"For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth." ~ Deuteronomy14:2

Monday, May 24, 2010

Raising The Standard: Availability Is Serving My Family First Before I Consider Other Needs Or Wants

From the Pages of Scripture... The most discerning audience we will ever have is our own family. They know precisely whether or not our life matches our message. Only when we pass the test of consistent living at home are we qualified to expand our ministry; they are basic training for it. For example, the skills David learned in order to protect and feed the family flock were later used to conquer a giant and feed a nation. The skills a church learderr learns in order to meet the needs of the church. This explains why Christ told a certain man to go home to his family and first demonstrate his faith to them.
"But if any provide not for his own, and specifically for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith and is worse than an infidel." ~ 1 Timothy 5:8
Sometimes it is easier and more glamorous to serve the Lord in a faraway country than to be a faithful witness in front of our own family. Who in Scripture could have given a sensational testimony of his own conversion but instead was told by the Lord to go home and first demonstrate his new found faith to his family? The Gadarene of Gadara. The silence of the night was pierced by blood-curdling screams from a distant cemetery. Wide eyed children ran to their parents. Their parents explained what they had herd and firmly warned them never to go near those graves. A wild man was slashing himself with sharp stones and crying out as he ran among the tombs. The incidents at that cemetery were frightening enough when this man was contained, but it became even more terrifying when he broke his chains and ran unrestrained. Whenever this occurred, a large group of men from the village gathered to search for the maniac. They would capture him and bind him to the tombs. But again and again he broke the chains that held him. Curious villagers would approach the tombs to look at him from a distance, then they returned to eager listeners and reported what they had seen. This man was an embarrassment and the threat to his family as well as to the villagers who were linked to the terrifying stories of this behavior. Then one day an incredible event took place. This wild man watched a boat edging toward his shore and ran toward it. As the men stepped out of the boat, he knelt before one of them. Bystanders watched in amazement as the unclean spirit and legion of demons were commanded to leave him. After coming out of him, they entered a huge heard of swine which immediately ran down a steep hill and drowned in the sea. Those who saw what had happened rushed back to the city and returned with a great crowd of frightened and curious citizens. They saw the wild man clothed and being taught by Jesus Christ. They saw that the herd of swine had been destroyed. They were filled with fear. Rather than rejoicing over what had happened to the man possessed of devils, they begged Jesus to leave their countryside. As He returned to the boat with His disciples, the man who had been possessed of the devils begged to follow Jesus. Wisely Jesus commanded, "Return to your own house and show how great things God hath done unto you." So the Gadarene went as Jesus had commanded to the most difficult people he would ever reach --- hi own family, relatives, and neighbors --- and proclaimed throughout the whole city the treat things Jesus had done unto him. ~ From Mark 5:1-20 and Luke 8:26-39
Why Was Everyone Alarmed When They Saw That The Gadarene Had Been Healed?
It was probably early the next morning when the men who had heard the startling news came to investigate. By this time, the Gadarene had dressed, cleaned his bruised body, and was quietly sitting with Jesus and the disciples "in his right mind." (Mark 5:15) The men were struck with awe and fear and begged Him to leave. It is doubtful that their request was prompted only by the loss of the swine. There was no doubt in their minds that One possessing supreme and unlimited power was in their midst. Gadara was one of ten cities in the Greek federation known as the Decapolis (cf. Mark 5:20). The predominantly non-Jewish population was ignorant of spiritual truth and steeped in pagan superstition. The loss of their pigs indicated to them that this supereme Power was hostile. They were not seeking the truth and begged the man with such awesome power to leave.
Why Did The Gadarene Ask To Remain With Jesus?
There is a striking contrast between the attitude of the men in the area and the attitude of the healed demoniac. The men begged Jesus to leave, and he agreed; the healed man begged to stay in the company of Jesus, and his request was refused. There are at least two reasons why he wanted to remain with the Lord. Jesus was going to leave immediately. The Gadarene had many questions to ask and many things to learn about his new Master. He had been with the Lord only a few, short hours --- the happiest of his life. He could not bear the thought of leaving the One who had freed him from his bonds of men and the devil. Second, he had found calm, safety, and happiness only in His presence. Would he remain free from the demons that had possessed him, or would he return to the tombs and chains? He had been an outcast from his fellow men for such a long time; it was difficult for him to be denied further fellowship with the One who had made him whole.
Why Did Christ First Send The Gadarene Home To His Family?
The reason is given in the Lord's directive, "Go home to thy friends, and tell them what great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee." (Mark 5:19) In Capernaum, Jesus had strictly forbidden the leper he had cleansed to let anyone but the priest know (Mark 1:43-44). But this healed man, the Gadarene, was commanded to spread the news. There are good reasons for this apparent inconsistency. First, the area in which the Gadarene lived was predominantly Greek. Christ had been called to deliver His message first to the house of Israel (cf. Matthew 10:5-6). Second the people had not welcomed His presence. These men needed evidence that the Lord would not only perform great miracles but that He could permanently transform a life. By sending the man home, Christ was ensured a witness in a needy area. The man "began to publish in Decapolis what great things Jesus had done for him; and all men did marvel." (Mark 5:20) He may have been the very first apostle to the Gentiles. When the Lord returned to that area later, He was much better received. The Gadarene had prepared the way, and Jesus was now able to work in their midst (cf. Mark 7 31-37).
Illustrated In The World Of Nature: How Does The Cowbird Illustrate The Need To Serve Its Family First? In the Greek language, molothrus refers to a tramp, vagabond, parasite, or greedy person. The cowbird's name characterizes the species well. The bird entered North America from Mexico. Then it spread through the prairie states and expanded its range to the east and west coasts as civilization cleared forests and cultivated the land. This bird is described as a parasite because of the manner in which it allows its young to be raised. The bird appeared to be excited and anxious as it flittered from bush to bush in the hedgerow. There seemed to be an urgency in its activity. In fact, it appeared to have lost its nest. The events which followed were typical for this particular bird but not very unusual in the avian world.
Finally, it found the nest low on a branch. Slipping inside, it reached down, stretched its beak wide open, picked up one of the four eggs and then darted away. Finding a perch, she cracked and ate the egg --- its contents as well as part of the shell. Once she had destroyed the egg she stayed away from the nest until the following day. Why would she destroy one of her own eggs? Late the next morning when it did fly back to the hedgerow, the bird did not go directly in. It seemed very hesitant and anxious as it waited. After a delay of several minutes, it made a nervous and cautious approach to the nest and it perched on its rim. Quickly the female entered the nest, staying only a few seconds before flying rapidly away. But when she left, there was something different in the nest --- a new egg, a different color than the others. The cowbird is referred to as a parasite. This bird does not build its own nest but instead relies on the construction of others. In the spring, the cowbird watches for birds building their nests and waits as they complete their busy construction work. Or it may find an already completed nest and make plans to use that. One day before the cowbird lays its egg it waits until the owner of the marked nest is gone. Once the parent bird leaves, this interloper slips in and steals an egg from the nest of the rightful occupant. This it destroys. The next day it cautiously returns, lays its own egg in a period of less than one minute and quickly leaves again. It is very careful not to disturb the nest for it will not return but will rely on the owner of the nest to care for the young cowbird. But in this particular case, the female cowbird made a wrong choice. She had chosen the home of a robin. Upon returning to the nest, the robin immediately recognized the foreign object. By using its bill, the robin worked the egg up to the rim of the nest and rolled it over the edge. The egg tumbled to the ground, smashing the shell and spilling its liquid contents. The cowbird succeeded in shirking its responsibility and in the process failed its young. While the negligent parent abandoned its egg to enjoy a carefree life with others of its kind, the embryonic life of the one she was supposed to be serving was destroyed.

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