Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Big Is Not Always Better

Thus says the Lord,
“As the new wine is found in the cluster...” (Isaiah 65:8 NASB)

         Everybody wants a bigger church or a more significant ministry.  The expansion of God’s purposes on this earth is never bad.  But sometimes in His Kingdom least may be the best.
         What was Jesus’ strategy for reaching the world? It involved a group of three (Peter, James, and John) and then the twelve disciples. David had 30 valiant warriors. Gideon had his army trimmed down to three hundred men. God's people have rarely fought a battle where they were not out numbered.
          When Jesus spoke of the cost of discipleship the size of His following tended to wane. When he talked about cross bearing you got the impression that he was intentionally trying to winnow His flock.  Are our church growth strategies sacrificing depth for breadth?  A surge in the number of bodies in the pews may make us feel good, but does it necessarily translate into forming the life of Christ in His disciples?  Our Lord who invested his life in a few started the movement that has changed the world, the church. 
         We can emulate the patterns of this world or we can follow the ways our Lord taught us.  It depends on whether we are making disciples or spectators.  New wine is always found in the cluster. In God's Kingdom big is not always better and little is much if God is in it.

Ken Barnes, the author of “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places  YWAM Publishing

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The God Of Justice

Yes, truth is gone,
and anyone who renounces evil is attacked.
The Lord looked and was displeased to find there was no justice.
(Isaiah 59: 15 NLT)

         In the world today it is not a real fabulous time to stand for righteousness.  Neither was it in Isaiah’s day either. But we should not forget that God’s eyes are not blinded to our blight.
         The writer of Ecclesiastes said, “....there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9).  The reaction of the world to righteousness has always been the same.  In Isaiah’s day, when Jesus walked the earth, and today, the response has not changed. Whether Christians portray righteousness with words or just their lifestyles, the unregenerate world does not like it. This should not surprise us.  It is just part of the territory. 
         Before we with slip into a fatalistic malaise we should listen to the rest of Isaiah’s message.  He was amazed to see that no one intervened to help the oppressed.  So he himself stepped in to save them with his strong arm, and his justice sustained him (v. 16).  Though circumstances do not always indicate it, God is committed to justice.  God’s eyes are not closed and hands are not tied when He observes injustice in this world.  He will repay his enemies for their evil deeds.  His fury will fall on his foes.  He will pay them back even to the ends of the earth (v. 17).
         We should never look to man as the one who treats us fairly.  If we fix our eyes on flesh as the ultimate source for the justice due us, we will always be disappointed.  It is God who pleads our case.  No voice from this world can silence our God. No fury from hell can intimidate our Lord.  The God of justice is still on the throne.

Ken Barnes, the author of “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places”  YWAM Publishing

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Good-The Worst Enemy Of Best

“But forget all that—
 it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.
For I am about to do something new...” (Isaiah 43:18-19A NLT)    

          Isaiah was encouraging Israel that God was on the move and about to do a new thing.  But before they could receive the new they had to forget the old. Sometimes we have to let go of the good to get God’s best.     
           Remembering God’s past faithfulness is proper as long as it does not hinder us from experiencing the new plans He has for us.  Every renewal in church history has been resisted by the previous one.  The Charismatic movement of the latter part of the twentieth century was opposed by the old line Pentecostals, people of essentially the same theology.  We start to trust in our ways, means, and even theology more than God Himself.  God may move in one manner in this generation, and a different way in the next.  Which often gets our dander up. Why?  We have deified God's methods in one season, without considering He might do it differently in the next.  Our sovereign Lord has a perfect plan for every period of our lives. For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1 NLT).  We should never allow ourselves to become a prisoner of a positive past.
          My brothers and sisters in Christ, let go of those sacred cows and allow the Lamb of God to do a new thing in your midst.  Good is always the worst enemy of God's best.

Ken Barnes, the author of “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places  YWAM Publishing

Friday, September 4, 2015

Bragging Rights

Are we commending ourselves to you again? No, we are giving you a reason to be proud of us, so you can answer those who brag about having a spectacular ministry rather than having a sincere heart.
(II Corinthians 5:12 NLT)    

         Are we giving people the right reason to be proud of us?  The Apostle Paul in this portion of Scripture was answering those who were bragging about external appearances rather than a changed heart.
         The Bible speaks about the fruits of the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit.  Gifts are bestowed but fruits are grown. The fruits of the Spirit such as love, joy and peace are often cultivated in the soil of trials and tribulations.  The gifts of God can come quickly but the fruits of His Spirits are developed over time.  A weightlifter friend of mine used to say, “short term pain leads to long term gain.”  The Corinthians that Paul confronted were guilty of dwelling on the spectacular aspects of ministry and missing the godly character traits exhibited by Paul and his followers.  The things that we Christians sometimes prize are nothing more than wood, hay and stubble that are easily consumed when the fiery trial appears.
         Remember what Jesus said, But don’t rejoice because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered in heaven (Luke 10:20 NLT). We should be excited that we are a child of the King and being conformed to His image. Our bragging rights are not about what we can do for Christ, but who we are in Christ.

Ken Barnes, the author of “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places”  YWAM Publishing