Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Keep Yourself ..In What? (Part 1)

Trusting the Lord through hard times is a step-by-step challenge of love that's only possible when we fix our gaze on Christ and His flawless character instead on other flawed people.

How has God's Spirit kept you in Jesus? He can do it!

If you don't mind me asking, believer, are you more in love with Jesus Christ now than when you first started out with Him?

What's your journey of faith been like? Have you been through some interesting times during your walk with the Lord..that you still just don't fully understand, but feel you kinda should?

Are you spiritually jaundiced some, semi-jaded, way cynical or flat out angry after seeing some gifted but immoral, or covetous ministers repeatedly getting blessed when all your plans and straightforward efforts have seemingly crumbled into an ugly heap of ashes before you? Do you feel like you've actually lived Psalm 73 (..not a bad psalm to meditate upon during difficult times)?

Who in the Body isn't bugged to see dear brothers or sisters bite the dust spiritually, or go after strange beliefs, or succumb to temptation and fall?

Man, but for the grace of God go I.

Cheer up, Jesus hasn't forgotten you—He fully understands and will provide!

How about your young or older children; how have they faired through the years? Hopefully none of them have taken a stride from the Master's side.. after all that you've poured in to nurture and minister to them. In faith, keep claiming the promises of God's Word for He is faithful to keep em.

Have you suffered loss and now find yourself in a spot that you never imagined was even possible for you to stop off for a visit in?

Do you feel angry at the Lord for the uber-bizarre things that He has allowed you to go through, after all the personal sacrifices that you've made for His Kingdom? You know that He could have blocked those things right, but for some reason He who sacrificed and got hurt the most, didn't.

Have you suffered bona fide hardcore or lesser spiritual abuse? Have you been deeply hurt by an authority figure, perhaps a Christian leader that you were sure was trustworthy.. and now that makes you wonder if God is cruel, manipulative, or equally fickle as well?

Did the person suddenly turn outright cruel on ya, or slowly turn aberrant in their beliefs regarding the Essentials, or surprisingly just come out of the closet with some long-term horrendous weirdness?

Hey, I am so sorry if that was the case, but where is your focus now? It breaks God's heart when posers play like they are real.. or when He sees His kids fail to grow up!

Perhaps you too have blown it.. it's your fault entirely, and you've already taken responsibility for the blunder refusing to point the finger of blame at anyone else.

Maybe you feel burned out on life..or just need a second chance in living? Jesus has just what you need—Life during life here and beyond!

So glad we serve a gracious God of second, third and the 100th chances!

Listen, no matter what kind of setbacks, trials, wounds, severe disappointments or unexpected ministry reversals that you endured, the Lord can indeed heal and restore you. He can pick you up, dust you off, and re-commission you back into His world-wide soul-winning service!

It's ok to have things completely beyond your control..when they are in His control. You loved God and had such a wonderful plan for your life, but He is thinking of something much better. He wants to give you a new vision—a Cause for you to be involved with! He is so much more concerned with what He will accomplish in you, than what He accomplishes through you. Character matters!

Yup, please know that God fully understands and is still there for you. He has never let you down even one time. He hasn't fallen off His throne for a sec and He isn't half sovereign.

Therefore with that in mind, I challenge you to stay on your knees and keep yourself in the Love of God in spite of any and everything!  Your past close experiences with Jesus are only of value today as they can be translated into your present day spiritual walk. Forget that which is behind and press on.  

The Apostle Paul told his spiritual son, Tim, "You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ" (2 Tim. 2:3, nkjv). He knew first-hand that real ministry could be real tough, but he wanted Tim to go the distance.. by God's strong anointing.

Personally, I have had the privilege of pastoring in some small and mega churches together with my wife Liney and with some wonderful congregants—churches that were both healthy and some that initially appeared that way but were not. We sadly discovered that they were sick due to the hidden moral failures and wrong beliefs of leadership regarding Cardinal Doctrines. Of course we prayed, appealed with gentleness and respect trying our best to maintain a good attitude and submission short of sin, and in one church this only got us the left foot of fellowship.

No biggy, we understand and still experience joy. No one can take it away! 

Liney and I indeed have a lot to learn still, but we have been through some costly post-CFNI-education! 

Religious leaders are puffed up posers. They so want to look good and be accepted as righteous before the people without the necessary obedience involved. Remember King Saul?  

It's also sad when you see humble Christians who once walked tight with the Lord.. suddenly stop, and for some unknown reason compromise ending up completely off track. Hey, it could happen to any of us.. if we let it. Don't!

That's why Paul instructed Timothy to, "Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee" (1 Tim. 4:16, kjv).

We've watched pastors and ministers carefully tweak their online doctrinal statements into brief minimalist versions that leave too much out in attempts to hide their extra-biblical aberrant doctrines that they teach in smaller settings. Forest Gump once said, "Stupid is as stupid does", but I guess we could also add, "Deceived is as deceived says" ..because what we each believe will eventually effect our communication and behavior. 

God wants us judging their message even when we aren't to judge their hearts or eternal destiny.

Liney and I indeed have a lot to learn still, but have been through our share of ministry surprises and nightmares. Expensive post-CFNI-education! 

Jude exhorts believers to: "Keep yourselves in the love of God" (v. 21). What an injunction. I've prayed that God would keep me before, but me keep myself in the love. What's that all about?

Man, if we don't check out the Bible context, perhaps we could miss getting what God wants us to get. The meaning could easily be misinterpreted right? How can we keep ourselves in the Lord's agape? 

Well, check out verse numero uno there. Who is the author talkin' to? Jude is addressing believers who are "sanctified," and "preserved" (a.k.a. kept), a called-out people protected in Jesus Christ.

When were you called and born again? When were you transferred from the kingdom of darkness and death into the Kingdom of light and life?

Jude proceeds through his fairly brief letter saying that some have begun in fellowship with God, but have failed to keep themselves in the love of God. Huh, interesting. I believe what he says. Have you seen any high octane preachers who started out right and ended up all money-hungry and wrong?  

I'm thinkin' I'll speak where the Bible speaks and remain silent where the Bible remains silent.

In Jude did those once in fellowship not achieve the full potential of God's plan for their lives? No. They failed to keep themselves in the will of God—that place where God's love could bless them in a special way. 

Jude goes on talking about the Israelites who after they were delivered out of Egyptian bondage.. died in the wilderness (v. 5). Uber-harsh of God? No, it was their choice to believe or not, just like it is yours and mine to choose.

They failed to enter in. Into what? Into that full-orbed blessing of the promise land that God had long set before them. But why? Well, it was because they didn't keep themselves "in." Did they experience God's powerful deliverance firsthand? Sure they did, but they didn't come to the full benefits of God's work in their lives. They failed to keep themselves where they needed to be spiritually. Will you?    

Jude proceeds farther about those certain angels who were once in fellowship with the Lord and then bailed out through rebellion. They "kept not their first estate" (v. 6). What exactly happened to those angels?  They wouldn't keep themselves in the love of God so they were chucked out of the Lord's everlasting Kingdom like rubbish airborne in the direction of the dumpster. Where are they now? They've all been reserved for the day of judgment ahead—their own special judgment. 

Think about the blessed people of Sodom and Gomorrah who took all their God-given blessings for granted as well.

Man, it's so easy for any of us to become ungrateful, disloyal, and non-appreciative of what God has freely given. These peeps lived in a primo lush situation—that well-watered green area of the plain. Yet, they certainly didn't value their blessings as they should have (v. 7). What did they choose to do instead? They opted to live for pleasure and missed their missionary purpose. They didn't enter or keep themselves in the will or love of God.  

Jude touches on Cain, who callously rubbed out his own brother. Just then touched on Mr. Balaam, who basically enticed God's chosen people to fall into sensual sin. He touched on the rebellious leader, Korah (which means "Core" in the original Greek), who just couldn't bring himself to humbly submit to God's delegated authority and order. He was annihilated by God's judgment instead (v. 11). God don't play when it comes to haughty wickedness! Our choices have consequences.

And with all these bad examples in mind to learn from.. Jude then exhorted those of his day (which could also apply to you and me now) to, "Keep yourselves in the love of God." 

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