Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Rocky Soil And The Thorny Soil

Mark 4
The Rocky Soil And The Thorny Soil

     I feel that we need to have a firm understanding of these two soils that Jesus tells us about. We can all understand that good soil yields good crops and the roadside soil yields no crops. However, most of us are in the category of rocky and thorny soil. We need to know what we are dealing with both in ourselves and in those that we want to help. Let me start by defining these two soils and also by saying that these soils can be fixed. The rocky soil can have the rocks picked out and the thorny soil can have the weeds pulled.
     Rocky soil: Rocky soil is the soil that persecutes Christians. It does not desire to slowly choke out God’s word, but tries to utterly destroy it before it gets any further out of hand. The rocks symbolize the hardness of the hearts in the people around a person who becomes a Christian. They will not support a person who converts and will do all they can to make sure that the newborn Christian has no room to grow. They will terrorize that convert till he lets go of God’s word and becomes one of them again.
     Thorny soil: Thorny soil is soil that seeks to corrupt God’s word and to entangle a Christian so that his life never bears fruit. Thorny soil pretends to not mind that a person is a Christian and at the same time attach itself so firmly that the Christian does not even know that the thorns are not part of
himself. Thorny soil desires to make sure that what a Christian says and what he does are two different things.
     Both of these soils have one thing in common. A person who commits himself to Christ is going to have to cling firmly to Him to keep from being swept away by these two different forms of soil. These two types of soil either persecute or entice a Christian to give up their faith. We in the North America live in a land of thorny soil. We easily get distracted by the enticement to relax and enjoy the world around us. When we get a night off we are rarely thinking about what we could do to help our neighbor. Instead we have made plans to go out with friends, watch a movie, or work on our house. We talk about loving our neighbor, but when do we ever show our love. When does our love turn into actions? When is the last time we got up in the morning with the wonderful hope in our heart that today we could do something for someone? We need a love and passion in our hearts for be being a servant to others, but thorns choke out all of our willpower! We just can’t do it today. We’re too tired, we have too many other responsibilities, we have plans. Let me ask us, whose servant are we? Our own? If so then don’t pretend to be God’s!
     It is time to get our lives straight before God. The commitment that we have given to God is just as hard for those who live with thorns as for those who live with rocks. God did not say that the people who would have to die for their faith or be beaten with whips had a harder road then those who would slowly die as they are choked to death by pleasures and temptations. The commitment is the same and don’t expect your choices to be easier to make than theirs! To give up the passions of the flesh is like being beaten with whips. When God seeks to remove them from our lives we go through internal pain because those thorns were with us so long that we didn’t even know that they weren’t part of us. We yell and cry before God telling Him that we will die if He takes those pleasures from us. No my friends, just because there is no one pointing a gun to our head does not mean that we have an easier choice in whether or not we will be a Christian.
     What are the weeds? -Anything that distracts us from God or keeps us from carrying out His word. (People, things, excitement, entertainment, work) - Anything that we look forward to or desire more than our time in fellowship with God.
     When the weeds and thorns become seen for what they are and we begin to ask the Lord to pull them out, this is when we will find that our lives begin to bear fruit.

          How to please God

     God has told us that we must make him first in our lives and all other things second. That means that when you sit down to spend some time with Him, that you put down all of your anxious thoughts and all of the other desires that are running through your head. He wants your heart to be fixed on Him, desiring to be nowhere else but with Him. When you come before Him in this way here are the things that you will see starting to happen.
     1. Your prayers will start to bear fruit.
     2. Joy will spring up inside your heart in spite of whatever hard things you are
         going through.
     3. A peace will be in your heart as you face your trials and tough times.
     4. Your trust in God’s love for you will grow.
     5. You will begin to truly understand God’s word and His ways.
     6. That understanding will bring about a true love for His laws.
     7. You will begin to truly love your neighbor.
     8. A whole new life of talents and fruit will open up before us and in us that we never
         saw before or even knew existed.

And to conclude, not only will God do all these things in your life, but you will find that whatever it was that you put aside in order to make time for Him whether it be jobs that needed to be taken care of or things you wanted to do with friends, you will find that the hard jobs get done in ways that you didn’t expect and were taken care of quicker than you had thought possible and the time that you spend with your friends becomes more wonderful than usual. He wants to show us that if we give up all for Him than He will bless all that we do and give back more than we gave up.
     May God bless each one of you and may your lives bear fruit. Some thirty, some sixty and some one hundred fold.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Jesus Sees Their Faith

Mark 2:1-12
Jesus Sees Their Faith
     And Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic, “My son your sins are forgiven.”

     The story about the faith of a Paralytic and his persistent friends has been passed down from generation to generation and is just as powerful a witness now as it was then. What a lesson for us as Christians. There are a couple of things I would like to point out that should grab our attention. First, the faith of the men who carried the paralytic to Jesus had a big part in the outcome of the man being healed. It was their action of physically carrying him to Jesus that brought him there. If they had simply told the man that Jesus could heal but didn’t bother to bring him to Jesus what good would it have done him? Could he have gotten up and walked to Jesus himself in order to be healed? No, he had to be carried. It was beyond his own ability to get himself to Jesus. Second, after getting all the way to the house where Jesus was they found that there was no way to get close to Him because of all the people. Can you imagine how discouraged they would have been at such a sight? They had carried this poor man all the way only to find that the last one hundred feet were going to be the hardest. Now here is the scary part. What if they had given up at this point and gone home? Would the man have been healed? He had gotten so close and yet not close enough. The story is well known because the men persisted and a way was made where there was none. It was faith in Jesus ability to heal the man that caused them to overcome the last one hundred feet.
     What a lesson we have before us. It is our faith in action that will see God’s hand so abundantly. Words of help and comfort are great, but it is the actions that do the job. All men and women are like the paralytic, unable to bring themselves to Jesus. They can’t carry themselves and must be carried. So how do we carry people to Jesus? There are a couple of parts to this equation which need to be in place. The first is that they need to hear about Him, and the second is that they need to desire to be healed by Him. Our job is to live in such a way that our actions glorify God. Turning people’s eyes and hearts to Heaven is essentially carrying them to Jesus. If people see our deeds and are touched with a desire to know our Savior, than we have succeeded.
     But this is only the beginning to what God has called us to do. Jesus left us with the command to make disciples of all nations, which means that we must be training and teaching them after they have been healed. People who truly meet Jesus want to know what to do next. It is our job to work with them like a child being raised by older brothers and sisters or parents. The child needs protection and training. This is what we are called to be part of.
     We have been called by God and no matter how little we feel we have to give, yet if we are faithful to make use of it, He will turn it into something greater. Let us pray for God’s hand to be upon us so that we will be diligent to do all that we can for people. In our weakness He will be our strength.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Jesus’ Authority

Mark 1:21-27
Jesus’ Authority
     Jesus is in command of the heavens and the earth. He is in command of the physical elements that make up the things around us as well as the spirits that inhabit them. What an exciting thought! Jesus is ruler of all. Whatever He says, it will be done according to His decree. The spirits must depart. The flesh must be healed. All that He declares must take place. And we are His servants. His authority goes with us if we are doing what He has commanded us to do. This means that if we are doing what He has commanded than there is nothing that will be too big or impossible to overcome in the job. Jesus’ word is law and if we are ambassadors for Him than we carry His seal that gives us authority to pass through every check point and security that stands between us and our mission for Him. He gives us a key that allows us to open all doors through which the job takes us. All must let us through if we are about the Kings business.
     However, this lesson is only exciting if you desire to be a doer of God’s word and not just a hearer. If you are caught up in your own life than you will find that you have no desire to make use of this ability. Your desire to please yourself is all that is needed to hold you back from answering God’s call for you. We really need to wake up and do the jobs that God has called us to do. We need to put ourselves aside so that we are able to quickly respond with no delay or hesitation. Our love for ourselves constantly gets in the way of our jobs for the Lord. If we are presented with two things to do, one being for God and the other for us we prefer to do the one for us. We tend to view everything through the eyes of (how will it affect us?)
          Do we get anything from doing it?
          Does it hurt us in any way?
          Is it going to be fun?
          Does it get in the way of the things I want to do?

     God is like the captain of a ship who knows that it is sinking and in an effort to get everybody to safety assigns His crew to getting people off the ship. If we get distracted by doing what we want to do we are like a crew, that while running down the hall making sure that people are getting away safely we spot some expensive jewelry that was left behind in the owners haste. So we disobey our orders to save lives and attempt to get something for ourselves. But now it occurs to us that there could be so much more if we start looking in other rooms. So instead of seeing how many people we can rescue we start seeing how much we might be able to take with us as we get off the boat. So not only are we not faithful to do what we have been told, but we run the risk of not even making it off the boat ourselves.
     As Christians it is very important that we understand our situation here. We truly are trying to rescue as many people on this sinking ship as possible. The more anxious we are the more energy we will put into our effort to rescue people. We have no time for seeking our own wealth or even our own safety. If one of the crew ran to the deck and got onto the boat seeking to save himself he would indeed get away alive, but with no honor or joy at having been part of getting others off as well. He rescued no one and ignored his captain’s orders. People died because of his actions who might otherwise have been rescued.
     We need to feel the stress of knowing the boat is going down. We need to feel the panic of not reaching everyone in time to be rescued. We need to be willing to risk our own lives to go to the lowest parts of the ship and to see that all get off safely. We are running out of time! Let us be already running as our Captain shouts His orders to us.
     There is not much time, let us make the most of it. Let us pray for that fire to be burning in our hearts. We need to be consumed with love for our neighbor. May God bless each one of us with a new heart that cannot rest without doing all that is possible to rescue others.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Make Disciples Of All Nations

Matthew 28
Make Disciples Of All Nations

     “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”- Jesus
     I think that there is an amazing thing that has happened here. Before Jesus death on the cross He had given all authority to God and placed Himself in the lowest position with no authority but what was given from His Father. He gave Himself up to be under the jurisdiction or law of men with complete trust that His Father controlled the hearts of men and all things that concerned Him. Now, He has told us that all authority in heaven and on earth have been granted to Him. Justice and mercy are in His hands for all has been given to Him.
     As he ascended into heaven He gave us our job He commanded us to go forth and make disciples and to teach all that He has taught us. So the question is, how are we responding to this call to action? Are we dragging our feet, hoping that others will do enough work so that we won’t really need to help out? Are we ignoring the command all together? Or do we not even know that we have been commanded to do this? 
     Well here is the thing. If you saw a car accident and found that you were the only person around, your concern for there safety would make it impossible for you to not do something to help. Even if you didn’t know any first aid you would still do the best you could for them. The first time you experience something like this you will realize that it is the last time that you want to be in that position unprepared. Especially if there had been something simple that you could have done that would have prevented the person from being crippled for life or worse, dying. A little bit of knowledge would have been a tremendous help to the person and their family.
     Think about how many people around us are dying spiritually. They are headed for eternal death. Just try telling even one of them how to find God and you will start to realize how unprepared you are to help. Now lets go even farther, what if that person knew their soul was in trouble and asked you for help? What would you say to him that would assure him and answer all of his questions as to the safety of his soul? I think that we will find that all that we have to say will sound empty and more like a band-aid over a gaping wound than a healing touch that can truly close it.
     We are all unprepared for the challenge of soul surgery. A doctor has to go to school for seven years to even come close to operating on a person. How much more prepared should we be to help rescue a person’s soul? We need to put ourselves through soul surgery school. What school is this and how can we attend? There is a class you can take each day where you get to watch and learn from the Master Surgeon. First He will require you to study the Bible and to pray (to do some classroom work). Studying and praying in that little room also known as your prayer closet. Then He takes you out and introduces you to His patients that He is diligently working on. Next He will show you some of His worst patients who upon being healed were so thankful to their physician that they have dedicated their lives to working with Him so that they might show their appreciation for what He did for them.
     We can never be too prepared for rescuing people. There is always more that we need to know and scenarios that we have never been in before. We must spend time with the Master Physician and do all that we can to learn from Him. Let us answer the call to go forth and teach all that He has commanded us and to live as He has taught us to live. Let our actions go hand in hand with our words. Let us not wait for others to do jobs that we can do. Let us not hesitate because there are lives at stake with each passing moment. Let us realize that we have indeed been called and given a job. Let us not convince ourselves that He meant someone else when He said those words. There are tragic accidents all around us and we are often the only ones around to see them. You won’t be able to use the excuse that “nobody told me that I was supposed to do something.” The accident speaks for itself there should be no need to explain that the person in the accident is dying and needs quick attention.
     So let us not delay to learn all that He has commanded us so that we are ready to teach and help all those who are in trouble. Let us develop a keen eye that sees people needs so that we will be better able to help them in time. But most of all, let us learn what it means to truly love our neighbors so that we are seriously concerned for their wellbeing.