Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Arise From Your Sleep


Eph.5: 14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.
15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

Matt.24: For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
All these are the beginning of sorrows.

We see how the world is coming apart. It has always been fallen and full of sin and unrighteousness. But go to some Bible school or seminary and you will find an abundance of classes and books on how to build a church or eschatology or a long list of “ologies”. The Bible will be “studied” and test will be given as to your Bible “knowledge”. And men and women are granted degrees simply because they passed most of the knowledge tests. In fact if they get a little more college loan money and do a little more Bible quiz work they will be granted a master’s degree.

In evangelical circles many men and women are granted an unearned doctorate so they may place it in front of their name. And many of the larger churches when searching for a pastor look for that “Dr.” in front of the candidate’s name. But where did the church get such a system? Where did the church learn to seek such titles and book knowledge? Of course they learned it from the world’s systems and copied it. And now, sadly, you have an evangelical system which copies the systems of the world with a little Jesus fluff.

Where are the colleges which teach a three year course on prayer? Where are the courses on fasting 101, 102, and 103? Where are the yearlong studies on being clothed with humility? Where are the Bible schools which teach students how to live without debt and live in abject moderation? How many classes are entitled “Forsaking All 101”? These Bible schools claim to be raising “champions for Christ” or Warriors in the Spirit” or some other self serving monikers when in fact they should be training and nurturing humble servants of the Lord Jesus. When will being filled with the Spirit be a power that is unmistakably observed in a life rather than a written doctrine or a onetime experience?

Let us be painfully honest and quit parsing words. We have lost the faith. Our religious institutions are producing Christian leaders who know very little about Jesus except what they read in books. Many are sincere and nice, and many are hard working, but how many have forsaken all? The divine anointing is now measured by people in pews, land and buildings, and weekly offerings.. And of course certain letters before a person’s name mean he is a special representative of Christ. It is all so tragic and sad. This is surely not the faith that led the martyrs to the gallows, or led men like Livingston to give his life to reach African natives, or led Jim Elliot to give his life for some unknown tribe.

What we have now is a system which has become a religious beast which feasts upon the culture and knows not the Lord Jesus nor the power of the Spirit nor the call of the everlasting gospel. This beast has a voracious appetite for more of what people want to fulfill their own lusts. Sacrifice and self denial are relics of days gone by. And this system, this beast, continues to fare sumptuously on the culture while maintaining a paper thin veneer of Christianity through some familiar words and a few outward ceremonial practices.

But, you say, “I respectfully disagree”. Yes, I know.

Hos.10: 12 Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.
13 Ye have plowed wickedness, ye have reaped iniquity; ye have eaten the fruit of lies: because thou didst trust in thy way, in the multitude of thy mighty men.

When will we hear the Spirit’s call for repentance? This is not a time where the church is just hard of hearing and remains spiritually stagnant. This is a time when the visible church is running with great relish to receive and consume that which God abhors. All around us men run away from God and unto a god of their own creation. And churches fill their pews with people living fully entrenched in a fallen culture and loving to have it so. The pulpits are hollow; the music is fleshly; the debts are offensive; the message is worldly; the teachings are selfish; the fellowship is earthly; the prayer closets are empty; and yet the people rejoice? The church should be on their faces weeping.

We as believers experience a literal plethora of emotions. We are joyful and we are melancholy. We are bold and sometimes we afraid. We are rather confident and we are rather unsure. We are at peace and yet sometimes we are in turmoil. Yes, we are within Christ and yes we have that eternal assurance, but we still live in a temporal body which is subject to all the temptations known to mankind.

But we who love and follow Jesus also feel a great sense of sadness at times when we think of the colossal price our Savior paid and how He is rejected and mistreated even today. We live in a culture steeped in hedonism and pleasure. All around this nation there are water fountains which spout clean water simply to supply a visual ambiance and to the aesthetic nature of man. And at the same time people in many parts of the world die without clean drinking water. And on top of this obvious disparity, people in this culture actually throw money into these fountains and make some sort of wish. This the world in which we live and if we truly follow Jesus we must feel sad about the selfishness of man.

The blindness even among believers is astounding. I once shared the plight of the people in Darfur with a godly woman who reads and prays and loves Jesus. After hearing about the wretched conditions and the starving children she remarked, “But we don’t live there.” That pretty much sums up the attitude of the evangelical church in America. People will save up money making some sacrifices and with great energy in the planning and go for an experience of a lifetime to visit the Holy Land. And just in case you cannot go to Israel you can pay $45.00 to visit the Holy land Experience in Orlando. It goes beyond the absurd and is actually sinful on a grand scale.

But even though we feel some sense of anger and righteous indignation we also feel a profound sense of sadness concerning what is happening all over the world and what the western church has done to the faith. Do you desire a holy experience? Then go into your prayer closet and seek His face and His holy presence. There is nothing like it on this earth.

But instead of seeking the presence of the Holy One people have created a church where the desires and wishes of man reign supreme. People ask others, “How was church?” which usually means was it exciting and were you blessed or was the preacher’s message something you liked. But just the question openly indicates just how self centered and even humanistic the church has become. People now gather to be motivated and to learn how to achieve a greater level of earthly success. And in tens of thousands of local church financial prosperity IS the gospel. The faith once delivered unto the saints has now become a product that is advertised and sold as a necessary commodity for a well rounded western life.

And we should feel a real sense of sadness as we see what should be the glorious and humble bride of Christ turn into an adulteress who seeks everything but her Bridegroom. In an ingenious and diabolical metamorphosis the cares of this world have become the core of the faith called Christianity. If we really know the Christ and accept His Scriptural mandates for His own church then it should be profoundly distressing as we watch what has and continues to happen. This is not the faith of the Scriptures. This is not the blood bought church of Jesus Christ. This is a man made concoction created to accommodate the concerns and desires of man and not the commands and the heart of Almighty God.

And at the very core of this unfathomable rebellion is the disparaging and the minimizing and indeed the very rejection of the Lord Jesus Christ. None of us can honestly claim to be a completely surrendered follower of Jesus, but when another Jesus has been created and held up as our pursuit then we are resigned to a literal apostasy. Can you read that word “apostasy” and not feel an overwhelming tsunami of emotions run through your being? If so than you are a prisoner of that very apostasy. This is not some doctrinal game of chess where someone moves and then his opponent moves and on and on it goes. This is life and death…eternal life and death. In these perilous times the Spirit is calling people to come out from among them and forsake all. But the church remains uninterested in the sincere milk of God’s Word and instead has become weaned to the dictates of the fallen heart of man.

And even among so called “orthodox” assemblies there is scant heartbreak that would result in a sacrificial return to prayer and fasting and a voracious appetite for the Word of God. This is not just about having our doctrinal ducks in a pretty little row. This is not just about being able to pin the tail on the apostates. This call of the Spirit is to us and it is profoundly serious. God’s holy power is still available by His grace to whoever will take up their cross and follow Him. We have been called to expose false teachers and apostates, but our message must still be Jesus and His gospel and our lives must be crucified vessels which openly and dramatically shine His very Person.

I know… words, words, and just some more words. Our ears have become dull of hearing and our eyes have become blind and our hearts have been temples of stone. We no longer even understand what God desires of us to say nothing of pursuing it. The local churches operate as businesses with ebbs and flows but with a redundancy which keeps the people coming. Some believer gives up smoking and we receive it as a miracle. Our expectations of personal change and commitment are now so low that we accept coming to church as a colossal sign of a true disciple. And if you took 100 church members and lined them up with 100 moral unbelievers from the same community there would be almost no difference.

In centuries past the evil one has used the stake and the gallows to do battle against the Lord’s people. But in these last days, especially in the more industrialized nations, he has changed his tactics and now employs a more clandestine and sophisticated method of injecting compromise. Instead of threatening death he now offers the church the pleasures of this life. And this strategy continues to work with incredible effectiveness.

We have constructed our own evangelical tower of Babel which in the end leads nowhere. We have mixed the holy with the profane. We have become a wild ass, running and frolicking without any restraint. We have jumped the fences of the Lord and we are grazing in the pastures of the heathen.
We dine at Hollywood's trough on Saturday night and lift up dirty hands on Sunday. Our church buildings are our glory and our prayer closets are our shame. We worry about the economy but sleep well while souls perish. We make celebrities of preachers and show disdain for praying grandmothers.
We openly herald politicians but refuse to preach Christ on the street. We criticize lost sinners but speak well of the harlot church. We have become prisoners of America's hedonism and yet we proclaim we are free.

Where is the sadness; where is the shame? We gather on Sundays with the same smile we had last week and we fellowship with each other as if it was a class reunion. But all the while we are powerless. Do our gatherings make the devil tremble and the world take note? Imagine a city where their dikes had burst and the water was rushing in. It has already washed out major parts of the outlying areas and it is moving toward the center of the city. And all the inhabitants of the city are aware of what has happened and what is continuing to happen. But they still are flamboyant and content in their situation and they do not seem very anxious at all.

What kind of people are these? Who sees oncoming peril that has already destroyed much of the city but whose demeanor has not been seriously impacted by the crisis? And they do not seem to care about the lives of those now being destroyed or the lives of those around them which are in peril. What kind of people are these?

There is a call from the Spirit for personal brokenness. The fallow ground which needs to be broken up is within us. Should we not feel deeply saddened by the coldness of our own hearts? Like quicksand this culture both secular and religious pulls us with great force and seeks to imprison us.

But there is living water in all of this for those who will dig deep enough to find it. It cannot be found in this world and it cannot be found in the religious institutions that fill the globe. This water comes from the Lord Jesus and His Spirit. It alone can satisfy a soul and bring forth life everlasting. In the midst of our sadness, we still can have a living hope. This is an everlasting well which both satisfies and transforms the soul from an enemy of God into one of His own children. How can God’s children drink from the cesspool from which we were rescued? Does the cross mean that little to us? Do His sufferings only evoke some Easter emotions but no spiritual commitment to endure hardships ourselves and follow Him along that same blood soaked path?

Our heritage is one of great glory through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The church exploded on the Day of Pentecost and believers fresh from the City of Peace were sent to the far flung regions of the world. The gospel was preached with great power, souls were saved, and lives were so dramatically changed that governments sat up and became threatened. The ashes of the martyrs cry out “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain!” Hundreds of thousands of believers gladly went to their reward through death at the hands of wicked men. The light that was lit could never be extinguished and the Spirit of God gave believers great courage even before the New Testament had been penned.

And down through the centuries humble men and women of God served the Lord Christ with such sacrifice that sinners were drawn to their Savior. Through tears and trials they were found faithful and they left us a legacy which should have been our path as well. Is it not time to stir up the gift that lives within us? Can we not break up the fallow ground which suffocated the Spirit’s voice? Is Jesus worth denying ourselves and following hard after Him? Is eternal life not enough and must we have everything this world gives us?
And now it is up to you and no one else.
No one else. No one but you.
Arise from your sleep.


Anonymous said...

Thank you Lord for this word. This reality is really stirring me this last year and stares me in the face. Yet, I still desperately want to find a pocket of true believers to fellowship with and am certain other christians are feeling the same. We are feeling rejected, alienated, unappreciated, having to face life's challenges without edification from neighboring christians, no helps, no voices of reason to steer us in our own community, or to show true christian examples to our relatives and children. It's all up to us now.

I believe that living in the Babylons of the world, the richest, most powerful is a detriment and a very dangerous snare to our souls. I've read where christians call their nations exceptional, or they claim pride for their universal systems that provide care for their citizens, or where they believe they are a shining light and example to the world, but, as a christian, these places can be the very thing that snatches their souls.

We think we've achieved it all here. But having all the modern conveniences just makes us lazier and lazier spiritually. If the only problems the western church feels it's facing is the judgment of God because of 'others' sins, it doesn't belong to Jesus Christ, but belongs to God in His OT capacity only.

I see the OT law working it's way back into christians' minds and hearts and they would have it so. Because it fills them with self-righteous spiritual pride and satisfaction. They'd prefer to rely on the blood of goats and bulls and lambs than rely on the blood of the Son of God. I don't know how this attitude spawned, but it has now reached a plateau.

Christian leaders with a voice are into this new thinking where they are the judges of the earth. They lend their voice in public on foreign leaders and nations, domestic problems, financial problems, political problems, women's personal choices, reminding each other and everyone of what sins affect us and which sins don't. They're a repulsive example of Christ. We know this isn't of God, but they don't know it, and they are dragging thousands and possibly millions of weaker christians down the path to perdition.

These, who call themselves christians, but prefer to live under the Old Law, are preventing true seekers from entering in. They make us all look like hypocritical judges. Those who aren't yet in Christ are peering in through the glass, their hearts longing for something bigger than the world, and the fake leaders are influencing weak christians to become their cheerleaders - cheerleading for patriotic rights and secular freedoms and cheerleading for rebellion against tyranny. The thing is there is no tyranny. And if there ever was, the true shepherds have been commanded how to react when this happens. In 1 Peter chapter 5.


Anonymous said...

Will share 1Peter, chapter 5: "The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed; Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly, not as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock, and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.

And "submission to governments" in 1 Peter 2:13-17 - "Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, whether to the King as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men -- as, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.

Honoring the "king" is honoring those who are placed over us. In these last days, we know that every international chess move is of God, and He will bring his purposes to light, and we know that He has a plan and a way for all men in all nations. The Church can't just pray under a dome of it's own choosing. I am supposed to pray for those all around the world just as passionately as those in my community. I need real help, though, in doing real pressed in prayer. I am like the apostles who couldn't stay awake one hour. Dear Lord, help me to be stronger.


Anonymous said...

Honoring the King means honoring the Lord Jesus Christ.

God will bring his purposes to light, and we know that He has a plan and a way for all men in all nations. That'a true but let us not forget to mention that Satan is still active deceiving man with his lies.

Josef Sefton

Anonymous said...

Hi Josef; so true what you responded.

However, I took these verses from my New King James version and maybe it's mulled the verses up, but in 1 Peter, where it does say, "Honor the king" - the word "king" is uncapitalized and so I assumed it meant earthly kings.

Usually when they refer to Jesus as King, they capitalize it with a capital K.

Is this correct? I just assumed. Anybody out there who knows for sure?


Rick Frueh said...

In the context it refers to us showing respect to our leaders. Not allegiance, but respect. Apparently many professing believers have never read that verse.

Anonymous said...

This is a very challenging teaching in the Bible, for many leaders are not only not christian but often excessively evil. God however says we are to honor our leaders. When someone is behaving evil like getting embroiled in God-dishonoring wars it is challenging to esteem, value and greatly respect them.

In my opinion a courageous christian must not only speak up against evil but be desirous to overcome it with God's word.

I also believe that when a congressman or woman speaks up against ungodly laws that the goverment is passing that christians should point out the good that they are doing!
Christians, in my opinion, can honor the king (president, prime minister) and offer correction, rebuke and right teaching at the same time.

Anonymous said...

Dear readers, I know of only one person who can awaken man from his spiritual slumber. Graciously He offers each of us His greatest gift of all which is a new life in Him. He doesn’t set a price which is beyond our reach, in fact He doesn’t set a price at all.

He says, My creation, I have a gift to offer you. Turn from your sinful ways and return to me. Let's trust and obey His holy voice and be very encouraged for whe you seek Him wholeheartedly in spirit and truth He will reveal Himself to you as Your good shepherd.

Such is His love for His creation that He can shepherd the worst of sinners home to His house of holiness. Truly He alone has the wisdom to transform man and make him fit for the new life in Him that He offers broken and contrite sinners.

Precious readers do you know this person? Do you know that Your Creator is this person?

One of the great discoveries I have been blessed to be able to make is that the LORD God can bless us with the correct insight that He is the revealer of truth.

If we say “Yes” to believing His teachings He reveals His wondrous wisdom to us, yet if we stubbornly cling to disbelieving Him He will conceal His wisdom from us.

Truly the God of the holy Bible is love. He is the gracious, generous giver of life who compassionately nurtures us through the ups and downs of life.

How praiseworthy it is to desire to follow the author of love, the giver of life. Such a decision is wise and will always be richly blessed. Any decision that links us to the words of Jesus has the potential to usher in a rich harvest of blessings.

May you, precious readers, continue to hear in 2013, with gladness of heart, above all else the wonderful counsel from the giver of life.

Truly as we resist the self-willed, selfish way of living life we will, on account of God’s grace, become more loving.

Jesus said, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like to it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Truly our Creator is glorified when we, His creation, do this!

Our home is found is found with the author of love, for He is selfless. May Our amazing God continue to bless you, dear readers, with many more life-enriching, God-honoring experiences. Truly where He is, is our home!

Truly the risen Lord Jesus is love, Our loving, gracious Lord God from whom flows blessing upon blessing!

Josef Sefton

Anonymous said...

What is important is that our commitment and devotion must be to Lord Jesus. The liege in allegiance comes from the Old French word meaning "lord and master," Christians ought to be very careful to swear their allegiance to Their Triune God!

michael said...

My sense is when the Spirit of The Lord moves on the heart of those preaching at the pulpits around the world so we hear words like the following citations the hearts of many who have slumbered and are lukewarm and cold will warm up:

To state the obvious "the Gospel" is not for everyone while judgment is!

Psalm 21 informs us as does a portion of King David's song in 1Chronicles 16.

In the Chronicles passage King David sings about The Lord coming back to judge the earth, see 1Chronicles 16:33.

Here's the portion of Psalm 21 that elucidates for us God's sovereignty that applies to this critical time among the nations of the world:

For the king trusts in the Lord, and through the steadfast love of the Most High he shall not be moved. Your hand will find out all your enemies; your right hand will find out those who hate you. You will make them as a blazing oven when you appear. The Lord will swallow them up in his wrath, and fire will consume them. You will destroy their descendants from the earth, and their offspring from among the children of man. Though they plan evil against you, though they devise mischief, they will not succeed. For you will put them to flight; you will aim at their faces with your bows. Be exalted, O Lord, in your strength! We will sing and praise your power. (Psalms 21:7-13 ESV)


Moses said, "The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people." (Acts 3:22, 23 ESV)

God can quicken the living dead today making the souls of men come alive again and come alive again with fire and the Holy Ghost!

That in no way should suggest not praying and fellowshiping in the Spirit with other Spirit filled brethren.

Michelle said...

My soul NEEDS to hear this word. Thank you for writing it. I'm really glad I ran across your comment on a friend's blog. I sent you a friend request on FB.

Chris Baumgart said...

How do "we" do this... How do those who see the Truth of what great mess the Church has become go about fixing what is broken? Ever since I became a born again believer back in 1978 the Prosperity Gospel has been preached and the "Jim and Tammy Bakers" of the world are still flourishing, even more with the extra channels offered on cable television. The worship of mammon is still strong in the practice of the Church. Mammonists do everything they can to protect it under the guise of christiandom they conspire to build governments around wealth and not the needs of the poor. Directly opposite from where and who God says the Kingdom of Heaven is found. In the "least" of those places and people is where God IS. What you do to the LEAST of my brethren You DO unto ME.