Wednesday, October 3, 2007

"Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me."

Luke 7:23-25

23Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me."

24After John's messengers left, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: "What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind? 25If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear expensive clothes and indulge in luxury are in palaces.

I can not tell you how many times I have had to bring my misleading heart back to the rich truths of God's word. Specifically to the hardship that John the Baptist, David, Moses, Joseph, Daniel, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Paul, John the Beloved and so many others have faced. Sometimes along the way I fall into the trap of believing that because I am a Christian things should be a certain way for me. God is sovereign and His word is a blueprint for sure, it is pure and without fault. But sometimes I let my feelings just over rule what I know in my mind. I have spent the last almost decade saturating my mind in God's word daily. I do not say that with pride...I say that because I have been a girl in desperation for my God. Listen, I do not think there is anyone on the planet more prone to wander than me. I have to stay close to Him through His word or I will allow my feelings to deceive me, I have fallen into that trap a million times. There are so many opportunities that you and I will have to say in essence "you know what I deserve better than this" (I am not talking about staying in abusive relationships and etc) and we will want to cling to the rights that we think are ours. Philippians 2 paints the picture that shatters my rights when I want to start thinking of what I am entitled to. Jesus Christ came. He took on flesh. He was fully God. He was fully man. He did not consider equality with God as something to be grasped. He humbled Himself and became obedient to death on a cross....a criminals death and He was the lamb without spot or blemish. He took on our sins and He did not have to. He bore the cross and He did not have to...but in His grace and mercy He did. Did we deserve forgiveness? No! But He forgave anyway. It is a great paradox.
I look at John the Baptist and the consecrated life he lived during his tenure on this earth. If anyone deserved blessing we would surely think it was him. If anyone deserved release from prison we would think it was him. If anyone did not deserve to be beheaded we would think him. He was focused and his mission was clear. He took the Nazarite vow and lived to prepare the way for the Lord. But stop for just a minute and remember this: The Lord Jesus and John the Baptist were related. Their mothers were cousins, remember. What an interesting dynamic. John is known as the voice of one calling in the desert. He was calling people to prepare the way for the Lord...not only for His earthly ministry but to prepare room for the Lord by turning from sin and turning to God. Then John's ministry lasts only a year and as you know he was thrown into prison.
I love the boldness of John. A boldness that I think is lost in our day. Why do I think it is lost...because I think that sometimes (me included) we fear man instead of God. John wasn't afraid to call things for what they were. Why? Because he knew that souls were at stake and that Jesus came to bring a sword.

Proverbs 29:25 says that Fear of man will prove to be a snare. IT will and it will keep us from our destiny in Christ. A snare is something like a trap that we fall into. Fearing man and living for the approval of men will prove to be a trap.
Fear of man will prove to be a snare,
but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.

I love the verse in Galatians 1 that says this: "10Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ." Enough said.

Though it won't be easy there is great blessing in living to please the Lord. I have certainly experienced repercussions of living to please myself.

Proverbs 14:26-27

26 He who fears the LORD has a secure fortress,
and for his children it will be a refuge.

27 The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life,

Back to John, he was in prison because people in authority did not like the truth. They were above reproach in their own eyes and they were going to live for themselves and do as they pleased. When John confronted them with the truth it was not what they liked...they hated it. See for yourself:

Mark 6:16-18
16But when Herod heard this, he said, "John, the man I beheaded, has been raised from the dead!"

17For Herod himself had given orders to have John arrested, and he had him bound and put in prison. He did this because of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, whom he had married. 18For John had been saying to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife."

So they had power over John but it was only temporary, and they did not have the power to destroy his soul. The Lord was in control of that horrible situation just like He is Sovereign over you and me.

John is in prison for living a life set apart to Christ. Remember he is the one that said that he must decrease and Christ increase. So John while in prison, faced with the fact that he may die as well, sends his disciples to ask this:

Luke 7

"18John's disciples told him about all these things. Calling two of them, 19he sent them to the Lord to ask, "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?"

John like all of us probably struggled with knowing that God could do anything but why was he in prison faced with death. What spurs me to journal this is that I have been going through a long term situation where I really want to believe God over but as time creeps along and I see absolutely no change I am tempted to wonder why and doubt. I am tempted to believe that I deserve better than this and doubt the goodness of God. If we do not go back to God's word and see that His ways our not our ways we will fall prey to the snare of believing that we deserve better than what God is working out in us and maybe for the sake of others. Life is not easy and our circumstances our not going to be cake. If we live a life based on circumstances we will fall away (I don't mean loss of salvation but ensnared to sin) on account of what He is doing. The word for fall away that I referenced in the beginning is skandalon meaning: "a trap, stumbling block. To cause to stumble and fall. In the NT figuratively, to be a stumbling block to someone, cause to stumble at or into something, give a cause of offense to someone. Without reference to the element of deceit, it means to throw someone unawares into ruin; to give occasion for ungodly conduct resulting in the mischief incurred thereby. To craftily entice or lead to ruin, allowing someone to adopt a course in which he will unknowingly come to mischief and ruin."
You may need to read this again. I believe Jesus was telling John to hold onto his faith because He told them to send word to him "Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me." In other words life will present circumstances that will cause you to doubt the plan and goodness of God. And believe me the enemy will use your doubt as an opportunity. He is an opportunist. Never turn your back on him. He will present you opportunities that will ensnare you. Now what if you have already doubted and fallen away on account of your circumstances? Listen to me....God is not like man. He is forgiving. He made a way for us and with Him there is complete forgiveness. If you fell into a trap He does not mean for you to lay down and die for the duration of your time here. He will redeem that sin and use it for His glory. The enemy will do all he can to condemn you and make you ineffective. Listen to me...get the word in your heart and mind. Saturate yourself with scripture, sound teaching, music that edifies. He will train you for battle. I can not tell you how many times I have had past sin thrown up in my face. Some how I felt I needed to punish myself and carry around that load because I deserved to. The Lord took on our sin and our disgrace. Lets not let it continue to get the victory over us.
Let me give you some scenarios of circumstances that we are faced with and options that we can take (that we don't want to take).
1. Being single. The temptation is to think that God has forgotten you. Time goes by and maybe you have been obedient in the area of purity. More time creeps along. You think that because you have been pure that God will bless that (He will). More time goes by and there is no guy or girl in site. The enemy brings an opportunity your way. You deserve this he says. Yes God has a will...but maybe this is not part of His plan and well you have these desires so what are you going to do, just live the rest of your life without say? You doubt, then an opportunity comes along and you are ensnared. Then your eyes are opened and you have a huge mess on your hands. Marriage does not solve a purity issue. What I believe happens in this situation is you have an unmet desire. Maybe God's plan is that He is enough and that you can live victoriously. Remember He was tempted in every way that we are yet without sin. What do you think that means? It means every way that we are. He will also give us power to live victoriously. Even with purity...I know this first hand. I know what it is like to sin my tail off but also to have lived a life of sin and be able to live victoriously through Him. Our life here is short and if we focus on this being it...we will miss the point. Do keep bringing your heart and desires to Jesus. Keep pouring them out to Him. That is all I know to do when time keeps passing and I see no end in sight. "Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me."

2. Marriage. You are married and you feel extremely unloved and neglected (I am particularly writing to women so) you wonder what happened. Did you make a mistake (No if you are married you are married...but this is the doubt part)? This is not how you thought life would turn out. Years and years have gone by and there has been no change. God has changed you but not the dynamics of your relationship. You feel lonely at times and just want to be wanted and loved by your husband. The enemy brings an opportunity along...another man. He will tell you all that you long to hear. You feel wanted and longed for. You say to yourself...I deserve this. Things have not changed here and my life is so short. I deserve to feel something. Why should I live this way, with this man for the rest of my life in misery. You think that the grass is greener. So you take of the fruit and eat and your eyes are open and you have a huge mess on your hands. The grass is not greener. What you needed was for Christ to fill the lonely, desperate places in you. You doubted Him and went after your deceitful desires. You feel used and full of shame. You fell into a trap. How did you even get here? Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me."

3. Betrayal- you have been betrayed by someone. A spouse, friend, or family member. You know that God's word says to forgive them but you feel that if you forgive them that it gives them entitlement. That it will be OK and you are not OK. You choose to stick to how you feel instead of truth. Your anger turns to months and years. You become bitter and that bitterness creeps into every part of your murky water. You live a life of isolation. You can no longer trust anyone you say. You have no have pushed everyone away. You were done wrong but instead of turning it over to the Lord until He healed decided to be in control. You thought that if trusting God got you to this place then why should you trust Him? You get to the end of your life and realize all of the years that were wasted. If you would have just poured out your heart to God and walked with Him how would things be different? Would you still have your relationships to your children and friends but now they are severed and you feel like you have wasted your life. You fell for the life to hold on to your entitlement of unforgiveness...but instead it held on to you and ate you alive. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me."

These are just a couple of real examples and I could come up with so many more. We have so many VERY REAL mountainous things going on in our lives. If we do not see God working in the way we think we will be tempted to buy the press of our own heart instead of sticking to the truth of His word. This is my temptation and I think all of ours. I really have to get going today but I want to encourage you to keep bringing your broken heart to Christ and the healing balm of His word. When I do this...I see that hey these people did not have it so easy either but this world was not their home and they were receiving an eternal kingdom that could not be shaken, a kingdom that will never perish, spoil, or fade. A lasting kingdom. This is our hope people. As you know John is beheaded and he receives the kingdom of God. This is not our home...we are receiving something far better. We have got to set our affections there....not here...or we will not make it. We will fall prey to all manner of sin and we will have a huge mess on our hands. No matter what...if God has given you breath it is not to late for you to allow Him to heal you. Run to Him. He is faithful. Just because we have been entangled to sin does not mean that we can't be free. We can.

Hebrews 12:1
1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.


Fran said...

Love Hebrews 12:1....Love it!
You always bless me Ms. Jenny.
I hope your day has been filled with Him, His love, and His presence.

Blessings Siesta...

Ang baylis said...

Hi Jenny!

I'm sorry I haven't had a lot of time, but I know you tagged me and I haven't done it! Hopefully I can do it this weekend!

Hope you are well!
Angie xoxo

Grafted Branch @ Restoring the Years said...

Hi there...just skipping around from BigMama's comment section.

I love, love, love your profile intro here on the sidebar! God. bless. you, Sister. :)

Tam said...

Amen! I could have walked away years ago and given up. In fact, I believe most would have. But I could not keep my eyes off of the Lord. I could not place my hope anywhere else. If the afflictions brought me closer - then so be it - if they weren't/or aren't for me at all yet still I must endure them - then so be it! My purpose is HIM - only! For His glory not my true reward still awaits me!

Jackie said...

He sure does grant us some mercy, doesn't He? This is a great post..seriously, I am waiting for you to write a book- it'd be a best seller!!
I love you girl!

twinkle said...

That was powerful.

darla said...

my girl you can preach a lesson!! love ya, sorry it took so long to do my tag! But it is done and told everyone who will listen how much i am into your writting...hope things are going well!

Abby said...

goodness..lots of wisdom in that one...and lots of good reminders...i won't even try to pick out one...thanks for another blessing :)

Little Steps Of Faith said...

Girl, I don't think you have any idea how much this spoke to me:)
I love ya so!