The Dangers of a Poor Spiritual Foundation
We all enjoy looking at beautiful houses, I have even had the opportunity to build a few myself. What you see on the outside isn't always a reflection of it quality or integrity. Often times the house has great finishes but the quality of the framing or foundation may be sorely lacking. If this is the case, it will eventually manifest itself in the rest of the house. Doors will begin to sag, windows will stick plaster will crack; all those "adornments" that were meant to beautify the edifice will begin to lose their luster and only magnify the problems that are the results of a faulty foundation.
This parable is really a metaphor of our life. We try so hard to look good and do all the right things in order to be a good parent, husband, leader etc. We work really hard on the obvious things but often neglect the roots or the "foundational" things in our life that, if not properly attended to, will result in disaster down the road. If we don't deal with our issues at the heart/motivational level; all our good work and beautiful successes will be suspect to potential calamity.
Surrendering to the Master Builder
We must allow God's Word to penetrate our minds and hearts and ask the Holy Spirit to dig deep and show us what may be lying under the surface that "hinders our progress" (Hebrews 12:1). We need the Holy Spirit to expose the flaws in our thinking and character that may lie hidden until the pressures of life and responsibility begin to expose the stress fractures in our lives. Our prayer needs to be that of David who prayed, "Search me O God and know my heart..." (Psalm 139:23). Then in humility and repentance we must surrender those areas to God and become strong at the core.
Lord help us by the power and with the help of the Holy Spirit to dig deep and build well. We need you to expose those areas in us that could be problems down the road with time and pressure. We don't want to break, we want to reflect You in every way.
A Mandate to Use Your Spiritual Gifts
There are six declarations that Peter gives us. When it comes to spiritual gifts, we look at them like we would a birthday present or any other gift given to us. We are honored and grateful to receive them but we feel that they are given to us for our enjoyment and betterment we believe that we can use them at our leisure; when we choose, how we choose and IF we choose. Unfortunately, God doesn't see it that way. He sees them more as an investment and a responsibility. More like a stewardship. God is a wise investor and He expects a good return on His investment read Matthew chapter 25 for more about that. When He deposits spiritual gifts in us, He expects us to use them and grow them right here in Bend, Oregon.
Peter's 6 Declarations on Spiritual Gifts
1. Be accepting! God HAS given you gifts whether you realize it or not.
2. Be responsible! He expects us to use them and manage them well.
3. Be intentional! When we use our gifts appropriately, God is pouring His love, favor and generosity out upon all whom we minister
to while using those gifts. It is Him working His will and power through us. His strength and power become ours.
4. Be bold! When we speak about Jesus, realize that God Himself is speaking through us.
5. Be assured! When we bless, help and encourage others; the Holy Spirit supplies the grace, energy, strength and provision
needed to do the job. You won't burn out or go bust because He supplies everything needed
6. Be joyful! When we bless and serve others for Jesus' sake, He is glorified and made great in the eyes of the world and those who
don't yet know Him are drawn to Him.
1 Peter 4:10-11
"God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen."
Making Our Own Paths
The people of Israel had rejected everything that The Lord had asked of them. They refused to follow His plan and instead devised their own ideas of how to live life and obtain blessing. They didn't want the responsibility of having to answer to God for their lifestyle and actions.
We are not much different today only we are more "spiritual" about it. We don't like the path of discipleship that God has laid down for us. We don't like the "Narrow, difficult" path to life. We want a broader, easier path that produces the same results. We preach a message of grace without holiness, discipleship without sacrifice and worship without surrender. We call it being relevant or being open to seekers. After all, aren't we living in a new generation where old paradigms just won't work. People today are smarter, savvier, and more wary of legalism and religious traps. The truth is that we feel that the old message of discipleship will scare people away and we will be left with empty churches that reach no one with the Gospel. So we water discipleship down to social concern and philanthropy. As long as we help the poor and make it to church every now and again, we are doing our duty as followers of Jesus.
The Old Ways
Jeremiah reminds us here that the only way that God will accept is the old way. The way of discipleship that Jesus taught and modeled. Leave all, give all, serve all, love all and expect nothing in return this side of heaven. The problem for us is, we can't have it God's way and our way. It's God's way or no way. Jesus didn't leave us the option to present some better ideas to him. He told us what he expects and if we walk away he won't chase us down with a "better deal". If you want to be a disciple, it will cost you everything. That is what he told the rich young man (whom by the way "he loved very much" Mk. 10:21). Jesus just watched him walk away. Why didn't he go after him and "explain" it to him, I would have. I would have said something like, "hey, we can walk through this thing together. Baby steps. God knows how difficult this is for you and the pressure and responsibility that is on you. Just take a faith step and do what you can and as your faith grows you can release more and obey more completely what Jesus was commanding you. God is kind and merciful, he will accept you as you are just trust him." Jesus didn't do any of that, he just shook his head and said, it sure is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven". He went on to say to all of us, "It is very hard to get into the Kingdom of God."
The Narrow Road
If Jesus himself said it was hard, the road narrow and difficult, then why do we try to make it wide and easy?
As difficult and narrow as it may be, Jeremiah tells us that the "old road" is the only one that leads to life and where we find rest for our souls.
This is what the Lord says: “Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls. But you reply, ‘No, that’s not the road we want!’ (Jeremiah 6:16 NLT)
Too Tired to Care
At last he stood up again and returned to the disciples, only to find them asleep, exhausted from grief. “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation.” - Luke 22:45-46
The disciples were tired, they knew something was up but couldn't put their finger on what, exactly it was. No matter; Jesus had told them to bring their swords so it must be now! Now they would finally see what they had been waiting all this time to see, Jesus was going to usher in the Kingdom of God and route the Romans and He was going to use them to do it! But as the night drug on and nothing seemed to happen but praying, they grew weary. Pray, pray, pray; that's all we ever get to do. When will the action start, when will we get to fight and kill Romans? The night dragged on Jesus was praying, the Devil was working, Judas was betraying, God was weeping and the disciples were sleeping.
While Good Men Sleep
Jesus knew what was about to happen and he told them to pray so they would be able to withstand fear and temptation. But- they didn't and they couldn't because they wouldn't - pray. Prayer could have kept Peter from denying, prayer could have kept Matthew and Mark from running, prayer could have kept them all from fearing. But it didn't because they wouldn't. Things go wrong when good men sleep while they should be praying.
A Prayer for Help
Father, so often prayer is the last thing on my priority list. I claim it to be first but it so often falls last. Please forgive me Lord and bring me to the place where I see prayer for what it truly is, spending time with the one who knows me best and loves me most. I want prayer to be a delight. Give me the grace to press through the discipline into delight.
I love you Father
Find a time to pray with others at Epikos Church - HERE
Pastors Phil Harris of Epikos Church in Bend, Oregon.