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!!

My Identity in Christ

My identity is in Christ

On June 15, 2014 my “bruncle” brother/uncle passed away.  He had suffered with illness for many years until this week his liver finally gave out and he left this earth.  This has caused great sorrow for our family, especially my precious mom and dad.  Please continue to lift them up in your prayers.

By now, I know you are thinking bruncle; why brother uncle.  This is a story I do not tell.  As a matter of fact, I have always hidden my true identity . . . until now.  I was born in September 1970 to 15 year old Juliette Alice and 17 year old Bobby Joe Roberts.  By the age of 9 months both of my biological parents gave me to my paternal grandparents, Ron and Geneva Stewart and I was raised as their daughter.

I cannot even begin to describe how incredibly blessed I was to have been gifted two of the most amazing people that God ever created to be my mom and dad.  I am so blessed!  I didn’t always see it that way.  As I grew up I felt abandoned by both my biological parents – given away.  My biological mother was totally out of the picture and my biological dad had another family and had 2 other children.  I always felt lost; without belonging.  I didn’t fit in with my biological mom’s life because she just took off.  I didn’t fit in with my biological dads life because he had another wife and two other children and I didn’t feel I fit with my grandparents family because they had 4 other children all grown and out of the house but one, Tommy who lived with us until about 1979 ish.

So here I was growing up feeling I did not have any belonging, any identity.  My biological father may not have meant harm but he once heard me call my grandparents mom and dad and proceeded to tell me that he never wanted to hear me say that again.  They are my grandparents.  Meaning harm and causing harm is two very different things.  My life was negatively shaped by my circumstances that were totally beyond my choosing or control.   I felt alone.  I lived most of my life with a negative self view.  I was wounded.  Right or wrong – I was wounded.

I ran away from home when I was 16 years old with my high school sweetheart.  I was in love – or at least what I thought was love.  When this boy came along I felt like I belonged to someone.  I felt a since of place and identity.  Eventually we divorced and I was off and running again.  Looking for love in all the wrong places.  I was looking for someone to fill that void in my life.  Someone to love me and fulfill my longing to belong.  Friends, I now know people, jobs, money cannot do that – only God can.

Ok, so four years ago standing in a little café that God had given us stewardship over we had had a music service and my wonderful husband Felix was sharing about the ministry and he asked me if I had anything to say.  At that moment, with a full house I heard God tell me … it’s time, your freedom is now.  I took the microphone and shared my testimony and my hurt and proclaimed my identity in Christ.  As I was speaking I could feel the chains that had been wrapped around me so tight begin to break and fall to the floor.  With each statement a link would break and I could breathe a little easier.

Since that night I have never looked back . . . until this morning.  This morning, I was sitting on the patio at Innkeeper drinking my coffee, talking with the Lord and I decided to look at facebook.  I seen my brother, Tommy’s obituary.  I love the picture he looks so handsome as all my parents kids do. (smile)  I began to read and when it came to the family left behind I seen my mom and dad, his wife and kids, and his two brothers then I seen two sisters.  I can’t begin to tell you how I felt I got a big smile on my face I felt a sense of pride when I read “sister Carol Mckee” and I just knew I would see “and Kim Russo of Cincinnati, Ohio”.  That is not what I read, I read another name.  Tommy’s wife’s sisters name.  I immediately felt crushed.  I immediately felt that negative self image that wounding from childhood.  I began to cry – not over his death but selfishly for myself.  I sat there a few minutes kind of shocked by my feelings when I heard my God say to me.  You are my precious child, your worth is in my son’s shed blood for you.  Your have been adopted into my family.  Galatians 3:26, “ For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.”  I am not defined by this my true identity is in God and in that I have total freedom.  I am exactly who God created me to be.  I lived the life that I was meant to live and on September 24, 1970 God placed me into the loving arms of two amazing people that I call mom and dad, Geneva and Ron Stewart.

As I sit and share this with you, my hope is that by me sharing a bit of my story it will touch someone in such a way that perhaps if you are dealing with some kind of bondage or “identity” crisis that you will stop and read Galatians chapter 2.  My prayer is that you remove all negative thoughts from early on in your life or even perhaps circumstances that may have happened just last week and focus on your true identity which is in Christ alone.  Allow your identity to be in Him and His in you and your faith will grow, and your wounds will start to heal.  For me, I now realize that I have an ugly scar from that wound.  I allowed it to remain open for far to long.  But now, today as I look upon that scar I see that God is pleased with me, His creation.  I am not defined by my childhood, my feelings or my emotions.  The opinions of others and how they label or not label me does not define me.  I am exactly who God created me to be and who God says that I am.

2 Corinitians 1:22, “who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.  Ephesians 1:5, “having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself according to the good pleasure of His will.  Romans 15:7, “Therefore receive one another just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.  Colossians 2:9-10, “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.”  Amen!!!

Today, I am allowing that last chain to break and fall to the floor.  I am claiming that I am a child of the most High King!!  Jesus Christ willingly laid His life down so that I can be with God and live with them in eternity as God’s child and a joint heir with Jesus Christ.  I am worthy because Jesus’ blood has made me worthy.

I will wipe the last tears from my eyes that the false beliefs caused me to live in bondage.   My name is Kim Roberts (Stewart) Russo.  My biological parents are Bobby and Juliette.  My mom and dad are Ron and Geneva Stewart.  I have 3 half siblings, Lisa, and B.J. – children of Bobby, and Karen a child of Juliette’s.  I also have 2 bruncles – my brothers Jonas and Tommy Lee.  I have 1 sister / aunt Carol.  And today I am walking in my identity of who I am in Jesus Christ!  A child of the most High King!  Praise God!!

 

Rest in Peace my sweet brother:

Tommy RTommy Leeoberts, of Liberty, KY passed away Sunday, June 15, 2014 at the Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital in Somerset, KY. He was 57.

Born March 3, 1957 in Cincinnati, Ohio, he is the son of Geneva Smith Stewart and Ron Stewart of West Chester, Ohio.

In addition to his parents, survivors include his wife, Della Wilson Roberts, whom he married September 1, 1979; a son, Dakota Roberts of Liberty; two daughters, Angela Seig of Warsaw, KY and Beth Allen of Cincinnati, Ohio; eight grandchildren; two brothers, Jonas Roberts of Mason, Ohio and Bobby Roberts of Cincinnati, Ohio; and two sisters, Carol McKee of Cincinnati, Ohio and Debbie Wilson of Jacksonville, Florida.

 

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!

Finally Friday – It’s Time To Come Undone!!!

needle

Compassion – suffering with someone with the desire to help them, this is what my husband told a youth group we pastored 16 years ago.  I thought I understood the meaning of compassion back then but I had not even begun to comprehend it’s depth of meaning.

Life for us has been crazy this last month with the closing of the café, my diagnosis of fibromyalgia and the experimental medications the insurance company has made me go through before I can take the one my doctor actually thinks will help me.   So for me, this week wraps up a four year long journey as we will lock the door to Offerings Holy Grounds Café for the last time this Saturday.  What a journey it has been.  Just penning these words springs up a well of tears filling my eyes.

We have met so many people.  We have seen the good, the bad and the truly ugly.  I have so many stories that it would take me all month to share.  One that comes to my mind to share is of a blonde haired woman that lives a life of prostitution and crack addiction.  I had only known “Misty” for about a week when I found her crouched out in the back parking lot trying to smoke crack out of some kind of make-shift pipe.  She was frayed from end to end, disheveled and rocking back and forth.  I remember walking up to her and standing there for minutes with her never even looking up to see what I was doing.  My heart was feeling physically heavy as I lowered myself to my knees in front of her.  All the while she never once looked at me; she continued to try to put crack in this so called pipe while she continued to rock back in forth.  I can still feel the pain deep inside of me this day as I recount this story. I sat there for a minute or two and just watched her not knowing what I should do.  With a deep breath I stretched my arms toward her and I cupped her weary face into my shaking hands.  As I cradled her face her eyes met mine and at that moment I had become totally undone, never to be the same again.

Have you ever had an encounter with such suffering that it totally rocked your world?  I did that day.  That day I felt so much suffering and pain that I began to understand the meaning of compassion.  Right there that day it hit me; compassion feels bad.  It hurts, it’s dirty, it’s messy, it’s . . . awful.  Compassion is walking away from an encounter that you know has changed your life forever and you realize that life as you knew it would never be the same.

Friends, we live in a world full of pain; do you feel it?  Or have we become so desensitized by all the news stories and so self-centered that we will walk right past a person begging on the streets.  Or as we pass the poor we drop our eyes so that we don’t have to look at them.

By now, most have put in at least a 40 hour week already work.  So now we can have this weekend to enjoy and kick it up as we please.  I understand this; I lived it for most of my life.  I worked long hard hours at a job that was okay just so I could pay a mortgage on a house that I no longer live in and travel to a tropical state for a two week vacation once every year.  I was living the dream; right?  No, I had bought into a lie.

After four years of street ministry I have got to admit it’s dirty, it’s hard and it’s painful.  But my friends, I could not go back to the comfortable life that I once knew.  I have been called to follow Jesus, the one who gave up the comfort of heaven and had compassion on me.  As I was holding Misty in my arms Jesus was holding me in His.  Jesus was whispering into my ear, He was saying, “Kimberleigh lay down your net and follow me.”  Suffer with her, have compassion “with” her, feel it.  He showed me in that very moment that I would shed many tears for the little children that I would see running around in the alleys barefoot, dirty and hungry.  He showed me that I would feel the deep heart wrenching pain of holding a drug addicted prostitute in my arms.  He showed me that the road that I had stepped onto was narrow and the path that I was about to take is dirty, full of busted beer bottles, heroine needles, crack pipes and cigarette butts.  Sitting in a little church, pastoring teens I would never have imagined that I would be here today serving the poor and broken in my community I would have avoided it at all costs.

Before you approach your weekend and all the activities you have planned I ask you to spend some time alone with God.  Listen for His whisper.  It’s there.  Your path and purpose have all been laid out before you were even created.  Turn the world down for just a little while and turn off its lies of if we work hard enough, make enough money, and buy all the latest and greatest gadgets that we will be happy.  What is He calling you to do, where is He calling you to go?  We live in a world full of pain and suffering but few have actually engaged it.  Most of us, walk past the beggar and the drunkard and lower our eyes.

Four years ago, I had an encounter with my Savior that caused me to become radically undone and since that time I have held many women while they cry.  I have seen pain and hopelessness in their eyes.  For me, I know that my life will never be the same.  There is no way to put those pieces all back together, the dirt has been under my nails for so many years that OPI can’t cover it.

Just for this weekend, before you go out to eat buy someone else a meal first.  Before you buy that new outfit you’ve been waiting for buy one for someone else.  And when you walk down the street smile at the person you are passing.  I encourage you to become UNDONE!!

Praise Him!!

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!!