In Mark 1 and Luke 4, we are told about a man who had an unclean or evil spirit. He wasn’t at home or hanging out in the streets. He was at church. I don’t know if this was his first time going to the synagogue or if he was a faithful churchgoer. Why was he there? Was he looking for answers? Was he looking for help?
Like a lot of Christians today, he probably looked like he had it altogether on the outside. I say this because he wasn’t described like the demon possessed man who wore no clothes, cut himself and lived in the tombs (Mark 5). The church members and the teachers probably didn’t know what this man was dealing with inwardly. Every Sabbath, scribes would teach the law, but none of their words gave life. No one was healed. No one was raised from the dead. No one was delivered from yokes, burdens, devils or oppression in these meetings.
The spirit that was in this man was like the serpent that was hiding in the cold until Paul laid a bundle of sticks on the fire (Acts 28). No one was ministering to this man the way Jesus had ministered to the woman at the well. He told me all that ever I did (John 4:39). This man sat quietly in a cold synagogue until the word came in the form of a burning fire.
Can you imagine the looks on their faces when they heard what was speaking through this man? Those who knew him knew that it was not him speaking. Can you also imagine how they felt when this man was set free? Well, it didn’t take long for the news to spread. When Jesus left the synagogue, he went to Peter’s house and healed his mother-in-law who was sick with a fever. Mark 1:33 tells us that “all the city” was waiting at the front door to be healed of something.
Jesus was different. He wasn’t like the scribes who just preached a good word and sent everyone home. He spoke with power and authority. He demonstrated what he preached. Signs and wonders followed. He just didn’t say what He heard his Father say, but He did what his Father did (John 5:19).
I grew up going to church because I didn’t have a choice. I had to go, but now as an adult, have you ever asked yourself, Why do I go to church? Some of us go to hear a good word and to be encouraged for the week and that’s good, but what about the person who sits beside you, in front of you or behind you? There is someone in church hurting, but you can’t see their wounds. There is someone crying, but you can’t see their tears.
Thank God for pastors, but they can’t do everything. Just like how you expect the pastor to show up when you are in the hospital or show up to the funeral when your loved one has passed away or show up to preach on Sundays, the pastor needs us to show up. Every gift is needed. Some of us are like the man at the pool who was waiting for someone to put him in the pool when we should be walking by now and helping others to get in the pool.
God wants what we hear in church to be demonstrated outside of the church. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only (James 1:22). I don’t think we realize how much people are watching us – at work, at home, while you’re driving your car. They see your attitude. They see how you treat your spouse and your children. They are following our lives – and not just on social media.
The writer of Hebrews warns us to not stop meeting with other believers (Hebrews 10:25). Go to church. You don’t know who needs strength or encouragement. If you only look at church as a building to go to when you need something, you’ve got it all wrong. Your presence is very important. We need you to be present and functioning. As I said in my last blog, if Elijah hadn’t showed up – if he hadn’t done what God told him to do, the widow and her son would have died.
I think about the times I struggled to get out of bed to go to church. Now, don’t get me wrong. I sometimes struggle to go to work too, but I get up because I want that paycheck. Unless you are self-employed, most of us don’t show up to work when we want to because we would be fired, yet we show up to church when we want to. I’ve learned that those times I didn’t want to go church was when I really needed to go the most.
The next time you attend church, go with an expectation – not just to get something, but to give something. Give a hug. Give a smile. Let someone know that God hasn’t forgotten them. Let them know that God still loves them. You don’t know what people are dealing with. Let them know that God is not punishing them or that He’s disappointed in them. Sometimes as Christians, we act like the disciples, who when they saw a boy that was blind from birth, they immediately assumed it was because either the boy sinned or his parents sinned, but it was so that God could show others what He could do for this boy as well as for them.
I haven’t always treated everybody right. At times, I’ve been judgmental and hypocritical, but I’m learning to give to others what God has given me. I’ve decided that I don’t want to be the reason why someone falls, but I want to be the reason why they get back up again.
Going to church was a ritual for me. It was something to do, but now I see it as an opportunity to be.
Don’t just go to church. Be the church.
I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were cold or hot. So then because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue (vomit) you out of my mouth (Revelation 3:15-16).
Christ describes the condition of the church using three different types of temperatures – cold, hot and lukewarm. Some people believe that He was either addressing the unsaved and saved or the passive and active. So, what did Jesus mean by cold, hot and lukewarm?
Eight years ago, I tore the meniscus in my left knee. It was a small tear, but it caused a lot of pain and swelling. To treat this, I had to undergo arthroscopic surgery. To regain function of that knee, I had physical therapy following surgery. During therapy, I was given two choices of treatment – ice or heat. Although they don’t feel the same when applied, they are both beneficial. This reminds me of the importance of all of the gifts in the body of Christ. The eye is not the hand and the head is not the feet, but they still need each other to function properly (1 Corinthians 12:21).
The ice and heat are both important and they both treat pain, but they don’t treat every pain. You have to know which one to use for your situation. For example, you would use ice on a sprain. If you used heat, it could cause the swelling to increase. But my point is this: lukewarm was never an option. Had the therapist given me lukewarm therapy, it would have been useless and ineffective. It would not have treated my pain.
And this was the condition of the Laodicean church. They weren’t reaching anyone. They weren’t making a difference. They were only concerned with themselves. You say, ‘I am rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing’ and know not that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked (Rev 3:17). It seemed like after God blessed them, they forgot about Him and His people.
But I believe that God is going to allow certain things to happen this year to wake up the church. It is going to push the church to draw nearer to God, to get in her rightful place and to be about her Father’s business. It is going to cause those who are lukewarm to make a choice – to be either cold or hot. When you’re lukewarm, it’s not that you don’t love God, but you don’t love Him with all your heart – yet. It’s like a woman who accepts a marriage proposal, but never sets a date to become married.
But God needs us to get serious. Why? Because God wants His people free and the only thing that can make us free is the truth (John 8:32).
Speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).
Love in truth (1 John 3:18).
Although there are a lot of people who go to church weekly, not all of them want to be the church. There will be those that want love, but don’t want truth. I’ve noticed lately that a lot of people have been apologizing because the truth offended some. I think some of them apologized out of fear – afraid of rejection, afraid of losing their fans/followers or afraid of losing money. Paul once asked the Galatian church, Am I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth? (Galatians 4:16). Many of Jesus’ disciples (the church) walked with him no more because of the truth. Does this offend you? (John 6:61). People complained and people walked away, but Paul and Jesus never apologized for speaking truth.
When Paul was addressing the church’s responsibility toward society, he said, IF it is possible, live peaceably with all men (Romans 12:18). Sometimes it will be hard, but that doesn’t mean we behave like the world. That doesn’t mean we go along to get along. People are stumbling (tripping while walking; making repeated mistakes) because they cannot see. Choose to be a light. It’s not enough just to speak with our words, but we must also speak with our lives. If you want to win them to Christ, it is going to take wisdom from God – so ask for it.
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God that gives to all men liberally and upbraids not, and it shall be given him (James 1:5).
He that wins souls is wise (Proverbs 11:30).
You will start to feel uncomfortable with things that you were once comfortable with, but don’t worry. That’s a good thing. Maybe you’ve been comfortable for too long. Maybe this will be the thing that causes you to ‘stir up the gift’ which is in you. God has a plan and He created you to be a part of His plan. Yes, fear will come, but know that fear does not come from God (2 Timothy 1:7). He doesn’t want us to be afraid of man or what they may do. In God have I put my trust. I will not be afraid what man can do to me (Psalm 56:11).
God wants to transform us from the Peter that denied Jesus and followed Him from a distance in fear to the Peter that walked in holy boldness – healing the sick, cleansing the lepers, raising the dead and casting out devils. And be not conformed to this world, but be transformed (Romans 12:2). The caterpillar has to go through something before it turns into a butterfly, but after the transformation and growth, that butterfly is able to reach places that a caterpillar cannot. This is exactly what God desires to do in, for, through and with His people, but you must make up your mind.
Cold or hot.
necessary: absolutely needed; so important that you must do it
Someone asked me yesterday about teaching the teenagers. Everything in me screamed, Nooooo! Then I did what I’ve always done in the past. I suggested teaching the adults, but he explained to me that he already had teachers for the adult classes. There was not a need there, but there was a very important area that was lacking and he wanted to put me where I was needed. (It’s interesting how we take our children to church every Sunday yet we sometimes neglect them, but children make up the body of Christ, too).
Well, I must admit I like to pick and choose what I want to do, but it may not be what God wants me to do. Sometimes God doesn’t place you where you want to be, but where you need to be. From time to time, I’ve behaved just like Moses where I didn’t feel qualified or worthy to do what is being asked of me. Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt? (Exodus 3:11).
God didn’t spare Moses for nothing. It was for a purpose. He was set apart. He grew up in Pharaoh’s house. He was educated in all of the wisdom and culture of the Egyptians and was mighty in words and in deeds (Acts 7:22). The day that God called him out of a burning bush, Moses was already walking in his calling. He was leading the flock to the backside of the desert, but he didn’t think he was qualified either. God knew why Moses ran away from Egypt. He knew that he murdered someone. He knew he didn’t speak very well, but none of those things changed God’s mind. Moses wanted God to tell him who he was, but instead God told Moses who HE is. I am that I am (Exodus 3:14).
Everything Moses went through (good and bad) – from the time he was born – was preparing him for this very moment. God had given him much and now He was requiring much. He knew Moses was afraid, but He promised to be with him (Exodus 3:12). All He needed was for Moses to trust Him and to obey Him while HE do the work (Philippians 2:13; John 14:10). Leading his father-in-law’s flock was easy, but leading a people was going to be a challenge. However, it taught him how to pray on the behalf of others, it taught him how to love people and it taught him to trust God.
Maybe you don’t have what someone else has or maybe you can’t do what someone else can do, but you are necessary. We need one another. God has set every one of us in the body as it pleased Him. There is no need for the ear to try to be the eye because the function of the ear is just as important as the function of the eye. They look different. They don’t operate the same, but they are still important to the body. Even the parts that seem the least important – the parts we can’t see – are valuable to God.
We shouldn’t go to church just to get a need met, but we should go to church to meet someone else’s need. There are people going through things that we have no idea about. There are people who are fainting. They are thinking about giving up. They are thinking about quitting, but because we are so focused on our problem, we can’t see their problem. In fact, God told me a couple months ago, It’s time to stop feeling sorry for yourself. God wants us to have pity or compassion on others, not wallow in self-pity. He wants us to be like His Son, who had compassion on the multitude who was with Him for three days and had nothing to eat (Matthew 15:32; Mark 8:1-3). He knew some of them had traveled long distances. He wasn’t like some of us who have seen someone’s need, but instead of feeding them, we sent them away hungry. Had Jesus done that, the people would have fainted along the way, but He cares for us.
Sometimes we get weak along the way. We all need comfort, encouragement and support and we are to care for one another. For too long, we have been ministering to the whole while neglecting the sick. They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick (Matthew 9:12).
If God is sending you somewhere, it’s because a need is there. If He is asking you to do something, it’s because someone has need of it. Sometimes we forget that God gave us a body for HIM. The body is for the Lord and the Lord for the body (1 Corinthians 6:13). Don’t let your past stop you. Don’t let your weakness stop you because His power and strength is made perfect in your weakness. When you are not doing what God needs you to do, you are like a missing piece of the puzzle, but what you don’t understand is that those other pieces need you. Whether you feel like it or not, you do ‘fit’ in God’s plan.
You are necessary.
Father, forgive us for sinning against you. Forgive us for grieving your Holy Spirit. May believers everywhere humble themselves, pray, seek Your face and turn from our wicked ways. Lead us to true repentance by Your Spirit. May we return to our posts as watchmen on the wall, not keeping silent day or night.
By Your Spirit, raise up those who are spiritually dead and spiritually sleeping. I pray that we return to our first love and to our first works. Raise up apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers after Your own heart, who will do all that You have commanded them to do. Raise up pastors who will feed Your people with knowledge and understanding. I pray for the manifestation of the sons of the God.
Give us a thirst and hunger for righteousness. Restore the joy of our salvation. Help us by Your Spirit to stir up the gift of God and to not neglect the gift that is in us. May You find us with our loins girded about and our lights burning.
The gates of hell will not prevail against the church. We will not faint. Our faith will not fail. Ever demonic plan and plot sent to put us under is going under now. I break it in many pieces in the name of Jesus. I command Your light to shine in our churches, homes, businesses, communities and cities and to expose every work of the devil in the name of Jesus.
I bind and rebuke the spirit of dissension, discord and division against the church and I loose the spirit of love. I loose the spirit of power. I assassinate every demonic assignment sent to assassinate, paralyze, destroy and slowly silence Your people. Shame, embarrassment and humiliation will not come to our doors, but it shall be the portion of the wicked.
Forgive us for the way we treat our brothers and sisters. Forgive us for hurting those whom You have sent to help us. Forgive us for not obeying those that have rule over us. Forgive us for not submitting to them. Help us to be slow to anger and quick to forgive. Help us to love You with all our heart, mind, soul and strength and to love our neighbor. We repent of selfishness, pride, slothfulness, complacency and disobedience. Forgive us for seeking to be served when You have sent us to serve and to give life to others.
I pray that we all become serious about You. May we seek a real relationship with You. Forgive us for playing games. Forgive us for seeking after those things that the heathen seek after. Forgive us for trying to conform to this world. Forgive us for withholding the truth and help us to speak the truth in love. Forgive us for just wanting to be hearers and not doers also. May we be the church that Your Son is coming back for – holy and without blemish.
Thank You for being patient with us, thank You that You don’t want any of us to perish and thank You for giving us space to repent. Amen.