For more than 2000 years the gospel of Jesus Christ has been preached to this dying world.
Unfortunately we have preached more of the facts of the gospel, than the application of that gospel. I mean, Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection is very important to know but if it is given without context, where is the power?
We are saved by grace through faith and the bible calls this a gift that no man can take credit. (Eph. 2:8). Moreover, the fact that it is Jesus’ blood that reconciles me to the father and his life that actually saves me (Rom. 5:10) is just the beginning. How this all works together is the crux of the matter and ultimately redefines who I am and my purpose.
To make his gospel come alive, you must believe that it was an act of love on your behalf. Does it matter that Jesus died for you? Does it matter enough for you to die (crucify the old me) for him?
Further, if I say I know and believe in Jesus, does the life I live say the same thing? This is why we need a crusade. We need to be reminded of the facts of his gospel. We need a call back to the original commission to share the gospel with the rest of the world. It’s time to reveal the hope of our calling and surrender God’s truth without apology.
If you are anywhere near San Antonio, TX over the next 6 days, stop by the Hyatt Regency Hotel downtown and experience God’s love toward us. Come and hear the story of Jesus presented in a bold and loving way. Come and hear that in the midst of our struggle is when Christ died for us! Come and sing praise to his name because he made it easy for souls in danger. All these souls have to do is look above because Jesus completely saves!
There is an interesting phenomenon happening in little leagues all over America. Every player regardless of skill or ability gets a trophy. In baseball if you lead the league in hits, RBIs or home runs and another player sat on the bench the entire season, both will get the same trophy.
The reason is because there is a contingent that frowns upon those who can excel. They believe that when a person shines bright that it makes they others feel bad. The competitive edge which was always used as a benchmark to make us all better has been eliminated so that we are now raise a generation of children who will expect something for nothing.
I bring this up because there are jobs where it doesn’t matter how well you do in the job as long as you meet the standard. And then there are other jobs where you cannot take a chance with mediocrity because there is too much at stake.
No one wants a doctor or dentist that barely made it through school. No one wants the new pilot to fly you to your destination. We don’t even want the new barber or hairstylist.
One area where this principle needs to be applied is in the pulpit. Sadly there are conditions that exist where a church has had 30 members for 30 years with the same pastor or minister and there has never been any significant growth.
The larger problem is that the body of believers of the same faith simply mind their own business regarding this situation. There are some who believe that one preacher is just as good as another and as long as whatever he is saying comes from the bible, it’s fine.
Scholastic ability, style and oratory skills come second or third to a nice guy who doesn’t cause any trouble. In the meantime, the congregation is spiritually dying, the younger generation is absent and God is not glorified.
These little churches should merge with larger sister churches to form one church and honor God together. If you are in one of these little churches you have to ask yourself or those leading, why are we here? What are we trying to accomplish? Is there even a plan?
The goal is never to embarrass anyone, but to bring to the social conscious where we are spiritually. Jesus promised an abundant life, not a mediocre life. It is pretty difficult to see God in the plan when there is no growth and our standard for the pulpit is so low.
So we know that the church is the body of Christ and Christ’s kingdom here on earth.
He reigns supreme in this gathering of believers. Some might call it cultish due to the unfeigned faith each member has for the king.
Throughout the New Testament one can find many examples of how the body of Christ functions and relates to head of the body. And from here its even easier to see how the relationship with the head effects the horizontal relationships throughout the membership.
So, things like service, forgiveness, unconditional love, faithfulness, compassion, truth and longsuffering should abound in such places. There is a definite togetherness and sense of having all things in common among the believers. Judgement has no place here, only encouragement to be the best you can be and assistance when you stumble.
A placebo is a measure designed merely to calm, please or pacify another. It is more for a psychological benefit than for any spiritual effect. A placebo church only exists as a method to control. It is only a form of godliness, but it denies the power there of.
The largest problem with this type of church is there is no spiritual growth, there is no support, there is no fellowship and there is no forgiveness. When trouble comes you are on your own. When Satan attacks you are judged instead of helped.
You stay in this system because it looks right, but it is far from righteousness. So I ask you this day: Is your church a placebo and more importantly why are you still there?
We are consciously aware of the spiritual warfare going on inside of us. The physical world that we live in is a manifestation of that war.
When we see the darkness of this world, it sometimes looks like we are losing the spiritual battle. We see sin reign, hatred in abundance and ego elevated beyond the heights of selfishness.
Somehow we lost sight of God’s plan…or did we ever know it?
Here’s the plan: God wanted to show his goodness to us so he gave us grace and mercy. We were to show our gratitude through imitation of his son and obedience. The model he gave us was the burning bush. If we are doing it correctly then we would be surrounded by the fires of this world, but never consumed. We would remain in this state until he sent his son back to get us.
He would take us from the burning bush to a new tabernacle not made with hands. We would then dwell with him forever. But in the mean time we are to simply let our lights shine bright in the mist of this dark world. We were never supposed to eliminate the darkness but create as much light as we could.
The light would be in the forms of love, justice, forgiveness, service and goodness. Despite the evils of this world, our God wants to see the flourishing beauty he created. He expects for this creation to not conform to the world, but be transformed by a renewed mind. This is creation is precious to him. He called this creation Christians!
One of the heroes from Marvel comics Xmen series is a character called the Wolverine. This character has the ability to heal himself at an accelerated rate, making it nearly impossible to destroy him.
Imagine that. With every hurt comes almost instantaneous healing. No scratches. No scars. No fuss. You cut him one minute and in less than 30 seconds he’s healed.
This is not a point where art imitates life. It’s the contrary.
Sometimes we say things to each other that really hurt. The whole “sticks and stones” saying is a lie: Words cut! And the problem is that we are not the Wolverine. We take time to heal and depending on how deep the cut, it could take years.
Now imagine being in a relationship with someone who constantly cuts you with their words and you do not have a chance to heal before the next cut. And this person does not give you any assistance in the healing. They just cut away at their leisure.
And then you tell them it hurts and to please stop. You become vulnerable with them and because of the close relationship you thought you had established, you pointed out the areas that would hurt the most. And instead of honoring and protecting those areas, they come at you like Freddy Krueger and continue to stab.
To subject yourself to years of that is sick. To think that it will get better is psychotic. And to allow it to continue exposes just how much you love yourself. You enter into a relationship with another person to make each other better, not worse. There are people who bring out the worst in us and there are people, praise God, who bring out the best.
Life is too short and you are not the Wolverine. You have been taking cuts for far too long. It’s time for you to make some cuts and empty your life of all those carrying knives. This will be the best Independence Day of all!
If God only gave us 10 times during our life to lose our cool and then we would die, I wonder how many of us would still be here?
God, wanting us to do the right thing, knew that by giving us intellect that we would figure out what the right thing to do would be. He also, in his infinite wisdom, knew that we would need something to fuel our bodies to action for the right thing. We not only need to understand the right thing to do but he gave us something to energize that effort. He gave us anger.
Anger belongs to us. It is supposed to be the fuel that makes us move NOW. Consider this: We know the bible teaches us to be angry, but sin not. And to not allow the sun to go down on our wrath. Then the Apostle Paul gives the example of when Peter was to be blamed he withstood him to his face and he didn’t let an hour go by before doing it. We were never taught to allow wrongdoing, but to challenge it with truth.
Now, in our society we love to waste time talking about things and saying what we’re going to do without doing a thing. We love to share our stories with others to gain support and we love to make empty promises about what we’re going to do in retaliation — and it’s all talk for the most part.
This foolish effort runs on anger. God expects us to own our anger and let it be the fuel for resolution. Anger was supposed to compel us to do the right thing immediately. To respond to things that make us uncomfortable we need a little anger. Anger is not bad. Doing the wrong thing with anger is bad.
So the lesson here is easy: When something angers you, speak to it immediately. You owe your brothers and sisters that right in Christ. So don’t punk out! Own your anger and speak the truth in love.
In 1 John we are told that if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another and the blood of Jesus Christ his son cleanses us from all sin. This is easier said than done.
So to help with this principle God created fellowship. For cleansing of the blood we need fellowship with Christ, but to stay in covenant relationship with Christ we need the fellowship of the saints.
Surrounding ourselves with like minded people who are striving for the same thing and are of the same mind and judgment, is crucial to our souls staying saved.
Sadly, we take for granted this privilege and forsake our coming together. We begin to judge the people coming together as if we have no sin and we try to make a buffet of the people — choosing to be around some and not others. We fail to hold up our end of the fellowship bargain by our bias.
Jesus died that we might try to keep the unity. He wanted us to prefer another over ourselves and he expected us to be known by the love we have one for another.
It is to the point that today saved members of the Lord’s church are starving for the true fellowship of the brotherhood. Saints are searching for a fellowship with real unconditional love instead of conditional clicks. We yearn for a deeper fellowship of believers who are looking to help one another and not hinder. We want a fellowship that encourages and does not discourage. We are hopeful to find this fellowship before Jesus returns.
Is this true fellowship found at your congregation??