Grace should cause us to be both humble and yet confident. When we understand grace empowers us to do the things we cannot do in our own strength, we will not be confident in ourselves. It will, however, cause us to be confident in Him Who lives in us. We cannot afford to become haughty when good things happen through us. It is His grace doing the work. When we are elevated to new positions, we should be humbled by the promotion, knowing full well God promoted us.
In the Kingdom of God, there is no such thing as “the self-made man.”
In fact, in Jesus Christ, that man is crucified and dead. When God moves us from glory to glory, it’s still His grace. Do you think you do a lot for God? Think again!
1 Corinthians 15:10But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. Sometimes, we need to look in the mirror and say, “By the grace of God, I am what I am.” Apart from grace, we cannot merely say, “studying my Bible and praying a lot made me who I am today.” While it’s true that Bible Study and prayer goes a long way in spiritual maturity, what you gain is not the result of human intellect alone. The Apostle Paul’s life bears this out. Prior to his conversion, he was a Pharisee who studied under Gamaliel who was a well-respected teacher or doctor of the Law (see Acts 5:34; 22:3). In spite of his great knowledge of Scripture, he still persecuted the Church. He missed it by miles, using mere human intellect; but, when grace came, (the) Holy Spirit brought him the understanding he lacked. In terms of growth, remember, “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). Paul made a very interesting statement here in verse 10: “I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.” By the way, Paul wrote as he was moved by (the) Holy Spirit. He recognized it was the grace of God working though him; otherwise, he could have never labored more than anyone. (The) Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness, and makes intercession for us when we don’t know what to pray (see Romans 8:26-27).
Grace should also give us confidence in that regardless of our past, the Lord can and will work through us. Look at 1 Corinthians 15:9, “For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” Furthermore, Paul said, “It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all” (1 Timothy 1:15). Again we read, “by the grace of God I am what I am.”
You cannot legally hold your past over your head, no matter how tainted it may appear.
It does not trump the Blood of Jesus. Likewise, regardless of how sterling your past may be, apart from Jesus your righteousness is as filthy rags. His grace is truly sufficient for you.
You can rise to the occasion because He is risen!
If God’s grace labors in and through us, we can take heart when He asks us to do exploits. He will give us the grace to complete the task. All we have to do is say yes. When He says what He says will come to pass, you can take it to the bank. Isaiah 55:11So shall My Word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it (KJV). Have you been freaking out over an assignment Jesus has given you? Stop, take courage, and be bold in Him. Let His peace rule in your heart with full assurance. Sufficient grace is more than enough to accomplish the task. Think about it: our Father is infinite in all power, knowledge and authority. His grace knows no bounds. The more you agree with Him, the more His grace enables you. Even if you falter in your belief, His faith by His grace will carry you. Be confident in Him. As the saying goes, “If it is bigger than you, it’s God!”
We all know that jealousy and envy should have no part in our lives, along with the Church as a whole. Yet, they seem to have a gained a foothold individually and collectively. In order for them to be removed from the Body of Christ, they must be dealt with on the individual level. One or two people who have jealousy and envy can negatively impact an entire church or organization. No one likes to admit this is something he or she struggles with, even though they do want them permanently out of his or her life. So, how do we destroy this monster? The short answer is walk in love. Sounds simple enough, but is it?
Not only does perfect love cast out fear (see 1 John 4:18), it eliminates jealousy and envy.
Unfortunately, not everyone has had a full-on encounter with perfect love. Many don’t fully understand it, so they have difficulty receiving it; especially, from God. Couple that with the fact they don’t fully embrace their identity in Jesus Christ, and therefore, are hindered by feelings of unworthiness. If you don’t feel worthy of God’s love, you won’t receive it. You’ll try to earn it and still come up feeling short. If you think you have to earn God’s love, you don’t know really know Him as a loving Father. His love cannot be earned; He freely gave it to you. Secondly, you don’t fully view Him as good. A good father is impartial with his children. Our Father indeed is impartial. At the same time, He celebrates our individuality, which means everyone has the opportunity to have a unique relationship with Him. The Father has special gifts for each of His children. Because He’s eternal with all power, we never have to worry He will run out.
Because God is equal, He will never bless one of His children while withholding from another.
Just because one is blessed, it does not mean another will go without. Let me illustrate this point on a natural level. If my wife and I gave one of our sons a piece of candy, the other two knew they were going to get one too. They recognized we were equal with them. When our Father blesses our brothers and sisters, we have no reason to be jealous or envious of them, He will bless us too. Consider this, Jesus said the Father “makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45). That means He even blesses those who aren’t His children. The challenge for us is to rejoice for those whom He blesses. In fact, by loving them well, there is no challenge. The more we celebrate one another, the less jealousy and envy can gain a foothold in our lives. We ought to be each other’s greatest cheerleaders in the Body of Christ.
If Jesus is not your First Love, your motives will not be pure. Furthermore, anything you do apart from love will not profit you (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).
In fact, in light of Matthew 7:21-23, it could be detrimental. That being said, why would someone do anything in the Name of Jesus without love behind it? In simplest terms, the answer is validation. Until you come to grips that your identity is in Jesus Christ, which makes you a well-loved child apart from works, you will seek to be affirmed by what you do and what you possess. When someone asks, “who are you,” your response tends to encamp around the things you do, your occupation and so on. When you know who you are, you will realize what you do is the result of your identity. Ephesians 2:10For we are His workmanship (masterpiece), created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. This passage makes it clear that our good works are the result of who we are in Him. When you do things for affirmation sake, you are still looking for love. Once you’re truly convinced of God’s love for you, you will be free to labor out of love.
Jealousy and envy creep in when someone else is recognized for their accomplishments, when you feel un-affirmed by others. It is difficult to celebrate someone besides yourself when you don’t feel fully appreciated. It’s hard to put the spotlight on someone else, when you want it for yourself. This is so far from giving Jesus the honor He is due. If we are supposed to do all things as unto God, then everything we do and say should point right back to Him. Jealousy and envy will not give Jesus glory, especially since they want all of it for themselves.
None of us can afford to be glory-hounds. As it is written, “Outside are the dogs . . .” (Revelation 22:15).
Galatians 5:16But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. By walking in the Spirit, you will walk in perfect love, and in so doing, eradicate jealousy and envy.
As long as someone puts his experience above the Word of God, he will fail to experience faith the way God intended.
If you believe your own experience supersedes Scripture, you will make His Word void in your life. By contradicting what God has said, you call Him a liar. If you’ve lived in the world any length of time, chances are you have experiences that negatively impacted your life. They can skew your perception of reality, and in particular, God’s reality. Of course, He has a remedy for those occurrences, but that’s another subject matter. At some point in our walk, we all need to ask, “But what does God say?” The more you believe what He says, the more you will experience a life of faith!
To what voices do you listen? Keep in mind the ones you listen to the most, will have the most impact in your life. Whose report will you believe? There are many voices in the world vying for your attention. You must decide which ones you will heed. Discerning their source in important. What spirit is behind it? Jesus said His sheep hear His voice, and they will not follow a stranger (see John 10:1-18). The spirit of antichrist is already in the world; in fact, it was present in the Apostle John’s day (see 1 John 2:18, 1 John 4:3). Anything that opposes the Word of God is of that spirit. That which causes doubt didn’t come from Jesus. The first thing Satan attacked was His Word, and he never stopped attacking it (Genesis 3:1 “Did God really say . . .?”). He will use your experiences against you, if you let him.
Obviously, new believers may not have a great deal of faith-experience to draw from; nonetheless, the foundation they lay right now is crucial. To be clear, their conversion is experience enough to draw from to begin with; however, they need to build on the Solid Rock. Those who spend little time with God and the Bible, severely limit Him in their life. This is why some who have been Christians a long time are still immature. If you do not take time to study your Bible, how are going to know what He has said? If you’re not paying attention to what He’s saying to you, you will miss what God is trying to tell you. Romans 10:17So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. Walking by faith will not work if you’re not listening. Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).
“I’ve tried that faith thing, and it didn’t work for me!”
Nowhere in Scripture are we exhorted to try faith. It says, “The just will live by faith” (see Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38). That means it’s time to believe what God says; not what your experience tells you. Until you heed the Word of God, your experience will keep lying to you. Worse still, it will keep calling God a liar. Hebrews 6:18 tells us it is impossible for God to lie. Romans 3:3-4For what? If some did not believe, will not their unbelief nullify the faith of God? Let it not be! But let God be true, and every man a liar; as it is written, "That You might be justified in Your sayings, and will overcome when You are judged".
One reason people have a hard time with faith is that they’re new to the realm of the Kingdom. It has a different set of rules of operation than the world. It requires a different way of thinking.
Thoughts that we’ve grown up with often oppose the Word. Isaiah 55:8-9For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor your ways My ways, says Jehovah. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. In this passage, God is actually inviting us to make His thoughts and ways, ours. 1 Corinthians 2:16For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 10:3-5For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. It is clear that the thoughts and imaginations which come against the knowledge of God, need to be destroyed. It is essential for our thoughts to be brought into the obedience of Christ. Obedience means we believe Him, and intend to conform to His desires. This is why it is important to renovate our minds, which is where the Bible comes into play. By spending time with the Lord and His Word, He will change the way you think. As you do, He will make you ready for His use.
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. One important thing to remember is that being in Jesus Christ completely removes the things of the past, and gives you a new beginning; not a “do-over.” That means your past cannot be used against you in relation to a faith-filled life. You are now free to enjoy new experiences by walking righteously in Him. Now when you ask, “What do you say, Lord,” you can expect an answer. Whatever you may be dealing with, take it to Him and His Word. If your opinion and experience contradicts what He says, believe Him and throw out the other two. You decide whose report you will believe.
Everyone has some view of the end times. While there may be merits to those views, some have actually hindered the Gospel and interfered with personal growth. It is important to allow God to define everything that pertains to them, including the whens. We don't stop doing what Jesus commanded us to do just because some things seem to fit our eschatology (study or theology of the end times). Jesus said, "We must work the works of Him who sent Me, as long as it is day; night is coming when no man can work" (John 9:4). It is still day, for today is the day of salvation (see 2 Corinthians 6:2).
Here's an example: many point out the Bible said there would be a great falling away before the day of the Lord.
Question, can we honestly define when that takes place. Some contend we're seeing that right now. Are you sure?
There's been periods of falling away throughout history. Where did the Dark Ages come from? There are some who certainly have fallen away in our current time, but does that mean this is the "great falling away?" Jesus talked of wars and rumors of wars, but that is not the end. Furthermore, He said that there would be famines and earthquakes in various places, but He also said these were the beginning of birth pangs (see Matthew 24:4-8). Yet, we find in 1 Thessalonians 5:3, "While they are saying peace and safety, then destruction will come upon them suddenly . . ."
Is anyone saying, "Peace and safety," yet? Hardly.
Even if there was a mass exodus from the Church, does that mean we should stop making disciples? Interestingly, 1 John 4:18 says, "Children it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have arisen; from this we know that it is the last hour." So, if it was the last hour in John's day, how do we know for certain the great falling away is upon us now?
It's easy to become pessimistic, and write off everyone in the world. It sure appears that 2 Timothy 3:1-9 is coming to pass before our very eyes. Yes, it is quite dark in the world, but can darkness prevail over the Light? Romans 5:20 But where sin increased , grace abounded all the more (NASB). For some reason, some give the devil and his minions more power than they actually have. In some cases, they lend their power to the devil. The enemy knows that he's been stripped of his power and authority, so he uses deception to get us to agree with him. He knows that we have power and authority in Jesus Christ, and he tries to stop us from walking in them by influencing our belief system and worldview. Satan attacks our identity, so we become faithless and ineffective for the Kingdom. He would have us believe darkness prevails over light. How many people have you seen shrug their shoulders, and give up on advancing the Kingdom? Have you not read, "Greater is He Who is in you than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4)?
Keep in mind that darkness promotes hopelessness.
The darker the world, the more hopelessness people of the world carry with them. They're starving for hope, which means their hearts are open to hear the Gospel which is the Word of hope. The harvest is ripe for the picking. If believers would look up, they would see the harvest field. If they would look to Him who lives in them, they could reap in that field. Those with hope have influence. Let hope arise in your heart, and influence those around you. Will everyone be saved? Even though it's the will of God, not everyone will. However, a lot more would come to the Kingdom if we do our part.
Even though a number of people may want nothing to do with God, they may want your lifestyle. If you live well in Jesus Christ, they will mimic your actions. One illustration would be your treating them well may cause them to to want to treat others well; at least, better than they do now. Your example can become contagious. How many are influenced by the media? In a sense, those behind it are disciplining large segments of society. They shape or at least influence worldviews by the way they present life. For example, they report the news in a certain light that causes people to form certain opinions about what or whom they are reporting. They lace TV shows and movies with hidden agendas. Of course, at the opportune time, they become more blatant. If we fail to engage society by staying in the four walls of our churches, how are we going to make disciples of people in nations, let alone nations themselves (see Matthew 28:19). As long as you're in the world, be the light Jesus called you in Matthew 5:14. He said, "Go"; not "stay."
Anytime you find a principle in the Bible, you should see the example in action.
When you examine the lives of Joseph and Daniel, you'll see people who actually discipled heathen nations. Not only that, they did it apart from the New Covenant that we have. For those who think disciples should disengage from government, you might want to rethink that viewpoint. Examine what the Word actually says. That's not to say everyone should get involved in the political arena; however, whatever opportunity the Lord opens to you should be taken. Even if it's simply to vote. Influence is influence, regardless of the level. Of course, ask Him how to engage. We cannot disengage society, hide in our basements while waiting for the Rapture, and say we are being obedient to the Great Commission!