When the Lord opens our eyes to the spiritual climate in our land, it will seem like we are opening them for the first time. The Lord is going to prepare a new generation of people that will “walk” in faith more then in any generation that I have witnessed in my lifetime. The rising generation will be framed in the works of a living faith. They will be a people who seek the Lord with their heart and all of their humanity. They will place His Kingdom first in their pursuits. In this new work, these serious minded faith-walkers will require a higher level of training; they will have to be trained to walk in faith by their spiritual fathers, literally!
Here in America, meeting the felt “needs” of our boomer parents, our friends from generation next, and our post-moderns children is dictating how churches operate. Most of us instinctively know that meeting the perceived needs of our culture is not necessarily in-line with the entire corpse of holy scripture or the leading of the Spirit of God. But we press on anyway in our effort to make it all work and keep the engine running on the modern day method of gathering believers in Jesus. In our effort to attract and retain them we miss the mark of what church was intended to be for those who walk by faith. We are here for no other purpose then to bring glory to God and bring many sons and daughters into the Kingdom of Jesus Christ!
By creating a casual approach to recruitment and discipleship, we face trying to wage an all time epic war against darkness with spiritual babies. In its wake we have left the church to be managed by the spiritually immature, filled with believers that act like infants. How did this happen? It must be that we are doing something wrong, but until we realize this reality of our past and our work, it may be too late. Sadly, many of our church recruits do not even know the Lord of Glory, that postulation and harsh conclusion leads us to the impossible job of shepherding goats rather then Christ's sheep.
Even in the most spiritual of churches, one can observe a hypersensitivity to the “here and now” and the constant pandering to compete with the work of the churches next door. Even if an assembly has a prophetic anointing moving in their assembly, the people still seem stuck in the past, or they are attached to the order of the denominational way of thinking.
Many are trying to do what the TV evangelists and mega church leaders do, but are these public leaders doing the work we are being called to do at this time? Still some are thoroughly steeped in the ways of culture and can't seem to break away from our way of thinking. Others are doing their level best to maintain the work started by their parents out of a false sense of dignity and honor.
All of these attempts fall short of their God intended goal of raising up leaders to fulfill the Great Commission that Jesus pronounced over His church. Now so many of us confused and very reluctant to move forward with Christ's agenda, an agenda that He blesses with His mighty power. An agenda bought and paid for with His blood, an agenda where people get truly saved and grow up to maturity.
Make no mistake, we are living in a new spiritual economy. In our times, the Lord Jesus, in concert with the Father and the Holy Spirit, is reintroducing His message of a “complete surrender” to His will and His will only. He is bringing us back to the study again the faith of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
For us, this new work, can only be defined by nothing less then a work that must inspire a generation to walk in the way of “true” faith. Those being drawn by the Lord to plant churches, established under His control, are not content that a “decision” made at an alter is enough to set a person free. No, like our forefathers we must fight, wrestle, and sometimes we even crawl through some very narrow and scary places in order to find our way home to heaven. We are always learning and ever seeking to come to a knowledge of the faith.
The work of grace operating in the hearts of today's maturing believers, no matter what age, is very much a righteous and holy work of the realness of a living faith in the person of Jesus. To continue this journey to maturity, we must follow Jesus wherever and whenever He goes. As I oftentimes say, even if our path takes us into the “fire” of His refinement. Even as I pathetically attempt to write these thoughts on maturity, we are all under a measure of purifying refinement.
To tap into the “deeper things” in our pursuit of God's will for His church, we must walk into whatever situation He deems best to lead us. Even if it means isolation and abandonment for a season, to learn firsthand the faith walk of Abraham. We must allow His power and grace to supply us with full measures of His presence to carry us through to mature faith-filled thinking.
In bringing many sons to glory, just as Our captain, we must suffer in pursuit of His glory so we might gain the right mindset to win the war of faith and stand “strong” in our times. He is revealing very clearly to us, the ancient ways of faith. Our imagination is being sanctified, I believe that the Lord is transporting many of us back in time, through the portal of faith, to see in living color, the details of the walk of faith exhibited by our obedient forefathers, so we can walk as they walked.
For our forefathers, a living faith in the God who speaks, was their great equalizer in the face of trial and potential extermination. They played the “faith” card every time their backs were up against the wall. Why did they always submit to the Lord's will and we tend to slip into carnality when times get tough? In there times things didn't happen so fast. In our times if we want something we go out and get it. The concept of “waiting” on God is not understood. We are quickly learning that Our God oftentimes sends righteously ordered delays to sharpen our faith focus so we get it right, and then we can be trusted to lead the next generation as He wills.
To combat our mortal decline into insignificance, we must raise up churches in our time that cater to the faithful, not just the spiritual infants and the unbelieving. We have no time to gather folks who are not ready to climb the summit of Pisgah just for one look at our promised land. Our father Moses was rewarded with this blessed and glorious look before he was taken away by His Lord. This look he earned by a sincere request and the Lord deeming him faithful. The Lord even added more to his request, this when He brought Moses back to the promised land when Jesus was on the earth, just so he could visit with the Messiah on the Mount of Transfiguration.
If we take a really long look at the way our forefathers walked by faith, we glean so much from their sincere struggle to obey God and pass the test, and then take the lessons learned from this faith struggle and pass these truths on to the next generation. By just a serious study in the book of Genesis, we gain volumes of information into the meaning of what it means to walk by faith.
This morning I was reading about an account in the life of Abraham and it touched me. Toward the end of Abraham's life, he summarized his walk with Jehovah this way, “The Lord, the God of heaven, who took me from my father's house and from the land of my birth, and who spoke to me, and who swore to me saying, 'To your descendants I will give this land.” This he said just before he released his servant to go and get a wife for his son Isaac.
In selecting the right wife for his son, Abraham believed God and His Angel were sufficient guides to do the hard and laborious task of traveling all the way back to Haran to get a wife from the line of Shem verses just an easy grab from the descendants of Ham living in Canaan. By believing that his “seed” would one day “dwell in” and occupy the same land that he was still a sojourner and pilgrim, Abraham knew the right was important to perpetuate the seed of faith in the earth.
These words I just recited are from Gen. 24:7; they were spoken to Abraham's most trusted servant before we was sent to select and purchase a wife for Isaac. Abraham made his servant swear an oath, that he go to a certain place, and there wait upon the Lord to select a bride for his son. The servant was intimidated and overwhelmed by the task.
His journey was successful because he trusted solely in the God of his master. He submitted His entire journey and effort to the God of Abraham. He trusted in the same angel that had guided and preserved his master all the years that he knew him. He believed that he was in the perfect will of God. If you read the entire account you will also see how he worshiped the Lord once his journey led him to Rebecca.
After Abraham's servant performs his oath and finds beautiful Rebecca, he repeats to Laban (Rebecca's father) the words of master Abraham, “And he (Abraham) said to me, 'The Lord, before whom I have walked, will send His angel with you to make your journey successful, and you will take a wife for my son from my relatives, and from my father's house.” Gen.24:40
The capstone on Abraham's life can be reduced down to a compound sentence: The Lord --- before whom I walk --- will send --- His angel --- with you --- to make --- your journey successful!
Are we gathering people who want to chase after Jesus? Who will walk before the Lord like the father of our faith? Are we raising up leaders that know the Lord's voice? Are we seeking to model and replicate the same faith that our father Abraham revealed in his lifetime? Look at how the baton was naturally passed from Abraham to his servant as they together worked to get the right wife for Isaac. A wife nonetheless who would join with Isaac and produce a great seed of faith so that a living faith could rightfully pass to the next generation.
This matter of finding a wife for Isaac connected to Abraham's walk of faith. All the ins and outs of his walk before the Father's eye involved his every step. For righteous Abraham, the way of faith was all about performing the will of Jehovah. The matter at hand was a proper marriage. In past days finding the Lord's will involved different issues, sometimes it was to determine the best place to sojourn in times of famine. Or if conflict ensued with the natives of the land, Abraham would need to dig another well and preserve himself in the land where he was sent by God to dwell.
Other times, Abraham chose to fight battles to save family members from death. One time he argued with God in a gut-wrenching prayer to save a city and his nephew Lot. The most demanding act of faith was that occasion when the Lord asked him to carry his son all the way to the summit of Mt. Moriah and sacrifice him there to the Lord. Abraham had learned that the same Lord who richly gave him his supernaturally born son would also raise him up, should he die from his sword plunged into his chest. This kind of powerful faith would also visit his son and be perpetuated to the generation of Jacob and his children. Can you see the point I am making here?
Oh, for this kind of grace to return to the people of God! This kind of simplicity. When we let the Lord back into the center of the church, we will become more sensitive to His will on all matters. We will want the Lord God to be intimately involved with our choice of a marriage partner, elders and deacons, youth pastors, and all those who we are to send to the mission field and so forth.
The kind of people that will join with us are those who want to do something for God and experience God moving in power to change our culture. By doing so, we will experience more success in building mature gatherings in His Name and usher in the revival and restoration we all desire and need. Jesus is coming back for a mature church. Those who are wise enough to carry with them the extra oil needed to be prepared for His arrival in the darkness and still of the night.
But do we really want to be mature? We reveal our immaturity as spiritual babies, when we walk before the face of our culture and its many self-satisfying voices and we blissfully select wives and husbands from the herd of Canaanites we dwell among, and sadly, we experience the same results as our countrymen, divorce has scourged our land and destroyed us from the inside out.
Not that God can't use the internet to get us a wife, but if we spent just as much time praying over the decision and waiting on our God, we will have much more success finding God's choice.
Our decisions on how to manage the affairs of the church must be conducted in the fear of the Lord, not silly politics or management by committee. To determine the best ways to impact our culture, we must craft divine strategies in the power of the Holy Spirit. He will guide us and influence His People to lead our churches the way He wants His church to be led. If we follow the Lord and establish communities based in the livingness of an active faith, a true spiritual house of God's dwelling, then our life together will be faith-filled and saturated by His presence and love.
Our vocation will be chosen by means of our sincere faith and searching of the will of God, we don't stop until His peace enters our heart and a path is clearly set before us. Where we live is also Lord's prerogative. By getting trapped into the game of gathering more people then the others, we end up taking on more goats then we can handle. If our gatherings are smaller and more intimate then so be it. This too is the will of the Lord for our times.
Entertaining God''s people as a focus point, falls way below the high standard of cross bearing that the Lord has intended for His Bride. If entertainment is our chief focus, then we can only expect our fellowship in the Spirit and our effectiveness in changing culture will be limited as well. Until we stop working so hard at impressing people how cool we are, or how great our musicians are, we will not experience the growth toward maturity in our churches. That doesn't mean our worship is not good of a high quality, no, what I mean to say is simply that our worship is not for the pleasure of man but for the glory of God. Time constraints and other pressures can not run the gatherings.
We must not gather folks around doctrinal arguments, this approach will keep us immature and unprepared for Christ's return. If we are truly serious about” doing” faith, we must “model” faith to our congregations. To prove our love for Jesus we will give him our life, in so doing he will mold our character and our way to make great impact on our culture. God is patient and his very kind to sinners, we must know that they need to see the real stuff of faith, not the casual way we have modeled our faith currently.
If we just focus on our outward moral behavior, as the Pharisees did in the days of Jesus, we also fall short of our desire to turn our world back to God. The Lord released from His holy lips the most strongest words of rebuke toward this spirit of self-righteousness. Outward behavior is a shallow way to be different and to stand out. We must operate in the ways of God, unless we truly love our neighbor by doing what the Spirit of God leads us to do, we will miss the mark in establishing mature churches.
If we focus solely getting people in the door and retaining them, and don't work just as hard at developing our next generation leaders, we will not realize maturity in the church of Jesus Christ.
In the account we read of Abraham we see that he had a reliable servant because Abraham modeled a “real” faith to his servants. He was reliable to His God, so in turn God surrounded Abraham with faith-filled men. Abraham was assured that His most high-ranking servant would not deviate from the oath he made with him. Why? because his servant knew the same God as he and his servant saw with his own eyes the power of Abraham's God. To build mature churches today, we too must lay a foundation of holy God-arranged marriages.
Do we even understand this kind faith-filled thinking today? I don't think so. We have so dumbed down salvation in Jesus Christ, just to make it palpable for goats. I would dare say that in many cases, a muslim or a buddhist offers more to our society today then a typical materialistic christian person. Do you remember what Jesus told His disciples, “unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the Pharisees, you are not worthy of the kingdom of heaven”? What's missing from our understanding of this teaching of Jesus? Self-denial and a walk of faith!
Since our modern day believers have come to assume that faith has to do with being seen in the right place on Sunday, our culture remains pagan.
Do you think Paul would make a big deal about how cool or neat a place was before he would preach the gospel of a crucified Christ? Do you think Jesus cares where we gather and what kind of setting we create to preach his message? Multi-colored stage lights shining on an elevated platform, says to all those in attendance, sit back, relax, and have a good time.
It isn't wrong to use modern devices to make the message clear, but realize this, the next generation leaders will do the same or even more so, and is that good for the lost and broken people who are everywhere. Our monies need to be focused on the people the Lord is saving and those who are doing His work. The sinners that the Lord will save in our time need a solid friendship before they need to be entertained.
I believe that the Lord is going to bring this kind of activity to an abrupt end. I truly do not believe, in our times, that a new building is necessary for the establishment of a local church. If you are going to have services every day, and at all hours of the day, then buy or rent a space, but to borrow money and have a mortgage to meet twice a week doesn't make any sense.
A place to gather is all we need, and doesn't have to carry a mortgage? The typical projection screen system that supplies easy access to the sermon outline and the words of our praise songs, is it necessary? Is a great sound system necessary? Does it make the message we preach sink any deeper into the heart?
The more professional and eloquent the speaker, the more pretty and talented the praise band, we believe that we will gain more people and in turn members, but will we entice more people to the place we call “church” or will we just entertain them for awhile until they find something better? I ask you and me, “are we gathering the spiritually mature or baby sheep that can drink only milk?”
Its time to take a long and serious look at what we are projecting out and setting in front of the face of our culture, they see what we are about whether we admit to the facts or not. Where our money is, there you will find our hearts. This is a sobering reality.
We should work hard on how to present a clean and appropriately decorated environment. We should work our best at combining all the beauty of God's glory in our gatherings, but can you beat an outside service on a clear sunny day. God's raw and unmitigated natural beauty far exceeds anything our poor hands can make.
I leave you with the words of Jesus found in Mt. 28:18-20, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and earth, Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen.
Our work is the work of the Great Commission. Nothing more and nothing less. Let us work to know what this great statement of Jesus means for us. How should the Great Commission be applied in our world. We must answer this question now, before it is too late. Soon the Lord will return and ask you and me with His all-seeing and very searching eyes of fire, and then we will really regret not having done His basic commandment of going, making, baptizing, and teaching His people.
Let's get back to the basics of what it means to be a New Testament believer the Son of God. Let's just do what the word of God is telling us to do. As we plant churches and reestablish churches in His Name, let's build spiritual houses that will fit the mindset of the spiritually mature.
Finally, it is so very clear to me and all of you that if we take the time to answer this very serious question, “how can you make a disciple of Jesus unless you are a living breathing disciple of Jesus yourself?” The simplicity of this statement is stark. If we study it's implications, I believe we will be driven to seek Christ with all of our hearts and inspire a generation to serve Him with their whole hearts like our father Abraham was able to do for his children and servants.
We could never be a disciple of Jesus just by our education, or by our head knowledge. Our bloodlines and denominational pedigree doesn't validate us. No, our “walk” of faith will be the final analysis that will measure you and me on that fateful day when we appear before His throne.
In Christ's Matchless Name,
In : Church Matters
Tags: disciple jesus faith authority spiritual