Your purpose, plans and calling must be kept in proper perspective. They can never become your priority, much less your gods.
God must always be your Priority; otherwise, your heart may be stolen by idolatry. We don’t do things for the sake of the call; we do things for His sake.
If we do things for His sake, then we will do things according to our Father’s will. We will seek to glorify Him; instead of using the glory Jesus gave us to put ourselves in the limelight. John 17:22The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one. Our entire being should always center on Him. Some of this is basic, but you’d be surprised how far off base people get when they don’t stick to the basics. Jesus kept it simple: “I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me. And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him” (John 8:28-29). John 5:19Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing . . .
As you focus on the Lord, you will be a person of faith. In fact, without that focus, you will never truly be a person of faith. Faith always requires hearing before anything becomes an act of faith. If your heart is distant from God, you will find it difficult to hear His voice because you are not intent on listening to Him. If you’re not interested in what He has to say to you, chances are you will not be listening for His voice either.
The Cross of Jesus Christ is a Symbol of God’s affirmation to you. It should always serve as a reminder of how much He loves you and how precious you are in His sight. The gifts and calling came as the result of His love. At the same time, they are designed to glorify Him and confirm His Truth. Gifts work regardless of the condition of the heart. Some of you have heard this example before, but it does well underscore this point:
John 11:49-53But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.” Now he did not say this on his own initiative, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but in order that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. So from that day on they planned together to kill Him.
Caiaphas prophesied because his office as High Priest made room for the gift. It was not because God was showing His approval of Caiaphas. Even Caiaphas shouted, “Crucify Him!” In fact, he was a leading proponent of the movement to crucify Jesus. Another example would be Judas Iscariot. Prior to his betrayal of Jesus, he went about doing signs and wonders along with the other Apostles. The miracles and healings confirmed the Word of God; they did not affirm Judas. Why is this important to consider? If you shift your focus from Jesus to your calling, it will be easy to become your own center of attention.
Please understand we should focus on our gifts and calling in the sense of stewardship; but, even stewardship is centered on what pleases the Master.
We protect what God gives us for His sake, and we do that by listening to Him and following His directives. Ultimately, our love for Him will lead us in the way we care for what He gives us.
If you wrestle with wanting to use your gifting to show people you’re a man or woman of God, try going back to the basics. God is your Father, and He absolutely loves and adores you! If you started seeking man’s approval, somewhere along the line you lost touch with His love; or perhaps, you haven’t fully received it yet. If that’s the case, it’s time! Secondly, the more interested you become in man’s affirmation, the more distant your heart will move from God. Heed the warning to the Church at Ephesus in Revelation, “But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore, remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent” (Revelation 2:4-5). If you’re feeling cold or indifferent to the Lord, return to your First Love. Oh sure, some might be able to impress people with “their godliness,” at least in their own minds, but in the end it will cost them. Matthew 7:21-23Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness’.
The point is not to somehow frighten you into keeping your First Love first. The idea is to keep things in perspective in order to please our Father, and enjoy the relationship with Him.
While your gifts and calling are designed to glorify Him, they are also in place in order for you to partner with God. He wants to do things with you as part of His family. He wants a relationship with you! While it is true that we may serve as bond slaves, He also calls us His family and friends. He does not want a mere Master-servant relationship. He wants you! He wants your heart, and He is the safest place for your heart!
Sometimes, people feel impressed to embark on a new journey, but feel powerless to pursue the dream. Even though it may be God-breathed, they choke their destiny by embracing the sense of powerlessness that have plagued them for most of their lives. It is one thing to recognize a vision is too big to accomplish on your own; it’s quite another to reject it out of fear of failure. As disciples of Jesus Christ, it is important to recognize He has given you everything you need to participate in the adventure of a lifetime, which also has eternal rewards attached to it. 2 Peter 1:2-3Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him Who called us by His own glory and excellence.
Of course, some have faced the obstacle of considering themselves “worthless” because that’s all they’ve heard spoken over them. “You’re worthless. You’re stupid and will never going to amount to anything!” By now, many of you have heard that as a person thinks in his heart, so is he (see Proverbs 23:7).
Even if you have limited natural abilities, God’s infinite abilities are at your disposal. After all, He is your Father. There is no worth greater than that!
It is time to reevaluate what you think about Him and yourself. If you feel “less than,” consider 1 Corinthians 1:27-31, But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.” It means you’re in position to do amazing things that will confound the wise, powerful and rich. Don’t forget, you have the mind of Christ (see 1 Corinthians 2:9-16). There is no greater creative mind in the entire world.
Others have a tendency to consider their financial position in relation to their capacity to make things happen. In numerous cases, several carry a poverty-mentality. To be honest, if you embrace this thought process, you will be hard pressed to get ahead. With it also comes a victim-mentality, which means those who hold to these ways of thinking, will ever be powerless to change their lives. In essence, life happens to them, and they have no decision in the process. If you are in Christ Jesus, you are no longer a victim.
Moreover, God has changed your position in life, and expects you to change the way you think and live.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you will become extremely rich; unless of course, that’s what He wants for you. He wants everyone to be wealthy, but that doesn’t mean everyone is supposed to be a zillionaire. It is a state of mind or lifestyle that does not limit God. For some, God does give them a lot of material wealth as part of their calling. In other words, God will enable people to handle large sums of money in order to further His Kingdom. They recognize that they receive the blessing in order to be a blessing. In fact, we all should recognize the same thing. We’re given blessings from God to be a blessing to Him and others. Whatever you need to fulfill your purpose will be there at the proper time. It is important to allow God to define what is “needed.” 3 John 1:2Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.
As we’ve considered a couple areas that relate to being either powerless or powerful, an underlying theme comes to the surface: who we are is more important than what we do.
In the world, many are able to do a lot of big things, regardless of their character. They have great talent. Unfortunately for some, none of it will matter in the end, because none of it will have any eternal value. They may accumulate great wealth and do amazing things throughout their lives, only to have it burn, including themselves (see Luke 12:16-21 [The Parable of the Rich Fool]; 1 Corinthians 3:12-15). Part of Father’s purpose for you is conforming you to the image of Jesus. In the Kingdom, great accomplishments accompany great character. “Great accomplishments” should be left to God to define. Sometimes His definition and ours don’t lineup. What some people do may be more visible than what others may do. The scale of what they do may seem humongous; but in reality, it’s no greater than any other labor of love. When you walk in obedience to your calling, regardless of size and scope; if you are faithful to Him and steward well what has given you, it is just as huge as anyone else’s calling.
Your journey is an opportunity to become someone who is spectacular. If Jesus is revealed through you, what could be greater? His grace is sufficient for you. You are powerful because He resides in you. When you are weak, He is strong. Being powerful is not automatic. You have to agree with Him in order for His power to operate in your life. While God does rule and reign, He still gives you the decisions and choice. You’re not a robot that He controls with a remote. You’re His child whom He has empowered by grace to say yes to Him, and no to the world. At the same time, you’re the one who has to decide. He doesn’t do it for you. You’re more powerful than you think!
Where do false doctrines come from? The Bible tells us they come from men and demons. We also know there is the true Doctrine of Christ, and one of our goals as His disciples is to know His doctrine in accordance to His view. Even the sincerest believer can hold false teachings; moreover, he can even create some. Is it because he is rebellious? No. It’s because of the filter through which he views and listens to the Word of God. If you pay attention to certain streams, denominations, ministries and so on, you may notice that a number of them emphasize certain things. Hence, they tend to use every verse of the Bible to emphasize their doctrinal leanings. In short, there’s a tendency to bend the spoken and written Word of God to their viewpoint. Obviously, this is found in individuals as well. For example, those who overemphasize judgment, tend to use scriptures that talk about the judgment and wrath to come, while leaving out mercy and grace in some extreme cases. Some want to hold people accountable for everything they say or do. “They will stand before God one day!” Granted, even as believers, we all will absolutely stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ. No question about it. However, He is the Judge and we are not. We’re not the ones who determine to what people will answer for. We cannot beat each other with the Bible. Okay, moving along.
Luke 8:18-19So take care how you listen; for whoever has, to him more shall be given; and whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has shall be taken away from him. We cannot afford to bend the Word of God to conform to our theology; our theology must conform to His Word.
Our attitude in the way we listen will determine how much of the Truth we are able to receive. We must stay teachable, and remain inquisitive like small children.
The moment you think you “know the Bible,” you will begin to miss those things Holy Spirit wants to teach you. We must approach the Word of God with a sincere heart that desires pure truth. We should love God enough to want to know His true nature, and embrace His heart’s cry. If we insist on being right, we will never get it. As Jesus eluded to, the bigger issue may be how we are studying and listening versus what we are studying and to what we are listening. How you listen will affect the amount of truth you receive. Some say, “I want to hear it like it really is.” Do you really?
How far are you willing to go in order to receive the truth that comes from God? Would you forsake all you think you know? Would you leave a church or an organization in order to go where the Lord Jesus desires you to be? Conversely, would you stay put if He asks it of you, even if you wanted to run for the hills? Unless we are willing to conform to the image of Jesus and walk in obedience to God, we will not be in a position to fully receive the true Doctrine of Christ!
In whatever realm a person finds himself is a place of great influence. The question is, what kind of influence is present? The answer lies in what or who dominates the sphere. The environment is created by the dominant force of the arena in which you find yourself. There are strong personalities that like to control it, but what what’s behind the strong personality? “The center of attention” often masks the spirit behind the atmosphere. Whatever spirit that is invited in, generally influences the environment: good, bad or indifferent. “Spirit” can be an entity, but it also means attitude. Of course, whatever spirit someone embraces is reflected in the attitude. Groupthink can be a very powerful force to reckon with; even still, it can be changed. Sometimes quickly, and other times with great patience. Why is this important to know? Because, as disciples of Jesus Christ, we are supposed to disciple nations which requires our influence wherever we find ourselves. Matthew 28:18-20And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Always remember, “Greater is He Who is in you than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). You and God are the majority, even if you’re the only believer present. When you read of Joseph, you find one man influenced an entire nation (see Genesis 37-50). Likewise, the book of Daniel also reveals a person or a handful of people can change an entire nation.
As a matter of fact, the major realms of the world are not influenced by the majority; but, a small percentile. With (the) Holy Spirit in you, you are able to change and influence the minds of individuals and entire nations.
Whatever realm in which the Lord puts you is your sphere of influence. That could be your home, a neighborhood, business, government and so on. Size is not the point: faithfulness is. Generally, it does require longsuffering on our part. After all, we are dealing with humans. Some are more teachable than others, while some are entrenched in their ways.
Regardless of how dark a room is, the darkness cannot extinguish the light of a single candle, because it is still greater than the darkness –regardless of its size. Darkness is not an entity; it is the absence of light. Love is a wrecking ball to hatred, jealousy and envy. Make the decision to love the people to whom the Lord sent you, and over time, you will have an impact. Depending on how long you are there, you may not see the results of your labor until you’re on the other side of eternity. In fact, you will not know the full scope of things until then. Remember, one plants, one waters, but God gives the increase (see 1 Corinthians 3:5-9). Keep in mind that it is necessary to see beyond existing attitudes and behavior. We’re not sent to hold unsanctified thoughts and actions against people; rather, we are ambassadors of Jesus Christ sent to reconcile sinners to the Father, and edify our brothers and sisters (see 2 Corinthians 5:16-21).
On Saturday, March 11th, The Unity of the Spirt Conference will be held at the Annex (formerly City of Hope) in Harrison, Ohio (10548 Harrison Ave, Harrison, Ohio 45030). The doors will open at 4:00 PM. Conference will run from 5:00 to 9:00.
On March 10th, Friday night, from 7:00 to 9:00 we will have a special time of praise and worship in preparation for the conference. This includes a time of prayer and soaking.