Sunday, February 3, 2008

Rooted In "The Rock"

Today, Chad disclosed the results of the “Reveal” survey that we took a few weeks ago. There were 600 completed surveys and here are the percentages for each of the four stages:

Exploring - 12%
Growing - 36%
Close - 48%
Center - 4%

I had figured that the majority of people would fall into the two middle stages. Though, I had thought there would be a slightly higher percentage in the “center” stage. I sure hope that those of us in the 4% will be able to help the ones in the previous stages!! Chad also made an interesting statement about how to minister to others needing to take their next step. He said that you have to work ON the ministry before you can work IN it! How true! We need to examine and prepare ourselves as we embark on a particular “ministry.” We need to count the cost and also organize and prepare as we make a plan of action of how to reach out in the most effective ways. If you just jump into something without really thinking things out, it’s not going to go anywhere (been there done that!! LOL).

After giving us those results, Chad began talking about “rocky soil” today in the continuing parable of the sower series. You’ll find the text for this in Matthew 13:5-6, 20-21 and Luke 8:13 (and if you want to listen to this series online, you can always go to http://www.missionoflife.com/) . Those that fall into the “rocky soil” category are those that eagerly receive and accept God’s Word. But, when times get “rocky” and they suffer persecution because of Christ, they fall away. The soil is shallow and they have no root and so they can’t stand up to the tests of the sun and they are scorched.

We all have tests and feel the heat. When the sun (rather “Son”) tests us, we got to be able to persevere and get through it. We need to be rooted in good soil and not on rocky ground or we won’t have the strength to stand.

Test and trials are a certainty. But, what are they and why do we have them? Chad explained that there is a difference between a test from God and simply a consequence from a wrong action. Meaning, like when you make bad choices that affect your health, life, or whatever, (and you reap the consequences later) that’s a result of your own bad choices and not so much a “test” from God. A test from God is an instance in which God tests for “sway.” In other words, who is the authority? Who rules; the Spirit or the flesh? Which one is leading you?

One example that Chad used to illustrate this point is the story of Gideon in Judges 6-7. You can read it for yourself, but basically, God really tested Gideon. He wanted to see if Gideon would trust Him to defeat the enemies according to HIS plan. God’s directions didn’t really seem to make sense, but he trusted Him and followed Him; even though it would have been easy for him to be like, “Say what? You’ve got to be kidding me!!”

So far in this series, we have seen how we have opposition from Satan (the birds on the path) and tests and heat from the sun (“the” Son). Both of these things are tough, but they can both be for our benefit. We don’t have to be brought down and discouraged by Satan’s attempts to thwart us or God’s attempts to break and mold us through tests of faith. All of these things can make us stronger in our faith and develop deeper roots so we will flourish in the good soil we were meant for!! That’s how I try and look at it, because I have had my share of birds and heat from the sun (especially lately!). Though, I am happy to say that I’m still persevering in my faith!! It’s not always a cake-walk, but I will NEVER give up on Jesus because He never gives up on me!! This walk is worth it and I’m sticking to the path of righteousness no matter what!

It’s like one of my ever-favorite (and ever-repeatable) quotes from Kent goes: “Feel the heat; face the fire; find the gold.” I have been finding a LOT of gold lately because I have been facing a lot of heat and have been facing the fires!! I have had a lot of people and things test me; but I am emerging victorious through Christ and He has been rewarding me with true gold when I make it through! My true friends know what I am talking about here, and I thank them for their fellowship and for helping me find the gold in my life (much of which has come from the jewels I have found in them!!). So, thank you my brothers and sisters in Christ!! You are treasured deeply in my heart - and you all know who you are: Mitch, “Paul,” Terra, Mom, Amy S., Adry, Dustin, Saundra, Vanessa, Phil and Cindy, Kim, Joel, Michael, and Scott - just to name a select few! Sorry, I just had to give you recognition there because I love you all and you totally rock!! Thanks for your love, compassion, fellowship, and for being there in my toughest moments! I‘m glad we‘re close and that you all know what it means to be a REAL FRIEND and sibling in Christ. I’m glad that we are always there for one another; loving , caring, and praying for each other no matter what and never letting Satan get in the way of our relationships!! I’m so grateful for all of you (and for all the other friends and acquaintances that I haven’t mentioned by name. ALL of you are important to me and I can’t thank you enough for being such a blessing in my life!).

Ok, let’s all keep facing the heat together!! I pray that we can all be deeply rooted in “The Rock” Himself - Jesus Christ - and not in the rocky soil and our own sinful natures. I pray that we will continue to grow in Him and produce abundant fruit for the Kingdom!! God bless all of you!!

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