LEADING BY SERVING…..

Spiritual Blog - Leading

John 13:12-17 – “So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you?  13 You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am.  14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.  16 Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him.  17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” NKJV

 

 For a long time, have had a bad taste in my mouth for much of the clerical hierarchy that exists in the church.  Oh I believe that there is a “first among equals” and that there is a “Moses” or a “point man” for each local congregation but Lording it over people is not the biblical way.  Jesus demonstrated that truth in this passage and gave us an example of “True Leadership” which comes through serving.  Too often I’ve seen people who want to be served rather than being willing to serve.  I’ve seen those who feel it is beneath them to get their hands dirty with a menial task (so to speak) because of their position or place.  I’ve cleaned toilets in the church while serving as the “senior pastor” and it did not bother me to do so.  It was not always because it was expected but sometimes because it was needed or just because I chose to do so to demonstrate that I was willing to serve.  I’ve put on my nail apron and worked alongside others in a church work day or in helping some needy family in the community and thought nothing about it and never felt nor allowed it to diminish my ability to speak authoritatively as the need presented itself on a biblical matter.

It has long been my contention and conviction that if a person cannot or will not follow they are not qualified to lead and should not be allowed to occupy a position of leadership regardless of so-called credentials or qualifications.  In my years of ministerial leadership I almost always was willing to choose the person with a servant’s heart over someone with seemingly more impressive qualifications that did not exhibit that same spirit and attitude.  We do not need a hierarchy we need a community of people joined together in Jesus Christ functioning according to the “gifts and callings” of God upon their lives.  I’ve taken the follower’s role even when the lead man when I recognized a gift operational in a person’s life that fit the situation and made them more qualified than I.  Allowing people to function in the talents and abilities that God has given them is far more efficient than trying to be Moses “pre-Jethro.”  Study and you will know what I mean.  Moses was trying to be the SOLE LEADER of the entire nation and his father-in-law gave him wisdom that could only come from God and experience that gave us an example of what the local church should look like.

If you find yourself in a position of leadership be willing to serve and if you are not in a position of leadership and have a desire to lead be willing to and actually serve.  If you do so with a cheerful heart God will promote you to whatever position and place that He deems is where you need to be and serve.  After all, it is HIS CHURCH and we are MEMBERS of His Body!  He chooses what part we play and when we play it and one role is not more important than another.  The physical body needs all its parts to be a fully functioning and complete unit and so does the Body of Christ.

May God be with you as you serve Him and others!  Blessings!

LEARNING TO LISTEN…

Spiritual Blog - Listening

Isaiah 30:21 – “Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” Whenever you turn to the right hand Or whenever you turn to the left.”  NKJV

            Too often we fail to listen!  We hear but we do not listen.  We do not listen to each other, we do not listen to what is being said because too often we are thinking about what we are going to say next rather than actually listening.  We do that in our daily lives and we do it with God.  I have gotten into trouble more times than I care to remember because of this flaw and work on it constantly to develop HEARING EARS!   My wife, probably correctly stated, says I have “selective hearing.”  I confess, there are times when I tune things out either because I think I know what is going to be said,  I am disinterested, or did not get the full gest of the conversation initially and rather than interrupt and ask questions I just nod and pretend.  I answered questions wrong as a result of that to the delight of many around me and to my great embarrassment.

            Yet, when it comes to God we need to LEARN TO LISTEN and develop ears that are highly attuned to the Voice of the Spirit of God and the Word of God.  If we do then this promise becomes not only a benefit but a refuge at all times and not just in a time of danger or potential trouble.  It becomes a confidence!  It becomes a source of faith!  It enables us to develop a trust relationship with the Lord that can come in no other way than having HEARD HIM and then OBSERVED HIM FULFILL what He declared.  A few times of that and you will develop a keen desire to HEAR GOD!

            Many have been the times when I wanted to hear from God but allowed the noise surrounding me to become so loud with the clutter, fretting, fear and anxiety that I could not hear what He was saying.  I contend that GOD IS ALWAYS SPEAKING but we are NOT ALWAYS HEARING!  God from Genesis to Revelation is a SPEAKING GOD!  He “spoke” and the Worlds were framed.  He “spoke” and blind eyes were opened, deaf ears unstopped, lame limbs regained strength, and the dead came back to life.  HE SPEAKS and it is our responsibility to LISTEN and HEAR what He is saying!  He is not just speaking to hear his gums rattle, he has a purpose!  He NEVER talks just to talk.  He SPEAKS because there is something to be HEARD.

            So I encourage you to remember the words of our Lord Jesus when He said, “My Sheep hear my voice and they know Me.”  Sheep respond to only their master’s voice because they recognize that voice and it is not something that happens naturally it is a learned process.  That applies to us as well with the Lord.  Through the years, I have learned HOW I HEAR GOD through finding out HOW I DO NOT HEAR GOD.  It has been through making mistakes I have learned something about truly hearing Him.  I recognize the COUNTERFEIT by recognizing THE REAL!

            Therefore, as you go through the day may you HEAR that still small voice of the Lord and follow Him.  Blessings!

THE RESULT OF TRYING TO DETHRONE GOD….

Spiritual Blog - Dethroning God.jpg

Genesis 11:1-9 – “Now the whole earth used the same language and the same words. 2 It came about as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. 3 They said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly.” And they used brick for stone, and they used tar for mortar. 4 They said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” 5 The LORD came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. 6 The LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them. 7 “Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.” 8 So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth; and they stopped building the city. 9 Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of the whole earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth.”  NASU

 

This ideology or desire on the part of man was not new to Nimrod and the people in Babel it actually began in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve as far as humans are concerned but Isaiah identifies that it went much farther back when Lucifer was one of God’s Arch-angels and rebelled against THE MOST HIGH.  The devil convinced one-third of the angelic creation to go along with him in attempting to ‘dethrone’ God.  He convinced Adam and Eve that God was hiding something good from them and that if they ‘voted God out of office’ and became the center of their universe all would be wonderful.  It cost them the Garden and introduced death to the race.  Here in Babel the attempt to virtually ‘dethrone’ God and elevate man to a place that God will never allow brought about the inability to communicate, the various languages, and ethnicities that were scattered across the globe.  It has been the source of incredible confrontations and complications in man’s ability to live with man on planet earth.

 Sadly, on a smaller scale, many do the same thing in their personal lives by ‘ignoring’ the clear directives of both the Word of God and the Spirit of God.  We refuse to ‘forgive’ and thereby close the door to forgiveness for ourselves, alienate another human being who could be useful in our journey, and bring injury to them and our ‘bitterness’ that results in others being defiled and their spirits marred.  I fully believe that God is sovereign but that does not negate His directive for me to ‘go into all the world and preach the gospel’ trying to bring the Good News to everyone so that none be lost.  Sadly, we have difficulty to communicate not just because of differences in spoken languages or dialects but in differences of beliefs we do not all speak the same language either naturally or spiritually.

I have found in my opportunities to minister around this nation and world that when I carefully ensure that He is supreme in my heart, mind, life, and thinking I find that He uses unique ways to help me communicate to others. God’s Love is a language that is universally understood even when our words are not.  The Spirit’s drawing power is universally felt even when our words fall short.  It is when we allow something to ‘dethrone’ God in our lives that we find the confusion sets in and in that state we are unable to communicate and cooperate with our fellow human travelers through this thing we call life.

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

HONORING GOD AS THE ONE TRUE GOD…..

Spiritual Blog - Honoring God

“I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourselves an idol, nor any image of anything that is in the heavens above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: you shall not bow yourself down to them, nor serve them, for I, Yahweh your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and on the fourth generation of those who hate me, and showing loving kindness to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.”  Exodus 20:2-6 (WEB)

            We read in Deuteronomy 6:4-5 – “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!   5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” NKJV Throughout the Bible God declares Himself to be the ONE TRUE GOD and that there are no other gods beside Him.  Yet, we have a world full of false religions and false gods and even find them in the Christian church in one form or another.  We make things idols in direct disobedience to the directive of our God and as a result, we open the door to many things of the demonic realm that we should not have to deal with.  Jesus defeated the devil on the Cross and in the Resurrection and yet we seem to be willing to continually open the door for the devil to come back in and bring torment.

            It is time that we as individuals, churches, cities, towns, states, and nations honor God as God.  I’m sorry if you believe that there are multiple equal gods I believe the Bible and it declares that there is ONE and that is Jehovah God the Creator of Heaven and Earth. I believe the account of Genesis and believe the inspiration of the Bible through the conclusion of the Book of Revelation.  I believe that Jesus is the “Way, the Truth, and the Life” and that no one comes to the Father but through Him the Door.  I willingly accept his sacrifice for mankind and rejoice in His willingness to forgive our sins and graft us into the true vine and make us a part of His family through His shed blood of Redemption.

         It is time that we returned to HONORING GOD as GOD!  It is time that we recognize His sovereignty and majesty and bow before Him now for there will come a day when “every knee shall bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”  If we are ashamed of Him before men He will be ashamed of us before the Father.  If we serve Him and honor Him now in this life we will hear the words, “Welcome My good and faithful servant enter into the joys of your Lord,” on that eventful day when we depart this thing we call life.

            I urge you to give honor to God as God in all that you do and all that you are!  He will come in and fellowship with you and teach you things that you did not know and enable you to walk this walk in a way you never dreamed possible.  May God be with you as you go through your day!

CONFLICTS DO NOT HAVE TO ALIENATE….

Spiritual Blog - Disagreement

Acts 15:36-41 – “After some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit the brethren in every city in which we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.” 37 Barnabas wanted to take John, called Mark, along with them also. 38 But Paul kept insisting that they should not take him along who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. 39 And there occurred such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one another, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus. 40 But Paul chose Silas and left, being committed by the brethren to the grace of the Lord. 41 And he was traveling through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.” NASU

Those who have studied the Book of Acts will remember that this was not the only time the apostle Paul had a disagreement with another brother.  We are told that he ‘withstood Peter to his face’ over what he considered hypocrisy and seems to have been correct.  However, that did not end his relationship with Peter.  In this account the split in the TEAM of Paul and Barnabas was so severe that Paul took another co-worker Silas and Barnabas took John Mark and separated.  Their disagreement was not the foundational truth that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the Living God but in how to walk out what they believed was their commission and purpose from the Lord.

I have some friends that I love and respect deeply who disagree with me on some aspects of how to accomplish what we believe to be our purpose from the Lord.  Sometimes we can fall into the trap of thinking that because we think something that means it is the ‘only way’ or the ‘right way’ and anyone doing something different is riding 2nd Class on the Gospel Train.  There was a time in my life that I was like that and very dogmatic about not only ‘what’ people should believe but ‘how’ they should walk out their purpose and ministry.  I had a view and so completely believed that I had HEARD GOD that I could not fathom any other interpretation.  The truth is I had HEARD GOD for myself but that did not mean that I had HEARD HIM for everyone else.

I have some dear Christian friends that regularly censure or criticize my involvement in the political discussions of our day.  Oh, they don’t necessarily tell me that to my face but the things they say publicly and to others leaves little doubt that my involvement is, at least, part of the reason for the statements if not the reason.  I take no exception to that because I know that they love God dearly and want nothing but the best for me and the Body of Christ and believe honestly that they are right and I am totally wrong.  I am at peace with what I do and how I do it and believe that God has directed me to not only speak to people about their spiritual condition but the condition of man that is reflected in the out-workings of life that are demonstrated in politics.  I believe that God has called me to be a ‘watchman on the walls’ both to sound the alarm spiritually and to warn of impending danger and evil in other areas of life.

What I am saying is that just because you do not agree with another brother or sister on how they perceive their path to walk out their purpose does not mean you have to alienate them or reject them.  If we agree on the core foundational truth that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the Living God most of the other things can be worked around.  So, I encourage you to realize that while God has a specific plan for our lives He does not have a ‘one size fits all’ plan.  He does not always give the specific details on exactly how to walk out what he directs so realize that each person is unique and how we walk out our ministry and purpose are likely going to be very different.

God bless you richly is my desire and prayer!

 

PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY OUR RESPONSIBILITY…..

Spiritual Blog - Accountability

Romans 14:12 – “So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.” NKJV

The beginning of this Chapter in Romans is so filled with important things and worthy of consideration by every believer.  We need to consider these truths and realize how critical they are to victorious living.  They are so numerous it would take a virtual lifetime to cover them all.  I have chosen to isolate this passage for the purpose of addressing the issue of PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY.  I cannot recall the last time I heard a sermon or message on that subject in church, yet it is critical to Christian living

To give a brief synopsis of the early portion of this chapter Paul begins bringing to light our responsibility to those “weak in the faith”, frequently, fledgling Christians trying to find their footing in their new life.  He gives some specific instructions:

Receive them but reject disputes, debates, and arguments over doubtful things.  We need to realize that to major in dialogue regarding things which the Bible is silent on or does not clearly define is not beneficial to spiritual growth and development.  It may be an interesting study and one that could prove valuable in the long term through individual study but open debate over these issues tends to become a hindrance to faith and truth and should be avoided.

Example:  What you can eat as is discussed in verses 2-4.  What day you should worship on as discussed in verses 5-6.  Paul reminds us that none of us live in a vacuum and that our lives affect other people and our lives are a reflection upon the Lord Himself, so we should avoid these kinds of open debates and judgments which often led to divisions and separations rather than mutual sharing and encouragement.

Verse 11 is particularly important:

“As I live, says the LORD, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God.”

Thus, Paul tells us that in light of all this we should remember that each of us shall give an account of HIMSELF to God.  He further encourages us that we should not judge each other but seek agreement and mutual sharing of the faith rather than put or become, a stumbling block to cause another to fall or hindered.  As we mature in the faith we realize that we should not look to or at other people but look to the Lord.  If we compare ourselves among ourselves we are not wise and will either become Pharisees or will develop a false sense of piety rather than a realization of our own individual responsibility for our lives and actions and that we will ultimately stand in accountability before the Lord.

Notice he says, “Each of us shall give account of HIMSELF to God.”  He did not say, “Each of us shall give account of OTHERS to God.”  You and I may differ on some things theologically and that is okay.  We may differ on some things regarding eschatology and that is okay.  I heard a preacher say ones, “Some are Pre-Trib, some are Mid-Trib, some are Post-Trib, but I’m Pan-Trib.”  He explained what he meant by saying, “I believe it will all pan out in the end regarding the coming of the Lord.”  I believe he is right in that reality, but that does not mean we should not study the prophecies of God.  I have a particular view but that does not mean it is etched in granite and that there is not a possibility that I am wrong.  My core and foundational belief is that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the Living God and that He died on the Cross for my sins, rose for the dead and is now seated at the right hand of the Father making intercession for me and is returning as He said so that I can spend eternity with Him in Heaven.  That is etched in stone for me!  I believe that in confessing my sins and believing in Him He has extended grace to me that brought about the new birth (Salvation) and I have been transformed from darkness into light.  That is etched in stone for me!  I believe that I am personally accountable for my actions, words, and attitudes and will give account before God for me.  You will give account for you; therefore instead of fretting over theological disagreements that are, in my view, minor, we should be focused on pleasing the Lord in our lives and giving others an example of Christianity that draws to the Savior.

So my, plea is for each of us to focus on our personal accountabilities and seek to help others but rather than judging them, encourage them in both our lives and with our love.  Educate them in truth whenever possible but always with an open mind and heart knowing that we see in part and look through a glass darkly while walking in these human temples.  So as you go through your day consider your actions, words, and deeds and know that you are accountable for you!  May God’s best be yours on this day!

 

THE CURSED FIG TREE…

Spiritual Blog - Fig Tree

Matthew 21:18-22 – “Now in the morning, when He was returning to the city, He became hungry. 19 Seeing a lone fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it except leaves only; and He said to it, “No longer shall there ever be any fruit from you.” And at once the fig tree withered.

20 Seeing this, the disciples were amazed and asked, “How did the fig tree wither all at once?” 21 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it will happen.  22 “And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”  NASU

Have you ever wondered about this account in the Bible?  Was this simply an example of Jesus being angry and since the fig tree had leaves but no fruit, he cursed it?  The disciples were amazed, not only by his words and action but by the result.  If Jesus cursed it out of anger or frustration, then He tainted His piousness and holiness by succumbing to the emotions of man and retaliated against an object that could not strike back.  Not very, Messianic if that were the case. 

In Mark this account records that Jesus took note of the fig tree from afar or at a distance.  Clearly, he could see leaves and in Palestine, the fruit appears before the leaves, therefore He was right to expect it to have fruit.  However, it had the appearance of fruit but no fruit.  It was “show” but no “substance.”  Jesus was hungry for fruit and saw an object that cried out, “I have fruit” but had none.  What was His purpose in “cursing” the fig tree rather than simply walking away?

I believe it was an “object lesson” for the disciples and all who would read and hear the account in perpetuity.  But, an “object lesson” of what?  What was the lesson to be gleaned from this event?  I believe He had multiple lessons He desired to convey and one that is often missed, so it seems is that of APPEARANCE without corresponding FRUIT.  People may talk the talk without truly walking the walk. The Pharisees, in that day, loved to APPEAR pious and holy but inside they were full of corruption.  Jesus repeatedly taught on the HEART versus the APPEARANCE and seized upon this opportunity to not only teach a lesson on prayer and faith but on RIGHTEOUSNESS and FRUIT BEARING but also the danger of appearing to be something you are not.  If you remember in the Book of Acts, Ananias, and Sapphira where they PRETENDED to be something but when exposed it cost them their lives.  That is a situation that is repeatedly warned against in Scripture.  Simply, our Confession must be backed up by our manifestation of “Christ in us, the Hope of Glory.”  Jesus even said, “Not everyone that says to me Lord, Lord will enter in but the one that DOES the will of the Father.”

A second lesson He was conveying was the power of Prayer and Faith in facing any obstacle in life.  The statement of Jesus, “…if you have faith and do not doubt…” is directly connected to what is manifest in our hearts not what we PROFESS or CONFESS.  It is not what we appear to be but what we are that opens the door to faith that dries up fig trees or moves mountains in life.  In the last verse, our Lord says, “And…”  that is a very important word because it connects the message to the previous verses including the cursing of the fig tree.  He says, “And, all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”  Not to chase a rabbit down another trail but how much does ALL cover?  The directive was Prayer, Believing, and Receiving which includes expectation.

If we are to develop our prayer lives and our faith lives to the place of moving mountains and seeing problems wither WE MUST become what we are appearing to be.  If we are professing and confessing that we are Christians, then we MUST manifest the life of Christ in us.  It is imperative that we have the Gifts of the Spirit operational in our lives and manifest the Fruit of the Spirit in our hearts.  It is one thing to talk the talk but another to back up that talk with the walk that manifests what we profess.

The Fig Tree is a warning and an appeal.  A warning against be all Show and an appeal to allow the Holy Spirit to make Jesus so alive in our hearts that we have His mind in us, and trust Him completely in all things.

God bless you richly as you go through this wonderful day!