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Focusing on differences brings conflict; focusing on commonality brings peace. Jesus Christ came living a message of acceptance of differences and living according to God’s standards not mankind’s. Jehovah God sees things completely different than we do. In Him there are no Lutherans or Baptists or any other denomination. These were often born from conflict. There is no traditional or contemporary music. There are no races or genders. Focusing on differences and being judgmental feeds darkness not light. The closer we draw to the light the less effect the darkness has on us. Jesus is the light that unifies.

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They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Psalm 19:3

Go outside on a clear night. Get away from the city lights and look heavenward. See it? Stand and gaze for a few moments. Perhaps even lay down on the cool, soft carpet of grass below you. Look intently and listen. Do you hear it?

It’s the sound of the heavens. Oh, you won’t hear actual words. Angels sang to announce Jesus’ birth, but there haven’t been many heavenly choirs. This sound is different because this sound is not distinguishable to the human ear.

Take a look at their song though. Those stars over there? They’re the Baptist stars. Staunch & stoic they stand silent in the night boldly proclaiming the truth of the creation and the creator. The Pentecostal stars are over there. They’re the ones shining brightly and seem to dance in their heavenly place against the black backdrop. The Lutheran stars are off to the left (not sure if they are having a pot luck or not).
The Spanish speaking stars are over there right next to the English speaking stars. The French speaking stars are next and so on down the line.
You may be thinking, “What sky is he looking at?” You may be wondering what color the grass is in my world as well.

You’d be right of course. You see, all of heavens speak one language. Stars, planets, asteroids, moons and all the other celestial bodies join in perfect harmony to praise their creator. We humans have a hard time understanding each other. We have a difficult time dealing with people from different economic, cultural or religious backgrounds. But when we look at outer space even the atheist stands in awe at its complexity and enormity.

The language of heaven is a language of praise and unity. It’s a language that is understood by all and heard by none. Not a single star needs to speak praise for the creator. It simply shines, and all its buddies join in.

What would our world be like if we as Christ-followers shone in unity and as brightly as the stars you see as we lay here in the grass looking up at them? Would anyone be able to doubt the power and majesty of our Creator? I think not.

The Psalmist writes, “The Heavens declare the glory of God. They do it without seminary training. They do it without allegiance to any organized group. The heavens declare God’s greatness in silence, yet it’s a message we all can hear and understand. Live in peace and unity. Proclaim God’s glory without saying a single word by living a life pleasing to God.

PRAYER: I stand in awe of your majesty my Lord. I confess that we as your creations have been pulled apart by all sorts of things that don’t really matter. Empower us by your Spirit to shine forth to the world. Amen.


Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Philippians 2:1-2 (NASB)

Although I never wish disaster or crisis on anyone, something interesting, even refreshing happens when disaster strikes. All of the sudden race, gender, denominational affiliation and social standing don’t matter. People pitch in to clear trees, search for victims, provide food and supplies where necessary and sometimes just offer a shoulder for encouragement.

I’ve never once heard a news report where an angry homeowner said something like, “Why are all these people strolling through my yard with chainsaws and such to clear my property after that tornado hit? I don’t want them providing food and helping me clean up this mess after my home was destroyed!”

Never seen an interview where an earthquake victim stands in front of his house warning people to stay away while he searches the rubble for his wife and kids; or heard of a family demanding an apology from the fire department for saving their home; or heard an angry patient wake up from surgery demanding an explanation for why the surgeon worked so diligently to save his life.

Crisis tends to bring out the best in us. There are exceptions of course, but deep within each of us there seems to be some sort of trigger that says “When disaster strikes we come together.” A unity develops over a common cause and after that task is complete we all go our separate ways, waiting for the next opportunity to help where needed to save a life or provide for some physical or emotional need.

The Apostle Paul seems to have had a special relationship with the church he planted inPhilippi. He writes, “I thank my God every time I think about you!” The Philippians had been Paul’s partners in ministry from the very beginning and now they were worried about reports that he was in prison.

In the midst of Paul’s own personal crisis these dear friends wanted to help. Interestingly, Paul sends message to them not to be discouraged, but to rejoice in what God was doing in him and through him. Then he says “If you really want to make my happy; if you really want me to feel like this is all worth it; if you really want to show others what following Christ is all about, here’s what I want you to do. Be unified in your minds. Set your hearts towards one purpose. Don’t let divisions keep you from showing others what the gospel is all about.”

What would our world look like if we as believers in Jesus Christ handled every day as though it were a disaster? How would we treat those who are ‘different than us’ if we approached life with an attitude of urgency to rescue them from calamity?

If we truly had a sense of urgency about us would it matter what sexual orientation our neighbor had? Would it really make a difference which version of the Bible we read, or what kind of music we played in our churches? Would the sign on the front of our churches and the ‘denominational distinctives keep us from snatching people from the jaws of hell?

It’s not the stand we take that will win others to Jesus; it’s kneeling down to lift up those in distress. Seek to reach out to those who are in their own personal disaster and crisis. With one purpose bring them into the safety of Jesus’ love and forgiveness. Show them grace by your actions.

PRAYER: Lord it’s so easy at times to forget that our main purpose on earth isn’t to be right, but to show others your love. Help me to see the crisis’ those around me are going through. Empower me by your spirit to show grace to those in need. Amen.


LORD, I love the house where you live, the place where your glory dwells. Psalm 26:8

Shortly after the terrorist attacks on 9/11 there was a huge spike in church attendance. People that hadn’t been to church in years walked through the doors to heal, to comfort one another, to pray for our nation.

When the earthquake hit Haiti, the hurricanes hit New Orleans, the Tsunami hit Southeast Asia people sent food, money and teams to the affected areas to heal (emotionally and medically) comfort one another and provide housing or whatever else was needed to lift the survivors of these natural disasters to their feet again.

Throughout history the ravages of war and the pain of natural disasters has awakened in us the desire to help. Our hearts melt at the sight of starving orphans. Suddenly we find an extra $10.00 to send through our cell phone bill to help people we never have met.

What is it within us that drives those feelings of compassion and assistance? It’s the realization that we are needed and that we need each other. Deep inside each of us there is a desire to feel like the action you take, no matter how small, will somehow make a difference in the lives of others. Suddenly it doesn’t matter what social class you are in or what the color of your skin is. Sexual orientation isn’t as important as making sure a cardboard shack is replaced by suitable housing and clean water. Enemies set aside their differences at least long enough to meet the needs of those affected by the disaster.

There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that success in meeting these challenges requires teamwork. One person going to Haiti would have accomplished nothing. One fireman going into the flaming towers would have been fruitless. One $10.00 gift to help the famine ravaged parts of the world would be a ridiculous attempt to help.

Why is it then that when it comes to Spiritual warfare we Christ-followers think we can wage battle alone? We divide ourselves according to denominational affiliation. We camp out on issues about how to worship or how and when to baptize. Some of us are so tired of the bickering that we give up on getting together with other Christ-followers all together. The statement, “I can be a Christian without going to church” is absolutely correct. You can also go to battle alone, but you won’t last long.

Before he went to the cross to die for you Jesus only asked his Father for one thing: UNITY. He knew that in order for us to live strong lives that withstand the forces of evil we would need each other. The body of Christ isn’t a building or a denomination or a set of rules. The body of Christ is a living organism that needs the nourishment of fellowshipping with each other to grow strong.

As Christ-followers we need to make sure that our ‘churches’ show the grace and love of our Lord Jesus to every person that enters our doors. We need to be an active part of our community by being a ‘church without walls’ and doing all we do in the name of Christ (not our church!).

We need each other. We need each other for our own physical, emotional and spiritual strength. The people around us need to see the love of Jesus by the things we do and say to draw them into relationship with the one who can comfort and heal for eternity.

PRAYER: Father, I love to come to your house to worship and learn from your word. I confess to you that often times I look more for what I can gain from the experience that what I can do for others and for you. Forgive me for selfishly looking for my own comfort at the expense of others. Empower me with your Spirit to begin today to make my church a place where all people feel welcome. I need you and they need me. In your name I pray, Amen.

 

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