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May 16, 2022 7:05 am
In the days leading up to Sunday morning pastors and leaders make deliberate choices about the worship service. They carefully plan the hour orchestrating the music and message in such a way that fosters an intimate encounter with the living God. Well, with an abundance of opinions on contemporary worship today. How do we honor the proven biblical methods.
How do we remain relevant for our times today on Insight for living. Chuck Swindoll contends these important questions are best answered not by contemporary experts, but by consulting the Old Testament.
I want you to to look into Joel chapter 2 and locate Ezekiel chapter 2 we do that so I give you a little bit of time to find both of those books there little unusual. Ezekiel's is among the major prophets and shoulders among the minor prophets there named that because of the message being more important than the other but because simply the size of the books, the major prophets are for the most part very sizable link and Ezekiel is one of those so is equal to his work will begin the message but I want to read for us from Joel chapter 2 beginning at verse 21 Joel 221. Do not fear all land rejoice and be glad, for the Lord has done great things. Do not fear beasts of the field for the pastors of the wilderness have turned green for the tree has borne its fruit.
The fig tree and the vine have yielded in full. So rejoice, O sons of Zion and be glad in the Lord your God, for he is given you the early rain for your vindication. He has poured down for you. The rain the early and latter rain this before the threshing floors will be full of grain and fats will overflow with new wine and oil. Then I will make up to you for the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the creeping locals. The stripping locus in the knowing locus.
My great army which I sent among you shall have plenty to eat and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you.
Then my people will never change Insight for living resources designed to help you dig deeper into today's topic go to insight.born and now, let's continue Chuck Swindoll's message titled, it's time to restore the years.
Let's pretend that Rip van Winkle was a Christian and he really did love the Lord and he really did attend faithfully the house of worship, and year after year, found himself encouraged and strengthened by the things that were preached and taught his walk with Christ was deep in his prayer life devoted and consistent. Then for some strange reason he fell asleep and he slept and he slept 30, 40 years and then one day he awoke and stretched himself and looked around and realized of course free for decades had passed and so much changed but he never dreamed that his church would've changed and as he attends this strange arrangement of what is now called another kind of church.
Another way of doing church, he found his soul hungry and thinking perhaps that's just true of this church. He went to get another one then still another and began to say what's what's happened to my church. What's happened to the songs I love new songs, but these so shallow when repetitive and meaningless.
Send what was happening to the pulpit. It's gone. What is he doing up there. It it it's like a show and Ulrich finally realizes that more is change than just the passing of time, we find ourselves in the 21st century on hard times and I'm not alone in the observation.
I picked up what one of my favorite works recently between two worlds. John RW Stott writes these words, prophets of doom in today's church are confidently predicting that the day of preaching is over. It is a dying art. They say an outmoded form of communication and echo from an abandoned tax.
I turned to the front piece of the book and found it was published 1982. There were even then prophets of doom telling us things are not now as they once were, and they never will be. Get over it didn't step we all understand that Jesus predicted that he will build his church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it is right there in black print on white pages, but he never said that the gates of hell would not attack it or that the gates of hell would not do their best to silence the messengers of the church. The imaginary moment with Rip van Winkle is no imaginary thing at all while still a pastor. Eugene Peterson serving Christ our King Presbyterian Church, Bel Air, Maryland back in the 1980s also wrote these words as he laments our times.
American pastors are abandoning their posts left and right and at an alarming rate.
They are not leaving their churches in getting other jobs congregation still pay their salaries.
Their names remain on the church stationary and they continue to appear in pulpits on Sundays but but they are abandoning their posts their calling. They have gone whoring after other gods what they do with their time under the guise of pastoral ministry present the remotest connection with what the church is pastors have done for most of 20 century, a few of us are angry about it. We are angry because we have been deserted most of my colleagues he writes those who defined ministry for me.
A short while later walked off and left me having they said more urgent things to do. He continues the people I thought I would be working with disappeared when the work started being a pastor is difficult work.
We want the companionship and counsel of allies is bitterly disappointing to enter a room full of people whom you have every reason to expect share the quest and commitment of pastoral work and find within 10 minutes. They most definitely do not. The talk of images and statistics that they drop names. They discuss influence and status matters of God and the soul and Scripture are not grist for their mills. The pastors of America have metamorphosed into a company of shopkeepers and the shops that keep her churches they are preoccupied with shopkeepers concerns how to keep the customers happy. How to lure customers away from competitors down the street how to package the goods so that the customers will lay out more money.
Some of them are very good shopkeepers. They attract a lot of customers pulling great sums of money developed splendid reputations yet it still shot keeping religious shot.
Keeping to be sure, but shot keeping all the same. The marketing strategies of the fast food franchise occupy the waking minds of these entrepreneurs will sleep the dream of the kind of success that would get the attention of journalists. Then he adds the biblical fact is there are no successful churches there are.
Instead, communities of sinners gathered before God. Week after week in towns and villages all over the world. The Holy Spirit gathers them and and does his work in them. In these communities of sinners. One of the centers is called pastor love that line along with all the sinners are the center who is the pastor of the group is given a designated responsibility in the community. The pastor's responsibility is to keep the community attentive to God.
It is his responsibility that is being abandoned in space's and I too am angry and you wanted me to. Thankfully, there are exceptions. Please remember I said that there are exceptions, but therein lies the tragedy of the exceptions rather than the rule. When our long-standing members left our flock to go to another place to live his responsibilities to home and family required is moving. I said to him mine. I hope you're settling well and I hope to hear back from you soon. I heard back from him. Just this morning from a mutual friend and he said I cannot. After all these weeks. Find one place up deep meaningful worship.
It's all entertainment. If I name the place you would be even more surprised. It is a place many would call a almost a resort community where people flock you would think of all places, for there to be a citadel of truth. It would be very cannot find it, and is driven 50 miles in various directions and so as I look back I remember those great names of the past. Those are the people. Those were the individuals who shaped my thinking. Not one of them is a wild eyed fanatic. Not one was out of balance out of control, but all word deep thinking serious minded, competent, gifted expositors who preach the truth then wrote the truth and talk the truth and saw the world in front of them that you lost and so they shared their lives for the sake of those who would never come to Christ as well as deepening those of us who had known Jesus and needed to grow in him, but that was then where are they now you like I are in touch with various people who are in churches looking for a senior pastor, I can tell you without you or even answering back everyone of those churches has a short list and many on that list still aren't qualified. There was a time when you had a choice of many that time is no longer tragically, even in seminaries where the word of God was talk to and faithfully communicating how to deliver the message line upon line verse after verse. Chapter after chapter book following book. Those places are rare indeed. It's all turning to the gimmicks of the 21st century style and congregations are starving so I decided rather than interview one of the contemporaries and I could've chosen some like I say there are exceptions.
I decided to go back a few centuries and interviewed three individuals whose names are familiar, but we've never met them may seem an unlikely sort to pick. But after all, you gotta say something for the character and they are models of those who stood for the truth.
Plus their lives were benediction to their words and speaking of that, their words are inspired. The first will be Ezekiel and will visit with him.
To start with and then will go over to talk with Amos and hear his counsel, and finally will listen and talk with Joel as 1/3 interview. Ezekiel chapter 2 Ezekiel had his work cut out for invokes. He was surrounded by somewhere around 10,000 Jews in exile say with Babylon's, has sacked the city of Jerusalem has wiped out the walls that once protected it has destroyed the temple, has burned their homes has taken away their livelihood and they have marched all the way to the keyboard can now see HEB AR. That's where this transpires and their living there like in a concentration or an internment camp. They are there their way from home. As the psalmist puts it, they hung their hearts on the willow trees there no longer singing the Lord's song in the Lords land.
They are aliens.
Exile and they have become cynical rather than this experience crushing them. They are a rebellious people, there is no voice for the people to hear for five years and then finally, Ezekiel feels the Lords On his shoulder and the Lord says you're my man, you speak, they will want to listen but you speak, they won't care. But you speak. Look at chapter 2 verse one.
He said to me, Son of Man stand on your feet, that I may speak with you. As he spoke to me the spirit entered me and set me on my feet and I heard him speaking to me that's the way it is when you are spokesman for God. God speaks to you. You then take his message and deliver it to God's people. And that's exactly where Ezekiel is then he said to me, Son of Man, I'm sending you to the sons of Israel, to a rebellious people who have rebelled against me. They of their fathers have transgressed against me to this very day. You would've thought losing home, losing family, losing the temple, losing your land losing your government. What humbled you not on your life.
These people are fighting against me, says God speaking to his right to a Ezekiel and so he says to him, verse four. I'm sending you to them who are stubborn and obstinate children and you shall say to them, thus says the Lord God. That's the responsibility of the prophet he afflicted the comfortable and he made comfort for the afflicted. He did both. And Ezekiel is to comment to tell them what they don't want to hear.
Verse five is for them whether they had to listen or not they are rebellious house. They will know that a prophet has been among them, and you Son of Man neither fear them nor fear their words though thistles and thorns are with you to the next phrase and use it on scorpions. That's what I call a hard ministry. Here he is ministering to people who are like thorns and thistles, and they have a stinging kind of reproof they do not want to hear what he has to say their heads are wagging their fingers are wagging their mouths are moving they don't want to hear what it is is go ahead and sleep for seven but you shall speak about my words to them whether they listen or not, for they are rebellious. I get the feeling they are rebellious to get that God has a way of saying it over and over again.
Look at chapter 3. Then he said to me, Son of Man, eat what you find, eat this scroll going speak to the house of Israel. So I open my mouth. He fed me this scroll.
He said to me, Son of Man, feed your stomach feel your body with this scroll, which I am giving you. I ate it.
It was sweet as honey in my mouth. The man who speaks for God takes in the word of God personally. It's as though he is he is assimilating the truth in his own life. Not as though that's exactly what he does. That which is illustrated in the symbol of taking this and eating the scroll.
I take it that that's exactly what Ezekiel did verse 10. Moreover, he said to me, Son of Man taken to your heart, all my words which also speak to you and listen closely. Go to the exiles to the sons of your people and speak to them and tell them what they listen are not thus says the Lord God in the spirit lifted them up. That's exactly what he did in chapter 33 I like to have you look at next were going to cut to the chase and working to find Ezekiel in this very difficult setting holding forth to read how the people responded to him years ago one of my mentors told me that these last four verses of Ezekiel 33 or a pretty good description of my future so I can attend, I memorized the I did.
I memorized them every minister of the gospel ought to have memorized Ezekiel 33, 30 to 33 wouldn't hurt Christians to learn them as well. Now, the Lord points his finger at his prophet, and he says, but as for you, Son of Man, your fellow citizens who talk about you by the walls and in the doorways of the houses speak to one another, each to his brother, saying, come now and hear what the messages which comes forth from the Lord. So here is a man who's been speaking the truth in the word is out. And if you want to hear somebody speak will in public you need here Ezekiel mean the man is is is speaking for his God. You hear anything like this come with us, so the people came became apparently in large numbers in verse 31 makes it look like a pretty good church service. They came that they come to you as people common and they sit before you as my people, and they hear your words. That's the way it is, is people, people said people listen they hear the words but Ezekiel they do not do them, for they do the lustful desires expressed mother mouth. It's all about them. Ezekiel you think this is writing to ancient days, it's 21st centuries of folks the people gather from all around. Tell me what I want to hear. Tell me how great I am, tell me a lot of self-help stuff so I can feel better about my son don't talk about sin heard an interview on television were the man said, who happens to think of himself as a spokesman for God.
I never use the word sin people already know that how easy we forget it. So we need to keep saying keep reminding ourselves but these people will do the lustful desires of the expressed mother mouth and their heart goes after their game. You know what that means a church is good business. Hey, you're the salesman look at all impossible folks that are ready to buy your stuff while you want to get this mailing list will how great is this opportunity for you to, you know, build your business little social contact. This is a perfunctory spirit toward worship goes on all the time all the time and Ezekiel are going to do this right in front of your face will Ezekiel good thing. But what of the thing about me on the bottom of the community will tell you, Ezekiel, verse 32 behold, you are to them like a sensual song by one who has a beautiful voice and plays well on an instrument. One of the paraphrases says your your like a good old country singer with a guitar backed up by banjo drum traps. They come to hear you sing. They hear your words that they do not do them. You understand, worship is like an electric conduit it's constantly on the move and it's constantly moving back and forth, back and forth. Otherwise, the circuits broken if it winds up as a dead-end street. The purpose of worship is lost isn't about just taking in or being entertained or impress Savannah change life but they do not practice them and look at the verse 33 lands like a gavel on the judge's bench so when it comes to pass, as surely it will, then they will know that a prophet has been in your listening to Insight for living and this is message number nine in Chuck Swindoll's nine part series called the church awakening. There's much more teaching ahead, and I strongly encourage you to listen through the end of this teaching series to learn more about this ministry. Be sure to visit us email@example.com and if you're inspired to learn more.
Or perhaps you're motivated to ignite the conversation with your friends at church.
I'd recommend you request the book that parallels the series. It's called the church awakening. Chuck's book will help you find the right church, strengthen your current church and guard against the gimmicks that degrade the bride of Christ.
Bear in mind this is one of the very last times will mention this book on the program.
So take a minute to reach out while it's fresh on your mind to purchase a copy, give us a call right now if you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888 or it may be quicker to place your order firstname.lastname@example.org/offer again.
The book is called the church awakening were grateful to those who give above and beyond the price of resources because it's your partnership that allows us to inspire healthy churches beyond our own borders. For example, even during immense persecution of Christians in Eastern Europe are pulling together and drawing strength from one another. We know that's true because the Bible teaching you enjoy Insight for living is translated into numerous languages including Polish and Romanian, and these ministries are made possible when you get it's all under the umbrella of vision 195.
Our mission to make disciples in all 195 countries of to get a gift today.
Call us if you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8880. You can also give email@example.com/travelers who want to take a tour to Israel have lots of choices, but if you measure up to the thoughtful journey prepared by Insight for living ministries with the proper mix of historical information and biblical context.
We provide ample opportunities to pause and let the wonder in our goal is to create special moment's when you deepen your love for the Bible and draw closer to your Lord experience an unforgettable 12 day tour to Israel with Chuck Swindoll and Insight for living ministries March 5 to the 16th, 20, 23, to help you grasp the significance of each slight you will be accompanied by handpicked Israeli guides, and we choose the best, along with seminary trained pastors and professors to enhance your spiritual journey, no organization I know of offers this level of exceptional in depth instruction and personal care for holy land travel to learn more, call 1-888-447-0444. Just imagine walking along sacred sites and watching the Bible: life make your reservation by calling 1-888-447-0444 or go to insight.org/events insight for living ministries toward Israel is paid for and made possible by only those who choose to attend. I'm Bill Meyer inviting you to join us again tomorrow when Chuck Swindoll continues his important series called the church awakening on insight for living in the preceding message. It's time to restore the years was copyrighted in 2008 and 2010 and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2010 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. all rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited