THE JUDAS SYNDROME

                                                        THE JUDAS SYNDROME

We know the story of Judas Iscariot, one of the 12 disciples of Jesus; and the person who, in an inconceivable act of betrayal, handed Jesus over to the Chief Priests, who ultimately had him crucified.

Now, just for clarification, the Chief Priests did not come to Judas seeking his help in capturing Jesus, Judas went to them to barter a trade for Jesus. He did it for money. As John 12:3-6 explains:

Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein. (John 12:3-6 KJV)

So his motivation was not only his gluttony for personal financial gain, but he simply had a very corrupt heart.

The passage that I want to focus on today is (Mark 14:17-20 KJV)
Which reads:
And in the evening he cometh with the twelve. And as they sat and did eat, Jesus said, Verily I say unto you, One of you which eateth with me shall betray me. And they began to be sorrowful, and to say unto him one by one, Is it I? and another said, Is it I? And he answered and said unto them, It is one of the twelve, that dippeth with me in the dish.”

When I gave the title of this piece as The Judas Complex, and gave the intro, if the first person that came to any of our minds was anyone other than ourselves, then we already started off on the wrong foot.

When Jesus sat at the Passover table with the disciples and revealed to them that one of them- for it was only his disciples that were dining with him- I found it incredibly enlightening that none of them asked “who is it?” Or “is it…” Then insert one of the other disciples’ name. Instead, each one of them asked “Is it I”?

Before calling out another who appeared to fit the bill, they considered themselves. In the event that they fit the bill.
It’s always easy to point out the faults in others. But very rarely do we lift up that same magnifying glass of judgement & use it to examine ourselves.

Judas did not suddenly wake up one day & in a moment of weakness, suddenly decide to betray Jesus, Judas was a wicked man at heart.

For starters, he was a thief. He was in charge of the “mission purse” of the disciples, and on a regular basis, he helped himself to the money.
When Mary anointed Jesus with the oil, it was Judas who had the loudest protest, under the pretense that the money could be given to the poor. He had absolutely no interest in the poor. He just wanted the money put into the purse so he could steal it.
And it was this same wickedness, that drove Judas to seek out those who were plotting to kill the same person that he professed to love, to be devoted to, because even though his mouth spoke of love & devotion, his heart was selfish, gluttonous & wicked.

Psalms 139:23-24 says
Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

The disciples asked “Is it I”?
Brethren, let us ask The Lord to search our hearts. Any one of us could be a Judas in some way. Just because we are in the company of Christ doesn’t mean that Christ is in us. I say that because many of us run to Christ for what we can get from Him; the healing, blessing, favor, protection, deliverance from our problems etc

But how many of us are here for Christ simply for change that he can work in us? Simply to be more like Him? Simply for the gift of salvation that He brought us?

Remember, Judas was one of the 12 disciples. He, too, was always in the presence of Christ. But he did not allow the presence of Christ change him.

He was not alone. Many people flocked to Jesus because He healed the sick, raised the dead, drove out demons. But how many of those people received Him in their hearts as Messiah? And allowed why He was really there to change them?

The answer is very few.
The story of the two thieves that were crucified with Jesus present this clear contrast of people who are in the presence of Jesus.

Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.” But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:39-43 NKJV)

One only believed in Him for the miracles that he could benefit from. The other believed in Him for the miracle of salvation. Which is the reason that Jesus came. And that is why that thief was saved.

What is that thing in our hearts that keeps us from being changed that we can’t seem to shake?
For Judas, it was his greed & love for money.
What is it for us?
Is it hatred, envy, anger, self-righteousness, a gossiping tongue, being overly ambitious, being overly competitive…
What is it?
We have to ask The Lord to reveal it to us, & more important, be ready to face what He reveals.
Because, guess what, it is this same area of weakness that Satan too will try to use against us and if we don’t identify it & commit it to God, we too could fall victim, as it states in (Luke 22:3, 4, 6 KJV):

Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve. And he went his way, and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray him unto them. And he promised, and sought opportunity to betray him unto them in the absence of the multitude.

Yes, Judas was remorseful at having betrayed the innocent Jesus. But by then, it was too late. The truth is that he’d had ample time and opportunity, while he was in the company of Jesus to repent of his heart’s ways. The teachings of Christ revealed them to him, but because he was so consumed & blinded by his own desires, he didn’t change when it mattered.
The Judas syndrome is something that can affect all of us, so let us be weary. Let us be mindful. Let us remain humble. Most importantly, let us allow Christ to work a change in us and remove anything that Satan too can use to rob us of that gift of eternal salvation.

Share your thoughts that you might encourage your brethren.

In Christ.
The handmaid at His feet.
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DO YOU SEEK THE BREAD OR THE BREADGIVER?

                                           DO YOU SEEK THE BREAD OR THE BREADGIVER?
John 6 tells the story of when Jesus fed a multitude of over 5000 people from 5 barley loaves and 2 fish. The bible tells us the reason that the people had followed him to the mountainside in the first place was because they had witnessed the miraculous signs that he had performed on the sick. So, after they had now witnessed the miraculous sign of the loaves and fish, they began to be convinced that truly he must be the prophet of which it had been spoken that would come into the world. Jesus saw their hearts and knew that their motivation was to confirm Him as their “king”. So, he withdrew from them.
But the people sought after him. They deliberately and very effectively, for almost a full day, went in search of Him. Until finally, they found him. After they’d found Him, Jesus said a very interesting thing to them:
“Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. .” (John 6:26)
So I ask you, believer:
What are YOU seeking from Him?
Why are YOU following Him?
Keep in mind, “the crowd” who had, for a full day, sought after Jesus, and literally got into boats and sailed to another region just so that they could get to him; was the crowd whom after Jesus precisely told them who he was, ultimately decided not to follow Him any longer.
He made it clear to them that he was not some hero who was going to come on the scene and deliver them from their physical enemies; he was not some performer who had come to wow them with incredible signs and wonders; he was not some illusionist who was going to make all their problems magically
disappear; but he was the Son of God, who they had to BELIEVE was the Son of God. And it was only in their BELIEVING in Him; that they could really understand and benefit from why He was there to begin with.
It was this ‘crowd’ who sought after Him that was referenced in John 6:60 as saying:
“Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, this is an hard saying; who can hear it?”
It was also this ‘crowd’ that was referenced in John 6:66:
“From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.”
So I ask again, brethren: What are you seeking as a “Christian”? Why are you a follower of Jesus?
Is it solely His power and ability to do things in our lives that causes us to seek Him?
Is it our need to be taken out of our ‘hardship’ and ‘dilemmas’ that causes us to follow Him?
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with it being our need for help that causes us to come seeking Christ, but what is it that’s causing you to stay and wear the ID badge of a follower; a believer; a disciple?
Christ did, and still performs miracles in our lives so that through them, we might believe in the One who performs the miracles and seek HIM! Not only for what He can do but for who he is. For what he is. For why he is.
People, let us not fail to see the big picture. Life does not end after we leave this earth. But what we do on this earth, how we live on this earth, determines where we will spend eternity.
“Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” (John 6:35-40).
If this passage angers you, or causes you to passionately try to refute or dispute what is being said here, that’s alright, because Christ specifically said that no one can come to Him unless the Father draws him.
But if this passage stirs something in your heart and spirit; if this passage causes you to reflect on your life and your walk; if this passage causes you to ask yourself how well do you really know this Jesus, and how badly do you really want to get to know Him, then congratulations, because Christ was speaking of YOU in this passage.
The walk of discipleship is not a passive one. It is active. It is purposeful. It is deliberate.
Yes, the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ purchased salvation for us, but only if we come to Him, allow Him in and walk in Him.
2013 is already well under way, and it’s hour glass too will run out. Those who have confessed “I will follow Christ”, refine your decision today whether you are following for the ‘bread’ or if you are following for the ‘bread giver’.
If you are in it for the bread giver, then make it a point to get to know Him. Every minute of every day is precious & valuable. Not one minute can be wasted. Desire to know the Savior that you profess to believe in. Desire to understand His purpose for mankind. Desire to walk more intimately with Him. Desire to love Him better; not simply for what He does for us, but for what He is to us.
I wish us all a fulfilling & Christ-centered 2013, and remember:
“Do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things as well, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:31-33)
Share your thoughts that you might encourage your brethren.
In Christ,
The handmaid at His feet.

IT’S ALRIGHT TO LOOK BACK

 

                                                   IT’S ALRIGHT TO LOOK BACK
During the course of life, we learn that progress is synonymous with forward movement. When we go from being a youth to being an adult, part of the concept of growth is that we stop behaving in certain ways, and adopt new, more mature behaviors. That is why when people go through mid-life crises and start to exhibit extreme behavior that is very characteristic of their younger days, the admonishment that they usually receive is to stop trying to relive their youth. Or to stop trying to relive their past.
As Christians who are imperfect, with regards to sin, a sign of progress we learn from the Word of God is that one who is truly remorseful for their sin should come to Christ with a heart of contrition; confess their sin, and ask for forgiveness, and going forward, in addition to asking the Holy Spirit to guide us away from willful sin, we have to look forward to a renewed; spirit led life, and not behind us at the sin, because once we are forgiven for that sin, we are forgiven.
So for all the reasons why progress should only be associated with looking ahead, there is one very important occasion when looking back is a tremendous sign of progress.
For everyone who has been called into Christianity, God has most certainly done some major things in your life that got your attention and caused your spirit to identify with His and convince you of His existence.
Not only has He moved your spirit to acknowledge Him, but He has answered very specific prayers for you. He has performed feats in your life that you know had nothing to do with your ability, knowledge, power, influence, wealth, wisdom or anything. It was His hand moving on your behalf so that your faith in Him could be anchored. In addition, you have also heard the accounts of other Christians telling of the miraculous ways that the Lord moved in their lives.
Miraculous healing when a dire prognosis had been given; deliverance from the jaws of death after a bad car accident, illness or some other terrible event; financial restoration after a long and hard period of lack; a spouse or children when you had come to accept the possibility that it would never happen; a good job or the turnaround of a failing business after a long period of searching or struggling; the positive turnaround of a bad legal situation; the turnaround of a failing marriage; the restoration of a broken family the opening of doors of opportunity where none had previously existed. Or simply just the peace of Christ after a life filled with worry, anxiety, fear and uncertainty.
So if we all have evidence, an account, a testimony of when and how the Lord came through for us, stepped in for us, moved on our behalf, why is it that whenever a new challenge; a new trial; some new tribulation or dilemma presents itself in our paths that we despair? Why do we doubt God? Why does our faith waiver?
Why do we suddenly act as if we don’t know who to turn to?
Why do we forget?
It is at these times that we have to look back and call to remembrance the specific things that God has done in our lives and in the lives of others that we have heard about.
It is at this time that we have to look back at the accounts that the Word of God explicitly tells us of in the Bible.
It is at these times that we have to look back on how we felt after we received our miracles in the past and call to mind the promises that we made that we made of how we would serve him going forward.
We have to look back and remember how God made a way when there was absolutely no way!
We have to look back and remember how he opened doors that had been previously shut before us.
We have to look back!
God performs these things in our lives and in the lives of others so that through them we have a point of contact that we can refer to and in so doing, anchor our faith.
We all have a testimony. When God moves miraculously in our lives, it is our responsibility to return the favor by opening out mouths and sharing with others what the Lord has done for us. What this does is sow a valuable seed of faith in the life of a believer who really needs it and it waters a seed of faith that is currently struggling in a parched soil of doubt and despair.
In John 4:28-30, 39,Jesus spoke with the Samaritan woman at the well, and based on that encounter, the bible tells us:

“The woman then left her water pot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” Then they went out of the city and came to Him. And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified”
As a Christian, our ultimate goal is salvation in Christ Jesus, and it is upon this salvation that we anchor our gaze. Forward. However, in-between the moment that we are called into Christianity, and the moment when we leave this earth, we will face unpleasant situations. We will be tried; we will be tested; we will undergo hardships and challenges. The next one may very well surpass the previous one. But if we are to grow in Christ, then, these trials are inevitable. They are in actuality a requirement. But because we are human and we feel every stitch of pain, fear, sadness, confusion, hopelessness and despair that we are faced with in those times, we have Jesus to call upon for strength, for guidance, for hope, for comfort, for courage; because the bible assures us that:
Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16)
Only Jesus Christ can get us through the hardships of this life, and only He can help us not lose out crown of salvation in the process.
But after He does get us through, TESTIFY! SHARE YOUR STORY! ENCOURAGE SOMEONE WHO IS GOING THROUGH THEIR OWN TRIAL!
Because in so doing, you draw others unto Him, and if their hearts truly believe in Him, that same John 4 tells us that after the Samaritan woman’s testimony brought other Samaritans to Jesus, after they stayed with Him, “many more believed because of His own word.”
So, brethren, it is in this “looking back” that we make tremendous progress.
Don’t ever stop looking back, so that you don’t stop moving forward.
Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. To the only God our Savior, Who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.
Share your thoughts that you might encourage your brethren.
In Christ
The handmaid at His feet.

THERE IS A PURPOSE

                                                       THERE IS A PURPOSE
I find the story of Lazarus, as depicted in John 11, to be a story laden with so many messages. If I decided to touch on every one of them that I found, I’d be writing a book, as opposed to a message. So, to keep in line with the theme of the season that we are in; the last two weeks of Lent, that lead right up to the commemoration of the crucifixion of Christ and His resurrection; I am forced to stick with one.
I believe that there is an important message that was being shared with the Jews on that day, and with us today in the story of Lazarus’ death and resurrection; especially as it compares to the death and resurrection of Jesus.
“Therefore the sisters sent to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” John 11:3
The message could have simply come as “Lord, Lazarus is sick”. But it was important that not only a distinction be made, but that all be made aware of that distinction. It needed to be revealed that Lazarus was special to Jesus. He was “loved”. There was a relationship that was separate from the teacher-follower relationship.
“Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was.”
Again, the reference to the “love” that Jesus had for the members of this family was to indicate why he should have dropped everything and hurried to their aid as soon as He received their message.
The specification of that relationship was to serve another important purpose also. It was to create a sense of urgency; immediacy to Jesus. The ones who sent the message were sure that Jesus would come to heal anyone that was sick and sought His help, but they also believed that when Jesus heard “who” was sick, that would make it even more urgent.
But not only did Jesus not hurry to go and heal Lazarus, He confidently assured the people whom He was with that Lazarus would surely not die. In addition, He stayed where He was for 2 more days! before embarking on the journey to Bethany. Then, prior to heading out, He confirmed to His disciples that Lazarus was indeed dead.
When Jesus arrived at Bethany, He was greeted by the chaos and weeping of the family and friends of Lazarus (who had, at this time, been buried for 4 days).
In verse 21, Martha said “if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.”
Similarly, verse 32 tell us “Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
Yet, in verse 15, Jesus had already said “And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there”.
We know from Scripture that Jesus spoke in parables a lot. We also know from Scripture that a lot of what Jesus said to His disciples did not become clear to them until after He had resurrected and ascended into heaven.
So for all the answers that Jesus gave to the disciples, His followers and those He loved, and for all the symbolism that the resurrection of Lazarus would give in relation to what He had and would reveal to them about His impending death and resurrection, the miracle of Lazarus was for the most part treated as a free standing miracle of Jesus.
But the story was so glaringly clear for anyone to whom it was revealed…
For all of the ability that Jesus had to save Lazarus, why would He let him die in the first place? Not just a man that He could have saved, but a man that He loved. A man with whom He had a personal relationship. A man who was his friend.
So why, the people asked, would He “let” Lazarus die?
The answer is, for the same reason that His Father in heaven, let Him, Jesus, die for us.
As stated earlier, Jesus said in verse 15 “And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe”.
And why was it important that they believe?
Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?” John 11:40
And what was the manifestation of that glory of God?
“And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me”. John 11:42
That the people might see the Hand of God through Christ and through that come to believe that He was the Messiah, Lazarus, beloved of Christ, had to die. So in raising him from the dead, the believers might come to Christ.
That people might see the Hand of God through Christ, and through that come to accept Him as the only Way, Truth and Light, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, had to die. So in God raising Him from the dead, we the believers, might, through Christ, have everlasting life.
Jesus didn’t even have to go to Bethany to heal Lazarus. He simply had to pronounce it from wherever He was and it would have been done. He also could have reached Bethany before Lazarus died and simply healed him of his sickness. But there was a purpose. Lazarus’ death had a purpose. But a lot of the people present there that day didn’t get it. Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection has a purpose, yet, a lot of people today still don’t get that either.
Listen to the words of Christ:
Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” (John 11:25-26)
If your answer is “yes”, as you wind down the final days of Lent 2013, reflect on the ”purpose”of it all. Then, share that “purpose” with someone else, so that they too can come to understand; and in so doing, come to believe.

“ Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy. To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.”
Share your thoughts that you might encourage your brethren.
In Christ,
The handmaid at His feet.