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When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked if the Man (Jesus) were a Galilean. (7) As soon as he knew that He belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, He sent Him to Herod, who was in Jerusalem at the time. Luke 23:6-7
Passing off a problem is not handling the problem. Pilate desperately tried to hand Jesus to Herod. We can almost envision Pilate congratulating himself for getting rid of this thorny situation. Not only had he managed to pawn the problem off on someone else, it was to someone he didn’t particularly like anyway.
Some folks like to make decisions for themselves and others. They are confident in their choices. But as we have seen so many times in government… most elected and even appointed officials hate to make decisions. These folks are often spineless. They do not wish to be blamed for anything wrong. In other words, they fear unwinnable scenarios. Doing right offers no benefit personally, because choosing “right” requires conviction. Pilate initially took a pass on Jesus…
Will Rogers said,
“You can summarize American History into two great movements: the passing of the buffalo and the passing of the buck.”
Invariably, the decision we refuse to make will come back to haunt us and ultimately define us. It didn’t take Herod long to punt Jesus back into Pilate’s court. Herod wasn’t really interested in hearing the truth or being earnest concerning Jesus’ future. Most people are not sincere listeners… to Herod Jesus was a joke.
When I was a fifteen year old directionless teenager, I too was confronted with the claims of Jesus Christ. Like Pilate and Herod, I wanted to avoid Him as well. I told myself over and over again that I would make a decision concerning the Lordship of Jesus Christ…L A T E R. In my mind procrastination was the solution. Delaying a decision was not saying “no” to the Lord. I would say “yes” at some later date. As the days, weeks, and months passed I grew sick with that decision. In fact, I eventually went to a doctor because my stomach churned. Only later did I put the two together.
Like Pilate, my decision or lack of decision was defining me. None of us can side-step Jesus Christ. He simply cannot be avoided. We like to think we make some kind spiritual compromise… but those types of choices only serve to appease ourselves. Appeasement, compromise, and apathy are destiny destroyers. In fact, we can even seek comfort from others who make the wrong choice. Notice what happened to Pilate and Herod.
12 Now Herod and Pilate became friends with one another that very day; for before they had been enemies with each other. Luke 23:12
Just like doing right can create a bond between people… doing wrong or refusing to stand up for truth can create an unholy or ungodly alliance. These two leaders didn’t have any type of bond or agreement before this encounter with Jesus… yet look at them now. In fact, Pilate and Herod were enemies, in competition with each other.
I used to take comfort in the fact that some of my friends hadn’t made a decision concerning Christ either. One of my friends used to tell me that he wasn’t worried about hell because as he put it, “All my rowdy friends are going to be there.” I have heard that quote about a hundred times since. Back when I was fifteen this thought brought me no comfort.
It was only after surrendering to the Lord that I realized how much Christ divides people. It is taking a stand, becoming a spiritual rebel, standing with conviction and living in truth which makes you dangerous. The world doesn’t really care until you make a decision… it is making a spiritual decision that truly defines you.
Blessings – From God’s Incubator,
be yourself, blasphemy, Caesar, death sentence, freed from sin, He is what you say He is, Jesus, Jesus' trails, King, Luke 23:1-3, morally corrupt, perverting the nation, Ralph Waldo Emerson Quote, rebel, Sanhedrin, the Son of God, who is Jesus
It was dawn when the religious crowd finally got Jesus to admit He was the Son of God. The Sanhedrin was desperate to see Jesus crucified before Passover. Their religious obligations pressured them into action before sundown. They needed judgment passed and the process completed before anyone came to their senses. It is like rushing a bill through Congress before anyone finds out what is really in the law.
In the end… the Sanhedrin lacked power to carry out the death sentence. They had to convince the Roman authorities to crucify Jesus. The Jewish leaders had arrested Jesus on theological grounds – “blasphemy”. Because this charge would be thrown out of a Roman court, they had to devise a political reason for executing Jesus. Their strategy was to present Jesus as a rebel who told the people not to pay their taxes….therefore a threat to Caesar. Sounded good, except Jesus wasn’t a rebel. In fact, He encouraged His followers to “render unto Caesar what was due Caesar.”
Here is Luke’s description of the event:
“Then the whole multitude of them arose and led Him to Pilate. (2) And they began to accuse Him saying, “We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, saying that He himself is Christ, a king.” (3) Then Pilate asked Him, saying, Are you the King of the Jews?” He answered him and said, “It is as you say.” Luke 23:1-3
“Are you really the king of the Jews?” This question is recorded in all four gospel accounts. The word “you” is emphatic. It is a big question. It should be important to you as well.
In fact, not much has changed in 2000 years. Jesus is still the biggest rebel to have ever lived. People love Him without hesitation or reservation… or they are repulsed by the very mention of His Name. His very existence divides people quicker than Moses parting the Red Sea. You can walk into virtually any room in America and ask, “Do you believe in God?” and expect to get an answer in the affirmative. But if you wish to push buttons and start a controversy go ahead ask, “And do believe that Jesus is the Son of God – the Only means of going to heaven?” Get ready to clear the room, because unless the room is full of believers, there is going to be immediate problems. The atmosphere will change just like it did in Jesus’ day. The barometer will drop so fast, your ears will pop. “Are you really saying Jesus is the King?”
The religious of Jesus’ day accused Him of “perverting the nation.” They basically called Him a rebel pervert. The word means to “distort” or be “morally corrupt.” They didn’t like what Jesus taught or how Jesus lived… so they labeled Him a pervert. In order to rid themselves of Jesus’ message, they killed the rebel. Their problem and our problem today is that Jesus is not a mere rebel… He is the very Son of God. He will not go away. If killing Him would have solved the Jewish leader’s problem, then we wouldn’t be discussing Jesus today.
The truth is exactly as Jesus said… He is what you say He is. If you say He is the Son of God and the King, then He is. If you are going to call Him a rebel, blasphemer and pervert, then this is what He will be to you. Only judgment will reveal the truth. Everyone born eventually places his faith and trust in something. The problem will be that one day the rebel pervert will be your Judge.
Today Jesus is who we say He is. None of us need another pious religious leader to heap upon us more rituals and regulations. We don’t need more ceremony and pageantry. We need a Rebel King! We need someone just like Jesus to set us free from sin. He is exactly what we have always needed.
Blessings – From God’s Incubator,
a way of escape, denying the Lord, entering into temptation, exiting God's process, Garden of Gethsemane, I Corinthians 10:13, leaving our process, losing our words from God, Mark 14:31 & 50, Mark 16, martyr, Matthew 26, Matthew 26:31-35, Oswald Chambers quote, overcoming failure, prayer, spiritual abortions, spiritual suicide, temptation
Do you remember Jesus’ three-fold warning to His disciples as they entered the Garden of Gethsemane? “Pray that you enter not into temptation.” Jesus didn’t say temptation could be avoided. He said they should pray to not enter into the temptation which was coming. What temptation? Luke doesn’t record the disciple’s failure. Everybody knows what it is… it was prophesied in the O.T. and recorded in Matthew 26 and Mark 16.
The disciples all scattered and fled the Lord when He was arrested. It was sin to them because they each, to a man, pledged to go to death for Jesus. For the first time in over three years, they were no longer following Jesus, the Lord of their life. Each man exited his process with God and lost hope.
This story is not just about denying the Lord. Yes, denying the Lord is big, but the larger problem is what exiting our process does to our inner man.
It is like committing spiritual suicide. This is Satan’s ultimate goal when he tempts us. He desires to crush us and to snatch away our hope right before our words are birthed. Satan loves performing spiritual abortions.
I believe this is why all except one disciple died a martyr’s death. Look at Matthew 26:31-35 and Mark 14:31 & 50. All the disciples vowed the previous evening to die for the Lord. They all failed to fulfill that promise. Their boasting wasn’t just empty platitudes. They meant what they proudly stated. Later in life when the same temptation came to deny the Lord and run, they each fulfilled their promise. Early church history confirms it. Jesus had other plans for John. (John 21:18-23)
According to scripture the Lord always provides for us a way of escape and to bear temptation’s grasp.
No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. I Corinthians 10:13
Jesus made it out of the garden of Gethsemane with His process intact. From a fleshly perspective, it appeared as though Jesus was trapped and the disciples escaped. In reality, the disciples were ensnared and Jesus alone escaped temptation. Outward circumstances are not a reliable indicator of spiritual realities. Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane was not a prayer of hopelessness and defeat. It was a prayer of surrender to His Father’s will. In surrender, Jesus found the strength to continue in His process and overcome.
The truth is the Lord always wants His children to walk in victory. Three times the Lord warned His disciples about being in caught in temptation’s snare. This warning went unheeded. Most of us operate just like the disciples… we believe we can handle it…only to find we can’t. The good news is the Lord provides a way of escape. This doesn’t mean the road automatically turns into Easy Street. It does mean we will be able to bear what is about to transpire…with God’s help. The key is being able to discern God’s path. This is why Jesus exhorted His disciple’s to pray.
God is not trying to keep His will from you today. He is trying to get you to understand and walk in truth. Take the time to get to know His best for you this week. Temptations are coming… wouldn’t it be great if you avoided those old pitfalls instead of falling head forward into Satan’s snares?
Blessings – From God’s Incubator,
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Sometimes we pray because the internal storm is far larger than the storm raging on the outside. Prayer during these intense moments takes on a different purpose. God calls us to stand strong in the face of circumstances which will not change. Have you ever heard this? “Sometimes God stills the storms of the sea – At other times, He stills the storms within me.” The night before Jesus was crucified He had need for the storm inside to be quieted.
Luke 22:41 said Jesus “withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed.” The word for “withdrew” literally translates that Jesus “was Himself withdrawn”. It was as if Jesus were drawn… physically pulled down on His knees to pray. He HAD to talk to His Father. He HAD to share or release the anxiety of what was being laid upon Him. Jesus would later be just as calm and at ease when He stood before Pilate, Herod, the Sanhedrin, and the people. How could Jesus stand and be rejected, humiliated, and crucified with such resolve? On the night previous, Jesus prayed it through in the garden. Someone said, “The battle of the cross was won in the prayer Garden of Gethsemane.”
Jesus’ type of praying is the kind we need to learn. It’s a type of prayer which can give us the ability to face the hard tests of life… because sometimes things are not going to change. When Jesus prayed in the Garden He was brutally honest. There were no religious platitudes, no sugar coating. He knew what was about to occur.
Can we ever be too honest with God? There are people who believe that somehow they’ll offend God by being too honest. From Jesus we learn that sincerity is essential. It brings quick resolution because the Father answers.
Gethsemane means “olive or oil press.” It was a place where olives were crushed and pressed into oil. Jesus’ prayer was a prayer which “pressed into” the Father. The prayer had power to give Him strength because it hinged on accepting the Father’s Will. This is the type of prayer that can transform our times of weakness into times of strength. Why? Because these prayers are the ones which are less concerned with moving God to our will…as they are in moving us toward God.
Billy Graham once wrote: “I watched the deck hands on the great liner United States as they docked that ship in New York Harbor. First they threw out a rope to the men on the dock. Inside the boat the great motors went to work and pulled on the great cable. But, oddly enough, the pier wasn’t pulled out to the ship; the ship was pulled snugly up to the pier. Prayer is the rope that pulls God and us together. But it doesn’t pull God down to us; it pulls us to God. We must learn to say with Christ, the master of the art of praying: ‘Not my will; but Thine be done.’”
The next time you pray make it the type of prayer Jesus prayed. Allow yourself to enter into the press. Instead of dreaming and fantasizing about all the different ways God could answer your prayer, allow the Lord to give you His plans. Your circumstances might not change, but I guarantee you will.
Blessings – From God’s Incubator,
choosing to be obedient, circumstances which do not change, confirmation of the known will of God, drink from the cup, geography test, God's Incubator, I Corinthians 10:13, intimate with God, Leonard Ravenhill quote, Luke 22:39-46, prayer, prayer is laying hold of God, praying against the circumstance change us, temptation, understanding God's language
Lets face it… there are going to be times when prayer will NOT change what’s going to happen. God is still God and we are still His servants. No matter how much we pray, the outcome will still be the same. So, why pray?
The reason for keeping our prayer life current despite the circumstances was exemplified by Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. Three times Jesus asked His Father to change His circumstances…. three times He was denied a more favorable outcome. (Luke 22:39-46) It was far better for you and me that God denied His request. So why pray then… because we still need something from God. Our prayer then becomes more of a confirmation of the known will of God.
A minister noticed a young boy kneeling off to the side of the room after youth group and praying very fervently. As the preacher came within earshot of the boy, he was surprised to hear the boy saying: “Tokyo, Tokyo, Tokyo.”
After the boy finished his praying the preacher approached him and said, “Son, I was very pleased to see you praying so devoutly, but I couldn’t help but overhear you saying something like ’Tokyo, Tokyo, Tokyo.’ What was that all about?“
The boy replied, “Well, I just finished taking my geography test in school, and I have been praying as hard as I can that God would make Tokyo the Capital of France.“
Maybe you too have been in a place like this. Is God really going to change the capital of France to Tokyo? I don’t think so. Prayer is a powerful tool, but the outcome will still be the same. So do we continue in prayer when we know the outcome will not change?
39 And He came out and proceeded as was His custom to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples also followed Him. 40 When He arrived at the place, He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” 41 And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, 42 saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.”
43 Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. 44 And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground.45 When He rose from prayer, He came to the disciples and found them sleeping from sorrow, 46 and said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” Luke 22:39-46
I don’t think Jesus was praying so much for His circumstances to change as much as He was praying against the circumstances changing Him. We know from the Gospel narratives that Jesus warned and instructed His disciples to “Pray that you enter not into temptation.” This warning was given three times. The disciples fell quickly into temptation’s snare… Jesus walked away from the temptation to exit God’s process.
When did this “cup” become so important to the Lord. Jesus had never mentioned having to “drink from a cup.” Let me abbreviate here… Drinking from the cup meant Jesus was choosing for Himself to stay in God’s process every step of the way. No deviation. The “cup” was shorthand describing Jesus’ process. I believe also this “cup” was the Father’s language to His Son. Yes, it can be found it scripture. But in Jesus’ mind it described everything He would be going through in the next few hours. I am sure Jesus had prayed about it numerous times. The cup might not speak to you, it might not speak to anyone…. but it sure spoke to Jesus and described precisely what He would be enduring.
Have you ever noticed how I sign the end of my blogs? For the past few months I say…”From God’s Incubator.” Now, this means absolutely nothing to anybody else…but to me, it means a lot. It describes what I am going through. One word reveals everything. Where did I get it? From my wife… no, but she heard it from the Lord. We have prayed about our incubator on numerous occasions. It is interesting. When God speaks, you start talking like Him!
Why is all this important? Because when you grow in the Lord, it is not about you simply following orders. There is a greater level of obedience. Eventually we each need to grow to a level of choosing for ourselves to be obedient. We stop talking about “God making us do things.” Instead, we are obedient to His word because we want to obey. The Father wants more from us than blind obedience. He wants us to choose His will for ourselves. Every parent longs for the day when their children want to brush their teeth, take a bath, and clean their room on their own. Jesus wasn’t simply going to the cross because God wanted Him to go… He was choosing the path of the cross… Himself.
Listen, all Jesus had to do was slip off about 30-40 feet, or even less, and crouch down to pray. No one would have even found Him there. He could have said, “Well, Father, I was there but Judas and his gang didn’t see Me… so I was going to do Your will, but they missed me.” You say they could have caught Him later, but then Jesus wouldn’t have been crucified directly before the Passover. Jesus made sure that Judas’ crew found Him. He basically delivered Himself into their hands. Why? Jesus drank for Himself the cup His Father placed before Him.
In closing, there is a verse of scripture that has always troubled me.
13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. I Corinthians 10:13
This verse proves once again that prayer isn’t ALWAYS about changing our circumstances and fixing our problems. Sometimes God’s escape plan is being able to endure what is coming our way. Prayer then, is about laying hold of God…
Prayer is just an affirmation of what we know is already true. Jesus prayed three times for His circumstances to change… all to no avail. In the end, when all of His close friends abandoned Him, He had the comfort of knowing He was in the center of God’s will. Jesus’ prayer life confirmed it.
More next time…
Blessings – From God’s Incubator,
A.W. Tozer quote, discerning truth, John the Baptist's ministry, last days of Jesus, Like 20:2, obeying God's last revelation, old cross new cross, rejecting Jesus' authority, religious leaders, simple truths before deeper truths, the reason for parables, the Temple
Jesus spent the last week of His life on earth occupying the Temple. He kicked out the money changers and set up shop. Everyday He would teach in the Temple and spend the night at the Mount of Olives. Like the Passover Lamb, the people of Jerusalem could examine Jesus for faults. The religious leaders tried unsuccessfully to entrap Him with trick questions.
During those days of examination, the religious leaders wanted to know, “Tell us by what authority You are doing these things, or who is the one who gave You this authority?” (Luke 20:2) By the way, things haven’t changed much in two thousand years. People still ask this same question, except they state it this way… “Who gives you the right to tell me how to act and live.“
How did Jesus answer this type of question? The easy answer would have been… “I am God and what I say goes.” He would have been justified for doing so… but He didn’t choose this avenue. Instead, He brought up John the Baptist’s ministry. At first glance this makes no sense. Why bring up John? He was beheaded by Herod. Jesus did so because it was a question about authority. These leaders were rejecting Jesus’ authority for the same reason they didn’t believe in John’s authority.
Here is the point – If we cannot discern God’s movements in the most basic of ways, what makes us believe we are ready for deeper revelations. The truth is that no one can give another person a revelation beyond what the Lord has already provided. This is why it is impossible to grow, hear, or discern deeper truths without first growing up in simple truths. This issue of authority was something everyone appeared to discern from Jesus’ ministry. All the Gospels recorded how the people marveled at Jesus’ authority. “He spoke as one having authority.” Discerning authority or sensing it….should be an easy task, even for a beginner. When the chief priests and religious leaders continued to challenge Jesus’ authority, He resorted to communicating truths via parables.
I hear these types of statements all the time…”The Bible is too difficult to understand! Why doesn’t God just speak plainly? Why does God use parables?” If our current revelations and truths from God appear to be foggy, it could be we haven’t obeyed His last words to us. This is what Jesus was trying to communicate to the religious leaders. Had they believed in John’s message, they would have believed Jesus’ message. Since they rejected John’s word, He couldn’t help them understand His authority. Jesus told another parable and they shouted at the end….”May it never be!” (Luke 20:16)
When we reject God’s word for us, we enter into a cycle of never being able to understand God’s word. The religious of Jesus’ day actually believed God existed for the sake of Israel, not Israel for God. How do you view the Lord?
Plug your particular denomination in here….. Over 90 percent of Americans claim to believe in God, but what kind of God do they actually trust and know?
For each of us, the day must arrive when Jesus enters our temple and takes over. When we allow Him to do so, everything will change. If you are struggling to get there… reflect upon the Lord’s last words. It could be your obedience is lacking. The Lord can’t deepen His word until you become obedient. Don’t make the mistake of questioning His authority. We are His temple. The Lord doesn’t exist for us, we exist for Him.
Blessings – From God’s Incubator,
dealing with demonic attacks, deliverance, discerning God's will, focusing only on circumstances, He stills the storms within me, Jesus, Kingdom of God to manifest, learning to rebuke, Luke 17:20-21, Luke 19:44, praying wrong, Prince of Peace, relieve, spiritual battle, visitation, wanting our own brand of deliverance
…because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.” Luke 19:44
The word for visitation is an interesting word. It literally means “to relieve“. The Episcopalian denomination derives its name from this word. Jesus employed this word to indicate how the Father sent Him to bring relief and deliverance to the dark nation at a time when they needed it most. If you took a poll of the inhabitants of Jerusalem… I am sure everyone would have espoused in no uncertain terms how much they wanted heaven’s relief. Yet these same folks who wanted the Kingdom of God to manifest totally and absolutely missed it when relief came strolling down the street. In fact, they not only rejected their relief, they crucified Him. It is ironic how most people want relief until it looks like Jesus!
Why Do We Miss God’s Visitations?
Jesus was not implying that people are unaware of God’s purposes. Everybody was watching and waiting for a move of God. They still do. Jesus told people on several occasions the Kingdom was already in their presence. (Luke 17:20-21) They were aware of Jesus’ claims and were witnesses to His miracle-working power. So, why did they miss God’s visitation? The same reason we miss God’s movements today. We fail to discern God’s purposes ahead of our own needs. The people of Jesus’ day could not detect Jesus’ purpose because they had their eyes solely on their immediate circumstances. God’s higher purposes simply made no sense.
We are no different today. When you personally experience a trial or hardship, your eyes focus squarely on your circumstances… all you can detect is what is wrong. Your prayers revolve around obtaining God’s deliverance from your circumstance…. anything differing other than direct deliverance is obviously not from God. This is why we have a tendency to call some things “bad”, which are actually God’s good and vice-a-versa. When we examine our circumstances without the knowledge of God, we will miss God’s will and plan. The folks in Jesus’ day were looking for the purposes and plans of God. Their problem and our problem is we interpret God’s will in light of our present circumstances and problems. The people of Jesus missed their visitation and so will we.
I happens like this… You are going through a hardship and you begin to pray. As you pray it becomes, “Lord, deliver me. Lord, get me out of this place. Lord, move. Lord, fight for me.“ Your prayer is never, “Lord, mold me. Lord change me. Lord, grow me. Lord help me to grow bigger than my problem. Lord, allow me to suffer more that You might be glorified through my life.” Bottom-line, our desire is for God to change our circumstances, instead of discerning God’s purposes and asking God to change us.
A few years back I was in a spiritual battle. The demons were tearing me up. Prayer about this attack brought no success. I finally wised up and asked God why He wasn’t doing anything about the demonic attacks. He said plainly, “I am not going to do anything about them. You do something about it.“ I was floored. I reaffirmed to the Lord that they were winning and He needed to help. He said, “I am not going to do anything about demons. They are your problem and you have to handle it, yourself.” It was like He was telling me to shut-up and stop praying about demonic activity. I was now mad at God and the demons. I could have spit nails. What a fine situation. God was leaving me alone to fight demons all by myself. Does all this sound mean to you? It sounded mean to me.
I finally got my eyes off myself and started thinking about what God said. He said, “I had to handle the situation myself.” I turned to the Word. The Word states over and over again that all believers have power over demons. I had never rebuked demons before, but I was in such desperate shape. As soon as I took authority over the demons they fled with lightening speed. I felt like a spiritual Hercules! It was only later that the Lord spoke further. He said. “Don’t pray about things I have given you authority over. I have left the devil and His demons around for you to beat up and take authority over. Take your authority.“
I am sure it was hard for the Lord to watch me suffer… but I needed to know the truth. I first had to get my eyes off my circumstances and look to the truth. I would have missed my visitation had I kept my eyes on myself and what I was going through.
The people of Jesus’ day desired deliverance from oppression. Jesus came to deliver them from oppression and the bigger problem of sin. In their desire to escape their immediate circumstances, to have their own brand of peace, they missed the fact they were in the very presence of the Prince of Peace. When we desire our own “brand of deliverance” we will miss God’s visitation. If you are waiting for God to provide your own personal brand of deliverance, you will be waiting a long time. The Lord wants to give us Himself… He is the Prince of Peace. He is all you need.
Blessing – From God’s Incubator,
A.W. Tozer quote, being critical is not a spiritual gift, cannot define Christianity in negative terms, criticizing others, deforms the soul, faith needs to have practical application, freedom, God is a Sower, God's trust is God's test, impressing God, Jesus, Luke 19:12-24, making the most of our investment, Master, Matthew 25:21, negative faith, Occupy Movement, occupy until I return, pragmateuomai, pragmatic, Rick Joyner quote
A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return. So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Do business till I come.’” Luke 19:12-13
It was Jesus who instituted the first “Occupy Movement“. Except He didn’t instruct His followers to sit around and stink until someone paid them to leave. No, the Lord gave each an allotment of wages, talents, gifts, and abilities and told them to “occupy or do business until He returned.” The word here for “occupy” is pragmateuomai. It means to be practical or pragmatic with what the Lord gives. What the Lord gives each of us to use in this life varies from person to person. In the end, I believe we all have something of value to give back to our generation. In other words, if our faith and beliefs do not have any practical application to our life and to the life of other people… then what use is it. If you don’t use it, you will lose it.
The interesting thing about this story is that time did pass. The Master did eventually return and want a return on His investment. Two of the three individuals did invest what the Lord gave them. The third man didn’t lose his investment. He simply hid it in a handkerchief. I call this “hanky faith”. It is a do nothing type of faith. It is the false belief that if you do nothing relatively wrong, then you are doing right. Listen to the third man’s words…
“Sir, here is your mina (investment); I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.” Luke 19:20-21
This man is in serious trouble. He makes matters worse by opening his mouth. Not only has he failed to make an investment with the Master’s money, he insults and blames the Master for his personal failures. He accuses the Master/King of being a “hard man“. Yet, the Master just richly rewarded the two previous individuals for making wise investments. He further attacks the King’s character! He claims the King had so intimidated him that he was afraid to act… so he just hid his investment.
Hanky Faith Does Not Impress God
There are many today who believe that if they simply do nothing wrong, they will gain entrance into the kingdom of God. This parable of Jesus corrects this type of thinking… according to the Lord, doing nothing means gaining nothing. If you think that you are going to impress God in the end by telling Him about all the things you did not do….you are in for a surprise. God will not be asking about what you did not do, He will be asking about what you did with your life. The Lord desires a return on His investment in your life.
Someone once said, “The Christian life is not to be lived in the negative column of the ledger; it is to be lived on the plus side… the positive side of life.” There are a lot of people who feel very superior to other people because they do not do what other people do… while at the same time they have never thought about getting busy doing something good for the Lord. They sit at home with a pious posture and folded hands criticizing others. Their lives never register positively on the world in any way. If you ask these folks what they believe… they will start off by telling you what they don’t do and what they don’t believe.
Hey listen…. Being critical is not a spiritual gift. If you are not doing anything, don’t stand back and criticize someone who is doing something, even if it isn’t perfect in your eyes. Critical people never attempt to serve God by helping someone else. It never occurs to them to get up off their “blessed assurance” and go out to visit someone who is lonely or help someone financially. But they sure feel called to be critical of people who look, act, or talk differently… and call it religion and faith. It never dawns on them to love, help, and pray for others outside of their doors.
Unfortunately, we define the Christian life in negative terms. Christianity cannot be defined by recounting what it is not. Believers are called to believe. We sometimes hear people remark, “He is a Christian man. He does not smoke, drink, curse or chew and neither does he run around with girls who do.” But Christianity is not a matter of what we do not do, it is a matter of what we do. If the only way people can tell that you are a Christian is by the things you do not do, then you need to take a second look at your life.
When Jesus Christ returns as King and you stand before him, He will not say, “Well avoided, good and faithful servant.” He will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:21).
It is a Matter of Trust
You are not going to be rewarded by God for avoiding sin and doing nothing. His rewards only come to those who faithfully work at using their God-given abilities to make a difference in this world. Please notice the Master displayed great trust in His servants. God is a Sower! He gave them His own resources — He did not keep checking on them. He did not stand over them and watch their every move. He didn’t even leave instructions on how they were to invest. Here is the rub with God – He trusts us enough to not interfere. Wow! If we need further instructions… we can ask!
As Rick Joyner echoes…. “It is the best and worst thing about God. The best thing about God is that he gives us freedom. It is also the worst thing about God…. He leaves us to our own devises. We can live life any way we choose, but we also know that there is a day coming when we will have to give an account of what we have done with our lives.“
How have we used what God has given us? God’s trust is God’s test. He gives us complete freedom and then watches what we do with it. He guides us but never forces us. That means we are responsible for the choices we make.
Blessings – From God’s Incubator,