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On this past weekend I attended a memorial service for an elderly gentleman. The presiding personality came to a portion of the service where family, friends, community and church were asked to say something memorable about the deceased; to speak to his good qualities, deeds, character, personality or service. After a long moment of deathly silence, not one soul rose to speak on his behalf. No one had anything to say.
I thought that this was a sad commentary to the close of a life that had spent over 73 years on earth.
I am sure that someone had something good to say about the deceased. However, they just weren’t at the funeral that day.
This made me pause and think to myself, “I don’t want my living to be in vain.” I want somebody to miss something about me that would make it easy for them to speak at my memorial service. I want to help somebody to the extent that if they were to be asked to help eulogize me, it wouldn’t a chore but a pleasant stroll down memory lane.
If I can help somebody, as I pass along,
If I can cheer somebody, with a word or song,
If I can show somebody, how they’re travelling wrong,
Then my living shall not be in vain.
~ Bishop O.W. Prince
“The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men”
“These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.”
How Do You Honor God?
A lot of people think that by joining a local church or congregation or attending church services or paying tithes or serving in one of the church’s ministries that they are honoring and serving God. However, these activities only serve the religious institution. They don’t necessarily honor or serve God.
Some folks think that if they satisfy and please the pastor, flower him with compliments and flattery, pay him well and attend to his material needs that they are pleasing God. That ain’t necessarily so.
Some people believe that if they holler praises to God real loud in church or if they sing real good or if they preach real well or if they lead devotional and prayer services that they are honoring and serving God.
I’ve been to many worship services where the pastor and his congregation behaved as if making the sacrifice of praise through long periods of loud shouting, dancing and musical offerings would honor God.
The shocking truth is that all of these things draw attention to the religious institution. They exalt and deify the preaching personality. They glorify the individual. These things have the appearance of godliness but are often absent of the genuine Spirit of worship. People are often encouraged to participate in these things as an act of corporate worship and praise but they only serve to enhance the power, wealth, position and reputation of the pastor and the religious institution. They only use the name of Jesus to make themselves look good. The attention is drawn away from God to themselves and to their splendid worship facilities; their mega-church congregations; their worldly popularity and their wealth. They say that they give God the glory but it is them who are actually glorified.
God foreknew this and said “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”
Jesus pronounced this prophetic judgment on them by saying:
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the person who does what my Father in heaven wants. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name? Didn’t we force out demons and do many miracles by the power and authority of your name?’ 23 Then I will tell them publicly, ‘I’ve never known you. Get away from me, you evil people. (Matthew 7:21-23)
In order to please, honor and serve God we must first obey God’s commandments and instructions. Otherwise our service is in vain. Our worship is in vain. Our praise is in vain. Our tithing is in vain. Our church attendance is in vain. Unless we repent and are baptized in water into the name of Jesus Christ as instructed by God and unless we receive the precious gift of the Holy Spirit of God as evidenced by the speaking in tongues and unless we hold steadfastly to His teaching, then our living will be in vain.
I don’t care if they are the biggest church in town. If your church or pastor isn’t teaching what Christ taught, if they are not practicing the divinely ordained plan of salvation, then you might as well stay home and not attend that church. (2 John 1:9-11)
I don’t care how many academic degrees a pastor has earned. I don’t care if they are called bishop, reverend, elder, presbytery, pope, cardinal, evangelist, prophet, minister or whatever. If they are not baptizing by submersion into water in the name of Jesus Christ as God directed and the apostles taught and demonstrated, they are disobeying God and are leading the repentant soul to Hell.
Beware! Pastors and churches don’t have a Heaven to place you in but they can certainly mislead you straight to Hell.
23 “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23) We must follow Christ and not a religious institution.
The Christian who desires to follow Christ must deny himself – crucify his own selfish desires; crucify the deeds of his own flesh and crucify his own human ambitions on a daily basis. He must walk the walk of death in order to gain eternal life. Jesus says it this way: “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, and whoever will lose his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:25)
Are you honoring God?
For more information on how disobedience can destroy and cancel out your praise, worship, offering and service, please send for the CD entitled, The Curse of Disobedience.