I was looking for a way to transition back to our journey after focusing on the powerless condition of the church this last Sunday. As I contemplated this I realized that on one single day the church showed the world it was no different than the world they were supposed to save, but in reality the church is who needs to be saved. The reality at this point is the church really doesn’t have the power to stand. As I pondered this I realized that the church had finally become one but not necessarily in a good way. We read in scripture that Israel would often gather together as one. Ezra 3:1 “the people assembled together as one in Jerusalem. Nehemiah 8:1 “all the people came together as one in the square.” Judges 20:11 “So all the Israelites got together and united as one against the city.” Paul said it this way Philippians 1:27 “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel 28 without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God.”
                When the remnant stands again together as one and clothed with power, the enemy will be defeated. Isaiah 50:7 “Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame. 8 He who vindicates me is near. Who then will bring charges against me? Let us face each other! Who is my accuser? Let him confront me! 9 It is the Sovereign LORD who helps me. Who will condemn me?” So we too will stand as one against our enemies. But this is not what happened on Sunday, although the church stood as one. From the charismatic to the fundamentalists, from the liturgical to the informal and many in-between, the church stood together as one and closed their doors. That is not what the church is supposed to do when it comes to standing as one. But on this one day, while the powerless church across the board stood as one, the enemy continues to prevail. They would just be like everyone else.
                Yesterday I received an email from Fit For Less (gym) stating that they were shutting down. “With the well-being of our Members, Associates & our community in mind we have made the difficult but important decision to close all GoodLife Fitness Clubs across Canada, effective immediately.” This is a gym were power is created but all the power created by working out cannot defeat our enemies, especially with spiritual warfare. They have no power to stand against this virus so they did the responsible thing and closed their doors. But unlike a gym the church is supposed to have power to defeat our enemies, even a virus. I also noticed an article that said, “Winnipeg religious communities respond to the arrival of COVID-19” with a picture of the empty church. It was this comment from the pastor I thought was interesting. He said, “Our faith is much bigger than the room we meet in.” I have to ask; Is it? The pastor then said, “His church decided the move was the socially responsible thing to do.” Then he said, “We are doing it for the healthcare professionals, to take the strain off and for those who are highly at risk and for ourselves.” Would not the healing power of God take the strain off the healthcare? If the church was where it should be, can you imagine what God would do for His people but instead the church has become just like the world. It operates just as the world does. 2 Chronicles 16:12 “In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was afflicted with a disease in his feet. Though his disease was severe, even in his illness he did not seek help from the Lord, but only from the physicians.” Today this seems to be the acceptable order of things yet we serve a God who has available healing power if we would just turn back to Him. In the same article though not the church the chair of the board of the Manitoba Islamic Association said, “Friday morning we thought it was best, following the provincial update, to cancel Friday prayers for that week and until further notice,” he said. “It was a difficult decision, but I think it had to be made because we wanted everyone’s safety and health to come first.” So there you have two completely different faiths became one on the same day. Their prayers were not even enough.
                The church is no different than everyone else yet they think they are. Since God has turned His face from us, the church is void of power. The picture of the empty church really illustrates this well. If the tomb is empty then why were the churches empty? Paul said and we pray Ephesians 1:18 “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” There is so much more that God has for us than what we are seeing. The church no longer understands this hope nor does it understand “His incomparably great power for us who believe.” Hebrews 5:11 “We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”
                Because the church is void of people is why we are praying that God will hear our cry and turn to us once again. Solomon said in 1 Kings 8:33 “When your people Israel have been defeated by an enemy because they have sinned against you, and when they turn back to you and give praise to your name, praying and making supplication to you in this temple, 34 then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your people Israel and bring them back to the land you gave to their ancestors. 37 “When famine or plague comes to the land, or blight or mildew, locusts or grasshoppers, or when an enemy besieges them in any of their cities, whatever disaster or disease may come, 38 and when a prayer or plea is made by anyone among your people Israel—being aware of the afflictions of their own hearts, and spreading out their hands toward this temple— 39 then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Forgive and act; deal with everyone according to all they do, since you know their hearts (for you alone know every human heart), 40 so that they will fear you all the time they live in the land you gave our ancestors.” God promised David that there would always be a remnant and there always has been and there always will be until the moon stops waxing and waning. (Waxing is "Maxing," or growing with light until a full moon is reached. Waning is the opposite, or decreasing after a full moon)
                This day when the church stood together as one in defeat should be a call for repentance if the church would realize it is not clothed with power and has been deceived and lies in desolation. God said 2 Chronicles 7:13 “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. 16 I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there. 17 “As for you, if you walk before me faithfully as David your father did, and do all I command, and observe my decrees and laws, 18 I will establish your royal throne, as I covenanted with David your father when I said, ‘You shall never fail to have a successor to rule over Israel.” Because the church has not walked faithfully before God we have already seen this happen. 19 “But if you turn away and forsake the decrees and commands I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, 20 then I will uproot Israel from my land, which I have given them, and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name. I will make it a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples. 21 This temple will become a heap of rubble. All who pass by will be appalled and say, ‘Why has the Lord done such a thing to this land and to this temple?’ 22 People will answer, ‘Because they have forsaken the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who brought them out of Egypt, and have embraced other gods, worshiping and serving them—that is why he brought all this disaster on them.’”
                So if you believe there is more available to us than the empty way handed down by our fathers who did not adhere to the word of God by going their own way, then stand firm with your face set like flint, waiting and trusting that God will turn His face and clothe us once again with His power. Psalm 108:1 “My heart, O God, is steadfast; I will sing and make music with all my soul. 2 Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn. 3 I will praise you, LORD, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. 4 For great is your love, higher than the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. 5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth. 6 Save us and help us with your right hand, that those you love may be delivered. 7 God has spoken from his sanctuary: “In triumph I will parcel out Shechem and measure off the Valley of Sukkoth. 8 Gilead is mine, Manasseh is mine; Ephraim is my helmet, Judah is my scepter. 9 Moab is my washbasin, on Edom I toss my sandal; over Philistia I shout in triumph.” 10 Who will bring me to the fortified city? Who will lead me to Edom? 11 Is it not you, God, you who have rejected us and no longer go out with our armies? 12 Give us aid against the enemy, for human help is worthless. 13 With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies.” Isaiah 54:7 “For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back. 8 In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you, says the Lord your Redeemer.”
                 Our enemies will be struck down once again. Churches around the world should be in full repentance yet like Jeremiah said, Jeremiah 8:6 “I have listened attentively, but they do not say what is right. None of them repent of their wickedness, saying, “What have I done?” Each pursues their own course like a horse charging into battle.” Malachi tells us Malachi 3:6 “I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. 7 Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty. “But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’ 8 “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ “In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty. 12 “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the Lord Almighty.”
                We are not just talking money but serving God wholeheartedly with our lives. If the church would return to God, He would return to the church and pour out His blessing. Continue to cry out for God to move in power. He is our only hope. Psalm 33:20 “We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. 21 In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. 22 May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you.”