Lessons Of A Lifetime

DETERMINED DECEITFULNESS
OR
DIVINELY WARNED IN A DREAM
SUNDAY JUNE 3, 2018

Scripture To Consider:
“Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. And Herod sent the wise men to Bethlehem and said, ‘Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.’”

“When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshipped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Then being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.” Matthew 2.7-12

Something To Consider:
Matthew records, “Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men…,” determined to deceive them. As leaders in training, keep in mind, God can and sometimes may allow the evil ways and determined deceitfulness of certain leaders to teach us many of the lessons of a lifetime that need to be learned. God may allow determined deceitfulness to build strong leadership character qualities into His true future leaders. We have been forewarned!

James the stepbrother of Jesus wrote in James chapter 1 beginning in verse 2, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

The testing of our faith according to James produces patience or an ability to endure to the end of whatever test or trial may be presented or allowed by God for our good. Trials and the testing of our faith is a natural part of the Lord’s divine process in the spiritual transformation of His people. And for some of us it may take longer and more trials and extensive testing to create the desired end result!

It is sad to say, but often so true, that we seem to learn certain lessons of a lifetime more fully when they carry with them some of the scar tissue, pain and suffering, caused by willful or determined deceit. God used Herod’s determined deceit as an instrument of learning and warning in the lives of these wise men.

But, in God all things work together for good to those who love God and who are called according to His purpose and not according to their own purpose. And that makes all the difference in whether we are willing to be patient and to endure. If it is God’s purpose we are concerned about we must be patient!

Trials can bring out either the worst or the best in us as believers. Peter wrote in 1 Peter 1.6-9; “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation [coming again] of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing [present tense believing], you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

Something Else To Consider:
The name Herod means hero like. In his own maddened mind, Herod was his own horrible hero. This is something for leaders in training to stay completely clear of, that is, the crowning of oneself as a self-proclaimed hero. Herod instructed the wise men, by saying, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.” Excuse my sarcasm, but that was no more than Herodian hogwash, and definite determined deceit.

These wise men were indeed wise in not answering Herod with a resounding yes to his evil intended request of bringing back word to Herod of the exact location of Jesus. God being in complete control divinely warned these true worshipping wise men of Herod’s anticipated deceit. They learned important lessons of a lifetime on that day. What about us? What is it that God is attempting to teach us today? Has the determined deceit of anyone in our past taught us important lessons of a lifetime or has it wrongfully hardened us toward the things of God? The wise men simply departed another way!

Jumping ahead a few chapters to Matthew 5.43-45, Jesus invites us to His classroom for a lesson on loving our enemies who use determined deceit to distract us from the things of God. Jesus declared, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”

This requires much patience and a true willingness to endure to the end of unjustified persecution which may very well be in our future in these soon to become and to continue very lawless end times. But according to Jesus, we are to learn to love our enemies as our neighbors. The real problem is that many of us are still trying to learn to truly love our neighbors.

Something More To Consider:
There is a very vivid example of loving our enemies that was played out on the real drama stage of life in Acts chapter 6 and 7. The author of the book of Acts introduces us to a true man of God beginning in verse 8 of Acts chapter 6, by announcing, “And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. Then there arose some from what is called the Synagogue of the Freedmen disputing with Stephen. And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke.”

Therefore, those who opposed Stephen secretly induced men to speak falsely against Stephen and they seized Stephen and brought him before the council of religious so-called leaders. “And all who sat in the council, looking steadfastly at Stephen, saw his face as the face of an angel.”

Then for 52 spirit filled verses Stephen unleashed a most convicting history lesson of a lifetime message upon those religious but not spiritual leaders. The finger of conviction and convincing guilt had been pointed in their direction and they could not escape the just judgment and condemnation they deserved.

We are told by the writer of Acts in verse 54, “When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at Stephen with their teeth. But he being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, ‘Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!’” As these men who were convicted by Stephen’s message were stoning him to death, Stephen knelt down and cried with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin. And when he had said this, he fell asleep [died].”

Yes, we may experience the determined deceit of evil men more so as the day of the end of this age approaches. But how we respond to these lessons of a lifetime will prove just how much we have truly learned while in the classroom of God’s Holy Spirit. And yet, we are told in Romans 10.17, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” Therefore, what message are we listening to?

It just so happened by God’s divine plan no doubt, that there was a man in the crowd that day Stephen preached and died by stoning. Saul of Tarsus, who later became the apostle Paul, was there in search of Christians to take them bound by force back to Jerusalem. In chapter 9 of Acts, the conviction of Saul could no longer be humanly held back. God had worked in the life of Saul behind the scenes and in God’s timing, Christ surprisingly met Saul on the road to Damascus and Saul was forever transformed into the great New Testament apostle Paul.

The Word of God preached in simplistic and accurate terms, but in powerfully Spirit led proportions, creates faith in some and instills violent murderous end results in others. What will we do in the face of determined deceitfulness? Will we consider ourselves warned by God either in a dream or through the reality of everyday life? God help us to be more like Stephen in the midst of death threatening end time persecution that we have been warned of in advance by Jesus.

A Few Final Words:
Seeing the star evidently re-appear, the wise men rejoiced with great exceeding joy. It was a joyous thing to have first seen the star, yet it was a disheartening disappointment to have lost sight of the star. Jesus declared in Revelation 22.16; “I am the Root and Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.” For anyone to lose sight of Jesus, the Bright and Morning Star, it should be disheartening and may be extremely dangerous.

Losing sight of Jesus leads to our being targets of determined deceitfulness. Let us therefore, not go down that path, but rather let us attempt to always be in a place where we are the recipients of hearing the Word of God and thereby always growing in our present tense faith in Jesus!

With godly examples such as Zacharias, Elizabeth, Mary, the wise men, Stephen, and Saul turned Paul, how shall we respond to the future flood of end time determined deceitfulness? Will we endure the determined deceitfulness of evil men and women, as well as the Antichrist and or his evil leader-like representatives? Will we be willing, ready, and able, to be like Stephen who before dying a most horrible death called on God, by requesting, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And kneeling down Stephen added, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.”

We too like the wise men have been divinely warned by God! Will we prove ourselves to be wise men, wise women, and wise young people by enduring to the end of whatever? For leaders and leaders in training, the Word of God is still the best and most accurate GPS available upon planet earth. His Word, God’s Positioning System, guarantees us of our eternal destination even in the midst of much end time determined deceitfulness.

“Then being divinely warned in a dream that they [the wise men from the East] should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.” Sometimes our earthly destination must be re-routed or re-programmed by God due to circumstances and situations that are not only beyond our control but are in actuality beyond our knowing. As God warned the wise men, God has warned us in His Word!

Prayer:
Our Father in heaven, may we be wise in never losing sight of Jesus, our Bright and Morning Star, and may we worship Him as did the wise men. In Him Always, Amen!

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