July 31, 2010

Aug. 1 '10 - The Living Room by Rev. Chad Jenkins

Have you ever visited people who had a “sitting room” in their home? When I worked doing pest control for a while, I had the pleasure of seeing all types of homes. One thing that jumped out at me was that a number of homes that I serviced had rooms that were not intended for use. The furniture was decorative, the floral arrangements were exquisite, the accessories were perfect, but this was not a room to spend time in. This is truly one of those puzzling things to me. I relate better to a “living room.” I am accustomed to a room where the furniture is tousled from wrestling with kids, the tables are fingerprinted from sticky hands, and the pillows are just as likely to be on the floor as on the sofa. I don’t think I am too far off when I suggest that this is more of what the Lord wants to see when he looks at us. Not a cold unwelcoming life with all things in place, but a life that invites others in to share in the joys and sorrows. Over the next few weeks, I would like to look at what Paul calls “a life worthy of the Lord.” To put this in context, read the following passage from the book of Colossians:

9For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully 12giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. 13For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:9-14

The first thing about such a life that we see is that it should be “bearing fruit.” Jesus was quite interested in the fruit of our lives. He said, "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” (John 15:1-2)

To bear fruit, a few things need to be in place. First, there has to be life. Seems simple enough, but many who claim the name of Jesus, have never received His precious gift of salvation. They are so busy trying to get to Heaven by what they are doing, they never stop to realize that they are trying to squeeze life out of a corpse. Jesus said, “I have come that they may have LIFE, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10). As it says in Hebrews, “how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?”

Secondly, to bear fruit, we must be nourished. Hebrews also teaches that we should continue to meet together. We are acknowledged in Scripture to encourage on another. Furthermore, we are commanded to study the Word. Many today who are frustrated with church life, give up on meeting together. Though the frustration may be justified (the church is made up of fallen people), the decision to run away is not. It is kind of like holding your breath and waiting for someone else to suffocate.

A favorite story (I apologize that I don’t know where it originated) of mine tells of a man who, for some reason or other, decided to give up and stay home. One day in the winter, the pastor drove out to the man’s home. When the pastor came in, they acknowledged each other briefly, and the man began to lay out his grievance, ending with the statement, “And that is why I am not coming back!” The pastor quietly listened, offering no argument. Then the two just sat quietly looking at the fire in the man’s fireplace. Finally the pastor took the tongs from beside the fireplace and removed a red hot ember from the midst of the fire. He sat the ember on the edge of the bricks away from the fire. As the two men watched, the ember lost its glow. Before long the little piece of burning wood became black and hard and cold. When the pastor finally looked over to the man, he saw a tear running down his face. “I will be there Sunday,” the man said. We need the life that comes from Jesus, we need the nourishment of His Word, and we need to trust the Father. It is not up to us who will respond to our seed-scattering (see Matthew 13), but it is up to us to scatter the seed. We must share the love of the Lord with others.

Stop sitting and start living!

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