Making Church an Option

While driving to work last Friday morning, I was listening to K-LOVE and one of the morning DJs, Amy, shared an interesting statistic. She said that one-third of the people polled said that going to church was very important to them. She did not share who conducted the poll nor who was among those polled. Either way the statistic is alarming.

If it was a mix of all Americans, then that statistic is very telling. It means that 2 out of 3 Americans do not consider church an important part of their lives. That alone explains many of the ailments in America. At America’s founding, the large majority of Americans not only considered going to church important, but it was also the central cultural influence in their lives.

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No More Feelgood Sermons

Yesterday during at the beginning of his sermon, our Associate Pastor Rev. Pete Belmain made the following declaration:

“I’m sure there are lots of churches up and down this highway giving feelgood sermons. This nation doesn’t need anymore feelgood sermons.”

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Cutting Through the Deception

Random House Dictionary defines deception as, “The state of being deceived.” It further defines deceive “To mislead by a false appearance or statement; delude.” The biggest deceivers in our lives are usually us. I can convince myself that I am living a life pleasing to Christ, all the while going back to a besetting sin like a dog returns to his vomit.

Self-deception is not a 21st Century phenomenon; the Apostle John addressed this delusion from which many in the new church suffered:

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Joining the Were’s

Men are using ladies’ bathrooms. Government is so corrupt that we willingly support morally corrupt candidates. Society is so debased that it opposes any biblical standards. Christians compromise their beliefs because it is the road less traveled. Is there any hope remaining for this nation? The answer is, of course, yes.

However, for that hope to be realized Americans in general, and Christians specifically, are going to have to understand the root of America’s problems. America is not facing a political or economic problem. If that were the case our country’s issues would have been resolved long ago. America’s national malady is that we are spiritually sick. We no longer, outside and inside the church, allow the Bible to be our moral compass.

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A Terror to Ourselves

The devil does a good job of convincing us to sin through temptation. After we sin, he does an even better job on us by getting us to believe the lie that God would never forgive such a horrible sin. If that doesn’t work, Satan will try to convince you that your sin isn’t that bad, and that God is just trying to keep you from enjoying life to its fullest. It’s literally the oldest trick in the book; the Bible that is:

    “Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made…For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:1a, 5)

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Altered Plans

If you were to put your ear to the future, that crashing sound you would hear is 1 out of 4 New Year’s resolutions being broken. The amazing part of that statistic is that it is that low, even though only 45% of Americans actually make resolutions. So why do we fail so frequently? We fail at shaping our futures because life happens.

Imagine setting up a business venture or even a mission trip. You have your plan all set, you’ve even raised money and hired a staff. Then while you’re just getting ready to launch, you have a dream in which God is telling you to not go forward, but in an entirely different direction. Would you obey or would you fret about altering your already set plans? The Apostle Paul actually faced a similar situation:

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Distinguished or Extinguished

Last night during our graduation recognition night, our Minister of Students Brother Andrew told the graduates that as Christians they could be extinguished or distinguished. He told them as young adults coming into an uncertain world and marketplace, they have the foundation to distinguish themselves among their peers:

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Resolving To Be Resolved

Another year has gone and a new year is upon us. Many people are making New Year’s resolutions only to break them before the end of January. Others are vowing not to make any resolutions so as to avoid breaking them. It seems the older I get the weaker my will power becomes. So what’s a person to do?

The greatest foe to staying resolved is temptation. Many times the temptation we face is not openly destructive or evil. The devil is subtler than that. As my pastor is wont to say, “Satan is the best devil there is.” Temptation can come in good things, keeping us from what is best. So how do we know the difference?

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Vain Fancies

Last Wednesday night, I was looking for some Scripture to finish our Share Jesus Without Fear training and I read this passage again for the first time:

    “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” (Romans 10:1-4)

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Things That Are Dangerously Real

Defeat can be overwhelming. Whether it is in the arena of business, politics, or sports, defeat is always a hard pill to swallow. However, those defeats are temporary. Voluminous are the accounts of athletes, entrepreneurs, and politicians coming back from “the agony of defeat” to experience “the thrill of victory.”

What do you do when life defeats you? Where do you turn when the devil has his foot on the back of your head, seemingly grinding your face in the dirt? You turn to the Lord Jesus Christ:

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Bearing Witness

Let me ask you a tough question up front and you can decide if you want to continue reading. How many times have you shared the gospel with someone? If most Christians were honest, my guess would be a shocking number would say never.

Yes, a Christian who has received salvation through the grace of Jesus Christ not sharing the gospel would seem an anomaly. How could someone not share good news with those they love?

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The Word Living Among Us

The Greek logos means “word,” and the Apostle John is the only New Testament writer who uses it to describe Christ. It denotes a collection of words or ideas and can represent what we think and what we express. Logos has been used to express the law and wisdom of God found in the Old Testament.

If you go back and look at the first three words of John’s Gospel, you will see it mirrors the start of Genesis: “In the beginning…” The latter introduces the start of creation, and the former reaches back into eternity. This means the Word has preexisted even before the heavens and the earth were created. Understanding this brings greater importance to the Word living among us:

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Telling Jesus To Go

Imagine Jesus performing a miracle in your hometown and the business leaders asking him to leave because Christ was bad for business. Could there ever be a situation where man would choose profit over the Prophet? It happens all the time. In fact, it happened to Jesus:

    “And those who saw it told them how it happened to him who had been demon-possessed, and about the swine. Then they began to plead with Him to depart from their region.” (Mark 5:16-17)

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It’s All Because of Jesus

I awoke this morning with the song “All Because of Jesus” running through my mind. Our praise band did the song this past Sunday. It’s wonderful to wake up with a praise song running through your head. That in itself is a work of grace. It is also an important reminder.

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The Liberty Of Jesus

FreedomIt was on a Tuesday, 238 years ago this date, that we as a nation declared our independence from Great Britain. Think I’m a couple of days too early? July 2, 1776 is the day the Second Continental Congress voted to adopt Richard Henry Lee’s resolution declaring independence from Great Britain. Twelve colonies voted unanimously, with New York abstaining. It was on July 4, 1776 that Thomas Jefferson made his final edit on the Declaration of Independence. John Hancock and Charles Thompson signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, with the 54 other delegates signing the document on August 2, 1776.

Why the history lesson in a devotional? I share this with you so that you know the complete and truthful history of our nation’s founding instead of what you learned in school. As John Adams declared while defending the British troops during the Boston Massacre trial, “Facts are stubborn things.” Facts are not only stubborn, but they are also very important.

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Doing God’s Commandments

love-of-God-signIs it possible to live the Christian life with the Ten Commandments as a standard for living? I submit it is because my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ combined all ten commandments into two when asked which was the great commandment of the law:

    “Jesus said to him, ‘“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.’” (Matthew 22:37-40)

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Taking Pains To Get Wisdom

get wisdomSome people will go through great pains to achieve their goals. Most of these people seek financial riches. Others seek fame and glory through movies, music, sports, or television. All of these, while of themselves are not evil, are temporal at best. When you read Ecclesiastes 2, titled “The Vanity of Pleasure, Solomon lamented at all he sought and acquired because at the end of his life he saw that it was all just wasted time:

    “Therefore I hated life because the work that was done under the sun was distressing to me, for all is vanity and grasping for the wind.” (Ecclesiastes 2:17)

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A Person of Good Understanding

Learning WisdomWisdom desires a relationship with you. Solomon assigns wisdom the feminine possessive pronouns of “she” and “her.” Wisdom should be considered a close friend to the Christian. She calls out to the educated and the uneducated. Wisdom is an equal opportunity provider:

    “Wisdom calls aloud outside; she raises her voice in the open squares. She cries out in the chief concourses, at the openings of the gates in the city she speaks her words: ‘How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity? For scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge.’” (Proverbs 1:20-22)

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Being Sealed By God

seal-of-godWhen it comes to God, what is the number one duty of all humans? Atheists would tell you nothing because there is no God. They have violated the First Commandment of God. Agnostics would say that we cannot really know our duty towards God because we can’t really know if there is a God. They too violate the First Commandment of God. Atheists do so because they believe in themselves; agnostics because they believe in knowledge. By placing either self or knowledge before God, they make each their gods thus violating:

    “You shall have no other gods before Me.” (Exodus 20:3)

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Creating A Sense Of Guilt And Need

guilty conscienceI received a response to my last devotional “Examining Our Consciences” and I thought it was worthy of sharing. The respondent wrote, “Thanks be to my LORD for my conscience for what would I be and where would I be and where would I be headed???” I knew I was going to write about this and I meditated on it a couple of days. The answer to my dear brother’s questions is, we…the church…would be where it is today.

Last night Bro Pete shared a powerful message on being a church member and he gave very alarming statistics and the sum total of the statistics is that the American church is in decline because the number of believers are declining. If memory serves me right, the Builder Generation, those born in the early 20th Century, sixty-percent were born again believers. The Millennial Generation, born between 1908-2000, the number of born again believers drops to under 20%. This explains a lot.

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