Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Count Your Blessings"1 (Lyrics)
Revelation 3:1b-3 – I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. (NIV)
Baking bread in the summer mornings can be somewhat of a challenge, for I do not have the wood stove going, and the house is quite cool until late afternoon. Thus, once I have the dough formed, I scout about the house looking for sunbeams streaming through windows where I can place my bread bowl within their warmth, which in turn activates or wakes up the yeast, allowing the bread to rise.
Warmth and sunlight are important not only in the art of bread making, however, but also doubly important within the church of Jesus Christ, Who is God's "Son Light" to mankind. When Christ's bride, the church, strays from what she has received and heard through Scripture and the power of the Holy Spirit, the witness of the kingdom of God loses its power, enthusiasm, and vitality.
William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, stated, "The chief danger that confronts the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, heaven without hell." Looking at the state of Christianity in North America, especially in comparison with many overseas churches, it would seem that Booth's statement was indeed prophetic.
Taking the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world these days is not nearly as easy as it once was, especially in North America, where many people's hearts have grown cold toward what is termed "religion". Perhaps, we have become too self-satisfied, too well fed, too cynical, too wealthy, or too afraid to not belong to the "in" group. Whatever the case, the North American church has suffered and is suffering greatly in regard to numbers, vitality, and power. We need to wake up and strengthen what remains and is about to die. We need to consider going back and actively cultivating those things which God prizes and asks of His people. And what might they be?
Micah 6:8 – He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (NIV)
Perhaps then, the "Son Light" will once more penetrate the hearts of God's people, the church will rise up in love, and the hearts of nations might be strangely warmed again by the power of His Holy Spirit.
Prayer: Father God, wake up Your church through the power of Your life-giving Holy Spirit, that Your kingdom might once again rise up and that Your will might be done here on earth as it is in heaven. In Christ's name, we pray. Amen.