Plentiful

 

harvest field

 

Matthew 9: 36-38  When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.  Then he said to his disciples, The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.

Eastside Mission had it’s kick-off community block party outreach yesterday.  I must say it was absolutely amazing to be back on the streets after 8 months of “being still” and waiting on God.  During the 8 months God was growing, stretching and preparing us as He was about to expand our borders.  After 4 years of inner city street ministry on Main Street in Hamilton we thought God had really given us a HUGE mission field.  Now, reflecting back we realize that was our time of preparation.  

Back to yesterday, we had all kinds of fun activities for our introduction into the neighborhood. Pastor Felix and I spent the time by getting to know our neighbors, meeting their families and talking about their needs and the community needs.  At one point, I remember standing a midst all the busyness of serving and lovin’ on people I had a count of 175 people that we were blessed to serve this day.  We have approximately 1700 people within immediate radius, we passed out 560 total flyers and served 175 men, women and children.   As I’m standing there and process all of the conversations I was having, watching the kids playing I am feeling overwhelmed with all the needs.  Trust me, the needs in this area are many!  As we suspected there is a lot of heroin and addicted mommies and daddies.  Many generations living together in small houses and not being able to make the ends meet.  

For some time leading up to the kick-off and even more today we have been posting pictures, sharing needs, asking for volunteers and I’m starting to feel myself getting stressed about how in the world are we going to accomplish this.  This is 4x what we did and served over on Main Street.  God what in the world are you thinking?  So as I’m starting into that familiar tailspin I pick up my bible and I start reading about Jesus going into a city and Him telling the disciples that the harvest is plenty but the laborers are few.  Man God is so awesome 2,000 years ago He knew that there would be a great need for workers in the harvest field.  God knows we are facing many needs financial, volunteers, supplies, etc. but God ALSO knows that the laborers are few; therefore, as He is guiding me in His word to ask Him to send out workers into His harvest field.  Because bottom line – He has given Pastor Felix and I the charge of stewardship over this mission and building His church among these un-reached people and whether He sends us 2 or 20 we are going to praise Him, serve others and glorify our God as we pray for God to send the laborers.  Won’t you take a minute and join us in praying for this harvest field and the workers to serve in it!!  God might also be calling you to take a step out, he may be calling you to step outside of the church you are comfortable in with the friends and family you love and do some water walking!

Praise Him!!

Count the cost . . .

 

Wow!  These past 6 months have been a whirlwind for us.  In January my hubby awakens in the morning looks over at me and pastors shoessays, “God told me to shut the café.”  So, we did.  We have invested 4 years of our life here.  We had many struggles throughout these last four years and I must say it’s been a real ride with twists, turns, ups, downs and 180s but through it all God’s been in control.  Do we know what He’s doing, nope, not all the time but obedience my friend that makes the ride a little more comfortable.  When you fully rely on and trust in the One sending you there’s nothing like it.

 

We are fairly transparent people; God has told us to live our life out loud.  However, there are still many things that we keep personal.  Is it because of pride; I don’t know.   The why is really unclear but it has been disobedient.  Today as I write this blog my hubby is at a church we have been serving for 9 months painting.   He has spent a lot of time there working most of it by himself.  Why he does this is only to Honor and Glorify God and no other reason.  Trust me, he wouldn’t be there for any other reason . . . not this amount of time.   He’s been trying to obtain painting jobs on the side to help us make ends meet.  For some strange reason when we closed the café down we lost all of our monthly support except for $200.  Each month, each day, each hour we have had no idea where our bill or food money is coming from.  When we had the café we had some tough times but after all we did work in a café and there was at least lunch there.

 

Hang in here with me for a moment, I know my thoughts are kind of scattered but I must be obedient.  So over the course of these last four years we’ve only had 2 churches that have given us monthly support – – we believe it is because God wanted us to fully rely on Him for our income and not a particular church.  I get that.  About a year and a half ago God impressed upon us to give away most of what we had.  De-Clutter I was calling it.  Nonetheless, we gave away so much.  Then one year ago God told us to move into Hamilton – – leave our comfy home in West Chester and move into the city that we have been called to serve.  We did that.  During this time we heard a lot of complimenting and atta boys but to us, it was all about hearing God say, “Well, Done”!

 

We have been serving and serving and so a few weeks ago my parents gave us a gift by sending us to Myrtle Beach for a week.  What a blessing and what an honor.  My parents have always stood beside me my entire life; they have been my biggest cheerleaders and most trusted supporters.  They have seen how we have served so many and not done anything for ourselves and I really enjoyed the beach, let me tell you.  Thank you mom and dad!

 

Now, we are at a crossroads.  I sometimes would joke and ask God so are we gonna be living like our “poor neighbors and homeless friends”.  I did not realize how true that statement would become.  I thought we had been through tough times before.  But now, here we are buying our clothes from the thrift store – when we can afford it.  There was a pair of Capri pants that I wanted from there and check this they were $19.  What in the world, what do you do when the thrift store is too expensive?  Next, came the food pantries.  Yup, we have.  I must say that has been the hardest one to do.  I am thankful for the pantries; however, I do not understand why a lot of the food is generic and outdated.  Would you want to eat outdated food?  Then what I noticed was we may get some meat like a steak or a few potatoes but no butter or sauce.  Interesting.  Feeding the hungry – yes we are.  Our leftovers and throwaways.  I’ve had people give me food and say, “Well, I cleaned out my cabinets and thought you would know someone who would want this.  Are you kidding me it expired 2 years ago.  Can I say, uh, no thank you.

 

I know as I am writing this I appear to be ungrateful.  I’m not. I truly appreciate each person that God has brought into our lives.  We’ve had many.  We’ve had several people we thought God brought to really dig in and get dirty but I do completely understand that sometimes it’s hard to trudge through the mud everyday and not see many results.  We have literally seen people die in the streets.  That’s tough – – no matter who you are.

 

So transparent I am.  I’m putting it all out.  Like me or not and like it or not.  But I’ve noticed in the last 4 years that if you want to know someone’s heart – look at their checkbook.  If you want to know who good leaders and pastors are – look at how they lead their church.  Are we making disciples or consumers?  Do we lead as Jesus did like servants or do we have the parking spot closest to the building.  Are we leading our congregations out into the streets for the “outreaches” or do we have a committee that goes for us?  Truth my friends.  Painful; you betcha.  Before I start getting hate mail, I am not talking about anyone in particular.  If this is tugging at your heart or raising your blood pressure – – go talk to my boss.  King Jesus.  You know the one who died for us!!  DIED for us!

 

This is not a game, this is not a dress rehearsal this is real life with real human beings dying and going to hell every single day.  There are missionaries out on the mission field that have been called to the front lines but our building projects have taken so much of our resources that we have to cut or withdraw support.  So why would a good God send two people into an inner city saturated with churches have them give away their possessions to serve people who just go right back to their vomit.  Why has God allowed our support to go away?  Why has God allowed us to go to food pantries?  Why has God allowed us to get our utilities’ shut off?

 

I can tell you for this missionary I finally understand poverty; the poverty in which I serve.  These people are not all addicts. These people are just like me.  Ordinary family people doing the best they can with  what they have.  God has given me a clear understanding of why poor people are overweight.  The food we give is not very nutritious and we can also buy more of the other food.  Ramon Noodles don’t cost very much.  Why do people with very little money have such large TVs.  Well, it’s cheap entertainment.  Movies, Kings Island, Creation Museum, YMCA passes.  We can’t afford to do that.

 

Lastly, I want to share one last personal bit of information.  The picture at the top is an actual picture I took this morning of my husband’s shoes.  This is the only pair of gym shoes he owns and are you ready for this, a homeless man gave them to him.  Yup – community.  I have learned about community from the people we’ve been serving.  At any given time, I would take food over to one house and they would call up their neighbors and prepare a big meal and all would eat.  It’s true.  If one of them has a need the others will come in to fill it.  We had one of our neighbors give us $2 one day.  We knew this was all they had but they gave.  We had another neighbor give us an old rusty tin that used to have popcorn in it as a gift.  I had one of our homeless friends give me a stuffed animal that he had fished out of the garbage for my birthday.  I have got to tell you tears are streaming down my face when I think of this.  I have some many stories of community I could share but I’m sure you are getting bored.

 

Ok. One more … I was notified that one of our homeless friends was found sleeping on the steps of Offerings.  Breaks my heart.  This same man calls my husband and says, I need help.   This person would come to the café almost everyday and we poured into him for years.  We are to be God’s hands and feet, and when people need help the “church” should be there to help them.  But I know how hard it has been for me and hubby to get into churches; there’s only been a few that have allowed us to come and share our mission.  After all, for most there is only one service a week and we can’t bore congregants.  Our buildings are closed up tight and getting past a pastors secretary is tough stuff.  Where is the church that is totally committed to God and one another?  Where is that community living on mission together?  Where is that community that has everything in common and no one wants for anything?  I am longing for that community.  The lost sinners have it — oh, yeah they have it minus a Savior.  Which, of course, is the most important part.  But they are not seeing the love that we should have for one another.  What do we have to offer them; what joy do they see?  They notice, believe me they are paying attention.  They know when you are there putting on an event and when you truly love and care for them.  And having a special seating section for them all to sit at in your Sunday service doesn’t count.  We’ve got to be living in community and doing life together in order to impact this world.  Total devotion to God and love for others before ourselves.  And, hey, if you are not called to the frontline at least support the ones that are.

 

I know most people have big hearts and love God deeply.  I’m just in a place where I long for the model of the Acts church.  Friends, we are still on the streets feeding, serving, loving and sharing the gospel and we could really use your help.  Here is what we need:  Personal Hygenie items; soap, shampoo, conditioner, femine products, diapers, laundry detergent, finger nail clippers, combs, brushes, tooth brush, toothpaste.  Food – we serve food each week.  Who is willing to ma ke side dishes, desserts, or provide some meat for us to grill.  I’m also looking for some donations of soil and veggies and herbs so that I can plant this year’s community garden. We had one at Offerings and it really helps us provide fresh tomatos, cucumbers, lettuce, etc to people.  Lastly, a vehicle – we are still after 4 years in need of a box type truck/bus to serve out of.  Then lastly, please consider financially supporting us and inviting us to your house, community group, church ,etc to come and share our mission.

 

We are also going to be going to be going out more days a week now so if you would like to be added to our food donation list, please let me know.  My email is Pastorkimrusso@gmail.com.

pastors shoes2

Blessings in the Toilet

toilet

 

This past week my hubby and I have been serving at InnKeeper Ministries while Bob & Jan are out of town.  Over the last 10 years we have stayed here many many times, we even renewed our vows for our 15 year wedding anniversary here.  We have been guests and we have been workers.  However, this time has been different.  As we were cleaning rooms after the last guests left I was cleaning in the bathroom and became so overcome with emotion.  I realized that after all of these years this time we are here serving other servants of God; God’s shepherds.  As I was cleaning the toilet of all places I prayed and thanked God for this blessing.  I have such an amazing feeling and such deep gratitude for the honor of being able to serve in this place and to be able to help two of the most selfless, wonderful people we know.  I can certainly say that over the last 10 years of knowing the Hartenstein’s that they are a family after God’s own heart.  They love God, their family and others with such a willingness to be and do anything that God calls them to.  I am thankful for the many years that this couple, Bob and Janet Hartenstein have poured into us.  Janet is certainly the entire package of what a godly woman is, she is my mentor and I know hubby feels the same about Bob.

Today my blessing came while cleaning the toilet!

A Woman Transformed – Rahab

Scripture:  Joshua 2:1-24, 6:17-25; Matthew 1:5; Hebrews 11:31; James 2:25

Rahab

Rahab lived about 1406 B.C. in Jericho.  Rahab was strong, brave, decisive and a prostitute.  This was a common profession back in this time but still not looked good upon.  She lived in a house that was at the city wall which made her highly accessible to travelers. Rahab is known in scripture as being Rahab the Harlot.  Harlot meaning a woman that yields herself to any man who approaches her.  During this time she had learned about the Exodus of Israel and the miracles of the Red Sea.

So here we are after 40 years of struggle the Israelites were ready to enter the promised land.  The Israelites were now under the leadership of

Joshua who trained under Moses.  Joshua needed to get the Israelites to the Promised Land so he sent two spies to secretly scout out the area.  Upon their arrival these men were spotted.  So the king of Jericho sent a message to Rahab to bring the men out.  Instead under the threat of treason and the penalty of death she hid the men and told the king’s soldiers that they had left town.

So Rahab asked a favor of the two spies.  She asked them to spare her family from death.  They agreed.  Rahab told them to run to the hills so she lowered them by rope through a window to safety outside the city wall.  For seven days she waited and while she heard the Israelities marching around Jericho; but she had faith.  This act and her faith in God earned her the title as a woman of Faith.

As  women, wives and mothers we all have day to day struggles and we make mistakes along the way.  We can learn faith, courage, commitment and o

bedience from Rahab.  As Rahab’s example, no matter what your path in life has been a simple step of faith in Jesus Christ can turn your life around. Hebrews 11:31

Listen she went from prostitute to being in the lineage of motherhood of Jesus Christ.  Wow!  A prosititute in the lineage of Jesus Christ.  What Rahab found was deliverance through the mercy of God.  Friends Rahab experienced a transformed life.  If a prostitute can become a saint of faith and become a mother in the line of Jesus then nothing is impossible.

Rahab had no religious background but she had a courageous choice to make.  First, she chose to have faith. Second, she chose to help. Rahab risked her own life by an act of treason.  Just as God transformed Rahab he is able to transform any life that is brought to Him no matter how wicked, broken or wretched it may be.  God showed her mercy.   Remember that you have not fallen so far that God can’t reach you.  No matter what you’ve done, where you are right now take a risk, put your faith in God and allow Him to transform you.  You are His creation.  You are His precious daughter, allow Him the opportunity to transform you into the woman He created you to be.

 

Praise Him!

Broken and Naked Before God

 

 
He Without Sin 017    John 8:1-11

My text is from the story of the woman taken in adultery.  It was the time of year during the Feast of Tabernacles, where every Jewish man and woman went to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast that commemorates their ancestors living in tents as they wandered thru the wilderness.  Now this story takes place early in the morning.  Jesus is outside the temple teaching a group of people when all of a sudden the scribes and the Pharisees show up dragging behind them a naked woman.  This woman has been caught in the act of adultery.  According to the Law of Moses she is to be stoned to death.  (Lev. 20:10 The man who commits adultery with another’s wife even his neighbor’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.)

Let’s take a look at the brokenness – as we journey throughout our life we encounter many situations that cause us to become broken people.  Perhaps, we were introduced to drugs and/or alcohol and became addicts.  Or we were physically or sexually abused as children.  We become extremely far in debt, we cheat on college exams or taxes.  How about we catch our spouse, the love of our life, having an affair or a porn addiction.  Just take a look back over your life or your current situation and I’m sure you can name a few things along the way that has caused you to become broken.  I know I have.  At some point in our life we have failed somewhere or someone; we have blown it, we’ve made a wrong choice or two.

So  here we go back to John 8: 2-5 But early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them.  As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery.  They put her in front of the crowd.  “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone here. What do you say?”

These Jewish leaders were trying to trap Jesus.  These men were happy because they figure they’ve got Jesus where they want him.  They know she’s guilty.  She knows she’s guilty.  And Jesus knows she’s guilty.  Everybody knows she’s guilty.  Never mind, that these scribes and Pharisees have already just broken the law themselves because they did not bring the man to Jesus . . . nope, just the woman.

So check it in verses 6-11.  They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger.  They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” The he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.

This is so good.  Picture this it’s early, Jesus is teaching a group outside the Temple and here the leaders come rocks in their hands dragging this naked broken woman caught in adultery.  Friends, these men are armed and ready.  (Vs. 9 When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with this woman.)  I LOVE this! Jesus turns it all around on them.  As the Jewish leaders were ready to prosecute this woman with rocks in hand Jesus turns it around on them by asking them to let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone and when they are confronted with facing their sin they leave one by one dropping their rocks to the ground.  Halleluiah! Praise God!

Then here is where grace comes in.  When they have all dropped their rocks and left and Jesus stands up and looks this woman in the eye he says (vs. 10-11) Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”  “No, Lord,” she replied.  And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”  WOW!!  Now that’s what I’m talking about Jesus and His love for sinners; grace, grace marvelous grace.

That is grace my friend.  Was this woman guilty?  Absolutely.  Was Jesus the only sinless person there qualified to throw the rock at her?  Oh yes.  But He doesn’t He says to her Go and sin no more.  So why is this important; there are several reasons.

  1.  Why doesn’t Jesus condemn her?  She’s guilty right.  So as this woman stands before Jesus broken and naked it’s not going to be very long before Jesus goes to the cross, the only sinless perfect man was about to die for this woman who was not.  This is too good friends.  This is my Jesus!!!
  2. I want you to notice He also wants our commitment.  He says Go and sin NO MORE.  He gives grace my friends but He does NOT excuse our sin.  He doesn’t say go and do whatever you want you are covered by my grace.  He says, SIN NO MORE.  Listen, Jesus gives us grace and forgiveness but He hates sin.  Have you ever heard the saying, Hate the sin but love the sinner?  It’s like this Jesus says, Woman, I don’t condemn you but I do not like what you did so go and don’t do it anymore.  Get it?

If you are sitting here saying well, I know this is wrong and I shouldn’t steal this candy bar but I will just do it and then ask for forgiveness; then you don’t get it.  Forgiveness is not a get out of jail free card.  I will do this today and then confess it later.  Nope.  Check it once you come to God with your brokenness He will put you back together and you will not want to go against anything other than to strive to be Christ like.

Today where do you stand . . . are you like one of the Pharisees that are holding the rocks ready to throw them at other people while you stand there in your own sin.  Or perhaps you are like this woman; broken, guilty and have never quite gotten over it.  As you stand there naked and in front of Jesus with your life broken and shattered lying all over the ground are you ready to come to Jesus and give Him ALL of these broken pieces.  Listen friends, with confession and repentance Jesus still stands today ready to forgive us and not condemn us.   The next step is up to you.

Fence Walking

 

 

woman_in_stress

I mentor several women as well as do prison ministry, I’m constantly being asked, “why do I keep winding up here?” “Why can’t I seem to make the right choices?”  These are legitimate questions am I asked almost every week.  These ladies are trying to kick addictions and destructive behaviors and find themselves defeated.  I ask them, “How are you and Jesus?”  They respond, “Well, I try to go to church or I’m trying to read the Bible.”

 

Friends, are you facing the same burdens, the same situations in your life?  It may not be drug addiction but the same applies to excessive shopping, gossip, weight issues, over scheduling, worry and fear.  I’m asking you sweet sisters do you really want to break free from the bondage of sin?  Let’s expose Satan’s lies and shine the truth of God’s word on these questions.

 

In Hosea 4:6 you priests refuse to know me, I refuse to recognize you as my priests. Since you have forgotten the laws of your God, I will forget to bless your children.  Basically stated My people are being destroyed because they don’t know me.  Ask yourself this very important question, do you really KNOW God.  I’m talking a close personal relationship.  Do you know His voice my friend?

 

John 1:5 This is the message we heard from Jesus[c] and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.

 

John 1:5 has the answer to those questions that I keep getting asked.  We cannot go on living with even part of our old man.  There is no room for fence walking in God’s kingdom.  We must must must not walk in darkness.  Check this out John 1:6 Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.

 

Is this you?  Are you living life as Jesus did.  Have you humbly submitted yourself to the master that you claim to have accepted as your personal savior?  Are you walking this out daily?

 

God commands us Do Not Love This World John 1:15 Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. 16 For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.

 

This is powerful stuff and it is true.  Our God expects us to follow these commands.  I challenge you to live as Jesus did.  Listen, this is not a trial run, there is only one life we have to live and if we call Jesus Savior then we have to make Him our Master and follow him and his commands.  Give Him your life and allow Him to work in you and out in you as He wills.  Amen.

 

Praise Him!

 

On The Emmaus Road

Emmaus Road

Is it possible to know Jesus Christ and not know His presence?

For the last three years my husband and I have been studying  the early church, Jesus’ followers from back in the day and His disciples. As I sit here I am longing for my relationship with Jesus Christ to be so close I can smell his sweet presence, to have every thought in my mind only be on God’s will and my actions to be only as I see my Father doing.
In Luke 24:13-32 That same day two of Jesus’ followers were walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem. As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them. But God kept them from recognizing him. He asked them, “What are you discussing so intently as you walk along?” They stopped short, sadness written across their faces. Then one of them, Cleopas, replied, “You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about all the things that have happened there the last few days.” “What things?” Jesus asked. “The things that happened to Jesus, the man from Nazareth,” they said. “He was a prophet who did powerful miracles, and he was a mighty teacher in the eyes of God and all the people. But our leading priests and other religious leaders handed him over to be condemned to death, and they crucified him. We had hoped he was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel. This all happened three days ago. Then some women from our group of his followers were at his tomb early this morning, and they came back with an amazing report. They said his body was missing they had seen angels who told them Jesus is alive! Some of our men ran out to see, and sure enough, his body was gone, just as the women had said.” Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?” Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. By this time they were nearing Emmaus and the end of their journey. Jesus acted as if he were going on, but they begged him, “Stay the night with us since it is getting late.” So he went home with them. As they sat down to eat, he took the bread and blessed it. The he broke it and gave it to them. Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And at that moment he disappeared! They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?”
Luke 24:16 But God kept them from recognizing him. Why did God choose to keep the two believers from recognizing Jesus? Scripture really doesn’t tell us why but I’m sure we all wonder and speculate as to why. It definitely makes me ponder how many “strangers” have appeared to us and talked with us only for us to not recognize the truth as He walks next to us. Wow! Blows my mind to think about encounters we may be having.
So these two disciples were walking along and talking about Jesus and here comes Jesus walking right up next to them but they were unaware of His presence. I think it sounds like so many of our churches and gatherings today – Jesus is being missed. Christians today know the facts just as these two disciples did, they can quote scripture and be full of theology but are our eyes blinded to where we don’t even see or know Jesus.
As Christians our first responsibility is to follow Jesus. John 12:26 Are we truly a follower of Jesus Christ today, do we know him and follow Him so closely that we are covered in His dust? Before you answer yes to this statement, I ask that you stop for a moment and pray; ask God to reveal to you as He knows you to be. Are our hearts set on Jesus; are we seeking to KNOW him and walk with Him. He knows us by our fruit. (Matthew 7:20) OR are we the Christians that go to church once or twice a week, or maybe a small group but we don’t seek Him daily, we don’t commune with Him each day because if we do our fruit juice will be overflowing from our time spent with Jesus.

I pray that we learn from the scriptures as we are on our Emmaus Road.  Let’s not get so consumed with our life and our pleasures that we are blinded and don’t know Jesus.

Praise Him!

The Temple of God

 

In my personal devotion time this morning I was reading on brotherly love and unity within the body of believers.  I could not help but to think on the condition of believers today.  The condition of the body of Christ is steadily declining into a self serving, self preserving state of being.  We no longer strive to put others before ourselves or to serves others, instead we mostly tend to go with whatever is pleasing to us individually; whether that is in the form of our material possessions, our jobs, our friendships, or our time.

 

In Psalms 133: 1 How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony!

 

When we live in harmony we resemble the heart and life that is produced by the Word of God.  Brotherly love is profitable and pleasing.  Brotherly love brings abundance and blessings to our lives.

 

As brothers and sisters we must come together as one realizing that God is more important than we are as individuals and yield our life totally without reservations.  We need to take on the mind of Christ.  Christ became man and in doing so He taught us how to live the way God wants us to.  His life on earth is our example of how we are to live our life on earth as children of God.

 

In Philippians 2:5 we are told “Let this mind be in you”; this is a command, it is not optional.  Unity and brotherly love is a matter of attitude, motive, thoughts, conduct, conversation and community in our body.  We can say we are living in unity as commanded but allow a test or trial to come, something to challenge our unity and see where our reactions are.  Unity and brotherly love is the result of Christ manifested in the life of the believer.  We recognize it by the appearance of the character and the attitude of Christ within each believer.

 

Let’s take a look at Philippians 2:1-4  Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

 

When we go through a disagreement or quarrel with a brother or sister if anything comes about in our thoughts, actions or feelings that are not love we need to immediately “put them off”; dismiss them, put them down, set them aside.  We must set aside everything personal and think of the body of Christ.  Listen, the real test is when the devil gets involved and tries to stir things up among the body; how will we respond.  Will we come together as one in Christ realizing that God and His plan and purpose is more important than ourselves.

 

There cannot be life in a divided body; it is unhealthy and it gives the devil a toe hold to jump in and start wreaking havoc within the body.  Jesus Christ is our head and as the body we must do as the head does.  Follow His example, his leading.

 

As believers we must understand that we are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in each of us. 1 Corinthians 3:16 (NLT) Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you?

 

We MUST get this – if we truly grasp that every believer is the temple of God and the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit wouldn’t our attitude toward one another change.  Listen, do we really understand this, our brothers and sisters are the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit.  Therefore, when we have bitterness, unforgiveness or strife against our brother or sister we are helping the devil out by hurting the temple of God.

 

Before we act or speak to a fellow believer realize that we are acting or speaking where the Holy Spirit resides.  A temple means a holy place, the holy of holies.  Friends we are God’s Holy of Holies and so is each believer.  Does our life, love and unity with one another display this?  The devils seeks to destroy believers, the body.  God tells us not to give place to the devil.  Friends, he doesn’t just come in and take over, we give him that place.  We allow our pride or our hurt feelings to become more important than Christ’s command to love and live as He did.  We are allowing the devil to come and take over.  As believer’s we need to stop devouring one another and allowing Satan this place in our lives.

 

I want to go back in Philippians 2:1 and we see the word “therefore”.  I was always taught when we see the word therefore we must find out what it is there for.  So back up into Philippians 1:27 – 30. Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God. 29 For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, 30 having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.

 

Perhaps you are facing an issue with a brother or sister right now, if so remember that your fellow believer IS God’s temple, the Holy of Holies, treat them accordingly.  Let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ.

Praise Him!!

 

 

 

Walking In The Spirit

Most of the ministry Pastor Felix and I deal with people that have life controlling issues.  These life controlling issues can be anything that deals with any aspect of Substance, Behavioral or Relational; drugs and alcohol addiction, sexual addictions, eating disorders, depression, co-dependency, etc.

Tomorrow night we are starting our new Insight Groups.  During these sessions we help and encourage people to reveal, confront, deal and heal from life controlling issues so that they can live victorious lives.  I’m convinced that in order for us to overcome our issues, if we are not saved born-again believers then our first action is to confess and repent that Jesus is Savior and Lord of our lives.  If we are already a born-again believer we have got to understand the true meaning of being a “new creature”.

Friends, the Bible tells us clearly that we are to dwell in the secret place of the most High.  That secret place is Jesus!  We must abide in Jesus.  So check this, when you receive Jesus into your life as Savior and Lord you become instantly a new creature in Christ old things pass away and all things become new.  So we are laying down the “old creature”.

So why do we struggle in our daily lives against life-controlling issues?  Well, we start reverting back to our “old carnal nature”; we allow Satan a foothold when we do this.  At some point, in some facet of our daily walk we have stopped abiding in the secret place of the Most High.  Listen friends, Satan can only steal, kill and destroy the part of you that is outside the abiding in Christ.  In Ephesians 4:27 we read about not allowing Satan to have any ground, it says anger gives a foothold to the devil. So where does anger come from; self.  We give Satan ground by dwelling in ourselves whether it be by anger, unforgiveness, jealousy, envy, strife,pride,  gossip, covetousness or hatred, if you allow it to continue then you are giving ground to Satan.  To be free you must break this stronghold by crucifying the flesh. We must realize that nothing is protected outside of abiding in Christ, this walking in the Spirit, not your jobs, not your husbands, not your children, not your money – nothings is protected.

We have a choice to make every hour of every day.  Are we going to crucify our flesh, our “old nature” and walk in the Spirit by abiding in Christ or are we going to make the CHOICE to step outside of our protection, our secret place and give in to the lusts of our own fleshly desires.

During the course of our sessions we begin to see people start waxing and waning, sometimes eventually quitting altogether. So why are these groups so hard for us to stay in?  It is painful; it is unpleasant at times to deny ourselves of our self.  It is not our birth given fleshly nature to deny itself, only in Christ can we truly accomplish this.  So when we start allowing the Holy Spirit to deal with us it can get ugly for us and sometimes the urges become so strong that we make the CHOICE to revert back to them.

Notice, I keep saying we are making those choices.  Why?  Because it is our choice whether or not we are going to walk in the Spirit or walk in the Natural.  God tells us in his word to resist the devil and he will flee James 4:7.  So in order to do that it takes action on our part.  You may be tempted by Satan every minute of every day but it is your choice either to resist him or give in to him.  Once we are saved, we have God living inside of us in the form of the Holy Spirit, if we allow Him; He will direct our path, and guide our steps.  Satan cannot gain an inch unless . . . unless, what? We allow Him.

Bottom line, Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh, Galatians 5:16.  Jesus us tells us to pick up our cross and follow Him, our cross is the cross of our flesh – our natural lustful worldly desires.  We are born again believers.  We are born again into the righteousness of Christ Jesus; therefore, if I abide in Christ and He abides in me I will live victorious.

You may ask, as we have been asked, why are so many Christians “falling”?  They are falling because at some point they stop abiding in Jesus.  They stopped walking in the Spirit; they gave Satan a foothold and in doing so Satan is able to destroy and kill.  We need to pray for our fallen brothers and sisters in Christ.  We need to pray for their choices.  They do not need “delivered” they need to crucify their flesh.  Jesus delivered them on the Cross of Calvary.

Today, this hour, this minute, make the CHOICE to abide in Christ and crucify the flesh because Satan cannot touch what is in Christ.

Praise Him!

Stewards

 

STEWARDS

Being a steward is someone who takes care of someone else’s property. God owns everything we just possess it.  As Christians we were bought with a price. We are stewards over our body, influence, talents, attitudes, money, possessions, and time.

1 Corinthians 6:19-21 (NLT) 19 Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, 20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.

 God has given us freewill; however, we have to keep in mind that one day we will answer to God as to how we were stewards over what He has allowed us to have.  Since we belong to God we are responsible to Him for what we do with what we have, do, say, act, etc.  I want to look at a few areas in our lives that God owns but has given us stewardship over.

First, our body:  Romans 12:1-12 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.

 Our bodies now belong to Him, for His use we are to keep it clean, holy, and healthy.  Do we keep our selfish desires of the flesh in check?

Second, our influence:  If you claim to be a Christian you must realize by now that people will watch you more close.  What do your peers think of you?  Does your influence make your peers want to be a Christian because of what they see in you?  Does your influence lead them to or away from God?

Third, our attitudes:  Do you allow God to control your attitude or do you allow your circumstances dictate your attitude.  If you are having a particularly rough day will it reflect in your attitude?  How is your attitude toward the people in your life and your own household? Are you focusing on everything that is wrong and negative instead of the good or positive?  At some point in our lives we have faced challenges; a loss of a loved one, loss of a job or a home, an illness or sudden injury, those things we have no control over; however, we do have control over our attitudes during trials.  Our attitudes should reflect our position as God’s child not our current circumstance or trial.  Rejoice at all times, even in the bad.

Fourth, our talents:  God has gifted us with certain abilities and talents that we need to use for His glory and edification of others not our egos. Romans 15:2-3  We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord. For even Christ didn’t live to please himself. As the Scriptures say, “The insults of those who insult you, O God, have fallen on me.”

We are to be faithful in what we were given and not covet others gifts, talents, abilities or ministries.

Fifth, our money and possessions:  In an article I seen it was stated that 29% of all Christians tithe.  Wow!  What a statement.  I can’t help but wonder do these people really even know God.  Because it is apparent to me that if you know God then you live your life in total surrender to Him and His will; right?  After all, did we not forsake all for the call.  We buried the old man and put on the new in Christ.  If you want to know where people’s hearts are then follow where their money goes.  Then you will find what interests them most.

Material Possessions if we are covetous to give then we are rebellious to God.  Take a look at the rich young ruler.  He loved his possessions so much that he gave up eternal life with Jesus Christ to hold on to his wealth.

Sixth, our time:  How many times have we heard or said, “there’s never enough time in a day” or  “where did the day go, time flies.”

Ephesians 5:16 (NLT) 16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.

What are we spending our time doing?  Are we wasting time on things that are eternally unprofitable?  Yes, we do have to work, eat and sleep but we should do a schedule check to make sure we are using our time for God and the things of God.  We have so little time to do what we are called to do we better stop wasting it.

James 4:14 (NLT) 14 How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.

We are living on God’s time.  Every day is a gift from God and we will be accountable to Him with what we do with our day.  Once the day is gone the time is lost and we can never regain that time again.   As I was doing this study it was touching upon the youth we are charged with raising and teaching.  When we take our kids to church what are we looking for in a youth group; classes, groups, or activities?  So, I did some searching and checking back into the recesses of my time as a youth and here is what I came up with.  Back in the day we spent time with other youth groups doing sword drills and listening to God’s Word. Today we are so busy in our churches that just like the adults if we can woo them in with all the glitz and glamour of what we have to offer then it is the same for the kids and the parents will want their kids there as well.  It is just time to stop worrying about hurting feelings and speak the truth.  We are filling our kids with so many activities that we leave them very little time for God’s house and when we do finally take some time to get them there for 1 hour a week we fill that time with religious activities.  We are losing our kids here and growing a generation of emptiness when it comes to the word of God.  After all, if we teach them about purity and modesty they won’t want to come back, so let’s go do some scavenger hunts, go to Kings Island, or whatever it may be.  We better wake up!!

Finally, the gospel.  Romans 10:13-15 (NLT) 13 For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”14 But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? 15 And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!”

You have a responsibility in spreading the gospel whether it be on a foreign mission field, a hometown mission field, at your work place, or in your neighborhood you have a responsibility.  Either you are called to go or called to send.  I’m not talking about short term missions here I’m talking about the missionary that gives all to go live in an area and build relationships with the people and teach them the things of God and give them the gospel.

Do you accept the charge?

We must remember our bodies belong to God, our influence and attitude should be Christ reflective.  Our talents are a gift from God for His use and glory, our money and possession all belong to him not just the 10% we need to spend it the way He instructs us. Our short time on this earth we are commanded of God to spread the Gospel not waste the day.

 

Praise Him!