Greetings, in the Name of our risen LORD and Savior, JESUS CHRIST!
I thank GOD for giving me HIS indescribable gift, the free gift of eternal life, which is only through faith in JESUS CHRIST. I am also thankful to HIM for allowing me to Pastor HIS body of believers here at Calvary Chapel Bartlett who love the LORD and love one another. As we read in 1 Corinthians 12:18 "But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased." It has been a pleasure for me to see HIS work here at Calvary Chapel Bartlett, which initially began in 1995 in our living room and has grown to where we are now; a building on a beautiful wooded property in the Memphis suburb of Bartlett, Tennessee. As we have grown as a Body so have different ministries: Children's ministry, Women's ministry, Men's ministry, Youth Ministry, College and Young Adults ministry, Worship and Music ministry, Married's Ministry, Missions around the world, and others. And I am also excited about the future, because I know that HIS work has only just begun! As we look at the early church in the Book of Acts we see that to know JESUS CHRIST and make HIM known wasn't the main goal, it was the only goal. There was a simplicity among the first century church that had such a dramatic effect upon the world - so much so that in less than 40 years after JESUS' resurrection the Apostle Paul, in Colossians 1:23, declared that the Gospel had been preached to every creature under heaven. Today, in our generation, we cannot say that. There are many areas in the world, and even many people in our own neighborhoods who have not heard of JESUS CHRIST and HIS awesome demonstration of love - the cross and HIS resurrection. What did the early church have that made them so effective?
In Acts 1:8 JESUS told HIS disciples, "you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." Notice: The Holy Spirit makes us powerful witnesses. At Pentecost the Disciples became what JESUS said they would be.
In Acts 4:13 we read, "Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus." We see here that effectiveness wasn't the result of seminary degrees, training seminars, or church programs, but was the result of an abiding relationship with JESUS CHRIST. As HE told HIS disciples, John 15:5 "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing."
This raises a question: How do we abide in CHRIST? The answer is as simple and as clear as the Bible on your coffee table: through the WORD of GOD! In the Gospel of John 1:14 we read, "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." We will know JESUS fully when we know HIS WORD fully - the whole counsel, not the parts we prefer.
Also, prayer was a vital part of the early church's life. Through prayer they communicated with GOD and sought HIS will. They prayed, and GOD answered! (See Acts 13:1-4). That's why we are encouraged in 1 Thess. 5:17, to "pray without ceasing."
To summarize, we need to get back to basics. We need the full counsel of the Bible, so that we, like the Disciples, might also be with JESUS. We also need the real power of the Holy Spirit, so that we can be effective, powerful witnesses of JESUS CHRIST. And we need to pray. Pray in our personal prayer closets and pray with our brothers and sisters. This is what I feel is GOD's vision for Calvary Chapel Bartlett, for all of the various ministries that we serve in, whether it be in the Children's ministry, Women's ministry, Men's ministry, Youth Ministry, Missions, or anything else. The great goal - the only goal - is to know JESUS CHRIST and make HIM known, to love the LORD and love one another.
If you are in a church which is doing this, then praise GOD and serve HIM there. If, however, you don't have a church home, we invite you to worship the LORD with us. GOD bless you as you "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen." 2 Peter 3:18
In JESUS' love and service,