Sunday, July 24, 2016

I stand at the door and knock: But on who's door? The lesson of Laodicea.

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the doorI will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

The music is playing. People's heads are bowed and eyes closed. Many are already praying for themselves and for others. The preacher says:

"These altars are open." He pauses, then continues, "Jesus said, I stand at the door and knock. If any man will open the door, I will come in to him." Another pause. "Don't you want to dine with Jesus? Don't you want him to come in?" 

All the while the singers softly sing," Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling. Calling Oh Sinner, come home." 

The implication is clear to everyone listening. Jesus would only be knocking on the door of a sinners heart. Real Christians don't have to worry about it cause he's already there.

I'm all for using scripture to try and convince people to come to Jesus. But, the scriptures MUST be used in the context in which they were written. 

Let's look at that section of scripture in it's totality.

Revelation 3:14-21King James Version (KJV)

14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
Was this section written to people who have never known God? NO!!!
This section was written to THE CHURCH!!!
Read it. If ever a section of scripture applied to the modern church this is it. 
Church used to be all about Jesus. It was all about accomplishing his great commission. It was all about showing kindness and love to others. It was all about giving to others and helping others. 
In times past, people in need could go to a church and the ministry there (both the leaders and the members) would reach out with the love of God and lend a helping hand. This show of love would draw the person (or persons) to come and "give church a try." 
Once there, they would visibly see and hear the love of God in action towards each other in the church. The love was genuine. It wasn't an act. They saw the hands of Jesus vividly on display before their very eyes. 
This would solidify in their minds that they wanted to be like that. In trying to find out how to be like that, they were open to Compassionate Bible studies that lovingly showed them the truth. The truth that all were born in sin and shapen in iniquity. The truth that "without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins." The truth that God himself became a man and shed his own blood to redeem a lost and dying world. The truth that we all need to be born again for 2 reasons: 1) to wash our sins away. 2) to begin the journey to become like Jesus by letting Jesus live through us. The truth that once you're born again (Acts 2:38), you are a child of God and enabled to show his love and be his hands and feet to others. And you wanted to, because you wanted to be the helper for others that your fellow church folk were to you. They showed you Jesus in real and palpable ways. Now, you wanted to do the same. 
That's how it used to be. 
But, Jesus told the Apostles that in the end times "the love of many shall wax cold." (Matthew 24) 
As a new born child of God, I (and the church in general) used this scripture to talk about the state of "the world." The great unwashed and unregenerate mass of people out there that were in dire need of saving. 
Little did we know that Jesus was also (and primarily?) referring to the church. 
The church now tends to look down it's noses at the unwashed masses. If someone comes to the church that's in need, they are looked upon with skepticism, and sometimes even open hostility. If they happen to receive help, and then return to the church thinking that they may actually have found a group of caring people to possibly belong to, they are told in no uncertain terms (and sometimes from the pulpit), that if they came back because they received help from the church, they should not look for more in the future.
 The message they receive quickly becomes that the church only wants people who can help the church do what it wants. The church is not interested in those who will be "a burden" on the church. 
All the while, Jesus is crying. He came to churches door and knocked. And the church is leaving him outside the very same doors. 
The church has grown lukewarm. It revels in it's riches and finery (calling gain-unbiblically- godliness). It builds ever bigger and more immaculate sanctuaries. It becomes state of the art with all the latest tech gizmo's and gadgets. The leadership are all dressed in fine clothing,drive nice vehicles,and live in fine houses. 
But, the people they are called to serve and be the hand of Jesus to are left unserved and unwashed in his blood. 
The modern church, for all it's fancy finery, is a shell of what the Bible teaches. 
Real relationship is replaced by religious activity. 
Real help is replaced by pious prayers and government programs. 
Real brotherhood is replaced by "fellowship breakfasts" and fishing trips. 
No one aches for the lost. No one agonizes over the hurting brethren. In fact, testimonies of God's goodness are limited to comfortable subjects. Former drug addicts aren't allowed to tell where God brought them from. The testimony could get too messy and long.
Services are limited to a certain time period because we all have to get to the buffet before the church down the road does. 
Almost nobody has dinner on the grounds anymore, and if they do, they charge people a fee to partake of the very food the people brought to. Why? To help with "the building fund."
People are asked to give sacrificially to help fix the bathroom (even though there's nothing wrong with the bathroom) up to be as nice as the bishop's bathroom in his church. Give to build a game room for the youth. But, no one is asked to give to help a needy family in the area- or even in the church. 
The church truly has become, as predicted in Revelations 3, wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked. 
 JESUS is calling on the modern church to REPENT!!!!!
Become zealous for the love of God again. Become zealous to see a lost and dying world again. Let Jesus work through you again, before it's too late!!!!
Church, the door Jesus is knocking on is yours. Will you open it again? Will you allow him to cleanse and change you into what he has called you to be? 
Or will you hold on to your pride and position, your fine things and your religion? And will you follow these attitudes to a fiery lake- just like the other pharisees before you? 
Repent church! Before it's too late. 
Doctrine is important. Holiness is necessary. But, Jesus didn't say that the world would know us by our doctrines or by what we call holiness. 
Jesus said they would know us by our agape': our unconditional love for each other and for them. 
Let's get back to that! 
For too long we have believed that the way to catch the fish we are supposed to be fishing for is through the hook of doctrine. Either that, or by our separate ways of dress, etc. 
But, those things are not the hook he gave us to fish with. The hook he's given us to fish with is love. And when they feel the love of God coming through us in our words and deeds, then they will ask questions and can be shown doctrine. Because only then will they want what we have. 

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Just trudging along.

I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.

I had a rather long day today. I began my work at 5:15 AM and finished around 7:10 PM. During that time, I delivered my company's product to 18 stores. Parts of the day seemed to go swiftly. Other parts dragged on for eternity. 

But, the bottom line was that my job needed to be done and I was the only one available today to do it. So, when it felt as if the day was never going to end, I simply kept on going. I worked one store at a time until they were all done. 

Why does this matter? 

Think of it as an allegory to our walk with God and our time on earth. 

We are all here for a purpose. A purpose designed by our creator to accomplish. A purpose that only we can accomplish (with God's help, of course). 

So, how do we do it? How do we finish our race and accomplish what he desires for us? 

One step at a time. One task at a time. One day at a time. 

Think of Noah. Noah was 500 years young when the Lord spoke to him (and him alone) and ordered him to build a ship so large that it's dimensions couldn't be matched until the 20th century. 

We are never told that God spoke to him again until he was about to destroy the earth. 

This occurred when he was 600 years old. 

Noah endured 100 years of waiting. 100 years of backbreaking work. 100 years of pain, confusion, doubt, and mockery. 

Yet, he still continued on. One log at a time. One bucket of pitch at a time. One broken saw at a time. 

How frustrated did he get? We're not told. Whatever his attitude in the ensuing 100 years, he got the job done. 

Peter calls him a "preacher of righteousness." (2 Peter 2:5) Yet, we are never told of a single word he preached. 

Did he ever verbally preach? Probably. But, his greatest sermon was his life. He stayed the course. He finished his God-given project. One step at a time. 

A lesson we should all learn. Whether or not anyone outside our families ever know our name, we are to keep on keeping on. 

When times are good? Keep serving Jesus. In bad times? Keep serving Jesus. 

The greatest sermon we will ever utter, is the witness of our lives being lived for Jesus. Through the good and the bad. 

Just keep trudging along, and one day, a brave new world will open up to us. One day, the storm will be over and we will exit the boat to celebrate the future. 

Till then, lets just keep trudging along. One prayer at a time. One task at a time. Before we know it, we will be caught up with him in the sky- forever changed. 

As the old cartoon song once said, "Put one foot in front of the other..." The results will amaze us! 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Man's trash is God's precious treasure.

Humans love flashy things. Humans really enjoy pretty things.

Many have been the young people who have struggled with their self worth because they (in their own mind) do not measure up to the standards that Hollywierd, magazines, and the music industry say that they should.

Many are the husbands and wives who hang their head in shame because their spouse doesn't think they are pretty enough, successful enough, or whatever other arbitrary standard they may expect them to meet.

Most of us are aware of these situations, but how about this one?

MANY are the Christians who are truly Acts 2:38 born again, but were not raised up in Apostolic truth. They have sorted events in their past, but they lose the joy of their salvation because the Apostolic church looks down on them for the very pasts that Jesus died to forgive them for!

They are told "We love you. God loves you. He wants you to be born again and become a part of his bride." All of this is true!

Yet, somehow, after their new birth, they begin to receive subtle signals from the "in crowd" of the church. They are accepted as long as they show up to church, support the church with their money and physical efforts, and do as their told. But, when the spirit really begins to move on them, watch out! When God begins to call them to sing for him, teach for him, preach for him, all of a sudden they are told, in essence, "you ain't good enough!"

Rather than being encouraged to follow the leading of the Lord, they are discouraged because they don't have a spotless past. Therefore, the religious Apostolic establishment looks down their long noses at them and tries to make them get back in their spot and shut their mouths.

They soon realize that the only thing the established church really wants them for is to be a number on the pew, financially support the "work of God," and be a worker ant when something needs to be done around the church building. They are to leave the "work of God," to the truly holy people of God. Their testimony is not needed or wanted by these people that supposedly love them. Their gifts and callings are not wanted unless the all knowing "leadership" decides to call them out.

I have a word for the church. YOU WILL BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR YOUR MISTREATMENT OF GOD'S LAMBS. The ones you look down on (with your attitude) as being less than you because of your long line of Apostolic pedigree, are the very ones Jesus died for to make them spotless!

You've become so caught up in "your holiness," that you cannot see the hurt and pain you cause. You are so caught up in who you are, that you look down on those that you claim to minister to.

If some of them leave your church (due to how they've been treated), you call them backsliders. If they try to start another work to help others who've been wounded like they were, you do everything in your power to destroy their reputations and call them a cancer. And you use the very past that God redeemed them from to do it!

Shame on you! You have become a pit of vipers! REPENT, before it is too late!

And a word to the masses that have been wounded.

God does love you! God WILL use you! Start looking for others like yourself. The Apostolic doctrines of One God, Acts 2:38 salvation, and holiness are true. Don't throw out the baby with the bath water. Hold on to the truth. Find each other and do what the organized church refuses to do: love each other and help to heal each other.

And once your sufficiently healed from your wounds, reach out to a lost and dying world with the love of God. Reach out to others who are in the same boat the church put you in, and help to heal them, too.

Remember, Man's trash is God's precious treasure.

He chose Israel because they were THE LEAST, not because they were the greatest. The word of God is FULL of people who were truly bad people and God changed their lives for the betterment of millions of people!

Moses was a murderer, but God used him to deliver a nation.

David was an adulterer, but God used him to slay the evil nations around him and solidify his kingdom.

Matthew was a turncoat and a tax collector for an evil regime, but he left it all behind to become one of the Apostles of Jesus!

Saul was a religious zealot who ordered the deaths of multitudes of Christians, but he became the greatest evangelist in history when God met him on the road to Damascus.

John Mark left the mission field, but came back and wound up writing the gospel of Mark!

The list goes on and on.

Don't let folks tell you that you are not good enough for God to use! When you are born again, the scripture declares that "ALL things are made new!"

The past that the religious elite tries to use against you is GONE! It has been washed away by the blood of Jesus!

If you've fallen since you were born again, the scripture declares that if you repent, he will "cleanse you of ALL unrighteousness." So repent, get up, and go on for Jesus.

Don't let the organized church grind you to dust. Get up and BE the church.

The end time revival won't come from the organized church. Instead it will come from the true church that simply loves and let's God use them how he sees fit.

You are NOT trash! You are God's precious treasure!

You are bought with a price. Let your owner use you how he sees fit.

And the Lord said unto him, Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord?