I’m pretty certain that you’re just like I am, I don’t like the feeling of having been duped! Now, when we open the pages of Scripture we are warned, for our own protection, “Don’t be deceived,” that is, “Don’t be tricked!” Now, when God so warns us, it is time to perk up our ears and pay very careful attention! So, what is this that we are not to be fooled by?
The motivational movement has become all the rage! Yes, even in Christian circles! Yet, it is incumbent upon us to take a good look at this phenomena, and make certain we are standing on solid ground! It might seem logical that we all need a good “pat on the back,” that is, a little encouragement. As it is a wonderful thing when we build each other up, particularly as believers! However, is this actually what is transpiring, or are we being misled by all the smiles and enthusiasm? Let us take a look…
Church, isn’t it supposed to be a good place? A safe place? How then can it be a hazardous place? I liken it to a garden or field with land mines planted here and there! The field is good. The land mines don’t make it bad. The land mines are what is bad! So the church is good, but can be fraught with danger too! Let us examine at least three ways in which the church can be a dangerous place, and expose the “land mines”!
Now, it isn’t that grace is not good, it is! Yet, the Word of God warns us that a time will come when people will surround themselves to hear what they want to hear. That is, they want the “feel good” messages! They want the motivational “pep talk”! They don’t want to hear anything negative. They don’t want to hear about sin. They don’t want to hear about consequences for their sin! No, they only want to hear about how much God loves them!
Sometimes the accusation is levelled that those who believe, “Once saved. Always saved,”have “cheap grace.” By this they mean that there is no cost to the believer. That there is nothing they have to do for it. That no “turning from sin,” no ongoing confessions, no obedience, is required for salvation. Let us examine then, if this allegation is true or false!
If we don’t have a deep-seated joy that remains, even amidst dire circumstances, then it is our cue that something is not right. Just like the human body is made to perform and when symptoms like fatigue begin to cripple us, we need to see a doctor to find out what is wrong, so when joy is lacking, we need to find out why. Yet, not from a doctor. You see, if we are merely looking for happiness, it will be dependant on our circumstances. However, joy is different. For even the darkest times of life, cannot rob one of joy! If you don’t have this joy, we need to investigate, so that you also may have this joy too!
Sometimes hidden behind nervous laughs or joking. Sometimes in outbursts of anger. Sometimes in uncontrollable weeping. Sometimes taken to isolation. Sometimes drowned in substances. Sometimes in self-abuse. In these and others, are broken hearts.
Is there any hope? Any ray of sunshine? Any light in the darkness? Absolutely! But where? Can it truly be found in another human? Maybe to an extent. In a religion? Not truly. In the fun things of the world? No. Where then? In one whose name is Jesus! Regrettably many people, even religious people, have tarnished His wonderful name, but that doesn’t change who He is! For, we read, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me [Jesus] because he has anointed me to…set at liberty those that are broken.” (~Luke 4:18) So, how does Jesus feel about the broken? We read, “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35) Let us then investigate further the life-changing hope found in Jesus!
It’s amazing how people preach curses, demons, earthquakes, anything – and call it “the gospel.” The word “gospel,” literally means, good news. There can be good news of all sorts but the gospel is good news from God to hopeless, helpless, hell-bound sinners, and it’s about how they can be saved from a Hell they deserve, to a Heaven they don’t.
The gospel message can be laid out in four parts. It has a context, content, a response, and a result. Context is a background information that helps the overall message make sense. We typically won’t embrace a remedy unless we first see that there’s a problem.
Hearts shattered by experiences that one can scarcely comprehend! Yes, it is true for people round the Earth. Inside the outer shell of untold millions, are stories so dark, that it would rattle us to the core! Trusts have been broken to smithereens! How is one ever to hope again? How is one ever to trust again? Yet, is it not true, that inside all, throbs the desire to be loved? To be accepted? To be cared about? To be wanted? Indeed, deep inside run strong emotions! Though sometimes the walls have been built so thick, that others don’t have a clue as to how we actually bleed within! Sometimes the broken lash out in anger. Sometimes they’re withdrawn. At other times, drowning ourselves in some addiction or other. And sadly, and too often, that one source of hope that one ought to have, is also gone, the people who call themselves friends, or parents, or grandparents, or – yes – even those who call themselves Christians! Yet, I challenge you to take a moment with me, one who has also been through “tough stuff,” and see that God, in reality, is so much different than people are! So unlike the picture we may have painted in our mind! Indeed, I myself found a friend in Jesus. I found Him to be a friend so distinct from any on Earth! Someone I could trust. Someone I could talk to. Someone who would listen. Someone who honestly cared. Someone who had demonstrated that He loved me! Someone who loved me despite my faults. Someone who was not a fair weather friend. Someone who wouldn’t betray me. I ask, don’t you want to know Him?