Tuesday, September 14, 2010

CHOICE OR TEST?

CHOICE OR TEST?
A. Brother
©2010 Narrowgate Publishing

“If it pleases the king and if your servant
has found favor in his sight, let him send me
to the city in Judah where my fathers are buried
so that I can rebuild it.”
Neh. 2:5

The Spirit of God is grieved this morning, because many who ought to know better—those who have the Word of God and who claim Christ’s Name—are making poor choices that adversely affect the Kingdom of God.  He expects us to listen, and hear, and heed His Word, yet we blindly drive toward the cliff’s edge without sense.  We are like the horse and the mule, who must be led around.  We are infants, crying out for milk, instead of willingly diving into the meat of truth, hungry for righteousness, thirsty for the water of Life.

Hundreds of “ministries” trumpet their wares, beat their chests, shouting “Look at me!  Look at me!  Buy my books, attend my seminars!  Listen to me on the radio!  Watch me on TV!
And by the way, if you’re interested, TO FIND OUT HOW TO BE SAVED, CLICK HERE.”

Titles of the books are a list of our misuse and misapplication of Scripture for our own benefit.  They all have to do with us:  How to Get Blessings from God, Living a Successful Life, and so on.  These are the titles of godless and selfish people, who are making choices that affect not only their own lives, but the lives of others around them, taking these people away from the Kingdom, and imbuing them with a sense of their own power, their own importance, and the significance of their own earthly agendas.

Yet this is contrary to the message of Jesus, and the messages of the apostles who were handed this good news of the Kingdom.  How can we follow men and women whose very lives are so different from the lives of our Lord and His people in Scripture?  How can we be led astray so easily?

The root problem lies underneath the soil.  It is where we are planted.  Many of us have been planted in thin soil, seeds that spring up quickly, looking for the fast way to Christ, the speedy way to become a “good Christian”.  We want to have our lives fixed now.  We don’t want to take the long, arduous, difficult Way of Jesus.  We want easy.  In this we have become a reflection of our culture, mirroring its addiction to instant gratification. 

This Christian life we want is not available in flashy ministries, nor in online stores.  It is only available to men and women who want the best, not the fastest.  Who want depth and truth, and the real Jesus Christ.  Who want discipleship to Christ, no matter the cost.  Who are willing to sell even their most precious possessions, like the pearl of great price, to find the Kingdom of God.  Remember, this is what Jesus taught us.  He didn’t give us the gospel of easy living, and success in worldly endeavors.  He promised us the hard-won, hard choices life of a Christ-follower.

Nehemiah is a great example of a man who did minister to the people of God, yet at a slow pace, overcoming great obstacles, and without trumpeting himself.  He was an unselfish man, who gave up a high position, which had great importance, and luxurious living in the palace of the richest king on earth.  He gave it all up to confess the sins of His people, and to rebuild the walls of a small city called Jerusalem in a dirty, dusty, economically and politically insignificant place called Israel.  This Zion, his home country, had been brought low by their own sin, and taken into exile.  Their home city was rubble, its gates burned up.  And Nehemiah was in a position of privilege and power, and had the ear of the king.

He made a choice, because Nehemiah had been planted deeply in God.  He was a man who loved God, and his heart grieved over what grieved God.  He could have stayed where he was, and founded a charity that would send money to Zion to rebuild it.  He could have used his contacts to try and rebuild it from afar.  He could have looked at his position and influence and said, “God put me here for a purpose, and so I will stay here and influence the king and this regime on the importance of my people.”

Yet surprisingly, he didn’t.  According to most of the teaching flying around out of the mouths of these flashy and successful preachers today, Nehemiah should have counted his blessings, and rejoiced that he wasn’t there in Jerusalem, having to suffer with God’s remnant.  According to many, the riches God blesses us with are ours, not to be shared with others generously and unselfishly, but to be enjoyed now.

But Nehemiah was a man of God, which means he had the heart of God beating in his chest.  He had God’s mind, and he was rooted deep.  So he made the choice, which was really a test.  He left his cushy job, and used his influence with the king to equip his journey, equip his people for rebuilding.  He led a small band of the remainder of Zion’s citizens in a rebuilding project that ended up lasting many years.  Under intense opposition, living in constant fear of enemies.  In a land that had many hardships and few luxuries.  He left what he had in order to willingly carry out a difficult task for the Lord.

How many of us are constantly failing these tests, as I did for many years?  I weep this morning for our hardhearted, selfish ways.  We test God, instead of passing the test.  We choose comfort and convenience, and the easy ways, instead of taking the hard road with Jesus, which is the narrow road of faith, perseverance, and the joys of discipline.  We make the choices fast, and we don’t look back, for fear we’ll see the pattern spread out behind us, a tapestry of useless selfish turns made for the wrong reasons.

Brother or sister, take heed to your steps this morning.  Take to your knees.  Listen and hear the Lord’s voice, not the clamor of modern voices telling you that it’s all about you and your fulfillment.

God is looking for men and women who will listen and hear His heart and mind for His people, and who will respond by opening themselves up to what He might give them to do.  Without fanfare or pomp, without expecting great blessings to be heaped on them, without anything but Christ in them, empowering them, encouraging them, entrusting them with the most important tasks of the Kingdom. 

Many in Nehemiah’s day who were in exile could have made the choice to go back with him and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.  But they didn’t.  Let that be a lesson to us.


3 comments:

  1. this is a great word to those who have left the church in anger and frustration!
    how many Nehemiahs of us are out there hearing the call to go back and rebuild??

    ReplyDelete
  2. And you said it Armon, it is God's call that counts. Jerusalem is in ruins. Though God's people try to act as if all is well, there is great trouble under the surface. Many doubt their faith, and struggle, because they think Christianity still represents Christ. How wrong. We must live the Christ-life, and like the next teaching says, show Extreme Love to our brethren, who may then turn away from religious pretensions and begin themselves to experience this new life. Today they need us, though they may fight against us!

    ReplyDelete
  3. The Lord has given me a "unique" perspective of the church through these foster kids we have.
    all though they rage on the out side against every one and everything, you can see in there eyes and heart they are crying out for the truth!
    and I believe that is what is happening in the church and the "leaders" (blind as they are) dis miss them, because they them selves don't know HIM!
    The church is HIS BRIDE! not our congregation! and I have had to do a lot of repenting for my anger against her for what happened to me, and when I received the revelation of how I was angry against the leadership (church) I was on y face weeping for days.......
    when I was done HE said "It's time to go back now and BE"

    ReplyDelete

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