Jim Ratcliffe - Theodore Convention - Sunday Morning, July 3, 1999

I have been enjoying thinking about the miracle of convention. What is the miracle of convention—everybody is working and nobody is ruling.


I once asked a little boy who was serving water what his job was. He told me and added, “It’s a good job.” His older brother who was washing dishes also said he had a good job. Then I saw the father who said, "I’m scrubbing pots and pans, but it’s a good job.” That is the spirit of convention—willingly serving. I wonder if during the following week, the wife of that man were to ask him to scrub the dirty pots would he reply, “Yes! Dear, that is a good job?”



Can we take the spirit of convention home with us? How long will it last? There was one couple on their way home from convention, talking about keeping t
he spirit of God with them. When they reached the front gate one suggested, “You should get the house key out.” The response was, “I don’t have the key, you have the key.” The spirit or miracle of convention lasted as far as the front gate.



There is something very important to take care of before the Sunday morning meeting
— what is going on in our hearts. Do our thoughts make a welcome abode for the Holy Spirit? Are our thoughts so controlled that the dovelike spirit can remain?



Isaiah 1:30, “For ye shall be like an oak whose leaf fadeth, and as a garden that hath no water.” In the early 1950s in Morocco, there were several months without rain. Ten days after the rain came, the desert flowers bloomed. Isaiah 58:11, “And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.” I like to think of our lives as gardens. Do we keep them well watered? “My life a desert place would be if Christ had never died for me,” hymn 300.



Flowers of the spirit can be in my garden. If Christ can speak to us, He can speak through us. These days have been showers of blessing onto our lives — just what our gardens need.



I like to think about the flowers that grew in Jesus garden.



Humility.
In John 13, Peter and John had prepared for the supper but hadn’t arranged for the washing of the feet. This was the job of a servant. Jesus set the example. Peter was ashamed — the actions of Jesus pointed out his lack. Like Peter, we must humble ourselves before Jesus to be cleansed. In 19 consecutive conventions, we heard about Jesus washing the disciples' feet.



Sacrifice
is a red flower. Red poppies in Flanders Field project the image of the sacrifice of soldier’s lives. Jesus gave His all and His best. He sacrificed in leaving heaven. He sacrificed to preach the gospel. He sacrificed His blood on the cross. Nothing can be compared to the sacrifice of Jesus. In John 12, Mary anointed Jesus feet. Do you think she begrudged that sacrifice?



In Judas garden, there were weeds of selfishness. You can’t have weeds and flowers growing in the same garden. A weed will always kill out the beautiful flowers. Accept a bank knowing that God will repay. Weeding our garden is an investment in the future.



The three flowers of a good fellowship meeting are submission, confession, and forgiveness.



Submission
bloomed in the life of Jesus that night in the garden of Gethsemane when He prayed, “Not My will but Thine be done.”



Confession
is hard to grow. James 5:16, “Confess your faults one to another…” I had to hand out a flower of confession to the Lady of a home. I accidentally broke a bracket in her home. I did not intend to break it. The devil said, “Never mind, she will never know who broke it.” God knew who broke it. I had to hand out a flower of confession.



Forgiveness:
When Jesus had to correct His disciples, He forgave them every time. [70x7]



Weed of Pride:
  We need to take another look into what is growing in our hearts. Pride hinders confession and forgiveness.



Mark 7:21-23, “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornication, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: all these evil things come from within and defile the man.” These are seeds that are in the heart of man. We always need to be on the alert, watching and prepared to do some weeding.



1 Peter2:1, “Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings…” Laying aside — leaving behind — doing some weeding.



Ephesians 4:31, “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice.” More weeding to do!



Kindness:
  Peter and others went fishing, but came back to shore with empty nets. Jesus asked, “Children, have you any meat?” John 21:5. Jesus had prepared bread and fish on the coals and was waiting. Jesus was kind to those that disappointed Him.



Artificial flowers
look real. The moisture [spirit] keeps real flowers cool. Why would we use phrases such as “that old witch” behind a person’s back. One of the worst artificial flowers is artificial forgiveness. There is no fragrance given off by artificial flowers.



Oh! To enjoy the fragrance that goes out from beautiful live flowers.



I still have lots to do in my garden. We can never afford to use the expression, “that’s good enough,” when we are talking about the work of God.



If we take care of our garden — do the weeding — before the meeting, we will have a go
od meeting. If we can honestly say, “I did my best,” then God will take care of the rest.



As we look on life’s experiences it is good when we can say, “I am thankful this chapter is closed, but I am even more thankful that the book is not closed.”



[The last message we heard from Jim.]