized…”. Besides, in the case of the Philippian jailer that “he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized” (Acts 16:33). See their “household” and their “family” were baptized. There must have been babies there. “How do you know?”, came the response. After all, one who comes to the Lord must come repenting of their sins (Luke 13:3, 5 and confessing (Romans 10:9). A baby can neither repent nor confess. Baptism is for those who are old enough to understand the commitment they are making to the Lord. That made sense.
Besides he said, “Baptism is always an immersion or burial (Romans 6:3-6) in water. It was never a sprinkling and the purpose of baptism was for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38; 22:16). This was a big one because it was not only a religious argument but it affected my very own salvation. So there I go back to my preacher with this wagon load of doctrine to sort out. This took time but most of the answers came back in silent or in snappy little jokes. Finally it got down to the point when I said, “I want to be baptized just like they were in the Bible, by immersion, and for the remission of my sins.”
So we agreed the following weekend when I came home we would go down to the river and he would baptize me. Next week came and so did the excuse that he could not do it that weekend but to come back the following weekend. This happened two more weekends. Seeing that I would not be deterred, he finally said, “Find someone else to do it. If people found out that I baptized (immersed) you for the remission of your sins, I could get in trouble.” I was floored and greatly disappointed. Why could he not do what the Bible clearly stated must be done for salvation, my salvation? It was then that I realized that the church in which I had devoted all of my young life to was not built on God’s word but upon human traditions.
I left there because it is so much easier and reassuring to follow God’s word, book, chapter and verse than it is to defend the traditions of men and cross my fingers and hope that God would save me. I love the Church of Christ because I can know that when I follow God’s word that I can be saved. 1 John 5:13 says, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life…” I pray that you are never content with man’s traditions but that you too will come to love the beauty and simplicity of God’s word that is found in the Church of Christ.
Roy Knight is the minister for the St. George church of Christ located in St. George, South Carolina. Roy also has a weekly podcast entitled, “The Christian Gentleman” located at http://thechristiangentleman.podbean.com/
Personal Note: I appreciate Roy’s words and thoughts on his love for the church. Since meeting Roy for the first time, I have respect for his work and words. Roy has a great heart for the church and a great knowledge. His work in the coastal South Carolina area has been a benefit to the Kingdom and the churches in the area.
The older preacher, located at the time 40+ years in the same congregation, stood before the audience and spoke the words, “I would much rather wear out than rust out in the work of God. For Heaven is a place and rest and the church is a place of work.”
In the truest sense, the church is a place of work. Just because one has obeyed the gospel and become a member of the church, it does not mean the resting should begin. As mentioned on Sunday, once we are baptized into Christ, Satan does not consider the battle to be lost. He still seeks someone to devour (1 Peter 5.7). He plans to put temptations in your way to draw you away from God. Are you clothed in the full armor of God? (Ephesians 6.10-18)
If anything, when we are members of the church, our abilities are magnified and give rise to more opportunities. When we realize that God provides grace to each one of us, it should motivate us to use what He has given us (Romans 12.3). The grace He provides is different for each person is different (Romans 12.4). Just because the abilities He gives us are different does not mean our lives are not important. The parts of the body need each other to survive and to unite in the common purpose of God (Ephesians 4.1-15).
So, are you wearing out or rusting out in the church.
Let me leave you with the words of Jesus,
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11.28)
Just my thoughts,
I might have posted this before but I was not able to find a date, but the words provide a very interesting look at the description of a Christian during the second century. Take a moment and give it a quick read and see what you think.
This description was found in a letter from a letter to Diognetus, Second century A.D., Rome.
The “Christian” Described
“Christians live in their own native lands, but as aliens; as citizens, they share all things with others; but like aliens, suffer all things. Every foreign country is to them as their native country and every native land as a foreign country.”
“They marry and have children just like everyone else; but they do not kill unwanted babies. They offer a shared table, but not a shared bed. They are at present ‘in the flesh’ but they do not ‘live according to the flesh.’ They are passing their days on earth, but are citizens of heaven. They obey the appointed laws, and go beyond the laws in their own lives. They love everyone, but are persecuted by all. They are unknown and condemned; they are put to death and gain life. They are poor and yet make many rich. They are short of everything and yet have plenty of all things. They are dishonored and yet gain glory through dishonor.”
“Their names are blackened and yet they are cleared. They are mocked and bless in return. They are treated outrageously and behave respectfully to others. When they do good, they are punished as evil-doers; when punished, they rejoice as if being given new life. They are attacked by Jews as aliens, and are persecuted by Greeks; yet those who hate them cannot give any reason for their hostility. To put it simply – the soul is to the body as Christians are to the world. The soul is spread through all parts of the body and Christians through all parts of the cities of the world. The soul is in the body but is not of the body; Christians are in the world but not of the world.”
Just some thoughts,