"The way of the slothful man is as an hedge of thorns: but the way of the righteous is made plain". (Prov. 15:19)
"Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep; and an idle soul shall suffer hunger". (Prov. 19:15)
The Lord shows me that many of God's people are sleeping on Him. He nudges, by His Holy Spirit in the early morning hours, and He quickens the soul to come over to pray and read throughout the day and evening hours, but the Bride is being wooed by another.
Distracted by the fleshly cravings, the lusts of the eyes, and other senses, she moves away from His beckoning. She is caught up with people, idle chatter, telephone, business and busyness, too much food, too much talk and too much sleep. The television is her so called "needed relaxation". Here and there she fits God in by listening to a few preachers on the radio and TV, and occasionally reading just a bit of the Word of God. The entertainment spirit is at work to dull her into delusion. This is not to say that the Bride should not listen to occasional sermons outside of her church services, but never to replace her time alone with the Lord in prayer and the study of God's Word. Jesus gave His church the condition
to be His disciples: "If ye continue in My word, then are ye My disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:3132)
The Bride goes to the weekly worship service in her church and is met again with a "spirit of entertainment". The Lord said, "God is a spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth." (John 4:24) With the clutter of the weeks activities, she comes to church with a heaviness or a weight that doesn't seem to leave. The hymns are sung in a religious spirit and she does not seem to be able to enter into His presence. She enjoys sitting back and listening to the special music planned for the day by singers and instrumentalists, some who have their minds on their music more than on the Lord Jesus in praise. So the church adds to the slothfulness of the entertainment spirit. There may come a music leader that tries to rally the troops. Many times, he draws more on emotions than spirit, and feels productive if he gets everybody clapping. He sings loudly, but is his mind on the adoration of Jesus? If it is, how come he's waving his hands frantically for the crowd to follow him as a conductor leading a band?
There are the heavy rock bands that enter into the church, looking like the world. The sounds of the instruments blare past the sound of the lyrics, and one has to have a program of written words to follow what they sing. At their "Christian concerts", they
charge a fee of $8.00 or more for admission, they sell their tapes for at least $10.00 each, and shirts with their pictures painted or pressed on for some more money. Posters of their face with long hair, leather jackets opened bearing chest, swing from a ceiling or are displayed on the walls of Christian book stores. Idols they have become and the frenzy of the people for their favorite stars creates a Christian "business boom."
I'm happy to say, there are some in the "remnant" that glorify Jesus in their music and have led many to sincere worship under the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
Bride of Christ, the Lord gives His glory to no man, "Give unto the Lord, ye kindreds of the people, give unto the Lord glory and strength. Give unto the Lord the GLORY due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness." (1 Chron. 2829) God has said that "no flesh should glory in His presence." (1 Cor. 1:29).
The pastors in many of God's churches do not themselves enter into a spirit of true worship or adoration. Their concentration too, is on the church business or the sermon they are about to give. There is too much busyness of the mind. (At one time the leader may have spent many hours in prayer and worship, and is now thrust into the ministry of flesh, and not enough abiding in the presence of God.
The house of God is built for pure worship...a place for sincere gratitude to be expressed, a place where God's people can freely come and lift up holy hands of surrendered praise, a place where all concentration is on the love of the Lord Jesus. We should desire to hear God's word, not from someone's planned sermons or commentaries, but through the anointing of the Holy Spirit, fresh and new from the throne of God. We should come to hear what thus saith the Lord. The sermon should bring the flock to a deeper walk with the Lord. The pulpit is not a place to entertain the flock with a comedy show or fanciful stories that have little to do with the Lord Jesus' Word. The crowds might laugh and applaud and say they had a good time in church that day because their entertainment spirit has been fully satisfied.
This does not mean that all preaching should be warnings, but all preaching must lead people to a deeper commitment to Christ and be balanced, bringing the flock into a greater peace and joy in the presence of the Lord. A preacher must point out the sins of the church in specific detail, so that there is no doubt in the minds of the people where they have to repent. "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12) "Beating around the bush" doesn't bring conviction to the congregation and is not led by the spirit of God.
Jonah knew what he had to do when God said to him "Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I BID THEE". (Jonah 3:2) God doesn't speak His Words of specific warning to just the unsaved. Jeremiah was told "Thou therefore, gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee; be not dismayed at their faces lest I confound thee before them." (Jer. 1:17)
Paul in his letters and sermons to the church can boldly say, "If any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed." (2 Thes.3:14)
Few pastors will deal with 1 Corinthians 5:11 in serious exhortation to have someone come to a conviction for repentance, "But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat." Preachers that make no waves to bring forth repentance of the flock will surely receive a great wave of the hand by the Almighty God at judgement day. "And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." (Matt.7:23)
It is time God's shepherds stop the entertainment and get to know the flock that is in their care, for they shall surely answer for each of them. "For they watch for your souls as they that must give
account.." (Heb. 13:17b) The young minister Timothy was told by Paul to "be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity... give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine." (1 Tim 4:1213).
Pastors should not receive personal praise, but encouragement. To tell a pastor that he is the best preacher ever is not helpful to the pastor. To tell the pastor that the Holy Spirit ministered to your spirit in the preaching of the Word gives the Holy Spirit honor and gratitude to those that rule well. It is a "thank- you" for the willingness to stay before the Lord for His Word to you. To encourage the pastor in personal helps to his family and to himself is also giving double honor or double thanks in action. The Holy Spirit is the only One who gets praise. 1 John 2:27 tells us "the anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you, but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in Him." It is only the Holy Spirit of the Lord that brings the Word to the heart for changes in one's life.
I know God has a remnant of ministers that really mean business with God and know how to get shut in with Him above all else. I know that God has a group of ministers that are willing to lay down their lives for their flock. I know they will arise and pray for hours for their flock. I know there is a group of ministers who will share even their own houses and
possessions, holidays, cars, everything for the needs of the flock and who can say "I came not to be ministered unto, but to minister and to give my life as a sacrifice for many." "The servant is not greater than his Lord neither he that is sent greater than He that sent him." (John 13:16) I know there is a group of ministers that will not permit the entertainment spirit to enter into their churches, and will take authority over anything that merely resembles such a spirit. They know that benefit in the Word and worship comes only under the anointing of the Holy Spirit of the Living God! All things are done in the very presence of the Lord God who sees all.