God is about empowered church

Published 6:24 pm Saturday, July 8, 2017

By Larry Stover | Stover lives in Valley Grande and is pastor at Praise Park Ministries Church of the Nazarene

I’ve always loved the church. It has been a part of my life from the beginning. My parents brought me up in the church. My life has been shaped by a host of individuals who have taught me and showered me with Christian love.

We also know that Jesus Christ loves his church. She is described as the “Bride of Christ” in Ephesians chapter five with qualities such as “radiant, holy and blameless, without a stain or a wrinkle.” When we relate those standards to our local churches, we all realize how much work there is to do bring our congregations to that level of integrity.

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The “church” was important to God throughout the Old Testament. Mt. Sinai was established as a “Holy Mountain” where people gathered to worship the Almighty.

Seven chapters in Exodus give details for establishing a portable “Tent of Meeting” as a place of worship for the people. Details for the construction of the “Temple” in Jerusalem was given to the minutest detail.

The prophet, Zechariah, gives us insight into God’s feelings about the Temple. In chapter eight he describes God as being “jealous” over his coveted city and Temple. It was his dwelling place, the symbol of his “holy presence.” Israel did not see the Temple as an option in their weekly itinerary, rather, it was at the core of their life. It was a place to encounter their God and a reminder of his righteousness and faithfulness. The longed to “dwell in the House of the Lord.”
We can learn a lot about the importance of the church as we examine this loving jealousy that God has for the church today.

Churches today are living in spiritual poverty. If the Holy Spirit were removed from the church, most people would not even notice it. Pastors and church leadership teams run the church with little room for divine intervention. The idea that God is “out there somewhere” has left congregations without a vision for what the Lord wants to have happen. We mirror the “lukewarm” church at Laodicea (Revelation chapter 3) waiting to be judged for our lack of spiritual zeal and fortitude. Far too many churches today as “spiritually wasted” with the fire of God reduced to a trickle or extinguished altogether.

God has not called us to be a spiritually impoverished people. He has raised up the church to be an empowered people. We are to be a holy people, walking in the light of the Gospel, keeping pace with the Holy Spirit every day as we reflect Jesus Christ in our lives.

The writer to the Hebrews reminds us that we are to keep our eyes on Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. We are called to a daily relationship with God through Christ. Every one of us is a work in progress whether we have been a Christian for decades or a recent convert to the faith. As a believer, I am always anxious to see what God has in store for me with every passing day.

I pray every day, “Lord I’m yours. Whatever it takes for me to be the Christian you want me to be, your will be done.” That kind of prayer opens the door for God to do His will in my life. It becomes an adventure anticipating the next chapter in my relationship with Jesus Christ. It’s why “I love being a Christian.”
Satan wants me to live in spiritual poverty. He would like for me to wake up every day doubting my faith and questioning if God really cares about what is going on in my life.

The Devil loves “lukewarm” believers because they tend to be nominal on a good day and void of every passion to grow spiritually or tell others about Christ.
On the other hand, God wants to set you free from whatever is oppressing you spiritually. He wants to fill you with his holy presence as you seek a fresh encounter with him. When you become an empowered disciple of Jesus Christ you will experience him in such a way that life will become “Simply Beautiful.”