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BLESSINGS FROM THE HEART
Pastor Cecil A. Thompson
December 31, 2008
“A DEAD CHURCH!”
"To the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of Him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you."
In this passage God is speaking. He is speaking not merely to a first-century church, but also to the churches of our day. Keep in mind that the “church” is not the structure made with wood, brick, stone, or other building materials. A church is composed of the people of God who come together as a body, for worship, fellowship, service and edification.
I want to walk very carefully here, as I express the words that God is laying on my heart at this very moment. We often think of a dead church as being stuffy, stilted, formal, and boring. That is all too often the case, but it goes much deeper than that. A dead church may also be filled with noise, activity, and even spiritual sounding terminology. It is even possible for people to seek emotional feelings in place of tenderly seeking God and God alone.
So what determines if a church is alive or dead? Let's focus in a little closer. What determines if “you” are spiritually alive or dead? One of our typical responses is to focus on, "them." “They are dead! He or she is dead!” I, on the other hand, am practically perfect in every way!" Such an idea, filled with self-sufficient pride, should be a dead giveaway of our spiritual morbidity (death).
We are spiritually dead, or near death, when we no longer have a spiritual appetite. If there is not a hunger in our hearts for God's pure Word—we must check our pulse immediately! Unfortunately there are church members, or should I say, church attendees, who are more interested in the hymn selections, how long the service lasts, color of the carpet, etc., than they are about meeting with God. They fail to cherish a time to shut out the world and listen to His Word read and proclaimed, lift their hearts in prayer, and join with others of His family weekly, for a spiritual family reunion.
We individually are in need of spiritual “911” care if we do not have it daily—YES! I SAID DAILY—times of intimate prayer with God. Not just praying a shopping list of our requests, but sharing our deep feelings of praise and petition. A sign of spiritual life is being silent before Him in order to hear His soft, still voice speaking words of comfort and purpose to us. We need to take the time to lovingly read His Word and then spend time meditating about the words and visualizing what is being said. It is life giving to use scripture as a part of our prayer.
I hope you are beginning to see that death in our midst is not easily covered up with the stench of human programs, practice or pretense. God sees the real us and desires more than "Let's pretend." It is time for a complete spiritual examination. As the Lord dictated this letter to the church in Sardis, and said they were dead, what would He say about us? Do we need to be resuscitated? If so, He stands ready to raise us from our dead condition, and breathe His new life into us.
Blessings dear hearts. Draw near to God today, trust Him completely and be a blessing!
- - - Pastor Cecil
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