Tuesday, November 30, 2010

ISSUES OF THE HEART – 1: My Brother’s Keeper


Then He said: “A certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood. And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. Luke 15:12

The young man in this parable which Jesus told has often been vilified as selfish, uncaring and wasteful….and rightfully so. As with all of Jesus’ teachings there are so many lessons that can be learned.

First, let us look at this from a historical context. In those days, and in that culture, it was unheard of for a son to ask his father for his inheritance. It was given to him after the father’s death. So in essence, what the young man in the story was saying was, “Father, I can’t wait for you to die. I want what is due to me now.” Or worse, he could have been saying, “I’ve been waiting so long for you to drop dead, and since you haven’t, just give me what is mine.”

What a blow this would be to any parent who has lovingly birthed and raised a child! This must have broken the father’s heart. But it gets worse……….notice that the inheritance was divided to both sons. It was customary for the older son to receive 2/3 while the younger received 1/3, so the older son had quietly accepted his larger portion instead of rebuking his younger brother for his disrespect. The older son may not have wasted his holdings, but he seemed to have the same heart issue as his brother – a lack of respect and honor for their father.

The man in this parable represents God the Father, and the two sons represent two who are part of the Body of Christ. Jesus didn’t elaborate on it, but I’m sure that because of the culture of that day his audience would have readily sympathized with the father’s hurt. People lived in towns and villages for safety, so his listeners would have envisioned this man being humiliated in front of his neighbors who certainly would have been aware of what was going on in the family.

Now let's bring this parable into our time. See the father's household as the church. We all sin and fall short of the glory of God, and the Father in His love gives us opportunities to repent and rebuild our relationship with Him.

There are times, however, when you will be made aware of sin in the church family. The Holy Spirit will reveal to you if there has been no repentance, if the sin is habitual, or hidden from undiscerning eyes.

If nothing is done about it our Father is hurt, the Holy Spirit is grieved, Jesus’ Name is put in disrepute, and the assembly becomes vulnerable to further attacks from the enemy. Political correctness has no place in the Body of Christ.

Jesus tells us that we must first deal with our own sin before confronting a brother's or sister's. He said that we should take the log out of our own eye first, and then help the brother or sister to get the speck out of theirs. Could this be why sin is so rampant in the church today?? Could it be that leaders and mature saints are so busy trying to hide their own iniquity that they overlook the transgressions of their younger brothers and sisters?!

It is time for us to restore honor back to our Heavenly Father.

God's Word is very clear on the protocol for dealing with sin in the church, and He holds you accountable. When dealing with a fallen brother or sister remember...

1. It is not an opportunity to spread gossip.
“Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. Matthew 18: 15-17

2. The goal should always be to restore the straying one back to Christ.
Brethren, if any person is overtaken in misconduct or sin of any sort, you who are spiritual [who are responsive to and controlled by the Spirit] should set him right and restore and reinstate him, without any sense of superiority and with all gentleness, keeping an attentive eye on yourself, lest you should be tempted also. – Galatians 6:1 (Amplified Bible)

3. You could be saving that errant brother or sister from great disaster.
Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins. James 5:19-20


4. Make sure that your motive is pure.
Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. Colossians 3:12-14

The older brother in the parable did not try to stop the transgression against their father. Even if the younger brother had not listened to him, it was still the older one’s responsibility to try to steer him in the right direction.

Confronting someone who is in sin doesn't guarantee that they will thank you, or that they will even heed your warning. But God doesn't require you to change them...just to obey Him in pointing them in the right direction. The decision is ultimately theirs, and the judgment belongs to God should they continue to sin.

Seeing a wrong and staying silent makes you just as guilty as the one who is doing the wrong. Be sure, however, to deal with the person in love and humility. Remember.....except for the grace of God, it could have been you.

Do you truly cherish our Heavenly Father? Then it is time to become your brother’s keeper.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

WHAT ARE YOU BUILDING?

Written by Allison Sylvester-Conliffe

As God’s creation, created in His image and His likeness, we have the ability to create, to build, to construct.  That’s just part of our make-up.

Some have the God-given ability, in wisdom and knowledge, to build great buildings with intricate designs and with a craftsmanship that is unique to each particular builder.  It’s the same for those who build ships and aircrafts and rockets.  It becomes natural to them because of the gifting and unique creative power that’s given to each of them by God.

Even though the creativity and mastery of craftsmanship is resident in each builder, and it forms part of them, do you know that the builders would still encounter some measure of difficulty while building or constructing the thing?  That difficulty becomes a sort of stumbling block for them and they must cross that hurdle to make their project a success.

Sometimes the threat could come as some outside force.  For the builder of a great building for example, the threat, while digging the foundation, could be heavy rains or snow, or some other uncontrollable element that was not foreseen when the project commenced.  Steps would now have to be taken to protect the work that had already been completed, until it was safe to proceed with the construction.
 
Sometimes the threat could come from within.  The builders of a project themselves may not have the same mind for the work and that could be a major hindrance, if not dealt with swiftly.

A sudden change in the economy could prompt the builder to abandon the work for fear of not knowing what the future would bring.  The result would then be an unfinished work or an unfinished project – A waste of resources.

Finally, those who do not have a vision for the work, who are not even part of the project, may suddenly appear on the scene, to cast words that are negative, so as to plant  seeds of doubt and confusion among the builders.  Remember they were not even part of the team of builders.

What are you building today?  Is it more faith in God?  Is it a deeper intimacy with the Trinity?  Is it souls for the Kingdom of God?  Whatever you are building for God, know that the enemy of our souls - satan the devil, is out to stop you …. at all costs.  Actually, his job is to steal, kill and to destroy.  God, on the other hand, has put us here on earth to build, to plant, to restore and to reconcile one with another.  He has also put things in place to reconcile man to Himself.

Take a closer look at Nehemiah.  God had given him the desire to restore the wall of Jerusalem.  This was God’s idea placed in the heart of the visionary, Nehemiah – and so Nehemiah was in constant communion with God concerning the work.  This is key.  The first thing that he did before the Lord was to repent for the sins of Israel, not by calling himself righteous, but included himself among those who sinned against God and was in need of forgiveness.

The next thing that Nehemiah did was that he brought God into remembrance of His own Word concerning the Jews.  Then, he asked for direction or wisdom regarding how to do the work.  This is another key.  As Nehemiah asked God for direction, the Lord began to grant him favour with men.
 
As he strove to do God’s will, and not according to his own plan, the outside forces began to hold a convention about Nehemiah and the work.  They gathered forces together against the builder.  The detractors increased in number as they attempted to disband the work.  But Nehemiah stood his ground in God – fastening his face on the Lord, and God continued to give Nehemiah grace and favour to build as God would have directed him. As the wall was fortified and the work was finished, the opposition was even greater against the builder, Nehemiah.  However, the project was completed successfully, but the war was not yet over.

We are in a war, saints of God.  We are constantly in battle against the world, the flesh and the devil.  But saints, the work has already been completed and the script has been written to the final letter – we have been chosen to play out the scenes.  God has already given us all things that pertain to life and godliness.  We are already called “conquerors” by the Lord.  We ought just to take the tools given us in the Word of God and use them.

Don’t let fear and the threatening opposition be a deterrent against you completing the job that you have been called to do.  Go forth in Jesus’ Name, and build according to the specifics that He has already revealed to you.  We would never fail if we keep our eyes on the Lord and walk according to the pathway that He has carved for us.  He continues to confound the enemy on our behalf.  Praise the Name of the Lord, Jesus the Christ.

God Bless You.
Allison

Friday, November 12, 2010

GUARD YOUR STRENGTHS AGAINST WEAKNESS


DAVID
David’s strength was his intense passion. He valiantly defended his sheep, killed the giant Goliath and conquered vast armies. He did whatever it took to win. But that same passion, unbridled, caused him to commit adultery with Bathsheba and kill her husband.
  • The Result: The Lord spoke through Nathan the prophet, “Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ Thus says the LORD: ‘Behold, I will raise up adversity against you from your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun.' 2 Samuel 12:10-12
  • The Lesson: Your gifts (spiritual and natural) are given by God. If they are used for your own personal gain the results can be disastrous, with long-term ill effects on you, your family, your church and your community.

SAMSON
God told Samson that he would retain his supernatural physical strength as long as his hair was not cut. He met Delilah, an attractive secret agent for the enemy Philistines and he began to spend a lot of time with her.

Delilah’s singular focus was on getting Samson to disclose the secret of his amazing strength. She questioned him repeatedly, playing on his emotions until he finally relented and told her where his strength lay.
  • The Result: And she said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” So he awoke from his sleep, and said, “I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!” But he did not know that the LORD had departed from him. Then the Philistines took him and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza. They bound him with bronze fetters, and he became a grinder in the prison. Judges 16:20-21
  • The Lesson: Jesus said, “By their fruits you will know them.” Matthew 7:20. The power of your gifting/anointing should be seen in the fruit that you bear. As tempting as it may be, beware of getting into conversations that focus on you or your gift, rather than on the Giver.

MOSES
Moses had an intimate relationship with God. Exodus 33:11 tells us that the LORD spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. The Lord trusted Moses to follow his instructions to the letter, and Moses did so... until one day when the Israelites were thirsty and had no water to drink. This was not the first time it had happened. After all, they were in the desert. The Lord had told Moses in previous times to strike the rock, and when he did water had gushed out freely and abundantly. This time, however, God told Moses to speak to the rock and it would bring forth water. Moses stood before the people, and in his anger he struck the rock with his rod twice.
  • The Result: Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.” Exodus 33:12
  • The Lesson: You are a steward of the strength/gifting that God has given you. Do not fall into the sin of familiarity by taking God or that gift for granted.

MARTHA
Martha was an excellent hostess. I would imagine that she kept a very tidy home, and went out of her way to make sure that her guests were well fed and comfortable. It seems that Martha had the gift of hospitality. One day Jesus came by to visit and Martha got busy making sure that the Lord was served well. She became angry when her sister wouldn’t help, but instead chose to remain at Jesus’ feet listening to His every word.
  • The Result: And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42
  • The Lesson: You may have a full schedule. You may be involved in several ministries at your church. However, if your focus is not on spending quality time in fellowship with the Lord and in studying His Word, your busyness in ministry is fruitless.

In each case the God-given strength became a weakness when the focus was turned inward to satisfy self. Take a moment to assess your own strengths and giftings, both natural and spiritual.
  • Are you in full time ministry? Don't aim at being a star in the eyes of men. Man-made "stars" fall eventually. Focus on being a humble servant to Almighty God.
  • Are you a good organizer? Detail oriented? Able to multi-task well? Beware of a judgmental and critical attitude.
  • Are you a leader? Don't use your position to control or manipulate those whom you have been entrusted to lead.
  • Are you multi-gifted or multi-talented? Resist the temptation to pump up your own ego. Those gifts and talents are God's .....on loan to you.
  • Have you been in ministry or service for a long time? Beware of a stubborn, unyielding attitude.
  • Do you have an intimate relationship with the Lord? Never take your relationship with God for granted.

Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. 
1 Corinthians 10:12
Copyright © 2015 AudreyCharles. All rights reserved.