Putting OFF the Old Things / Putting ON the New You!

THE KARATE KID STORY –

The Karate Kid is a 1984 American martial arts feel good film.  It’s an underdog story.

Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) trains the young man Daniel (Ralph Macchio) in the art of Karate for protection against neighborhood bullies.

Mr. Miyagi begins Daniel’s training by telling him the requirement of commitment that accompanies Mr’ Miyagi’s curriculum.

After Daniel agrees, Miyagi assigns Daniel to complete various lengthy, menial chores that appear to have nothing to do with Karate.

“Wax On / Wax Off”

THE EPHESIANS 4:21-24 STORY – “Putting OFF / Putting ON”  and the COMMITMENT Begins…

[21] assuming that you have heard about him, and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus  [22] to PUT OFF your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,  [23] and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds,  [24] and to PUT ON the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.  [ English Standard Version (ESV) Bible.]

2 Corinthians 5:17 says,  “Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away.  Behold, the fresh and new has come!”  [Amplified Bible]

I beg to differ with a lot of Christians living in the world today saying or thinking that they can keep on LIVING the old life and claim to be a child of God.

I’ll admit it is not easy...it’s the hardest thing we have ever done.

  • TO SHARE THE GOSPEL,
  • PREACH THE GOSPEL,
  • TEACH THE GOSPEL,
  • LIVE THE GOSPEL.

The Bible says if you are SAVED by the GRACE of God, you’re a NEW CREATURE.

There is a lot of people who are hanging on to the old lifestyle; trusting in the material things and not living by the spiritual things.

Galatians 6:15 says,  Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation”  (NIV Bible).

Romans 6:4 says We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”

Thank God We Are SERVING A Risen Savior…

And the Bible tells us that we’re supposed to WALK in the newness of life.  I remember when my three children were learning to walk.  My wife and I would hold our hands out across the room, encouraging to take one step, to place one foot in front of the other.  As long as they could see our faces they would slowly move forward.  As soon as they looked down at their feet, they lost focus and would stumble and tear up.  When that occurred, I think mom and dad also teared up.  But the training, the exercise, the dedication to commitment went on.

IT ISN’T EASY –

“Yes, but we all sin–we slip, we fall down and skin our knees– and fall short of God’s glory, don’t we?”  We sure do.  We still have the old body–the outside, but thanks be to God, we have a new man on the inside!

We sure do.  We still have the old body–the outside, but thanks be to God, we have a new man on the inside!

IF we are SAVED…and we’re a NEW CREATURE, we ought to live like it, then!

I’d like to point out a few training steps in “Putting Off and Putting On” A NEW NATURE.  

I’m not a Mr. Miyagi by any means, but here we go.

THE REQUIREMENTS OF COMMITMENT:

NUMBER ONE:  We need to be FOCUSED.

There are people who will talk about everything BUT God.  In church, social gatherings, sharing on social media, etc.  They are worried about everything BUT God.  They are not worried–not concerned–about lost souls.  I don’t care if the church I’m attending has 5 or 500 members on Sunday morning or if we have carpet on the floors. We’ve got to get past all the ‘STUFF’ in the church and start focusing on putting God first and caring about lost souls.

We’ve lost our FOCUS.

It’s sad to say that there’s a lot of Christians in the world that never picks up the WORD of God, then tries to stand up and give praise to God.

You’ve got to READ God’s Word, PRAY and SEEK God’s face in all that you do.  That’s what a godly or any relationship is all about.  You can’t have a close relationship, an intimate relationship at a distance.

The Bible says that JESUS came to SEEK and to SAVE that which is lost.  That’s what our FOCUS should be.  Nothing else!

I’ve been asked over the years by some people, “Why do we even have the church?”

The answer should be, “So we can get more lost people in here so they can find salvation!”

Sure the pastors of our churches could stand on a platform and preach, and preach, and preach and you’ll get some strength from it.  But if there aren’t any lost people sitting there on Sunday mornings, what are you going to do with that “strength”?  What are you going to do with the wisdom of God when you get it… IF you get it?

If you are not consistently READING your Bible during the week, you can bet you’re NOT SHARING Christ either.

We’ve lost our FOCUS.

If you’re going around trying to find a place where you can fit JESUS into your life, you’re in bad shape.  You have to fit your life into what Christ wants you to do.  Don’t go around telling God you need to see if you can fit Him into your schedule.

Christ Jesus is my whole life!  Without Him, I’m nothing!!

Several years ago, after realizing I had been playing spiritual games with people around me, I made this vow to God NOT to listen to man and just listen to Him.

Luke 14:27 says “Anyone who does not carry his cross and follows Me cannot be my disciple.”

There are more churches today than there has ever been…And there are more church goers than there has ever been.

BUT the Bible clearly says that the HARVEST is great but the LABORERS are few.

I see something wrong with that.  Hosea in the Old Testament, chapter five, says ‘a man should go with their herds and their flocks to SEEK the Lord but they shall not find Him for he has withdrawn Himself from them.’  [Paraphrased]

I saw a marquee in front of a church, a big church, awhile back that read…

MESSAGE For SUNDAY:

HOW TO GET ALONG WITH YOUR SPOUSE

I thought, if you get close to the LORD, you’ll know how to get along with your spouse.

You’ll know how to get along with everybody!

We’ve got to stay FOCUSED on JESUS–keeping our eyes on Him.

NUMBER TWO:  We need to be FAITHFUL.

John 8:31  “…If you abide in My word [hold fast to My teachings and live in accordance with them], you are truly My disciples”  (AMP).

Christians will go work at a job and be there every day to get their paycheck–and God will tell them to do something and they can’t do it.

The LORD called me to SHARE the Gospel message through a weekly blog six years ago.  So I’m going to keep doing what God says to do.  I’m not going to back up or slow down so others can catch up.

WE NEED TO BE FAITHFUL.

Don’t ask what you want, but ask what He wants!

NUMBER THREE:  We need to be FRUITFUL in our new life.

Being FRUITFUL means you’re SAVED AND…you’re growing in the process!

It means that God’s ministry through you reaches other people and helps them the way God is helping you.

There are people who look back on their lives saying they haven’t done anything for the Lord.  It doesn’t work that way.  Our BLESSINGS come from our labor.  That’s why a lot of people aren’t acting blessed.  They aren’t doing anything!

Galatians 6:7

“Don’t be misled:  No one makes a fool of God.  What a person plants, he will harvest.  The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others–ignoring God!–harvests a crop of weeds.”  [MSG}

 

What are you planting; producing for the Lord Jesus Christ?

NUMBER FOUR:  Being Friendly!

We need to be friendly in our NEW LIFE.

Some of the meanest people can be “church folks”.  Whether you attend a Baptist, Assembly Of God, Independent/Bible church…YEP,  we are often called the “church folks” in the community.

It’s NOT niceness that will get you into heaven…BUT IF YOU ARE NICE, God will BLESS you for it.

According to Dictionary.com, the word NICE means  “pleasing; agreeable; amiably pleasant.”

We in the family of God are not supposed to have any kind of evil communication or put a stumbling block in front of our brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus for them to trip over.  Like a child learning to take their first steps, our SPEECH is supposed to be established with GRACE and encouragement and not condemnation.

Romans 7:6  says this:  “But now that we.re no longer shackled to that domineering mate of sin, we’re free to live a new life in the freedom of God”  [MSG].

And in Matthew 16:24-25, Jesus’ words,  [24] “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  [25] For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it”  [NIV].

There seems to be a lot of folks more involved with themselves than they are with their Savior.

In a Discipleship Journal, Carole Mayhall tells of a woman who went to a diet center to lose weight.  The director took her to a full-length mirror and on it, he outlined a figure and told her, “This is what I want you to be like at the end of the program.  Days of intense dieting and exercise followed, and every week the woman would stand in front of the mirror, discouraged because her bulging outline didn’t fit the director’s ideal. But she kept at it, and finally one day she conformed to the longed for image  [Daily Bread, August 8, 1990].

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU LOOKED AT THE IMAGE IN THE MIRROR?______________________________________________________________________________________________

CREDITS –

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search – Settings: Advanced search.

Various Bible Translations:  Furnish by BibleGateway.com

 

 

 

 

Sizing Up the REAL ESTATE Market – PART ONE

“LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION”  Why Location Matters in Real Estate.

Sizing up the HOUSING MARKET

It is the real estate agents’ mantra: Location, location, location.  You’ve certainly heard the phrase enough and may wonder what inspires agents to say the word three times. In a nutshell, the phrase means that “identical homes can increase or decrease in value due to the LOCATION of the property.  It is repeated three times for emphasis, and the number one RULE in real estate, though it is often the most overlooked.”  [See footnote [i] ].

GOD’S HOUSE is being built and we have a choice to make on whether we want that HOUSE to be established here or somewhere else.  What are the VALUES?

God isn’t obligated to live in what He hasn’t built.

And, we can GUARANTEE God will move in following His plans…We can GUARANTEE His presence in our house if we follow His blueprints.

HOUSE RULES –

This HOUSE must be established and built with the concept of AUTHORITY:

#1.  AUTHORITY is God’s Word.

#2.  AUTHORITY is our conscience.

#3.  AN AUTHORITY figure is delegated authority.

Until we understand AUTHORITY and respond correctly to AUTHORITY this HOUSE is vacant.

HOUSE MANNERS –

We’re not going to see God move into this HOUSE until we begin to operate completely with House Manners.

These MANNERS are the direct opposite of how we have been taught by our culture.

We must LEARN to regard one another in the house after the Spirit rather than after the flesh.  What if your future is wrapped up in someone you DON’T like?

We are to RESPECT one another.

That means we treat each other better than the world says we should.  We settle issues face to face–we don’t sweep them under the rug by avoiding one another.

THE BIBLE gives very clear instructions on how we deal with our brothers and sisters in Christ:  Heb. 10:25; 1 John 4:7; Prov. 17:17; Heb. 13:1; Phil. 1:3 to name just a few.

We RESTORE each other or handle each other with GRACE (‘favor’), knowing that the day will surely come when we too will need Grace extended.

MODEL HOUSE –

We must recognize that we NEED more room, that the present structure will NOT handle a habitation.

HABITATION requires a firm foundation.  There will be no expansion if the house is weak in the WORD, weak in WORSHIP, etc.

A MODEL HOME is furnished and REQUIRES…

  • A bedplace of rest.
  • A table – place of communion.
  • A lamp – illuminate of the WORD.

HIS HOUSE MUST COME FIRST!!

PARADE OF HOMES –

The parade of HOMES must stop.  We must find our assigned house.

There will be times we don’t like the smell of one particularHouse, but we must understand that we are the safest in our assigned house.

Others may laugh at our house, but if we are in our assigned house, we’re connected with FAVOR!

We must BUILD THIS HOUSE and bring attention to and keep our focus on His name!

The Housing Market “Crash”

Before 2009, most of us didn’t recognize there had already been a CRISIS in the Housing Market for the last two decades.  We had been asleep for most of it because for the most part…it didn’t affect us… personally.  I think we’re just now waking up to the fact that something went wrong,

To EXPLAIN, I need to take you to a ‘REAL ESTATE REPORT’ that I found in the Old Testament.  This REPORT demands that we must live our lives differently to get different RESULTS.

This REPORT demands a response!

TEXT:  Haggai 1:2-11 (NIV)

[2]  This is what the LORD Almighty says:  “These people say,  ‘The time has not yet come for the LORD’s house to be built.'”  [3] The the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai:  [4] “It is a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains in ruin?”  [5] Now this is what the LORD Almighty says:  “Give careful thought to your ways.  [6] You have planted much, but have harvested little.  You eat but never have your fill.  You put on clothes but are not warm,  You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”  [7] This is what the LORD Almighty says:  “Give careful thought to your ways.  [8] Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the LORD.  [9] “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little.  What you brought home, I blew away.  Why?” declares the LORD Almighty.  “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house.  [10] Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops.  [11] I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the oil and whatever the ground produces, on men and cattle, and on the labor of your hands.”

HAGGAI begins his message by quoting a popular expression of the people, “It’s not the time to build the Temple.”

Though surrounded by the hostile opposition of their neighbors and the lack of financial prosperity, they keep DOING what they’ve always done.

They are so SELFISHLY INDIFFERENT to the LORD that they keep devoting ALL their time, energy and attention to keeping up with the Jones and in so doing…they SURVIVE paycheck to paycheck, become CONTENT in famine, and bed down with drought in the land, never stopping once to consider why they’re in the condition they’re in.

And the Real Estate Market collapses!

HAGGAI painted a vivid picture of their ECONOMIC and SOCIAL distress with the results and repercussions of the FACT that they had left GOD out!

When we leave God out of our own lives, He may still BLESS us with the ‘STUFF’, but we won’t be able to fully enjoy it.

  • You’ll have a DEGREE, but still can’t find a job.
  • You’ll get a RAISE at work, but still, find yourself broke.
  • You’ll buy a HOUSE but can’t afford to eat.
  • You’ll get your CHILD, but that child will wear you out.

Over the years of my life, I’ve found TWO things that are directly proportional to my PRIORITY LIST on giving to the House of God:  HARVEST and LEVEL OF SATISFACTION–the ability to find a stress free life rather than a turmoil-filled life which I’ve found directly related to the place of priority of the things of God has placed in my life.

“Is it then the right time for you to live in luxurious homes when the Temple lies in ruin?”  (verse 4).

HAGGAI points to the REAL ESTATE bust and it devastated the people.

God quits working with and FOR the people and begins to work AGAINST the people.

Maybe you’re thinking it’s BAD LUCK or a downturn…so you’ve been calling on, PRAYING to God.

Well, PRAY all you want!  Cry all you want!  Claim promises all you want, but until you adjust and correct your PRIORITIES…God is working against you!!

But “if God is for us who can be against us?”  BUT if God is AGAINST us who can be for us?

I keep hearing the news that the housing market reports that the people are saying, “The time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the LORD.”

We have bought into A LIE.

We have just accepted the idea that we can’t rebuild the HOUSE of the LORD in this generation.  Everyone is too busy, too lazy, too apathetic, it has to be convenient, it can’t be more than 50 minutes, don’t take nights, you can’t have revival in this generation, you can’t find committed people in this day and age, you can’t expect loyalty from this generation,,,AND, I DECLARE THE DEVIL IS A LIAR!

HAGGAI 1:12-14 –

GOD is calling to the Zerubbabel [s] and the Joshua [s] in our churches.

THE CALL IS NOW for God-fearing people to get up, wipe the sleep from your eyes, and shake off the APATHY.

Make Him more important than your job, your house, your vacation, your social status, your comfort, your clothes, and your love life.

ELEVATE HIM AGAIN!

THE CALL GOES OUT for us to find those who are TIRED of living in famine.  Find those who are TIRED of the RAT RACE and the lack of an encounter with the living GOD.  Let’s join forces as God’s people and BUILD HIS HOUSE!

WHY?

Because He is God.

But also because as we do so, He comes back within our midst and DECLARES HIS PROMISES!!

[CONTINUED IN PART TWO:  Sizing Up the Real Estate Market]

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

CREDITS & FOOTNOTES =

Footnote [i] :  Home Buying – What Location, Location, Location Mean In Real Estate? by Elizabeth Weintraub – Updated January 28, 2017.

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search – Advanced Setting.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV);  Amplified Bible (AMP).

 

HELP WANTED! “Farm-Hands for The Harvest”

It’s Pickin Ready

NOW AFTER this the Lord chose and appointed seventy others and sent them out ahead of Him, two by two into every town and place…”

“And He said to them, The harvest indeed is abundant [there is much ripe grain], but the farm hands are few. Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest”  (Luke 10:1, 2–Amplified Bible).

I was but a new Christian in 1974; 32 years old and on fire about sharing my faith with the lost.  One day after church, I approached the Associate Pastor, who was the pastor of Evangelism and Visitation.  I wanted him to know that I felt a calling to spread the Gospel, door to door, in the neighborhood surrounding the church.  I even quoted from my Bible the passage in Luke 10:2.

Pastor Sid thought it was a good idea and he would help in any way that I needed his help.  He would also place the notice in the church bulletin and announce the timing for the event from the pulpit.

I thought a Saturday morning at 10:30 would be a good time to knock on doors, with a strategy and prayer before we would leave the church.  No one but Pastor Sid showed up that morning.  We both tried again the following Saturday with the same results!  I was so discouraged.  Was I the only one in the entire church who had “the calling”? Was this whole idea just one that I made up in my mind or was it really from God?

THE HARVEST IS PLENTIFUL

In the agrarian or farming economy of Palestine, the harvest was an ever-present reality.  The idea of the harvest was used not only for bringing men and women to faith in Christ but also for a final gathering of God’s people at the end of the age (Matt. 13:19 and Rev. 14:15).  But here in Luke 10, Jesus has in mind an immediate harvest; a right now kind of harvest!

So often, we look at people with natural eyes, where Jesus looks at their spiritual readiness.  He sees the people of Judea as if they are a huge harvest, nearly ripe, ready for the pickin’.

Fields are typically planted so the whole field becomes ripe about the same time.  Seldom would you go into a field or orchard for selective picking.  Rather, when the whole field is ripe, you bring in the harvesters and reap the whole field at one time.

A HARVEST EVEN IN SAMARIA

While the disciples might hate the Samaritans, Jesus sees a harvest among them:

“Do you not say, It is still four months until harvest time comes?  Look! I tell you raise your eyes and observe the fields and see how they are already white for harvesting.    Already the reaper is getting his wages [he who does the cutting now has his reward], for he is gathering fruit (crop) unto life eternal, so that he who does the planting and he who does the reaping may rejoice together.    For in this the saying holds true,  One sows and another reaps.    I sent you to reap a crop for which you have not toiled.  Other men have labored and you have stepped in to reap the results of their work”  (John 4:35-38–Amplified Bible translation).

How do you view the harvest in your community?  Perhaps all you see is the immorality, the apostasy, as represented by the Woman at the Well. 

But a word from Jesus can turn resistance to openness; unbelief to enthusiastic faith.  The answer is found in His word and His power!

THE WORKERS ARE FEW

“And He said to them, The harvest indeed is abundant [there is much ripe grain], but the farm-hands are few”  (10:2b).

HELP WANTED!

Needed is an unlimited number

of hard-working and committed “farm-hands” with a willingness

and readiness to harvest the fields before they

become ROTTEN!

Plenty of kingdom “fringe benefits” for those who aren’t quitters. 

I am a city boy! Now like a lot of you, I’ve had vegetable gardens, and fruit trees to harvest from but I never required any “farm-hands” to help in the gathering.

Dr. Ralph Wilson is living at the edge of the California Central Valley.  He remarks, “Too few workers at harvest time can be a disaster!  The entire crop can spoil and rot in the fields UNLESS workers are available at the right time.  Workers who are willing to work very hard at the concentrated harvest season.”

Farmers rest in the winter months but during the long summer harvest season, they might be working night and day.  It’s HOT, SWEATY and MUSCLE ACHING work in thee fields and many avoid that kind of intense labor.

Fortunately, Jesus’ workforce is growing; from 12 to now 70!  But it is hard to find committed workers.  Too many people make excuses.  Just prior to the Sending Out of the seventy, Jesus said,

“Become my disciple, side with My party, and accompany Me!  But he replied, Lord, permit me to go and bury (await the death of) my father.  BUT Jesus said to him, Allow the dead to bury their own dead, but as for you, go and publish abroad throughout all regions the kingdom of God”  (Luke 9:59-60–Amplified Bible).

If you were to look at the average Christian congregation in America, how many of the members are actually involved in church “harvesting” activities?  It seems to me that many are involved in what meets their needs and their children’s needs, yet shy away from mission to meet others needs.  “Not in my church!”  Then good for you!

We have an abundance of churches in our community but few workers and perhaps few actual disciples.  Disciples are those who follow Jesus in His work; deny self, take up their cross daily and follow Him.  Their discipleship is not a matter of their own comfort but of Jesus’ mission.  Jesus seeks to recruit us as a worker in His harvest, not just  church attenders.

TOO FEW WORKERS?  THE ANSWER TO THE PROBLEM IS?

The answer is PRAYER:

Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest”  (10:2c).

Why does Jesus say this to His disciples that the answer is PRAYER?  After all, it wasn’t their problem, it’s His.  He shares this answer because soon they will be the harvest foremen in need of workers.  They need to know how to deal with this need in some other way than beating up on the believers; by manipulation and guilt trips.

The word translated “send out” in this verse is noteworthy.  The Greek word is ekballo.  At the root level it means “drive out, expel“; literally, “to throw out forcibly”. 

Secondarily the connotation of force recedes with the meaning “send out“.  The root word ballo, “to throw,” is a violent word, the basis of the English word “ballistic“.

PRAYER is our most important recruitment technique, proceeding any other invitation to the work.  It is also Jesus’ pattern too!

Before He appoints the Twelve, He spends the night in prayer (Luke 6:12).  Who is the Lord of the harvest? God.  What does to ask mean in relation to God?  PRAY!  Ultimately, it is the Lord of the harvest who sends men and women out as His workers, not the foreman.  The foreman merely directs the workers that the Master hires and sends.

“A SENSE OF CALLING”; A NECESSITY!

What does a sense of calling look like?  The apostle Paul wrote,

For if I [merely] preach the Gospel, that gives me no reason to boast, for I feel compelled of necessity to do it.  Woe is me if I do not preach the glad tidings (the gospel)!”  (1 Corinthians 9:16–Amplified Bible)

Sometimes we make an arbitrary distinction between the clergy and the laity.  We use words like “vocation” (from the Latin word for “calling“); to describe a career path in the ministry.  I have heard people in the church say, “I thought I was called once into the ministry.  But now I am too old!”.  You are never too old, for “The harvest indeed is abundant” all around you.

Pastors are no more “called” than you and I to ministry.  That is to say, both you and professional ministers are called by God to serve Him in whatever capacity He chooses.  Whether you are a full-time Christian worker or a “tent-maker”; to earn a living like Paul (Acts 18:3).  You are no less called.

Are you a worker or farm- hand in the harvest?  Do you work in Jesus’ mission, out of a sense of personal calling, or out of duty and obligation to a human leader or organization?

By talking to God yourself, ask Him about what He has for you to do.  Get it from God Himself and then EXPECT!  Be confirmed by your Christian brothers and sisters by the fruitfulness in what He is calling you to do.

Evangelism is NOT a professional job for a few trained men, but it is instead the unrelenting of every person who belongs to the company of Jesus.”  by Elton Trueblood.

An Evangelist, according to Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary: euangelizo, “to proclaim glad tidings,” “good news, gospel;” “a messenger of good,” denotes a “preacher of the gospel,”  Acts 21:8; Eph. 4:11.

THE OUTCOME OF THE CALLING?

“The seventy returned with joy, saying, Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name!”  (Luke 10:17).

If that verse doesn’t give you the confidence and faith that you will need a laborers, I don’t know what will!

 

             

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