Good morning to all. I pray this finds you happy, healthy and prosperous. I hope you were able to take advantage of the beautiful weekend we had and attend the church of your choice.
If you are like me, you probably are not quite old enough to remember when people use to stand on the street selling newspapers and shouting “Extra, Extra, Read All About It”. Their purpose was not only to draw attention to themselves, but to draw our attention to some specific news.
Well, the news today is, “Churches are Dying”. Does this surprise you? Did you know this was happening? Have you been out driving and passed a building that use to once house the church? How do you feel about this news? Does it effect you in any way? Once again, I am going to look to the scriptures for some help on this topic.
2 Thessalonians 2:3 say, “3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition,” 2 Timothy 4:2-4 says, “2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” Ephesians 4:14-16 says, “14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head--Christ-- 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” 2 Timothy 3:13 says, “13 But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.”
This topic saddens me greatly, as I'm sure it does our Lord. The church is the people, not the buildings, but the buildings are closing up shop and dropping of the face of the map because the people are leaving in droves. I know of two country churches on the same road within a mile or two of each other that have been closed for a long time now. One was sold to a biker gang and is now painted black and has skulls and cross bones on it. The other church has been remolded and now has someone living in it. Some churches are trying to hard to please congregations and are cutting Wednesday night and Sunday night services. Somehow we have condoned the transition from the Sabbath Day to only needing to celebrate the Sabbath Hour. This is not, was not and never will be God's plan, yet we just smile and roll along with the flow.
Does reading this trouble you? Are you one of those that has left the church? Do you know of some that have decided to leave the church?
People are fleeing in flocks. Is it because God has changed? Has His rules, commandments, law or judgments changed over the years? Has the bar been elevated higher than it use to be? The answer is NO. It is we who have changed and cluttered up our schedules to the point that we have no time to fit God in.
We are too concerned that God or church may interfere with baseball, football, soccer, basketball, softball, cheer leading, dance class, our favorite TV show and the list could go on and on. Tell me, when we meet God face to face, do you think He is going to be impressed by any of the time spent or accolades earned by these activities that took time away from Him?
How did we lose so much ground in just two or three generations? Two or three generations back, people went to church and not because they were drug or because they were being punished somehow, but because they wanted to. Because they loved God, knew that all good things come from Him and wanted to not only spend time with Him, but to give back to Him a little for all He had done for them through the week. A few generations back, people planned their schedules around the church. Now we think we should take God and force Him to come to us and melt into the cracks of time where we may have a few minutes here or there throughout the week.
To tie all this in with the subject title and scriptures mentioned, I want you to look around. God's churches are closing doors at an alarming rate, while men are opening doors and calling them churches. God's word above tells us that when people are no longer willing to endure the truth of sound doctrine, they will find people who will tell them what they want to hear, follow them, make up their own rules as they go along so that everything is tolerated and condoned and in so doing they become deceived and deceive others as well, all in the name of “church”. People are choosing places of entertainment, where they can be made to feel good about themselves and the lives they live, where there are activities to keep themselves and their children occupied rather than a place to learn and hear the real word of God preached and taught. We have no trouble finding 15-20 people to make up a softball team, but cannot get three or four to go out on visitation. Do you not think this is grieving the Holy Spirit?
Somewhere we have forgotten what a privilege it is to be able to go to a house of God and worship without the threat of death as some in this world still have. We have forgotten that it is our duty to work the activities of life into the “life” God has given us, not to ask Him to accommodate our schedule. We are told in the Bible that we are to love God with all our heart, soul and mind. This means He is to be our first love. Is the life you're living showing God that He is your first love? Are you one of the ones responsible for a church closing?
Remember: There are two types of people, leaders and followers. Look at yourself and decide which one you are and what results that has on those around you. Living and dying, are you helping or hurting?
Until next time, please continue to pray for each other and me, as I continue to pray for each of you. Love in CHRIST,
Bethel Baptist Church