Restoration Participants (Galatians 6:1)

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“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin,
you who live by the Spirit should
restore that person gently.
But watch yourselves,
or you also may be tempted.”
Galatians 6:1 

There are many parts of this text that bother me!  There’s that whole “caught in sin” piece and the intro of “brothers and sisters” that seems to work contrary to “those of you who are spiritual.”

This passage is such a reflection of the Body of Christ.  Paul writes to inform us that a midst our brothers and sisters, there are those who are not “living according to the Spirit.”   It would seem that Those who are Spiritual would be included in the “Brother and Sister.”  Maybe there are three groups within our walls:  1.   Those who are Saved and Not Spiritual” 2.  Those who Saved, Spiritual but Lacking Maturity”. 3.  Those who are Saved and Spiritual.”

Having said that; which group are you in? 

And how does your group affect the productivity within the church making disciples?

Groups 1 & 2, in this case, would  the individual in sin and in an an attempt to restore them would respond the opposition Spiritual; carnal or with frustration and impatience.  The carnal nature would bring in the gossip, judgment, and condemnation.  The person who is already ensnared, would now have to fight through the arrows of their fellow brothers and sisters.  The lack of maturity could cause one to mismanage the circumstances or process, causing further delays or possible offenses.

Furthermore, they individual would have to fight through brands and labels placed upon them.   Long after God has forgiven and restored, the one caught in sin would be on trial by a jury of peers whom might be struggling but not caught it in a different trap but not exposed or caught yet. This person would not be effective in the restoration process because they in flesh could further scar and embarrass the one caught.

Paul says, “those who are spiritual,” and then gives an instruction, “restore them gently“.  This is key to restoration!  Too often we are harsh, abbrupt and abrasive when dealing with those who have fallen!  Paul Reminds us to approach our brothers and sisters with love as we guide them back to a path of righteousness.

Gently also means in our approach and persuasiveness.  We must be willing to speak and pray with those ensnared, walking them through and pointing them towards that which is right and then holding them accountable not by force, but though love and support.   Gentle implies that we must restore with care, washing thouroghly with the Word, but not scarring our brother and offending them in the process.  We must be willing to reason with them in some cases, understanding that they might feel justified and also be set and comfortable in their present state.  

imageRestoration is a process!  This is why Paul calls upon those who are spiritual! These individuals will approach with wisdom and insight, being patient with their fallen brother or sister according to God’s plan.  

But I am bothered by this warning from Paul!  He says “Watch yourselves or you also may be tempted.”  This was bothersome because the implication is that the one that is spiritual is subject to fall to temptation.   It would have been more comforting if he said, be careful if this is something you struggled with in your past. Or be careful if this is a current stumbling block to you.  But he said, “you may also be tempted.”  This is too generic! It insinuates that one is subject to be tempted and can fall period!

But the ones restoring are walking by the Spirit right? Then why the warning?  How crafty our adversary is!  Even those who walk by the Spirit can be caught.  Just a slight loss of focus and one can stumble and move from restoring to being restored!  

How humbling this is!  Why should we hold back judgement and condemnation for our brother and sister?  Cause we could be next.

Last, let it be said and duly noted that it doesn’t take a Spiritual Person to catch someone in sin, but it requires a Spiritual Person to resort them.  In this, sometimes a person just has to remove themselves from the equation.  I wrote earlier, sometimes the best advice you can give someone is, “ask someone else.”  There are times and situations that are just beyond you and handling it will make things worse.

Reality; everyone can not play a role in restoration.  As we have experienced in the Kingdom, the harm done by those who are immature who revel in catching and condemning those they find.  We have suffered the scars of this who have been exposed for entertainment and cast out from the community to the delight of those operating with carnal minds.  We must in the future find some way to cancel out the harm done by those who refuse to grow and or walk by the Spirit within our walls, or we will find more that choose to stay at home and loose the benefit of being in the Body of Christ.
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The Believers Bite Galatians 5:15

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15 But if you bite and devour one another,
watch out that you are not consumed by one another.
16 But I say, walk by the Spirit,
and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
Galatians 5:15-16

Tonight we enjoyed a fruitful discussion in God’s Word.  Drawing our thoughts for the lesson from the 5th Chapter of Galatians, we allowed the 15th and 16th verse to run the first leg of tonight’s’ teaching.  In our discussion about becoming better evangelist and witnesses for Christ, we find ourselves working on self that we might be more effective in efforts for Christ.

But first a pit-stop.  Paul addresses in this chapter an important part of Kingdom, its citizens.  He writes to handle issues that have arisen in the church, and with a stroke of the pen, corrects bad teaching and bad behavior. full burger

For today’s discussion, I presented to the group the illustration of a freshly prepared hamburger.  It exist whole, without a bite.  The burger, fully in tact consist of many layer, and holds in it a varying level of content.  In this, it is placed into our hands to handle as we choose.  Now of course, our flesh and stomach need and are designed to consume, but today we took our discussion to the Spiritual.

The first question asked was:  “How is a burger consumed?”

The answer of course is “One bite at a time!”  These bites can vary in size, ranging from small to large, they can come from any angle, can be taken in a short amount of time, or a long amount of time, but with each bite, that which was whole begin to disappear.  Paul wrote a warning to the Body of Christ, “if you bite” he warns, soon you will “consume…one another.”

The next question asked was: “Who have you taken a bite of?”

This is an important question.  As we hit the neighborhoods to bare witness bout Christ, we have found that many people have met Christ, but remain at home because they are suffering from the wounds of a bite!  They accepted the Gospel, but couldn’t get past the offenses committed by His church!  I know, they are immature! That’s what you are thinking!  They have a fake faith built on man, and your faith is built on God.  They don’t have enough Word in them?  Right?  Get over yourself I say!  Mature or Immature, healing from wounds takes time, and some bites are just fatal!  Infection set in, and death follows.  And yes, you would probably say that its their fault, right?  It’s their fault they are offended, right?  They should simply forgive and move on, right?

Paul warns us, bites take away from us and lead to consumption.  Someone are simply being eaten alive by those who are in the fold and not walking according to the flesh.  People have perished in our ministries, and some who survived, are holding on to life by a thread.  This brought out a sad reality; many of the people entering our churches are half eaten. halfeatenburger

That’s right.  Those entering your church from previous church homes are sometimes lead to new fields, and other times are escaping hurt and looking for healing and peace.

Why is it you ask that a person can leave after one offense?  Ahh, you said they were immature, but the reality is that many of them were suffering from prior bites, and are just trying to keep from being completely consumed.  And then we foolishly judge them for protecting themselves, and label them to protect our own ignorance.  Our bites are often made worse by those who are not remorseful.  Yep, its that important that we treat each other right, because each person is in a different state, and have different experiences, and your encounter with them can be the difference between them growing in Christ, and dwelling at home alone.

In this day of social media and technology, our encounters with people are weighed even heavier in that many people have grown accustomed to experiencing the world via a video and even a blog.  The human factor is being removed and replaced by imogies and virtual reality, thus limiting the room for error in our encounters with one another.

Paul says while some suffer from “bites” others are “devoured”.

Have you devoured anyone? 

emptyplateThis word frightened me!  The thought that there could be one within our ranks who doesn’t fall from time to time and bite someone, but that in one or two encounters, shows a complete lack of restraint and concern for another and eats them alive in one or two sittings!  How is it that we can destroy those God has sent, stitching the bond of peace afforded to all of us through the blood of Christ and the unity of the Spirit!  Our lack of restraint towards one another can cause those in our midst not to question God’s existence, but if God exist in the place they have become a part of.  Let it not be said of you that you chased away someone that the Spirit draw-ed neigh because of your unwillingness to pursue righteousness and kill the flesh.

How many people have you devoured?  Who’s at home licking their wounds?  Who’s exploring different horizons?  Who’s falling away from the faith because of you?  Sadly, only God knows.  The reality is that most multiple offenders are just being themselves and don’t realize or acknowledge that they are “biters” dare say I “consumers.”  Shame to say, this “consumer” mentality exists in the house, as we jockey for position and protect our territory, and fight for a light that is the glory of humans, which is the glory that fades.  We shine our light not to lead, but to blind people with judgement, and are eager to condemn others, while pardoning our wickedness and justifying our actions.

Paul says, don’t “gratify your flesh”!  Yep, there is nothing good within us, and every once in a while, the desire to bite happens.  The old man fights his way back in the picture and begins warring for control of your limbs.  He plants thoughts in your mind as to how you should respond, and how you should act, what you should say, and how it should be said, but Paul says resist!  “Walk by the Spirit” he says.  Control that which remains dormant in you by continually submitting to the God that is in you!   Just because you have the thought, doesn’t mean you have to follow its suggestion.  It’s just that, a suggestion.  Unwise counsel given from an unwise source, whom desires to wound as many as he can from fire within the camp.  The devil hinders the growth of the Kingdom through those of us who continue fulfilling the desires of the flesh, allowing the old man to once again lift his hands in victory.   Yield to the leading of the Holy Spirit and allow His guidance to keep you from biting and devouring your fellow brother and sister.  Kingdom depends on it!

 

#PastorJDO3

 

Life’s Litter Box! Prov. 11:3-6

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Our study this week brings us to the 11th Chapter of Proverbs.  Verses 3 to 6 lead us to a powerful discussion.

3. The integrity of the upright guides them,
but the crookedness of the unfaithful destroys them.
4. Wealth does not profit in the day of wrath,
but the righteousness delivers from mortal danger.
5. The righteousness of the blameless will make
straight their way, but the wicked person
will fall by his own wickedness.  Proverbs 11:3-6

To dive into this portion of the passage, we weighed the benefits of righteous living verses wicked living.  In the discussion, the illustration of the Little Box was introduced.

A “Litter Box” is an invention most associated with cats.  One of our guest shared that the litter box she provides for her can serves as a place where waste is made.  Then further spoke that the box can get to a point of capacity if not cleaned out.  When this occurs, the box can get to a place where the smell of the box makes it unbearable for the cat to perform the duties in which the box was designed to handle.

For discussion, the “Litter Box” was equated to our Living Space or Life Span.  Through our existence, we encounter life’s situations and circumstances.  They can not be avoided, but must be faced and handled.  We must be cognoscente in our encounters that our actions reap a harvest, and leave significant marks on our lives and the lives of those we encounter.  And each encounter has the potential to become a mess.

How is your Box?

The scripture reveals to us a truth about the wages of wickedness.  He will suffer from his/her own mess.  This person will be forced to live in a box filled with the mess that they have created!  How is your Box?  Is your box once that is so congested tkittylitterbox.pnghat each step is a challenge?  Is your life’s challenge to avoid the foolishness of the decisions you have made and the people you have wronged?  As spoke, many of us have lives that just stink!  We have accumulated such mess from mishandled situations and circumstances, that we have become overpowered by the stench of our own existence.

The cat is blessed in that he can mess up the box, and when the smell becomes overpowering, he can find another place to leave the waste.  The shame of this is unlike the cat, we can not avoid our box.  We are forced to live in this box called life.  We do not have the ability to separate our existence.

I asked myself, “What’s in my Box?”  Thus I ask you the same!

“What’s in your Box?”

Are you a desperate cat scratching and clawing to find a place that you have not created a mess in, and now feeling the burden and weight of your actions?  Is the stress in your life a result of your wicked living and loose morals?  If so’ It’s time to clean up your box!  And once clean, we must Keep our Box Clean! 

Keeping your box clean means properly managing relationships from the present point on.  It also means you might be required to seek out strained relationships and to repair and restore them to something that reflects Christ.  This also might require humility and also forgiveness.  Humility could be found in accepting acts of kindness, even for those whom you swore you would never take a sip of water from.  Forgiveness might be your narrative if approached from one who has wronged you.  You might be required to release one from their past actions, and to propel them towards a Clean Box of Freedom.

A Clean Box requires discipline and change.  We must allow the Word of God to change us, and the Holy Spirit to direct us.   Most of us cant live in peace because we refuse to apply God’s Word to our lives, choosing to memorize it, and or find its value in applying its truths towards other, while living a fictional existence of perfection. The Word takes no root in our lives!  Though it is broken down and consumed, it is not digested.  In essence, we are bulimic believers!  We stuff ourselves with The Word, but do not digest and distribute its nutrients to our body. 

Lastly, keeping a Clean Box means being obedient to the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is to be our teacher and our guide, as well as the power we need to control our flesh.   Yielding to the Holy Spirit will allow us to keep our boxes clean because its will is to please God in every way.  The Holy Spirit gives wisdom on when to walk away and how to respond.  It points us towards the mark of Christ, and serves as a counselor while going through, giving you not only God’s perspective, but helping you keep a proper perspective on yourself and other bringing about deeper understanding.

 

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Waiting to Produce (Judges 13:1-2)

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The Israelites again did evil in the LORD’s sight,
so the LORD handed them over to the Philistines
for forty years. There was a man named
Manoah from Zorah, from the Danite tribe.
His wife was infertile and childless.
Judges 13:1-2

 

Because of disobedience, the Israelite’s find themselves under the rule of the Philistines.  Yes, God’s people found themselves subject to those who were not God’s chosen because they were constant breakers of the covenant God had made with them.  Here we find Manoah in captivity corporately with his brothers and sister, and still having to deal with personal conditions and circumstances. 

012-jacob-weddingThis really struck me.  As a father, husband and as a man of God.  Even in the midst of our corporate struggles, there are still personal struggles going on within the group.  As a leader and visionary, sometimes we loose sight of this, and this lack of sight can cause us to be both instinctive or to appear as though we lack compassion.  In Manoahs case, most were aware of his circumstance because they could not visually see any children, but in many cases, what we go through is not publicized.  Many times we find ourselves struggling and suffering in private.

Though in a in captivity, Manoah had been blessed with a wife.  Though there are many benefits to having a wife that, one was not afforded to him; offspring.  Manoah was not only unable to secure  Verse 2 informs us that his wife is both infertile and childless.

Though we are not given details on how her infertility affected either he or his wife, we are clued in that she has not produced a child.  This means she was barren when betrothed, and barren after covenant was solidified.  Though he was able to produce an offspring, he was childless because she was unable to produce.

I wondered:

Have you ever united with something barren?

I think back to college.  One of the worst things that could happen to you in a lab was to be partnered with someone who was unproductive.  Their unproductively had a direct affect on your ability to produce.  It caused you to work harder, in turn making your shaper, but robbed you of opportunities to take full advantage of your circumstances.

image001I wondered how many nights he prayed, thanking God for what he had, but asking God to add to his numbers that he might produce more and be more efficient with his holdings?  I wonder how many times he prayed over her, anointing her body with oil?  How many days did he fast?  I wonder how many times he stood exhausted looking over land that was not cultivated and wished he had an extra hand to aide him in his duties?  How many sacrifices did he make?  How many times did he fight through the advice of friends?  How many advances did he turn down?  How many offerings were given?  How many hours did his head hang low? One can imagine the frustration and disappointment he might have questioning himself and his relationship with God.

On the other end we have his wife.  

Have you ever been the Unproductive Partner in a Relationship?

Being a faithful and loyal wife, I am certain she served her husband to the best of her capacity.  She was certain to have compensated in each way, working along side him to help him, knowing that she was unable to provide an heir or an aid for anything he acquired.  Furthermore, she would not have a covering or company if she were to loose Manoah.  Each day she awoke to the frailty of her present state, and operated within her circumstances, hoping one day they would change.  She most likely faced the label of her community, and the constant judgement that was given to a woman who had the equipment to produce, but had not been selected  by God to bare one of His gifts.

 

I pray for each tear that was shed.  I pray for each time her head grew heavy and her knees grew weak.  I pray for each time she touched her belly.  Each time she countenance was low.  Each time she cried out to the Lord.  Each sacrifice she made and each offering she offered up.   I pray for each time she saw a mother with her child.  And for each time she held someones blessing and wondered if her womb would every be blessed with a gift from the Lord.

At some level we have all been either Manoah or Manoah’s wife.  From both vantage points, we must continue to be good partners to one another.  We must take advantage of what has been given to us, until more is provided for us to steward.  In every case, God will meet our needs and allow us to function if we will continue to get the full usage out of what we have.   Manoah and his wife find themselves still blessed by the Lord while in captivity, and we can too.  Not having today does not mean that tomorrow will be the same.  For both Manoah and his wife, the day would soon come that they would not only be Monoah/Monoahs wife, but Samsom’s Father/Samson’s Mother.  Soon the tails and chronicles of his actions would not only make his name great, but the name of his family.

 

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A Faithful man; Not Likely (Cries of a 7th Grader)

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Group time, my heart was broken.  A 7th grade youth when asked, “What are you looking for in a husband?” replied “I want a faithful man, but that is not likely!”  As I stood monitoring the group, I was moved to a seat.  The weight of her statement settled in and changed my entire disposition.  It wasn’t sarcasm, but dispare; the hopelessness found in her observations, investigations, and teachings.

This young lady has lost hope!  I thought of my sister and the many little girls that dream about their wedding day, having thoughts and visions of their husband; Prince Charming, no doubt! They envisioned the perfect day and seen, topped of with a kiss that will begin an eternity of bliss!  But now, many youth might have a different vision.  One of compromise, not in love, but out of settling for that which they assume to be the norm.  A sad reality.

Knowing that this hopelessness woul lead to her settlIMG_1065ing for anything.  Because of her fears, she will be succeptable to preditors and undeveloped works.  The preditors is the one looking for vulnerability and a lack of maturity.  Her fears will identify him as an option because her belief is that all others will be the same.  He will constantly add to his stable, making notch after notch, dreaming her more like a “Bottom B—-” than a Wife.  As long as he is cute, he will do.  She will also open the door to undevloped works. The undeveloped works challenge the bond in that they are absent of the maturity required and not ready for the responsibilities that come with the covenant.  Their eyes still wander, and their faithfulness is seasonal and situational.

Her dream is unhappiness.  She has mentally prepared herself for a life of dissastifaction.  She has marked in her journey, the pain of infidelity, and accepted that her marital bond will be absent of trust and filled with heartache.  Her dreams are that of extra marital affairs and outside children and child support, and living with the pressure of having a covenant that is only as binding as being chosen to a team in a pick up game at the park.   She know that her night will be spent capturing her tears in her hand, as her husband roams the streets and hangs out with the boys.

I cried inside for her dream!  But I cried also for my craft,  As ministers of the Gospel, we have been challenged by the lack of Fathers.  Their absence and failure to sustain their creation, abandoning responsibility, has left a mark on our teachings, as we speak of God as our Father.  Their experience in the natural mares the spiritual parrallel, thus making acceptance harder and building a relationship challenging.  And now, we must present Jesus as the Bridegroom, in an environment of husbands who have not honored their covenants.  Attacking the significance away from the bond that was too mirror our eternal bond with the father.  Our natural bond is to bare witness not just to thr relational connection, but to model the spiritual characteristics of the Lord.  I’m angry that the devil is removing our Natural to Spiritual parallels.

I was about speak up, but my voice was preceded by the group leader, who assured her that God would provide her with the man of her dreams and prayers!  She assured her that God answers prayers and that in waiting, God was not just sending her a Boaz, but a Joseph, who would honor her and protect her virtue dispute any circumstances.  She assured her that he would partner with her, and support her not just as she raises a family, but as she carries out the assignment that God had given her!  I couldn’t wait to speak to my two girls at camp, and my three at home!  I know now even more the importance of the example we set before them!  Our marriage no only honors God, sets an tone for their expectations for the future. I pray that their dreams will be filled with hope, and that their expectation of marriage will be the same I expected.

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