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Devotions > Changing our Culture

16 Feb 2015


God is at work without doubt all over the world, and we see His hand working powerfully here in Central Indiana!   You may be wondering, what of His many works is He revealing here.    I’m sure any one of us could testify to His working within our field of vision.  We would like to briefly report what He is revealing in recent months.

Pastors are coming together for prayer all around our area.    Pastors from Kirklin to Franklin are meeting together regularly for prayer.   God is calling many church leaders to reach out into their communities as they have never done before.   God is instructing many church leaders to stop looking at and desiring bigger numbers in church attendance and offerings and is replacing these desires with a yearning for larger numbers of those outside the church to be touched by the Love of Jesus.  God is speaking to many of His children about the blindness caused by hypocrisy and the light and acuity of sight that flows from humility.  Yes and many are beginning to actually expect suffering as a natural and required part of reaping from the white fields of harvest. It seems these must certainly represent the hand of God at work in our midst.

I would like to center our consideration today on two passages of scripture found below.   First is Jesus description of the final judgment.

Matthew 25:31-46 (NASB) 

31  "But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.
32  "All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats;
33  and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.
34  "Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
35  'For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in;
36  naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.'
37  "Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink?
38  'And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You?
39  'When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?'
40  "The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.'
41  "Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;
42  for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink;
43  I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.'
44  "Then they themselves also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?'
45  "Then He will answer them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.'
46  "These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

Galatians 3:1-6 (NASB) 

1  You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?
2  This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?
3  Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?
4  Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain?
5  So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?

We love works.   Particularly works that require little sacrifice and seem to loom large in the eyes of men.   Yet Jesus clearly indicates that works of righteousness will be the hallmark of sincere authentic believers.  So regarding these works described by Jesus, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick, or those in prison, are these the only works that really count in heaven?

To the contrary perhaps it is the nature of these works in which Jesus would have sincere believers identify?  We must recognize that the foremost characteristic that will identify such a notable work is love.  Paul tells us that without love we can accomplish nothing of heavenly value. [1Cor.13]  Further we know that these works must have as their director and sustainer the Holy Spirit, as Jesus said that without Him we can do nothing. [John 15:5]  Then we have Jesus as our model who sacrificed His life for us when we were far away and opposed to Him. [Rom 5:8]

 So then we have perhaps a starting point to evaluate our works.   They must flow from our intimacy with God through His Spirit, they must be saturated with His supernatural love, and they will without doubt require personal sacrifice. [Matt 16:24]  This also means that there can be no hidden motive to advance ourselves except by way of pure heart obedience to the direction and instruction of the Word of God and the Spirit of God.

Immediately preceding the passage in Matthew above we find two parables concerning the nature of the Kingdom of heaven.  The first concerning the ten virgins and their lamps conveys the message that we need to be prepared.  The second, the parable of the talents communicates the responsibilities and rewards of the steward.   Matthew under the direct influence of the Holy Spirit is saying to us that the final Judgment is coming.   None of us can know the day or the hour.  All of us are responsible for the stewardship of the amazing gifts we have received.

The world around us cares little for our denominational distinctions but it is somewhat troubled about our lack of concern for the pain and loneliness that it carries.    It cares little for our preferences for worship but wonders if our worship is sufficiently authentic to cause us to pour out genuine love for the somewhat unlovely.   It seems however the concerns of the world regarding the Church are growing dim.   Could it be that the world around us is well started on the journey to dismiss the Church entirely?  We can change this trend, one person at a time.   We can completely reform our entire culture one person at a time.   We are an enormous army.  Our victory is entirely available.  Behold, the LORD'S hand is not so short that it cannot save; Nor is His ear so dull That it cannot hear.[Isaiah 59:1]

But we must begin to engage the world by loving the least of them.  How?  God has a plan for you to engage the world with His love.  We begin by asking in humble submission for His direction.  His answer will come when we make up our mind that we will become, by the help of His Spirit, a living sacrifice, holding nothing back.

2 Timothy 2:4 (NASB) 

4  No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.

You and I have been enlisted.   We have been called.  Now it is our move to ask with a pre-answer commitment to obey whatever direction He provides.

Jeff Williams