Before coming to the Lord, most people were the center of their own universe. It’s a hard mindset to break, even after surrendering your life to Him. When we discover God is a Father who loves His children, there can be a tendency to be like an infant who wants to be first until he or she learns differently. As long as you center on you, you’ll never feel worthy. You’ll make you list of what a “good Christian” looks like, and then fail miserably trying to check off your list. Part of the problem for some is they haven’t actually learned that God is a good Father. It’s time to get focused on God, and deny yourself the right to feel unworthy! Matthew 16:24Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me”(NASB).
Getting back to God the Father. A difficult hurtle from some to get over is knowing, as the song says, “You’re a good, good Father, and I am loved by You” (Good Good Father, by Housefires). Especially, since that love is unconditional. Those who grew up in performance based households learned that love comes with being good. Before receiving affection, if any, they had to do something to get it. “You cleaned your room. That’s a good boy (girl),” They learned to equate behavior and action with worthiness. God so loved the world that He sent us Jesus (see John 3:16). He did not ask us to perform. Even the Law of Moses revealed that we couldn’t live up to such standards anyway.
To you parents, as a suggestion, when your child does something well, instead of saying “good boy” or “good girl,” tell him or her “good job!”
This way, he or she does not associate their performance to being “good.” They have to learn worthiness and goodness is not based on what they do. Ultimately, it’s based on Jesus, and what they do is the result of who they are in Him (see Ephesians 2:8-10; 4:24). At the same time, they discover that your love for them is unconditional, and they do not have to earn it. By all means, reward them for their efforts. God does that; however, He reveals His love to us without us earning it. Romans 5:8But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (NASB).
This may burst your proverbial bubble, but Jesus is the Center of the universe. The song of heaven is “Worthy is the Lamb.” His worthiness is the sole basis of your worthiness.
If you say you’re unworthy, you insult Jesus.
Your inadequacies are not greater than His Blood! Get over yourself. His grace is sufficient for you, and His strength is made perfect in your weakness (see 2 Corinthians 12:7-10). Some use their “unworthiness” to mask their pride, while others may actually take pride in it. Hence, they’re still making it about them. You are a child of God by the Father’s volition; not your performance (see John 1:12-13).
When you wake up to the fact your righteous in Jesus Christ, your behavior will change (see 2 Corinthians 5:21, Ephesians 2:10; 4:24). After all, as people think, so are they. You might say you repented, yet you feel unworthy. That statement is not consistent with repentance. Repentance is not a change of behavior. Repentance means to think differently; thus, behavior changes because of repentance. Once you actually believe your worthiness is because of Jesus, you will stop hanging onto unworthiness. Even after being saved, you may blow it. The Blood of Jesus is more than sufficient for that as well. Indeed, His Blood blotted out all sin: past, present and future. Think about it, you weren’t even alive when Jesus went to the Cross, yet forgiveness is still yours. Worthy is the Lamb Who was slain! Please remember also, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9, NASB). 1 John 2:1-2My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; 2. and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world (NASB). In short, confess, repent and forsake; ask for and receive His forgiveness; learn from it, and move on!
To many, patience is merely a virtuous platitude because they don’t grasp its importance to faithfulness and obtaining promises. They fail to understand the value of longsuffering, and as a result, fail to see things through to the end. Patience is a sign of faith as well as love; for, love is patient and faith works by love (see 1 Corinthians 13:4; Galatians 5:6). If you love someone, you will be patient with him or her. If you love God, you will wait on Him. If you trust Him, you will endure until the end. Indeed, apart from patience there is no maturity. Being immature means one is incomplete. Salvation itself requires longsuffering, for it is written, “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12 [NASB]). Please note the connection between perseverance and love. Love endures all things (1 Corinthians 13:7).
Perhaps, when someone prays for patience, he is missing the point. It would be better to ask for perfect love, because love would be the reason to treat people with kindness when they’re being difficult, and to see things to their conclusion.
Patience is not motivation; love is!
The more in touch with love you are, the more patience will be available to you. The more you love God, the more submitted to (the) Holy Spirit you will find yourself. In submission, you’ll find His patience flowing though you. (The) Holy Spirit empowers you by grace to be patient with people and longsuffering during difficult seasons or circumstances. Galatians 5:22-23But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23. gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law (NASB).
If you count yourself as faithful to God, you will endure until the end. You will be patient while waiting for the promises. Your faithfulness to Him will cause you to remain obedient, regardless of how long obedience is required. Ultimately, your love for God will cause you to desire to be faithful to Him and be patient. That patience will allow you to see Him face to face. It will allow you to see the Father’s promise come to pass. You will wait on Jesus, and like Him, you will say, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Love will cause you to see beyond the moment, and patience will hold you until you get to the other side. You will be able to endure the things that accompany unregenerate people for their sake. God is and was patient with you because of His great love.
Perhaps, a sign of maturity is the amount of patience one possesses. If you want to know how mature you are, ask the one in the mirror how patient he or she sees you. See if he or she will look you the eye when he or she answers. Patience is a greater indicator of maturity than your knowledge of Scripture. Without it, you would have a difficult time fulfilling what you know is written in its pages.
In the course of time there have been a number of doctrines of men and demons that have surfaced. Some are error as the result of misunderstanding the scriptures, while others are outright heresy designed to corrupt the true Word of God. Some teach traditions of men as doctrine in order to control the Gospel, which is one way the relationship turned into religion for many. Error, heresy and tradition have caused division in the Church. These three arose out of heart issues. There’s intentionality behind each one.
Those who are in error have not set out to deceive people; rather, they are deceived.
Deception comes when one refuses to learn the truth. When someone is so bent on believing his new found “revelation” is the truth that he disregards anything which contradicts his new doctrine, deception takes over. There may be elements of truth in the error, but it neglects the full counsel of Scripture. When you begin to get a revelation, you must be patient in getting the full counsel of God. By definition, revelation is as an already existing truth that is newly revealed to you (or a group of people). There has to be wholeness in order for doctrine to be true. In other words, as a starting point, there should be at least two or three scriptures to confirm the teaching. Furthermore, it should balance out contextually with all Scripture as a whole. That means you must study with a sincere heart. It is not a good idea to embrace or teach anything not proven in the Word of God; otherwise, you may actually embrace and/or teach error.
Not only is heresy designed to corrupt the true Word of God to deceive the Body of Christ, it also conceals the truth from those who have yet to receive it.
Essentially, it’s bad seed which produces counterfeit fruit. Like chaff being mixed with wheat, because it’s mixed with truth, it’s not so easy to discern. Obviously, it easily deceives those who do not have the Spirit. Cults have sprung up out of heresy. In some cases, those who have been swept into these false religions wanted to be swept in. Why? They wanted just enough of the Gospel to “make it into heaven,” but still remain in control. It’s a heart issue. Of course, there are others who were sincere, and in their search for truth, stumbled into them. Essentially, heresy is the doctrine of demons. When it gets down to it, the devil is the head of cults.
As stated, traditions of men are born out of the desire to control religion.
Do you notice a common thread in these three? Control. As Jesus said, people teach traditions of men as if they are true doctrine (see Matthew 15:1-9). This is where we have to be careful. Truth has a way of bumping heads with tradition. Those who hold to traditions often call those who teach truth, heretics. Even Jesus was ridiculed by the Pharisees for not following their traditions. Please understand that not all traditions are bad in themselves; however, if they resist the true Word of God they aren’t good at all. Everyone has some sort of tradition (family, personal time of devotion, going to church, etc.), and that’s okay. Nonetheless, if one’s tradition overrides the Holy Spirit’s leading, it’s not so good. Again, it’s a heart issue.
How do we combat error, heresy and traditions of men?
How do we defend the Gospel? Number one, submit to the Lord, which requires true humility. Furthermore, it requires the Holy Spirit to properly discern error. Remember, knowledge left to itself can lead to pride (see 1 Corinthians 8:1). We cannot afford to become prideful because of the knowledge we have, or think we have. If we fail to submit to (the) Holy Spirit, we will not properly defend the Gospel. As a matter of fact, we could cause more damage than good. Keep in mind that debate causes division. It is essential to walk in love, which is part of submission. Secondly, the simplest way to eliminate these imposters along with confusion is to learn and teach the truth. When truth comes, anything that is a lie crumbles. Truth is like a hammer; it shatters the lie. Jeremiah 23:28-29 . . . but let him who has My word speak My word in truth. What does straw have in common with grain?" declares the LORD. 29. "Is not My word like fire?" declares the LORD, "and like a hammer which shatters a rock (NASB)? When truth comes, anything that is a lie crumbles into dust. How do you fight darkness? Turn on the light; you don’t have to attack the darkness. Light exposes the lie. If you simply teach what the Lord leads you with, you will successfully destroy false doctrine.
Another purpose of error, heresy and traditions of men is to distract us from our assignments.
If we focus on what Jesus places before us to do, we will stay on course. If we look to the left or the right, we will veer off. It’s easy to get trapped into overly focusing on false doctrine. Getting involved in areas that we’re not called to do will make us ineffective. Ironically, if we do what we’re tasked to do, we will combat these things. God is great at multitasking!
Loving God and people is our primary responsibility. Any departure from love in these two areas leads to error, and yes, heresy. This is why we cannot elevate doctrine above love. Our love for God will cause us to be jealous in a good way for His Word, but not at the expense of others.
Matthew 17:1Six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves(NASB).
Have you ever wondered why Jesus seemed to always single out Peter, James and John more than the other nine Apostles? Andrew was occasionally included, but why these three? We know that Jesus was and is no respecter of persons. Perhaps, Mark 13:3 gives us a clue: As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew were questioning Him privately (NASB). They consistently sought Jesus out, either individually or together. What we see in Scripture is apparently these were the ones asking the questions and spending time with the Master more than the rest. That’s not to say the remainder didn’t ask questions nor spend time with Jesus; rather, the Bible records Peter, James and John more than the others.
Don’t misconstrue “more” with doing more as in works; instead, think relationally.
The more time you spend with someone, the better you know his or her heart. People tend to share secrets with those whom they trust. Who do they trust the most? Typically, the ones with whom they spend time. How could Jesus trust someone who doesn’t know His heart? The rest of the 12 had the same things available to them; in fact, possibly more if they chose.
This in no way is an indictment of what they chose or did.
We cannot pretend to know their hearts, nor their circumstances, since it’s not recorded in the Bible.
Secondly, everyone is designed differently, and have differing assignments. So, it is with great care something doesn’t get over emphasized, while other things are overlooked. Jesus did choose all 12 out of countless others, and one of them betrayed Him. However, Jesus knew who would spend time the most with Him and so on.
What are some things we can take away? God draws near to those who draw near to Him (James 4:8). Our intimacy greatly depends on our willingness to spend time with Him, which means God will get as close to you as you allow Him.
Have you ever questioned why some have more wisdom, or revelation of God’s Word than others? How is it that God reveals more secrets to some than others? The simple answer is time. If you don’t spend time with the Father, how are you going to know His heart? If you don’t spend time reading and studying the Bible, how do you expect to know it? Sure, (the) Holy Spirit could spoon feed you the Word, but it doesn’t exactly work that way. He teaches us while we read and study. To be sure, at times revelation does come without study; but, it generally does not come outside the realm of relationship. If you don’t care all that much about spiritual matters, you’re not in a position to receive revelation from God. There are multitudes of disciples who do not have access to Bibles; nonetheless, they hunger for His Word. Guess what, God makes provision for them. Let’s be clear, there are exceptions to what was just stated; nevertheless, everything is tailor made according to one’s design and ability.
The bottom line is the more time you spend, the more you are in a position to receive.
Here’s a simple illustration: you cannot reveal secrets to someone who is not there to listen. Those who refuse to listen will never learn nor receive from God.
True encouragement brings people into an awareness of their God-given abilities which enable them to carry out their assignment(s) in life. It opens them up to believe they can achieve their intended purpose through Jesus Christ. It makes them relevant to society as their spirit within them is charged with God’s reality: Christ in us the hope of the glory (Colossians 1:27). Encouragement stems the tide of doubt, and fortifies the walls of faith as one is reminded of the hope of his or her calling. Such encouragement brings to focus what God has said, which extinguishes the voices of those detractors who would snuff out the vision He gave them if it were possible.
True encouragement doesn’t overlook the mountains that obstruct the vision; rather, it nudges people to say to those mountains, “Be thou removed and be thou cast into the sea” (Matthew 21:21).
It adjusts the line of sight, so that the believer looks to the infinite God who empowers us to speak to them. In turn, the mountains become less than molehills; in fact, they disappear because they’ve been cast into the sea. Such encouragement stabilizes hope while giving glory to God for His sovereignty.
In truth, biblical encouragement awakens us to the reality that we are seated in heavenly places with Jesus Christ, which is far above any mountain (Ephesians 1:20-21). This is where we find our authority to speak to the mountain or the tree. Luke 17:6And the Lord said, "If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and be planted in the sea'; and it would obey you (NASB).
By celebrating our brothers and sisters, and recognizing their gifts and callings, we can help them come into their destiny. As we stir one another up, we should pay attention to the unique design each one has, so we may encourage them for what they do have, and not discourage them for what they don’t possess. Helping each other embrace the relationship with God that is tailor made to the individual, keeps us in a place where jealousy and envy doesn’t exist. Promoting another actually frees you to soar in your own gifting.