Friday, 27 January 2017

The Last Hurrah

Proverbs 29:26 Many seek the ruler's favour; but every man's judgment comes from the LORD.

      I was thinking about the words that were recorded about one of the kings who ruled over Judah. Amaziah reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem and did some good things for the country and the people. However, the point God brings out about him is not that flattering. 2 Chro. 25:2 And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, but not with a perfect heart.
      In other words, "He was just so so." Not quite the last thing you want God to say about your life and existence while you were here on earth living out God's assignment for your life. He did things right, but his heart just wasn't into it and his heart was not submitted to God.

      The words "Well done faithful servant" may not be what is heard on that day for many who have taken the same attitude toward God and life. Col. 3:23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men. Making our last hurrah count for God and His kingdom can only be done through God's salvation plan and His only. God the Father has given us Jesus as our saving Lord. Acts 4:12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.
      We have all heard of people who try to make their last years on earth count for something. Some try to fulfill a bucket-list of things and events that must get done before passing. Others start the long arduous journey of apologizing to those they hurt throughout their careless lives. Some travel the world looking for the guru that can give them the assurance they desperately need to allay their fears of an unknown eternity. Many get involved in doing good works to gather ingratiating points for the day they stand before God, hoping it will be enough to pass muster so to speak. Prov. 29:26 Many seek the ruler's favour; but every man's judgment comes from the LORD. 
      However, like King Amaziah, these people are doing these things without the heart of God, nor having God in their hearts as they go about finalizing their reason for living. Their last hurrah may end up being a whimper in the eyes of God. The people themselves may think what they are doing is great, but not if Christ is not leading their charge.
      I found an interesting small verse in the book of Romans. The Apostle Paul is leaving instructions to the people in Christ, and one of the things he says to do is "Greet Apelles." What he says has great weight. Rom. 16:10a Greet Apelles, tested and approved in Christ. Another translation says Greet Apelles, whose fidelity to Christ has stood the test. 
      Now that is a last hurrah. To have these words written about your character far outweighs the comment King Amaziah got. Imagine having these words beside your recorded name in the word of God; tested and approved in Christ. I do not know what Apelles did for a living or what he did for the church, but these words sure do inspire me to be like-minded. 
      The history of God's (ekklesia) church is being written and recorded by God to this day. Wouldn't it be nice to hear these words alongside of "Well done faithful servant for you have been tested and approved in Christ." As I become more intentional in the work and ministry of the Lord, I am leaning toward having the words Apelles is known for over my life. I would like my last hurrah on this earth to be noticed by God for the right reason. Not because I was half-hearted, but rather I had been tested and approved in Christ. By the grace of God, may it be so. In Jesus name.

Friday, 20 January 2017

Misdiagnosed

Proverbs 16:25 There is a way that seems right to a person, but its end is the way that leads to death.

      I have a friend who has had a very hard two weeks. He was misdiagnosed with a brain tumor. By the end of the first week, neurology discovered it had been a stroke TIA and not a brain tumor after all. As strange as it sounds, there was joy in the family that it had only been a stroke. I thought: "Well, brain tumor in one hand, and stroke in the other. One of those, choose the best of two evil things." Now the family doesn't know what to believe. Every suggestion for prescriptions and recovery that comes out of the doctor's mouths is suspect. 
      I know the doctors are only human and work within a system that is hectic, over-analyzed, bureaucratically driven and lots of room for human error. The statistics for death caused by misdiagnoses and wrongly prescribed prescriptions are on the rise and becoming frequent. I am not sure what the statistics in Canada are, but the effects of this trend can be overwhelming and concerning to the families it is happening to. As I have stated in the past, I have come to call our medical system "The health-scare system." Perhaps signs of the future. Luke 21:26a Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth.
      Since this type of misdiagnoses is happening in the natural, how many people have misdiagnosed their need for a healthy spiritual life? They come up with overused excuses for not getting involved with God or acknowledging the state of their eternal health. They use the same old lame excuses: the church did me wrong; my family was fanatical and made me go to Sunday-school; our pastor ran off with a member in the church, leaving his family destitute and so on and so on. These excuses come off the tongue like poorly rehearsed lines from a B-movie. 
      Don't get me wrong. There are people who have been severely affected in life with incredible evil atrocities done to them in the name of God, but most often these are not the people in our communities and families spouting-off the usual nonsense about those people down at the church. These acquaintances and family members claim to know all that is knowable about everything Godly. Rom. 1:22 Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. At the end of the day, they misdiagnose their desperate need to be delivered and saved from their sins. God has a word for those who take Him lightly. Rev. 3:17 Because you say, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and know not that you art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.
      A misdiagnosis from the health system may be found out in time; therefore, it may hopefully be rectified by getting on a healing path to recovery. A misdiagnosis of our personal eternal soul can leave us eternally wanting. It will take some humility on our behalf to admit the need for a personal savior. As the Archbishop of Canterbury says, " Humility is the soil in which pride has difficulty to grow." Don't misdiagnose meek as weak, pride for courage, or vulnerability as gullibility. This type of misdiagnosing has kept people out of the kingdom of God because they thought they knew better than God. Prov. 16:25 There is a way that seems right to a person, but its end is the way that leads to death. 
      It takes the courage of character to admit the need for help on an eternal scale. It takes an eternal loving God to get us to and through the salvation plan God has for us. Don't let your misdiagnoses or shallow judgment of an infinite God's idea of salvation for your life be guffawed away like some small joke. Our attitude should be from a position of humility and gratefulness when we come to God the Father. 
      God has given us His grace through Jesus Christ to diagnose our personal need for His salvation plan. Let us humble ourselves unto God and receive His gift with real love and thanksgiving. 1 Pet. 5:6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. I leave you with these words from the book The Road to Character by David Brooks. "We sometimes have to crawl into the valley of humility in order to climb the heights of character." God bless you and good spiritual health to us all.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Stolen Valor

Proverbs 13:7 One person pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.

      There are people pretending to be something they are not in order to steal what is not theirs. Prov. 13:7a One person pretends to be rich, yet has nothing. This is a problem that military veterans have come across as they are catching people who have never served in the military pretending to be soldiers.
      These people dress in full uniform, pretending and scamming for the benefits allowed to veterans, or stealing the admiration and respect due to those who have truly served their country. To me, this is low when it comes to scamming. It runs alongside of ripping off the elderly.

      Interestingly, Satan has been doing the same thing and deceiving many into thinking he is worthy of the people's admiration and respect. He is always trying to steal God's glory and followers. The devil scams through deception, saying he has some good things that will fulfill our lives. Satan has been scamming throughout history, pretending to be an angel of light. 2 Cor. 11:14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 
      Is it any wonder people are doing the same thing? They are acting out, just like the one who had been influencing them; the devil. Jesus said the devil is a destroyer and a liar. The Lord says the devil has always been that way from the beginning. John 8:44 You are of your father the Devil, and you want to carry out your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and has not stood in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of liars. 
      There is also disappointment when we find out athletes have been stripped of their medals because they pretended to be competing on an even level. We often find out they are chemically enhanced to perform beyond their ability. They accept the glory and medal in a ceremony of valor, only to be stripped of the medal of distinction later on when they are found out, through tests, that they were cheating. The acid test of life showed the world they did not have any valor in their character. 
      It is interesting that the apostle Paul compares us to who we are in Christ as soldiers in the Lord's army. We have been recruited by Jesus Christ into the kingdom of God and our attention should be on the affairs of the kingdom. 2 Tim. 2:4 No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in the concerns of civilian life; he seeks to please the recruiter. Our valor is found at the cross of Jesus Christ and in His blood only. 2 Tim. 2:3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 
      We do not have to seek or take the valor of any other soldier in the body of Christ because we have all been given our assignments in the Lord. Some are chosen to do great things and others are chosen to hold down the fort, so to speak, but nonetheless we are all chosen in Christ. 2 Tim. 2:20 In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. 
      We have been posted here on earth, in the body of Christ, to be a hand extended in welcoming those who will become believers in Christ. We are the body and no one is without use or influence. 1 Cor 12:21 The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!" 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable.
      We do not have to pretend to be Christians; we just have to be one who loves and obeys the Lord. God will call out our valor, as He did with Gideon. Judges 6:12  And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him, and said unto him, The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valor. Gideon did not feel so great a person, but God saw the potential in him as He saw it in you when He saved you. Don't let the enemy of our soul steal our God-given valor that was paid for in full by Jesus on the cross. Be valiant men and women of God. Amen.

Friday, 6 January 2017

Infamy

Proverbs 25:10 Lest the one who hears it put you to shame and your infamy will never go away.     

      Infamy: the state of being well known for some bad quality or deed. The evil fame we are known for.     
      The proverb says, "Your infamy will never go away." There is a truth in this because many people are known by what they did wrong, even though they spent the rest of their lives trying to do right and overcome the mess that made them of evil fame in the first place. Great ministries, CEO's and politicians that have fallen terribly have been remembered for the shame and evil fame rather than the efforts they made to turn their lives around and go straight so to speak.
      Thank God for His grace and that God judges the heart of man, not on his past failures, but on the merit of the blood of Christ. The Grace of God is amazing because the evil fame we became known for can be replaced with an identity of who we are in the Lord now, even though mankind may not be on board with God's proclamation of who we are. Rom. 8:1
 So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.   
      In 2 Samuel chapter eleven, we can read the story of King David and Bathsheba who committed adultery. The adultery results in Bathsheba getting pregnant. King David tries to fix the problem by having Bathsheba's husband come home on military leave in the hopes of a conjugal visit, but Uriah does not go see his wife; therefore, King David arranged the murder of Uriah to cover up the adultery and pregnancy of Bathsheba. It sounds like an episode of bad reality TV. This infamy never left David or Bathsheba; however, God saw David as a man after God's heart. Acts 13:22 But God removed Saul and replaced him with David, a man about whom God said, ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart. He will do everything I want him to do. 
      David was quick to repent and keep going with God regardless of what had been done. Psalm 25:11 For the sake of your name, LORD, forgive my iniquity, though it is great. Yes, the fruit of what had been sown would cause problems in the kingdom of Israel and Judah. The evil fame of the sins David committed would always be a fact in David's life, but with God, there is forgiveness and the opportunity to live in the favor of God regardless of the infamy David was known for.
      I am not making light of adultery or murder, or any other heinous sin committed on earth. I am saying you might have committed something difficult for mankind to forgive and as the proverb says, "Your infamy will never go away." This may be the way it is for the rest of your life, and be sure the devil will remind you of this fame at every opportunity that presents itself. However, God has the last word and commentary as to what He will say about you through-out eternity once you repent. That is the power and forgiveness found through the blood of Jesus. God will still use the calling on your life for His purpose, even though you might have ruined your good name through the action you took to become labeled with the infamy. Rom. 11:29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.  
      I have known and know some people dealing with the label of infamy attached to them; it is like an appendage that sticks out, no matter where they go. As some of you feel, my respect for some of these fallen ones has waned. However, the love of God must be offered and granted to them the same way the love of God has been given to us; unconditionally. 
      The warning we get in the word of God is also clear. We must watch our hearts in judging, lest we fall in the same places and end up with an evil fame of our own. Gal. 6:1 Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Let us live our lives with the goal of walking circumspect before God and our brothers and sisters in Christ. Let us do our best not to become another statistic of infamy. God bless you.