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Responsibilities of the Believer


MaAlet

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Seek First the Kingdom.

 

I was so excited about the gift. It was the perfect thing for a young boy… a combination speedometer/odometer for my yellow, single speed, banana-seated Schwinn. Now, I could not only see how far I traveled, but how fast I was going! The combination of joy and danger was thrilling as I found the steepest hill to ride down (By the way, this was in the 1970’s before bike helmets were a thing).

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The feeling of going about 40 miles per hour was at once exciting and terrifying. I loved it! The speedometer was such a great and dangerous gift for a young boy.

Until one day. My friend and I left our bikes to explore a nearby wooded area. I can still picture the stream we crossed and the hill we climbed to see

what we could discover at the top. From that vantage point, we could see quite a long way! Sadly, we also had a view of the thieves tinkering stealing the speedometer off my bike.

We ran back down the hill but there was no way we could get there in time to stop the theft. Sure enough, all that was left was one bracket that had secured my shiny speedometer.

My friend and I took off after the guys. We searched and searched but couldn’t find them. For days afterward, the event consumed my thoughts. Every time I was near that park, I continued the search, though I didn’t know what I would do if I found them!

What have you searched for in your life? And I mean, really searched for? What keeps pulling at you and begging you to find it?

We don’t only search for tangible things that we lose. We also search for intangible things to fulfill our desires for security, acceptance, and significance. Every single one of us, in some way, shape or form, is trying to fulfill these desires.

The world, the flesh, and the devil offer to help us find what we are looking for. Their suggestions often seem to make sense in the moment. But when we follow their voices, we will always come up dry. James, Jesus’ half-brother, tells us the end result: “…each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (1:14-15, ESV)

So why is the pull to find them so strong?

It’s because God has created us with legitimate needs and desires. In fact, we were created for significance, security, and acceptance!

In the beginning, Adam and Eve walked with God, naked and unashamed. They were perfectly accepted by God and one another. They had everything they could ever need in the Garden and through their relationship with God and each other. They were given a significant role to play—fill the earth, subdue it and rule over it (See Genesis 1 & 2). But we know the rest of the story. They ate the fruit, and sin entered the world, shattering their perfect sense of acceptance, significance, and security.

In our culture, it’s a violation to have something stolen from you. Like with my speedometer, I had a legitimate desire to find those boys and recover my stolen property. It was rightfully mine and brought me joy. Nothing wrong about that.

While that is a very simple example, it highlights the far deeper reality of what Jesus came to give us.

Jesus tells us to “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33, ESV)

Jesus announced in multiple passages that the kingdom of God had drawn near. The word picture of drawing near is like that of something coming into view over the horizon. If you’ve ever been on a grueling backpacking trip, you know that one of the best things to see is your car in the parking lot! Why? Because you are tired, hungry, and excited for a comfortable place to rest and get clean. Our real needs and desires cause us to look for our car, a signal that the end of the hike is near.

Jesus is both the indication that our destination is within reach, and the path to get there. Our deep-seated needs and desires are fulfilled in intimate relationship with Him.

Dear Saints, are your desires causing you to search after Jesus and His righteousness, or are you stuck searching after something else?

The kingdom has drawn near because the King has come and made Himself known. Don’t make the mistake of trying to meet your legitimate, God-designed desires in any way other than through seeking Him. Jesus Himself is our righteousness and the fulfillment of these desires, the destination we are seeking.

Jesus’ own promise to us is this: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” (Matthew 5:6, ESV)

Do you believe Him?

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Dan Studt
Freedom in Christ Ministries President, USA

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Humble Yourself

 

I’ve always considered myself to be a good driver.

But on this day, Jen was especially impressed and incredulous. “How did you do that?” she asked.

“Do what?” I responded.

 

Apparently, that was the wrong answer because it earned me quite the look! From her perspective, I had perfectly timed the stoplight. I didn’t slow down one bit and was able to drive through just as it turned green.

 

The problem? I didn’t even see there was a stoplight.

I grew up in a small town with only one light about 5 miles from our house. There was no need for more. I wasn’t used to the traffic and stoplights in the city where Jen lived.

 

We all know that missing a stoplight is a very dangerous and potentially fatal mistake. I put Jen in a scary situation when she realized I missed seeing that red light because I wasn’t used to looking for them.

For years afterward, Jen would ask if I saw the stoplight or stop sign.  And I would bristle. Internally, I would mutter, “What does she think I am, stupid?”

But that was my fleshly pride responding. The fact is, I didn’t always see them. And that’s a problem! Jen was doing everyone a favor. I just didn’t like that it made me feel inferior.

 

Pride is defined as “Inordinate and unreasonable self-esteem, attended with insolence and rude treatment of others. It is an attempt to appear in a superior light to what we are.” (Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, p. 874)

Pride is costly in our relationships with God and others.

 

“The Bible teaches that pride deceives the heart (Jer. 49:16), hardens the mind (Dan. 5:20), brings contention (Prov. 13:10), compasses about like a chain (Ps. 73:6), and brings (people) to destruction (Prov. 16:18). A proud heart stirs up strife (Prov. 28:25) and is an abomination unto the Lord (Prov. 16:5). A proud look God hates (Prov. 6:17), and those who engage therein shall stumble and fall (Jer. 50:32).” (Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, p. 874)

 

God is crystal clear in Scripture regarding pride and humility: “This is the Lord’s declaration. I will look favorably on this kind of person: one who is humble, submissive in spirit, and trembles at my word.” (Isaiah 66:2, CSB)

And James 4:6b tells us that “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (CSB)

My fleshly pride at being called out on my weakness was a good indication that I needed to humble myself and receive correction; specifically, in the matter of seeing stoplights. It was a life and death correction that I needed to heed.

There is even greater perspective in James’s next verse.

“Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7 CSB)

See, there’s a life and death battle going on in the invisible, heavenly realms, too. If we are proud, God resists us, and we can fall prey to the enemy. For example, in Luke 22:24-34 Peter’s pride gives Satan the right to demand to sift him like wheat.

Jesus put it plainly: “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:12 & Luke14:11)

 

There is only one way that boasting is acceptable. When we are boasting in the Lord and in His handiwork. The prophet, Jeremiah recorded, “Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and know me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth.” (Jeremiah 9:23-24, ESV)

In expressing his desire to visit them, the apostle Paul wrote to the Church in Thessalonica, “For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy” (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20, ESV). We can absolutely “take pride in” seeing God’s transformational work in the lives of people around us because ultimately, this points back to Christ.

 

Dear Saints, do you humble yourself before the Lord and let him point out the red lights you miss? We all know people who have blown through ‘red lights’ in their life, sometimes even explicit commands of God through which He gives us direction. And the result in their life can be dangerous, even deadly.

But, if you humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, it is more likely that you will live a victorious and significant life for the Kingdom of God.
As I experienced through the stoplight incident, don’t let your pride get in the way. Humble yourself and listen for the Lord’s direction. Even if it took a few years, I’m so glad I learned that, and I know you will be too.

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Dan Studt
Freedom in Christ Ministries President, USA

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