Maybe it’s the big city? Maybe it’s the time we live in? Maybe it’s the American dream? I really don’t know, but it is a dangerous trend causing a slow erosion of families.
I was preaching the other day from Matthew where Jesus asks his disciples who people say He is. Of course, Peter answers, “Elijah, Jeremiah, one of the prophets.” I want to stop right here because for the Jewish culture of Jesus’ day, for them to think that he was one of these would be a great compliment. Though they did not necessarily see Him as the Messiah, they saw Him higher than the Pharisee and Sadducees, the religious leaders of the day. It actually reflects a very high opinion they had of Him. But then Jesus asked the disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter again answers, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Jesus’ response is very telling here. He tells Peter that this knowledge of who He is has come to Him, not from flesh and blood, but a spiritual revelation from the Father in Heaven. The wonderful, high opinions of the people outside the circle of disciples were not from the Father. They were earthly and unspiritual. James compares this type of thinking as demonic. How can such good thoughts be demonic? Somehow the devil had taken the good, positive feelings people had about Jesus and used it against them. They were not calling Jesus a heretic, a lunatic, or a hypocrite. Nevertheless, what seemed like positive thoughts were the devil’s trap.
In our society today, we want good things. We have a positive purpose behind what we do. We go to work so that we can give our family good things. Nothing wrong with that, is there? We put our children into so many different activities so that they can experience all of these good things like gymnastics, football, extra tutoring to prepare them for college. These are all good things, right? But when do good and positive things become the devil’s instrument for the erosion of the family? Well, when we start treating Christ as if He is only a prophet.
A prophet is not God. A prophet has not saved us from our sins. A prophet has not died for our transgressions. A prophet is not the Judge of our eternity. A prophet only gives advice, direction, suggestions for life. But when Almighty God tells us not to neglect our Daily Bread, it’s not a suggestion. Spending time daily in prayer, in meditation of Scripture, in fellowship with the Holy Spirit is a necessity for our life. But when we are called to intimacy with the Lord, we respond as if it is a suggestion, as if Jesus is a mere prophet. When the Creator of the Universe and the substance of everything good and perfect calls us to not give up meeting together with the family of believers, it is not a suggestion. From the beginning the Lord has called His people to meet together at least every seven days. I know…some people think the Sabbath was the old law and it has been done away with. I would remind you that Jesus said not a single letter of the law would be made obsolete. Instead, it is fulfilled. Jesus made it clear that when we gather together is not important as long as we do gather together. We need it for our spiritual health. But when we dismiss the gathering of believers because of other activities, we diminish His command to a suggestion, and the Christ to a prophet.
We become vulnerable when we neglect our time with the Lord personally and corporately. We don’t always realize it because the effect moves slow. It is more evident in the fact that our life resembles a roller coaster with highs full of strength and dips full of weakness. But this is not the Lord’s plan for us. He intends for us to get stronger and stronger. We will always be under attack, but we don’t have to be so vulnerable.
It is not that people hate the Bible, despise prayer, or have rejected church. No, all of these still hold a very high place in our hearts. It’s like saying Jesus is Elijah or Jeremiah, or one of the prophets. These are all indications of the high favor people had for Jesus, but this thinking was earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. The Bible is not a good book to read. It is the Living Word of God that conditions our spirit to be able to see, know, and follow God’s will for our life. Prayer is not something to do when our football team is losing or just before a meal. Prayer is moving into the presence of the Most High God who is above all. It is listening to the source of all wisdom and gathering power from on High to overcome every attack we face in our daily life and still maintain a positive outlook, joy unspeakable, and peace transcending our circumstances. And church is not something to do when aren’t too tired or have other things to do. It is the place where we are strengthened by the communion of believers with Christ. We are encouraged, pruned, and challenged. We spur one another on to not give up living this world-changing lifestyle in the face of heavy assault from Hell.
Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with working, even working long hours. There is nothing wrong with activities such as football, gymnastics, or even facebook. But when these begin to replace our daily time with the Lord, and our weekly time with the Body, these positive, fun, beneficial things in our life can become the devil’s trap. I know church is not perfect, but for the most part, the people in the pews are not yelling at the preacher like parents yell at the referees. Maybe in some churches 😊, but I hope not. And facebook as the best videos to make us laugh til we cry. There is nothing better than seeing a cat frightened and reflexively leaping into the air and landing in the fish aquarium. I love that, but it doesn’t edify my soul. It does not challenge me to love better, to serve better, or to seek the face of God.
God wants us to enjoy life. He really does. God is not a stick in the mud no matter what you have heard. He likes to have fun. But earthly fun that steals our attention away from Scripture, prayer, serving, and worship will not end well.
Let’s remember that the Bible is not a Dear Abby column. Church is not an alternative activity. Prayer is not for emergencies. And Jesus is not a prophet.
Thanks for reading my blog. I hope it is a blessing and challenges you to move deeper in your walk with Christ. I would love for you to check out my new book With All Your Heart. If you ever find yourself doing things that you wish you wouldn't over and over again, I wrote this book for you.
We tend to make the same stupid mistakes over and over again. No matter how often we tell ourselves we are not going to do it again, we find ourselves doing it again. I'm going to stop yelling at my spouse. I'm going to stop drinking. I'm going to stop overeating. I'm going to get out of this depression. Well, I want you to know that God made you to be an overcomer in all things and the secret wisdom of Scripture prepares us to make the changes we need to experience a better life. And that is what this book is all about. I hope it will help you in those most difficult areas.
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