Summary: A sermon examining the danger of abandoning the Lord and His work.
The Abandoned Church
A certain church recently sold their building to a real estate developer and moved into a smaller location in another area. On the online news article there were dozens of comments from people complaining about the church's decision to sell. People were blasting the church leadership. They blamed the pastor and slandered his name. They were absolutely furious that the church was no longer there.
One said "I grew up in that church... I can't believe they sold it and now it has been torn down". One said "so sad, I used to go there". Another said "I used to teach Sunday School there". Another said "I used to sing in the choir". Another said "I was a member there for decades"
I couldn't help but notice that every person who complained about the decision spoke of this church in the past tense. It seems that everyone stated what they "used to do". The reason that their church was demolished and turned into retail stores is that somewhere along the way those people abandoned it!
It is estimated that in America 4,000 churches close their doors each year. The reason that many close, is that the members have abandoned the church. Some have abandoned one church and gone to another. Some have abandoned the church and gone to the house. Some have abandoned the church even though they attend every time the doors are open. Some people attend the services but they don't support the leadership, they don't encourage the brethren, they don't give, they don't participate and they don't serve. They simply walk in the door sit down and warm a pew for a little while.
Through God's Word He has sent a warning of the perils of abandoning the church. In Revelation chapter 3 Jesus had a message for The Church at Sardis. He said unto them "I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead".
As a church, our reputation among men does not matter! Others may look at a church and think that they are healthy, vibrant and full of life. But Jesus may look at that same church and say that they are dead!
Understand this... a church does not dissolve overnight. There are warning signs that appear in a dying church. If those issues are not addressed, one day there will be nothing left of that assembly except for an empty building and memories of what used to be!
I can take you to a church building within 10 miles from here. The membership had remodeled the sanctuary and had big plans for the future. But through a certain chain of events the membership dissolved and the building now sits idle. The facility is deserted. Trees, shrubs and grass have overtaken the exterior of the building. When you walk inside that old church, the hymnals are still in the pews. A bible sits atop the pulpit. The offering plates and flower vase remain on the table in the front. Markers and art supplies cover the table of the children's Sunday School class. It is as if they locked the doors one week with every intention of worshipping the Savior the following Sunday. But now the work and the worship are gone!
The People Of Israel found themselves in a similar situation some 600 years before the birth of Christ. I would like to look at their story and preach on the thought "The Abandoned Church".
At this point in Israel's history they had been taken captive by Babylon. Jerusalem was plundered and burned. The Temple was destroyed as well. Babylon eventually fell to king Cyrus of Persia....and after some 70 years in captivity the people were set free and allowed to return home. God then charged Cyrus to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. This is recorded in - Ezra 1:2 Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. 3 Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem.
Though God had made it clear that the Temple was to be rebuilt and even though God had set things in order for this task to be completed... the people had other plans. Instead of working on the Temple, the people went about their daily lives and sought to fulfill their wants and desires. Their lives took precedence over the things of God!
After a while the Lord sent Haggai to confront the people concerning their disobedience. Notice - Haggai 1:2 Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the LORD'S house should be built. 3 Then came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying, 4 Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled houses, and this house lie waste? 5 Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways.