Tag Archives: Spirit

Who is Controlling the Church?

While reading Dr. Ron Welch’s book: The Controlling Husband, I was reminded of some of the churches I have the opportunity to visit, observe, or read about. Ideally, our churches belong to God.  He is the one who should be in charge of our churches, in the same way that He should be in charge of our marriages.

In Dr. Welch’s book he tells about three major keys to control: Intimidation, Narcissism, and Selfishness. How do these keys play out in the church? Intimidation can take on two different forms: violence and physical actions. In a church, we may hear statements like: “If the preacher don’t stop medaling, I am taking my money to another church.”;  “If they don’t put that little table that my Great great aunt donated 70 years ago, back in the foyer I am taking the table and leaving the church.”; or “I donated a lot of money to this church, I should be able to say what goes on here.”; Etc. These statements are merely intimidation in an effort to control the church. When money or furniture is donated to a church, it should be given to God. Once it is given to God, it is no longer ours to control! If we give to the church with the intent of controlling the church activities, then we really haven’t given the donation to God. We have merely invested it in our own fleshly desire; we have given it so we can be comfortable in church. How can we give gifts to God and not let God run the church?  Malachi 3:8-10(NIV) says:

 “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ “In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”

Giving to God should not be taken lightly. When we try to control the church with our money, we are keeping control of how that money is used. This is the very same problem that Ananias and Sapphira had in Acts 5. They promised to give God all the money they received from selling some property. After they sold the property, they decided to keep control of some of the money. With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet. Acts 5:2(NIV). As a result of this action, both Ananias and Sapphira were both struck dead! When we fail to surrender our tithe and offerings completely to God, we become dead spiritually. We do not trust God with our donations. We want to control what happens in church. We are following our own fleshly desires. When enough people fail to surrender their tithe and offerings to God, the church will become dead. It will be of no value to God! It is simply a place where people have invested their money in an effort to appease their guilty conscience regarding their giving to God. It becomes a place where, through intimidation you force people to have the exact same beliefs that you have regardless of what God says. Another way of controlling the church is with our voices. We dominate the discussions of the governing body of the church. We raise our voices if someone opposes us; we cut off their comments without hearing what they have to say. In fact, I have seen people send threatening emails to the people who oppose their ideas or actions. Some church members use manipulation to control the church. They befriend the pastor or church leader so they can control the message that the pastor has for them. They threaten to withhold something if the message is not what they want to hear.  They may even try to bring other people into the church to help the control how the church is run. They vote for church leaders based on how they will operate the church. They are not interested in choosing people who are try to do what God wants done in church. In fact in many cases, they don’t want God to control the church. Rather than controlling the church, our emphasis should be on reaching unity and maturity in Christ. We should be building up others rather than ourselves. God made His grace available to everyone, not just us. Listen to what Paul said to the Ephesians in chapter 4 regarding what we should be doing in church:

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Ephesians 4:2-7,11-13(NIV)

Rather than control the church, we should follow Paul’s advice and work to build up each other so we may have unity in Christ. NOTE: Scripture used in this blog were downloaded from: www.biblegateway.com

Inoculating Against Christianity

According to the Merriam-webster.com dictionary: To inoculate someone is ”to give that person or animal a weakened form of a disease in order to prevent infection by the disease.”

So to inoculate someone from becoming a Christian, be sure to give them a weakened form of Christianity. Here are some ways we can do that

In our churches today, we usually get a watered down message or one that is sure not to offend anyone in the congregation. We put our Christian light under a cover so as not to offend unbelievers. However in reality, we are inoculating people so they will not become a Christian. We are keeping them from seeing the full effects of a Christian life on earth.

As pastors, we are responsible to God for what we preach. If we preach only what people want to hear and not what they need to hear, we are giving them a weakened form of Christianity. 2 Timothy 4:2-4 (NIV) says it this way:

Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

If we preach only what people want to hear, we are not following the Spirit, but rather we are following the flesh.  Even Christ when he was in the garden praying indicated that his flesh was weak. If Christ’s flesh was weak, then how can we believe that our flesh is strong enough to guide us through this lifetime?

If we are to live a strong life on earth, we must follow the Spirit.

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. Romans 8:5-8 (NIV)

 

Paul in his letter to the Ephesians says it this way

15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:15-20 (NIV)

The Bible talks about weakened forms of Christianity. In the Book of Revelation, the writer tells about the seven churches. He speaks specifically about the deeds of the church in Laodicea. (Revelation 3:14-21)  In verse 15 and 16, he says:

 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. (Revelation 3:15-16 (NIV)

Do you see yourself doing any of the following?

Twelve ways Christians inoculate people against Christianity

1. Attend church on Sundays only. Then live the rest of the week as though you don’t know who God is.

2. Attend church only at Christmas and Easter so people will know you believe in God. (This can also works as a booster shot.)

3. Read only phrases from the Bible and not the whole passage.

4. Never read through the bible more than once.

5. Attend a church where the pastor only speaks about things that make you happy, where the room temperature is always just right, and the music is always your style of music.

6. Live your life just like the non-Christian so you don’t offend the non-Christian.

7. Worry and complain about everything.

8. Complain about the government rather than pray for the leaders.

9. Welcome only the rich people to church because they help pay the bills.

10. ‘Party’ with the world so they can see you have fun too.

11. Never confront or offend anyone.

12. Make a lists of things you should  or should not do if you are a Christian and be sure to enforce it on everyone else.

Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? 11 So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12 When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall. 1 Corinthians 8:9-13 (NIV)

How are you living your life? Are you following your fleshly desires and giving people just enough of Christ to inoculate them from ever becoming a Christian?

Rather than inoculate people from becoming Christians, why not let your light shine? Let them see the full picture of Christianity.

 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16 (NKJV)

 

Note: All scripture used in this blog were downloaded from www.biblegateway.com June,  2014.

Knowing the Will of God

When people first accept Christ as their Savior, they have a desire to please God by doing His will, in other words doing what He wants them to do. We all want to know the will of God as it relates to our lives. Many times we pray and say that we want God’s will to be done.

In the model prayer that Jesus gave his followers, it says:

 “This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,  your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. Matthew 6:9-13(NIV)

For us to know God’s will for our lives, we must sacrifice our bodies.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:1-3 (NIV)

Paul’s Epistle to Thessalonica Paul explains a ‘living sacrifice’ as becoming ‘sanctified’. When we are sanctified, there a certain things that we avoid so we can do know God’s will. One should note that the things we should ‘avoid’ are called ‘sin’.

It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality;  that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable,  not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God;  and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-6 (NIV)

Before we were even born, God knew we would be inclined toward sin. And because we are inclined to sin, God gave us the Holy Spirit. It is the power of the Holy Spirit that keeps us from sin, not our own power.

Because our power to overcome sin comes through the Holy Spirit, we are warned not to quench the Holy Spirit. 1 Thessalonians 5:19(NIV): Do not quench the Spirit. When we try to live by our own strength, we are quenching the Spirit.

In 1 Peter 4:1-11(NIV), we are given these instructions on how we should live if we want to know the will of God.:

Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you. But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.

The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:1-11(NIV)

If a person wants to know God’s will, God must be number one in their lives. The ten commandments teach us that there is only one God and we are to worship Him only.  We are not to let anything interfere with our love of the God. We are to love Him with all our heart.

15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever. 1 John 2:15-17 (NIV)

When we pray for God’s will, are we truly seeking glory for God or for seeking glory for ourself?

There is another aspect of knowing God’s will that is also important. When we ask for God’s will, we must also act on that will. Sometime we keep asking for God’s will until we can justify doing it the way we want to do it, rather than the way God wants us to do it. The Bibles says we act in faith, not on emotional feelings.

In Habakkuk 2, it tells about Habakkuk waiting on the Lord to answer a complaint of the people.

I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint. Habakkuk 2:1(NIV)

God answers Habakkuk with some instructions for Habakkuk. God makes this statement in verse 4. “See, the enemy is puffed up; his desires are not upright— but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness.” Habakkuk 2:4(NIV)

Knowing God’s will for our lives is not based on our personal feeling. We may pray for God’s will for an eternity, waiting for a feeling that may never come. There is a point at which we must step out in faith. It is a point at which we take the truths God has given us and step out in faith, believing God’s truths.

Paul refers to Habakkuk, when Paul says:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last,  just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” Romans 1:16-17(NIV)

Knowing God’s will for our lives is not complete until we take that step of faith. When we take that step of faith, we have Godly peace in knowing that our action is God’s will.

James says it this way:

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. James 1:5-7(NIV).

In other words, when we seek God’s will for our lives, we must act in faith without doubting God’s will for our lives. If we are waiting for a feeling, it may never come, but when we step out in faith God gives us peace.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27(NIV)

Note: All scriptures used in this article have been downloaded from http://www.biblegateway.com/?version=NIV unless otherwise noted.