Have you ever awakened from a dream and immediately thought “Thank You Lord, that was a really awesome dream?” That’s what happened to me this morning when I awoke from a dream that made me smile.
Here’s the dream, then I’ll give the interpretation. There was a group of us visiting a small coffee shop on the beach. It was a cute little coffee shop, but there were literally about 2-3 customers total in the entire shop. We wondered why it was that there were so few people in the shop. However, after taking one sip of their coffee, we immediately understood! The coffee was TERRIBLE! It was cheap, nasty coffee. They literally had it sitting in a glass pot on top of a burner, just getting fried. If you’ve ever tasted burnt coffee, it’s not good! They used really bad, unfiltered water and a really cheap bean. To make matters even worse, they even watered the coffee down to save money, keeping their costs low so that they could make a greater profit.
The problem is that even though they weren’t charging much for the coffee, NOBODY wanted that cheap, nasty swill. People would prefer to drink nothing rather than drink that horrible coffee. We talked to the shop owner and told him that if he wanted to bring more people into his shop, he would have to serve better coffee. The shop owner was concerned because he didn’t want to spend the money that it would require to serve higher quality coffee. He thought that he would LOSE BUSINESS because he’d have to charge a higher price! Reluctantly he agreed to try. The shop owner then quickly renovated his coffee shop. He didn’t change the exterior, that remained the same, but he changed only the coffee. Now the coffee was PURE and DELICIOUS! Yes, it cost more money, but it was REALLY GOOD!
The next day, we returned to the shop to see how the shop owner was doing with his new product. Much to our delight, the shop was packed with people! In-fact, people loved it so much they were literally lined up around the block waiting to get this coffee.
The shop was now selling EXCELLENT, PURE coffee, perfectly brewed and made with the highest, most expensive quality coffee bean and pure water. They were charging more money for it, but the people didn’t care! The COFFEE was worth the extra money! The shop was really blossoming because NOW, the people were not only ordering the excellent coffee, they were ALSO ordering FOOD! The shop-owner was astounded because he was sure he would lose money on the deal, but the exact opposite happened!!! A lot of people were willing to pay the higher price to get the better coffee!
Then, I woke with this Scripture in my head….
“I will call those who were not My people, ‘My people,’
And her who was not beloved, ‘beloved.’”
26 “And it shall be that in the place where it was said to them, ‘you are not My people,’ There they shall be called sons of the living God.”
The interpretation of this dream is very simple. We’ve been reporting how Christianity is shrinking in the United States, Europe, and other Western nations as more and more people walk away from the faith.
To understand why this is happening, we need look no further than the “bad coffee” that is being served at a vast majority of Mainstream Churches. We’re NOT talking about literal coffee, as most of the big mega churches actually do serve a pretty good brew. In the dream, the coffee was a metaphor for the Word of God! Many Mainstream Western Churches have watered down and cheapened the Word of God so much so that people are no longer attracted to it.
Grace IS FREE, but it’s NOT CHEAP.
Grace is given FREELY to us, but it COST Jesus, the Son of the Living God, HIS LIFE! I don’t think we will ever fully comprehend just how much it cost Jesus that day, to be the Innocent Sacrificial Lamb who paid for all of our sin. He was beaten and scourged. He was humiliated and spit at. He was mocked and scorned as He literally had to drag the very instrument that killed Him through the streets of Jerusalem. Finally, He was nailed to a Cross and left to die a sinner’s death. He did all of this for you and for me. He took upon Himself ALL of our sins, past, present, and future and nailed them to the Cross so that we would not have to pay the debt that we all owe…ourselves. This gift of Grace was not CHEAP because it COST JESUS EVERYTHING!
The Scriptures tell us that at the very end of His Life, Jesus CRIED OUT to the Father…”Father, Father, why have you forsaken me?”
Matthew 27:46: About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?” that is, “MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?”
Jesus was FORSAKEN by God as our sins lay Heavy on top of His bleeding, dying body. Because of His Sacrifice, we will NEVER, EVER have to experience what HE experienced….what it feels like to be FORSAKEN by God…
Hebrews 13:5: Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,”
What message is the Western Church sending to people today?
Mega Churches in the United States offer coffee bars, snack bars and wide screen tv’s to assist in watching their sermons. Some will bring in stand up comedians, famous singers musicians, and other entertainment. Some even have bowling alleys, book stores and full on food courts. While these churches boast that they pull in large numbers, we continue to see a steady decline in the number of people who call themselves Christian. Why?
I was reading some surveys online about what people think about these mega churches, and it’s generally not good. How can that be when they go to such lengths to entertain? There was at least one church that boasted of over 6000 people at a single worship service and yet their membership is less than 1/10th of that number. If people are being entertained, if they are enjoying the experience, why is it that Christianity in the West continues to decline? Why do many people have such a negative view of these HUGE mega churches?
It’s probably because the actual message that many of these Churches deliver is tired, stale, worn-out, diluted, and unsatisfying. Are they stifling the Holy Spirit? At the same time, people feel lost in the crowd. They KNOW that the Pastors and Preachers cannot minister and care for such a large flock. Many people have difficulty “connecting” with other Christians in these big crowds. Also, if a Church LOOKS like the world, SOUNDS like the world, TASTES like the world, FEELS like the world, then what’s the point of going at all? Why not go to a better food court, a better coffee bar, a better bowling alley? Let’s face it, these amenities that modern Churches offer satisfy the flesh, but the flesh can be satisfied at a number of more interesting and exciting venues.
What message did the Disciples preach to the early Church?
Galatians 5:16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.
Galatians 5: 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
Romans 8:13: For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
1 John 2:16: For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and the pride in possessions – is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17: The world is passing away, and also it’s lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.
Why do we NEED Grace?
In order to APPRECIATE being SAVED, we must have some idea of what we are being saved FROM! WHY do we need to be saved? WHY do we care about Grace, God’s Free Gift of Salvation? What’s it matter anyway? It MATTERS because the alternative is bleak! This is something that Mainstream Western Churches RARELY talk about. If we are not saved by Grace, then after we leave this earth, we are doomed to outer darkness, to an eternity without our Creator, an eternity in the lake of fire. This WOULD BE our destiny IF Jesus hadn’t saved us from our sin. Our debt would NOT be paid; therefore WE would have to pay our own debt!!! This IS the destiny of ALL who REFUSE God’s Free Gift of GRACE, whose names are NOT written in the Lamb’s book of LIFE!!
Revelation 20: 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
Revelation 21:Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” …
But, WITH Jesus’ FREE GIFT of GRACE, of SALVATION, we CAN look forward to an eternity of Heaven, of unlimited and ever increasing beauty, love, peace, joy. Heaven is EDEN, it’s PARADISE! We’re not going up in the air and floating around on a cloud, boring and dull, doing nothing but gazing at the face of God for all eternity. That is a MYTH! There is LIFE in Heaven. On earth, the moment we are born, we CRY…because the earth is a mixture of light and darkness. As soon as we are born, we move towards death. As we age, we move closer and closer to death. That is just the truth. But the moment we arrive in Heaven, we move towards LIFE, not death. It’s the exact opposite of earth. The longer you are there, the more alive you become, which is completely opposite of our time on earth! This is WHY we NEED Grace! This is GOOD NEWS!!!
What’s our response to God’s FREE gift of GRACE?
The other thing that many Mainstream Western Churches will NOT tell us is that once we’ve received Grace, God’s Riches at Christ’s expense, then we should be ever- increasing in our desire to please our Creator, to walk in His Ways, to live according to His Plans, and not our own. Jesus tells us that His Disciples will pick up their crosses and follow Him. He tells us that if we want to gain Life, then we need to LOSE our lives. We should live our lives with an attitude of GRATITUDE!
Matthew 16: 25 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.
1st Peter 2:21: For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His footsteps:
Mark 8:34: And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
This doesn’t mean that we have to throw away every earthly possession, or that we can’t take pleasure in the physical things that are on this earth. This means that when we are considering our future, our paths, what we are going to do, say, act, we need to be putting God’s Will over our own. The more we grow “In Christ”, the more we want to be like Jesus saying “Not my will, but thy Will be done”. We should be inviting Jesus into every aspect of our lives. Again, it’s the idea of walking by the spirit and NOT by the flesh. I heard it once stated like this. We invite a VERY GOOD friend over to our home; however, when our friend enters our home he encounters all of these “closed doors”. We say… “Oh, I’m sorry, that room is dirty, you can’t go in there”. Or, “That room is being renovated, you can’t go in there until it’s done. No, we need to OPEN these doors and INVITE Jesus into every aspect of our lives. This should be our ever increasing response to Grace.
We do need to emphasize that our “good works” should be our natural and heart-felt RESPONSE to a life-saving, life-changing Grace. Our “good works” do NOT save us or get us “more saved”. They have absolutely nothing to do with salvation. The Bible makes it clear that our “Good Works” are filthy rags compared to God’s “Gold Standard”, which is why we could never “earn” salvation.
Jesus does listen to us, He cares about all of our circumstances, and He wants to be involved. He wants an intimate relationship with His people. Our God is NOT a God on a wide-screen TV looking down at us from a distance. He’s a HOLY and RIGHTEOUS God who came into this world via a humble birth, who had a ministry of compassion and healing while on earth, who died a sinner’s death on a cross so that we could be saved, and who now lives inside of each believer via His Holy Spirit. YHWH isn’t up on that HUGE TV Screen in a Church. We don’t have to try to get a glimpse of Him over the shoulder of another, He is really closer than our next breath!
The metaphor of the cheap, watered-down, luke-warm coffee that was in my dream this morning refers to the watered down, cheap Word that many Western Churches are preaching these days. Although it doesn’t cost anybody much, it is so unsatisfying that nobody really wants it. The coffee shop was empty. This is why Christianity in the west is declining! But, the Good Stuff, though it cost more, more submitting our own will to that of the Father, more appreciation for Jesus’ Sacrifice, more love for our neighbors, more denying the flesh and walking by the Spirit, more understanding that we absolutely cannot earn our own salvation, that is the “GOOD COFFEE” that people truly want. And once we get a taste of the Good stuff, then, we begin to want “food”. Jesus IS the Bread of Life. He IS the FOOD that satisfies. He IS the WORD of GOD made FLESH.
Revelation 3: 14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this:
15 ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. 16 So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked,
18 I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.
20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. 21 He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”