- “He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.” – Luke 6:48-49 (KJV)
- “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?” – Matthew 6:25 – 26 (KJV)
- “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” – Matthew 6:33 (KJV)
Greetings CLMNWA Family, I know it’s been a long time since we got into our “Give God First Place” teaching series, and I’m sorry about that. I have been working on some behind the scenes things here at CLMNWA HQ since I penned a message in this series. Lizzie and I have both battled through some sickness that attacked our bodies. Hers eventually went into her ears, and mine turned into bronchitis (which means it’s stuff in my chest). I’ve also been working to put into practice some of the things I’ve written about like sitting at the Lord’s feet more often, we’ve gotten Lizzie enrolled into preschool, I’ve had some battles with feeling discouraged, and I have also had to battle a little bit of slothfulness as well. I have also done as much work as possible with Pastor B’s Blog, and I’ve worked on some cosmetic changes to the Christlike Ministries NWA Blog as well.
So, I’ve been battling through an array of things from having a daughter that’s now in preschool to fighting off the remaining bronchitis symptoms that are fighting to stay in my body. Anyways, it’s time for us to get back into this series, and work to close it out so that we can get into other things the Lord wants to talk to us about in 2016. The main things we’re going to continue to focus on (I believe) are things that deal with making sure God has His rightful place in our hearts and lives. For now, we will finally be half way finished with this series when I hit the publish button on this message.
So, as we do with every message believe with me that the Lord will make my fingers as that as a pen of a ready writer writing only of the oracles of God, and for ears that will hear and hearts that will be receptive and respond to what He’s about to speak to us through this message. And with that let’s see what God wants to talk to us about today.
God Wants First Place In Your Heart:
I know that the most obvious point of this series about giving God first place in our hearts and lives is that He first loved us and gave us first place in His heart. So, He’s not asking us to do something He hasn’t already done for us Himself. You do know that the greatest leaders never ask of their followers to do something they wouldn’t do or haven’t done themselves. So, God wanting us to give Him first place in our hearts is something that should be a natural response to our understanding that He gave us first place in His heart first.
In today’s society, many base their worth upon wealth, how high they are on the “corporate ladder,” how successful their business is, or even simply who they know.
I’m one of those people, I suppose, that’s not really concerned about my place in today’s society. I have never been the kind that was concerned about climbing the corporate ladder. I never measured my worth based upon the amount of money I did or didn’t have I haven’t ever been blessed to know what it’s like to have material wealth, and I as far as society in general I’ve never really fit in with any social groups. So, I guess the fact that I’ve never had money or stature has helped me to always remain humble and grounded without ever really knowing why. I know today that the reason I never fit in with the world is because I wasn’t ever meant to, and that’s because the only place I really fit in with is those who are hungry and thirsty for God.
I’ve never been high on the totem pole or been part of the “who’s who”…but I am part of a peculiar people, a royal priesthood, and a child of the Most High God. So, that’s good enough for me. I’d much rather be accepted by God and rejected by the world than accepted by the world and rejected by my Father.
But if our view of significance is established upon these things, we will only feel good about ourselves when we are flourishing in these areas. When our wealth and success diminish, our self-worth will also because our foundation is not solid. Jesus describes it this way: “But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.” – Luke 6:49
It’s true that how I felt about myself diminished because while I understand now why I never really fit in with the world…I didn’t understand that as a child. The less I fit in with the world the less I felt like I mattered to it, and ultimately that lead me down a trail of self-destructive behaviors that helped the devil destroy my life. The worse things got the worse I felt about myself, and eventually that led me to a place where I was almost completely numb to emotions. My self-worth wasn’t based upon how the world saw me, but by how I viewed myself. The truth is my foundation was shaky because my worth was based upon my opinion of me…not God’s, and as y’all know the devil wasn’t going to offer any encouragement.
It wasn’t until I fully submitted my life to Christ that my view of my self began to change, and it really didn’t begin to change until God introduced me to the woman who would become my wife. I didn’t realize it at first, but God used her to teach me to see myself the way He saw me. He used her to change the mirror and lens from which I was viewing my life and my worth through. In fact, a lot of the time when I re-engaged with self-destructive behaviors it’s often because I still have a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that I deserved and am worthy of a better life. In a very real way, part of the process for me was allowing God to literally rebuild my life from the Foundation, and that means part of the process was allowing God to destroy the old one that I was building my life upon…and also to find firmer soil to build my foundation upon.
Our identity is only as solid as the foundation we place it upon. By establishing our identity on the rock-solid foundation of Jesus Christ, our sense of fulfillment in life will not depend upon the changing condition of temporal things. When Christ is our foundation, our stability is like this: “He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built.” – Luke 6:48
I like what’s said here because as long as my identity was founded upon how I felt about myself it was always going to be a shaky existence, and it was. When I say God had to literally rebuild me from the ground up that’s what I mean. Not only did He have to uproot all the garbage that grew in my heart and life because of the bad seeds I had sown, but He also had to completely destroy the foundation I had built my life upon…and He had also had to move me from where I was still trying to build my foundation upon from how I saw myself to how He saw me. The problem wasn’t just the foundation, but the ground in which I was building my foundation upon. So, when I say God had to rebuild me from the ground up…I mean He literally had to rebuild me from the ground up…and from the inside out.
It’s been a long process, but today my life’s foundation is on much firmer soil because my identity is no longer in how I see myself, but how God sees me. That’s not to say that my foundation isn’t ever shaken, but like the Bible says when the storms and trials of life come to shake me to my core my foundation in Christ is what keeps me firmly planted and grounded today. That doesn’t mean that I don’t get disappointed in myself or frustrated with myself because I do, but what it does mean is I understand that God doesn’t view me through the lens of my eyes. The lens and perspective from which I look at my life is different because I now (for the most part) see myself through the lens of the Word of God. That doesn’t mean that I’m always pleased with where I’m at, but what it does mean is I no longer identify myself by what I think or how I feel…but on what God says. God’s Word says that God loves me with an everlasting, never-changing, never-failing love that’s not based upon my performance, but my position…and so is yours.
It’s true that there’s a sense of stability in my life today because Christ is my foundation. If you’re having a hard time with your self-worth it may be that you need God to rebuild your life from the ground up as well. The good news is He is no respecter of person, and that means what He’s done in my life He can and will do in yours also. All you have to do is ask Him, and He’ll do exceedingly above all you could imagine…and that includes completely rebuilding you from the ground up or the inside out. What God wants for us more than anything is to place our identity in His Son, and the reason for that is when we build our foundation upon anything other than Him it’s always going to be shaky.
Think for a moment of the many choices in life you may have to build your foundation of significance upon. These may include wealth, career, looks, family, fame, power or who you know. Are there others you can think of? Of all the things to establish our identity upon, only Jesus assures us of victorious Christian living.
But if you examine the other choices, none are bad or inherently evil. In fact, in many respects, they are very important areas of responsibility God has given us in our lives. But in the book of Matthew, Jesus helps us find balance.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Matthew 6:25-26
Jesus. Is He your foundation or are you your foundation?
The best way to tell what your foundation is built upon is by what drives you, what you’re passionate about, and when you’re pressed what comes out of your mouth which inevitably reveals what’s in your heart. You see, that’s why we’re told to guard our hearts because the heart always reveals our foundation. I am a big believer when it comes to doing a self-inventory like the 12 step programs teach, but the problem in doing so comes from what Higher Power you have placed your faith in because if Christ isn’t your Higher Power then the likelihood of us really getting deep enough isn’t really going to happen. You see, when we do a proper evaluation of where we are in life the only way to really be able to get to the core, the foundation of who we are and what we’re doing is to get all the way down to the foundation.
There were a lot of inventories that I did while I was part of those programs, I loved the Lord, and I still wasn’t really able to dig deep enough. I wasn’t able to really get down to the foundation until God began to deal with the foundation I had built my life upon. There’s a phrase around the 12 step circles that says if you sober up a drunken horse thief you wind up with a sober horse thief. I wasn’t ever really able to allow God to start working in my life until He was able to get me to understand that He needed to deal with the horse thief…in other words…I needed to allow Him to get all the way down to my foundation so that He could begin to rip that out and rebuild me from the ground up and from the inside out.
The results of allowing God to get down into my foundation is what y’all see today in every message I pen. This is how you know that the foundation for my life is no longer me, but Christ. This is what took God almost a decade to do in and with my life so that He can now do things through my life. The other bit of encouragement I can offer is don’t get frustrated with the amount of time it takes because as y’all know it took me eleven years to embrace the call of God on my life to be the pastor of Christlike Ministries NWA. I was a major re-construction project, and the work that the Master Carpenter has done in my life is nothing short of amazing.
You know those shows where someone buys an old, rundown shack, and turns it into a beautiful new house…that’s what God has done in my life. I was an old, rundown, rust bucket, and God has turned me into a beautiful home that He can display to the world as an example of what a life surrendered to the Lordship of Christ can look like. I’m sitting here at the moment listening to Colton Dixon’s “Through All Of It”, and it’s an appropriate song to be listening to as I type this message…because God has truly been my God through all of the mess…and today I have a message because of Jesus.
Again, the beautiful thing about God is that He can do the same (if not greater) things in, with, and through your life as He has done through mine.
But Pastor B, What’s the key? How do can God do in my life what He’s done in yours? How about something it took me almost all of the 11 years God had been trying to work in and on my life so He could begin to work through my life. How about getting our of His way and letting Him. Yes. That’s it. It really is that simple, friends. The key is getting out of His way, completely surrendering, and allowing Him to do what He wants to do. Even if that means getting all the way down to your foundation, and completely rebuilding you from the ground up and the inside out. If you always do what you’ve always done…you’ll continue to always get the same results…if you want different results you have to do something you’ve never done.
If you’ve never allowed God the freedom to do whatever He wants in, with, and through your life…why not give that a chance.
When we resolve this truth in our own lives, we find peace and fulfillment, free from worry and anxiety. This balance is achieved when we put Jesus first in all areas of our lives. “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” – Matthew 6:33
We all have dreams, goals and aspirations because God designed us to. But putting Jesus first should lead you to examine your priorities and motives as to why you aspire to do or attain the things you desire. When He is first in your dreams and aspirations, you’re future will be filled with greatness and joy!
Heavenly Father, I pray today for those who are reading this message who have never allowed You the freedom to do whatever You want to do in and with their lives so that eventually You can do things through their lives like You are mine. First of all, Lord, I ask that You would help them to come to know that until they allow You that freedom they’re going to continue to reap the same results in their lives. Second, Father God, I ask that You’d give them the courage to be able to say as we all must eventually say as You stand with us in the Gethsemane of our lives “not my will, but Yours”. Finally, I ask that You would help them to be patient with You and with themselves during the rebuilding process. I also pray, Lord God, for those who don’t yet know You as Lord that You would tug on their hearts to allow You to become their Lord and Savior. I pray, Lord God, for all of us that You would help us to remember that our identity isn’t in who we are or what we do…but that our identity is in Your Son. Thank You, Lord God, for giving me this ability to write, and I ask that You would touch the life of every reader of this message. In Jesus name. Amen & Amen.
Final Word From Pastor B:
The one good thing about being sick as it’s helped me to get back to doing what God has called and anointed me to do. I’m sorry that it’s taken so long to get this series written, but I’ve been going through a lot of seasons since the turn of the calendar to 2016. I’ve had to learn to take more time to sit at the Lord’s feet, my daughter requires a little more attention these days, and I even wrestled through a season of being discouraged. I fought (with the Lord’s help) through a season where I didn’t really want to do much of anything, I’ve seen my daughter grow up to the point where she’s now going to school two days a week, and now I’m coming to the end of a physical fight with sickness in my body in the form of bronchitis.
In taking time to sit at the Master’s feet there’s always the possibility that God is going to take some time to do some more work on your life so that He can do better work through your life. When sitting at the Master’s feet one of the things that He’s always able to do (if you’ll allow Him to) is get back down to that foundation, and help you to really take an inventory of your motives and the why’s of what you are doing. It’s there that He’s able to help you to understand that while you may have mostly been doing what you’re doing for His glory the reason you find yourself discouraged or disappointed is because there was still part of a desire in your heart to be noticed. Thus, when you find yourself discouraged because people aren’t sowing into the ministry it’s because in some way you’re still seeking to have what you do valued by others instead of being valued by the One that’s called you to do what you’re doing.
We all have dreams, goals and aspirations because God designed us to. But putting Jesus first should lead you to examine your priorities and motives as to why you aspire to do or attain the things you desire. When He is first in your dreams and aspirations, you’re future will be filled with greatness and joy! When God does bring a questionable motive to your attention, your most important response should be a willingness to make changes. Change can be difficult at times, but God always has our best in mind, and wants you to grow spiritually.
So, I’ve had to come to understand there was a part of me that was still doing this to be rewarded here, and when I wasn’t seeing those rewards that was allowing me to get into bitterness and resentment…which lead me to not really wanting to do what God has called me to do which is write these messages out of a heart that desires to write them because I love God and wanting Him to be glorified. It’s hard to notice those things when you aren’t taking enough time to sit at the Lord’s feet, and when you find yourself becoming more like Martha instead of Mary when you do take the time to sit at the Lord’s feet you have to be prepared to have Him show you where you’ve gotten off track, and then give Him time to help you get back on track.
So, if y’all don’t want to sow into the ministry that’s okay. I’m not writing these messages to get rich I’m writing them because this is what God has called me to do. If y’all don’t find what I do worth investing in then I have to be willing to accept that, and continue doing this whether I receive a reward here on earth or not. The reality is I have to depend upon God for everything, and I can’t depend upon you…my followers for anything. That doesn’t mean I don’t need you prayers and financial support because I do, but I can’t look at the lack of financial support as an indication that what I’m doing isn’t of value or worth…and that’s what was getting me discouraged is feeling like what I was doing wasn’t of value or worth to you.
Thank you to all of you that have stood by me and stuck with me. It’s an honor and privilege to be able to share the Word of God with you, and to be able to write messages like this and others that I know have ministered and inspired or encouraged you. So many of you have let me know that what I’m doing is touching your lives, and in truth I need to allow that to be the proof that what I’m doing is of value. There is no Christlike Ministries NWA with out you the Christlike Ministries NWA Family, and I’m extremely thankful and grateful for all of you who have become a part of the Christlike Ministries NWA Family where ever and however you follow us.
Have a blessed day in the Lord!
Blessings & Grace ~ Pastor B