About Jannine@Koza

I'm a military spouse living in Okinawa, Japan, and besides the many different things that I do here, one of the highlights of my week is attending Koza Baptist Church and hearing the teaching of God's Word. At last weekend's service (Sunday June 9th, 2013), as I was busy scribbling notes from the sermon onto a scrap piece of paper, an idea began to take root in my mind, an idea which ultimately evolved into the creation of this blog. It occurred to me as I was listening to Pastor Reimer, that I often process the relevance of his messages by corresponding them with events that I have personally or indirectly experienced. The idea, that my experiences might help someone new to Christianity glean a better understanding of the scriptures, is what compelled me to start this blog. I hope that my interpretation of the biblical scriptures and sermons that I hear and read each week, as I apply them to everyday life, will help new Christians (and those who are still searching), to draw nearer to God.

Refusing to Let the Enemy Steal Your Future

Be Free” by Christine Caine – based on Exodus 8:1-15 (Women of Faith Conference 2013)

  • Exodus 8:1-15 The Plague of FrogsThen Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and begged, “Plead with the Lord to take the frogs away from me and my people. I will let your people go, so they can offer sacrifices to the Lord.”“You set the time!” Moses replied. “Tell me when you want me to pray for you, your officials, and your people. Then you and your houses will be rid of the frogs. They will remain only in the Nile River.”10 “Do it tomorrow,” Pharaoh said. 

In the days immediately before Pharaoh released the Israelites from slavery, the land of Egypt was struck with a series of plagues, including the infestation of thousands of frogs. Desperate to be rid of them, Pharaoh pleaded with Moses to call upon his God and ask for the frogs to be removed. When Moses agreed, he basically said to Pharaoh, “Say when, and it will be done.” Pharaoh’s response however, was quite mind-boggling; he said, “Do it tomorrow!” Why in the world did he hesitate to say, “NOW! Take the frogs away NOW!”

At the 2013 Women of Faith conference, Christine discussed the above verbal exchange that took place between Moses and Pharaoh, and she presented the audience with a question of her own. She asked them to consider what “frogs” were living in, on, and around them, that they had simply learned to live with. Why is it, she asked, do so many Christians sit in church week after week, read book after book, listen to sermon after sermon, and feel inspired to change yet continue to say, “I’ll apply that principle tomorrow.” 

I absolutely love Christine Caine’s testimony; it sends a powerful message of hope to any man or woman who has failed to get out from under the crushing hold of past and painful experiences. Christine, now in her late 40s, could easily have succumbed to the horrible facts of her past, allowing them to define who she is as a person, but instead, she gave that privilege to God and let His truths influence her thoughts about who she really is. As a result, she now lives a life completely free of self-destructive behaviors; this is her story:

From the age of three, right through her childhood and into her teen years, Christine was the victim of sexual abuse. Molested regularly, by someone who should have been her protector, Christine was forced to enter her adult years as a woman whose body had been repeatedly used and abused. Most women who have been victims of childhood sexual abuse have difficulty settling into non-dysfunctional lives. We all live with some level of dysfunction, but for women like Christine, who have endured years of sexual abuse, the level of dysfunction is typically much higher.

Christine could have – and should have – been a messed-up woman. She was not only an ongoing victim of sexual abuse, but also an unwanted child. As a young adult she discovered that her mother was not her biological mother. Her real mother, according to a document which was released in 1990 when the Australian Adoption Information Act was changed, did not want her. Written in the report were the words, “She [Christine’s mother] does not seem to be too emotionally involved with the child. She seems to want to get it all over with and get back to work as soon as possible.” Such cutting words, yet not nearly as painful as those on Christine’s birth certificate. Where Christine should have seen her name in print, she saw instead, “Unnamed,” and below that, “# 2508 of 1966.” As Christine explained, seeing herself described as a number was incredibly dehumanizing.

It’s no wonder that Christine often heard the enemy taunting her in her mind, mocking her with cruel insults such as, “Of course you were abused for twelve years Christine; you weren’t even a name, you were just a number!” That mental tape recorder could have traumatized her for life, but praise God, she learned long ago how to push the “stop” button.

What the enemy did not bank on, was another set of words that Christine discovered and which she chose instead to believe. The facts about her life, as recorded on her Birth Certificate and the Social Services report, were indeed truthful facts, but Christine learned some other truths about herself that gave her hope and a renewed sense of self-worth. Those truths were found in the written Word of God, the Bible:

  • Isaiah 49:1 Before I was born the Lord called me; from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name  – (Christine’s birth certificate says she was unnamed, but God’s Word says otherwise).
  • Psalm 139:13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb –  (the Social Services report says that Christine was unwanted, but God’s Word says that she was known and wanted even before she was born).
  • 2 Corinthians 3:5 It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own. Our qualification comes from God –  (An additional report, from a prestigious Australian College, said that Christine was unqualified to work in the area of youth services, but God’s Word says that He qualifies those whom He calls).
  • John 8:32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. 

Christine allowed the truth of God’s words to transform her heart and mind; she trusted that if she built her life on His words and not on the words of others, then she would be set free from the afflictions of her past. She could have given in to defeat and let the enemy destroy her soul, but she decided to take back from him what he stole. The devil took twelve of her childhood years from her, and she was damned if she was going to let him take any more.

Today, Christine travels the world teaching and preaching the Word of God, while also raising two daughters, authoring books, and overseeing the A21 Campaign, an anti-human trafficking organization that fights slavery. None of this would have been possible, she insists, if she had given residence to the facts of her past and allowed them to crush her hopes for a brighter future. Her message to other women stuck in their past, is to choose today, to deal with yesterday, so they can stop saying “Tomorrow.”

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The Purpose Of Suffering

Sermon Titled “The Individual’s Suffering And The Salvation Of The World” (Psalm 22), by Guest Speaker Dr. Michael Oh – Sunday 10th May, 2015

Psalm 22, written by King David, consists of 31 verses; the first 21 verses indicate that they were written at a time when David was greatly distressed and unsure of God’s presence, while in contrast the remaining 10 verses sing nothing but praises to God. Despite the disparity however, there is one thing that this psalm teaches us, and that is the premise that God has been, is, and will be faithful in our times of suffering.

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Looking first at verses 1-21, we learn of David’s deep despair as he cries out to God in vain. He’s surrounded on all sides by enemies, yet God does not seem to answer or come near to him in his time of need. David is devastated; he doesn’t understand why his almighty God, the God who rescued the Israelites from the hands of their enemies, would not do the same for him. He cries out in verses and 2:

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
    Why are you so far from saving me,
    so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
    by night, but I find no rest.

The psalm continues with more words of anguish and defeat, until verse 22, when David’s words take on a whole new tone. It almost appears as if the text is out of place, or that some crucial turn-around event occurred that David never recorded. From this point on, David’s words praise and lift up the name of the Lord, and he exhorts all other believers to do so too:

22 I will declare your name to my people;
    in the assembly I will praise you.
23 You who fear the Lord, praise him!
    All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
    Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or scorned
    the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
    but has listened to his cry for help.

We aren’t told what exactly caused David’s change of heart, besides his recollection of God’s previous faithfulness, but we know enough to surmise a few things about God’s perspective on suffering:

1. God is in control – suffering is part of His good design

There is a temptation to think that God is not good, that He must be cold and heartless to allow pain and suffering. But suffering is designed for both believers and non-believers alike:

  • Suffering equips believers with the kinds of character traits that make them useful and effective servants of God; suffering produces perseverance, greater hope, and compassion for others.
  • Suffering leads non-believers to Christ; just as physical pain causes a person to seek medicinal healing, emotional pain should hopefully cause a person to seek spiritual healing – in the form of Jesus Christ.

2. Not all suffering is the same

  • There is suffering that occurs as a consequence of sin, and even though God still loves us when we fail to obey Him, the majority of our suffering should hopefully not be due to a continuous pattern of sin.
  • There is another type of suffering that can be referred to as “common suffering,” and it’s a type of suffering that’s outside of our control. It includes such happenings as health and financial problems, natural disasters, poverty and starvation, family separations, and loss of loved ones.
  • Christ-suffering is perhaps the most painful type of suffering; it involves suffering that comes from being persecuted for choosing to follow and obey Christ. We’ve all seen news reports, recent ones even, of Christians who have been pursued and massacred because of their faith.

3. As God is trusted in the midst of suffering, blessings begin to flow

  • Reaching a level of despair so low that we feel alone and without help, is actually a place of blessing. It’s in the valley that God comes to rescue us, and once we realize His presence and His deep love for us, it’s then that we learn how blessed we are.
  • A second blessing of suffering, is that we gain a better understanding of the suffering that Christ had to endure, and more importantly, why He had to suffer. 1 Peter 2:21 says, “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.”

Looking back to verse 1 above, where David cried out to God, we’re reminded of Christ’s excruciating experience on the cross, and the words that He too echoed as He hung there in pain. God did not just allow suffering, He ordained it. And the greatest reason of all, was that Jesus would bear our sins in His body on the cross.

  • “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” John 3:16

God’s plan for us, is that we not run away from suffering, but run towards Christ (purposefully experiencing the pain and joy of denying self), knowing that the consequence will be a life that inevitably includes periods of affliction. But in the end, it will all be worth it because a life spent in the footsteps of Christ, is a life spent with purpose and intent.

As we humbly serve, worshipping and proclaiming the name of our Lord (even in the midst of suffering), let it be our goal to introduce Him to others who have yet to meet Him, and let us rejoice as we witness our God become their God too.

Christianity – A Lifetime of Endurance and Discipline

Sermon Titled “The Race Before Us” (Hebrews 12:1-2), by guest speaker Pastor Ron Beams – Sunday 3rd May, 2015

  • Hebrews 12:1-2 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

To help his readers grasp the meaning of his message, the author of Hebrews used a sports metaphor to draw a parallel between the life of a Christian and the life of a devoted athlete. Since Paul spent a lot of his time on the Corinthian Isthmus, where the Isthmian Games were held, many believe that it was he who wrote the Epistle to the Hebrews. It doesn’t really matter though who wrote the Epistle, as long as we grasp the idea that God wants us to run the race of Christian life just as an athlete prepares to race towards victory.

In the days of the early Olympic Games, athletes had to sign an oath that bound them to a ten month commitment of complete devotion to their sport. In signing the oath, they were agreeing to train as hard as they could every single day, and to abstain from alcohol and substances that would impair their ability to perform. Their sights were fixed on winning the victor’s prize, and that meant disciplining themselves to say no to anything that threatened to distract them from achieving that goal. That kind of dedication is what Christ asks of us; He wants us to focus our sights on Him and live our lives in such a way that we do the best we can at whatever tasks God gives us.

We must either give our all, or give nothing at all; that’s the key point. A famous quote by C.S. Lewis is this:

  • “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance, the only thing it cannot be is moderately important.”

The only way we can give our all, is by realizing that the race of Christian life is not a sprint, but a race of endurance. And the only way to endure the pain and hardships along the way, or avoid deviating off track, is to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. He already blazed a trail ahead of us, clearing the way for us and leaving behind His footsteps for us to follow. Knowing that He is ahead of us and waiting for us, makes it possible to overcome the challenges and difficulties we’ll inevitably face as we run towards Him.

Our race is a race towards Jesus, a race to become like Jesus, and a race in which we are committed to carrying His word into the world. Where we live, work, or move to, should not cause us to lose our sense of commitment or goal objectives. Neither should our circumstances cause us to lose hope and faith. Remembering that Jesus endured the cross because He knew the victory that was to come, should spur us on towards the imperishable victory that only awaits those of us committed to following Him.

During Paul’s final days on earth, he wrote a second letter to Timothy declaring the following:

  • “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” 2 Tim. 4:7-8

Let’s live our lives with the intention of one day echoing these same words!

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From Lost To Found

Sermon Titled “The Greatest Of All Tragedies” (Luke 15:4-24) – by guest speaker Pastor Ron Beams – Sunday 26th April, 2015

As followers of Christ, we are called to live a life worthy of His name – a life of truth, love, and grace, that’s marked by our words and actions. Together, we are His church, and hopefully a light to the rest of the world.

This week’s post may seem a little grim at first, but if you’ll read all the way through you’ll see that even though there are some harsh realities concerning end-time revelations, it is not God’s desire to see any perish.

Based on Luke 15:4-24, last weekend’s sermon touched on the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son. As you can see, the common theme among all three of these parables is that something or someone is lost, and it’s on that note that Pastor Beams delivered his sermon.

1. What does being “lost” mean to Christ?

First of all, the word “lost” typically equates to some sort of tragedy. When we hear news reports for example, of a missing plane, or child, or of hundreds of lost men, women and children, as in the aftermath of a natural disaster, our hearts immediately skip a beat as we fear for their safety. These types of situations elicit strong emotional feelings, especially in those who are directly affected, and yet none of these are as tragic as that of a lost soul.

The Bible tells us that there is great rejoicing in Heaven every time a sinner repents. In Mark 8:36, Christ was preaching to a large crowd, including His disciples, when He said, “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” Christ wanted them, and us, to know that nothing in this world is worth pursuing if it does not include Him. Anything that causes us to live apart from Him will result in eternal separation, and that grieves Christ so much so that He rejoices over the salvation of every single repentant sinner.

2. Who, exactly, is “lost?”

The Bible says quite clearly that there is no condemnation for those who believe. It also says with equal clarity that anyone who does not believe, stands condemned (John 3:18). To think that we will all receive a free pass into Heaven, simply because God created us and we are therefore saved by default, is demonstrating a grave lack of biblical knowledge. It’s true that God created us, but the original sin in the Garden of Eden compromised our relationship with Him. There is only one possible way to be reconciled with God – that is, no longer lost – and that is through His son Jesus Christ (John 14:6).

3. What does it mean to be “lost?”

There’s no point in trying to soften the blow here; Christ says in John 8:42-47 that unbelievers (those who are lost) belong to Satan, the devil. Paul preached that the lost are easily led astray, because without God’s Spirit to direct their thoughts and actions, Satan gains easy access and power to manipulate and deceive (Eph. 2:2). A day is coming however, when God’s righteousness will eventually be revealed, and on that day His wrath will be unleashed upon all those with unrepentant hearts (Romans 2:5).

4. How does God feel about the “lost?”

Some would say that God is a harsh and angry God. But I think it’s fair to also say that among those who think this way are many who have never read God’s Word or taken the time to really know Him. One just needs to look at Jesus (through the eyes of scriptural truths), to see the heart of God. And God’s heart, as you will see, is one full of compassion and mercy. God does not hate sinners, nor does He harbor anger towards them; on the contrary He hates sin, and His anger is towards Satan, because He knows that Satan’s sole purpose is to destroy lives.

5. How do people get “lost?”

The parables that Jesus told in Luke 15:4-24 help us to answer this question:

  • First, there is the lost sheep – it’s not unusual for a sheep to get distracted and wander off from it’s flock; it doesn’t do it intentionally but the lure of something that captures it’s attention causes it to stray. People are also prone to getting unintentionally lost; the distractions of day-to-day life keep them from making a conscious decision to seek God.
  • Second, there is the lost coin – in the parable of the lost coin, a woman owns a valuable collection of ten silver coins, one of which she loses. Maybe it slipped through her fingers without her realizing it, and before she knew it, it was missing. People can get lost in this way too; a child for example, might slip through the hands of her parents because family values were focused more on non-spiritual matters. Others might be lost because they slipped through the hands of a Christian friend or neighbor who didn’t have time for them. It’s up to those of us who are already saved, to be alert and not miss opportunities to share the gospel.
  • Finally, there is the lost son – the lost son represents all those who are lost by choice. There are lost sons and daughters everywhere, men and women who are unwilling to follow Christ because they are resistant to authority and motivated by temporal rather than eternal rewards. Repentance is not an option for them, until they realize that where they are going fails to spiritually and emotionally sustain them.

6. After all this, is there any good news? How does a person get “un”lost?

Yes! The good news is that repentance and salvation is available for all. Note however that the lost cannot save themselves. The lost sheep for example, could only bleat and cry out to it’s shepherd, hopeful that the shepherd would hear him and rush to his rescue. That’s how it is for the lost too. Christ is out there, always searching, and always ready to rush to the cries of those calling out to Him. He will hear you when you call, and when He comes to you He will carry you to God the Father – if you will let Him.

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Secret Disciples

Sermon Titled “A Secret Disciple” by Guest Speaker Ron Beams (John 19:38-42) – Sunday 18th April, 2015

  • John 19:38-42 38 Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. 39 He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds.[e] 40 Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. 41 At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. 42 Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

In the above passage of scripture, we’re introduced to Joseph of Arimathea. From the few times that he is mentioned in the Bible, we know at least three things about him: 1) he was a wealthy man (Matt.27:57), 2) he was an honorable counselor, as in, he was a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin (Mark 15:43), and 3) he was a “secret” disciple of Christ (John 19:38).

John 19:38 says that Joseph kept his faith a secret because he was afraid of the Jewish leaders. It’s not certain why exactly he feared them, but we can assume that a public association or allegiance to Christ would have resulted in some type of disassociation with the Jewish leaders, and possibly even persecution. So rather than risk falling out of favor with those whom he had previously held in high regard (and possibly still did), Joseph secretly followed and worshipped Christ.

On the day of Christ’s crucifixion, Joseph happened to be there. He witnessed the excruciating pain that Christ was forced to endure, and it broke his heart. As he stood there, mourning the inevitable loss of his beloved Savior, the reality of Christ’s ultimate sacrifice became visibly clear. It was impossible at that point to remain a secret disciple, because if God was willing to give up His only son, and if Christ was willing to bear the burden for all of mankind’s sins, then there was no way that Joseph could remain silent.

Joseph did what he needed to do; he found the courage to approach Pilate and ask for permission to take Christ’s body. With the help of another disciple, by the name of Nicodemus, the two men prepared Christ’s body according to Jewish burial customs and they placed him in a new tomb in a nearby garden.

There are a couple of lessons to learn from this:

1. There are “secret” Christians everywhere – lovers and followers of Christ who keep their faith private because they’re afraid of what others might think. Yet God does not give us a spirit of fear (2 Tim. 1:7). Granted, fear is a normal and natural human feeling, but God gives us a “supernatural” spirit that enables us to be bold and courageous, and He expects us to use it.

A story that Ron shared to illustrate this point, is one involving a serious road accident where a person was trapped inside a highly flammable car. A man appeared on the scene and he was somehow able to do what nobody else could; he used his brute strength to tear the driver’s door right off the car. Later, when a journalist asked him how he found the strength to do what he did, his response was, “To be honest, I don’t really know.” Ron’s point is that a man never knows what he can do until he sees another man hurt. If we can find compassion in our hearts to help those who are hurting and in need, we’ll overcome our fears and do great things by the power of God’s Spirit.

2. If we do not step up to the plate and let our light be seen (Matt.5:16), we are throwing away opportunities to help others. When Joseph realized that he needed to stop being a secret disciple, and that he needed to courageously step forward and serve where he was needed, little did he know that another secret disciple (Nicodemus) would observe his actions and bravely follow suit. It’s when we’re bold enough to show a public display of faith and service, that others see what we’re doing and feel led to do the same. Furthermore, if our faith is kept hidden, and our light is not shining, how can we possibly lead the lost to Christ?

It took for Joseph to see with his own eyes, the full magnitude of Christ’s love and sacrifice, to realize that being a secret disciple was no way to honor and follow Him. Being a secret disciple is no way for any of us to honor Christ. If worshipping in secret is something that you’ve been doing, remind yourself that the Spirit of God lives in you and gives you the courage to be a “light” in this dark world.

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A Church Isn’t A Church Without Fellowship

Sermon Titled “Walk In The Light” (1 John 1:7) – based on Week 11 of the Experiencing God study – Sunday 28th March, 2015

  • 1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all[a] sin. 

Being the church that God calls us to be requires that we understand and comply with God’s expectations of us. First of all, if we are related to Christ, we are also on mission with Christ, meaning that the work He came to do is the same work that we are sent out to do (1 John 20:21 “as the Father has sent me, so I am sending you”).

In order to do His work, we must adjust our lives to Him and let Him work through us to fulfill His purposes and draw the world to Him. While our intentions are often good, we still seem to somehow turn the focus back on ourselves, saying things like, “God, I want to do your work, but first, please bless me, bless my family, bless my circumstances.” What we don’t realize is that we are already blessed – every time we step out in faith and obedience.

A second and crucial component of doing God’s work, is recognizing that fellowship with one another, and not just with Christ, is absolutely necessary. The Greek word “koinonia,” translated as “fellowship,” is used twenty times in the Bible. Christians partnering together with God and with other believers, in a spirit of faith, love, and encouragement, depicts the true essence of what a church should be.

A church that demonstrates koinoinia, for example, is a church that is looked upon by the outside community with admiration and respect; it is warm and inviting. On the contrary, a church with division amongst its members causes outsiders to remain skeptical. If what they see is a group of believers who profess to love God, yet do not love one another, they see a poor expression of Christianity. The only way that a church can avoid the latter scenario is by learning to love as God loves; that is, by learning to love those who are difficult to love (including each other), thus discovering in the process that the capacity to love grows greater and greater.

A final component of being a Spirit-led church, is to take preventative measures against falling out of a right relationship with God and out of fellowship with other believers. Blackaby highlights four specific threats that church members should aim to combat:

  1. Making their first love something other than God (Exodus 20:3 “You shall have no other Gods before me”)
  2. Allowing a pastor, or deacons, or influential business persons to rule over them (the church must submit to God’s sovereign rule)
  3. Settling for a spectator versus participant role, or experiencing the church culture and programs without actually experiencing God (church members should encourage each other to regularly experience God in a real and personal way)
  4. Trusting in people and things instead of trusting completely in God

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One Body In Christ

Sermon Titled “In Christ We Who Are One Form One Body” (Romans 12:5) – based on Week 10 of the Experiencing God Study – Sunday 22nd March, 2015

  • Romans 12:5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

A church is a living body of Christ, with many members, all under the leadership of Jesus Christ who is the Head of the body. All the members are related – they are brothers and sisters in Christ – and they are interdependent. Without each other, they are ineffective. Together, they are on mission with Christ to carry out God’s redemptive purposes.

A church can easily steer itself off mission however, and one way they can do this is by busying themselves with works that are driven by their own judgments and intuition. Sometimes a church can be so ambitious and full of ideas that they neglect to wait for God and hear what His plans are. A church that runs ahead of God is a human-centered church, and while it may appear that they are doing good things in and beyond the community, their efforts are in vain if not directed by Christ.

Another way that some churches might lose sight of God’s plans, is by falling prey to in-house conflict. In 1 Corinthians 12:20-25, Paul talks about unity in the church, and how we must honor God by caring for one another and by not allowing differences of opinion to cause division in the body. If we cannot love even our own brothers and sisters, then we surely cannot love others.

Within the church we all serve a unique purpose, gravitating towards those areas of ministry that the Holy Spirit leads us to. We each are equipped by the Holy Spirit to do certain works, and collectively our works complete that which God has in mind for the church to do. In addition, the Bible is our life manual, full of God’s truths that are there to guide us in our thoughts, prayers, plans, and actions. Blackaby reminds us that these guidelines are not there for us to simply study, memorize, discuss, and debate, but to show us how to experience life in Christ.

In a sermon I heard recently, by Dr. Frank Seekins, I found his teaching on the Ten Commandments to be very insightful. He claims that many Christians are in conflict with the commands of the Bible because our culture teaches us to perceive them as “do’s and don’ts.” But if we could see them for what they really are – as realities – we would be more inclined to obey them because we would know that they are there to protect us, not hinder us.

An example he gave, is that of a group of drivers speeding along an Interstate Freeway, at say 80 miles per hour, in a 65 mile per hour speed zone. When the group of drivers see a police vehicle up ahead, they quickly slow down, only to speed up again once the police car is no longer in sight. They know they are driving faster than the speed limit, and therefore breaking the law, but they think nothing of it – unless they get caught.

Now imagine “Bob” and “Fred,” driving a truck down the Freeway, and they approach a sign that says “Low Bridge ahead, 9 ft.” Bob says to Fred, “Fred, how high is our truck?” Fred replies, “10 feet.” Bob then says, “Well, it don’t matter, I don’t see any cops, let’s go for it.”

See the difference? You can break a law and get away with it, but you can’t break a reality; it will break you instead! As members of Koza Baptist Church, we have hopefully been taught to put on the new self, which recognizes God’s laws as realities that can easily break us if we try to defy them. Our goal, instead of rebelling and ignoring, is to trust God so completely that we desire to hear from Him, adjust ourselves to His calling, and obey Him.

We may not be perfect and always get it right, but with such a diverse group of members, with different skills and personalities, there is room for everyone to minister or serve in some capacity, both inside and outside the church. If we can avoid wasting time debating over individual opinions and make a concerted effort instead to focus on being in a right relationship with God, we will stand a far greater chance of being a church that works together to model the love of Christ.

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