I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord
My earliest memories of church come from the years that Dad preached at the Upper Spencer congregation. The building was constructed before the Civil War and had to separate doors–one for the women and another for the men, and you did not sit together when that building was first erected. Raccoon” John Smith preached there. Smith was preaching the tenets of Calvinism in the same pulpit my dad occupied and looked up from his Bible and said, “Brethren, something is wrong. I am in the dark, we are all in the dark, but how to lead you to the light, or to find the way myself, I know not.” Smith began studying Scripture in earnest and led many to New Testament Christianity.
There is a great deal of Restoration Movement history in Kentucky, and a lot of it was very near where I grew up. I like the history, but, of course, the church began many years before that. I pray that you have had pleasant experiences with churches. You may have been raised in a congregation, and you smile every time you think of those precious people. You may have come to Christ through the work of a congregation. A congregation may have stood by you as you faced a horrible time in your life.
“Because we love the precious church, we honor the body with our lives.” Yes, the preciousness of the church, the body of Christ, should greatly impact the way we live day by day. Love always connects, not with emotion, but with action. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (Jn 14:15). How can we love Jesus without honoring the church?
The church is precious because of Passing.
Jesus, in other words, died for the church. “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood” (Acts 20:28). “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph 5:25).
What application can we make from the blood of Jesus poured out at Golgotha?
One: You need to come for the Lord’s Supper prepared to remember Jesus’ sacrifice.
1 Corinthians 11:23-26. As you come to the table of the Lord, clear your mind of everything outside and concentrate on that rugged cross where our Lord died.
Find a good way that you can go back to that cross in your mind’s eye. Do you need to pray as we come to the table? Do you need to read the accounts of the crucifixion in Scripture? Do you need to think about all the sins that you put on Jesus on that darkest of Fridays? Do what you must to keep in memory the sacrifice Jesus made.
Two: You need to live a life worthy of that blood.
What punishment “do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified” (Heb 10:29)?
We need to honor the blood that saved us from sin and hell. What in your life needs to be removed — needs to be removed because Jesus’ blood paid your ransom? What do you need to do to rid your life from sin? Do you need to memorize certain texts from Scripture? Do you need to pray more frequently and earnestly? Do you need to ask a trusted brother or sister to help you carry your burden?
The church is precious, for Jesus died for her. How do you live that shows appreciation for that sacrifice?
The church is precious because of Prayer.
The very night he was betrayed Jesus prayed for the church. John 17:20-21. If Jesus was in emotional agony because of his impending crucifixion, does it not say volumes about the premium Jesus put on unity in the church?
What does that say about how we should live?
We need to pray for the church.
Paul prayed for congregations of God’s people. Romans 1:9-10. Colossians 1:9-10.
For what things do you need to pray? Pray that we would always be true to the word of God. Pray that we can really start reaching out to the world. Pray for the elders because of the heavy responsibilities they have.
Bathe this church in your prayers. Daniel prayed three times a day facing Jerusalem. He faced Jerusalem, for he wanted to see spiritual renewal take place. 1 Kings 8:35-36.
Please take time to pray for the church this week.
- Pray three times a day — morning, noon, and night for this church.
- Pray for spiritual renewal.
- Acknowledge the name of God: Understand that he is God and you are not.
- Confess your sins before God.
Turn from your sin — Put it far from you. It’s obvious in the context of 1 Kings 8 that Solomon speaks of sins of the nation. Could there be sins in this congregation that need confessing? Maybe a tolerance of sin, maybe a lack of spiritual growth, maybe a judgmental attitude, or some other sin. If you think and pray for the congregation’s sins, two things will happen: God will surely bless us, and we can identify areas the congregation should change.
We need to be unified.
As Jesus prayed for the church, he prayed that she might be unified. We often think of Jesus’ prayer in the terms of all the religious division in the world today. That is the context of Jesus’ prayer, and I would urge you to pray the same prayer. Pray that those who claim allegiance to Jesus can come together and be unified.
Prayer is so powerful, for we serve a powerful God. What if, instead of simply praying, we worked for that unity? What if we encouraged friends and family to come and study the Bible that we could put differences behind us? What if we invited them to worship with us that they might experience New Testament Christianity and desire to learn more and to grow?
What if we got rid of divisions among us?
- 1 Corinthians 1:10-11. We apply this text to the issues with denominationalism and urge unity; I don’t deny that we can use that principle. But, Paul is writing to a single congregation, a congregation that has a major issue with unity.
- What if we worked to get rid of divisions here in this congregation? We cannot have divisions among us and think that we’re honoring God (Matt 5:23-24). Stop and think about who might have something against you. Give it serious thought. You go to that person and you make things right. Jesus says to take care of it before we worship. Give it some serious thought and make things right before next Lord’s day.
Dream for a moment about what the church could be if we followed these principles.
- If we came to the Lord’s table and truly remembered Jesus sacrifice: Might we love the Lord more and have an even deeper desire to demonstrate that love by obeying him? Might we rid our lives of the sin that placed Jesus on that cross? Might you live your life in such a way that Jesus is honored and you never blaspheme his precious blood?
- If we remembered Jesus’ prayer for unity, how might this congregation change? Might we see new and great blessings from our Father? Might we see this church work more effectively because brethren who had grudges against one another bury the hatchet once and for all?
Do you need to make changes in your life? Do you have sin that needs to be put away because of Jesus sacrifice? Do you need to get rid of division with a brother or sister? Do you need our help this morning?