Sunday, January 31, 2016

Betrayer Friend

Betrayer Friend
Feb 1, 2016
Matthew 26:50  "Jesus replied, 'Friend, do what you came for.'"

It is a unique position the Lord is in, having the ability to know the future, our future.  He already knows what is going to happen, all the good, the bad, how we will react, how we will sin, everything.  And yet, despite His foreknowledge of our sins He loves us anyway.  I cannot imagine loving someone whom I know will sin against me, especially knowing how he or she will specifically sin against me.  Thankfully, Jesus loves us anyway, despite knowing how we will fail Him.  If He knows the sin I will commit in the future, then He also knows how and when He will forgive me for that sin.  I imagine that He must look at me, seeing my sin and also the forgiveness of that sin, then continues to love me anyway.  It must be a fluid thought for Him, the view of sin and the forgiveness at the same time.

Jesus had a friend, an original disciple, Judas, who betrayed Him.  This is obviously not a shock, we all know what Judas did, but it is odd that Jesus predicted His betrayer and yet remained his friend.  Jesus should have removed his disciple card from him.  If I knew someone was going to betray me to the point of death, I would cease to be his friend.  Not Jesus.  He prepared forgiveness with the foreknowledge of the specific sin and loved him anyway.  There was a week or more between the time Jesus predicted His betrayer and the time He was betrayed.  This gave Jesus plenty of time to convince Judas not to go through with it.  But Jesus did not do any such thing.  Jesus continued to love Judas while Judas continued about his schemes.  In fact, Jesus remained true all the way through to the end.

The moment before Judas handed Jesus over in betrayal, Jesus said, "Friend, do what you came for."  Wow, how powerful.  Jesus called him 'friend' during the actual act of betrayal.  Jesus wasn't known for sarcasm, this was a genuine friendship for Him.  I can almost imagine the face of Jesus, His eyes catching the eyes of Judas, with a penetrating look into his soul.  But in that look Jesus bore no condemnation for Judas, no judgment, no chastisement, only love and forgiveness, calling him a friend even still.  I wonder how Judas felt.  Did he feel embarrassed and ashamed?  Did he feel indignant or did he begin to regret his decision?  It must have been awkward for sure, having all the disciples, his former friends witness the betrayal.

We know in the end Judas couldn't live with himself, with the poor decision of betraying Jesus.  Judas hanged himself.  But he didn't have to do that.  Jesus had already prepared forgiveness for Judas, but Judas didn't accept it.  How tragic an ending, knowing Jesus already forgave the sin and the sinner yet it ended in separation rather than continued friendship.  If only Judas could have asked for the forgiveness that was already there.  You and I are like Judas, the betrayer friend of Jesus, when we sin.  The forgiveness is already there, before you actually sinned and He still wants to be your friend.  If you think He can't be your friend, knowing your sin, think again.  He loved Judas even up and through the act of betrayal.

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Ps 86:5, Matt 26, Matt 27:3-5

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Is He Opposed

Is He Opposed
January 25, 2016
Numbers 22:22  "But God was very angry when he went, and the angel of the Lord stood in the road to oppose him."

The Lord allows us a free will but that doesn't mean it is always wise to  exercise it.  Sometimes our will and the Lord's will do not parallel and when push comes to shove, the Lord's will should always prevail.  He knows better than we do and He is kind enough to warn us when our will is opposite His.  However, if you choose not to listen to the Lord, then He WILL oppose you.  Consider the story of Balaam and his donkey.

Balaam was a spiritual man but not quite the most Godly of men.  He was asked to put a curse on the nation of Israel so they could not advance in size or place.  The Lord appeared to Balaam and told Balaam not to carry through with the curse.  I'll pause right here and suggest the Lord was a gentleman about it.  The Lord appeared to Balaam, was aware of the plan, and clearly told him not to do it, without consequence.  The Lord's position on the subject was not ambiguous; it was crystal clear.  At first Balaam submitted to the Lord's position on the subject but was fully enticed to do it anyway.  Balaam set out to continue in the plan and the Lord set out to oppose him.  But again, the Lord was a gentleman about it.  The Lord sent an angel of death to strike Balaam down should he actually continue with the plan after a certain point.  Though Balaam could not see the angel, the Lord allowed Balaam's donkey to be fully aware of the impending execution.  The donkey tried to keep Balaam from advancing, but Balaam insisted.  Several times the donkey tried not to continue down the path, but Balaam was determined.  Finally the donkey spoke against Balaam and asked him why he was determined to head down this path, the path that would only lead to destruction.  Thankfully the Lord used the donkey to speak some sense into him.

I often wonder how many times I have been determined to do my own will against the wishes of the Father?  You've undoubtedly done the same a time or two.  When the path was full of resistance, did you push through, making a mistake, or did you use it as an opportunity to evaluate if it was truly a good idea or not.  If the Lord can't get you to listen to His word, then He will oppose you along the path.  If you continue on that path, the Lord does promise it will lead to destruction.  He doesn't want you headed toward destruction but rather puts up road blocks as continual warning signs.  I'm curious as to why Balaam continued with the plan despite clear advice from the Lord.  But this speaks to the human nature, as we are going to do what we want to do, regardless of how clear the Lord feels about it.  This only leaves opportunity for opposition from the Lord.

Balaam didn't see the donkey's behavior as a warning sign; he was too focused on his own plan, to accomplish his own agenda.  I have to say that I probably would have remembered the words of the Lord when the path became blocked.  It would have forced me to realize maybe the plan wasn't truly a good idea.  But then again, maybe I would have done the same thing Balaam did and push through regardless.  What do you do when there is opposition to your goal?  Do you push through, finding an alternate route, or do you evaluate if the plan is recommended by the Lord?  You may not be deliberately headed down the wrong paths, as those roads might not necessarily be sinful, but they still might not be recommended by the Lord.  While I am a firm believer in never giving up, it is important to evaluate the goal and determine if it is the Lord's goal.  What opposition are you facing right now in your plans?  Are you sure those plans parallel with the Lord's?

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Numbers 22, Prov 29:23, James 4:6

Monday, January 18, 2016


January 18, 2016
Philippians 4:9  "And what you have learned and have received and have heard and have seen in me, practice these things. And the God of peace will be with you."

The Bible is full of sage advice.  If you read the Bible for nothing else, other than wisdom, you cannot go wrong.  I have not found one thing in the Bible that has led me astray or given me a poor recommendation.  In fact, if I cannot hear a clear voice from the Lord when I need advice, as long as I follow Scripture, I cannot go wrong.  There is so much to glean from the Bible regarding relationships, leadership, finances, health, work, you name it.  If you have a problem, there is a method to handle it as recommended by Scripture.  When I say recommendations, I mean that it is completely optional.

You have the full option to follow sage advice or not.  The Lord gives you the opportunity to make your own decisions, completely by yourself.  You can also choose your own ways in life, without even acknowledging Him.  I would not recommend that, however, but many people choose that path.  But if you've decided there is a God in Heaven who created the universe by Himself, and that He truly did send His Son to die on the cross for you, why would you attempt to decide anything else?  I mean, why would you think that someone, or yourself, has any greater ideas than the One who created the Universe.  If I need to figure out how to fix my car, I turn toward the manufacturer's manual for guidance.  I don't attempt to disassemble the vehicle completely on my own, thinking I'm smart enough to figure it out.  Sure, the Lord gave you and me a strong head on our shoulders, but it does not suggest our computing power is anywhere remotely close to the Lord's.

You have a problem right now, a conundrum, a solution that needs a resolution and you've been trying to figure out how to resolve it.  Start with reading the Bible, before you attempt to handle it your way.  Find out what Scripture recommends before you ask your spouse or even your parents for help.  If you want to handle it one way and the advise you're receiving from others recommends the same thing, yet neither are parallel with Scripture, then you're likely to screw it up (unless, of course, you follow Scripture).  Again, I've never been able to prove the Bible wrong.  If the Bible says submit to your leadership and pray for them, then that is what you should do, serving them in the manner the Lord asks of you.  If the Bible says to stop worrying about it and trust Him, then that is what you should do.  If the Bible says to forgive and love that jerk, then that is what you should do.

Don't get me wrong, I've never said following the recommendations in Scripture are easy, or will pay off instantly.  I just know I've never been able to prove the Bible to be wrong.  The Bible has a recommendation for EVERYTHING, literally everything and it seldom makes sense to our human understanding.  But if you fill your head with Scripture, and life throws you a new one, you'll instantly draw upon the recommendations found in Scripture and ironically it will no longer seem like a recommendation but the only way to handle life.  I do know one thing, that the advice found in Scripture is the right way and if followed correctly will never result in disaster.

Don't take my word for it; look it up: 2 Kings 5:1-14, Is 55:9, John 13:17

Sunday, January 10, 2016

All In

All In
January 11, 2016
Deuteronomy 4:29  " But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and all your soul."

With all the media attention lately regarding a record lottery winnings potential, it is apropos to discuss.  While I do not play the lottery, it is tempting to day dream about the winnings, over a billion dollars.  My mind cannot fathom that much money at my disposal.  I was doing some math, however, and did calculate the taxes owed to the respective government agencies and that amount, too, is unfathomable.  Half of the winnings is lost to a lump sum payment if you want the money up front and more than half of what is left over is due for taxes.  Quickly, the amount of money remaining is a dizzying level compared to the initial jackpot.  The discussions people have regarding this scenario have them frustrated with their imaginary, unearned money.  Naturally, they want it all.  Emotionally, they are all in, as they expect something that is statistically not probable to happen.  But all in, they are, nonetheless, wanting something that will result in nothing.

I wish people were like this in their relationship with the Lord.  I wish they expected everything out of the Lord they could possibly have, every last drop.  If they did, it would change their emotional landscape and how much they invest in their relationship with Him.  But, people don't have enough faith to live that way. They are satisfied with just a little from the Lord and consequently put that same amount of little effort into the relationship.  Ironically, people have more to gain from the Lord than any lottery could offer.  And, statistically speaking, we are more likely to get every last bit from the Lord as compared to winning the lottery.  To get every last bit the Lord has for you, you must be all in.  It is a full commitment into Him and the winnings are limitless.  He offers: peace, fulfillment, joy, security, forgiveness, and eternity with Himself.  What a jackpot!

But to get that jackpot, the whole jackpot, you have to have the whole of you committed.  It takes ALL to get ALL.  Whatever level you want, you can have of Him.  If you want a little peace, you can have a little.  But why in the world would you just want a little peace?  It's like winning the lottery and telling the issuing authorities to keep the money, because you only want enough to buy dinner for the night.  How absurd.  This is exactly what we do with the Lord.  We limit the life of abundance because we limit our commitment to Him.  Because of this, the Lord limits us, sometimes even tests us.  If you doubt this, He tested the Israelites.  He wanted to see if they were actually serving Him wholeheartedly.  If the Lord put you through the test, would you pass?  Would you be found to be all in, fully committed?

There are days I would not pass that test, consequently I have left blessings on the table.  I doubt I have received everything in this life the Lord had intended for me.  I essentially told the Lord to withhold His blessing by my actions.  You've done that, too, whether you want to admit it or not.  The Lord has something for you, an abundance to meet that specific need, only you're actions, or lack thereof, are keeping you from receiving them.  You aren't quite all in today.  And if you are all in, without receiving what you need, then maybe He is testing to see if you'll still serve Him wholeheartedly.  Start day dreaming about the life you can have if you invest fully in the Lord.

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Deut 10:12, Deut 13:3, Deut 15:10, Deut 30:1, Josh 23:14, 1 Chronicles 28:9, Matt 22:37, Mark 12:33, John 10:10