God is doing some building - Part III
The ground is broken. The building process has officially begun its slow journey to completion. Abiding Grace is building a church just as soon as all the ground gets moved and the signatures are all in place, and all that other stuff. But, remember, this physical building we’re constructing is nothing compared with the building God is doing in us.
Last week we looked at how God is doing some building, building our relationship with him and building us into his church. Now God’s word points us to what we are built on, the foundation of the apostles and prophets. We are built on his word, with, as our text says, “Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.”
That’s what brings all of scripture together. That is our foundation. That’s why every time you come to church here — you’ll hear about Jesus. Sure help with your financial priorities or guidance on your relationships or peace for your troubled hearts are all great things that come from your time in church — but none of them are possible without the foundation of God’s love for us in the life and death and life again of Jesus Christ. So when God does building, when it is building on his word, it will be building solidly on Jesus.
Now, as this building, as this church, as we set out on this journey to build a physical structure, we will be solid too. Sure, there may be delays for the right permits and setbacks with construction cost increases. We may find out that the theme for today: “Built on the rock” will increase the site prep costs. There could even be a natural disaster that sets it all back. I pray those things don’t happen, but God doesn’t promise they won’t.
And that’s OK, because of what he does promise. In our church’s theme passage, Jesus says, “I am the vine. You are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing.” When we remain in him, when we build on the foundation of God’s word, when we take advantage of worship time and Bible study time to keep growing in God’s word and Jesus’ love, God does the building. God produces fruit. Look at the last verses of our text: In him (Jesus) the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
This building, this gathering of us believers, is a place where God dwells. And as we gather together each week — for now at a rented daycare, but soon at our sanctuary built on our property — God is present, and he is doing some building. He’s building us up in our love for him and each other as he teaches us more and more of his love through his word. He’s building us up to be that Church that everyone in our lives can’t help but see. He’s building us up to be the place where people can go to find out more about our God. He’s making us a church. Amen.
the Rev. Jonathan E. Scharf Abiding Grace Lutheran Church
Our heritage is very important in determining our future. Karl Marx once said that a people without a heritage is easily led. He certainly talked a lot of people out of their heritage.
There was many years ago a sea captain from Italy who sailed to the coast of Africa. Captain Stephen was walking on the beach and discovered a missionary who had been beaten. He discovered that the missionary was Italian and took him aboard his ship to try to help him. The missionary knew he was dying and asked to be brought on the deck. The captain thinking that he would want to take one last look at the land that had been his, honored his request. The missionary pointed instead across the Atlantic toward America and said, “There is a land of people who need to be saved. Go and tell them about Jesus.” Captain Stephen passed this story to his son and his son passed it to his son and his son passed it on to his son.
The boy whose very name means “Christ Bearer” did that very thing. This boy was Christopher Columbus. This story of Columbus is a good example of how important our heritage is.
Most of our church history books have been written by white men and so have failed to include the rich Christian heritage of black people.
When my people in England knew nothing of Jesus, we find Christianity alive and well in Northern Africa. In fact, some 600 years before Christianity was in England, we find the most extensive library on Christianity located in Alexandria, which was a center of Christian Theology and Church Government. Saint Augustine was the Bishop of Hippo in Africa from 396 to 430 A.D. Saint Augustine was very active. His letters were powerful and went everywhere. He wrote some 230 letters.
Islam, the religion of the Arabian people, overran North Africa and much of the Christian Heritage was lost to our world.
When we see, the powerful, black preachers of today, such as T.D. Jacks, Carlton Pearson and Myles Monroe to name a few, we know this heritage is still alive. God has a plan and a purpose for each of our lives. He says, whosoever will may come. He didn’t leave any of us out. John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him, should not perish but have everlasting life.”
We have, when we repent of our sins and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, a relationship with God as his son and daughter. We have, at that point in time, become adopted into the kingdom of his dear son, Jesus Christ.
We read in Galatians 3:2629, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
What a rich heritage we can all have through God’s grace and our trusting in Jesus Christ as our lord and savior.
A life is a tenable thing to waste; give your life to Jesus and find out what he wants you to do and do it.
Doyle West Christian Life School of Theology