Summary: Have you ever wondered what it takes to ignite a dying church? Have you ever attended a dying church? No one wants to be in a dead, dull, dying church. What do you think it takes for a church to burn for Jesus?
Have you ever wondered what it takes to ignite a dying church? Have you ever attended a dying church?
Introduction - A Dying Church
An artist was once asked to put on canvas what he considered to be the picture best symbolizing a decaying and dying church. After several months, he returned and reported that he had finished the task. The hour finally arrived when the painting was to be unveiled. Several people standing around the easel had already given their description of what they thought the church would look like. Some had said it would be a rundown building in great need of repair and paint. Weeds would be growing in the church yard, and there would be some broken window panes. Everyone in the group seemed to have a similar picture in mind. However, when the cloth was removed, a hush fell over the group. Everyone was stunned. Before their eyes was an absolutely beautiful church building. The grounds were well kept and the exterior of the building was in excellent condition. After a few minutes, one person stepped forward and said to the artist, "I thought we asked you to paint a dying church?"
The artist smiled and invited everyone to step closer to the painting. He pointed through the windows to the empty pews and to the collection plate on the table. There was nothing in the plate but "cobwebs."
The church that has cobwebs in its collection plate is a church that is decaying and dying. Without the giver, there is no giving. Without the giving, ministries cannot be conducted by the church. Without ministries being conducted, the mission of the church cannot be carried out. If the mission of the church is not carried out, the church is purposeless and dead.
If you really want an exciting worship service, invite Jesus to be a part!
EXPERIENCE THE PRESENCE OF JESUS (21-22)
Jesus chose Capernaum to be His base for ministry. It was a city of great activity, beauty and racial diversity. Capernaum was made up of Jews, Bedouins, Roman soldiers and merchants. Population ran about 15,000 people.
But Capernaum was a city with social problems and a city of great wealth and great need. It was a city of sin and decadence. Jesus eventually compared Capernaum to the wicked city of Sodom and reserved some of His harshest words for it. It was a place where the uncommon became extremely common. (Geography of the Soul by C. Welton Gaddy)
On the Sabbath...doing the expected, normal duties in the Synagogue (post-exilic place of worship, not for sacrifice, no music only strong biblical teaching). Jesus made a habit to attend the synagogue service. He met others there as well.
Not your typical service “thus saith the Lord” Their attitude (astonished...struck senseless, astounded) but not everyone was pleased. Jesus shook things and people up when He attended a service.
True biblical preaching will astound and amaze people who are starving spiritually! Why? Because it confronts, convicts and convinces!
RECOGNIZE THE THREAT OF DISSENSION (23-24)
It was interesting that this synagogue had a man with a demonic spirit. Just because a person attends Bible study or a worship service does not mean they have a living relationship with the living God. Notice several things about this man.
First, he was probably a prominent citizen.
It appears that everyone may have known this man. It was no coincidence that he was there when Jesus was there. God had a purpose for his attendance. He was going to reveal the nature of the man.
He was more than likely a religious individual.
He attended the synagogue service. He was probably very comfortable in their midst.
He was a lost person.
He had an unclean spirit and an unregenerate heart. The cry out of his mouth was a demonic cry. A person doesn’t have to be demon possessed to cause trouble! One can be convicted of sin and the spirit of filth and recognition of a spiritual need will come forth. It was interesting that all demons recognized Jesus and His authority while the religious people rejected Him.
I have heard it said that “Cockroaches run when the light is turned on in the kitchen.” Filth is revealed when Truth is shined upon it.
VALUE THE AUTHORITY OF GOD’S WORD (25-28)
Notice Jesus’ response. He didn’t just sit there and allow them (the demons) to ruin the service. He rebuked and removed the problem. They didn’t hang around righteousness.
The Lord’s rebuke
Jesus literally said, “be muzzled, chill out and shut up!” We see His humanity and deity. He was concerned about this man and the people in the synagogue. He removed the problem.
The demons removal
It was painful but immediate. Jesus did not negotiate or carry on a long conversation with the demons. He simply removed them showing His omnipotence.