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Posts from the ‘Pastors’ Category

LEADERS NEED TO LEARN HOW TO FOLLOW THE PATTERN OF JESUS

LEADERS NEED TO LEARN HOW TO FOLLOW THE PATTERN OF JESUS

YOU HAVE BEEN CHOSEN Jesus said “Feed my sheep”(John 21:15-17).

WRITTEN BY SHIRLEY RHODES

 

Mt Airy Presbyterian Church Mt. Airy, Ga. (Photo by Pastor Davis)

Mt Airy Presbyterian Church Mt. Airy, Ga. (Photo by Pastor Davis)

Our Church leaders are Chosen Leaders, handpicked by God and called to suit up and go into the mission field on their assigned task to shepherd and guide, and then placed in the unique position to make defining decisions and choices that can have a profound impact on a few or many. Our leaders in the church are called and expected to keep diligent watch over the flock. That is the pattern and design expected when one accepts their calling knowing it comes with incredible responsibility.

Placed in their care are people who bring many loads of heavy burdens, looking for a way to find peace and joy as they are about this earthly journey. People from all walks of life seeking hope, lost, weary and tired wanting rest, a release from those things that keeps them in bondage.

Our leaders are therefore placed in position to minister to those souls as directed by the Holy Spirit, knowing they hold very fragile children in their hands. They are now given the authority through Christ to shape and mold lives for the kingdom of God, to feed the flock.

Remember, Jesus and how he was crucified outside the city gates–where he poured out the sacrificial blood that was brought to God’s alter to cleanse his people.  His sacrifice is a reminder to our leaders as to their purpose and calling, who must walk in obedience, faith and be examples of godliness as he accepts the torch to carry out his mission as assigned. The mission of kingdom building is not one to be taken lightly or for granted because souls are at risk.

Our Leaders are to be visible and able to relate to the needs of their followers, meaning that in order to accomplish their assigned mission they should follow the pattern of Jesus. Scripture puts it this way; let’s go outside, where Jesus is, where the action is–not trying to be privileged insiders, but taking our Share in the abuse of Jesus. This “insider world” is not our home. We have eyes peeled for the City about to come. Let’s take our place outside with Jesus, no longer pouring out sacrificial blood of animals but pouring out praises from our lips to God in Jesus’ name  (Hebrews 13:13-15, MGS).

We as seekers of peace and righteousness are to be responsive to pastoral leaders, listen to their counsel because they should be alert to the condition of our lives and work under the strict supervision of God. We are to contribute to the joy of their leadership, not drudgery; we are to pray for them that they be diligent in their assigned mission.

Our Leaders are accountable to God and its plain in Gods’ Word the responsibility expected of them.  God says,” My sheep were scattered because they were without a shepherd and they became prey when they were scattered; I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock”. (Ezekiel: 34).

After Jesus had risen from the dead and before his ascension as he gave final instructions to his disciples: Jesus asked Peter, “Simon, son of Jonas, do you love me more than these”, three times.  When he responded “Yes”, Jesus said, “Feed my sheep”(John 21:15-17). This is a reminder to our Leaders, don’t take your calling or position lightly. YOU HAVE BEEN CALLED, CHOSEN.

 

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PREACHERS MUST PREACH JESUS

PREACHERS MUST PREACH JESUS

Pastor Davis Before the Throne of Grace

Pastor Davis Before the Throne of Grace

Paul’s message to all of us is simply this, “WE AS PREACHERS MUST PREACH JESUS!”  He says, “You’ll remember, friends, that when I first came to you to let you in on God’s master stroke, I didn’t try to impress you with polished speeches and the latest philosophy. I deliberately kept it plain and simple: first Jesus and who he is; then Jesus and what he did—Jesus crucified.            (1 Corinthians 2:1-2 MSG)

This is how Paul preached his message of Jesus to the church of Corinth.  It is a well taught lesson that we all as preachers, teachers and ministers of the gospel must take to heart and stand before the throne of grace and speak truth to power.

Too many of us have just become feel good preachers, using whatever technique it takes to get the people out of their seats and hollowing and shouting, making them feel good for the moment, without any knowledge are understanding of what we are preaching about, other than that they feel good at the moment.  Jesus has been left out of the entire reason for the sermon in the first place.

I can personally say that personal testimony often opens the door for audiences to listen when any other approach would meet deaf ears.  Paul opened himself to the people with broken heart.  They knew his preaching style.  Certainly it was not marked with human wisdom or style.  Only the subject mattered: telling people about God.  Preaching does not center on personal abilities or personal experiences.  Preaching goes right to the cross and preaches how Jesus died for you.  Don’t spend time arguing about human style or leadership.  Tell people about Jesus, and thank Jesus for what He did for you.

Now I ask you this question, “what does preaching show off?   I say to you, too many people want it to demonstrate the latest techniques of eloquence or the latest findings of scholarship and archaeology.  Gospel preaching shows something else.  Focus fades from the preacher.  Spotlight comes up on the Spirit and His power to persuade.  Preaching points beyond the preacher to the One preached.  Why?  Because faith in the preacher leads only to disappointment and weakness, Faith must be in God and His power.

Surely, preaching involves wisdom.  No one wants to hear something that makes no sense and leads to no purpose.  Preaching has its own kind of wisdom, a wisdom that leads you away from any person and leads you to God.  This wisdom shows you no human achievement.  It concentrates on God’s achievement:  God has fulfilled His purposes in Jesus Christ.  Worldly study and worldly wisdom would never know this.  Worldly wisdom crucifies ChristGod’s wisdom proclaims Christ.  Only a person to whom God has revealed His secrets, His mysteries, will know it.  That person must preach God’s wisdom, not human wisdom.

What lessons have you as a preacher or teacher of the gospel learned, that can better help focus the people’s attention on Jesus as opposed to yourself, as you are standing before God’s people and preaching His Holy Word?  Do you always preach Jesus, are do you preach the short feel good message?

What lessons have you as a hearer and or doer of the word learned from listening to us preachers preach the gospel, that disappoints you the most are lifts you higher to praise and worship that will better help us to understand how you are feeling when those of us are preaching Jesus as opposed to those of us who are preaching a feel good message that only last until you walk out of the door?

PASTORS MUST STOP KEEPING THEIR MEMBERS PROSPERITY POOR (PART 2)

HOW IMMORALITY DEFILES THE CHURCH

So many of our churches have become polluted places of worship, and God is not pleased with what is going on.  Sin of all sorts is running rapidly throughout the body.  Our Priest, Bishops, Pastors and other Church officials, are engaging in sexual immorality with young children of both sexes and then doing everything to hide it from their members and the public at large.  Once such immoral activities are uncovered, and the leaders are asked to account for their actions a light is shined on the church and the membership has to pay out millions of dollars for lawsuits that are brought against the church leadership and sometimes the church itself.  This is truly a case to be made how the Priest, Bishops, and Pastors are keeping their members prosperity poor.

These sorts of immoral activities that are committed by our Priest, Bishops, Pastors and other Church officials defile the church and bring condemnation upon the entire body.  The body must learn how to stop condoning what they know is the truth concerning their leaders and start confronting them with the truth of how God intends for His Church to operate.

The one important thing that we all must realize is that these sort of immoral activities are not new within our churches.  For thousands of years our churches have had to deal with these sorts of activities among their regular members.  We all know of someone at some church that is dealing with these issues today.  Therefore, the question becomes how we confront the people that are committing these acts of sexual immorality and at the same time provide comfort to them as well as the victim of these immoral acts.

In Paul’s first letter to the church of Corinth, he wrote, “I also received a report of scandalous sex within your church family, a kind that wouldn’t be tolerated even outside the church: One of your men is sleeping with his stepmother. Moreover, you are so above it all that it does not even faze you! Shouldn’t this break your hearts? Shouldn’t it bring you to your knees in tears? Shouldn’t this person and his conduct be confronted and dealt with? (1 Corinthians 5:1-2 MSG)

A report had been delivered to Paul regarding sexual immorality going on among the believers in Corinth.  The Corinthian church had been unwilling to discipline this man.  Paul prefaced his pronouncement of knowledge of this situation by saying that the problem was so evil that even the pagans did not do it—quite an indictment on these believers.  Most of the believers knew about the sinful relationship already, but apparently they had been unwilling to admit it, so Paul described the sin point-blank:  He said a man in the church was living in sin with his father’s wife” (probably his stepmother).  Whether the man had seduced this woman away from his father, or whether the woman was divorced or widowed is unclear.  In any case, even the pagans would have shuddered at this, but the church members were trying to ignore the situation.

We know from our study of this situation that the problem of arrogance in the Corinthian church had spilled over to the point where they were tolerating flagrant sin.  Instead of being proud of themselves, they should have been mourning in sorrow and shame.  Then, they should have removed the man from the fellowship.  The church must discipline flagrant sin among its members such sins, left unchecked, can divide and paralyze a church.  This “removal” of the person was not meant to be vengeful but to help bring about a cure.

Today in our society, tolerance has become such a battle cry in the media and in political and educational circles that it has affected even the church.  It is very difficult for people to discipline sin in church members because everyone is trying to be accepting of others.  People say, “Who am I to judge?  I have sin in my life.”  So they want all sin excused, including their own.  We must not let modern-day low standards determine what is true and right for the church.

While those in the Corinthian church had failed to do anything about this man sin, Paul himself would tell them what had to be done.  Now listen to what the Bible tells us how Paul dealt with this situation.  It is a critical point, which we all as Church leaders need to think deeply about this matter.  Here is how Paul described what he would do, “I’ll tell you what I would do. Even though I am not there in person, consider me right there with you, because I can fully see what is going on. I am telling you that this is wrong. You must not simply look the other way and hope it goes away on its own. Bring it out in the open and deal with it in the authority of Jesus our Master. Assemble the community I will be present in spirit with you, and our Master Jesus will be present in power. Hold this man’s conduct up to public scrutiny. Let him defend it if he can! However, if he cannot, then out with him! It will be totally devastating to him, of course, and embarrassing to you. But better devastation and embarrassment than damnation. You want him on his feet and forgiven before the Master on the Day of Judgment.  (1 Corinthians 5:3-5 MSG)

Was this punishment to harsh for the church to be handing out to one of their faithful members, or did Paul have it just right?  It is my belief that Paul had weighed the matter and had correctly passed judgment.  As an apostle and the spiritual father of the church of Corinth, Paul had the authority to deal with the matter and he understood the danger to the church if the sin were to remain undisciplined.  Paul told the church, in no uncertain terms to call a meeting of the whole congregation so they would witness and support the action.  As they met, Paul would be there in spirit, because he carried the authority as an apostle, and the power of the Lord Jesus would also be with them as they met.  The entire situation was under the mighty power of the Lord Jesus to deal with the man’s spirit and to bring him to repentance.

Paul explained the discipline that should be carried out.  Cast this man out of the church and into Satan’s hands.  This would mean excluding him from the fellowship of believers.  Without the spiritual support of Christians, this man would be left alone with his sin and Satan, and hopeful this emptiness would drive him to repentance.  The church could not literally give him to Satan, for only God can consign a person to eternal judgment.  It was meant to force him to see the consequences of sin by living in Satan’s sphere of influence, the world apart from Christ and the church.

That his sinful nature will be destroyed meant that the exclusion from the fellowship would help the man to face his sinful, selfish nature (flesh), repent, and return to the churchPaul wanted this sinner to experience the crucifixion of his sinful nature.  It may take such drastic measures to deal with the sinful nature, but how much more important for the man that he face this and repent in order that he would be saved in the end.  Paul hoped that this harsh disciplinary action might be of eternal benefit to the man.

The one thing that we notice concerning Paul harsh disciplinary action of the man, the woman was not mention as to any disciplinary action taken against her.  Therefore, we must assume that the omission of discipline for the woman implies that she was not a believer.  The church is responsible for disciplining only its members, not unbelievers.

Our Churches today need the spiritual determination to deal with sin such as these that affect the whole Church.  But excommunication as a form of discipline, and moving Priest, Bishops and Pastors from one church to another and not holding them accountable for their actions is a crime as well as a sin in itself again God and all of humanity.  When our spiritual leaders stand before us knowing in their hearts that the life that they are living is immoral and perverted and their teachings are sinful and shameful in nature, they should be condemned just as Paul condemned the man that was sleeping with his father’s wife.

This kind of activity harms the church, the community and all of humanity.  The church is not only spiritually damaged, but it and its members are financially damaged, because the tithes that they had been putting into the store house now has to be paid out for sexual immorality instead of helping to lift its members up out of poverty, and with the poverty rate at an all time high in this country, this is why we call it as it really is, “Pastors must stop keeping their members prosperity poor.”

In our next installment of “Pastors must stop keeping their members prosperity poor,” we will discuss with you, how forgiving the offender of sexual immorality should be dealt with.  I think all of you who wrote and requested additional teachings on this important subject.  There were hundreds of you who commented on (Part 1) of this continuing series.  For those of you who are reading this teaching for the first time, may I suggest to you on the right side of the home page to click on any month, then on the left side of the page under categories, stroll down to Pastors and click there.  In the center of the page look for the title, “Pastors must stop keeping their members prosperity poor.”

May I encourage each one of you to think globally and work locally?  I minister to you from a position of peace, power, purpose and prosperity.  I remain your brother in Christ, Pastor Davis/Master Teacher.

IT IS TIME TO PREPARE YOURSELF FOR THE BATTLES AHEAD

Armour

 IT IS TIME TO PREPARE YOURSELF FOR THE BATTLES AHEAD

So how are you to prepare for the great battle that lies ahead?  Listen how the Bible teaches us to prepare ourselves, “Therefore put on God‘s complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and, having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place].”   Stand therefore [hold your ground], having tightened the belt of truth around your loins and having put on the breastplate of integrity and of moral rectitude and right standing with God. In addition, having shod your feet in preparation [to face the enemy with the firm-footed stability, the promptness, and the readiness produced by the good news] of the Gospel of peace.  Lift up over all the [covering] shield of saving faith, upon which you can quench all the flaming missiles of the wicked [one].  (Ephesians 6:13-16 MSG)

Why are we to put on God’s complete armor?  The reason we are to do so is because, this is what the word commands us to do, and we must always be obedient to the word.  In addition, we are living in tough economic times and believers are losing their faith as well as their homes, life savings, freedom, liberty and much of their possessions.  Satan is on the attack and he is attacking believers as well as non-believers from all four corners of the world.  Our country is in a financial straight jacket, moral free fall, as well as being on the verge of financial collapse.  Crime in our communities is at an all time high.  Where will it all ends?

Let us understand the truth of Satan’s evil ways and his true motives.  However, in order for believers to realize God’s truth and position themselves to fight the good fight, believers must be united and maintain unity in the body of Christ.  There will be inevitable clashes with evil, and the church must be ready to stand and fight for its entire population.

However, let us remember that as Christians, we battle against rulers and authorities, the powerful evil forces of fallen angels headed by Satan, who is a vicious fighter.  Peter tells us that we can be victorious if we would, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8 KJV).  Know that to withstand Satan’s attacks, we must depend on God’s strength and use every piece of his armor.

Brothers and Sisters, try to understand this one truth, this is no ordinary fight.  We are fighting against a very powerful and evil fighting machine.  This one was designed to crush God’s people.  We can describe it as hand-to-hand combat.  However, we are not in an earthly military campaign, our battle is not against people made of flesh and blood.  Instead, we are battling the demons over which Satan has control.  Demons work to temp people to sin.  Satan did not create them because God is the Creator of all.  Rather, the demons are fallen angels who joined Satan in his rebellion and thus became perverted and evil.

These spiritual beings have limited power.  They are invisible to us, operating in the unseen world.  The mighty powers refers to those spiritual powers who aspire to world control.  They are evil (of the darkness) and they currently rule this world.  The wicked spirits in the heavenly realms refers to the demons dwellings, planet and stars, from which the demons control the lives of people.  Here is a host of spiritual forces arrayed against us, requiring us to use God’s full armor.  These are real and powerful beings, not mere fantasies. Believers must not underestimate them.

We face a powerful army whose goal is to defeat Christ’s church.  When we believe in Ghrist, the satanic beings become our enemies, and they try every device to turn us away from him and back to sin.  Although believers are assured of victory, we must engage in the struggle until Christ returns because Satan constantly battles against all who are on God’s side.

Believers response to the reality of this warfare should be to use every piece of God’s armor.  The armor is available, but the believer-soldier must use it.  We would be neglectful to do other wise, for the battle is real, and we are Satan’s targets.  Only with the armor will believers be able to be standing firm, a word describing standing against great opposition; indeed, it would be impossible to stand on our strength alone.  Christian soldiers must be able to hold their ground and not flee or surrender under Satan’s attacks.

Now let me close with this final thought for each one of you who have taken the time to read this entire lesson and the many lessons we teach here daily, “Think globally, and work locally.  Looking beyond ourselves in the real and on line world, to reach out to others who might be in need, for we all are truly our Brothers Keeper, may the grace of God abide in you now and forever, in Jesus name, Amen.

PASTORS MUST STOP KEEPING THEIR MEMBERS PROSPERITY POOR (PART 1)

In today’s market place when so many people have lost their jobs and inability to earn a proper living for their families and losing their homes and all their worldly goods it is time for Pastors and church leaders to carefully study the types of messages they delivery to their congregation. The bible gives us a road map for us to follow, how we present that road map to our followers at a time such as this is the most important thing that we can do in the name of Jesus.

I do realize that I am going to get a lot of negative feedback from my fellow brethren in the ministry, but I also feel that it is important to get this message out.  Now I ask you to read and study the entire message before you make up your mind, and let us begin a dialog that can be beneficial to all believers.

Throughout most of the Church History the spiritual current, especially of the Catholic and Orthodox churches has been that the most spiritual possible lifestyle is to be poor.

The preaching and teaching of these Pastors have done more harm to the poor than they have given them the keys to living a prospers life style because they use Scriptures like “Blessed are the poor…” and “Sell everything you have and come follow me,”  the mindset has been that in order to truly follow Christ you must impoverish yourself.

Now, of course, at any given time, only a few are willing to do this at one time, and so they are considered the most spiritual.   This promotes a general sense of guilt among the middle class and of pride among the self-impoverished.   Moreover, it creates a universal rejection of Earthly wealth for Christians, leaving it to be pursued by either those of other faiths (such as the medieval Jews) or by Christians who do not really believe the Gospel.

It is my opinion this promotes a general place of powerlessness for the church, and of “scraping by” for the average person.   Ironically, which teaching its people to be poor, the church itself held greater riches than most kings, building incredible edifices to promote itself.   The outcome of promoting poverty then, was to have a rich clergy and a poor laity.

In the wake of the great healing revival of the 1940’s and 50’s two things happened.  First, the healing crusaders like Oral Roberts and Jack Coe and others had built huge and very costly ministry empires which required a remarkable amount of money was needed.    Secondly, the anointing waned on many of these men, depriving them of the power which would both draw people to their services and money to feed the ministry empire.   Largely because of these two factors, the doctrine of “Faith” which they had developed with regard to getting people healed began to grow into a doctrine of Wealth.

Slowly the ability to get out of a wheelchair was replaced with the promise to get material goods.   Instead of “if you have faith, you can be made whole” it was “if you have faith, you can get out of debt.”  Now at the time, I believe the shift was subtle, but a generation later, what had happened became clear — the power of God had been traded for money.     We live under a system of “prosperity” now, where ministers promise that giving (to them) is the way to wealth, and implicitly that if you do so you will become rich like them.   These rich ministers are the ones who had “faith” to get wealth, and by “sowing in” to their ministries you can get the same thing.    The great irony again is that this has not produced a race of billionaire Christians, what it has primarily produced is the same exact thing that the Old Catholic “poverty mentality” did — rich ministers and poor laymen.

Does this mean that God does not want his children to prosper?  By no means, I believe that God desires to give His children great wealth so that they can “make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, and then “they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.” (Luke 16:9)   In other words, we are given the financial resources to advance His Gospel and reach every living creature.   If that is your heart and practice with your wealth, God wants to give you the increase.    What these “prosperity” preachers are doing is just the opposite, however.   They are taking huge sums of money which otherwise would be putting others into ministry to spread the Gospel and helping those in need and spending it on lives of difficult to imagine luxury.  And they feel no pangs of conscience about it because in their system being rich is a sign of being blessed.

Anyone can get rich by telling you that by giving him or her money, you will get rich.   That is what they call a “pyramid scheme” and rightly so.  It is the devil’s method.  Take from the many to enrich the few. Real prosperity then is the businessperson who uses his God-given talents to bring wealth into the Kingdom.   God does not tell such a man he must live on nothing.   He tells him that if his heart is in the right place, he’ll want to give greatly to the cause of the Gospel.   If you have a business or hold a job, God wants to give you the increase, but it’s not going to come by giving more money to a “prosperity” preacher.  It’s going to come by your God given talent, the favor of God on your life, and by giving to reach the ends of the Earth with His message.

We have come to a place where we think that having a private jet is a sign of the anointing.   It may be a sign of the anointing, but a sign that the anointing has been misused.   We need to fear the Lord, because he does not take use of positions in His house for personal gain lightly. This is not unlike the sin of Gehazi.  He saw that he could get a couple of talents of silver and some robes from Elisha’s anointing and look where it took him.  He became a leper.  The sons of Eli thought their spiritual inheritance was best used to gain better portions of meat from the people’s sacrifices.  God killed them.  It’s amazing how in every reformation of the church from Jesus, to Luther, to our time, that one of the great issues is the abuse of money.     I believe the Lord has winked at many in our time because they legitimately believed they were helping the people, but a time is soon coming when He is going to reform the church again.

Get ready for the Lord is going to make it all right.  The leaders of the church have prospered while the rest of its members have remained poor.

PAUL’S PRAYER FOR SPIRITUAL EMPOWERING

During the course of our lives, we all have had someone to pray for us.  Prayer is the key that unlocks the door to our blessings, and when we learn that our purpose in life is to serve others, and we can truly be effective as a servant by praying in the Spirit for our fellowman, we are then moved to pray without ceasing.

Paul’s prayer for spiritual empowerment for the Ephesians was that they be united by the Spirit, indwelt by Christ, and filled with all the fullness of God’s love.  We know that God made the Holy Spirit available to all who believed in Jesus Christ as Savior.  The Spirit provides power for our new lives.

The Prayer that Paul prayed for Spiritual Empowerment was a beautiful and powerful prayer.  Now listen to Paul words as he spoke them in Ephesians 3:14-21:

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height.

To know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of
God.  Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever.  Amen.

We find that in this text’s prayer, Paul asked that the Holy Spirit deepen His work in their lives in three ways:

1.   That Christ would dwell–more literally, “be at home” in their hearts by faith, that is, that He would move from being an acquaintance to being the center of their church family;

2.   That they would grasp God’s love at a spiritual level, beyond intellectual or theological knowledge.

3.   That they would be filled with God’s fullness, that is, that the Holy Spirit would reveal the things of Christ (John 16) more fully, achieving God’s fuller work in each life unhindered, unquenched, ungrieved.

 

 

 

CREATING AN ATMOSPHERE OF GODLINESS IN CHURCH

There are churches all over the world where the Holy Spirit is not present.  He is not present because the people don’t fear God.  They may be socially active, economically viable, and organizationally functional; but where there is no fear, there is no godliness.  Where there is no godliness, there is no anointing.  There can be no comfort because God will never comfort you when you are outside His will.

People go to some churches week in and week out seeking to be comforted in their sin.  You can find a church that makes you comfortable with its ritual, its tradition, and its ministry emphasis.  But it is a tragedy if a church’s leaders do not strain to create an atmosphere of godliness and the body does not fear God as it works out its salvation.  The comfort one finds in that situation is one of the greatest deceptions of the devil.

Satan desires to make you comfortable in your sin.  If you are comfortable in your sin, you will not see the need to confess it.  If you do not confess your sin, you will not know the cleansing forgiveness of God.  Without His cleansing forgiveness, you cannot enter into His presence, because your sin separates you from Him (Isa. 59:2).  Then Satan has you right where he wants you–in sin and apart from God.  If you are in sin and comfortable in your church, please know that you are being deceived by the enemy.  God won’t help you walk in sin.  What He will do, however, is help you get up and walk away from that sin so that you might get back on the path of righteousness and walk in the fear of the Lord.  He says if you walk in fear of Him, you will know the comfort of His Spirit and a fruitful, spiritually productive relationship with Him.

Philippians 2:12 says, “Theerefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”  Paul said work out your own salvation in a holy reverence for God and a righteous “afraid-ness” of Him.  You don’t work for your salvation; you work out your salvation.  You don’t work to get saved.  Your salvation is fleshed out in a daily process of living in the power of the Spirit of God.

A remarkable thing happens when a church is foull of godly men and women who work out their salvation with a fear of God.  Acts 9:31 says, “Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified.”  Now watch this:  “And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were maltiplied” (emphasis mine).  The church grew numerically and spiritually, quantitatively and qualitatively.  Why?  They did so because they walked in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost.  Walking in the comfort of the Holy Ghost does not mean shouting, running down aisles, laughing uncontrollably, barking like a dog, or jumping across benches.  The comfort of the Holy Ghost is that ministry of the Spirit that stabilizes you.  It is the settling of your spirit by His Spirit.  It is when God strengthens you by coming alongside you in your particular set of circumstances.

The context of the Acts 9 text suggests that at the time this comfort settled on the aforementioned believers, the church was suffering intense persecution.  Christians were sought and killed for following a man named Jesus.  But in spite of their oppression, they were edified and growing individually and collectively.  They were growing because the Holy Spirit was comforting them, and there would have been no comfort without fear.

By the way, fellow pastor, how is your church growing?  If it is alive, it ought to be growing.  If it is not growing, maybe God is calling you to examine the spiritual atmosphere in your congregation.  Dear pastor, maybe God is telling you to examine your own lifestyle and your own heart.  Now, don’t take my position to the extreme.  I am by no means suggesting that the only gauge for vitality and growth in a church is the size of its roll.

The world will always “out crowd” the church.  Crowds have assembled for every reason, from viewing the tail of a comet to supporting a follower of Mohammed.  Don’t measure the godliness of a church by the size of the crowd.  The Bible says “narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matt. 7:14).  Don’t count bodies.  Count lives.  See if the people followed Jesus into the assembly or if they followed some other leader.  See if there is a holy, reverential fear of God woven into the fabric of their behavior.  A growing church is filled with people who walk in the fear of the Lord.  Because they fer the Lord, they know the comfort of the Holy Ghost.  This is the path to godliness and growth in any church.  How is your church growing?

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