Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Series 14 Logos since 31 July 2017 . Maintaining the unity of Houtkruis/Logos

. Maintaining the unity of Houtkruis/Logos

MAINTAINING THE UNITY OF THE HOUTKRUIS/LOGOS UNIFICATION


Next Sunday the 31st of July marks an exciting day in the life of Logos as we merge with Houtkruis. This is going to require all of us to do our share, not for the sake of buildings but for the sake of the privilege God has given us for entering into this new phase. The basic requirements of making the unification with Houtkruis work is the basic requirements that are indeed the criterion upon which the church is built and maintained in the first place. The following then are just a few thoughts that will be helpful on the Logos side for us to make sure that we do our share to make things work. We realise that the same demands are on the shoulders of Houtkruis as well.

I do not believe that time will permit to work through all of these in this service, therefore I am making hard copies of the notes available to you all. The PowerPoint presentation will therefore be limited as well.

The Word of God is clear in Ephesians 4:3 (ESV) that we all should be "3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."

Other translations say: "make every effort, being diligent, striving, take every care, do your best  to keep UNITY!"

If you are a Christian, it is your responsibility to protect the unity of your church. Unity in the church is so important that the New Testament gives more attention to it than to either Heaven or Hell. Unity is the very soul of fellowship. Destroy it and you rip the heart out of Christ's body. It is the very essence of how God intends us to experience life together as His people.

Just like every parent, our heavenly Father enjoys watching His children get along with each other. In fact, in his final moments before he was arrested and taken to Calvary, Jesus prayed passionately for our unity in John 17. It was our unity that was uppermost in his mind during those agonizing hours.

Nothing on earth is more valuable to God than his church. He paid the highest price for it, and he wants it protected! If you are part of his family, that is your responsibility! Remember that the blood of Christ is much-much thicker than water.

Today, we want to talk about some practical ways in which you can fulfil that responsibility:

1. Realise that you stand in a covenant relationship with your brothers and sisters in Christ.

Pastor Johan Hulshof is going to address us for 10 minutes on this aspect of our relationship.

2. Focus on what we have in common, not our differences.

Church family. We will be attacked by Satan. He has done his utmost not to make this happen, so far and will continue. And some who oppose us will do it with sincerity, holy motives and Godly motives. The Pharisees really believed that Christ was in the wrong and they opposed Him from all angles. There are going to be differences with Houtkruis. Even us as pastors and elders will not always see eye to eye, but we must be willing to die for the unity of the body. If we are going to focus on our differences, we will harm the body. Never get your nose out of joint because somebody differs with and from you. The difference between us and God are much bigger than the differences between us and others and He gives grace.

Paul has a solution to the problem. He tells us in Romans 14:19 (ESV) "19 So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual up building."

As Christians, we share one Lord, one body, one purpose, one Father, one Spirit, one hope, one faith, one baptism, and one love. We share the same salvation, the same life, and the same future  and these are factors far more important that any little differences that might try to divide us.

It was God Himself who chose to give us different personalities, backgrounds and preferences, so we should value and enjoy those differences, not merely tolerate them. GOD WANTS UNITY, NOT UNIFORMITY!

Conflict is almost always a sign that the focus has shifted to less important issues, things the Bible calls 'disputable matters.' We have to major on the majors and minor on the minors. Let's keep the main thing the main thing. Romans 14:1 (ESV) "1 As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions."

When we focus on personalities, preferences, interpretations, styles, or methods, division always happens. But if we concentrate on loving each other and fulfilling God's purposes, harmony is the result. 1 Corinthians 1:10 (ESV) "10 I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment."

3. Be realistic in your expectations.

It is easy to become discouraged by the gap that exists between the IDEAL and the REAL in the church. Yet we must passionately love the church in spite of its imperfections. Ask me as a pastor. It always remains a struggle in my mind.

    • Longing for the ideal while criticizing the real is evidence of IMMATURITY.
    • Settling for the real without striving for the ideal is evidence of COMPLACENCY.
    • Living with this tension is evidence of MATURITY.

Other believers will disappoint you and let you down, but they are your family and you can't just walk out on them. Stay and work it out! I have often told my students at Seminary. If you want to be a pastor, you always have to have a capacity for disappointment. Ephesians 4:2 (ESV) "2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,"

Divorcing your mate at the first sign of disappointment or disillusionment is a mark of immaturity. So is divorcing your church! God has things he wants to teach you, even through difficulties with others, and besides  there is no perfect church to escape to!

Groucho Marx was famous for saying he wouldn't want to belong to any club that would let him in. If a church has to be perfect to satisfy you, that same perfection will exclude you from membership!

4. Choose to encourage rather than criticise.

t is always easier to stand on the side-lines and take shots at those who are serving than it is to get involved and make a contribution. But God warns us over and over in His Word not to criticize, compare or judge each other. Romans 14:10 (ESV) "10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God;"

Whenever I judge another believer, four things instantly happen:

    • I harm my fellowship with God
    • I expose my own pride and insecurity
    • I set myself up to be judged by God
    • I harm the fellowship of the church

A critical spirit is a costly vice! The Bible calls Satan "the accuser of our brethren" in (Revelation 12:10). It's his job to blame, complain and criticize the members of God's family  and any time we do the same, we're being duped into doing Satan's work for him!

Remember that other Christians, no matter how much you disagree with them, are not the real enemy!

5. Refuse to listen to gossip/slander.

In the run up to this unification, I have greatly been slandered again. Realise that slander is one of the 7 things God hates. It costs lives, destroys people and destroys churches.

Gossip is passing on information when you are neither part of the problem nor part of the solution.

Most people intuitively know that gossiping is wrong, but they don't grasp the fact that listening to it is wrong as well! Remember that people who gossip TO you will gossip ABOUT you as well. Besides, if you listen to gossip, God says that you are a troublemaker.

Proverbs 17:4 (ESV) "4 An evildoer listens to wicked lips, and a liar gives ear to a mischievous tongue."

Jude 1:19 (ESV) "19 It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit."

Galatians 5:15 (ESV) "15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another."

Proverbs 26:20 (ESV) "20 For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarrelling ceases."

6. Practice God's method for conflict resolution.

Jesus gave the church a simple three-step process for conflict resolution in Matthew 18. But during conflict, it is tempting to complain to a third party rather than courageously speak the truth in love to the person you are upset with. This always makes matters worse!

Matthew 18:15-17 (ESV) "15 If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. "

I love the way the Message puts it: Matthew 18:15-17a (MSG) If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you've made a friend. If he won't listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again. If he still won't listen, tell the church.

7. Support your pastors and leaders.

One of the sad things you learn in ministry is that people who have been around the church the longest can often be the most immature. Pastors often have the unpleasant task of serving as mediator between hurt or immature members, and they're also given the task of trying to make everyone happy, which even Jesus couldn't do! I cannot keep everybody happy, neither can Pastor Theuns, or Pastor Johan or Pastor Ernie, or the rest of the elders. I know Ivan is in education, but he is also a qualified Pastor, and often fills the pulpit. We will work hard and faithfully, but we cannot please all.

Hebrews 13:17 (ESV) "17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you."

1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 (ESV) "12 We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves."

It is not always easy to protect the unity of the church. Sometimes you will have to do what's best for the Body, not yourself, showing preference to others. That's one reason God puts us in a church family  to learn unselfishness. As members of a church, we learn to say "we" instead of "I" and "our" instead of "mine." God blesses churches that are unified like that! I know that as senior pastor of this new united church I will have to make decisions that will be unacceptable to somebody, but I have to do that as I have to consider the body as a whole. I am always open to conviction, but I am called to lead. My motto will always be 1 Corinthians 10:24 (ESV) "24 Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbour."

When God has a bunch of baby believers He wants to deliver, He looks for the warmest incubator he can find. There are many people in our community looking for love and a place to belong. Logos has to be that place. When they find a church where people genuinely love and care for each other, you would have to lock the doors to keep them away. What are you doing personally to make your church family more warm and loving?

8. Commit yourself to faithful attendance.

Never attend for the sake of the building, but attend for the sake of Christ. One thing that concerns me is that the world abhors the church. But what concerns me more is that Christians have become as bad as the world. I never dreamt that I would see the day that going to worship will be an alternative when we have nothing else on. Many years ago shops were closed on Sundays, no sport was played etc. Now while much of that was legalism, Christians still had a healthy respect for Sunday being the Lord's Day, the Day that He had made, and that we only miss worship when we are sick or away on leave, or away for a much needed weekend break. So many Christians have to break into their entertainment to gather with believers and do it reluctantly. A Christian should not be lying in bed on Sundays while their Lord is being worshipped by the rest of the body.

Hebrews 10:25 (ESV) "25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near."

Has neglecting the meeting together become your habit. Sadly, it was already a habit in early New Testament times, but it should not be like that. Jesus did not die for you to have an off day.

9. Commit yourself to use your gifts for the sake of the body.

Next Sunday I will be handing out a form on which you can indicate areas in which you desire to be involved. But all of us should play our part. The body needs you. I am careful to say Christ needs you, as if He is dependent on us. But He does need us to do our bit. That is the very reason the Holy Spirit has gifted all of us. I am not going to post any verse here, but do yourself a favour and study 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4 and Romans 12. Do not hide your gift, unwrap it and use it for Hid Glory. Satan and his principalities are looking in to the church to see if what Christ did for us really works, and the Holy angels are looking in to see if what Christ did for us really works. Ephesians 3:8-10 (ESV) "8 To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, 10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places."

10. Be faithful in your giving.

The unification of Houtkruis and Logos is going to place demands on all of us. I would feel guilty for asking all of us to do better, but I do not feel guilty as I do not believe that we are really all doing our share. Some are doing more than their share. Israel was guilty for robbing God, and today we rob God at our own peril. Let's learn from the Macedonian churches. 2 Corinthians 8:1-5 (ESV) "1 We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, 2 for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. 3 For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, 4 begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints 5 and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us."

These people gave abundantly in spite of their severe trials. I believe that today we create many severe trials by being unfaithful in our giving. Give weekly, give monthly, give according to the grace of God, be a cheerful giver, do your share and God will bless you. When we rob God, we rob ourselves from a blessing. Our expenses are going to increase. But remember that through this merger we are saving ourselves the expense of purchasing ground and building buildings. I realise that if you join any church that has paid for their buildings you score as you worship in a place that others have paid for. Let's do our share, and I want to encourage you to embrace the together we build programme which we introduce a few Sundays ago.

11. Be careful of an US-THEM MENTALITY.

Houtkruis has ended as it was, Logos has ended as it was, we are now one since we officially agreed to unite on the 21st of June. Next Sunday will see the coming together of two congregations as we celebrate and join together and feast on Sheep on the spit and enjoy true Koinonia. Legally we will be functioning under the legal entity of Houtkruis, the ethos will be that of Logos which is the stronger body. Over the next few months we will draft a new constitution to replace the Houtkruis constitution which will be more Biblical and legally correct. Patience is required as we work through the phases until we have joint on all levels. Much of our process has been hindered by side-shows, and our attention to the proper order of things was side-tracked, and much time and money was wasted in the process, and damage was done to Houtkruis, but by the grace of God, we will recover out of all of that as each one does his work.

12. Always be willing to be the least.

Philippians 2:1-5 (ESV) "1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,"

The story is told of two elephants walking over a hang bridge a few thousand meters above this great chasm. The bridge was swaying in the wind and from their sheer weight. The problem was that they were approaching the centre of the bridge from opposite sides. Everybody realized that when they met a great catastrophe will be beheld as a fight will cause the bridge to collapse and death will be the end in the chasm of division. However, when they got to the middle they did not stand on their rights, but one elephant knelt down and allowed the other elephant to walk over him, and life continued for both.

13. Invite your friends and see Logos grow.

The church will never grow simply on the back of the efforts of the pastors. Matthew 28 clearly teaches that as we are going we need to make disciples. The church exists to welcome strangers in. Take the leaflets you received today and invite your friends for next Sunday, but keep on inviting. Let people know that you have discovered a place where you feel loved and where you find Christ, even in His people. Next week we will see that Christ will build His church, but remember that we are fellow workers as each does his part. We always enter for worship and we exit to be Christ to a lost and dying world. We are letters written to the world, we are light, we are salt, we are witnesses. Acts 1:8 (ESV) 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

Finally.

We do not want a church that will move with the world, but we want a church that will move the world. Let's remain committed to our purpose statement which is to know God and to make Him known.

Ephesians 3:20-21 (ESV) 20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Amen!

Soli Deo Gloria

Logos Community Church: 24 July 2016