R-E-S-P-E-C-T…

Spiritual Blog - Respect 1

1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 – “And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves.”  NKJV

 

I believe that respect is earned not demanded.  I hear people say, “Don’t disrespect me” as though they had an inherent right to be respected regardless of their disrespectful attitude or actions.  I believe that everyone’s rights should be respected but not everyone is deserving of respect.  That statement may cause some difficulty but an unruly child that rebels are not deserving of respect.  A parent that berates their children and family and is unfaithful to the marriage and family and fails to provide is not deserving of respect.

When I acknowledged God’s call to the ministry and assumed my first assignment as pastor of a small rural congregation I assumed that everyone would respect me because of the call of God.  Unfortunately, that utopian vision of the ministry was short-lived and I found that the desire for power among people does not include healthy respectfulness.  We are commanded in Scripture to ‘respect’ spiritual leaders because of the WORK.  Most who have served as pastor, have heard, “What do you do all day?  Why do you need a day off?  It must be nice to have a job where you just read the Bible and pray all day.” 

Hebrews 13:17 instructs us to OBEY those who rule over us and be SUBMISSIVE.  Why?  They watch for our souls and God holds them accountable for our condition and development.   I have participated in meetings where the leader would present ideas and on one occasion where the majority did not agree they stated:  “We do not agree but if you believe this is best and is in the best interest of all involved we will support you as the leader.”  They were not being obsequious for some were quite strong-willed individuals but they were deferring to their leader because of their respect for his position and person.

HOW DO YOU EARN GENUINE RESPECT?

  • Show Yourself Worthy.

One minister said, “I cannot stand in the pulpit and command the congregation to respect me.  It is earned by demeanor, by love, and by character.”  I believe that character and integrity are foundational in respect.  That means we have to be attentive to small things and strive to be above reproach at all times and in all things.

  •  Respect Ourselves. 

People truly do take their cues about respecting a leader from the leader him or herself.  My attitude is that in myself I am nothing but I can do all things through God who strengthens me and if God called me He is or has prepared me.  Therefore, my confidence is in God.  Without tooting your own horn it is sometimes necessary to let people know what God has done using you as a vessel of service.  

  • Respect Others.

Respecting others for a pastor means learning what their needs are and work diligently to address them.  Likewise how you handle partiality is a reflection on your respect for others. 

  • Confront Disrespectful Actions.

Remember Paul’s counsel to Titus, “Let no one despise you.”  I have found that if you overlook or ignore disrespect it will be repeated and usually more prolific than before.  I am talking about things that are genuinely disrespectful.  I have experienced someone seeking to demean and disallow my authority and corrupt my responsibility in order to gain power.  I did not let those go without notice and each one was handled differently as the Holy Spirit directed.  I tried to be kind, gentle, loving but firm enough that it would be understood that behavior which had the potential of disrupting the church could not be tolerated.  

I prefer to approach disrespect with a servant heart and the spirit of meekness toward the disrespectful person.  So, I tolerate it for a time and once I have proved their spirit and it continues I can then demonstrate mine and on that strength, I can confront whatever is necessary with God’s authority behind me.

As with having friends, we must be friendly to gain respect, we must be respectful.  RESPECT is earned!    God bless you as you go through your day!

 

Advertisements

REFUGEE OR CITIZEN?

Spiritual Blog - Citizens

Colossians 1:13-14 – “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”  NASU

We sing about being the REDEEMED and that we are SOJOURNERS just passing through and that is good.  However, I want to highlight something for consideration regarding our status in this world and the one to come.

The work of Christ in His birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension affords something wonderful.  The King James Version says He “delivered” us from the devil’s power.  The Amplified refers to it as “delivered” from the devil’s control and the New American Standard identifies that we have been “rescued” from the Domain or Kingdom of Darkness.  All basically say the same thing but let’s take this idea or revelation and examine it briefly.

If we have been delivered or rescued from the devil’s kingdom (where we were citizens) and his power (where he manipulated us) and have been transferred into the Kingdom of God that is worthy of note.  In that single act of our LORD, we have seen our status change from ‘refugee’ to ‘citizen’ of a different realm or kingdom.

In the natural, if our citizenship changes we are under the laws and governance of the new country of which we are citizens.  Theoretically, we have backing us the entire might of our new country and rather than holding refugee status we hold citizenship.  We may be sojourners in this present world but our citizenship is in that Eternal World of the Kingdom of God.  The title ‘god of this world’ the devil held has been rendered, null and void by the Finished Work of Jesus on the Cross and His Resurrection from the Dead.  We are here not as refugees fleeing the tyranny of the devil but as ambassadors of our new country or kingdom.

The authority through which Jesus operates is extended to us as citizens of that new kingdom and through His authority, we have power and authority over all power and authority of the former ‘god of this world’.  Jesus redeemed or ‘bought back’ that which was lost and whether we accept His grace or reject it we no longer belong to the devil but to God.  We may resist and reject what Jesus has done but what He did is complete.  However, unless we accept His grace we will perish and by that act of rejection we ‘give place to the devil’ and in so doing place ourselves within his grasp.

Too many in the Body of Christ tend to live as refugees in this present world trying to escape the devil and longing for the heavenly cavalry to arrive and rescue us.  That places us in a subordinate position rendering us powerless against the power of darkness for we fail to understand or appropriate the position afforded us through Grace.  If we can understand that we have a LEGAL VICTORY in Jesus to exercise dominion and authority in this earth over all the power of the enemy we will find our lives transformed drastically.

We need to learn to enforce the Victory of Calvary and appropriate the Promises of God in this present world.  We are not refugees we are citizens of the King of God.  We are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus.  We have been given power over all the power of the enemy and our weapons are mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds.  We are more than conquerors through Jesus so let’s live like citizens, not refugees.

            God bless as you go through this day!

ONLY BY THE BLOOD…

Spiritual Blog - Blood of Jesus

Exodus 12:12-13 – “For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD. 13 Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.”  NKJV

 

As God prepared Israel for their deliverance from Egyptian bondage the one thing they had to do to be spared was take the “blood of the sacrificial lamb” and place it on the doorposts of their houses.  When the destroying angel came into the land and saw the BLOOD the inhabitants would be spared otherwise DEATH would be the result.

This was symbolic and pointed to the time when Christ, our sacrificial lamb, would offer up His innocent blood on the Cross for the sin of mankind.  In our reception of His sacrifice and grace, the Holy Spirit applies the Blood of the Lamb to our hearts and we are spared from the plague of sin.  Only by the blood are we spared!  It is not by works, not earned, not deserved it is “by grace, through faith” that we enter into the family and kingdom of God.   NOTHING BUT THE BLOOD!

The old gospel song says it perfectly:

“What can wash away my sin?

              Nothing but the blood of Jesus;

              What can make me whole again?

              Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

 

              Oh! Precious is the flow

              That makes me white as snow;

               No other fount I know,

               Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

The prophet Isaiah penned it perfectly in Isaiah 1:18 – “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.   If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword.”

Some in today’s PC world do not like the mention of THE BLOOD for they consider it too vile for polite society and seek to eliminate it from the religious conversation.  Unfortunately for them, salvation’s door is opened ONLY BY THE BLOOD.  Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission as declared Paul in Hebrews 9:22.  Forgiveness is not possible without the Blood of Christ shed for sin.  He paid the divine penalty and through His sacrifice, we have HOPE and LIFE!

What can wash away my sin?  NOTHING BUT THE BLOOD OF JESUS!   So today, if you have not received Him I urge you to listen to the nudging of the Holy Spirit and allow God to apply the blood of Jesus to the doorposts of your heart.

            God bless you richly is my prayer and desire!

NOT ONE WORD OF GOD FAILS…

Spiritual Blog - Word

Jeremiah 1:12 – “Then the LORD said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over My word to perform it.” NASU

             I have encountered some that are like those Peter addressed in 2 Peter 3:9 reminding them that God is not slack concerning His promises.  I am fully convinced that I can depend on anything it is God’s Word for I believe that His word cannot be separated from Himself and if He says it He will bring it to pass.

When Israel entered the Promised Land and had finally taken possession of the Land of Promise we read in Joshua 21:43-45 – “So the LORD gave to Israel all the land of which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they took possession of it and dwelt in it. 44 The LORD gave them rest all around, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers. And not a man of all their enemies stood against them; the LORD delivered all their enemies into their hand. 45 Not a word failed of any good thing which the LORD had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass.”  

ALL OF IT, every promise came to pass.  Every Word that God said God did.  That is true in our lives as well.  Although we live by the calendar and clock and we are serving one who responds to neither.  We are time conscious whereas He is timeless.  We live in the finite but He is infinite.  We have self-imposed deadlines and bind ourselves to them but God is never bound by our limitations.

It doesn’t matter if God promised something to you when you were 10 and now you are 80 if He said it He will bring it to pass.  People will fail but God will not.  Our plans are always flawed but His are perfect.  Our timing is subject to our interpretation of the need and circumstances His are limited only to His limitlessness which means they have no limitations and He is never late (truly).  If we can embrace the words of Paul in Romans 8:28 we can deal with God’s supposed delays knowing that ALL THINGS are WORKING TOGETHER for our ultimate good.  All things are not good but the compilation of them produces the finished product that is.

The question should not be whether or not God will keep His promises but whether we will ‘faint’ before the promise is fulfilled.  If we believe God to be God then we can hold on, no matter what, to His promises knowing that His track record is NOT ONE WORD FAILS.

            May God be with you as you go through your day!

MONEY AND POWER…

Spiritual Blog - Money

John 12:4-9 – “But one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, who would betray Him, said, 5 “Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” 6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it.  7 But Jesus said, “Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial.  8 For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always.”   NKJV

 

I recall years ago hearing Billy Graham say that God told him to “Not touch the money”.  He was talking about integrity and how money has corrupted too many men who began right in the pursuit of the purposes of God.  I have observed in my decades on this terrestrial ball that MONEY and POWER are two of the most deadly elements man faces in any area of life.  There are other things that are destructive but those two are in the top tier to be guarded against their negative influence.

Do not understand me to say that MONEY in itself is evil for that is not what Jesus declared but rather THE LOVE OF IT is where the root of evil resides.  POWER is not bad in itself but if allowed to whet the appetite for control over others it becomes deadly spiritually, socially and politically.  The writer of Ecclesiastes declared, “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity.”  (5:10).

The Bible tells us that where the treasure is the heart is there also.  If MONEY and POWER become so valuable to us they become dominant objects we pursue they will become corruptions in our character.  I firmly believe that God wants his servants well taken care of.  I also know that there is a lurking danger of allowing the appetite for the lifestyle of the “Rich and Famous” to override our heart of charity and understanding of the purpose of both MONEY and positions of POWER.

I have been told more than once that as a preacher I should keep only a minimal amount of my money and give the rest to the poor.  I have been attacked when the congregation I was leading spent money on the facilities and told that we were to keep everything minimal and the rest should go to the poor.  Jesus addressed that, in a sense, when Judas displayed disgust over the act of worship and extravagance when Mary took costly oil and wiped the feet and hair of our Lord.  Jesus considered what she had done an act of worship and faith and it is clear from the passage that Judas cared less about the poor than the money.  Jesus said, “…the poor you have with you always…” 

I personally do not believe that our places of worship or our lifestyles should be so extravagant they repulse and demonstrate a lack of awareness and concern for the plight of those around us.  It would be difficult for me to adopt a lifestyle of living in the lap of luxury when I see so many needs presenting themselves daily.  I preached along this line once and was told that I had a ‘spirit of poverty’.  I prayed about that and the Holy Spirit assured me that was not true.  My desire to bless others, have my needs supplied, live comfortably and maintain a tender heart overrides any appeal that lavish wealth affords brings joy to my heart.  I want the Power of the Resurrection in my life to combat the forces of hell and the wealth of the wicked in my hands to advance the purposes of God.

            God bless you as you go through this day!

BECOMING A VICTIM…

Spiritual Blog - Victim

Ephesians 4:29-5:2 – “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. 

5:1 Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”  NKJV

I believe that one of the key sources or roots causing a person to develop a Victim Mentality is BITTERNESS.  Many harbor resentment so deeply that it dominates their lives.  The question is why do we replay the hurt over and over in our minds reliving the old wounds?  It is because we go back to The Lie, “you shall be as God.”

What does God do?  He is in control.  Therefore, if we believe that we are like God then we envision ourselves as being in control.  If we are in control then we are in charge of the punishment to be meted out to the ones who hurt us.  They can never be set free because we are determined to eventually make them hurt like they hurt us or maybe even more.

We lock the door to our lives and attempt to influence as many others to lock the offender out as well.  In fact, it can escalate to the point that we want them eradicated from the human race declaring them that despicable.  WHY?  We have become the Victim.  If you had not said or done what you did I would not be an addict, alcoholic, abandoned, economically or socially deficient.  It was your fault!  Because of you, I have been living in Hell and now I’m going to send you there as well.  The pain is real and incredible for the Victim.

If I could somehow get everyone to realize that no human being can make you do anything you are free.  It is a choice.  He or she makes me so mad!  No, you choose to become angry.  But, you are a Victim because you were injured.  They did it to you so do not ask me to forgive them THEY ARE WRONG!  The victim chooses to remember and by holding on to it he/she believes they can guarantee it will never happen again.  The wall is erected and the list of offenders denied access grows almost daily.

Some never forgive because they do not understand forgiveness.  They think if they forgive the offender they will be hurt again and become a doormat.  But what is forgiveness?  It is not calling a truce, admitting defeat, letting evil win or saying let’s just forget it.  Have you ever had someone who hurt you come and apologize and you say, “Oh, it was nothing”?  That is not the truth and you know it!  IT HURT and was far more than nothing!  Some have the mistaken idea that if they do not admit it hurt it doesn’t exist but if you will not or cannot admit the pain you cannot forgive.

Forgiveness is never condoning.  We are often told we must forgive but rarely are we told how to forgive.  We are told the why behind forgiveness but not the how.  We hear that we must forgive because Christ has forgiven us and if we do not forgive we will not be forgiven.  True, but how do we forgive?

What does God do?  He takes the initiative and comes to us.  The one that we sinned against comes and takes our place.  He chooses to bear all our guilt, grief and sorrow.  He pays our debt with His own blood.  Then He rises from the dead and extends a full pardon to us.  We are Free!  Remember the workers hired at different times of the day?  As the owner of the vineyard begins to hand out the pay he begins with those who worked least and paid them but as he worked through to those who had worked all day he paid the same wage and they were irate.  Not fair was the cry!  Exactly, life is not fair and we should be glad God is not fair for if He were we would have something quite other than salvation and pardon.

What do we do?  We REPENT!  We surrender and receive His grace.  There is no discussion of the past.  The key is that we are to forgive “just as” God has forgiven us.  We must BE that which He has made us.  Be kind.  Be tender-hearted. Be forgiving.  Be someone who dishes out grace.  It changes the entire attitude and moves us from being victims to victors.  Therefore, you take BITTERNESS and get rid of it.  You banish it from your life.  You hold it up to the light of God’s Grace and begin learning a lifestyle of forgiveness.  You will repeat it over and over again for a long time, most likely.  It will become who you are and then your actions and attitude will reflect His Forgiveness and become Forgiveness.

Forgiveness is not divine amnesia and we forgive by faith!  We choose to not lay their sin to their charge and release them.   May the Lord be with you guarding and guiding you through this day!

CHRISTIANITY KNOWS NOTHING OF A VICTIM MENTALITY…

Spiritual Blog - Victim

Ephesians 4:29-5:2 – “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. 

5:1 Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”  NKJV

Much of our modern world including some in the church have developed a victim mentality.  That phenomenon has been to the detriment of both society and the church and is foreign to Christ and Christianity.  You may have been victimized but you should never be a victim.

When I consider the text for this devotional I reflect on what Paul has been talking about, the New Birth.  He has been talking about leaving the old world, old way and the old man behind.  Everything that belongs to sin and the race of Adam has been taken out of the way.  Something happened and we have been transferred from the kingdom of darkness (this world) into the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.  We have a New Self, are a New Man or a New Creation.  We have been ‘rebirthed’.  Therefore, it is imperative that we learn to live out our New Life in Christ.  We need to BECOME the people the Bible says we really are!

This point in our lives (New Birth) is a time of crisis.  Most acknowledge that but tragically too many of those who profess Christ continue to emphasize and focus on that crisis the remainder of their days on earth.  We sing about the crisis and go to church to hear about and discuss the crisis.  In so doing, I believe, we have missed an important truth in the Gospel.

The New Testament is not about the crisis it is about being taken out of the crisis and the process of becoming who God says we are.  Now that we are saved and have passed from death to life we need to BECOME.  We are no longer who or what we were for we are New Creations in and through Jesus.  Now is the time to begin the process of allowing that Newness to invade every dimension of our lives.  We have been rebirthed and now it is time to become!

In all honesty, many that I talk to about Christ and Salvation seem to have everything in reverse.  I’ve had countless people say, “Let me shape up and then…”  They seem to feel that if they somehow turn over a new leaf, change, try harder THEN they can be accepted.  Got receives us and once He has received us we are accepted.  In that state of acceptance, God says, “Now let’s change you!  Let’s help you BECOME…”

THE CHANGE SEEN IN OUR TEXT:

He says there are some areas in our lives that must change:  Bitterness, malice, evil speaking, anger and anger we are to PUT AWAY.  Then he tells us we are to BE… Kind to one another, tenderhearted and forgiving.  We are IN CHRIST, pardoned and have been given righteousness so now it is time to start working and walking that out in our lives.  It is not someday in heaven we are going to BE it is NOW.

We were in and of the world which is a part of THE LIE that goes back to the Garden.  Man believed that he would be as God and independent of God.  NOW, we have been delivered from that realm and we must learn TRUTH and through that truth a new LIFESTYLE that is completely opposite of what we knew.  Simply we have to RELEARN LIFE.  No wonder Jesus said that we must become as little children.  We are Brand New and as a child must learn to LIVE!  Being a Christian is not adding Sunday to your schedule it is relearning how to live 24/7/365.  We are being delivered from the Bentness, Distortion and Wrong Thinking and must have our minds renewed so we can become who we are.  Victors, not Victims!

            God bless you as you go through this day!