Everyone wants to hope in someone or something, especially this time of year, the season of hope. This hope is more prevalent in children but most adults young and old still want to see their hopes fulfilled. The target date for this hope is December 25 and we have to wait to see if Santa brought what we hoped for. For many that hope is not fulfilled so they stopped believing in Santa. I know what you are thinking Paul, you have been watching to many Christmas movies about Santa Claus. What does Santa Claus have to do with the real reason for the season? Yes in fact I love watching Christmas movies and even some cheesy Hallmark ones. Recently we started watching the Santa Clause movies again. In the first one The Santa Clause, a line always stuck with me. Elf Judy who served Santa hot cocoa said, “Seeing isn't believing. Believing is seeing.” As the movies progress there is another part to the Santa clause and he finds out that he has to get married. Well in the process he meets the Principle (she’s a mean one who stopped believing) of his sons school and they end up going to a Christmas party. This is a lifeless party at least until they all received presents from their child hood and joy and laughter burst out in the room. The atmosphere of that party totally changes. This was a common theme in the movie. The question was; when did you stop believing in Santa. They could remember asking for such and such and did not get it so they stopped believing. In the third movie Santa’s workshop was turned into a cheap moneymaking venue to make a profit. That needs no explanation.
My goal today is not to get you to believe in Santa Claus but to get you to take a hard look at your belief system when it comes to the real reason for the season. Sadly we have made this gift of salvation a season but it really it is all year long. The same goes with Easter. We are a Christmas / Easter church all year long. My point is that most Christians do not believe God’s word completely. They only believe if what they read fits into their belief system. The God of the universe has been put into a box dictated by our beliefs instead of what scripture states as truth. God then gives us what we want, but it won’t stay that way. The bible tells us, this is what the church should look like but we are not even close. We have many who are just going through the motions and their lives resemble the lifeless Christmas party. Instead of asking the question why is scripture not happening, theology and reasoning have been formulated to explain away the missing component of the church. Sadly that missing component is the Holy Spirit and the Spirit cannot be explained away without leaving a void. Most people do not even know there is something missing as they have become content with what they can see. Right now there is a tremendous void in the church. Oh sure some churches look like the Spirit must be moving because so much is going on but when you look closely there is no Spiritual power just powerful organization and management. Most churches have applied a Fortune 500 business plan to their church and unfortunately this works for while but in the end what will they do when they find out they have followed the wrong plan. The bible lays out the plan for us and we are to follow the way, the truth and the life, Jesus. This way we can tell what is missing and what is real or unreal. The bible has to be the centre of our belief system even if we are not seeing it happen. When we compare the church to scripture, we see the church is missing the power of the Holy Spirit. The only answer to this is repentance for not believing the word of God. Mark 16:14 “Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.” For us “those who had seen him” refers to scripture. If we do not believe what we read, we are doing the same thing.
I believe we are in the same situation as 1 Kings 17:13 “The Lord warned Israel and Judah through all his prophets and seers: “Turn from your evil ways. Observe my commands and decrees, in accordance with the entire Law that I commanded your ancestors to obey and that I delivered to you through my servants the prophets. 7 All this took place because the Israelites had sinned against the Lord their God, 14 But they would not listen and were as stiff-necked as their ancestors, who did not trust in the Lord their God. 15 They rejected his decrees and the covenant he had made with their ancestors and the statutes he had warned them to keep. They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless. They imitated the nations around them although the Lord had ordered them, “Do not do as they do. So the people of Israel were taken from their homeland into exile in Assyria, and they are still there. 4 To this day they persist in their former practices. They neither worship the Lord nor adhere to the decrees and regulations, the laws and commands that the Lord gave the descendants of Jacob, whom he named Israel. 40 They would not listen, however, but persisted in their former practices. 41 Even while these people were worshiping the Lord, they were serving their idols. To this day their children and grandchildren continue to do as their ancestors did.” We as a church are in the same position as the enemy has taken many captive because of our unbelief.
1 Peter 1:18 “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.” This empty way of life is an empty belief system void of power. 1 Corinthians 4:20 “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.” Sadly the church is content with 2 Timothy 3:5 “having a form of godliness but denying its power.”
“King Josiah Josiah was eight years old when he became king, 2 He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and followed completely the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left. 2 Chronicles 34” In the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his father David. 8 In the eighteenth year of Josiah’s reign, to purify the land and the temple, he sent Shaphan son of Azaliah and Maaseiah the ruler of the city, with Joah son of Joahaz, the recorder, to repair the temple of the Lord his God. Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of the Lord that had been given through Moses. 15 Hilkiah said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the temple of the Lord.” 18 Then Shaphan the secretary informed the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read from it in the presence of the king. 19 When the king heard the words of the Law, he tore his robes.” My question has always been; why have we not done the same. We all read the same bible, so why are most content to continue handing down this empty way of life. Our response to the word of God should be the same as Josiah’s. “Go and inquire of the Lord for me and for the remnant in Israel and Judah about what is written in this book that has been found. Great is the Lord’s anger that is poured out on us because those who have gone before us have not kept the word of the Lord; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written in this book.” We must respond the same way and turn from our wicked ways. First of all we must believe even if we do not see because the bible said so. Our belief should always stem from the word of God, which in the end will keep us from the false when we do begin to see power unfold. That is our starting point. Just because we are not seeing the true power of God happening on a daily basis does not mean it is not available. Mark 16 states that this power is available to all who believe. Since it is not happening we do not question the power, we question the belief / unbelief. The bible always prevails. 15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”19 After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. 20 Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.”
According to God’s word, there is so much more available to us. This empty way of life, void of power has become the norm for many but there is more available to all who will believe. In order for us to return to the heart of worship we must believe with childlike faith once again. When we start believing again, we will see.
Prayer: Help me overcome my unbelief. Mark 9:21 “Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. 18 Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.” 19 “You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.” 21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” “From childhood,” he answered. 22 “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” 23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”25 When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the impure spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” 26 The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.”