A congregation of the Church of God should consist of members knit together in a common bond of love and truth, working in harmony together to build up the body of Christ. In order for a congregation to be knit together in love, there are substantial characteristics that must be found in that congregation, and in that church. Let's look at a few essential qualities in God's Church, if we are to move forward in unity, if we are to move forward being knit together in love; in fulfillment of the vision that God has set before us.
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It's been an exciting year; especially in the Media Department…it no doubt could have been our new air-time opportunity to Beyond Today in Europe, Asia and Africa. This weekend is the second week on Middle East TV, on Far East TV, and also on the Harvest Network… The World Harvest Network . As Mr. Luker…Dennis Luker wrote in his letter to us on July 5th, several weeks ago…he said: "Here at the Home Office, in Cincinnati, Ohio, we're working together in peace and unity to accomplish God's work." He continues: "We all love one another; we enjoy working together…as a result, God is opening many doors and blessing us with the opportunity to do His work and serve others." Mr. Luker then went ahead and commented in his letter on the exciting…the opportunities for Beyond Today in the United States, and the Middle East, and the Far East.
And when we work together as a team, in unity, knit together, the Father and Jesus Christ can use us so much more. And I trust and pray that we, as the United Church of God, are on the threshold of much greater work, if we will submit to God and His will, humble ourselves and work together as brethren…knit together in God's love. And so that's what I'm going to talk about today, because it does relate to the Feast Video as well, and it kind of gets you in the mood for the interviews afterwards, while we're talking about it. But it's a universal message…it doesn't just apply to this congregation. It applies to every congregation; every postulant in God's Church around the world.
This language, knit together , is used in the recently repositioned Mission Statement that was approved by the General Conference of Elders in Cincinnati this past May. So, in our strategic plan we have a Vision Statement that's about our Mission Statement. And it was repositioned and realigned and edited a little bit, and approved this past May by the General Conference of Elders. So, let me read to you, our now current vision to the United Church of God and International Association. Our Vision Statement is this:
"A church, led by God's Holy Spirit, joined and knit together by what every member supplies, with all doing their share, and growing in love to fulfill God's great purpose for humanity, to bring many children to glory."
Free Dictionary.com says this about being knit together…and this is regarding broken bones. And it means to join or grow together, and gives an example of it in a sentence: "The bones are knitting together exactly as expected; if the bones don't knit together properly, we'll have to do something a little more drastic ." Much is said in the Word of God, either directly or indirectly, about Christians, Church of God, the Body of Christ, being knit together . The apostle Paul told the Colossian brethren…let me just join two verses together here from Colossians 2:2That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; See All... and 2:19:
Colossians 2:2That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; See All... that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love ,
Verse 19: from whom all the body, (all the body)… nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase which is from God .
A congregation of the Church of God should consist of members knit together in a common bond of love and truth, working in harmony together to build up the body of Christ. In order for a congregation to be knit together in love, there are substantial characteristics that must be found in that congregation, and in that church. Let's look at a few essential qualities in God's Church, if we are to move forward in unity, if we are to move forward being knit together in love; in fulfillment of the vision that God has set before us. The title of the message today simply: "Being Knit Together in Love"… being knit together in love.
As we go through the subject, be thinking yourself even of examples and ways to promote unity, and being knit together. We'll be interviewing some of you after services and tomorrow at the church picnic – so think, "How can we be better knit together?" How have you seen success in your life and being knit together with the brethren? The relationship among the people of God is founded upon a real spiritual unity. Our unity, as God's people, is spiritual. It's not a human treaty, or a social agreement – it's not just because of financial or political interests that we have, or just of the general welfare of humanity. No…we are knit together on a spiritual plane. It's not like Rotary or Kiwanis, or a secular club that has a social agreement - no, we are knit together on a spiritual plane. As the apostle Paul has explained, God has pre-determined that His people would become one in Christ. As converted but imperfect individuals, each of us, there will still be friction between the brethren – between us – but we have a true foundation for unity in Christ, through the power of His Holy Spirit. And we have the spiritual resources by which to maintain the unity, and to resolve conflicts in us. We do this at a spiritual level – like I said, church is not just a social club; it's on a different plane.
Let's turn to Ephesians 4…read the first three verses. Let's do that for a moment – go ahead and turn over to Ephesians 4:1I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, See All... and read along with me – Paul says:
Ephesians 4:1I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, See All... I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling, with which you were called,
And so, what were we called to do?
Verse 2 : with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, (or patience), bearing with one another in love,
Verse 3: endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
So what of value did he come from? Where, of thou being knit together, come from? It comes from the Spirit. The very Spirit of God that dwells in each of us that have been baptized and received the Holy Spirit.
So, what are some of the main elements we must consider a part of…as interesting, and a part of God's church, if we are to be knit together as His people; if we are to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. I have five simple points you can jot down if you're a note taker – some of us are note takers. And we have to remember that Spiritual unity begins at the top. There's no denying that the trouble of division we experienced in the United Church of God over a year ago was generated within the leadership of the church. So here's the first step in becoming knit together in love:
Number 1: Church leadership must be working together - ( Church leadership must be working together.) In other words, there must be harmonious relationship among all in leadership. The ministry must be communicating with each other; they should be working together, discussing and planning so that they can effectively carry out the important work that has been entrusted to them. Just to encourage though, not just the leadership in Cincinnati, but also the local ministry, deacons and deaconesses, that is in each congregation. The leadership has to work together as a team on every front, from headquarters, or the home office, all the way down to the local congregation and its leadership.
One of the best examples of this over the years is preparation for the Passover service by the deacons and deaconesses and elders and the elders wives. I think setting up for the Passover service is one of the best orchestrated events of the church year. Careful planning is done – everyone involved does their part in unison and harmony, even down to how the bread and the wine will be distributed during the service, how it's laid out on the table up front beforehand - also is one of our best organized events. The responsibility of overseeing the work of the church belongs to the Elders and Deacons, but too often and in too many organizations, Deacons and Elders are not fully in harmony with the spiritual needs of the church either. So it begins at the top, doesn't it?
In order for the ministry to truly work together, they all must have a genuine love for God, a love for the truth, and love for each other. And the ministry is bound to serve the people of God in unity themselves. The ministry and the leadership are not at liberty to do just as they please . God's truth and the spiritual good of the church must at all times have priority over self-will and personal preference - we saw a lot of self-will just over a year ago. And unfortunately…very unfortunately, this was not the case, even in United Church of God, over the past number of years. But now, with a renewed, unified focus approach, we expect blessings and new opportunities to be given to us by God to accomplish His work, on His behalf.
Let me quote just a little bit more from Mr. Lucas' letter from last week – he says: "I'm asking you to please pray that God will provide what we need this year as well, so that we'll not need to make any reductions in preaching the gospel, or providing for our church as a ministry. We can be encouraged that, as we submit to His will…"- and then he quotes from:
Philippines 4:19 And my God shall supply all our needs…according to His riches in glory by Jesus Christ.
So, in maintaining a spirit of unity among the elders, there must exist the right attitude of proper respect for one another at all times. And so, I'm making this point, even though it doesn't apply to all of us here, but it's something we recognize. We must all submit to the will of God. And this is the only way to expect God to supply our needs, in abundance, especially when it comes to representing Him in our work and efforts to preach the good news of His kingdom. This may sometimes involve overlooking such things as minor personality differences and little idiosyncrasies that we all have, but most importantly, ministers must be fully qualified to their office. Ministers must not just meet some of the qualifications – they must meet all of them.
You've all seen the listing in I Timothy Chapter 3 and in Titus Chapter 1. Let's just read a couple verses from Titus 1:7-9 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;  But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate;  Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.
See All... – and this description here about bishops or elders, is actually very similar to the description that is required even of deacons as well. So this, in many respects, applies to deacons and deaconesses.
Titus 1:7For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; See All... For a bishop (or an elder) must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, (once again, you've got to put God first – not your own preferences ) not quick- tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money,
Verse 8: but hospitable, (someone who entertains) lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, and self-controlled, (someone who doesn't just fly off the handle when things don't go right),
Verse 9: holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.
Now, some ordained people may be wider in scope in meeting these qualifications than others – some may be able to teach doctrine more effectively, some may be better with the youth, for example - but each elder has to have these qualifications to some degree or another. The church is headed for disaster when elders are not qualified, and especially if they're not working together. Furthermore, if elders and deacons are not working together among themselves, there's little hope for the whole church to accomplish much working together and being knit together. Now, of course, I'm not saying that this is a problem in this congregation – simply a universal principle for us always to keep in mind as we discuss being knit together. It must begin with the leadership.
I've worked at the home office since the United Church of God began in 1995 – the spirit of unity, cooperation, love and teamwork, I would say is the best it's been in our seventeen years in existence. And I can really attest to that…I've been working at the office since the beginning. Even in the glory days of our founding, setting up the home office in Arcadia, California, before we moved to Cincinnati…even back then when we began, there was a certain element of tension and competition from leadership position. This resulted even in our first president drawing away for himself a following less than three years into our existence. I really believe that right now we're at the most unified we've been since the beginning. Especially at the office…we have a great team. So the first step in being knit together in love rests squarely on the shoulders of the ministry and leadership of the church.
Number 2: The brethren and the leadership must communicate - ( The brethren and the leadership must communicate .) Mr. Luker and his management team are making a concerted effort to communicate to you the work of the church, the needs of the church, and also to provide everyone with spiritual direction and guidance. And I trust that you all take seriously the letters that come out from the Chairman, Mr. Melvin Rhodes, and our President, Mr. Luker, because those letters are an important step in communicating with you the needs of the church and even some spiritual principles.
But this is a two-way street: The ministry and the home office have a responsibility toward the brethren, and the congregation has a responsibility toward each other and the ministry. As I said, it's a two-way street . The church's leadership is required to be examples to the flock, not as being "lords over you", but being examples to the flock.
Paul told the elders at Ephesus to take heed to yourself and to all the flock among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseer, to shepherd the church of God, which He purchased with His own blood. That's in Acts 20:28Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. See All....
But in order to do this, the ministry must know you, and the congregation must know the ministry. So we get together in each other's homes, to share a meal together or a cup of coffee. And we call the elders when we have needs - and they're here to serve you. And this back- and- forth communication, on all levels, helps strive unity and being knit together. There's something about breaking bread together that builds unity – sharing our food. Having a meal with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ is a bonding time, and while we're eating, conversation flows. And this is one of the best times for us to communicate with each other, is over food, or over a cup of coffee – just to chat about things – how things are going. Maybe this is why pot-lucks are so enjoyable. Often we get to sit next to someone that we ordinarily wouldn't even. Food breaks down the barriers. Make an effort to invite others into your home for a meal, as you're able. This is one of the best ways to bond a congregation together, at all levels.
Let's turn back to Ephesians 4:13-16 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:  That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;  But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:  From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
Ephesians 4:13Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: See All... till we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect (or to a mature) man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;''
He is following on from what we read at the beginning of the chapter…
Verse 14: that we should no longer be children , (that is supposed to mean mature – mature members of the church) no longer children tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,
Verse 15 : but, speaking the truth in love – but even when you speak the truth to someone, it has to be done in love…otherwise you're not going to have that unity and maturity – that we may grow up in all things into Him who is the head – Christ.
Now notice Verse 16 – and it's from this that our vision statement for the church is actually taken – part of it – from whom the whole body – everyone – joined and knit together by what every joint supplies – what every ligament, bone and sinew supplies – according to the effective working – the Greek word for working here is energeia , from which we get the word energy – so this is an active, energetic approach – the effective energy, the effective working, by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
What we're reading here is that every part must do its share – young and old alike; minister and member alike. We hear on every hand about the failure to communicate…the government, we hear about the failure to communicate; in the home; in business; and even in church. When a congregation is plagued with a communication gap between the leadership and members, there cannot be any real progress. And if there's a communication gap with each other, there's a road-block to unity in being knit together as a whole congregation. An atmosphere must prevail where the members feel free to communicate with one another, and with the deacons and elders…but in love, as seen in verse 15. It's not just a matter of any kind of communication…c ommunicating in love, with maturity. And the best way to diffuse a problem, to sort out a conflict that may arise, is to go to your brother. We all know that this is the biblical way to deal with issues. We must do this before issues become a greater problem, and escalates to the point where the whole congregation finds out about it. Talk to each other; know one another – share your lives with one another. Break down barriers and reservations. Notice Colossians 2:1-3 For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh;  That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;  In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
See All... – Let's turn over there and read Colossians 2:1-3 For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh;  That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;  In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Colossians 2:1For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh; See All... For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh,
Verse 2 : that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, (here's thisterm again, being knit together) and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ,
Verse 3: in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
So, Paul says that our hearts are encouraged when we knit together. It's a joyful experience – it's fun to come to church when we knit together! Having use of communication needs to be open so that the members have opportunities to offer suggestions, ask questions, give their input, and be knit together as a team. And this in turn affords the leadership of a congregation an opportunity to feel the pulse of the brethren, to know what everybody's thinking and how they're getting along. The ministry needs to make sure that the congregation's well informed as to what is expected and as to what is going on. The work of the ministry is not a deep dark secret, and in United we're very open about what we do. A good leader informs the congregation of its decisions and goes over them with the details of their plans. And each local situation determines what would be the most expedient in forging unity and being knit together. And once again I'm not saying it's a problem in this congregation…these are universal principles for us always to keep in mind…open communication between us all is imperative. It's a two-way street if we're going to be knit together as a church, as the body of Christ. Now let's get a little bit more specific with point number three, and that is:
Desire to please God rather than yourself. ( Desire to please God rather than yourself .) And all of us are selfish human beings at the core really, aren't we? It's something we're always trying to overcome. Often, in order to be knit together, and for that atmosphere to prevail, personal preferences and matters of opinion must be kept to ourselves. It's not all about us…so we've heard, haven't we? It's about what's good for the whole body. And where opinions, radical ideas and religious hobbyism reign, end up with chaos and confusion, strife and contention…and one of the quickest ways to bring disunity into congregations is to start spreading your own version of a biblical doctrine. And this is putting yourself before the welfare of the whole group, and it starts to unravel the knitting.
When I was a child, my grandmother on dad's side, was a knitter, and she knitted us sweaters…and there was six of us kids. And it seemed like we were always getting new sweaters…jumpers as they called them in Australia – always getting new jumpers! But you'd be out playing and they'd get worn…all it took was for one little nick, for one thread to get caught, to get torn, and the whole thing started unraveling in a big hole! And mom would try to sew it up and fix it…but once the knitting starts unraveling you're in trouble, and it's hard to get it back together again.
And so a deep abiding love for truth is essential to the genuine spiritual growth of any congregation. And there must be certain standards upon which we all agree, upon what the Biblical truth is, if we are to be knit together in love. That's why in United Church of God we have our list of fundamental beliefs that we follow. So no matter which congregation you go to around the world, you're going to hear the same messages, going to see the same style of service, and you'll know you're home! And I just remember going on the Jerusalem dig, back in 1980 or 1981. And we visited some brethren in Athens, Greece, and it was just a tiny congregation at the time, and it was like I knew them…I didn't even speak their language! There was something about that - that spiritual bond and unity. And so that's why we have our fundamental doctrinal beliefs that we all agree upon. That's why we go to great lengths to publish our booklets and articles after very careful review, comparing what we teach with the Scripture – against the Biblical record. We base what we teach and what we write very carefully on the Scriptures, and it takes time…it takes sometimes many years to evaluate a teaching. Contentious discussions about doctrine are not healthy. Where there's not a sincere desire to please God we then become susceptible and vulnerable to many bad consequences.
I Corinthians 11:16 is one warning for us that Paul sent to the Corinthians at the time. I Corinthians 11:16 he said:
I Corinthians 11:16 But if anyone seems to be contentious – and one translation says: If anybody wants to just argue all the time…we have no such custom, in the church of God.
So, that's kind of like our custom today – you've got to be real careful about contentious arguments, especially when it comes to doctrine and teachings.
I Timothy 6:3 is another good one to go to, about thinking of God more than ourselves:
I Timothy 6:3 If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ , - so what were the words of our Lord Jesus Christ? That was true doctrine and true teaching… if you don't consent to those kind of words of Jesus Christ and to the doctrine which accords with godliness,
Verse 4: This person is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which comes envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions,
Verse 5: useless wrangling's of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself.
Don't get into those contentious arguments. So United Church of God is being very careful about laying out what to teach, in writing, in different presentations, so that we can be unified together in our Scriptural understanding. When we stray from the truth, we can become deceived. We can even resist the truth, if we're not careful – or speak evil of the truth and hinder ourselves from obeying the truth.
Over decades of being in the church, we've all witnessed our sad cases of members who became so obsessed in their personal, thoughtful interruption of a Biblical truth that it eventually drove them away from the body of Christ and they stopped attending. It may not have even been an important doctrine, and they got myopic in their thinking about it. We can all probably name some names of people who succumbed to that idea. In order to be knit together, you must pass our personal interpretations through the correct channels, where they can be properly and carefully examined with you, not just transmitted for everyone to hear, before it's been carefully vetted. It's sad to see someone put such a high stake in a personal belief that they become obsessed with it, and lose their vision of the overall plan of God in the meantime, until they can think of nothing else but their "pet belief."
So, put the needs of the congregation ahead of any selfish, personal, wants and needs. And most importantly, put God and pleasing Him, above all of our own desires. And be thinking yourself, here this afternoon before the interviews, how can we be better knit together? What examples do you have in your life of positive things that happened, that helped the congregation be knit together over the years? And think, does it have anything to do with the desire to please God , about pleasing ourselves - putting other people and the church ahead of our own desires.
I slipped in number four here as:
Eliminate gossip and idle talk . ( Eliminate gossip and idle talk .) Whatever occurred and has been settled in the congregation many years ago, maybe five, ten or fifteen years ago, is gone and past, and needs to be forgiven. Continually bringing up old incidents and problems contributes very little to the building of the local church. Sometimes it's just time to move on , and move forward in the present situation. If you're not careful, it can provide a low morale situation, if you don't move on. Let's look at Matthew 12:36But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. See All... – because accomplishment which may have taken years of hard work to build up, can be rapidly torn down, almost overnight, by a few destructive words. And it's very hard to get that unity back again. Just a few destructive words, and it's all undone – the knitting comes unraveled. Because untimely, damaging talk and character assassination, destroys congregations, destroy churches, which in turn eventually can affect the whole organization.
Matthew 12:36But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. See All... "But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment."
So, just in casual conversation, what do you talk about? In casual conversation at the church with your fellow brethren…just idle words, or just casual words…what do you say? Are you thinking of others, putting them first? Or are you tearing people down? What is most amazing when it comes to gossip, is that usually no one has the whole story absolutely correct anyway. It doesn't seem to matter which side you're on, it seems nobody has the whole story. It's like the game of telephone , where each time the story is told it loses truth and gains greater embellishment, becomes grander…and sometimes the story you hear is actually quite unlike the original! And maybe nothing like the original. And if you've been a victim of gossip, you know how much it hurts. If you've had things said about you that were not true…and it cuts to the heart. This is particularly hurtful for children on the playground at school – sticks and stones can break your bones… and words really do hurt you, don't they?
We have to think about our own words, not to offend and hurt each other - and it can happen so easily. Something can be taken out of context, or taken wrong, so easily. That's why we need to be knit together and in communication with each other all the time – sharing our lives together. Be careful before you pass along stories – think, is this something I need to say? Especially if it's putting somebody down. Do I even have all the facts? Maybe I should just say nothing. And, if and when there are occasions to discuss a problem with someone, we have to discuss it in a very constructive manner. Most of the problems arise among us beginning just with two individuals . A misunderstanding between just two of us is usually how a situation begins. But then, as we talk to others about it, tell our friends about it, gripe to our best friend about it, it starts to become a whole congregational problem – starts to expand prematurely and unnecessarily, because someone has done too much talking.
As you know, we must be guided by the principles outlined in Matthew 18:15-17 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.  But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.  And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
See All..., about how to go to your brother. If there's an accusation against a brother or a sister, it must be handled correctly and scripturally. We should say nothing about others that we would be unwilling to write out and sign with our name. And often that happens in there with e-mail doesn't it? Put that in writing and that e-mail gets around. Be very careful what you write, what you put down in an e-mail…and actually don't write anything in an e-mail you wouldn't be willing for someone else to see – that you'll stand by it. The gossip and untimely idle words must be stricken from our record if we're going to be truly knit together as a congregation, as the people of God.
Number five: Be willing to work for the best of the whole body… is my last point. Be willing to work together…be willing to work for the best of the whole body. It's not just what our selfish desires are. We are not working together, knit together in love, when only two or three people are cooperating – all of us must be working together for the better of the whole body, not just three out of four, or nine out of ten, or even ninety-nine out of a hundred…everybody's got to be working together, otherwise there's that one bad apple in the crate. Everyone must be on the same page.
Here in the congregation, all of us can visit others – help with the needs of the congregation; fellowship together. Take care of each other's needs and show love to one another…actually, no matter what our age – young and old alike; from top to bottom, left to right, young and old. I remember very vividly, our two sons, our two eldest sons when they were about five or six years old, they insisted on helping stack the chairs and roll up the mats at church, when they were very little – this was back in the Pasadena, used to be p.m. congregation. Each week after services we had to put away about 750 chairs, roll up 25 or 26 wide rubber mats that were covering the gymnasium floor to protect it from the chairs during church, and to protect the floor from women's heels and all that – then we had to dust mop the whole gymnasium when we were done…it was ready for the Imperial Schools class week coming up. And our boys insisted on, in their own small way, in always helping. Of course, it's always, you know, tempting just to do it yourself and push the kids out of the way, because we could role the mats properly and keep them straight and lined up…we'd could stack the chairs ten high – they can't…but no, we had about probably fifteen or twenty little kids help, you know, strike church, after it was over. And I was just going to get them involved, and feel connected to what was going on.
And we can always find a way for everyone to be involved, from young to old. All we have to do is make sure that their participation and their help is age-appropriate, of course, and gender appropriate, but everybody has a part to play in the congregation. It's just one person sitting on the sideline – it just doesn't quite feel right anymore. So everybody has to work for the best of the whole body. So, I ask a question: "Are we knit together in love – are we willing to work for the better of the whole?" I'd like to turn to Psalm 133:1-3 (A Song of degrees of David.) Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!  It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments;  As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.
See All.... There are only three verses in this Psalm, actually. And you'll know what it is when I start reading it…we used to have a church song that used these words:
Psalm 133:1(A Song of degrees of David.) Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! See All... Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity. (Those words mean a lot; say a lot)
Verse 2: It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down on the beard, the beard of Aaron, running down on the edge of his garments.
What did that oil of the high priest represent? It represented God's Holy Spirit in our day.
Verse 3: It is like the dew of Hermon, descending upon the mountains of Zion; for there the Lord commanded the blessing – life forevermore.
And so, God does give us life, through the power of His Holy Spirit. So oil, here in this Psalm, represents God's Holy Spirit. God's Spirit, dwelling in each of us, binds us together as one in His family, in unity .
So, as I wrap things up here, remember these points today – and as these are universal points that apply in every congregation of the church, church leadership must be working together. And we all recognized that a lot in the last year or two, didn't we? Church leadership must be working together. The brethren and the leadership must communicate- so it's a two-way street now. And if we desire to please God, rather than yourself, we have to put God and His way first. Eliminate gossip and idle talk and be willing to work for the best of the whole body, and everybody can benefit from that.
So, our newly repositioned Mission Statement says this - I'll read it to you again: The vision for the church, United Church of God, is a church led by God's Holy Spirit (that's where it starts), joined and knit together by what every member supplies – notice it doesn't say what some members supply – it's by what every member supplies . Everybody has their part to play… with all doing their share …everybody has to contribute… with all doing their share, and growing in love to fulfill God's great purpose for humanity, which is, to bring many children to glory.
So our Mission Statement is to Ephesians 4 and Hebrews 2. Let's turn to Hebrews 2, as a final Scripture here in this verse (split-sermon), and think, what is the purpose of our vision, as a church? We want to be joined and knit together – all of us – to help fulfill God's great purpose, which is, to bring many sons and daughters to glory . We've been told in other passages that when Christ returns, we will be like Him . We're told, we will partake of the divine nature – we'll be like God! In:
Hebrews 2:10For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. See All... For it was fitting for Him , (with a capital H…notice –it's God) for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory… of course, it's not just talking about males here – talking about sons and daughters – talking about children – bringing many children to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
Verse 11: For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified (it's both God andus) are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren,
Jesus Christ calls us His brothers and sisters…And He's referred to as our elder brother…
Verse 12 : saying : (Here's what Jesus says ) "I will declare Your name to My brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You."
So if we are unified like this, if we are knit together like this, if we are led and filled by God's Holy Spirit, Christ will call us His brothers and sisters – and He won't be ashamed to do so. He'll be happy to do so – He'll be, you know, filled with pride to do so. So, may Jesus Christ call us all His brothers and sisters – not just some of us, but all of us , His brothers and sisters – His brethren . As we are knit together in love, one with another, preparing for glory as sons and daughters, in God's kingdom.
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