The Prodigal Church: Will the Real Church Please Stand Up

Posted on 10/20/2013 by Rev. Jennifer L. Faust

AUDIO: dialup - broadband - podcast

TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)

*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***


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WE BRING THE SACRIFICE OF PRAISE

We bring the sacrifice of praise
into the house of the Lord
We bring the sacrifice of praise
into the house of the Lord
And we offer up to you
the sacrifices of thanksgiving
And we offer up to you
the sacrifices of joy


TREES OF THE FIELD

You shall go out with joy
And be let forth with peace
And the mountains and the hills
Will break forth before you
There'll be shouts of joy
And all the trees of the fields
Will clap, will clap their hands

And all the trees of the fields
will clap their hands
The trees of the fields will clap their hands
The trees of the fields will clap their hands
While you go out with joy


BLESS THE LORD O MY SOUL

Bless the Lord O my soul
and all that is within me
bless his holy name

For he has done great things
he has done great things
he has done great things
He's so good to me

He saved my soul
he saved my soul
he saved my soul
He's so good to me

He is coming soon
he is coming soon
he is coming soon
Bless his holy name



*** for the message introduction, listen to the audio ***

Father God, Thank You for this time to be in Your presence. Thank You that whenever we come to You, You are waiting with open arms to receive us. I ask that we would be open to what is on Your heart this day and that my words would be pleasing to Your ears. Speak to our hearts, God. Pour out Your Spirit upon us as we go to Your Word. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen!

Please be seated.

Today's fireside chat is called “The Prodigal Church: Will The Real Church Please Stand Up! Let's dig in! Pull up a chair, grab a drink and maybe a snack, and let's dive into this talk right now! Here we go! Are you ready? :)

The Real Church of Jesus Christ has been lost along the way. You might be saying “Mari (that's me!) how can you say that?” Well...listen in and listen up to what I have to share.

To have the Real Church stand up we need to know Who Jesus really is. He isn't just a good person. He's the Son of God! He didn't just come to say some nice things. He came to die on the cross for our sins and He rose from the dead, conquering Hell and the grave!

Jesus, the Real One, has to be known for the Real Church to stand up because we follow the Real Jesus, don't we? The Real Jesus Who cared for the sick, the widows, the orphans, those broken and in need of Him.

James 1:27 says Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
Are we as the Church doing our part? Do we visit the orphans and widows in their trouble? Do you yourselves help those in need? Do I? Do we do something to help or do we just talk about it?

Servanthood, a big part of being the Real Church, is to serve others! Do we have the heart of Jesus? Are we willing to get our hands dirty and wash people's feet? How about giving of our time to visit the poor and needy? To go to the prisons and visit those there. Do you and I do these things?

Let's read Matthew chapter 25 verse 31-46. It says:

31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 43 I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’

44 “Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ 45 Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

These verses speak of two groups. Sheep and goats. The sheep obey the Good Shepherd's voice and feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, take in strangers, clothe the naked, and visit the sick and those in prison.

The goats don't. The only difference is what they did and didn't do.

Which are you? A sheep or a goat? I need to work on my being more of a sheep than a goat.

Do we welcome people into the fold or do we push them away? Our RL pastor says “To make friends be friendly.” Well it's a paraphrase, but it means the same thing. Is the Church hospitable or hostile to newcomers? To those who don't fit into our cliques?
Sadly, I have heard that at times The Church is more hostile than loving. The Church appears more worldly than the world.

Remember that verse in James chapter 1 verse 27?
Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

The second part...”and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”

Has The Church done this? Not totally! Not only are there Christians , lay people, who believe certain things such as that homosexuality and abortion are okay, but Church leaders allow these things within the Church!

No one sees a problem with sin. And satan LOVES that while God watches His children become distant. God hates sin! Sin cannot be in the presence of a holy God! The Only God!

And I hear God say “Will the real Church please stand up!” And He waits. He sees a remnant of His Church walking back to Him and He runs to meet it just like the father in the Prodigal Son story in the Bible.

God runs to meet His Church, His Family, His Children. “So few,” He whispers. And we cry on His shoulder, knowing how few His Prodigals are. Yet we pray.

Are you part of the remnant of The Church or are you still far away from God? In the days, weeks, months, and years to come, we have to stand fast as The Real Church.

The Prodigal Church will come back, Father! Please wait for us!

And now is the time to pray and seek God's face. To stand and watch on our walls for the time is running short. We must be the trumpets that awaken the sleeping Church and to bring the Prodigal Church back to God! Now is the time. Are you ready and willing to stand up and BE THE REAL CHURCH?

I do believe this is the time for the CHURCH to stand up and be counted. To show ITS true self and to allow satan to see that we aren't afraid.

I believe that we have to be ready, to put on the armor of God and to do battle. Yes, battle on our knees! The Prodigal Church has to return to the Father. Can you see in the distance...the Father running to us and celebrating that His long, lost Prodigal Church...His Family...His Children have come back to Him? Can you hear Him say...I am coming for you...are you ready?

This altar call has two different parts. The first, is what is known as a call for those who are in need of salvation, that don't know Jesus. Come to the altar. Jesus is calling your name even if you don't know it! He wants you to accept His free gift. He is waiting for you!

The second part is what I call a mercy call. The first could also be labeled a mercy call, but the second is one for The Prodigal Church. We know we are doing wrong and we have grown distant in our relationship with God. We know we are far away...yet we can see God running to us...His arms are open wide. He is showing us mercy. He is giving us another chance! Don't wait!

I can see Him. His arms are open wide, ready to receive His Prodigal Church, His Family, His Children. He waits...but He then is too eager and He races to us! When He reaches us...we try to say “I'm sorry for taking so long” but we only get out “I'm sorry for taking...” before His arms envelope us in a hug. Tears stream down our faces. We've forgotten how wonderful Daddy's arms wrapped around us feels. He picks us up. He carries us in His arms, on His shoulders. And we feel loved, special.

Father God, thank You for today. For listening to our cries, hurts, anger, and the times when we just want to give up! But there are also times when the joy is so overwhelming all we can do is smile and dance. Thank You for those!

Daddy, I would like to ask just one thing from You. Could You please send Your glory, your healing, not just to me, but to all those who hear this fireside chat, who read it? We all could sue some time protected under Your wings, held in Your arms, and carried on Your shoulders.

The awesome thing is you can do all those things for each of us! You can protect, hold, and carry us all at once!

I Love You, Daddy!

Thank You for wanting me and for showing me that I am yours and I'm amazing. Thank You for wanting all of us and for showing us all that we are Yours and we are amazing.

In Jesus' name, Amen.

Let's remind ourselves that we are wanted by God and that He sees us as amazing! :)

This altar is open for prayer and ministry. If you need to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior of Your life, please come and pray. If you need someone to talk to our would like someone to pray with you, please message one of us. Come and pray with us for the Prodigal Church to return to the Father and for the Real Church to stand up!

After this time at the altar, we'll have a fellowship time in the room to your left. Come join us if you can.

May God bless you this week as you pray for the Prodigal Church, the Family of God to return to the Father who is waiting eagerly for Its return. May you see the Father run to you as you go about your week. He is so eager to spend time with His children!

Go in His peace that passes all understanding!