Tag Archives: plan

“Are You a Forward Thinker?”

Image A precious friend has recently left us for eternity. One of his family members wrote: “I know that Sonny, already has a project and is busy at work in the kingdom.” Another friend [Bob] passed away many years ago but his memory is always before me. He was known for this verse: I would rather stand at the entrance to the temple of my God than live in the tents of the wicked. [Ps 84:10] It is easy to picture both busy in the work in heaven for their work here on earth was a mirror of their heavenly mindset; always looking to serve in whatever capacity to whomever God brought across their path. They were what I call, “forward thinkers” for they would often reference heaven as their destination. It made up their mindset. Is this our focus too?  

Have you ever met someone you would call a “forward thinker”? Their mind is always on the eternal perspective not the temporal. As we saw in Matt 24, the disciples were as of yet not “forward thinkers.” Their minds were on the here and now as was evidenced by the fact they were enamored by the beauty of Herod’s temple. To enable them to change their mindset, Jesus takes the opportunity to once again disciple through two parables about faithfulness and stewardship. The third story explains or ties up the Olivet Discourse and is about end time judgment. Hampton Keathley IV wrote: “These parables are designed to teach the imminent return of Christ. It could be real soon, or it could be a long time away. But either way, we need to go ahead and live our lives but stay prepared. We need to live and work like the master is going to be back any minute. Because we are going to be rewarded for how hard we worked while he was gone.”

In addition, Jesus is preparing his disciples to recognize there will be an accounting; a reckoning of that which the Lord has entrusted to us, be it oil, talents or ministry to the least of these. Also, there are two groups: the faithful vs the unfaithful. To the faithful is given eternal life, blessing and admittance and to the unfaithful there are the words accursed along with weeping and gnashing of teeth and exclusion. Jesus’ repetition of a truth using different words helps us to see and to understand. Think of it this way. Just as a recipe has many ingredients so the stories have ingredients to teach a basic truth or truths. A recipe can call for baking powder or leavening, it matters not what you label it, it serves the same purpose: it is key to make bread rise. The “ingredients” (oil, talents, ministry) in these stories are part and parcel of the whole; they are explaining how faithfulness and stewardship are God’s gifts to be a part of his whole recipe/plan for men. Each parable gives a different view of how each ingredient brings the recipe to its full completion. By using illustrations of day to day life in the familiarity of his audience, and in this case the disciples, they began to see through the illustrations about weddings, talents and the “least of these.” But how did all of that work to bring about God’s plan? This is the “aha” moment! As they listened, and later pondered, they began to see what James said later: So also faith, if it does not have works, is dead being by itself. The key is “by itself.” Just as if you misunderstood the use of baking powder/leavening as key ingredients, so in life if you misunderstand how faith and works cooperate to achieve the whole you will miss God’s plan, His recipe. Without the baking powder/leavening your recipe is flawed and so without both faith and works we cannot be true stewards of God’s gifts to us.  We cannot separate faith from works…they are part and parcel of the whole recipe.

Jesus calls us to be salt and light to the world, be wise and discerning, use the time you have been given, use the talents that were entrusted to you. We are not to just be “waiters but also watchers.”  We want to enter eternity and hear, “Welcome, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave! You have been faithful in a few things. I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master.’  Jesus said the fields are ripe for harvest. Each of us has been entrusted with oil/talents/ministry. How are you using yours?

ImageThis is a key question for all of us and the Word has the answer. We all need to realize that accounting will truly happen. Are we ready? Are we prepared? Do we have the answer?

 

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Not Rejected….Redirected!~

Recently I  a precious friend posted this note after having lived through “hell and back.”

“I’ve been thinking that I’d been rejected these past two years. God told me today that wasn’t true, I’ve been redirected. His plans are always best and I always trust in His guidance and love. Feeling really in love with God and His Word lately. It’s a real good feeling.”

This captures in a nutshell the entire message of Ps 74 and exactly what Asaph was saying as he penned this psalm and is now here for us to ponder. As you ponder think about these words: 

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Listen to Asaph as he pleads for understanding from God. Three times he asks why and this is exactly what we are to do when we are facing a conundrum. Asaph rightly asks three questions:

Why have you permanently rejected us? Skip over to Rom 11:1 and see how Paul answered that question: 11:1 “So I ask, God has not rejected his people, has he? Absolutely not!” and again in Hebrews the author reminds us of this timeless truth: “I will never leave you and I will never abandon you.” Asaph surely knew this as a principle from Deut “he will be with you; he will not fail you or abandon you. Do not be afraid or discouraged!” But in his despair this is how he was viewing his nation’s predicament. Perhaps you too have felt this way because of some circumstance you are facing. Listen again to my friend’s words: God told me! When God speaks it is with words of lovingkindness to remind us of His steadfast and loyal love.

Why does your anger smoke against the sheep of your pasture? Again Asaph implores God to remember his people as the sheep who are vulnerable, pitiful, without understanding and in need of direction. Asaph knew this principle: Joh 10:27 My sheep listen to my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. That is why he could be so bold to seek the attention of his king (note vs . 12…God is my king) The circumstance was still before him but as one of God’s own, God’s sheep he could trust in God’s leadership at the appointed time.

Why do you withdraw your hand, even your right hand? Asaph is asking God for understanding as to why God has not used his power and might as king of Israel to restore the nation from the barbarians. The psalmist pictures God as having placed his right hand (symbolic of activity and strength) inside his robe against his chest.  He prays that God would pull his hand out from under his robe and use it to destroy the enemy. That is the boldness of a believer. We can ask and seek God’s power to be revealed and He will. “Expect God to act and He will.”

From vs 11 onward Asaph comes to terms with his requests much like Job. “Indeed, I am completely unworthy – how could I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth to silence myself.” And yet as a child of God we have the blessing of being able to enter in to the holiest of holies. Heb 4:16 Therefore let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace whenever we need help. He pleads with God to reveal His power. Now, when we move to Ps 75 we see the answer to the prayer of Asaph: God says, “At the appointed times, I judge fairly…For I am the judge! I bring one down and exalt another.”And that is the total reason why we can trust in God and rely upon His timing and perfect plan.

Asaph now declares much like my friend: 75:9 As for me, I will continually tell what you have done; I will sing praises to the God of Jacob! That is the whole answer when we are faced with life’s challenges and find ourselves being drawn down into the pit of despond. Lifting up God and praising Him redirects our thinking and elevates our spirits to the highest level. Where are you feeling rejected? Ask God to reveal His redirection plan for you!

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