A continuation of this article from last week, and next week, I hope to have some more to share next week…..
Bible Ballistics: Vol. 10 No.20 Church Wanted: Dead Or Alive??? Pt. 2
As we continue with our thoughts from last week, I’d like to take a bit of a turn. I’d like us to not only examine the state of the church, but the state of our hearts; for the state of the hearts of God’s people is the state of the church. If our hearts are fixed on things other than the love, adoration and worship of Jesus Christ the Son who brings us to the Father, then we are off track! God has a plan to reach the world and He has given it to us—now it isn’t always worked out the same in every local body of believers–but it will always be rooted in the Holy Scriptures and the Holy Son of God who is the Only Way to God! And He hasn’t changed neither has His Word!
“Jesus Christ the same
and to day,
and for ever.” Hebrews 13:8
Amen and Amen! Let’s press on.
“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many mansions:
if it were not so,
I would have told you.
I go to prepare a place for you.
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you,
I will come again,
and receive you unto myself;
that where I am,
there ye may be also.
4 And whither I go
and the way
5 Thomas saith unto him,
Lord, we know not whither thou goest;
and how can we know the way?
6 Jesus saith unto him,
I am the way,
and the life:
no man cometh unto the Father,
but by me.
7 If ye had known me,
ye should have known my Father also:
and from henceforth ye know him,
and have seen him.” John 14:1-7
Jesus made it clear to His disciples, as He was about to face the cross, be crucified and rise on the third day, that HE IS the only way to God, and those who believe in Him and receive His sacrifice for our sin, not only know God, but see God—God the Father—for they were, are and ever shall be ONE—Father, Son and Holy Spirit! Amen and Amen!
“My sheep hear my voice,
and I know them,
and they follow me:
28 And I give unto them eternal life;
and they shall never perish,
neither shall any man pluck them out of
29 My Father, which gave them me,
is greater than all;
and no man is able to pluck them
out of my Father’s hand.
30 I and my Father are one.” John 10:27-30
We “must be born again” of the Holy Spirit of God/Jesus, and when we are, we “know” Jesus and because we “know” Him, we also “know” God The Father, and those who were with Him physically had seen the very “I AM”; The God of all creation, for He and the Son are ONE! And those who are HIS, He knows, He saves and He keeps—because salvation is of GOD not man! Always has been, always will be. And when we, the church, try to live, work and function in any other way, we are spinning our wheels! We must ask God to search and reveal to us that which HE sees in our hearts—then we can adjust whatever needs adjusting to walk as HIS sheep! (See John 1:12-13 & 3:16)
and know my heart:
and know my thoughts:
24 And see if there be any wicked way
and lead me in the way
everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24
We have a call, as the children of God, to walk in HIS ways, and we can only do that with the power, and strength of the Holy Spirit, and by immersing ourselves in the Word of God. We must know HIS Word or the world will subtly creep into our hearts and minds and lead us astray. Studying and knowing the Word of God and the intimate presence of its author are imperative to a faithful, and productive Christian life. One directed by God and not self!
But there is also a great challenge for those of us who teach, preach and lead the flock now—and sin, selfishness and worldliness will “trickle down” from the top to the flock. We must guard against being “mis-leaders” and be true ‘leaders’, living, working and ministering in the power of His Spirit and His Word! God is holding us accountable!
“Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed:
but ye feed not the flock.
4 The diseased have ye not strengthened,
neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away,
neither have ye sought that which was lost;
but with force and with cruelty
have ye ruled them.
5 And they were scattered,
because there is no shepherd:
and they became meat to all the beasts of the field,
when they were scattered.
6 My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill:
yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth,
and none did search
or seek after them.
7 Therefore, ye shepherds,
hear the word of the LORD;
8 As I live, saith the Lord GOD,
surely because my flock became a prey,
and my flock became meat
to every beast of the field,
because there was no shepherd,
neither did my shepherds search
for my flock,
but the shepherds
and fed not my flock;” Ezekiel 34:3-8
James warned of this same danger to those who were in positions of leadership in the church—God doesn’t take the care of His flock lightly. Nor will He hold a person guiltless who abuses the privilege and call of leadership!
“My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.” James 3:1 (masters=leaders, teachers, preachers)
Jesus revealed the work of His children to Peter after the resurrection.
“So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?
He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him,
Feed my lambs.
16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas,
lovest thou me?
He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him,
Feed my sheep.
17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas,
lovest thou me?
Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him,
Feed my sheep.
……19 …… And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.” Portions of John 21:15-19
Peter had denied his Lord three times at the crucifixion, but here Christ asks Peter the same question three times, I think to remind Him of the forgiveness that the blood of Jesus provides. Yet we often forget that in forgiveness of sin, is the commission to go forward and do HIS work: but His work in HIS power, not our own. We are to feed the sheep—those who are Christ’s—and to fish for the sheep that don’t know Him (I know, a bad mixed metaphor, but you get the picture!) and teach them as well. And we can only do that as we heed Jesus closing words in this portion of the passage printed here: “Follow me”! That is the imperative—we are to follow Jesus!
You see, I don’t know who is hungry and needs to be fed; I don’t know who is floundering in the sea and needs to be brought to the shore of salvation—to become HIS sheep! But when I follow the Master, He does know and He is always working to lead us where He wants to use us; and sometimes (often in fact) it is in unlikely places, ministering in unlikely ways to the most unlikely people!!! We must stop measuring things by the world’s standard and “Follow” Jesus, by heeding the voice of His Holy Spirit—dying to self and living unto HIM!
“I am crucified with Christ:
nevertheless I live;
yet not I,
but Christ liveth in me:
and the life which I now live in the flesh
I live by the faith
of the Son of God,
who loved me,
and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20
Peter came to know this in power and truth and shared it with the believers in one of his letters later in his life. He called for the leaders to lead in God’s power and the followers to follow in earnest pursuit of holiness and a desire to be Jesus to a lost and dying world. It seems that today many are more interested in plans, programs and gimmicks than in ‘living’ Jesus before the world (It’s easier but that doesn’t make it right!)! And remember the “elders” that he refers to are the leaders, not just elder or aged in physical years (Even as Paul told young Pastor Timothy not to let others hold his ‘youth’ against him—in 1 Tim. 4:12)
“The elders which are among you I exhort,
who am also an elder,
and a witness of the sufferings of Christ,
and also a partaker of the glory
that shall be revealed:
2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof,
not by constraint,
not for filthy lucre,
but of a ready mind;
3 Neither as being lords over God’s heritage,
but being ensamples to the flock.
4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear,
ye shall receive a crown of glory
that fadeth not away.
5 Likewise, ye younger,
submit yourselves unto the elder.
Yea, all of you be subject one to another,
and be clothed with humility:
for God resisteth the proud,
and giveth grace to the humble.
6 Humble yourselves therefore
under the mighty hand of God,
that he may exalt you
in due time:
7 Casting all your care upon him;
for he careth for you.” 1 Peter 5:1-7
Praise God HE does care for us, and wants to save and care for those who will believe and come to Jesus! He makes us the building material of His church! We are the church—the living, breathing organism that is “the church”—not a building that can be bought or sold, but a living organism that is “sold out” to Jesus not the world! How about you? Are you living as a part of His body? Let’s peruse a portion of 1 Peter 2:
“As newborn babes,
desire the sincere milk of the word,
that ye may grow thereby:
3 If so be ye have tasted
that the Lord is gracious.
4 To whom coming, as unto a living stone,
disallowed indeed of men,
but chosen of God,
5 Ye also, as lively stones,
are built up a spiritual house,
an holy priesthood,
to offer up spiritual sacrifices,
acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion
a chief corner stone,
and he that believeth on him
shall not be confounded.
7 Unto you therefore which believe
he is precious:
but unto them which be disobedient,
the stone which the builders disallowed,
the same is made the head of the corner,
8 And a stone of stumbling,
and a rock of offence,
even to them which stumble
at the word,
whereunto also they were appointed.
9 But ye are a chosen generation,
a royal priesthood,
an holy nation,
a peculiar people;
that ye should shew forth the praises
of him who hath called you
out of darkness
into his marvellous light:
10 Which in time past were not a people,
but are now the people of God:
which had not obtained mercy,
but now have obtained mercy.
11 Dearly beloved, I beseech you
abstain from fleshly lusts,
which war against the soul;” 1 Peter 2:2-11
When we are born again, we are “babes” who should desire the “milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby”; and we are to grow into “living” stones that make up the “house” of God, the servants of God, those who offer up “spiritual sacrifices” that are acceptable and pleasing unto God, because we belong to HIS Son!!! What are you doing with your ‘stone’? Are you living for Jesus and sharing His truth, or have you fallen for the lies of the enemy of our souls? Let’s be “living” stones for Jesus—“sold out” to Him and not “for sale” to the highest worldly bidder!
“I beseech you therefore, brethren,
by the mercies of God,
that ye present your bodies
a living sacrifice,
acceptable unto God,
which is your reasonable service.
2 And be not conformed
to this world:
but be ye transformed
by the renewing of your mind,
that ye may prove
what is that good,
will of God.” Romans 12:1-2
Let’s all commit today to be a display of the glory of God, doing His work His way. After all—God saved us and set the parameters of HIS work.
“For after that in the wisdom of God
the world by wisdom knew not God,
it pleased God
by the foolishness of preaching
to save them that believe…..
27 But God hath chosen the foolish things
of the world
to confound the wise;
and God hath chosen the weak things
of the world
to confound the things which
28 And base things of the world,
and things which are despised,
hath God chosen, yea,
and things which are not,
to bring to nought things
29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.” 1 Corinthians 1:21 & 27-29
Just as God reminded Isaiah so many years ago, may we take heed and know that God’s ways are God’s ways!
“For my thoughts
are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways
saith the LORD.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways,
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven,
and returneth not thither,
but watereth the earth,
and maketh it bring forth and bud,
that it may give seed to the sower,
and bread to the eater:
11 So shall my word be
that goeth forth out of my mouth:
it shall not return unto me void,
but it shall accomplish
that which I please,
and it shall prosper
in the thing
whereto I sent it.” Isaiah 55:8-11
So, dear friends, I challenge each of us to be diligent to let God’s Word do its “perfect work” in us, and be the faithful witnesses to the world that HE has saved us to be. May we truly be “sold out” to HIM, and not “for sale” to the world and it’s bling and ease. Jesus is coming, and He told us:
I come quickly;
and my reward is with me,
to give every man
according as his work shall be.
13 I am Alpha and Omega,
the beginning and the end,
the first and the last.” Revelation 22:12-13
He spoke us into existence—may He be pleased with our use of His gifts to us. May we each find out what God is doing around us and join HIM in HIS work—as ‘living stones’ not a ‘dead church’! Praying that He will ever be seen in you and me!!! Always!!!