"HOW'S YOUR EYESIGHT?"

Matthew 6:19-21 “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust does corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust does corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

In the 1980 presidential election Ronald Reagan asked the American people a very insightful question. He asked us: “Are you better off now than you were 4 years ago?” And 34 years later many people are still asking themselves the same question. That question no doubt helped Reagan to win the election and it’s because the question struck a deep chord within Americans who were experiencing some terrible economic times.

In the late 1970’s America was in a deep recession, gas prices were high, the cost of living was going up and up due to inflation… sound familiar? So, what Reagan really was asking the American people was: “How is your quality of life these days?” And today, we keep asking ourselves the same question…

You know, as long as man has been around we’ve been trying to improve our quality of life…man has always striven to earn a better living, eat better food, live in a better house, provide better things for our families, but does merely increasing the quality of our lives through money and what money can buy constitute a better quality of life?

I mean, how many times have we heard the same old sad story about some rich person who lived a completely empty life? Jesus said: “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consists not in the abundance of the things which he possesses.”

And He told a parable about a rich man who trusted in his wealth and possessions rather than trusting in God. The man laid up all kinds of treasure here on earth and once he figured he was on “easy street” he decide he retire and eat drink and be merry. But God said unto him, “You fool, this night your soul shall be required of you: then whose shall those all those things belong to?”

That man died and all of his treasure that he had laid up here on earth now belonged to someone else. Jesus concluded His story by saying: “So is he that lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:15-21).

God says it’s foolish to set your affections on the things of the earth, it’s foolish to lay up treasure here without being rich or generous towards God …it’s foolish. Like the rich man of Jesus’ parable, there are people who are foolish enough to believe that money can buy happiness and fulfillment and that money can provide all that they could ever want or need, but they found out otherwise in the end.

Jesus said do not “layup treasures for yourself here on earth…but layup treasures in heaven …for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”. You see, if you lay up treasures on the earth for yourself then that’s where your heart will, it’ll be for yourself…but if you lay up treasures in heaven or for God then that’s where your heart will be.

We’re told in 1 Timothy 6:17 “Charge them that are rich in this present age”… who are the rich in our present age? We are! Americans are the world’s richest people! Paul said, “Charge them that are rich in this present age that they be not haughty, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy”.

Paul is talking about material things in this context and he says that God gives us all things to enjoy, but when those treasures begin to steal our hearts away from God, then that’s a problem. BRATS, are we spending our time and energy laying up treasure here on earth for ourselves without laying any treasure up in heaven for God? Jesus said not to lay up treasures for yourselves.

We are called to be stewards for God. A steward is someone who manages the property of someone else. We are to be stewards over God’s things and if we have plenty of things on earth then those are God’s things, not ours. My income isn’t my money, its God’s money and He is kind enough to allow me to use some of it for my needs and even pleasure!

But when you get a real revelation that you're God’s servant, He is your Master and everything that you have is ultimately His then and only then will you understand what a Christian steward is. Everything I’ve been entrusted with is not solely for myself.

Jesus said this: “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore your eye be sound, your whole body shall be full of light. But if your eye be evil, your whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you be darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Matthew 6:22-23)

Jesus used a Jewish figure of speech that most of us are not familiar with…it’s a word picture in which the eye is like a window to a room. He says if there’s light coming out of the window then that means that the room is filled with light, but if there’s no light in the window then that means there’s no light in the room, it’s in darkness.

What’s His point? If you can understand the Hebrew figure of speech regarding an evil eye and a single eye or a good eye, then you’ll be able to understand what He’s saying here. You see, in the Bible if you have a good eye or an evil eye that always means that you’re either generous or greedy.

Someone who has an evil eye is someone who has a greedy heart. So, when the Bible is speaking of an evil eye it’s speaking of greed. We might call someone a “Scrooge” or a “Gordon Gekko” or something like that to say someone’s a greedy person.

A single eye or a good eye is a generous heart. If you see someone in need and seeing that you’re willing to help them… then you have a good eye. If you see them and that doesn’t cause you to want to help them then you have a bad eye or an evil eye.

“He that has a bountiful eye (a good eye) shall be blessed for he gives of his bread to the poor” (Proverbs 22:9). That’s describing a generous person…

“He that hastes to be rich has an evil eye, and considers not that poverty shall come upon him” (Proverbs 28:22). That’s describing someone who is not generous…

So someone with an evil eye is someone who does not give to others and someone with a good eye is bountiful and does give to others. So…how’s your eyesight? Would Jesus say it’s good or bad?

In Matthew 6:22-23 Jesus is making a distinction between being greedy and being generous and that fits the context perfectly because He also said in Matthew 6:20 that we shouldn’t layup treasures on earth but layup treasures in heaven.

Jesus is saying that your attitude toward money will dictate what your life will be like. If you’re greedy for money then you’re life will be full of darkness; if you’re not greedy then you whole life will be full of light. In other words, your attitude toward money will affect your whole life.

Do you think having money alone can make you happy? Do you think money alone can increase your quality of life? Jesus is teaching that if you want true happiness and a true quality of life then you will need to be a generous person that gives to those in need.

2 Corinthians 8:9 says “For all of you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that all of you through his poverty might be rich.” And John 15:13 says “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

I find it interesting that Jesus Himself laid down His treasures in heaven so that He might lay down His life in earth so that we might be able to lay down our treasures in earth and layup eternal treasures in heaven.

So, BRATS…are you laying it up or laying it down? Are you chasing the American Nightmare, is your eye evil or good?Jesus calls us all to a life of generosity and serving God. It’s your choice whether or not you’ll drop everything to follow Him.

GO BLESS, BRATS!

“CALLED TO LOVE”

1 John 4:7-11 "Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and everyone that loves is born of God, and knows God. He that loves not knows not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another."

This passage is all about the Christian's duty to love. John uses love as a test of genuine Christian faith. This is the point he makes in verse 7 by saying: “every one that loves is born of God, and knows God.” The problem is that many people claim to know God, even some Christians can claim to know God, but their actions show that they really don't.

In verse 1 John says that many will say that they know God, but they're liars. Those who truly know God are known by their love for one another. He says the reason that love is evidence that we're born of God is because love is the very nature of God.
VS 7: “for love is of God; and every one that loves is born of God”
VS 8: “God is love.”

By saying “God is love”, John is saying that love is one of the main attributes of God. God is love, but not all love is God. Some people love evil and, of course, that’s not of God. The love John is talking about is “agape” love or divine love, a love that can only come from God Himself. It's a love that cares more about others than about self. It is John 3:16 love. Agape love is not human love. It is a love that surpasses our human ability. This kind of love is a unique thing. All people have some kind of love, but the love of God is unique to Him and to His children.

Romans 5:8 says that God demonstrates His love toward us “in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.”

This is how God showed His love for mankind, by sending Jesus to die on the Cross in our place. This is how God demonstrated His love to us all. God loved even His enemies and died for them too. This is the love of God. It's not a natural human love and that's why the loving nature of God must be born into His children.

God loves in a unique way and when you come to know Him then He says "Now I want you to go & love in this same way." What this means is that we must love others more than ourselves. We must put the needs of others above our own needs. We must think more highly of others than of ourselves. But this isn’t how we are in our human condition, is it? We’re not born loving like God loves.

Little children usually think of themselves first unless taught otherwise. Our sinful human nature is so evident in children. We never have to teach our children how to lie, steal or hit. We have to teach them to do what's right. This is because they have inherited their parent’s sinful human nature and hearts; we are all born without the “agape” love of God in our hearts.

Therefore, we must be born again in order to receive a new nature, which is the nature of God. This is the only way it is possible for us love like God. Consider the following true example of this love in action:

Corrie Ten Boom wrote on love and forgiveness:

“It was in a church in Munich that I saw him—a balding, heavyset man in a gray overcoat, a brown felt hat clutched between his hands. People were filing out of the basement room where I had just spoken, moving along the rows of wooden chairs to the door at the rear. It was 1947 and I had come from Holland to defeated Germany with the message that God forgives.

“It was the truth they needed most to hear in that bitter, bombed-out land, and I gave them my favorite mental picture. Maybe because the sea is never far from a Hollander’s mind, I liked to think that that’s where forgiven sins were thrown. ‘When we confess our sins,’ I said, ‘God casts them into the deepest ocean, gone forever. …’
“The solemn faces stared back at me, not quite daring to believe. There were never questions after a talk in Germany in 1947. People stood up in silence, in silence collected their wraps, in silence left the room.

“And that’s when I saw him, working his way forward against the others. One moment I saw the overcoat and the brown hat; the next, a blue uniform and a visored cap with its skull and crossbones. It came back with a rush: the huge room with its harsh overhead lights; the pathetic pile of dresses and shoes in the center of the floor; the shame of walking naked past this man. I could see my sister’s frail form ahead of me, ribs sharp beneath the parchment skin. Betsie, how thin you were! 
[Betsie and I had been arrested for concealing Jews in our home during the Nazi occupation of Holland; this man had been a guard at Ravensbruck concentration camp where we were sent.]

“Now he was in front of me, hand thrust out: ‘A fine message, Fräulein! How good it is to know that, as you say, all our sins are at the bottom of the sea!’ And I, who had spoken so glibly of forgiveness, fumbled in my pocketbook rather than take that hand. He would not remember me, of course—how could he remember one prisoner among those thousands of women?

“But I remembered him and the leather crop swinging from his belt. I was face-to-face with one of my captors and my blood seemed to freeze. ‘You mentioned Ravensbruck in your talk,’ he was saying, ‘I was a guard there.’ No, he did not remember me.

‘But since that time,’ he went on, ‘I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fräulein,’ again the hand came out—’will you forgive me?’

And I stood there—I whose sins had again and again to be forgiven—and could not forgive. Betsie had died in that place—could he erase her slow terrible death simply for the asking? It could not have been many seconds that he stood there—hand held out—but to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do.

For I had to do it—I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us. ‘If you do not forgive men their trespasses,’ Jesus says, ‘neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.’
 

I knew it not only as a commandment of God, but as a daily experience. Since the end of the war I had had a home in Holland for victims of Nazi brutality. Those who were able to forgive their former enemies were able also to return to the outside world and rebuild their lives, no matter what the physical scars. Those who nursed their bitterness remained invalids. It was as simple and as horrible as that.

And still I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart. But forgiveness is not an emotion—I knew that too. Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. ‘… Help!’ I prayed silently. ‘I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling.’

And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes. ‘I forgive you, brother!’ I cried. ‘With all my heart!’

For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely, as I did then.”

(Excerpted from “I’m Still Learning to Forgive” by Corrie ten Boom.)

The forgiveness and love that Corrie was able to give her former tormentor was not a human love. It was "agape" love. We can't love others with the love of God unless we ourselves know and carry the love of God.

John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

BRATS, God loves you with selfless, sacrificial love and He wants to deposit that same love within all of us so that we can love others in the same way.

GO BLESS, BRATS!

"IT DOES A BODY GOOD"

Meditating on the Bible means that you study your Bible carefully, you search through it, you even memorize parts of it and you think about what you’ve read. 

Read More

"FOUNDATION AND FUTURE"

1 Peter 2:5 “You also, as living stones, are built up into a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. “

As the New Year begins, I’d like to focus on just 2 things. And those 2 things are: Foundation and Future. Ephesians 2:19-20 tells us that the household of God is “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone.”

Since our beginning, the BRAT BASE CHAPEL has been founded on the teachings of the Apostles and Prophets found within the Word of God and upon “Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone”.

How has that foundation been built upon? Well, first of all, we understand that the foundation of the BRAT BASE CHAPEL isn’t a physical foundation of brick and mortar but rather it’s a foundation made up of “living stones”. Just as Peter says, you Chapel Brats, YOU are “living stones, built up into a spiritual house” and because our foundation is made up of living stones, made up of believing people, that means our foundation is also one of relationships. Over the last year the relationships that have been formed within this Chapel have proven to be real a blessing and source of comfort and love for us all!

It was during the Last Supper that Jesus said these words to His disciples; “A new commandment I give unto you, That you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another” (John 13:34-35).

A Christian’s obedience His new command was vital then and it remains vital now. We must love one another as Christ has loved us. And how did Jesus show His love in the context of the Last Supper? The answer is found in John 13:4-5 where it says: “He rose from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which he was girded.”

How did Jesus show His love? He washed His disciple’s feet. He even washed Judas’ feet even though He knew Judas had already betrayed Him. Why? John 13:1 tells us…”having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them unto the end”.

Jesus washed their feet and then He said this: “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet; you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you” (John 13:14- 15). We’re told that we must follow the example of Christ by washing one another’s feet. Now, I understand that there are many Christians who literally wash one another’s feet, I’ve done that a couple times as a Christian too, but let’s not ignore the obvious symbolism that foot washing represents.

Foot washing represents how we are to relate to one another within the Body of Christ. And how is that? Ephesians 4:1-3 tells us to “walk worthy of the vocation by which you are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

That, BRAT brothers and sisters, means that we are all called lower ourselves just as Christ lowered Himself and took on the form of a servant washing His disciple’s feet. That means we’re all supposed to consider others more highly than ourselves, we’re all supposed to be slow to anger and quick to forgive and we’re to forbear one another… in love.

The word “forbear” means to put up with and to endure the shortcomings of another person. We forbear one another in love in order to keep unity and peace within the Body of Christ. This has been the foundation of the BRAT BASE CHAPEL from the start.

Let’s move onto my second point…our future.

Our future is found in the words of Paul to the Philippians when he wrote: “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if indeed I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:10-14 ).

The Philippian church was a spiritually mature, generous church who desired to come along side and to enjoy the fellowship with Paul as well as co-labor with Paul in ministry. It’s here in chapter 3 that Paul was being completely transparent. He was being completely honest with them regarding his true spiritual condition when he said: “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect”.

Understand that when Paul wrote this he had been a Christian for about 30 years and after 30 years he stated that he still hadn’t reached Christian perfection. After 30 years, Paul was still unsatisfied with his accomplishments and his walk toward Christ-likeness.

This is the same Paul, the great Apostle, the inspired writer of 14 of the 27 NT books! This is Paul, the worker of miracles and he tells the Philippians that there are still some things he hasn’t grasped, one of which is perfection. After 30 years of being a sold out, hard core Holy Ghost filled Christian, Paul readily admitted that he still wasn’t perfect. And that tells us that we’re not perfect either. You know there’s an old saying, if you find the perfect church, don’t join it because if you do you’ll ruin it! We’ve not yet attained perfection…

But, Paul continued to say “I follow after, if indeed I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.” What’s he saying? He’s basically saying “I am striving to take hold of, to grasp the thing that Jesus Christ Himself has called me to” namely a deeper more intimate relationship with Him. Where do I get that from? I get it from verse 10 where He says: “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death”.

For 30 years Paul followed Christ. For 30 years Paul pursued Christ just so that he might know Him more…and the more Paul got to know Christ more of Christ he wanted to know! BRAT brothers and sisters…THIS is our future! There can be no other future for the BRAT BASE CHAPEL other than to pursue knowing Christ and to desire that others may come know Him as well.

AW Tozer wrote a great book called “The Pursuit of God”. If you haven’t read it, you really should. In his book Tozer talks about following hard after God. Tozer says: “We pursue God because, and only because, He has first put an urge within us that spurs us to the pursuit. “No man can come to me,” said our Lord, “except the Father which hath sent me draw him,… God is a Person, and in the deep of His mighty nature He thinks, wills, enjoys, feels, loves, desires and suffers as any other person may. In making Himself known to us He stays by the familiar pattern of personality. He communicates with us through the avenues of our minds, our wills and our emotions. The continuous and unembarrassed interchange of love and thought between God and the soul of the redeemed man is the throbbing heart of New Testament religion.”

That’s exactly what Paul’s talking about in Philippians 3 …he saying that “Christ grabbed hold of me on that Road to Damascus 30 years ago and ever since I have followed hard after Him in order to apprehend a perfect knowledge of Who He is and to be conformed to be just like Him!”

That is the future of the BRAT BASE CHAPEL!

We’re going to press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus which means that we will follow hard and pursue Christ in order to know Him more perfectly and to become more like Him.

So, Brothers and Sisters, we will continue to stand upon the firm foundation of the Word of God and our loving relationships in the Lord Jesus and we will continue to look toward our future spiritual growth as our relationship with Christ deepens in our knowledge of Him which transforms us all to be more like Him… year after year after year after year.

HAPPY NEW YEAR & GO BLESS, BRATS!