Not Our Way, but His

November 26, 2013

Not Our Way, but His

John 11:1-5
Now a certain [man] was sick, [named] Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. (It was [that] Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.) Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. When Jesus heard [that], he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby. Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.

We all have preconceived notions about how we think things should work out in our lives especially in regards to our prayer requests and petitions before the Lord. In this story is a great example of how Jesus doesn’t operate the way rational and conventional thinking would dictate that He should have. It wasn’t even consistent with how He normally operated. Here we see three siblings who were the closer friends of Jesus and whom it says He, “loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.” The sense and the meaning of the word “loved” here means that he had goodwill toward them, that they were preferred of Him and that He would wish well to them with regard to their welfare. Now if He felt that way about them why does it go on to say that when He heard about Lazarus’ sickness He continued on where He was at for two more days rather than immediately rushing back to take care of Lazarus. Now by human standards we may have judged these actions to be highly insensitive, uncaring and unloving. Certainly Mary and Martha may have struggled with such thoughts and feelings, especially after Lazarus ends up dying.
When you and I consider some of the things we have been praying for and the petitions we have made before the Lord; have we ever had the feeling that He was just ignoring us or that He didn’t really care? No matter how hard we prayed and petitioned the throne of God, no matter how much faith we tried to have to believe, it didn’t turn out the way we thought it should have. In fact sometimes we may feel that the more we pray or walk in the will of God the harder things get. Why? Doesn’t God love us? Doesn’t He care what we are going through?
Jesus loved Lazarus and His sisters, just like He loves you. He cared about them very much and perhaps it was as hard for Jesus to restrain Himself from immediately addressing their situation as it was for the sisters. The point that is being made here is that there are times when God is working a greater thing than what is evident to us on the surface. There are those times when we look back at a situation that we wanted God to immediately deal with and He didn’t and we begin to get a revelation why. Because God worked the way He did, so much more was worked through the situation than ever could have been, had it been immediately resolved. God is invested into us for the long haul. We see the immediate, the needs here and now, but He sees the answers and resolutions through the eyes of eternity and His higher purpose and good. Because our viewpoints are from two totally different realms and perspectives, is it any wonder that God doesn’t often operate the way we think He should? We can always rest in the promise we have in Romans 8:28,
“And we know that all things work together for good, to them that love God, even to them that are called according to His purpose.”
You see with Lazarus, his sickness was not about death, which to us seems to be the ultimate finality, it was about the “glory of God”. Christ needed to be revealed in an even greater aspect than a healer. It was time for certain ones, especially his more intimate friends, to get a revelation of Him as the “Resurrection and the Life”, not just in the last day at Christ’s coming, but here and now. By the time Jesus reached Lazarus he had been dead and in the tomb for four days. The natural mind tells us that is a pretty hopeless situation.
Some of us find ourselves in, or perhaps are going through some of those seemingly hopeless situations where by all natural appearances God didn’t come through. What we forget and find hard to grasp is that sometimes God allows us to come to the end of something in order to bring us into a new beginning. There may be those times when it is more than just a “God fix it”, it has to die to bring us into a greater dimension of life.
If you have a situation that looks hopeless then give it totally into the hands of the God of hope. When Martha came to Jesus, she said, “if You had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. And even now I know that whatsoever You ask of God, God will give You.” Maybe God hasn’t shown up because something or someone has to die. In the economy of God, it is death that often gives place to new and a greater dimension of life. Jesus then told Martha, “Your brother will rise again… I am the Resurrection and the Life: he that believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live; and whoever lives and believes on me, though he die, yet shall he live; and whoever lives and believes on me shall never die. Do you believe this?” We then know that Jesus did go to the tomb and called Lazarus forth and his life was raised up.
Some of you are sitting in the ashes of despair and despondency thinking God has given up on you. No, He loves you too much to allow you to continue as you are. There is the day of your breakthrough when He will speak the Word and call you forth in the newness of life in Him. There will be a resurrection day in your life if you hold steadfast and believe. This is a day to come forth in the newness and the power of His resurrection life.

Blessings,
kent

Faithfulness

August 29, 2013

Faithfulness

1 Corinthians 4:1-5
1So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. 2Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. 3I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. 4My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. 5Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.

When we received Christ as our savior and embraced the cross, we embraced and committed ourselves to a trust. Through our faith in Christ we promised to be faithful. Even as couples, at the altar of marriage, enter into a covenant with one another, part of that covenant is the commitment to faithfulness and fidelity. Likewise we are in covenant with Christ and one of the primary attributes God desires in His people is faithfulness, unswerving, unconditional and continued commitment to their faith. God is looking for faithful servants that He can commit His kingdom, his power and authority unto. If they do not prove faithful they will abuse, misuse or fail to use what He would entrust to their care. Each one of us in Christ has been given the Holy Spirit. The Word teaches us that He gives us gifts and callings and talents. We may not see ourselves as being anything or having anything, but God has placed something unique and special within each one of us. He wants us to be faithful in whatever it is that He has given to us. Some of us are still learning and searching out what our unique talents and giftings are. They have a way of coming to the surface if you will look for them, because they are all resident in you, because Christ is in you. God is not asking all of us to be a great missionary, evangelist, preacher or teacher. It is not the prominence of what we do; it is the faithfulness that God is looking upon and that we will give account for. It is faithfulness that causes the body of Christ to function and operate in a healthy manner. What is unhealthy is when someone tries to make us be or we try to be something that God didn’t intend that we were. We can get out of God’s placement and we will most likely experience a great deal of frustration and failure if we are. We don’t always get man’s approval or even the approval of our brethren for what God has called us too, but it is important that we please God and not men. Often we can look at others and make judgements about them and their place with God that we have no business making. We can even misjudge ourselves. God is the final judge and before Him we stand justified or condemned. Far too often we try and judge a fruit before it is ripe. God is working in and processing each one of us to be what He has created us to be. Our job and responsibility is to remain faithful to Him through the process.
Faithfulness is often a submission to others who are in authority and even submission as an act of love. There will be times you may be far more qualified than one who is over you and you may find that to be source of trial and irritation, but remember ‘humility is strength under control’. Faithfulness is lifting others up and not putting them down.
A faithful man is a reliable man. One story of faithfulness that impresses me in the Old Testament is the story about Uriah the Hittite. He was the husband of Bathsheba whom David became involved with and impregnated. David, in his effort to cover up his sin brings Uriah back from the battle so that he can get him to have relations again with his wife and then the child can be attributed to him. Uriah, the Hittite is actually named among David’s mighty men, which were like the elite force of David made up of thirty some men. Uriah wasn’t the most prominent of men, but there is an attribute we begin to see in Uriah that we could aspire to be like. He was faithful to David to a fault. Normally this would be a very desirable quality in a soldier, but unfortunately faithfulness was not quite the attribute David was hoping for when he brought Uriah home to his wife. Uriah was more committed to David than he was to his own wife and because of his faithfulness to David and his men he wouldn’t allow himself to even sleep with his wife. He viewed that as a betrayal of his trust while he was still committed to the battle and the other men had to abstain and be separated from their wives. Uriah was such a faithful man that David ended up ordering him into a suicide mission that would take him out of the picture. One cannot help but admire the dedication that Uriah had to David. That is the kind of faithfulness we want to have toward Christ.
So many of us are morally and spiritually loose in our faith. We are tossed to and fro. We are double-minded, trying to be spiritual and yet operating so much out of the flesh. That is not to condemn us; it is to draw attention and awareness to the state of our own faithfulness. How trustworthy and faithful are we to the Lord’s work and the mission we have to live for Him?
The one thing I think we all want to hear when we get to heaven is the Lord saying, “Well done thou good and faithful servant; enter ye into the joy of the Lord.” Are we His faithful servants? Are we responding, as we ought to the high calling of faithfulness that the Lord has placed upon each one of us? It is not for others to judge, but one day God will judge it and what will He find in us?

Blessings,
kent

Judges

December 17, 2012

Romans 14:4
Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

Judges

One thing God didn’t make the body to be at this time is a bunch of individual judges. Oh sure, there are things to be judged within the church and discernment that must be exercised, but if God wants us to discern and judge anything, it would be ourselves. Not that we would be self-condemning, but that we would hold our lives up against the Word of God and bring self-correction to our own lives that we would not be judged and corrected by the Lord. 1 Corinthians 11 exhorts us when we take the Lord’s Supper or communion to exercise self-examination before partaking.
What we are usually best at is our judgements of others instead of ourselves. We are far better at dis-membering the body of Christ than we are a re-membering it. That is what communion and the Lord’s Supper is all about. Jesus, the One Loaf was broken into many pieces, which represent us. We the many pieces are re-united in Christ to form His body. When we partake of the Lord’s Supper it is to remember not only what Christ did for us through the Cross, but to re-member or reunite ourselves in one Spirit unto Him.
In 1 Corinthians 11:27-32 we are given this exhortation, “Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. 29For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. (We are that body) 30That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. 32When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.”
What we must be mindful of is that God is the ultimate judge of a man’s actions and heart, not us. What does the Word tell us to do if we see our brother in sin?
1 John 5:16 says, ” If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him life.”
Matthew 18:15 tells us, “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.”
Galatians 6:1 exhorts us, “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.”
The Word does teach us to confront sin in one another, but not for the purpose of judgement and condemnation, but for the purpose of reconciliation, restoration, repentance and forgiveness. We are suppose to have each other’s back, not stab each other in the back. When ever our own body is suffering from an illness or injury we don’t just get a sharp knife and whack it off. The rest of the body comes along side, both inwardly and outwardly to minister and assist in the healing and the restoration of the injured member. We are one body and we must care for each other like we would our own selves.
Jesus gives a pretty strong kingdom lesson about judgement in Matthew 7:1-5 when teaches, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
3“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Pointing the finger at others always makes us feel better because it identifies the sin and weakness in others while turning the attention, mainly our own, away from our own sins and shortcomings.
We are all sinners, and as believers, we are all partakers in God’s grace and mercy. None of deserve forgiveness, but God, by His own example in Jesus Christ, showed it to us. How is it that we can’t extend that same mercy, grace and forgiveness to one another?
Jesus, the righteous and just judge of all said this while hanging on a cross after having been beaten and whipped to shreds by those who hated him in Luke 23:22-41, “Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 35The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.”
36The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”
38There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the Jews.
39One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!”
40But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
What could others do to us that would have been worse than they did to Jesus? If He could forgive them (and we are, in a sense the extension of those who crucified Jesus because our sins put Him there) then how can we not, in Christ, forgive those who have offended, hurt, or sinned against us. This is not the way of the world, but it is the way of the kingdom, which we are, as His disciples.
There is much more that could be said about our role as playing judge. We are not God and we don’t have the right to usurp His position. He sees all, He sees the heart’s of men and He judges from a place of righteousness. We are not God, so it should not be in our hearts to try and pass judgement upon others. Let us just conclude with this scripture from Romans 2:1-4, “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? 4Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?”

Blessings,
kent

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