<Disclaimer> Just in case this is your first time reading one of my posts… I’m just an average guy who loves Jesus and relies totally and completely on God for my needs and to guide and order my steps. This blog is my feeble attempt to share some of the things that He lays on my heart that I feel are important and may convict and/or encourage others in their relationship with God. <End Disclaimer>
Some things have really been laid on my heart lately and I thought that I might share. This post was going to be focused a bit differently but I think I’ll incorporate those thoughts in with what’s on my heart today.
As I look around I see more and more degradation of our faith as Christians. Watered down believers listening to watered down sermons taught by watered down teachers. The vast majority of “religious” people going to church on Sunday and then living like heathens during the rest of the time and even believers who treat their salvation like nothing more than an admission ticket into heaven.
I’m not trying to be judgmental, it just grieves me that more believers aren’t standing up for our beliefs and living like Christ. Isn’t that what “Christianity” is, the partnership of the surrendered believer and God making that person to become more and more Christ-like each and every day? Yet, we go about our daily lives with a routine of being self-absorbed and selfish for the most part. Yeah, that’s right, I say “we” because I’m talking to myself in this too.
How many times have you heard the gospel message in your church this month? How many times has your pastor’s message sounded like Peter in Acts 2:40 “And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.”? How many times have you been challenged by a sermon to “die to self” and help a brother or sister in need? How many times has your small group spoken of the many times in the New Testament where we’re told that we will share in the sufferings of Christ?
Our pastors need to stop worrying about how much is going to be in the offering plate, how many cars are in the parking lot, their level of prestige and power, their facebook and twitter ratings; and get back to preaching the gospel, and having Christlike concern for what’s in people’s hearts! Timothy could have given in to what people wanted to hear so that he could draw a bigger crowd and see bigger offerings, but the apostle Paul warned him of that as we see in Paul’s letter to Timothy.
“For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths.” 2 Timothy 4:3-4
Pastors, do you really want to take a chance on answering to Christ why attendance numbers, and money seem to be more important than the salvation of lost souls and the disposition of the hearts in the churches you shepherd? Do you not have faith that God will take care of your ministry’s needs? Do you really want to answer personally as to why you seem to be more worried about your own power, prestige, and becoming wealthy instead of serving your congregations with the lowliness and humility that Christ served others while living amongst us on this earth? What would He say to you if He walked down the isle of your church during a Sunday morning service after having searched the depths of your heart?
“Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’” Matthew 21:12-13
Back to what’s at hand for all of us. Do you and your church model the church shown to us in Acts 2:42-47 & 4:32-37 just after Pentecost where those who had more than enough gave so that those who didn’t would have enough? Are those who are able serving those who aren’t? What happened to taking off our robe, sitting on a stool with a towel and a basin and washing the feet of others?
Many pastors these days preach from the standpoint of once saved always saved. I’m not saying that they are wrong, there are just some questions, ideas, and scriptures that have ended up in my mind and heart. Mainly, it seems that in preaching this, their congregations have mistakenly started to believe that they do have a free “admission ticket” into heaven that can be put away for safe keeping until it’s needed. It’s like these teachings amongst our complacency that says the next day will come is causing us to continually put off until tomorrow what we should be doing today. This complacency of “I’ll sin today and ask forgiveness tomorrow” is directly contradicted in scripture by Paul in his letter to the Romans. “Well then, since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning? Of course not!” Romans 6:15. Paul goes on in verses 16 and 17 to write “Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you.”
We are directly challenged by scripture in several places and in my opinion we should all live with the “fear of God” and concentrate on Him and living for Him each and every day.
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” Matthew 7:21-23
“But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”
Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. So great fear came upon all those who heard these things. And the young men arose and wrapped him up, carried him out, and buried him.
Now it was about three hours later when his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter answered her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much?”
She said, “Yes, for so much.”
“Then Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” Then immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. And the young men came in and found her dead, and carrying her out, buried her by her husband. So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things.” Acts 5:1-11
Again, in Revelation chapter 2 and again in chapter 3 we see stern warnings from The Lord over unrepentance and being lukewarm in one’s faith. That said, I’m still not discounting the “once saved, always saved” teachings and I’m not taking away from the awesome grace that God has for us. I’m just trying to make the point that God is the final judge of our lives and we should be solemnly concerned and ever grateful for that grace each and every day and not take our salvation so lightly in the way that we live and act.
“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16
How can we be “the light of the world” if we go about our daily lives living just like everyone else? How does it show our Christianity if we use the same foul language, participate in the same foul activities, and live with the same selfishness as unbelievers? How does running a church, like a business only to grow at the expense of the very hearts of those under it’s roof show that Christians are “the light of the world”? Romans 12:2 tells us the remedy for this; “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
Another thing that’s always interesting to me are how many people, even those who know the scriptures well think that they know when our Lord will return. We are clearly told that not even the angels know when that time is. For this reason, we should always be ready.
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.” Matthew 24:36
“Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is he who stays awake and who keeps his clothes [that is, stays spiritually ready for the Lord’s return], so that he will not be naked—spiritually unprepared—and men will not see his shame.” Revelation 16:15 AMP
There are some other verses worthy of reading along these lines as well: Matthew 24:43, 1 Thessalonians 5:2, 1 Thessalonians 5:4, and 2 Peter 3:10
To wrap up, I think that we should all do some deep searching within our hearts and pray earnestly that through His searching of every deep recess, and crevice of our hearts that God will reveal to us what He sees. The bible says that we have very little time before He returns, and we should all be ready!
I’d like to close with these questions and important words from scripture.
How is your relationship with God?
Are you reading and studying His Word?
Are you spending time praying in secret and silence with Him and listening expectantly for Him to respond?
Is there any unconfessed sin that stands in between You and God?
Have you wronged someone for the sake of your own greed and desires?
Do you need to ask forgiveness, repent, and/or make right some wrong that you have done to someone else?
Are you living and acting out of integrity and righteousness even if it means being scoffed at or alienated by others?
These are just a few questions that we can ask ourselves. Ask God to convict you, to help you to know what’s right, and to give you the knowledge, strength, courage, and boldness to do the right thing.
Above all, let’s remember these words from the apostle Peter because they should also be our heart’s cry and our plea to others; “Be saved from this perverse generation.”
He who testifies and affirms these things says, “Yes, I [Jesus] am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
The grace of the Lord Jesus (the Christ, the Messiah) be with all [the saints—all believers, those set apart for God]. Amen. Revelation 22:20-21 AMP
Sovereign Father God, you have given myself and those who read this post a lot to think and pray about. If nothing else, may these things give us urgency and resolve to make ourselves right with You and focus more on what You would have us do in our daily lives instead of focusing on ourselves and what others think. Let us always remember that You could send Jesus at any moment without warning and that we could be standing before you in judgement in the blink of an eye. Please, search our hearts and reveal our motives to us so that we may make ourselves right with You. Remind us each and every day of 1 Corinthians 3:13-15 where we are told that; “each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.” May our hearts always be united with You and have the right motives so that we don’t see the fruits of our labor burned in the fire of Your judgment. Above all, give us strength, courage, and boldness to share the gospel of Christ with others that they may be saved. In Jesus’ name we pray; AMEN