Church, come near to God!

come near

 “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.” James 4:7-9

A healthy church is one that is filled with His presence, is motivated to serve Him, and has a love for “one another.”

It is about the Lordship and supremacy of Christ. A healthy church is not about gaining numbers, or even great programs, services, location, facilities, amenities, conveniences or even theology (as long as it is biblical). A healthy church is purposely directed to glorify Christ and Him alone. It is a place where people are growing in Him and allowing His impact to invade their will and desires so the Fruit of the Spirit flows into His Church and His people.

We are called to come near to God as a church. So why do we forget and not hear this vital call?

It has been my observation that the causes of marriage failure are the same as with church failure. The two relationships have the same parameters for what works and what destroys. The church is a community of relationships, with one another, with the world, and most importantly, with our Lord. That sometimes forget what it is all about.

The process begins with love and excitement for the ministry, the new birth to the new Christian, or the new church start for the seasoned Christian. It can happen being in a healthy church, or being in a non-healthy church, never having experienced anything else. But, at some point, the committed Christian who has received the faith of our Lord, trades in that first love for a “lemon” of sin. Somehow, the love and passion slowly dwindle away as other things creep their way into the place of that excitement. And these “things” are the diseases of apathy, gossip, pride, legalism, slander, the list can go on and on. These form the relationship killers of bitterness, criticism, condescending attitudes, defensiveness, and withdrawal.

These are the sins that take the joy away from others; it is, in fact, stealing from God Himself.

These were not the precepts that the church was founded upon; these diseases were not in the vision of her planters, just as the divorce court was not on the wedding planner of the couple getting married. Yet, it happened, and it keeps happening.

We may have started to come near to God, and we received the promise that He will come near to you, but we decided to engage in a process that caused us to let go of what we had. We have let the double-minded mindset take over the plan and purpose that God gave us. We must recapture the call of that first love, with all of the excitement and vigor, for our Lord.

We must humble our pride before it is too late. God is not the One who always holds us back; it is usually our refusal to reach out for the faith He has given us and build it up so we can seize the opportunities He gives. It is we who refuse to exercise our faith and grow.

 

Place this Stethoscope from Scripture to Your Church’s Heart


Stethoscope

Place this Stethoscope from Scripture to Your Church’s Heart

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:42-47

The first church was, “devoted to the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, prayer; and everyone was filled with awe.”

This stethoscope is used to hear heartbeats from your church devotion, teaching, fellowship, and breaking of bread, which means community and doing it all in love.

What does the stethoscope “hear” from your church?

What is your church devoted to?

What and where is your awe and wonderment?

These will be the questions, and if answered honestly, will be the measuring rod to the health of your church. This passage in Acts gives us the purpose, vision, and call of the Church, both as a whole and individually. Not just a certain church down the street, but your church, and all churches together as one body. The healthy church looks like Acts 2!

This means we look like we are devoted to Christ and His callwe are teaching effectively, we are in fellowship and community with one another, we are forgiving and honoring of one another, and doing all we do in love. We also look like people who are focused on prayer and our growth in Him. It is not just what we look like, it is because we are. And we do this, with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. The healthy church can be your church; perhaps it already is, or maybe it needs to be reformed. So, strive to catch that AWE, that passion and devotion to our Lord and the reason for our being!

            Most churches that are failing did not wake up one day and just decide, “Hey, let’s fail.” They did not start off with “me first” intentions, ignoring our Lord’s call.

They probably did not choose a purposeful direction of being critical and condescending to one another, and especially not with non-Christians. They did not write their mission statements with a “how to do a disdainful disposition,” or hold seminars on modeling attitudes of puffed-up pride! Or let’s chase a meaningless trend and forget about God’s Word. There was a process that led up to the point of decline and apathy from a starting point of new birth and excitement. There was a point where the first love became clouded, and other dispositions took over the role of the church. Just as the divorcing couple did not go into their wedding with the vision and plan for the divorce, or say in their vows, “say, in five years, let’s become so miserable that we will divorce and live frustrated and disillusioned lives.”

Here, too, was a process that went from the love and excitement of newlywed bliss to bitterness, criticism, patronizing, defensiveness, and withdrawal, and finally, the decision to end the relationship.

How? By losing focus on Christ. By not being in the Word. By weak and irrelevant teaching with no Bible or application. By leaders who are not growing in the Lord. By tracing trends and not Christ as Lord. By accepting the ways of the world and not His Way?

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