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Checking Your Spiritual Vital Signs

Destined for Victory / Pastor Paul Sheppard
The Truth Network Radio
May 24, 2021 8:00 am

Checking Your Spiritual Vital Signs

Destined for Victory / Pastor Paul Sheppard

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May 24, 2021 8:00 am

An examination of the message God gave John for the church at Sardis. (Included in the 7-part series You’ve Got Mail.)

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Music playing Hello and thanks for stopping by. For the past several days, we've been looking at what God said to the seven churches in the book of Revelation. Today we come to number five on the list, the church in Sardis. What had once been a vibrant growing body was now a stagnant and complacent group of believers.

God's word to them should be a warning to all of us, a much needed reminder that comfort is often the greatest enemy of faith. Stay right here or visit PastorPaul.net to listen anytime on your schedule. That's PastorPaul.net.

You can also subscribe to the podcast at Apple Podcasts at Spotify or wherever you get yours. Now, here's Pastor Paul with today's Destined for Victory message, checking your spiritual vital signs. Pick up your voice right. These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds, you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, strengthen what remains and is about to die. For I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard, obey it and repent.

Do not wake up. I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me dressed in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my father and his angels.

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. As we arrive now at a look at this fifth letter of Revelation, notice that it is written to believers in Sardis. Now Sardis was a city in Asia Minor that had once been among the most powerful cities in the ancient world. It was known for its wealth, and it was prominent. It was, in fact, a place where gold and silver coins were first minted.

It was also known to be a place where people first began the practice of dying wool. And so it was known for innovation, and it was known for its wealth. It was sort of a Silicon Valley of the first century, and their best days were behind them. They lived on this wonderful reputation as a city, but they were past their prime. It was a city that, because of its wealth and the abundance that they enjoyed, they fell into moral decay.

And it's unfortunate that sometimes what should be a blessing in some people's lives ends up cursing them. And that's what happened as these people began to use their wealth in ungodly ways, and they just fell as a city into moral decay. And they went down, and so they lived on their reputation. They would speak often of the great things that once happened in that city. But when you look at Sardis by the time of this writing in the first century AD, it was a has-been city. And interestingly enough, as we look at what the Lord had to say to the church at Sardis, you discover that the church had become much like the city it was in. The church of Sardis was a has-been church. They were a church that once experienced the power of God and the moving of God, but they had become spiritually lazy and complacent. They had stopped minding what God's will was. They were no longer focused on pleasing God, and as a result, the church fell into immorality and began to live in ways that definitely did not please God.

And just like the city they were in, the church in Sardis had become a has-been church. And so God writes this letter, and if you'll notice, there is no church-wide commendation in this letter. Now, as we've seen the first four letters you have seen, that God commended those churches for certain aspects of their life in Christ. Here you don't see a church-wide commendation.

The only thing you see here is, well, there's a few of y'all who haven't soiled your clothes. There are few people in the church who are living right, who are living holy, who are doing God's will. But as a church, they were in disobedience.

They were spiritually complacent. They were living in ways that God had not ordained, and as a result, they are a has-been church. Fact of the matter is, folks, we should never look at a time in our lives when we knew the Lord better, when we were closer to Him, when we were more intimate with Him than we are right now. That should not be that you have to look backwards to see your best time in Christ. It should not be that you would say, there used to be a time when I loved the Lord. There used to be a time when I couldn't wait to get to my prayer closet. There used to be a time when I couldn't wait to worship God in spirit and in truth. Oh, there was a time when the Spirit of God was so rich in my life. There was a time when I really walked closely with the Lord. None of us should be able to look backward to identify our closest time with God. And if that is the case, it simply means that you need the word that God gave to that church and to all of us. Because by God's design, all of us ought to be going from faith to faith and from glory to glory. Our walk with God should be getting richer.

It should be fuller. We should be like a hymn writer years ago who wrote, the longer I serve Him, the sweeter He grows. The more you walk with Him, it ought to get richer.

Your relationship with Him ought to be more fulfilling than it used to be. And so if you have to look back to see your best days in Christ, I want you to pay close attention to this word because it's not just a word for the church at Sardis. It's a word for all of us. Now notice what God said to them. He said, I know your deeds. He said, I know you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. He calls them dead. He says, you have a rep for being alive.

There was a time when everybody knew that this was a happening on fire church. He said, but now you are dead. Now He didn't mean dead in the ultimate sense because He clarifies in the very next verse when He tells them to wake up and strengthen what remains, He says, and is about to die. So He's not saying they are literally spiritually dead in the ultimate sense. He said, but the vital signs are sure getting weak. You're not all the way dead. You haven't all the way flatlined, but you are on a respirator. Or you are in a spiritual coma.

It doesn't look good for you. And some of us, if the truth be told, that's where we are right now. If the truth be told, you might have a reputation, people in your life know you to be a believer, know that there was a day you accepted Christ as your savior, know that there was a time when you were walking with the Lord in active fellowship, growing in your faith, enjoying the fruit of the Spirit in your life, and so on. But if the truth be told, despite what people think, you know and God knows that things aren't the way they used to be in your heart. And you're on a spiritual respirator. You can be on a spiritual respirator walking around with your big Bible.

You can be in a spiritual coma while you're saying praise the Lord and God bless you because those things could just be habits you have developed. But you know and God knows where your walk in Him really is. And so He sends this word to challenge and to convict and to admonish you. Please understand, whenever the word of God comes strong like this, this isn't a message where folks are going to be shouting and can't wait to run to the CD line to get the message.

I mean, some of y'all going to get the CD, but you won't be in a real big hurry or anything. Because there are some words that challenge us, there are some words that convict us to our core. And I need you to know before I dig in here that when God gives us a word like that, it is because He loves us. Please understand that whom the Lord loves, He disciplines. You got to understand, in the economy of God, discipline is not a function of anger.

It is a function of I've called you better than this. I've given you a higher calling than this. You're living way beneath my plan for your life and it's time for you to shape up and let's be about your Father's business. Whom the Lord loves, He disciplines. Don't take God's discipline as He is through with you. He's sick of you. If God was through with you, He would never bother to convict you. So you need to know when you get a hard word like this, that you got to say, Lord, thank you for loving me like that. You're not mad at me.

You are just concerned that I understand how important it is to get back into your will. You're listening to Destin for Victory with Pastor Paul Shepherd, Senior Pastor of Destiny Christian Fellowship in Fremont, California. He'll be right back with a second half of today's message, but first an important reminder. Destin for Victory is available right now in the palm of your hand by downloading our free mobile app. The app allows you to take notes on the day's message, order books and CDs. You can even make a safe and secure donation to the ministry.

Search Destin for Victory in the app store and download it today absolutely free. Well come in your way next. The first spiritual vital sign that every believer in Christ should check.

Here's Pastor Paul Shepherd with the rest of today's message, checking your spiritual vital signs. Even in the natural, discipline and anger should have nothing to do with each other. You parents who are still actively in years of training and instructing children, do not try to discipline them while you are angry. Your anger has nothing to do with their need to grow.

If you're angry, go somewhere and get yourself together. Pray and get your heart and your mind and your words and your attitude right so that when you come to them, even if you have to apply discipline, however you apply it, but every now and then God just goes on and spanks us. I know a lot of y'all are past the spanking season in your life. You don't believe in that anymore, but I know God still believes in spanking his children, but when he does it, he does it not in anger, he does it out of love and however you discipline your children, you ought to do it out of love so that they get the real point. My father said back in his day, when his, when his mama was spanking him, she'd be singing a hymn.

Singing one of those old hymns and taking care of business. She said, my mind is on Jesus, but your behind belongs to me. I know I've traumatized some of you just by bringing that up, I'm sorry, so sorry. Be healed in Jesus' name, be healed of your trauma, but I need you to know when God gets on us like he does in this letter, it is because he loves us. And look at what he says to this church. What he does is gives them what I consider four spiritual vital signs that need to be checked on and perhaps need to be improved in terms of your own spiritual health.

And so here is what he says to them. First of all, he says, wake up, wake up. The first spiritual vital sign that you need to check in your own life is how responsive you are.

How responsive you are. The word here is wake up. God says, tell that church, John, that I said they're spiritually asleep. They are laying out, they are non-responsive when they need to be about doing my will.

So the first word is wake up. That's God's word to you. How responsive to God are you? How alert are you spiritually speaking? What are you doing about what God has told you to do? Is there something the Lord has been speaking to you about for some time and you still haven't responded? Are you laying in the bed of spiritual complacency and inactivity and hitting the snooze button every time God speaks to you? Come on now, you gotta look in your own life. This isn't the time for you to think about other folk, this is the time to zoom in and examine your own heart. And the question God poses through this letter to the church is how alert are you when I speak to you?

What do you do about what I say? Some of us were raised by those old-fashioned parents who when they called up the stairs, you up in your room playing or whatever, talking on the phone, one of your little raggedy girlfriends or boyfriends or something, and you just doing your thing and they call you and say, I need you down here right now. And some of us were raised by folk who if you were too caught up in what you were doing and you didn't respond, the next thing you heard was they called back up the stairs and they said, I'm not talking to hear myself. And we knew what that meant. We knew that that meant the first time I called you, I expected to hear you thundering down the steps and that I called you and I still don't hear anything is a problem.

And they were giving you mercy when they said, I'm not talking to hear myself. That was your two-minute warning. That meant I don't plan to say anything else. The next activity will be not you coming down the steps but me coming up the steps.

Oh, come on some of y'all who know what I'm talking about. I'm through talking now, it's going to be action from here on out. And all of us who knew when we heard that I'm not talking to hear myself, they said, I got to call you back.

And you got down those steps with gratitude. Well, that's what God is saying to the church. Wake up, I have been telling you to do my will, I have given you my word and you have been hitting snooze and acting like you can get to it whenever you get good and ready. I want to ask somebody, what has God been saying to you that you have been ignoring?

The word to you is wake up. It's time for you to become responsive because God is Lord and He has a plan for your life and it cannot be put off. If you are hoping to wait out God, if you're hoping that by ignoring what He's telling you to do, He will forget, I need you to know that you serve a God who has a perfect plan and who is going to never withdraw what He has called you to do.

You can't get God to change His mind. And so it is ours to be as responsive as possible. And let me tell you something, let me just, I got a word for somebody.

I don't know who this is for, but if this is for you, I need you to hear me clearly. God wants you to know that whatever He has told you to do, not only isn't He going to change His mind, but the mess your life is in right now is the direct result of your being nonresponsive. Every now and then we make our own messes. Now we might as well just be honest, of course some of the trouble in our lives is because we live in a fallen world, we live among fallen people, sin abounds here, this is not our home and we're waiting for God to bring the consummation of redemption and what have you. But in the meantime, you need to also know you can't blame all of the mess in your life on your environment. Sometimes it is your own making. Say amen whenever you can.

Sometimes it's your own making. Don't believe me? Ask Jonah. And I need somebody to know if God has been speaking to you and you've been ignoring what He's been directing you to do, whether it has to do with a change in your lifestyle, your actions, your attitude, you haven't obeyed a calling to prepare for something He wants you to do in your life, you know what God has spoken to you about that you have ignored. And I'm here to tell you some of you are in Jonahville right now. And you need to read that Old Testament book of Jonah and you will find yourself there. Jonah was a man of God, a prophet in his day.

God wanted to use him to save a city that was in sin. And so God speaks to him and says, Jonah, I want you to go to Nineveh, simple direction, go to Nineveh. Well, Jonah didn't want to go to Nineveh. Jonah had another plan. So you read in the first chapter of Jonah that he decides, I'm not going to Nineveh, I'm going to Tarshish, which is in the opposite direction than he ought to be going in. And so he said, in order to get to Tarshish, I got to catch a boat.

So he goes down to Joppa and he pays his fare, the Bible says in Jonah 1, he pays his fare, gets on a ship and goes down into the belly of the ship. Let me tell you something, that's where some of you are right now. You are paying a price for your disobedience and non-responsiveness to God. You are paying, it always costs you when you are out of sync with the will of God.

And it never pays. He was hoping to pay off. In fact, you're told in Jonah 1 that he wanted to go to Tarshish to get away from the presence of the Lord.

Let me tell you something, that's where some of us are. We are trying to run away from the presence of God. How foolish is that? What a failed attempt is that?

What a futile action is that? You can't get away from the presence of God. And so he doesn't act like that, he goes down to Joppa, he pays his fare, he gets on the ship, goes down into the belly of the ship hoping God isn't following him to Tarshish.

And as you read on, you find out exactly what happens. God stirs up a strong wind, gale force winds began to batter that ship. God clearly has no plans of this man making it to Tarshish. And some of you who are trying to head to your own Tarshish and you're wondering how come I can't get where I want?

How come my life isn't working out the way I want? It's because God loves you too much to let you go. And so he has stirred up a lot of things in your life. In Jonah's case, their wind is buffeting them and so much so that all of these pagans on the ship, you're told they began to cry out to their own gods. And they told everybody they could find, cry out to your God, let's find out which God can help us. Meanwhile, Jonah is asleep in the belly of the ship. And the captain finds, you know, when the captain is running around the boat, things are pretty bad. The captain himself comes down there, sees this dude who's not praying and crying out to his God like the others, wakes him up, says, I don't know who you are, but you need to call on your God.

So they wake him up. You can't be comfortable out of the will of God. God's not going to let you be comfortable.

He's going to send some folks to wake you up. I don't know where you are today in your walk with Christ, but if you've grown complacent in your faith, if like Jonah, you've wandered away from God and found yourself uncomfortable, even miserable, be encouraged today. It's never too late to come back to the arms of grace. And when you do, God will set you back on course, infuse you with renewed hope and return you to the joy of his salvation. Do you need prayer today? Stop by pastorpaul.net and use the contact us feature to share your request so that our ministry team can join you in prayer. That's pastorpaul.net. And when you contact us for prayer, be sure to ask for your free copy of pastor Paul's monthly newsletter. When you do, you'll receive monthly communication from pastor Paul delivered right to your inbox at no cost or obligation.

Well our mission at Destined for Victory is a simple one. We want to take as many people to heaven with us as we can. And because we know so many of you share that desire, pastor Paul invites you to help by sending a generous gift today. When you do, be sure to request this month's special offer, pastor Paul's booklet, Traits of a Virtuous Woman. Based on Proverbs 31, the booklet was written to honor mothers in particular and godly women in general. It's a penetrating look into some of the most important traits all women should embody and a great companion guide to the messages you heard earlier this month. That's Traits of a Virtuous Woman, our gift to you this month by request for your generous gift to Destined for Victory. Call 855-339-5500 to give over the phone or mail your gift to Destined for Victory, post office box 1767, Fremont, California 94538. Now you can also make a safe and secure donation on our website, pastorpaul.net.

Thanks in advance for helping keep Destined for Victory on the air. You know something is wrong when the pagans in your family, on your job, in your circle of friends, when people who don't even know Jesus are telling you, you know what, you need to get back right with God. You need to go pray or do something, read that Bible you got. That's the position Jonah found himself in at the close of today's program, running away from God to the point that even pagans were questioning his faith. His story continues tomorrow when Pastor Paul Shepherd shares his message, checking your spiritual vital signs. Until then remember, he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion. In Christ, you are destined for victory.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-15 00:43:13 / 2023-11-15 00:53:02 / 10

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