Eternal Church 5

The aim of this devotional study is to grow in the knowledge and appreciation of the church.

Scripture

Matthew 5:14-16

14  “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15  Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.  16  In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

lightbulb2

Observations and reflections

  1. What is the metaphors Jesus use here to describe the character and nature of church with?
  2. What are the main associations with “light of the world” and “city on a hill”? What do Jesus wish to convey about the nature and character of the church with these two images? [think about is a bit]
  3. Which one word would be substitutions or synonyms for each of these two images regarding church?
  4. What are the required response of the church implied in each of these images?

Personal reflections and prayers

Consider each of the following questions, and then talk to the Lord about each of these points:

  1. Would you say your local church is “a light of the world” that brings influence, life and hope to your local community?
    1. In which way could you better your influence, hope and life?
  1. Would you say your local church is “a city on a hill” that brings hope and refuge?
    1. In which way could you better your hope and safety?
  1. Is your personal life characterized by HOPE and CARE for those around you?
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Eternal Church 4

The aim of this devotional study is to grow in the knowledge and appreciation of the church.

Scripture

Revelation 19:5-8

5  And from the throne came a voice saying, “Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, small and great.” 6  Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. 7  Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; 8  it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”– for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

Observations and reflections

Note: The context of this Scripture is within the prophesy which John wrote about the future judgment of the whole world, where Satan and his followers will be judged by God, and Jesus’ faithful followers will be rewarded by Him.  See also Revelations 21:2,9

  1. What is the metaphor John uses describe the reunion between Jesus and his church in this prophesy?
  2. What is the atmosphere of this reunion?
  3. What is the church of Jesus likened to in this prophesy?
    1. What do you understand Jesus wanted to communicate by using this metaphor / imagery for the church?
    2. What are the required response of the church implied in this imagery? [hint: verse 8]

Personal reflections and prayers

Consider each of the following questions, and then talk to the Lord about each of these points:

  1. How often does your local congregation speak about, pray about or sing about the return of Jesus?
  2. How much and how often do you long for Jesus’ return to come and fetch you to himself?
  3. In considering your daily conduct: would you say your “garments are white” – i.e. do you live a righteous life or are you involved in things that the Bible or your conscience condemn?
  4. If Jesus would speak to you today, would he be jealous of your affections for earthly things?

Eternal Church 3

The aim of this devotional study is to grow in the knowledge and appreciation of the church.

Scripture

1 Timothy 3:14-15

14  I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, 15  if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the Living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.

Observations and reflections

Note: the word translated “church” in Greek is “ekklesia” and means a gathering of a people called out or set apart for God.  A “buttress” is a military defense structure, or a structural support to building.

buttress_oncoast
A coastal defense tower, or “buttress”
buttresses_1
A series of stuctural supports to a building, or “buttresses”

Keep in mind the meaning of the word “ekklesia” (English “church”) when answering these questions.

  1. What does it mean that church is “the household of God”?
    1. What does it imply of you and your relationship with God?
    2. What are the moral consequences and responsibilities to the fellow members in church?
  2. What does it mean that church is “the church of the Living God”?
    1. What does it say of you and your relationship with the local congregation?
    2. What does it imply of God’s relationship towards the church?
  3. What does it mean that church is “a pillar and buttress of truth”?
    1. What does that suggest of the function of the church through the ages?
    2. What does it imply of you and your local congregation’s responsibility towards the surrounding community?
    3. What does it suggest is a main activity within the local church?

Personal reflections Application

  1. Looking at these three metaphors of church, which fit your local congregation the most? Why would you say that?
  2. Looking at these three metaphors of church, which fit your local congregation the least? Why would you say that?
    1. What attitudes and activities within your local church be enhanced to make this metaphor a visible reality within your local church?
  3. If one would look at your relationships and activities with the members of your local church, what metaphor would do you think believers of another church would find most fitting to describe your church with? [in other words, what image do you convey of God’s church?]

Prayer

Thank God that the church is God’s family, that God is alive within her and that God’s saving and preserving truth resides in her and is proclaimed from her.  And that God for what he has done in your life through these three truths.  Freely you have received from this grace – now pray that others (whom you know) may receive this same grace through God’s church!

Eternal Church 2

The aim of this devotional study is to grow in the knowledge and appreciation of the church.

Scripture

1 Corinthians 12:12-27

12  For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.  13  For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body–Jews or Greeks, slaves or free–and all were made to drink of one Spirit.  14  For the body does not consist of one member but of many.

15  If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body.  16  And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body.  17  If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell?

18  But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.  19  If all were a single member, where would the body be?  20  As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.  21  The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”

22  On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23  and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24  which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25  that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.  26  If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

27  Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.

Observations

  1. In this chapter Paul seems to have reached the most fitting metaphor for his understanding of church. What is that metaphor?
    1. How does the individual relate to the church in this metaphor?
    2. In this metaphor of church, what role does God play?
    3. What is the most useful understanding about church we gain from this metaphor? (hint: v20-21, v25) Can you give one word for this revelation? [hint: the relationship between individual persons within the local church]
  2. In writing this metaphor, does Paul have the Eternal Church or a local church in mind? Why do you say that?

Reflection and Application

  1. When you think of your local congregation and the members of your church – how do you view your relationship? And how do you view your relationship with your local church itself?
  2. In relating to the members in your church, so you relate to them as “being baptized into one body through the Holy Spirit”? (verse 13) Do you consider yourself as such? How?
    1. If you were to view yourself and the other members in your church as being baptized in one body through the Spirit – how would that affect your relationship with the church and its members?
  3. What role do you think God has arranged for you in your local church? “Where” in the body has he set you?
    1. Forget for a while the Sunday service and even Bible study meetings – what role can you play in the lives of the members in your church – how can you build up the church?

Prayer

Pray to God about your relationship with your local congregation, as well as its members; ask him to reveal his heart regarding “Christ’ body” and fill your heart with respect and love for each of its members.  Secondly, pray that God will reveal and move you towards fulfilling your function in your local church.

Eternal Church 1

The aim of this devotional study is to grow in the knowledge and appreciation of the church.

Scripture

1 Corinthians 3:6-17

6  I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.  7  So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.  8  He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor.

9  For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.

10  According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it.  11  For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

12  Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw–  13  each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.  14  If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward.  15  If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

16  Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?  17  If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

Observations

  1. Paul seems to seek a fitting metaphor to explain to the Corinthian church what the church is and what their respective roles are.
    1. What metaphors do Paul use in this section – what does Paul liken the Corinthian church to? [hint: verses 9 and 12]
    2. In these images of church, what roles do ministers like himself play?
    3. In these metaphors of church, what roles do God play?
  2. In these metaphors for church – does Paul refer to The Eternal Church or a local church? Why do you say that?
  3. Take two or three minutes and study verses 16 and 17; explain in your own words Paul’s thoughts and progression between these terms: God’s temple – God’s Spirit – vengeance for destruction – holiness – you/the church.
    1. What word or phrase can you think of that concisely summarize that argument?

Reflection and Application

  1. Why did people in Paul’s day go to a temple?  And what did visitors learn from the design and worship in that temple?  What does that imply about church as “God’s holy temple?
  2. When you think of your church – what are the first thoughts that come to mind? Explain why these come to mind.
  3. Do you see any correlation between “church as God’s holy temple” and your Sunday services or midweek small group/ Bible study group? Why / why not?
    1. What makes your gatherings “God’s holy temple” or not? (verse 16-17)
    2. Can you change the nature of your church (meetings) or will it always be “God’s holy temple”?
  4. If church (and its meetings) are “God’s holy temple” – how should you change your perception of going to church meetings? Why is that important?
  5. How can you change your experience of church meetings to resemble the fact that it is indeed “God’s holy temple”?

Prayer

Thank God for the men and women who labored to lay the foundation and build your church, and remember in prayer those who “built you” in into this church.  Then pray that the reality and life of the Holy Spirit of God will saturate your life, and the activities and relationships in your local church.  Wait on God – does the Holy Spirit put someone in your church on your heart?  Follow His leading.