SCRIPTURE - Mat 5:14,18 APRIL, 2014
Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
SUBJECT - IT'S THE CHURCH'S FAULT!!
Take a look around you. What do you see??? Depending on just exactly where you live, it could be anything from peace, and happiness, to total despair.
For far too many of us in this nation, what is, or was billed as the 'American Dream' has turned out to be anything but.
It wasn't too long ago, that the idea of people having a good job, being able to own their own home, having 1 or 2 cars in their driveway, being able to go on vacations, and being surrounded by a community, that was, for the most part, free of serious crime, was a reality. The idea of shootings, rapes, robberies, murders and such, were far removed from our minds, because they didn't occur quite as much, to be considered that big of a threat.
When serious crime did occur within a community, it was usually dealt with, swiftly, by that community, as a sign that told those that had evil intentions, to 'don't even think about it.'
That community had strong, positive values, that garnered respect for family values, and each other.
I can remember a time, even though we were not wealthy, by any stretch of the imagination, when neighbors, would watch out for each other, to the point where a person could leave their house unlocked, while at home, or away and no one would dare enter in to it, without permission, because of vigilant neighbors. I can remember a time, when, children in the neighborhood were very well behaved, because of the ever present eyes of neighbors, that were so close with their parents, that, if caught doing something wrong, they would chastise, and even spank them, then tell their parents, and the parents would thank them[the neighbors], and punish them[their kids] even more. I can remember a time when, in school, if a child cut up, they most likely got paddled, or whacked on the hand with a ruler by the teacher, or principal at school, then given a note to give to their parents, that had to be signed and returned the next day, explaining what they had done, which, in many instances, garnered them another spanking, at home. A child wouldn't even think about not giving that note to their parents, for fear of what would happen to them, if they didn't.
In these and other cases, the strength of the community was the Church. It was this institution, that set the standard, and foundation, by which the community functioned and thrived no matter what the economic condition was.
Yes, even though wealth is nice, it does not define what is a thriving community. As many can attest to, there are communities where wealth actually brings about contempt and envy amongst them, leading to problems. And once again, those communities where these things are absent, usually have at their foundation, those values that are promoted by, the Church.
If one would seriously look at the overall importance of this institution in just exactly what the American dream is supposed to be, they would come away with the conclusion that a strong Church, leads to strong families, which leads to a strong neighborhood. And strong neighborhoods, lead to strong communities. And so on, up to an entire nation.
It can be said, and the bible bares this out [Deuteronomy 28:1-14], that any nation that applies the principles that are promoted in it, ie. Faith in God, through Christ, and His teachings, would have God's blessing on every one, and thing they set about to do.
Jesus said in our first subject verse, that the Church, is the light of the world. A city that is set above all others, so much so, that it can't be hid. What this means is, it is there for all to see. Good or bad. When people are looking for guidance, they will usually look to those that stand out above the rest. And since the Church, is supposed to be God's representative here on earth, then the actions of the people are influenced by, the Church.
Jesus went on to say. In verses 15 and 16, that those that name the name of Christ, should be on their best behaviour, so that the people will seek to emulate them, so that they can obtain the Blessings that God has made available to all those that have put their total faith and trust in Jesus Christ.
The best source of influence to come to Christ, for the ungodly, is the actions of those that claim to be following Him. The bible says that all Christians, are viewed as living epistles [letters][2Cor 3:2]that are being read by all men. This means, there is always someone watching us at all times, when we least expect it. And based on what they see in us, they will either be drawn to Christ, or, driven away from Him.
As I mentioned, the bible lets us know, beyond a doubt that if we follow Christ, the way Christ says for us to follow Him, then we will be blessed above all others.
Therefore, it is a no brainer that the Church, is the key to all the blessings we as individuals, neighborhoods, communities, and the nation, for that matter experience today.
After all, if I saw someone who seemed to have it all together, and succeeding in every thing they put their hands to, I would most certainly want to get their secret, so that I could be like them. That is just the natural way to success. Hanging around successful people, is the best way to become successful. And the Church should be the most successful group of individuals in the nation, because God, has our backs, and as such, we can't fail.
Well, with that being the case, then we can deduce that any thing that is happening around us, that brings about pain, suffering and despair has to have some connection to the Church as well.
If you review what I just stated in the first part of this message, and reverse all the positives to negatives, then by the same token for the Church being the foundation of every thing that is right in the neighborhood and community, it is this same institution that is the foundation of every thing that is wrong in our communities, and this nation.
How can this be, you ask???
It's because the Church's strength, is Christ's support for what it is doing. And the only way it can have that support, is if it is abiding by God's commandments.
Well, if a Church begins to stray away from those principles, for whatever reason, then, Christ stops supporting them. And, when that happens, it becomes vulnerable to the dictates of the ungodly, because it has no strength, or vision as to how to proceed in this demonic world. And, as a result it will become a victim, to the evil of this world just like the unsaved. And, since it is set above every one else, for all to see, the ungodly then take their cues from it, and begin to unashamedly follow their own way, because they have no hope, or vision, as to what the benefit following Christ can be.
The bible says, Prv 29:18 Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.
Looking at the first part of this scripture, it is saying that individuals, families, groups and nations need something to look forward to in order for them to thrive. Without it, they will collapse, and fall apart.
The Church is responsible for providing that vision, as Christ has directed it to do.. But, it can't do that, if it is disconnected from Him, because of its failure to abide by the standards Christ has set.
If we look at most Churches today, we see a lot of rejection of the basic principle that Christ has set.
Holiness and sanctification on the part of leaders, has been replaced with compromise, political correctness, and outright apathy. Anything goes. Leaders [pastors, and bishops], can be shacking up, practicing homosexuals and lesbians, showing contempt for those that are trying to live in righteousness, and speak out about their wrongdoing. Instead of following God's Word, they align themselves with the word of psychiatrists, psychologists, and sociologists [whom I call 'the new gods'].
The idea of living righteously is looked at as being an extreme view of life, which no one can attain. Just be yourself, they say. Some even go so far as to say, you can't be happy when you are trying to be something you are not. The implication is, God made you the way you are, and to try to change yourself, is trying to improve on what He created you to be.
Eph. 4:27-32, makes it clear that we should not give consideration to, or compromise with the devil. Yet, this is what many of these leaders are doing, and even encouraging others to do.
There is no way that we as Christians, should be compromising with the devil, yet most of us do it every day, because of what our Church leaders are doing. And as a result, all of us are suffering.
Earlier I referred you to read Deuteronomy 28:1-14, so you could see the vision God has given to those that are willing to follow His direction. Now, read verses 15 through to the end, and see the consequence of not following, or going against His direction. If you have access to the 'living, amplified, NIV, or the new KJV' versions of the bible, you will get a clearer picture of what God is saying in this passage. Compare what those verses say, to the reality of what is going on in this nation. What you will find is that they line up perfectly.
Look, God is not being mean, when He says, if you don't do what I say, then you will suffer. It is all part of the system in which we live. While many would like to believe that, as I mentioned last month, He will just overlook our faults without us making the effort to change, that is not the case at all.
Let me give you 2 examples.
Electricity, is something that all of us, use daily. And as such, we have come to be dependent on it. It is our friend. Yet, part of the properties of our friend, is the automatic response it gives us, when we violate the safety standards that we have been warned about.
Let's also look at gravity. Once again, we all know about it, and its importance to us. Yet, at the same time, we are aware of the consequences of violating particular safety warnings, and formulas, that, if violated, would end up in our deaths.
Airplanes are able to fly, because their design is in response to the laws of gravity. These laws, have been here since the earth was created, and will be here until God says different.
The thing is, each of these dangerous properties are inherent in the world system, and not that they are evil.
Consequently, with God, it is the very same way. The pain and suffering that goes along with our disobedience to Him, are inherent in creation. They are automatic, and they can't be changed, no matter how much we try to change them.
Psa 119:89 For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven. It is God's plan, and all things work according to His design. Our attempts to change or render the consequences of our wickedness, to a place where we no longer have to suffer, is the ultimate example of futility. This is because they will only lead us to greater suffering, which again, is part of the natural order of things the way God designed them. Prv 14:12, 16:25 There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
Have you ever noticed that no matter how hard they try, politicians can't seem to fix the problems we are facing in this nation? The minute they come up with a plan, and implement it, it appears to work for a minute, then, something else comes up, that makes things worse. Why is this? They are not operating within the confines of God's direction, or path that He has designed for them.
All of what I have been saying, comes straight from the bible. The same bible that our Church leaders are supposed to use as a road map to righteousness, and blessing. Yet, they aren't doing it, and we are paying the price. Mind you now, this is not all of them, but, most of them.
If the people keep looking for ways to avoid the consequences of disobedience [sin], and the Church gives them the idea that their suffering is something other than the result of that disobedience, then, the people will continue in their ways, which will lead to their destruction. Every thing, blessing and cursing rests with the Church.