Harold Bennett - Cape Town Convention II - 2006

If we begin to walk with the Shepherd, we won't lack anything.  Be bound to what God loves so that we can be bound to it in Heaven.  Christ is the key that unlocks God's treasures.  He can shut the door to our past, and can open the door to our future.  The key to help is a genuine cry to God.  The key to faith is believing (believing the unbelievable).  The key to love is to love (love begets love; and if we live a life of self, we won't have love).  The key to hope is response (Christ in you the hope of glory - having hope when all is hopeless).  The key to peace is surrender (surrendering completely, with no reservations).  The key to happiness is obedience (complete obedience).  The key to forgiveness is genuine repentance (forgiving the unforgivable).  The key to success is to be strong and courageous (going on in spite of fear).  God gives us the keys we need, but they won't do any good unless we use them, even if they're hard.  Faith comes when we hear the right voice.  

In Mark 11, we read of three consecutive days in the life of Jesus:  on the first day, He rode on a donkey from Bethany into Jerusalem.  It was prophesied that He would ride, thus the scriptures were fulfilled.  Jesus had salvation, but they didn't want Him because He came lowly.  The Jews wanted a king that would come with pomp and show, who would save them; they didn't want a king that would humble them.  Someone once said, "If Jesus could use a little donkey, He can use us."  A donkey has long ears to hear; we need to hear what God is saying to us.  A donkey has a thick skin; we need a thick skin to shrug off irritations, and a soft heart.  A donkey is an animal that can walk where other animals can't; we need to walk on top of offences, disappointments, and the trials of life.  A donkey is a small animal that could uplift Jesus.  When people look on our lives, they mustn't see us; they must see Jesus lifted up.  Jesus went into the temple and looked around, then He went back to Bethany.  If we leave here feeling searched or corrected, then Christ has been here.  We must let God search us. If we're honest, we'll want to know the worst about us, and if we're led by God, then we can be set free.  On the second day, He went again from Bethany to the temple in Jerusalem and on His way, while He was hungry, He saw leaves and no fruit on the fig tree.  When the Lord comes to us, what does He find? Fruit, or just leaves?  The fig tree didn't do anything wrong - it didn't poison anyone - but it hadn't fulfilled its purpose of bearing fruit.  Our purpose is to bear fruit and to bring pleasure to God.  The Lord's plan is for us to be consumed to feed His Kingdom.  The mineral kingdom dies to feed the plant kingdom; the plant kingdom dies to feed the animal kingdom; the animal kingdom dies to feed the human kingdom; we must die to feed the divine kingdom.  Mercy won't save us one day - fruit will.  Adam and Eve realized when God walked in the garden that fig leaves were not enough so they tried to hide.  Only fruit in our lives will satisfy God.   

What kinds of fruit does God want?  He wants FRUITS OF REPENTANCE which means "I see my sin, I hate my sin, I turn from my sin, and I seek after that which is right."  The Lord can't resist the fruit of repentance because it satisfies Him.  True repentance can get us out of any situation which we think is hopeless.  In Hebrews, we read of the FRUIT OF OUR LIPS.  It speaks of offering the sacrifice of praise.  God loves the fruit of thankfulness. When we are thankful, it tells God that we are getting more than what we deserve.  A testimony is an expression of thankfulness; this is sweet fruit to the Lord.  If we have a thankful spirit, it means we are focusing on what we have, not what we don't have.  If we're thankful, God can open heaven and pour more blessings on us.  God also wants the FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT; this is one fruit with nine different aspects to it.  If we have the life of the Spirit working in us, we'll bring forth fruit of the Spirit.  There is never an over-abundance of the fruit of the Spirit.  Adverse weather can result in no harvest; what matters is the climate of the heart, and we control this. The fruit of the Spirit gets softer and sweeter as we get older.  Artificial fruit may look nice in a picture or photo, but it won't feed anyone.  The nine aspects of the fruit of the spirit are: Love - Love for God, His people, His Word, His Will.  When God sees love, it feeds Him.  Love is evidence that we've passed from death to life.   

 

Joy - It feeds God's heart when He sees His people serving him because it is their chief joy, and that they don't serve Him out of duty.  We will always find joy in the Lord.  

Peace - If we trust in God, we'll have peace, and we'll bring peace to others. 

Longsuffering - Longsuffering is part of patience, and it means returning a soft answer for wrath, and a smile for a frown.  This feeds the Lord. 

Gentleness - Gentleness has to do with kindness.  Parents can correct their children in a gentle but firm way.  It feeds the Lord when we're gentle. 

Goodness - Goodness has to do with generosity.  Goodness must be an unconscious virtue; we need to be careful of not becoming self-righteous. 

Faith - Faith feeds God because it honours Him and lets Him be God.  If we have more faith, we'll have fewer anxieties and fears.  We must seek to have the attitude, "God said it, I believe it, I'm going to do it."

Meekness - Meekness is submission.  Jesus was meek.  A meek person won't fight for their own rights.  The opposite to meekness is rebellion.  When we make a stand, it mustn't cross over to rebellion.  Rebellion makes a hard heart and God can only work in a soft heart.  

Temperance - Temperance is finding the middle of the road, and the Spirit of God can help us not to become fanatics - don't neglect, or smother someone with care; don’t speak too long or short in a meeting.  

Fruit is what will make us acceptable in the sight of God.  Jesus went into the temple and found leaves only - there was nothing to feed.  What does God find in the temple of our hearts?  On the third day, Jesus and the disciples passed the fig tree which had withered away in just a day.  The fig tree had dried up from the roots.  The tree had a root problem and that's why there were no fruit.  The root system is the most important thing in a plant.  A healthy root system will result in fruit.  Do we have a healthy root system - a healthy unseen part of our lives?  Root rot is when things eat away at the roots which results in the plant being spoilt - bitterness can eat at the root of our service to God.  Parasite roots attach themselves to another plant - the 5 foolish virgins were living off the 5 wise virgins. If we have no root, we'll wither away.  How deep have we gone into the things of God and serving Him?  We need to get deep down.  There are 2 kinds of roots - tap roots and balanced roots - what way are we leaning and what are our inclinations?  We need a healthy root system so that we don't fall. Job lost everything but he remained upright because he had a good root system. 

Jesus said, "Have faith in God."  As Jesus withered the fig tree in just a day, He can wither away all our opposition.  We mustn't fear oppositions or problems - rather fear not having a good root system.  

The truths of the Kingdom of God were made so simple by Jesus using agriculture (sowing and reaping), commercial (buying and selling), and domestic (leaven and bread) scenes.  God doesn't just want us to have bread - He wants us to be bread, to feed others.  Leaven is like God's Spirit - He wants to put His Spirit in us.  It's not a matter of getting us into something, but getting something in us.  God loves feeders.  Without leaven, we can't make bread.  If the kernels of wheat is not broken, they won't react with the leaven - that is why God's people are broken.  Leaven working in the meal makes bread - this is a silent, secret work in the dough.  Leaven is a rising power - God wants to put a rising power in us - He wants us to rise above what we are by our human nature.  His Spirit is a rising power - we need that.  Dough needs to be kneaded and crushed - we need crushing defeats to make us into bread.  Leaven only works in the right atmosphere, where it is warm (the dough won't rise if it's put into a deep freeze) - to have the right atmosphere, we must welcome His Will and we must have a longing and desire for the Lord.  Is the Spirit working in our lives or are we rebelling or withdrawing from the Lord that He stops working in us?  Let the Spirit work - silently, surely and secretly.  If His Spirit works in us, we will be transformed - it will be evident in our lives. There are 6 kinds of leaven - some are of the bad spirit and some are of the good spirit - we need to be alive and awake to know what kind of spirit is working in us.  With every doctrine, there's a spirit that goes with it.  A bad spirit can work in our lives and influence it.  The good leaven works towards our salvation - the bad leaven works towards our destruction. 

LEAVEN OF THE PHARISEES - The leaven of the Pharisees is hypocrisy – they said but didn't do.  What we need to understand is to narrow the gap between what we say and what we do. If we don't, we'll make poor bread.  

LEAVEN OF THE SADDUCEES - The leaven of the Sadducees is unbelief.  We need to believe the love of God is real, His promises are sure, His Will is best, and His Grace is sufficient for us.  Are we a complicated mixture of belief and unbelief? 

LEAVEN OF HEROD - The leaven of Herod is being captivated by the world.  It would be sad if the spirit of the world is working in us.  The friendship of the world is at enmity with God.  The world (money, sport, status, and glamour) wants to get hold of us and if we let the leaven of worldliness get in us, it will transform us to the world.  We must overcome the world - God gives us power to do this.  

OLD LEAVEN - When we gather in Meetings, don't keep the feast with the old leaven (sin and the past).  In Exodus we read of the Passover - the people had to purge their homes of the old leaven, then they would be cleansed and purged by the blood of the lamb.  There is shelter and cleansing in the blood of Christ if we repent first.  We need to learn to cleanse ourselves of feelings and happenings of the past because we can't mix the old leaven with the blood.  The Passover focused on the blood, but Pentecost which was 50 days after the Passover (on the first day of the week after 7 weeks), focused on bread.  When we get rid of the old leaven, God doesn't leave us empty, but He fills us to make of us good bread.  Jesus cleansed the temple. 

Acts 2:1-2, "And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place, and suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting."  God filled the house with His Spirit to show them that they were doing the right thing - it didn't go to the temple, it went to the home.  It was like leaven, a rising power that filled their lives, and it was too good to withhold from the world.  

LEAVEN OF THE FLESH - 1 Corinthians 5:8, "Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth."  If there is malice (resentment) or wickedness (deliberate desire to go ahead and do what is wrong), there will be no fellowship.  We cannot serve God with the leaven of the flesh.  

LEAVEN OF GOD - Present the right spirit and atmosphere so that God's Spirit can work in us.  If we don't have God's Spirit, we are not of Him.  If the leaven of God works through our soul, body, and spirit, we will be preserved for His coming.  The soul symbolizes the mental part of us so that we can communicate with others, the body symbolizes the physical part of us, and the spirit symbolizes having communion with God.  The body is the home for the soul and the soul is the home for the spirit.  When God's Spirit is in us, our souls can live.  When the leaven of God works in us, it brings about a change:  

Spirit - When the leaven of God works in our spirit, we begin to love the things of God, we begin to pray and we become alive spiritually. 

Soul - When the leaven of God works in our soul, we begin to communicate with others.  We change our attitude towards others and take on a kind and good spirit.  We become merciful, tolerant, pure, genuine; we don't pretend or cover up, we seek to be peace-makers, and we don't retaliate or take revenge. 

Body - When the leaven of God works in our body, we begin to regard our body as the temple of God, and we don't use it in any common way.  A clean body makes good bread. Jesus said, "I am the Bread of Life" - leavened bread.  God gave Jesus His Spirit without measure because He gave Himself to God without measure.  He was never leavened with the leaven of the Pharisees, the leaven of the Sadducees, the leaven of Herod, the leaven of the flesh or the old leaven - He was leavened with God.  God gave the example of His Son that we can feed upon because He was always leavened by the right Spirit.  Jesus broke bread - leavened bread.  When we purge our old lives, He doesn't leave us empty, but He fills us and makes us complete.  He will strengthen us.  We can feed on Jesus - His words, deeds, and attitudes.  We need to be alive and awake to see the effect of the right spirit - this will lead to salvation and will feed others and the heart of God.