God has called us to build. In the Old Testament, it was about Temples, Walls and Armies. In the New Testament, God now calls us to build people for His Kingdom.
Have a look at these passages:
Romans 15:2 NLT “We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord”.
1 Corinthians 14:12 NIV “try to excel in those that build up the church”.
Jude 1:20 NLT “But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith”
As Christ’s followers, we are called to build. And leading up till Easter we are looking at four areas that we to build. We are to:
Last Sunday, we looked at building firmly on the Lordship of Jesus Christ which ought to lead us having a healthy biblical understanding of who we are in Christ. You see, I believe that we can’t build into others, we can’t build bridges with those who have wronged us or are to whom we are reaching out to, nor can’t we build healthy churches, unless we have an understanding and an acceptance of who we are since becoming a follower of Jesus Christ. If we have a warped understanding, when those storms of life do come, we will be like that person mentioned in Luke 6:49 who didn’t build their house on foundation. Jesus said, “When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins” (Luke 6:49 NLT). Not only will our faith be washed away, but so will whatever we were building.
And so last week, we spoke about building within ourselves an understanding of who we are in Christ.
This week, we are looking at being Kingdom Builders by Building up One Another.
Many people feel “small” in our community - people with disabilities, those who suffer from low self-esteem, and those who have been rejected.
We are pretty good are tearing one another down. Sledging on the sporting field has been around for years, but it’s to be getting worse. We have been made aware of some of the recent sledging between David Warner and Quinton de Kock from South Africa. The Tabloid Magazines are great are stretching the truth that can make what someone has done wrong seem even worst. In Australia, we have seemed to develop the ugly Tall poppy syndrome where people of high status are resented, attacked, cut down or criticized simply because they have done well. And the increased attention on Bullying these days have highlighted how many people in the school yard, at work, and even at home are belittled by cowards.
So many feel knocked down and belittled. Author Mandy Hale has written, “You don't have to knock anyone off their game to win yours. It doesn’t build you up to tear others down” (The Single Woman: Life, Love, and a Dash of Sass).
The church is called to build up. We got to build up the many who have been torn down. As we reach out into the community and as we see more and more coming into contact with our church through our ministries, schools and services, there will be more people that we will come into contact with that have been knocked down and feel “small”. Which is why we really need to have a strong culture of love, welcome and acceptance – and why we need to learn to build up once
The New Testament tells us in several locations that we as the church are to build each other up and we are going to look at several of these verses. In Romans 15, Paul is nearing the end of this letter to the church at Rome. And as he comes to the end he has some final words to pass on to them.
In the previous chapter, Paul tells them to work hard at keeping unity in the church, even if some have difference of opinions such as what food they can and can’t eat and what day is the best to worship. It must had been such an issue that Paul asks in verse 10, “…Why do you look down on another believer?...” (Romans 14:10 NLT). With this Paul tells them in verse 19, “So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up” (Romans 14:19 NLT). They were to do the exact opposite to what they were down – looking down on one another. Now they were to build each other up?
When we turn to the next chapter, we see that Paul isn’t finished with them yet on this subject. He tells them that instead of looking down on people with differing views, we are to instead be more considerate and bear the failings of the weak. And then Paul says in verse 2, “Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up” (Romans 15:2 NIV). Paul reminds us in verse 1 that it isn’t always about us. We should look out for others and build them up. He then referred to Jesus in verse 4 and quoted Psalm 69:9 how Jesus wasn’t about Himself but rather endured insults.
Have you ever been a part of group where you feel good about yourself? Where people authentically build you up? It feels so good. It helps you face whatever storm you are facing.
The Bible tells us how we can create a culture that builds. It’s teaches us how we can be Kingdom Builders.
Words of Encouragement
First, you can build up other, be a kingdom builder, by words of encouragement. To the church at Ephesus, Paul says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29 NIV). What a wonderful command by the Apostle Paul, to say things to others that will build them up so it will benefit them.
One of the most beautiful passages in the Bible can be found when Jesus was baptized. John the Baptist was baptising people in the River Jordan, preaching a message of repentance, telling people to prepare their hearts for the coming Messiah. Then Jesus appeared to John and asks for baptism. Jesus didn’t need baptism, but He was baptised “to fulfil all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15). Then we are told that “as soon as Jesus was baptised, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lightning on him” (Matthew 3:16 NIV). What spectacular sight that would have been! But then something beautiful happened. God spoke, saying “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17 NIV). What affirming words! Words of love! Words of encouragement as Jesus set out for His three years of incredible ministry. Then, when it was nearing to His Son’s death, God the Father again wanted to reassure and build up Jesus. It was an amazing event where Jesus and His inner circle went to a Mountain where we are told Jesus was transfigured. From a cloud that covered Jesus, God spoke to all those presence, “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!” (Mark 9:7 NIV). What beautiful words of affirmation and encouragement from His Father. Not only did these words build Jesus up with courage, they also built Jesus up to those within His inner circle. Years later, Peter would remember this most amazing event and the words that they heard from God (2 Peter 1:16-18).
I read this during the week: “A word of encouragement during a failure is worth more than an hour of praise after success”.
31 years ago, I was invited to preach my very first sermon. I was 18 years old doing my first year of Bible College, and my student church – North Turramurra Church of Christ asked me to preach. I was very excited. For years as a teenager I would dream of preaching – not your usual teenager dream. On the Saturday before preaching the sermon, I went up to the church to practice behind the big pulpit. I asked dad, who was a preacher himself, to come up and listen to me. So here I was in this church behind a big pulpit and dad was sitting in one of the wooden pews. I looked at my notes and froze. Then when I got started I wasn’t what I dreamt all those years. In a monotone voice I was reading word for word my sermon and I just lost it. I cried, saying to dad I can’t do it. Dad quietly but sternly, “Yes you can, son. God is with you and He has called you to be a preacher. Now, slow down, take a breath, and ask God to help you. And He will”. That’s all I needed to hear. Someone who believed that I could. Someone who built me up when I felt so low.
So, first, be a kingdom builder by using words of encouragement.
Second, be a kingdom builder by your presence. Sometimes just being there can build up a person. God sends people into our lives, at the right moment for the right purpose. Sometimes it can be the most unexpected person.
King David had reigned Israel’s mighty kingdom. Later in years, his son Absalom plotted to kill his father David and take over the throne. Somehow David could not bring himself to believe that his oldest living son would turn traitor and turn from everything for which his father stood. And yet Absalom had carefully designed and executed a plan to take possession of the throne of Israel. An aging dad was left little choice - run and regroup.
David fled with his household and hundreds of loyal supporters. Imagine the feeling that David had - fleeing the kingdom he had so successfully built - now it was slipping away from his very eyes. No doubt he was extremely discouraged by his son’s evil plot.
In his despair, God sent to him an unusual person. His name is Ittai. In fact, so unusual is this that David said, “Why should you come along with us? Go back and stay with King Absalom. You are a foreigner, an exile from your homeland” (2 Samuel 15:19 NIV). Here was a complete stranger - a person who wasn’t even an Israelite! And yet Ittai said back: “As surely as the LORD lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king may be, whether it means life or death, there will your servant be” (2 Samuel 15:21 NIV).
In his time of despair, God sent a stranger to David who promised his utter loyalty - even if it meant death to himself. What an encouragement Ittai was to King David.
What about Paul? At one time he was the most feared man of the time. He was a persecutor - but did so in the name of God. He himself has written: “I persecuted the church of God” (1 Corinthian 15:9). The Apostle Paul was feared among the Early Church. Acts 9:1 says that Paul “was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's disciples”. Then He had his most incredible conversion where Jesus appeared to him (Acts 9:4). Days went by, and as God did to David by sending Ittai, so God did to Paul by sending Ananias. God came to Ananias in a vision (Acts 9:10) and told him to go to Paul. Ananias was scared and said, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem” (Acts 9:13). God told him to go and Ananias went. When Ananias met up with Paul he nervously placed his hands upon Paul and prayed, and God restored Paul’s sight, received the Holy Spirit, and was baptised (Acts 9:17-18). What an encouragement Ananias was to Paul during a period of incredible change in his life. By his physical presence, Paul built up this man who was struck down with blindness.
Never underestimate your presence in building up a person. Invite a new family over for lunch, have a cuppa with a person doing it tough, go up and chat with a person after church.
So, be a kingdom builder by using words of encouragement and just being there.
Third, be a kingdom builder by quoting scripture. In our reading, Paul wrote in verse 4, “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope” (Romans 15:4 NIV). The Bible, which God breathed His Very Words into, can encourage, inspire, guide, rebuke, and provide hope.
Ananias and Barnabus were the two most influential encouragers in Paul’s early years of ministry. It is probably against this background that Paul instructs us Christians with these words: “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Paul wrote this letter to the church at Thessalonica who was experiencing suffering because of their faith. Therefore, Paul wrote and encouraged them to hang in there and told them about the imminent return of Jesus Christ. In chapter four verse 15 Paul writes about the rapture of the church - how Jesus will come a gather the church. Then he wrote in verse 18, “Therefore encourage each other with these words”. These words were the very words of Scripture. Such words bring hope and encouragement in the midst of hardship. Eleven verses later Paul says again: “encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
We can build one another in the Lord by quoting appropriate scripture. You may not know the words to say to someone, but God’s Word does. Text someone a scripture passage, Facebook a bible passage. As long as you don’t come across preachy or judgmental, a passage from God is often all that needs to be said to build someone up.
For years Lena Moore and Jan Prince have been delivering handmade booties to new mums at John Flynn Hospital. With it is simple card with a bible passage. Wonderful.
I don’t often talk about my family in sermons but as Leisl is away J I want to share something she does nearly every morning of the week for several years now. After she does her quiet time, she sends out various passages to differing friends who are going through issues, and she includes our daughters who live interstate. Sometimes the verse of the day comes up with a picture in the background and so she simply forwards that on. Sometimes, I see her searching for an appropriate passage which means that, because we travel to work together, she makes me late which I get grumpy at her, which then she gets grumpy at me, and so we have no talkies in the car to work – all 6 minutes… But seriously, sometimes the responses back indicate that God’s Word has just been what that person needed. God has a habit of picking us up.
It’s easy finding Bible passages these days to suit differing situations. It’s called Google. Simply type in bible passages on hope or illness or guidance or patience. And when you send it, do so with gentleness and respect as the Apostle Peter taught us in 1 Peter 3:15.
So, be a kingdom builder by using words of encouragement, just being there, and perhaps quoting some scripture.
God is in the habit of building us up. On the day that God rescued David from King’s Saul anger, David wrote these words, “He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters” (Psalms 18:16 NIV). And that is what He does from each of us. James 4:10 says, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up” (James 4:10 NIV). He builds us up. And because many are torn down, God wants us to build up one another. May God grant us an understanding and His power to be a kingdom builder.