Long-Term Declines in Church Giving and Membership can be Addressed

Fewer folks have attended church in the past 12 months than ever before. This however is not something we can blame solely on the increases of Video Church since Covid came along. An example, I was speaking with a friend the other day about why they didn’t go to church. Their answer was ‘I get the same experience watching at home relaxing.This is BAD doctrine and that come from BAD teaching from pulpits all across America. Church is not about and “experience” it is about fellowship, glorifying and worshipping the triune God with like minded believers. – Mike

CHAMPAIGN, Ill., April 13, 2021 /Christian Newswire/ — Recent survey data from Gallup points to a decline in church membership in the U.S. For the first time in over eight decades of surveys, Gallup found church members were less than half of the U.S. population…

Source: Long-Term Declines in Church Giving and Membership can be Addressed

Gage’s physical and mental health were connected

“I think it’s important for me to tell my story because there’s a lot of people out there ready to give up. There’s a lot of guys who are hurting. It doesn’t matter how beat down you are, if you can still breathe, man, just keep getting up.”

Make the Connection

Video: Gage’s physical and mental health were connected

In the Air Force, Gage was able to become the fittest and strongest he had ever been. Unfortunately, arthritis started holding him back and eventually sent him home. After reconnecting with family membersfriends, a church community, and other Veterans, Gage found a new purpose. “It’s the reconnection with Vets that helps me the most.”

Watch Now

Barna Update: Most Black Adults Say Religion & the Black Experience Go Hand in Hand

When Black History Month is observed each year, faith is a thread throughout many of the stories and celebrations of the Black community in the U.S. In fact, according to Black Americans, it’s an essential part of the narrative. 

In this February release for Barna’s ongoing 2021 series exploring new data about the Black Church, we’ll look at how Black Americans perceive Black churches—as well as their pastors—and their own personal engagement in congregations…

READ MORE  > >

 

 

Devotional Thought for Today – 12/05/2020

Psalm 50


The God of contemporary Christianity!

(A.W. Tozer)

“These things you have done, and I kept silent. You thought that I was altogether like you! But I will rebuke you and accuse you to your face!” Psalm 50:21

The God of contemporary Christianity is only slightly superior to the pagan gods of ancient Greece and Rome–if indeed He is not actually inferior to them, in that He is weak and helpless–while they at least had some imagined power.

Among the sins to which the human heart is prone, hardly any other is more hateful to God than idolatry; for idolatry is at bottom a libel on His character. The idolatrous heart assumes that God is other than He is–in itself a monstrous sin–and substitutes for the true God, one made after its own likeness. Always this god will conform to the image of the one who created it–and will be base or pure, cruel or kind, according to the moral state of the mind from which it emerges.

The essence of idolatry, is the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him. Wrong ideas about God are not only the fountain from which the polluted waters of idolatry flow–they are themselves idolatrous. The idolater simply imagines things about God–and acts as if they were true.

If we insist upon trying to imagine Him–we end with an idol, made not with hands but with thoughts. And an idol of the mind, is as offensive to God as an idol of the hand!

Before a Christian Church goes into a decline, there must first be a corrupting of her Scriptural thoughts of God. She simply gives a wrong answer to the question, “What is God like?”–and goes downhill from there. Though she may continue to cling to a sound nominal creed–her practical working creed has become false. The masses of her adherents come to believe that God is different from what He actually is–and that is heresy of the most insidious and deadly kind!

The heaviest obligation lying upon the Christian Church today is to purify and elevate her concept of God, until it is once more worthy of Him–and of her!

Hope in a Cynical Age

Hope in a Cynical Age

 

by Nathan Williams | Nov 03, 2020

According to 1 Corinthians 13:13, there are three great spiritual virtues: faith, hope, and love. And of these three, Paul says that the greatest is love. Paul makes it clear that love drives our spiritual lives, and without it, we are as worthless as a rhythm-less drummer. In addition to love, as good Protestants, we understand the importance of faith. Faith alone saves. In addition, without faith, it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:6). Paul spends large chunks of his letters making sure we understand the role of faith in our spiritual lives. But hope? Hope can easily get lost in the shuffle like a middle child in a minivan. It’s easy to think of hope as a nice addition to our spiritual lives if we happen to have it, but not necessarily something to be purposefully cultivated and intentionally pursued.

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Daily Devotional – God’s Called

The saying below has become very popular on Social Media and among evangelicals in general but is it Biblical? Today we will briefly look at God’s Called.

21 Best But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to ...

1 Corinthians 1:26-31

AMP and RVR 1960


CONTEXT:

As always we must take into consideration the Whole Counsel of God. Failure to do so even in this instance could lead to false or heretical teachings as you will see. 

So first let us look at the saying does God call unqualified folks. If we are speaking in the terms of Salvation, YES, of course our text will prove that.

On the other hand if we are speaking of ministry the answer is SORT OF. A careful reading of other bible text lists pre-qualifications for; Pastors, Deacons, Evangelists, etc. 1 Tim. 3:1-13, Tit. 1:5-9 then God further qualifies these chosen men through their study 2 Timothy 2:15 of scripture. To call someone to Pastor a church ignoring these qualifications is the same as saying God’s Word does not apply to our church and that is false teaching and HERESY, a term I never use lightly. 

Our text this morning,  1 Corinthians 1:26-31, comes from Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth. This is a church divided by two factions one I will call the Arrogant and Well Off, the other the Humble and Poor

A breakdown of 1st Corinthians 1 is as follows: 

In v.1-3 Greetings and Salutations to the church

In v.4-9 He thanks God for Christ and the fellowship therein

In v.10-17 He makes a plea for unity amongst the body of believers 

In v.18-25 He describes the Power and Wisdom of Christ

In v.26-31 He closes by reminding the Corinthians of their lowly state before Christ


BREAKDOWN:

25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.Paul begins to closes chapter one, by insulting the church at Corinth. Seriously there is no other way I can read this, he is not pulling punches to lovingly sugar coating anything. WARNING; do not read into the text; Paul is not implying God is foolish or weak; he is implying that the those who think God is such a Greek, Moron, for sacrificing His only begotten son are the truly week and follish.

26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: – Look at your own calling to Salvation, and those around you in the church, how many are of the high and mighty the intellectual elite (prior to conversion did they have that distinction?). Paul points out it is the rare rich noble that believes in Christ.

27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; – Instead of Mr. or Mrs. Fancy Pants, God chooses those that the world looks upon as foolish and weak to confuse the world and their so called mightiness. 

28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: – The Greek word here translated in the KJV as base things, is the word Nothing.  Paul says God calls the nothings of the world (modern word would be insignificant) to Christ. He uses the nobodies to shame the somebodies. 

29 That no flesh should glory in his presence. – WHY? The answer is simple so no one can brag about themselves in God’s presence. As stupid as that sounds I am convinced there are those who try when they day comes when we all stand before God on judgement day.

30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: –  Not only do true believers not boast in themselves they understand that God is the source of our Life in Christ. 

31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. – Paul is quoting Jeremiah 9:23-24 here, and makes it clear if you need boast boast in the Lord. 


APPLICATION:

Paul makes clear in his writing to the church at Corinth that God is please to Call the foolish and weak, that truly believe the Gospel of Christ and Him Crucified. God purposely chose the base or insignificant as far as “the world” was concerned just to prove to who in the end is really foolish and weak.  

The Question is are you to High and Mighty to heed God’s Call? 

 

Daily Devotional – Don’t Rock the Boat

You are probably wondering what in the world an early 70’s soul/disco song has to do with a Godly Wod, plenty let me explain. Don’t Rock the Boat is and idiom meaning do not do do say anything that could otherwise change a good or stable situation. 

For some, actually far to many, “Christians”, have taken this to be their mantra of sorts. This question is, is it biblical? 


Romans 12:18 | joshtinpowers | Flickr

AMP and RVR 1960


CONTEXT:

First let me be clear I am not advocating anything here that is anti-biblical or no-peaceful. You can check my previous posts including Great Peace,and Daily Devotional – The Beatitudes by Thomas Watson Part LXIII to list just a couple. 

What I am advocating is not being a Don’t Rock the Boat Christian! You know the type; ‘We have always done it this way, it won’t affect me so why get involved, I don’t want to offend anyone’ etc. etc. etc!

They are afraid to speak out on concerns and issues because they have been convinced by false teachings and flat out lies that Jesus would never offend anyone. HELLO, read the book Jesus offended an entire country and they crucified Him. 

Again I am not advocating extreme revolution or any craziness here (including illegal activities) but I am saying, if our example is Christ (and the Apostles, READ Acts) they spoke out on issues and were not afraid to Rock the Boat.

That is what Paul is saying here in Chapter 12, it is all about dedicated service to God interacting in the world and how sometimes there will be trials and persecutions for that service. This is because some will not like the fact that you peacefully and lovingly point out their evil sinful ways. In other words you Rock the Boat


BREAKDOWN:

If it be possible, –  In the previous v.17  Paul says to act honorably with all people, a tall order when you deep down our human nature wants to punch someone’s lights out for treating you like garbage.

But here in our text he says, If” because he (under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) understood sometimes you need to stand up and fight. 

As Christians we should always strive to live peacefully with EVERYONE!!! First and foremost with our brothers and sisters in Christ, then our family and neighbors vo-workers etc. 

as much as lieth in you, – Paul is not advocating Pacifism or Total Apathy; he makes it clear our living peacefully with others is CONDITIONAL. 

#1 If its possible: Will folks let you live peacefully, will they allow you to freely worship, provide for your family, obey God rather than man and so on. 

#2 Doing all we can: to avoid unnecessary conflict; we should never be the instigators of conflict. AGAIN, this does not mean we sit back and avoid all controversy. 

live peaceably with all men. – The goal is to live peacefully with all men (and women) but let us be realistic this is NOT POSSIBLE. So when is the appropriate time to disagree, argue or even fight it out? 

I would say there are two main ingredients to that:

    1. You have to have biblical backing for your position: it does us no good to discuss, argue or otherwise engaged anyone if we cannot back up our positions biblically 
    2. You need to be obeying God rather than man: Your argument needs to be because going against it disobeys the law of God. The bible is clear we are to obey the magistrates (Civil Authorities) GOD has appointed over us (Romans 13) to argue against, disobey or otherwise Rock the Boat means they have gone against God. 

APPLICATION:
  • We should make every attempt to live peacefully with everyone especially when pointing out errors. 
  • Jesus Rocked the Boat many times and a careful reading of scripture reveals He did so only in instances where the ruling class was breaking God’s Law. 
  • Jesus is our example, and if we call ourselves Christians we should follow His example.
  • We should not be afraid of Rocking the Boat, for matters that go against God’s word.

Daily Devotional – Above All

20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,

21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21

AMP and RVR 1960


CONTEXT:

Do you want a maserati, God can provide. A new house God can provide. Better health God can provide.  Okay before y’all think I have gone over to the dark side of Name it and Claim it theology let me explain. 

Starting way back in verse 14 For this reason [grasping the greatness of this plan by which Jews and Gentiles are joined together in Christ] I bow my knees [in reverence] before the Father [of our Lord Jesus Christ], Paul begins this prayer that concludes with our text. The theme of which is no matter how boldly Hebrews 4:16 we petitions God, He is more than capable of answering all our requests. 


BREAKDOWN:

v.20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, – Paul is clear, above all elseGod is capable of more than we can even imagine. Does God always answer YES! The answer however may not be YES. Sometimes God says no, sometimes He remains aloof teaching us patience and wanting to make us more dependent upon Him (the Holy Spirit indwelling every true believer). 

Note the type of things “Christians” should be asking God for v.16 to be strengthened and spiritually energized with power through His Spirit, no cars, houses or health there. Do not get me wrong if you need transportation, housing are ill pray for those needs humbly. But if you have a house why pray for a mansion when we are to be good stewards of all God provides?

v. 21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.  Verse 20-21 are a short DoxologyGlory is given to God for all His perfect attributes. These are to be celebrated in the church with Christ as the head. Not for a short period of time but forever. Christ was, is and will always be the Groom and the Church His Bride Ephesians 5:22-25, consecrated to Glorify God. 


APPLICATION:

Above all else I think there are two main takeaways from today’s devotional: 

We can boldly but humbly petition God for our needs in His will

Christians are meant to fellowship and Glorify God together in the Church

Are you a lone wolf not attending church? Are your petitions and supplications aligned with the will of God? Remember to pray daily as Paul, to be strengthened and spiritually energized with power through His Spirit.

 

News from the PERSECUTED CHURCH

The Voice of the Martyrs

Taking the Gospel to Drug Runners and Rebels

David and Gloria praying with family

David and Gloria met while attending a training school for missionaries in Colombia. After learning about indigenous people groups who hadn’t yet heard of Jesus, the couple felt compelled to take the gospel to the jungle, even though they knew their area was one of the most dangerous in Colombia. The dense rainforest, broad rivers and lack of Colombian security forces make it an appealing area for drug traffickers transporting cocaine.

David received a surprising offer one day when about 60 guerrilla soldiers appeared at the couple’s house. The rebel commander told David he would triple his salary and allow him to continue his pastoral work if he would join their group.

“I won’t work with you,” David replied. “You kill people. The only person who should have power over life is God.”

The rebel leader didn’t appreciate David’s boldness. “You are lucky it’s me and not some other guerrillas, as they would have shot you in the head already,” he said. “We will talk tomorrow.”

What Happened Next?

 


Barnabas Fund

Prayer Focus Update July 2020

Prayer Focus Update is a monthly information bulletin with up-to-date news on the persecuted Church to help Christians pray for their suffering brothers and sisters. You can use this for prayer groups, your own information and for inclusion in church magazines.

It is available in various formats on the Barnabas Aid website or can be sent through the post free of charge. Please contact your national Barnabas Aid office if you would like to receive this in the mail.

  • Pakistan – Discovery of 1,000-year-old cross points to ancient Christian presence in Himalayas

  • Turkey – Church leaders call government to lift “entry ban” on serving pastors from overseas

  • China – Persecution concerns mount as surveillance state genetically maps entire male population and pastor compares second raid on church to “violence of Mao’s Cultural Revolution”

  • DRC – Militant extremists kill 57 villagers in attacks on mainly- Christian north-east

  • Mali – Heavily-armed jihadists murder 27 people in attacks on Christian villages

FULL PRINT VERSION 

 

Daily Devotional – Lamenting

Image may contain: car and outdoor, text that says 'This is not Baghdad. This is not Benghazi. This is not Fallujah. This is Minneapolis. e'
Sourced from Facebook

Lamentations 2:17 (AMP and RVR 1960) 


CONTEXT:

Chapter 2 begins v.1-9 with God at odds with His church (in this case Israel) for their disobedience and worship of idols. Note that God seems to have a hand in the troubles befalling Israel but is not their enemy though angry with them. He does this to bring to their attention and cause their turning from sin. 

The second half of Chapter 2;  v.10-22 sees the people lamenting their woes, and calls for repentance issued. 


 

BREAKDOWN: 

The Lord hath done that which he had devised; – Once again we see God is in control of all, sovereign over the events of mankind, here in the Chaldean occupation of Judea, today can we not see His hand in all things restraining the Chaos from unleashing in earnest. 

he hath fulfilled his word that he had commanded in the days of old: – God has long promised rewards to those who are faithful and woes to those who are not

he hath thrown down, and hath not pitied: – God is all powerful and here it is demonstrated in the tearing down of walls of Jerusalem, and specifically the Temple of God. 

and he hath caused thine enemy to rejoice over thee, – Our enemies rejoice in apparent victory thinking themselves great, but it is He who is greater and will have the final say

he hath set up the horn of thine adversaries. –  God has swelled their self-worth, puffed them up and for His purpose (to remind us (Israel) of our place) and set them up for a hard fall in the end


 

APPLICATION:

There are clear parallels to Israel and the US found here. Both claim to be established upon Godly principles and laws. Both peoples claim to desire to follow a moral code established by God. Yet both readily and easily turn their backs upon that very same God.  

As with Israel, America needs a time of lamenting (a passionate expression of grief or sorrow) and repentance. 

Here is a 5 day devotional from CROSSWAY to help in that endeavor:

Learning to Lament

OTHER RESOURCES:

Dare to Hope in God How to Lament Well

What is a lament in the Bible?

The Way of Lament

Strong Churches Speak the Language of Lament