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The difference between a good church and a great church


Exo 33:1  And the LORD said unto Moses, Depart, and go up hence, thou and the people which thou hast brought up out of the land of Egypt, unto the land which I sware unto Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, Unto thy seed will I give it: 2  And I will send an angel before thee; and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite: 3  Unto a land flowing with milk and honey: for I will not go up in the midst of thee; for thou art a stiffnecked people: lest I consume thee in the way.'

After they worshiped the golden calf, God was fed up with the Israelite’s sin.  Listen to His judgment on the people.  God said, Go up with a messenger and take the land.  I will still fulfill My promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I will still throw out the inhabitance of the land.  But I will not be with you, because I would have to destroy you if I went with you.

Exo 33:4  And when the people heard these evil tidings, they mourned: and no man did put on him his ornaments. 5  For the LORD had said unto Moses, Say unto the children of Israel, Ye are a stiffnecked people: I will come up into the midst of thee in a moment, and consume thee: therefore now put off thy ornaments from thee, that I may know what to do unto thee. 6  And the children of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments by the mount Horeb.

Why were this pronouncement considered evil tidings to the people?

They could have had everything they wanted, but they would have missed God’s presence.

The song writer said “take the world, but give me Jesus.”

Great Churches understand:

1.  Apart from God’s presence, all earthly blessings lose their eternal significance.

  - Good churches have goals of acquisition.

  - Great Churches set goals for more time spent with God.   

  - Good churches are too busy obtaining and maintaining their blessings to even notice the lack of the presence of God.

  - Great churches are willing to sacrifice temporal blessings to walk with God and to obtain eternal rewards.

2.  It is not enough to have a pastor (angel or messenger) to lead in the right direction, every member is responsible to walk with God.

   - Good churches often have good leadership, but it’s possible to go through the motions of God’s will following a man, but not be in fellowship with the Father.

   - Good churches will have a good programs run by good people for good reasons, but programs will not substitute for God’s presence.

   - Great churches understand that all is vain unless God’s presence is here.

3.  That it takes time to deal with sin.

There is a temptation to keep going and do the good things and never stop to mourn over sin and properly restore fellowship with God.

We can continue on in the right direction without repentence, but we do so without God’s presence.

  - Good churches are content to turn an empathetic eye to sin, and say “Oh well, not a big deal!  Sin happens...  Let’s just stay busy.”

  - Great Churches understand that sin happens, but take time to mourn before God over their sin seeking to restore the offender in the spirit of meekness. 

How can we be a great church?

1. Practice personal humility.

  • be quick to humbly ask God for forgiveness for sin.
  • Keep short accounts with God.
  • Seek forgiveness from others you have wronged.

2.  Always have a sensitive heart toward sin.

  • Jas 4:8  Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. 9  Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. 10  Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.
  • Remember sin is why Jesus died on the cross.

3.  Embrace interpersonal accountability.

  •  Pro 18:17  He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; but his neighbour cometh and searcheth him.
  • We are admonished to rebuke and exhort and edify one another in the local assembly.  That is a two way street.  Speaking the truth in love is key to becoming a great church.

4.  Alway remember "Busyness" is often the enemy of holiness! 

 - It is never a waste of time to thoroughly deal with sin in our own lives and in the body.  Great churches are not too busy to maintain their fellowship with the Father. 

I love this Hymn.  It reflects the spirit of a great church.

Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord;
Abide in Him always, and feed on His Word.
Make friends of God’s children, help those who are weak,
Forgetting in nothing His blessing to seek.

Take time to be holy, the world rushes on;
Spend much time in secret, with Jesus alone.
By looking to Jesus, like Him thou shalt be;
Thy friends in thy conduct His likeness shall see.

Take time to be holy, let Him be thy Guide;
And run not before Him, whatever betide.
In joy or in sorrow, still follow the Lord,
And, looking to Jesus, still trust in His Word.

Take time to be holy, be calm in thy soul,
Each thought and each motive beneath His control.
Thus led by His Spirit to fountains of love,
Thou soon shalt be fitted for service above.

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