Growing a Mature Church

Ephesians 4:11-16 

11 Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers.12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. 13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.

14 Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. 15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. 16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

When The World Shakes

Hebrews 12:14-29 

14 Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. 15 Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. 16 Make sure that no one is immoral or godless like Esau, who traded his birthright as the firstborn son for a single meal. 17 You know that afterward, when he wanted his father’s blessing, he was rejected. It was too late for repentance, even though he begged with bitter tears.

18 You have not come to a physical mountain, to a place of flaming fire, darkness, gloom, and whirlwind, as the Israelites did at Mount Sinai. 19 For they heard an awesome trumpet blast and a voice so terrible that they begged God to stop speaking. 20 They staggered back under God’s command: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.” 21 Moses himself was so frightened at the sight that he said, “I am terrified and trembling.”

22 No, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to countless thousands of angels in a joyful gathering. 23 You have come to the assembly of God’s firstborn children, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God himself, who is the judge over all things. You have come to the spirits of the righteous ones in heaven who have now been made perfect. 24 You have come to Jesus, the one who mediates the new covenant between God and people, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks of forgiveness instead of crying out for vengeance like the blood of Abel.

25 Be careful that you do not refuse to listen to the One who is speaking. For if the people of Israel did not escape when they refused to listen to Moses, the earthly messenger, we will certainly not escape if we reject the One who speaks to us from heaven!26 When God spoke from Mount Sinai his voice shook the earth, but now he makes another promise: “Once again I will shake not only the earth but the heavens also.” 27 This means that all of creation will be shaken and removed, so that only unshakable things will remain.

28 Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe. 29 For our God is a devouring fire.

Discerning Real Value in Life

Psalm 49

For the choir director: A psalm of the descendants of Korah.

Listen to this, all you people!
    Pay attention, everyone in the world!
High and low,
    rich and poor—listen!
For my words are wise,
    and my thoughts are filled with insight.
I listen carefully to many proverbs
    and solve riddles with inspiration from a harp.

Why should I fear when trouble comes,
    when enemies surround me?
They trust in their wealth
    and boast of great riches.
Yet they cannot redeem themselves from death
    by paying a ransom to God.
Redemption does not come so easily,
    for no one can ever pay enough
to live forever
    and never see the grave.

10 Those who are wise must finally die,
    just like the foolish and senseless,
    leaving all their wealth behind.
11 The grave is their eternal home,
    where they will stay forever.
They may name their estates after themselves,
12     but their fame will not last.
    They will die, just like animals.
13 This is the fate of fools,
    though they are remembered as being wise. Interlude

14 Like sheep, they are led to the grave,
    where death will be their shepherd.
In the morning the godly will rule over them.
    Their bodies will rot in the grave,
    far from their grand estates.
15 But as for me, God will redeem my life.
    He will snatch me from the power of the grave. Interlude

16 So don’t be dismayed when the wicked grow rich
    and their homes become ever more splendid.
17 For when they die, they take nothing with them.
    Their wealth will not follow them into the grave.
18 In this life they consider themselves fortunate
    and are applauded for their success.
19 But they will die like all before them
    and never again see the light of day.
20 People who boast of their wealth don’t understand;
    they will die, just like animals.