THE STEEL AND CONCRETE MISSION FIELD NEWSLETTER February 2000
by Bro. Gregory Wamsley
As we approach the worldly celebration of Valentine's Day, big focus will be placed on candy in the shape of hearts, flowers, and certain loved ones (past or present). Today, I'm more interested in our own human hearts' condition in Christ. It's the memory of my childhood which brings thoughts of this worldly holiday to mind, along with others as well: thoughts of fishing with my Grandfather and even the old kids' game, "Go Fish." One might say, "What does our hearts' condition in Christ, fishing, and a kids' game have in common?" Well, read on and we'll see.
As I stated above, I used to go fishing with my Grandfather when I was a young boy. He showed me how to catch fish with gill nets when I accompanied him on the fishing parties that he took out on his 45 foot, 13 ton cabin cruiser which he built by hand.
Consider this: God the Father used God the Son to make and build us to be his fishing vessels. It was Jesus Christ himself that said to Peter and Andrew:
"...Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." (Matthew 4:19)
It seems, in these last days, that the hearts and souls of people are like those crafty fish I used to try and catch. The lost are very evasive, ripping and running in all directions much like those fish. We must keep watch like the cagey fisherman, not just for the lost souls but for the souls and hearts of our greatest commodity ~ our children. Satan knows that the lost, and our lost kids, will never reach out to God if they don't know there is a God to reach out to. The battle ground today is our very hearts. It is God's sacred ground. A war is between the Godly trinity and Satan's unholy trinity of the world, the flesh (self), and the devil. Don't let your hearts and lives be caught or snared in Satan's evil net during these last days (Ecclesiastes. 9:12).
There are churches today that have all kinds of legalistic restrictions which make fishing in God's ocean (this world) difficult. These churches are fishing with unbaited hooks. I have come to learn that one cannot use too many nets or hooks, and these must be baited to yield the greatest catch for Christ. Christ himself, and his love manifesting itself in and through us, is God's bait of choice. The answer to our fishing woes, troubled hearts, and all other problems, are found in Christ and the Bible, not in the juvenile courts, divorce courts, or therapy rooms.
Ministries must be willing to change direction, just like the fishing boats. Once, while out on the bay with my Grandfather, we heard that fish were being caught in another place. We took up anchor and moved to that spot where truly the catch (harvest) was the greatest. Ministries should do the same. These servants, or fishers of men, need to be where the fish are biting, running thick, and getting caught, or else they need to be the ones getting all the fish, causing others to come to their spot of blessing. While society is focused on "relationships," may they not overlook the most important relationship of all, the relationship with Jesus Christ. Just as we cannot receive anything with a closed fist, we must open our hearts to receive Him, and submit to the Master Fisherman.
"He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds." (Psalm 147:3)
It is true, but sad, that some lost hearts and souls have jumped off God's hook, or were never actually hooked. They think they have gotten away, not actually knowing how much danger they are in out there in the deep water of this sinful world. Had they known, they would be jumping onto God's first available hook, or into Christ's nets. In the real world, man uses all kinds of funny-looking plastic and rubber lures and hooks (temptations) that entice the fish. Satan does the same with the lusts of one's own flesh. Jesus Christ has a tackle box, too. It's the Bible, filled with better lures, better hooks, and much, much better real live bait ~ Christ himself!
We can clean up our lives with all the "religion" we want, but without Christ in our lives as Lord and Savior, living and dwelling in our clean hearts, we'll be like the pig returning to our own mire (sin). For we read in the Bible that "...where our treasure is, there will our heart be also" (Matthew. 6:21). Also that "...out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" (Matthew 12:34). We are to "Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy mind" (Matthew 22:37).
When we're directed and commissioned by our Lord and Savior, he promises that our fishing catch will be a great one. The disciples received such, and we can also expect the same abundant fishing yield.
John 21:11 "Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, a hundred and fifty, and three..."
Luke 5:6 "And when they had this done, they enclosed (caught) a great multitude of fishes..."
There will be a lot of talk about love this month. I am reminded of a female fish our Lord caught. The woman at the well had jumped from hook to hook and net to net. She had five past husbands and the one she lived with, number six, wasn't even her husband. But she got caught and fell in love with the seventh man, The Son of Man. In this month of love, may we all fall in love with this same man who is sitting at the right hand of the Father in Heaven.
When we really want to change someone or something, it must be done from the inside out. Start with the heart, unto salvation, and all else will be changed, too. For those who have not done so, Romans 10:9-10 says it best:
"That is thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."
Out in the world (God's ocean), there are many lost souls, broken hearts, fish to be caught! Have we directed any lost souls to Christ? Have we caught any lost and lonely hearts for Christ? Do you have any hearts? If not, then ~ GO FISH! <><
"FALLING IN LOVE WITH HIM OVER AND OVER AND AGAIN"
by Ministry Worker, Brother Antoine Payne, Sr.
Have you ever been in a place in your life where you literally found yourself sinning over and over again? Deep within your heart this bothered you ~ I mean it really bothered you ~ because you knew you were a Christian and shouldn't be doing the things you were doing. Maybe it was something like giving into sexual sins such as fornication, adultery, pornography, or homosexuality: not just the outward acts, but even the acts within the heart. Maybe it was gambling, or smoking, or lying, or possibly even worrying.
Chances are you're in that place right now. You keep telling yourself that you're not going to do it anymore, but somehow, before long, you find yourself doing the same old act all over again. You find yourself feeling guilty, dirty, and helpless one more time. You might even say, "I can't believe this ~ I did it again. I told myself that I wasn't going to do this anymore. Why do I keep failing?" Have you ever thought, "I feel so disgusted with myself that I can't even pray now" or, "I don't know what to do"? If this sounds like you or someone you know, this word of exhortation is for you!
One evening, as I was preparing my heart to teach Bible study, the Holy Spirit began to show me that I needed to endeavor to draw my eyes and my students' eyes, attention, and affections to Jesus instead of to ourselves and the sin that we were caught up in. Too often we focus on what we are doing, what we are not doing, what we have to stop doing, and what we have to start doing. Don't get me wrong. There are some things that we have consciously rid ourselves of and other things that we need to put on, but we spend too much time focusing on those things instead of on what Jesus has already done. We focus too much on our works instead of on His grace!
It was during this time of my prayer and meditation that God began to drop the revelation of Romans 5:6 into my spirit: "For when we were without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly." It began to dawn on me that if I would lift my eyes, and the eyes of others, from the sin and the lack of strengh to the Savior and his abundance of strength, I would be set free. If I would stop trying to do "natural things" to overcome spiritual problems, I would be victorious. If I would spend more time with the Lover of my soul, I would fall in love with him all over again.
When I fall in love with him again, my attitude toward the things that he died for would change. Because he suffered and died for my sin of _______ (fill in the blank), I don't want to play around in it. If I would turn, not only my will but my affections, from sin to Christ; if I would grasp the reality of His suffering, His bleeding, and His dying for me; if I would see and visualize Him being whipped, scorned, laughed at, and spat upon; if I would remember and begin to appreciate what He went through just for me; then and only then would I despise and lose my appetite for sin and find strength to chase after the Heart Of God. To repent is to change your mind about sin and Christ. There is to be sorrow implied in this, but the main point is turning your heart from self (sin) to Christ. If there be this turning away, you have the essence of true repentance.
So if Romans 7:15-20 has become your testimony and you can't repent as you would, maybe you need to fall in love with Jesus all over again. I encourage you to blot out every other reflection from your soul; to sit down by the hour and meditate deeply on this one resplendent display of unmerited, unexpected, unequaled love, that "Christ died for the ungodly."
Read over carefully the narrative of the Lord's death recorded in Isaiah 532, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. If anything can melt the stubborn heart, it will be the sight and reality of the sufferings of Jesus. How can you be so hard-hearted when you know of the love of the Savior? The sooner you fall in love with Him, the sooner you'll hate your sin and find strength in Christ to let go of the sin He died for!
Just keep falling in love with Him over and over again!
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