Our pastor is passionate! And his sermon yesterday was inspiring, convicting, encouraging, and challenging all at the same time. He is a fourth generation Pentecostal, whose family's faith was birthed by the Azusa St. revival, who have seen much sustained revival through the years. He has seen the real, therefore he recognizes impostors! He is continuing to speak from his heart about the decline of the church in America over the past several decades. Yesterday he shared what he thinks the problem is and what we need to do to fix it, so that the church can return to and move beyond the power that it once had that is no longer exhibited. It seems that this is not a new problem and he used many quotes from legitimate men of God throughout history who called to their generation to, in a nutshell, live for what matters!
His Text: Mark4:40-43
40(A)While (B)the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and (C)laying His hands on each one of them, He was (D)healing them.
41Demons also were coming out of many, shouting, "You are (E)the Son of God!" But (F)rebuking them, He would (G)not allow them to speak, because they knew Him to be the Christ.
42(H)When day came, Jesus left and went to a secluded place; and the crowds were searching for Him, and came to Him and tried to keep Him from going away from them.
43But He said to them, "I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, (I)for I was sent for this purpose."
"We must do what it takes to get God's power back into the church. We don't need more apologetics to win the lost. We need more power. Nothing converts a sinner faster or more soundly than the power of God, in fact, they cannot be converted without a power experience!
Some say that the gospel, as it has been known for generations, is no longer "relevant" to the modern world. But I say that one of the main needs of people today is healing. And divine healing! There is much sickness in the world today that there is not cure for, that disables people from living normally. Christ is relevant to a sick and dying world!!!
Let's examine v. 43. Jesus said "I must". We, as the church, have to have an "I must" instead of sitting in church getting fat. We MUST preach the "kingdom of God". It was the main message of Christ! He preached on how to enter The Kingdom. Church attendance is not The Kingdom. Church meetings are just a gathering of those who have entered.
This was the "purpose" He came! When we forget our purpose, we get taken up with lesser things.
"Rise up O men of God,
Have done with lesser things,
Give heart and soul and mind and strength
To serve the King of kings!"
Francis Xavier stood on an island and looking toward what seemed to him to be the rock-hard resistance of China's millions. As this missionary looked toward China's mainland he cried, "Rock, rock, when will you open to my Savior? Xavier sent word back to Europe urging the dispassionate students of his day to be missions addicted. He pled with them, saying, "Tell the students to give up their small ambitions and come eastward to preach the gospel of Christ!" What are you giving your life for? And why?
1) We are distracted from our focus. We have substitute or replacement visions in the church of today. Our only vision, as Christians, is God's vision found completely in the Great Commission. Our joy should be connected to heaven's joy and heaven's joy is the salvation of souls. The angels rejoice over just one soul.
We have secondary visions and purpose in the church today. We have political czars, sports "ministries", health gurus, money and prosperity experts. The better has replaced the best. It has been said that "the good is the enemy of the best." We use God to make us better. That is self centered, focused on "us." Much of what is taught and preached in churches and on Christian t.v. provides a substitute for our real calling and purpose and vision and gives us "fixes" to keep us addicted. David Shibley calls this "the cult of self" and believes that this cult permeates the fabric of the American church. He says, "American churches are by far the most self-absorbed believers in the entire world. We whine, "I just want to know my purpose; I've got to reach my destiny." We race all over the country to attend "destiny conferences" and we devour tapes and books on "reaching your full potential." It would be amusing if it were not so appalling. Even cloaking our self-centeredness in Christian garb and jargon cannot cover the nakedness of this cult of self that has infested much of the American church. Many Christians cannot put in the sickle and reap because they are in a dense spiritual fog. They are drowning in trivia and choking on minutia."
D. L. Mooody said "pursuing God's purposes, not our own, is the path to personal fulfillment."
When asked if the unreached are saved if they don't hear the gospel, C. H. Spurgeon replied "the bigger question is are we waved if we don't passionately desire to get the gospel to them?"
Shibley said "The new center of attraction is self! Many today are completely unmoved by the fate of the unconverted....The greatest impediment to world evangelization today is our own carnality!....Stop coddling the carnal and re-enlist for ministry as missionaries!"
Every great man of God in history has had this drive for the salvation of souls! But in America, we have created addicts of dysfunction. We feed them carnality from our pulpits and sell them carnality growth hormones. We are dysfunctional! James Dobson wrote that "another word for dysfunction is sin". We have dysfunction and we sit around talking about it. You cannot get better until you get deader! The blood fixes dysfunction! The Word alone fixes dysfunction! It doesn't take conferences, seminars, books and tapes. That's what the Blood does at salvation! We die and our dysfunction dies with us!!!
We are absorbed by the natural, by the physical. We have "Christian nutrition" instead of divine healing. We have "Christian exercise" in an effort to live longer. Why????? We as Christians should be looking past death and be willing to die early for the gospel! We have "Christian cooking" shows--I'm not even going to go there! They are pathetic! If you want to learn about cooking watch Emeril--BAM! We are relationship crazed! We focus on the mental and the emotional instead of being focused on relationship with God!
Salvation fixes relationships! When my wife and I got saved, we were in the process of getting divorced. But salvation fixed our relationship. As we began to read and practice the Word of God, our relationship healed, without any human, outside help!
The moment anything is about you, you begin to die!!! The fruit of our selfishness can seen in the types of meetings that we have. There are no evangelistic meetings anymore. Subtly, other things have taken over. How to be a better wife, husband, family,.........and the list goes on and on. It's all about us! We have millions of marriage seminars, but our divorce rate is higher than it's ever been. We have spent literally billions trying to reach the younger generation, but we have lost them anyway! A lot of you went to see the movie "Fireproof" and are all excited about saving your marriages. Tell me, why weren't you just as excited about saving your marriage by reading and doing the Bible? Why doesn't the Bible speak to you in a deeper way than secular entertainment. Folks, it's not working! Since 1945, the percentage of Bible believing Christians has dropped in America from 64% to 4%.
We are carnal fat cats that sit and suck it up, suck it up, suck it up! Did you know that too much edification will kill you? Christianity has been described as a bird. One wing is edification, the other evangelism. If one wing is chopped off, the bird will die.
The church is not a medical unit! It is an army that has a medical unit!!!
We do not need a financial czar! It's not in the New Testament. You don't see the Apostle Paul going around doing Christian exercise programs. OUR ONLY MESSAGE IS THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND HOW TO GET THERE!
We are called to help preach to every person......period! And if you aren't preaching it, you should be supporting someone who is!
2) We must get back on track!
Lk. 9:22-25 Deny yourself and take up the cross!! Support those that are going somewhere where they have never heard. There are 4000 people groups who have never heard the gospel once! 13.2 million die every year without ever hearing the name of Jesus Christ. We have a responsibility. We don't have time for all this nonsense! The last thing we need is another conference!
The U.S. has the third highest population of unbelievers in the world! We must "preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words." DO SOMETHING! HAND OUT TRACTS! LEAVE THEM IN PUBLIC BATHROOMS IF YOU'RE TOO SHY TO HAND THEM OUT! Write tracts and distribute them! We are to be a light, not worry along with the world.
A reporter stood at his hotel window and watched the burning of Shanghai. He wrote "Shanghai is burning. I'm dying too. Some die from shrapnel, others go down in flames, but most men are dying inch by inch, while playing games."
To sum this up, LIVE FOR WHAT MATTERS!!!