God Opportunities

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16“Brothers,” he said, “the Scriptures had to be fulfilled concerning Judas, who guided those who arrested Jesus. This was predicted long ago by the Holy Spirit, speaking through King David. 17 Judas was one of us and shared in the ministry with us.” 18(Judas had bought a field with the money he received for his treachery. Falling headfirst there, his body split open, spilling out all his intestines.19The news of his death spread to all the people of Jerusalem, and they gave the place the Aramaic name Akeldama, which means “Field of Blood.”) 20Peter continued, “This was written in the book of Psalms, where it says, ‘Let his home become desolate, with no one living in it.’ It also says, ‘Let someone else take his position.’ 21“So now we must choose a replacement for Judas from among the men who were with us the entire time we were traveling with the Lord Jesus…”

-Acts 1: 16-21

This morning I started reading Acts 1 and verses 16-21 ministered to me. They made me think of my Pastor’s sermon yesterday. My Pastor spoke on how God invites us to be a part of His great plans, but He will not force us to accept His invitation. The choice is ours. The example my Pastor gave was when the Angel of the Lord came to Mary telling her of God’s plan to bring Jesus into the world and that He wanted to use her to bring Jesus into the world. Not to go too much into it, but basically Mary was presented with a great opportunity that would require her to make sacrifices, such as the fact that she had never been with a man and most people would not believe her story about an immaculate conception and the fact that she was engaged to Joseph (Matthew 1:18-21, Luke 1:26-38). Mary had many reasons to say no, but she didn’t. She decided to trust God even though she did not know the details of how it would all turn out.

Acts 1: 16-21 is similar to Mary’s story, but it shows what happens when we reject God opportunities. This passage discusses Judas’ story. We all know Judas as being the one who betrayed Jesus. It honestly did not have to be that way for Judas, but he made his choice to reject God’s invitation.

When reading this passage God ministered this to me:

God presents each one of us with great opportunities. In Judas’ case, it was to be one of Jesus’ disciples and to help spread the Gospel throughout the world. When God brings us these opportunities, we have a choice: to accept or reject. If we choose to accept, that means we have to do it God’s way and according to His standards. It also usually means that we are going into this with knowing very little and trusting Him because He will not reveal every detail of how it will happen or play out. We have to trust that no matter what problems may arise or what sacrifices we have to make, He will work it all out in our favor. Accepting these God opportunities leads to fulfillment and great blessings. However, if we reject these God opportunities, He will find someone else with a willing heart to replace us, which is what happened to Judas (Acts 1:21). Also, when we reject God opportunities, we are more vulnerable to becoming like the world and we essentially choose the world’s opportunities over God opportunities, which will end in disaster and feeling much regret. Once we reject those God opportunities, we cannot get those opportunities back.

This truly ministered to me because I have seen this happen in many people’s lives. They let fear of the unknown, opposition from others, or belief that what the world has to offer is greater since it does not require any sacrifice or denying of the flesh, to cause them to reject these amazing opportunities from God. They get so caught up on what’s going on in the natural that they take their eyes off of God.  This is what happened to Judas. He took his eyes off of God and believed what the world had to offer was better so he rejected his God opportunity, which ended in him feeling so much regret that he took his own life and he ended up being replaced.

What I love about the story of Judas is that even though Jesus knew all along what Judas was going to do and it was even foretold that he was going to reject Jesus, Judas was still presented with this amazing God opportunity. That’s the incredible thing about God, even though He already knows whether or not we are going to accept His opportunities, He still presents them to us. He still tries to win us over. He is so patient and merciful! We even see this with Judas during the Last Supper when Jesus went around washing each of His disciples feet (John 13: 1-5). That was such a loving gesture. The washing of feet was the responsibility of a servant. The fact that someone as mighty and powerful as Jesus would do the work of a servant for Judas despite knowing that Judas was going to betray Him is incredible. That’s how loving He is! He will still present these opportunities to be a part of His great plans to those He knows will reject His plan. Let that sink in…

I say all this to make the point that we need to be like Mary instead of like Judas when God approaches us with these great opportunities to be apart of His plans. Yes, these plans will require us to make sacrifices, to deny ourselves, and will require much of us, but they are so worth it in the end. Think about Mary. Because she chose to accept God’s opportunity, we now read about her in God’s Word! She was part of the ultimate plan of bringing our Savior into the world to die for our sins and overcome death! That is amazing! You may not fully understand the opportunity when God first presents it to you, but know that it will bring Him glory and it will be a marvelous, magnificent plan that He is allowing you to be a part of. Put aside your fears and insecurities, fix your eyes on God, trust Him, and accept the opportunity when He presents it to you.

 

 

But What About Me, Lord?

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3You have said, ‘I am overwhelmed with trouble! Haven’t I had enough pain already? And now the Lord has added more! I am worn out from sighing and can find no rest.’

5  ‘Are you seeking great things for yourself? Don’t do it!..but I will give you your life as a reward wherever you go. I, the Lord, have spoken!'”

Jeremiah 45:3, 5

I’ve been reading the book of Jeremiah and during my quiet time this morning, these two verses wrecked my heart. Jeremiah 45 is a message for Baruch. Baruch was the one who wrote Jeremiah’s book as Jeremiah dictated it. During this time, Jeremiah was a very unpopular prophet (the people of Israel wanted to kill him because they did not like God’s messages that he delivered to them), which meant that Baruch was not too popular either. Baruch’s words resonated with me so much! This is how I currently feel. Things have been going wrong left and right in my life, and it seems like as soon as I start to recover from the last blow I’m struck with another blow. It’s to the point where I’m like, “Lord, when do I get a break?” It’s so discouraging at times! Today during my quiet time, I cried out to God. I asked Him to give me a break, to let me recover, to give me rest because I’m not sure how much more I can take. God began to minister to me through this scripture. He told me, “Just like Baruch began to take his eyes off of me, you are doing the same thing. Fix your eyes on me. It’s not about you. It’s not about what you can get or what you think you deserve. It’s about serving Me and glorifying Me. I know that you are tired, I know that you want a break, but this is for My glory. Keep your eyes on Me, keep serving Me, and remember that you have others watching you. Your life is a testimony, how you live your life allows others to see Me. Remember that and I will strengthen you. I will give you rest, but you have to keep your eyes on Me and keep your eyes off of yourself.”

God’s words to me seriously convicted me. I forgot that this life is not meant to be comfortable. This life isn’t meant to be easy, but I must remember “for our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever” (2 Corinthians 4:17). There is purpose in suffering. God has great purpose in it and that’s what we must remember. Even though it hurts, even though it’s discouraging, even though it feels like it’s not fair, we have to remember Who we are living this life for. Are we living this life for our own enjoyment and comfort? Or are we living this life for Christ? Just as Christ suffered while He was on this earth, we are going to suffer as well.

“Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in His suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing His glory when it is revealed to all the world.”

1 Peter 4:12-13

Be encouraged and remember that you are enduring these trials to glorify Christ. It’s not about you, it’s about Him. But also know that He is with you every step of the way, that He will strengthen and encourage you. Just call on Him.