“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; and for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” (Ephesians 6:18-20)
Anyone reading the Old Testament as well as the New can clearly see that faith and prayer are essential for an effective relationship with our Creator. First, Paul the apostle said: “For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” (Romans 4:3) Also, James said: “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, (James 1:5-7 NASB)
And most importantly, let’s remember what our Lord Jesus Christ said: “If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.” (Luke 17:6) Then Jesus later adds: “Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8)Well, let’s hope and pray that he does brothers and sisters in Christ, for without faith we can’t please God.
“Now he was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart" (Luke 18:1 NASB)
Now, according to Jesus, we should always be in an attitude of prayer. Paul the apostle said the same thing by saying: “Pray without ceasing.” (1Thessalonians 5:17). Jude as well said: “But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” (Jude 1:20-21) And finally we have James telling us to: “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (James 5:16)
So, it’s through prayer that we can partner with God and change not only our own lives, but the lives of others as well. But as mentioned earlier, our lacking in this can have a negative effect as well. We can see this to be true when the disciples asked Jesus why they couldn’t cast the devil out of a man’s son. For Jesus said: “Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, if ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.” (Matthew 17:20- 21) So, the disciples couldn't cast the devil out because they lacked in both faith and prayer. Thankfully, Jesus came to their rescue and delivered the man's son.
“And he said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Luke 10:2 ESV)
In that passage above, Jesus is telling us to ask God to send out people to share the Gospel. For the world is full of people who are lost and in desperate need to know him as their Savior. Therefore, we need to bring the gospel message to them so that they may have eternal life as well. And let's also remember that Jesus himself prayed not only for his disciples, but for us who will believe their report. For Jesus said: “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” (John 17:20-21) So again, this is a call for action on our part today as well.
Paul said to Timothy: “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. (1 Timothy 2:1-2 NASB) So, first and foremost, we as a church are to pray for EVERYONE. This would not only be for loved ones and friends, but for government officials and for those who hate us and mistreat us as well. For Jesus said: “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:44-45)
For it’s true that our God is a miracle working God who can open the eyes of the most stubborn heart. Therefore, let’s take the time to always be in an attitude of prayer, asking God to work and intervene not only in our own lives, but the lives of others as well. Amen.
(Excerpt From: Torrey, R.A. “The Power of Prayer.”)
You will find these seven words in James 4:2, the seven closing words of the verse, “Ye have not, because ye ask not.” These seven words contain the secret of the poverty and powerlessness of the average Christian, of the average minister, and of the average church.
“Why is it,” many a Christian is asking, “that I make such poor progress in my Christian life? Why do I have so little victory over sin? Why do I win so few souls to Christ? Why do I grow so slowly into the likeness of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?” And God answers in the words of the text: “Neglect of prayer. You have not, because you ask not.”
“Why is it,” many a minister is asking, “that I see so little fruit from my minist
ry? Why are there so few conversions? Why does my church grow so slowly? Why are the members of my church so little helped by my ministry, and built up so little in Christian knowledge and life?” And again God replies: “Neglect of prayer. You have not, because you ask not.”
“Why is it,” both ministers and churches are asking, “that the church of Jesus Christ is making such slow progress in the world today? Why does it make so little headway against sin, against unbelief, against error in all its forms? Why does it have so little victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil?
Why is the average church member living on such a low plane of Christian living? Why does the Lord Jesus Christ get so little honor from the state of the church today?” And, again, God replies: “Neglect of prayer. You have not, because you ask not.”
So, how much time on a personal level do we spend in prayer? Or, even on a corporate level as a church, how often do we get together and go to prayer before God? Could it be true that we Christians put other church activities and agendas before prayer? For according to God’s word, prayer should not be a weekly or bye weekly thing, but a daily activity for us. For I can tell you from my own personal experience that there is nothing more important than our time in prayer. For even in my own life, I felt the results of brothers and sisters in Christ praying for me. And let’s remember that it was our prayer to God that first changed our own lives as well.
So, I encourage all of you to go through the bible and read for yourselves the prayers of God’s Saints such as Solomon, Daniel, Hannah, Abraham’s servant, and Nehemiah to name a few. For all of these through faith, not only impacted their own lives, but the lives of others as well. And last of all and most important, let’s not forget about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ Himself: “Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 5:7-10)
So, we read that Jesus was heard and became victorious. Praise God for that. So, if Jesus being the Son of God needed to pray to God the Father, shouldn't we be doing the same on a daily basis? God help us always to be a people that prays. Amen.
“For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?” (1 Corinthians 1:11-13)
According to that passage above, there is to be no divisions within the body of Christ. We are to be the one true Church, and this would include all our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world. But unfortunately, we have created so many Denominations and Associations within the body of Christ. And why is that? Could it be because we believe our fellowship is better than those down the road? Paul the apostle summed it up best when he said: “For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.” (1 Corinthians 3:3-6)
Now, it may be true that we love our God from the heart. We may also be totally sincere in our faith as Christians, praying and reaching out to the lost and other believers as well. However, at the same time we are building these invisible walls of separation by labeling ourselves. And the sad part of it all, we do it in plain view of the world who is watching and maybe even mocking. (see Romans 2:23-24) If we would examine most of the early churches in the New Testament, we would see that they were only referred to according to their locality such as a name of the city or of a person who owned the house. So, these types of labeling were not to show a distinction from one another but to aid the reader to understand their locality. (see Romans 16:3-5, 1Corinthians 1:11, 16:19, 2 Thessalonians 1:1, Philemon 1:2)
Therefore, God calls us to be one in Christ and to dwell in unity with fellow believers. Jesus prayed for this Christian unity so that the world may see our love for one another. And not only that, he prayed for oneness so that the world would recognize that he truly came from the Father. For Jesus said: “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” (John 17:20-21) And this unity can only be accomplished if we obey God by breaking down these dividing walls that we have made. Because let’s face it, if we don’t do it, God may do it in such a way that would surprise us all.
The Syrian Christians were praying for revival and believing that God would do a great work in their land. They like us had their churches along with their different denominations. And then came the war with its bombings and terrorists. Churches were destroyed and down came their denominational barriers that separated believers. Those Syrian Christians groups who at one time may have questioned each other’s salvation are now gathering for weekly prayers, asking God to move in their nation and in their churches. Now, these same Christians continue to spread hope in the face of hopelessness, holding high not a political or denominational banner but the banner of Jesus Christ.
And let’s not forget what happened when persecution broke out against the early church as described in the book of Acts. For we read that: “As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word. (Acts 8:3-4) So, even though Saul (who later was concerted and known as Paul the apostle) caused havoc for these Christians in Acts, it worked out for the good. For we read later that these believers were scattered everywhere, spreading the good news of Jesus Christ to the world.
We cannot put God in our own little theological box. Yes, sometimes we get up on our little “soap box” and act like we know everything. (see 1 Corinthians 8:2) However, we know that God's ways and thoughts are much higher than ours. For we read: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith Jehovah. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9) So, instead of causing divisions, let’s just humble ourselves before God. Let’s quit striving and fighting over disputable things. For we need to come together and pray that God’s Holy Spirit would minister to us through God’s word. Therefore, let’s embrace one another as brothers and sisters in Christ and seek unity in God’s Church. Amen.
· Who hath directed the Spirit of Jehovah, or being his counsellor hath taught him? With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed to him the way of understanding? Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are accounted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing. And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt-offering. All the nations are as nothing before him; they are accounted by him as less than nothing, and vanity.” (Isaiah 40:13-17)
· O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:33-36)
Let’s always keep our eyes stayed on the Lord and be led by the Holy Spirit into all truth. And let’s remember what God’s word says to us: “Hear, O Israel: Jehovah our God is one Jehovah: and thou shalt love Jehovah thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5 ASV). Therefore, sense neither the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are dived, we his church shouldn’t be as well. And let’s remember what Jesus said: “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” (John 17:20-23) Amen, so let it be.
There’s a world of people out there who need to hear the gospel. For we are to be salt and a light to them by sharing the love of Jesus. Isn’t that what we’re called to do? Aren’t we supposed to be spreading the good news (the Gospel) to the lost out there in order for them to have eternal life as well? So, let us fulfill the great commission which Jesus told us to do. For he said: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:19-20) Amen
Below are some references concerning what was mentioned above:
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, That ran down upon the beard, Even Aaron's beard; That came down upon the skirt of his garments; Like the dew of Hermon, That cometh down upon the mountains of Zion: For there Jehovah commanded the blessing, Even life for evermore.
“Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house.” (Colossians 4:15)
Some people may think that a church is the building which holds all its occupants. However, this is not true. For a true church is an assembly of people who are gathered together in one place or another. This could be a cathedral, someone’s house, a barn, a warehouse, or even out in an open field. For the word church in the Greek means a “gathering” or an “assembly” of people. For we read in the book of Acts: “And Barnabas went forth to Tarsus, to seek for Saul, and having found him, he brought him to Antioch, and it came to pass that they a whole year did assemble together in the assembly, and taught a great multitude, the disciples also were divinely called first in Antioch Christians.” (Acts 11:25-26) So the word “assembly” in the Young’s Literal Translation is the same Greek word translate as church in the King James translation. So again, whether it’s translated as a “church,” or the more understandable word “assembly,” we see that it’s not a building but a gathered of God’s people.
Let’s take into consideration the difference between meeting in one’s home versus meeting in a traditional church building. First, a traditional church building is a piece of real estate nestled on some land. They would generally be owned by a denomination or an association of churches. Therefore, such a church would operate as some organization that depends on parishioner’s money. This would be true not only for the building and land, but for all the staff within it. On the other hand, meeting in one’s home would almost eliminate all those needs. Now, please don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that you should immediately abandon your traditional church. For this could be difficult if you already established relationships with fellow members.
Of course, there may be those traditional assemblies that make everyone feel like they are part of the body of Christ. And even though these spaces would still rely on parishioner’s money, they can still make it a place to gather for prayer, worship and encouragement in the faith. However, from what I see in the New Testament, a church that’s gathering in a private location such as a home, is the ideal place to be. Therefore, if there are Christians gathering in someone’s home in your area, you should at least check it out. For you may find that a home fellowship is more in line with a New Testament church.
Now, one of the advantages of a home fellowships is the ability to focus more on personal prayer needs. This is something we can’t normally do when we’re attending a large traditional church on Sunday. For it can be hard to fellowship and get our prayer needs met when things are running on a schedule time limit. This is because most traditional churches focus on a set of songs followed by a Pastor who preaches an hour-long message. However, this would not be the case with a home fellowship because we would be focusing more on prayer and a corporate reading of God’s word. Thus, we would see more of an interaction taking place within the group. Also, gather in one’s home can be a tool to help breakdown denominational barriers by bringing in your neighbors who may attend a traditional church. And if there are any unbelievers living nearby, it could be a good way to expose them to the simple basics of Christianity. For even our Savior Jesus met and preached in homes at times. (See Matthew 9:10-13, Luke 10:38-42 and more)
So, according to scripture we are to encourage one another in our walk with the Lord. This can easily take place in smaller group setting such as a home fellowship. For these types of gatherings can take us out of the impersonal and brings us more into the personal. Therefore, we can have group interactions by asking questions as we read and study the Bible together. And all this without denominational walls, church property to pay for, and a large staff that’s relying on parishioner’s money. It would be a church in the simplest and purest form.
Now, a church should be an active group of people who are practicing their gifts of the Spirit. Therefore, our gatherings shouldn’t be like some social club with its key motivational speaking and live band. For our coming together is not for entertainment, but for the building up of each other’s faith. Paul the apostle said: “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” (Colossians 3:15-17)
So then, the church exists to equip one another with the tools and strength needed to spread the gospel to the world. This would be true even in the face of persecution and possibly death. Because if we’re not being persecuted in one form or another while being a Christians, then are we really living our life according to the bible (yes, I’m preaching also to myself)? Paul said to Timathy: “But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (2 Timothy 3:10-12)
Also, let’s make sure that we as a church are not watering down the gospel to make it more appealing, comfortable and safe. Therefore, I encourage you to read through the New Testament, especially in the book of Act. There you will find an active church who was preaching the grace of God, even when faced with persecution. Yes, even our forerunner Jesus Christ suffered persecution and even death. This in hope that all would be saved by coming to the knowledge that he is our Lord and Savior. For: “We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 6:19-20 ESV) Amen.
Below are a few scriptures of an active church:
So, if you’re in a church where you can get easily lost in the crowd; where you sing a few songs, hear an hour-long sermon and out the door you go. Then I would encourage you to consider finding a new Church as mentioned above. For how many churches have you attended that actually practices what Paul the apostle commanded. For he said: “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. (1 Timothy 2:1-6) Yes, prayer should be the main event within a church. Then followed by a few songs and a message of exhortation.
Something to consider: Imagine if an unbeliever stepped into your church and found you all weeping and pleading for your families, congregation, community, governing leaders, our nation and for all those that are lost in this world. Then you encourage one another to go out and share the love of Christ with the community around you. This unbeliever is going to realize that God is alive in your hearts. For you truly love, not only one another, but all those in the world as well. Amen.
Some basics that we should expect from an assembly of the Saints:
What we should expect from one another:
“And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)
One big mistake that today’s organized churches make is dividing the youth and the adults. And why is this fellow Christians? Show me in God’s word where this is being practiced. Our teenagers as well as the younger children should be able to pray and worship together as a church. Anything less than this is only causing a division between us. Therefore, we should do away with these separate groups on Sunday and through the week. This would include the men and women groups as well as young families, seniors, as well as the youth groups. Again, these are only causing divisions within the body of Christ.
The bible is clear that women cannot be Leaders (Elders) in the assembly of the saints. For we first read: “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church. (1 Corinthians 14:34-35) Next we read: “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. (1 Timothy 2:11-14)
The bible is also clear on what should be the standard for these leaders in the Church. For we read: “An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?), and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.” (1 Timothy 3:2-7 NASB 1995, Titus 1:5-9)
Many of the requirements of the Elders are to be the standard for the Deacons. However, there is one exception. For we do read that a woman can be Deacons in the church as well. First, we read: “Deacons likewise must be men of dignity, not double-tongued, or addicted to much wine or fond of sordid gain, but holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. These men must also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons if they are beyond reproach. Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things. Deacons must be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and their own households. (1 Timothy 3:8-12 NASB) Next, we read: “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deaconess of the church at Cen'chre-ae, that you may receive her in the Lord as befits the saints, and help her in whatever she may require from you, for she has been a helper of many and of myself as well.” (Romans 16:1-2 RSV)
Below are some scriptures concerning Christian assembling in people’s homes:
I know that it may be hard to find a house church near you. However, this shouldn’t stop you from creating one yourself. And if that’s not possible for one reason or another, then I would find a traditional church in your area that’s not too large and does minister to you. But again, you should keep your eyes open for any house churches that may spring up in your area. For who knows what’s coming ahead with this COVID thing going around. We may be forced to attend church in our homes, and maybe even under cover.