Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Wake Up! (Revelation 3:1-6)

Ah, sleep!
Most of us wish we could have more...we spend hundreds of dollars on new mattresses, we go to great lengths to make sure our bedrooms have the 'right' 'feng shui', so as to be relaxing, etc.

...but most of us are still wishing for more sleep.

There is one place where some of us have been sleeping too much, though: Church!

I don't just mean snoozing because some Pastor is droning on and on about Greek language...I mean "Spiritually sleeping"...like in the church at Sardis!

Jesus gives John a message to the church there, and it goes like this:

“I know all the things you do, and that you have a reputation for being alive—but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what little remains, for even what is left is almost dead. I find that your actions do not meet the requirements of my God. Go back to what you heard and believed at first; hold to it firmly. Repent and turn to me again. If you don’t wake up, I will come to you suddenly, as unexpected as a thief.' (Revelation 3:1-3)

He says 'Look, you've got a reputation for being alive...you do things that churches do...yet, I know the Truth...and the truth is, you're dead!'

Interesting note about the CITY of Sardis...it had once been influential and powerful, but now was in decline. It had a unique topography, being situated high on a cliff, and therefore, was thought to be safe...yet, it had been conquered twice! Why? Because of arrogance and laziness--the people (leaders especially) of Sardis did not prioritize watching for enemies. They thought themselves SO safe that they did not have to be watchful...and therefore, they'd been conquered and now were in decline and disrepair.

It seems as if the church in Sardis was in the same boat...they had not taken care to be watchful for enemies and attacks...and had been duped into compromise.

The church at Sardis had been influential, but had begun to change goals. Rather than thier goal being to glorify God and follow Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit, their goal had become...to fit in. To be accepted as part of Sardis society. To be popular.

They were active...they apparently had church programs and church meetings...but apparently, this did NOT equate to having Spiritual LIFE!

According to J. Hampton Keathley, "So, in the very next words, we see a rude awakening and reality:

We see that they had a name, a reputation—what men thought.
We see they were alive, that is, they were an active church full of programs and church activity—what men see.
But, regardless, they were dead, without true spiritual vitality—what the Lord saw and knew.
The point is they had a reputation, they were known far and wide, and they were active, filled with activity, action, and programs, just like a great deal of the church today all across America. By the world’s standards they were successful and they were probably proud of their church, but our Lord says not so, “you are dead.”

Our churches face a similar problem...we may have numbers, activities, buildings...but do we have LIFE?

They faced similar pressures to us...their society was hostile toward them, and did not believe what they believed. Thier culture looked down on them, and considered them strange.

...and so they comprimised. They adapted to the world. They 'bought in' to the mindset, values, beliefs and customs of the world, instead of being transformed by God's Spirit (see Romans 12:1-2).

Interestingly, they continued to go to church! They continued to have religious activity! Yet, because they weren't paying attention to threats from the outside (and from within), their life slipped away without them knowing it.

But all hope was not lost...

4 “Yet there are some in the church in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes with evil. They will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. 5 All who are victorious will be clothed in white. I will never erase their names from the Book of Life, but I will announce before my Father and his angels that they are mine.

There were some real believers there...some who really did have Spiritual Life within...some for whom the 'activities' really were 'SPIRTUALLY based' and motivated toward God's glory and following Jesus while representing Him on earth.

For them, the encouragement was to continue...Don't "soil your garments" (compromise with the world around). Instead, continue to live out your victory! Live from a position of power, connected to--and obedient to--the Spirit and the Word of God!

If they did--and if we do--they would be "clothed in white". They would be victorious and holy.

What is the goal of the Church today? Is it to 'fit in'? Is it to 'attract a crowd'? Is it to be 'busy'? NO!

Rather, the Church today (as always) is to glorify God, follow Jesus, and live in step with the Holy Spirit.

Otherwise, make no mistake...the Church that compromises...like Sardis... WILL die!

6 “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches."

May God help US--You and I--to 'hear'!

Monday, October 18, 2010

I've got the Power!

There's a scene in one of my favorit movies, Bruce Almighty, where Jim Carey's character realizes that he's been given the power of God, and walks around using it (inappropriately) for his own ends. As he does so, he's singing Snap's "I've Got the Power!" and showing off.

Is THAT what the Holy Spirit is about?

Absolutely not...but it does bring up a question: Where is the Power?
When we look at the book of Acts, we see the Apostles doing miraculous things, in many cases, just like Jesus did! We see them casting out demons, healing people, speaking in languages that were previously unknown to them, even raising the dead!

In addition to that, we see that they were 'moved by' the Holy Spirit. They seemed to 'hear' from Him when to send Barnabus and Paul out(Acts 13:2); Peter heard from the Holy Spirit to go with the men from Cesarea (Acts 10); and in many other places...the clear picture is that the Holy Spirit was actively directing them.

So...where's that power today? Where's that direction today?

Some tell us that the Holy Spirit no longer works that way today...that it was all only to establish the Church, and (now that it's established and the Bible is complete), there's no real 'need' for it.

I disagree.

True, there may be some legit differences between how the Holy Spirit worked then and how He works now. There may be some of the 'offices' and roles in the early church that are not operating today...frankly, I'm not sure about some of that.

But one thing I KNOW: We NEED the Power of the Holy Spirit in our lives, in our faith, and in our Churches today!

In fact, I think it's fair to say that part of the reason 'Christianity' in America has been relatively powerless over the last few decades is that we have moved away from the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Remember, Jesus said to His disciples: "...you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:8-9)...and I don't know any church, any theological tradition or even any individual Christian who would say that that day--the time when Jesus calls us to be His witnesses and "Spread the Word"--has passed!

So, is it reasonable to expect that we will receive that same "power"?...that the Holy Spirit moves us to (among other things) be Jesus' witnesses? That the Holy Spirit is the key to us having the power to live out the life that Jesus calls us to?

I think it IS! I think it's ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY!

What, then, is the key, and why do we (sometimes) not experience that power?

I think it's because we've lost contact with our Power Source--the Holy Spirit.

I think that ONE of the basic things we need to do is to ask God, the Holy Spirit to fill us afresh with the power needed to do everything that God wants us to do! We need to believe it, expect it, step out in faith on it, and show it!

...as we learn to listen to, depend on, and step out on His leading, He will lead us to do bigger things for the Kingdom. NOT for our own glory, but for the glory of God. NOT (like Bruce Almighty) for our own benefit, but for the benefit of the Church.

May God's power drive us today!

Friday, October 8, 2010


What are YOU passionate about?

For some, it's sports teams--all you have to do is ask "Michigan or Michigan State?" this week to find that out!

For others, it's shoes...or purses...or our kids...or gardening...or metal music...or whatever.

What's YOUR passion?

On the one hand, it's good that we have passion about SOMETHING! Life tends to rob us of that these days. We are so consumed with bills, our job, and our appointments that 'passion' can seem like a luxury.

I think it might just be possible to go through life so BUSY in many things that we have PASSION for nothing!

But think deeper: SOMETHING gets your attention! Something lights your fire! There is probably at least one thing that is easy to get passionate about--what is yours?

One thing I've been asking God to do lately in my life is to give me more "Passion" for His name...and I'd like to suggest that we ALL should do the same!

Think about it: The God of the Universe wants to be known by you! He wants to be intimately connected to your life (and mine, of course)!

Yet, we sometimes yawn and say "I'll get to it after my show"...or after the game, or whatever.


Jesus said, "The first in importance is, 'Listen, Israel: The Lord your God is one; so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.' (Mark 12:29, the Message)

It comes to this: I realize that there are some things that I have "passion" for, but that those things are temporary, at best. God, on the other hand, is eternal.

I want a Passion for HIM! I want my life to scream out "He deserves the glory!" I want my heart to passionately seek Him!

"My heart says of you, "Seek his face!"
Your face, LORD, I will seek." (Psalm 27:8)

So, this is part of what's consuming me lately...
What about you?

Where are your passions?
Where does the Lord fit on your 'list of passions'?

I cannot imagine that God is content with being somewhere behind the Detroit Lions and gardening on my list! He wants--and He deserves--to be first!

...but this isn't just about 'what is right' or 'what is obedient' either...I WANT to have a passion for Him! I deeply desire to have my life revolve around an intimate connection with Him.

I want my life to be a prayer like this:

Lord, I love you, and I am amazed at your goodness to me. You are gracious and merciful, and your patience with me is incredible!

Yet, I want to know you more! I want to be closer to you! Show me, Lord, the things in my life that crowd you out! Show me the things that come between us. Help me to have the courage to get rid of those things--all the while reflecting your character and wisdom.

I love you, Lord! Fan the flame of passion in my heart for you! Holy Spirit, renew my love, revive my heart, and refocus my life.

I deeply desire to be 'all about you'!

Is that your prayer today?

Let's make it ours, together!

For His Glory,


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

"Lord, I believe...help me in my unbelief"

It's one of my favorite interactions recorded in the Gospels...'cuz I can relate!

It's recorded in Mark, Ch. 9, just after Jesus and a few disciples had come down from the 'Mount of Transfiguration' experience to find a man with a teen boy who was possessed by an evil spirit. The rest of Jesus' disciples had not been able to help him.This evil spirit had caused the boy to injure himself, often throwing himself into fires; it had caused him to lose his speech, etc.--and had been doing so since childhood.

The man brought the boy to Jesus and said "But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us."

" 'If you can'?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for him who believes." (vv. 22-23)

"IF You can?" I think the boy's father had almost given up hope...even when he'd brought the boy to Jesus' disciples, they'd been unable to help (and he'd probably sought other kinds of help too)...but he hadn't yet encountered the power of the Son of God!

It's almost as if Jesus wanted him to say "No one else can do it, but I KNOW you can!'

The boy's father's faith was too fragile...all he could say was "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" (Mark 9:24)

Jesus could have given him a lecture about how important real faith is...He could have held him up as an example of the faith-LESS...but He didn't. He knew the man's heart. He knew that there was real faith there...but He also knew that his faith was faltering.

Jesus decided to restore the man's full confidence, and to heal the boy. He didn't wait fot the father to have "Perfect" faith...He worked with what he had, encouraging more.

We are like that man's father. I am, anyway!

He has worked in SO MANY ways in my life, I should have 'zero' reasons not be believe when He calls me to something.

Yet, fears creep in...insecurity is there...a lack of confidence lingers.

Jesus, gracious as He is, works anyway--in spite of my imperfect faith. He encourages me, nurtures me, and motivates me to step out in faith--sometimes in little ways, sometimes in big ones.

Whether it's with KCC, it's plans and it's budget, or my home and family, or some other 'faith adventure', God calls me to have increasing faith. Fortunately for all, He does not DEMAND MY PERFECTION before He can work, however.

Has God been calling YOU to make a stand in faith lately? Is He moving you to step out? You may have some fear and some hesitation, but if it's truly Him who is calling you (and make sure you pray and meditate on His word, asking the Spirit to reveal God's will to you) then make sure and DO IT!

Step out in faith and watch Him work!

Your faith doesn't have to be perfect...just willing!

That's the beauty of Jesus--that He works in, on, and through 'imperfect' people...like me!

For His glory,


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Hold On! (Revelation 2:18-29)

In His letters to the churches, Jesus sends a message (through John) to the church in Thyatira. It is a serious warning, and there's an important lesson for us to learn...but first, look at how He finishes this letter:

"Only hold on to what you have until I come. To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations—
'He will rule them with an iron scepter;
he will dash them to pieces like pottery'— just as I have received authority from my Father. I will also give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."

He says to them, in essence: 'No matter how hard it is...no matter the cost...HOLD ON to your faith! HOLD ON to the truth! I will give you victory, and give you authority over the nations...just HOLD ON!

It's a sobering...and important message for us today.

Our world can challenge our faith in a big way. Pressures from outside the Church can make it difficult to be faithful. This has always been the case, and the Lord has given strength to those who are His, enabling them to be faithful in spite of opposition from without.

...but Thyatira was different! This was opposition from within the Church!.

A woman (in this case--certainly not always women) they called "Jezebel" had loudly dominated the church. She had some authority within the church, and was teaching the people to 'go ahead' and adopt the standards and practices of the world around them. To 'go with the flow' of their society.

Specifically, in Thyatira, there were lots of 'trade guilds'. Each trade had it's own guild and each guild had it's own customs, practices, etc. Each guild also had it's own 'god' which needed to be worshipped in order to bless with work.

In other words, the tradesmen in Thyatira, in order to get work, had to belong to a guild, and that included going to thier worship services to their false gods, including eating food which had been sacrificed to these idols right in front of them, and joining in their sexually immoral practises!

Here's the thing: In order to work, they had to join; in order to join, they had to participate. Otherwise, they would not be allowed to work, thier families would not eat, etc.

Talk about compulsory union membership!

'Jezebel' encouraged them to 'go ahead' and fit in. In so doing, they ended up adopting many of the customs, beliefs, morality and mindset of the people around them.

She called this her 'deeper teaching' that was given to her as a prophetess. In reality they were the "deep secrets of Satan" (v. 24).

They continued to tolerate her influence and teaching, and this was what Jesus had "against" them (v. 20)They ended up hiding their true faith--so much so that they started to forget what their true faith was--and compromise it...and this 'Jezebel' loudly and pursuasively argued that they should continue on this path.

God had given her--this leader in the Church--time to repent...but she had not. Now her time was up. He was going to bring her to intense suffering--and all who went with her (rather than standing on Biblical truth).

...but to those who remained faithful...to those who overcame--not only the pressure from without, but also the pressure from within the Church...to them, He would give authority and power!

We face opposition from our culture...and we will probably face more, deeper, and more militant opposition in the not-too-distant-future.

We will also face opposition from within, from the 'spirit of Jezebel' which loudly tells us just to fit in...to go along...to adopt the standards and practises of this world.

We MUST remain faithful. We MUST overcome!

As God gives us strength, let us endure any opposition and remain true to Him!

For God's glory...Dave

Read this passage here:http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Revelation%202:18-29&version=NLT

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Artist's work

Yesterday @ KCC we started our series on the Holy Spirit, "Forgotten God".

I believe this to be a crucial series in the life of KCC, but also to be important for ALL believers in Jesus Christ!

Many of us function in our everyday lives as if WE are the ones who produce 'sanctification' in our lives. We act as though simply 'trying harder' will make us more like Jesus.

Don't get me wrong--I believe that we DO have a responsibility...but that responsibility is to "keep in step with the Spirit", and to make sure that we are living in such a way that The Holy Spirit can produce the "fruit" in our lives (See Galatians 4-5).

...but one main point needs to be emphasized again, and that is this:

IF we want more power, consistency, joy, and FAITH in our lives, we CANNOT do things the same way as we always have! We MUST be open to the possibility that God wants to change some things in us in order to do His work! God is like an artist making His masterpiece in our lives...and we need to be willing to have him 'mold us and make us' however He wants!

The Prophet Isaih wrote,
"You turn things upside down,as if the potter were thought to be like the clay!
Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, "He did not make me"?
and the pot say of the potter, "He knows nothing"? (Isaiah 29:16)

The Apostle Paul wrote:
"But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? "Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?' "Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?" (Romans 9:21-22)

My point is simply this:

If we are going to be formed by God into the person He wants us to be (and consequently, to experience Him in new, deeper, and more consistent ways), we have to be willing to be 'the lump of clay"! We must be willing to have Him do his work! The canvas cannot tell the artist what to paint! The iron cannot tell the blacksmith how much to pound on it!

If we are going to "go further" in our faith, we have to willingly submit ourselves to our Master.

One of the things that means is that we must commit to letting Him "search me, o God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts; See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting..." (Psalm 139:23-24)

This takes courage...it takes faith...it rests on our understanding that our Lord LOVES us and has GOOD things in mind for us--He is not sadistic, and He does not 'pound on us' for no reason.

I wonder how many of us want to 'go deeper' in our faith--even though it means saying to God "Lord, I'm yours...do with me what you will."

I want the Artist to work my life into something beautiful...even if it means going through something difficult to get there.

HE knows what is necessary; I choose to trust and submit to Him.

How about you?

Want to join me in watching God work? Want to see what He does in us?

It's the only way to get to be that beautiful work of the Artist!