Greetings from Pastor Bob and The Encouraging Word. It was such a pleasure to get notes back from some of you this last week. Interestingly I had one person who did not know who I was keep asking to be taken off the mailing list but their spouse kept telling me to keep them on. After discovering the truth that I was a friend of the one, the person who asked that I remove them from the list read the message and God moved in their life. Many times as a cyber pastor I do not know if these messages are touching anyone's life, but I know that God's word makes a difference. Combine that with heart felt prayer and a community of believers, even if it is a cyber community, we are now over 100 strong and growing, nothing is impossible. Now lets put all of this together for the building up of the body of Christ and to the glory of God by the power of the Holy Spirit and we will indeed be laying up treasures in heaven and reaping those rewards now upon the earth.  

I do not have much time for preliminaries but I would like to let you know what I hope for this ministry in the future and how you might be able to help. First of all I need to welcome some new readers. I realize that at first you are going to find that I get a little long winded, to say the least but I try to keep it down to three pages typed out. Well the message anyway, this Pastor Bob preamble ramble could end up being just as long. I do offer everyone a Daily Devotion that is simply called the Daily D. It too gets e-mailed to you every morning, except Sunday when you will get the Encouraging Word. You will only get the Daily D. if you request it by replying to this e-mail or going to the website (www.theencouragingword.org) and requesting to be added to the Daily D. mailing list.  Right now on the Daily D. I have been able to put it into audio format for those who have Real Audio on their computers. Now some of my readers are using Web TV and can not get the Real Audio downloads. I have spent hours upon hours in the last couple of weeks trying to get an audio format that everyone can enjoy. Needless to say many of those hours were spent to no avail. So we move onward. Those who do get the message in Real Audio noticed that there was a place in the Real Audio player for video or pictures. That May be our next move and even our hope for different browsers capability of receiving the feed. OK, without going into the mission and vision of this ministry which you can read for yourself on the website in the mission/vision page, I will let you know our immediate need to go forward. And those of you who are new readers or can not help or just hate the idea of giving anything to a ministry please, I am not asking anyone to send me your tithes or offerings, Although I did hear about a great bumper sticker that read "tithe if you love Jesus, anyone can blow their horn." What we here at The Encouraging Word need is first a new microphone for recording these messages. I am told that one reason the quality is so bad is that I have the cheapest mic I could find. So true. The next thing I would like is to step into video. I know a web cam is not that expensive and the soft ware that comes with it may be just what we are looking for to add both audio and video to the website. Why, you might ask? well, mainly because you only remember about 10% of what you read but more like 50% of what you hear and 70% of what you see. I believe that God's word deserves to be planted deep within our hearts and minds. So if anyone can help us with the recourses to upgrade our technology. you will be the ones who reap the benefits of it. So I want to thank you in advance for your faithfulness and may God return your blessing tenfold. 

Now before we get into today's message let's go before the very throne of God in prayer and call upon that name which is above every other name that He might be even right in the midst of us. Please pray with me now.

Dear LORD God, our Heavenly Father, we come to you with a humble yet thankful heart. We who do not deserve your mercy have been offered it through the shed blood of your own Son Jesus Christ. And so it is in the name of Jesus that we come to you and ask for your forgiveness of our sins. We confess that we have sinned and rebelled against your perfect way and gone our own way. Please forgive us LORD and gently guide us into green pastures. LORD when it comes right down to it, we need you. I personally need you Father God. I need you in every area of my life. I invite you into my heart. I invite you into my finances. I invite you into my relationships, I invite you into my health. I invite you into my job situations. I invite you LORD Jesus into every area of my life. And if there is any thing in my life that displeases you, gently show me how I can turn away from it and turn it around to bring you glory. There are many people that we need to pray for today. There are those who do not know you and are desperately in need of you. Father God you know the ones that you have laid upon our hearts to lift up to you. and so we do that right now. Search out my heart and see the friends and loved ones that we are praying for. There are those who need a physical touch. Some need a miraculous healing. But I know that you are still in the miracle business. There are marriages in trouble there are nations at war. there may be great turmoil in the world but you have given us your peace. A peace that passes understanding. A peace not like the world knows peace but a peace that lasts and a peace that is real. Let your peace rule in my life, in our lives today. And Father help us to grow through the power of your Holy Spirit and your word. Use this message today that we might become, even if just a little bit, more like Jesus for it is in His wonderful name we pray Amen. 

 

 Oikodome, oy-kod-om-ay

Scripture: (Eph 4:11-15 KJV) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

I want to talk about today about the Greek word oikodome. It is translated a couple of different ways yet means about the same. In the above passage you find it describing why God gave some to be apostles and prophets and evangelists and pastors and teachers. We read that it is for the perfecting of the saints. But why? we read that it is for the work of the ministry, but why? then we get the final answer for the edifying of the body of Christ. For the oikodome of the body of Christ. It is the building up of the body of Christ. It is like John the Baptist said I must decrease and He must increase. It is the same word used when Jesus asked Simon who do you say that I am and Simon answered that He was the Christ the son of the living God. Jesus then changed his name to Peter and said upon this rock will I oikodome my church. 

Now I am a lousy carpenter, my wife will vouch for that. But after working with Habitat For Humanity I learned a few things about building. First of all I know that the foundation is crucial. Without a firm foundation the entire structure will fall like a stack of cards. In 1 Corinthians 3 Paul talks about the foundation which is Christ Jesus.   (1 Cor 3:9-16 KJV) For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building. According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.
If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

Now I want to quickly cove some different stages in our spiritual growth. I recently, somehow, by the grace of God received this video series by Dr. Bruce Wilkerson entitled The Stages of Spiritual Growth. In it he outlines seven different stages we as believers go through on our journey to Christ likeness. Remember that the building of the body is for us to build up the body of Christ. We are to be transformed into the very image and likeness of Christ Jesus. So quickly let me go over these seven stages then you can maybe see better where you are now and in that way in turn see where you are going in your spiritual growth.

1. conversion/ the point of our salvation

2. consecration/ a deeper commitment to Christ

3. conduct/ cleaning up our act

4. communion/ developing that deep relationship with Christ

5. character/ building Christ like character

6. core/ Our motives change from selfish to Godly

7. convergence/ We think, act and purpose as Christ the LORD.

With all of that as introduction we can get into today's message. I do not care where any of us are on that scale of our spiritual journey. Some of us have gotten so far just to fall back a few steps. Others have only gotten to the first step and have not been able to get any further for one reason or another. the main thing of concern here is are you experiencing the reality of Jesus Christ in your life. You can have all the religion in the world. You can have all the programs and just the right doctrine and still miss the joy that is available to you. The job of the Church is to build up the church. that means brick by brick. One person at a time. God has got some wonderful things in store for you. I mean there are new territories ahead for you that you never dreamed possible. But before you can get there you need to look at where you are now and make sure you are standing on a solid foundation. Here is my point. Last Wednesday night at Church Pastor Joyner was preaching about the prodigal son. You know the boy who took his inheritance and squandered it and ended up feeding pigs, and even eating from the hog troth. Then he repented of his sins and returned to his father's house in even the hope that his father would take him in as a servant. But his father welcomed him back with open arms as a full son. he gave him shoes for his feet, a rope around his back, The father gave him the signet ring upon his finger giving him authority over the entire estate then they had a bar-b-q- with that fatted calf. That is how God is with us when we come to our senses and return to him. No matter how bad we messed up. No matter how stupid or hurtful we have been, God welcomes us back when we come to our scenes and humble come back to Him. Now I want you to look at how most Christians today end up acting and feeling after they have come back to the Father. Rather then putting on the rope and sandals and wearing the signet ring of God's authority they continue to wallow in their past sins and instead of going into the feast with the fatted calf they return to the pigsty and once again start feeding in the troth. Why? Because they didn't really trust in God. They did not believe that God would or could completely forgive them and wash away their sins. they did not believe that they were really a new creation in Christ Jesus. 

I am talking upon all levels now. from salvation to convergence you need to agree with God that it is the Holy Spirit within you that is taking you from glory to glory transforming you into the very image and likeness of Jesus Christ. And when you mess up and we all do as soon as you confess you sins He is faithful and just to immediately forgive you of your sins and cleans you from all unrighteousness. The Bible gives us this pattern for growth. First we come to God with the sacrifice of a broken and contrite heart then we trust Him and we respect the price that He paid for our forgiveness and we accept that forgiveness and we praise Him for it. Then as we continue to praise Him He inhabits our praises and His holy Spirit fill the temple of our bodies to the overflowing and we move onto the next level. It kind of reminds me of the locks of the Panama Canal. These huge ships pull into this dock then the water starts pouring in and the impossible begins to happen and this ship rises up to a higher level and the next thing you know it is through the canal and sailing free. 

   I see a lot of God's people broken and down trodden. I see a lot of God's people returning to the troth when the banquet table is prepared for them. Your forgiveness has been paid for with an awesome price. Please do not diminish that price paid or discount it by thinking it was not for you. The God who created the heavens and the earth formed you in your mothers womb and has a place prepared for you at the supper table of the bride. Lay your guilt and shame at the feet of the cross and put on the garments of praise. I want to close in the 51st Psalm. This is the Psalm that King David wrote after his sin was revealed through the prophet Nathan. David cries out to God for forgiveness. In verse 4 David acknowledges that it was against God that he sinned. He goes on to acknowledge that he was born a sinner. For as you know Christian we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. This then is what God requires read it in verse 6.  (Psalm 51:6 KJV) Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.

Nothing is hidden form God. And all that we suppose to be hidden will be revealed in that day of judgment. yet the good news comes as we in our sin are cleanses in the blood of Christ Jesus. verse 7 reads purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean; wash me and I shall be whiter than snow. and as we continue down we read that verse that moves our spirit to singing, verse 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew an right spirit within me. 

Oh, that we would all come to our selves and realize that extent of our sin and sinful nature, but let us not stop there but as we fall at the feet of our Heavenly Father and accept the blood sacrifice of Himself that He paid for us get us up upon our feet and build the church of Jesus Christ. And let that building begin within our own character for as we become more and more like Jesus our motives become His motives and His motive is bring glory to God who is and was and for ever shall be. To Him be the Glory. 

So as you take your sin the Him accept His forgiveness with a humble heart and then begin to praise him for His forgiveness and good ness and mercy and grace and watch and see as He begins to inhabit the praises of His people and your entire life beings to be transformed. In Jesus Name Amen.   

 

    Thank you for your prayerful support. May God richly Bless you and make you a blessing. We look forward to hearing form you. please write us with your prayer requests to:

        Pastor Bob Richardson

        700. N. Garden Ave.

        Clearwater, Fl. 33755