Saturday, February 8, 2014

Sheep or Goat?

Today’s Bible readings are Exodus 28:1-43, Matthew 25:31-26:13, Psalm 31:9-18, & Proverbs 8:12-13

Matthew 25:31-33
31 “But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.

What is it that makes us a sheep & what is there that defines goats? This is an important question to find the answer the answer to.  Knowing the answer of this & then deciding to apply it to your life is one thing that will decide your eternal fate. Remember, there is going to be a separation of sheep from goats. The sheep will inherit the King’s kingdom & the goats will go to eternal punishment.

I don’t know about you, but His kingdom is my desire. That is the place that I want to be because that is where He is going to be. I find it interesting that that the goats thought they were going to make it into the kingdom. In fact, when they were confronted by the King, listen to their reply:

Matthew 25:44

44 “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’

They called Him Lord. They must have known Him. They may have thought that they were in right relationship with Him. But His reply shows that they were not of His flock.

Matthew 25:45-46

45 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’
46 “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”

What is the difference maker? What is it that makes a sheep a sheep & a goat a goat? I think that Jesus shows us the answer in His reply to the sheep.

Matthew 25:34-36

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’

What do any of these things have to do with being a sheep? Why are these things so important? Why do they define who is righteous & who is not? The answer is very simple—LOVE!

Love is what defines us as disciples of Christ. Jesus said that people will know we are His disciples by our love. Love for people is love for God.

1 John 4:20

20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.

Love is not just something that we SAY we do. Love is something that we SHOW we do. The primary way that we show love is the same way that God primarily shows His love—BY GIVING.

John 3:16

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Giving is the ultimate expression of love. It is how God showed how great His love is & it is how we MUST show how great our love is. YOU CAN GIVE WITHOUT LOVING BUT YOU CANNOT LOVE WITHOUT GIVING.

It wasn’t just that these people gave that made them righteous. Giving is worth nothing without love.

1 Corinthians 13:3

If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

It wasn’t their gift that got the attention if the King, it was their love. It was loved that moved them to give. It was love for people that was birthed from their love for God. This is the greatest commandment of all. It is the only thing we need to focus on living out in our lives.

Matthew 22:36-40

36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”
37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

It can all be summed up in this—HOW MUCH DO YOU LOVE? Let’s make it our aim to demonstrate our love for God by loving each other. This may be difficult at times but will be worth it in the end. The kingdom is the reward for those who love strong & without end!

Pastor Richard Schlotter

Friday, February 7, 2014

Time To Trim The Lamp

Today’s bible readings are Exodus 26:1-27:21, Matthew 25:1-30, Psalm 31:1-8, & Proverbs 8:1-11


Today’s readings in the Gospel of Matthew are so important for us to look at. They are such powerful parable’s that deal with us & His return. I know that we talk about it a lot, BUT JESUS IS COMING SOON! Tonight in our church service there was prophetic word that was in line with these parables. I believe that it is a confirmation that the Spirit wants me to write on this topic.

In the parable of the 10 virgins we see 5 wise & 5 foolish virgins.
Matthew 25:2-5
Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. The five who were foolish didn’t take enough olive oil for their lamps, but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil. When the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

I know that there are many who think that the return of Christ is not something that is going to happen anytime soon. I am of the school of thought that we have to live each day as though He were coming. I know for me, it helps me stay focused on what is most important. I don’t have time to get caught up in popularity games, worldly stuff, love of money, etc… if I live each day as though it were the last one here on earth.

The reality is that Jesus is going to come at a time when many least expect it. I am 36 years old. Most people my age think very little about the return of Christ. That is why so many are wrapped up in building their own kingdom. They are so focused on what they want that they are missing out on serving the King & building His kingdom. They are only storing up treasures on earth. That is not what Jesus taught us.

Matthew 6:19-21

19 “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. 21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

There is a reason that some people think about heaven more than others, it is because they have stored up more treasure there than others. There is a reason that some are more intentional about how they spend their time & use their talents, it is because they have too much invested in the kingdom to back away from it now. They have more waiting there that matters far more than anything down here. They are very mindful of how they live because their heart is somewhere else.

In the parable the bridegroom did come. Even though there was a delay, HE STILL SHOWED UP! I want to make it clear—HE WILL COME. HE WILL COME SOON!

In the parable he came at the midnight hour. This was a time when you would least expect him to come. It was a time in which you would think it would be ok to be sleeping. It was at a time in which you wouldn’t think one would need to be concerned about oil.

I can’t help but think of how important it is to have a relationship with the Holy Spirit. In the bible, He is often symbolized by oil. In this parable it is the same. We MUST keep our fire for God burning & the Holy Spirit is the way we make sure that this happens.
1.      He is the One who keeps us energized.
2.      He is the One who sustains us.
3.      He is the One who keeps us walking in love.
4.      He is the One who makes us successful.
5.      He is the One who keeps us focused.
6.      He is the One who empowers us.
7.      He is the One who fills us.

I want to leave you with a few thoughts today.
1.      What do you spend most of your time thinking about?
2.      What do you spend most of your time praying about?
3.      What is the greatest passion in your life?
4.      What are you most invested in?
I believe it is time for many to re-evaluate their lives. The hour is drawing near to the return of the Bridegroom. Let’s wake up & make sure that we are ready for the glorious day. There has never been a day like it & it will only come once. YOU WON’T WANT TO MISS IT!!!

Pastor Richard Schlotter


Thursday, February 6, 2014

Little By Little

Today's Bible readings are Exodus 23:14-25:40, Matthew 24:29-51, Psalm 30:1-12, & Proverbs 7:24-27

Exodus 23:27-30
27 “I will send my terror ahead of you and create panic among all the people whose lands you invade. I will make all your enemies turn and run. 28 I will send terror ahead of you to drive out the Hivites, Canaanites, and Hittites. 29 But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals would multiply and threaten you. 30 I will drive them out a little at a time until your population has increased enough to take possession of the land.

God is getting ready to lead His people into the possession of what He has promised them. They have left the land of slavery & are moving toward a place of blessing where God will supply their every need. The people are starting to get a bit excited. The people are also starting to get a bit concerned. They realize that in this new land of promise there is another enemy waiting them. This enemy is not going to just give up & let them take their land.

Israel is not trained in the art of war. They were slaves for the last 400 years. They are getting ready to go into a land that is occupied by a group of people who have mastered the art of war for the last several centuries. They are skilled in warfare & Israel is not. There had to be a certain degree of fear that was trying to get into the hearts of the people. Yet God had a plan.

I love the truth that is laid out in this text. The truth shows us what to expect in our own lives today. God is the One who goes before us to make a way where there seems to be no way. He will defeat enemies much larger & skilled than we are by His power, if we follow the leading of His Spirit. What an awesome promise for you & I.

The promise land was going to be a great place for God’s people. It was going to be a place of great blessing. It was going to be a place of great prosperity. Yet, there were going to be some enemies that had to be defeated so they could have God’s best.

Let’s make something clear here, God was calling His people to the land of promise. Many times, we assume that this is a symbol of heaven for us. They had the promise land & we have been promised heaven. They had a land of promise in which God was going to bless them but we think that our land of promise is going to be heaven. This thinking causes us to waver in this life to have any real victory by giving us the impression that we will just have to wait until we get to heaven before we can share in victory. This is inaccurate.

The promise land for Israel was going to be a place that had enemies. You will have no enemies in heaven. The promise land was going to be a place where God was going to teach His people how to trust in Him for daily victory. There will be nothing that you have to fight for in heaven. Truly, the promise land represents our life in this earth after we come to Christ.

In this life we will fight the good fight of faith to share in victory. In this life God, by His Spirit, will drive out all the enemies that try to invade you & your family. God wants to lead us to a place in Christ where we find rest & victory through Him. This represents what Israel had to learn to do in their journey, as well.

Much like Israel, we have enemies that try to deter us. They are things that have been used to control us in our past. There are also things that satan uses to steal, kill, & destroy in lives. These are the enemies that we must take our stand against so we can be blessed in this new life that Christ has called us into.

I think it is important for us to look at what God promised to do for His people in this particular story.

Exodus 23:28-30
28 I will send terror ahead of you to drive out the Hivites, Canaanites, and Hittites. 29 But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals would multiply and threaten you. 30 I will drive them out a little at a time until your population has increased enough to take possession of the land.

God made it clear that this was not going to be an “over the night” kind of experience. This was going to be a gradual thing. Victory would be coming in areas at different times as He led them. It was all part of the process. He would focus on 1 enemy & 1 battle at a time.

I know that it can get discouraging when we see a bunch of stuff that we need to overcome in our lives. It can even overwhelm us into think,
1.      This is too much.
2.      I will never be able to do all of this.
3.      I am too screwed up to make it.
4.      I can’t see ever be free from all these different battles.
5.      There are just too many things working against me to make it.
6.      Why bother even trying.
7.      Where do I even start?

I know who the enemy tries to throw all of this at us at once. He does this to put fear, doubt, discouragement in our hearts & minds. This is how he keeps us from moving forward. I SAY IT IS TIME FOR THAT TO CHANGE!!!

There were all kinds of things waiting to attack Israel. There were enemies that they didn’t even know about BUT God gave them a promise. It is a promise for us today, as well. Here it is:

30 I will drive them out a little at a time until your population has increased enough to take possession of the land.

God is breaking it down into a bite size amount so that His people can handle the task. It is not that God needs it to be smaller so He can handle it better. He has all power. He created the world & all that is in it in 6 days. God can handle it. The thing is that it needs to happen at a rate of speed that we can handle. That is what the saying—“One day at a time” really speaks to. God doesn’t expect everything to change in your life over-night. That is not realistic. He only needs you too focus on what is directly in front of you.

I know that there is so much that it seems impossible at times BUT IT IS NOT! Learn from this. Find out what God wants you to be working on RIGHT NOW. Don’t get too wrapped up into what is 1 year down the road, 2 years down the road, etc… He is not going to drive it all out at once. So you stop trying to drive it all out at once.

There are some things that we focus a lot of energy on that really doesn’t matter at this current moment, first thing first. Victory will come. But let’s get the victory over what is directly in front of us first. The battle can be fought when we get there, NOT A SECOND EARLER!!!

Listen to what Jesus said:

Matthew 6:34

34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

Let’s do our best to find victory today over what we face right now. Some things are not meant to be dealt with at this current time. The more you focus on them the more you lose right now. I want you to win every battle. God will enable you to win each time, BUT let’s do our best to live in today. Stop being afraid of tomorrow. Little victories are what win the war. Don’t spend time thinking about the past. Refuse to spin your wheels thinking too much about the future. Spend the majority of your time thinking about today. It is your greatest gift.

Pastor Richard Schlotter