Monday, June 22, 2020

Take a Second Look

Take a Second Look
June 22, 2020
Luke 9:62 "Jesus replied, 'No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the service in the kingdom of God.'"

Jesus taught several times that there would be a cost to following Him. Jesus lived a humble lifestyle, as He knew the things of the world were of no value in the Kingdom of Heaven. He was dedicated in his work on earth, not accumulating wealth or status or anything that would deter Him from the goal. His relationships were authentic, a small circle of those He tried to keep around Him,  shunning fame even. It would have been extremely possible for Jesus to do miracles so big and public, that Jesus could have become famous, even. He had power untold, and yet He kept it in check. He could have made himself huge in the world's eye, with lightning from His fingertips and force everyone to bow to Him, but He did not. That wasn't His goal or plan. He sacrificed more than we will ever understand, just in His daily life, for the sake of what He was called to do.

He said that we should be like minded in our work, not even looking back at the world around us. A man wanted to follow Jesus as a disciple and Jesus instructed Him to simple follow, but the man suggested he should return home first and put his affairs in order, making sure his father was buried. Some theologians believe his father was still alive, and this could have been years before the man was fully ready to follow the Lord. The analogy is in regard to salvation as well as the dedication in following the Lord after initial salvation. Jesus said the man who wanted to go back and bury his father was not fit for service. It was possible the man's father was a devout Jew that did not believe in Jesus as the Messiah. The man would have disgraced his father by serving Jesus and so the man wanted to let his father die in peace, possibly, on good terms with each other. Jesus said this man was not fit to be one of His disciples.

As Christians, we understand who the Lord is and the message of His work, but do we fully realize the focus that Jesus is asking of us?  Jesus told the man he could not even look back and be fit for discipleship, forget about the huge task of going home to bury his father. Do we understand the urgency of following the Lord and the tasks at hand? Do we understand the focus Jesus is asking of us in our work for Him, in His calling on our lives? Some of us have not fully looked back but the deception in the church is to look sideways. We get distracted by the ease of going to church, the programs, the social aspect of our Christian friends. When we look sideways, we are not fully looking ahead and that slows our pace, detracts from our focus.

We should be disciplined in evaluating the things in our lives worth keeping and doing along with the things in our lives worth letting go. There are distractions in your life right now and that are keeping you from your focus, and the Lord is asking you to take a second look at those things. The Lord says if you are not willing to evaluate your possible distractions, then you are not fit for His kingdom. This seems harsh, but those are His words. Some of you have a ministry you are supposed to be a part of, and yet you've been putting it off, saying not yet. You are either fit for service or you are not, there is no middle ground. Its time for singular focus.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Gen 19:14-26, Luke 9:57-62, Luke 17:20-37

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

The Lord Never Knew Him

The Lord Never Knew Him

Matthew 7:23 "Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'"
June 16, 2020

In Romans, the Apostle Paul writes that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. This is referring to confession as Jesus being Lord and receiving what Christians today call salvation. It is the necessary steps that we have accepted as practice to ensure we have salvation from hell and will be in Heaven someday. Paul writes that it is critical steps of confession and belief, both in the name of the Lord, that attains initial salvation. He says that everyone who does this will be saved. But there is some conflicting verbiage in the Bible, as Jesus says that not everyone who calls out His name will be saved. Jesus said there are those who,  in the Christian world, will earn their living in the church, and yet the Lord will not acknowledge them as saved when they try to enter the gates of Heaven.

Both Paul and Jesus are correct in their words, there is no dichotomy, just clarification required. Paul lays out the formula for achieving salvation, as no other steps required, with the same rules for everyone, Jew or Gentile. Jesus, however, was clear that just calling out His name is the initial act, but then Jesus gets to judge his heart. Paul clarified the steps for us, but Paul always left it there, realizing it then becomes a private relationship between the individual and the Lord. Paul was not given authority to judge the heart, only the Lord can do that. Jesus said there are many who will work in the church and live their whole lives attending church (even knowing the Scriptures and the lingo), yet not actually be saved.

Jesus was clear that that initial steps are calling on the name of the Lord, however clarified it by saying only those who then do the will of Father are truly saved. This is the issue of Lordship. Jesus was saying that a man who is performing acts of service in a church as a church leader, but not necessarily hearing from the Lord and doing the Lord's will, may not be saved. As Christians, we receive salvation and then we have to submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in our lives, following His will. Salvation is the initial step on the journey, but the journey proves the authenticity of salvation.

Sadly, there are many reading this who call themselves Christians, but have deceived themselves into thinking their salvation was authentic. Maybe their motive was just to find insurance against hell and never knew Jesus as Lord. It is possible to know who Jesus is and yet not know Him as Lord. In doing the Lord's will, it takes knowing His will and then implementing it. Many Christians live out their lives doing their own will, even pastors of churches can have their own agenda. You likely sit in church alongside many who call themselves Christians, and yet they will not be in Heaven with you. Maybe you are deceiving yourself. Maybe you think you are a Christian and yet are following your own path in life, your own will and your own plans. The Lord would suggest that this is not the path required of a Christian. Show yourself the authenticity of your salvation by your life and choices and whom you seek for direction. You can do all the right things, good things, even in a Church, and yet if you are not seeking what the Lord would have you do, laying down your wants and desires, then you are not saved, your salvation was never authentic. 

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Matt 7:13-23, Rom 10:5-13, Phil 2:12

Monday, June 8, 2020

Formula for National Healing

Formula for National Healing
June 8, 2020
Jeremiah 33:6 "I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security."

The prophet Daniel, wrote in Daniel chapter 9 about Jeremiah, and he said he understood the 70 years of captivity were about to come to an end, as written about through the prophet Jeremiah, as there was a promise and a caveat. The promise is in Jeremiah 33, and the Lord says starting in verse 6, I will bring health and healing to it (meaning the land and the people in it), and I will bring them back and rebuild them. Then it goes on to further say, I will cleanse them from their sin and will forgive their rebellion against me. I will restore the fortunes of the Land as they were before. So Daniel read these words and he was scratching off the years waiting for the Lord to bring full restoration and healing to the house of Israel.

If you read chapter 9 of Daniel, he doesn’t pack a suitcase, he doesn’t write letters to his relatives telling them he is going to come home and ask them to get a hot dinner ready, you’ll read it and notice that he gets on his knees and repents. Daniel repents. Daniel was likely one of the most righteous men of the time, possible the most righteous man alive, and he gets on his knees and repents. He understood the Lord was going to heal the land and forgive the sins and so Daniel took it upon himself to repent for the need to live in exile in the first place, because the children of Israel broke the covenant with the Lord. Daniel repented on behalf of all the sins that were committed to get them the 70-year sentence, even though Daniel was only a child when it all started and went down. Daniel, himself, had nothing to do with the 70 years in exile and had nothing personal to repent for, absolutely nothing, but he repented on behalf of all the sins of the forefathers that brought the punishment of the exile.

Daniel, unlike a few of our church leaders today, understood the formula in the Bible to bring about national healing. The formula is found in 2 Chronicles 7. The Lord says, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek my face and repent of their wicked ways, then I will hear their prayers and then I will forgive their sins and then I will heal their land.

Daniel knew the formula, if he wanted the prophet's words to come true, the formula for seeing the nation healed and people restored, there had to be repentance. The formula is an if-then statement. It requires acknowledgement of sin and repentance from it. The Lord says the acknowledgement of sin and repentance comes first and then the healing and restoration would follow. We often get it wrong, and our church leaders today calling for prayers to restore and heal our land is wrong. The church leaders need to call for  repentance.

Daniel knew this. He knew he had to acknowledge and repent of the sins of his forefathers and that the Lord would do His part. Jeremiah told them of this need for forgiveness of sins, and both Jeremiah and Daniel were familiar with the formula in 2 Chronicles 7. Daniel had to lead. And so, we as Christians, need to lead the way in repentance if we want to see our national healed. Don't pray for national healing, that is a foregone conclusion from the Lord when there is repentance.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  2 Chr 7, Jer 33, Dan 9