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10. Something to Offer:

 

Serving in the Church

Acts 2:42-47 '[The believers] devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people.'

The joy of togethernessTogetherness

These verses describe the love and commitment in the early church. Today, we want to recapture the quality of fellowship enjoyed by those early Christians.

You have a part to play here. Your attitude will determine whether you become a source of encouragement to the church, as the Lord desires-or a drain on it. Let's look at some aspects of your life that matter in this respect.

Private life

Your private life affects your church life. If someone claims to be a Christian yet acts in an unchristian way, their non-Christian contacts will soon learn to despise both the Lord and the church. That's why in your personal life God wants you to 'avoid every kind of evil' (1 Thessalonians 5:22).

If you're married he wants you to live in harmony with your partner and get on well with your children. Also, you're to be a good worker, whether in education, in a job or running a home (Colossians 3:18-22). The Lord also wants you to be honest in financial matters and respectful to the authorities (Romans 13:7).

None of us is perfect in these matters, but at least we can aim in the right direction with the Lord's help—which he promises (Philippians 2:13).

Jesus is the cornerstone of the templePersonal devotions

Ephesians 2:20-22 '...with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit'.

Jesus is the cornerstone that binds together the other stones—that's us—into one building. If we, as individual stones, lose our grip on him, the whole church is weakened. So keep close to Jesus.

If you meet him regularly in private, feeding on his Word and engaging in prayer, then your times with other believers won't degenerate into idle talk and criticism. Instead, they'll be moments for the unleashing of spiritual power and blessing.How Christians must sort out disputes

Unswerving loyalty

Philippians 2:4 'Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.'

The Lord expects us to be loyal to our fellow-believers. We are not to 'slander one another' (James 4:11). Determine that you won't gossip about a fellow-member or relate any matter of specifically church concern to an outsider (1 Corinthians 12:24-27).

If you have a grievance with a fellow-Christian, Matthew 5:23-24 and Matthew 18:15-17 explain how to deal with it. Trust no other way. Once division, rivalry or gossip begin, the church is liable to become a laughing-stock to the world and a source of grief to the Lord.

Being together

When Jesus appointed the Twelve, he chose them first of all to 'be with him' (Mark 3:14-15). Being together remains the basic ingredient of fellowship. God doesn't want you to come to a meeting, sit through it and return home without having had any real communication with your fellow-Christians (Hebrews 10:24-25).

Group activities make fellowship easier, but seek the company of Christian friends outside of meeting Doing things togethertimes-just to get to know each other more deeply. Remember, church is not where we go, it's what we are!

Acts 2:44 'All the believers were together.'

Your friendliness will break down the differences of social background, personality, upbringing, colour, education and so on.

Using your home

As far as circumstances allow, open your home to other Christians, especially to those whose own homes offer no Christian warmth and comfort, such as students in lodgings and young people with non-Christian parents. It's a privilege to use your home to provide a meal, a bed, a room or even just an hour'sCoffee time relaxation for a fellow-believer:

1 Peter 4:9 'Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.'

Don't be too concerned about having the house spotlessly tidy, or feel that every meal you offer has to be of cordon bleu standard. The essence of hospitality is your welcome and your willingness to share what you have, be it much or little.

Serving the body

a. Practical service

Like every Christian, you have some ability you can use to 'serve one another in love' (Galatians 5:13). Here are a few ideas—there are many more:

 

 

Learn
by heart

Luke 6:38  'Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured to you.'

Heart

BwG10: Serving In Church
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'It is more blessed to give than to receive,' said Jesus (Acts 20:35). As you contribute your time, effort and skill, you'll be greatly blessed, as well as being a blessing to others.

Jigsaw: every piece vital to the wholeAnd remember, the aged Christian praying at home and the girl babysitting to let a busy mother get to a meeting are both as important to the church as the person who preaches.

b. Spiritual service

1 Corinthians 12:7 'To each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.'

1 Corinthians 14:26 'When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.'

Contributions to the meetingCome ready to participate—especially in small-group meetings, where contribution is less daunting. The Lord doesn't want you sitting back and becoming a spectator. Be open for him to prompt you to bring a prayer, a tongue or interpretation, a testimony, an exhortation, a Bible passage that has been a blessing to you, a prophecy, a vision, a song-or whatever.

As the Holy Spirit leads, he'll draw contributions from this person, then from that one, in such a way that everyone is uplifted and blessed. If you're the shy, quiet kind, the Lord will help you to overcome your reticence. When that happens, your contribution will be a particular blessing.

c. Financial responsibility

Giving extends to money. According to The New Testament, money is important in the kingdom of God—though greed is condemned (1 Timothy 6:10). Your giving should be:

2 Corinthians 8:3 'They gave as much as they were able, [NASB 'according to their ability'] and even beyond their ability.'

2 Corinthians 9:7 'Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.'

1 Corinthians 16:2 'On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income.'

A baseline for giving

Some Christians believe we should give a 'tithe', a word meaning 'tenth', that is, one tenth of our income. In the Old Testament, Israelites gave a tithe for the support of their religious leaders, the Levites, and some hold that Christians should give a tithe to support Christian ministers today.

But the fact is that tithing is not taught in the New Testament, and our present economic system is vastly different from the agricultural economy of ancient Israel.

If we insisted on tithing today, the less well off could end up crippled, while those on high salaries would have it easy—they should probably be giving a good deal more than a tenth. Strictly speaking, God has a right to all we possess! But since it's helpful to have some pointers to distinguish what, out of that 'all', we give specifically to the Lord, tithing can be a helpful baseline—as long as it does not become a legalistic practice.

How church money is spentThose who do tithe need not stop at that. Giving over and above that level is traditionally classified as 'offerings'. Some of these may be given on a regular basis, while others may be only occasional, to meet special needs as they arise.

This church, like most others, needs finance for the support of full-time ministers in the church, gifts to Christian workers overseas and visiting speakers and helping the needy in the church. In addition, we need to spend money on evangelism, maintenance of church premises, gas and electricity, printing, stationery and postage—and much more.

The church's accounts are kept with scrupulous accuracy. They are open to inspection and are audited by an accountant.

Jesus said:

Matthew 6:21 'Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.'

In other words, when we give financially to the church—and thus to the Lord—we strengthen our commitment both to the church and to him.

Be a giver—of yourself, your time, your gifts, your skills, your insights and your finance—and experience the blessing of God, who 'so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son' (John 3:16).

 

Home decorating

Creche work

Tape-recording

Baby-sitting

Flower-arranging

Letter-writing

Coffee-serving

Transport

Bulletin

Accountancy

Stewarding

Car repairs

Gardening

Visiting

Word processing

Housing advice

Music

Electrical work

Catering

Labouring

Singing

Children & teens

Banking

Administration

Service: Jesus washes the disciples' feet
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