Thy Will Be Done

A couple of years ago I read John MacArthur’s wonderful book, Alone with God: Rediscovering the Power and Passion of Prayer 1 and learned so much! I was particularly struck by a section in Chapter 6, “Your Will Be Done,” where Dr. MacArthur shares this part of Philip Keller’s A Layman Looks at the Lord’s Prayer

Caution: you will never again sing Change My Heart, Oh God (by Ron Kenoly) without remembering this powerful story.

Author Philip Keller, while visiting in Pakistan, readJeremiah 18:2, which says, “Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I shall announce My words to you.” So he and a missionary went to a potter’s house in that city. In his book, A Layman Looks at the Lord’s Prayer, he writes,

In sincerity and earnestness I asked the old master craftsman to show me every step in the creation of a masterpiece …. On his shelves were gleaming goblets, lovely vases, and exquisite bowls of breathtaking beauty.

Then, crooking a bony finger toward me, he led the way to a small, dark, closed shed at the back of his shop. When he opened its rickety door, a repulsive, overpowering stench of decaying matter engulfed me. For a moment I stepped back from the edge of the gaping dark pit in the floor of the shed. “This is where the work begins!” he said, kneeling down beside the black, nauseating hole. With his long, thin arm, he reached down into the darkness. His slim, skilled fingers felt around amid the lumpy clay, searching for a fragment of material exactly suited to his task.

“I add special kinds of grass to the mud,” he remarked. “As it rots and decays, its organic content increases the colloidal quality of the clay. Then it sticks together better.” Finally his knowing hands brought up a lump of dark mud from the horrible pit where the clay had been tramped and mixed for hours by his hard, bony feet.

With tremendous impact the first verses from Psalm 40 came to my heart. In a new and suddenly illuminating way I saw what the psalmist meant when he wrote long ago, “I waited patiently for the Lord, and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay.” As carefully as the potter selected his clay, so God used special care in choosing me ….

The great slab of granite, carved from the rough rock of the high Hindu Kush mountains behind his home, whirled quietly. It was operated by a very crude, treadle-like device that was moved by his feet, very much like our antique sewing machines.

As the stone gathered momentum, I was taken in memory toJeremiah 18: 3. “Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels.”

But what stood out most before my mind at this point was the fact that beside the potter’s stool, on either side of him, stood two basins of water. Not once did he touch the clay, now spinning swiftly at the center of the wheel, without first dipping his hands in the water. As he began to apply his delicate fingers and smooth palms to the mound of mud, it was always through the medium of the moisture of his hands. And it was fascinating to see how swiftly but surely the clay responded to the pressure applied to it through those moistened hands. Silently, smoothly, the form of a graceful goblet began to take shape beneath those hands. The water was the medium through which the master craftsman’s will and wishes were being transmitted to the clay. His will actually was being done in earth.

For me this was a most moving demonstration of the simple, yet mysterious truth that my Father’s will and wishes are expressed and transmitted to me through the water of His own Word ….

Suddenly, as I watched, to my utter astonishment, I saw the stone stop. Why? I looked closely. The potter removed a small particle of grit from the goblet …. Then just as suddenly the stone stopped again. He removed another hard object ….

Suddenly he stopped the stone again. He pointed disconsolately to a deep, ragged gouge that cut and scarred the goblet’s side. It was ruined beyond repair! In dismay he crushed it down beneath his hands….

“And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter” (Jer. 18:4). Seldom had any lesson come home to me with such tremendous clarity and force. Why was this rare and beautiful masterpiece ruined in the master’s hands? Because he had run into resistance. It was like a thunderclap of truth bursting about me!

Why is my Father’s will – His intention to turn out truly beautiful people – brought to nought again and again? Why, despite His best efforts and endless patience with human beings, do they end up a disaster? Simply because they resist His will.

The sobering, searching, searing question I had to ask myself in the humble surroundings of that simple potter’s shed was this: Am I going to be a piece of fine china or just a finger bowl? Is my life going to be a gorgeous goblet fit to hold the fine wine of God’s very life from which others can drink and be refreshed? Or am I going to be just a crude finger bowl in which passers-by will dabble their fingers briefly then pass on and forget about it? It was one of the most solemn moments in all of my spiritual experiences.

“Father, Thy will be done in earth [in clay], in me, as it is done in heaven.”


1 Copyright © Third Edition, July 1, 2011. Alone With God, John MacArthur Jr. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook.

2 Copyright © 1976. A Layman Looks at the Lord’s Prayer, Philip Keller. Chicago, IL: Moody Press.

Wonders of the World

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Wonders of the World

By Patricia Knight

On a torrid day in August, with a steamy haze rising off the lake, it amazes me that the same body of water that solidly freezes into a two-foot block of ice in the winter has melted into a comfortable lake for swimming, just four months later. God produces wonders and miracles every day right before our eyes. Some of creation has become relinquished to common place, like the lake full of ice converting to the refreshing temperature we tend to expect in the summertime.  The whole scenario recurs every year without fail.  Our surprise level is often stunted with familiarity.

If God can pique our interest with the smaller observations of life, our hearts and minds are then prepared for more grandiose vistas. “The Lord has done great things and we are filled with joy” (Psalm 126:3). Feast your eyes on the arch of a rainbow until the prism colors melt into the blue sky. Follow the reflection of a full moon on the surface of the lake as a single canoeist divides its yellow beam. The lake will come alive with waterfowl swimming in formation on a moonlit night. A skier slicing through the newly fallen snow throws powdery white fluff in an arc in his wake. Bright sunlight reflecting off the ice coating a tree branch deceives us into thinking there are diamonds close enough to harvest. An infant’s first smile melts the most unresponsive heart. Grasp the tiny fingers in your hand and feel the trust.

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A loving God has created all of the wonders of the world. “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him?” (Psalm 8:3-4)  A gigantic waterfall tumbling over rocks and bending trees, has mighty, surging power. It enables us to think big thoughts. A slice of canyon wall in the afternoon sun reflects all the earth tones of God’s palette. In autumn, the chlorophyll drains from the monochromatic green leaves as God drenches His paint buckets of color throughout the forests. At a distance a large snow-capped mountain against an azure sky literally appears majestic purple.

We have only to gaze upon the wide-eyed excitement of a child to realize we may take for granted some of the beauty and wonder of this world. Have we lost our sense of astonishment? Do we allow ourselves to meditate on the marvels of God’s creation? God takes great delight in lavishing His gifts and creations upon His own as He advises us to become more like little children. “Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:4). Jesus was particularly referring to adopting the faith of a child; one cannot have faith without wonder and fascination.

Matt-18-4-Child-Flowers-25--AMPA child would consider novel the lowly but symmetrical spider’s web implanted with diamond droplets after a rain or the simple entertainment provided by a dandelion blossom. Consider the concentration of a child trying to catch the drips on an ice cream cone on a hot summer day. Youths watch the sun go down and the moon come up with intense interest. There is wonder and fascination at the grandeur of an eagle suspended in the air currents above. Chasing lightening bugs on a pitch-black night provides further exhilarating excitement.

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands” (Psalm 19:1). Lightening streaking across a black sky causes tingles to radiate up and down our spine as we recognize its power. Engage a child in a game of identifying animal shapes in the clouds. Clouds accommodate our play; they are constantly shifting and remodeling. Watch the honking geese flying south in a perfect “V” pattern.

Observe the striated, meandering layers of colors in a sunset. Listen to the sounds in the night. Many animals are nocturnal and roam while we cloister ourselves away in our houses. Open a window and listen to the night conversation.

“For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God” (Psalm 86:10).  God has created all of the beauty, magnificence, and power that comprises our world. He wants us to be attuned to our surroundings so that we can visualize Him through His creation.

As beautiful as our world is, God provides more astounding opulence and grandeur in heaven. God has fashioned streets of gold (Revelation 21:21). Illumination is supplied entirely by the glory of God (Revelation 21:23). We are only given short glimpses of heaven, for it is too magnificent to describe in earthly words. Frequently in His Word, God assures us heaven will be a place of splendor and majesty and holiness. We will know only goodness and purity. Awe and wonder will permeate our surroundings as we stand in God’s presence. What indescribable resplendence and glory! Heaven far out-strips our imaginative abilities. The beauty on earth is but an introduction of what the eternal experience of the believer will be. Riches and joy will last forever.

While we remain on earth, we have tremendous opportunity to not only see with our eyes, but to experience with our whole being, the beauty around us.  There is neither excuse nor substitute for ignoring the treasures in lovely words expressed, unique occasions experienced, and magnificent creations purposely placed in our paths.

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Investigate your surroundings. Admire beauty and accomplishment. Elevate happiness and joy. Make a practice of serving others with goodness and kindness. “Rejoice in the Lord always. Let your gentleness be evident to all (Philippians 4:4-5).

Regardless of the season of the year, God provides myriad opportunities for adventure.  Non-essential activities of each day can rapidly clutter our lives and demand time that needs to be allotted for indispensable worship and service for our Lord and Savior. Look to Him and He will provide the peace and joy so essential to every aspect of our lives.  God will open our eyes to the glory of His creation in the physical world. Whatever the experience, God will elevate it and enrich it so that we can see Him through every wonder of the world. From that point, worship ensues. The more time we spend in fellowship with the Creator of the world, the more we see Him in His creation. God is as near as His next handiwork.

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God’s Will Be Done

I have been reading John MacArthur’s wonderful book, Alone with God: Rediscovering the Power and Passion of Prayer (1) and am learning so much! I was particularly struck by a portion in Chapter 6, “Your Will Be Done,” where Dr. MacArthur shares this portion of Philip Keller’s A Layman Looks at the Lord’s Prayer. (2)

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Caution: you will never again sing Change My Heart, Oh God (by Ron Kenoly) without remembering this powerful story.

Author Philip Keller, while visiting in Pakistan, read Jeremiah 18:2, which says, “Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I shall announce My words to you.” So he and a missionary went to a potter’s house in that city. In his book, A Layman Looks at the Lord’s Prayer, he writes,

In sincerity and earnestness I asked the old master craftsman to show me every step in the creation of a masterpiece …. On his shelves were gleaming goblets, lovely vases, and exquisite bowls of breathtaking beauty.

Then, crooking a bony finger toward me, he led the way to a small, dark, closed shed at the back of his shop. When he opened its rickety door, a repulsive, overpowering stench of decaying matter engulfed me. For a moment I stepped back from the edge of the gaping dark pit in the floor of the shed. “This is where the work begins!” he said, kneeling down beside the black, nauseating hole. With his long, thin arm, he reached down into the darkness. His slim, skilled fingers felt around amid the lumpy clay, searching for a fragment of material exactly suited to his task.

“I add special kinds of grass to the mud,” he remarked. “As it rots and decays, its organic content increases the colloidal quality of the clay. Then it sticks together better.” Finally his knowing hands brought up a lump of dark mud from the horrible pit where the clay had been tramped and mixed for hours by his hard, bony feet.

With tremendous impact the first verses from Psalm 40 came to my heart. In a new and suddenly illuminating way I saw what the psalmist meant when he wrote long ago, “I waited patiently for the Lord, and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay.” As carefully as the potter selected his clay, so God used special care in choosing me ….

The great slab of granite, carved from the rough rock of the high Hindu Kush mountains behind his home, whirled quietly. It was operated by a very crude, treadle-like device that was moved by his feet, very much like our antique sewing machines.

As the stone gathered momentum, I was taken in memory to Jeremiah 18: 3. “Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels.”

But what stood out most before my mind at this point was the fact that beside the potter’s stool, on either side of him, stood two basins of water. Not once did he touch the clay, now spinning swiftly at the center of the wheel, without first dipping his hands in the water. As he began to apply his delicate fingers and smooth palms to the mound of mud, it was always through the medium of the moisture of his hands. And it was fascinating to see how swiftly but surely the clay responded to the pressure applied to it through those moistened hands. Silently, smoothly, the form of a graceful goblet began to take shape beneath those hands. The water was the medium through which the master craftsman’s will and wishes were being transmitted to the clay. His will actually was being done in earth.

For me this was a most moving demonstration of the simple, yet mysterious truth that my Father’s will and wishes are expressed and transmitted to me through the water of His own Word ….

Suddenly, as I watched, to my utter astonishment, I saw the stone stop. Why? I looked closely. The potter removed a small particle of grit from the goblet …. Then just as suddenly the stone stopped again. He removed another hard object ….

Suddenly he stopped the stone again. He pointed disconsolately to a deep, ragged gouge that cut and scarred the goblet’s side. It was ruined beyond repair! In dismay he crushed it down beneath his hands….

“And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter” (Jer. 18:4). Seldom had any lesson come home to me with such tremendous clarity and force. Why was this rare and beautiful masterpiece ruined in the master’s hands? Because he had run into resistance. It was like a thunderclap of truth bursting about me!

Why is my Father’s will – His intention to turn out truly beautiful people – brought to nought again and again? Why, despite His best efforts and endless patience with human beings, do they end up a disaster? Simply because they resist His will.

The sobering, searching, searing question I had to ask myself in the humble surroundings of that simple potter’s shed was this: Am I going to be a piece of fine china or just a finger bowl? Is my life going to be a gorgeous goblet fit to hold the fine wine of God’s very life from which others can drink and be refreshed? Or am I going to be just a crude finger bowl in which passers-by will dabble their fingers briefly then pass on and forget about it? It was one of the most solemn moments in all of my spiritual experiences.

“Father, Thy will be done in earth [in clay], in me, as it is done in heaven.”

(1) Copyright © Third Edition, July 1, 2011. Alone With God, John MacArthur Jr. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook.

(2) Copyright © 1976. A Layman Looks at the Lord’s Prayer, Philip Keller. Chicago, IL: Moody Press.

 

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The advertising which may appear below is not placed by the author and is not to be considered as a part of this post or an expression of my views.

OUR SELFLESS SAVIOR (Part 2) [REPOST]

~This is the second part of the series on John 13 by Donna Baker~

 

Last Thursday we read how Jesus spent His last hours fulfilling the will of His Father in teaching and serving others.

God’s plan was in place.

Jesus was in lockstep with His Father in spite of what He knew He was facing.

The focus switches now to Judas.

During supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him… —John 13:2

All sin begins in the heart. Only when it is acted upon does it become sin.

We can read about this downward slide in chapter 1 of James:

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. —James: 1:13-16

If you look up the verses in the Bible where Judas is mentioned, you learn he was covetous. We know this because it tells us he was a thief. He didn’t need the money, he simply wanted the money. He had been with Jesus for three years. Did he think Jesus didn’t know he was stealing?

Our hearts deceive us too. We think God doesn’t see our secret sins but He does, just as Jesus knew Judas’ heart.

One of the most startling things to consider about Judas is that earlier in time, Jesus had also sent Judas to heal, cast out demons, etc.:

And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction.

The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James [the son] of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.

These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay.

—Matthew 10:1-8 (ESV)

Isn’t this astonishing? Judas was able to do all these things and saw these miracles and many more. He saw Lazarus and the others Jesus raised from the dead, and yet he still didn’t believe with his heart.

Sobering thoughts, aren’t they? Doesn’t it give this portion of Matthew 7 a whole new perspective to ponder?

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’

And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Matt. 7:21-23

We all have preconceived ideas of what we expect of Jesus in our lives even if we are not aware of it. It is very likely that Judas had some preconceived ideas toohow he thought Jesus should be or doand it was not working out that way. From my point of view, this is probably part of why he was contemplating betraying Him.

Here is one of my thoughts [and remember, this is my opinion, not the Bible’s]: we know that two of the other disciples thought Jesus was going to set up His kingdom right away and free them from the Romans. We know this because their mother asked Jesus to give them the two highest political offices, on the right and the left of Him.

Maybe Judas expected, as they did, to have an important “cabinet” position such as Department of Treasury where he could have both prestige and siphon off a lot more money to help him grow rich and powerful.

Does that sound like some of today’s politicians?

When it became clear to Judas that Jesus had another plan, he was probably disillusioned and maybe even angry. He seemed to have forgotten all the miracles of the past.

Remember, it is only a few days before Jesus will raise Lazarus from the dead! Judas was there!

How this applies to us.

Often when we pray, our preconceived or erroneous ideas expect God to answer in a specific way. Or maybe we wonder why He is sometimes silent. Perhaps there’s even some other way we are disappointed by the answer [or no answer] to our prayers.

We must guard our hearts so as not to let unbelief seep in and cause us to sin or to doubt that God always has our best interests at work in our lives.

When we are angry or fearful, or when things are not going well, we are vulnerable. But sometimes we are equally vulnerable when we are on the “mountaintop.”

Therefore, we must be like Jesus: keep focused on the mission.

.

To be continued next Thursday…

…..

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The advertising which may appear below is not placed by the author and is not to be considered as a part of this post or an expression of my views.

OUR SELFLESS SAVIOR [REPOST]

So far this summer—which actually felt like it began last April—has felt like a roller coaster ride. And I hate roller coasters! I unexpectedly have a good day so of course I do more than I probably should, and then spend several days to a week or more in recovery/payback mode.

As I’ve stated before, summer is the most difficult time of year for me. Although I cherish the rain we sorely need here in the northern Arizona desert, the monsoon weather taxes my body to the utmost. Last week I felt like I was about 95 as I S-L-O-W-L-Y pushed my shopping cart through the store. My migraine shrieked its presence as every single joint cried out in pain.

No worries though. God’s always got my back and I am forever thankful for that. He gives me just enough energy to do what He has planned for me, so I’ll ride out this monsoon season as best I can and thank Him for anything I can do to share His message of faith, love, joy and hope.

Life is full of challenges for all of us but my challenges are sometimes measured in minutes or hours. Instead of completely shutting down this blog, I have made the hard decision to prioritize rest by not writing as much as I would like to. Instead, I’ll be sharing more of my previous posts with you, along with posting some uplifting images from time to time. I pray you’ll understand and bear with me.

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As I wrote you last Thursday, today begins the series on John 13 by my friend and mentor, Donna Baker. Again, thank you, Donna, for allowing me to share your heart with my readers.

 Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. –John 13:1

This was not only the last night of Jesus’ life, but He knew in mere hours He would be tortured and crucified: the most cruel form of death.

And yet He spent His last hours fulfilling the will of His Father, in teaching and serving others.

If we faced that, would we be fulfilling our religious obligations, teaching others—calm, methodical, focused on the goal—or would we be ricocheting off the walls, focused on the end? It’s quite unlikely we would be calm. Maybe we’d even be crying and praying. Jesus did that too in the Garden of Gethsemane later that night.

He was after all, human.

He was obeying God and His written Word in spite of what faced Him.

It was the Feast of the Passover when all Jewish males were to go to Jerusalem to attend the Feast:

The LORD spoke again to Moses, saying, “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘The LORD’S appointed times which you shall proclaim as holy convocations—

My appointed times are these:…

In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight is the LORD’s Passover.’”

—Leviticus 23:1-2, 5

Jesus was not only to go to the Feast, He was to be the Passover Lamb, the sacrifice for all the sin of all mankind. There are so many Scriptures that say this, but I only want to dwell now on the one in John 1, where John the Baptist foretold of Him:

Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! —John 1:29

The Jews had wanted to kill Him for years, but they didn’t want to do it during the Passover. However God had other plans and His plans are never thwarted:

I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. Job 42:2

The Jews thought they were in control but reading about the last night of Jesus’ life should put that idea to rest with anyone who reads it. God caused all things to be as they were foretold in the Old Testament. There are too many to list here.

Be an Acts 17:11 Christian and look them up and you will be amazed at Your God!!

Now these were more noble-minded that those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. —Acts 17:11

God’s plan was in place. Jesus was in lockstep with His Father in spite of what He knew He was facing.

Beloved, as you pray today, ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I in lockstep with God’s plan for me today?
  • Am I spending enough time listening to Him through His Word and in prayer?
  • Am I trusting God for my future even if it is a harsh future, or even death?
  • Am I praying and caring only for myself or for others as Jesus did in His last hours?

To be continued next Thursday…

 

 

The advertising which may appear below is not placed by the author and is not to be considered as a part of this post or an expression of my views.

OUR SELFLESS SAVIOR (Part 2)

~This is the second part of the series on John 13 by Donna Baker~

.

Last Thursday we read how Jesus spent His last hours fulfilling the will of His Father in teaching and serving others.

God’s plan was in place.

Jesus was in lockstep with His Father in spite of what He knew He was facing.

The focus switches now to Judas.

During supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him… John 13:2

All sin begins in the heart. Only when it is acted upon does it become sin.

We can read about this downward slide in chapter 1 of James:

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. —James: 1:13-16

If you look up the verses in the Bible where Judas is mentioned, you learn he was covetous. We know this because it tells us he was a thief. He didn’t need the money, he simply wanted the money. He had been with Jesus for three years. Did he think Jesus didn’t know he was stealing?

Our hearts deceive us too. We think God doesn’t see our secret sins but He does, just as Jesus knew Judas’ heart.

One of the most startling things to consider about Judas is that earlier in time, Jesus had also sent Judas to heal, cast out demons, etc.:

And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction.

The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James [the son] of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.

These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay.

—Matthew 10:1-8 (ESV)

Isn’t this astonishing? Judas was able to do all these things and saw these miracles and many more. He saw Lazarus and the others Jesus raised from the dead, and yet he still didn’t believe with his heart.

Sobering thoughts, aren’t they? Doesn’t it give this portion of Matthew 7 a whole new perspective to ponder?

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’

And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Matt. 7:21-23

We all have preconceived ideas of what we expect of Jesus in our lives even if we are not aware of it. It is very likely that Judas had some preconceived ideas toohow he thought Jesus should be or doand it was not working out that way. From my point of view, this is probably part of why he was contemplating betraying Him.

Here is one of my thoughts [and remember, this is my opinion, not the Bible’s]: we know that two of the other disciples thought Jesus was going to set up His kingdom right away and free them from the Romans. We know this because their mother asked Jesus to give them the two highest political offices, on the right and the left of Him.

Maybe Judas expected, as they did, to have an important “cabinet” position such as Department of Treasury where he could have both prestige and siphon off a lot more money to help him grow rich and powerful.

Does that sound like some of today’s politicians?

When it became clear to Judas that Jesus had another plan, he was probably disillusioned and maybe even angry. He seemed to have forgotten all the miracles of the past.

Remember, it is only a few days before Jesus will raise Lazarus from the dead! Judas was there!

How this applies to us.

Often when we pray, our preconceived or erroneous ideas expect God to answer in a specific way. Or maybe we wonder why He is sometimes silent. Perhaps there’s even some other way we are disappointed by the answer [or no answer] to our prayers.

We must guard our hearts so as not to let unbelief seep in and cause us to sin or to doubt that God always has our best interests at work in our lives.

When we are angry or fearful, or when things are not going well, we are vulnerable. But sometimes we are equally vulnerable when we are on the “mountaintop.”

Therefore, we must be like Jesus: keep focused on the mission.

.

To be continued next Thursday…

OUR SELFLESS SAVIOR

As I wrote you last Thursday, today begins the series on John 13 by my friend and mentor, Donna Baker. Again, thank you, Donna, for allowing me to share your heart with my readers.

 Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. –John 13:1

This was not only the last night of Jesus’ life, but He knew in mere hours He would be tortured and crucified: the most cruel form of death.

And yet He spent His last hours fulfilling the will of His Father, in teaching and serving others.

If we faced that, would we be fulfilling our religious obligations, teaching others—calm, methodical, focused on the goal—or would we be ricocheting off the walls, focused on the end? It’s quite unlikely we would be calm. Maybe we’d even be crying and praying. Jesus did that too in the Garden of Gethsemane later that night.

He was after all, human.

He was obeying God and His written Word in spite of what faced Him.

It was the Feast of the Passover when all Jewish males were to go to Jerusalem to attend the Feast:

The LORD spoke again to Moses, saying, “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘The LORD’S appointed times which you shall proclaim as holy convocations—

My appointed times are these:…

In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight is the LORD’s Passover.’”

—Leviticus 23:1-2, 5

Jesus was not only to go to the Feast, He was to be the Passover Lamb, the sacrifice for all the sin of all mankind. There are so many Scriptures that say this, but I only want to dwell now on the one in John 1, where John the Baptist foretold of Him:

Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! —John 1:29

The Jews had wanted to kill Him for years, but they didn’t want to do it during the Passover. However God had other plans and His plans are never thwarted:

I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. Job 42:2

The Jews thought they were in control but reading about the last night of Jesus’ life should put that idea to rest with anyone who reads it. God caused all things to be as they were foretold in the Old Testament. There are too many to list here.

Be an Acts 17:11 Christian and look them up and you will be amazed at Your God!!

Now these were more noble-minded that those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. —Acts 17:11

God’s plan was in place. Jesus was in lockstep with His Father in spite of what He knew He was facing.

Beloved, as you pray today, ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I in lockstep with God’s plan for me today?

  • Am I spending enough time listening to Him through His Word and in prayer?

  • Am I trusting God for my future even if it is a harsh future, or even death?

  • Am I praying and caring only for myself or for others as Jesus did in His last hours?

To be continued next Thursday…