Higher Level Living

March 5, 2014

Matthew 5:11-12

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”


Higher Level Living


What is our natural response to insults, verbal and physical attacks, slander, gossip and false accusations?  Isn’t it to fight back, justify, retaliate and begin attacking our attackers.  Suddenly we find ourselves drawn in and participating in the same fleshly ugliness of those who attacked us. We have come down to their level and are fighting with the same carnal weapons they are.  We are opening our hearts to be influenced by the same spirits that are influencing them.  

“An eye for eye and a tooth for a tooth,” some will say.  Funny you should say that because a little further down in Matthew 5:32-42 Jesus says,  “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”  

Wow, that is pretty unconventional wisdom by this world’s standards and wisdom only a few are willing to walk in.  

Why?

Because it denies all of “my” rights.  It is asking me to give up and renounce what is “mine”.  It is asking me to return good for evil and it imposes seemingly unfair demands upon “me” as a person.  It  seems to be letting injustice prevail and our rights to be taken unfair advantage of.  

When we can all walk in the principles that Jesus gives us in Matthew 5-7 it is probably a pretty good indicator that we are getting very close to being dead unto self and alive only unto Christ.  For us to willingly walk in the principles that Jesus is describing means it can no longer be about me, but only about exemplifying and living out of  Christ.  These are the principles that He walked and lived by.  The reason He could is because His heart and affection weren’t upon His natural man or the things of this world.  

We all have our possessions and things we have worked hard for.  We all have our reputation and our dignity to uphold.  It so goes against our grain to be taken advantage of or exploited or to be spoken falsely about.  

What Jesus is telling us is, there is a higher level of kingdom living that most of us never touch or  really know because we are still so connected and attached to this earthly kingdom and realm.  Many of us still think that the political candidate or president is going to determine the fate of the world, the nation and my well being.   We may believe if others aren’t of our particular denomination or persuasion of belief they are going to hell or will miss it and yet how many of us are really living these principles of Jesus?  

What we all need as believers, who say we love Christ, is a deliverance from a lot of our materialistic and capitalist ways.  They are not His ways, but what the world has taught us is true and valuable.  If we are not of this world then why are these things still so important to us?  The truth is most of us are really living out of a lower level of life and values than what Christ has called us too.  

Sometimes we don’t think much about it until we are put in those positions where we must choose between the conventional wisdom of this world and the wisdom that is from above.  If you want to really stand out as odd, even among most of the Christian community, try truly walking in the principles that Christ lays out here.  

Finally Jesus really stretches us even more in verses 38-43 by saying,  “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Jesus is calling us to a higher place.  It is not a realm where we can operate in conventional wisdom or even love with conventional love.  It  is place that we can only operate out of, by His Spirit and His Agape’ love.   It is a place where our self identity can not live; only our identity in Christ.  It is a place where we need to thank God for our enemies, because they are the only ones who can help elevate us to this realm of living and being.  Are we ready for a higher level of living?

 

Blessings,

kent

Buffet

September 18, 2013

Buffet

2 Corinthians 12:7
And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

The word buffet means to strike with the fist, give one a blow with the fist, to maltreat or treat with violence. This is one of only two places where this word occurs. In both cases the outward violence is prompted by a spiritual influence. Here Paul speaks of the afflictions in his flesh brought about by a messenger of satan. The implication here is that God permitted satan to afflict or beat up on Paul for the purpose of keeping pride in check.
The other scripture deals with Jesus, when the religious leaders are examining Him. “And some began to spit on him, and to cover his face, and to buffet him, and to say unto him, Prophesy: and the servants did strike him with the palms of their hands (Mark 14:65).” We might observe that these buffetings were physical afflictions or attacks brought by satanic influence, but permitted by God.
The question then becomes why does God allow bad things to happen to good people. Why would God allow Jesus or Paul or any of us to be buffeted by satan, especially in light of the fact that he is a defeated foe. Hebrews 5:8-10 tells us of Jesus, “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.” The one principle we learn here is that in the place of suffering we learn obedience and submission. Paul says this in Romans 8:18, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time [are] not worthy [to be compared] with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” When we desire and press in to rising above our earthly state we are often met with great spiritual resistance. Of course we cry out to God, but God doesn’t always immediately remove our trial and test. Perfection in us is not brought about by our deliverance from every unpleastantry, but by our steadfast fast faith and obedience to overcome in the midst of trial and testing. It is counting God faithful even in the face of failure, defeat or loss.
Why would God be so hard on us? The condition of every precious jewel and precious metal, in it’s raw state, is mostly earth and dross and impurities, that’s us. God is the master jeweler, the great potter and the master craftsman of His creation. What He is working in you and I are nothing short of perfection and stunning beauty in His eyes. What we feel in the process is often rejected, persecuted, abused, afflicted, cast down. We are not so unlike Paul’s description in 2 Corinthians 4:7-8, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. [We are] troubled on every side, yet not distressed; [we are] perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.” Satan is simply a tool or hammer in the left hand of God. While Satan may have delusions of destroying our faith, God’s intent is to test it, try it and temper it, dealing with it and burning away all of the impurities. He is giving us eyes for only Him, so that no matter our circumstance, rich or poor, sickness or health, success or failure, Christ is all and in all. Like Paul, we cry out for God to deliver us, but often His answer to us is the same that He gave to Paul, “My grace is sufficient.”
You are not enduring this buffeting because God hates you, or despises you, or is mad at you. You have been counted worthy to suffer the cross. You have been called to come into the ranks of the saints who ‘overcome by the word of their testimony and the blood of the Lamb; and they loved not their lives unto death (Revelations 12:11).’ Revelations 12:17 says, “And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” This is you and I.
If you are buffeted today rejoice in the love of God and that He has counted you worthy to be the ultimate instrument of His victory, glory and praise. “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us (Romans 8:37)”.

Blessings,
kent

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