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Devotional - What To Preach For Palm Sunday And Resurrection Sunday?

Discussion in 'Thoughts for Today' started by anthony wade, Apr 10, 2014.

  1. Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit. - 1Peter 3: 18 (NLT)

    Decisions decisions. Our lives are made up of decisions. Some are easy to make and some are very difficult. Some we make quickly and others we invite the counsel of many to try and hash out what is the best way to go. As a leader, decisions can be even harder because there are people who rely upon you for being able to make sound decisions. The consequences of poor decisions can be felt far and wide when we find ourselves in positions of leadership. The same is true when you are a leader of a church, if not more so. The decisions you make could directly affect the lives of the people who attend your church; the sheep God has entrusted to you. That is why the bar has been set so high for the qualifications a pastor should meet for the job:

    Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task.Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of fullrespect.(If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap. - 1Timothy 3: 1-7 (NIV)

    Unfortunately it seems we have dumbed down these qualifications in our modern churchianity. Pastor caught in affair? Stop throwing stones! Pastor uses $200,000 of tithe monies to personally profit over 1.5 million? Judge not lest ye be judged! Pastor lives in sprawling 6.5 million dollar mansion and owns three private planes? You can't know his heart! Sigh. Well at least there is the most important day in our religion we can rely upon for being a steadfast rock. We know that right around the corner is Resurrection Sunday. The day when our Lord and Savior conquered the grave! The day when that awesome question was asked - "Why do you seek the living among the dead?" Hallelujah! At least this can be a day when even the false teachers that litter the Christian landscape can agree on doctrine and maybe actually preach the same message. The only message that can truly save someone. The Gospel message. I honestly thought this...and then I came across this twitter exchange the other day:

    Gary Lamb - "Ok pastors, tell me what teaching series you're doing for Easter. Need something to get the creative juices flowing."

    FakeChurchStaff - "@garylamb Umm, Jesus died 4 our sins & then risen again proving He is God.Or just do some takeoff on the new Survivor series. #HopeThatHelps"

    Gary Lamb - "@FakeChurchStaff - thx jackass"

    This may just seem like a harmless, funny exchange until you realize that Gary Lamb is actually a real pastor asking advice from other pastors about what he should preach for Easter! How in the world can you call yourself a pastor and not know what to preach on the most important day in your faith? The day you know you will draw the most people who are lost. What is even more telling however is the clear implication that Pastor Lamb thinks the Gospel should not be the subject. His tweet was asking what "teaching series" others were planning on doing. Also, you have to love the clear admission that he does not plan on relying on the Holy Spirit for the direction or writing of his sermon because he needs to "get the creative juices flowing."

    Some may think this is nitpicky but it is not. It is however the end result of dumbing down the pastoral requirements. Never mind that Pastor Lamb had to step down from his previous church because of an affair with his assistant. Never mind that while he was going through his divorce, less than one year after being removed, he started his next church. Never mind that his second church was in the same town as his former. Every time I think we might be making progress and there may be less wolves out there to expose, God shows me another Gary Lamb. Once again, for those who think this might be nitpicky, here is what God says:

    Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. - Galatians 6: 1 (NIV)

    Gently, not swiftly. Realize this is a general principle for a brother or sister caught in sin. We are supposed to hold those in the pastoral office to a much higher standard. This devotional however is not about Gary Lamb as much as it is about how pastors are being taught these days. These brash young gun Warren disciples all seem to share similar flaws in their theology because they have been raised on the Purpose Driven Church model. Within this model we see some consistencies based upon what they have been taught. For example, there is an over emphasis on being relevant to the community at large. You know, the community that is leading unsaved people to hell. Warren himself is a major proponent of this as he canvassed the neighborhood while he was building Saddleback Church to see what they wanted in the church he was planting. Mark Driscoll has repeatedly compromised to gain what he has admitted to seeking - relevance in the community. And he has it to the tune of 12,000 attenders. The problem of course is the actual salvation of those 12,000 as well as the pile of bodies the Mars Hill Church leaves in its wake - a subject Driscoll gleefully laughs about from the pulpit.

    That is the second point of commonality we see. Dissent is not only unwelcome it is rooted out unmercifully. Rick Warren teaches in the Purpose Driven Church how to get rid of people who do not like the fact that their church is being remade in the carnal image of man. In his November 14, 2007 directive to pastors Warren said, “What the Bible says about handling disunity...You've got to protect the unity of your church. If that means getting rid of troublemakers, do it." Of course this is not what the Bible says about disunity at all.

    Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord JesusChrist, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple. - Romans 16: 17-18 (NKJV)

    The Bible cannot be clearer. Disagreement is not disunity. The true source of disunity is contrary doctrine. That is because our unity must be grounded in Christ and His Gospel - not the purpose driven church. The third point of commonality is the most disturbing and that is the casual dismissive manner in which the Gospel is viewed and handled. The kingdom mentality recognized the lost as sinners who desperately needed the Gospel in order to be saved. The purposed church mentality is that the lost are potential consumers who the CEO pastors must convince to attend and tithe regularly. Warren theology actually changes the term "unsaved" to "unchurched"; which is a frightening glimpse into the heart of the problems within the purpose driven movement. The shift from viewing people as needing salvation to needing a church should make everyone gasp. Because you can still get into a church if you are saved but you will not get into heaven if you are merely churched.

    Again, I understand the desire to want to blow this off as not important but it really has become an infectious notion. This is simply how the new pastors think. You see, I can understand that Gary Lamb thinks everything is about him because that is what he has been taught. I can understand that he thinks he needs to get his creative juices flowing to decide what sermon series to start on Easter because that is what Rick Warren advised him just last year:

    "Let them know about your next sermon series. Always either begin a sermon series on Easter or the next week--and make sure it's a series that meets the felt needs of an unchurched person. Yes, they need the gospel and a relationship with Christ. You and I both know that's their foundational need, but most people will come to your church because they have a need for friendship " want a better marriage " want to be a better parent " want to feel they're living a life of significance " or there may be some other need. When you do a series like that, let Easter visitors know in your letter. It'll give them a reason to come back to your church."

    This quote is taken from an article written by Rick Warren to pastors last year; providing five tips to increase the chances that your Easter visitors will come back. Warren correctly surmises that there will be an abundance of people who attend only on this one day yet instead of worrying about their salvation - he is worried about whether they come back to his church or not. THAT is the purpose driven mentality. That is why Gary Lamb doesn't know what to preach on Resurrection Sunday. If you want to know why the church is becoming more and more impotent each day - just re-read that tip from Pastor Warren again.

    Make sure the sermon series meets the needs of the unchurched person and then those needs are suggested to be how to improve their marriage or living a life of significance? It doesn't matter why they came to church that day! It doesn't matter if they are looking for friends, spouses, significance or the Easter Bunny - they need only one thing. The Gospel. They need it because they are sinners in the hands of a holy God. The unmitigated arrogance of the purpose driven mindset forgets that God is also sovereign. While the Warren disciples play their games with trying to "church" people they forget that for some of these people - their life will be required of them before they can come back the following Sunday - if they were going to come back at all. They had one last shot to hear the Gospel message and a call to genuine repentance and all they got was a cross between Dr. Phil and Oprah? But that's OK right, because at least they will feel more significant on their way to hell. Give them a reason to come back to your church? Dear Lord is that how far we have lowered the mark? The narcissism is overwhelming. Have we stopped reading the Bible?

    I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building. - 1Corinthians 3: 6-9 (NIV)

    Next Sunday is Palm Sunday and the following week is Resurrection Sunday (not Easter I might add). It is almost embarrassing to have to answer the question Gary Lamb posed in his tweet. That a pastor would be mildly confused about this at all is very disheartening. You are going to have twice the amount of people you normally have and the vast majority of them will all have the same affliction. They will be unsaved. They will not know, nor have a relationship with Jesus Christ. They are all bound for an eternity in hell. God has ordained their steps to be sitting in front of you that day and for all you know it may be their last day. What should you preach? No matter how bad their marriage is they need salvation more. No matter how insignificant they may feel - they need salvation more. It has nothing to do with you young pastor. You do not possess the words to eternal life. Only Jesus does. But you hold the key for them to meet Him. You need to preach Him. What to preach? Jesus Christ and Him crucified. What to preach? The Gospel.

    More importantly realize this young pastor. Even if not one of those visitors comes back the next week - you still did your job. You planted the seed they desperately needed. You may never see who might water that seed and that is OK because neither you, I, or whoever waters the seeds we plant are anything. Only God makes things grow. Only He matters. When we get to heaven and see the people there because of our simple faithfulness to the real Gospel, I truly believe we will be amazed.

    What to preach? Start with the key verse. Christ died for our sins.

    What to preach? Stay with the key verse. He was raised to life again.

    What to preach? End with the key verse. He has brought us safely home to God.

    The Gospel will always be sufficient.

    Reverend Anthony Wade - April 9, 2014
  2. #2 Mitspa, Apr 10, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2014
    oops this is a devotional thread..never mind

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