Message from Shepherd of the Valley 7/22/12

Here is my message from this morning!  Sotv 7-22-12

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54 minutes

From Jim Cymbala, in Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire:

The services have to be uniformly positive, and the services can’t go longer than 60 minutes.  Even then, church is inconvenient for some, especially during football season…

One minister told me recently that two families left for another church because his parking attendants didn’t direct cars out of the lot fast enough.  What would these people have done the night in Troas when Paul preached until midnight? (Acts 20:7)

Can you imagine someone handing Peter a microphone on Sunday morning and whispering, “Okay, now, you’ve got twenty minutes. We have to get people out of here promptly because the chariot races start at one o’clock”?

The truth is that “user-friendly” can be a cover-up word for carnality.  The same people who want sixty-minute worship services rent two-hour videos and watch NBA and NFL games that run even longer.  The issue is not length, but appetite.  Why the misplaced desire?

Seriously, what will our children and grandchildren grow up experiencing in church?  Extended times of waiting on the Lord will be totally foreign to their experience.  There will be no memory bank of seeing people reach out to God.  All they will recall are professionally polished, closely timed productions. (p. 132-33)

And then we wonder why 80% of our children and almost all of our young men leave the church when they become adults!  Why do people watch the 2-hour movies and the 3-hour football games?  Because they are a source of thrill and excitement.  We were born for that, and if we don’t find it in the Lord, we will find it elsewhere.  And that’s the reason we are loosing our men.

What if we trained all of our teenage boys how to cast out a demon?  What if we trained them to listen for words of knowledge and act on them?  What if we trained them to seek the Lord for as long as it took to know His presence?  Pretty soon, the NFL wouldn’t seem so exciting.

But instead, our churches and youth groups have largely bought into the idols of entertainment and comfort.  I recently heard another father brag about how, during a building program when space was constrained, his church had gotten their service down to exactly 54 minutes.

Of course 54 minutes or 3 hours is not the fundamental issue.  But just as Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also,” I think we could add, where your time is, there your heart will be also.

Lord, give me the determination to surrender my time to you and to seek you with all my heart.  I confess that too often I chase after entertainment and comfort.  Lord, whet my appetite for the things of the Spirit.  Draw me into your word and your presence.  I want the exciting life of faith, where I get to see your miracles.  Give me the strength to press into it!  In Jesus’ name.

Strongholds

2 Corinthians 10:3-6:

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

From the study notes of The New Spirit-Filled Life Bible:

Strongholds are first established in the mind; that is why we are to take every thought captive.  Behind a stronghold is also a lie—a place of personal bondage where God’s word has been subjugated to any unscriptural idea or personally confused belief that is held to be true.  Behind every lie is a fear, and behind every fear is an idol.  Idols are established where there exists a failure to trust in the provisions of God that are ours through Jesus Christ…

Here is an example:  If we make an idol of financial security, we have fears over not having enough money, and we believe the lie that we must abandon other priorities to earn as much as possible.

Or, if we make an idol of our spouse (believing they will meet our most significant needs), then we are afraid of being unhappy when they can’t/don’t meet our needs, so we believe lies like we have to manipulate them to get them to behave like we want them to.  Or we believe the lie that if they aren’t “making us happy” that we can never be happy, and believe that we face a choice of only divorce or unhappiness (as opposed to finding our joy in the Lord and his provision for us).

One of the greatest joys of doing deliverance ministry is forcing demons to tell their hosts what lies they have been feeding them over the years.  Watching the realization in the eyes of those being ministered to that they are not worthless, or it wasn’t their fault—that the tape recordings that have been playing in their minds all that time were lies of the enemy—is priceless.  To watch them get freedom and know they are loved by God is one of the greatest treasures in this life.  Thank you Jesus.

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