Do you ever feel like you’re spinning your wheels and going nowhere fast? It doesn’t matter how hard you try; you just can’t seem to go the next level. You’re nowhere near where you think you should be by now. Regardless of the arena, individuals are frustrated about their current condition. Perhaps, you are there now. Well, maybe you need to slow down in order to catch up. As my Grandpa used to say, “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.” Some people are so driven, they cannot be led, or least find it very difficult. Are you driven or are you led? “How can I tell the difference?” The biggest indicator is peace. If you’re in a constant state of turmoil, you’re being driven. There is a healthy tension of being at rest and needing to accomplish something expeditiously. There’s nothing wrong with a sense of urgency. Of course, it’s not good to sit on your hands when you should be doing something. We’re not talking about some excuse to be lazy per se. It really has more to do with getting where you’re supposed to be in God’s time.
Why do some believers strive for the promotion? Psalm 75:6-7For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: He putteth down one, and setteth up another. In the Kingdom of God, humility and patience goes a long way. James 4:10Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you. Being faithful where you are now, is far more conducive to gaining a promotion than activity seeking it. If you’re not faithful with what you have now, how can you expect God to give you more. In many cases, there is a proving period that you must go through, before you’re ready to move to the next level. For example, what happens if you know much about a position you’re seeking; but you actually lack the wisdom and understanding it requires? Until you gain that wisdom and understanding, you’re not ready. God knows when you’re ready. Not only that, but He knows when others are ready for you as well.
Another key ingredient is contentment. The Bible has much to say about this. Here’s a little secret: until you learn to be content with what you have or where you’re at; joy will elude you, not to mention happiness. It may be that some will ever remain where they are, until they learn to be content. Who knows what’s best, God or you?
Proverbs 30:7-9Two things I asked of You, do not refuse me before I die: keep deception and lies far from me, give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is my portion, that I not be full and deny You and say, “Who is the Lord?” Or that I not be in want and steal, and profane the name of my God.
Interestingly, the first thing requested in this passage is to be kept from deception. “I deserve it” can be a form of self-deception. When it gets down to it, what do we actually deserve? God blesses us more than we will ever realize every moment of every day. That promotion some are striving to get may actually come between God and them. Would that truly be a promotion? Matthew 16:26For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
Getting back to that slowing down thing: it’s from a place of peace that creativity and focus is more easily apprehended than in a state of anxiety and turmoil. Leaving things in the hands of the Lord is important. Trusting Him with everything, enables you to stay in peace. From the state of rest, you are more apt to hear His voice and sense His direction. If you allow Him full control, He will lead you in the direction you need to go, as well as give you the strategy to accomplish the right thing at the right time. Slow down enough to enjoy the relationship, and then see what happens next! Take the time to be grateful for what you do have, and leave in His hands what you don’t possess.
Your gifts don’t make you special; they make you responsible. They were given to you because you are already special to our loving Father. James 1:17Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with Whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. Your gifts and talents were specifically designed for you, and no one else. Romans 12:6Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly . . . On one level, our relationship with God is individualistic by nature, which means everyone’s relationship with Him is unique. That’s why you can say, “God loves you, but I’m His favorite!” Of course, collectively we have a relationship with Him as one Body. John 17:22-23The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me (see also 1 Corinthians 12:7-31). Some will have the same or similar gifts, but they will be uniquely used according the individual. Nonetheless, they are all meant to work in harmony with each other.
Unfortunately, much of society tends to celebrate the gifts more than the person. This is more evident in celebrity and sports culture. Think about it, how many sports figures would be cheered if they didn’t have their talent? How many athletes get a pass off the field because of what they can do on the field. Nothing against sports or athletes, mind you. You can see the same thing in a variety of fields. If we’re special in God’s eyes, shouldn’t we hold each other in high esteem regardless of what one may or may not be able to do? Keep in mind that gifts work regardless of the character of the individual, which is subject we’ve touched on before. The gift does not make one person more important than another, nor does it impart character. If anything, it reveals what’s there.
This leads to the other half: you are responsible for what you have. Conversely, you’re not responsible for what you don’t possess. What we do with what we have does matter! Read about The Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-29 or The Parable of the Minas in Luke 19:11-27. Each of us have God-given purposes, and those gifts help accomplish them. With that in mind, consider something Paul wrote.
1 Corinthians 3:8-15Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
We’re talking about earning salvation; we’re talking about stewardship. Not only that, we’re talking about co-laboring with God based on a relationship with Him, using our gifts to fulfill our purposes while glorifying Him. Do you know what is scary? People using the gifts they have to glorify themselves. Not a good idea at all! Please receive God’s love and affirmation for you, and don’t try to use your gifts to gain admiration or adoration. You are special, but you are responsible as well.
Without realizing it, a number of people are in a crisis. If they understood it, they would have a better understanding as to why they have unwanted behavior, attitudes and thought processes they can’t seem to shake. That crisis pertains to their identity. Some might say, “I know I’m a child of God.” Okay, do you actually believe it? “Of course I do!” Alright, consider the following statements, and see how you measure up. After reading this, get in front of the mirror, read it out loud and see how the person looking back at you responds. Make sure you keep eye contact.
Romans 12:15Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Perhaps for some, it is easier to weep with someone who is in sorrow or pain. They find it easy to console someone who has suffered loss or a defeat; however, when someone gains a victory, not so much. As brothers and sisters in Christ, we should be able to legitimately celebrate each other’s victories. Indeed, we should be able to celebrate each other. If you feel envy or jealousy when someone else gets the promotion, the pat on the back or any other blessing, you might just be in an identity crisis. “That should have been mine! He is not as deserving as I am!” Do you constantly find yourself saying or thinking such things when someone gets the blessing? If you do, you are in a crisis.
Maybe the reverse is true. When someone suffers a loss or defeat, some are actually glad for it. “They had it coming!” How merciful is that? If you are incapable of extending mercy, you are in a crisis. Have you forgotten the sting you experienced when you suffered a setback? “Well, he’s always badgering me when I fail! Besides, he’s not my friend.” How did Jesus tell us to respond? Did He say, “Be merciful only to your friends who treat you well?” Matthew 5:43-45But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father Who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you somehow find satisfaction in someone else’s failure because it gives you a sense of superiority, you are in a crisis!
Do you lack the ability to encourage others? Can you pay a genuine compliment to another? Can you say, “Well done” when someone does a great job? If it pains you cheer someone on, you may be in a crisis. Does an encouraging word really detract from who you are? If you have the constant need for the limelight, you may be in a crisis, especially if you cannot share it. Would it bother you, if you taught or discipled someone who would eventual surpass you in some way? As a teacher, do you feel the need to keep the student beneath you, and perhaps reliant on you? What about you parents? Do you have to live through your child’s accomplishments, or can you simply be proud of him or her, while being grateful to God for his or her success?
If you know you’re awesome, more than likely you are not going to have that insane desire to prove it to others. You won’t have to try to do awesome things so people will adore or look up to you. Have you ever noticed when people try to prove how amazing they are; they’re not being so amazing? Knowing you are awesome because of being self-aware in relation to identity is not arrogant. In fact, arrogance is the counterfeit of being confident in who you are in Jesus Christ. Knowing you are fearfully and wonderfully made in the image God should help you understand it’s not what you do in life that makes you important; it’s who are. If you’ve accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, then it’s His righteousness dwelling in you. Father sees you as His masterpiece (see Ephesians 2:8-10). That makes you golden! That makes you awesome! By truly believing you’re a child of God, you will find the freedom to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. It empowers you to freely love others, without the need for a “return on investment.” If you do things for others in order for them to like or love you, you may be in a crisis.
There comes a point in your walk with God when you have to make a quality to decision to follow Him, regardless of what anyone else does or says. If your walk is resting on what others do, fail to do, say or don’t say, you may not be as committed as you would like to think.
John 21:18-22Truly, truly, I say to you (Peter), when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go.” Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me!” Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; the one who also had leaned back on His bosom at the supper and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” So Peter seeing him said to Jesus, “Lord, and what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!”
Peter and John were with Jesus from the beginning, but now things were about to change, as Jesus was preparing to ascend to the Father. In its simplest form, Peter asked Jesus, “What about John?” Short answer: “What about him? You follow Me!” This is one dialogue worth hitting “Rewind” every so often, especially when it comes to following Jesus wherever He may lead you. There may be the temptation to consider others first before moving on with your journey, especially those who are the closest to you. Why consider other people’s opinions before obeying the voice of the Lord? Our responsibility begins and ends to Him. Please do not get lost with peripheral issues here (such as seeking council when the occasion calls, etc.). We’re talking strictly from the standpoint of obedience. Galatians 1:10For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ. “What about them?” “You follow me!”
No one else can walk your walk for you. While you may have mentors to help guide you, you must guard your heart from placing them where they do not belong. Mentor worship is an easy trap to fall into. If they properly do their job, they will not try to keep you dependent on them. Those who disciple others should be focused on getting them to rely on Jesus and hearing His voice. When Paul told others to follow him, he was not referring to himself per se; rather, Him Who lives in Paul. 1 Corinthians 11:1Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ (see also 1 Corinthians 4:16). It is one thing to make yourself available; but, it’s a terrible disservice to get someone totally dependent on you. That is dysfunctional, and that is not healthy!
What happens if one’s mentor is no longer available? “You follow Me!” How many quit following Jesus, or have left the Church because someone they respected did something contrary to the Word of God? Where was their trust? Were they following Jesus, or just a mere man or woman?
Since everyone is designed to have a unique relationship with God, each one’s calling differs from another. Sure, some callings are connected or similar to others. However, seasons change, and sometimes people go different directions. You have to stay focused on what the Lord called you to do. No one else can do it like you. On the same token, you cannot do someone else’s ministry like he or she can. He or she was anointed for that task; not you. Keep in mind, just because someone else’s’ calling is different than yours, it doesn’t mean it is better or vice versa. Embrace the relationship and embrace your specific gifts and calling. In essence, our gifts and callings are still one.
1 Corinthians 3:5-9 What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.
Whether or not someone you respect keeps his or her charge, keep your eyes on task. Should you find yourself in the midst of hardship, remember His grace will get you through. “You follow Me!”
This book is a great help to those who have experienced a tragic loss, or need a resource to help minister to those going through the grieving process. All proceeds from this book go toward helping Ben and Jenna Jury (the authors) fund their adopting a boy from Vietnam.
During the Easter Season, believers celebrate the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. But, do they realize His death and resurrection is supposed to be ours as well (see Romans 6:1-11; Galatians 2:20)? Jesus is not some salesman selling fire insurance. While He came to save from the wrath to come, it was not His sole purpose. Another reason was to reconcile us to the Father, and yet, there is more. We are called to be in the image of Christ, and as His ambassadors, seek to reconcile the lost to Him too. If we don’t love as He loves, how will we influence those in the world for the good of the Kingdom? Frankly, a lot of harm has been done because a number have not truly embraced the ways of the Kingdom. This is not meant to scold or cause guilt, much less condemn; rather, to cause us to consider our lifestyle in relation to His. How close to Jesus do we really walk?
Matthew 5:43-45You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
Do you love well? Do you love your enemies?
2 Corinthians 5:18-19 Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
Do you hold or impute people’s sins against them, or do you allow love to cover a multitude of sins in order to gain as many as possible for Christ? Have you ever heard a Christian say something to the effect of, “They didn’t treat me very well, so why should I treat them any different?” “They haven’t done me any favors; why should I do one for them?” Let’s not forget, “They treated me like garbage, so I gave them a piece of my mind!” Since when do disciples of Jesus Christ base their behavior on worldly standards? Instead of being concerned with how others treat us, shouldn’t our concern be how well we treat others, regardless of their behavior or attitude toward us?
How many know that numerous servers at restaurants dread Sunday afternoons? Why? The Church crowd! Some of their most demanding and ungrateful customers are the ones who just got out of church. Not all, mind you; but several. As a matter of fact, these are some of the stingiest when it comes to leaving tips. “That server was awful, she (or he) doesn’t deserve any more than that!” While it is nice to reward extra to those who serve us very well, what would happen if we were just as kind to someone who didn’t, or perhaps couldn’t? We don’t always know what others are going through, especially, if we are more concerned about ourselves being served well. “That’s their job!” Because of personal issues, some might find it a challenge to just show up for work. It may be a struggle to serve someone who is rude and ungrateful. Graciousness doesn’t necessarily come easy for everyone, even if it is their job. A number of servers have given excellent service to church crowd members who give them less than what is considered protocol in relation to tips. That can be a hard one to swallow for some.
Of course, there’s the “tract people.” Instead of leaving money, they leave gospel tracts as their tips. Are servers supposed to feed their children pages of a tract? “Gospel” means good news. Is it really good news to a hungry family that gets handed a small booklet that doesn’t meet their immediate need of food? James says,
“What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself” (James 2:14-17).
If you’re going to leave a tract, please put some money in it. Be generous! That family might be more inclined to read it. What about taking genuine interest in your server? That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to know his or her life story (though it could), but do be concerned with how well you treat him or her. Hebrews 13:2Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it. How would you treat someone if you knew he or she was an angel? Wherever we may go, self-righteousness should not be walking through the door with us. Whether you’re at home, work, a restaurant or anywhere else, ask yourself, “How am I treating people here? Am I Christ-like?”
Matthew 16:24-27Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds.