Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Green Pastures

If I were a carnal man I might have titled this message “Green acres”.

Psalms 50:10
For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.
Psalms 23:1-2
1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

The Cattle Upon a Thousand Hills
The Bible tells us that God owns the cattle upon a thousand hills.  Look at all of the green pastureland that God has provided for his cows.  God leads them into green pastures and what do they do?  They stick their head through the fence after the grass on the other side!  God owns the cattle on a thousand hills and half of them have their head through the fence trying to get the grass on the other side!  Those cows have 10,000 acres of green pastureland behind them and what do they want?  They want the grass in the ditch!

I have lived in Texas all of my life and it is a common sight to drive down the highways and see acre after acre of green pastureland.  The amazing thing to me is that it is also common to see cows at the fence with their head stuck between the stands of barbwire chewing on grass in the ditch.  Behind the cows are acres of fresh green grass that has been provided by the rancher but do they want that?  No!  They want the grass on the other side of the fence.

Looking for Greener Pastures

Why is it that we cannot be content with what God has given us?  God has blessed us!  God has blessed the Church!  But people continue to look over the fence at the “Other Pasture”.  People are always looking for “Greener Pastures”.

Why can they not enjoy the Green Pastures that God has set them down in?  Why is it that people cannot appreciate the blessings that God has provided to them?  Why do they always want what is forbidden?

God’s Green Pasture

When I got saved God put me in a Green Pasture.  The Bible says, “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures”.  And boy is it ever green!  There is nothing greener than God’s pasture.  Take a look with me at what is in our green pasture:

The New Birth!
The Baptism of the Holy Ghost.
The Fruit of the Spirit.
The Gifts of the Spirit.
Our Brothers and Sisters in the Lord.
The Word of God.
My Church.
The Ministry.
The Love of God.
The Grace of God.
Peace that passes all understanding.

All of this is a part of the Green Pastures that God has given us.  God has provided very well for the Church.

The Other Side of the Fence

But there is something in human nature, if it is not fully under the control of the Holy Ghost that will cause it to look to what is forbidden.

I want to make this very clear to everyone: God has a fence!  There is a fence around God’s green pasture.  God has encircled his pasture and his flock with a fence.  Today, the emphasis in most churches is on tearing down the walls (fence).  Is that Biblical?  Well, it all depends on what they mean by a wall or a fence.  There is one whole book in the Bible written about “building” walls (Nehemiah) but there are no books in the Bible about tearing walls down.  The only wall that I see in the Bible that God wanted down was the Wall of Jericho and God took it down Himself. 

One of the first things that the ancient people did when establishing a home was to erect a perimeter, a barrier, a fence, a wall.  At first the fence may have been made of brush, thorns, and vines.  Later this was replaced by stones.  This fence/wall was not constructed to hinder the people but rather to protect them.  The wall clearly defined what was theirs and what was not, what was home and what was not home, and a place of safety and place where safety ended.

Why is that fence there anyway?  The fence is there to protect us.  The fence is there to keep the wolves away!  The fence is there to keep us away from danger!  As long as we remain in the fence then we are under the jurisdiction of the Shepherd.

Why would we ever want what is over the fence?  The Word of God lays out the fence for us.  There are things that we can and cannot do when we become Christians.  Those limits are our fence!  When we cross the fence we put ourselves in danger.

The fence is not there because God is mean, or because he does not want us to have a good time, but rather it is there for our own good!

There are some Christians in the Church that get as close to that fence as they can.  They are always looking across the way with a longing.  If they are not careful it will not be long and they will be back over there!

When my wife and I went to Bible College we made friends with another couple. Often we ate dinner together at one another’s apartments.  On one of those occasions the husband began to tell me about his old life in sin.  He said, “I wish it was not wrong to drink beer.  I love the taste of beer!  If it was not wrong then I would go out and get me a cold one right now.”  You know what?  It was not a year after those words that he was out in the world drinking that beer, divorced from his wife, and living in sin with another woman.  Why?  Because he wanted what was on the other side of the fence!

When I was young my Dad took my brother and I hunting with him at a deer lease in Buffalo, Texas.  The lease was on a large ranch.  As we would drive into the lease my brother and I always looked for the wolf carcasses hanging on the fence.  We were fascinated by this practice of the ranchers.  I asked my Dad, “Why do they hang those wolves on the fence?”  He said, “It is telling the other wolves they are not welcome in the pasture with the cows”.  I have thought about that many times since that day.  I thank God for the fence.  At Calvary, the Body of our Sins was crucified with Christ, and it is telling the Devil you are not welcome here!

My message to all of you next to fence eyeballing the world is this: Get away from the fence!  The wolves patrol outside the fence.  They are afraid to cross the boundaries of God, but if you stay close to the fence you may find yourself crossing over one day and then you will be in great danger.

It Looks Pretty Green Over There

I have to admit it, but sometimes it does look green on the other side of the fence.  Those preachers and churches that preach “another gospel” have thousands in their congregations.  Their buildings are plush and packed with large crowds.  They drive nice cars and live in fancy homes.  It seems they never want for anything (on the surface). 

I have driven past their parking lots and viewed the hundreds of cars parked outside of their buildings.  I remember visiting a mall in Baytown, Texas with my family years ago and on the way home we passed a large charismatic church.  Our church was small and in a storefront building that was not much to look at.  There were hundreds of cars parked everywhere, the police were out directing traffic as thousands flocked into the building.  I looked and on the Church marquis it said, “Power Team”.  The devil spoke in my ear and said, “If you were not so hung up on holiness you could have all of this”.  I shouted out to the Devil, “I don’t want any of this!  Get out of my car!”  

 It may have looked pretty green, but you know what?  The grass is always greener over the septic tank!  Erma Bombeck wrote a book by that name years ago.  How true!    It may look green but it is probably covering a cesspool.  It is probably just weeds!  The Bible tells us that Lot chose the “well watered” plains of Sodom”– it was green!  But look at the awful toll it took on his family.

Genesis 13:10
And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar.

Instead of being content with what God had blessed him with, Lot chose a path that eventually led to his destruction.

The Prodigal Son looked for something greener in a “Far Country” but all he ended up finding was a septic Hog Pen.

Paul said that “Demas has forsaken me having loved this present world” – he was looking for greener pastures and forfeited eternal life.

Enjoy the Green You Have

If you are a Christian, then God has blessed you with some Green Pastures.  Why not enjoy the green that you have?

D you have a good Church?  Then why not enjoy the Green Pasture that God has placed you in?  You do not need to look for another Church!  You just need to learn to appreciate the one that you have!

Do you have a good Pastor?  They why not enjoy the Green Pasture (Pastor) that God has given you?

Has God blessed you with a loving mate?  You don’t need to look over the fence for another!  Enjoy the mate that God has given you!  Enjoy your Green Pasture!  Husband, that other woman may look pretty green to you but remember she is a septic tank!

David got in trouble by looking over the fence at the other “green pasture” – he took Bathsheba from her husband.  Why could he not enjoy the green pastures that God had already given him?

2 Samuel 11:1-5 (KJV)
1 And it came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah. But David tarried still at Jerusalem.
2 And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king's house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon.
3 And David sent and inquired after the woman. And one said, Is not this Bath-sheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?
4 And David sent messengers, and took her; and she came in unto him, and he lay with her; for she was purified from her uncleanness: and she returned unto her house.
5 And the woman conceived, and sent and told David, and said, I am with child.

David could not be content with the wives that he already had.  He took another man’s wife.  He should have been content with the green pasture that God had given him but he was not.  This sin led to the murder of Bath-Sheba’s husband Uriah, the death of the child, and rebellion in David’s Kingdom.  The Bible tells us, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.”  We need to be content with our Green Pasture.

Greener Pastures

If your Pasture is not as green as you would like for it to be then I have one word for you: FERTILIZE!

Quit complaining about your Church!
Quit complaining about your Pastor!
Quit complaining about your Brothers & Sisters!
Quit complaining about your Marriage!
Quit complaining about your Husband!
Quit complaining about your Wife!
Quit complaining about your Family!

Why not try a little fertilizer?  If you want things to be better in your Pasture then why don’t you do something about it?  Try a little fertilizer! 

Go to your Church and put your all into the service.  Say “Amen” when your Pastor is preaching.  Shout “Hallelujah” every now and then.  Clap your hands.  Stand up and back the service.  This will fertilize the service.

While at home during the week pray for your Pastor, pray for your Church, and pray for your Brothers and Sisters.

Brag on your Pastor to others.  Tell him how much you love and appreciate him.  You might give him a heart attack!  Spread the fertilizer!  God can turn that which is brown to green again.

Love your Brothers & Sisters.  Encourage and brag on them.  Buy a special card or gift and give it to someone that is struggling.

You may say, “Well, my marriage used to be green but now it is brown.  Everything is dead or dying”.  I say to you if it is not as green as it once was then do something about it.  Fertilize your marriage.  Why don’t you brag on your husband or wife?  Tell them often how much you love them.  Compliment them.  Buy something personal for them.  Take them on a date.

I am reminded of a story I heard years ago of a woman that was unhappy with her marriage.  She went to her Pastor and told him, “I do not love my husband any more.  The love went out of our marriage years ago.  I am going to divorce him.”  The Pastor advised her to wait for two weeks.  He told the woman, “Go home and treat your husband good for two weeks.  Make all of the meals you know he likes best.  Brag on him every day.  Treat him the way you did when you first met him and then come back and meet with me and if you still want a divorce I will help you.”  The woman did just as her Pastor suggested.  In two weeks her Pastor saw her at Church and he asked her, “Are you ready for that divorce now”?  The woman answered, “Divorce?  No way!  I discovered that I still love my husband!”  You see, the fertilizer this woman used made her marriage green again.

If your Pasture is not as green as it used to be, maybe it is partly your fault.  Do something positive to make a difference!  You do not need to look for greener pastures – you need to make the pasture you are in, Greener!

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