A Gated Community

“Praise ye the LORD.
Praise the LORD, O my soul. While I live will praise the LORD: I will sing praises unto My GOD while I have My being…” Psalm 146

I recently heard a sermon where the speaker spoke in a negative way about people who live in gated communities. That sermon motivated me to write this article, as I want to point out some things about gated communities, why people desire to live within the confines of a gated community, and why ultimately we all should want to live in a gated community. However, before I expound on the gated community statement, I want to share what I believe is an over-arching issue, that causes statements such as these to be made, and the impact they have on a church congregation.

The picture that is painted is that these un-named individuals think they are “better” than everyone else. So, they are scrutinized and criticized because they have been prosperous. Unfortunately, what this does more often than not is cause those who may not be as prosperous to have “distorted thinking” about those who may have more, causing them to view these individuals in a wrong light. Distorted thinking is when you think things about an individual based on what someone else has caused you to believe, and not based on your own personal interactions with those individuals.

The  “gated community” statement is really systemic of a larger issue. This is a pretty typical but sad thing that happens in many congregations, where a Pastor/Preacher has an issue with someone in the congregation who may have acquired wealth, or a certain degree of success.  They insert statements in their sermon that have nothing to do with the Word of God, but are designed to place focus on certain individuals in a negative way. I’m sure you’ve heard a many sermons where a pastor/preacher talks about the people who have the fancy cars, a big house on the hill, college education, etc.  Sprinkled into the sermon are also statements such as “when you see people who ….…”, which causes some to look around to see if they can identify those individuals within the congregation.

The men/women of God who deliver such messages may not realize it, but they are actually sowing discord among  the  brethren, causing  division in the body, and causing the saints to be judgmental in a wrong kind of way. Usually when this happens in congregations the speaker normally has specific people in the congregation in mind, and there are others in the congregation who also know exactly who they are talking about.  You may ask, how do I know this happens?  Well I know because we  have been in the church continuously (never left) for over 60 years, and have been the target of many such sermons.

It’s really a shame that this occurs, particularly in the church from people who claim to have been called by God to deliver HIS message to HIS people.   In spite of all the encouragement and opportunity that is given to people to make something of themselves, and to utilize God given talents, gifts, and abilities, when it actually happens for some, there are those who seem to have an issue with them for succeeding and achieving .

I know these people are not speaking for God because they are making statements that are contrary to His written word. The real problem is not the ones who have succeeded, but the ones who have an issue with others achieving more than themselves.  They might have an “inferiority complex”, or are struggling with envy or jealousy.  It shouldn’t be an issue, for we all should know that God has told us in His word, that HE is the one that gives man the ability to acquire wealth and to become prosperous, and has provided in His word the prescription to be blessed.  Take a look at these scriptures as this is what God has said:

Deuteronomy 8:18

“But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day.

Psalm 1: 1-3

1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

Joshua 1:7-8

Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper withersoever thou goest.

This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.

For the past 26 years we have lived in a gated community, which we have thoroughly enjoyed. These communities require a special access code for entry, and if you don’t know the code you can’t get in. Typically there are higher end homes, often have private security patrolling the community, video recording of all who enter and exit, and are normally located in some of the most desirable and prestigious areas.  The homes typically have a higher price tag because of the location, and as many know, real estate value is really dependent on location, location, location.

Many believe that those who live in gated communities, are snobbish, think they’re better than others, etc.    However,  this thinking is normally created in their mind by someone who doesn’t live in a gated community, and for all the reasons I mentioned above.   If you actually got to know some who live in those communities up close and personal, you will find that’s not what they think at all.   They’ve just been fortunate enough in life to afford that type of living. 

We chose to move to these communities because the homes we desired happened to be located in gated communities. Yes it is nice to have all of the amenities mentioned above, but it certainly doesn’t make us think we’re better than others. Just like anybody else, we looked for places to live that we felt we could enjoy and would be conducive in raising our family to be well-rounded, and able to engage with anyone in this world. We also wanted them to be color-blind, and experience that the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness  thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. It all belongs to HIM, and as his children, we can go and live anyplace in HIS world.  We are entitled.

We enjoy our gated community and all the surroundings.  I like the fact that the roads are paved and maintained, there is someone watching out for our well-being, the homes and properties are well maintained.

The more I think about gated communities it makes me think about Heaven.  In fact, those of us who profess to be Christians, we should desire and look forward to living in a gated community.  Why? If you want to go to Heaven, you will be living forever in a gated community. Heaven is the ultimate gated community.   In fact, it has more gates than any gated community I know. My Bible tells me that Heaven has twelve gates. As John the revelator said in Revelations 21:

 “And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,

11 Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal;

12 And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel:

13 On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates:

Oh, and by the way, it has paved roads that are made out of gold. 

Wouldn’t you like to live in this gated community, forever?    Well you can, but you will need to know the Access Code.

 To get in you have to know Jesus, up close and personal.

 If you don’t know the Savior, you can’t get in.

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Did You Grow Up in the Church? Part 3

Church Interior 1
Did You Grow Up in the Church? Part 3

“There really is a difference between being in the Church and the Church being in you? When the Church is in you the Holy Spirit becomes the governor of your soul. You live in the world, you are to be a law abiding citizen but you realize it is in GOD you LIVE and MOVE and have your being. You are convicted whenever wrong. You readily REPENT! You do not desire to be right just for the sake of being right.

The Church is not just a place to go. It is who are! For you it is or should become your daily lifestyle to live to please God!

This is not some unrealistic, legalistic, rigid, mythical, unattainable, cultic way of being. You don’t or shouldn’t just follow someone because they are your friend… You should follow Jesus! Church was never meant to become a mere social club where everyone feels comfortable. You should realize how vitally important it is to live your life before the Lord. As a believer, You should know without a doubt that God is your Heavenly Father. That the devil his imps and no one or nobody can do anything to pluck you out God’s hands. That you truly belong to God and Jesus is your Lord and Savior! You have been adopted into His family and you know that you know that you know without doubting you are His child! Do you know what His Word says about being double minded?

Wait I must caution you!”
(The above was worth repeating just in case you are only reading Part 3)

If you have not been raised in the church DO NOT be discouraged! Read on because the Lord has a place for you as well! You are like a fresh breath of air because of your desire to embark upon a new beginning… ALL the same privileges of becoming a Child of GOD awaits you. ” Our Father, who art in Heaven. Hallowed be Your Name. Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven…”

You see, there really is a difference when you are in the Church and the Church is in you. You know that you have been bought with a price. You know that before you were formed in your Mother’s womb God knew and knows who you are. You also know it is not because of anything you have or have not. It is because of who He is! You can praise Him not only in the building; but you praise Him in your home, on your job or at your business in your car, in the midst of trials and persecution. Not just in mere lip service. You Praise the Lord when you are alone!

There is no need to act when you know that the Lord is totally aware of what we all do. Yes express yourself. Don’t be a chameleon and blend right in… Please, don’t be pressured because of a need to be accepted. We ALL will have to answer to Him for our actions. It is important to know that you have a right to not conform for the sake of being momentarily accepted. There are many things that have been integrated into worship and ministry to get others to conform. There is often a desire to generate a high energetic emotional worship & praise time. Many become emotionally charged. Praise & Worship is Great! Many do not realize the power of or behind music… In these latter days there is much more focus placed upon how your are feeling and what you can receive from the Lord. Worship & Praise should be a time devoted to God and who He is and what he has done and will do.

GOD IS A HOLY GOD!

God does not need any of us. Always remember; “…It is in HIM we LIVE and MOVE and have our being…” GOD is infinite and we are finite. This is not about undermining the validity of GOD’S CHURCH! This is about learning to exercise your RIGHTS and the FREEDOM you have wherever you decide to worship in a place that claims; ” HE IS LORD!” There are a plethora of places of worship all over the world. But, GOD has but ONE CHURCH! HE is the GOD of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob we serve as Believers.

Pray, Pray & Pray some more. Allow the Spirit of the Lord lead you. Let the Lord lead you what to do or not to do… God really does want to make a difference in your live everyday!

When you do not always respond in the way expected it is highly likely you will be misunderstood. You will also begin to actually better understand why others do not understand you. I always say; “Some things will not be understood on this side of Heaven!” What is always most important is to seek the will of the Lord above everything and everyone. Know that Jesus was grossly misunderstood. It is true God’s people are peculiar! God wants to strengthen your faith and trust in Him. You can stand even when you know others have done everything possible to try to discourage you. Keep Your focus on the Lord. God wants each of us to become the “Best You” in HIM! After all He is our Creator.

God is awesome! Standing for God does not mean resorting to carnality. Your confidence cannot be in you, are anything else. Yes, you can have confidence because you know God as your Father. You know that He knows you as His child. You know and He knows that you have spent some deep intimate time together in His presence. You are growing and so is your understanding of who He is. You know that He has set you free! You know that you have been raised in the church and the church is in you. Or You have come to know that now you are His Church.

God really has a better way for His children. God is not a respecter of persons. It does not matter to Him if you are rich or poor, black, white, red, yellow, tan or brown. He already knows where you live, work, play or “hang out.” He even knows if you have been raised in the church and the church is not in you. He knows if you walk in the flesh or abide in His Spirit. If you truly invite Him into your heart today He will come in your life and make a real difference. If you have not been raised in the church God can place His laws within your heart. It even may give you a different advantage. You see and observe and you wonder why? Know that the Spirit of the Lord is Omniscient and The Lord can teach you whatever you need to know. GOD will never lead you to do anything that goes against HIS WORD! It is important to make spending time in God’s Word a priority. There is and endless wealth of Spiritual Food for our souls in His Word. As you begin to grasp His Word it will wash you and cleanse you from all unrighteousness. As a new believer you are not as weighed down with many of the traditions of man. You are should feel free to ask what this or that is so wherever you worship. Ask unto you have an inner peace. Make studying God’s Word your new priority. In His time He will mold and shape you from the inside out. This is a continuous process. He will also teach you how to guard your heart.

There are many wolves among the sheep. Don’t fret God always takes care of His children even in the midst of tests and trials. There are also those who call evil good and good evil. God will and can protect you and keep you from the grasp of wickedness. You must learn to humbly submit to His direction. He will open your spiritual eyes so you can begin to have a deeper understanding about life. No drugs, nicotine or alcohol needed to enlighten you. You don’t want to live always under the influence of some substance. (This is not anti valid prescribed medications) Begin to be more prayerful about how you take care of your body. You want to seek to have better self control in all area of your life. You will not want to see things as they appear. You will desire to see clearly. Your conscious will become sensitive and you will have a deepened desire to do what is right in His sight rather than in the sight of man. Realize that Jesus came that we might have life and have it more abundantly in every way. HIS WORD is necessary SPIRITUAL FOOD for our souls!

God also said in the Book of John to “let not your heart be troubled.” It is very important to trust God and His WORD! The earth truly is the Lord’s. Truly He will take care of you. God already knows what is going on in your life and the life of those around you. Just begin to exercise patience. He will bring what happens in the dark to the light. Did you know you have as much time as you need to do the things that God would have you to do. Time belongs to God.

Study the story of Gideon. (See Judges 6) Gideon was nota likely leader. He prevailed not because of how many he had to help him. As a matter of fact the Lord told him he needed fewer people to help him. Gideon faithfully sought the Lord for direction. The Lord told Gideon; “Peace! Do not be afraid> You will not die!” There are many examples in the Word of God to help us in all areas of life. God will supply the necessary talents and resources for you to do whatever He wants you to do. He will supply the few or many you need to help you. This way He gets the GLORY and the VICTORY always belongs to GOD ALMIGHTY. It is not in the amount, how many are for you or against you. Nor in whoever rises up against you. It is in learning how to obey God.

God will make it evident to you and those about you that it is only by His grace and mercy that you can truly be successful. Spiritual success is not in the numbers. Fewer travel the Narrow Path. God knows when you have been raised in His Church and His Church is in you. He knows when you have not been raised in the church and it is your sincere desire to want to know Him. What matters to HIM is your willingness to allow HIM to mold and be shaped through His Living Word and His Holy Spirit. He wants us all to readily “REPENT!” whenever necessary. He is not a respecter of persons and His Love is extended to everyone all over the world. Through FAITH we learn to believe! This is why we are called “Believers!” Christ Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the world and He extends HIS LOVE to ALL! He wants to come live within your hearts through eternity and become your personal Lord & Savior! This world was spoken into existence through Him! As believers we are the sheep of His Pasture. The LORD wants to be your SHEPHERD! Remember this; “He leads me in the Path of Righteousness for His Namesake. Yea though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death I WILL fear NO evil. For THOU art with me. THY ROD & STAFF THEY COMFORT me…” Psalms 23 Grace, Joy, Love & Peace to you in Jesus Name! If you really want to be happier, Live Everyday: “To God be the Glory!”

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