In God’s Time

April 13, 2015

Acts 12:25, 13:5, 13
And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled [their] ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark.
5When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues. John was with them as their helper.
13From Paphos, Paul and his companions sailed to Perga in Pamphylia, where John left them to return to Jerusalem.

In God’s Time

Many a young person has been caught up in the zeal of the Lord and desired to go into ministry. One thing that many don’t realize at first is that to be a true minister of God is it is not man or education that truly prepares you. Certainly God can and does us these in the process, but what any of us who desire to be in the service of the Lord must realize is God’s order and not man’s. It is really God who raises up a man or woman for His work. It is He who trains them through most often humble beginnings. It is He that anoints them for their calling and it is He that test their hearts before He sets them in a place of authority and ministry. For many of you who are excited to serve God, we are not always ready when we think we are. Such is the case with John Mark.
John Mark was the son of Mary and we first hear about him when Peter is locked in jail in Jerusalem. Herod had pretty much chalked Peter in to be the next martyr after having put to death James. We read the account of the angel coming into the prison and setting Peter free. Peter then goes to the house of Mary. Acts 12:12 says, “And when he had considered [the thing], he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying.” We gather from this introduction that Mark had some strong Christian influences and roots. He gets his first shot at getting on the big name ministry team of Paul and Barnabas, and so we see him embarking on his first missionary trip in Acts 12: 25. Then over in Acts 13:5 it affirms that John is there with them as an apprentice and helper, but by verse 13 we see John leaving them and returning to Jerusalem. What happened? The word doesn’t give us much in the way of details, but it becomes obvious in Acts 15:37-40 that Paul was not impressed by Mark and wanted no more part in his going with them again. Apparently Mark wasn’t as ready and able as He thought. Maybe he couldn’t take it and went home, but Barnabas was one that did see the potential and continued to believe in Mark even after he apparently failed the first journey. Later we see that Paul has softened his position concerning Mark in 2 Timothy 4:11 when he remarks, “Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.”
The message we can learn from Mark’s life is that ministry and service to God comes through a preparation of God. Sometimes we may fail to meet our own expectations or the expectation of those we are working with. Fortunately Mark didn’t just quit and fortunately he had men who still believed in Him and helped him to come into his place of ministry and service. Mark was also known to be Mark the Evangelist and later wrote one of the first gospels, the gospel of Mark, thought to have been largely narrated and influenced by Peter.
When we look over the lives of many of God’s great people we see them coming up against times of apparent failure, shortcoming, trials and tribulation. What we come to realize is that this is really God’s school of preparation. We may know that God has anointed us and given us a passion in some area of ministry, but what we have to be careful of is that we allow Him to establish and place us in that ministry in His time and His way. That often means that we may feel passed over, put aside or not really valued. All of the time it is searching our true heart and motives, to see if there would be any unclean, impure or selfish motive on our part. When we can truly be okay with whatever and whenever the Lord wants to use us, then we are getting much closer to being where He wants us. Love always wants God’s best first and our best last.
Moses was 80 when he started his ministry. David was anointed as young teen, but didn’t become king until he was 30. The word tells us not to despise the day of small things. It is in those days that our hearts and lives are being prepared for greater ministry. We must first prove ourselves faithful in the little before we can be faithful over much. Don’t be discouraged if your life and ministry isn’t where you want it to be. Remember God is in control, not you and not man.

Blessings,
#kent

John 5:37-40
And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, 38nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. 39You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, 40yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

Always Learning, Never Knowing

There are those among us that may know the Word of God better than you and I do, but does that mean they are of God and know Him who is truth? 2 Timothy 3:7 says, “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” It is interesting that both Jesus and the apostle Paul address these who often come in a spirit of religion and piety. They have great knowledge, but they have no revelation of the truth of what they know. In fact these are often the greatest enemies of the cross. Because of what they know they seek to undermine the faith of believers and discredit the finished work of Christ.
We see in today’s passage that Jesus is addressing the religious leaders, who supposedly know God and teach His ways. They hated this Jesus. He was unconventional. He didn’t adhere to the laws and traditions of the fathers the way they thought he should. He even did miracles on the Sabbath and proclaims God to be His Father. How blasphemous! Who does this guy think He is, “The Messiah”? These religious leaders and zealous Jews grew up learning the Tora and the letter of the law, but they had no revelation of the Spirit of the Word. Here was the Word Himself speaking to them and they discerned it not. Does our spiritual credibility come from our theological background or our degrees? Spiritual men can have great education, but great education doesn’t make spiritual men. It is not what you know, but whom you know. It is not what you can intellectually relate, but who you are in relationship with that gives you credibility and spiritual endorsement.
Paul was a man of tremendous religious education. He was a pupil of Gameleal, a foremost teacher of the law in His time. He speaks of himself in Acts 22:3, “Then Paul said: “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. Under Gamaliel I was thoroughly trained in the law of our fathers and was just as zealous for God as any of you are today.” That was His credentials as a religious man. Later, Paul speaks in contrast to this in 2 Corinthians 3:4-6 when he says, “Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. 5Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. 6He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” It is not just what you know, but who you know.
In this day and age, we also need to be aware of the religious spirit that has a form of godliness, but denies the power thereof. Let’s go back to 2 Timothy 3:3-9 and listen again to the warning that Paul brings. “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.
6They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, 7always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth. 8Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these men oppose the truth—men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. 9But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.”
It is a day in which we must be discerning and not just blindly trusting of other men and women, just because they have a knowledge of the Word. The fruit of their lives will tell you more about their character than what they know and can recite. Never get your eyes on any person, even if he or she is spiritual, because in man you will always be disappointed and hurt. Always set your eyes only on Jesus, for He alone is the author and finisher of your faith. The church is full of people who are wounded and hurt from what so-called spiritual people have done to them. When you have your eyes and trust wholly upon Jesus, then your faith is not shaken when others fail you.

Blessings,
kent

Heart Attitude

February 5, 2013

Isaiah 66:2b (Youngs Literal Translation)
… And unto this one I look attentively, Unto the humble and bruised in spirit, And who is trembling at My word.

Heart Attitude

It is interesting what men will do to get God’s attention. In Isaiah 66, God addresses all that man does for Him. He is not looking for what we can build for him or the sacrifices that we can make unto Him. There is one thing He is looking for in us. It is the condition and the attitude of our heart.
The prototype and example of all that we hope to be is seen in Jesus. Before he comes to be known in the three years of His earthly ministry, Jesus is a relative nobody. A man of no notable reputation. Don’t think that just because others don’t see you or the church doesn’t recognize you that you are a nobody to Father if you heart is in the right place. What we sometimes forget and grow impatient with is that Father is looking for a people whose heart condition is right before them privately, before He ever shows them off publicly.
What is that heart condition?
Is it education, knowledge, status, talent, strength, position, riches, popularity? No, it is none of these things. In fact, it is quite probable that the person with a right heart condition before God is perhaps the one least regarded by men. David, was said to be a man after God’s own heart and yet he wasn’t even regarded or thought of when Samuel came to anoint a king from among Jesse’s sons. God’s people are not flashy or showy and quite often they are hidden jewels and treasures. The only ones that find and benefit from them are the ones who are willing to search out and dig for them. The richest things in the earth or hidden from plain sight.
Jesus was a man of humility. That doesn’t mean He was a sissy, a wimp or weak. It means He was being filled with God’s strength and was able to keep it under control, because He was ever submissive before the Father. The fear of the Lord is not being afraid of Him, but the strong desire to only do that which pleasing and acceptable to Him out of a heart of obedience and love. That is the one who will tremble at His Word.
For many of us, God has become common, ordinary. Yes, we outwardly love and worship Him, but we don’t have that contrition of heart, that brokenness of our sin, that great appreciation for the enormous grace that works in our lives through the sacrifice of Christ upon the cross. Like Israel, we often go through the outward motions of religion, but that is not what Father is really looking for.
Life is often the tenderizing hammer that God uses upon our lives. Through our often painful experiences, He brings us into a brokennesss that only He can heal and bring healing through. Those painful experiences and lessons in our lives are what work the heart of His mercy, grace, forgiveness and love toward others. Out of our brokenness, we gain compassion for others that are broken. From that compassion we gain Father’s heart to cry out, intercede and to pursue God’s ability to heal and touch the broken lives of those around us.
If we have all of those other things of privilege, we often miss the greater treasure that God wants to deposit into our hearts, His true love. That is what He is looking for; a heart that is in the position where He might culture and cultivate His true love and nature. If our attitude is wrong or we caught up with all of the outward things, we will miss it. It is cultivated as we spend time in His presence getting to really know Him for who He is. The more we really know, the more undone we are before Him. From that place comes the heart that God is looking for in us. One of true humility, brokenness, contrition, submission, that truly trembles before the greatness of His Word.
It is not the outward offerings and sacrifices that we make that truly please God. Micha 6:8 again speaks to what God is looking for in His people. “He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” When you are truly intimate with Father, when you truly love what He loves and hate what He hates, when you truly gain His heart, then you will walk in all humility and contrition, because you will realize, it is no longer you that lives, but Christ that lives in you.

Blessings,
kent

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