Experiencing God, Week 10

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Last week, Stephen covered “Experiencing God Though Obedience”. What is it God requires of us? Simple obedience. Our obedience reveals the relationship we have with God. But James goes on to say that our obedient faith to God without actions…is dead. Faith will bring about works. Faith is not a spectator sport. Obedience leads to a change in the priority of life. It goes from us, to Him. Our focus looks past our self and sees God. As God words through us, and as we work for Him, then we learn to trust Him and trust leads to further obedience.
This week, we look at how God’s Will draws it all together to work together as the corporate body of the church.

The Church

The first point made in the study is “Church members need to know how to walk with God and how to hear Him speaking”.
One quick question - what do you think is the most limiting factor in churches today?
When a church allows God’s presence and activity to be EXPRESSED, a watching world will be drawn to Him.
Churches have a good grasp of worship, a good grasp of prayer, a good grasp of ministry, a good grasp of fellowship, but do they have a good grasp of obedience by expressing God’s Will so that others (outside the church walls) can see Him?
The book says there are five things a Christian should understand in our relationship with God and to one another.
What are those five things?
Church is a creation of Christ.
1 Corinthians 12:18 ESV
18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.
2. A church is a living body of Christ with many members.
1 Corinthians 12:27 ESV
27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
3. A church is uniquely related to Christ as Head of the body.
Ephesians 1:22 ESV
22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church,
4. Members of a church are uniquely related to every other member of the body.
1 Corinthians 12:12–14 ESV
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.
5. A church is on mission with Christ in the world to carry out the Father’s redemptive purposes.
Matthew 28:18–20 ESV
18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Being Is More Important Than Doing

Oh, this hits hard - Churches are often more interested in what God wants them to DO than in what He wants them to BE. In your thoughts, what does this mean? Does it mean a church should not DO? What three things are listed on page 201, and what biblical response did you place by each one?
1 Corinthians 12:25 ESV
25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.
1 Peter 4:10 ESV
10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:
Ecclesiastes 3:1 ESV
1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
Romans 16:17 ESV
17 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.
Do we create division by our actions?
Do we hang on to the golden calf?
Do we allow division to occur over things have no eternal significance?
God desires UNITY within the body of believers.

Knowing and Doing God’s Will As A Church

NOW, just because someone wants to do something a different way than others, does that make it wrong?
We have to be sensitive to the faith of others, and how God manifests His Will through them.
The eyes may be able to see God’s Will.
The ears may be able to hear God’s Will.
They hands may be able to feel God’s Will.
The feet may be able to walk the path of God’s Will.
We all make up one body, in which we each have different senses and functions, but as a whole are critical to the function as a whole.

Discerning God’s Will As A Body

How is it that the body can discern God’s Will?
Corporate Prayer. Listening to others. Seeking input. Seeing needs. These can be from within the church, and outside in the community.
In the book, the authors point out the Holy Spirit led the apostles as they guided the church. God led the members and leaders in mutual interdependence as they served and made decisions.
What does “mutual interdependence” mean? In the corporate world, it is when the business formulates a competitive strategy that all employees affirm and then mutually work towards the goal.
From the theological sense, when God speaks to people about the church, they should relate to the body what they sense God is saying, and the corporate body goes to God in prayer to discern His Will.

Church Decision Making

If the intent is to divide the church, then we ask how many are for or against. Sometimes the majority (and even the minority) is WRONG. Why? Because some things are led by emotion and attachment and NOT God’s Will. I really appreciated the authors approach of making decisions: “After all the information you have heard and after all you have prayed, how many of you sense God is clearly directing us to proceed in this direction as a body”.
Now, how is this different than majority vote? It doesn’t ask for the congregations opinions, but rather how they sense God’s direction for the church.
So now, how does the book say we should view those in opposition? (Page 207, 4th paragraph) Some disagreement might indicate a fellowship problem with the Lord. Come along side them, and help them discern God’s Will and return to proper fellowship with the Lord.
Sometimes we must look also understand WAITING may cause us to miss God’s timing.

Real Motivation

How do we motivate others? We can ask them to support something, OR we can ask them to ask God what HE wants.
This allows us to take the focus off our own wants and desires, and place them on God’s direction. It brings us together under one heart and one mind. We must remember, it is not the pastor, it is not the deacons, it is not the board that is the head of the church, but God.

The Body of Christ, Part 1

Let’s read Romans 12
Romans 12 ESV
1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. 3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. 9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
What does Paul recommend the body do to discern God’s Will?
Offer our bodies as?
And to not conform, but to be transformed by?
What specific things can be done to prevent problems caused by pride?
Romans 12:3 “3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.”
Romans 12:10 “10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
Romans 12:16 “16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty (high hatted, overly proud), but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.”
Which of these instructions do we (individually) need to work on?

The Holy Spirit Equips Each Member To Function In The Body

Looking back at 1 Corinthians 12, the Holy Spirit equips each member for a specific purpose which leads to ? (The Common Good - 1 Cor 12:7)
We need each other. Why? Because when we neglect one part of the body, the church will miss out on God’s blessings.

The Body of Christ, Part 2

Just because we have a passion or drive for something, does it automatically mean God has equipped us for that ministry?
Sometimes, we see a need in the church, and feel drawn to fill a void, but it does not mean God has equipped us for that ministry.
However, it does not mean that God does not work through that person to see the true need!
1 Corinthians 12:21–22 ESV
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,
Every one of us has a specific place and purpose to serve God where He puts them in the whole body so the whole body works together as it should.
Lets look at the statements on page 215, and see if we can discern what might be some concerns:
Statement A
Statement B
Statement C
Statement D
Statement E
Statement F
Statement G

Life In The Body

I want us to reflect on the statement made on Page 217-218 about the young girl at the altar.
How should we view differing opinions?
Romans 12:3 ESV
3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
Romans 14:1 ESV
1 As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.
Romans 14:12–13 ESV
12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. 13 Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.
Can we allow our opinion to be a stumbling block of a brother, sister, or the whole body? How do we overcome these stumbling blocks?
1 Corinthians 10:24 ESV
24 Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.
Ephesians 4:31–32 ESV
31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Ephesians 5:21 ESV
21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Colossians 3:13–14 ESV
13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
How do we incorporate new members into the body? In our case, the church requires a covenant be signed by the new member.
BUT, would it not be AS beneficial for the church body to sign a covenant that binds the body to the growth, mentor-ship, and spiritual development of the new member?
Now, as a believer who is associating themselves with a body of believers, does this not also show the need to join that body so that God can use you as a part of the body? The book makes this statement “When God builds a local church as the body of Christ, He adds members to the body and equips them to match the assignment He has for that body. He builds a local church body in a way that enables it to respond to His activity. Then God accomplishes His purposes through it”. God needs us all to make a commitment, not only to Him but to the body, so His will can be accomplished through the church.
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