Sunday, February 26, 2017

Don't Want to Go

Don't Want to Go
February 27, 2017
John 21:18 "Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go."

Peter was an amazing man of God. Jesus counted Peter as one of His personal friends, not just a disciple. The Lord used Peter in mighty ways, though Peter never saw the results of his own life. Peter's hard work echos in our lives today as one of the founding fathers of the church. Peter never set out to be a great hero; he set out to love the Lord and follow Him. His only plan in life was to do the work of the Lord. In doing so, being willing to be used of the Lord, Peter didn't understand what he was getting himself into. All Peter knew was that he loved the Lord and was willing to be used for the Lord's glory. But the Lord got to pick how Peter glorified Him.

Recall Jesus asked Peter to feed His sheep. Peter said he was willing. Then Jesus said something amazing to Peter that Peter never ever understood this side of Heaven. Jesus said that Peter would be led by others where he did not want to go. This was a foreshadowing of Peter's death but Peter didn't know it. All Peter knew was that he wanted to be used by the Lord. The Lord had it in mind to allow Peter a martyr's death, execution style. Peter didn't know what he was signing up for; He didn't see it coming. Had Peter known, I wonder if he would have still followed the Lord. Would you?  If the Lord appeared to you today and asked if you wanted to follow Him, I'm sure your answer would be a resounding Yes.  But if the Lord appeared to you and asked you if you wanted to die a martyr's death, would you sign up or have some reservation? I doubt few of us would follow the Lord's design for our lives if He spelled out what we were going to have to walk through on His behalf. There are times I question it for sure.

Peter wanted to follow the Lord, but Jesus knew Peter wouldn't actually want to die the martyr's death.  That was the Lord's design, to know Peter's future, plan it out, but only reveal what Peter needed to know. When it came down to it, overall, yes, Peter wanted to follow the Lord. But there were parts that Peter didn't want to do, like die the way he was executed. Some say Peter understood when Jesus mentioned it years before, that Peter would die in that manner, but the book of John was not written most likely until after Peter's death and that line was inserted almost after the fact. Either way, it is doubtful Peter knew the full ramifications of the prophecy of his own death. There were portions of Peter's life that he didn't want, yet was still willing to go through it on account of the Lord. There are portions of your life that you will not want, but you get to decide now if you will move forward with it anyway.

The last line inserted almost after the fact about Peter's death is the most important. It reads that Peter's death, the thing Peter wouldn't want to do, would be that very thing that Glorified the Lord. The thing you don't necessarily want in your life, might be the very thing that the Lord intends for you to go through in order to Glorify Him. So, I'll ask you, do you want to live for the Lord?  If the answer is yes, then you might live through some difficult situations all just to lead something or someone to the Lord, pointing to Him. And you might never ever see the results. When you go through difficulty, the things you don't want to do, consider this, THIS, might be for the Lord's glory.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  John 21, Romans 9:21, 2 Tim 2:20

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Prayer is Faith

Prayer is  Faith
February 20, 2017
Luke 18:1 "Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up."

The parable of the persistent widow was intended just like every other parable, to teach a lesson. But what is the right lesson Jesus was intending? The parable may sound simple, but we often miss the full message of what Jesus wanted us to grasp. Recall the parable was about a widow who wanted justice from an adversary. She went to the judge and begged for justice, but the judge would not grant it. She kept coming and coming to the judge and begging for justice, but none was given. Finally, the judge granted the woman's request, just to get her off his back. In order to get the full nuance of the parable, as the disciples understood it, we must read it with their understanding.

Back then, a woman who didn't have a husband didn't have any rights, especially in a court of law. The widow probably had just cause in her argument, but because the judge was under no obligation of the law to grant her request, he didn't see any reason to even show kindness. The woman couldn't sue the one who was oppressing her or taking advantage of her situation. In fact, she was probably being exploited because the adversary knew he could get away with it. The woman possibly deserved justice, but the judge was under no obligation to give it to her. He owed her no justice in the courts, however moral her request. The judge was not in the wrong with his decision, in denying her request; he didn't owe her a thing.

Like the widow, you and I have no rights in the court of the Lord's law. The Lord is under no obligation to grant our request. We have no case, no valid argument, however moral the request. But like the parable, Jesus wasn't saying the judged owed her anything or that the judge was doing something beyond what the court allowed. Jesus was saying despite her lowly position, she still begged the only one who could do anything about the situation. Even though the judge didn't owe her a response or even the granting of the request, because she was persistent, he gave it to her. Jesus said we are to be like the woman, never giving up in the request even though we have no right to require an answer. Jesus said we are to never give up in our prayers, in our fervent prayer requests of the King who owes us nothing.

You've likely given up on prayer request or two, however noble the cause. I know I have. But Jesus would say to keep coming back to the Judge who can do something about it, even if He owes you nothing.  You aren't owed a thing; neither was the widow owed justice. But Jesus said to never give up on it, to pray and pray and pray and pray and pray and pray. And when you've done all you can to pray, pray for it some more, even if the Lord seems silent. If you've given up on the prayer request, then you've given up faith. This was the point of Jesus' who parable. At the end of the parable, the Bible actually sums up the parable. Jesus said the parable was to see if there was anyone who actually still had faith. Those who have faith won't give up on their prayer requests. If you've given up on the request, you've given up on your full faith. 

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Lk 17:6-10, Lk 18:1-8, Heb 11:1-16

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Labor Shortage

Labor Shortage
February 3, 2017
Luke 10:2 "The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few."

Scripture says that the harvest is truly full and ready but the laborers are few. What is the harvest? The harvest is referring to those who have not yet come to a knowledge of Jesus Christ. The harvest is referring to those that maybe within the walls of the church, but not fully committed to the Lord or maybe have not acknowledged Him as Savior still.  The harvest is referring to those that have now accepted Him as Savior but who are still hurting and need the commitment of others to help keep that harvest secure.  But the Bible says there is a shortage of workers to bring in that harvest. The Bible says there is a shortage of workers because the Bible is wrong.  Before you suggest heresy for a moment, understand what scripture is referencing.  Scripture is talking about the salvation of souls in comparison to a farmer's field.  A farmer couldn't do it all alone back then.  They didn't have fancy machinery to help bring in the harvest.  Back then, it was all done by manual, back breaking labor.

The Bible says we are short on those back breaking laborers to help the farmer bring in the crop.  Here is how the Bible is wrong.  The Bible, in the analogy, fell short of explaining the difference between workers and volunteers.  When a farmer is bringing in his crops, he hires workers who agree to work for a wage in exchange for their labor.  The Bible, or God, never specifies or guarantees your wages if you are willing to work for Him. In essence, He is asking for volunteers.  No farmer could expect to bring his harvest in on time if he had to depend on volunteers. The Bible should have said the harvest is plenty but the volunteers are few.  No one wants to volunteer for a back breaking job.  Sure, there are plenty of casual, one-time commitment, Sunday workers in the church, but few are willing to break their backs for the church. They exchange their casual labor when it isn't difficult.  God doesn't talk a whole lot about recruiting volunteers, but essentially that is what He is asking for, someone to sacrifice his hard-efforts in exchange for nothing in return, a volunteer who is willing to work like a laborer.

Now hold up.  Does God actually never promise wages for your efforts?  He promises rewards in Heaven. He promises acknowledgment for your efforts and commitments for Him, once you get to Heaven. But He never promises wages on earth.  If you keep with the analogy, without taking it too far, the harvest represents all the work to be done on earth before Heaven. The farmer pays the laborers AFTER the harvest.  So, in essence, the Lord promises rewards for the volunteers, once the volunteers make it to Heaven.  This is kind of a crummy deal if you are looking for money here on earth.  But if you're Heavenly minded, the Scripture didn't lie.  You will get paid. But, unlike the farmers workers who can quit if they don't like the wage scale, you don't get to negotiate or decide your wage.

Christians far too often forget they are working for the Lord when they do anything for Him.  They quit their efforts because things are hard and there appears to be no compensation in this life coming for their hard work. That's when you have to keep pressing on, believing He will make good on His promise, His deal to reward His laborers. You've felt this way, like your work is not worth it anymore. If you've felt this way, you've forgotten who you are working for. It is easy to feel frustrated if you think you are working for a human but you cannot look at man while you are working for the benefit of that man.  You are working for the benefit of the Father in Heaven who will repay all those who worked for Him. He will also repay those who refused to work for Him.  Did you ever think of that?  Did you ever consider He might allow you in to Heaven, but withhold your reward because you didn't actually work for it? You don't get rewarded for doing nothing.  Read your Scripture like this: there is plenty of work to do but few who are willing to do the work.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  1 Sam 26:23, Jer 17:10, Matt 25:21, Rom 2:6, Eph 6:8, 1 Cor 15:58