Our Pastor is a great preacher! He preaches it straight! So when I have time, I am going to post my sermon notes and thoughts on Mondays just because there is rarely a Sunday that his sermons don't bear repeating.
Yes, he is my husband. No, I do not think these are good sermons because "he" preached them. I live with this man and I can honestly say after meeting numerous t.v. preachers and well know preachers and traveling the country to numerous churches, this man has had more influence on my Christian life, in a positive way, than anyone I have had the privilege of knowing. He has more character, more Biblical knowledge and a hundred times more humility than anyone I have ever met. He has not preached to me only from the pulpit, but from the living room, the bedroom, the workplace, the play ground, and everywhere that is goes. He's the real thing, the genuine article.
Our Sunday sermon was aptly named "Crocheting on the Football Field or The Supreme Task of the Church. How do the two relate?
The Steelers were in the Superbowl because they are focused on football. From the first day of training camp til the last tick of the clock on the last game of the season, they are completely focused on and immersed in football. The Steelers wouldn't have won the superbowl had Hines Ward, or Big Ben brought their knitting or crocheting to work on while the defense was taking their turn on the field. More than likely, they wouldn't even have a job if they tried that stunt. The Pittsburgh Steelers are real men--they don't multitask. They aren't trying to win a conference championship or a world title while they are also trying to enrich their lives with something outside of football. No, they are completely focused on football because that is what they love, that is what they feel they were meant to do and they feel privileged to be able to do what they love.
Duplicity weakens and confuses. Did you ever wonder why a lion tamer takes a chair into the cage with him to train a lion? It's not so that he can sit down and talk to the lion, that's called lunch on a plate! No, it's because if the lion presents himself to the trainer in a threatening way, the trainer will lift the chair and point the four legs at the lion's face. The lion tries to focus on all four chair legs at one time and becomes docile and confused, thereby weakening his ability to attack.
We learned last week that the church is blessed by God to be a blessing to the world. And the greatest blessing that God has given the church is salvation! So we are saved to be the conduit of the salvation message to the world. That is our primary calling and our greatest privilege.
The church in America is trying to do too many things and has forgotten it's main purpose. That is why it is not having great revival and seeing the power of God, as a whole. Leonard Ravenhill said, "you can greatly increase church attendance without increasing the Kingdom of God." Jesus main message was the Kingdom of God; what it is and how to enter it.
Mk. 16:15-18 is a familiar passsage. "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who have believed; in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with other tongues: They will pick up serpents and if they drink any deadly poison, is shall not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick and they will recover."
If we work backwards through these verses, we see in v.17-18 that the church had power to back them up. They did not have big name preachers falling left and right from moral failures, more aptly called sin. That is the main problem of the church today--sin. One cannot have power to preach freedom from sin unless you have been delivered from sin yourself. Our little message "Jesus came to set us free from sin" has no credibility because in a lot of cases, "the church" is worse than the world. The divorce rate is higher in the church than in the world! Shameful! The world looks at us, what we preach and what we practice and it doesn't add up. In fact, there are many sinners who live more morally than a lot of Christians! The Bible says that "he who sins is a slave to sin", so if you are sinning, you are a sinner. Period. You can call yourself a Christian, but that doesn't make you one. I can call myself a frog. I can even go to the pond, sit on a lilypad and croak all day, but that doesn't make me a frog. To be a frog, I would need a new nature, new DNA. After that, football wouldn't appeal to me at all. Neither would driving a car or eating at a restaurant. If you are in habitual sin or choosing to sin even though you know it is wrong, you have not the grace of God to overcome and deliver you, and that is what He gives at salvation. You have not been born again. Your nature is still the old one, but your conscience is more alive. Conviction is not salvation. It is the precursor to salvation. Salvation is a spiritual DNA change. Things that once interested you that are worldly, are no longer attractive to you. It just happens. We can "pray the prayer" all day long, but it's not the prayer that changes us or the fact that we said it. It's when the heart is changed, thus changing the actions, that salvation occurs.
We make the Blood look powerless to overcome our sins, addictions and attitudes, but scripture tells us it is just as effective today as it was in the Bible. We had better hope so, because if it has lost it's power to deliver from sins, it has also lost it's power to deliver from sin and we no longer have a sacrifice for sin and we are of all men most desperate!
In v. 16, we see that they had a message. Scripture tells us that not everyone will accept that message. In fact, it tells us that "some" will believe, and that "the road that leads to destruction is wide and many there be that find it. The road that leads to eternal life is narrow and few there be that find it." Not everyone will recieve the gospel message as soon as you share it with them. But what we have done in America is only tell them half of it--the pleasant part. Unfortunately you can't make someone glad with the good news unless they know the bad news. If they've known us BC (before Christ), they had better see a lifestyle giving credibility to our gospel message. Otherwise, we will rightly be branded a hypocrite. We need a revival of holy living.
In v. 15, We see the purpose and vison of God for the church. We don't need to be fasting and praying for our own personal vision! It's right there in v.15. Go and preach the gospel. That's why God left us here. It's His vision. We are dead!
We live in a time where "personal faith" is above "body life". The church has become "all about me, me, me." Our conferences and seminars are all about "us." When was the last time you saw a conference about "How to mortify your flesh and daily take up the Cross" of "How to Die Daily"? And who would attend them? I dare say the numbers would great decrease! Yet scripture tells us that the happiest people are those that are the most selfless. I hope I rock your world when I say that God does not exist for you! YOU exist for God. We have allowed edification to crowd out evangelization. If your ear was 90% of your body mass, you would be a freak! The ear is good and has it's proper place and size. Spiritually speaking we have become spiritual freaks when all we are concerned about is edification.
We are too into education. We are educated way beyond our usefulness. We sit around wanting to be blessed, wanting Holy Ghost goose bumps, but never being a blessing. Our personal growth has become more important than the growth of Christ's church. If our seminars would just preach the gospel, we could have won the world by now. I don't understand why "mature" Christians become so enthralled by evangelistic books that explain "purpose", or evangelists who are doing what they are called to do. These are for the immature and the unsaved. Why are Christians filling up the seats that should be filled by sinners? Billy Graham's sermons were not that great. That's because they weren't preached to appeal to the saved!!! That's the way it should be! We're like a bunch of big, fat babies! We have to separate our whiskers to get the nipple from our next bottle in our mouths!
We are wasting to much time and money in America. Christian t.v. is the biggest waste of money and a shameful example of poor stewardship. If we took the literally billions of dollars, equipped missionaries indigenous to their areas to go out and preach, we could win the world in a year. But most Christian t.v. is for entertainment, enjoyment and edification of Christians. Very little of it is actually "gospel" television. If we truly believe that the great commission is the supreme commision, we must put our money there. Oswald Smith, who had the greatest missions minded church in history says it this way. " Every Christian is a missionary. If you don't "go" yourself, then you should be financing someone that is." Our sucess comes as we do the task. It is our responsibility! We must die. Christ is the only "unique" one. We are dead! Lost and found in Him!