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

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Matthew 5:17-20
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

The Law: To Abolish or Fulfill

Often times many us think of the Old Testament as being a former dispensation of God that applied to the Jewish people, gave the Law, the history, the Psalms, Proverbs and a lot of good stories. Many might think that because we are a New Testament people that the Old Testament doesn’t have real application and promise to us. After all we are no longer under the Law. While there is truth to this we might be overlooking what Jesus is saying here. Jesus declares that His mission and purpose isn’t to abolish the Law and the Prophets, but to fulfill them. The Old Testament and the Law provided the foundation and groundwork for the fulfillment of that Law through Christ. What has changed for us is that it is no longer the works of the Law that we are trying to keep through the efforts of the flesh, but it is the Spirit of that Law now written upon the tablets of our heart. The nature of God has not changed or His Laws, but He has taken them from the outward to the inward through the power of the Holy Spirit and His nature that now resides in us. Romans 8:3-4 tells us, “For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, 4in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.” Christ fulfilled what we could not in that He fulfilled all of the requirements of the Law, but more than that, He became the sin offering to take upon Himself all of the penalty of sin for us. His faith in us embraces and appropriates that finished work of Christ that fulfilled the Law. It is that faith in His finished work that is now reckoned unto us for righteousness. The Law is fulfilled in us only through Christ. As we now live in Christ it is His nature within us that fulfills and keeps the Law. As we walk by the Spirit we no longer fulfill the lusts of our flesh. Romans 8:10-11 declares this truth by saying, “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. 10But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.” In Christ, in this New Testament man, we do not abolish the Old, but we become the fulfillment of it. We have the power, authority and life of Christ to walk into what the Old Testament saints dreamed about. They were our examples and mentors to help us walk into a greater dimension of faith and faithfulness to the Lord. We walk into it by the power of Christ in us and the identification that we have died to the weakness of the Law, which is our sinful flesh. We have the Holy Spirit living in us. We have the finished work of Christ behind us. We have a commission of Christ to bring Him into our entire world. The Law and the Prophets live on. They along with the apostles have become the foundation of our faith. What is it that God is building? Ephesians 2:19-22 declares, “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, 20built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” We are God’s lively stones built upon this foundation to be the holy temple of the Lord. This is that place where God chooses to make His abode. Christ didn’t come to abolish the Law and the Prophets, but to fulfill them and we a part of that fulfillment as we abide in Christ Jesus.

Blessings,
#kent

Hope, Joy and Crown

November 24, 2014

Hope, Joy and Crown

1 Thessalonians 2:19-20
For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 20Indeed, you are our glory and joy.

When we selflessly plant ourselves into other people’s lives what is our gain if they can’t reward us and we see no earthly or monetary benefit? What do we hope to see in our children through the years of raising them, nurturing, teaching and mentoring them? It is not for what they can pay us back in material gain that we do it. It is a labor of love and the harvest we long to see, that we continue to pray for, hope for and believe for are lives that are healthy, productive and that produce a legacy. A parent’s greatest reward is to have children that love and respect them, but also that hold to the values of faith that were instilled in them and that they in turn instill those same values in their children. We long to see a perpetual legacy of generations that follow on to know and obey the Lord.
The churches that the apostle Paul established were his children. He taught them, mentored them and raised them up in the faith and knowledge of Christ. It wasn’t a job for him; it was his life, his purpose and his joy. When he stood before the Lord there was no greater testimony to his faithfulness and his greatness as a servant of God than those that he had raised up in Christ. He was able to stand with the Lord and look through the generations at the harvest he had been instrumental in producing in the earth. This stood as Paul’s greatest, hope, joy and crown. This was his greatest reward.
Our greatest reward in heaven won’t be about our businesses, our finances or our status in the community; it will be about what we planted in others. It will be about what we sowed into their lives through our faithful commitment and walk with Christ. We want to see it in our children and our grandchildren. We want to see it in the ones that we helped disciple and bring to Christ. Nothing breaks our heart more than to see what we have treasured and nurtured stolen and destroyed by sin. It is for this reason that our Lord Jesus ever stands as our high priest making intercession on our behalf. He too, longs after us to be His hope, joy and crown.
Let us not grow weary or complacent concerning the awesome responsibility that we have toward those who under our spiritual authority or influence. We must remember that we are the priests of our home and have the responsibility to pray, intercede, teach and persuade our families in the ways of righteousness and salvation. Be faithful to the gift, the calling and instrument that God has created you to be. How we respond and use what He has created us to be and how that translates into the lives of others will be our hope, our joy and crown. Our legacy is our glory and our joy.

Blessings,
#kent

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