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Editor’s Note- God disciplines His children for their good. Any loving parent knows this. When a person turns from their sins, God forgives immediately, but their full return to life as they knew it before might take a while, or, may never happen. That doesn’t mean that life after discipline and repentance can’t be good, indeed, it will be good….but may we not dictate to God what that ought to look like or when it should happen. Rather, may we believe that God will do what it right and good, and that He will do it at the perfect time.
To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of the sons of Korah.
1 Lord, You have been favorable to Your land; You have brought back the captivity of Jacob.
Lord, you have been merciful to us. We were in Babylon because of our sins. I was away from my good life, my family, my friends, everything that I loved. I lost my job. You have disciplined us in your love, and now that time of discipline is over. Thank you.
2 You have forgiven the iniquity of Your people; You have covered all their sin. Selah
3 You have taken away all Your wrath; You have turned from the fierceness of Your anger.
You have forgiven us. You no longer see the sins that caused us to be taken away. Thank you that that season is over.
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Some thoughts for fellow followers of Jesus…
The ten second sound bite version of what I am writing is this: If you blew it, and have a mess on your hands, let God fix it. You thought you could be in control and do things your own way, and now you have a mess. In your flesh, you made a mess. What makes you think that in your flesh, you can fix it? Better to walk in the Spirit like you should have to begin with. Walk in the Spirit, and let God fix it.
The longer version of the same story line is as follows…
Sin is a nasty thing. It promises much, and delivers little. The consequences are always bigger than the gratification. It never seems as bad as it really is…until later.
We get used to sinning. We minimize it. We get de-sensitized to it. We agree in our heads that something is wrong, but we do it anyway, intending to stop.
There are sins of commission: we do things that we know are wrong.
There are sins of omission: we don’t do things we know that we should.
The sin in a Christian’s life can run the gamut of not reading your Bible (dumb…you need God’s Word, heart, and direction) to something much more obvious, like substance abuse or sexual immorality. We can be committing little sins, like being disagreeable, or we can be committing bigger sins, such as being violent and a striker. A sin of omission might be that you don’t think that church attendance is important, and eventually find yourself isolated, alone, unchallenged, un-encouraged, etc. There are numerous examples of sins of commission and omission.
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Filed under: Christianity
, Decision Making
, Dying To Self
, God's Will
, Good Intentions
, Self Awareness
, Spirit Filled Life
, Spiritual Blindness
, Spiritual Growth
When Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane, the mob came to arrest Him, led by Judas. Peter sought to protect Jesus, and swung his sword, cutting off a man’s ear. Jesus healed the man, and then said to Peter…
“…do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?” (Matthew 26:53, 54)
Jesus told Peter that he could have prayed for twelve legions of angels to protect Him for this crowd.
1 Legion = 6,000 angels.
12 Legions = 72,000 angels
In 2 Kings 19:35, one angel killed 185,000 soldiers in one night.
Jesus could have been defended against 13,320,000,000 people.
Thirteen billion, three hundred and twenty million.
Twice the Earth’s present population.
Those are staggering numbers, but the numbers aren’t the point.
The point is this: Jesus would not use the provision of God to avoid the will of God.
That which was rightfully available for Jesus could have been used by Jesus to avoid the will of the Father.
Question yourself: do you ever use the provision of God to avoid the will of God?
If you avoid the will of God, (disobey), then you are using the provision of God for purposes that are contrary to the will of God. You use your mind, body, money, talents, family, friends, job…..you use blessings from God to avoid doing the will of God.
Instead of obeying God, you stay busy with the life God provided, you hide in the home God provided, you drive away on the car God provided, you do the lesser instead of the greater with the talent and mind God provided.
Dear Christian…everything you have is the provision of God.
May we not use the provision of God to avoid the will of God.
Hebrews 5:7, 8 (Jesus)…who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, 8though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.
Jesus hated the thought of the cross. His humanity recoiled from the suffering and death that He knew He was called to physically endure. He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane that there might be another way whereby humanity might be saved. There would be no other way.
Moreover, the thought of being made a sin offering compounded the horror of the physical suffering with the addition of broken fellowship with the Father. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Yet, it has been suggested that Jesus faced something worse than death, and that was the challenge of disobedience. The cross would be the greatest challenge of Jesus obeying His Father. The writer of Hebrews tells us that Jesus was heard by the One who could save Him from death, yet He was still called to the cross.
What then, was the Father’s answer to the Son? In what way did the Father answer the Son?
The Father sent an angel to strengthen Jesus in the Garden. The victory of the cross was won in the Garden, as the Father strengthened the Son, Who resolved to NOT disobey the Father regarding the cross. The Father’s answer to the Son’s prayer was that he helped the Son to obey. The Son struggled to obey the Father’s will, but in the end, He did.
Jesus wasn’t saved from death, He was saved for death.
John Piper has the following thoughts…
“And when verse 7b says that he was praying and crying “to the One able to save Him from death,” does that mean that he was mainly praying for deliverance from physical death? Was that the main aim of his praying in the days of his flesh? I don’t think so, because verse 7 says “he was heard.” I think that means God gave him what he asked for, and verse 8 describes the effect of that answered prayer: he learned obedience. Jesus was praying for obedience—for persevering purity.
In other words, Jesus knew that there was a death worse than death. Much worse. Physical death is bad enough and he desired that there be another way to do the Father’s will than to die on the cross. But far more horrible than dying on the cross was the impurity of unbelief and disobedience. That was the great and horrible threat. So he prayed all his life against that, and he was heard by his Father and, instead of caving in to sin, he learned obedience from what he suffered.”
Jesus, Our Great Savior…
Mark 4:18, 19 Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, 19and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.
Jesus often taught the masses by way of parable, which is an earthly story that illustrates a heavenly truth. The parable of The Sower was one such parable.
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Matthew 26:26-28 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” 27Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”
Jesus was no victim. That truth continues to impact me. As He announced His impending death, and deliberately moved towards it, I cannot imagine the enormity of emotion that He experienced.
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There are no small or insignificant acts of obedience to God. We can never know the importance of our obedience. Ours is not to judge whether our acts of obedience are important or not. Our part is to obey God. Consider the significance of the actions of two of Jesus’ disciples.
Matthew 21:1-9 Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me. 3And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.” 4All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: 5“Tell the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your King is coming to you, Lowly, and sitting on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.’” 6So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them. 7They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them. 8And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ Hosanna in the highest!”
The Father’s great desire was to make Jesus known to Israel as their Messiah, their Savior, and their King. Hundreds of years before this event, the prophets had foretold Jesus’ arrival to Jerusalem, and they had spoken of certain events that would point to the Messiah. One of those signs was that the Messiah would enter Jerusalem riding on a donkey. This was to be an identifying sign to the public that their Messiah had arrived.
Did these two disciples realize the significance of their obedience? Probably not. Did they know that their actions were fulfilling prophecy? That is doubtful. Did they consider this assignment as insignificant? We aren’t told, but human nature would lead us to believe that possible.
Their obedience involved some risk. What if things didn’t turn out as Jesus suggested, and they encountered an angry donkey owner?
Their obedience included humility. Who wants to fetch a donkey when instead, you could spend time with Jesus. They had been on healing and preaching tours. Wasn’t there someone else who could do this unimportant task?
There is much that we don’t know about their attitudes, etc., but we do know the outcome of their obedience. Their actions were a fulfillment of prophecy, and pointed people to Jesus.
If your desire is to point people to Jesus, then no act of obedience is too small. Don’t delay obeying God until you understand what will come of it. You may never know. Don’t think yourself too important to do small things. God evaluates things much differently than we do, and His wisdom is infinitely higher than ours.
May we be found obeying God in things both big and small, and to Him be the glory.
The man or woman who walks with Jesus will be concerned about people. They will notice the needs of people, as did Jesus, and as He still does. Jesus will use His present day disciples to meet people’s needs. We who follow Jesus must be sensitive to how He is leading us to minister to others.
Matthew records for us what has come to be known as “The Feeding Of The 5,000.” The actual number of people was more than this.
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It has been well said that wisdom is the right application of knowledge.
We may know that we ought to do something, and yet, for some reason, not do it. In my experience so far, not doing what I know I should do has always brought regret.
Conversely, I have never regretted doing what I have known I should do. Never once. I have always been immensely glad when I have done what I have known was the right and needed thing to do.
Jesus made this precept very clear to His listeners.
Matthew 7:24, 25 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.”
Regarding one’s life with Jesus, He taught us that two things will prove a man wise.
1. Hearing the words of Christ.
2. Obeying the words of Christ.
It is a simple equation. It is not difficult to understand the mechanics of Jesus’ promise. Jesus said that every time we hear AND do His words, we are building our house (life) upon Him. He promised that though storms will come against us, our lives will stand if we have heard and obeyed His words.
I thank God for this promise. The simplest man can obey Jesus. To build on the Rock of Jesus, one doesn’t have to be popular, talented, or advantaged. The poorest man or the richest man are equal in this. Age makes no difference, nor does experience. This is Jesus’ wonderful promise to all who will hear and do what he says.
“Thank You Lord for this wonderful promise. May we see the simplicity, and yet the profundity of your Word. May we not be foolish in thinking that hearing Your word is all that is needed. May we be found obeying Your word, and being very glad as a result. The unbelieving world may think us simpletons, but may we be assured that building our lives on You is the wisest decision we can make.”
It is inexorably ingrained in man to want to be noticed by his peers. The nature of unregenerate man produces in him a deep desire to be noticed, applauded, and set as a standard for others. Jesus taught that we ought to live differently. He taught us to live “in secret” with God regarding our good works and spirituality.
Matthew 6:1-6 “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 3But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.
5“And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 6But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
The “natural” part of man feels the need to guarantee himself attention and praise. There is a worry, a concern, and a preoccupation with making sure that others notice his good works or spirituality. Jesus warns us that if the praise of man is our driving force, then that is the only praise we will receive.
How wonderful for a man to be able to trust that God sees what that man “does in secret”, and that that man can rest in the promise that God will reward him. It is freeing, liberating, and releasing. It removes the likelihood of resentment towards others who don’t notice his efforts. It brings a deeper satisfaction. It frees a man to be who God made him to be, and to not be held back by others’ evaluation of his work, whether harsh and restricting, or inappropriately inflating.
Dear reader…are you feeling unnoticed by others? God sees your sincere works done for Him. Rest in that. Are you angry that others are not appreciating your efforts? God sees your good works, do them unto Him. He will reward you. Rest in the fact that God clearly your motivation and the sacrifices you make in serving Him. Be free from the shallow and incomplete recognition of man.