Are You Getting Anything out of Church?

Would you open a bank account and begin making withdrawals without making any deposits? Would you blame the bank  for your problem, then switch to another banks every time your bank account reached a zero balance? James and John had problems with their role in proclaiming the good news. (Mark 10:35-45) They thought they were the best workers Jesus had, so on this day, they decided to ask Jesus if they could sit by his side in Glory. Our work for God is not for the purpose of improving our position with God. We are to work so that God gets the glory, not us. If you are looking for a church where you can improve you position before God by being an ideal church member, you are not going to find one. When you accept Christ as your savior, you cannot find a better position! You have been adopted by God and become his heir! Here is what Jesus told James and John in Mark 10.

41 When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. 42 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:41-45(NIV)

You see, if you want to be great in God’s Kingdom, you need to become a servant and a slave. You need to sacrifice your life so God can use you as a servant. Sunday morning church service is not about getting something for yourself, it is a meeting of God’s servants! Purpose of a Church Here is what should happen in church. Church is about giving of yourself. Here are eight things you can give in church.

  1. Give Glory and praise to God.

Ephesians 1:3(NIV) Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.   Revelation 4:9-11(NIV) Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: 11 “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” Revelation 14:6-7(NIV) Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation, tribe, language and people. He said in a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.” 2 Corinthians 9:13-14(NIV) 13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. 14 And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you.

  1. Give Encouragement to other believers

 I Thessalonians 5:11(NIV), Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. Romans 1:11-12(NIV)  I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— 12 that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.   Eph. 6:22(NIV)  I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage you.   Colossian 2:2-3(NIV) My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.   Titus 1:9(NIV) He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.   Titus 2:6(NIV) Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled.  Titus 2:15(NIV) These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.

 3. Give Time.

Acts 15:33(NIV)  After spending some time there,(at the church at Antioch) they were sent off by the believers with the blessing of peace to return to those who had sent them.   Acts 26:29(NIV) Paul replied, “Short time or long—I pray to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these. chains.”   1 Peter 4:2(NIV) As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God

 4. Give service. (Matthew 4:10 and Luke 4:8 both record Jesus quoting from Deuteronomy 6:13  Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’)

Ephesians 6:7(NIV) Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, Joshua 24:15(NIV) But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”  Acts 20:19(NIV) 19 I served the Lord with great humility and with tears and in the midst of severe testing by the plots of my Jewish opponents. 1 Corinthians 12:4-6(NIV) There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

  1. Give tithe/offering/gifts

Malachi 3:10(NIV) Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.   Luke 21:2-4(NIV)  He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” Matthew 14:19-20(NIV) 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, …

  1. Give Your burdens

Matthew 11:28(NIV) Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.   Galatians 6:2(NIV) Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.   Hebrews 13:17(NIV) Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.

 7.  Give your Mouth

Ephesians 4:29 (NIV) Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.   Psalm 66:16-20(NIV) Come and hear, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me. I cried out to him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer. Praise be to God,  who has not rejected my prayer  or withheld his love from me!   Psalm 109:30(NIV) With my mouth I will greatly extol the Lord; in the great throng of worshipers I will praise him.   Romans 10:8-10(NIV) But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

8.  Give Your Love –

Matthew 5:43-48(NIV) “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. 2 Corinthians 8:23-24(NIV)  As for Titus, he is my partner and co-worker among you; as for our brothers, they are representatives of the churches and an honor to Christ. Therefore show these men the proof of your love and the reason for our pride in you, so that the churches can see it.   Ephesians. 4:15-16(NIV) Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. 1 Thessalonians 4:10(NIV) And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more,…

  Results of your giving. 1.  Become one with the Father

 John 10:16(NIV) I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. John 12:20-23(NIV)  “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

  1. Become one with the body

Romans 12:4-5(NIV) For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. Ephesians 4:11-13(NIV) So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Perhaps the reason it is so difficult for us to find a church that you “get something out of”, is because our account is “overdrawn”? What better time is there than now to begin making deposits in church, God’s body of believers.

Prosperity and You

First, let us look at the word ‘prosperity’. The Merriam-Webster online dictionary says that prosperity is the condition of being successful or thriving; especially:  economic well-being.

A recorded example of prosperity was recorded over 3000 years ago. It is found in the Book of Job.

 In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. He had seven sons and three daughters, and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East.

His sons used to hold feasts in their homes on their birthdays, and they would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would make arrangements for them to be purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular custom. Job 1:1-5 (NIV)

Did prosperity come to Job because he was only thinking about himself and always being happy?  According to the Bible, he attained it by fearing God and shunning evil.

As we read the book of Job, we read that Job lost everything!  So Job cursed God and said: ‘I am going to do it my way!’ I don’t find that any place in the book of Job. What you will find is that Job kept trusting God.

Job’s prosperity was not about Job. It was about God. Just like our prosperity is not about us. It is about God and what he is doing for us. In fact, after Job prayed for his friend, the Bible says that God restored his prosperity. Because Job believed God, he was given twice as much has he had to start with!

The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. 13 And he also had seven sons and three daughters. 14 The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah and the third Keren-Happuch. 15 Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job’s daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers.

16 After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. 17 And so Job died, an old man and full of years. Job 42:12-18(NIV)

Prosperity Gospel, as I understand it, is the idea that we use God to obtain our fleshly desires. We can have whatever we want, because God will give it to us. Prosperity Gospel also uses the notion that the Holy Spirit is there for us to use to our advantage. We can use the Holy Spirit for whatever we want because God wants us to be happy. It should also be noted that the prosperity we get following our fleshly desires is only good for our time on earth.

We can have a ‘be happy attitude’ and expect to be prosperous…and in fact some people are prosperous without trusting God. But the truth is that this prosperity is only for a short period of time. People die. Then, what good is the prosperity?

The first example of prosperity gospel is found in Genesis 3 when Satan told Eve that she didn’t have to do things God’s way. God was holding out on her. If she ate from the tree that God told her not to eat from, she wouldn’t die but would be like God. She could do it her way and have ‘prosperity’.

However, Eve already had prosperity. She had everything she could want but Satan made her believe there was something more. Because Eve listened to Satan and did it her way, she actually lost the prosperity that she had.

God sent his Son to be crucified for our sin and to become victorious over death. He made a way for us to once again have the prosperity that Eve had before she ate the forbidden fruit.

Another problem with our prosperity is that when it is gained following our fleshly desires, it is only good for this lifetime. The prosperity that is gained by following the Holy Spirit is good for eternity. You see, the prosperity that God wants for his children is for them to share his wealth for eternity.

Who are God’s children? Galatians 5:24(NIV) says: Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. You see the children of God have crucified themselves. In other words, they have become nothing, so God could use them to do His work rather than expecting God to do their work.

We can pretend to be happy, and can even deceive ourselves into thinking we are happy, but it doesn’t guarantee prosperity. In fact, it may even lead to a feeling of guilt because you aren’t becoming prosperous. The Bible says that when we follow our fleshly desires, we get involved in ‘sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;  idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions  and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like’. (Galatians 5:19-21, NIV)

However, when you follow the Holy Spirit, the actions you demonstrate are ‘love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.’ (Galatians 5:22-23 NIV).

Perhaps the real question about prosperity is: How important is prosperity?

For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Mark 8:36(NIV)

Is it really prosperity we are looking for or is it love, joy, and peace?

But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15-16(NIV)

Note: All scriptures used in this article have been downloaded from http://www.biblegateway.com/?version=NIV unless otherwise noted.