John 12.42,43 “Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.”
There is a tension when we believe in Christ. The tension comes from the conflict we will have living in a non-believing world. We live in a world where many do not appreciate the Christ-centered life, the teachings of Jesus, or for morality. We have to come to grips that this tension is not going away. We need to honor and serve God, and follow Him and the Bible says he will honor us (John 12.26).
When we choose the approval of men, to not upset our friends and family with our faith and convictions, we also forfeit the approval of God. He must be first. People will be attracted to the approval of God on our lives also. Some call this the anointing. Jesus is the anointed one, so to serve Him is to be anointed. The anointed one lives in us. People will see your faith and courage to not please men and God will attract them.
So do not desire the approval of men, nor avoid their disapproval. If it means keeping your mouth shut about your faith in Christ and the values and morals that come with that. We want His approval more than anything! The tension of our faith is the way it will be as long as we are here and serving the Lord. So serve Him, embrace the tension, and fruit will come of that. The approval and honor of God will come with standing strong in the tension.
Does it matter what a guy said almost 2500 to 3000 years ago. Does an ancient message given have any relevancy today? What could be relevant to us now? At the time of the writing of the Minor Prophets, their world and ours is so different. They had not electricity, no iphones, no email, instagram, facebook, cars, travel soccer teams, school boards, presidents. The average life span was about 30 years old. Life was hard. Physical suffering was prevalent, and people struggled through life in a way we can’t relate. So can we relate to the writings of the ancients at all?
I believe we can. For our worlds maybe be very different, but our hearts are the same. We stray from God. We struggle with faith. We live with fear. Evil is still on the earth, and the desire to conquest through military force is as real today as it was then.
Our summer series starts this weekend with Obadiah. I will tell us the ancient stories, recite the words of the past and ask some “gut-checking” questions. We can evaluate and not make the mistakes of the past, and obey the voices from the ancients thousands of years later. Be ready to be challenged, informed, and hopefully encouraged to take a fresh look at the ancient writing we possess in the Bible.
Many asked for the prayer we all prayed together for more of God’s presence in our lives. Here it is.
I receive the truth that I can enter into your presence with confidence to receive Grace, mercy, and help. I desire your presence in my life in a greater way. This week help me be intentional about getting away and alone to be with you. I want to be aware of you. Open the eyes of my heart. Fill me with your Holy Spirit so I can hear you, experience you, and be renewed daily with our fellowship. Thank you for the Holy Spirit, your presence in my life.
In Jesus’ name… amen
1. I believe it is going to cost more, and is now costing the real believer more to be a complete follower of Jesus, and to have the title “Christian”. We will see more cynicism toward our faith. We will experience less favor by the world because of our relationship with Christ and our convictions that will more regularly collide with society’s loss of moral standards and integrity. The snickering and eye rolling toward followers of Christ will grow (from Ed Stetzer).
2. People that rarely have attended church are disappearing completely. Ed Stetzer says “nominal Christians are becoming none.” I agree. Those that fiddle on the fringes of Christianity, seem to be just disappearing from the spiritual scene. People that used to attend Compelled like maybe once a month or so attend almost never now. I see that trend continuing, sadly.
3. We will be challenged more and more on believing the Bible. The morality of the Bible, the salvation plan of God will be attacked, challenged, and we will be looked down on by society, friends, and family for embracing God’s Word completely and God’s plan. We need greater faith than ever.
4. It is rare, refreshing, and more uncommon for someone to attend church weekly, be in a small group, or be part of a midweek. I talk with many pastors and we experience more of a challenge to disciple people, as they are just not around to disciple. Interest in growing in Jesus is waning. It is challenge to build a faith community, and people who know each other and are around their church family to get to know them, and grow in faith together. The efforts must not stop. Pastor, don’t stop challenging people to grow, being innovative, and challenge key leaders to be examples and faithful to their church. I will not relent, even though Compelled’s midweek and small groups are struggling, I have been mandated to build disciples, so I will not give up or settle for mediocre discipleship. “I will build My church and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.” Jesus words to Peter. I live by them! They encourage me when discouragement floods me on discipling people.
5. The pressure for our kids to be “professional athletes” at young ages and to be in that sport year-round will grow, and our children’s participation in their local church continues to diminish. Parents will continue to choose many things over getting their family to church. Time and resources will be invested outside of faith in greater amounts. I fear what the results will be as a generation gets older. I fear the reaping of these decisions on our children and youth.
6. The Spirit of God, and His presence will become more of a reality to those who’s hearts are fully devoted to Jesus. They will experience a close relationship with our Father that will ground them, and set their feet solid on the rock and nothing will cause them to step off, leave their faith, or compromise. Devoted followers of Christ will grow in devotion, no matter what happens in this world.
7. The Word is going to become more precious. As it is diminished in our society, and mocked by more and more of the world. The Spirit will bring greater appreciation, dedication, and desire in the followers of Jesus to know God’s Word and God’s Words.
8. Liberal churches that leave the Word, and follow the world’s philosophies will continue to decline, and many will close. Those bodies that remain true to the Word, and the Lordship of Jesus Christ will continue to be strengthened by our Father and will remain to do the work of Christ on this earth. The challenges for health will be greater. The pressure on pastors and spiritual leaders will increase, but God’s Spirit will uphold the faithful and the work of Christ on this earth will continue (Joel 2.28-32, Acts 2).
9. There are going to be more radical salvations! I believe there is coming a season of harvest and those whose hearts and lives seem to be the coldest and farthest from God are going to be saved and will be so radical we pastors are not going to know how to pastor them as they will challenge compromise, business as usual, and mundane faith. It is going to be a challenging and exciting time. I feel it’s coming. A great harvest, awakening, and/or revival in the midst of everything else. God’s Spirit is going to awaken people and they are going to turn to Jesus without compromise.
Let’s keep faithful to our faith in Christ. Don’t believe for a second that believing without growing is enough! Ask God to give your a heart that will be faithful in the midst of the pressures of this world. Grow in Jesus! Read and study the Bible. Pray and praise our Savior Jesus. Embrace the fact that if you follow Jesus with all your heart you will not be like everyone else. You will not blend in. God is with us. He is building His church. Let’s be part! Pray believe, keep praying! Be aware that the enemy of our soul is suttle, tricky, and patient. May we have great discernment as he tries to lead astray the follower of Jesus. Give us a greater desire for you Jesus!
Proverbs 3.1 “My son, do not forget my teaching, But let your heart keep my commandments.”
We forget too much. I have forgotten many things. That is why I journal. When God speaks to me, or gives me an idea, I want to write it down so I don’t forget. I know God has taught me many things. I know I have forgotten some of them. God asks his sons, the readers, us, not to forget. Don’t forget God’s ways. Here are a few thoughts.
I forget what I don’t practice.
I forget what I don’t review.
I forget what I don’t teach.
I forget what I don’t talk about.
What the Lord teaches us about Himself, through the Word, others, life, and prayer must not be forgotten. So take daily time in His presence to remember, practice, review, and talk about, or you will forget and life can be lived as a Christian, but without the active presence of God, or in some sad cases He can be forgotten about completely, and life can turn south, void of God’s ways, full of sin and disobedience. So don’t forget! Make the commitment to never forget God and His ways. Live with Him daily. Live intentional. Forgetting God can be very costly. Always remember.
What happens to the excited, zealous, leader right out of college after a decade or more of ministry? The new minister is so eager, hungry to learn, wanting to be mentored, coached, and taught. They read everything they can get their hands on in their field of calling. They listen to teaching, go to conferences as much as they can, and just learn. They stretch themselves, take risks, attempt new things, think outside the box, and do everything they can to make a dent in darkness and to see people find Christ as Savior and to grow. Then, we get some experience. Some wins come under our belt. We become “professionals” in our field and…………we get lazy. We stop growing. We “top-out” in our leadership. I have seen this happen to lead pastors, youth pastors, children’s pastors, worship pastors. It is the quiet slow killer of our leadership. It slowly drains out life, our effectiveness, our zeal. We become lazy pastors who don’t grow, don’t read, don’t learn. Here are the results if you “top-out” in your leadership.
– Your passion and zeal slowly slip away.
– Risks are no longer taken. You only do what has worked in the past.
– Nothing seems spiritually urgent anymore.
– You start looking for the easiest way to do things. Meaning, you do less or the same things, with less prep/prayer.
– You stop reading books about your calling. You know it all.
– You begin to see your ministry as a “pain”. You grow cynical. People begin to “bother” you with their needs.
– You are irritated with the demands of ministry.
– You don’t cry for souls anymore. You’re not overly moved if people are not getting saved.
– You are happy with mediocrity or even less than that.
– You no longer learn, so nothing is new and exciting. Same old stuff every month, every year.
– You day-dream of leaving, retiring, getting out.
How do we fight “topping-out” in our leadership?
– Get radical with your own personal life and have a personal revival.
– Seek God with commitment and discipline.
– Read some fresh books. Get hungry to learn again! Make time, schedule time to read. If a pastor is not reading and learning…well….just learn.
– Try something new. Push the envelope. Take a risk.
– Get with people who light your fire. Get with some leadership with some fire, creativity, kingdom heart, and passion for Jesus. Don’t allow yourself to “top-out” and stagnate.
– Investigate growers and learners. youtube and podcast their sermons. Listen, read, learn, seek, write, and let your leadership start growing again in your area of calling.
Don’t give up leaders! Don’t grow stagnate! Press on! Let’s not top-out in our leadership, but grow! Christ is with us!
There is a stirring in my heart. It’s sort of a “holy” or “Spiritual” agitation for something that I can’t put my finger on. I know God has some plans, and I feel them coming, but they are not here yet, so I am restless. I seek the Lord. This morning I have asked Him. I know it is forward in some way. There is an adventure awaiting but I wait patiently (sort of) for my Leader and King to come and lead the way. I know it’s coming, not sure what it is. I know this feeling. I have had it before. Good things come because of it, and uncomfortable stretching does also.
Do you get “stirred” and “restless” spiritually.
Do you know God is directing you forward?
What does that look like to you?
In my reading this morning a verse jumped into my heart from Mark 3.5. “After looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart...” Jesus then healed the man with the crippled man. He was angry as the religious were waiting to see if he would heal the man on the Sabbath. They wanted to accuse him if he healed. They cared not about the man who needed the healing. They cared more about the law than people.
This verse shows me that Jesus grieves (greek word “syllypeomai”, to be sad and deeply distressed from BDAG). Jesus was deeply hurt and upset that his creation, the religious had hard hearts. This distressed Jesus. This bothered Him. So, does the state of my heart grieve Jesus? I would say, yes it does at times. At times it can be hard, apathetic, un-engaging, distant, and selfish. We must “guard our hearts: (Proverbs 4.23). Read through these revealing questions about the heart, and take some time to pray and ask Christ to keep our hearts, soft, filled with the heart of Jesus, and not hard and distant.
1. Does the things of God move you inside? Bring you to tears from time to time? Motivate you for the Kingdom.
2. Have you argued over doctrine with more allegiance to that, than to your brother or sister who holds a different view?
3. Have you wept for the lost lately, and really cried their names out to God with compassion and conviction for their salvation?
4. Are you irritated when you are asked to sacrifice for the Gospel so lost people will be saved? When you are asked for money? For your time?
5. Does the moving of the Spirit move you?
6. How’s your kindness meter? Speech at home? Are words of comfort, humor, affirmation, and love part of your daily speech?
7. Does the poverty, lack of medical care, food, water, and education of most of the world move you?
8. Do you hurt for/with hurting people, regardless of the color of their skin, what country they are from, what part of the city they live in, what they look like, or what you perceive they are hurting from?
When I am consumed with myself, my schedule, my plans, my wants, my hurt feelings, my bad attitude, my aches and pains, my agenda, then I am pretty much the most uncompassionate and hard-hearted person on the planet. When I focus on Christ, His work, His life, His desire to live in me and through me, His mission, His calling, His love for all, His brokeness over the lost, over suffering and war, over the poverty of the world, then my heart is “strangly warmed” (John Wesley). I must stay connected to the vine, to the Savior, to the life of Christ or my heart will not be soft, and my Lord may be grieved with me. How soft is your heart today?