September 26, 2020
September 24, 2020
September 21, 2020
September 20, 2020
September 19, 2020
Alkitab, Yohanes pasal tiga, ayat enam belas dan tujuh belas.
September 18, 2020
September 17, 2020
September 16, 2020
September 15, 2020
September 13, 2020
In Part One of "Control or Consent?", we first discussed our desire to control our circumstances and then our image. In Part Two, we contrasted Christianity in the West with what God's view of how our faith in Jesus Christ should impact our lives. We've also looked at what the world says is the right way to live our lives. Now, let's slightly shift gears and look at what the Bible says is to be the view we hold of ourselves and others. Look at the Apostle Paul's letter to the new believers in Rome, starting at verses 3-5:
"3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another."
It's an uncomfortable truth, but in order think more highly of ourselves, we have to think less of others! Ouch! We can fall into this easily! This view of people is in contrast to God who gives each person different roles and places in life but the same value! I'm not always successful at thinking more highly about others than myself, but I'd rather humble myself and change my attitude and actions than have God humble me.
Here's some good questions to think about:
- Can I train myself to give others the same kind of grace I give myself? I fall on my face often and don't want to live under my failures. Can I offer that to someone else?
- Can I train myself to see people the way God sees them? Worthy of dignity and honor and respect?
- Can I see people who don't know Jesus as God sees them? This can be difficult at times as Christians can be seen as the enemy or we can see them as an enemy. But the truth is no one will listen to a message about God's justice, love, and forgiveness, if we don't treat them with honor and respect.
Unfortunately, sometimes those of us in the church have the opposite problem! We think that God has failed us in the way He designed us and that we have no value! We may even think we are broken beyond repair and that He cannot use us His purposes. But that's not true! Why else would a powerful God send His Only Son Jesus to die on our behalf and in our place if we have no value or purpose. Hmmm...
We've now seen who we are and how God sees us and others. Let's keep reading in the book of Romans and continue onto verses 6 through 8.
"Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. "
This is what we are called to! Use the gifts God has given us for the benefit of people we loves. (Also look at 1 Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4 for additional lists of gifts God gives.) We are ambassadors of Jesus, making His appeal through us that others would be reconciled to Him. We are on a mission- and all of us are missionaries! We're all gifted differently for God's glory and His Holy Spirit gives us the power to use our gifts.
So, how are we to use our gifts? That's next up in verses 9-16. Paul doesn't miss a beat! :
"Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight."
I really have a problem with people who are phony! Our love for others has to be genuine. God defines what is good and evil. We do not. He is God and can do what He sees is best. Regardless of what we read or see in our world, God's standards are true and are the ones by which we will be judged.
When we step out and use the gifts God has given us, we'd better be prepared for problems as well as words of thanks. We will go right up against people and ideas that don't appreciate we are bucking the stats quo. This happens inside and outside the church. But if we are doing what God has called us to, He is pleased- and that is the bottom line. Pastor, author, and now missionary Francis Chan once said these words that have stuck with me, "Something is wrong when our lives make sense to unbelievers.”
The Apostle Paul ends the chapter addressing the opposition we will get as we are faithful. These verses 17-21, speak a truth I don't always want to hear:
"Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."
This may be one of the hardest tests in the "Faith vs. Control" battle. How will we react when opposition comes our way? I bet at one time or another, every one of us has been opposed, slandered, betrayed, overlooked, or treated poorly. I know I have. What will we choose to do? It needs to be forgiveness.
Forgive, move on, and keep doing what God has told you to do!
- Will we choose to pray for those who hurt us? Even do well by them?
- Will we continue to work through the process of forgiveness?
(By the way-Forgiveness doesn't always mean restored relationship!)
- Will we choose to continue on with what The Lord has called us to? We must!
Biblical forgiveness is something the world doesn't not understand, but they are intrigued by it. This creates an open door for the Good News. Why? Because true forgiveness reflects the heart of God.
So, how do we live? How will you live? Will you allow God to hit the reset button in your life? Whose view of our world and the people in it will you hold too be true?
Maybe you've said "no" to God in the past when He was directing you. Those opportunities are gone, but He has new ones waiting for you. Take the risk!
Perhaps those natural plans and dreams are just a foreshadowing of what God intends for your life. Offer them up to Him. It means taking a chance and putting your faith in action.
Don't Ask: “WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF I OFFERED UP MY PLANS AND DREAMS TO GOD?”
“WHAT COULD HAPPEN IF I OFFERED UP MY PLANS AND DREAMS TO GOD?”
God created you with a specific design. Wouldn't it make sense that by offering up your plans would bring you the greatest satisfaction and fulfillment and bring Him the most glory?
September 12, 2020
September 11, 2020
September 10, 2020
September 9, 2020
September 8, 2020
September 7, 2020
September 5, 2020
Would you like to go to EPCOT Center today? I sure would! The original incarnation of this park proved Walt Disney Imagineering was at the top of their craft. The plans were grand, the execution just incredible, and the guest reaction very strong.
Don't listen to those who are happy about the Intellectual Property infestation and are satisfied with anything Disney does. In addition to an almost perfect opening day line-up, the park continued with great additions: Horizons, The Living Seas and plans for Equatorial Africa. Both Future World and World Showcase were designed to expand, making the park an easy two-day excursion for those who wished to see it all. Walt Disney World would never be the same. The Magic Kingdom had a sister park worthy of the Disney name!
(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)
September 4, 2020
September 2, 2020
The world’s? Our own? Our favorite political party? Perhaps our favorite news outlet? Or that of God? The voice we listen to will tell us how we should live. Will we choose Fear or Faith? Panic or Peace? Helplessness or Hope? Control or Consent? Death or Life?
A while back, we talked about human nature and our active desire to fully control our circumstances. And the high price we pay! (See it here.) When that wasn't possible, we move on to desperately trying to control our image. Beginning all the way back in the Garden of Eden and the real First Couple, from their story we learned:
• Our enemy Satan is working against us! When we give in to pride and control, we play right into his plans! He loves prideful people. Who will win?
• Going our own way reveals our lack of faith and our fear that God has forgotten us! Which route will be choose?
If we call ourselves people that are chasing after God's heart and His ways, pursuing our desire for control takes us places we never want to go. Pressing into this leads to a loss of integrity, a loss of relationship as people become objects to be used, and this results in a damage to our witness of Jesus Christ and his power to change us from broken sinful people into men and women who are still imperfect but saved and changed by our loving God.
In addition to all this, insisting on and getting our own ways sacrifices the good God intended had we waited on Him patiently. Trusting He knows what is best for us versus rushing ahead without Him. It's a cheap substitution we take in place of what He planned. Most importantly, we fail God by taking His place in our lives. What a high price we pay for this!
Big egos bring down kings to commoners, presidents to press secretaries and everyone in between. Thankfully, God is merciful to all of us when we return to Him. We don't always get the full consequences of our sin although there are always natural consequences to our actions.
Now that we’ve seen it’s better to trust in the Lord than ourselves- How will we live our lives? In days like this, where there’s much change and turmoil, Our response as Jesus followers is crucial!
This difficult season in life isn't what causes our tendencies to react poorly. The truth is, this season just reveals what is already inside us- good or bad. It also reveals what foundation we have truly been building our lives on.
The world says “Our hope is in a return to normal!” As Jesus Followers, this is not our foundation. Our God says, “Our hope is in the faithfulness of Jesus Christ to us and in His Triumphant return” (Titus 2:11-14). This is our foundation- Jesus will be faithful, and He will return in triumph to judge the world.
What does this mean for God's people, His church? Maybe at least in America, where we've had centuries of blessing and freedom, maybe God is hitting the reset button. Is He killing the American Dream of a carefree life where we get to do as we please? Or could He just be making us rethink how we are to live as those who love God and are called according to His purposes?
In the midst of an ever changing world, how do we live? How do we recapture what God intended? The answer is to be found in the Bible's book of Romans, the letter the great Apostle Paul wrote to the young church there. Specifically, chapter 12.
Here's some background:
• Paul wrote this during his third missionary journey in about 57AD- during the time of Nero.
• Rome was an influential city of about one million people from all over the world.
• Highly diverse, a center of commerce. Known as a place of worshiping multiple gods.
• It was also a place where the church was growing- where God had work for His people!
Now the opening verses, 1-5:
"I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another."
As you can read, human nature hasn't changed at all! The people of Israel in the Old Testament had this strange cycle in their worship of God. He would bless them. They'd enjoy His blessings and take life easy until they got bored. Then they'd worship other gods. The One True God would then bring punishment and correction, sometimes for generations, until they cried out to Him. Then He would answer their prayer and redeem them from their enemies. And the cycle would start all over again.
We in the West who are Christians seem to be no better. We feel right into Satan's trap of complacency. We pursued our goals, our dreams, a lifestyle we wanted- all while under the banner of God's name.
Of course, this is everyone or all churches, and it's a generalization. Yet it does apply for the majority of those who claim to follow Jesus as over time, Christians are looking more and more like the world. Our love of money, our pursuit of a culture of death and rebellion, etc. In all too many ways, we are not too different. The price for living like this is very high!
• Our hobbies became extreme but our faith became low risk! Comfort became our primary goal and idol.
• We became more desirous of maintaining a Christian culture than we did about personally reaching out to others and sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with them.
• We the church transitioned to a culture of inviting people to church instead of inviting them into our lives so we could tell them what Jesus accomplished through His Death and His Resurrection.
• We allowed those in the world to take lead on responsibilities God entrusted to His people. So, the world seized the opportunity and twisted the original intent. Where have we fallen short?
- Stewardship of His beautiful creation.
- Caring for the unborn- providing care and mercy for those who are unable to do so for themselves.
- Social justice and creating a culture of unity and brotherhood between all races.
Isn't the way the church has acted in the 21st century just the opposite of what we read about in the New Testament. Absolutely! Is God pleased? Absolutely not. No only is God not pleased as His children in the West are forgetting so many important pieces- the balance of our words and our actions working together to bring God glory- He understands we are missing so much fulfillment and joy. Just look at the consequences of this "incomplete faith" on the church:
• “Ministry” eventually became a job for professionals. Just another career choice.
• Were you more serious about Jesus' words? This meant you had to end up on a church staff
or overseas on an international missions field.
• Sunday service became the day when professionals put oil a performance for those who attended.
• Our lives became safe as they became under our control. We no longer needed God's empowering to do the work He called us to. We could rely on our own strength and wisdom as we managed our safe, secure, and ultimately empty lives.
After years and years of living this way, our faith became boring as we ripped out its original, passionate, God-focused intent! So we moved onto other things that interest but ultimately leave us empty and unsatisfied in the deepest places.
I've fallen into this trap at times! Have you?
How do we recapture the life God intended? It begins by how we look at our lives. Here's the beginning of that chapter:
"I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. " (verse 1)
• We belong to Him if we claim to be His!
• The system of Old Testament sacrifices – offering up dead animals on the altar- were completed in Jesus at the cross. Once and for all! (See Hebrews 7:27)
• Believers there in Rome understood the sacrificial system- but they needed to know how to live in a brand new way!
• Offering the way we live as our sacrifice means we are following Jesus' example! He gave all for God's glory and His purposes. Our call is no different.
In the letter to the Galatian church, Paul says-
“ I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”” (2:20)
THAT IS GOD’S VIEW OF WHO WE ARE!
Worship is more than avoiding sin! It's more than a pursuit of holiness! It's a life focused on God's plans, with God's heart, for God's purposes. The truth is when we are focused on these things and doing the work of God's Kingdom, sin avoidance and the pursuit of holiness in the way we live is far easier. God desires we live for Him and not just be willing to die for Him.
People that think as the world does view life very differently.
"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." (verse 2)
Not thinking like the world must be an important truth as Paul had to warn the believers in Colossians of the exact same things (in Chapter 2 of that book) and the same warning went out to the church in Ephesus in Chapter 4 of that letter. What is the world's view? "Live for today and satisfy every desire for whatever you want! Your body is yours to do with as you please with whoever you wish." But God says the wisdom of the world is foolishness (I Corinthians 1:25).
How are we to be transformed? Renew your mind with God's truth. Read the Bible for yourself and not just someone's interpretation of it. Pray and ask God to do His work in you. It's a prayer He wants to answer! Wait for Him to speak top you and show you what He wants from you. Get with a small group of believers on a regular basis for a time of Bible study, prayer, and personal encouragement. Christianity has never been a solo sport. It's always been a team competition although each of us are judged and rewarded individually.
One of the hardest things to figure out is God's will. The foundation is the Bible, but other parts also come into play. the Bible is God's revealed will for all believers. You can read it for yourself. Love the LORD God with everything in you and Love others as yourself. Straightforward beginnings.
The personal will of God for your life has to be sought out. And it takes time.
- Reading the Bible
- Hearing His Voice through your private prayer
- Wise counsel of others
- Sometimes dreams and visions
- Lastly, circumstances
None of these will ever conflict with the Word- but His answer may conflict with our own thoughts and preferences. When you think God has given you something to do, how do you check it?
The great theologian Dr. Wayne Grudem says there are four dimensions in discovering God's will. He says Consider the action itself. Consider your attitude about it; be honest about your motives, and think about the end result. What will happen and who will get the glory?
The world might look at earthly success as a mark of an important and accomplished life. God looks for an obedient, humble, heart.
This is a good place to stop for now. In Part Two, we'll look at how we are to treat others as we go about being involved in God's work. Stay tuned...