|Good morning everyone,|
Our theme for this month: “Be smart, be strategic”
Our Bible verse for today: “… on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18 (NKJV)
Our thought for today: “The Church has left the building”
I love the picture Jesus painted in Matthew 16:18. But, unfortunately, it is often misunderstood, or at least, under-appreciated and not taken literally enough by the Church.
Jesus had just asked His closest disciples who they believed Him to be. Peter boldly declared that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus responded that it would be upon such bold and confident faith that He would build His Church. In other words, the strong faith of His disciples would be the motive force that would propel them out into the world, and the bold proclamation of the Gospel message would draw multiple millions of people to Him.
And then Jesus declared that the gates of Hades (hell) would not prevent it from happening. Now, here comes the important understanding for us: Gates are defensive in nature. They’re designed to keep people out. When a gate is erected it’s because a threat is perceived and therefore a barrier is constructed to keep the threat out. The lesson is that Satan sees the advance of Christ’s kingdom as a threat. Therefore, he has constructed gates (barriers) to protect his territory. But Jesus says that the obstacles and barriers Satan has erected in an attempt to stop the progress of the kingdom of God will not prevail. Satan’s obstacles can’t stop God’s people.
What Jesus is describing here is a strong, strategic, intentional offensive action by His followers as we push into territory currently occupied by Satan, but which we are to conquer and claim in the name of Jesus Christ. Jesus says that the obstacles created by Satan will not be able to prevent that from happening.
But then why isn’t it happening? Or at least, why isn’t it happening more? As has been noted in the two previous devotional messages, evil is pervasive in our society and is getting progressively worse. Where’s the church? What are we doing? Are we out in the communities, on the offensive and reclaiming territory for Jesus? Or, are we safely hunkered down in our little religious forts, gathered together in our holy huddles, singing songs and eating ice cream?
You know the answer. There is some good work being done out in the communities and neighborhoods by many churches – but not enough. Not even close. Far too many churches, and far too many Christians, are doing little or nothing. And therein lies the problem. There’s the answer to why evil seems to be winning in our society. The Church needs to step up its game.
It’s true that no single church can make much of a dent in the problem of evil in the nation as a whole. But every church and every Christian can make a difference in their own communities. So, rather than focusing on the big picture of an immense problem, focus instead on the person standing in front of you at the moment. And then, once you’ve made a positive impact in that one life, shift your focus to the next one. If enough of us do that, it will add up and ultimately make a big difference.
The answer is for each Christian and for each church to leave the building and storm the gates. Let it be known that we are on the move and we’re reclaiming territory Satan has stolen but which belongs to Jesus. On the streets, in the homes, in schools and hospitals and nursing homes, in offices and on job sites, in PTA meetings and on children’s sports teams, serving meals, offering rides, meeting needs, sharing the love of Jesus and ministering in His name.
Let it be known across the nation that the Church has left the building and is on the move. Better yet, just do it. If you do, it’ll become obvious pretty quickly.
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