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The Dead Church - A Devotion

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Mark 9:21-24 (NLT)
“How long has this been happening?” Jesus asked the boy’s father. He replied, “Since he was a little boy. The spirit often throws him into the fire or into water, trying to kill him. Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.” “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”

Have you ever wondered why an evangelist can come into the very same church that you attend every Sunday and Wednesday producing a powerful move of God that has eluded its members for months and weeks? It is the same building. It is the same group of believers. So what is it about the guest speaker that changes the atmosphere making it conducive to a move of God? What about the mountaintop experiences of church camps every summer? Why is it that if you take a bunch of young people into the woods with a band, a bible and some cheesy games creates a ripple effect that changes their lives forever? Is it the isolation from the world? Is it removal from other influences? What has killed the local church? Why is it dying despite men and women of God who try to keep it alive? “How long has this been happening?”

We need Jesus to revive His Church again. We need the Lord to breathe life into these dry bones and lifeless remains. We want the Word to actually work. We want the signs, wonders and miracles that He has promised us to do greater works than Jesus did. What’s the problem? It is not with God the Father, Jesus the Son or the Holy Spirit. No my friend, we are the church and it is up to us to make it live again. The difference in speakers does not determine the outcome of each church service but rather the expectancy of God’s People. Those who believe will expect God to meet Him in this place each time and release His Spirit without measure. Camp creates an environment conducive to an encounter with God. It can be easily recreated in our homes each day but we do not try to do it. When the man came to Jesus clearly frustrated with the disciples inability to deliver his son from demon possession, little did he realize that the responsibility was about to come right back to him. (Mark 9:17-20) It is not the Man of God’s job to lead you through this life and constantly be involved in our relationship with God. His or her job is to mentor us not meddle in our everyday affairs. When Jesus was about to heal the man’s son, He did not ask what the priest said or what the disciples did. The father asked for the Lord’s Help – “If you can.” This is no different than when we pray for God to heal us “if it is His Will.” Before the church is completely dead and gone, it would behoove us to cry out to God with this dad saying, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”

John 16:9 (NLT) The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me.

This is the sad reality of sin. When we refuse to believe in God, His Son and Spirit – we commit the greatest sin of all. I have committed this very sin time and time again. When I doubt the Lord, try to help Him out or do it my own way it is direct disobedience even though I am saved by His Amazing Grace. Repentance is vital at this point in order to turn my life over to the Will and Way of God once more. I am now a “faith” junkie. I crave more faith. Desire it. Look for ways to cultivate it. Why? Faith produces confident hope that keeps me from wandering too far from the Love of God. To believe is to have confidence in the truth, existence or the reality of something although without absolute proof. Faith is the substance of things hoped for and evidence of the unseen. (Hebrews 11:1) These two definitions resemble each other greatly.

Matthew 8:5-13 (NLT)
When Jesus returned to Capernaum, a Roman officer came and pleaded with him, “Lord, my young servant lies in bed, paralyzed and in terrible pain.” Jesus said, “I will come and heal him.” But the officer said, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come into my home. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed. I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, ‘Go,’ and they go, or ‘Come,’ and they come. And if I say to my slaves, ‘Do this,’ they do it.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to those who were following him, he said, “I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel! And I tell you this, that many Gentiles will come from all over the world—from east and west—and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the feast in the Kingdom of Heaven. But many Israelites—those for whom the Kingdom was prepared—will be thrown into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Then Jesus said to the Roman officer, “Go back home. Because you believed, it has happened.” And the young servant was healed that same hour.

While attending Bible College, I met the Roman officer. The story of the centurion struck a chord in me. I wrote my first paper on this man’s faith. He understood the power and authority of Jesus Christ. The officer knew that if Jesus just spoke the word that it would heal his servant. He did not even requires Jesus to come to his house but simply say the word. From that moment on, I wanted to have faith in God’s Word alone. Not too long after that, the Lord offered me the opportunity to experience my first miracle up close and personal. Our youngest daughter had developed rapid onset and quite severe asthma seemingly out of nowhere. The doctor was quite perplexed at her sudden illness that culminated in visits to his office every other day, six medications, and an emergency nebulizer that went everywhere that she went. We prayed. We fasted. We sought the counsel of other mature believers. We continued to pray although very perplexed that she was not healed or delivered. A good friend and pastor told us to begin living in the power and authority of His Word and believe that you have it. So rather than spending all our time crying and pleading with God, we began thanking Him for the healing that was coming and for working out all the details. Rather than waking up each morning worried and afraid, we worked hard to put faith in place of fear and look for our “miracle”. The day it came I was blessed before it happened with this crazy peace that I had not experienced in months and months. Our daughter had slept through the night for the first time in months. Our pastor friend called to check on our little one and asked what was going on because he could tell by my voice that something had changed. Nothing had changed outwardly but I had changed inwardly as we headed back to the doctor with my daughter. He seemed a little confused. I was, too. To make this long story short, by the end of the day our daughter was completely healed and delivered from asthma. I don’t believe that I changed. I do believe. The very day that I no longer allowed fear and frustration to control me, God healed our daughter. See disbelief is evidence of doubt which is a lack of faith. Once you see God’s Power work in your life first person, you will never be the same. I had no idea how much my faith would be challenged in years to come but I am so glad I met this soldier who taught me the importance of the Authority and Power of God’s Word. It is the foundation of what I believe and has the power to perform signs and wonders in my life.

Mark 11:22-24 (NLT)
Then Jesus said to the disciples, “Have faith in God. I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart. I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.

God’s Word is His Promise for your life. It is not a list of do’s and don’ts but rather haves and have nots. When we put our faith in God, we receive His Power and Authority in this life to move from sin and darkness to the life and the Light of His Amazing Love. Faith motivates God to move on our behalf and the more that you believe this to be true the more of His Power you will experience in your life. It is nothing that we do but by simply aligning our heart and mind with His Will and Way that produces the benefits of His Word in our life. He tell us that “you can pray for anything, and if you believe that your have received it, it will be yours!” Do you believe? See the trouble is that we want it but are not willing to wait for it because we doubt the Lord can or will do it. Jesus asked the disciples over and over…”Do you finally believe?” (John 16:30-33) Those who take hold of this truth and secure it to their life will have great blessings and power in their life. Jesus overcame the world and with his authority you will, too, if you believe.

John 6:28-34 (NLT)
They replied, “We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?” Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.” They answered, “Show us a miraculous sign if you want us to believe in you. What can you do? After all, our ancestors ate manna while they journeyed through the wilderness! The Scriptures say, ‘Moses gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, Moses didn’t give you bread from heaven. My Father did. And now he offers you the true bread from heaven. The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” “Sir,” they said, “give us that bread every day.”

Who wants the cow, when you can get the milk for free? Everyone wants the signs, wonders, miracles, blessing and promises of God, but few are willing to take the responsibility that goes along with it. The only thing that disconnects us from God’s Power is disbelief which is actually doubt. If we believe, then we should expect or look for these manifestations in our life. It is by believing wholeheartedly that we are given the spirit without measure. (John 3:31-36) The Holy Spirit is God’s Power alive in us. The Lord offers us divine intimacy and holy inhabitation to produce His Power in our life. However we want the miracles but have no interest in the mission. God came into the world. His Name was Jesus Christ. He was the Word of God wrapped in flesh who came to demonstrate God’s Love and Power to His People so they would accept it in their life. (John 1:10-14) We want the miracles but reject the mission. We are to be a conduit of His Love and Power as He pours it into our life, it should overflow to all who are around us. Early believers put God at the center of everything. They became completely immersed in the life of faith pursing God’s Presence and Power 24/7. There was no division. There was no lack. Just a whole lot of power that was producing salvation and miracles. (Acts 2:41-17) What has happened? Why don’t we believe anymore? We want to perform God’s Works. He say, “Believe in me!”

John 20:26-29 (NLT)
Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!” “My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed. Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”

Faith eradicates fear from our life and frees us to live the miraculous life that Christ offers. Disbelief is doubt in disguise with characteristics that are undeniable. Do you believe in the Power of His Name? This should be the goal of those who desire to make Jesus the Lord of their life! (John 20:30-31) Just say it Jesus, I will believe it and do it. It is by faith that we have life (Romans 1:16-17) – an abundant, overflowing and overcoming existence of a much higher standard than we are capable of. (Romans 3:21-23) Jesus saved us from our sin and raises us to His Glorious Standard of Living once again. Belief in Jesus Christ will produce a lifestyle change for those who are willing to continue to seek the unseen reality of God by faith that becomes confident hope which is the anchor for our wandering soul. (Hebrews 6:19) The Spirit of God is given to us so that He can align our heart and mind with the Will of God and show us His Way which is always paved in love. (Romans 8:23-27) It is not our responsibility to do God’s Job, but it is our job to allow Him to do His Work in us. We don’t need to help Him out. He is working it all out for our good. (Romans 8:28) We just have to believe that He is doing it! By simply believing that Jesus Christ is for us and working in us allows us to live what we believe and experience the lifestyle change produced by righteousness. It is nothing we do but simply His Word not returning to Him void and accomplishing everything that He set it forth to do unhindered by our disbelief and doubt. Faith pleases God. (Hebrews 11:6) But having faith is not enough if you do not believe in Him. (James 2:19) Believing is expecting God to do exactly what He says and waiting until He does! ”You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ.” (Hebrews 3:13-14)

Revelation 3:1-6 (NLT)
“Write this letter to the angel of the church in Sardis. This is the message from the one who has the sevenfold Spirit of God and the seven stars: “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. 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. 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. Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.”

The resurrection of the church comes when we begin to believe again. God knows our heart intimately and we are called to be His Temple to house His Spirit as His Children. What is the condition of your structure today? If it is not built on faith that is producing confident hope by believing God at His Word enough to walk in His Way according to His Word, then it is not working as He designed. You should be experiencing signs, wonders and miracles in your life, church and workplace. It is a byproduct of our belief that is characteristic of the righteous who live by faith. You have the Power living inside of you as do I to fill our churches with the Power of God and His Presence once more. It is up to you and I to revive our church and bring the dead back to life.

I John 5:1-5 (NLT)
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God. And everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too. We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey his commandments. Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.

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