September 6, 2015II Corinthians 2: 14 -   Atmosphere 


   We are in a war brothers and sisters.   You are in a war.  The enemy has his eye upon this nation and he is roaring like a lion.  What is the spiritual atmosphere in America?   I believe it has changed drastically in the last 2 years.   I do not want to offend anyone to day and I know this whole LGBT is a hot issue in the United States.   Christians have no business persecuting others.  Jesus loved the out casts of society.  We as Christians have not shown these people the love of Jesus.  I was grieved when they showed Christians a while back carrying signs that said God hated them. .  One former member of Bethel suggested that maybe we need to do that.  That is certainly a lie.  Many gays have been persecuted but I believe the tide is changing and changing rapidly.   I believe Christians are being persecuted today in America and some do not believe that.  We have seen the clerk in KY put in jail.    Read JAMES D.   Center for Law and Justice, and Liberty Articles.  We have voted in Liberal Presidents who have appointed liberal judges.    I do not want you to be afraid but you should know we are in a post Christian situation.  The Klein’s were fined 135K for not baking a cake.  They lost their business and he is now hauling garbage.  Wrong is praised and right is wrong.   It was prophesied a year or 2 ago that persecution was coming.    Are we going to stand up for Jesus?   I think we all know it is not a time to kick back and take it easy in our walk with God. 

     I want to share a couple of prophetic words.   Per Cindy Jacobs there is a prophetic word that there will be will be a conservative revolt.  States will want to pull away from Federal government because they do not want to follow federal laws etc.   Texas is bringing a case before the Supreme Court where they have some abortion guide lines.   In my mind federal law is trumping the constitution.      

     I heard Perry Stone say that God told him when America got above 50 million abortions that we would come under judgment.  We are well past 50 million abortions.  I have heard others comment because of abortion we have angered God.  I realize we have turned off much of the culture today because we come across as judgmental but truth is truth.  Christians need to be careful how we communicate.  I have heard others say when we pull away from Israel that it will not be good.   Now we turned marriage into something that is not what God intended.   To say it is OK is not right.  Our national debt is terrible.   We are going in debt over 1 trillion dollars a year now and it seems like every time someone says no to some spending they are the bad guys.  We have to say no to some of this spending.

     I am glad that the teachers in Manchester got their contract and their raise.  Is there a down side?  I do not hear anything about that.  Will the police budget be hit?  Will the fire department be hit or the road crew especially in the winter?  Will the poor in Manchester say you teachers are rich?  You can go out and eat and take a vacation and I can’t get any help and I do not have food to eat.  Will someone die from over dosing?  One of our presidential hopefuls is saying they hope to level the playing field.  Well they can start by giving away some of their money.  One of our presidents who came across as being very interested in helping the poor spent around 30 million dollars on their inaugural party.  I recently visited an atheist web site and they showed a picture of a huge church and they said what about helping the poor?  I thought yes they will be judged but are you just being critical?  What are you doing?  When I went to Viet Nam in the 60’s I was troubled by the size of the big churches there.   It seemed out of character.  Some are probably thinking the pastor is against big buildings.  I did not say that. I believe there is a need for some the temple was huge.  But we will be judged.  If it is all about me or all about us it is an issue whether it is a church or nation or a person. 

   I hope life is not all about me.  I hope my money is not all about me.  I trust my time is not all about me.  I want my life to count.   I want to lead people to Jesus.  I want to disciple others.  I want to be a praying person and be in the scripture.  I want my life, my money and my time to count.   I do not want anything to hinder my commitment to this church to do what God wants me to do.    We walk in grace and that is great.  The church at Laodicea walked in grace.   They said I am rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing and Jesus said you make me sick.  Many have likened the church in Laodicea to the church in America.  Did you ever spit on someone or have someone spit on you?  Ever get sick and throw up.  Jesus told the church at Laodicea you make me sick. I suspect it was not everyone in the church but some.  I would hope Jesus is not saying to Bethel you are lukewarm and I am disgusted with you.  Jesus told the church at Ephesus I will remove your lamp stand.  I think that means your light.  We can lose our light. The church – the Christian can lose their light. 

  I think we are in difficult days.  We are moving into the blood moons period from mid September and October.    If I was in business right now I would want to collect everything I could because money may get tighter.   I se prophecy and hear about prophetic on it.   A number of secular leaders are expecting a financial change or shake up.  God may tell some of us to put some extra food away not in fear but in obedience.  Personally I think it is good to have some extra food and cash stored away.  Proverbs says there is oil in the dwelling of the wise.   I know a lot of folks think that is a joke.  I say listen to God and obey Him.  Hebrews 11 says Noah being warned by God built an ark.   Noah did not lie around but acted.  He did something.   Noah went to work.  I think many Christians will walk with God as long as it does not cost them anything.  I am concerned for the church in America.  Many Christians are not strong in areas of prayer, bible reading, tithing and evangelism and disciple making.  Are we going to stand for Jesus?   Will this church stand for Jesus?  I had a meeting with one of our pastors this week and he said I preach what God puts on my heart.  He said I preached a message in church and one of the elders told him if you continue to preach like that I will personally come and remove you from the pulpit.  He laughed and said that is not going to happen – I don’t move too easily.  God likes Christians who do not move too easily. 

    The world situation continues to change.  Eric Watt of Run Ministries tells of 117 girls rescued from ISIS who were to be sold as sex slaves and they are trying to support 160,000 refugees many are Iraqi Christians.  These people are hungry and cold. We are seeing huge numbers literally thousands of people fleeing into Hungry.  Thousands starve to death every day from hunger.    

           Atmosphere and the spiritual climate are so important.    In the book Secrets to powerful prayer they give an example of open heavens.  This happened on a street that separates Brazil and Uruguay.  A missionary was passing out tracts and on the Uruguayan side of the street not one person would accept a tract.  On the Brazil side they would accept tracts.  The difference is only a few feet.  On the Uruguay side he would be snubbed and a few feet over the Brazil side everyone would take a tract and thank him.  In time he saw a woman who had refused a tract an hour ago cross the street to the Brazil side so he followed her across the street and offered a tract to her a tract again.  This time she took it and said thank you very much I appreciate it.  I have read similar things in other books.  The spirit world really impacts us.   Does atmosphere make a difference? 

      I want to talk about aroma or atmosphere.  I want to talk about church today and church atmosphere.  I want to talk about open and closed heavens and at the root of all of this is our need to pray.   I feel this is a very important message for you folks and I have been praying for you and praying for this message this week.    

    Why do people leave churches?   I suppose we could list 100’s of things.   How does a church stop folks from leaving or maybe better yet why do folks stay in a church?   If you had a friend who was in a church similar to this one and they came to you and said our church is struggling what would you recommend?     Well that just throws the door wide open.   What would you tell them?  There are so many opinions.  Let’s talk about that a little bit.   Some folks would say you need a first class worship team.  Some would say you need a seeker friendly service.  Take down the cross and the pictures of Jesus etc.    Some would say to sing the new choruses to appeal to the younger generation.    Some would say you need to sing the old hymns because that is what the folks want to hear.   Some would say you need a dynamic preacher.   One who speaks with fire and who can evangelize and lead.  He has 60 years of preaching experience under his belt and he is only 33 years old.     Some would say well you need new blood.  You need some new converts so do lots of evangelism.   Some would say well you need a nice building with good visibility to the public.   If you have a better mouse trap the world will come running to you.   If you ask a Southern Baptist at least a few years ago they would probably respond you need a strong Sunday school and bus a ministry can help.   Drive those kids to church.  If you are down south in the summer you better have air conditioning and certainly heat up north.  Some would say church dinners and some would say programs and on and on. 

     But there are people who gather in Jesus name who do not have great worship teams.  There are people who meet who do not have a great preacher maybe even unlearned and ignorant pastor.  That is what the leaders said about the apostles and Jesus used them to build the church.   The apostles sent time with Jesus.  They soak Jesus in and it changed them.   Some folk’s meet that do not have hymn books or power points or chorus sheets.  There are folks who meet who do not have fancy buildings, sound systems and I believe some probably that do not even have chairs and yet they walk for miles to get there.   They will come even though there is no Sunday school.  I think we listen to the whispers of the devil about what we need in church. Maybe a better way to put that is Satan tells us what we are lacking and by the way since it is not here we are somehow second class and for some it is time to go somewhere else.  Satan has a drum he like s to beat.   Granted in this environment and society a lot is expected and those things I mentioned can help.      

    What do we see in Acts?  How does the church in Acts compare with bus ministry, Sunday school, buildings and polished church services?   Not to knock those things.  Well it starts with 120 people in unity in prayer waiting for the Holy Spirit.  As I look at Acts I see a lot of prayer, time in the scripture study and preaching.   I see people spending time together. 

    As look at Acts I do not see that they were program driven.  I do not think they spent a lot of time thinking and planning seeker services.  And yes our society is different today.   Nor did they worry or fight over worship styles.  Church dinners were not with the motive of growing the church often by recruiting from other churches.   Their emphasis was spending time together with the Lord and making sure everyone had something to eat.  The Corinthian church later had its problems with that.  My intent today is not to run down different styles of outreach but to comment on them.  Satan would whisper in the ear of many people in church that their church is second class because you do not have____ whatever it is.  Please explain to me how Jesus church can be second class?   I think the only way we are second class is when we are not walking with him.  We are not second class in this church.  Many churches overseas sacrifice and walk to church and may not even have chairs to sit but they love Jesus.   They are not second class.  They don’t have fancy buildings.  They have something that a lot of fancy churches do not have.   I believe they have atmosphere. 

    I suppose a more basic question we can ask is what is church?   For some people church has to do with the décor in the church.   For some it is the style or the kind of songs or hymns that are done.     One pastor of a large church and I think it was Chuck Swindoll who said if he wore a bad tie he would lose 200 people out of his church.   That is not how God meant his church to be.  What do these attitudes do the church atmosphere?   Who stirs all this stuff up?  Churches can fight over some of the stupid things.  A pastor this week said his people were all stirred up because a couple of rows of chairs were removed.   We have not seen that kind of nonsense around here for a long time.  Folks need to get stirred up about lost souls.  Church people need to fight sin and the enemy and not each other.    

    Atmosphere is so important.   Have you ever walked into a store or restaurant or hotel and felt like it had the kiss of death on it?   Have you ever walked into an old department store and felt like I really don’t feel like spending a lot time in here.   Perhaps it’s a little in disarray.  Perhaps they squeeze everything in so it feels crowded.  There are not many people shopping there.  It is not real bright because we have to save on electricity and some of the bulbs are not working any more.  The floors are not great and there are spots of stain from old water leaks here and there.  There is no atmosphere and atmosphere is important.  This is an interesting story about atmosphere. 

      It was 7:51 a.m. January 12, 2007.  L’Enfant Plaza in Washington D.C. a busy subway station had its usual morning rush of commuters.   A young man wearing a base ball cap T-shirt and faded jeans entered the plaza and quietly removed his violin from its case.  He tossed some seed money into the case to bait the passer bys and lifted the violin to his chin.   The player was Joshua Bell possibly the best violinist of our generation.  His instrument?  The rare Gibson ex Huberman handcrafted in 1713 by Antonio Stradivari one of the most coveted and expensive violins in existence.  The music?  Bell began with Chaconne from Bach’s Partita No. 2 in D minor hailed by some as one of the greatest pieces of music ever composed in history.   The response?  You would be surprised. 

   Of the 1097 commuters who passed Bell that morning only 7 stopped to listen.  That’s right 7.  Just 3 days before Bell had played to a sold out crowd at Boston’s Symphony Hall where the average seat cost was 100.00.   His earnings that morning in the subway?  A little over $32.00.   What does he normally make around $1,000 a minute?  The Washington Post sponsored Bell’s performance to evaluate the public’s taste, priorities and perception.   There are many things to be said about Bell’s performance.   It speaks to context and settings and perceptions and many things.   There was great music but no crowd.  You can have great preaching and great music and no crowds.  Jesus preached the crowds away I would say more than once and he was the best preacher ever.  John chapter 6 is certainly an example.    

    There was a gas station in Hooksett that for years did not do well. The size of the store was good and it was Ok to stop and buy a drink or gas there.  It would open and then close and then open and finally it just stayed closed for a long time and then it was totally torn down and guess what went in?  You would not think a new gas station would you?  A new gas station went in with Dunkin Donuts and the same people drive by and it is the same location but a lot more of them stop and shop and it is successful.  What makes a store successful today?  What makes the church successful?  Why would people come back and how do we make that happen?   Why do people stay in a church?   Part of it is because God tells us to.  Many Christians obey God and go where God tells them to go. 

     I may be wrong but I think this worth thinking about.  This is my opinion and I am not an expert.  I believe the church is not the church without the presence of Jesus.  The aroma of Jesus in a church is powerful.  If you have the presence of Jesus you have it all.   If you have the presence of Jesus you can get by without a lot of stuff.    If you have all that other stuff and do not have Jesus you do not have a church.  You might have people and a nice building and well organized system.     If you do not have his presence you do not have church.  The basics are basic.  The church is His church.  It is not church without Jesus presence.  Does Satan attack the church?  Yes of course he does.  Does Satan attack people in the church?  Does he attack on Sunday Morning during worship time?  He will if he can. 

   Have you ever felt the enemy pick on you in church?  Have you ever been in a church and just could not sense his presence.  Ever been in a church and just could not get into the message.  There could be many reasons for that.  I suspect we have all heard stories from people who have complained about church.   People can get stirred up in church.  I have seen it in this church many years ago – not now.  People complain and get stirred up.  They say I wish we had different songs or hymns.  I wish the sermon was shorter.   I don’t like so and so.  They are the biggest hypocrites in the world.     Some folks think about their troubles or what’s for lunch when they are in church.    The list goes on and on and you get the picture.    When you open the door to come in do you feel the Holy Spirit?  If you do someone has prayed. 

   What do we do about bad atmosphere?     We pray.  We anoint and we dedicate.   We need to pray always for a good atmosphere.  You get what you give many times.  Spurgeon the prince of preachers I read had 100’s praying for his services.  A message prayed over will produce fruit.   The same message not prayed for will not produce much.   In 1993 at Bethel Ron Gendron came to our church and said the sermon does not get to the front pew.  There was spiritual block.   I remember Curt Hale mentioning that he was criticized for not preaching on the coming of Jesus enough.   He went back through his messages and said he preached on it recently several times.   It was shared but not received.   Many people have said they are not fed in church.   There can be many reasons for that but prayer can make the difference. 

    We pray for God to touch people today.  Set people free from their sin.  Bless the service today.  May people be touched with the worship today.  May the aroma of Jesus and of life be here.  May the train of his robe fill this place!   Several years ago here in this church one man told me that as soon as he opened the door he felt the power of the Holy Spirit.  I believe if people are being touched by Jesus they will be back.  Jesus I think enjoyed visiting Mary, Martha and Lazarus.  I suspect at times he could relax and get away from the crowds who always were after him to be healed and etc.   He probably got away from the Jewish leaders that wanted to trap him.  

     People should be able to be renewed and be refreshed in church.   They should feel His presence and not be beat upon by the enemy.  They should feel the joy of forgiveness grace and love and if they do they will keep coming and bring others. People should experience joy and blessing and healing by being in church.  We need to pray for open heavens above us in our homes, churches, and our cities.  We need to pour out our souls in prayer for the church service.  Jesus poured out his soul unto death.  Are you like Jesus?  Do you want to follow his example? 

    I know prayer changes atmosphere.  My mother when I was at San Diego State University ask me to pray for her beauty shop and pray for the atmosphere in it.  The atmosphere changed right away in the beauty shop.    The kiss of death was gone.  The same room the same walls the same place but the atmosphere changed.    You can do the same.  You can be a tool in God’s hands to change atmosphere in your home, church where you work and so on.