By Pengbo, US
Dear brothers and sisters of Our Daily Devotionals,
Hope you are good! There is a question having been puzzling me for quite a while. I have sought some pastors and elders, but failed to solve it. I am writing to share and discuss with you, hoping to get some help.
I am a preacher. I used to have the enlightenment and illumination of the Holy Spirit when I read the Lord’s words, and to preach with words that would never run out. The brothers and sisters enjoyed my sermons and gained some edification. But somewhere along the line, I cannot feel the Lord’s presence anymore and even finish writing a sermon. It’s virtually the same stuff without anything fresh and bright every time I preach. Brothers and sisters doze off during the meetings and preaching is the last thing I am not scared of. Though I keep preaching and working, I can’t practice the Lord’s words in my life and I don’t have forgiveness and patience when I deal with others. Most brothers and sisters are busy with business, work and family and become cold in their faith, unwilling to join the meetings anymore. As a preacher, I feel terrible and indebted to the Lord when I see few people coming to the church for the meetings but I cannot help them in the spirit. We have tried to arrange meal activities and group fasting and prayer to change the status quo, but to no avail. We still cannot feel the Lord’s leading. Therefore, I want to discuss with you why our church becomes like this and what we should do to recover the previous condition.
From your letter, we can see you are a person who is willing to seek the truth, who also bears the burden and is responsible for the brothers and sisters and the church. Your query is quite common in most churches today and it deserves our seeking and discussing. Thank God for giving us the opportunity today and may God lead us to a solution to the problem.
I am also a preacher and my church once suffered the same situation as yours did. Just like you, I tried many ways but to no avail. I came before God many times, praying and seeking. Then I thought of my college classmate Xiang Guangming, who is also a Christian and preached the gospel to me before. Brother Xiang is quite spiritual and there is always enlightenment and light in his fellowship on the Lord’s words. He has his own insights into the spiritual things and how to deal with the church work. Every time I fellowshiped with him, I had always gained great benefits. Later, I prayed, asking God to give us a chance to fellowship. I thanked God’s arrangement and we met. Through the fellowship with Brother Xiang and Brother Yang, I finally got the answer. I will share my experience with you and hope it will help.
One day three months ago, Brother Yang and Brother Xiang came to visit me and I shared with them my situation and the condition in my church. At my words, Brother Xiang said: “There are not just one or two churches with such a condition. It prevails among the whole religious community.” His words reminded me of the desolate situation with the temple in the first place. Then Brother Xiang showed me some verses: “And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, and said to them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but you have made it a den of thieves” (Mat 21:12-13). He continued: “Here thereprimanded the Jewish leaders, saying, ‘you have made it a den of thieves.’ It is because they didn’t have a heart that revered God. They didn’t follow Jehovah’s laws and commandments, did illegal things in the temple of God and allowed people to do business in the temple. As a result, the temple that once was filled with the glory of Jehovah and where believers worshiped God became a place to do business and a den of thieves for exchanging money and selling cattle, sheep, and doves. These Jewish leaders replaced God’s commandments with man’s teachings. For example, God required man to to be filial toward his parents, but they taught that he didn’t need to do that as long as he gave his parents enough money. They were hypocrites, fooling people with outward good behaviors, but secretly not following the Lord’s words. They made broad their phylacteries, and enlarged the borders of their garments, and purposely stood at the cross of the road to make long prayers. They donated one tenth of their earnings every month, but secretly they pocketed widows’ possessions, sacrificed unclean animals to God and stole the offerings to God. They didn’t practice the Lord’s words themselves, and to protect their reputations and entrap people, they spoke letters and doctrines in , exalted themselves and bore witness to how they suffered hardships and paid the price, barely exalting and bearing witness to the Lord. Because the Jewish leaders disobeyed God’s words, lived in sins, and was despised by God, the whole of Judaism was abandoned by the Holy Spirit and the temple with God’s glory became a desolate den of thieves.
“The churches now are the same, in which the pastors, elders and coworkers don’t have the heart that reveres God and neither follow the Lord’s teachings. They teach brothers and sisters to love each other and love their neighbors as themselves, but they are envious of other coworkers and fight and scheme with each other without any love and patience. They speak letters and doctrines to fool people, exalt themselves and bear witness to how they have worked and suffered a lot for the Lord. They proclaim that they are the most loyal to the Lord and that the Lord will lift them up into the kingdom of heaven when He returns. In such ways, they entrap the believers tightly under their domain. Led by them without the supply of life, believers lose the previous passion to pursue the truth and live in a passive and weak condition. They start to follow the trends of the world for the freshly enjoyments, abandoning the teachings of the Lord and not even coming to the meetings any more. The churches have become a place for religious activities without the work of the Holy Spirit and God’s blessings. It’s just as the Lord Jesus said: ‘And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold’ (Mat 12:24). Therefore, the main reason why the religious world loses the work of the Holy Spirit is that the pastors and elders have deviated from the Lord’s way and God has abandoned them.
“Another important reason for the desolation of the churches is that the work of the Holy Spirit has moved on and God has started a new work. If we do not follow the steps of God’s work, we will fall into darkness without the work of the Holy Spirit. Let’s read one scripture together. Amos 4:7 says: ‘And also I have withheld the rain from you, when there were yet three months to the harvest: and I caused it to rain on one city, and caused it not to rain on another city: one piece was rained on, and the piece whereupon it rained not withered.’ The scripture mentions two cases: with rain and no rain. The city with rain means the church with the Holy Spirit’s work, while the city without rain means the churches without the Holy Spirit’s work. Whether a city is with rain or not is in God’s hand. In the latter period of the Age of Law, people no longer upheld the law and they were all in danger of being stoned to death or burned by the fires of heaven. God couldn’t bear to see that man would be condemned to death by the law, so He personally became flesh and came among man, doing the work of redeeming mankind in the name of the Lord Jesus. The leaders of the Judaism at the time didn’t actively seek and investigate but set the common people to oppose, judge and condemn the Lord Jesus’s work with them and even nailed the Lord Jesus to the cross. They couldn’t follow God’s new work and lost the work of the Holy Spirit, falling into darkness, and were finally condemned and eliminated by God. At that time, those who left the temple for the Lord’s redemption work enjoyed the supply and leading of the Holy Spirit, living in the grace and blessings from the Lord.”
When the brother talked about the reasons for the desolation of the churches, the scenes of the desolation of my church in recent years came into my mind: brothers and sisters becoming cold in their faith, the preachers sermonizing nothing but stale truisms, the coworkers fighting with each other and so on. I was sure that my church had lost the Lord’s blessings.
I then asked Brother Xiang: “Brother Xiang, what you fellowshiped is based on the Bible and complies to the facts. Now I understand the reasons for the desolation of my church. One is that the pastors, elders and coworkers don’t follow the Lord’s words but rather disobey them, and they thus earn the disgust of God. Another is that our church loses the work of the Holy Spirit and we haven’t followed God’s footprints. I am afraid that if we continue like this, we will be abandoned by the Lord just like the people in the temple of the latter period. Thank God! Brother Xiang, what should we do to change the current situation of the church? Is there any good way?”
Brother Xiang said: “Obviously there is no work of the Holy Spirit in the church. To revive the church, the only way is to quickly find the footprints of God. Wherever there is the work of the Holy Spirit, there are God’s blessings. Only by catching up with God’s footprints, can the believers obtain the supply and supports.”
Brother Yang nodded and said: “In believing in the Lord, we should obey the Lord’s words and closely follow God’s footprints to be watered and shepherded by God for the truth and life rather than to be abandoned and eliminated by the work of the Holy Spirit. The Lord promised His believers that He will come back. Now there are all signs that He has already returned, but we don’t know where He appears and works. Therefore, it is imperative for us to seek God’s footprints. Just like in the bible the Lord Jesus says: ‘My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me’” (Jhn 10:27).
Brother Xiang said: “That’s right. We shall follow God’s footprints, but what is the most important thing regarding this? Some time ago, I read some words on the internet: ‘Since we are searching for the footprints of God, we must search for God’s will, for the words of God, for the utterances of God—for where there are the new words of God, there is the voice of God, and where there are the footsteps of God, there are the deeds of God. Where there is the expression of God, there is the appearance of God, and where there is the appearance of God, there exists the truth, the way, and the life. While seeking the footprints of God, you ignored the words that “God is the truth, the way, and the life.” So when many people receive the truth, they do not believe that they have found the footprints of God and much less acknowledge the appearance of God. What a serious error that is!’ The words are very clear about the way to examine the true way. God is the truth, the way, and the life. If we are searching for the footprints of God, we must search for God’s utterances. Only when we find God’s utterances can we follow God’s work. This is the only way to examine the true way.”
That day, I gained great benefits from the fellowship with Brother Yang and Brother Xiang. I found the way to get the work of the Holy Spirit. I am seeking and examining the true way now with them.
Brother Xunguang, it is imperative for us to seek the work of the Holy Spirit and follow God’s footprints. Only when we ourselves catch up with God’s footprints and then lead other brothers and sisters to follow God’s footprints can we not be abandoned by God but obtain the work of the Holy Spirit and can our church be truly revived. I believe as long as we have a heart of thirsting and seeking, God will lead us. As the Lord Jesus once said: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you” (Mat 7:7).
That’s my sharing above and I hope it will help you. Should you have any queries, please write to us and discuss with us.
Brother Pengbo from Our Daily Devotionals
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