A garland of grace and a crown of beauty. Proverbs 4:9
Spiritual Renewal starts with physical honor.
Yesterday was Hinley’s Anniversary of being dedicated to the Lord. I love this picture so much! We were in a different church then, but God was still very present! A church is not a religion, it is a place of His Glory (presence, power, and goodness). Since that day, we got to witness our daughter choose to get baptized in the local church God called us to not long after this precious picture was taken.
I see and hear many people- christians- who want to see the church—the building—fall and waste away to nothing. “Church is not essential” “Jesus came to destroy the church building” “Church doesn’t do anything for me or anybody” “We don’t need church” “God never focused on the church building.”
My heart literally aches over hearing the Church—people— say these things. I cant even begin to fathom how much it grieves God. Jesus for that matter…. He spent his 33 years of life building the Church—people and buildings. He gave His life for building His new church and that includes physical temples/ buildings to hold His church to come together as 1 local body for specific purposes.
“No he didn’t?” Yes, friend, He did. Scripture from the oldest, Genesis, to the newest, Revelation.
“Jesus came to tear the curtain of the church, Sara, He despised Pharisees and religion”. Yes and no. Jesus tore the curtain of sin that seperated man from God. That curtain was in a church full of churchy people-pharisees. Jesus loved everybody and that included the pharisees, He died for them to have a transformed heart and in the mean time Jesus brought correction and revelation for the pre-existing church that was infected with wrong living. The church had become just a building instead of an honored place for relationship with the Father. Jesus built a new church that could house jews and gentiles—christians!
Are there churches that resemble the old church with the same spirit their pharisees taught from- yes. Its horrible. But that doesnt mean local churches as a whole is hopeless and useless?? The church is THE POWER in this world to flood darkness with light. To cultivate a kingdom of Heaven on earth.
So why on earth do we think that everything else in the world that God created gets a physical place of honor except for His church? Do we say “forget church, too many people screwed it up?” So did you say the same thing for the bank? Thats essential.. what about the grocery store or the department store? What about your place of business? Your schools? Better yet…. what about your home?
I know this is coming off “ouch”, but guys we need a good “love slap out of it”! Whose own home is perfect?? Whose own home has zero strife, zero judgement, zero anger, zero issues where we as people have messed up? Nobody’s! So then are we going to say that a houses aren’t essential for our families? No!
Jesus was hosting church one day where whole families could come and worship and learn God’s word together. Jesus said, “let the children come to me. Do not stop them!” And He placed his hands on their heads and blessed them in Matthew 19.
Can we look at just teeny , tiny amount of scripture for a few minutes? When Jesus was a boy and traveled with his parents to Jerusalem, he was found 3 days later in The Temple. Jesus said, “..didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
And then later Jesus told Peter, “Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means rock) and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it” in Matthew 16. Peter was the first member of the church Jesus would build. Granted, that doesn’t mean only a building, but a designated place for anyone to come and find the transforming presence of God.
Then after Peter (the chosen first member of God’s church) denied Christ and Christ rose from the dead, Jesus found him and gave assignments to Peter for His Church: “feed my lambs…take care of my sheep”. Peter and the disciples did just that. So did Paul and other assigned believers. How? Did they go into churches saying, leave the church. This is not essential to God at all. Go home and worship God by yourself? No!
We see from Acts to Revelation that through The Church -people and designated places for congregations- were created for great purposes! Scriptures give us references of how when the church came together in a place there was greater power available! Acts 12:5 while Peter was in prison, the church prayed very earnestly for him…God broke Peter out of prison.
God instructed Paul and the other apostles to help the churches God was building to get on track to be The Churches positioned across the world. God gave instructions for how His new churches could flourish across the earth and explaining that “the church is one body with many parts each positioned for God’s use” and how “Jesus is the head of the church body, and the church is made full and complete”. God warned us not to say “I dont need you” to the different parts of the body.
“All of you together are Christ’s body and each of you is a part of it. Here are SOME of the parts God has appointed for the church, apostles, prophets, teachers… one who prophesies, strengthens, encourages, and comforts THAT ENTIRE CHURCH. “Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. Their responsibility is to EQUIP God’s people to do His work and BUILD up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We wont be tossed and blown about every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of His body the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.”
From God’s word we know that every believer is called to be actively involved in their local church’s growth. So if there is no local church, how are people strengthened, encouraged, grounded, healthy, and remaining in love? Alot of us think we walk in love, but we need to go back and read what love is and what love is not and allow ourselves to be refined by the Word of the church in 1 Corinthians.
Yes, we each have a ministry as an individual church outside of the 4 walls of a building, but we have a ministry together as a church inside of a designated building! I can be the hands of God by myself in great ways- sure, but i can join the hands of God in a congregation and accomplish FAR MORE than I could ever dream to do alone unlike many other countries. Together, from a local church we get to bring the kingdom of Heaven out onto the streets He leads us to and we get to serve the families God joined us to in the local church as our own families are served and flourishing here too.
God gave instructions for a healthy church —people and a building/ temple to house and honor His Spirit, to flourish His people. Jesus formed His first church—people and physical places. A church is a place of worship and fellowship with believers, but in God’s word He says “ I will give you pastors after my own heart to lead who will guide you with knowledge and understanding…my wayward children come back to me and I will heal your wayward hearts”. -Jeremiah 3
In Malachi 2 &3, God said “the words of a priest’s lips should preserve knowledge of God and people should go to him for instruction, for the priest is the messenger of the Lord of Heaven’s armies”. The priests became cultured instead of culturing the world fo God’s word… but God prophesied “Look, I am sending my messenger (THE HIGH PRIEST FOREVER—Jesus Christ).. the Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to His Temple…He will purify the church so that they may once again offer acceptable sacrifices to the Lord.”
God said “the people are saying, the time has not come to rebuild the house of the Lord..why are my people living in luxurious houses while MY HOUSE lies in ruins? Look a what is happening to you. You have planted much but harvest little…Look at whats happening to you. Now go up to the hills bring down timber and REBUILD MY HOUSE…My house lies in ruins while all of you are busy buikdong your own.. I will fill this place (His temple- physical/place and spiritual/ people) with glory. The future glory of This Temple will be greater than it’s past glory. In This Place, I will bring peace, for I the Lord of Heaven’s armies has spoken.”
In Zechariah, God says “ Be strong and finish the task! Ever since the laying of the foundation of the Temple of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies you have heard what the prophets have been saying about completing the building… Now I am planting seeds of peace and prosperity among you. The grapevines will be heavy with fruit…I will make you a SYMBOL and a SOURCE of blessing. So don’t be afraid. Be strong, and get on with rebuilding The Temple!”
So why in the world do we buy the righteous anger of “church is not essential!” To me, that says “it’s not essential to YOU” because YOU have allowed yourself to be hurt by the people in the church- whether it was a disagreement over what you thought God meant in His word or you may have been in a church that was more like a social club rather than a house of God. I get it and those situations are hard, but church is essential!
It’s essential to me. It’s essential to Jesus. It’s essential to God. It’s essential for the Holy Spirit. It’s essential for my community! Where else will we have a place to come together to 1)pray with one heart, one mind, one voice in unity over God’s word… 2) a place where there should be accountability to bring what God said in His word over any other word/ idea that exalts itself over His 3) a place where I can breathe away from the stress of home and work and receive the needed On Time Word for me specifically which is “food” for me to grow healthy and stay on the path.
Church is not a social visit, but in this place of His Spirit I am blessed with fellowship that I can’t get anywhere else. Its not a 2 hour minute pow wow where I feel so included, but it is a smile, a simple acknowledgement, and most importantly its a deeper love that honestly isnt usually “outwardly spoken with words per say, but a sense in my spirit”. Often times I sit alone or with my husband when he gets to be there because I am there for His word above anything else, but He gives me more than what I come for.
One scripture that God repeatedly speaks to me is “And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God (can be the altar of heart but also is a physical altar of honor in a building) with sincere hearts fully trusting him…Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to encourage one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. Just think how much worse the punishment will be for those who have trampled on the Son of God (Includes His church- house and heart) and have treated the blood of the covenant, which made us holy, as if it were common and unholy, and have insulted and disdained (considered unworthy of one’s consideration) the Holy Spirit who brings God’s mercy to us.” -Hebrews 10
All this to say, God loves His church, whether it’s people who worship from home or those who come together in a public place for even greater assignments! Church is essential and we cannot afford to tear down something that God sent Paul and the other apostles out into the world to build in the foundation if Christ himself. Guard your hearts and read the word with open ears to hear the loving correction and conviction to not be used as a tool to destroy what God is using in the earth. Be the church that is the church 24/7 in every area of your life’s ministry.
All my love, Sara