2015 The Year to C.A.R.E. – Parables for Implementation

2015 the Year to C.A.R.E.

I want to share some thoughts related to making 2015 the Year to C.A.R.E.

C.A.R.E. represents CONNECTION to God the Source, ACCESS to Him, READINESS to accept His Blessings, and active ENGAGEMENT in His Service.

Today, I want to present three parables that might help to make C.A.R.E. more real for you and those with whom you share its principles.

Firstly, C.A.R.E. is like a smart phone in the possession of a young person – especially one in love. Or C.A.R.E. can be likened to a small businessman and his cell phone.

What does Connection mean to that young person or businessman in relation to their phone?

24/7/365 proximity

  • They are constantly in contact with their phone. If they are going through the gate and realize the phone is not with them, they are going back for it.
    • Are we as serious about ensuring that we are never out of contact with God?
    • How often do we rush into our daily activities without even a reflection on the God who gave us another day?
    • The songwriter asks “Ere you left your room this morning did you think to pray?”
  • They ensure that the phone is constantly charged. If by some fluke their battery dies they scramble to get it recharged. It is amusing to go into airports to watch how people search out electrical outlets and gather around the charging stations that are now increasingly in place.
    • Are we as serious about ensuring that our spiritual batteries are fully charged?
    • Do we allow our spiritual batteries to run down to the point where the devil has a field day with us?
    • Ever wondered why sometimes temptations seem to come from every direction and our capacity to reject them is not as strong as it should be?
    • Could it be that we have allowed our Bible study and prayer life to run down?
    • Could it be that we have neglected meditating on God’s word and allowed wandering thoughts to occupy our minds?
  • They are profuse in their apology if for some reason they are out of touch with their phone for any period or have allowed the battery to die. “I am so sorry, I missed your call.”
    • How sorry are we when we ignore God for extended periods?
    • How terrible do we feel when we repeatedly miss God’s calls? “Don’t go to that party tonight, those are not people with whom you should associate!” 6 missed calls. So you turn up and end up in the devil’s tentacles.

 

Heavy reliance on access

  • Today’s smart phone is a wrist watch, clock and calendar. Ask the time and people go into their pockets. Do a survey of how many people actually wear a watch these days.
  • The phone is today’s newspaper. This is where we go for news.
  • Ask me something that I don’t know and give me a minute or two and I will consult my trusty phone for an answer.
  • How much will it cost to get 7 of those, 9 of that and 14 of the other……moment …. Trusty phone calculate this for me.
  • The phone might not be oxygen but our reliance on it is remarkable.
    • Are we as reliant on God for direction as to how to navigate each day?
    • Do we consult God’s word for answers?
    • Are we constantly tapping into God’s bountiful blessings that He has prepared for us?

Eph 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

Remember, God is the source of solutions. He can provide answers to the challenges you face daily. The key is that you need to get connected to the source. You need to be in Christ to access “every spiritual blessing”.

Let 2015 be a year of constant ACCESS.

Christ invites us in Matthew 7:7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

Prayer is a very powerful tool. It acts as the plumbing through which the blessings of God may be channeled into our daily existence.

The beautiful thing is that we do not need any credit to talk with God!

2015 should be a year in which we dramatically deepen our prayer lives. Let us pray often and fervently for others, for our projects and for God’s continued guidance and protection.

Let us pray fervently and without ceasing. James 5:16; 1 Thessalonians 5: 17-18

Responsiveness

  • They answer the phone after a couple of rings. Extremely responsive to incoming calls.
    • That is how we are to be to God and His constant attempts to reach out to us through His word and His representatives.
    • How responsive are we to opportunities to hear what God has to communicate to us?
    • Is God listed by name in our contact list so that we can jump to get His calls as a matter of priority or is He coming through to us as a Private Number?
    • Take your Bible Study off SILENT!!!

Let 2015 be a year for READINESS. Let us prepare to maximize the benefits that are available to us as baptized followers of Christ. Let us respond eagerly to God’s incoming calls.

  • Is this a text to share the Gospel with the individual that is beside you right now?
  • Is this a text to call a brother or sister who needs some encouragement right now?
  • Is this a text to remind you of a passage that will lift you out of the ugly mood that is taking you over right now?
  • Is this a text advising you to make an important call right now that will land you the job that you have been praying about?
  • Is this a text to reconfirm that Christ has paid the price for your sins and that your plea for forgiveness has been accepted and you can release yourself from the guilt trip that is depressing you right now?
    • Like the businessman who feels that this call could result in a large contract, be ready respond to spiritual calls.
    • Like lovers who have not communicated for over an hour, answer spiritual calls on the first ring with excitement and expectation.
    • Stop treating God’s calls as a “Please call me” from a stranger.

Social integration

Gone are the days of visiting friends physically. Now we have many more “friends” and we keep abreast of what is happening with them via our phones.

We can recite what is happening to friends, “friends”, celebrities and even animals injured in forest fires.

  • What if we were as engaged in what is happening to our brothers and sisters?
  • What if we were not only engaged in gathering information?
  • What if we were to get information in order to add value and provide support?
  • Romans 15:1 We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.
  • Phil 2:3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,4not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

 

C.A.R.E. can also be likened to an ambitious young lady with significant responsibilities who lands a well-paying dream job.

Front of mind

  • The job immediately takes up residence in the front of her mind.
  • She is constantly thinking about things that she can do to improve her performance. She definitely wants to be confirmed in this job.
    • What if God and His people could be given as much space in our minds?
    • What if we could be so occupied with reflecting on how our day as a servant of God went?
    • What if the last thought we had before going off to sleep was completion of an action plan for God’s work tomorrow in His vineyard?

Compliance

  • She is the model of compliance.
  • She is never late for work.
  • She drags herself to work despite flu, Chik-V and other ailments combined. She is not missing a day.
  • She follows the guidelines. She can’t see the logic behind some of them but who is she to question and challenge their rules.
  • She completes assignments without a murmur and makes herself available for other responsibilities. An early promotion is her career goal.
    • What if we treated the church and its leaders with similar respect?
    • What if we did everything possible to be on time every time?
    • What if we were determined never to miss a day of worship?
    • What if we bought into the leadership of the evangelist, Youth Group and Ladies Group leaders?
    • What if we were quick to put up our hands to volunteer for spiritual work in the hope of an early promotion by God?
    • Heb 6:10 God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.

 

Lifestyle changes

  • Soon after her confirmation and a few months in the job, lifestyle changes start to be manifested.
  • Wardrobe changes become noticeable.
  • She starts to make plans to add more items to her list of monthly expenditure.
  • She makes preparation to accept the positive impact of the increased income in her life.
  • That in turn, inspires her to ensure that nothing happens to cut off the supply. Instead, she ponders how much better life would be if she could reach an even higher level.
  • She devotes herself to preparation that could make that a reality.
    • What if we viewed God’s providence in the same way?
    • What if we treasured how richly we are blessed?
    • What if we took time to name every blessing, every answered prayer?
    • What if we were careful not to make anything hinder the flow of blessings from God?
    • Deut 28: 15 However, if you do not obeythe Lord your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come on you and overtake you: 16 You will be cursed in the city and cursed in the country.

 

Networking

  • Our ambitious lady understands that networking is a key to success with respect to her career.
  • She takes care to engage her colleagues in the lunch room.
  • She does not miss opportunities to socialize with them.
  • If the opportunity arises she reaches out to clients and potential customers.
  • She is never shy to share information about her dream organization.
    • What if we took that same attitude to engaging brothers and sisters?
    • What if we were keen to share how great this organization is?
    • What if we told all who would listen how great a boss God is?
    • What if we freely shared that there were vacancies in this organization and a dream position was available for them in Christ’s church?

 

Finally, C.A.R.E. can be likened to a first time, caring mother and her infant child.

  • At no point is the mother unaware of where the child is.
  • She is constantly there to attend to the child’s every need.
  • She is overly protective. She ensures that no harm comes to the child.
  • She does all in her power to see to the comfort and orderly development of her child.
  • She grooms the child to master life challenges and to lead a successful life.
  • She spends time communicating with the child.
  • She builds a strong bond with the child.
  • She leaves no doubt that her love is unconditional and unfailing.
    • That is how God sees us!
    • What if we could be as dependent and comforted as the infant is in God’s love and care?
    • What if we could allow ourselves to fully appreciate the amazing love that God has for us?
    • What if we could really understand how much God wants us to succeed and do great things to His glory?

If I can cast your minds back to the Smart Phone there are some fundamental lessons to be learned:

  1. The smart phone is only available from a service provider.
  2. You have to complete their application process to get the phone.
  3. You have to comply with their rules to maintain access.

Christ is the sole source of spiritual blessings.

To get those blessings you must comply His rules for access.

 

  1. Why Jesus? He saves us our souls

Acts 4: 12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.

What must WE do to save our souls?

  1. Hear the Word – the Gospel
  • John 6: 45 It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.
  • Rom 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

 

What must we do to save our souls?

  1. Believe
  • Heb 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
  • John 8:24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.

 

 What must we do to save our souls?

  1. Repent

 2 Cor 7:Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter,(N) I do not regret it. Though I did regret it—I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while— yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. 10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation(O) and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.11 See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern,(P) what readiness to see justice done.

  • Acts 17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent.
  • Luke 13: 1 Now there were some present at that very season who told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And he answered and said unto them, Think ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they have suffered these things? 3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all in like manner perish.

 

 What must we do to save our souls?

  1. Confess Jesus is Lord
  • Matt 10:32 Every one therefore who shall confess me before men, him will I also confess before my Father who is in heaven. 33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father who is in heaven.
  • Rom 10:10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

 

 What must we do to save our souls?

  1. Be baptized for the remission of your sins
  • Acts 22:16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.
  • Acts 2:37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 38Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
  • 1 Pet 3:21The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

 

  What must we do to save our souls?

  1. Remain in Christ
  • John 6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
  • Rom 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
  • 1 Pet 2: 1 Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, 2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.

 

  1. Why Jesus? He provides solutions to our problems in this life

Now that you are in Christ, the amazing rewards are open to you.

Is 59: 1.Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.

Eph 1: Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

John 14:6
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

This is the Father who says:

Jer 32:27 Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is there any thing too hard for me?

 Why Jesus?

Because it makes SENSE!

If you are here and you have not put on Christ in baptism. Get connected today by having your sins washed away in baptism and take up your post in Christ’s church…..a dream job.

If you have allowed your spiritual battery to run down, recharge. Access the blessings that are in store for you in Christ.

If you have not been taking your role as a Christian as seriously as a new employee works to ensure confirmation, commit today to shake off your slothfulness.

Let 2015 be the year that you C.A.R.E. >>> Connection, Access, Readiness, Engagement.

God bless you!

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Echoes Of Ezekiel

Echoes Of Ezekiel

I. WHO OWNS THIS?

Ezekiel 29: In the tenth year, in the tenth month on the twelfth day, the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, set your face against Pharaoh king of Egypt and prophesy against him and against all Egypt.Speak to him and say: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says:

“‘I am against you, Pharaoh king of Egypt, you great monster lying among your streams. You say, “The Nile belongs to me; I made it for myself.”
But I will put hooks in your jaws and make the fish of your streams stick to your scales. I will pull you out from among your streams, with all the fish sticking to your scales. I will leave you in the desert,
 you and all the fish of your streams. You will fall on the open field and not be gathered or picked up. I will give you as food to the beasts of the earth and the birds of the sky. Then all who live in Egypt will know that I am the Lord.

 Multiple scenarios:

  • Up early and rushing about. Today, I need to get some important things done.
  • Can’t make it to Church or Bible Study or Youth Group Meeting – need to study for exam.
  • Climbing up the corporate or professional ladder – consumed by the work activities.
  • Overrun by financial woes – unable to make ends meet and facing rising debt.
  •  New: Love interest, Home, car, phone, child

The Questions:

Who does your day/brain/work belong to?

Did you think to pray?

Did you stop to read your Bible?

Have you lost your passion for the Lord?

Is this why you are distracted from focusing on God?

The message:

I need to get your attention. Something bad/worse is going to befall you.

Then you will know that I am the Lord.

Our take away from the Echoes of Ezekiel is to always focus on the Source of everything. Anything that consumes our attention, denies Him.

Jeremiah 9:23 This is what the Lord says:

“Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, 24 but let the one who boasts boastabout this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord.

1 Corinthians 1:31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

II. RESTITUTION

Eze 33: 14 And if I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely die,’ but they then turn away from their sin and do what is just and right— 15 if they give back what they took in pledge for a loan, return what they have stolen, follow the decrees that give life, and do no evil—that person will surely live; they will not die 16 None of the sins that person has committed will be remembered against them. They have done what is just and right; they will surely live.

The echoes of Ezekiel point to the need to work to undo, correct or make compensation for the wrongs that we have done.

Repentance has a sense of restitution woven into it.

Numbers 5:6-8

“Say to the Israelites: ‘Any man or woman who wrongs another in any wayand so is unfaithful to the Lord is guilty and must confess the sin they have committed. They must make full restitution for the wrong they have done, add a fifth of the value to it and give it all to the person they have wronged. But if that person has no close relative to whom restitution can be made for the wrong, the restitution belongs to the Lord and must be given to the priest, along with the ram with which atonement is made for the wrongdoer.

It is not enough to be sorry. Corrective action is required.

 

III. WATCHMEN

Ezekiel 33: “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to the wicked, ‘You wicked person, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade them from their ways, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. But if you do warn the wicked person to turn from their ways and they do not do so, they will die for their sin, though you yourself will be saved.

The echoes of Ezekiel leave no room for doubt about our responsibilities to be responsible for the souls of others.

This is reinforced by the Great Commission:

Matt 28: 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

 

IV. RESTORATION

Eze 36:16

Israel’s Restoration Assured

16 Again the word of the Lord came to me: 17 “Son of man, when the people of Israel were living in their own land, they defiled it by their conduct and their actions. Their conduct was like a woman’s monthly uncleanness in my sight. 18 So I poured out my wrath on them because they had shed blood in the land and because they had defiled it with their idols. 19 I dispersed them among the nations, and they were scattered through the countries; I judged them according to their conduct and their actions. 20 And wherever they went among the nations they profaned my holy name, for it was said of them, ‘These are the Lord’s people, and yet they had to leave his land.’ 21 I had concern for my holy name, which the people of Israel profaned among the nations where they had gone.

22 “Therefore say to the Israelites, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: It is not for your sake, people of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone. 23 I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Sovereign Lord, when I am proved holy through you before their eyes.

24 “‘For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. 28 Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God 29 I will save you from all your uncleanness. I will call for the grain and make it plentiful and will not bring famine upon you. 30 I will increase the fruit of the trees and the crops of the field, so that you will no longer suffer disgrace among the nations because of famine. 31 Then you will remember your evil ways and wicked deeds, and you will loathe yourselves for your sins and detestable practices. 32 I want you to know that I am not doing this for your sake, declares the Sovereign Lord. Be ashamed and disgraced for your conduct, people of Israel!

Echoes of Ezekiel provide the hope of restoration.

You might be down and almost out, but restoration is possible.

Be faithful and put your trust in God.

Heb 6:10  For God is not so unjust as to forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have ministered to the saints and continue to minister to them.

V. What must WE do to save our souls and obtain restoration?

Hear the Word – the Gospel

John 6: 45 It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.

Rom 10:17  So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

 

  1. Believe

Heb 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

John 8:24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.

  1. Repent

Acts 17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent.

Luke 13: 1 Now there were some present at that very season who told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And he answered and said unto them, Think ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they have suffered these things? 3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all in like manner perish.

    3.      Confess Jesus is Lord

Matt 10:32 Every one therefore who shall confess me before men, him will I also confess before my Father who is in heaven. 33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father who is in heaven.

Rom 10:10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

 4.   

  • Be baptized for the remission of your sins

Acts 22:16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

Acts 2:37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 38Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

1 Pet 3:21The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

  1. Remain in Christ

John 6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?  4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Rom 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

1 Pet 2: 1 Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, 2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.