Thursday, January 30, 2014

Sometimes He Call Us to Step Out of Our Comfort Zone

Matt 14: 22-33 (Main Text) - Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. 23 And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. 24 But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. 25 Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. 26 And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out for fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, "Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid." 28 And Peter answered Him and said, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water." 29 So He said, "Come." And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, "Lord, save me!" 31 And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, "Truly You are the Son of God."

We see from the text above that Peter stepped out of the boat in Faith! The boat is a lot like religion or Christian complacency. You see, so many believers live in the box or "boat" of normal Christianity. Where we don't expect God to do more than what we have been taught He will do. that's religion and religion is bondage!

Knowing Jesus and walking with Him is not religion … it's a relationship with the living Son of God who came to give us life and life more abundantly (John 10:10)
But just as Jesus came to give us life more abundant … Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy. That means he wants to keep you from walking in the Power of God, he wants to keep you from living the word of God. Why? Because if he cant keep you from being a child of God … then he wants to keep you from living the Christian life to the fullest. To keep you in the boat of complacency.
Look at this …. If you stay in the boat you will be surrounded by others who are just as afraid as you are to step out on the water and walk to Jesus.
The fact is there are many Christians who are content hanging out in the boat of religion and complacency. They are no different from the Pharisees and religious leaders in Jesus day.

Jesus was called a heretic and a blasphemer because he didn't do things the exact way the laws said He should. He didn't conform to their apathy but instead did what His Father in heaven told him to do … that ticked off the religious minded!

Here are a few examples from Scripture that show that Jesus thought "outside' of the box of religion. And stepped out of the comfort zone!

Luke 11: 37-54 Jesus went to eat with a Pharisee at his request, when they sat down to eat the Pharisee marveled that Jesus hadn't washed His hands. Then the Lord said to Him … "Now you Pharisees make the outside of the cup and dish clean, but your inward part is full of greed and wickedness". Then Jesus goes on to list all the woes considering their religious state of being.

John 2: 12-25 Jesus went up to Jerusalem and found those in the temple changing money and doing business. So He made a whip of cords and drove them out saying … "do not make My Fathers house a house of Merchandise"

Luke 7: 31 - 50 Jesus said to the Pharisees " for John the Baptist came neither eating bread or drinking wine, and you say "He has a Demon". the Son of Man has come eating and drinking and you say "Look" a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and Sinners" then Jesus went to eat with one of the Pharisees again at his request, and behold a woman who was a sinner came in and began washing His feet with her tears, then the Pharisee said to himself .. "If this man was a prophet, he would know what manner of woman this is who is touching Him .. For she is a sinner"
Jesus responded " "Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. 45 You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. 46 You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. 47 Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little." 48 Then He said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." 49 And those who sat at the table with Him began to say to themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?" 50 Then He said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you. Go in peace."

Luke 6: 6-11 Jesus healed a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath, the Pharisees and scribes watched closely for it was unlawful to heal on the Sabbath.
Jesus responded "I will ask you one thing, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or evil? To save life or destroy? Then the scribes and Pharisees were filled with rage and plotted what they could do to Jesus."

John 9:1-12 Jesus encountered a blind man, He spit upon the ground and made clay with His saliva and put it in the mans eyes and told him to go wash in the pool of Siloam. When the man told the Pharisees that Jesus had opened his eyes, the Pharisees said "this man is not from God because He heals on the Sabbath"

These are only but a few examples of works that Jesus did that confused, enraged and went against the views of the religious and complacent.

Mark 9:7 Jesus said .. "All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition"

Jesus also said in Mark 2:22 "And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins."

You cant move into a deeper walk with God expecting to do what you've always done. You have to recklessly abandon your old ways of thinking and open your Heart & mind to the reality that the Holy Spirit wants to take you into realms of glory that you never even thought you could experience. Lay hold of everything that God has to give you.

How do I step out of the boat you might ask?
By Faith…… The Bible says in Matt 17:20 "if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you".
So many Christians live a lukewarm life (Rev 3:15,16 says I know your works that you are neither cold nor hot, I wish that you were hot or cold, so because you are lukewarm I will spew you out of my mouth says the Lord)

Inside the boat its comfortable and safe even when storms are around you, but when you step out of the boat you step into Gods world where the Just shall live by faith (Habakkuk 2:4)

In the boat, there is really no great need for faith. Infact, according to the scripture there was only fear in the boat as it said the disciples were fearful of the wind and waves as well as they were fearful when they saw Jesus …. Why? Because Jesus came to them in a way they had never seen before. And Peter did what none of the other disciples dared to do … he stepped out of the boat and onto the water where Jesus was.

Remember this …. If you stay in the boat you will only drift through Life, But when you step out of the boat you will walk with Jesus, Praise God!

Lastly lets look at two other accounts in the scriptures concerning complacency and men who made decisions to step up and step out in faith …………………

Four Leprous men …………

2 Kings 7:3,4 - Now there were four leprous men at the entrance of the gate; and they said to one another, “Why are we sitting here until we die? If we say, ‘We will enter the city,’ the famine is in the city, and we shall die there. And if we sit here, we die also. Now therefore, come, let us surrender to the army of the Syrians. If they keep us alive, we shall live; and if they kill us, we shall only die.

The four Leprous men had a decision to make, to either sit where they were and surely die, or get up and take a chance on moving into unknown territory.
They chose to get up and move on into the territory of the Syrian camp. But when they got there they found no one. For the Lord had caused the army of the Syrians to hear the noise of horses and chariots and the noise of a great army.

Verse 5 says that the 4 leprous men arose at twilight to go the enemy’s camp, in verse 7 it says that the Syrians fled their camp at twilight. The exact moment that the leprous men got up was the exact moment the Syrian army heard the noise and fled their camp.

When we make the decision to step out of our comfort zone … God goes to work behind the scenes making a way for us to advance and prevail over our situations.

Blind Bartimaeus ……………….

Mark 10:46-52 - Now they came to Jericho. As He went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the road begging. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Then many warned him to be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called. Then they called the blind man, saying to him, “Be of good cheer. Rise, He is calling you.” And throwing aside his garment, he rose and came to Jesus. So Jesus answered and said to him, “What do you want Me to do for you?” The blind man said to Him, “Rabboni, that I may receive my sight.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road.

Bartimaeus sat by the roadside begging day in and day out … remaining in his blind condition day after day … but one day … that all changed … when he heard Jesus was passing by he began to cry out for Him. Of course that’s when everybody told him to “quiet down”. your making too much noise! … but that made Bartimaeus cry out even louder and harder.

Verse 50 says that Bartimaeus threw aside his garment, got up and went to Jesus. He got his sight back that day. He didn’t let everyone keep him quiet and in the state of complacency that he had been in for years. He stepped out of the comfort zone and into the realm of faith!!

Are you ready to step out of the boat of religion and tradition?
Are you ready to cry out and lay hold of your miracle?
Are you tired of sitting at the gate of complacency?

Then step out of the comfort zone and into the faith zone today!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Living in the Belly of a Whale

Many today are taking a “do not touch” approach…saying there are more important issues. Of course…”spreading the Gospel” is most often noted as the main, “more important” issue.
But what we are witnessing in our society today…and in the Church…is called EROSION. And EROSION never just “plays itself out.” Be sure of that.
So…how has our society and the Church gotten to such an ERODED state?
Do you remember the story of David and Goliath? Most do…but not the complete story.
David was sent down to the battlefield to take food to his brothers. Goliath had DAILY challenged the army of Israel to do battle as he marched in the valley…defiant of Israel…defiant of God.
And daily…no one dared challenge Goliath. No one dared enter into battle.
David arrives simply to bring food…and, in so doing, he hears a GIANT malign and curse His God.
It is then David asks why no one is willing to fight!
David proclaims “Is there not a cause?”
Many today see no “cause”…and the idea of a need to do BATTLE has been washed away in a sunami of “Just LOVE…and let Jesus do the rest.”
But…as I said from the beginning…let me say what I truly feel the Spirit of God speaking:
It is the many PAST BATTLES that have been AVOIDED that has led to the many CONSEQUENCES today!
How many even realize that you can go back through the Bible and find instances where the Children of God refused to fight…refused to stand strong…and that AVOIDANCE OF BATTLE led to later DEVASTATION???
The ENTIRETY of Scripture is FILLED with AVOIDED BATTLES…and many years later believers had to face the GIANTS created by those times of AVOIDANCE.
Let me say it plainly:
Each time Christians refuse to do battle against sin…the next attack is BIGGER…more DANGEROUS…more DEADLY! And…for decades now…the Church has gradually removed itself from BATTLE!
We ARE called to LOVE…no question.
But…we are ALSO called to FIGHT!
We are told to “put on the whole armor of God”…for a reason. Why? …”that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”
So…why are so many Christians refusing to take a stand…refusing to fight?
Because…they put a FACE and a NAME on sin…and they see a stand AGAINST sin as a stand against a FRIEND…a FAMILY member!
With that…they want no confrontation. They want PEACE…at all costs!
Thus…they AVOID the issue under the banner of LOVE!
But…what did Jesus say?
Let me paraphrase:
Jesus said if we are not willing to lose FATHER…MOTHER…SISTER…BROTHER…all to stand for Him…then we are not WORTHY of Him!
The Church is facing GIANTS today because it refused to stand against the SIN of yesterday!
Decades ago…many in the Church sat SILENT as Satan began to take over society:
1. Prayer removed from schools.
2. Abortion made legal.
3. Violence and sex glorified on TV.
4. Acceptance of homosexuality as a birth trait.
The list can go on.
Battlefield after battlefield…empty of those willing to FIGHT for HOLINESS…for what is RIGHT…for what is BIBLICAL…for what is GODLY…empty of WARRIORS who see a CAUSE…and are willing to DIE for it!
Remember again the story of David:
David was willing to FIGHT…and FACE DEATH…when his brothers sat SILENT!
And guess what?
It made his brothers ANGRY!
I was told here on FB last night that my standard of Christianity is “outdated.” I was told the days of being “direct” are over…and telling the truth “pushes people away.”
Tell me…
Where has SILENCE gotten the Church???
Show me UNWORN, SHINY ARMOR…and I will show you a person who CLAIMS to be in the BATTLE for lost souls…but they are only SILENT SPECTATORS in the BATTLE against GIANTS.
They love LIVING for Christ…but they have NO INTENTION of ever DYING for Christ!
There is a HUGE difference!
Believers…this is not a game. This is not a skirmish. This is a full fledged WAR…and God needs WARRIORS who are willing to DIE for the cause of Christ!
You doubt that?!?
If you do…you serve an AMERICAN gospel…but not THE Gospel!
Throughout the world…people are giving their very LIVES to take a stand for Jesus!
Just yesterday…Prince Charles made a speech in which he noted the war on Christians and Christianity…and how the SLAUGHTER of Christians has reached MONUMENTAL proportions.
Yet…Christians in America are afraid to “offend” a homosexual!
God help us all!!!
Oh…I know…”You have to BEFRIEND them to WIN them!”
Jesus went and spoke to people He DID NOT KNOW…and preached REPENTANCE and REMISSION OF SINS!
Jonah was sent to tell a city to REPENT. Jonah did not BEFRIEND them. But…
Jonah DID first try to AVOID them!
You see…many in the Church today are living in the BELLY OF A WHALE…while claiming to be LOVING THE LOST!
Amazing…isn’t it.
I wonder…
How would the inhabitants of Nineveh have greeted Jonah in eternity if Jonah had continued his path of AVOIDANCE??
I have a feeling many in the Church today will get to discover the answer to that question…as those they have AVOIDED will be crying:
“Why did you stay silent?!? Why did you let me go on believing a lie?!? Why did you let me continue to believe I was right with God?!? Why did you never tell me I WAS SINNING…AND THAT I NEEDED TO REPENT?!? WHY?!? WHY?!?”

Article Source is From Church of God/Faith Matters- Posted By: Ron Smith