STILL SEEKING THE KINGDOM
I am struck with the thoughts this morning of the motivation of the apostles that would cause them, move them, to leave all to follow Jesus. No doubt there was something that they believed of him that was extraordinary to get them to walk away from everything they had built and been raised to be.
And yet, all through the course of their discipleship they did not understand, they struggled to see, they reacted in the wrong spirit, they manifested little or no faith, they did great things themselves and gloried in the results. But, it was at the core of their continuance as they repeatedly argued over who was the greatest and who would lead when the time came. That night as they sat at supper with him, it was there. Even at the ascension they were questioning the restoration of the kingdom.
They had one thing that drove them from the carnal standpoint that they had not been delivered from even then. That was their superior mentality. The right to be free and do as they pleased and rule over others. Their need to be delivered from all enemies and had thought that Jesus was the ticket to that continued to plague them. I marvel at this underlying self seeking mentality even in them. And yet, it helps me to understand how some, maybe I, have continued to seek my own gain and profess leaving it. Why the perpetual draw and desire to look back still allures.
This is incredible in the regenerate soul that fights with this old self nature. And yet, I see it more now than ever. I see it in the comments of Peter and others during the Lord's ministry. I marvel at his patience with such. I hear his magnificent love in his prayer and anticipation of Peter's conversion for strength of the brethren.
There is the thinking of following Jesus that lives in rags and homeless, standing on the streets talking to any and all of 'go alone to get along'. Never resisting the daily struggles and condoning all opinions and knowing that it will all work out in the end, because God has a purpose in this all. To tell the truth, such makes me sick.
Then there is the image of Jesus turning over tables and running merchants out of the temple, looking about the crowd in anger, instructing the apostles to buy swords, and when the time came to fight for self, did not. He just gave in, so it appeared, when the challenge came. What absolute confusion this must have caused to explode in these disciples minds.
The do for others mentality is beyond human reason. And for some reason today the thought that some of what might have made Peter and the others so willing to leave and go was some twisted idea yet in their heads that this one who could fill a boat with fish and walk on water could make things better for them and make them powerful as well, helps me to know that even there Jesus did not just wipe out their minds and rule them with uncontrollable power to follow.
This strangely clears the fog and condemns the heart to see him patiently lead and teach. He didn't expect immediate results, but did require obedience. He did not drive, but lead. He planted the seed and left it to grow. Even when he ascended they were not ready to go. But, later would. Makes me see in shame that those that change coats to look better still are the same man within. It is horrible to see that you can believe and yet do not. Wow, how deceitful the heart is. How devilish the old man remains.
And yet, this raises Jesus to new heights of wonder in my mind that he did what he did for others, not himself. He taught how to defend others, but for their good surrender himself. No greater love ever manifest. How magnificent the view that He knows I'm not perfect here and patiently continues to lead on till the day I will be complete with him forever. Lord, praises be to your name. His mercy endureth to all generations forever. Amen.
Gen 2:18 And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
Notice the "not good" was said by God Himself. This was a remark made by God as He viewed man's estate before sin entered the world. God took note of Adam's unique solitude and moved to remedy it. This principle is still true. We don't do good alone.
Solitude can be a good thing when time is needed to clear the mind and reason in times of stress and trail. Seclusion can be good when people or property needs protection from hostility or threat. Privacy is required at times and desired as well. Quarantine is wise to prevent spread of contagion.
Yet, solitary confinement is used as punishment. Isolation is used to discipline a child. Seclusion is not good for extended periods of time upon the minds of men. It's in the feeling of being alone that stirs the panic of the mind and causes the anxious dread to make our hearts to race. The separation of mother and child cause both to obsess in withdrawal.
People resort to many means of distraction to relieve being alone. Held within limits, some can temporarily be an escape. Uncontrolled, they can be an addiction. It is when we are alone that our imaginations are unchecked. Our minds race with the 'what ifs'. Its when we are idle that we complain the most. Its the quiet we try to escape to not hear ourselves think. Because sometimes we don't like what we think.
"Absence makes the heart grow fonder", really? It also makes the mind forget. The aged slowly withdraw in memory to the past to times of family when left alone. We don't really do good alone. It is the most available excuse to a child on the spot, "I forgot!"
But, remember God has assured us we are never alone! He is always there. Those of us that know this need to remind others and stay connected. Perhaps we are limited in fellowship for a season, but don't let it become the habit. Resist the voids of mind and heart and fill them with the wealth of godly thoughts and pursuit. Discipline yourself to read and meditate on scripture. Resist the habit of pushing buttons and call a family member or friend and talk. Don't let distance rob your peace and fellowship. Come now and let us reason together. God has provided us a help. And there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. His name is JESUS.
To our membership here particularly and all friends close by: It is certainly with no intention of down playing the present circumstance, the Coronavirus threat, nor to disregard the sufferings and death of those that are and have been infected by this virus. The spread of this is real and the results are affecting us all, some to greater extent that others.
However, the near panic that spreads and the uncertainty of the future concerns me more than the possibility of catching this virus. The extremes that have come to bear in light of this situation are having and will have lasting results as to any further response of those in position to influence. Do be aware and vigilant as to what can and will control your personal life.
The inconveniences that capture our attention fuel the nervousness of our responses and motivate our reactions in ways that can be counter productive if we are not extremely cautious. We have as a nation and people faced far worse in the past (wars and diseases) and will probably be called on to confront much worse in the future. I, for one, am extremely limited to speak as to what God is or is not doing. And to that end I simply suggest for your thinking, that in times when people need God the most, surely they should remember Him first.
May we be reminded that the purpose for our meetings has always been the worship of God, not our comforts as such or social enjoyment? We must continue to meet together, to pray, to worship, and to serve one another. We need to be sensible as God gave us ability to reason and respond to such. Use what He has blessed us with to protect ourselves and reach out to those that do need help. Remember to thank Him for each day's blessings and petition Him for tomorrow's mercy and find hope for the future. He has far better for us beyond this world and can deliver us today.
Remind each other, encourage each other, pray for each other, and do what you can when you can for all, especially those of like faith. God has, does, and will deliver. In Jesus Name, Amen.
Much said about "Assurance Salvation" as to how a person is supposedly to find peace and confidence in their accomplishments and obedience to the ways of scripture, thus assuring themselves that they are 'really' saved and a child of God.
Jesus spoke of "Surety Salvation" as to how a person that was poor in spirit and mourned over their sins were already in the kingdom. He spoke of the evidence of being able to hear and believe as evidence of having already passed from death to life and that condemnation had been taken away.
While there is much to say about deliverance in obedience and blessing in following. Don't get the cart before the horse. Salvation, new life, gives manifestation first in the conflict of soul and the grief of the heart when faced by the reality of guilt in the cross of Christ. It finds its joy to know that Christ paid the debt and took sin away. Assurance is not in self, but Jesus.
Confidence in self can produce a good Pharisee. Faith in Christ produces a Christian. The first might make you feel pretty good in doing what you can. The last will make you feel terrible that you know you're not. Interesting isn't it???