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Sometime’s your vision just needs to be cleared

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Have you ever given thought to how easily we can become complacent in just about every aspect of our lives?

For example, how many times on our jobs are we simply going through the motions? We’ve done it the same way so many times that now we don’t even have to think about it. We just do it, giving no thought to any new ideas or methods that may help to make the job easier or more productive. Along the way we miss things that are right in front of us, but all that matters is the doing.

Or have you ever considered the daily route you take to school or work? How many of us can remember the 1st time we took that journey? We were careful to stop when we were supposed to and turn at the right intersection, all because it was new to us. Fast forward a year and how much thought do we give to that same task? I dare say not much, if any at all. We could get there with our eyes closed.

This is what happens when complacency sets in. It clouds our vision. It destroys the anticipation of what might be. We miss new and exciting things that are right in front of us because our senses have become dull.

Did you know this very same thing happens to us in our service to the King? If we’re not careful, church becomes routine. Just another mindless task that we could simply mail in if we chose to do so. And we can definitely miss some incredible things that He has for us.

In his address to the seven churches of Revelation, Jesus confronted the apathy and complacency that had infiltrated the church near the close of the first century. No less than five of the seven churches had serious internal concerns that Jesus called attention to. [1]

  1. The church at Ephesus had lost its first love
  2. The church as Pergamos harbored those that taught false doctrines
  3. The church at Thyatira permitted false teachers to deceive God’s people
  4. The church at Sardis had become weakened to the point of death
  5. The church at Laodicea had become lukewarm to the point of being rejected

Apathy, coldness, indifference, and complacency marked these five churches. Though they all had different specific issues, they all shared a common malady: their vision of who Christ was had become dim and cloudy. They no longer saw Him for who He was.

Today, many of us are in a similar situation such as the churches of Revelation were. We do not love like we did when we first came to know the Lord. Gone is the zeal and enthusiasm for the things of God. Gone also is Christian love for one another. Worse still, many of us aren’t even aware that it’s gone.

We tolerate any teaching that comes from the pulpit because frankly we don’t really care. We don’t “fact check” what is being taught, instead we simply nod in agreement while keeping one eye on the clock. What does Biblical literacy matter anyhow, isn’t that what we pay the pastor for?

So many of our churches are on spiritual life support because they are no longer connected to the vine. Just as a severed branch will remain green for a little while, so it is with churches that have disconnected themselves from the Source of their strength. Like the church at Sardis, the grim reaper is at the door.

Without the passionate flame of the Holy Spirit continuously burning within us, we too become lukewarm and eventually cold and lifeless.

Fortunately, none of these things has to happen. Every one of them is preventable. All that’s required is to ask the Lord to help us. Ask Him to reveal to us where we are with Him.

Are we hot, cold, or lukewarm in our walk with the Lord? Do we love like we did when we first came to Christ, or do we love selectively or not at all?  Do we love the truth of God’s word, or are we content with any doctrine? Are we as connected as we once were, or are we in dire need of a Holy Ghost transfusion?

I’m praying that the Lord will open all of our eyes so that we might see ourselves exactly as he sees us. That he will remove the scales from our eyes and gives us 20/20 spiritual vision.

Be faithful to Him dear friends…

Ron

[1] Revelation chapters 1 & 2

 

 

When “works” replace Jesus…

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Recently I came across an article that talked about pastors filling in their church calendars for the new year. The gist of this article dealt with whether or not the items that made their calendars was real ministry or simply “busy work”.

It made for interesting reading, especially when one of the pastors posted a link to his calendar for everyone to see. Imagine my surprise when lo and behold nearly every day of the week was filled from early morning till late in the evening.

Everything from early morning Bible studies and Zumba classes, afternoon staff and business meetings, to evening choir practice and healthy cooking classes filled this church’s calendar.

Frankly, it was the busiest church calendar I have ever seen, and I’ve seen a lot of them. At first glance one would be inclined to say that this church was very busy, and they certainly were. I couldn’t imagine them squeezing anything else into an already stuffed daily agenda.

There was something odd however about this church calendar. I couldn’t figure it out at first, but I couldn’t shake the notion that in spite of so many agenda items something was missing.

Then it hit me. There was something missing! In fact, I noticed two missing items. The first was that there was no time built into the calendar for corporate prayer. The second thing that I noticed missing was there was not one single event or activity geared toward anyone outside the four walls of the church!

As I studied this I was reminded of something that Jesus said to the church at Ephesus, one of the seven churches mentioned in the book of Revelation.

2 “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; 3 “and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. 4 “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.    Revelation 2:2-4(NKJV).    Emphasis mine

Lets look at these verses in detail because I think we might see ourselves in them.

Jesus recognized the works that the church had been doing. He called attention to their labor and patience, and how many of us can relate when it comes to having patience when doing the Lords work?

Jesus also mentioned the church’s disdain for those who practiced evil. All of us understand this don’t we? We are trying to live a Godly life in the midst of a perverse and increasingly evil society, and it’s only going to become more challenging.

He goes on to list several more very positive attributes of the church at Ephesus, leaving no doubt that He knew this church intimately. Hmmm…do you suppose Jesus knows the church you attend in such intimate detail?

At first glance this church could be the model for all other churches in the area. Things were going good, and I imagine there was quite a buzz about all the wonderful things the church at Ephesus was doing.

But, and there’s always a but, right? There was a problem in the church, a problem so important that Jesus couldn’t let it slide without calling their attention to it.

It all began with the word “nevertheless”. Just hearing the word sends thoughts of “uh oh, here it comes” to our minds. Even after all of the praise Jesus gave the church, there was a “nevertheless” that cast a dark shadow on what was an otherwise glowing report.

Nevertheless, he said, this church had lost their first love.

Ouch!

What does this mean, to have lost your first love? It means that the church at Ephesus no longer loved the Lord with the same level of intensity they once had. Their passionate love for Jesus had been replaced by something else.

They had lost their zeal for Christ. Typically when this happens, we just go through the motions of serving God. Our heart is no longer motivated by the love of Jesus, we become content to do as many good works as we can, placing our trust in the deeds themselves rather than Jesus.

Ask me how I know this!

Do you know what this is called? It’s called RELIGION, and it ceases to be about a relationship with Christ. The church at Ephesus abandoned their first love in exchange for cold, formal, impersonal RELIGION.

This is the same poison that has infected the Church today. The poison of RELIGION has suffocated the once fervent relationship she had with Christ. This is why there is such apathy in the pew today. We have supplanted relationship with form, with rules, with do’s and dont’s.

But it doesn’t have to be like this! There’s more to the story! In the next verse, Jesus gave the church at Ephesus an “out”. He told them to REPENT. That’s right, simply REPENT.

Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.”   Rev. 2:5   KJV

I believe that this is the message for the Church today. Remember where we came from, acknowledge we have strayed, repent and get going again.

Return to the love of Jesus, then watch how much impact our works will have on the world around us!

Maybe we should put THAT in our church calendars!

Be blessed,

Ron