Archive for January, 2011

Are You Secure?

By Rev. Rick Robinson

I grew up in the sixties in a rural community outside of Ocala, Florida. We didn’t have any alarms on our family cars and the only alarm system in the house was my dog Stubby. My dog took up hobbies like chasing the VW the mailman drove. He was a good dog and nothing came up missing on his watch.

Now days you can subscribe to services that protect your identity. My computer has more passwords that mostly keep me out. People have those annoying alarms on their cars and you see home security signs in neighborhoods everywhere. I hear gun sales are up, but I don’t own one of those either. I don’t expect to shoot anyone, and I don’t get into hunting. If an intruder is not demon possessed, I guess I’m in big trouble. The theft problem is not really a contemporary problem.

Matthew 6:19-21

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Let me say here, if you have services, alarms, and weapons to protect you I am not being critical of those things. Now that you have your security measures in place, are you really secure? To answer this question, we need to know who is it that wants to steal from us, and what is it they want to take? Jesus answers those questions, and gives solutions that will bring true peace.

John 10:10

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

It is the devil himself that comes to steal from you, but what does he want? He doesn’t want your stuff. Sometimes our stuff works against us when it comes to growing spiritually in our relationship to Christ. He comes to steal the word of God from you. Stuff can be fun, but it is the word of God that is the key to a fruitful life, not our stuff.

Matthew 13:18-23

“Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away. The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.  But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

In this second telling of this parable to His disciples, Jesus identifies who the thief is, and what he wants to steal. The parable goes on to explain the methods used to steal from us. A lack of understanding, trouble, persecution, the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth (not wealth itself) are all tools used against us to steal the word. Did you notice the scripture says making “it” unfruitful? It is not you that are unfruitful; it is you minus the word that will not be able to stand. You can see why it is the word the thief wants to steal, since that is where our hope is found.

Are you yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times (or less) of the word that has been sown? Are you taking the right precautions in your life to stop the real thief? Don’t hold the door open for the thief. Alarms, services, and guns will not keep him from stealing. You must stay faithful to God’s word, read it daily and meditate on it. Stay faithful to the fellowship of believers, praying for and encouraging one another. Be faithful in your obedience to Christ. Remember He is the one that gives life to the fullest, not the manufacturers of our stuff.

Copyright 2011 Church Growth Associates, Inc.
MyChurchGrowth.com

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That’s No Way To Act!

By Rev. Rick Robinson

This week on the O’Reilly Factor on Fox News, Bill O’Reilly had an atheist as a guest on his show. The atheist claimed the church today has many atheist worshipping in it, they just don’t feel comfortable admitting it. I guess he wanted to encourage atheist to “come out of the closet” and out of their churches. I think the church is full of people that act like atheist much of the time. I am guilty of that sometimes just like you are. We don’t share our faith, we don’t believe God will provide our needs, we don’t spend time in prayer, reading the Bible and having fellowship with God. Neither does the atheistic guest that appeared on O’Reilly this week.

1 Corinthians 1:18-25

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.

It has been my experience in talking to atheist; they don’t usually come to be atheist by studying the facts. Genuine hard fact research (not opinion) will lead you to Jesus. The self-proclaimed atheist I have talked to, come to the belief there is no God through a hurt usually inflicted by a church member. Once when I was going door to door sharing Christ, an 83-year-old woman told me she did not believe in God, or heaven or hell, when you are dead it is over. While I talked with her I discovered that when she was a little girl, her parents got a divorce. The church they attended told them they were going to hell and could not be members anymore. At that point this woman decided it was easier to believe there is no heaven or hell, and no loving God, than to believe her parents are in hell. Friends, nobody is going to hell for getting a divorce. It is only possible to get there by not accepting the gift God gave us through Jesus Christ.

You are not all that likely to have a conversation with the rare atheist, but you are very likely to come into contact with another people group, called the un-churched. It is usually much harder to detect if This group of people are saved or not. (That word “saved” means “rescued from certain death.”)

The latest numbers on church attendance reveal that 60% of the people in Florida don’t attend church on a regular basis. (The national un-churched rate is about 58%) Florida is not even in the top ten states where people do go to church on a regular basis. Here are two positive things for the Florida church attendee to think about. First of all, we are not at the top of the bottom of the list. Vermont is the number one state in the U.S. for people who do not go to church with 77% un-churched. The second thing is–six out of ten people you come in contact with in Florida, are prospects for you to invite to church. Don’t proselytize, there are plenty of un-churched people to go around.

I have had a lot of conversations with un-churched people about spiritual and religious things. I also came up with a survey I use to find out how the un-churched are thinking. To the question, “If you were looking for a church to attend, what would you look for?” The number one answer is “Someplace I could feel accepted just like I am.” Now, this could indicate an un-willingness to change a lifestyle, but I think it is something those of us inside the church need to take to heart. I have lived in Florida all my life, and I have never seen workers picking oranges with a baseball bat. When we don’t take the time to talk with people who do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ, we are doing just that. It is like fishing with a scaling knife. Trying to clean the fish before you catch them only scares the fish away. Charles Roesel, (the man who led me to Christ) told me something a long time ago that has forever stuck in my mind. He said “Rick, I only catch the fish–I let God clean them.”

Are you guilty, like I am, of acting like an atheist at times? Do you live your life daily like the majority of un-churched, allowing a need to be accepted by the people around you to control your decisions? Are your picking fruit with a baseball bat and fishing with a scaling knife? There should be something very different about us that will speak clearly to the atheist and the un-churched around us. It will speak clearly to those of us inside the church to encourage us all to live the new life we have been given. It is the love of Christ. May it be evident to all that are around us.

Romans 12:9-13

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Copyright 2011 Church Growth Associates, Inc.

http://MyChurchGrowth.com

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