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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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