"He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love." --- (SofS 2:4)
Travis Case, Pastor/Teacher Northgate Baptist Church F.E.A.S.T Ministries
A. God Never Fails, but we do --- the Church of the Living God is in a Crisis Today.
1. However, Warren Wiersbe said: "I'd rather be a struggling Christian in an imperfect church than a perfect sinner outside the church.
2. The Church is sometimes like Noah's Ark --- if it were not for the Judgement On The Outside, you could not stand the Smell On The Inside.
B. It will take more to empower the church than Changing The Type of Worship Services and hanging up a few banners.
1. More important than an Autopsy (analysis) --- the church needs a Resurrection.
2. John 10:10, "The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."
3. During the darkest night, the Stars are still shining --- but you Have To Look Up To See Them.
C. The Church is facing an Integrity Crisis.
1. For 2,000 years, We Have Been Telling The World to confess its sins, repent, and believe the Gospel.
2. Today, the World Is Telling Us to face up to our sins, repent, and start being the church God intended us to be.
"What right do you Christians have to preach to us --- set your own house in order."
3. Our Ministry does Not Match our Message --- the media did not create the crisis, we did --- they only report it.
D. How can the church be so Popular and yet so Weak?
1. Could it be that Our Popularity Is Our Weakness?
2. Have we become Entertainment Centers rather than Gospel Centers?
Can you tell the Difference between the Real and the Counterfeit?
3. Have we become more interested in getting people to Church rather than to Christ?
"The Church did Not die for you"
"Religion does Not have the answer"
4. The Church is God's Chief Instrument in the world --- to Bring People To Christ.
John 12:32, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me."
I. God Does Not, He Cannot Accept Neutrality!
A. Luke 11:23, " He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth."
B. A Person of Godly Integrity is Not Divided.
True integrity involves the Heart, the Mind, and the Will.
1 John 2:15, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."
Matt. 22:37, "Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind."
James 1:8, "A double minded man is unstable in all his ways."
C. The Double-Minded man, thinks that Darkness is Light.
1. 1 John 1:5-6, "This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:"
2. Isa. 5:20, "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!"
3. Hypocrisy is the final step to Inner Darkness.
a. Lying about our relationship with the Lord,
b. Preaching what we do not practice,
c. Praying things we do not mean,
d. Pretending to do what we do not do.
4. 1 John 1:8, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." --- V. 10, "If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us."
5. We not only lie to others, we Lie To Ourselves And Believe It.
a. We can even read God's Word and Feel No Conviction.
b. The Moral Decay within us has turned the light into darkness.
1 Timothy 4:2, "Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;"
D. The church needs to become a "One Thing" church:
Philippians 3:13, "Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,"
Psa. 27:4, "One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple."
Luke 10:42, "But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her."
Col. 3:1-2, "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth."
E. Matt. 7:21-23, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."
II. The Work of The Prophet Is Not To Smooth Things Over But To Make Things Right.
A. One of the best ways to cover our sins is to attend a religious service and Go Through The Motions of worshiping God, Carefully Avoiding Any Feelings of Repentance.
1. Matt. 15:8, "This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me."
2. Isa. 29:13, "Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:"
3. What they professed to believe made Little or No Difference In The Way They Lived.
a. We are Challenged but not Changed,
b. We are Convicted, but not Converted,
c. We Hear but we do not Heed.
d. We Deceive ourselves.
B. Have we become Like The World today:
1. Taking the Marriage Covenant lightly,
2. Adopting the Lifestyle of the rich and famous,
3. Using the World's Approach to merchandise the Gospel,
4. Ignoring the Lord's Day,
5. Refusing to Enforce Standards,
6. Watering Down our preaching so people won't be offended.
C. G. K. Chesterton said, "Don't ever take a fence down until you know the reason why it was put up."
D. Most pastors today give the people enough truth to make them Happy, but not enough truth to make them Holy.
Jer. 5:30-31, "A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; 31 The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?"
E. They dealt with the Surface Symptoms rather than the Root Problems --- the need for Repentance.
Jer. 6:14, "They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace."
1. Repent is not in the vocabulary of many popular preachers today.
2. Their key word is "Peace".
3. Jer. 5:31, "The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?"
F. How can the Remedy Be Right when the Diagnosis Is Wrong.
1. Sixty-six times, Jeremiah wrote about the "Heart".
2. Jer. 17:9, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?"
3. The Heart of the Problem today is the heart.
G. The work of the pastor is Not to Smooth Things Over but to Make Things Right.
1 Peter 4:17, "For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?"
III. The First Step Downward Is When We Surrender Our High Reverence (Awe) of God.
A. Some church members have More Reverence (Awe) for some Other Member of the church Than For God.
1. "I don't want to offend them or hurt their feelings ..... they have been members here longer than I have."
2. But you Don't Care if you Offend God, Who saved you.
3. You are Worshiping The Wrong God.
B. The Greatest Judgment God can send on His people is to Let Them Have Their Own Way.
1. Psa. 106:15, "And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul."
2. Look at the False Success of the evangelical movement in recent years.
3. What some people in the church consider "Success" is to others the Judgment of God.
4. By letting us have our own way, we are starting to discover that our Assets are really Liabilities.
5. Mal. 2:1-2, "And now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you. 2 If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the LORD of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings: yea, I have cursed them already, because ye do not lay it to heart."
6. Are we so Blind to God's will that we actually Rejoice Over Things That Will Eventually Destroy Us?
C. Is our Desire To Be Accepted and Approved by the world so strong that we have sought the Applause of Men rather than the Approval of God.
1. Do we depend up "Christian Celebrities" to get the support of God's people.
a. We depend more upon Political Influence than on Preaching and Prayer.
b. We have stopped being Ambassadors and become Diplomats.
c. We Brag about our Acceptance by famous people.
2. Have we taken the "Wheaties Approach" to evangelism --- the emphasis is on the Fame of The Witness ...
Many times the way they live Contradict What They Say.
3. Have we ceased to be congregations assembled To Worship God and become audiences gathered together To Watch Men?
Spectators at a Religious Performance .....
4. It is not Great Talent God blesses so much as Great Likeness To Jesus.
D. Do we think we are Filled With The Spirit when we are only Fooled By The spirits?
1. "It's Working; therefore, God must be blessing it."
Isam is the fastest growing religion in the world.
2. "As long as we catch fish, What Difference Does It Make what kind of hooks or bait we use?"
God Never Uses Desception!
3. "It is Just Another Way to get the attention of the world and harvest more souls."
4. Once you make "Getting Results" your chief aim, there is No Limit To The Mistakes You Will Make.
E. When we worry about numbers, we start Substituting Statistical Records For Spiritual Reality.
1. Numbers become more important than whether or not we glorified God.
2. People become a Means To An End (a large number) rather than being an end in themselves.
F. However, there is Nothing Unspiritual about keeping accurate records.
1. Charles Spurgeon said, "Those who criticized statistics usually had none to report.
2. There is even a book in the Bible called "Numbers".
3. But, there is a significant difference between knowing the Number of The Sheep and knowing the State of The Flock.
4. The emphasis on statistics, soon creates an Atmosphere of Competition in the church.
5. The Emphasis On The Spiritual, Will Increase The Numbers Tremendously.
G. Everything the church is suppose to do in this world is a By-Product of Spiritual Worship.
1. First, God calls us to Worship, then He sends us out to Witness.
2. Worship puts God where He deserves to be and keeps man where he ought to be.
3. But, in most of our churches, Man Gets The Glory, and God Gets Lost In The Fun.
a. We have divorced Ministry from Worship,
b. ... Witness from Character,
c. ... Duty from Doctrine.
4. God did not call us to create a worship service where the World Can Feel Comfortable --- but rather where they will Fall Under Conviction of sin from the Holy Spirit.
a. It is a shame when the Fear of AIDS Changes More Lifestyles Than The Fear of God.
b. Our Lord's Last Word to the Church was to "Repent"!
c. Ezra 9:6, "And said, O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens."
IV. There Is Nothing Appealing About The Gospel To The Natural Man.
A. The Only man who finds the Gospel Attractive is the man who is Convicted of Sin.
1. Sermons That Flatter Sinners Will Never Save Sinners.
2. We Ignore Sin and call our Cowardice "Tolerance".
3. Before we can believe the Good News About Jesus, we must accept the Bad News About Ourselves.
B. God has Entrusted Us With The Gospel --- Are we worthy of such trust?
1 Thess. 2:3-5, "For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile: 4 But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts. 5 For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness; God is witness:"
2 Cor. 5:18-20, "And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christís stead, be ye reconciled to God."
1 Cor. 4:2, "Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful."
This Faithfulness involves 3 elements that must be right:
The Message --- The Motive --- The Method.
C. Are we guilty of Compromising and preaching "Another Gospel"?
Gal. 1:6-9, "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed."
D. Are we preaching a "Prosperity Gospel"?
1. Worship Health, Wealth, and Happiness.
a. We agree with Christ that it is Impossible to worship both God and mammon (Matt. 6:24) and we don't even try.
b. Rather, We Worship Mammon In The Place of God And Thank God For Giving It To Us.
2. When we Value The Gift More Than The Giver, the gift becomes an Idol.
Rom. 1:25, "Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen."
3. This prosperity gospel is a "Cheap Message" for people looking for a "Quick Fix" in their lives but not a "Permanent Change In Their Character".
4. Many Christians want to enjoy the thrill of Feeling Right but are not willing to endure the inconvenience of Being Right.
E. Jesus does not simply save, He Is The Savior.
1. When we Change The Message of God, we Change The God of the message.
a. What we Believe determines how we Behave --- Both determines what we Become.
b. We will become Like The Gods We Worship.
Psa. 115:8, "They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them."
2. God greatest concern is Not to make us Happy but rather to make us Holy.
3. Man is more concerned about the Physical and the Material --- God is more concerned about the Moral and the Spiritual.
a. Jesus didn't die to make us healthy, wealthy, and happy --- He Died To Make Us Holy.
b. To turn Calvary into a Glorified Credit Card is to Cheapen the most costly thing God ever did.
4. We, many times, Expect God to jump at our every call and come running to make sure that we are enjoying life.
5. Have you ever studied the lives of Great Saints of the past?
F. Our job, as preachers, is not to give people What They Want but rather What They Need --- and try to make them want it.
1. To the World, the church should be a gathering of Happy People who are enjoying life.
2. According To The Bible, the church should be a gathering of Hurting People who are seeking to be Holy before God and Helpful to a needy world.
a. Sharing of burdens,
b. Washing of wounds,
c. Healing of broken hearts,
3. The Church is a Family that comes together for Encouragement, Spiritual Nourishment and Discipline.
4. We meet together, not to escape life, but to be Equipped and Encouraged to go back to life with its burdens and battles --- equipped to help .....
a. We resist Criticism and cultivate Praise.
b. Praise ought to Humble us, not Inflate us.
c. We have Too Many Celebrities And Not Enough Servants.
G. What some call "Penetration Into The World" is nothing more than old-fashioned Compromised masquerading under a new name.
1. When the Church, trying to reach the world, becomes Like The World, she loses her Impact On The World --- no power to change the world.
2. We have Lost Our Own Distinctiveness and destroyed our own defenses.
3. We are not to be "Isolated" from the world, but rather "Insulated" from it, while witnessing in the midst of it.
V. Where Are The Elijahs?
A. If you are Faithful In Your Ministry, even some of your fellow preachers may not like it.
The church has indeed become a Non-Prophet organization.
B. Most people Don't Want a Prophet around because:
1. A prophet makes them Uncomfortable --- So that they might be comforted.
2. A prophet Weeps while others are laughing --- That he might have joy in the morning.
If you want to know what a man is really like, ask him three questions:
1. What makes him Laugh?
2. What makes him Angry?
3. What makes him Weep?
3. A prophet Wears A Yoke --- So that he might be set free.
4. A prophet is busy Tearing Down --- So he can build up.
5. A prophet is busy Rooting Out --- So he can plant.
6. A prophet stands as Firm As A Wall --- Because he knows that God is always right.
7. A prophet is a Physician --- Exposes the ugly sores before he applies the medicine.
8. A prophet Creates problems by Revealing problems --- So that he can solve them.
9. A prophet does not let the Attacks of men Upset nor the Applause of men Influence him --- His goal is to please God.
C. John Wesley said:
"Give me one hundred preachers who Fear Nothing But Sin and Desire Nothing But God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen, such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the Kingdom of God on earth."
D. There are Three Different Kinds of Leaders:
1. The "Optimist," who takes a painless, cosmetic approach to the situation.
2. The "Realist," who admits there is a problem and will attempt to organize them away --- the quick fix .....
3. The "God's Man," who isn't for sale --- Nehemiah .....
a. Nehemiah enjoyed Prestige, Wealth, Authority, and Comfort --- there was No Reason why he should be concerned about his fellow Jews in Jerusalem.
b. Many Christians live in a Dream World with Eyes Blinded to the truth --- and Ears Open Only To Calm Messages Assuring Them That All Is Well.
c. Why should Nehemiah, the king's right-hand man, be concerned about the plight of fifty thousand Jews living over a thousand miles away?
d. What Can One Man Do about such a difficult situation? --- Was It His fault?
E. Some people think we need more Angry and Militant Christians today, however,
James 1:20, "For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God."
1. What we need today is Not Anger but Anguish.
2. The difference between Anger and Anguish is a Broken Heart.
F. Nehemiah Wept because the city of his fathers was in ruins --- the God of his fathers was being reproached.
1. How many of us weep when we hear that a Christian leader has sinned and his ministry has fallen.
2. How many of us weep and mourn as we watch the news media have a heyday at the expense of God's church.
3. Instead of Identifying With the painful situation, we get as far away as we can.
4. Are our Hearts So Hard that we can't even sit down and weep with those who weep?
5. Nehemiah Cared enough to Inquire, to Identify, and to Intercede.
G. Nehemiah identified not only with the Shame and Suffering, but also with the Sins of His Ancestors.
Neh. 1:6-7, "Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my fatherís house have sinned. 7 We have dealt very corruptly against thee, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgments, which thou commandedst thy servant Moses."
H. We are not really praying with faith, unless we Make Ourselves Available to be a part of the Answer.
1. Nehemiah cared enough to Get Involved:
a. He asked and Inquired,
b. He sat down and Wept,
c. He knelt down and Prayed,
d. He got up and Worked.
2. He was a man with:
a. A broken Heart,
b. Believing Prayers,
c. Busy Hands.
3. Nehemiah paid a Tremendous Price to get involved:
a. He Gave Up Luxury and Security of the palace for the Ruins and Dangers of Jerusalem.
b. He Sacrificed Honor and Ease for Ridicule and Toil.
4. Nehemiah will not begin until he has Counted The Cost --- He will not stop until he has Finished His Work --- to the glory of God.
Neh. 6:3, "And I sent messengers unto them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?"
I. If We Don't Get Back To Prayer, There Is No Hope For Revival.
VI. Intercessory Prayer Is Our Great Need.
A. Oswald Chambers said, "God Never Gives Us Discernment In Order That We May Criticize, But That We May Intercede."
1. To intercede means "To Plead With Somebody On Behalf of Another Person."
2. We are Never More Like The Lord Jesus Christ than when we are Interceding for others.
B. People who find it difficult to get up early for a time of "Prayer" have no problem getting up early for a time of "Fun".
People Sacrifice For The Things They Really Love.
C. An intercessor cannot be in a Hurry --- the place of intercession isn't a fast food shop.
D. An intercessor must expect to be Misunderstood and Criticized.
E. An intercessor must be Unselfish.
F. An intercessor prays on the basis of God's Character and God's Covenant.
G. An intercessor faces facts honestly and Isn't Soft On Sin --- he knows the Seriousness of Sin and is willing to pay the price to help others.
VII. Revive Us Again.
A. Television has been defined as "Substitute Reality".
1. What Ever we watch on television, Including Religious Services, we watch in an Entertainment Context.
a. We don't take it too seriously. Why? --- Because the world of television is Not Real.
b. Educators have discovered that video isn't the magic teaching tool they once though it was.
2. Ministry isn't supposed to be Entertainment and a Preacher isn't supposed to be a Performer.
a. The Viewer Does Not Attend the same service as the people in the sanctuary.
b. The people in the congregation can be Participants --- the viewer at home is only a Spectator.
c. Television produces a "Fan Club" mentality.
d. Many people are living on "Substitutes" of The "Real Thing" and don't even know it.
3. True ministry implies Involvement.
B. Many Churches won't be able to change anything until they Change Themselves.
1. Change their views on "Money".
a. Some say that "Money Is Neither Good Nor Bad" --- its neutral --- and it depends upon how you use it.
Luke 16:9, "And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations."
Matt. 13:22, "He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful."
Only God can sanctify it for noble use --- It can even Change The Most Devoted Christians.
b. Others say, "Money Doesn't Satisfy".
(1) The Problem Is Not That Money doesn't Satisfy, But That It does.
(2) However, it only satisfies those who are willing to live on a Low Level.
c. Other say, "Our Responsibility Ends With Our Given."
(1) Giving 10% or even 50% does not purchase for us the Privilege of Wasting The Rest.
(2) Luke 16:10-11, "He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. 11 If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?"
2. Change their views on "Spiritual Authority".
a. Instead of being a matter of "Church Authority" it should be a matter of the "Lordship of Christ".
b. There are some things No Church Should Ever Have The Right To Vote On.
(Only receive 7 new members any given week --- they might outnumber us and therefore out vote us.)
3. Change their views on "Spiritual Worship".
a. We have pushed Our Emotions out of the church into the Sports Arena.
b. We no long --- Stand In Awe of God --- Tears --- A-Men's --- Praise --- Altar Prayer --- Excitement --- Rejoicing ...
C. The Most Important thing for God's people is not that we love lost souls or even each other --- but rather than we Love Jesus Christ.
1. A Revival Is A Church Falling In Love With Jesus All Over Again.
2. Have we Left Our First Love?
D. Judgment Must Begin At The House of God:
1. Repentance --- being honest about our sins.
a. Despising our sins,
b. Confessing our sins,
c. Turning from our sins,
d. Making Restitution for our sins,
e. Taking steps to see that we Don't Repeat our sins.
2, Return --- to the purposes that brought us into existence.
3. Rejoice --- over the right things.
Psa. 85:6, "Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?"
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