Devotions and Lessons
Scripture of the Week:
Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.
Devotions and Lessons
Scripture of the Week:
Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.
The church has become a business with some making millions of dollars. The dollar has replaced the usage of individual Spiritual Gifts to assist in church and community growth. When the growth of the church becomes secular (adding numbers and dollars) instead of spiritual (groups sharing and working together for the betterment of the community as a whole), there is a serious problem. Too many people in church means certain Spiritual Gifts will be wasted which leads to a breakdown of formation and fulfillment which are needed for healthy Spiritual Fitness.
A question came to me about Spiritual Nourishment and why many people are complaining about the lack of good Spiritual Fitness especially in churches with more than 500 members. Pastors wish to grow their flock to large numbers but there is a real issue when membership reaches a thousand and only ½ to 2/3s of the members show up weekly. Some just look for a church home and say that they are good and go about their lives showing up twice a year to a service. Some are brought in and get caught up in the excitement believing that once they have Jesus they are good and do not need to do anything else or are never afforded the opportunity to be missional in the church body because all the spots are taken. When Spiritual Gifts are left unused, the person can become spiritually malnourished and eventually give up.
This is a problem with mega churches. People are not given opportunities to exercise their gifts or once involved in one part are stuck and cannot get other opportunities because of the obligation to a specific outreach or missional function which requires all of their church time. Thus the “I got Jesus I’m good” mentality occurs.
In mega churches, pastors cannot have great relations with multiple individuals. It was easy when towns were smaller, people could help people and the whole area grew together in Christ. As communities grew, churches would be partitioned and two or more pastors would share the flocks causing less burn out and better relational exercise in Christ. In some mega churches the pastors are virtually untouchable which means the deacons, elders, and other teams are created to assist and those they help are at risk of receiving a pre-packaged Word without the personal touch. When this happens, Spiritual Gifts often are not seen and the potential for using them is slowed or stopped.
Jesus developed a personal relationship with His Disciples who then reached out to develop more personal relationships with others what He showed was a small group concept where a smaller group of individuals who worked together had better Spiritual Fitness because all were involved and relationships were better. In large groups, some could be left out. Pastors are not meant to have so many people that he cannot get to know everyone.
Man has caused division placing pastors and other high church leaders on unforgiving pedestals where they are expected to be perfect and virtually untouchable relationally. That does not sound like the plan to me. Pastors are human too and just given the calling gift to preach the Word while developing a family relationship within the members of the church. There is a separation, yes but when a pastor does not visit all the members personally, there is something even more seriously wrong.
There is even a problem with internet churches (yes I know and this is a hit on PathWay) taking the place of a regular church. How genuine is the touch when looking at words or watching a feed? Pastors cannot truly get to know all the souls who see the page or watch the feed even when we reach out for prayer requests. The question, “can I really trust this person with my problems and prayer needs?” is raised. Because of the internet, the Spiritual Gifts of people are not recognized and used to further the sharing of the Kingdom.
Do you know your Spiritual Gift?? If so write it in the comments and we will pray that you are guided to use your gift to the fullest.
If you feel Spiritually Hungry and cannot find your fit in your current church, pray and God will guide you. Everything we do is on His time and He will make sure you are where you need to be.
I have a challenge for you as we continue through the week: Work on your Relationship with Christ through His Word, listening for that still, small voice, and act upon it instead of being an idle or lukewarm Christian. I would rather believe and do something rather than believe and do nothing.
My prayer is that your Spiritual Gift is discovered an used so your Spiritual Fitness remains healthy.
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8
There are many trees in the world, in fact, the tree outnumbers mankind some are designed to be small and beautiful (bonsai trees) some are designed to be large and majestic (Giant Redwood) some are here to weep, some supply fruit, the rest are either a combination or decorative. The point being: there is a diversity in trees but when it comes down to it they serve one purpose, to provide life giving oxygen for all living things by receiving what is expelled from creation and the water which flows near the roots. This diversity stems from God’s design and the environment. Are we not like the tree? God’s precious creation.
Trees sing His praise when they rustle in the wind, grow fruit or flowers. We sing His praise daily when we glorify Him through our trust and hope in Him so we need not worry about earthly things. We praise Him in our words and actions which show His Grace and Mercy.
The Gospel of Matthew tells us that Jesus said:
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
We will have worries and concerns, God knows this but there is nothing that we worry about that is so big that God cannot guide us through it. When we gave our lives to Jesus we signed our Declaration of Dependence where we put all our faith and trust into God’s hands. We were bought from the slavery of sin with the blood of Jesus Christ. It is up to us to share God’s Love with others. Like the tree which gives us the air of life, we share Jesus who gives us life eternal through His Mercy.
As Christians we understand that God knows all things so He already is aware of what we will converse with Him in Prayer even when we cannot put it into words. This Scripture I read this morning strengthens me even more.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. (Romans 8:26-27)
Does this mean we do not have to speak on things that we should know we need God’s help and just let the Spirit take it for us even though we do not think it needs to be said in prayer? No. When we are weakened, God caries us through. The Spirit speaks on matters that are unknown to us. After all, if we are of clarity of mind and have knowledge of the occurrences around us we should be of a heart of understanding our own needs. These we take to God in prayer. It is when our mind is so deeply fogged with worldly things that the Spirit intercedes because we do not see what is happening.
Here are a couple of examples: In today’s world of a drug for every ill sometimes our minds get so clouded we have no idea what is happening and the result is sometimes detrimental to ourselves and our relationships with those close to us. I can honestly say this has happened to me. It took an incident for me to realize that I had been altered by the drugs (do not worry I am good now).
Also, our minds can get so wrapped up in our sins that there is no escape, we lose hope and our worthiness, blinded by the sins and false idols. If we recognize this and cannot speak because we are afraid of the consequences, here is another time where the Holy Spirit sees our pain, knows our heart, intercedes and we are opened up to a right course of action.
Jesus said that He was sending a helper that would be with those who believe and accept Him. This helper is the Holy Spirit that was awakened within us. Jesus ignited the Spirit inside the Apostles (Pentecost) as the visual representation of what we are to feel inside when we accept Him. It is that burning that ignites in us when we are baptized, when we are lead to witness, when we worship, when we are called deeper into His service.
The Spirit tends that gut feeling when we feel sick after doing something we know we should not have done that if heeded, awakens us to make ourselves right with God.
The Spirit helps us in our weakness and there are some things that yes, our words cannot express.
The book, The Shack, by William P. Young (a former office manager and hotel night clerk) is filled with distinctly liberal and feminist theological thought. In this book, there appear to be Unitarian beliefs mixed in with other, very heretical idealisms which need to be addressed especially if you know of someone who sees the film and comes out with certain beliefs which do not follow God’s Word yet perverts it to satisfy a people who do not have a personal relationship with Him so they feel good about their sin filled lives.
The first one to look at is where the author states, “God the Father was crucified with Jesus (p96)”. Well, Scripture states that because God's eyes are pure and cannot look upon sin, the Bible says that God would not look upon His own beloved Son as He hung on the Cross, carrying our sins.
Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on iniquity: Wherefore looks thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holds thy tongue when the wicked devours the man that is more righteous than he? Habakkuk 1:13
If The Shack spoke true then God died with Jesus. Scripture says that Jesus cried out to God while He was on the cross and close to death, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani” or “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me”. But here we must also recognize that Jesus was revealing Psalm 22 and saying the first verse which standing alone is telling us that God rejected (looked away from) His only Son even though God said that He would never forsake us. Instead we should look at the whole Psalm and conclude that Jesus was sharing that another section of the Old Testament was foretelling exactly the events which were about to unfold regarding His death and the fact that God did hear the cry of affliction. God heard the cry of His Son but also knew what must be done. God was not crucified with Jesus, we were. He was with Jesus but the sins of the world were weighing upon Jesus that He more than likely could not feel God’s presence.
While we are on the subject of the crucifixion, the book explains that, “On the Cross, God forgave all of humanity, whether they repent or not. Some choose a relationship with Him, but He forgives them all regardless (p225)”.
Yes it was done for all mankind but not without the condition of believing in Jesus and accepting Him. Do we have to go down the Roman Road here? Should we review Romans 3:23 and 6:23 specifically? Jesus is very thorough in His explanation of this all the Gospels and the writings of the Apostles. Paul even states that only those who accept Jesus as Lord and Savior will be saved.
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 14:6
If the previous statement from the book is true then: “There is no need for faith or reconciliation with God because everyone will make it to heaven (p122, 192)”. And “There is no such a thing as eternal judgment or torment in hell (p248)”. Why do you think Jesus spent so much time vividly discussing and describing Hell if no one was going to go there? Was he trying to scare people away from a vacation spot with goats as the caretakers?? I think not. Jesus said, "Only those who believe in me will have eternal life" and it is mentioned at least four times in the Gospel According to John alone.
These are just a few of the theological discrepancies found. There will be people who challenge these simple theological discrepancies saying the book shares the truth and the old Bible thumpers lied. Nope, they obviously did not pick up a Bible after having an experience. Be vigilant in the knowledge from Scripture. Stay in prayer constantly, and treat each other with God’s Great Love.
The simplest answer we can give to this question is No. The question came up because of the recent release of "The Shack" where God appears as a woman. God is a being without physical substance, given the masculine vernacular due to the description of human kind as man. Scripture says that God announced, "Let us make man in our image". This image is not a physical form but of character. God made the male then the female, yes according to Scripture but that does not give God the physical manifestation of being strictly male. Think about it, God manifested as a burning bush, a pillar of fire, a cloud. God became a human male when the Son was sent and took the physical male form. God then released the final manifestation as the Holy Spirit making the presence known and felt. We call him Father but "He" is Father, Mother, Provider, Friend, Guide, Judge.
What is coming next is not meant to condemn or offend. With all that being said, we are given to a biological make up of male and female. Our "gender" matches our biology and those who think otherwise are fooling themselves. Outward physical form can be changed to meet the feelings and beliefs of individuals but the biology cannot. DNA people are born with is the DNA people die with. Bone structures remain the same.
Our creation in God's Image does not imply that we are allowed to be gender neutral. We are created to be caretakers of the creation, be fruitful and multiply (meaning marry and have children). We need to be vigilant in an understanding of the biological make up but also understanding of those who are confused. Treat them with the loving kindness of God and not condemn nor condone them.
Be in the Image of God showing compassion for "You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2 Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth (Romans 2:1-2)".
God is God. He will come to us in the form which is best suited for the needs of His Plan not our human desires.
The messages on the blogs written on this page are within biblical adherence. Though the Scriptures listed in the blogs are directly from the Bible and other related religious writings the explanations and interpretations are in line with Biblical thinking as it relates to today’s world. The use of historical facts are to assist in the validity of the writings. The main writer of this blog site is an Ordained minister in one denomination though the views are related to all denominations so if something is said that does not fall in line with your denominational background, pray for personal discernment and understanding.