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May 23, 2011

How the Church is Failing Jesus

Seven things Jesus Asks the Church to Do

When we look at the church operation today, it is no different from the secular world. The same issues plaguing the secular world are also the issues destroying the body of Christ. Money, power, fame and pride are the same issues of great challenges inside the church. You will think after reading the gospel message of Christ, we should be getting better. But we are getting worse and I do not believe the present church is a rapture-able church. Sadly, we have turned away from the teachings of Christ and have gone our ways to do our own thing. Still, we think we are serving the Lord. The church is in trouble, and we are in trouble because we cannot follow the instructions of the King in the kingdom. Anybody who has ever walked in the Spirit of God knows one thing. The Lord instructs, and directs all missions set before a servant. No amount of seminars, conferences, and programs we conduct in the church, if it is not God ordained, everything would end up in a total failure, or for self-glorification. Jesus is the one who said, "Every plant that is not planted by my heavenly Father shall be uprooted" (St. Matthew 15:13). In other words, if you do not learn to do the will of God, you are wasting your time! Everybody has a kingdom assignment. We need to learn to be led by the Spirit of the Holiness of God for the fulfillment of his purpose. We cannot come into the kingdom and do our own thing and expect the Lord to bless our misbehavior. Instead of doing God’s will, we are pursuing our own human agenda for the sake of money and building notoriety. That was the same thing that got King Saul in trouble. He wanted to do his own thing despite God’s instructions. There are about seven major things Jesus asks us to do that we are not doing. Instead, we are doing our own thing and failing Jesus. May God help us! No matter how large your congregation, you may be leading people astray if you are not leading your members to do the will of God.

1. Jesus said, "Abide in me and I in you" (St. John 15:4).

"If you abide in me and my word abide in you, you should ask for whatever you desire, and it shall be done for you" (St. John 15:7).

From statistics, a very small number of Christians are reading their Bible daily. On Sunday, we carry the biggest Bible to church. From Mondays to Saturdays, we leave them at the backseat of the car except on Wednesdays for Bible study. How can the Word of God stay inside us when we do not study and meditate on God’s Word? Instead of meditating on the Word of God, we start to meditate on anger, hate, despair, and depression. If we get into the Word and meditate on it, we will abide in the Lord. When Jesus said, "Abide in me" he means live your life in him by living inside Jesus’ Spirit.

2. Jesus said, "Deny yourself, take your cross and follow me" (St Matthew 16:24).

If this is what Jesus said to us, what is the material prosperity gospel doing inside the church? Jesus never preached abundant life to be a life of material prosperity. Why are so many preachers getting on both radio and television asking us to come to Christ for the purpose of getting rich? You come to church to worship God. I remember while we were in primary school during a Bible class. Our teacher asked the question, "Why do we go to church?" A little Muslim boy in my class said, "We go to church to salute God." I wished the older ones today could be as smart as that little boy. Jesus talked about the deceitfulness of riches, and that it is going to be harder for a rich man worshipping money to get into the kingdom of God. Yet, major preachers are busy preaching contrary to the message of Christ. Jesus did not ask us to live a life of poverty, but that of contentment. That was why he said, "But seek first the kingdom of God and it righteousness, and all these things shall be added on to you" (St Matthew 6:33). Contrary to Jesus’ instructions, we are seeking first the kingdom of money, and we wonder why so many people are suffering from depression in the church. Relentless desire for the acquisition of money has a demonic component to it. That was why Jesus said we should not labor for things that will perish, but rather labor for the things of Heaven, that do not perish. Sadly it is not the money, but what money does to people’s mind. If the anti-Christ is going to use money as a tool for controlling people by placing the mark of the beast on people’s foreheads, are we not playing into his hand by our relentless pursuit of money?

We do many things for our own glory in the ministry to serve our own financial purpose. But, are we actually serving the desires of God? This is very critical based on how the Lord is going to give rewards in Heaven. You cannot have it both ways. Otherwise Jesus would not have told us about the story of Lazarus and the rich man. If you are living in an elaborate and expensive mansion on earth out of the money from the ministry, is very likely you only have a little room reserved for you in Heaven. May be the Lord will allow you to ship your mansion and private jet to Heaven. You never know what people are preaching these days! For goodness sake, money is not everything, especially when it leads to the pollution of human spirit.

3. Jesus said, "Watch and pray" (St. Matthew 26:41).

If you are a true Christian, how many times should you pray in a day? Paul said, "Pray always without ceasing" (I Thessalonians 5:17). I was talking to a Muslim lady from India who told me that she thought Christians only pray on Sundays. She probably got this impression from some Christians she knew. They only pray on Sundays. Jesus asks us to pray always. As Christians, we must pray as many times as possible in a day. Praying seven time or more after the morning devotion can strive to achieve a normal prayer life. Every prayer does not have to be a long one. After a thirty to forty-five-minute morning devotion, the rest of the prayer times can be very short throughout the day while we meditate constantly on the Word of God. Persistent prayer chases the demons away from you and attracts ministering Spirits of God. It also creates an aura of God’s protection around you and your loved ones, helping to deactivate the strongholds of the enemy.

4. Jesus said, "True worshippers must worship God in the Spirit and in truth" (St. John 4:24). Church worship today has been reduced to a ritualistic entertainment devoid of spiritual connection with the Lord. We have confused what feels good to the flesh with what inspires the soul. I just came back from seeing the movie, Jumping the Broom, produced by Bishop TD Jakes and his associates. The movie was very good! I was very well entertained. The movie did a wonderful job in giving me clean entertainment. We also need more of this type of movie in the Christian community. But the movie did nothing for my soul. I am not denigrating the movie. It was an entertainment. It did what it was supposed to do. It entertained my flesh. That was the purpose of the movie, but it did not give me any spiritual inspiration like the Passion of the Christ. So, if I am looking for a movie that will spiritually inspire me, I will be looking for another movie. I hope people do not think, I am giving the movie a bad review. I am not. In fact, I wanted to go and see the movie again because it was so entertaining to me - - I almost fell off my chair laughing. I am also in charge of the movie night in my church and good Christian movies have been wonderful tools for evangelism. My point is, inside the church we should not confuse what entertains our flesh with what inspires our spirit. Based on our way of worship today, it seems as if we do not know the difference between the things of the spirit compared to that of the flesh. Jesus said, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (St. John 3:6)

We cannot spiritualize things of the flesh and be comfortable worshipping God in the physical when God is in the Spirit realm. To worship God in the Spirit, we have to enter into the Spirit realm of God, otherwise our worship is nothing but superficial. After all the jumping up and down and hollering of the preacher, we go back home depressed. Why? Because the service falls short of igniting the Holy Spirit within leading to fresh in-filling of the Spirit. We are therefore unable to make a spiritual connection at the service. Many of the worshippers go home unfulfilled. Here is the serious danger we face. At times, things that feel good in the flesh can turn out to be a potent poison for the soul. What makes the flesh feels good is not necessarily the same thing that inspires the Spirit of God within us. For this critical reason, we must separate things of the Spirit from that of the flesh. There is a danger when people confuse human emotions with God’s spirituality. Esau was hungry. He sold his birthright to Jacob his brother over a bowl of soup. The soup felt good to the flesh to quench his hunger. The same soup turned out to be a poison for his soul. When he later realized what he had lost, he wanted to kill Jacob his brother. Similarly, Samson carried a great anointing of God. The women that felt good to his flesh later became his worst nightmare. He lost his anointing at the foot of his lustful desire. Anything that excessively pleasures the flesh can open the door for the devil. The key is for pleasure to be in moderation. This is the more reason why we need to walk more in the Spirit and worship God in the Spirit, not in the flesh. The more time we spend in the flesh instead of walking in the Spirit of God, the more we allow an open door for the enemy. According to studies, many of the preachers having extramarital affairs were not reading their Bibles and doing their daily devotions. When we engage the Holy Spirit of God, he keeps us in the pathway of God’s desire for divine missions.

One of the major reasons why Jesus asked us to worship in the Spirit is giving us access to open Heavens. While we are constantly in prayers before God during a fast, we have a better opportunity to connect to the realm of the Spirit of God. Five things can break open the Gates of Heaven including, persistent prayers, faithful spiritual worship, consistent and melodious praise, continuous meditation on the Word of God, and fasting at least once a week. As we pray constantly, we will get to a point when we experience a change in atmosphere. As the atmosphere gets heavier, the tangible presence of God is felt. This is the moment the ancient portals of Heaven get ready to open up. When the cloud drops we are able to ascend in the Spirit of God. This should happen every Sunday in every church dedicated to serve, praise and worship God. I have experiences these manifestations over 200 times in my life in a church dedicated to a spiritual worship.

The cloud above us starts to change because our prayers and praise have altered the atmosphere making it receptive for the descending of the Spirit of God. As the Spirit of God descends, our own human spirit ascends accompanied by the Holy Spirit and propelled to the presence of God in the air. "Lift up your head, O you gates, and life them up O you everlasting doors" (Psalm 24:7). The Psalm captures God’s Spirit descending into the earthly realm, where his divinity touches our humanity. The first thing we experience in the presence of God is his spiritual communion while we connect to the Spirit of Christ attached by the Holy Spirit. We also feel joy and peace. As we ascend in the Spirit for that brief moment, it is time to pray to God for one or two things we want. It may not be effective when we clog the moments with many requests before God. Remember when God appeared to Solomon. He only asked for wisdom and God gave him many more. Similarly, when we ascend in the Spirit, we should not clog up the prayer lines with too many requests. When the glory cloud drops, that is the moment for us to ascend into the portals. Some preachers who do not understand this process do not realize that it is the Word that prepares our human spirit, and helps to propel us into the realm of the spirit with the help of the Holy Spirit. This can happen anywhere while we are praying, while awake or sleeping, during church services or while reading the Bible. When the portals open up in many of the cases, we see visions and the Lord reveals future moments to us. The critical point is to learn during that moment to capture the essence of God in the Spirit for us, and bring this down for manifestations in the physical world. Anything God wants to give us is already in the Spirit realm of God.

By entering into the portals we have spiritual access to those things, and we can receive them and bring them to manifest on earth. That was why Jesus prayer said, "May it be done on earth as it is in Heaven." Jesus was saying, what we need is already available in Heaven. God the father knows what we need. He has already provided them. All we have to do during our prayers is to enter the realm of the Spirit and go get them, and bring them down on earth for manifestations. When Jesus realized a church was faithful, but was not having a breakthrough because the church had little strength, Jesus gave the church a gift by opening the heavenly portals. Jesus said, "I will place an open door before you that no man can close" (Rev 3:8). Jesus therefore granted this church a favor. This is the more reason why the Psalm of David indicated the specifications as to who can ascend into the presence of God. "Who can ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in his Holy place?" (Psalm 23:3). The following verses 4 and 5, of the same Psalm stated the requirements needed to ascend into the portal gates of Heaven.

When we learn how to ascend into the Gates of Heaven, all our seminars, boat rides, and conferences may be unnecessary. Sadly, many of these seminars appeal to people in the flesh and prevent them from accessing God in the Spirit. It is a devil’s deception to say that the battle is in the mind. That is what the devil wants us to believe. It is a deception! The mind is only the manifestations of the desires of the devil when we choose not to walk in the Spirit of God. Therefore, we open the door for the devil. Our effective battle strategies are in the Spirit where the devil cannot win and has no power to defeat us. This is why we struggle so much in the flesh which represents our mind during crisis situation. The devil knows how to beat up on people while they are in the flesh. Our effective battle plan is not in the flesh, but in the Spirit. Unfortunately, we waste so much energy fighting the devil in the flesh. When we ascend in the Spirit of God, in God’s presence ALL problems are solved according to his desires. That is why a person being treated for years for drug abuse did not get better. That person experiences the Holy Spirit and was instantly delivered! Praise God! It is the devil who keeps people in bondage by telling them they are disabled and needed man’s therapy to be healed. The Holy Spirit can give us an instant healing, if only we believe, and such a healing is in the will of God. Because there are times when God’s answer to prayer is "No" for the reason unknown to man, but best known to God. To God be the glory!

The spiritual worship of God takes about seven different levels. The first is the preparation stage when everybody involved in worship including the pastor and worship leader must prepare before coming to church. There is a physical and spiritual preparation for worship. Second, a true worshipper must set his or her mind on the Lord with meditation on the Word on entering into the sanctuary avoiding distractions. Third, it is very important for the pastor or any spiritual leader to dedicate the sanctuary each Sunday for worship. In the process he prays to close the demonic portals, take authority by blocking, binding, and locking out any demons coming with members into the house of God. He then prays for the Holy Spirit to take positions with ministering Spirits in the sanctuary, entrances and strategic positions in the house of God. It is an attempt to create a holy atmosphere conducive to a spiritual worship. This can only be done by a person spiritually anointed and trained to do so. Fourth, start the service with active praise songs to energize the members, and to open the windows of Heaven. Fifth, remember to read the Word of God during service. Today, some churches are getting away from reading the Word of God aloud during service. The preacher is not the only person to read the word of God. A time should be reserved to read the Word of God every Sunday. Sixth, regardless to all other programs during service, the most important program is the time of worship when the Psalmist or worship leader takes the entire congregation into a spiritual worship. This helps the members into spiritual meditation while opening the windows of their hearts, as the minds join together in one accord taking the members into the spiritual realm of God. Seventh, the spiritual worship should continue long enough to experience the tangible manifestations of the Holy Spirit. If properly done, praise worship can break the cloud, opens the windows of Heaven and miracles happen. At this stage is when the supernatural manifestations of God become evident during worship.

5. Jesus said, "A new commandment I give to your to love one another; as I have loved you, that you also should love one another. By this all men should know that you are my disciples" (St. John 13:34-35). When I read on the Internet how some political Christians were making mockery of President Obama’s sermon at the prayer meeting of Feb. 03, 2011, I knew these people were neither Christians nor disciples for Christ. They have their own political agenda; the purpose is to use Jesus to gain votes. Unfortunately Christians have not been able to figure out their tricks yet. As soon as they cry out, " I am a Christian and I am against abortion!" We vote for them! At the same time through their actions and public policies, they make mockery of the same Jesus we profess. Their primary intention is to use Jesus as their tool to get in a political office. They do not care about the gospel message.

Jesus earnest prayer during his final moment on earth was his relentless prayer that the body of the church could be one. Today, the church is as divided as ever with different denominations and disagreements! We are not only divided, we now claim territories. If a person is not a member of your group, you are not motivated to want to have anything to do with them, or their programs. Some preachers act as though the church is their personal properties and the members belong to them. How foolish! How can we love others when we have guns pointed to each other’s heads?

6. Jesus said, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations" (St. Matthew 28:19)

Instead of going to make disciples of men, we sit in church building on Sundays. After the service is over, we put back on the devil’s outfit and go back into the world without ever making any impact for Christ in our immediate environment. I have heard people bragging about how many people they led to Christ. What they do not realize is that leading people to Christ is the beginning of the process. How many trees will die if they are not watered? Similarly, how many people we lead to Christ falls by the wayside when we refuse to disciple them? In the story of the sower by Jesus, the seeds fell in different locations. The one that fell on the fertile land was continuously watered. That was why it was able to produce fruits. Any tree that was never watered with good fertilizer would eventually die! This is the spiritual state of many Christians today. They are spiritually dying because they are not watering the land the seed falls upon. If half of the Christians in church on Sunday carry the gospel message with them out of the walls of the church into the secular world, we will turn society around over night. But, many Christians are too afraid to profess their faith on the job, with friends, neighbors, or even within the family. But we are very vocal in the political arena supporting people using us for their own personal political agendas.

7. Jesus said, "The Holy Spirit will lead you into all truth" (St. John 16:13).

We never learn to take instructions from Jesus through the Holy Spirit because we want to do our own things. We still call it a church for Christ. We also claim that we understand the kingdom ministry. Even Jesus said, "Every plant which my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted" (St. Matthew 15:13). Yet, we think we can come into the ministry and do our own thing without facing painful consequences. The advantage of walking in the Spirit of God is to be led not by human desires, or that of others, but by the divine desires of God. All your conferences and seminars mean absolutely nothing if they are not in the will of God.

How many of these instructions given by Jesus are you violating in your church, or ministry? Pray that the Spirit of God leads you to serve not your purpose, but that of God.

By Yinka Vidal, Closer Walk With Jesus