Good Friday - Dealing with Stunning Disappointment in God’s Plan

Good Friday and the events that ensued were a stunning disappointment for those that loved Jesus and followed him all the way into Jerusalem. None of His disciples fully understood what was happening. They were still in a state of elation from that Palm Sunday when they entered Jerusalem and the cheering people of the city met Him at the gate with Palms. This for sure was the fulfillment of the prophecy of Zech 9:9,10 for them yet they didn’t get the full picture. Before Jesus would reign as King making Jerusalem His world capital - He would first have to be falsely accused, delivered up to the masses and crucified. The disciples themselves were not ready for that to be fulfilled, as they argued among themselves days before His death, “who is the greatest among us?" This lack of understanding resulted in the overwhelming disappointment and confusion in the minds of His disciples and those that loved Him. The discouragement and fear caused all to flee and the disciples to go back to their previous careers. 

Yet this is how it is often in the Plan of God. We hear His promises and misunderstand the bigger picture of things, that there are events, both highs and lows, that first must come to pass. There are those mysterious words of Jesus about His death that puzzle His disciples - that seem to contradict what He is promising - to become King.

This presents a great difficulty for us and His disciples, as finite people, understanding only in a limited sense due to what we see, hear and can touch. There are aspects of the Plan of God that puzzle us today as we stand and look at the promises from God in our hands that we are persuaded that we received from God - that seemingly contradict what we are experiencing today.

What we must do is to trust the veracity of God by faith, and go through the stunning disappointments in our lives that are searingly painful. There is a bigger plan that has enlarged itself beyond the boundaries of our understanding. Yes, Jesus will be King as He promised but first He must die, we must die to ourselves; to our understanding, to our senses and wholly trust Him - that the Forerunner of our Faith, much to our chagrin, must pass through death and rise on the third day, just as He said. 

Trust His Word only, though it we will be sustained in our tragic disappointment and heartbreaks - seeing later that in the end His Plan is altogether good. 

May I challenge you?

This is in no way meant to be a guilt trip or sound heartless, nor is it something said because numbers are low or offerings are poor because neither are the problem here. But as pastors we often observe how people feel obligated or compelled to tell us why they miss church or meetings as if we are The Judge in the matter. It seems that some believe that by telling us reasons why they miss it in some way appeases their sense of regret and they've been excused as if they missed school. But we're not God. We do not judge but we as shepherds are heartbroken at times to see what people miss in God's Plan by making excuses to be MIA. We as pastors are not offended when people come 2 times a month because our joy and peace are in Christ alone. What do people miss? Answers. Peace. Wisdom for this weeks' problems and pain.They miss the encouragement by a group of people that are so excited to see them. They miss everything that they need. God waits to be gracious to you in the Body of Christ. There are things God will tell you in private without the Church but there are things He will only tell you in Church through His Body on earth. He has answers for you! Stop being a victim of your circumstances, stop living in what people have done to you in the past, stop complaining about your job, marriage, & personal situations. Stop being familiar with God, stop staying away because of people - draw near to Him, God is bigger than people - His Plan is bigger than your failures and unbelief. Expect great things from God for your life & come to be a part of the greatest and hottest thing happening on planet earth today - CHURCH!

True Friendship

I read this excellent post by CHS in his devotional "Faith Thoughts" - it handles the subject of Friendship and deficient toxic friends that steal energy and cause compromise in people's lives. I am taking the liberty to quote the whole article on this blog today. 

"John 15:12-15, Friendship is a blessing and a provision, but it must never be permitted to replace the priority of Christ's Lordship. The test of true friendship is whether it honors the Word. It does not lead to compromise, but builds up both believers in the faith and in the Body of Christ (the church). Friendship is not to be used as a support system, but as a communication of love. True friends may be separated for long periods of time, yet enjoy a closer fellowship than people who are together every day. Friendship does not compromise obedience to the cross, but encourages the daily appropriation of the truth of the finished work! Rather than a relationship centered around self-gratification, true friendship expresses the burden and heartbeat of Jesus Christ to redeem believers to Himself. Subjective, personality rapport relationships are destructive, but godly ones will result in doctrinal rapport around the principles of truth. Lonely people often seek gratification and fulfillment through friendship, but this is a selfish motive based on temporal needs. Friendships that are premised upon eternal values bind the hearts of men in spiritual oneness (2). This type of relationship is only possible because of the grace of God functioning in the heart of man. This is through identification with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Thus, we see that the Word of God is the basis for true friendship."

This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. - John 15:12-15

From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. - Ephesians 4:16

The Genesis of a New Creation

Before we could approach the subject of prayer in this small treatise, we are prompted to evaluate the natural state of every human being, and that being unregenerate, spiritually dead, impotent. A man that has been seeded from the earth, born of the flesh, is therefore flesh. We originally being fleshly and blind to the things that of the Heavenlies, are in need of new “genesis” in the deepest part of ourselves. That “genesis” differs from the Biblical account of the origins of the material world in that it has an entirely different source. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” – John 3:6. This source afore mentioned is rooted in the Heavenlies and shares nothing with the soil we stand on now. The Source from which this comes is from The Spirit of God Himself.
Mankind needs a total rebirth, an absolute rejuvenation that is sourced from that Heavenly sphere from which springs up a new creature. Mankind cannot be remade, remodeled, or refashioned. You and I need a new genesis – a creation that is not made from the materials from ourselves, or this world.
God created this universe not out of mandate but out of love, and because of love God sends His only Son into it to rescue it. Jesus’s love and mission to this world was terminated by the ingratitude and sin of man (and of you and I). Yet it was the Love of the Spirit of God for humankind that raised Jesus from the dead and burst Him from the sullied grave.
Thus we may be reborn by this Love from Above. Anyone that allows the Love of the Spirit of the Father to enter and believe on His Son that He sent, will be a recipient of a supernatural miracle – a rebirth of the Spirit of God. Something or rather better stated; Someone will be born inside that is born from Above, that is sourced from Above, and speaks the language of Above.
!This is the new creation that the Bible speaks so much of. This new creation is born of the Spirit and cannot sin, fail or be destroyed. It is sourced from the Seed of the Gospel of Grace. Just as a new born babe cries out for it’s mother’s breast and her caress, so this new creation hungers and thirsts for God; His Word, His Love and His Communication to the inner most parts of who we are.
This is beginning of prayer.

It’s not about us...



Romans 8.28: "We are assured and know that [ God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose"

We live in an environment and in a system of social understanding that is bent on “creature comfort” and “well-being”, where to suffer as a victim in anyway is a crime warranting the highest utilization of the current legal system. This philosophy has penetrated the Church today in many different forms such as the “Blessing Movement”, "It's All About You" and “Certain Healing”. 

As Christians we need to guard ourselves from this trend of entitlement thinking as it is a form of deception. God's Eternal Purpose in our lives is not to make us happy or blessed or to even answer all our prayers as we would want; but His Purpose is that Christ would be formed in us - that we would be Christ-like. This of course creates the potential for seemingly unpleasant experiences, personal offenses and loss of opportunity. 

We as finite creatures fail to see beyond our noses, beyond what we can touch, farther than what feels nice or what we can understand. Because of our human limitations we cannot even understand what is the most beneficial for us - we cannot even define what would make us the happiest. People explain well-being and happiness by what they feel inside and what would make them sense acceptance and experience elevation socially, politically or economically.

Why? Why would God want us only to be like His Son? 

We were made for the eternal, the deathless, the enduring, the forever. You can hear it in our love songs on the radio, in films and on the internet. We were made to live beyond our limitations, our fears and our misguided illusions of pleasure - anything less of a life would eventually lead to restless discontentment and wander-lust. 

There is only one thing that lasts beyond death and decay and that is Jesus Christ. This world and all its pleasure, fashion, education and fame will pass and we like our ancestors will meet our certain end at death. 

To allow the Bible to chose for us - to allow our lives to come under the Holy Spirit's leading and to give up the steering wheel to God's Plan; is to start down the path of true happiness, true blessedness and true love. Because only God knows what is best in His Plan for us. This is a scary thought to lose control but here is the way of true freedom. 

We cannot interpret the quality of our lives by what we are experiencing today whether good or bad. We cannot say this way is better or I do not want this in my life - because we are so blinded by our own senses to what is really best for us.

Suffering in our lives is mostly misunderstood as a threat when it is truly the threshold to greater blessing and purer joy than we could have discovered ourselves.

I look at my life and I cannot say that I could have chosen a better way - I see the blessings around me, the people I love in my life and the adventure I live and know that I could not have brought this to pass even if I had tried! 

We have to walk by faith trusting God’s Way is best not living in ignorance to the reason for certain events in our lives. Those things He allows to impact us has a Higher Purpose - that “All things work together for good for them that love God and that are called according to His Purpose” - “to be transformed into the likeness of His Son” so that we can experience the best He has for us.

It's not about us - but how we may lay our life down as Jesus did in His Father's Will...

What to do when you are Offended







Remember these things next time you feel offended:

1. Never, ever withdraw. No matter how hurt you are
2. 9 times out of 10 we simply misunderstood what was said and didn't see the heart behind what was said
3. Always wait 24 hours before you answer a matter
4. People say hurtful things because they are hurting themselves.
5. Never take things personally, ever. It's not about you. You just happened to be in the path of a bitter person.
6. Take criticism with a smile.
7. Do not give an offended person a platform to speak their mind. They will only infect others. Speak privately with them.
8. When you are offended it is a tell-tale fact that a part of your flesh is still dominating your soul without the Cross. Only the self-centered old sin nature can get offended.
9. When you're tired, hurting or in pain you most likely are the most vulnerable to be offended.
10. Even though it was said in a hurtful way or improperly, ask yourself this question "was it true what they said" and if so deal with it alone with God.

When we get offended, no matter the circumstance, we can know for sure that the symptom of offense that we feel is a sure sign we have uncrucified flesh reigning somewhere in our soul.

If  the Word of God offends us agree with it quickly - Jesus spoke beforehand that his disciples would have Divine Definition so that when offense came they would not be scandalized. Matthew 5:25-26 "Agree with thine adversary quickly, while thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing"

Psalms 119:165
Great peace have they which love thy law:and nothing shall offend them.

Matthew 24:10
And then many will be offended and repelled and will begin to distrust and desert [Him Whom they ought to trust and obey] and will stumble and fall away and betray one another and pursue one another with hatred.

Proverbs 18:19
A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city:and their contentions are like the bars of a castle.

Matthew 11:6
And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.

Matthew 15:12-14
Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?
But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.
Let them alone:they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.

Matthew 26:31-35
Prediction About Peter’s Denial
(Mark 14:27- 31; Luke 22:31- 34; John 13:36- 38)
Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night:for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.
But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.
-- Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.
Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.
Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.

Mark 4:17
And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time:afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.

Mark 6:3
Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.

John 16:1
These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended.

2 Corinthians 11:29
Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?

John 6:65-68
And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.
From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will -- ye also go away?
Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.

Rom 5.5 the love of God sheds abroad in our hearts
Self love is easily wounded. It is so geared to its own self and self consciousness and is not easily healed. Overly occupied with myself everyday and how much I should be loved, valued and needed. Cain was wounded hurt, offended and never healed.
We have to leave ourselves to discover this love. Love one another as I have loved you.



The Monster Within

I would like to convey the deadliness of sin. There is an alien infection in every believer created by the Devil that we know to be the Old Sin Nature. This nature can easily be forgotten and be overlooked of it's vicious nature. The vicious nature of the OSN is not passive but actively at enmity day and night against the Believer & to the Spirit of God - Rom 8.7. The Old Sin Nature that resides genetically within every individual is compared to the Leviathan in Job 41 - that monster that cannot be controlled - "Will he make many supplications unto thee? Will he speak soft words unto thee? Will he make a covenant with thee? Wilt thou take him for a servant for ever? Wilt thou play with him as with a bird? Or wilt thou bind him for thy maidens?" The moment a personal daily Cross is neglected in our lives, and our heart is not guarded by His Word, we become familiar and tolerant with a monster that just waits to pounce on the sentimental believer. The end is always death. 

Christ through His Cross has won the victory and has given power over the flesh crucifying sin in the flesh - Rom 8.3, rendering the Leviathan nature within powerless. 

But we cannot be naive in thinking that the Flesh and the Devil will passively stand by as we take steps of faith in God’s Eternal Purpose. The Old Sin Nature has not been eradicated and still resides within. Though judicially it has been rendered dead, if given the chance, the Old Leviathan Nature will rise up it’s ugly head and reap havoc in our souls. 

Whenever we put our trust in our Flesh we make a covenant with the Flesh; we are being naive, playing with our sin nature as we would as with a little bird. As we try to control the sin nature within we are in serious danger of being taken over by the ugliness of sin. Solomon soundly warned in Prov 31.3b - Do not give way to ways that destroy kings. Many have tried to tame the exciting Leviathan and make a deal with him to play with sin without getting bit - but the end is always the same. Fatal wounds.

Though we do not fear our flesh as the more powerful entity, we do have a deep understanding that many great men and women have fallen prey to the devouring beast of their sin nature and writhe in the anguish of regret because of sentimentality with the monster within. 

If we surrender to Grace and the Finished Work with a daily Cross - we will walk in peace and victory over the raging Leviathan within and not fall prey to it's deception.