1 How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!
2 It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron's beard, down upon the collar of his robes.
3 It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the LORD bestows His blessing, even life forevermore.
Few days ago Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th President of America. In his first speech as president, he referenced Psalm 133:1 and said, “The bible tells us how good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity. We must speak our minds openly, debate our disagreements honestly, but always pursue solidarity.”
He also pointed to God as the source of protection. “There should be no fear. We are protected and we will always be protected. We will be protected by the great men and women of our military and law enforcement. And most importantly, we will be protected by God.”
Regardless of your opinion about Trump, aren’t you glad that the new President of the most powerful nation on earth referred to the Bible and acknowledged the protection of God?
It’s the beginning of a New Year, and we are celebrating Chinese New Year in a week’s time. Market sentiment has been down or even depressing. Everywhere people are talking about how bad the economy is. In times like this, our faith must be proven genuine, that we are walking by faith in God, and not by sight in what we see happening around us.
Two weeks ago we learnt that God’s will for His people is to Flourish, stay Fresh, and be Fruitful all their life. Good time or bad time, we will flourish in the Lord! Are you believing God for it?
What is the secret to flourishing?
Psalm 92:13 Planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God.
We must be planted, that means take root downward and bear fruit upward.
Firstly, pay attention to your spiritual life!
Secondly, practice spiritual disciplines:
1. Read the Bible daily and read it through this year
2. Pray daily
3. Give as often as we meet for church
Thirdly, protect the unity of the Church:
Psalm 133:1 How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!
We are planted in the house of the Lord, in the courts of our God, which speaks of the church.
You need to be fully committed to a church and be united with the people of God. The anointing oil of God flows along the path of unity, and that’s where the blessings of the Lord takes place.
You need the church, and the church needs you. The traditional African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child” is certainly true spiritually. It takes a church to raise a child of God.
We are called by God, not just to believe, but to belong! Belong to God and belong to His family, the church of Jesus Christ.
1 John 4:20-21 If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.
How do you love? You don’t love in a vacuum, or in isolation. Love is not a feeling, but a relationship. That’s why God puts you in the church for fellowship so that you can learn to love one another.
There is no such thing as a lone ranger Christian. You are not on your own anymore! When you are born again, you are members of the family of God and the body of Christ.
A Christian without a church home is like an organ without a body, a sheep without a flock, a child without a family. It is a most unnatural and dangerous state. Why? Because you die spiritually without the protection and covering of the church. Your Christian growth is stunted without the fellowship of love with other believers.
Every Christian needs the accountability, identity, and responsibility of being part of a church in order to grow spiritually.
Connected for Relationship
Often we act as if relationships are something to be squeezed into our schedule. We talk about finding time for our family or making time for people in our lives. That gives the impression that relationships are just a part of our lives along with many other tasks. But God says that relationships are what life is all about. Love is not a good part of your life; it is the most important part!
Four of the Ten Commandments deal with our relationship to God while the other six deal with our relationships with people. But all ten are about relationships! Jesus summarized what matters most to God in two statements: Love God and love people.
We become so preoccupied with making a living, doing our work, paying our bills, and accomplishing our goals as if these tasks are the point of life. They are not. The point of life is learning to love, loving God and loving people. Life minus love equals zero.
So a life that flourishes is not just about self, but about Him and His people. We flourish together in the house of the Lord! Team work is not just for corporate work project, it is for Christian life. Together everyone achieves more.
The huge redwood trees of California amaze mankind. They are the largest living things on earth and the tallest trees in the world. Some of them are 350 feet high and over 2,500 years old. One would think that trees so large must have a tremendous root system that reaches down hundreds of feet into the earth. But not so! The redwoods have a very shallow root system. If one was to get down on his knees and examine the redwoods' root system he would find that all the roots intertwine. They are locked to each other. When the storms come, the winds blow, and the lightning flashes, the redwoods still stand. They are not alone for all the trees support and protect each other. Each tree is important to all the other trees in the grove.
None of us can stand alone! As Solomon also said in Eccl 4:11-12, “Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? 12 Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
We need each other! God never intended for us to go through life alone. Get connected to others in the body of Christ! Your church is a great place to make that happen!
Aren’t you glad you are part of the family of God? Aren’t you glad you have brothers and sisters around to encourage you, to support you, and to help you along life’s journey? We are all so different, but one thing we have in common – J E S U S! The church is not perfect; there may be hypocrites, there may be fake believers, but the best people in the world are in the church. Amen!
Unfortunately, many people grow up in families with unhealthy relationships, so they lack the relational skills needed for real fellowship. They must be taught how to get along with and relate to others in God’s family. Fortunately the Bible is filled with instruction on how we can be connected for relationship.
Rom 12:10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.
In this church we respect and honor one another. We appreciate the fact that we are all different, and yet we are all equally important in the eyes of the Lord. We seek to understand rather than try to control and change you into someone else. We don’t look down on anyone. We treat each other with respect, in a thoughtful and courteous manner.
Communication is the basis of any relationship. It’s in sharing that we get to know each other better and grow in our relationship.
Eph 4:15 Speak the truth in love.
In this church we are honest and sincere with one another, and we always do so in love. We communicate honestly with grace, tact and wisdom.
Gen 4:9 Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?I don't know," he replied. "Am I my brother's keeper?"
This church is a family, and as a family we defend and protect one another. We refuse to gossip, bad-mouth, complain or tear each other down. Instead, we encourage and lift one another up. In this church, we are our brother’s and sister’s keeper. We care for one another, we help one another, we cover one another’s back.
Matt 5:23-24 Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.
Even the most loving family quarrels at times. It may be due to misunderstanding, miscommunication, or differences of opinions. When relationship sours and strains, many people choose to dissolve rather than resolve. Jesus teaches us to reconcile and restore relationship. This is what we do in this church, we value relationships and we will always do our best to resolve conflicts and restore relationships.
Relationships are worthy investment, and the most valuable is time investment. We have to spend time with people, a lot of time, to build deep relationships. The first Christians met together every day!
Acts 2:46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.
In this church we invest time for fellowship with one another, because relationship is at the heart of all we do.
The most famous verse in the Bible is John 3:16, but do you know 1 John 3:16?
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.”
This is the kind of sacrificial love God expects us to show one another. It is a willingness to love them in the same way Jesus loves us.
God wants us to flourish, together as a church connected in relationship!