Ravenous & Vicious

Standing there in the store, you feel the cool air against your warm skin. Like always, you are taking the time to inspect what you are buying. Being choosy over our fruits and vegetable saves us money and I don’t know anyone who likes to just throw away money. As Jesus continues to teach us from His hillside pulpit, He says to us inspect the fruit. A Fruit Inspector means we are a savvy shopper. We don’t want our fruit to possess lesions, be bruised, or dinged, and our Messiah begins with a warning about false prophets. Individuals who’ve arrived cloaked in an ensemble of wool garb hiding their true nature. 

Matthew 7:15~“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. (ESV) False prophets are people who can quote scripture, use jargon, appear pious and spiritual, but what hangs their frame is a motivation other than Christ. They get out of bed for money, fame, large crowds, and power. When they are exposed, it is often found they practice sexual immorality. Listen to their description in 2 Peter 2:14~With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed, an accursed brood! (NIV) 

The One who will sit upon the Great White throne in judgment (Revelation 20:11-12) compares the false prophets to ravenous, vicious, wolves just like the one sitting in grandma’s bed. Christ Jesus says to His hillside flock beware of spiritual predators in your midst. They appear to be friends to God’s sheep, but they actually want to fleece them. Speaking to the Ephesian elders, Paul echoes Jesus’ message in Acts 20:29~I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. (NIV) So, what are we to do? Jesus tells us to inspect their fruit. Saying in Matthew 7:16~You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes or figs from thistles? (ESV) As we learned in our Wednesday night study from Genesis 1:11~Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds. (NIV) The Lord Jesus Christ did not say judge the person, because we will be held to our own standard (Matthew 7:1), rather inspect their fruit. We are not looking at the tree trunk, benches or bark, but the fruit produced by the life it lives.

If I asked you about your fruit stand of life, how the fruit looks, what is in short supply or been absent for a while and in need, what would you say? Today, take time to pray about what is lacking in your life and ask God to begin helping you to cultivate what is needed. Yes, this will not be as easy as reading, but all that it takes is you saying yes to God and responding to Him. 

What’s Your Path

Many people will be surprised on judgment day. Eyebrows raised, with widening eyes, and gasps of escaping breath. They will be shocked to find out they are not genuine Christians and will suffer eternal damnation. Matthew 7:22~Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ (NIV) Christ Jesus doesn’t want that to happen to you. Contrary to popular belief, believing in your chosen truth does not make it true. There is only one truth and that’s the truth of Jesus Christ. He said in John 14:6~Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (NIV)

Our journey through life and faith is about being and doing. We don’t get to choose, we are to be and do. James reminds us that faith without works is dead and being in God requires faith. (James 2:14-26) God gave us two hands and we are to walk between faith, being in Christ and doing for Christ. That is why over the last month, we have raised a few thousand dollars to help the hurricane victims, supported children who are viewed by society as throwaways, we’ve put food in the cupboards of the hungry, many of you fed a hot meal to those disenfranchised, and today, you’ve helped provide bagged lunches for families in need. Thank you, Mt Gallant, for partnering with the way of Jesus to our hurting world. 

When asked why we take on so much and attempt to be a resource for our community, I tell people that it keeps us honest in our faith. This week, we are going to look at how we practice our faith in the life that the Lord has given us. As you prepare for the week ahead, take time to just thank God for loving you and providing for you and as He challenges you to grow in your faith.

Fresh Faith

If I were to ask you what is waiting rightly? It is that we wait in faith that pleases God. Now I understand your push back because waiting is hard, especially if it is an active process on our part. The Bible is one story after another of people waiting on God. One great example is Abe Who at the ripe age of 75 years, said yes in obedience to God. Hebrews 11:8~By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. (ESV) Whenever I read these words, I am reminded of my own life. So many decisions seemed to be stand-alone decisions, yet, God orchestrated each. For example: when we returned from the mission field we served at Fort Mill, after being here a couple of months, we bought a house. Not the house April wanted in the city, no, April wanted a beautiful house most, if not all of you have been too. We could never have planned to live a mile from the church. But God, who sees all and knows all. Genesis 12:1~The Lord had said to Abram, Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. (ESV) 

Finding God’s will for our life is like steering a car. We can’t steer a car unless it’s moving, and God won’t steer us until we get moving in faith. Remember, The way to see far ahead in the will of God is to go as far ahead as you can see. When we get there God will show us what’s next. Abe never lived long enough to receive the land God promised as an inheritance; he was a nomad all his life, living in tents (Genesis 11:9) He lived as a happy camper for about 100 years. Though he never received the PromiseLand, Abe died believing God would give it to his descendants Hebrews 11:10~For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. (ESV): Abe was looking forward to heaven. He waited not only for the earthly Promise Land, but also for something greater. He waited in the future hope of all humanity that we would be blessed through him.

Abe was the first person recorded in the Bible to believe God has the power to raise the dead, and he looked all the way to Messiah. Abe knew it was God’s responsibility to fulfill His promises; and it’s his responsibility to be obedient. We may be facing a problem that seems impossible. It may be financial, a relationship, career, an education, a health problem the loss of a family member. You’re standing in life staring at the need of a miracle. If so you need to follow the psalmist’s example Psalm 130:5~I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; (ESV).

That means wait, and while we wait, trust God’s promises in the Bible. Learn to stand on the word of God. Faith is the substance of Hope in our lives. What is the object of your faith? Or should I say who have you placed your faith in? The Heroes of Faith: bear witness to us, that living by faith requires that we give to God The Right Worship.

I would like you to consider this as a working definition of faith. Fantastic Adventure In Trusting Him = FAITH. Use your faith and respond to God each day in a believing, trusting, act of Faith. This is more than just an acknowledgment that God is the creator, That Jesus died for our sins, or the Holy Spirit is real. James 2:19~You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! (ESV) This life-altering faith empowers us to live like Jesus Christ. Knowing that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek after Him. As you take time to pray, why not ask God to increase your faith, and take a step of faith in your life today. I bet you will see just how fantastic the adventure can be in Christ our Lord.