Copernicus Challenge to Selfie Christianity

The first thing Jesus taught about His Kingdom while on the earth was that the foundation for Kingdom advancement in our lives is poverty of spirit.  Mt 5:2-3 He opened His mouth and began to teach the crowd,   ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for they are the ones who receive the Kingdom.” In any area of our lives poverty of spirit is the first step in receiving the Kingdom (active rule of God). That is one of the reasons Jesus laid it out as the foundation of Kingdom advancement.(See Part 1 Part 2)

Poverty of spirit is the sweet root from which all other of God virtues in our life will shoot.  

As I survey the Christian landscape during the 39 years I have served Jesus it seems many Christians have come to prize opposite traits than poverty of spirit.  That is why we often see so little Kingdom fruit.  We need a renewal of something I call a “Copernicus challenge.”  I chose this name after the famed Polish astronomer Nicholas Copernicus (1473-1543).  He was both a scientist and a deeply religious man.  He even held a cathedral position with the church his whole life. Even though he loved the church and was in the church, he came into great conflict with the church.  What was his conflict?  Up until that time science believed that the earth was the center of the universe.  Through his research he determined that the sun, not the earth, was the center.  What a shock! How dare he say that “our planet” was not the center of all God’s creation.  This caused so much conflict with the church that at one point he was placed under arrest for heresy and his books banned.  His work proving his theory was not able to be published until after his death.

We are facing a similar conflict today, not just with culture, but like Copernicus, with the church.   The rise of the consumer driven therapeutic gospel of self esteem over the past 50 years has caused God’s people to buy into a selfie Christianity.  It is a similar challenge to what Copernicus faced in the Scientific realm.  In the gospel of self esteem we become the center of God’s universe.  God and every other created thing (including the church) exists to revolve around our lives and make us better.  Instead of our lives revolving around the Son, everything about Him and others revolves around us. We, not He becomes the center of God’s story.  A Copernicus challenge bumps up against this.

The consumer driven therapeutic gospel of self esteem goes something like this.  God was kind of lonely and needed people to fill His emotional needs so He created these wonderful beings called humans. We are so great and full of potential it was only reasonable that God would need us.  He is crazy about us.  Like a doting parent He exists to make us happy and fulfill every spontaneous whim we have.  We are the center of His story.

From that posture we force the Bible and God to revolve around our lives.  Everything we pray about and read from His word is twisted to put us, and our desires at the center.  God and all His creation revolves around us.  They exist to make “our story” fulfilled.  Every teaching, command, and everything God asks of us is simply suggestions for our personal betterment.  If we don’t like it, no worry, it’s all about our happiness.

Sola Scriptura or Selfie Sciptura

The Protestant Reformation had a fresh rediscovery that the Bible is the sole basis of our faith and practice.  The Latin phrase “Sola Scriptura” (God’s word is the objective guide for our faith) became a battle cry.  Today instead of the Bible being the basis of our faith and practice self is. Instead of Sola Scriptura it becomes Selfie Scriptura. Everything in the Bible is interpreted with us at the center.  Scripture is interpreted through the interpreter’s ideas, opinions, attitudes, feelings, experiences, beliefs, and impressions.  Instead of what God intends His word to say, whatever makes us feel better, happier, and more fulfilled according to our definition is perceived as truth.

The revelation that He loves us deeply does not point to our intrinsic greatness, but His. 

What about all the Scriptures in which God indicated He is crazy about us and we are full of potential? Before we start cherry picking passages and stringing them together in a selfie package let’s set God’s framework.  The revelation that He loves us deeply does not point to our intrinsic greatness, but His.  His love, grace, mercy, forgiveness, and long suffering points to His glory not ours.  Salvation is about His greatness.  If we don’t see this we will always look at God’s word with our smiling selfie in the center of it.

“My Shepherd” or His sheep

A great example of this is seen one of the most quoted chapters in the Bible, Psalms 23.  If quoted and applied with Selfie Sciptura it has a different trajectory.  “The Lord is My Shepherd” (almost like He owes us and we own Him).   “I shall not be in need” (My Shepherd exist to fulfill all my needs and desires).  “He lets me lie down in green pastures and leads me beside still waters” (He always gives me things).    “He restores my soul and leads me in the best paths of righteousness” (I deserve the best and that is how He leads me).  If we stop there with a Narcigeses (Narcissistic self interprets scripture) instead of an Exegeses (sound interpretation of Scripture) we will forget the most important part of God’s motive in this passage.  He “lead’s me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake” (Psalms 23:3).

Poverty of spirit will cause someone, like the Apostle Paul, to realize that the only thing they can boast about is that they have nothing to boast about except Jesus (2 Corinthians 12:5-9).

All the good things of God reveal His greatness not ours.  If we don’t keep this perspective we end up making self an idol in which God’s universe revolves around.  If we understand that it is about His glory then we keep self in its proper place.  In 20 of the 25 times Jesus calls people to “follow Him” in the gospels the first step is to deny self.  I remember the shock of Selfie Scriptura when we were trying to help someone avoid abandoning his wife and family (which he unfortunately did).  A friend tried to get Him to consider what the Bible says about faithfulness and marriage.  His crazy selfie scriptura reply, “I know the Bible says I shouldn’t do this but it also says He wants me to be happy so He is okay with it!

 

Consider just a few of the many Bible truths that show us the important foundation of His glory.

  • God chose His people and created us for his glory Eph 4:1-6, Is 43:6-7, Isa 49:3, Jer 13:11.
  • God rescued Israel from Egypt for His glory Ps 106:7-8.
  • God defeated Pharaoh at the Red Sea to show His glory Ex 14:4, 18.
  • God spared Israel in the wilderness for the glory of His name Ezek 20:14
  • God gave Israel victory in Canaan for the glory of His name 2 Sam 7:23
  • Jesus and Peter told us to do good works so that God gets glory Mt 5:16, 1 Pet 2:12
  • Jesus warned that not seeking God’s glory makes faith impossible Jn 5:44
  • God answers prayer that He would be glorified Jn 14:13
  • God forgives our sins for his own sake Isa 43:25, Ps 25:11
  • Jesus receives us into his fellowship for the glory of God Rom 15:7.
  • The ministry of the Holy Spirit is to glorify Jesus Jn 16:14
  • God instructs us to do everything for His glory 1 Cor 10:31
  • God tells us to serve in a way that will glorify Him 1 Pet 4:11.
  • Jesus will fill us with fruits of righteousness for God’s glory Phil 1:9, 11.
  • All sin causes us to fall short of the glory of God Rom 3:23.
  • He will return of the Lord will cause Him to be glorified in His people 2 Thes 1:9-10.
  • God’s plan is to fill the earth with the knowledge of his glory Hab 2:14, Eph 3:10-11
  • Everything good that happens comes from Him, though Him, and to Him for His glory Rom 11:36, Col 1:13-18.

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Continual First Step of Kingdom Advancement Part 2

I remember reading a story of a young American student who visited the Beethoven Museum in Bonn, Germany. The student became fascinated by Beethoven’s piano that was on display there.

It was a thrill to think that Beethoven had composed some of his greatest works on that piano! The student who fancied herself a good pianist who had played for years asked the museum guard if she might play a few notes on it. She offered him a little money on the side to let her play.  He agreed and the girl sat and played a tune.  As she finished she asked the guard, “I suppose all the great pianists who come here want to play on that piano.” To her surpise he said, “Paderewski, the famous Polish pianist was here a few years ago, and he said he wasn’t worthy to touch it.”  This story highlights  an important issue in God’s kingdom, humility (poverty of spirit).

As I wrote in my last post the idea of the “Kingdom of God” centers around His active rulership.  The best thing that can happen to any person on the face of the earth is for more of God’s loving rulership (Kingdom) taking over more of their life.  As that happens His Kingdom continually advances in and though our lives (Mat 13:31-32, Mk 4:30-32,  Luk 13:18-19).

If you are wrapped up in yourself you will be a very small package. Benjamin Franklin

The initial step, and continuing steps of receiving His Kingdom in any area of our lives is humility (poverty of spirit). When we abandon poverty of spirit we will prohibit the Kingdom from advancing in our lives.

It usually goes something like this; we become aware of an area of our lives, an attitude, or a reaction that is not under His rule.  As we are challenged about it by the Spirit, the Word, and often through His people, we are faced with a decision.  We humble ourselves (poverty of spirit), confess our sin, repent (turn away from it), and freshly yield ourselves to Jesus.  His restoration follows.

The opposite of poverty of spirit (pride) keeps us from this process.  That is why poverty of spirit is the first step, and continual first step of receiving His Kingdom.  I like what the great saint Augustine said about it, “It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility (poverty of spirit) that makes men as angels.”

Poverty of spirit is that sweet root from which all of God’s virtues will shoot.

Sheep and Goats

One of the analogies Jesus used about those who continually receive His kingdom and those who don’t are sheep and goats.  Sheep humbly receive;  goats proudly resist. Goats are famous for butting others.  That resistance is part of their nature.  We have all exhibited qualities of goats when we resist/butt others who are trying to help us receive His kingdom in various areas of our lives.

Here is a cue that we are acting more like a goat.  When we find ourselves resisting truth about our attitudes or actions by using the word “but”… but you don’t understand…but you did this…but I was having a bad day…but who are you etc., it should be a wake up call.  Sheep respond with yes Lord, while goats respond by butting.

Judas goat

Another problem with goats is their destructive influence on others.  Shepherds sometimes train a goat to associate with sheep to lead them to specific destinations, like to be corralled or slaughtered.  The name they aptly give for this goat is the Judas goat after the Biblical character.  Isn’t that an accurate spiritual metaphor of what happens with goats among sheep?  Goats possess a stubborn streak and resist directions they don’t like and God clearly shows us He doesn’t like it (Zechariah 10:3, Matthew 25:31-33).  They always end up leading sheep astray from God’s kingdom not just in what they say but in attitudes and actions.

When our desires, ideas, and will crosses His, we are faced with the issue “Who is in charge here?” Is Jesus ruling or are we?  Is His way the right way or ours?”  The poor in spirit yield; the goats resist.  Poverty of spirit is what makes us able to walk with God and the imperfect people He joins us to.

Here is a good poverty of spirit test:  

  • Do I live with a constant awareness that I am dependent on God, or do I think I have enough ability, strength, and wisdom to manage my life?
  • Am I anxious about my life and future?  Humbly trusting God leads to peace.
  • Am I consistently self-conscious?  Am I overly concerned about what people think about me or replay in my mind how I looked in various situations?
  • Do I have a fear of man more than a fear of God? Am I afraid to take stands or make decisions because of what others think?
  • Am I easily embarrassed and often feel insecure?
  • Am I always comparing myself to others?
  • Do I desire to receive credit and recognition for things and feel slighted when I don’t?
  • Am I deceptive about myself in front of others in order to preserve my reputation?
  • Am I selfishly ambitious and/or overly competitive?
  • Am I easily inconvenienced when asking to sacrifice or serve?
  • Do I feel a sense of favor when I help others succeed and I get no credit for it?
  • Do I feel better than others?
  • Do I make it hard for people to challenge me without attacking them or what they are saying?
  • Do I tend to see myself as more gifted and talented than others?
  • Do I feel deserving of things or entitled rather than seeing them as a gift?
  • Do I wallow in self-pity or am I overly consumed with how I am treated?
  • Am I jealous or envious of others abilities, possessions, positions, or accomplishments?
  • Do I tend to be a know it all?
  • Do I find it easy to reveal my own mind and have answers for practically every situation?
  • Do I have a hard time getting things out of teachings because I usually think of someone else who needs to hear them?
  • Is it hard for me to admit I am wrong?
  • Do I encourage people to correct me, but then make them feel uncomfortable in doing it?
  • Am I stubborn?
  • Is it easy for me to find things to criticize others about?
  • Is it hard for me to point to any one I am submitted to in a real way?

If these things look familiar run to the good shepherd and He will work His nature in you (Phil 2:11-13)..

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The Continual First Step of Receiving God’s Kingdom Part 1

One of the great spiritual fathers that helped a group of churches I was joined to back in
the 90s was Dow Robinson.  He was an amazing man with a father’s heart who had a PH.D. in Linguistics and began his ministry as a Wycliffe Bible Translators.  He had fascinating stories that occurred among the Aztec people of eastern Mexico as he was working to translate the New Testament into their language in the 1950’s, ’60’s, and ’70’s.   God moved and did miraculous things during his time there.  He was totally unprepared for it as he had come from a Presbyterian background and had little experience moving in the supernatural power of God.  All of that changed as he participated in a move of God causing him to become Charismatic.

He told a very impactive story about attempting to translate the word and phrase “Kingdom of God.”  Translators look for words and phrases in the native language that best expresses the word or phrase in the Bible.  The word “Kingdom” or “Kingdom of God”  means God’s active ruler-ship.  His Kingdom isn’t just a thing, it is an active thing, His current active ruler-ship.

When he and the natives helping him found something in the language that expressed “Kingdom of God” it was a eureka moment.  Light bulbs began to go off. Things began to shift radically.  Like Jesus said to Peter, “flesh and blood didn’t reveal this to you…you are not far from My Kingdom.”

With the idea of the “Kingdom of God” in their language the parables and Jesus commands about the Kingdom began to change their lives and environments.   The meager huts where they lived began to change.  They began to keep them cleaner and take care of repairs.  The plots of ground where they raised crops began to fare better than those belonging to non-Christians.  They began to take seriously the Kingdom stewardship parables knowing they would give an account of what they were given to care for (Mt 13, 25).  There was also the supernatural element of God answering Kingdom prayers over their crops, lives, and families. Their relationships became better as God began to govern them with His Kingdom.

Jesus isn’t looking for people to casually believe in Him, join an organization, or attend a meeting. He is looking for people who receive Him as the loving Lord of their life. He wants imitators not admirers, followers not consumers, fellow family members not casual meeting attenders.  He seeks people who receive His rule in every area of their lives.

Little Emphasis of the Kingdom Today

Unfortunately there is little emphasis of the Kingdom of God among His people today.  Either they don’t understand it or don’t emphasize it.  In contrast to this Jesus, the early church, and the New Testament emphasized the Kingdom as a priority.  Consider the facts.

  • John the baptist’s first message was about the Kingdom. (Mt 3:2)
  • Jesus’ first message, and His continued messages were about the Kingdom. (Mark 1:15 15, Mat 4:17,23 9:35, Mat 24:14, Luk 16:16).
  • He talked about how to enter it.  (Jn 3, Mt 5:20; 7:21)
  • His parables illustrated truths of the Kingdom and how it worked. (Matthew 13, 25 etc.)
  • His mighty works proved the Kingdom was here. Matthew 12:28 28 But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
  • Jesus wanted the Kingdom to be our first priority (Mt 6:33), and the first thing we pray about (Mt 6:10).
  • The book of Acts begins with Jesus spending 40 days after His resurrection “speaking of the things concerning the Kingdom of God.” (Acts 1:3)
  • The book of Acts ends with Paul in prison preaching the Kingdom for 2 years (Acts 28:30-31).
  • Our salvation is tied to the the Kingdom of God in spite of contemporary ideas that one can be saved but not under the loving rulership (Kingdom) of God. Colossians 1:13 For He… transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.
God's Kingdom is His active rulership. Click To Tweet

When we understand that His Kingdom is His active rule in our lives “right now” it should radically alter our perspective on Christianity.  Instead of considering if someone is a “Christian” or “Saved,” how about considering whether or not there is any real evidence (fruit) that Jesus is actively ruling in their life.  In every area of our lives such as relationships, finances, our workplace, the marketplace, our marriages, and homes is Jesus ruling?  In our everyday living when facing challenges, our own desires, or responding to people around us, are we following Jesus’ rulership? Jesus is our Savior (a word used 37 times in the Bible), but He is also to be our Lord (a word used over 7000 times).  His rulership and Kingdom is the emphasis of the Bible.

“The truth is this: Pride must die in you or nothing of heaven can live in you.” Andrew Murray

When there is little fruit of His Kingdom in our lives sometimes it is because we miss the first most important step of His Kingdom coming.  It is like trying to wear a button down shirt but you missalign the first button.  You can go ahead and button the shirt, but it won’t fit right.

What is the first button? What is the first step of His Kingdom coming into any area of our lives? It was the first thing Jesus taught about His Kingdom when He said, “blessed are the poor in spirit because they will receive the Kingdom of God” Mt 5:3. Poverty of spirit is the first step, and the continual first step of His Kingdom coming into any area of our lives.  I will address more about poverty of spirit next time.

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Lights, Camera, God’s Presence

I read this comment on a report that caught my attention and made me consider some important issues regarding worship and connecting with God.

The sensory experience in many Charismatic churches is amazing.  Special lighting,
smoke, amazing sound and musicians, and video feeds showing beautiful scenes accompanying our worship songs help our senses to focus on the Spiritual realms of God. These things help stimulate our emotions as well as endorphins in our brain that release pleasurable sensations.  Our emotions should be aimed at, and help us experience God.  Yet there can be a downside to this if we don’t equip people to connect with God beyond the meeting and the sensory helps.

Understand that I am not an old naysayer who is advocating old or traditional ways of
worship from yesteryear. As a recently saved college student who was raised in a secular home (who attended my share of rock concerts), I helped lead a church into new expressions of charismatic worship.  I was a drummer, and we helped a church transition from singing traditional hymns from a songbook with one old piano, to a full blown charismatic worship band leading great worship services.  I loved it and have never looked back.

That type of worship was rare in those days with only “new” churches experiencing it.  Now it seems as if everyone has jumped on the Charismatic worship style bandwagon. There is a wide proliferation of media and the arts being expressed in them which is wonderful.   If you want to be an “in church” you need to incorporate Charismatic worship styles, loud music, great lighting, video feeds, and trendy music.

I love all those things but am also aware of a potential deficiency.  If those external sensory helps are the only way someone can experience the “tangible presence” of God then we are missing something important. Connecting with God in a real way must transcend all those external helps.  Worship and connecting with God is something that must go beyond the sensory and emotional sway of great music, lights, technology, and even coffee (Yikes!).  Emotions are emotions, but our connection with God and worship must be founded in Him alone.

Consider what the writer of Hebrews says about it our connection with God.

Hebrews 13:15-16 Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. (16) Don’t forget to do good things for others and to share what you have with them. These are the kinds of sacrifices that please God.

Note the attributes of worship from this passage:

  • giving thanks from our lips in all circumstances
  • doing good works in serving others
  • sharing with those who have needs

This type of connection says nothing about our senses being stirred.  Of course it doesn’t mention loud music, smoke machines, video feeds, or special lighting to help us “feel His tangible presence.”

We must realize that sometimes our emotions don’t tell the truth.

I love it when my emotions are on board with praising God and sensing His presence.  I love it when I am motivated to serve others and feel a sense of satisfaction in doing so. But sometimes my emotions are not on board with those things, and sometimes they are even against it.  If this even happens occasionally on a Sunday morning, what about the rest of the week?  I can’t call for a couple of hundred people, a loud worship band, video feeds, and smoke machines to orient my senses to God.  My life of worship must be bigger than that.

Consider some of the Biblical heroes of faith.  Abraham probably didn’t feel much of the “tangible presence of God” when he climbed the mountain as he contemplated sacrificing the promised son for whom he waited so long.  I am sure his emotions were all over the map, but he obeyed as an “act of worship” (Gen 22:5).

Great men and women of God were not guided by their emotions, instead they guide them like David did.  “Why are you cast down, O my soul and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” (Psalm 42:5, 11; 43:5)

Job probably didn’t feel very tingly with God’s presence when he was sitting in the ash heap, scarping boils with pieces from a clay pot as he reflected on the children and possessions he had lost.  I am sure his emotions were running in different directions while rebutting his wife’s suggestions “are you still trying to hold onto what you believe, you integrity, your principles, curse God and die (Job 2:9).”  Yet Job trusted and obeyed as an act of worship with the mindset “though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.”

How about Paul when he was beaten 5 times with 39 lashes, spending a night and day in the ocean after being shipwrecked, or in all the “frequent dangers” (2 Cor 11:24-33)?  There was no worship team, special lighting, or loud music to help him “feel God.”  Yet he continued in faith, offered the fruit of worship both in giving thanks and living as a sacrifice.

Let us make sure we are pursuing a connection with, and worship of God that is not dependent on all the sensory help.   This includes pursuing a life of worship and prayer that goes way beyond an hour or two in a corporate gathering with all the external sensory help.  Cultivate and discipline yourself for that connection in your private prayer life with God.

Romans 12:1…because of God’s great mercy to us I appeal to you: Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to his service and pleasing to him. This is the true worship that you should offer.

PS:  There was a great sociological research study released by Katie E. Corcoran titled “God is like a drug” that describes the sensory phenomenon in a positive light.  It is worth a review.

 

 

 

 

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An Important Element in God’s Atmosphere of Discipleship

If I had only one sermon to preach it would be a sermon against pride.-GK Chesterton

How dare they bring that up? Who are they to point that out to me? I thought we were friends.  I bet I could come up with hundreds of things that they are doing wrong. As a matter of fact what about that issue we had to bring up with them a few months ago? Jesus wasn’t even in the picture of their life then. How about the continual things they struggle with?  They bring this up to me, no way!

All of us who live around the house of the Lord have probably had thoughts like this cross our minds or have heard them from others when we are challenged about something. This is especially true if you live around a church environment that is serious about spiritual maturity.

One of the things we know about God’s design for his house is that there should be an atmosphere of growth and maturity. None are perfect, but we are all in the same boat.  Jesus is working in us to bring about a mature bride (Eph 5:26-27).  Hebrews 13:20-21 God equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ..

A Family of Disciples

The church is God’s House and it is to have a family atmosphere, but we must not lose sight of another important aspect of that atmosphere.  We are a family of disciples.  The clear call of the Matthew 28 Great Commission is, “go and make disciples… teaching them to observe everything I’ve commanded you” (Mt 28:19-20). Our calling is to both make, and be made disciples (followers are learning to obey Jesus).  If we are moving in that calling the church will have an environment of discipleship in the context of family.

We see this very clearly in the church at Antioch. Acts 11:26  And they were with the church there for a year, teaching the people; and the disciples were first given the name of Christians in AntiochThe church was a family of disciples who were given the name Christian.  God’s family is not just a family of Christians, it’s a family of disciples. If this is embraced as a important foundation, then an overriding characteristic among it’s members is a motivation grow up to please Jesus in every aspect of life.

The church should be known for discipleship in the context of family.  This has a wonderful side of it in which we are encouraged, affirmed, loved, and valued.  We have the wonderful security of a family that accepts us and loves us for who we are in spite of our many imperfections.

The other aspect, that is just as important, is that there are fellow family members who walk beside us and sometimes bring faithful challenges. This is what the Bible says Proverbs 27:6  Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.  Many great men and women of God in the Bible where the recipients of this side of God’s grace through fellow family members such as the 12 disciples from Jesus, David from Nathan, and Peter from Paul. 

Many times in my own life I have been challenged by the fellow family members in areas that I initially found unpleasant yet necessary.  Why does God choose to do it that way?  Why can’t it be just between me and Jesus?  After all I have a real personal relationship with God.  Why does someone else have to get involved? 

An Important Thing God is after in Relational Challenging

It was pride that changed angels into devils–Augustine

There is something very important that needs to get cemented in our mind that will help us be more open to embrace the challenges from friends.  One of the deadly traits that was created in the heart of Satan when he was part of God’s family was called “pride.”  Pride was the thing that caused him to be removed. “Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee” (Ezek. 28:15). This beautiful, powerful, intelligent, and gifted being fell from his perfect state when his heart was lifted up (aka pride) because of his own beauty and brightness (v. 17). No longer was he willing to be a servant to the Creator. Staggering pride in the heart (the propensity towards “I will”) was to blame for the tragedy in heaven. “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! … For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne … I will sit also upon the mount … I will ascend above the heights…I will be like the most High” (Isa. 14:12-14).

Since that event he has tried to generate his nature of pride inside of everyone. This made angels into devils (Rev 12:3-9).  Pride is the root nature of the Satan, and the root nature of every sin.   It is the direct opposite of the root nature of God’s kingdom that Jesus says is humility.  “Blessed are the humble for theirs is the kingdom” (Mt 5:3).  This is why God clearly says He hates, and is opposed to pride in every form.

  • Proverbs 8:13  To fear the LORD is to hate evil. I hate pride, arrogance, evil behavior, and twisted speech.
  • Proverbs 6:16-17  Six things are hated by the Lord…  (17)  Eyes of pride
  • James 4:6  Therefore it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.” (1 Pet 5:5).

When God sends his faithful challenge through fellow family members, besides the issue there is a corresponding challenge to any pride that has gotten inside of us. There is a degree of humility we have to embrace to receive the challenge and not react in a childish, self-centered, and prideful way. The nature of pride is self exalting competitiveness with others. In the faithful challenging of family members God is both correcting behavior and challenging pride.

In the faithful challenging of His family members God is both correcting behavior and challenging… Click To Tweet

Local churches are to live out a discipleship environment in the context of family.  It is a good thing to remember when you receive both the encouragement and the challenge of friends that God is not only correcting things, but also rooting out the nature of enemy, pride.  We are the body of Christ and as such we are to display the nature of Jesus through our lives.

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What about Mondays?

When I see people heading for the parking lot after Sunday services I wonder if they will see any connection between the service they just attended and the other 98% of their waking hours?  Do they see any connection of the Kingdom of God they just touched on Sunday to the same Kingdom they are to carry to their places of employment, school, or the marketplace on Monday?

If not an age old problem called “dualism” can capture our thinking.  Dualism is the tendency to see your life in sections (spiritual, social, and natural etc.) that have no bearing on each other.  Dualism causes people to think the Christian life is what we do for a couple of hours on Sunday or Wednesday but has little bearing on the rest of our life.  God’s design is much greater than this.

There is a mandate that began at creation in the garden of Eden that continues through His church everyday.  Genesis 1:26 contains the mandate “Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth.”  God continues these three ideas through Christ body, the church

Eph 1:22-23... At the center of all this, Christ rules the church.  (23)  The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which He fills everything with His presence.  

Contrary to the idea that God is only trying to rescue people out of the earth, He also wants to fill the earth with His glory through His people.  I like the theologian Abraham Kuper’s comments on Psa 24:1,  “There is not one square inch of this universe that God doesn’t say “mine.”

As we walk about this earth in our everyday life we need to look at it through the eyes of God’s desire.  He wants to fill every square inch of it with His glory, and He likes to use His people in the process.

One of the great motivation robbers is when we see our everyday spheres of life (2 Co 10:13-16) as a drudgery that we have to endure rather than “square inches” of God’s earth that are to be filled with His life.

We need to seek God for creative ideas and expressions to fill “His square inches.”  It includes good works, words, but also works of power.  We need to pray for people, lay hands on them, and help break and heal the demonic influence in their lives and homes.  One Scripture I would encourage all of us to incorporate into our prayers for this coming year is 2Th 1:11  To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy (make you fit) of your calling, and  fulfill every desire for goodness and the works of faith with power. 

At our everyday workplace

One of the main areas we spend a majority of our waking hours is our places of employment (work and school).  We want to be fruitful, multiply and fill these areas.

What are some of the Biblical ways we can embrace at our workplace or school?

Col 3:22-24  employees, obey your bosses according to the flesh in all things; not with eye-service, as men-pleasers, but in singleness of heart (heartedly), fearing God.  23  And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.

  • Work in a way that respects and honors your bosses and teachers knowing they carry authority from Christ and you are first and foremost serving Him (Romans 13).  1Tim 6:1-2…regard your own masters (bosses) as worthy of all honor so that the name of God and our doctrine will not be spoken against….Teach and preach these principles.  This even extends to those bosses who are unreasonable, or perverse  (1 Peter 2:18-20).
  • Work wholeheartedly, not halfheartedly, because you are serving Christ.  I remember hearing a quote written on the wall of a break room:   Sometime between starting and quitting time, without infringing on lunch periods, coffee breaks, rest periods, storytelling time, holiday planning, and the rehashing of yesterday’s TV programs, we ask that each employee try to find some time for a work break. Don’t be like a coworker I once had who used to come to work and before his shift sit in a chair with his feet up and declare his intentions, “they pay me minimum wage and they are going to get minimum effort.”
  • Don’t gripe, complain, or backtalk, but give blessings instead (Phil 2:14-15).   Your source of life comes from something greater than the job.  Always be thankful (1 Thes 5:18) and that will make an impact on a hopeless culture around you.
  • Be trustworthy (Titus 2:10) and dependable ( 16:10).  This tends to make an impact at our workplace, especially in the cultural climate of entitlement all around us.
  • Express the Biblical attitude of contentment with finances and freedom from the love of money (Lk 10:7, 1 Tim 6:6-10  Heb 13:5).   In a greed filled culture this will have a great impact.
  • Bless your co-workers and fellow students through caring, serving, and praying for God’s power to touch their lives (Lk 6:28, Rom 12:14).  One guy I know who worked part time at Pizza Hut was so faithful to care and pray for his coworkers that he received a special award from His bosses and co workers called “God’s Healer Award.”  With this attitude toward coworkers you will be surprised at the opportunities to bring the Kingdom to bear in their personal life.
  • Seek God’s wisdom, insight, and gifting to help your company to prosper.  Many of the saints in the Bible like Joseph and Jacob gained insight to help make the place they were employed prosper which ended up prospering God’s people.
  • Join with other Christians to pray over your workplace.  

 

 

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