Here is this week’s Sunday School lesson once again just in case you need it. Have a blessed one out there everyone!
“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee:because he trusteth in thee,” Isaiah 26:3
Peace is something that seems far out of reach for most. It is greatly desired and sought after; yet, many will never lay hold of it. Why is that? The answer is because of where it is found. It is found in a made-up mind centered on who He is and a devoted heart that believes in the promises He has made. “Perfect peace” speaks of the character of God at work. Wherever He operates and whatever He delves into is marked by perfection. That means when He established something that He wants to offer to all mankind He does so without there being anything wrong with it. No fault in it whatsoever. And, He does here also. As a matter of fact, the only thing that can mar this “perfect peace” that He is so willing to give is how man (i.e. the human race) accepts it.
When one’s mind is focused whole-heartedly on an idea, then that becomes the single vision of that person. Once the vision of the mind’s eye is arrowed in one direction, that’s where one will be led to follow. Now imagine a time of being in the midst of very hard and severe trials and tribulations. Where there are sorrows and disappointments that seem to do nothing to encourage one’s focus on God, only working to tear away at one’s faith. Yet, through it all, that person takes a stand within them and says, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31).
The person who is able to stir up his faith in this manner as a defense and a shield to his mind, using the focus of God at work in his life and the verifying of it through His Word, will be kept in “perfect peace.” He has made an on purpose decision that no matter how bleak and dismal it may seem right now, God is greater than all and “His tender mercies are over all His works,” (Ps. 145:9). “How is one able to do that?” you may be crying out in frustration. I answer you with Abraham’s example as referred to by Paul in Romans 4:20-21, where it says, “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. Simply put, as our verse in Isaiah 26:3 says, “Because he trusteth thee.”
2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” That is including, “perfect peace.” All His promises are in His Word and the one who bases the foundation of all that he believes on that one rock solid truth will be upheld and kept through the worse of storms.
“If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me,” John 13:8
As humbling as it was, He was doing it anyway, washing the feet of all the disciples in the room. In case you didn’t know, this was a very gross job reserved for the lowest of servants in the house. The roads were not paved but rather dusty and muddy and littered with all types of animal material left behind (if you catch my meaning). Open sandals were the norm of fashion which really didn’t do anything to keep the elements of all that had been stepped on out. Feet stank and were blistered, sore and probably repulsive to us today. No such thing as a pedicure back then.
Yet, here is the Savior, bending below the lowest servant washing the filth away. Is this not a precursor to what He would shortly do on the cross, stooping below the lowliest to wash all the filth and stink of sin away forevermore? The things that are repulsive, gross and out of order with the beauty of the life God designed, Jesus bows to wash it all away. No wonder His rebuke to Peter sounded harsh, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” For Jesus knew better than anyone that anything man could do to try to remove the filth of sin away was inadequate. One needed to be washed by Jesus.
Despite popular belief, there are not many roads to heaven. Jesus very clearly stated, “I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me,” John 14:6. I cannot over emphasize those two words NO ONE. That means no exceptions. That means no matter how good one thinks they are if they have not gone through Jesus, if He has not cleansed them from their sins, they will not walk those dirty feet on His heavenly streets.
Wash me, Jesus! If there is any impurities, any sin, anything that keeps me from You, cleanse me and make me whole. “Lord, not my feet only, but my hands and my head!” John 13:9. From the top of me to the bottom, from the inside out, wash me and fit me to live with thee there!
“. . .And so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law:
and if I perish, I perish,” Esther 4:16, KJV
There are a lot of things that act like blockades in our lives, but fear by far has to be one of the hardest to overcome. Fear can render useless the one who entertains it because unlike physical limitations, fear messes with the mind. It changes one’s perspective on how they view the world, the people around them and their own lives.
Fear acts like a photographer. It snaps a picture and develops it in the dark recesses of your mind. When the picture is finished being developed it comes out for you to view a new reality, whether it’s true or not. Fear is not based on truth but it wants you to believe in the image it presents to you more than God. That’s why many of us will never tread the courts of the king as Esther did. We can become so focused on that false image (the things that we see that make us afraid) that we fail to step out with courage.
The Bible tells us, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” (Heb. 11:1, KJV). Going against fear takes faith. Faith doesn’t concentrate on what is visible to the naked eye. Faith concentrates on the truth of God’s promises. And His promises declare, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness,” (Is. 41:10, KJV).
That’s what faith sees!
With Queen Esther’s physical eyes the picture she saw wasn’t pleasant. What she saw was her beloved uncle Mordecai’s life was in danger, (Esther 5:14). What she saw was hatred and an evil desire for her people to be destroyed, (Esther 3:8-9). What she saw was the anguish of her people, grieving her also, (Esther 4:3-4). What she saw was a law that could take her life, (Esther 4:11).
A decision had to be made. Esther could look at the circumstances and let the fear of those images stop her from doing what’s right. Or, she could take a stand against the fear that assailed her and go for it, debunking that old image to see something new.
With great resolve and commitment she said, “If I perish, I perish.” She took a stand against the fearful, stepping out into the unknown, not sure if she would find favor with the king. Her people needed her to be brave. Her uncle needed her to be unbending in her determination. She needed to step up to the plate “for such a time as this,” (Esther 4:14, KJV).
In what area of your life do you need more courage? Is there something you are dealing with that is extremely hard, yet you want to be determined to see it through? It takes a resolve such as Queen Esther possessed to stand against the fear of what you see so that you too can walk the King’s court in victory!
“For everyone that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted,” Luke 18:14b
We’ve all heard someone express at one time or another, “You need to come down off that high horse!” Whether it was said to us or another, the challenge is still implied for one to not think highly of him or herself, Romans 12:3. People that are boastful and proud have a way of thinning out the crowds. Their attitude is not attractive; therefore others will find an excuse to disassociate themselves from that person.
Us, who are saved by grace, also have to fight the urge to take on this superiority complex. Too often we are just as prone to mount that high horse and ride off into the sunset, singing in a school girl tone, “We’re saved and you’re not . . . . . la la la la la la!” Okay, so maybe we don’t sing in childish tones but that doesn’t mean we don’t act in childish ways; looking down our nose at a lost world as if we obtained this great salvation on our own.
The Bible is full of references that explain God’s feelings toward this particular subject: He hates it! 1 Peter 5:5 states, “God resisteth the proud!” Those that display this ugly characteristic are not amusing God, rather they are pushing Him away. He does not tolerate it at all.
In light of all that He has done for humanity His view is this, no one has the right to think he is something special when he is not – “All that, and a bag of chips,” if you will. (Don’t ask. It’s a funny phrase I often hear and I really haven’t figured out why adding a bag of chips on the end makes the perception of superiority that much more so 🙂 ).
Jesus hits the nail on the head in this story found in Luke 18:9-14. Here He denounces the prideful Pharisees’ attitude of self-righteousness and He proclaims the greatness of the one who had a humble heart. Did it seem that He was being too hard on the Pharisees; the ones who were the religious leaders of the day?
Not in the least. Verse 9 tells us how their position changed their view of their relationship with God and with man. First, He stated, they “trusted in themselves that they were righteous.” Their rituals, rules, and regulations were how they measured and viewed their righteousness. Their so-called ability to dot every “I” and cross every “T” ranked them above all others, securing their own righteousness. No humbleness of heart was present. No attributing their standing to the grace and mercy of God. They “trusted in themselves.”
Secondly, their view caused them to “despise others.” Since nobody was as presumably holy as they were, they thought themselves to be on a higher level than everyone else. They rode that high horse and they rode it a lot.
These two very wrong suppositions of themselves caused them to break the two greatest commandments that were ever written:
“Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40
We all have to take careful heed to view our position in Christ in the proper way:
“To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men. For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3:2-7
Not one of us has the right to ride the high horse!
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“And they all forsook him, and fled,” Mark 14:50, KJV
“I would not have run!” that’s what most of us exclaim when we hear the story of Jesus facing these men in the Garden of Gethsemane.
How often have we stood for Christ in the midst of adversity? When contentions arise to defend our faith, do we stand closed lip or do we draw the spiritual sword? When our time comes to speak what is right, do we act with avoidance, put up our church finger to excuse ourselves away from the controversy?
There’s more than one way to flee from the garden.
Our country is changing and it’s headed in a wrong direction really fast. As Christians, where are we going? Do we stand with Jesus only in times of miracles and blessings, only to flee and disappear in the shadows when things get hard? Or, do we stand with Him when the enemy tries to attack and arrest our faith?
I, unapologetically, stand with Christ. Laws are being passed that’s trying to change not only the landscape of our nation, but the scope of all that’s right and just before God. I love all people and I pray for them. But, and I say this without condemnation, “What’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong.” And, if we think as Christians these law and changes that other powers are pronouncing to be right have no effect on us, than we have already left the garden leaving Jesus to stand there alone.
The rights of some are being raised while our rights in what we believe are being diminished. Where are you going? It’s time for the church to wake up, take the sleep masks off and pay attention to what’s going on around us. Did we flee to leave Jesus standing alone?
One day, after teaching words that was hard for the crowd to digest, Jesus turned to His disciples and asked, “Do you also want to go away?” (John 6:67, NKJV). But Peter spoke up and said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” (John 6:68; NKJV).
Stand with Jesus and you will never fall.
Here is this week’s lesson once again just in case you missed it. Enjoy!
Every spoken word and every silent cry of the heart – the Lord hears! When we come before God with our hearts pouring out to Him, He does not turn a deaf ear. You and I are important to our heavenly Father. He pays attention to the bowing knee and the bowing heart. No matter how you feel He is unhindered in His ability to sit and listen to you lay all the burdens and cares of this life down at the cross.
“How can I keep from singing Your praise
How can I ever say enough
How amazing is Your love
How can I keep from shouting Your name
I know I am loved by the King
And it makes my heart want to sing
Chris Tomlin: “How Can I Keep From Singing”
Lyrics provided by Lyricsreg.com
You, my friends, are so very much and incredibly loved by the King. There is so much that we face on a daily basis that tries to speak contrary to the blessedness we have in Him. But, my God loves you with an undying love. His heart is tied to His people. His people need only to rest in the promises of His mercy, grace, power, and authority that makes their hearts soar on the wings of the hope we have in Him.
Today doesn’t have to be ordinary. Today doesn’t have to control you. Today doesn’t have the final say about your destiny in life. When it all boils down to it, you have a reason to sing because your heavenly Father’s eye is on you. He has marked you for greatness in Him. You are covered and shielded by His love. Therefore, let your heart sing in the majesty of your Savior. Let your soul rejoice no matter what it look because you are a cherished vessel and in that we are so ever grateful.
Many blessings to each of you today, my dear friends.
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