No matter how many times I tell myself there is nothing that is going to “get me,” I don’t believe it. The path to the barn has almost become overgrown, and I am certain there are critters like ‘possums, coons, big groundhogs or weasels in the large hole that has been dug by the huge double doors. I keep telling myself I’m going to go out there and actually go inside and clean it (not sure why), but the months turn into years, and truthfully, I’m a big scaredy cat to think of even setting foot inside. I can conjure up rattlesnakes, copperheads, rats, bobcats and everything else within my head, and convince myself that they are living inside.
How can one get so blind to something that needs to be cleaned so badly? Maybe it’s because it’s not inside my house, where I would trip over the items; maybe because it’s easier to ignore it, as in “out of sight, out of mind.” Maybe I keep hoping I’ll not have to go out there, and eventually my son and daughter (with their families) will have to take their lives in their hands and clean it out. Or maybe they’ll leave it for their kids….
Over the years the one semi-clean “stall” has housed goats, pigs, chickens, dogs, cats, and a horse. That is the only room that does not petrify me. The rest I will only enter if someone offers me a large reward that is tangible before going in!
That barn reminds me of my own life: aging, needs paint to freshen up, and there are areas in it that I’ve probably sealed off, hoping that when I die, each “room” will contain only the skeletons of the sins that were nailed to the cross. Ok, so that’s not Scriptural–when I repented of each one (and I think I have taken care of them), God cleaned out the closets and left the doors wide open. It would be my own human frailty that would put a note back inside telling what ghosts the room had seen, then sealing the door. Internally and symbolically I want to put sacrificial blood above and beside the door frame, saying “Paid at the Cross!”
Do you have any rooms like that in your life? Even worse, are there closets sealed off that haven’t been taken care of yet? I pray not. It’s too cleansing to get forgiveness for the most awful sins you’ve ever committed to not do so. What if you make them again, you ask? The Bible answers that: the righteous man falls seven times, but gets up [and keeps going]. God knows we’re going to fail Him again and again, just as our children do us, but the love stays, and the relationship stays. We’re His children, and nothing will take that away. At the same time, you can tell you’re really His child if you desire to live as He wishes you to. There’s no room for a lifestyle of sin in the heart of a believer; if you call yourself a Christian and are living in sin, you are going to be miserable. If you’re not miserable in your sin, check out your salvation.
We’ve been going through some pretty intense sermons on getting rid of those weights (sins) that would tear us down, or hinder us from being able to run (like a race) and win. Run the Christian life, and cross the finish line! We’ve had time to re-organize our life, our money, our relationships, and now we want to see: is there a reward for cleaning up our life? YES! Just as if I would clean out the barn–and I might find things I’ve looked for for years–and just have the head knowledge that it is clean, would be a huge reward! It would make me feel good every time I look out that direction. So it is with our lives: just knowing we have gotten rid of all the crud that the world sees, and that God has made us a new creation, should be enough to make us sing and dance!
Go ahead and get your notebooks, something to drink, and your favorite chair and pull up the Sunday sermon from Thomas Road Baptist Church at http://www.trbc.org/sermons and click on the one for Sunday, February 19, 2017. Jonathan Falwell will preach on the benefits of having gotten rid of the sins that have been holding you back, right after the song service. If you have time, join the congregation in singing the songs that glorify the Lord God! You’ll be so glad you did. If you have friends who can be with you, discuss the questions below, bouncing ideas off each other. If you’re by yourself, write them down in your notebook, and watch your growth as you study God’s word faithfully each week!
Overflow: Risk and Reward Pastor Jonathan Falwell
Making any type of decision to get bad habits, hurts or hang-ups out of our lives can be exhausting, and sometimes we forget to stop and look at the rewards we are reaping. Can you think of an example when you reaped a benefit because you made a right choice?
For the past several weeks we have been looking at the sins that can be heavy weights in our lives, particularly debt and discouragement. This week we want to look at the rewards that come when we have gotten those burdens out of our lives, and are finally able to focus on the joy of lining our actions up with holy living.
Focal Passage: Hebrews 13:1-6
Think About or Discuss:
Truly Love One Another
- Read verse 1. What happens when you are angry at yourself, and someone needs you—do you feel like helping? Your answers should help you understand the importance of ridding your life of those sins in Heb. 12:1. How are we supposed to love those who are our family in the faith?
- What are some characteristics of the love spoken of here? How does this line up with 1 John 4:20? Gal. 5:22 might help if you need some ideas.
Have Room to Help Others
- Read verses 2 and 3. Because we live in dangerous times, it is rare for people to actually invite strangers into their homes to eat. What are some alternate ways you can practice generosity to those whom you don’t know? How about visitors who come to your church on Sundays?
- In James 1:27, we are told to minister to widows and orphans; in this verse are two more categories God is concerned that we care for. What are they? Read Isaiah 61:1; did Jesus do this? What are some practical ways you can do this?
Have the Marriage We’ve Always Dreamed About
- Read verse 4a. What type of marriage are you to strive for? Why does God want your marriage to be as beautiful as Christ loving the church? Who all will it affect?
- Read verse 4b, then read James 1:14,15. Where does adultery begin? If lust begins in the mind and heart, (thought), what does that tell us about temptations from online, books, etc.? For females, what about dressing to attract a male’s attention?
Have the Right Attitudes About “Stuff”
- Read verse 5. Think of things you’ve put on a credit card this past year; are those things still being used? Were they really needed? Do you know that God actually owns all that you have? What is a steward and how is he different from an owner? What are you commanded in verse 5?
- If you actually prayed about all your purchases before buying, would you think of yourself as being too materialistic? What can you do about it?
Have the Right Attitude About God
- Read verse 6. What has God promised you? Do you really believe that He is your helper? Why or why not? When you worry, what are you saying to God?
- Get rid of pride: look for it in your life and pray for deliverance;
- Look for opportunities to bless others: pray that God would open your eyes to the prospects;
- Look at your spouse (or future spouse) as a gift, not a burden;
- Stop caring so much about “stuff” and don’t get caught up in materialism;
- Start truly caring about your relationship with God, and discipline yourself to spending time with Him daily! A haphazard faith will result in a hazardous life.
This week’s study is a perfect example of a garden that has had the weeds and stones removed from the rows of growing vegetables, as we’ve tried to rid our lives of the things that would cause us not to flourish in Christ! Now we can put into practice those things which will make life joyful: our relationship with God, with our brothers and sisters, and our service to our community and the world. Only by being free from the burdens that weigh us down can we experience the freedom that Jesus wants us to have. As you read through the passage in Hebrews, look at all the relationships that He cares most about: your family in Christ, your family given to you by God (i.e., spouse, children), your ability to serve those whom you don’t know, those who are captive, and your relationship with Him, who has promised to meet your needs, provide abundant life for you, and never leave you or forsake you! What more could you ask from life? Pray daily that your life will please Him.
Memory Verse: Hebrews 13:5: “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Photograph copyright Sandra Day