292 The Strong Church Part Two


I continue today to conclude this Sermon Series entitled

The Strong Church. Last Sunday we began by looking at the things that empower and make the Church strong …




Today I want to look at



And hopefully God will strengthen you and your Church as you dedicate yourself afresh to the calling that is on your life.


So lets continue where we left off last week asking …

What makes a Strong Church …


What about the Prayer life of the Church?

Some might ask, Why should we Pray?   Prayer is what keeps us in contact with God our Father, our Friend and our Saviour.   Without Prayer and without feeding on the Scriptures, we will function like a car running on empty, in other words, we cannot function!

If you don’t pray you will never live a Godly life. Begin the day speaking to God, speak to him throughout the day and end the day speaking to him. God will show up in your life if you acknowledge him in all your ways, – He will direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:6)   God is a personal God, and He is an intimate Saviour and wants a living relationship with you. Keep reading the word, keep praying and he will show you how to accomplish and advance his purpose for your life. He will direct you where to go, who to avoid, what to avoid, he is the best friend you can have and you cannot loose when you walk with God. The more you can pray, talk with him, the more your faith and confidence in him will grow.   Faith will cause you to walk in success and not in failure. Without Prayer, God the Holy Spirit cannot fill and flow through your life.


Pray Privately, but Pray Publicly. This is why it is so important to be part of a Church that believes in the power of Prayer.   If your Church is a praying Church, you will never feel alone. You can call your friends in the Church and they will pray for you in times of crisis and times of need. God hears and answers prayer and has promised that were two or more of us meet and agree, God promises to meet there with us!


Years ago when my Sister pulled a large “grinding stone” down on her head, and my Father carried her into the house with blood pouring out of her ears and her mouth, my Mother called everyone she knew in the Church and asked them to Pray. God gave our family a miracle that day, and my Sister went on the be a nurse, a ward-sister and then a Health care Manager. The Queen gave her an OBE a few years ago too!   Remember today, if you remember nothing else that I say, …



What makes a Strong Church …



There is much singing and dancing in the Church today that is sadly not true worship. It appears to be about our “working up” the blessing when God is anxious to “send down” the blessing. True Worship should leave people renewed and refreshed in their Spirits and they should experience Gods presence in such a way that their commitment to service and to love, is reinforced and strengthened.   In worship we should be seeking God, not seeking to be noticed, not seeking to be better than others, but desiring Him to show us what we need, to prepare our ears to hear his word, to prepare our wills to obey and to prepare our lives for greater usefulness. While we need each other in prayer we also need each other in worship and a strong fellowship is one that recognises their dependence on one another.


Think for a moment about those who never sing Gods Praises? Think of all the garbage going around in the trashy songs that are touching the hearts of our young people and moving them to selfishness and sometimes even suicide. Depressive rubbish that kills and gives no hope, no love and no life.   God has blessed and enriched our Churches in these days with some great music, and some beautiful hymns and songs. Lets enjoy them, lets sing them, but lets live them out in the world on Monday and not just sing them in Church on Sunday.


What makes a Strong Church …



A Strong Church is a Church that Gives.   I am not just speaking now about your Tithes and Offerings or your Sacrificial giving to Special Appeals.   A Giving Church is a Church that is not inward looking, but outward going. It is important that we NEVER get behind in our gifts to the Storehouse of God, for God does not get behind with us.   What a privilege it is to be able to give. God wants to free us from Selfishness for if we are spending everything we get on ourselves then we will be miserable no matter what material good we possess.   It is only in giving that we experience true happiness.


Yes, it is lovely to receive, but it is more blessed to give than receive: Acts 20:35   Taxes and Government do not change Gods gifts and Gods good toward us. So it is vital that we don’t allow a temporary shortage to restrict our giving to him, and don’t imagine that the Kingdom of God can function with the same funding that it did 30 years ago, … You can’t, and Your Church can’t.   You should be increasing your giving year on year as God gives to you. Oh and incidentally, try giving to where it hurts you, that’s were you’ll get back the real miracle.   Remember the Widows Mite?


What makes a Strong Church …



Some people think that a Sunday Service just happens, they have no idea of the hours of planning and preparation that must go into every Service of Worship and Outreach, if God is to be present and glorified.   God does not accept the “any old thing will do“ attitude.   Every Sunday I must offer these Radio Scripts first to the Lord as my offering, saying “Lord this is the best that I can do” before I would dream of opening my microphone and going on air. We have been given an “Excellent Spirit” Daniel 5:14 …and we dare not offer God anything less than what is our most excellent efforts.

God is not honoured by half-heartedness.


The Strong Church will be Organized for everything.   Organization and Planning was evident in the early church. We read that there was “no one in need.” Somebody had to get those 3000 who were saved on the day of Pentecost – sorted!   Jesus himself organized the 5000 before he feed them. Order and not chaos should make us strong.   We have been given Spiritual goals and unless we organize ourselves to get the job done, before long we will be missing something, or neglecting something. Young and Old are important and we must not focus our attention on one group at the expense of the other.   Ministry to those within our walls is vital, and ministry to those outside is even more pressing. God did not commission us to sit in Church and sing hymns, he commissioned us to go into all of our world and preach the gospel.


There IS a time for singing hymns, but there is a time for reaching out to the hurting around us.   Gods love is never selective and we must follow his example if we are to make progress in our witness to the wider world.   We must let go of any personal prejudice against any people or class of people, against any section of the community or any minority group. God so loved the world – and we must love it too. We are not to partake of its sins, we are to hate the sin, but we are to love the sinner.   Does the welcome you offer at your Church Door extend to everyone?   Or are there some to whom you might say “you cannot come in here”? Oh and just one thing … This is the Lord’s house, we don’t throw rubbish down here.


What makes a Strong Church …



The Apostle Paul reminds us in Romans 12:6 that it is according to Gods Grace that he has given us Differing gifts which we are to exercise and utilize within the Church. Prophesy, Service, Teaching, Exhortation, Giving, Administration, Mercy… and so on. Some are given more than one of these gifts, some are given only one, but we must remember that God has given us all a gifting of some kind for the growth of the Church and the Advancement of His Kingdom. We dare not despise even the least gifted amongst us. If we despise any gift, God may take it from us, remove that gifted person from our Congregation and gift them to another!   It is a simple and sad fact of Church life, and I have seen it all of my life, that many of the great and talented people God put amongst us have been ignored or side-lined and the church has been left the poorer, impoverished because of selfish ambition or jealousy in the leadership. Lord have mercy.


But you may be asking, How do these gifts work?

Let me explain. Imagine you are throwing a Dinner Party to which you have invited several of your best friends. During dinner you accidentally knock over a glass, breaking the glass and spilling out its contents all over the table.   A Merciful person will immediately respond with something like “Oh dear… how disappointing, … how embarrassing, don’t

worry it could happen to any of us.”


The Person gifted in Service will already have the mop and bucket in hand before you can turn around…. saying “I’ll clean it up, sit down and relax.   The Giving, will offer to get you another glass… while the Teacher amongst you will warn of the dangers of broken Glass and bleeding fingers … and so on, so you see that all the gifts are useful and all gifts are helpful to

the whole group. it’s the same in the Church, we dare not ignore ANY of the gifts God has placed amongst us in our Churches.   When you operate out of your gifts you are not only at your most efficient but you will be most happy. God has given us different people who can do the different things we need. Not all are preachers, nor singers, nor organizers, but all are useful. Oh and don’t try to be like someone else, God calls you to be YOU!   … and He wants you to be only like Jesus!


What makes a Strong Church …



Lets be honest, sometimes in our Churches, we are far from United! Sometimes we can get out of sorts with each other. Lack of forgivingness, division, congregational splits, divided loyalties and much more, all make room for the Devil to create problems and destroy our corporate testimony.   It is always Destructive when something comes along to divide us. What has divided most Churches in the past 20 years has been MUSIC.   Many Congregations have driven away those who grew up with the traditional type of Hymn Singing and have brought in the more contemporary, modern praise.   But you may bring in the contemporary without driving out the traditional. What’s wrong with using both?


Speaking for myself I look for the Theology in the Hymn   – and if you are a regular listener to The Sanctuary, you will know that I cannot survive without the Great Hymns of the Past – Hymns like How Great Thou Art, and Amazing Grace, the Old Rugged Cross and Jesus Loves me. No modern day constructions can match those in my opinion, but I am not going to fight over hymns!   Sing the new, by all means, but don’t throw out the old.   I do enjoy the new, but I must confess, not as heartily as I sing and enjoy the old.


It is a sad thing to see the Church, any Church die….closed up locked up and turned into a furniture store, or a pound shop.   Because we are the body of Christ we should be at one, loving each other, helping each other and under-girding each other. The early Church stuck together and …“So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed“. Acts 19:20.   I believe the day is upon us when it wont matter what name is above your door, as long as you are preaching Jesus and His Cross, then we should be standing with you to win the lost world.


What makes a Strong Church …



The First epistle of John , Chapter 4, verses 7&8 read “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love“.   Loving one another in the Church is not an Option, it is Obligatory!   We must love and we must walk in love.   Loving one another at home is not an option either? God cannot hear you if you are one man at home and different man in Church, you are phoney, and Jesus cursed the fig tree for being a phoney!   Male or Female – God calls us all to walk in Love!


Should I suddenly discover that someone doesn’t Love me, then I need to ask God what He has in mind.   This lack of love is an opportunity for me to show love. Jesus said we are to “Love our enemies” Matthew 5:44 – so even if you don’t love me, I am commanded to love you nevertheless. I may not like you, but I must Love you!   Loveless-ness often stems from Unforgiving-ness.   And many believe both before God and their neighbour that they do truly forgive and forget, the acid test for this is very simple.


You say you have been hurt, you have been offended, you have been betrayed, you have been misrepresented, you have been lied about, you have been ignored, … and you tell me that you have forgiven. That’s Good, and that’s how it should be.

Let me ask you a question, – Have you told anyone, anyone about it recently? If you have – you have not forgiven. Forgiveness means forgetting but if you keep talking about it you have neither forgiven nor forgotten. Its that simple.

How do I know? God says it… “their sins and iniquities

will I remember no more“. Hebrews 10:17

That’s Forgiveness and that’s what walking in Love is all about.


What makes a Strong Church …



This means the Going of some and the Giving of Others. To those who have a heart for the lost and a compassion for the needy – God will give them opportunity to GO or opportunity to GIVE.   If the New Testament Church had had no vision, then you and I would not be Christian today. It was their vision that moved them to send Paul and his associates on their Missionary Journeys.   It is still that God given VISION that moves and motivates Gods people to Evangelise.   My Bible tells me that “Where there is NO vision, the people perish” Proverbs 29:18   We must capture the Loving Heart of God for the Lost around us.   Only that will motivate us, only that will move us and only that will make us a Strong Church. If you have no vision for the Lost World, then ask God to give you a vision of the Real Hell, and that should move you!


Finally, What makes a Strong Church …


Jesus said “Occupy ‘till I come” Luke 19:13.   I like this word occupy, it’s a very graphic word in the Greek – it means to busy oneself.   To be busy doing, and going and saying and working and living and praying and crying and pleading and preaching and staying and weeping and helping and lending and giving and … need I say more? I just want to ask you…



If everyone else in your Church were doing what you are doing, nothing more and nothing less, how strong would your Church be?   If everyone was giving exactly was you are giving in the offering, how rich would your Church be? If everyone was praying as much as you pray, how refreshed and revived would your Church be? Or if everyone was burning as brightly for Jesus as you are burning, how “on fire” would your Church be?


You see, its not about me, its about you and me, doing what we are called and gifted to do, both watching and waiting for the King and the Kingdom – and that’s what makes a

Strong Church!


God Bless you, Amen.