What Gives?

Golgotha Crucifix, designed by Paul Nagel, Chu...
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Have you ever been in church and the pastor is delivering the message for that morning; and the church is a blaze.  The minister is getting “Amens” from every corner of the sanctuary.  People are jumping up and applauding his every word.  The minister is well prepared and speaks with passion and conviction.  You can look at the pulpit and just see and feel the presence of the Holy Spirit.  When its all said and done, there are even a few people join as well come up to be baptized.  A month down the road things still seem just as they were before the spirit stirring sermon… What happen? What gives?

First thing people would say is that it’s the minister but that’s not always the case.  Now, this is not about finger pointing but awareness and self examination. What I’m about to say is not something I made up but things that I have done myself.  In most situations, the change to people’s lifestyle after such a moving sermon are merely habit changes.  The changes people make after hearing a message that is full of energy or changes to our behavior.  The things we clean up in our lives and how we make choices are all accomplished without the help of the Holy Spirit.  Meaning, we do these things without prayer, without guidance and without regard to God.  It is all done with our will and not with the power of the Holy Spirit.  We don’t seek the Lord nor do we turn to the Holy Scriptures.  This always lead to rule keeping or legalism.  We lay out a set of rules for ourselves and go about keeping the rules that we have added to our faith.  Since they seem to be good rules we assume God’s will is behind us but we never consult with Him.  One or two things will happen, 1) we fall back into our old ways and maybe even deeper because we now see ourselves as failures and 2) we keep the rules and become self righteous as well as “good”.  Following the path of number 2, it also leads us to push our rules onto other people since we have a “new doctrine” that will make us holy.

1.We don’t let the sermon go any further than our emotions.  Its like the story of the foolish and wise builder or the parable of the sower.  We at times go into church needing a emotional lift and use the time to worship as well as to fellowship  as a therapy session instead.

Luke 6:46-49

The Wise and Foolish Builders

46“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? 47I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. 48He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. 49But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”

Matthew 13:18-23

18“Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away. 22The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. 23But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

2. We have allowed the culture to tell us that our faith is a personal religion, meaning don’t push our lifestyle onto others.  We have thus removed community from Christianity as well as neglected the Great Commission.  This new attention to individual growth, which is not bad but it makes fellowship distant and the church has no transforming affect in our workplace, communities, schools, and thus we can’t truly love our neighbor as it relates to Christ.

Matthew 28:16-20

16Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

John 13:34-35

34“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Romans 10:14

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?

1 Peter 2:4-12

The Living Stone and a Chosen People

4As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— 5you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6For in Scripture it says:
“See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
will never be put to shame.”[a] 7Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,
“The stone the builders rejected
has become the capstone,[b][c] 8and,
“A stone that causes men to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall.”[d] They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.

9But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

11Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. 12Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

As long as we allow the culture to tell us how we worship God, we will never get anything out of church.  As we sit there thinking to ourselves that he is not talking about me or I don’t have that problem and I don’t do that cause I live right and I’m good.  Our self righteousness and our will blocks God using us because we are not being humble.  We are not being servants to God like our ultimate blueprint which is Jesus Christ.  If we are good then Christ need not die for us then right?  If we are good and righteous as well as our own rules to life are so good; why we need the bible? Why God even bother?  What we say, do and believe reflect directly on the Purpose of God’s plan and the work of Christ and the Holy Spirit.  If we can’t stand correction than we are doomed to die in sin.  If we can’t spread the Gospel then we are being disobedient to Christ and therefore to the Creator.  If you can’t share Christ with your neighbor because its their life and they can live it how ever they want then you are not showing love to them.  When we say lets keep Christ to ourselves, we say I don’t care if you go to hell and the love of God is not in you.  Hey, if they reject you after you share the message just shake the dust of your feet and its on to the next one.

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