Spiritual Resolution for 2014

Spiritual Resolution for 2014

georgemuller-200On April 13th, 1832 George Muller received a letter from Henry Craik, his friend and co-laborer in ministry, to come to Bristol to join him in the work there.  One week later, on April 20th, George Muller left for Bristol encouraged by the preaching, teaching, witnessing… you know, all the ministry stuff— that he was soon to be engulfed in.  The air was full of excitement and anticipation, much like we are as we plan for a two week summer mission trip.

“Boy, when we get to the mission field, we’re going to win the area to Christ!”  Right.

Question:  But what about now?  What about your preparation for that mission outreach?  How are you preparing today for the harvest tomorrow?

Answer:  Oh I know, it’s the classic “bloom where you are planted” thing.  “I’m looking for every opportunity to tell people about Jesus right where I live.”

Good.  Excellent, in fact.  But what about your private time with the Lord?  What about your personal accountability and relationship with Him?  Are you too enamored, too giddy with the “doing” that you have neglected the “abiding”?  And if so, what are you prepared to do about it?

Be encouraged, for this is exactly the lesson that our friend, Mr. Muller, learned on his way to Bristol.  In fact, Arthur Pierson, Muller’s biographer, reflects on this very lesson the young man of God learned and, so it seems, never forgot.

The following is from Pierson’s book, George Muller of Bristol:

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On April 20th, Mr. Muller left for Bristol.  On the journey he was dumb, having no liberty in speaking for Christ or even in giving away tracts, and this led him to reflect.  He saw that the so-called ‘work of the Lord’ had tempted him to substitute action for meditation and communion.  He had neglected that ‘still hour’ with God which supplies to spiritual life alike its breath and its bread.  No lesson is more important for us to learn, yet how slow are we to learn it: that for the lack of habitual seasons set apart for devout meditation upon the word of God and for prayer, nothing else will compensate.

We are prone to think, for example, that converse with Christian brethren, and the general round of Christian activity, especially when we are busied with preaching the Word and visits to inquiring or needy souls, make up for the loss of aloneness with God in the secret place.  We hurry to a public service with but a few minutes of private prayer, allowing precious time to be absorbed in social pleasures, restrained from withdrawing from others by a false delicacy, when to excuse ourselves for needful communion with God and his Word would have been perhaps the best witness possible to those whose company was holding us unduly!  How often we rush from one public engagement to another without any proper interval for renewing our strength in waiting on the Lord, as though God cared more about the quantity than the quality of our service! *

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Wow.  Point blank, slam-dunk, “slap-ya-up-side-da-head” for me.  How about you?  I am guilty of this very act— continually.  So much so that I’m beginning to realize that I must crave the pleasure and acceptance of men, mere humans like myself, more than the pleasure of God.  I must be a card-carrying man-pleaser and not a God-pleaser.  Ugh.  Like how stupid is that!

Resolution #1 for 2014 – actually for the rest of my life.

I will strive to keep the good subordinate to the best.  Let’s flesh that out. It means that ministry, being good, will always take second place to intimacy with the Lord, which is, obviously— best.  I will seek His face first, and allow ministry to follow as an after effect or a result of that intimate relationship.  I will place abiding where it should be in my spiritual life and try to live the years I have left as a Mary, sitting at the feet of Jesus, and not as a Martha, working in the kitchen too concerned about putting Cheese Wiz on Wheat Thins.

After all, as an old preacher once counseled me years ago, “Son, you take care of the depth of your ministry (intimacy with God) and let the Lord worry about its breadth.”  Exactly.  Couldn’t have said it better.

* George Muller of Bristol by Arthur T. Pierson, page 90. Proverbs 29:7,18,23.

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Proverb for Today:

The righteous is concerned for the rights of the poor, the wicked does not understand such concern.

Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, but happy is he who keeps the law.

A man’s pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor. *

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233:  The Timeless Message of Haggai, Part 2

233: The Timeless Message of Haggai, Part 2

The entire message of Haggai can be summed up in these three words: Consider your ways.

After all, consider this warning given five times in Haggai:

Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: “Consider your ways!” – Haggai 1:5

Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Consider your ways!” – 1:7

“And now, carefully consider from this day forward.” – 2:15

And again, “And now, carefully consider from this day forward.” – 2:17

There is something – something important – the Lord is trying to tell us through the words of Haggai. Keep listening to find out more.

The following is a study of Haggai 2:1-23.

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232:  The Timeless Message of Haggai, Part 1

232: The Timeless Message of Haggai, Part 1

After 14 years of doing nothing the Lord finally sent the prophet Haggai to confront the apathy and laziness of His remnant. First, the Lord rebukes them for their excuse.

Thus speaks the LORD of hosts, saying: “This people says, ‘The time has not come, the time that the Lord’s house should be built.'”

Really? But the Lord responds to their excuse this way.

“Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?”

In other words, you can’t find the time to build My house but you have plenty of time to build your own house.

Sound familiar? I thought so. Keep listening for more of Haggai’s message to us today.
The following is a study of Haggai 1:1-15.

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231:  The Mistake of John the Baptist

231: The Mistake of John the Baptist

When John the Baptist saw the sky crack open and the Holy Spirit descend on Jesus like a dove all he could utter was, “Behold, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.” And then John sent two of his disciples to follow Jesus.

Did you ever wonder why John didn’t also follow his Lord? Did you wonder why he continued to baptize after he revealed Jesus to the world? And did you ever wonder why his message changed from, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” to “Herod, it is not lawful for you to take your brother’s wife as your own.”

How is that preparing the way for the coming of the Lord?

Want to know more? Then keep listening.

The following is a study of John 1:19-37.

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Reasons to Stop Evangelizing My Friends… Not!

Reasons to Stop Evangelizing My Friends… Not!

By now you have probably guessed that I firmly believe we are currently living in the Laodicean age, the last and final age of church history.  Every day I am bombarded with more evidence of that fact.

megachurchToday is no different.

Think about it, the Laodiceen church age is defined by its glamorous and perverted view of itself and its desire to worship God in a way that is pleasing to the worshipper, and not necessarily to the One being worshiped.  The church in this age talks a good game, has all the bywords and slogans down pat, yet is so offensive to the Jesus of the Bible that He literally “vomits them out of His mouth” (Rev. 3:16).

That’s some pretty strong words from the Lord Himself.

First, the perverted view of the church as it evaluates itself:

Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing” (Rev. 3:17a).

Did you get that?  The church in this age, the very age in which we live, the health and wealth and favor age, says they are rich and wealthy and need nothing.  They are successful, self-sufficient, influential, dependent on no one, and growing with an entrepreneurial spirit not seen since the days of the dotcom craze.  We have mega churches that remodel basketball arenas and pack in each Sunday enough people to fill half a stadium at an NFL playoff game.  We have purpose driven authors that sell millions upon millions of books and promote their latest “40 Days of Lukewarmness” programs in churches world-wide.  We, the self-proclaimed religious elite, now rub elbows with the likes of Bono and Oprah and Obama and dine at the table with the the upper echelons of society.

“No more hiding in the catacombs for us.  We’ve arrived!  Change is coming, baby!”

Yes, it is.  But not the change you may be counting on.

The church is no longer offensive to the culture because its self-help message could be just as easily preached during prime-time without making the viewing masses feel uneasy or uncomfortable.  Words like sacrifice, sin, crucifixion, atonement, hell, holiness or the exclusivity (one way only) of the message preached by Jesus have been carefully edited from our Laodicean church vocabulary.  In their place, we now speak of favor, financial blessings, divine healing, getting the best parking spot at the mall, praying for God to bless your 401k, and having Your Best Life Now.

evangelismWe don’t need the Bible and its cumbersome commands to restrict our personal freedoms.  Why?  Because it’s all about us!  We’re rich and wealthy and don’t need anything.  No doctrine, no moral imperatives, no righteous living, no absolute truth, no right or wrong, no consequences for our actions and, of course, no guilt-producing compulsion to share our faith with others or be the “salt and light” of the world.

“Nope, none of that stuff.  If we preach that message, people won’t come and we’ve got a building to pay for.”

We are truly living in the age of the Laodicean church that, if you read the Scriptures, turned our Lord’s stomach to the point He wanted to spit or vomit them out of His mouth.  I think He was pretty sick at what He saw.  And you know… so am I.

Yesterday I ran across the following post that seems to be resonating with Laodicean church-goers (I will refrain from calling them Christians for reasons that should be quite obvious by now) because it is cloaked in deceptive spiritual language and just plain feels good.  It’s simply another pitiful picture of the perverted, self-centered mindset the church has now adopted.  Rather than obey the command of Jesus to “go into all the world and preach the gospel”— we now come up with felt-need reasons not to evangelize and feel-good excuses to justify our disobedience.  And as you read these reasons you’ll see, as I did, that they are all about us and how we feel.

Because after all, we’re rich, we’re wealthy and we don’t need nuthin’.  Remember?

The post goes like this…

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Years ago, I decided to stop evangelizing my friends. Here are 14 reasons why you might consider doing the same:

  1. It makes them uncomfortable.
  2. It makes you uncomfortable.
  3. It makes you think about how to twist every conversation to Jesus rather than seeing how Jesus is already there.
  4. It makes you believe you’re bringing God to them, rather than seeing how the Holy Spirit has already been active in their lives.
  5. It pressures you into showing an unrelatable happy, plastic face rather than letting God’s grace shine through your struggles.
  6. It makes you focus on talking rather than listening.
  7. It leads you to answer questions they aren’t asking.
  8. It makes you think about what to say rather than how to love.
  9. It makes you think faith is a list of statements rather than a different way of living.
  10. It puts you into the role of “teacher,” causing you to miss things your friends can teach you.
  11. It makes them see you as a religious salesman rather than an apprentice of the Master.
  12. It hurts your friendship.
  13. It robs you of a good time.
  14. It makes you think their lack of interest in your evangelism means they are not interested in Jesus or spiritual questions.

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Wow.  More post-modern drivel.  A whole puddle of it.

Lord, I will willingly disobey Your commands and not do what You have told me to do because it makes me and my lost friends feel uncomfortable, and we can’t have that.  Plus, if I obey You it will rob me of my friends… and then what will I do?  ‘Cause I obviously value their friendship more than I do my devotion to You.  And, most important, it will also rob me of a good time and hinder what I want to do.  “Hey, if I’m with my lost friends and we’re doing something fun… geez, the last thing I want to do is interject You into the conversation.  You’re such a kill-joy.  No fun at all.”

But the second part of the verse we began this post with says something altogether different.  Whereas the church sees itself as rich and wealthy and self-sufficient— the Lord sees us as we truly are.

Finally, the view of the Laodicena church from the vantage point of the Lord:

“And you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked” (Rev. 3:17b).

Did you get all that?  Wretched, pretty strong word.  Miserable, even stronger still.  Poor and blind and naked… uh, that kind of flies in the face of riches or wealth or self-sufficiency, doesn’t it?

Be Warned

Be warned: God will not sit back and watch His bride, the church, be turned into a brothel or a secular, self-promoting, feel-good show.  He will always defend His honor and His glory.

Always.  Without fail.

If you are part of the church system that puts more emphasis on the people rather than the Lord, I have two words for you: Leave Now!  Like Lot fleeing from Sodom, you need to leave that church now and seek out true Christian fellowship.  Why?  Because His day of judgment is coming and you won’t want to be connected at the hip with those whose future can be described as vomit on the floor.

Leave now!

Adveho quis may.
Come what may.

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