Pastor Keith’s Blog

All These Things

   Interestingly, there are two situations in the Gospel of Matthew where the promise to receive “all these things” is given. Jesus speaks in Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” In Matthew 4:9 it is the devil who says that, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” In both situations there is an entity who gives the promise, there is the promise given, and there is some terms which are necessary for obtaining the promise. In neither instance are we encouraged to focus upon “these things”. “These things” were incidental to the real issue which was what or whom are we focused upon. In both situations there is some form of worship or object of focus upon which our attention is to be given. Satan says, “worship me”. Jesus says, “seek God’s kingdom and a right relationship with God.”
     So we are provided with two choices or two methods for obtaining “these things”. One is provided by Satan, the other through God. Which should we choose, which is the better source?
   Well, perhaps the best solution is to go with the stronger. In Matthew 4:10,11, as Jesus and Satan are conversing, Jesus challenges Satan saying, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ Then the Devil left.” The words and nature of Jesus were victorious, the defeated one (Satan) left.  
All of this is a nice insight and a nice lesson on how we are to seek first God’s kingdom.  Many would say, “I would never worship Satan or the devil,” but perhaps the bigger challenge is how much are we caught up with “all of these things” which are around us.  How much does God affect us and how much do these other things affect us?  It is one thing to know that our Lord Jesus should affect us more than all the stuff that is around us, but it is another thing to actually live that out.

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Getting My Desires

   I have heard people talk about how they prayed and prayed and then finally, “God answered” and they got what they were praying for.  I guess the question that needs to be asked is, “Does getting our own way necessarily mean that it was the best way?”  In reading Psalm 81:11,12 God speaks about His rebellious people, how He had promised to provide good things for His people, “But My people would not heed My voice, And Israel would have none of Me. So I gave them over to their own stubborn heart, To walk in their own counsels.”
   Though the people got what their stubborn heart wanted, implied is the thought that God enabled them to obtain their desires but that these desires were not God’s desires nor were they the best things for the people.  Ps 37:4 tells us to, “Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.”
   It is true that the persistent prayers of the righteous produce great results (James 5), that we are to pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5), and that in the area of prayer we are to be like the woman of importunity who continued to ask till she got results. Yet it seems like there are two ways of getting our desires fulfilled.  One way would be to selfishly do whatever we want to do and then God will finally let us get our own way.  The second way is to let our hearts be changed so that our thoughts are more in line with God’s thoughts and values.  In this situation God too will give us the desires of our heart, but the results will be greater and more rewarding, truly bringing life.
   Lord Jesus, I want Your best for my life.  Help me to value what is important to You, that my desires and Your desires would be the same.

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I Need An Answer Now!

I had a line of people waiting for me, they had picked numbers so that everyone was in the right order, names were recorded so that none got into the line twice before someone else got their first turn.  All wanted some form of wisdom and direction from God, some type of prophetic word from the Spirit of Jesus. When the line wasn’t finished that day, we just picked up where we left off the next day. I kind of felt like Moses in Exodus 18, where the people lined up all day to get the council and advice from him. Of course I am not Moses, I do not have a hot line to heaven, nor do I see the face of God like Moses did – such that his face and countenance was changed.
You have probably experienced many situations where you needed wisdom and direction for a situation that was coming up. You frantically started to pray, spent extra time reading in the scriptures, as you tried to find the answer to the question and need that was ahead of you. Did you ever notice that sometimes it seems like the answers seem so hard to get?  Why is it that God’s direction seems hard to get.
First, we need to realize that God is not trying to give us quick fix-it answers. His direction is usually best received through a lifestyle of walking in the character and values of our Lord Jesus. In this context we are most likely to instinctively act and live our lives as Jesus would, and we will naturally do what is right. Of course becoming like Jesus is not an immediate process it take years to allow our lives to be transformed into the character of our Lord Jesus, but often we need immediate answers.
Secondly, God never asks us to quit using our understanding.  Some Christians feel that if they pray enough, God will speak and they don’t need to do any studying or research into the area that is before them.  Yet the wisdom that we need will often come from getting understanding into the situation and the details that come with it.  That is why Proverbs 4:7 says, “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom. and in all your getting, get understanding.”   We are to investigate issues, check out the situations, use our brains to research the parameters, then make wise decisions.
Thirdly, we are never asked to stand alone.  God brings us into relationships and wisdom comes through the strength of those relationships.  That is why the scripture says in Proverbs 15:22, “Without counsel, plans go awry, But in the multitude of counse1lors they are established.
Yes it is nice to have a prophetic word from God, but God is faithful to speak, to lead and to encourage us. He provides many ways to receive His direction. Take a moment to thank Him for faithfully wanting to share His ways with us.

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He Had A Choice

I was recently talking to an indigenous leader in Africa.  Having experienced the love and forgiveness of Jesus and having enjoyed the reality of God being with him, his passion was to have the Love of Jesus shared with the strong Muslim community around him.  But he had a choice.  He knew that to properly share the good news of Jesus would require time in studying the scriptures, time in developing  study materials and especially it would require large amounts of time to translate and write out the scriptures in a language which his local people could understand.  However, the amount of time required also meant that he would have less time to work at his job, meaning that he would have less money for food and other necessities.  He could not work faithfully at ministering in God’s word for others and also put in full time work earning a living for himself.  What should he do?  It was either provide for himself in the natural things or provide for others in the spiritual realm.
  His choice was to have less food for himself, to sacrifice his own personal ease or convenience in life.  He cut back in all his spending to the point where his own physical condition deteriorated and he was coughing up blood and about to die.  Yet he did so to enable others to hear about the great love of Jesus.
   The Apostle Paul talks about his fellow coworker, Epaphroditus, who labored so much for the sake of the kingdom of God and “for the work of Christ he came close to death, not regarding his life, to supply what was lacking in your service toward me.”  “For he risked his life for the work of Christ, and he was at the point of death while doing for me what you couldn’t do from far away.” (‭Phil. ‭2‬:‭30‬ NLT)
   I was challenged in my heart as I talked to this African Leader.  He was not boastful or arrogant in what he had done but he had a passion that those around him have a saving walk with Jesus Christ and he was very self sacrificing in trying to bring this about.   His priority for others knowing Jesus was stronger than his desire for personal ease or comfort.  This man’s passion and sacrifice has helped opened the door to 253,000 people having a clearer opportunity to hear about the good news of Jesus.
   Lord Jesus increase our desire to see others walk with You.  Lord, may our sacrifice bring increase into your kingdom.

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