When Good Things Become Bad Things!

-Is There Passion For God & Man?

I appreciate believers that are “free thinkers”; who, think outside the box; who, challenge the way things have always been done! Not with a spirit of rebellion; but, brothers & sisters, in Christ, that are just passionate for God; and, passionate for the souls of men! And, they’re always questioning whether there’s a better way to do God’s work more successfully—men & women given to prayer; who, are begging God for wisdom to do His work His way! Followers, of Jesus, that are not trapped by the traditions of men; even, traditions of the church that can be elevated to a place of idolatry & prominence above the Word of God, if not viewed carefully!

-It’s Time To Look In The Mirror, Church!

It’s time to look at ourselves through the mirror of God’s Word, Church! It’s time to ask ourselves the tough questions; to, investigate whether we’ve gotten off course; if, we’ve settled for something less than the best of God’s plans for us! Because all the good things we do can become bad things when our motive isn’t pure and holy!  The Apostle Paul called out the Church of Corinth for using their gifts, for ministry, only when they could be seen prominently!  The praise of men can be intoxicating! Jesus noted that many religious leaders, of His day, prayed when they could be heard in public; and, fasted only to be seen of men; and, gave money if honored for it! We all have to guard against false motives when doing our ministry! Are there certain things that are “beneath us” because no one would see us?

-The Church’s Sole Purpose For Existence!

The Apostle John, in 1 John 3:16-18, says that our ministry is properly focused when it’s motivated by a love for Christ; and, a love for others! Jesus’ ministry was others-focused—“love” for the Father; and, “love” for a humanity crushed by sin! Good things also become bad things, for the Church, when they are given priority over Jesus’ mandate to “…make disciples…” That is our sole purpose for existence! That has to be the grid through which we make all our decisions, Church! If that’s not how we do ministry, the “tyranny of good things” will rule instead! We can do a lot of “good things” disobediently!

-Are We Living Like A Pharisee?

It’s always been man’s way, since “the Fall”, to form our own rules; and, ask God to bless them! Like the Pharisees, in Jesus’ day, we wanna play god! We’ve organized our churches as if God exists to meet our needs & cater to our comforts! Our discussions often revolve around what we want rather than what He wills! It’s time to repent; and, come home to the Father, Church! It’s time to admit how prone we are to exalt our work over God’s will; and, our dreams over God’s desires; and, our plans over God’s priorities! God’s blessing only comes to His Church when we live to make Him known among the nations!

 

Advertisements

Don’t Expose My Idols!

-Jesus Said Some Hard Things

Jesus earned quite the reputation for crazy, difficult, and hard sayings during His 3 1/2 year ministry on this planet. He said things like “…unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you”; and, “…it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God”; and, “…let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God”; and, perhaps the craziest, “…if anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”

-Does This Offend You?

At one point, the Apostle John says the crowd, that followed Jesus, could take it no longer and said: “…this is a hard saying; who can understand it?” At that point Jesus turned to them & asked them, “Does this offend you?…there are some of you who do not believe.” (John 6:60ff) In that statement, we gain some insight into the reason for Jesus’ hard sayings—His intent was to flush out the unbelievers, in the crowd, so they might acknowledge their unbelieving heart & come to genuine faith; that, they might trust Christ for salvation.

-Don’t Sanitize Jesus’ Message!

Unfortunately, I’ve read more than one commentary try and explain away what Jesus said….trying to soften the blow of His message by making it more palatable and politically correct! But, when you try and “sanitize” His message it loses the impact of the Gospel. Jesus fully intended to be offensive to His self-righteous audience; and, to shake up the religious leaders that taught a works-based, performance-driven salvation—“If your righteousness does not exceed that of the Pharisees,” He said, “you’ll never see heaven.” To the rich man, He said: “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” In all His “hard sayings,” Jesus was putting a spotlight on the false gods and idols in people’s lives. These were the things that people valued more than Creator God; and, Jesus exposed their idolatry!

-But, Aren’t Idols Bad Things?

That’s what we think; so, we try to re-interpret what Jesus said because He just couldn’t be calling all those good things we love—like family, career, our standing in the public eye—as idols, could He? We want to believe that idols are bad things; but, that’s rarely the case! Tim Keller, in his excellent book Counterfeit Gods, says, “…the greater the ‘good’, the more likely we are to expect that it can satisfy our deepest needs and hopes. Anything can serve as a counterfeit god, especially the very best things in life.”  Jesus came to set things in order—God’s in charge; He is King; He is Lord; and, He alone is to be worshipped! He has all authority over my life; and, He is to be valued as the ONLY treasure, above all His creation!

 

 

Do You Believe It Can Happen Again?

-The Church Of Acts Made Disciples

The book of Acts is an exciting book to read if you’re a genuine follower of Jesus Christ. Filled with the Holy Spirit, the early Church was bold & intentional to obey Jesus’ Great Commission to “make disciples”; and, the results were inspiring— “…that day there were added about three thousand souls” (ch. 2:41);  and,  then we read that “…the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved” (ch. 2:47).  A couple chapters later we read, “Many who heard the message believed…and the number of the men came to be about five thousand” (ch. 4:4). The next chapter uses the term “multitudes” to describe those added to the church, “…all the more believers…multitudes of men and women were added to their number” (ch. 5:14).

-The Math Of Disciple-Making

From that point, the text says the number of disciples was “multiplied”; and, “…the word of the Lord was being spread through the whole region” (ch. 13:49).That’s the math of disciple making—God first “added” to the church; then, “multitudes” were added; and, finally, the number of disciples “multiplied.” Once the Spirit begins to “multiply” the number of disciples, you have an incredible movement of God!

-Just A Nice Story?

What’s in your heart as you reflect on those events? Is it simply “historical” to you—another great BIBLE STORY that doesn’t hold much meaning for today? Or, do you believe that God still works like that when His people are genuinely broken enough to repent of their disobedience to His Commission; and, begin to intentionally love people & disciple them into the kingdom? Do you believe it can happen again? I spent yesterday morning at a Gospel Coalition meeting in Omaha; and, found it incredibly refreshing talking with a number of “20 somethings” passionately taking the Gospel to the city of Omaha. The number of new believers, coming to Jesus, is happening so quickly that they hardly have enough workers to disciple them! By faith they simply believe what Jesus said: “The fields are white, ready to harvest…pray the Lord of the Harvest, that He will send forth laborers!” God, bless us with laborers who just believe Jesus & act!

-Yes! It Can Happen Again!

Steve Smith, who wrote “A Discipleship Re-Revolution”, said this: “A discipleship revolution ignited a firestorm of loving evangelistic zeal and fervent obedience that took the kingdom into the remotest corners of the known world in a period of years & decades, not centuries…This process of winning new believers and training them to witness to others who believed & witnessed to others cascaded out in ripples that touched the farthest reaches of the empire.” Hey Church—let us repent! Let us come back to “ground zero”! We are called to “make disciples”! That’s the way we change America and the world!

 

 

Worship God Or Save Souls?

-What’s The Church’s Highest Purpose?

What is the highest purpose of the Church? Let me break it down for you— “Soteriology” is “the study of the doctrine of salvation in Jesus Christ”; and, “Doxology” is “the study of the doctrine of worship and praise.” The debate is over which is the highest purpose of the Church:  The salvation of souls; or, the worship, praise, and glory of God?

-Answering That Question With Another Question

Let me answer that question with another question—the question that Jesus was asked by one of the Pharisees, “Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?” And, Jesus responded:  “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command.  The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself” Matthew 22:36-39. NOTHING is to be placed above our love, loyalty & worship of God! NOTHING! For those, of you, fearful that I’m kicking evangelism and disciple-making to the curb, your fear is unfounded! Here’s why—we cannot worship God with all our heart, soul, and mind without actively discipling the lost because that is the Commission Jesus has given the Church; and, “If you love me,” He said, “You will keep my commandments.”

-Clarifying The Argument

So, the argument is not whether we disciple the lost or not! We have no option—if we love & worship God we will evangelize and disciple the lost! The debate is over “priorities”—if we give higher preference to winning the lost than we do to love, loyalty, and the worship of God, we’re guilty of IDOLATRY! We’ve become “man-centered” rather than “God-centered.” If God placed the salvation of souls above the worship of God, He would be guilty of IDOLATRY! When the worship of God is revived in the hearts of His people, God sends a “revival”—God sends revival when we worship Him with humble, repentant hearts; and, when we stand in awe of HIS beauty & great worth! John, the baptizer, had it right:  “He (Jesus) must increase & I must decrease.” The word “vive” means “to be alive”; so, “revive” means “to make alive again.”  Like the doctor who “revives” a clinically dead patient, God “revives” the believer who has flat-lined spiritually!

-The Holy Spirit Does The Resuscitating

Has your walk with the Lord become dormant or stagnant? Have you been lazy about your faith? Has it trickled down to your attitude toward the lost? When was the last time you gave testimony of your faith; or, been in a disciple-making relationship with someone? Pray for personal revival—when God “revives” you, you’ll be engaged, once again, in worshipping Him; and, loving the lost that Jesus came to save! God is so good to start over with us! Let Him make your heart sensitive and broken once again! Let Him remove the leanness that has overrun your soul! Let Him make you painfully aware of your sin!

 

When Will God’s Glory Return?

-The Ark Of The Covenant!

If all you know about the “Ark Of The Covenant” you learned from an Indiana Jones movie, then you need to be brought up to speed! One of the most depressing O.T. Bible stories actually revolves around Israel’s “Ark Of The Covenant”; and, it’s found in 1 Samuel 4. Israel finds herself at war with the Philistines & they’re defeated! This disturbed them greatly; and, in their debriefing someone came up with a great idea—“Let’s bring the Ark of the Lord’s covenant into battle with us next time! The Ark will save us!” Now, the Ark was a rectangular box made of acacia wood; and, overlaid with gold.  The top of the Ark contained the mercy seat where the “Shekinah Glory”; or, the manifest presence of God, rested.

-The Way Of The Transgressor Is Hard

When our children were growing up, we’d remind them that “the way of the transgressor is hard” whenever their sin got them into trouble. Well, it was because of Israel’s sin that God, in His Sovereignty, had allowed Israel to suffer defeat at the hands of the Philistines; and, when they responded by putting their faith in the Ark, rather than God, they would suffer another embarrassing defeat. This time, the Ark was also taken by the Philistines; and, we hear Israel mourning, “The Glory is departed! The Glory is departed!” The Ark; and, God’s “Shekinah Glory” had been taken! The Ark couldn’t deliver! Only God, in all His Glory, can deliver & save! It’s a reminder of how subtle the enemy, of our souls, can be— “Worship the God of the Ark”; or, “Worship the Ark of God”? It’s just moving around two nouns; but, it was devastating!

-The Idol Of Human Wisdom

I find the parallels, to the Church, to be haunting! Are we not guilty of worshipping at the idols of human strategy & technique for doing church? Like Israel, have we not become focused on the “horizontal”—adopting human wisdom & logic—rather than the “vertical”—seeking the power & glory of God! The Church has become weak and anemic because we’ve “settled”—we’ve “settled” for the glory of what we can do instead of the glory of an awesome, limitless God who is able to do above & beyond anything we could ask or think!

-The Rest Of The Story

As I read the rest of the story, my attention was arrested by what happened “after” the Ark was taken—what happened was a national “revival.” Israel repents & returns to the Lord; and, the Ark is recovered; and, the place of God’s glory comes home! And, that’s where I find hope—in GOD! There is hope for the Church in America—NOT at the polls November 8th; but, at the altars of our churches! Let judgment begin at the House of God! There is nothing happening in America that a “glory to God” revival couldn’t fix! Let us repent of our idolatrous fascination that politicians can save us!  Can I get an “Amen”?