The Spirit Filled church.- A Look At Sunday Morning

Finding a church that knows God in an intimate way is a key ingredient to a powerful relationship with God. I pray that you find the following writing convicting and encouraging. It is my hope that you experience the power of God in your lives through a personal, intimate, and tangible relationship with God.

In Christ

ABR

Sunday Morning Worship?????

Some time ago, one of my pastors emailed me a video off of YouTube. It pokes fun at what has become known in Christian churches as a contemporary worship style. It questions the sincerity and motivation of some of the more "modern" or "contemporary" worship. Suggesting that it is contrived and superficial, void of any real move of the Spirit of God. It was a revealing look into what far to many churches across America have become. To me, it reveals a dead church that must turn to gimmicks, psychology, and entertainment to imitate the Spirit of God. The producers of this eye opening video, questions the true motivation of those church leaders who subscribe to this pattern of worship. Pointing out that they are self serving.

Like the producers of the video, I am alarmed. I realized this short clip is speaking a profound truth. In reality, these churches do not have the Spirit of God! They have had their lamp stand removed from its place or they never had one to begin with.

Here is the Video:

Sunday Morning

As I watched this video, I acknowledged the truth of it. Then immediately, asked for understanding as I sensed that God wanted to show me more. As I prayed, this reality became clear to me. It is through the person of the Holy Spirit that we sense the Intimate and tangible presence of God. In the absence of the Holy Spirit, church leaders must turn to man made imitations. As I prayed, the Holy Spirit directed me to Revelations 2:5. Revelations 3: 1 &14. The letters that Jesus sent through John to the church at Ephesus, Sardis and Laodicea. All three churches were in big trouble.

I would like to take the few moments of your time and show you some of what God showed me. It is my hope to help you better understand the Word of God and to cause you to evaluate your church and ultimately your personal relationship with God. To spur you on in the Lord so that you will be an effective minister for Christ.

I would like to start with the church at Ephesus. Jesus rebukes the Ephesian church in spite of their zeal for truth and their attention to doctrine. Sadly they had "left their first love" and had become emotionally distant and disconnected from Him.

repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lamp stand from its place
repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lamp stand from its place
"Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love."
"Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love."

The Church at Ephesus

Rev 2:2-4 “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; 3 and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love."

God desires a personal, intimate, and tangible relationship with us. He longs for us to steal away with Him, to spend time with him. To intimately exchange thoughts, feeling and ideas. He wants to spur us on, strengthen us, to give us His power to overcome sin, to give us life more abundantly. However, we often get caught up in the work of the church and forget that there is more then doctrine and service. God is intimate, when we get distracted he gets Jealous.

How would it be if you were to came home looking forward to spending quality time with your spouse, but found that he/she was completely uninterested in you? Instead, of embracing you and welcoming you home, you found him/her to be distant and distracted completely self absorbed. This would be disappointing to say the least. Now imagine that this happened everyday. Month after month Year after year. No matter how hard you tried to get some quality time in, to develop an intimate relationship. They continue to be distant and disconnected. Lets be honest, At some point, the relationship would fail.

This is precisely what was happening in Ephesus. Those saints that had started out so well forgot their God had emotions. That he was intimate and personal. How sad it must be for our Lord to discover that this church no longer loves Him. As a result Jesus issued this very alarming warning to the church.

Rev 2:5 "Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lamp stand from its place—unless you repent"

Eeesh! What a scary thought. He will remove that source of light, that warmth, that comforting flame that gives us life. The Holy Spirit, the very presence of God in the church!

At this point it is important for me to distinguish between the Church (Capital C), a church (small c), and the individual believer. I do not believe that God will remove himself from "The Church" as a whole. For the Church (Capital C) has been promised that she will be presented to Christ spotless and glorious with out spot or wrinkle. Ephesians 5:27:

"that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish." Ephesians 5:27

Nor does he remove himself from the Individual believer, for he has promised that he will never leave nor forsake us.

"Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself (God) has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

However, these passages suggest that he will remove himself from a church (small c) body. When a church, for what ever reason, stops serving God on an intimate level. He will at some point, known only to Him, remove its lamp stand, if they fail to repent. I believe the lamp stand is a symbol for the presences of God or the Holy Spirit.

“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot."
“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot."
"So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth."
"So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth."

The Church at Laodicea.

Rev 3:14-16 “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth."

A close look at the Church at Laodicea reveals three serious problems.

1. They are lukewarm (complacent). Not dead (cold), nor are they on fire (alive and growing spiritually). They are spiritually stagnate.

2. They think they are rich but in truth they are poor and necked.

3. They are spiritually blind unable distinguish between a counterfeit and the real thing.

This church is endanger of being vomited out of the mouth of God! A clear picture of rejection for that particular church body. In their complacency, apathy had set in. It grew numb to the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is giving warning that the Holy spirit is about to leave their fellowship.

Complacency is seeking the easy road. It is turning to things that require very little or no spiritual effort. Things such as psychology and entertainment, things that arouses an emotional response or feelings of spirituality. They are used to Imitate the Holy Spirit. Things like devotion to God and His Word, fervent prayer, repentance or selfless sacrifice require discipline and get ignored.

Jesus described this church as poor, necked, and blind because they had exchanged his glory and presence for the riches of the world. To the point that they were no longer able to discern the things of God from the things of men. Physically they looked rich. They had lots of material wealth, such as, gold and silver. They probably had lots of people in the church, most likely, they dressed well and had a fancy church building lots of programs, perhaps they were very charitable. However, according to Jesus, they lacked true riches and fine clothing. Spiritually, they were poverty stricken.

True wealth can only be found in a personal relationship with God. He is our true source of gold. He gave me that one thing that I was not able to buy! My salvation. He redeemed me from the pits of Hell. He over came the sin in my life and clothed me with garments of righteousness. It was the blood of Jesus that afforded me a personal, intimate and tangible relationship with God. His is a suite that no earthly tailor can make. There is no substitute that can equal His value. But when a church is complacent they don't care and wouldn't know the difference anyway. Anything will do. So long as it is easy.

Like Eli the priest, the Laodiceans had become blind, unable to discern the things of God from the things of Men. He was blind and had become fat off the sacrifices of the people. To the point that he could no longer tell the difference between a broken heart and a drunkard (1 Sam 1:12). Further,A complacent church will not deal with sin in its body just as Eli, when confronted about the sins of his sons, did nothing about it. In his complacency he didn't have the strength of will to discipline them by removing them from their office. Probably because he was guilty as well.

If a church does not take a lesson from the Laodiceans. A worse fate may await them.

The Church at Sardis

Now consider the church at Sardis. The zombie church. A fellowship that was dead, but seemed very much alive.

Rev 3:1 "And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, ‘These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead."

I can't help but ask the question, how is it that a dead church does not realize it is dead? When death occurs in the human body it is pretty obvious that the spirit has left its dwelling. No life remains. Lights are off, the door is locked, the spirit has left the building. Yet when death happens to a church, often times, that body doesn't seem to notice. Despite the absence of the Spirit of God, it keeps going through the motions of living. not realizing its death occurred. It becomes a walking corps, a Zombie church with no real life in it.

I believe the video above is a perfect example of the church at Sardis. A Zombie church that does not know it is dead. At some point it forgot what real spiritual life is. Jesus said "I have come that they might have life and have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). Life in the spirit is a life of holiness. It is a life that overcomes sin. It is a life that conforms us into the image of Christ. It bring a completeness. A sense of fulfillment. It is joy unspeakable and full of God's Glory. It is a personal, intimate, and tangible relationship with God.

I think the Church in America confuse large numbers of people as God's blessing. We must remember that large numbers of people do not show us God's approval. They show us Man's approval. When our goals switch from the love of God via The power of the Holy Spirit through acts of selfless kindness, godly disciplines, fervent prayer and bible study, knowing as well as teaching sound doctrine. To entertainment driven, evangelistic services, aimed at making new converts via an overdose of praise/worship. Programs, self helps, and doctrines that are to heavy on grace. Large numbers will fallow. I guarantee it. People love to be entertained and they love being told that God loves them. The world wants a religion that is warm and fluffy. The problem is the only way to get that is by dumbing down the gospels and worshiping men instead of God. In the end, it is nothing more than humanistic Idol worship trying to disguise itself as Christianity.

A Time For Evaluation

I ask you to take a second look at the video posted above. Then, evaluate your own church. Does it look an awful lot like the zombie church of Sardis and the fat and lazy church of Laodicea all rolled up into one. If you answered yes, I ask you to next consider your own relationship with God. Does it look like the church you attend? Has apathy made you numb to the convicting power of the Holy Spirit? Do you ignore the sin in your Life? Are you a walking zombie? Dead on the inside, going through the motions of the Christian life, lacking true conviction? Are you complacent? If so, may I make a couple of suggestions?

Jesus told the church at Ephesus to remember their first moments with Him. To return to their first love. You see, unlike those churches that failed to repent. God will never leave you nor will he impose himself on you. He is like a patient suitor, he is looking for the moment you notice him. Do you remember the first days of your salvation? Do you remember your unquenchable thirst for His Word? The joy you felt in his presence and how close he felt when you prayed? Can you remember those moments when the name of Jesus made you feel happy and excited? How easy it was for you to overcome addictions, or those sins that held you captive? Go back my friend and start from there. Confess you love for him! Spend outrageous amounts of time in fervent prayer and in Bible reading. Not because you feel guilty but because you want to spend time with him as you would your lover. Do it because you know it will make Him happy!

My Friend Walk in the fear of God. Recognize that he is also your father. A loving father disciplines his children. (Hebrews 12:3) I have found that loving God is not enough to keep me faithful. My love for him must be coupled with fear and reverence. I understand that he orders my life. That he wants to conform me into the image of Christ. He does this through life's circumstances. When I turn away, he sees to it that I am given every opportunity to repent. The more stubborn I am, the harder my circumstances are. If in the end, I refuse. He may very well take my life. Not my salvation, but my physical life. For it is better that my body of sin parish, then for me to live a life of wickedness. Bringing a reproach to His name by my hypocrisy. I have found that the first to go is always my money and then my health. I have seen this process to many times to call it a coincidence. In fear and trembling I ask you to consider Ezekiel 18:24:

“But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? All the righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; because of the unfaithfulness of which he is guilty and the sin which he has committed, because of them he shall die". Ezekiel 18:24

Brother and sister who is our Righteousness? It is the Lord Jesus Christ. If I turn from Him, who is my righteousness, God warns that He may very well call me home.

Lastly, I implore you, dear struggling saint, to seek out believers who are on fire for God! Believers who joyfully spend outrageous amounts of time in prayer and reading the Word of God. People who speak of God as though he really exists and are mindful of him in their daily activities, at all times, an in all places. People who express their love through good works and charity. People who example holiness naturally. People who know the spirit of God and are overcoming the sin in their life by the grace of God and the fear of Lord. In short, find some folks who really know God.

May God bless you and keep you. My the joy of the Lord flow through you. May you be a light to the lost pointing all to Christ Jesus.

In Christ

ABR

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Comments 18 comments

HOOWANTSTONO profile image

HOOWANTSTONO 6 years ago

Yes Bro, I agree with you on this hub, I must admit that, just saying the words "Lets go to church" frightens me, I personally have been kicked out of church, because I spoke out, and was labeled rebellious. I have not set foot in a "church building" for 12 years now, but rather be led by the in working of the Holy Spirit. My flame is still burning, there are more unsaved people outside the church than in the church and that's where I am, with them in the world but not part of the world.

Mar 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

"Making disciples was the error"


Judicastro profile image

Judicastro 6 years ago from birmingham, Alabama

Having grown up in church and spending most of my life in organized church I find that my husband and I at our age are an oddity. We pulled away because we didn't seem to fit. I have written a couple of hubs just about that. We have become more concerned with numbers than relationship. We have no idea how to truly walk in love when it comes to reaching the lost and worse yet we have become cannibalistic and we devour our sisters and brothers with vicious word of judgment and deceit and call it prayer. The condition of the church today grieves my spirit. Great hub, thanks for all your hard work.


JeanieR profile image

JeanieR 6 years ago from Sequoia National Forest, CA

Excellent work, ABR! Your whole hub is well done, but I especially appreciate the evaluation section. Too often a critique-type of article ends with the critique and leaves you clueless as to how to respond. You've done a great job in pulling together sound advice for doing an evaluation and making changes. Up and useful!


Abrushing1968 profile image

Abrushing1968 6 years ago from USA- Florida Author

Hoo

I am glad to agree with me. However, I think I may have mislead you just a bit. I believe very strongly in attending church. I believe it is an essential part of my relationship with God. That Said, it saddens me that you had a bad time.

I am glad you love the Lord. However, part of loving God is loving His people. 12 years is quite a long time. Perhaps it is time to set aside your hard feelings. Give it another go. Just be very selective.

I am not sure why you would say that making disciples is an error. Jesus made disciple why shouldn't we? Sharing the gospel is one of my greatest Joys. Investing my self in people lives through teaching and relationship is my calling. We absolutely need people, such as your self, to go out into the world to preach the gospel and we need people with in the church to welcome them home. To teach them and help to turn away from their sin and live Godly lives. Lives that point all to Christ. So that, in turn, they can teach others. This is one of the purposes of the Church. To make disciples, students of God's Word.

It has to be said, not all churches are bad.

I will be praying for you bro.

In Christ

ABR


Abrushing1968 profile image

Abrushing1968 6 years ago from USA- Florida Author

Judicastro

Thank you for reading my stuff. I am honored and delighted. This particular Hub was a bear to get through. It was far to long. I should have cut it down. It was far to wordy. Thank you for taking time out of your day and plowing through it.

If I may, I would like to take a moment and defend the Church. (Capital C) I have found that the true Church is in good condition. She is simply hard to find. This unfortunately, has always been true. But more so today. The purpose of this Hub is to point out that not all churches (Small c) that call themselves Christian are alive in Christ. They may prescribe to Christian Ideals but in truth their hearts are far from Him. They are as lost as the Muslim or the atheist. We have to use discernment and know God's Word to be able to distinguish between those that are and those that are not.

That being said There is no perfect church (small c) A part of Christianity is being a brother or sister in the Lord. Adding your gifting to the Body of Christ. Another part of the Christian experience is learning to deal with imperfect people. You and I are both a work in progress. It is to be expected that everyone else in the Church is as well. God uses difficult people to help us see how difficult we are. It is a part of the molding process. As we learn how to deal with difficult or even impossible people we learn something and come away wiser for the dealing. This is called spiritual growth. We as Christians are duty bound to forgive and offer grace to each other. Outside the family I can think of no better place than the Church for us to develop these skills.

It requires patients, commitment, and a personal walk with God.

In Christ

ABR


Abrushing1968 profile image

Abrushing1968 6 years ago from USA- Florida Author

JeanieR

I am truly honored you took the time to read my stuff. Your thoughtful comment was very encouraging. Thank you for being an honest critic.

I have found that anyone can see a problem. But only some people know how to solve the problem.

If we point out a problem with out offering a solution we are simply complaining.

Again thank you!

In Christ

ABR


coffeesnob 6 years ago

I saw nothing in the video that gave glory to God. Church is not for entertainment - it is a place to come and lift up the LORD and others...hmmm was that missing?

I think so. good work here

Blessings

CS


Abrushing1968 profile image

Abrushing1968 6 years ago from USA- Florida Author

Coffeesnob:

Thanks, as always, for stopping by. What a novel idea lifting up others and praising the Lord.

Selflessness is indeed and mark of a true church.

God Bless

ABR


DavePrice profile image

DavePrice 6 years ago from Sugar Grove, Ill

I agree with you, and at the same time I have to agree with Paul - Some preach this Christ, some preach that Christ, I just rejoice that the name of Christ is preached. I'm not happy with the direction the church is headed, but what generation hasn't said that. I guess I think that salvation can come anywhere the name of Christ is preached, even when I can't appreciate how its being done. The bigger question for me is, how do we provide an alternative that is so much better that the imitators fall away?


Abrushing1968 profile image

Abrushing1968 6 years ago from USA- Florida Author

HI Dave,

You make a great point. I too am glad that Christ is being preached.....That is, if indeed He is being preached. If a person who comes to Christ but remains in his sin and sees no significant spiritual growth. It is doubtful that he/she have been introduced to the Jesus Christ of the Bible. For the Gospel of Christ is power over sin, The power of God unto salvation. Those Churches that prescribe to this ultra contemporary, ultra modern, style of worship are preaching a message of grace that does not fear God. It does not give the believer an accurate picture of who Christ is or what the Christian life is about. As a result the believer rarely turns away from his/her sin. These churches are social clubs not a place of worship. They are "me" centered not "God" centered. Now having said that. We must remember that it is God who saves not the the Church. He may indeed use one of these churches if he wishes. I have seen flowers grow in the desert. But they usually die very quickly. If he can use a Donkey he can use the dog next door if he wants to. The true Church (capital C) is full of people who go to church because they have been drawn to Christ. If a person comes to Christ because they were drawn to a church. It is doubtful they are saved. They are not going to be very successful in their Christian Walk. I have seen people get saved in these churches. Like that flower in the desert. However, once they get serious about their Christian walk, the Holy spirit will lead them out.

A wise man once said that it is very important how we start out our Christian walk. But the true test is whether we will complete it.

Dave thanks for stopping by and giving me food for thought. I am grateful that you plowed through this writing. I look forward to reading some of your stuff as well.

In Christ

ABR


lifegate profile image

lifegate 6 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

Thank you for a hub that gets to the heart of the matter. Indeed our churches have fallen away. Without Christ or the Holy Spirit what do they really have?


exjwlaurie 6 years ago

Hi Brother ABR, thank you so much for this hub--and AMEN to the truth you spoke here.

After becoming born again last year--I went to three different neighborhood churches to see which one would most closely align with my heart.

I found two of them to be wildly popular--I mean thousands of people in attendance! But the one that seemed most closely aligned to my own heart is the one I made my home!

The other two had a lack of any Christian symbolism. They both had rock-band's, mostly dressed in torn jeans and "cult-culture style" tee shirts; and they lacked any real communication between the membership, and yes--I was in fact a bit shocked by the "beach-wear" in the Church.

In one of these two "wildly" popular churches, the pastor came running up the isle, after a "Heeeeeer's Johnny" type of introduction, and people jumped to their feet as though they were at a concert--applauding wildly; I will be honest with you, at this particular church--I thought I was in an alternate reality or something!

I thought, THIS is what it means to be a Christian???? These people fawned over him!

Before he began his sermon, he showed a "trailer" of the movie he is making about his own life! I couldn't believe it! I walked out of there and cried as I drove home. I was SO disappointed, and I asked my Lord," is THIS really how people believe you want to receive worship? Who are they worshiping "really"?"

The Lord led me to older neighborhood Church, which I have made my home. No band, no jeans, just an amazing love for Christ, and genuine, heartfelt singing of songs filled with praise and worship, played on a piano by the Pastor's wife. So sweet!

LOVE and fellowship abounds and I feel the presence of the Holy Spirit in this place. I cried when I saw the cross behind the platform, illuminated--front and center for all to see.

So, I appreciate the truth you speak with boldness in this hub! Thank you writing it! You have 'nailed it' my Brother! God Bless you!


Abrushing1968 profile image

Abrushing1968 6 years ago from USA- Florida Author

exjwlaurie:

I am so glad you have found a spirit filled church. You were able to discern the difference. I just finished reading one of your hubs on JW's. After having been lied to for so many years I can only image the disappointment you felt in the humanistic church. I would have cried all the way home too!

You have come to know Christ and the power of His resurrection. No substitutes if you please! \o/ Praise God!

Again I am excited for your ministry and pray that you will be a light in the darkness as you share your faith to those in your family and the JW,s as a whole.

Thanks for stopping by.

In Christ

ABR


Abrushing1968 profile image

Abrushing1968 6 years ago from USA- Florida Author

Lifegate:

With out Christ and the Holy Spirit all they have is works and cheep entertainment!

Thanks for stopping by. I look forward to reading some of your stuff as well

God Bless

ABR


DaKingsKid profile image

DaKingsKid 6 years ago

Thank You so much for being sensitive to the spirit. Your hub revealed or confirmed so to speak things that God has been dealing with in my own heart. Thank You again for your willingness to be used of God.


Marliza Gunter profile image

Marliza Gunter 6 years ago from South Africa

yes.. you must see some of our churches with a book, dvd, cd and gift shop right at the front door.. but when you go to the front for prayer, its like they look at you like your the dirty beggar that the cat dragged in.. no love in the house of God anymore.. money and entertainment.. the new establishment for the Bold and the Beautiful.. :)


Romeo Giwa 4 years ago

It is very great i AM bless.thanks.


RonElFran profile image

RonElFran 3 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

Thanks for the video. It makes clear that a successful formula can't substitute for the Holy Spirit. But I hope those of us who don't follow that particular formula don't get complacent. Many more traditional churches have their own decades-old formulas that make no more room for God's Spirit than this one does. This is a good, thought-provoking hub. Thanks.

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