Tag Archives: communion

Communion…What Do I Do Now?

The Lord’s Supper is such a solemn time during the worship service each Sunday. The emblems are central to the life of every believer. Jesus said that unless we eat his flesh and drink his blood we have no life in us and no part with him (John 6). This is probably the most important segment of our Sunday morning assembly. 

During this ritual, however, there is quite a bit of waiting. We wait and listen while the person says a few words to remind us why we participate. We wait for the tray to get to us each time it is passed around. We wait for everyone else to partake after us. So what should we be doing during this time?

I’ve heard people lead into the time of communion with the thought that we are to be examining ourselves. It is thought that we need to be introspective, considering the ways in which we are not right with God – our sinfulness. This comes from 1 Corinthians 11:27-28 which says,

“Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.”

Doesn’t this sound like we are to sit there during those waiting times and rake ourselves over the coals of guilt as we remind ourselves of the myriad of ways we fall short of being like Jesus? It does if we take this verse out of context. 

What was going on in Corinth that caused Paul to write this letter? The church there was full of immorality and division. In fact, the division in the church is what Paul begins the letter with addressing. In chapter 11, he once again addresses their division as an introduction to the verses we so often read to prepare for taking the Lord’s Supper. 

1 Corinthians 11:18-19
For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.”

Did you catch that? It is sarcasm. Paul thinks division within the church is a severe problem. In this division, the communion they partake of is not the Lord’s Supper. You cannot partake of this meal in division without judgment from God. 

In verse 29, he warns against eating and drinking without discerning the body. What does this mean? He is referring to the body of Christ – the church. Then, in verses 33-34 he encourages them to wait for one another. He’s trying to get them to practice unity. 

So, what are we to examine within ourselves while we wait? We are to see if we have some division within us concerning our brothers and sisters in the church. Do you have something against a brother? Does a sister have something against you? These divisions cause a church to be weak and sick (1 Corinthians 11:30). 

Maybe we should go back to practicing what Jesus commanded in the sermon on the mount. 

Matthew 5:23-24
“So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”

What if the church was once again concerned with the ministry of reconciliation that we are called to administer (2 Corinthians 5:18-19)?

Next time you’re sitting and waiting during communion, pray for yourself and your relationships with your brothers and sisters in the Lord. Resolve to do your part to make reconciliation. Don’t wait for them to act – you be the mature follower of Jesus and make the first move. Then we will watch the church grow in strength and health as the church becomes even more unified in Jesus as one body. This will be an answer to Jesus’ prayer in John 17. 


Wearing a T-shirt to a Black Tie Affair



Respect is an idea that is becoming more uncommon in our world. As parents behave like teenagers and raise their children to be even less mature it is a struggle to teach kids basic manners of respecting their elders or even respecting the atmosphere to which they have been invited. 

What would happen if you were invited to have dinner with the governor? Imagine you showed up to this formal event wearing your most comfortable shorts and t-shirt. Would that not give an air of disrespect to the sanctity of the event? Then, when greeted by the governor you refused to shake his or her hand or even acknowledge his or her presence. How long would you expect to be allowed to remain at that dinner?

This concept is not hard.  It is not a foreign concept that has to be militaristicly taught to the upcoming generations. It merely needs to be modeled and then expected. 

Within our churches many have created a much more relaxed atmosphere. God looks at the heart and not the outward appearance.  I believe this is good and creates the inviting atmosphere needed for people to feel comfortable coming and learning about and experiencing Jesus. 

One of the concepts that we trend toward losing in our desire to be colloquial is that of reverence and honor before the Lord. 

When we sing, we are singing to Jehovah, the Creator, in His presence. When we study, we are studying the very words of God. When we see our brothers and sisters, we are encountering those who have been clothed with Christ and in whom lives the Spirit. When we partake of communion, we are partaking of the body and blood that was shed for our sins by the One who Created us. 

Malachi 1:6 says this:

“A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?” says the Lord Almighty. (NIV)

When we come together we should be showing our children what reverence looks like. If they do not understand it, then we should be instructing them in the ways of honoring the Lord. 

God accepts us where we are, but He doesn’t leave us there. He wants us to grow in our understanding. He wants us to grow into the image of His Son. “Outdo one another in showing honor (Romans 12:10 ESV).”

Next time you’re in worship with your brothers and sisters pour out your heart. Worship the Lord with all of your might. Remember what He  has done and is doing for you every day, and show your children what it means to honor the Lord. God isn’t looking for your suit and tie, but He is looking for your heart of reverence toward Him, and He’s looking to us to instill that mindset and heart of reverence in our children as well. 


What is the church of Christ?

IMG_1656

For over a hundred years there have been churches that refer to themselves as the Church of Christ. These churches have that sign on the door or out by the street, and many people recognize that there are certain things that make these churches unique.

However, the name that is used was never meant to be a name. It is and has always been a description of the people. The people are the church that belongs to Jesus, the Christ (Romans 16:16).

So what does the church that belongs to Jesus look like? The following is a list of ideas that Jesus presented which should be attributes of his followers. I encourage you to read this with your bible open following along with the passages referred to.

What is the church of Christ?

The church that belongs to Christ understands its need for forgiveness and is anxious to be able to extend that forgiveness to others. It is not a church that holds grudges. (Matthew 6:14-15)

The church that belongs to Christ seeks the Holy Spirit in the lives of each believer. They follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit in their lives as they live each day – not just on Sunday. This creates within them a fire, a passion, as they experience life in the presence of God who lives within them. (John 14:15-17, 26-27)

The church that belongs to Christ understands that belief in Jesus and connection with Him in baptism (immersion) are essential to salvation. They don’t try to argue this away. They accept it and are willing and eager to follow Jesus’ instructions and example in this manner. (Mark 16:15-16)

The church that belongs to Christ believes that unity with one another is essential to life in Him. They believe that this unity is key to their ability to evangelize to the world. They are not known for their division. (John 17:20-21)

The church that belongs to Christ believes that faith is essential to a person’s ability to follow Jesus. They recognize where their faith is weak and ask Jesus to strengthen their faith through the Spirit at work within them. They understand that without this faith it is impossible to please God. (Luke 17:5-6)

The church that belongs to Christ is a praying church. Prayer is seen as powerful and necessary to the connection and relationship between the church and God. They understand that it is through prayer that much of the power of Christ is released upon the world around them. They follow Jesus’ example of being constantly in prayer. (Luke 5:16; 11:1-13)

The church that belongs to Christ believes that He has called each one of us, no matter our past, to evangelism – to tell others about Him. This is not just the preacher’s job, but it is the role of each follower. A follower excited about his or her Savior cannot help but tell others about Him. (Mark 5:19)

The church that belongs to Christ believes that communion – partaking of the body and blood of Jesus – is essential to the life of the believer. They believe it is in communion with Jesus that relationship with Him is fostered as often as it is taken. (John 6:53-56)

The church that belongs to Christ doesn’t make it a practice to stand in judgment of others. They are accepting of all people because they recognize that all have sinned, and everyone has need for the same Savior. (Matthew 7:3-5)

The church that belongs to Christ seeks the reign of God, His kingdom, in their lives each day. This is not relegated to once or twice a week in a certain building but is shown by a lifestyle devoted to following God in every decision and action daily. (Matthew 6:33)

The church that belongs to Christ is full of flawed people who haven’t got it all figured out. They are broken people who are trying their best to allow God to change them, but it is a daily process, and some days are better than others. This creates an atmosphere of equality among all people regardless of race, age, gender, or class. (Matthew 9:12-13)

The church that belongs to Christ seeks to obey Him in all things. They see their obedience as part of their faith. (John 14:15)

The church that belongs to Christ seeks to show mercy and grace to all whom they come in contact with. They understand that they have been shown mercy and grace by Jesus and seek to reflect Him to others. (Matthew 5:7; 9:13)

The church that belongs to Christ is in the business of disciple-making. They aren’t interested in merely inviting someone to a weekend service. They want to help one another grow in their understanding and ability to follow the teachings of Jesus. (Matthew 28:18-20)

The church that belongs to Christ is compassionate. They seek to show that compassion in the world around them and seek nothing in return. (Luke 10:33-37)

The church that belongs to Christ is generous because it understands that everything it has has been given by the One who owns everything. It understands that the money and possessions it acquires are to be used to glorify God by helping others. It gives generously as an act of worship. (Mark 12:42-44)

The church that belongs to Christ focuses on what Jesus said are the most important ideas: Love God and Love your neighbor. This church is recognized by its love. The world all around knows there is something different about the church that belongs to Jesus because it loves like no other entity does – masses of followers banding together to be an example of love to everyone around them. (Matthew 22:35-40)

The church that belongs to Christ doesn’t worry about names on building or denominational association. This church is boundless. It has no borders. It is found in every church as people claim allegiance to the Savior who died and rose again. (John 10:16)

The church that belongs to Christ follows Jesus. No. Matter. What. (Matthew 10:38; 16:24-26)

This is the church of Christ. It’s not a name on a building but a way of life. It is all people who choose to follow Jesus – his examples and his teachings. Are you a part of that church?


Any ole excuse will do…

IMG_0412.JPG

In Luke 14, Jesus tells an odd little story.  It’s also mentioned in Matthew 22.

In this story, a rich man holds a great banquet, not unlike a party of today, and he invites all his friends and relatives and coworkers and other influential people, but one-by-one they all make excuses as to why they can’t come.  This hurts the master, and frustrates him too, so he orders the servants to go out and drag in all the poor and oppressed people off the streets of his town.  After they do all that, he has them go out into the countryside and get all those people too so that the party would be a full success.

Jesus said this is like the kingdom of heaven, and I believe it.

First of all, the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God are terms that are interchangeable for the same concept.  This is the rule or reign of God in our lives here on earth that causes us to be citizens of heaven.  Like the song says, “This world is not my home…”

We then, as Christians, are citizens of heaven, and you know we are citizens when you see the reign of God in our lives.  However, there are many people today who are just like these townsfolk in Luke 14.

These people make excuse after excuse as to why they shouldn’t attend the banquet.  One has some new oxen and needs to try them out.  One just bought a field and needs to go inspect it.  One just got married.

People today make similar excuses when faced with the decision of whether or not to follow God’s guidance in their life.  I see it all the time.  Someone has an opportunity to serve in some capacity to help others, but they are tired or have a party to go to.  Someone has an opportunity to tell someone else about Jesus, but they just aren’t gifted in that way – let someone else do it.  Someone has an opportunity to be at church with the rest of the kingdom of God, but it’s too early or too dull or too whatever.

As Christians, we are called to live as Children of God.  We are expected to be citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, but this kingdom is not a democracy.  It is a totalitarian dictatorship with God as supreme ruler.  The difference here that makes it attractive, however, is that the citizens get pardon after pardon because of the King’s Son.  The citizens are treated with respect and love.  The citizens were created by the King, and the King knows how each citizen should live to have the best life possible – eternal life.

So what kind of citizen are you?  Do you make excuse after excuse as to why you don’t need to do more than attend church every now and again?  Or are you the kind of citizen who follows God and allows Him to reign in your life?

I think that you’ll find the latter option to be the most fulfilling, rewarding existence possible.  Just today I heard someone say that you’ll never find happiness through self seeking.  It seems that it would work out great to please yourself in order to be happy, but it actually works quite the opposite.

So seek God and His reign in your life, and stop making excuses about it.  Then, get to the banquet – we have one every Sunday (we call it communion).


The Lost Communion Tradition

20140417-083131.jpg

Over the years, tradition and culture has shaped the way we do things in our various religious organizations.  Christianity has many rituals that, over the years, lose great significance or take on new meaning.  Today, I want to talk to you about one such ritual that has lost a bit of significance over the years:  Communion.

Many Christian groups take communion.  There are varying ways and frequencies with which it is participated.  Some take it every Sunday, while others take it once a month or even once a quarter. Some even wait until Easter to take communion. Some take a small piece of cracker and tiny but of grape juice out of a mini-glass while other drink all from the same cup.

If you’re not familiar with the term “communion”, it is a symbolic supper where the unleavened bread eaten and the wine being drunk are symbolic of the body of Jesus and blood of Jesus respectively.  These symbols are key to Christians because of their reference to the cross of Christ where our sins were forgiven through His sacrifice.

So back to the Communion:

I’m not sure how you take communion, but I am pretty sure there is one part to this supper that you don’t do.

If you’ll look in Matthew, Luke, and John, you’ll find their narratives of how the Last Supper went down, and each one refers to Jesus dipping the bread with Judas.  In John’s gospel (chapter 13, verse 26) the King James Version refers to this time as when Jesus “dipped the sop”  It reads like this:

“Jesus answered, “He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it.” And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.”

So, when’s the last time you “dipped the sop” during your communion celebration?  I have been doing some research on this Last Supper.  It was the Passover feast, and many Messianic Jews still celebrate this feast each year, however they have changed much of the symbolism because of Jesus’ sacrifice.  As I have been studying, I’ve noticed that each version of this feast – known as a Seder dinner – has one element that intrigues me.  On this feast, there are usually 6 items.  Parsley, Unleavened bread (Matzoh), Bitter Herb (Horseradish), Roasted Egg, Lamb Shank, and the Charoset (A sweet mixture of pureed fruits and nuts with honey).  There is also wine served in a series of four cups (meaning you drank your glass-full four times)

All of this is interesting enough, but the part that gets me is what comes toward the end of the feast.  This part is called “Korech”.  During this symbolic time, the participants would make a sandwich of Matzoh and Horseradish, then they would dip it in the Charoset.  This may sound tasty to you, but horseradish is extremely potent.  When you eat it, your eyes begin to water almost immediately, and the more you eat, the hotter it is.  Some say it’s even more potent than a jabanero pepper.

During the supper, Jesus “dipped the sop” then gave it to Judas.  This is the man who would betray him with a kiss and send him to his execution.  Of course this was all done through God’s guidance, but the betrayal was no less painful to Jesus.  In the Garden of Gethsemane later that night, Jesus prayed for God to let this cup pass from him.

What I’ve learned in studying this Seder (or Haggadah), is that the sop, after it was dipped, was supposed to be given to someone you love for them to eat.

Jesus dipped the sop and gave it to Judas.

He loves us…even when we betray Him.

I’m glad to have a savior like that!  Who knows.  Maybe someday we’ll re-incorporate dipping the sop in our communion celebrations, but until then, when you think of Jesus, remember how much He loves you…even when you don’t treat Him right.  Then, treat others they way He treats you.

If you’d like to know more about Jesus and how to have a relationship with Him that will set you free, feel free to contact me at mrjdobbs@gmail.com.  Happy Easter!


“Lord, Bless This Food”

20130731-111440.jpg

[This is me beginning of a series on things we do without thinking as Christians. Maybe we don’t remember why we do them. They can be big or small things. If you’d like to suggest a topic for this series comment below.]

Once upon a time a man was hunting in the woods. He was a long way from civilization when he ran into a grizzly bear. Doing his best to move quietly away from the bear he stepped on a twig and it snapped loudly.

At that the bear noticed the hunter and began to make chase, so the man ran as fast as he could to get away from the bear. As each second passed the bear inched closer to the hunter. When the hunter couldn’t run any further he knelt down and prayed, “Lord, please make this bear a Christian.”

The bear was running full speed to get to the man, and when it arrived it stopped suddenly. It got down on its knees and the hunter heard the bear say, “Lord, bless this food which I am about to receive.”

This is a silly story, but if you are a Christian how many times have you heard this prayer or said this prayer before you’ve begun to eat? For many cultures it is odd enough that Christians pray before meals (a ritual which is actually healthy), but the prayer seems odd, doesn’t it?

“Lord, bless this food which I am about to receive.”

Hasn’t He already blessed it? Didn’t God cause it to grow? Didn’t He provide it for you? Didn’t He fill it with nutrients to give you strength and energy? He HAS blessed it!

So why do we pray this prayer? Well, it goes back to the King James translation of the bible. When Jesus was in the upper room and they were partaking of the last supper the scripture said that Jesus broke the bread, but what he did before that changed the way we began our meals for generations.

The King James Version says this in Matthew 26:26

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.

In looking at the original language this passage doesn’t really translate that way. Instead, it is better translated that instead of blessing the bread he “gave thanks” for the bread.

Doesn’t that make more sense? Shouldn’t we be thankful for that which God has already blessed? It’s just a small thing, but watch and see how many people do this. The next time you’re somewhere that the person praying asks God to bless the food just smile and be grateful with an “Amen”.

[Next week we will address why we take our hats off during prayers.]


Strange Math in the Bible

20120619-093133.jpg

Have you ever seen the movie “Cast Away”? In the movie, the main character, Chuck, is a FedEx worker that is traveling back to the United States to be with his girlfriend for Christmas (when he plans to propose to her). On his flight back home his plane crashes into the ocean and he is the lone survivor. He is able to inflate the life raft and survives a major squall to wash ashore on a lonely island a thousand miles off course from where he should have been.

As he learns his fate of being completely alone on this island he is overwhelmed with a myriad of emotions. One day he is working on a project necessary for his survival when he cuts his hand. A volleyball is one of the items that was being transported on the FedEx plane that washed ashore with him. He grabs the ball with his hurt hand and tosses it. When he sees it again, he notices that the blood from his hand has made a face shape on the ball.

He decides to keep the ball as his new friend, and he names it Wilson (it was a Wilson volleyball).

A couple of times during the movie Chuck gets rid of, or loses Wilson. Each time the realization of this loss throws Chuck into a panic. Why? Because it is not good for man to be alone.

Even in this movie that has no injection whatsoever to God or religion we see this basic human need for community. Where do we get such a need? Well, let’s look at our Creator.

In Genesis 1, God, whom we usually refer to in the singular, announces that he wants to “make man in our image”. God is referring to himself in the plural. People across the Christian spectrum refer to this plurality of God as the Trinity. God is three in one.

In relating to our current discussion it is important to understand that God is in perfect community with himself. He is in complete love with himself, and He doesn’t need you or me to complete or add to His community. The love God has among himself is such that He is inseparable from Himself.

This all sounds a bit schizophrenic, but I am referring to God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Jesus on multiple occasions commented that he could do nothing without the Father and that he and the Father are one. This relationship is perfect example of what every marriage should strive to become. In God, one plus one plus one equals one. In marriage, one plus one equals one.

So, God is in perfect community with himself. Then He invites you into His perfect community. When Jesus gave the great commission in Matthew 28:18-20 he says that the disciples are to baptize people into the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Then they are to teach them to do what has been done and taught to them. This teaching still rings true today. We are connected with the Trinity in baptism; it is then that we come into community with God.

We also come into community as we fellowship with others who have joined into community with God. Ecclesiastes talks about the need for us not to work alone for we could be easily destroyed. We need each other in our walk with God. Satan is constantly out to get us. Sometimes he uses our own minds when we are alone to trip us up. Sometimes he uses people to attack us when we are alone. When we are living in that community of Christ we are strong and can live much fuller lives in Christ.

Does that mean we move into little communes where we escape from the world? No! What that does mean is that we engage the world together. We are called to be the church with the church.

When I was younger I thought I could maintain my community with God without having to participate in the community of believers called the church. So I quit going. It wasn’t long (days) before Satan came in and attacked, and I had no defenses or support group to help me stand strong.

We need the community of believers. Hebrews 10:25 encourages us to make the habit of meeting together (we call it “going to church”) a priority in our lives.

What’s more, we are given the opportunity each week to celebrate our community with the Trinity and with the believers in a time we call “Communion”. When we “eat his flesh and drink his blood” we sustain the life inside us that was given at baptism. We maintain our fellowship with the Trinity, and we celebrate all this in community with other believers. This is a very important, very significant celebration each week. Jesus said that if you don’t participate in this you you have no relationship with him.

We are called to do it often. If there’s ever a Sunday you are looking to celebrate communion, then you can always come to the Nichols St. church of Christ. We offer this every Sunday in celebration of the life that was given to us through the death of Christ. You are always welcome there.

To sum it up, God is in community with himself, and he doesn’t need you, but he wants you desperately. He wants you so badly that he came to the earth in the form of Jesus to make a way for you and me to join his community in spite of the many times we have gone against his will for our lives. He then calls us to stand strong and not fall away as we fellowship with the other believers. Let me tell you, life as a Christian is much easier when there are other people walking alongside you going the same place you’re going.

How does this relate to you? Have you joined in the community of the Trinity through baptism? No one can force you to join. It has to be your choice. God loves you, but he won’t force you to love him back and become one with him. Have you ever thought you can be a Christian without the church? It’s time to come home. Churches are made up of sinful humans saved only by the grace of God. Naturally they aren’t going to be perfect places. If you’re looking for a church where the people don’t make mistakes, you won’t find it. You can, however, find churches all over teaching the truth of God’s word, celebrating in His communion, and striving to live righteous lives as we celebrate the grace that covers over our many shortcomings.

May you come into that community with God and with his church. You are invited into this fellowship. If you’d like to know more about any of the things discussed here, feel free to email me at jddobbs@verizon.net or call the office at 245-1611. God bless you as you come into community with the love of God and the church that is His body.


%d bloggers like this: