Friday, May 1, 2009

May 2, 2009

This morning I am hanging out in Luke 22, especially the first six verses:

“Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people. Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. They were delighted and agreed to give him money. He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present.”

Here we see recorded the most despicable deed ever perpetrated by a Christ follower. We wonder how Judas could do such a thing?

As I was considering that question this thought crossed my mind, Judas sold out Jesus because he didn’t sell out to Jesus.

He didn’t have an excuse. He had followed Jesus for three years and had seen the miracles, heard the parables, listened to the teachings, and knew well the demands of discipleship. He counted the cost of selling out to Jesus, but he preferred to sell Jesus out.

People who refuse to pay the price always have a price. Satan is well aware of that. He knows that followers who haven’t completely bought into Jesus can be bought off.

I have heard cynical people confidently proclaim that, “Everybody has a price.” They believe that personal convictions are negotiable and will be traded to the highest bidder.

I did some research on the value of those 30 of silver that Judas received for betraying Jesus. The estimate I found was $19.20. Even factoring in today’s inflation, that still isn’t much money to gain by betraying the Son of God. Of course, what amount would be?

What’s your price? How many times have you sold Him out?

So, what brought Judas to the point of selling out Jesus? What kept him from being sold out?

He had the wrong agenda. Judas’ agenda for following Jesus was “What’s in it for me?” Jesus said, “If any man will come after me he must deny himself and take up his cross….” Jesus called Judas to sacrificial service, but Judas was self-serving.

Sold out Christ followers are not self-serving. They serve sacrificially. Which are you?

He had the wrong attitude. Jesus calls His followers to humility. Judas was looking for honor. When Jesus began to lose His popularity, following Jesus began to lose its status. When the tide of public opinion began to turn against Jesus, so did Judas.

Sold out followers of Christ are committed to honoring Him with a humble spirit. Is that your attitude?

He had the wrong affection. God calls us to love Him with all our hearts and love our neighbor as ourselves. Judas demonstrated that he loved himself most when he sold out Jesus and, in fact, the other disciples.

Sold out followers love Christ more than they love their own lives. Judas didn’t. Do you?

Judas proves the point of this devotional. If you are not sold out you will sell out.

Selling out means that we surrender to Jesus’ agenda of sacrificial service. Serve God by serving others,

Selling out means that humble we ourselves in order to honor Him. Judas fell victim to his pride. So will you.

Selling out means loving God with all our hearts. If you don’t love Him above all, you don’t love Him at all.

Jesus paid the price for you! Are you willing to sell out to Him? Will you do that today?

May 1, 2009

This morning I am in I Kings 10 and 11. A very troubling portion of Scripture. Not troubling from the standpoint of interpretation but for what it clearly portrays - a great man who did not finish well, Solomon.
Solomon reigned for 40 years. The first twenty were strong years. During that time he built the Temple for the Lord and the royal palace for the king. Not bad for a beginner!
Because he built the Temple and ruled wisely, God's people lived in peace and prosperity.
In chapter 10, Solomon gets a visit from the Queen of Sheba. She had heard of Solomon's wisdom and grandeur. Here is the account:
"When the queen of Sheba heard about the fame of Solomon and his relation to the name of the LORD, she came to test him with hard questions. Arriving at Jerusalem with a very great caravan—with camels carrying spices, large quantities of gold, and precious stones—she came to Solomon and talked with him about all that she had on her mind. Solomon answered all her questions; nothing was too hard for the king to explain to her. When the queen of Sheba saw all the wisdom of Solomon and the palace he had built, the food on his table, the seating of his officials, the attending servants in their robes, his cupbearers, and the burnt offerings he made at the temple of the LORD, she was overwhelmed. She said to the king, "The report I heard in my own country about your achievements and your wisdom is true. But I did not believe these things until I came and saw with my own eyes. Indeed, not even half was told me; in wisdom and wealth you have far exceeded the report I heard."
How often does something that seems too good to be true actually turn out to be that good? Solomon was! Why?
Here are some clues:
"Solomon showed his love for the LORD by walking according to the statutes of his father David, except that he offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places. The king went to Gibeon to offer sacrifices, for that was the most important high place, and Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar. At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, "Ask for whatever you want me to give you." Solomon answered, "You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day. "Now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?" The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. So God said to him, "Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both riches and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. And if you walk in my ways and obey my statutes and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life."
Solomon called on God for wisdom. God made him the wisest man ever. God-given wisdom will get you a long way in life and in leadership. It worked for him and it will work for you.
Secondly, Solomon had a God-given vision:
"The word of the LORD came to Solomon: "As for this temple you are building, if you follow my decrees, carry out my regulations and keep all my commands and obey them, I will fulfill through you the promise I gave to David your father. And I will live among the Israelites and will not abandon my people Israel." So Solomon built the temple and completed it."
When you build your life upon God's wisdom and a God-given vision - that's a strong start! No wonder Solomon launched into leadership with such success.
Third, Solomon had a godly focus:
"When Solomon had finished building the temple of the LORD and the royal palace, and had achieved all he had desired to do, the LORD appeared to him a second time, as he had appeared to him at Gibeon. The LORD said to him: "I have heard the prayer and plea you have made before me; I have consecrated this temple, which you have built, by putting my Name there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there. "As for you, if you walk before me in integrity of heart and uprightness, as David your father did, and do all I command and observe my decrees and laws, I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever, as I promised David your father when I said, 'You shall never fail to have a man on the throne of Israel.' "But if you or your sons turn away from me and do not observe the commands and decrees I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, then I will cut off Israel from the land I have given them and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name. Israel will then become a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples."
The secret to Solomon's early fame and success is not hard to comprehend. In fact, it is available to you and me: God's wisdom, God's vision, and a godly focus.
What IS hard to comprehend is how someone who started so strong could finish so poorly:
"As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been. He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites. So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the LORD; he did not follow the LORD completely, as David his father had done. On a hill east of Jerusalem, Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable god of Moab, and for Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites. He did the same for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and offered sacrifices to their gods. The LORD became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice."
How can the wisest man who ever lived finish so foolishly? Here is the formula for a fall! Solomon turned from the very things that made him great - wisdom, vision and focus!
So, what does all this have to do with you?
No much, if you are not interested in finishing well. But if you are determined to finish well here is a great challenge and great caution. You are never too strong to fall and you are never so weak you can't rise. You will rise or fall according to where you turn for wisdom, where you find your vision for living and where you fix your focus.
How will you finish?
A better question - how will you start today? Will you seek His wisdom? Will you follow His vision? Will you focus your faith on Him?