Larry Roques

Larry Roques

The Pastor's Journal of House of Joy Church

The Mere Appearance

     The Mere Appearance

                          July 5, 2015

II Timothy
3:1-9

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was. (II Timothy 3:1-9 NKJV)

Data check....You are at the Fifth of July, 2015....you have now made it two thousand plus years since the first physical appearance and departure of our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ. The scripture we just now read together aptly describes the age in which we live now, but also other points in the history of man. What make them significant to this time in history is the completion of most of the end time prophecies we see in the Old and New Testaments. The world is ripe for a time of harvest. It is an age where the church can either shine like a beacon, or simply glow with the rest of the glittery temporal things of this world. God’s Word calls us to be a beacon.

This morning, I want to talk about appearances. In specific...the “mere appearances” that we see here being addressed by Paul in Second Timothy as “having a form of godliness”.  What we have been seeing now for the past 15 or so years is a progressive pushing back of the lines of what is fashionable to include as the Gospel. We are now seeing it in this country, but like the spoiled children of affluent society that we are, we have been sheltered from the oppression and persecution that others have been seeing for many decades in foreign lands. It is now making its way to our shores and some are thinking it strange.

When Paul addressed Timothy here in Chapter 3, he was admonishing Timothy to prepare himself, even back then, for the turning of man. It does not have to be many generations seeing the dead raised and the deaf hearing and the blind regaining sight that man forgets the wonders of God and returns to the vomit of the world. The insanity we are seeing here has been commonplace for a long time in other lands. So today, I want you to consider Paul’s words to Timothy....about having a form of godliness.  What makes the difference between a life of amazing miracles and simply accepting what religion dishes out is how we embrace the Power of God. We never want ourselves to be thought of God as simply having... “The Mere Appearance”.

 

 

 


Things that “talk” alive...

Revelation 3:1-2

“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, ‘These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. (
Revelation 3:1-2 NKJV)

 

Here, Jesus tells Sardis, the fifth of seven churches that though they talk the talk...they have not been able to walk the walk. Five is the number of grace. Jesus tells them to immediately make mid-course corrections that they be watchful and strengthen themselves. There are also five stages to the tree of life; seed, root, tree, branch, and fruit. You know a tree by its fruit.

If you have ever, even in glancing, noticed how we name our churches, you would think that each one was the epicenter of the miraculous....a vortex of supernatural occurrences. But like the Holiday Inn...it never feels like a holiday. And like a Milky Way candy bar, you never quite feel like what you did was in any way connected with the goodness of milk. And motel 6?...well that hasn’t been six bucks in a  long time. Calling something by a name does not validate it. What validates it is the outward signs that give testimony to its name. When people see the name church these days, a flurry of negative thoughts comes to most people. That is not because church is bad...it’s because of what man has done to what God established.

We must be ever vigilant as believers that we not declare a form of Godliness without embracing His mighty power that comes to set the captive free! This House of Joy must be in a position of readiness to accept and host the presence of God however he sends it to us. The church at Sardis had good intention, but the tug on the world is ever there calling us to settle. We cannot compromise or settle on anything but God’s will.


Things that “look” alive...

Mark 11:12-15

Now the next day, when they had come out from Bethany, He was hungry. And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. In response Jesus said to it, “Let no one eat fruit from you ever again.” And His disciples heard it. So they came to Jerusalem. Then Jesus went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. (
Mark 11:12-15 NKJV)

 

We just read about those five stages of a tree’s development. The one right before the fruit stage is the “branch”. Leaves are an outward sign on a branch that fruit is imminent. When Jesus saw something that looked fruitful, he immediately cursed the tree for its deception. The very next thing you see here in Mark 11 was Jesus overturning tables in the temple belonging to the merchants who sold indulgences. That stuff is still going on.

Was Jesus just having a bad day? Did he have a “thing” about fig trees? No. Jesus was setting a spiritual precedent before his disciples. He wanted them to see first-hand that words are powerful. But he also wanted to establish that appearances without fruit were the definition of futility. Look at the same chapter starting in verse 20...

“Now in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. And Peter, remembering, said to Him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree which You cursed has withered away.” So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” (Mark 11:20-24 NKJV)

Three things here:

1.    Words are powerful

2.    God is powerful

3.    Prayer is effective

 

We can never accept the lie that what we say in faith is ineffective. When we talk to God He listens...and he answers. Prayer is never about mere appearances.


And then again...things that look dead

Ezekiel 37:1-6


The hand of the LORD came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” So I answered, “O Lord GOD, You know.” Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the LORD.” ’ ” (
Ezekiel 37:1-6 NKJV)

 

One of the songs that Abby worked so hard on was called “Come Alive”. Its lyrics referenced Ezekiel 37. As I accompanied her on that song, I was ever amazed at how the Spirit of God continually reminds us that it is indeed never too late for a resurrection. We try to create life in our words and in our actions, but most times they are just dead works we try our best to animate. But God...God takes things that are not only dead...they are decomposing...and he regenerates these things to life.

As we look around our world today...there are so many things that we can call dead; so many dry bones in the land that it is overwhelming. The fig tree was not an evil fig tree...it was just out of step with the kingdom. He didn’t curse it because it was bad...he did so because it was a waste of time. The church at Sardis wasn’t dead for lack of the availability of life...it was dead because of its choices. We still have fig trees and we still have churches...and we still have the abundant grace of God that breathes life into dry bones. We never have to settle for the mere appearance.

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