Recycled Saints – Pathway People
As I contemplate Christmas, I think of all the C and E Christians – you know, the ones who attend church at Christmas and Easter only, and then go back into the rat race. The treadmill, running hard, raising kids, weekends at the lake, exotic vacations, another vehicle, boat, toy, but doing nothing of eternal value.
Then I got to thinking about why.
Mark 4: 14 The sower soweth the word.
15 And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts.
16 And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness;
17 And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.
I know, I’ve written a book on these verses, but they are true!
Heaven and earth revolve around them!
So this is what I see again this morning, so clearly.
The seed is the Word of God, the soil is the hearts of people.
People, pay lip service to God. Christmas comes, the gospel is preached. Carols are sung, and the Holy Spirit brings peace on earth wherever He can, People come to Jesus, on their terms, and God is love. His heart is kind, and He draws near to people, and Christmas becomes a season of uncommon grace, as the general population comes to God through Jesus –
Same thing happens at Easter.
Yet, the season ends, work begins, and again, for those of us who know God personally, we begin to hear Him say:
Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:
We sing the Christmas carols, and if someone were to ask, many would say: “Sure I’m a Christian, I love Jesus.”
Yet, they have never embraced the call to discipleship. On purpose choosing church, instead of Sunday sleep-in and brunch. It’s not the lake that is the problem, it is the heart! (Find a church AT the lake!)
Pathway people –
16-17 “And some are like the seed that lands in the gravel. When they first hear the Word, they respond with great enthusiasm. But there is such shallow soil of character that when the emotions wear off and some difficulty arrives, there is nothing to show for it
People on their own path.
Jesus said ‘I am the way, the truth and the life’ He is the way, but they choose their own way.
They are on their own path. A worn, hard, beat down pathway….
Seems that because of hardship or passionate pursuits of their own desires, that when Jesus gently knocks again at the door of their hearts, each year, the door has become thicker, more solid, so that what was a distinct, audible knock, has now become a subliminal whisper, more easily ignored year by year…
Year after year, more and more tired, empty, hollow inside…
Discipleship? Eternity? Religion? “It doesn’t work in the real world’ they say…
So, year in, year out, they work, they laugh, they raise children, and accumulate things, planning for retirement…
Like my dad. Served 32 years in the navy. Another 8 in the cival service. Retired at 60 with 2 corvettes and a cigarette boat. Then contracted lung cancer, and died… Christmas and Easter, we were in church, and throughout the year, I repeatedly invited him to various Christian meetings (that he refused to attend).
Reminds me of the story Jesus told:
Luke 12: 15 And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.
16 And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:
17 And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?
18 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.
19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.
20 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?
21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.
Luke 12: 16-19 Then he told them this story: “The farm of a certain rich man produced a terrific crop. He talked to himself: ‘What can I do? My barn isn’t big enough for this harvest.’ Then he said, ‘Here’s what I’ll do: I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll gather in all my grain and goods, and I’ll say to myself, Self, you’ve done well! You’ve got it made and can now retire. Take it easy and have the time of your life!’
20 “Just then God showed up and said, ‘Fool! Tonight you die. And your barnful of goods—who gets it?’
21 “That’s what happens when you fill your barn with Self and not with God.”
Like we used to joke in business: ‘So I said to myself, Self, this is what we are going to do!’
Self is a big problem!
If you take time to seek first Jesus, you will discover, like we all do, that Jesus is very much alive and active in the affairs of men, and instead of hearing self each day, you will begin to hear Him.
He is good, kind, and loving, and only has good planned for your life, and the lives of those around you.
Prayer, becomes like a steady soaking rain upon your soul, you heart becomes saturated with His presence, His Spirit, and His love, and slowly, the hard, crusty areas of your life become transformed by His grace, and one day you look in the mirror and see someone actually nice looking back….
Then, promises in the Bible like this one, make life worth living:
Those who are wise shall shine as the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who turn the many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever.
Like the Christmas card says: Wise men still seek Him!
(After Christmas too, every morning, day by day!)
May you be wise this year….
‘Father, I want my life to count for You, for eternity. Jesus, come again into my life, and bring Your changes. Give me courage to live for You this year, every day, in Your love, and the truth of Your Word, in obedience to You Holy Spirit – Amen.”
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Give in faith!
1 Corinthians 9:11 If we have sown [the seed of] spiritual good among you, [is it too] much if we reap from your material benefits?
1 Corinthians 9:14 [On the same principle] the Lord directed that those who publish the good news (the Gospel) should live (get their maintenance) by the Gospel.
Paul goes on to say, that he did not use his position as a minister of the gospel to take up offerings, rather he worked, making tents, to support himself. You might notice here, that Paul was not married, nor did he have children. Family responsibilities take time, and just as you bust a move on your job to provide for your family, I work every bit as hard, doing this, faithful to the Lord in prayer and the ministry of His Word, to you.
I will never charge for this: it my responsibility to God, my calling. Freely I have been given, now, I freely give…
As you give, hear Holy Spirit what to give, and honestly expect God to reward you for your giving.
Matt 10: 41 He who receives and welcomes and accepts a prophet because he is a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward, and he who receives and welcomes and accepts a righteous man because he is a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. 42 And whoever gives to one of these little ones [in rank or influence] even a cup of cold water because he is My disciple, surely I declare to you, he shall not lose his reward.
I am a five-fold ministry gift and office – this is my life – I pray, I hear, I write, and wonderful things happen. You have your job description, I have mine – this is mine….
I have ‘see through’ faith for you, in this: Gal 3: 9 So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.
I believe I have a responsibility before God to be like Jesus, in every offering I receive. I receive it with thanksgiving, just like Jesus did the little boys lunch.
Then, because I walk and live by faith according to the blessing of Abraham, I believe that God will take your seed sown, and multiply it, according to what the blessing of Abraham promises:
Genesis 22:17 In blessing I will bless you and in multiplying I will multiply your descendants like the stars of the heavens and like the sand on the seashore. And your Seed (Heir) will possess the gate of His enemies
It has been a joy to me, to see the hand of the living God act in the lives of those of you who have supported us this year!
Many have seen tremendous blessing come into your households, and for this we give thanks, and give Jesus all the glory!