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Devotionals    H3'ed 3/30/18

God's Prophetic Word to Pastors This Resurrection Weekend

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Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. -- James 3: 1 (ESV)

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. -- Romans 1: 16 (ESV)

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!"But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?"So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. -- Romans 10: 14-17 (ESV)

Today is Good Friday. Gethsemane has passed and Judas has betrayed our Savior. The weekend of the New Covenant is here. Today is the day of the scourging. It is the day of the cross. No longer will we be bound to the law we could never keep. No longer separated from the God that created us. No longer Gentiles looking in from the outside. Now we are saved! Now we are grafted in! Now we enjoy our blessed assurance! This is by far the most important weekend of our faith beloved. I love Christmas but Christmas is the promise of the Savior while Resurrection Sunday is the deliverance of that promise.

As keepers of the faith, called to bring the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ, Pastors carry an enormous burden this weekend. Studies by Gallup Polling indicate that attendance spikes 24% on Easter Sunday as it is by far the most populated church service of the year. Now I am going to let you in on a little secret that is probably not that secret after all. These are people who need Jesus Christ. Many of the people who attend your church regularly are not saved because of the watering down of the Gospel but the ones that never hear it? They have very little chance, except for those rare days like this weekend when they walk into your church. So I want to bring you a little message from the heart of God. Call it prophetic if you like since it all comes from the final revealed will of the Lord, His Bible. Take it as serious as you should because it is just as much a warning as a word. What has happened prior to today can only be repented of but what we do tomorrow can still be righteous.

Let me start by connecting the dots with the three sets of key verses for today. The first verse comes from the Book of James. It is a stark reminder about the solemn gravity of the position we hold as ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Those who labor in preaching and teaching should be given double honor because they will be judged with double strictness. Why? Because of the awesome responsibility of the Gospel. Because the eternal destination of the souls of man hang in the balance. Consider the following two verse sets in support of this:

Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. -- 1Timothy 4: 16 (ESV)

Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all,for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. -- Acts 20: 26-28 (ESV)

The first is a verse from the pastoral letter from Paul to his prote'ge', Timothy. Since Timothy was being sent to pastor the church at Ephesus, Paul was giving him some practical instruction. This one was simple -- protect two things! First, you guard your life because that is your own walk with the Lord. How many famous preachers have we seen simply not follow this warning? How many fall from grace due to not guarding their own life? This is not to revel in the failings of anyone as we pray for the restoration of the fallen within their own walks -- not their ministry. The second thing Timothy is instructed guard closely is his doctrine! What we believe and teach is vitally important and this verse explains why! When we guard our lives we safeguard our own salvation and when we guard our doctrine our hearers might be saved! Maybe we forget that amidst the daily grind of pastoring but we hold the very keys to heaven itself and what we preach determines wither our hearers might be saved.

If you wish to see this concept in action, look at the verses from Acts. Here we see Paul saying goodbye to the Ephesian Elders. Among many things, Paul expresses that he is innocent of their blood because he did not hesitate to declare the entire counsel of God! He would have been held blood guilty if he had modified in any way, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Let that sink in for a minute. When we preach the prosperity gospel we are acquiring the blood debt of our hearers. When we chase lying signs, false wonders and experiential Christianity we are acquiring the blood debt of our hearers. When we embrace and teach NAR dominionism, seven mountains mandate, or word faith we are in fact acquiring the blood debt of our hearers upon ourselves. Hear this very well. Those 24% increased guests this weekend? You will acquire their blood debt upon your head if you withhold from them the one thing that has the power to save them.

The Gospel.

The next dot from the key verses reminds us of a very simple fact. We cannot save anyone. Our speechcraft, eloquence and human wisdom only serve to empty the cross of its power and distract from the Gospel. This verse from Romans reminds us that only the Gospel of Jesus Christ has the power of God unto the salvation of man. What does that mean? Only the Gospel contains the power of God that can save a man. The new smoke machine you bought? Nope. That professionally trained band and choir with their new robes? Sorry. The planned six part sermon series you labored over regarding becoming a better parent, which was scheduled to be rolled out on Resurrection Sunday. Yeah, you may want to scrap that. I know that this runs contrary to what you have been taught within the purpose driven paradigms. I too have read many a word from Rick Warren:
"Let them know about your next sermon series. Always either begin a sermon series on Easter or the next week -- and make sure it's a series that meets the felt needs of an unchurched person. Yes, they need the Gospel and a relationship with Christ. You and I both know that's their foundational need, but most people will come to your church because they have a need for friendship, want a better marriage, want to be a better parent, want to feel they're living a life of significance or there may be some other need. When you do a series like that, let Easter visitors know in your letter. It'll give them a reason to come back to your church." -- Rick Warren 2014

This is Rick Warren writing only to pastors in 2014 imploring them to NOT preach the Gospel on Easter so that some of your visitors might return. Did you get that? He is instructing pastors to not preach the Gospel because the hard truths of being a sinner who needs to repent are just not seeker friendly enough. I can think of no greater scheme of the devil than to get pastors to stop preaching about the resurrection on Resurrection Sunday. Pastor, I want you to take a step back and really consider Bob. He has led his whole life in the world. Religion never interested him and he saw no need to go to church where all he ever saw there were hypocrites. This year however, his wife convinced him to go. He is squarely part of that 24% increase we have been talking about. This will be the one time this year he will be in a church and you want to preach part one of how to be a better parent? You see Warren is not teaching you how to expand the kingdom but rather how to expand your individual church. He figures you can always mug Bob with the Bible another time. Here is the thing you do not know about Bob. His life will be required of him that very night. Remember, tomorrow is not promised to anyone and God has arranged for him to walk into your church and you are going to speak to him about how to be a better parent? Pastor please; he can get parenting instruction from Dr. Phil, Oprah, or even at a church parenting class but Sunday he needs only one thing -- the Gospel. Why? Because only the Gospel has the power of God unto his salvation.

I am not speaking about a pre-fab altar call either. That is not the Gospel. You cannot spend a half hour talking about parenting and then invite Bob up to the altar to "give his heart to Jesus." Remember the message of John the Baptist was repent! The first word from Jesus in His ministry was repent. Yes the Gospel is love but love so grand that God sacrificed His only Son to die for our sins! Remember that Paul declared himself innocent because he did not hesitate to proclaim the whole counsel of God. Half of a gospel is no gospel at all. Do we get this? We are raising up a generation of churchgoers who clearly understand that God loves them but cannot explain why or how He displayed that love in terms that are not completely bathed in carnality. I understand that this call is burdensome. I understand that it can make one weary. You were not called to build your church pastor. You were not called to provide people with purpose. You are charged with carrying the only thing that has the power of God unto the salvation of your listeners and that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You were not charged with watering it down or sugaring it up. You were not charged with marketing it. You were charged to simply preach it. I understand not all will listen or even accept. Remember that you plant or water but God alone gives the increase! Let us turn to the final set of key verses for today to wrap these connected dots up.

Romans 10 finds Paul writing about the salvation that has now been made available to everyone. This salvation as we have outlined is contained within the Gospel and God has chosen the church as His vehicle for distribution. This is true whether it be missionaries in the field, believers in their spheres of influence, or pastors within the church. Look at the simplicity of the plea Paul makes. How can the lost call upon the name of the Lord in whom they have not believed? How can they believe in someone they have never heard of? How then can they hear this glorious Good News unless someone preaches it to them? Do you ever realize how beautiful your feet are? That they deliver to the lost the keys to the kingdom of heaven? As if to assure preachers here, God says do not worry about the response. Not all have obeyed the Gospel. Our job is to preach it! Faith comes by hearing me fellow preachers and hearing only through the Word of God.

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Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to (more...)
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