For our Sunday morning crowd, at Victory Baptist Church, I work up a PowerPoint of Welcoming slides, announcements, and various words of encouragement. As I worked on it over the weekend I came across an image of a tree that was dead on one side and alive on the other with the caption “Making a Difference.” The image stays in my mind as a representation of the church today. From the beginning of time, God’s people would lose and gain ground, until Israel lost all but a small, but mighty piece of land. And while God still very much blesses and protects Israel, His people now cover the earth. The piece of ground that God concerns Himself with for now is the inward heart, regardless if they are Jew or Gentile. He is concerned with all who trust Jesus as Savior. Israel will one day garner God’s attention in end times, but until then, Glory to God, His eye is on the church of His Son Jesus Christ. There’s just one problem with that; we too are going by the way of Israel. We’re losing ground.
It’s never more obvious than when you listen to the un-churched speak of the churches in their community. The churches belong to “those people.” Those whom they don’t feel apart. They’ll call them out by name “The church that so and so family goes to.” Many, not all, but a lot of churches have become family run businesses. A select group of people determines who preaches, sings, participates in service, and every other avenue of decision that is made on behalf of the body of Christ in their church.
So why is this on my heart? It’s not the condition of the church I attend, but it can be the church that anyone attends if we’re not careful to guard the ground for which God has entrusted them with. The heart.
We’re responsible for taking the gift of Salvation, which God blessed us with through the sacrifice of His Son, and share it with the world within our reach. In and out of the building. On the web and in the newspaper. Every source of media and outreach that can possible be used as fertilizer for the ground for which we serve; the local church. Else we run the risk of losing the ground our predecessors have sown and reaped on.
It’s why my services have been used for the past 22 years in design and marketing of tools evangelists and churches can use to promote the church in a positive light. Not a light of the world, a light to the world. I have heard so many people in the circles I travel who have no understanding of the power of the media, and yet it runs most of their lives and they’re not even aware.
I’ve taught youth for the past twenty years in one form or another and they can quote the words to every secular song, tell you the name of every player on a national team, and discuss the vilest behavior in a network hit with blinking an eye, but they’ll not talk to their friends about Jesus. It breaks my heart! They’ll open themselves to drama on social media and tell everything that was once taboo outside the home, and poke fun of other people like they’re not people just like them. It’s why I understand the power the world has. Little and large churches become dynasty’s of power and serve to appease a select groups, and occasionally there are those that you’ll find Jesus in. We really have lost ground.
So how do we gain ground?
1And the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep.
The church seems almost oblivious across the aisles. In my journey’s I almost always experience a pocket or two of people with a real desire to see their church alive again. But most of the people in the church are asleep. We need to awaken our congregations!
2 And said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof: 3 And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof. 4 So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my lord? 5 Then the angel that talked with me answered and said unto me, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord.
Zechariah was concerned with the trees. The Angel seemed shocked that he didn’t know their significance. I doubt I would know the significance either and would likely be so shocked by the appearance of an angel, I probably wouldn’t know my name. But this is a different time; but it’s not a different message. We need to be watchful and aware of the messages that God is sending to us. We’re not without warning that our churches are dying.
6 Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts. 7 Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it. 8 Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, 9 The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto you. 10 For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the Lord, which run to and fro through the whole earth. 11 Then answered I, and said unto him, What are these two olive trees upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side thereof? 12 And I answered again, and said unto him, What be these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves? 13 And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. 14 Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.
I usually don’t cover that much scripture in a blog. People tire of reading… sad world. But I couldn’t not use every word!
What’s causing us to lose ground in the church is that the Spirit of God is missing out of the equation. Just as I would be shocked if an angel appeared in my sight, half the church would be shocked if the Spirit of God showed up. They’re so use to the formality of religion that anything else is just too celestial.
“Crying grace, grace!”
We should be crying out to the church that grace has been extended to the church, but for how long? How long will God wait before He takes the church out of the world and our loved one are left lost without hope. Warn them!
Alas, the Angel explains the symbolic vision in the last of the chapter, but Zechariah is still concerned with those trees.
The two trees, the anointed ones as I understand it, were Zerubbabel and Joshua, King and Priest anointed for those roles. My shout just came up from the depths of my heart. Who is it that God has anointed for the role of crying grace, grace, but His people. You and I who are called by God to share the gospel. We have Pastors to lead us and people to serve. It’s time we reclaim the ground the world has taken!