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Entries in Trust (3)

Tuesday
Jul012014

Power and Authority Delegated

Today we will be looking at Luke chapter 9 and verses one through ten.  It is easy to think of the ministry of Jesus and his disciples in the sense that the disciples were just baggage that Jesus carried around with him.  However, in today’s passage we see that, even before the cross, Christ had sent them on missions in which they were able to do what Christ had been doing (to some degree).  How was this possible?  It was possible because Jesus had delegated to them his power and authority.

Power and Authority Delegated

In the first two verses we see that the word delegated is not used.  However, it clearly says that Jesus gave his disciples power and authority.  Of course, this is the very definition of delegation.  The word “power” focuses on the raw power to do something.  The disciples would have this “raw power” because the Holy Spirit would work through them.  Jesus was giving this to them.  The word “authority” focuses on the right or position that enables one to do something.  As personal representatives of Jesus, they are given the right to act on the behalf of Jesus in certain ways.

Now remember that Jesus has more than proven his power and authority by this point.  He has shown power over disease and nature.  He has also demonstrated power and authority over spiritual powers.  So when he tells them that he is “giving” them power we should sit up and take notice.  This somewhat amazing command is helped by the very nature of the one giving it.

Freeing a person from a spirit or from a virus is really quite similar.  A foreign entity is removed so that a person can operate as God intended them to do.  Yet, spirits do have sentience.  So Jesus tells them to cast out spirits and to cure diseases.  Yet, the authority and power is limited.  They are not told to take over the administration of Israel, or to command the Romans to leave Israel.  Thus true delegation is powerful and yet limited by the one who is giving it.  It is easy to do to dismiss the “backwards” notion of evil spirits.  However, those who have honestly researched into these things will find that too many things cannot be explained.  I won’t go into it this morning, but God’s Word warns us against opening ourselves up to evil spirits through drugs and occult rituals.  These things are ways that people give “permission” to evil entities to begin operating within them.  As our nation, more and more, rejects Jesus and God’s Word, we will begin to see more and more demonic activity.  Are you ready?

Now in verse two it mentions that they are to preach the Kingdom of God.  Thus while they do spectacular works of power, they are proclaiming a message about God’s Kingdom.  Israel had longed for the Anointed King or (Messiah) to come and rule with the righteousness of God.  His would be a just administration that would truly be God with us.  Jesus and his disciples proclaimed that the Kingdom of God was now here.  However, it has a present and a future sense.  In the spiritual, Jesus would take up rule in the hearts of his believers without an earthly throne.  By his Spirit in their hearts he would direct and rule over this kingdom from heaven.  This is not exactly what Israel was expecting.  They were looking for the Messiah to sit on a throne in Jerusalem and raise up Israel to rule over the world.  Now there is a future promise that Jesus will come back to earth in physical form.  He will also put down the armies of the nations of the world as they try to stop his coming.  Jesus will indeed rule in person on this earth one day.  But that day is not yet.  Thus there was a strong need for some powerful proof that the disciples were not just making up a likely fairy tale to explain why Jesus had “failed,” once he was crucified.

Don’t Worry About Provision

In verse three Jesus tells them not to stock up on things that they would normally take with them on a journey.  Why?  Material provisions and our worry about them can often get between us and God’s plan.  So, Jesus ensures that they will have to learn quickly how to trust God and Him alone.  In some ways not taking anything would make matters worse.  From day one they could worry about where their next meal would come from.  They could worry more.  But, as they found God supplying their needs they would grow in faith.  Sometimes God allows us to enter times that seem lean to us.  Yet, if we will trust Him, we will find that His supply will remain constant, though maybe not at the level we hope for.  If we remain thankful and faithful, we will become more like Christ and bring joy to our heavenly Father.

We also notice that God would provide through people.  This is seen in the following verses.  This too is a pitfall.  Will I become to lean on people more than God who opens their heart towards me?  What is my motivation?  Am I seeking to mooch off of people or even worse, fleece them?  The work of a minister is to be a humble one.  I am at the mercy and care of others.  I should never take advantage of that, nor become angry when it is not up to my liking.  If God calls you to full-time ministry then He will provide for you.  It will often come through the help of people who are thankful for your ministry on God’s behalf.  Do not let that corrupt you.  Rather continually give God thanks no matter what is given and minister freely to those who do not have.  Even if you are not called to full-time ministry, no matter what God calls you to do, He will provide.  You won’t have to shake people down, or manipulate them through better fundraising techniques.  You merely need to pray and be faithful at what He has called you to do.

Don’t Worry About How You Are Received

In verses 4-5 Jesus speaks about the kinds of reception they will receive.  Now when we say, “don’t worry about how people receive you,” it doesn’t mean you don’t care about how they respond.  But, it does mean we refuse to operate out of a method that will change the message in order to get more to receive us.  Jesus was rejected by the religious leaders because he pointed out their sins.  Some would receive the disciples.  Perhaps because of what was being preached and wanting to know more.  Or perhaps, because of a miracle that they had seen the disciples do.  They would find people who wanted to be a part of the kingdom of God and would invite them into their houses and feed them.

On the other hand some people would reject them.  Not all still believe there is such a thing as the Kingdom of God.  Perhaps they have grown cynical.  They would be rejected by individuals and yet, Jesus says that they might be rejected by whole villages.  The Gospel was not to be changed in order to appease them.  Rather, Jesus instructed his disciples to shake the dust off of their feet as they left town.  This is a reference to a custom of some religious Jews who, when they left Gentile cities, would shake off the dust from their feet as a sign that they wanted no contamination to cling to them.  Yet, here Jesus uses it as a sign that the disciples had been there and would leave evidence that God could point to as proof of the guilt of those who rejected them.  When we come in the name and manner of Jesus, He will deal with those who reject us.  We need not be bitter or compromising.

The Rulers of This World Perplexed

In verses 6-10, we see Herod perplexed.  Jesus is the king of the Kingdom of God.  However, the current King of Israel isn’t sure how to take him.  Herod is himself a pretender to the throne.  Given to him by Rome’s Ceasar, Herod had no true claim to Israel’s throne.  Yet, Jesus does not seem to be trying to take it.  He doesn’t “do politics” in a way that Herod understands.  Herod also seems to have some guilt about killing John the Baptist.  He conjectures that Jesus just may be John come back from the dead.

Although God works indirectly through world leaders, His primary tool in this world is His Church- people who are surrendered to His rule and mission in their life.  God has rejected the wise men and the movers and shakers of this world.  This perplexes them.  They cannot conceive that anything great can truly be done without them.  But God has pledged to do exactly this.  If you find yourself among the powerful of this world, humble yourself and beg of God for grace.  Jesus and His Kingdom will not be brought in by Herod, Ceasar, or the leaders of the world today.  Rather, He will do so through the most humble of the earth.  1 Corinthians 2:7- 8 says, “We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory.”

Just as Herod was perplexed with Jesus, so the spiritual powers behind him are at a loss as well.  The strategy of Jesus is quite different from the schemes and tricks of the devil.  In fact, had satan realized what crucifying Christ was doing for sinners, he most likely would have refrained from instigating the leaders against him.  But now Jesus has spiritually bound the strongman.  Those who know Christ are given the right and authority to preach the gospel on His behalf.  He also chooses to confirm this gospel through signs and wonders that he performs at his desire.  Yet, the battle is not completely over.  Even as satan is spiritually bound today and all are free to embrace Jesus, many still reject Christ.  Eventually God will let the world and its leaders have the way that they have desired, which will only lead to rapid ruin for this planet.  So until the Kingdom of God is materially instituted on this earth are you operating within it by the Spirit already?  Christ is still delegating today power and authority to His faithful disciples.  We must respond in a way that waits upon the Lord for direction as to how he has determined for us to serve him.  We must also be bold in this hour when the enemy wants to cause us to fear through intimidation.  Respond to the Spirit today by putting your faith in Jesus and becoming a proclaimer of the Kingdom of God.

Power Authority Delegated Audio

Tuesday
Jun052012

On The Journey

On this Sunday we celebrate the time that we have had with Dr. Caleb Tindano of Burkina Faso.  He will be going home on June 12 and we are going to miss him.  This brother has been on a journey both literally and metaphorically.  Similarly we are all on a journey through this life.  The Bible uses this same imagery in Hebrews 11 to teach us how to walk in this journey of life and how to do it well.

Believers Live By Faith

In Hebrews 11:8-12, the Holy Spirit reminds us of the life of Abraham and Sarah.  They were called to leave their home country and to travel to an unknown place.  There they would live in tents with a nomadic lifestyle.  They would also have kids at an extreme age (90 and 100).  Lastly they would be the source of multitudes.  These descendants are more than just the biological, but more importantly, include those who are children of Abraham by their faith in Jesus Christ.

Over and over again the passage states that they did all this by faith.  Now this is important because in Hebrews 10:38 it says that “the just shall live by faith.”  This is a quote from the Old Testament passage of Habakkuk 2:4.  It is similar to Paul’s statement in 2 Corinthians 5:7, “we walk by faith, not by sight.”  Now what did they do by faith?  Several verbs are given to explain their actions of faith.  First is “obeyed.”  Obedience is something we naturally resist.  However, faith enabled them to go to a country that they didn’t necessarily want.  They also, “dwelt,” “waited,” and “bore.”  Each of these were things that were not easy to do.  They dwelt in a land in tents, as nomads, and among hostiles.  They waited when all of us would vote or now.  And, Sarah gave birth at 90 years old.  When do you say, “no thanks, but I changed my mind.”

Faith is that inner knowing and trust that God will do what he has said he will.  But far simpler than that, faith knows this: at the end of the day God is good.  The strange thing about believers is that they could look at all the stuff going on around them and quit trusting God.  But instead they continue to trust that God is what he says he is, he is good.

Believers Die in Faith

In Hebrews 11:13-15 we are reminded that Abraham, Sarah, and all other righteous people died while having faith in God.  To those who don’t believe in God this would probably be the strongest argument for walking away from this “God.”  The Spirit reminds us that though Abraham didn’t see all that was promised to him, it wasn’t because God wasn’t good or that he doesn’t really exist.  It does mean that the scope of his promises is far greater than our life.

There is a modern phenomenon that psychiatrists increasingly encounter called “Truman Show Delusion.”  The Truman Show was a movie in which a man’s whole life was secretly filmed and he eventually discovers that everyone in his life, even his wife, is an actor in a show in which he was the only real thing.  However absurd this may seem we sometimes act like this in regard to life.  God’s promises are greater than you and your life on this earth.  They encompass all believers of all time and all life, both this temporary life and the eternal life we have begun to enter.

Abraham didn’t see all the promises.  But he did see them by faith, “afar off.”  He was also assured of them.  This assurance can only really come from God himself.  When we assure ourselves it only works so long.  This is a supernatural assurance that is in the face of even death itself.  They “embraced” those promises as well.  They changed their lives and raised their kids in the environment of a full embrace of God’s promises.  “We want them and we will see them someday.”  By doing this they were confessing their true identity as nomads in this world.  God’s promises are about things that are beyond this life, which makes us nomads among those in this world who see this life as all there is.

By faith, believers are citizens of a heavenly kingdom (vs14).  Just like people who go to another culture experience a cultural dissonance, so believers feel that dissonance everywhere they go, even in their home town.  This world does not value true faith in the One True God.  Spiritually it is not our home and this makes us homesick for that place we have never been.  We know it by faith.  It is a country and a capital city that will be supplied by God himself.  No civilization or world of man will create them.

The reason I entitled this section, Believers Die in Faith, is because of the words of verse 13.  Believers not only live by faith, but when they come to the end of their life, that same faith continues.  It looks forward with the trust that God is good and it is not over yet.

God Rewards Our Faith

Ultimately our very salvation and eternal destiny is tied to our faith in God, specifically the Lord Jesus.  Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.”

But another aspect of this in Hebrews 11:16, is that God is not ashamed to be called their God.  More than that, he is not ashamed to claim us in the life to come.  He walks into a room of the world’s rich and powerful, beautiful and strong, and picks up those whom the world looks upon as weak, poor, ugly, undesirable.  They are beautiful to God simply because of their faith in him; faith that endures through death.  You are beautiful to God to the degree you trust him.

Thus God has prepared this place for those who have trusted him in life and in death.  God’s kingdom will come down and not just be in our hearts.  Jesus will literally come through those clouds and establish a world of peace that operates on the basis of trust in God.

No matter where you are on this journey, your faith will be tried.  You are a stranger in a strange land and that is an uncomfortable feeling.  May you remain faithful to Him who is always faithful and in the end will be found to have been completely good.

On The Journey Audio

Tuesday
May292012

Trust in God

On Sunday, May 27, Evangelist Ernie Salinas preached a message about trusting God during this current time of social disruption.  The following article is a summary prepared by Pastor Marty Bonner.

Troubled Hearts

In John 14:1 Jesus reminded his disciples that things would happen that would trouble their hearts.  Not just the disciples, but the whole nation of Israel was in the middle of a huge social disruption that would forever change how they related to God.  Similarly our nation is in the middle of such a disruption that has fragmented our society.  Certain cultural patterns of thinking and living are being broken down and either transformed or discarded.  This creates a period of confusion as people ask this internal question.  “If I can’t do this (whatever is no longer acceptable) then what do I do now?”  How should I act and what is expected of me are other ways of asking this question.

Now Jesus was not only speaking to the social disruption that was happening in the first century AD, but he also spoke to the social disruption that would be prevalent at the end of the age.  In Matthew 24:6 and following, Jesus talks about how there would be social turmoil and wars.  Yet, he tells his followers to not be troubled by these things.  That word troubled is the picture of a turbulent sea of various currents that keep our heart agitated and anxious.  This time and its events will have the effect of agitating our minds and filling our hearts with worry.  But Jesus tells them to not allow their hearts to be tossed to and fro by these events.  How is that possible?

The disciples were about to get a lesson in how to do this.  Their time with Jesus and the way things had been for the last 3 years was coming to a close.  Jesus had been their stability and had told them what they were going to do each day.  They followed him.  But that dynamic was about to be changed or transformed.  In John 13:30 there is an interesting phrase that is used after Judas leaves to betray Jesus.  It simply says, “and it was night.”  Most scholars point out that this is meant to be more than a chronological statement.  It wasn’t just night time, but it was metaphorical of the dark night their hearts were going through.  A time when the light you have been living by seems to be snuffed out and you can’t see to find your bearings.  What do we do now?  This question was asked by each disciples as they saw their Lord crucified and buried.

That is why Jesus was telling them to not let their hearts be troubled.

Trusting God And Jesus

After telling them to not let their hearts be troubled (a negative command) he then positively commands them to not only believe in God but to also believe in him.  That word believe is to put your trust in them.  The turmoil would cause them to contemplate not trusting.  However, they were to fight that and find a calm and peace around continuing to trust God in the face of impossibility. 

It has been said that uncertainty is a certainty.  In this world the uncertainties around us will either cause us to give up or it will cause us to look to the certainty that is God himself.  Jesus went on to tell his disciples that he was going to prepare a place for them.  Not only was he preparing a place for them, but he would come and bring them to be with him.  Trust me, is what he was saying.  Even when it seems impossible, trust me.

We are given a tender picture of this in Revelation 21:4.  Here we find that all who have put their faith and trust in God will reach a day when he personally wipes the tears from their eyes.  This is not a sense of  “quit your whining, we don’t cry here.”  It is more a tender picture of God stepping in with his personal touch to wipe away those tears of this life.  He becomes the One who knowingly understands our tears and identifies with our tears.  He will tenderly brush them away as he heals our hearts from the pain and sorrow.

The believer must always hold before them the hope that God has given us in this.  No matter how difficult my path in this life, I will eventually leave this anxiety behind and I will be welcomed into God’ healing presence.  Thus I do not need to be tossed about by the troubles of this life.  Though they are real and I will have to deal with them, through faith in Jesus I can find a place of peace here and now in the midst of my own personal night.