Bible Church International
The Church Moving Forward
THE CHURCH MOVING FORWARD
Pro. 29:18; Heb. 11:6; 1 Cor. 10:31
Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
1 Corinthians 10:31
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
Every beginning of the year, the President of the United States of America makes the State of the Union Address whereby he reports on the status of the country to a joint session of the House of Representative and the Senate. During this time, the President traditionally outlines the administration's accomplishments over the previous year, as well as the agenda for the coming year in upbeat and optimistic terms. At some point during the speech, the President usually says "The State of our Union is strong."
This morning, I would like to look at my message as some sort of a State of the Union Address reporting to our congregation what God has accomplish in our midst. We can truly rejoice as a church family for all the significant blessings this year:
- !4 people were added into our membership, eleven of those were baptized.
- Our Hispanic church plant continues to grow. The other Sunday (Dec. 17), Pastor Victor Rios has baptized 5 new believers.
- Our community ministries like Praise in the Park, Block Party, DVBS, Harvest Fest, and the Adult and Children's concerts were all successful and well attended.
- Our Capital Stewardship Campaign resulted in significant commitments from our people.
- For missions, now we have 8 BCI churches in the Philippines.
I know there are still others I can mention, but for the sake of time, I will limit myself to these 5 items. I believe they are more than enough to convince us that God has given us another great year.
We also need to consider the coming year. Perhaps, it is but proper to ask ourselves, what can we do to keep our church healthy and strong? What should be our major agenda next year to keep us moving forward? Let me outline it for you:
I FAITH FORWARD
First and foremost, we need to set our vision before each one of us. This year, through our capital stewardship campaign, each one of us responded and made commitments to build a bigger and better facility. Allow me to again emphasize the fact that a new building is not the end of our vision. It is simply a means to an end. We should believe that a bigger and better facility would accommodate more people to worship with us.
Vision is always essential to any church. Vision is powerful. Proverbs 29:18 says, "Where there is no VISION, the people perish." Or as one paraphrase puts it, "Where there is no VISION, the people are unrestrained." Clearly, what it means is people can't focus; they are running wild without accomplishing anything significant.
We should never loose sight of our vision. Pastor Bill Hybels of Willow Creek Community Church, one of the biggest churches in America once wrote, ""Vision is the fuel that leaders run on...It's the energy that creates action...It's the fire that ignites the passion of people...It's the clear call that sustains focused effort year after year, decade after decade, as people offer consistent and sacrificial service to God."
Who can forget 1963 when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D. C. and shared the vision of a world without prejudice, hatred, or racism? Do you remember his words?
"I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."
Although Dr. King was cruelly assassinated, his dream still lives on and his passion still guides our nation as racial barriers fall.
Indeed, vision is important, and I hope each one of us will embrace our vision. Let me suggest three things we can do to continually embrace our vision:
- Keep praying that God will accomplish His vision for BCI.
- Keep casting His vision to others. Help everyone from the children to adults to be excited about it.
- Keep supporting our vision financially. Don't fail in your CSM commitment.
Our vision is our journey of faith because it is beyond us. We want to declare that we trust the Lord to fulfill His vision for us. As Hebrews 11:6 reminds us, God is always pleased when we are willing to trust Him, and diligently seek Him.
II FAMILY FORWARD
Secondly, in order for our church to remain strong and healthy, we must assist the families who attend our church. There are two ways we can accomplish this:
A. By Strengthening the Marriage Bond:
No church will rise above the home. As the home goes, so is the church. Now in order for the home to remain intact, marriages should remain healthy and strong. The strategy of the enemy is simple. If he can destroy the marriage, he can also destroy the effectivity of the believing couples to minister to their children and other believers. Notice the qualification set by the Scriptures to would be church ministers:
- A deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children and his household well.
- Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.
Clearly, God requires people who minister to be effective in their homes first, before they can be in the church. This is why we as a church will have to assist our members in keeping their marriages strong.
Therefore, I would like to invite all our married couples to participate in a continuing Bible study designed to enhance your marriages. We hope to gather you bi-monthly to be kick-off during the Valentine celebration. Please make time for this for the sake of your families and our church.
B. By Discipling the Children in the Lord:
If you go and attend some Christian churches today, it is a disturbing sight when you see that congregations are composed of senior citizens and some adults without young people and kids. How did this happen? Where are the kids? Somewhere along the life of the church, the children were neglected. They failed to make children a priority. This is a real failure because children are important to God.
But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.
Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him.
You see, whatever is important to God must be important to us as well. We have to do our best to provide opportunities for them to grow in their knowledge and love of God. On account of this, I hope we'll have more volunteers to help us in our Sunday school or other ministries where our children are participating.
Also, I hope and pray that parents will consistently come to church and bring their children to church. We cannot disciple them if they are constantly absent.
III FATHER'S FAME FORWARD
Some years ago the London Transit authority was receiving a lot of complaints because their buses were driving past customers who were standing at the bus stops. The Transit Authority put an explanation in the paper that has become infamous with public relations departments. The explanation said, "It is impossible for us to maintain our schedule if we are always having to stop and pick up passengers." Clearly, that company had forgotten its purpose.
Someone has said, "The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing." And the apostle Paul summarizes the main thing for all Christians and Christ churches in these words:
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
Without a doubt, the ultimate reason of our existence on earth is TO GIVE GOD GLORY OR TO MAKE HIM FAMOUS. Now, how is this applicable to our church life?
First of all, in relation to all our ministries, we all want to do our best because we are offering everything to our great God. He deserves our greatest and highest. Consider what God has said in Malachi 1:6-8
- "A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?" says the Lord Almighty. "It is you, O priests, who show contempt for my name. "But you ask, 'How have we shown contempt for your name?'
- "You place defiled food on my altar. "But you ask, 'How have we defiled you?' "By saying that the Lord's table is contemptible.
- When you bring blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice crippled or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?" says the Lord Almighty.
God feels insulted when we offer inferior gifts to Him. We cannot just afford to get by. Whatever ministry responsibility we have, we must be committed to give the best.
Another application is in the area of taking to glory to ourselves. I believe all of us, when we serve the Lord, should be careful not to promote our own name or our church name more than the name of our Almighty God. God clearly warns us about this:
"I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols.
God does not want any competition. He alone deserves to be glorified. Time and again, people who exalted themselves at God's expense were brought low. May we be committed to promote the glory of God.
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