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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Have You Rededicated Your Life So Many Times That Your "Rededicater" Is Worn Out?

Most preachers notice when members of the congregation are bored. Their eyes are open but there are no lights on. They may actually be looking straight at you and not see a thing.

There are others who are hanging onto every word. Their faces are animated. They smile, frown and even show disgust during the sermon. They may not like what the preacher is saying but they are fully engaged in the sermon.

Then, there are others who are agitated. There is something going on in their lives that they would like to end. They have come to church to dedicate themselves to the Lord so that He will take their problems which may also be their sins and throw them into the deepest sea. They haven't heard what the preacher has said. They read into every word a reference to their own problems. They come weeping down the aisle, telling the preacher how far they have strayed from the path and want to rededicate their lives to the Lord one more time.

They may or may not be back next Sunday. They think that this rededication is all that is needed.

Yes, the preacher will see them again. They will be in the same state and they will want to rededicate their lives again before long. Eventually, they learn that rededication alone doesn't work. It takes more.

Its funny how you can look at a scripture that you have read dozens of times in the past and find something new, isn't it? I was wondering about these people whose rededications never seem to stick. I believe the Lord directed me to a passage which I had read as recently as last week but didn't see what He was trying to teach me.

Joshua 24:15 (ESV)
15  And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” 

Do you see the key element in this rededication? It is found in the word "serve." There is no purpose nor lasting influence that comes from rededication oneself to the Lord without service. The person who simply wants to belong to the Lord never will until he serves with his whole heart.

Jesus will never be your Lord until you obey Him. Obedience requires service. Service is the glue that holds us to our dedication. I have never seen a growing Christian who was idle. That doesn't mean I haven't seen busy Christians who weren't growing. Busyness is just being busy. Service requires following the Lord. Following Him means that He is sought after and depended upon to supply everything necessary to complete the service one has been called to.

So, before you make that trip down the aisle of your church this Sunday, make sure that you realize that there is no true rededication without committing yourself to the Lord's service. That means more than simply sitting in a pew week after week.

Sure, you may rededicate yourself to the Lord again but it will be to a new ministry that He has given you. And guess what--it will stick!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

New Birth Is Messy

Mark 2:15-17 (ESV)
15  And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16  And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17  And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

My church* is full of sinners. Many of them use colorful language. Many of them have equally colorful backgrounds. Some of them don't know what a Christian is. I am glad they are at my church. I am afraid that there are churches who would have nothing to do with them. There are churches who would tell them that they have to clean up their acts before they can come to their churches.

So, tell me how we are supposed to see people come to know Christ if we aren't willing to be around them until they act like they have come to know Christ. We have no apparent appeal for them. The society we live in will more likely shun them for going to church rather than praise them. There is no status gained by church membership. Why should they come if we don't love them exactly the way they are?

I saw my children born many years ago. It was a messy business. I loved those children before they were cleaned up. I loved them before they would know who I am. I didn't tell them to clean up. They wouldn't have understood. I didn't tell them that I would love them as soon as they acted correctly.  They would have learned conditional love that way. And I am afraid that they would never come to love my Savior if they couldn't understand unconditional love.

Sure, there are people who never use colorful language or have colorful backgrounds who also come to my church. They have been so changed by the Lord that they love people regardless of whether or not they know the Lord. They see themselves as sinners who are being changed by the grace of God. They teach Sunday School, feed people who can't afford food, serve others in the kitchen, visit the sick and do whatever it takes to take care of God's creation. They are lights shining brightly for the cause of Christ. They understand that Christ came for them but that they are not an exclusive group. He came for those who neither know the Lord nor act like they want to.

Sinners don't show up already clean. They come messy.

I have people visit my church weekly who come in and look at those in the congregation with tattoos and unusual dress and decide that they don't want to be in be in a church that welcomes people like this. I never see them again. They don't know that we would have loved them as if they were sinners, too.

*I do not own my church. I use this term to identify with the church I pastor.