“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean” (Matthew 23:27).
For those of us old enough to remember the “Cold War,” it wasn’t uncommon to worry at the thought that a fierce cadre of Russian Communist soldiers might suddenly burst through the doors of our church, arrest the pastor, and lock the place up for good. It is now happening in many places in the world, but not in America where our right to worship is protected by the constitution.
But, in our own setting these days, I think we Americans should be aware a good bit more about a trend that I doubt we are prepared for. That movement is about the locking of our church doors from the inside, just because there are too few congregants left to keep things going.
Recently, in my lawyer capacity, I handled the sale of a really physically nice church in a good area of town. The few remaining members of the church just sold to the highest bidder and walked away. Interestingly enough, they sold to a Puerto Rican Bible-based group who will likely make it thrive because they are Bible based rather than the “woke” slide many of our churches are taking and experiencing. The aura of the decaying church is everywhere.
Get ready America! Get ready for the huge collapse from within that will result in the locking of hundreds and probably thousands of church doors – all from the inside. The church is dying and decaying. Go to your neighborhood church and see how many children are inside. Young people are shunning the church, as it is not relevant to their lifestyle.
What are the Signs of a Dying Church? Unhealthy Prayer Culture. … Attendance Is Consistently Decreasing. … Baptisms Aren’t Happening. … People Aren’t Being Saved. … Tithes Are Decreasing. … Aging of the Congregation. … Lack of Disciple Making. … The Church isn’t Serving Others.
The church at Sardis was described as “dead”. It appeared to be alive – had “a reputation of being alive” – looked spiritually vibrant on the outside – but was spiritually lifeless. The church was Christian in name only. This recalls Christ’s scathing rebuke of the Pharisees who “look beautiful on the outside, but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean”.
Says G.R. Beasley-Murray: “The appearance [of the Sardis church] is that of a beautifully adorned corpse in a funeral parlor, and the Lord is not deceived” (Revelation, p. 95). The church needed to stir up the living Spirit of God in order to come to life.
Google, church closings. I received 508,000 hits, While some closings are temporarily due to snow and ice, most were closing do to a much worse storm that is brewing.
What are you doing to keep your church alive and ready?
SOMETIMES TRUE STORIES
If we can completely believe some of God’s promises, why do we have difficulty believing all of God’s promises?
Jesus said, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you,” but sometimes we worry that He just might do so. Just as I have great confidence that God will keep the earth spinning, I should also have confidence that God will supply all of my needs.
I think God intended these promises to remind us daily of His faithfulness. Every morning when we wake up and see it is getting light outside, we should say, “Boy, is God ever faithful to His promise!” Every evening as the sunsets we ought to say, “Wow, God sure keeps His Word, doesn’t He?”
God will keep His promises whether we believe them or not. When troubled, we can become anxious and fearful, or we can have a victorious, happy attitude. We can have victory because God is going to take care of us. He promised. God is faithful—you can bet your life upon it. Dan Shock
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For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. exile. Jeremiah 29:11-14
So… what do you want to be when you grow up? I have BIG dreams and goals and aspirations. What are they? When I grow up I want to… And the conversation goes from there. Whether it be a child, a student, a graduate, or an adult considering their first/2nd/3rd career.
As we grow up and mature, many times those plans change. Sometimes they change numerous times. Many times, at least in our minds, we’ll have it all planned out. Know each step we want to take and how we are going to get there. We’ll know exactly what we need to do in an unknown future. Many times, we don’t.
To me, that’s the beauty of faith in Jesus. He has a plan for us. He knows what the future holds. He allows us to make our choices. To go our own way. But He knows the plans He has for us if we just trust, follow and believe. We have to give Him our fears and our dreams… even the Big Ones. Even the dreams that we want so bad that we’re afraid to say them out loud. Afraid to share them for fear of what others might say or think. He wants us to trust Him with even those dreams and follow Him.
And that’s the hard part… no matter what our age or life experience. Sometimes it’s just hard to trust like that. Sometimes it just seems easier to go our own way or just let our dreams die. Forgetting that quite often those dreams are placed in our minds, hearts and souls by the Maker of our minds, hearts and souls.
I think Corrie ten Boon said it best when she said,
”Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”
In Him we have hope and a future. We can trust Him with everything… even our goals and dreams
“Trust in the Lord with all you heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths.” – Proverbs 3:5-6
QUOTES YOU CAN USE
Your rest is not found in figuring out your life out, but in trusting the One who has it all figured for your good and His glory. Paul David Tripp
A person is the product of his thoughts. We must learn to control them and not be victimized by our circumstances. Max Lucado
“I love You Lord.” Last words of Pope Benedict XVI
Who you want to be is going to be heavily shaped by what you think is important. If you need a foundation to make decisions, then what you think is important is a good place to start. Adam Grant
Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest. Mark Twain
A minute’s success pays the failure of years. Robert Browning
If you have a personal relationship with Christ and your life has been transformed by his grace, chances are that you see the gospel as profoundly more important than those with whom we are called to share it. Jim Denison
The Devil sent us a “thorn in the flesh,” but by God’s grace and some medical intervention we’re better today. Jim Rohn
If you obey for a thousand years, you are no more accepted than when you first believed. Your acceptance is based on Christ’s righteousness and not yours. Paul David Tripp
Don’t compare your piles of stuff to the piles of others. Envy is always selfish.
The truth that many people never understand, until it is too late, is that the more you try to avoid suffering the more you suffer because smaller and more insignificant things begin to torture you in proportion to your fear of being hurt.” Thomas Merton
Isn’t it good just to be alive on a day like this? I pity the people who aren’t born yet for missing it. L.M. Montgomery
It’s amazing what ordinary people can do if they set out without preconceived notions. Charles Kettering
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©2023 John Grant | Florida State Senator (Ret.) | 10025 Orange Grove Drive | Tampa, FL 33618