Monday, December 21, 2009

What is Wisdom and Why Follow its Path?


Wisdom Defined

In the Biblical sense, wisdom is the "ability to judge correctly and to follow the best course of action, based on knowledge and understanding". The Wisdom teachings of the Bible follow from the two great themes of the Ten Commandments and the Greatest Commandments of Jesus : reverence to God, our Creator, and respect for all persons, everywhere.

Customs are not Wisdom

Biblical-era life for the Jews and early Christians was harsh. Slavery was commonplace. Tyrannical rule by outside powers was the norm. Women's status in society was distinctly second class. Children were disciplined with beatings.

These conditions were often accepted in the Bible as customary for society during those times, but they were not taught as being virtuous or wise. True wisdom is always consistent with the two great wisdom themes of the Bible: reverence to God, our Creator, and respect for all persons, everywhere.

Wisdom is More than Following the Rules

A set of commandments or rules can give us important examples of wisdom, but they are only examples. No set of rules can cover all situations, and it is up to us to generalize the commandments to all cases. Many times, as in this passage from Matthew, Jesus condemned the hypocrisy of those religious leaders who observed the law in its strict, literal sense, but violated its spirit:

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. (NAS, Matthew 23:23)

Wisdom means always acting according to the spirit of the Commandments and not looking for an ambiguity or omission which we can use to evade their true intent. Wisdom means understanding the consequences of our actions and words before we act or speak. Wisdom means having the knowledge and understanding to recognize the right course of action and having the will and courage to follow it.

Why Follow Wisdom's Path?

Following the ways of Wisdom helps bring us in harmony with God because these ways are in accordance with His will, as revealed in the Bible, and are pleasing to Him.

The ways of Wisdom also bring us in harmony with other persons because respect for others is the very essence of the Commandments. The wisdom teachings of the Bible are much more than an arbitrarily dictated moral code; they form a prescription for living in peace with the people we interact with daily.

Finally, acting with Wisdom brings us in harmony with ourselves, giving us a sense of self-worth and inner peace. This inner peace is achieved because we are acting in accordance with our consciences and avoiding the shame and guilt of following our baser instincts.

How blessed is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding. For its profit is better than the profit of silver, and its gain than fine gold. She is more precious than jewels; and nothing you desire compares with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who hold her fast. (NAS, Proverbs 3:13-18)

We often fail in our daily struggle to act with wisdom -- it does not come easily or naturally. Although it is easier to follow our less-than-wise impulses, the reward for acting with wisdom is great. When we give it our best effort, the payoff in self-esteem and inner peace will compensate us many times over.




Remain blessed

Saturday, December 19, 2009

On This Rock- Part 4


They were telling me last night in the Deacons Meeting that we have a man who is getting ready to get out of prison. He has been in prison for thirty years. He’s been one of the chief overseers of the ministry that we have in the prison. Somewhere, about ten years ago or whatever, he wanted to marry this woman. We told him, "Don’t do it." Pastor Rob went down there, "slapped him around" a little bit, and he told him, "Don’t do it." I mean that he did everything but tie him up. What do you think he did? What do you think happened? So he pledges, "I will never go against a multitude of counsel again as it comes to me from my overseers." He’s getting ready to get out, and he’s got a plan, a good plan. But all those who have ministered to him, whether it’s a deacon or some of the other men who have gone down and ministered to him, have said, "It’s not that good of a plan." The deacons and the others are talking to him and ministering to him. They told him, "No, it’s not a good plan." What do you think he’s going to do? He’s going to do what he wants to do. So I sent word to him, and I said, "Don’t come out of prison and plan on coming to fellowship here. You have already rejected the counsel we gave you. If you won’t take it now, you won’t take it after you get here. Don’t bother." Amen? Don’t bother; do what you want to do.

The questions we’re going to answer in these next couple of sessions have to do with the question: what rights do we have as individuals? You have every right to be independent, but you have no right to be rebellious. Can I say it again? You have every right to be independent, but once you profess to be a part of the body of Christ, you have no right to be rebellious. You are under authority, and you are under guidance as it pertains to spiritual things. "Well, what about all this stuff that, you know, the authority… Do you mean brothers and sisters who come to me with counsel? Their authority is something that, if they are representing biblical principles, I should listen to it? I’m obligated to listen to them?" You’d be wise to listen to them at times, and, yes, you’re obligated to listen to them at times, because God has set up standards for living in His kingdom. "Yeah, but I feel led to commit adultery." We want to play around over here in the obscure; most of us want to argue the obscure. When I use terms like "adultery," you all say, "You can’t commit adultery and be part of the church. That’s obvious." It’s not about adultery. It’s about rebellion. It’s about independence. It’s about selfness as it pertains to what’s good for the community as a whole. "I have my rights!" Yes, you do. Your right is to prefer others better than yourself. Our doctrine is all good, beloved, but when it comes down to putting this thing to the road in so many areas, we have trouble. A case in point was when somebody asked the question the other night: "Well, I don’t know. I heard Pastor give that illustration about a sister and marrying another one. Don’t we have rights to go to another church, if we want to go to another church?" You have every right in the world to go to another church, but you have no right to be in rebellion and "blow off" the counsel and the guidance of your spiritual overseers. I would very, very cautiously choose my rights and my independence against designated authority. Some of you say, "Well, I don’t know about that." Well, if you’re going to follow that philosophy, apply it to your home. Apply it to your children. Who are you? "I’m the head of my house, bless God." Who made you head? Amen? The One you are ignoring, the One who has established authorities and order in His church—if you don’t submit to authority, you have no business being in authority. We miss the obvious, beloved, as we argue for the obscure, for the secular, and for the temporal. We’ll forfeit eternal privilege and position for temporal justice and rights. That’s the Constitution. It is not the Bible.

Remember who wrote our Constitution and gave you these liberties: rebels. Don’t make a mistake. I’m not going to get into my politics. I love our country. I love living under the liberties that we’ve had, but I am not stupid. I know how we were founded. I know that the majority of the "Christians" who wrote our Constitution were deists. Do you all know what a deist is? They believe in God. They believe that God created and that God initiated. Then, He stepped back, and He said, "It’s yours. Go ahead and run it." That’s not the God I serve. Some of these were born again, but most of them were deists. Most of them were rebels, and most of them established the churches that we are all so thankful for. Many of them allowed the pendulum to swing too far because of the Church of England. They didn’t like the dominance; so it swung over here to independence within the churches, and it broke the divine order that God established. Many of them were the Puritans, the Quakers, and the Calvinists of that particular age. There is something behind all of this, beloved. We can become lax in our thinking, because we are a generation living off of sound bites. We don’t spend enough time to sit back, analyze, and understand what’s going on around us. We hear a sound bite of a preacher over here on this television show, and a preacher over here, and the Bible says, "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth," (2 Timothy 2:15). The words "rightly dividing" mean "to be able to cut through the principle that’s at hand, or to arrive at a conclusion, justice, and application that glorify God the creator." It does not justify man, the creation. It does not justify the wicked and condemn the just.

We’ve had so much confusion and stuff going on in recent days in our fellowship. Questions are being asked. "Well, what about the right… Don’t I have the right to run over here?" We had a situation just the other day. A young person runs off from here and goes to another, local church. They embrace them, and everybody’s encouraging them. What should be said is: "Go home, you rebel." Your mom and dad are serving God. They are full of the Holy Ghost, and they are standing up for biblical principles. The people there are coddling the rebel, and they call themselves the church. We’re saying the church is universal. That’s not the church! The church does the Word of God; amen? I don’t care what their theology is. I don’t care how sound some of their doctrine might be. If you simply can’t understand how to treat a rebel, and you can’t understand divine order and authority—children are to obey their parents in the Lord, if they are not being asked to do anything that’s not biblical. "I want my rights. I want my independence. I want to run around, hang out, do this, and do that." I want to tell you something, beloved. You are tossed to and fro by every wind and doctrine, and by men who lie in wait to deceive. You’d better find out what the Word of God teaches. You’d better find out who the representatives of God are. They are the people who are going to stand, apply the Word of God, and not coddle the rebels.

Some of us want to get confused or up in arms over other peoples’ rights. They have no rights but to obey their parents; amen? You have no rights but to do the Word of God. You don’t have any rights to be running around out here. You don’t have any right to independently rebel against your parents, those who are put in your life and have overseen your life since you were born, those who have counseled you, and those who told you, "That’s not the way. That’s not the Word of God. That’s not bringing glory to God, and that is not representative of the kingdom of God." They don’t have any right to do that, and then call themselves Christians and rail upon authority. This isn’t new, beloved; this has been around in man since time began. We know in the sixties, the "drop out generation"—I want to tell you something. The way some of these churches have responded and the way the communities respond, right now, it’s always "the authority." It’s always "the institution" that’s wrong. These poor, abused people… It is that "bad institution," that "bad authority." It is humanism!

You go and tell them, you and two others, and they refuse to hear you. Look what he says happens next. "And if he shall neglect to hear them [do what?], tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican" (Matthew 18:17). There’s a very obvious truth here that’s being missed. It’s very simple, but it’s being missed. Go to them alone. If they don’t hear you [do what?], take two or three witnesses. If, by chance, they happen to still be so self-willed, stubborn, and stiff-necked that they don’t receive the counsel of a multitude, what do you do then? There is a truth that’s being missed here by so many. Do you know what it is? There’s nothing that follows that. That’s the end. Tell the church, and then you say, "The end." Amen? What the church says is final; it is the end. Their decision stands. That is the end. We always want to think there’s another court to appeal to. Now, as if it wasn’t bad enough—we have all the appellate courts, the different things that are going on, and the Supreme Court. Now we have our country wanting us to bow down as a nation to an international court. I don’t personally care what another country thinks about what we’re doing and how we judge things; amen? As a citizen of the kingdom of God, I don’t care what the world thinks about the judgment we make. If it’s according to the Word of God, it’s true. There is no appeal, if you are part of the church. Do you see? What you have to do to reject the judgment of the church is to reject the church, the lordship of Jesus. What we do in our day is go three blocks down the street, and we join another church. There is only one church




Remain blessed

Friday, December 18, 2009

On This Rock- Part 3


Beloved, we’ve made a mockery out of the authority of God in our churches today. In many of our minds here, though we would adhere to the doctrine, we’ve lost the application. Very frankly, it is because of the fear of men’s faces: all of the "hoopla" and people making "big deals" out of cults like David Koresh’s and Jim Jones’, as we know from our little newspaper article the other day. We have people who are the representatives of God, the anointed of God, and the placed of God almost apologizing for wanting to represent the kingdom in power and in authority. Instead, they appoint committees, and things are run by consensus. This is Satan’s attack on the church, the kingdom of God, the body of Christ, and it becomes "divide and conquer" and destruction of true unity. I’m talking about biblical unity. I’m not talking about the fact that we are not all fighting one another at this time. I’m talking about the fact that we all believe the same thing; amen? There is one faith, and one baptism, and one Lord, as we read in Ephesians, Chapter 4. Jesus has given gifts unto men. The apostle told us very clearly that, as members, we are put in the body as it pleases Him. We are gifted uniquely and severally, and we are not all gifted the same way or endued with authority. There’s an order that’s established. One error and misapplication that is happening today in many churches, especially Spirit-filled and what we look at as fundamentalist churches, is the improper application of the priesthood of the believer. We all know that we are individually kings and priests. That has to do with our personal representation and relationship with the Head, our Savior. He’s not only among us, He’s within us. But in that relationship, He’s bringing about a clear understanding of the unification of a body, a kingdom, and a church that the gates of hell will not prevail against. What am I saying to you? Stay in the church; it is safe! The gates of hell will not prevail against the church. Can I tell you something? You are not individually the church.

Jesus is not only talking historically about the extension and existence of the visible, universal church. In fact, He is talking about the recognition of those who are representing Him, the representatives of the church. Rome has perverted this thing. We all understand that. You have the Vicar who, when he speaks Ex Cathedra, is infallible. We all know the Pope is not infallible; this is [holds up the Bible]; amen? I have been talking a little while, and I want to have you understand the magnitude of this statement: "You’re Peter, and upon this rock…" There’s been a lot of dispute over this by different commentators; they make a play on the word: Peter, petra,petros, rock, and stone. That’s not what this is talking about. "On this profession, on this rock of revelation of Myself… Flesh and blood has not given this to you, but My Father which is in heaven has revealed it." No one can come, unless the Father, by the Spirit of God, draws them. Jesus said, "I give unto you. I say you are the rock, and on this profession, upon this revelation, upon the personal experience and knowledge of Myself, upon someone who is indwelt by My Spirit, upon someone who is infused with the knowledge of My Word, and upon representatives that speak only My words as I spoke My Father’s words, they are those upon which I will build My church. The gates of hell will not prevail against them. I will give [look at verse nineteen] unto you My representatives—those I have placed, those whom I have ordained, and those who come as ambassadors and speak on My behalf—the keys of the kingdom of heaven." "And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Matthew 16:19).

Turn over to the eighteenth chapter for just a moment. A number of us are familiar with the eighteenth chapter of Matthew. We are very familiar with it, yet we probably don’t apply it enough. Some think we apply it too much. It is in red ink. The Head of the church says, "Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee … [We do what?]" (Matthew 18:15). We gossip to a friend, complain, pray about it, or put it on Facebook. If your brother trespasses against you, what do you do? "…go and tell him his fault between thee and him [say the next word]alone…" (Matthew 18:15). Okay. There are some good guidelines for us; amen? And I tell my hundred closest friends. Does your version read that way? "…if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother" (Matthew 18:15). We know these principles. "But if he will not hear thee [What do you do?], then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established" (Matthew 18:16). Scripture has already made that provision. So, you’re doing the Word of God; you are using God’s method. It is not a "he said, she said" thing. It is not "just my opinion versus your opinion." This is wisdom: at the multitude of counselors, every word is established. You can imagine that there are actually people in the church of Jesus Christ who are confronted by two or three witnesses, who know the lordship of Jesus Christ, who know the words of Jesus Christ, who love you as an individual, who speak to you judgment and counsel, and there are actually people who would ignore that. Can you imagine that? Surely, nobody would think so highly of themselves, of their opinion, and of their position. But, periodically, there are those cases. Hopefully, it is not very often.

You should notice that is doesn’t say, "When he neglects to hear them…" How does it read? It says, "But if…" That means he should listen to what is being counseled; amen? Beloved, listen to what’s being said here. We have the truth! Corinthians says, "What’s wrong? Is there no one among you spiritual enough to judge?" We just flat out don’t like being told what to do, when it’s contradictory to our will, to our flesh, to our plan, or to our agenda. We are rebels. Are we not? Are you delivered from that? Are you completely sanctified? Do you no longer have any defense of self? Is there no longer any motivation of self-will? Are you not someone who has any self-interest at all? This is God’s protection for you against your greatest enemy. We don’t believe that. Every one of us is our own worst enemy. As pride comes in, and we’re puffed up, and we think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think, we justify our lusts and our positions. We try to support our prejudices and preferences. Somebody comes up to love us with the Word of God. They stand there and bring us a word, and two or three brothers who are full of the Holy Ghost are very likely… We’ve shared with you before. If you want to be safe, don’t take your best friends; take theirs. Take the people that are their greatest confidants and their bosom buddies. If they are true friends, and if they are bosom buddies, they won’t tell you what you want to hear. They’ll tell you the truth; amen? Go to him. Do you want some good advice? Follow their counsel.





Remain blessed

Thursday, December 17, 2009

On This Rock- Part 2


As I’ve watched what’s taken place in our fellowship recently, as I see what’s going on and hear what’s going in the world, my heart has almost been sick. I’ve seen the disregard and mockery of the church of Jesus Christ that Jesus paid His blood for. It is because of the curse that we call "rights," the exaltation of independence, individuality, and all that our nation promotes. God opposes them. I’ll say it again. What we as a nation boast in, have bled for, and the genius of secular humanists who wrote the documents called the "Bill of Rights" and the "Constitution of the United States"—I want you to know that, from a human perspective, it is a masterpiece; isn’t it? For the liberty of man, the individuality of man, and the independence of man… I want to tell you something, beloved. We serve in a kingdom that is not all about man. We are citizens of a kingdom and a nation that is not about the individual, but it is about the whole. We want to talk for a moment and answer the question—I think this is vitally important for the days ahead of us as a fellowship. This is not just a rhetorical question. We’re going to have an opportunity on Sunday night’s panel to ask some questions. I’d encourage you to ask genuine questions and questions that are really upon your heart. Forget what people might think about you. Do you understand the privilege we have in an open forum like this as a church? And we don’t avail ourselves of it. We talk to each other. We sit around the table at home as a family unit, and talk, and question, but we never ask questions where they can be answered properly and where others can be illuminated. It’s a pretty rare thing to have an opportunity like that, and it’s very interesting that we very seldom avail ourselves of it because of the fear of what people will think. If we’re walking in the light, beloved, and if we truly love one another as family, then there has to be a vulnerability and a love that prefers others better than ourselves, even if you don’t get the answer you’re looking for, or the position that you’re standing on. The fact of the matter is this: if we don’t move into a genuine love instead of a feigned love in this last day, if we’re not seekers of truth and light, and if we’re not contending for the faith and an understanding of what Scripture says, we’re not going to stand. You are going to be tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine, and by the sleight of men through their cunning craftiness whereby they lie in wait to deceive. It is a spirit out there. That deception and that craftiness come through questions that are not answered. It does nothing but generate confusion and strife. We will look at that in the Ephesians, Chapter 4 passage in just a moment. But what we’re talking about and what I want to establish very clearly is this: the church of Jesus Christ is not a straw man! The church of Jesus Christ is not an organization or a club. The kingdom of God, the church of Jesus Christ, is not a playground. The kingdom suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. It is obtained forcefully through pursuit. It is the straight and narrow, and it is a very unique. When I say, "It is unique," I mean it is an entity unto itself. Nothing else can be compared to it, so don’t think we can take the corporate world, human psychology, or relationships and somehow figure out what this kingdom is all about. You will only understand the kingdom through the revelation of God’s Word. It’s foolishness to the natural mind; amen?

They will tell us. They’ll respond to the decisions we make. They’ll look at us with raised eyebrows when we make statements like this: the man is the head of the woman and the head of the home. I’ll tell you something. If you speak that out loud in public, you’ll be laughed down, if you are not stoned. We say, "Amen" to the doctrine in many of our churches, but none of our homes operate that way. I’m not just talking about us as a fellowship, since there seems to be a lot of people wanting to talk about the universal body today. I want to tell you something. I am not all concerned about the universal body. I don’t live with the universal body. I live with you; amen? I’m not concerned with what my neighbors are doing next door. I’ve got my own home to take care of; amen?

Let’s look at a couple of passages here. You will see why I’m speaking the way that I am and the burden that’s on my heart. I believe that we as a people are sound in our doctrine. But many of us are losing our application and our understanding of what the church really is, how God establishes order, and—if we walk by faith in the illumination of it—the confidence of it. Stop trying to apply human and natural safeguards to that which only the Holy Ghost oversees, and you’ll see what I’m talking about as we go on in this study.

Look at the sixteenth chapter, and then we’ll look over at eighteen in just a second. "When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?" (Matthew 16:13). That is the question. They are dealing with the doctrine of the Pharisees and the Sadducees, which is leaven. When the question is asked as to whom He is, Peter’s response—we’re all very familiar with it. "And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16:16). Then, a statement is made that we’re so familiar with it almost loses its impact. "And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 16:17). Thou are the Christ. Now, we have established who the Lord is, but listen to Jesus’ response. "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter…" (Matthew 16:18). We know that the Roman Catholic Church mistakenly tries to use this as vindication of apostolic succession, therefore, the Vicar of Rome, the Bishop of Rome is the head of the universal church. That is not what Jesus is saying here. What He is saying here is this: "I’m going to build a church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. It is going to be a church that’s overseen by men, and by My presence, and by My Spirit in them," or, as Paul said to the Corinthian Church, "For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already…" (1 Corinthians 5:3).




Remain blessed

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

On This Rock- Part 1


There is a desire that we have: to be doers of the Word and not hearers only. There are many teachings and doctrines in churches around the country, and around the world. But that knowledge puffs us up many times, and it causes us to think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think. It is not what we know. It is what we do. It’s really an hour that we’re coming in to, as we’ve been studying, where we need to look around and identify the true body of Christ: those who are our brothers and sisters in the Lord, universal, whether they are on another continent or here in our country. We’ve shared that understanding very clearly. Not everybody who names the name of Jesus is a brother or is a believer. We’ve talked about a very, very strong spirit in the age we’re looking at, and we called it "antinomianism." They are people who oppose the law of God. Another way to look at it is that they oppose the authority of God. God and His Word are one; amen? This is not only the truth of God [holds up Bible]; it’s the authority of God. The Word of God is alive, and it’s powerful. It’s a judge. It discerns between the thoughts and the intentions of the heart. We know that it does not only have the power to infuse and illuminate the soul; the power of salvation comes through the gospel. Paul said, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek" (Romans 1:16).

We know to have an audience with God, and to take His Word into our hearts is to be infused with faith. "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). We know that it’s a lamp unto our feet. We shared in a teaching not too long ago, that much of the church has the wrong perception of the law of God. We realize that the law of God is holy, and it’s just, and it’s good; amen? The only ones who really don’t like law are the lawless, because the law has come to be good for us. It holds anarchy at bay. The law of God brings about justice. People look at it, and they perceive it to be different than it really is. How many of you have heard people refer to the Old Testament, especially to Judaism, and they talk about how hard a religion it is. It is an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. That’s not hard. That’s mercy. Do you know that Israel and the Middle East are not practicing "an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth" right now? They didn’t practice "a little scud missile, and shoot a little scud missile back." They went and "kicked their tails"; amen? God is saying, "Don’t knock a guy’s head off, but there is just recompense."

I’m sharing those things to share that it’s tragic in this day. The Word of God is the mirror that we hold up to determine whether or not we are Christlike. It is the lamp that sets the course for us and illuminates our path. It is the revealed justice of God, and it has been set aside for what secularists call "existentialism." As Pastor Tony taught a couple of sessions ago, it is what Christians begin to call "conscience." I want to tell you something. Nothing that originates in man can exalt itself against the revelation of God’s Word. Let God be true and every man a liar. "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth" (John 17:17). Now, we say, "Amen! We believe that." And we all do believe that as doctrine. It is the same Word of God that we carry. It is the truth of God, and it is the mind of God. It is not only the will of God as it relates to His creatures, but it is the will of God as it relates to His bride, His church, and the manifestation of His kingdom on earth. We’re supposed to pray as believers. What is the first prayer that most Christians learn? It is: "...Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. [Say it with me.] Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:9-10). We pray that, and we should believe that. The problem is that we have a lot of trouble reconciling it. Because, if we pray, "Thy will be done in earth [that includes America], as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:10), we’re going to have trouble merging democracy and totalitarianism. Jesus is Lord; amen? That is true, whether you vote for Him or not. Jesus is Lord, whether you recognize His lordship or not. In the final day, every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess that He is Lord to the glory of God the Father; amen?

Do you see? We seem to think our opinion matters. As it relates to the Word of God, to the lordship of Jesus, and to the expression of the will of God in His kingdom and in His church, your opinion doesn’t matter. What you think doesn’t matter. We asked a question in the session the other night. Some of you may remember it: how many rights does a slave have? Are we or are we not the servants, the slaves, of the Most High? Is Jesus Lord? Yes! In His lordship, aren’t you thankful that He’s called us friends, heirs, and joint heirs, and that He’s made us His bride and His beloved? He calls us His body, and all of us members in particular. He placed us in the body as it pleases Him, and it is orchestrated by His headship. Yet many of us think we have the luxury of interpreting the mind of God from our position as a member rather than His revelation as head. I’ll say that again, because we didn’t get that. Somehow, we seem to think, as a finger, a little toe, or whatever we might be, that we know. We begin to operate outside the sphere of our responsibility. This great mystery called the church and the body of Christ is being orchestrated by the Head, the lordship of Jesus, and the order He’s established for His church: gifts that Ephesians speaks of in Chapter 4. We’re going to look at it in just a moment. These are used to orchestrate. They are the representatives of His lordship. They are not equal with those that are under or subordinate, but they are representation of the Head, the Chief Shepherd. They are not figureheads, politicians, or psychologists. They are, in fact, to be under-shepherds, and the revelation and representation of the lordship of Jesus. "Those who have heard you have heard Me," Jesus said to those whom He sent in His name. Jesus said, "If they reject you, they reject Me." We know it another way in the thirteenth chapter of Romans, and we realize the powers that be are ordained of God. If you resist the power, you resist the ordinance of God.



Remain blessed

Monday, December 14, 2009

The power of positive speaking

Positive speaking is all the rage now days. Is it a new fad in Christianity, or is there real, meaty substance behind the claims of Joel Osteen, Joyce Myers, Charles Capps, Dr. Frederick Price and many others who seem to have jumped on the band wagon of teaching us to practice positive speaking in our lives?

The next question addressed to Mary, in the study "Seven Questions for a Pregnant Virgin" is, "How exactly did you become pregnant?" The answer is, "With the power of positive speaking."

Everybody knows that God created the universe and everything in it with His words, right? God said "Light Be" and light was! Is that not absolutely marvelous to think about? God's belief was spoken into being. His dream of a universe came into fruition through His words! Then, God said "Let us make man in our image..."

IN OUR IMAGE!!

God created us in His image, thus with the power of positive speaking! There are two instances in the Christmas story that back this up. In Luke 19, the angel, Gabriel told Zechariah that his wife would have a son. Zechariah responded with negative words of doubt, because of his wife's age. He did not believe and his disbelief came out of his mouth. Apparently, his words were so important, so powerful, that Gabriel closed his mouth until after John the Baptist was born.

When Gabriel told Mary that she, too, would become pregnant, she didn't doubt. She asked only how this was going to happen, since she knew no man. Then came her famous response "May it be to me as you have said." You see, Mary's words, mingled with God's words, manifested into a baby boy named Jesus...

...Who grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men, and SAID:

Mar 11:23 For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.

WHATSOEVER HE SAITH.

I cannot "saith" this enough. I cannot "saith" it any better than Jesus did. If you believe in your heart that you are sick, and you talk about how sick you are - you will be sick. If you believe in your heart that you are a failure, and you talk about what a failure you are - you will fail.

"But," you say, "I don't feel well, how can I be healed?" Notice that Mary didn't wait until she saw results to believe and she could not possibly have based her words on her feelings. She must have been terribly frightened, but did she say that? No. She based her words on her faith that God would keep His word, not her circumstances or feelings!

Put the power of positive speaking into action. Turn it around. Belief is a choice, so receive God's word as Mary did, with faith like a child. Then, proclaim your victory out loud. Let the power of God's words within you come out! Shout it Ladies - all in your space - shout it. (Who cares what the neighbors think.)

Saith it - I'm a Child of the Most High God! Saith it - I'm a winner! Saith it - I'm healed! Saith it - I'm prosperous!


This is so important, that I will repeat it. What is behind the power of Positive Speaking? Listen to God's words and believe what he says. Speak that belief all into your world. You will have, whatsoever you saith. I don't know about you, but I feel better already.

Luk 1:45 "And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord." (NASB)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

God's promise and conditions to answer prayer- 2


      READ PROVERBS 1:23-33

      4. Cannot expect the Lord to answer prayer when we are not living for the Lord.

        "One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be an abomination" (Proverbs 28:9) These are very strong words and make the point that we do not come to God in disobedience. The prayers of the disobedient are an abomination to God.

        "And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight". (1 John 3:22) If we obey God then He will answer our prayers.

        What are some clear commandments of God that we are to obey?

        Prayer, Bible study, witnessing, Christian leadership in the Home, teaching children, being an example, being faithful in attending church, tithing, confessing sin, and putting Christ first in your life.

        All these are clear commandments. One who is not faithful in these things are being disobedient and they will not be blessed of God.

      5. Cannot expect God to answer prayer if we are not doing His will.

      This involves more than just keeping the written commandments of the Lord. It involves doing what God wants us to do in our lives.

        "Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him." (John 9:31)

      This involves living a godly life and following God leadership. It is God's expressed will for us to be reading and studying His word as 2 Tim. 2:15-18 days.

        "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some"

      God's will for us is to be studying His word and to be doctrinally sound in our beliefs. A church or individual who believes and practices false doctrine is out of God's will and their prayers will not be answered.

      Hebrews 10:25 tells us God's will is for us to attend church.

        God tell us: "Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching" (Heb. 10:22-25).

        Lots of people take comfort in the fact that Christians are not under the Law and we do not have to keep the Sabbath. But before the Law God set a principle in place that one day of the week was set aside to worship Him and for rest. Israel paid a high price for ignoring God's Law concerning worshiping Him. Believers will too.

      Clearly God's will is for His child to be faithful to the house of God. The context is in uplifting each other in the Lord. There is nothing more discouraging than the church member who is unfaithful in their attendance. Everyone knows we all should worship the Lord on Sunday, and it hurts us to see our brothers and sisters in Christ disobeying God. You cannot be an encouragement to others when you are not faithful yourself. You want to kill a church, hinder or stop the work of God, keep souls from being saved, then just stop attending church.

        Colossians 1:18, tells us that ". . .he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence."

        It is God's will that the Lord Jesus Christ be first in our lives before all else. Folks putting Christ first is the best thing we can do. That means before our pleasures whatever they might be.

      For some it might be some special service. Is God leading you in a particular thing, to do? Has God given you the privilege to do some job at church and are you faith in it. Are we willingly doing it?

      6. God does not answer the prayers of those who are not at peace with each other. We need to be a peace with one another to have our prayers answered.

        "Likewise you husbands, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered" (1 Peter 3:7)

      Family problems can surely cause our prayers not to be answered. Arguing, bickering, fighting in the home will destroy it. It will rob a home of peace and joy. It will destroy the peace and security of the marriage. I have seen so many families destroyed and children lives messed up because the husband and wife would not get along. Notice I did not say it was because the husband and wife could not get along....the true is they can and it is sinful not too. The wonderful thing is, that in Christ Jesus marriage problems can be overcome....that is if the husband and wife want to.

      Do you realize the prayers that fathers and mothers for their children are not answered when they do not dwell in peace and honor one another. The husband might say, "Well, my wife is the problem she is always fighting with me. Or the wife might say, "Its my husband's fault." Well, we do not have to fight back, and rarely is there not blame on both sides. The cure is to turn the matter over to the Lord, confessing first one's sins and then making the commitment to live for the Lord. If one partner does this....it will surely end at least half the problem and will make the way for reconciliation.

        "Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven." (Matthew 18:19)

      The principle is one of harmony. Model prayer "For give us our debts as we forgive our debtors" (Matt. 6:12).

      Harmony in the church family, each doing their share, plus helping others, seeking one another's well being. God will honor that.

    7. We need to come boldly.

      "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 4:16).

      8. We must be persistent in our prayers.

      In the parallel account of the Lord teaching the Model prayer in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus followed it with a parable:

        "And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth. And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you" (Luke 11:5-9).
      Clearly the Lord is teaching us that we should be persistent in our prayers. There have been things that Christians have prayed for, for years and God in His time answered. It is not that God does not want to answer and that He wants to withhold the answer to our prayers, but God knows the time when it is best. Our persistent shows our faith in God and His promise to answer prayer. I like what Barnes says in his commentary on this passage:
        "This is to be applied to God in no other sense than that he often hears prayers and grants blessings even long after they appear to be unanswered or withheld. He leaves them to persevere for months or years, until they feel entirely their dependence on him, until they see that they can obtain the blessing in no other way, and until they are prepared to receive it. Often they are not prepared to receive it when they ask it at first. They may be proud, or have no just sense of their dependence, or they would not value the blessing, or it may at that time not be best for them to obtain it. But let no one despair. If the thing is for our good, and if it is proper that it should be granted, God will give it. Let us first ask aright; let us see that our minds are in a proper state; let us feel our need of the blessing; let us inquire whether God has promised such a blessing, and then let us persevere until God gives it. (Barnes Commentary of Luke)

    CONCLUSION:

      1. Isaiah speaking to disobedient Israel gave them the promise of God.

      "It shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear" (Isaiah 65:24)

      2. The promise of God.

      "If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land" (2 Chronicles 7:14)

      Do you believe that? What ever the past....the future is clean. We can decide this very morning to live as God would have us too that we might have God's blessings on all we do.

      If there is sin and unfaithfulness in your life, now is the time to confess it to the Lord and have Him cleanse you from it. God is the God of new beginnings. Thank the Lord He loves us so much he does not scold and promises to give his help to us liberally....if we ask in faith.





Remain blessed

Monday, December 7, 2009

God's promise and conditions to answer prayer- 1


    I. THE LORD HAS MOST ASSUREDLY PROMISED TO ANSWER PRAYER.

    Following are twelve passages of Scripture in which the Lord tells us that He wants us to pray to Him and that He wants to answer our prayers:

      "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." (Matthew 7:7)

      "Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 18:19)

      "And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive." (Matthew 21:22)

      "Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them." (Mark 11:24)

      "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?" (Luke 11:13)

      "And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it." (John 14:13-14)

      "And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you." (John 16:23)

      "For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him." (Romans 10:12)

      "For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father." (Ephesians 2:18)

      "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:16)

      "Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus. . (Hebrews 10:19)

      "And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him." (1 John 5:14-15)

      These passages from God's word tell us there can be no question that God wants us to pray and that He promises to answer our prayers.

      However, does this mean that God will answer our every prayer and that He is at our beckon and call to answer our requests? I think a lot of people have that idea and never consider that God has placed very specific restrictions or limits on how He answers us. If you preach one without the other you will mislead people. Lots of people wonder why their prayers are not answered and they think God does not hear them. Some even wonder if God is real. The problem with unanswered prayer does not lie with God but with us. Let's look at what God has to say about this.

    II. GOD ALSO INSTRUCTS US THERE ARE CONDITIONS ON HIM ANSWERING OUR PRAYERS.

      A. God's promise is not a blanket promise to give us our every whim because He will not honor or reward unfaithfulness.

      B. There are prohibitions or conditions on having our prayers answered.

      First a person must be a child of God. God only hears one prayer from a lost man and that is the prayer of faith when an unsaved person asks for forgiveness and receives Christ as their Savior. God does not answer the prayers of those that reject Him as they Lord and Savior.

        "Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshiper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth" (John 9:31).

          1. We cannot come to God without belief or faith in God.

            During Jesus' ministry they brought to him a child that had a evil spirit. Jesus ask the boy's father, "If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth" (Mark 9:23).

            In Hebrews 11, which is called the Bible's Hall of Faith, the Lord says, "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him" (Hebrews 11:6).

            We must come to the Lord with unwavering faith in Him.

            "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord" (James 1:5-7)

          2. Must come in Jesus's name.

            "And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son." (John 14:13) The person who does not accept Jesus Christ as their Savior, is not believing, or having saving trust in God's promise of salvation and forgiveness for sin.

            This does not mean that using the name of Jesus gives us some magical power. Jesus in Matthew 6:9, instructs us to address our prayers to God the Father. Therefore it is not the saying of the name of Jesus or addressing our prayer to Him that is the point here, but praying as a believer in Jesus Christ. It means that we come to God redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ, not in our own name or in our own power or strength, but come in faith in the spirit of dependence on Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.

          3. We cannot expect the Lord to answer prayer if we have unconfessed sin in our lives.

            "If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear" (Psalms 66:18)

            "But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear." (Isaiah 59:2)








Wednesday, November 25, 2009

When Faith is Tested


Sometimes when difficult things come into our lives, we wonder why. Though we must be willing to trust and obey even if we don’t know why or aren’t given that answer for some time, we do need to distinguish between tempting and testing. Satan tempts; God tests. Tempting is for our failure and destruction; testing is in order to make our faith stronger. Testing reveals to us where we are in terms of our faith as God already knows whether or not we will pass a given test. It is as we go through the fire of testing and trial that we can be strengthened, sanctified, and purified. James 1:2-4 emphasizes the sanctifying and strengthening results of testing when it says, "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." So it is imperative that we discern between testing through various trials and the tempting of the devil. We are never to say or think when tempting comes that God is behind it. Scripture expressly denounces this in James 1:13 which says, "Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone." God does allow Satan to tempt us, but we can take hope that we will not be tempted beyond what we can handle and escape from by faith (1 Corinthians 10:13). Even in temptation, God is there to deliver us if we listen and obey.

When God tests us, He wants us to succeed. He wants us to see that our faith is real and that it has been refined by fire. 1 Peter 1:6-7 says, "In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ." We see from this passage that God only tests us as is necessary. In other words, God doesn’t put us through a refining process for no reason. He is not malicious or desiring to see us suffer through trial. Just as a goldsmith only puts the metal into the fire in order to get rid of impurities, so is the way of our Lord. God will test us so that we can see where we need to improve. We can be sure that God crafts each test specifically to show us individually and personally what our defects and impurities are so that we can be sanctified and changed.
Testing is thus something to hope in rather than to dread. But we must be willing to go through the fire if we want to come out more like Christ than we were before.

God put Abraham through quite a test in Genesis 22. God had promised Abraham descendants through Isaac that would be as numerous as the sand on the seashore. Yet, out of the blue it seemed, God commanded Abraham to do something that totally contradicted His promised blessing to him. He was to take his son Isaac and offer him up to God as a sacrifice. Now God is not honored by sacrificing children or human beings in any way shape or form. Yet He commanded Abraham to do this. Certainly Abraham must have been initially baffled at this directive, wondering why. But Abraham had great faith, and so he obeyed God, even going as far as binding up his son and taking the knife up in readiness to slaughter his only son (Genesis 22:9-10). We learn what Abraham was really thinking in Hebrews 11:17-19 which says, "By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son; it was he to whom it was said, ‘IN ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS SHALL BE CALLED.’
He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type" (italics mine). Abraham was willing to slaughter Isaac because he was so confident that God knew what He was doing and that God would keep His promise to him even if it meant bringing Isaac back from the dead. That is amazing faith. Abraham’s faith was evident, and God told Abraham to stop and provided instead a ram to sacrifice. Of course, God never intended for Isaac to be killed. This was merely a test of Abraham’s heart. Which did he love more: the promised son from God or the God Who had promised his son? This was the question for Abraham, and Abraham passed the test, demonstrating that He loved and trusted God even more than the blessings of God themselves (Genesis 22:12). Abraham called the place "The Lord will provide," and God went on to reiterate His promised blessing to Abraham (Genesis 22:16-18).

The result of God’s kind testing is to reveal just how much we believe His Word and promises to us. God is powerfully glorified by those who do continue to believe even when things don’t make sense and perhaps even appear to be contradictory, as in Abraham’s case. We need not fear the tests that God brings to us; rather, we need only trust Him to bring us through them. Why? Because God is good, faithful, and true, knowing that we will end up better than we were before. Once again, God causes all things to work for our good, even if for a short time, it doesn’t make sense, it hurts, or it is difficult. We will be the better for it, so, as James so accurately stated,
we can consider it all joy.







Remain blessed

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Enslavement of Seeking Man's Approval


It is no mystery that many of us have suffered hurt or rejection in some way during our lives. For some, the hurt has come from those who should have loved us the most and best. Thus, their rejection cuts even deeper, leaving wounds that need to be healed by the unconditional acceptance and love of Christ. Until a person finds his identity and worth solely in who he is in Christ because of His love for him, he will continue to seek his worth elsewhere, typically chasing the approval of others.
It indeed is the natural way of man to constantly seek the approval of others. Teenagers, for example, look to their peers in particular as a means of gauging their own worth. The high school experience is notorious for ranking individuals based upon clique, dress, extracurricular involvement, and smarts. In fact, much of life is based upon performance and rank. Solomon, the wisest man to ever live, said, remarking on life in general, “I have seen that every labor and every skill which is done is the result of rivalry between a man and his neighbor. This too is vanity and striving after wind” (Ecclesiastes 4:4). Like the futility of chasing the supposed pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, trying to find our worth based upon human rank, performance, or others’ acceptance is never going to satisfy or fulfill the void that rejection and hurt has left in our hearts. It is a striving after wind.
Every labor, activity, and work of man is, in his natural state, based upon competition with others. Women, for example, tend to compete based upon their looks, beauty, and figure. They compete based upon whom they have married and how well or poorly their spouse treats them. They compete based upon how successful their children are in school, sports, or other activities. More recently, they compete by trying to outperform men in what has traditionally been areas only open to men’s competition. There is nothing wrong with a woman playing sports or trying to make a career in business, for example, but it is a striving after the wind if she is trying to do so to make a statement or prove something to the world as a means of validating her own worth. Men, on the other hand, are prone to find their worth in who they are dating, in their status at work, in their bank account, in their athleticism, in their ability to fix things, and in their house, yard, and other possessions. A man is tempted to think that he has made it if he can just outdo some other man in terms of achievement, wealth, or any other kind of competition. Much of this is so ingrained in our ways as men and women that we don’t even have to consciously decide to compete and compare. We do it unceasingly and without even noticing it. We subconsciously chase after the wind, and we have become enslaved to a temptation of the devil. We are trying to find our worth and identity not based in how God values us but in what others think of us. This is why we glorify and even deify sports stars, Hollywood icons, pop artists, and media elites. We constantly live under the illusion of if only I did this, had this, made this, knew so-and-so, became like so-and-so, and got this, then I would get so-and-so’s approval and then I would be happy. Such is like the ridiculous notion of trying to catch the wind. It can never be done, for it is impossible. In fact, it was ordained and designed to fail. Such is supposed to draw us to the only true source of satisfaction, wholeness, healing, and fulfillment which is Jesus Christ. It is all by God’s design.
Hopefully, we have come to the point where we get sick and tired of trying to people-please, worrying about peer pressure, and trying to outdo our neighbor. Hopefully we can see that it is a treadmill that keeps us from ever gaining any ground no matter how hard we work and try. Yet the temptation remains. John 12:42-43 says, “Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.” The Pharisees held an elite position of power, authority, and respect. They could make the rules, carry out sentencing, and show everyone how spiritual they were based upon their outward apparel and rituals. To be a Pharisee among the Jews was to be at the top of the pecking order. Yet Jesus constantly rebuked the Pharisees for being hypocrites and missing the essence of the call of a follower of God- love for God and love for their neighbor. Some of them did see their error and come to faith in Christ, yet because of appearances and the love of man’s approval, they did not give up their positions. They knew that if they confessed their belief in Jesus publicly that they would be relieved of their positions in a public display of shame and ridicule. They would lose everything, be oppressed, struggle to find work, bring shame to the family name, and potentially endanger their own well-being as well as that of their own families. Some were not willing to give up all of the comfort, show, and “security” of the things of the world for the sake of Christ. They loved the approval of man rather than the approval of God. In other words, it is either one or the other. If we follow God and love Him with all of our hearts, then we must recant our allegiances and compromises with trying to impress others, trying to boost our own self-esteem through making earthly comparisons, and trying to achieve what only God can give. It might be as simple as not wanting to be seen praying because of the ridicule other students or co-workers would bring. Loving man’s approval might also lead us to never avoid risking rejection that might accompany sharing the gospel with a stranger or a loved one. But if we love God we must deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow Him, even if it means that we are rejected by family and friends. Paul lost all and counted it joy for the sake of knowing Christ. He would rather enjoy the fellowship of Christ, even if it was fellowship through suffering, than continue to live as an elitist Pharisee of the Pharisees. Paul had it all, being trained by the best of the best when it came to the teachers of the Law, Gamaliel. Paul, in terms of the rivalry of human nature, had won. He had arrived. Yet upon encountering Christ, he left all the rank, status, and competition behind and became one of the least. Identifying with Christ was not an impressive societal mark; being a Pharisee was. Yet Paul chose Christ even though it meant certain persecution, ridicule, and likely death. Paul valued the eternal over the temporal, understanding that in the life to come the last shall be first and the first shall be last. Thus, he rightly understood that seeking God’s approval is always worth it in the long run.
Sometimes following Christ won’t require that we “lose out” on things of this world. Sometimes we can stand for truth and even be rewarded for it. Many times, however, it will cost us something. Regardless of the outcome, the issue is the attitude and posture of our hearts. Is the kingdom first in our hearts, or is something else in first place? Do we want to please God more or man? Such is the question that we must answer.
The bottom line is this. What is more important, the pleasures of sin in this life, or the riches of eternal life in Christ forever? If we live for Christ in this life, ignoring what man might think, say, or do to us, we will be well-off in heaven. But if we choose to compromise and compete with man here on worldly terms for worldly things, we will lose out in eternal rewards. Weighing these two options side by side should come out to be a no-brainer. The eternal is quite a bit longer than life on earth, and God’s rewards are quite a bit nicer than a pay raise, being accepted by the “in” crowd, and chasing fame in this life. Clearly, from a purely rational standpoint, the eternal weight of glory is far greater than anything this world has to offer. The perspective that we need to have is found in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 which says, “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” Suffering is one of the best things to remind us that we don’t want to put all of our investments into the here and now. Death is the great equalizer, bringing even those who lived the “happiest” of lives to their ultimate destination. We need to fix our eyes on the eternal, viewing this life as a journey into the eternal. If we want to have a great heavenly “retirement,” we should work hard for our seventy or eighty years, if we are so blessed. This life is temporary, a mere vapor that is here and then gone. Oh, that we would see the weight of the glory of the eternal and the transience of the temporary.
Why chase the approval of man? Why look to earthly things to fill a void that only Jesus can fill? Why constantly compete to look better than someone else? Someone will always be better at something, more beautiful, or more successful than we are. Rather, we ought to enjoy what God has given us to do and do it to the best of our ability and to God’s glory. Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.” When we come to the point where we view everything as an act of worship to God, we will finally ignore the approval of man. When what God says is the only verdict that matters, man’s opinions won’t matter any longer. May God bring us each to the place where we are cognizant of doing all things for Him no matter what it may cost us. May He enable us to stop worrying about what others might think if we do what is right.
Besides the fact that man’s approval doesn’t satisfy, why else should we live for God’s glory rather than for our own glory by chasing after the approval of man? Colossians 3:24 continues, “Knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.” The great equalizer is the justice of God in that all men will have to stand before His throne. Our neighbor with the bigger house, yard, and boat is not going to judge us. Our supervisor who has the authority to promote, demote, or fire us is not going to judge us. Our spouse or family member who we want so dearly to approve of us is not going to judge us. Yet the temptation to seek their approval over God’s is great. Yet only God will be the judge, and only He has the power and authority to give out rewards. It is He alone Whom we are to serve. We can’t serve both God and man or money or anything else that this world seeks. At the end of the day and the end of life, it makes no sense to live in enslavement to people-pleasing. Since God is the only One Whose opinion ultimately matters and Who has the power to give out rewards that last forever, we ought only to concern ourselves with pleasing Him. We can handle some rejections by men for the sake of God if we know that God will honor us for doing so in eternity. We must appreciate the glory of eternal honor over temporary earthly honor.
May God work in our hearts to give us hearts wholly devoted to Him, hearts that find their worth and identity in Christ, and hearts that are filled to the max with His joy and satisfaction. Why chase after something that we can never get enough of and that will never satisfy? Let us passionately pursue God Who is eager to let us embrace and enjoy Him. With Him is full satisfaction and rest rather than a constant striving after vanity.
Wrestling with insecurity? Harboring rejection? Choose by faith to break the chains of seeking man’s approval. Anchor your faith today in the unconditional love and acceptance of Christ Who adores all of His children equally and perfectly. Find your worth today in the only One Who is worthy. Don’t wait for somebody to come and boost your self-esteem. Let Christ be your esteem.




Remain blessed

My Testimony

ShareThis

Learn to play piano by ear!!

Learn to play piano in a church setting!!