Easter attenders are not bad people.
I guess I have been to church most Easter Sunday’s in my life. I remember the trips to downtown Tuscaloosa to get Easter clothes (there were no malls). I have often heard Christians talk about people that only go to church on Easter and usually it is in a negative way. At some point in my life I am sure I joined in on the judgmental conversation and for that I ask forgiveness. Some regular church attenders will say, “If they are not going to come the rest of the year why do they come on Easter.” I have also heard those that have decided they will not even attend on Easter say, “If I’m not going to go the rest of the year, I’m not going to be hypocritical and go only on Easter.” I think both are wrong in their judgment. Here is what I have learn in watching Easter attendance swell in the church.
- Most people really believe their is a God.
- Most people really believe Christ Jesus was an actual person who walked on earth, died on the cross for the sin of humanity and rose from the grave 3 days later.
- Most people really believe they should worship Jesus Christ.
- Most people know what church they would attend.
- Most people know that church should be part of their life and family.
- Many people will be in church for Easter that feel real uncomfortable.
So, for all you regular church attender. Have grace, mercy and love ready in your heart as they come to your church this Easter. If you show them the love of Christ, who knows, they might come back before next Easter.
You are welcome at Harvest Church even if you will not be back until next year.
It is amazing how quickly we can “go back to normal”. Our nation has seen so many devastating events over the last 50 years. It began with the assassination of John F Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. We have seen Vietnam, Desert Storm, the current war in the Middle East and man more conflicts around the globe. We have seen millions of babies aborted, children abused and teen suicides. We have seen addiction destroy lives and homes. We have seen divorce continue to escalate. Substance abuse continues to plague so many. 9/11 was the first attack by another people group on the United States within our own boarders. There are so many other events that could be mentioned like Waco, Oklahoma City, Columbine, Virginia Tech and more. We commit to change after these events, then we go “back to normal”.
The moment of the event, the hours that follow, the first days of trying to grasp what has happened we pray and seek others to pray – everyone to pray. We begin to have a discourse about God in the public square. Churches fill with people seek God, answers, comfort and more. Then over time we forget. We go back to life as it used to be. We quit praying, talking about God, filling our church, and seeking spiritual direction.
God created us and warned those who went before us and also warns us.
Deuteronomy 4:9–10 (ESV)
“Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children— how on the day that you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, the Lord said to me, ‘Gather the people to me, that I may let them hear my words, so that they may learn to fear me all the days that they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children so.’
I think we need to create a new normal.
Three Dog Night had the hit One, that was originally written and and recorded by Harry Nilsson. Three Dog Night was the third to record the song and covered it in 1969 and watched it rise to the top 5 on the Billboard chart and #24 for 1969 Top 100. When you read the lyrics there is not much to the song but I bet you hear it in your head right now. You probably thought the name of the song was One Is The Loneliest Number because that line is repeated numerous times.
One is not the loneliest number. Two or twenty or two hundred or two thousand are the loneliest numbers. Any number other than One is the loneliest number. Think of it.
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
One is what make two stop being lonely.
What about this.
For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
The Body of Christ is one. We are one with our faith family. We should never be lonely in the body of Christ.
The problem is that in many marriages we see the desire to be two instead of one. In the Body of Christ we often see the desire to be many instead of one. Today, reject loneliness and enjoy your oneness with the Body of Christ and your spouse (if applicable).
I love a good book. The one thing that can make a good book frustrating is bad binding. I want a book to just lay in my hand freely, especially my bible. The key to how a book handles is the binding. I read this morning a little about binding and its importance. You might think it boring but listen to this explanation.
And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
Colossians 3:14, ESV
That is why our life seems to be coming apart at the seams at times. We have got to put on love above, meaning it is more powerful, not just before. Love is not an equal to anything, it is above everything. Love is above compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and a host of other godly characteristics. “Love binds everything together in perfect harmony”. Love is what will make it complete. The thought here is that it is complete not in the process of completion.
Love is the binding that holds our days together, our families together, our friendships together, our churches together, our spiritual lives together. Without love everything become work, exhausting work. As a friend of mine would put it, “Love On Man, Love On!”
I ask you to read this prayer and if you agree, pray this prayer.
“Holy Spirit we need YOU to invade our lives. Not buildings but in the lives of your children. Into the hearts of dads and moms, sons and daughters, grand moms and grand dads, employers and employees, singles and married. Into faith families across our land. We need YOU to draw us with YOUR strong strength. We need YOU to soften that which we have allowed to become hardened. We need hearts to be healed. Marriages to be strengthened. Bondages to be broken. We need YOU to teach us. We need YOU to help us remember whose we are. We need YOU to magnify Christ through every song we sing, every prayer we pray, ever word that is spoken, every opportunity to participate with you. We need freedom. We need YOUR Word to EXPLODE from the pages of our Bibles into the core of our being. We need to remove everything that hinders. We need YOU to break down every barrier that we have allowed to be raised between YOU and us. Break down those barriers that we have constructed and those we have allowed others to construct. We need honesty, transparency and healing. We do not desire to just do life, family or church. We desire YOUR life, godly families and obedient faith families. We desire to be YOUR church, YOUR body, bringing YOU glory, praise and honor. Please accept our weak offering and use it. Right now please begin to draw us with YOUR strong strength. May this time be YOURS. I come to YOU as YOUR child, not in ignorance but in simplicity. I love YOU. In Jesus name and under His blood. Amen.”
The line, “Houston, we have a problem!” Will forever be remember.
Swigert and then Lovell (almost) used the phrase to report a major technical fault in the electrical system of one of the Service Module’s oxygen tanks:
Swigert: ‘Okay, Houston, we’ve had a problem here.’
Houston: ‘This is Houston. Say again please.’
Lovell: ‘Houston, we’ve had a problem. We’ve had a main B bus undervolt.’1
Dan: “Okay, Church, we have a problem here.”
Church: “This is Church, Say again please.”
Dan: “Church, we’ve had a problem. We’ve had a mistaken identity”
The election is over and some are excited Obama won and others are worried because Obama won. The problems that address us this morning are not political in nature but have been brought to light through the political process. Twenty-percent of American now professes no religious affiliation. Christians are divided over social issues. Many Republican Christians say you can’t be Democrat and Christian. Democrat Christians say Republican Christians are insensitive toward the hurting in America. Democrats are intolerant of Republicans and Republicans are intolerant of Democrats. No one can really doubt that American has some major issues that must be addressed. The economy is bad, unemployment is up, abortion is still rampant, teen sex, pregnancy, and suicide are up, injustice happens, our country is divided and hurting. Here is the problem that must be addressed. This is where you and I can help by addressing the problem before us.
The church can no longer blame the politicians for not doing their job. The church can no longer think that going to church is your mandate. Republicans nor Democrats have the answers for the woes of America or the church. The church does have the answer, but she usually cowers instead of rises. She sleeps instead of fights. She is passive instead of progressive. She is silent, divided and weak. She is struggling, hurting and confused. The church is scared. The church has a mistaken identity.
We have a major problem. It appears the Church has amnesia, she does not know her identity. The Church must realize who she is and whose she is. She must realize the source of her strength, the bounty of her beauty, the power in her passion, the healing in her hands, the forwardness of her feet. She must realize the salvation in her Savior. She must realize the wisdom in her head – Christ Jesus, Lord of Lord and King of Kings. She, the Church, is the Body of Christ. She is radiant and does not reveal it. She has beauty beyond measure but hides it behind hate, blame and excuses.
The church needs to rise to the challenges that face us. We need to step out of our pew on Sunday and into our places on Monday with Christ centered passion in our heart. We need wake from our sleep and fight the good fight. We must obey with radical obedience what Christ called us to be, what the Word instructs us to do, and how the Spirit reminds us to walk. We must die to self and rise with Christ.
Obama is not our enemy nor our savior. Also, Romney is not the enemy or the savior. Our deliverer will be Jesus Christ the Son of God and no other. We must quit looking to men to solve the issues in our lives and turn our eyes upon Jesus (a song just broke out in my head, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus).
The church might look like young David, but she is deadly accurate when she is prepared for battle. Let us fight the good fight of the faith (not politics). Let us not grow weary in doing good. Let us unite. Let us awake. Let us stand and pursue our enemy. Let us put on our armor and not withdraw. We cannot afford to be casual, careless, or calloused. We must demonstrate our strength, passion, beauty, resolve, faithfulness, and more in the pursuit of godliness and live in the righteousness that is ours in Christ.
Satan is our enemy so quit blaming it on men, political parties, and people who you disagree with.
Do you part. Be who you are suppose to be. Do what you are suppose to do. Obey as Christ is your Master. There are not excuses for dirty boots and wrinkled uniforms. Quit letting Satan mislead you with lies, weakening you through suffering, confusing you through pride and discouraging you through accusation.
You have the Word of God, The Grace of God, The Spirit of God and The Son of God, so live like it.
I am troubled somewhat at how many people either do not believe God speaks today or they don’t hear God speak. This week I posted God Never Wonders About You in which I reflect on a time God spoke to me this week. I had a friend tell me about someone who said that if someone told them they heard God speak then he would call them a liar. I’m not sure you can even be Christian if you cannot hear God speak. Some may be talking about an audible voice and I have not heard God’s audible voice but He has spoken to me in many other ways. He has spoken to me through His Word. He has spoken to me through His Spirit. He has spoken to me through His Son. He has spoken to me through His church. He has spoken to me through circumstances. He has spoken to me through prayer. God has spoken to me through sunsets and sun rises. He has spoken to me through friends. He has spoken to me through family. God speaks.
I prepare sermons and lessons every week. I believe God has spoken through me (I know that is hard for some of you to believe). Just because it is not audible does not mean God does not speak. For the critic. Is sign language speaking. What about braille?
What about these verses?
Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.” (John 8:47, ESV)
In order to hear God, God has to speak.
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
(John 16:13, ESV)
To whom or why is the Holy Spirit speaking if we cannot hear Him?
However, let me throw this in. I do not know of anywhere in the Bible that says God quits speaking, so if He wants to wake me in the morning with His audible voice. I welcome it.
Some things are so rich that you just have to slow down and enjoy them. A good steak, an eloquent dessert, a sunrise or sunset, the smile on a child’s face, the flow of water down a brook, the stars in the sky and more give us times of richness. Today, I have been reminded of the richness of God’s Word. As a group of men have been studying Colossians each Thursday morning at 6, we have again been reminded of the richness of God’s Word. How it feeds you, encourages you, challenges you, convicts you, deepens you, instructs you, rebukes you, teaches you, loves you, establishes you, builds you up and more are the lessons we learn. The roots of my spiritual life grow as I study God’s Word. The tap root goes deep as I memorize God’s Word. The firmness of my faith is strengthened by God’s Word.
If you are not in study of God’s Word, you are becoming weaker by the minute. If you don’t have time for God’s Word, your time really does not matter. If you think you do not need God’s Word, you are a fool.
When I am in God’s Word, I am able to fill up in Christ; thus, leaving no room for self. It is when I am away from God’s Word that self begins to grow and push Christ to the sidelines of my life.
Go get your Bible and get to know it and you will also get to know Christ.