â€œI donâ€™t need to go to church; I worship God in my own way.â€
â€œI used to go to church but I got tired of being hit up for money all the time.â€
â€œThe church is filled with nothing but a bunch of hypocrites.â€
â€œI watch church on television; there are so many fine pastors telecasting their services now.â€
That last excuse for not going to church is acceptable if you are elderly or have a medical condition that has left you homebound. However, the rest of those excuses, all of which Iâ€™ve used before, are unacceptable to God as reasons for not going to church, especially if you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.
We read in Hebrews concerning steadfastness in our confession of Jesus Christ:
â€œTherefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.â€ (Hebrews 10:19-25)
Even if you are able to worship God on your own; even if your church seems to pass the collection plate around too much; even if the church is filled with hypocrites (including you), we are to come together to worship so to encourage and love one another.
How is it that we who profess Christ as Savior find ourselves disconnected from a local church; an orphan in this lost world? We are simply backslidden and we look for ways to fill the void left by leaving church. Solomon writes:
â€œThe backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways, but a good man will be satisfied from above.â€ (Proverbs 14:14)
We were once a Christian nation, one that openly worshiped the Lord Jesus Christ while allowing Americans the freedom to worship as they pleased. However that freedom, which I still fully support, has brought an apostasy to our once virtuous nation. And this is not the first time that a whole nation has backslidden from the one true God. Israel did a number of times and the Prophet Isaiah reminds us:
â€œHear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth! For the LORD has spoken: â€˜I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against Me; the ox knows its owner and the donkey its masterâ€™s crib; but Israel does not know, My people do not consider.â€™ Alas, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a brood of evildoers, children who are corrupters! They have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked to anger the Holy One of Israel, they have turned away backward. Why should you be stricken again? You will revolt more and more. The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faints. From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but wounds and bruises and putrefying sores; they have not been closed or bound up, or soothed with ointment. Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire; strangers devour your land in your presence; and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers.â€ (Isaiah 1:2-7)
Sound familiar? When you look at the level of corruption in our government, beginning in the White House, in the corporate world, and even inside Christian organizations, you are merely seeing the symptoms of a decaying, backslidden nation. As my brother in Christ Gregg Jackson is wont to say, â€œWe have become an abomination in the eyes of God so He has made us an Obamanation.â€
How did we, once a virtuous nation, become such a vile country in the eyes of our Lord? We the people did so. We began desiring filthy lucre and forsaking the Creator of the Universe. And God has given America, through its freedom and His wonderful and horrible gift of free will, what it has desired and the reaping that we have sowed. When the Prophet Isaiah answered the call of God the Lord said:
â€œGo, and tell this people: â€˜Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.â€™ Make the heart of this people dull and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart and return and be healed.â€ (Isaiah 6:9-10)
What causes such backsliding in the life of a Christian resulting in the state of our nation being such as it is? One four-letter word:
Lust comes to oneâ€™s heart when he or she is not satisfied for whatever reason. We look for satisfaction in this world and we will never find enough, only desiring moreâ€¦the newest and improved product of the day.
Whatâ€™s the antidote? Is there one?
Yes, the Prophet Isaiah again:
â€œThe LORD will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. Those from among you shall build the old waste places; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; and you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, the Restorer of Streets to Dwell In. If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of the LORD honorable, and shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words, then you shall delight yourself in the LORD; and I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. The mouth of the LORD has spoken.â€ (Isaiah 58:11-14)
Beloved, we must repentâ€¦each one of us for his or her own sins against God.
We must turn from filling ourselves with our own ways and walk in Truth and Spirit in the Lord Jesus Christ.
In this Advent season may we purpose in our hearts to purify ourselves from all unrighteousness and to confess our sins to the Lord Jesus Christ because He is faithful and just to forgive our sins.
As we approach the year 2010 may we as a godly people, part of Godâ€™s Army, purpose in our hearts to help return this nation back to its Christian roots, to boldly and unashamedly proclaim the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. As Judge Paul Pressler says, if you want to change Washington you have to change the hearts of the politicians. Give them Jesus.
So it is with every aspect of society. We can curse the darkness or we can shine our little lights, each one of us, the light of Jesus Christ into this dark world and show the lost the Way home.
Will you purpose this in your heart this Christmas season?
Jesus came to earth to invade this dark world not to bring us presents. Presents are nice but they are useless if we forsake the Giver.
Will you give the greatest gift ever known unto man? Will you give the gift of the Gospel? Will you tell someone about Jesus before the year is over? You only have seventeen days left.
Donâ€™t let the year 2009 go by without ever having shared Jesus.
What better time to share Jesus then as we celebrate His birth?
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Copyright Â© 2009 David Jeffers