Sunday, June 28, 2009

How Well Do You Paint?
Have you ever done any painting? If you have, you know that if you do a half-hearted job the paint will not last. I want to give you a picture of how I related painting to my foundation while on the Dominican Republic Mission Trip.
Luke 6: 48-49 says:" He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great."
The school building that we were painting is made of concrete walls. They are very close to the ocean and have had hurricanes come in and wash through that village. The scripture says the flood arose and beat against that house. If you look closely at the concrete walls you see holes and cracks that happen over time due to age and weather. It can also be due to not being kept up or maintained properly. What about our foundations, are they being maintained by staying the Word, praying, seeking fellowship with other Christians? If we neglect these things, then cracks and holes can start to appear. They may be small at first but over time, they can become large.
Several of us were painting outside the school building and I was standing with Lauren Jackson. She had a paintbrush and she was taking her brush and literally sticking it in the holes and cracks. As we were talking she said, “I am going to fill up these holes.” As she filled up the holes with paint, she would then put a layer of paint on top to smooth it out. As I have reflected upon what I observed, I thought about our foundations. How do we fill them up? Do we just put a top layer on for a temporary fix or do we really get determined to fill in every crack first. It is just so easy to do the “quick fix” and just paint over the undesirable area so on the surface it would appear everything is fine. Over time though the “quick fix” is not enough because if your foundation it not strong enough to weather the storms that come your way, you will be shaken. The Word says the house fell.
Well, you might ask, what could some of these flaws or cracks be? In Romans 1:29-32 it says, “being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; [they are] whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them." Galatians 5:19-21 says:" Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told [you] in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God."
Look what God says about the righteous judgment of God. He said we are deserving of death and we will not inherit the kingdom of God. If we allow our heart to get so hardened that we not only practice sin but also take pleasure in it, then we are living in the flesh and not being led by the Spirit. We will be judged. We will not inherit the kingdom of God. Hell is real. It is eternal, never ceasing. It is a fire that will never be quenched.
Galatians 5:24 says:" But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such, there is no law. And those [who are] Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires."
As I watched Lauren fill up the holes and cracks, I was thinking if we see something in our life that does not line up with the Word of God, then we need to take our paintbrush and fill it with the righteousness of God. Lauren was not just dabbing a little paint in the crack, she was taking that brush, coating it with a lot of paint, and then pressing the brush into the affected area making sure it was filled up completely. If there are areas in your life that need to be filled in, take it very serious. Do not just brush over it, get to the root. This takes effort. You have to press in, seek God with all your heart. God is serious, He hates sin. Fill in the cracks with love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. After you fill them in, coat it with prayer, reading the Word of God, having fellowship with other Christians.
This is how we grow. If we are not actively seeking God with all of our heart, we will start to have signs of neglect and over time, the cracks will appear. Do not allow yourself to get to that point. Allow God to minister healing to you.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Signs of Cares of the World that Choke Faith in God’s Word

Our topic last week was from 1 John 1, 2 where some church folk thought they were Christian because they “said” they were and not because of obedience to Jesus. Some years back we dealt with what is called the “say religion” where people confused attending a church gathering with Christianity. I read the passage some days earlier from our recent daily reading and felt we needed to revisit the topic. As we were praising God also impressed on me the passage from Mark 4:13. I wasn’t sure how it tied in with the topic, but it did.
In Mark 4:13 we see that the parable of the four seeds is the gateway to understanding all other parables. It is important to note that it addresses much of the error in the church today because not every heart remains obedient and may become disqualified for the Kingdom of Heaven. The first is when someone hears God’s Word and doesn’t understand it and it isn’t allowed to change the heart. The second is when the Word is readily received and the person didn’t realize that testing, trials and temptation are associated with the Word and the person quits believing. The third is when the Word is sown into a person’s heart, but competing worldly interests are allowed to takeover. There is no fruit to give evidence of the Word’s power and it is made ineffective. And lastly, the Word is sown into a heart of obedience where much fruit is grown.
Let’s look at Mark 4:18-19. I believe it pertains to how the Word of God is sown in America. Just the process of living with all our responsibilities to family, work and desire to move ahead we can forfeit the dependence of seeing God’s Word work for us.

(Mark 4:18-19 NKJV) ""Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, {19} "and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful."

And in most church meetings there is no way of knowing if the cares of the world have taken over because there is little revealed about their practices at home. But I think John gives us some sure signs to look for. Read the following passages.

1 John 1:5-8 (NKJV)
{5} This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.
{6} If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.
{7} But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
{8} If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. {9} If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. {10} If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us."

1 John 2:4-9 (NKJV)
{4} He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
{5} But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.
{6} He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.
{7} Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which you heard from the beginning.
{8} Again, a new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining.
{9} He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now.
{10} He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him.
{11} But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

The signs are in what a person says with no supporting fruit. John evidently ran into the same situation where people were saying they were something they were not. Perhaps you or someone you know have said what is in chapter 1 verses 6, 8, and chapter 2 verses 4, 6, 9.

1 John 1 (NKJV)
{6} If we say that we have fellowship with Him,
{8} If we say that we have no sin,

1 John 2 (NKJV)
{4} He who says, "I know Him,"
{6} He who says he abides in Him
{9} He who says he is in the light

While there are needs like providing shelter, food and care for ourselves and families we can’t ignore, how do we maintain priority so that the Word is not choked? The opening of 1 John 1 is the key.

(1 John 1 NKJV) "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life;
{2} the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us;
{3} that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.
{4} And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.

It is the continued revelation of Jesus as we seek Him out on a daily basis that allows us to maintain fellowship with Him and His people. John was able to declare that he saw Jesus and handled Jesus and eternal life was made manifest to him. Have you done that lately? Those who have neglected to seek Jesus as the first part of their day have no defense against worldly cares and are overwhelmed. It has been my experience when someone is struggling to flow with your home church gathering it is the lack of revelation of Jesus. As we read the above passage, not only is fellowship impossible with Christian brothers and sisters but fullness of joy is out of reach also. This turmoil highlights the conflicts inside the person. How frustrating it is to try to do something that can never happen? I like John want others to enjoy the fellowship and joy he had with the Father and His Son, but there is no substitute for the fresh revelation of Jesus.

God Bless,
Bro. Ken

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

‘Tis So Sweet to Trust In Jesus
'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus
Just to take Him at His Word;
Just to rest upon His promise,
And to know, “Thus saith the Lord!”

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve prove Him o’er and o’er;
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
Oh, for grace to trust Him more!

Oh, how sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to trust His cleansing blood;
And in simple faith to plunge me
‘Neath the healing, cleansing flood!
Yes, ‘tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just from sin and self to cease;
Just from Jesus simply taking
Life and rest, and joy and peace.

I’m so glad I learned to trust Him,
Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend;
And I know that Thou art with me,
Will be with me to the end.

Trust: assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something, one in which confidence is placed.

To trust someone would mean that you have formed a relationship with that person. I would not think it would be the norm to walk up to a stranger and automatically place your trust in that person. We would first want to get to know them and develop a relationship. How would you get to know them? Spending time with them, learning all we can about them.

Do we trust God? Do we fully trust Him? Fully trusting is taking your hands off and allowing God to work. It’s not interfering with Him. Are we so passionate about God that we fully trust Him, take Him at His Word? Do we rest upon His promise? Do we have a relationship with God that is so close that we trust Him with every aspect of our life?

Oh, for grace to trust Him more!!